Wednesday, June 15, 2016

26 Vegan Recipes For Comfort Food

1. Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze: Two Ways
Butternut squash pureed into macaroni and cheese just sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it? It is also a fun way to sneak in another veggie. Get the recipe here.


2. Nirvana Enchilada Casserole 
Layers of corn tortilla sopping up spicy, fragrant, red sauce then overstuffed with mushroom, pinto beans and roasted potatoes. On top is a voluptuous cashew creme that will have you rolling your eyes to the back of your head like a zombie. An enchilada zombie.

3. Matzo Ball Soup
These matzo balls are firm and hold together awesomely well. They’re soft on the outside, but delightfully dense and toothsome in the middle. Try it out for yourself.

4. Tofu Popcorn Chick’n (+ it's gluten free)
This tofu chick’n recipe is so versatile. You can eat them on their own as popcorn chick’n or nuggets. You can put it in a wrap or a sandwich, on a pizza – so many possibilities! Try it!

5. Broccoli & Cheeze Soup
Why should dairy eaters have all the creamed soup fun? Create this delicious vegan option, instead.

6. Almost Famous Fried Pickles
It’s hard to believe the pickle can be improved upon, until you fry it up and taste it for yourself. Get the recipe here.

7. Peanut Butter Banana Chip Cookies
In this amazing recipe the sugar content is fairly low. They aren’t cakey, but not too crisp either. Somewhere in the middle with a pleasant crunch and a complex sweetness. And of course, they have a lovely peanut buttery undertone.

8. Mushroom Stout Pie With Potato Biscuits
A fluffy potato biscuit soaking up a deeply savory gravy that is at once mysterious and familiar. The stout really gives this dish an allure, and two kinds of mushrooms make it meaty and earthy and just umami like nobody’s business. And ya know, for a special occasion, it’s not too fussy.

9. Crispy Baked Onion Rings
Crispy, flavorful, and good-for-you, these onion rings make a great snack or addition to any meal. I could also see a big batch of these being made for a party served with a homemade dip. Can also be made gluten-free.

10. Vegetable Lasagna With Kale, Beluga Lentils & Carrots
This delicious lasagna recipe will make you forget about meat and cheese with kale and lentils!! Get the recipe here.

11. Creamed Kale
Nondairy milk and cashews combine to create a creamy sauce for kale or your favorite leafy greens. Try it for yourself!

12. Homemade Vegan Caesar Cocktail
Is this a vegan version of a Caesar cocktail or is it an adapted version of the Bloody Mary? I can’t decide. Whatever you call it, this is one fantastic drink with a whopping 4 servings of vegetables per 500 ml glass. Be sure to add the seasonings to taste and you can’t go wrong. Bottom's up!

13. Chocolate Cupcakes With Avocado Chocolate Icing
They say avocados and chocolate are brain foods right? (I don’t know who says, but it seems like something I might have read somewhere). I know it sounds weird and maybe a little gross to put them together but it actually works to make really thick and rich chocolatey frosting. Try out this recipe.

14. Creamy Polenta And Mushrooms
Creamy polenta, chickpeas and a mix of sautéed mushrooms & tarragon. This recipe is sure to be a main stay.

15. Mushroom “Alfredo”
Almonds blended with almond milk make a rich sauce for this vegan pasta dish. We like the flavor and smooth texture of spelt pasta and the way rotini traps the sauce, but feel free to substitute your favorite pasta. Get the recipe here.

16. Mozzarella Sticks
For the full diner experience, crack open a jar of pickles, whip up some vegan milkshakes, and make sure you have marinara sauce on hand. And remember, all food tastes better around 2AM. Dig into the recipe here.

 17. Double Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
A double dose of cinnamon gives these cookies a wonderful spicy aroma and even bigger cinnamon flavor.  Try them out now!

18. Vegan Chili
Hearty, healthy, and always ready to make you happy, this chili makes for a dependable partner. Whip up a batch with this popular recipe.

19. The Philly Reuben Sandwich 
A hefty sandwich, filled with sauerkraut and tangy Russian dressing that oozed out of the edges of the sandwich with each bite. Filled with marinated seitan and wrapped in warm rye bread. Try the recipe yourself

20. Spinach “Chicotta” Stuffed Pasta Shells
“Chicotta” is a new creation that will change the way you look at plant-based cheeses. It’s a ricotta-like cheese made from… chickpeas! With just some chickpeas and a few other simple ingredients, you can whip up the creamiest and most delicious non-dairy cheese you’ve ever tasted. Try this recipe tonight.

21. Miso Shitake Soba Soup
This soup is full of warming healing ingredients (shiitakes, ginger, miso, etc)… and would be the perfect thing if you’re under the weather… figuratively or quite literally. Get the recipe here.

22. Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich
Being a sandwich, this is totally a legit lunch. Grab a pink of Trader Joe's "Soy Creamy" vegan vanilla ice cream! Get the recipe here.

23. Creamy Broccoli And Mushroom Pasta
The vegan parmesan goes so well with the creamy mushrooms, the salty broccoli and the toasted pine nuts with the touch of heat from the red chili flakes. Yum yum yum! Try this recipe tonight!

24. Butterfinger Candy
This recipe is very simple, but you need to know two things before we begin: you must have a candy thermometer for this recipe, and you must read through the entire recipe before you start. Everything comes together quickly, and I certainly don’t wish a candy disaster on anyone.

25. Vegan Big Mac
Not only is this burger healthier and yummier than the original, it is also extremely easy and crazily filling! What a great way to impress your dinner guests with a vegan Big Mac! Try this recipe now!

26. Easy Cheezy Pizza
Nothing beats a yummy cheezy pizza…. Mmmmmm.  Get the recipe here.

[via Buzzfeed]

Friday, May 13, 2016

8 Healing Herbs You Can Grow

Please note: Healing herbs are not meant to be medicinal, and that you must be careful that any plant you ingest is safe for you and your family.

1. Chamomile

Chamomile is known by almost everyone for it’s ability to ease us into sleep, when steeped into a tea. It also is used for stomach upset. Dry the flowers for long term storage in ziploc bags, or use them fresh steeped into a tea. This is a gentle herb that can be used for children as well.

The best variety to grow, and the most commonly used for tea is German Chamomile. This is an annual that grows into a bushy plant about 2 feet tall. It prefers well draining soil, full sun to part shade, and moderate water. Chamomile is easy to grow from seed.

2. Feverfew

Feverfew (Tanacetum) has had some scientific studies done on it’s use for migraine headaches, with some positive results. Brewed into a tea, feverfew is best used as a preventative for migraines.

Grow Feverfew from seed, sprinkled onto the soil in early spring. Like Chamomile, it needs light to germinate, so don’t cover, just water in. Give it plenty of sun and you will be rewarded with hundreds of tiny button daisy flowers on a 20 inch bush. This is also an annual, but tends to self seed liberally. Also like Chamomile, brew flowers into a tea.

3. Lavender

Lavender is used to ease tension, and is generally used in aromatherapy… that is, the scent is used in oils and infusions. It is also edible, the flowers being used in salads or drinks, and can also be brewed into any tea.

Easy to grow, lavender loves the sun, and is drought resistant. It does fine in poor soil, but the soil must be well drained. It will not tolerate heavy soil. Several different types and colors are available , the most common is English Lavender, but French Lavender and Spanish Lavender are popular as well, although less hardy. The varieties bloom at slightly different times, but usually from later spring through mid summer, with another short flush in the fall.  A short lived perennial, it will come back for several years, but will then tend to die back, stating in the center of the plant. Luckily, you will find many volunteers popping up ready to take it’s place. Did we mention, it’s gorgeous as well?

4. Peppermint

Peppermint is one of the tummy trouble remedies I actually use, and so do my kids… It really does help relieve nausea and even stomach cramps. It can be energizing as well.

Peppermint is an aggressive plant that can take over a garden if you let it! Although I love growing any kind of mint, if you don’t want to be pulling it like a weed, plant it in pots. Prefers afternoon shade in hot areas, can tolerate some shade in any area. Perennial that comes back every year. Grows best in fertile, moist soil. Flowers are not showy. Foliage is aromatic, and leaves are edible in salads, sauces and can even be frozen in ice cubes to refresh cold drinks.

5. Thyme (Thymol)

Thyme is a powerful antiseptic and astringent. Used for coughs and sore throats, it is gargled with or made into a tea, usually in combination with other herbs. Also used as a disinfectant spray.

Thyme is an herb that has become popular with several decorative varieties in the last few years, including one of my favorites, ‘Doone Valley Thyme’ with its pink flowers. Flowers are tiny but plentiful, and the plant loves sun and tolerates drought. Varieties exist from the low growing ‘creeping Thyme’, to the parent variety, common thyme. Common thyme has been said to have the highest level of Thymol, or oils. A semi woody shrub, it is useful in the garden as well as the kitchen.  Easy plant to grow.

6. Garlic

Garlic is one of those herbs that continues to prove it’s health benefits. Long known for it’s cardiovascular health benefits, it is also used as an anti viral and anti fungal… In my opinion, the best way to take advantage of the healing powers of garlic is to cook with it!

Garlic is easy to grow, especially if you already grow vegetables. Each clove from a garlic bulb will grow into it’s own bulb, and yes, you can plant from grocery store garlic. Simply soak them in a jar of water with a tablespoon of baking soda before planting, to prevent fungal diseases.

Plant garlic in fall, and allow to overwinter. In June or July, when the green stalks are 3/4 brown, gently dig up bulbs and tie together several bunches, then hang to dry. Store in a dry, cool place. Make really good pasta!

7. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is used in a tea for anxiety. Just pick the leaves as desired and brew.

Grow lemon balm in  partly shady area for best results. Rich, moist soil will give you the best plants with the highest amount of oils in the leaves. Being a tender perennial, it will not survive any but the modest winters.

8. Parsley

Lastly, we have parsley. More than a garnish at the side of the plate, parsley helps cleanse the liver, flush the system of excess water and soothes the stomach.

Parsley prefers part shade and rich soil, and does well grown indoors in a sunny windowsill. I prefer to grow the flat leaved variety. Give afternoon shade in hot areas. Harvest by cuttings leaves as needed.

Monday, April 18, 2016

What To Eat In Springtime

The fast procession of Spring blossoms is dizzying -- Acacia and Loquats, Anemones and Redbuds, Violets, Primroses, Bluebonnets and Black Eyed Susans; Irises, Pear Trees, and snow white Yarrow. The flowers of this Season are too many to name. Come Springtime, there is just no stopping the momentum which propels all of life forward.

It is this incredible burst of green life which makes Spring the most opportune time to gather wild edibles and brew daily teas from the herbs growing just beyond your door. It is these plants which thrive in Springtime which have an astounding ability to reawaken the body and sharpen the mind, in preparation for the coming season of fullness. It is a time of deep green nourishment, and we hope you will join us, in drinking deep of all that spring has to offer through this verdant introduction to our favorite seasonal wild foods.


Viola spp.

Parts Used  //  Leaf + Flower
Energetics  //  Cool + Moist
Herbal Actions  //  Demulcent, Astringent, Vulnerary, Alterative, Nutritive

Violet tops the list of our favorite Spring edibles.  The leaves are pleasingly succulent and satisfying eaten raw and the flowers are mellow but fragrant with a subtle sweetness to them.  Wildcrafted Violet leaves + flowers are two of the star ingredients in our Healing Breast Oil. Used externally, this blossoming beauty helps to keep the lymph flowing smoothly, relieves tenderness and swelling, helps to prevent and resolve lumps, bumps, and other growths, and increases the suppleness and resilience of the skin of the breasts and nipples.  Also called Heartsease, due to both the shape of its leaves and its affinity for gladdening a heavy heart, Violets help to bring a subtle brightness back to the world during bouts of ennui.  Enjoy leaves and flowers eaten fresh on the trail or added to salads.  The Leaves can also be made into a truly unique pesto with an incredibly unique and indescribably delicious demulcent quality.  They're particularly rich in vitamins A and C and help to keep digestion and elimination regular with their nourishing mucilage.

Stinging Nettle

Urtica spp.

Parts Used  //  Leaves
Energetics  //  Drying, Stimulating
Herbal Actions  //  Anti-Inflammatory, Nutritive, Alterative, Rubafacient, Diuretic

Nettles is, perhaps, the most famous and infamous of all herbs.  Those who meet it unsuspectingly in the wild, don't soon forget their encounter.  The sting of nettles lingers for up to twenty four hours and can be likened to an electric buzzing as it dissipates. Historically, some have taken advantage of this irritating quality and intentionally undergone what is referred to as Urtication (for the latin, Urtica spp.).  Urtication involves intentionally stinging oneself with Nettles in order to bring circulation and immune factors to a certain part of the body.  It has been used to counteract joint pain, numbness (I can only laugh at this...), baldness, and more spiritual ills which have driven the Soul from a certain part of the body.  While I have never personally undergone Urtication, I am curious about attempting it on my increasingly overtaxed right thumb (thank you, iPhone),

Nettle is incredibly rich in minerals -- most notably calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron -- making it useful for addressing a wide range of complaints including adrenal fatigue, spasmodic cramping, anemia, and general weakness.  It is one of our favorite herbs to enjoy as a nourishing infusion and it combines well with Raspberry Leaf and Oatstraw for this purpose.   Note :: Do not try to eat this plant fresh unless you have been shown how by someone who has done so and remained unscathed.  Do not harvest leaves plant has gone to seed.  Enjoy the fresh leaves as a strong infusion or cook them with olive oil, garlic, and spinach for a real treat. Dried leaves can be powdered and added, to smoothies at a later date.  Oh, and we cannot sing the praises of our Wild Onion + Nettle Seed Finishing Salt loudly enough.  It is so good.


Stellaria media

Parts Used // Aerial Parts
Energetics // Cooling
Herbal Actions // Nutritive, Vulnerary, Demulcent, Diuretic, Anti-Inflammatory, Alterative

Chickweed is a true darling of Springtime.  It often grows in close quarters with Cleavers and the two make a winning combination as a daily tea to breathe life back into the body after a long winter's rest.  Chickweed is also a favorite herb to infuse in oils and salves for its incredible skin healing properties.  Used both internally as a tea or food and externally as a wash, salve, or oil, it is one of the finest plant allies for resolving longstanding skin conditions.  It combines particularly well with Dandelion and Rose to this end, particularly when the underlying cause is hepatic.  Easy to digest yet incredibly nutrient dense, it is a favorite food for restoring the body after illness or convalescence.  Super Abundant in most places where it grows, Chickweed can be enjoyed daily in salads, smoothies, and pestos.


Lamium amplexicaule

Parts Used // Aerial Parts
Energetics // Mildly Cooling
Herbal Actions // Nutritive, Astringent, Vulnerary

Henbit is, at first glance, a diminutive and innocuous plant.  It grows tenaciously through cracks in city sidewalks, covers lawns and parks, and unfortunately, goes mostly unnoticed even by plant lovers.  It's taste is mild and mineral and its small purple flowers possess a subtly sweet nectar and seem to have a sense of humor about the world.  Add it to pestos, infuse it in vinegar, or enjoy it to other spring greens raw or cooked.  The entire plant is edible and quite tasty.  A strong infusion of the entire plant can be used as a compress to soothe bites, stings, mild skin irritations, and swellings.  And, as the name implies, Hens love it.


Tradescantia spp.

Parts Used // Leaf, Stalk, and Flower
Energetics // Cool + Moist
Herbal Actions // Demulcent, Vulnerary, Nutritive

This succulent and mild blossom is coming up through the sidewalks and blooming in thickets in lawns and on by ways. She is cool and moist, sweet and tender. With a distinctly nourishing and demulcent quality, she balances the Vata nature of Spring with ease. Her prolific flowers can be enjoyed raw in salads or smoothies and and the young leaves and shoots can be cooked along with wild onions. Due to the mucilaginous quality of this plant (think okra) it can be added to soups, stews, and gumbos as a thickener. Additionally, this mucilage lends a cooling soothing quality making Spiderwort a great choice for helping to heal mild burns in a manner much like Aloe Vera. Pro tip, eat a few flowers along the trail and see what color they turn your spit!


Gallium aparine

Parts Used // Above Ground Parts
Energetics // Cool + Dry
Herbal Actions // Vulnerary, Lymphatic, Diuretic, Nutritive,  Alterative, Anti-Inflammatory

Cleavers encourages the flow of lymph throughout the body and can help to resolve fibrocystic tissue.  Helpful both internally as a tea and externally as a wash for eruptive skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and boils.  This incredibly prolific plant has an affinity for the urinary tract and kidneys and acts as a stimulating and soothing diuretic in cases of infection.  A relative of the dye plant Madder, the roots can be used to produce a red dye -- though this seems a futile endeavor considering the pithiness of the roots.  Enjoy above ground parts as a daily infusion to support lymphatic health in spring or combine with Turks Cap Leaf + Flower and drink freely as a strong infusion for irritation or infection of the urinary tract.

Wild Arugula

Eruca sativa

Parts Used // Young Leaves + Flowers
Energetics // Warm + Dry
Herbal Actions // Digestive, Warming, Aperient, Nutritive

Wild Arugula is a real treat in its immature "micro" stage. Peppery and stimulating, it makes the perfect addition to any late Winter meal. I especially enjoy it sprinkled over eggs, added to beans and rice, or as a simple salad tossed with lemon and oil and backed within a roasted winter squash. It can be enjoyed mature as well but becomes increasingly spicy as it grows larger. Try it in this state thinly sliced, sautéed, and added to a kale salad with bacon, dates, and blood oranges. One of the first flowers to emerge on the cusp of Winter and Spring -- the bright yellow blossoms make a for a sunny garnish when most edible flowers are still months away.

Wild Onions

Allium spp.

Wild Onions are one of the first feral foods to appear in Spring.  I am here in Central Texas, in Austin, where I was born and raised, and these tender alliums are everywhere!  My mother's lives just up the street from a remarkably vital stretch of water and wild.  Less than a quarter mile from a medium sized highway, this natural sanctuary so tucked away, feels like my own private Eden whenever I come to visit her.  The diversity of wild foods and medicines which thrive in this small haven is astounding.  The Wild Onions are some of the first to find their way onto my plate in Spring, along with cheerful dandelions blossoms and their delicious bitter greens.  Then there are the diminutive and tart Oxalis leaves, the creeping Dewberry now in bloom, the overgrown mats of Cleavers, and the Pecans overhead just beginning to leaf out. There are also sizable Trout in good numbers in the creek, and though I'm not yet much of an angler, they've piqued my curiosity.  All of  this against a backdrop of what is to me, an iconic Springtime vision -- a profusion of edible magenta blossoms covering the Redbud trees.

Harvesting wild onions is a deliciously grounding way to reconnect with the Earth as she grows more fertile with each passing day of Spring. I recommend finding a patch of damp earth, dappled with sun and shade, and placing one palm flat on the ground as you gently coax each bulb from its subterranean resting place. The soft sound and gentle release as the roots succumb to the pull of your hand, moving from soil to sunlight, is marvelously wholesome and satisfying. It is also a resplendent thing to have your fingers covered in wild dirt. I like to leave just a little bit of it on the bulbs rather than washing them too thoroughly. I am a strong believer that a little dirt is very good for you. If that sounds strange, I encourage you read more about that here.


Taraxacum officinale

Parts Used // Entire Plant
Energetics // Warm + Dry
Herbal Actions // Digestive, Hepatic, Aperient, Nutritive, Diuretic, Alterative

First and foremost, Dandelion is an excellent nutritive herb. Useful as both a food and a medicine, Dandelion is remarkably mineral rich and high in antioxidants A + C making it useful in some forms of anemia as well as for strengthening bones + teeth. The implications of including wild and mineral rich greens in your daily diet cannot be overstated--eat a salad of of Dandelion leaves and blossoms each day of Spring and you will surely notice a marked shift in your mood, cognitive function, energy, skin, digestion, and general connection to all that is Wild, within and without.

The leaves of the Dandelion are a potent diuretic which, unlike diuretic medications, works to replenish the minerals (read :: potassium) lost through urination and ultimately to strengthen the kidneys and entire urinary tract through its careful use.  Because of its diuretic effect, Dandelion is an excellent choice for treating Urinary Tract Infections when combined with increased fluid intake and soothing herbs such as Marshmallow Root or Cornsilk--an infusion of the leaves is preferred for this application.  The entire plant, but particularly the root, acts on the system as a mild laxative, or aperient.  It helps to move sluggish bowels, making it an excellent choice for the change of seasons.  Its regular use improves liver function significantly and can therefore have a profound and lasting effect on skin conditions, hormonal imbalances, and even conditions as significant as Hepatitis.  Through its action on the liver, Dandelion effectively cleanses the blood and supports optimal lipid and hormone metabolism.  The bitter taste of the herb itself speaks volumes about its uses.  The powerful bitter flavor promotes bile secretion and soothes indigestion--particularly when the imbalance is caused by impaired fat absorption and digestion.  Greasy stool is a strong indication that Dandelion may be of great use.  The root of Dandelion is also incredibly high in Inulin--a complex sugar which nourishes the beneficial bacteria in our intestinal tract.  Healthy gut flora effects everything from cognitive function to auto-immune processes, so drink up.  To optimize Inulin extraction, a long slow decoction of the root is preferred--combine with Marshmallow Root (soothing and nourishing to the intestinal tract) and Burdock Root (also full of Inulin) for a heavy hitting dose of the good stuff!

Note // Proper identification is of paramount importance. Please consult a
field guide or local wild foods expert before harvesting any new plants you not familiar with. Additionally, always ask permission and offer sincere thanks to the plants for their sustenance.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Don't Throw Away Those Silica Bags Any More!

The silica gel bags we often find in shoe boxes usually end up in the trash, just because we believe they’re completely useless and even toxic.

However, the truth is that they are not poisonous whatsoever. Rather, they are filled with a substance called silicon dioxide which should not be eaten but can be very useful around the house. They’re a non-toxic inert desiccant that will dry out anything around them. Here’s how you can use them:

1. Put Them in Your Gym Bag

The main purpose of these little packets is to absorb any extra moisture and protect the item they are added to from growing bacteria or mold. Bacteria thrive in damp and moist environments so adding one of these guys to your gym bag will eliminate dampness and germs thus freshening it up. They can even remove a very foul odor.

2. Put Them Between Towels

Prevent your towels from getting damp and smelling unpleasant by putting a few of these in the towel cabinet.

3. Make Your Razors Last Longer

Instead of leaving your razor around in the bath where it’s always wet put it in a plastic container with a few silica bags inside. It will make it last longer.

4. Save Your Drowned Phone

If you happen to drop your phone in water and it gets wet, don’t lose hope! Instead of putting it in a jar of rice try the same with silica bags. Fill a jar with them and put your mobile in, it will be much more effective.

5. No More Foggy Car Windows

I absolutely adore this one, since foggy car windows cause me a lot of problems especially in this damp weather season. This goes to all you drivers out there; it’s a true lifesaver in the winter. Instead of waiting for your windows to defog, which in older car models can take forever, put a bunch of these silica gel bags under your windshield from the inside immediately. You’ll see that tomorrow your windows won’t be foggy. It’s the fastest way to stop your windows from fogging up and you’ll save yourself the 10 extra minutes needed to clean them up.

6. Save Your Old Photos

Old photos usually deteriorate with time, which is really sad because they are the sole reminders of our past and are quite dear to our hearts. Put a couple of silica gel bags in your box of old photos to save them from the dampness that can ruin them.

7. Save Your Make Up

Every women needs to have a bag or two of silica gel in her make up purse to stop the powdery make up from curdling.

8. Save Your Jack-O-Lantern

Simply adding a silica bag  to the inside of your jack-o-lantern will extend its shelf life significantly. Nobody wants to smell a rotting pumpkin breaking down on the porch in the fall.
There you have it, 7 fun and useful tips which can make your life easier. Next time you buy something with silica gel bags in it don’t throw them away, they can be quite useful. Can you think of another way you can use these bags, maybe you’re already using them for something we haven’t mentioned? Please share your thoughts and ideas, we can all learn something new.

Monday, February 22, 2016

7 Spices Loaded with Serious Flavor -- and Incredible Health Benefits

Cayenne pepper really hit its prime in the early aughts. When Giselle Bundchen credited cayenne with helping maintain her slim, Victoria's Secret-worthy figure, the spice was suddenly stylish.

It's almost too easy—just a pinch of some magic powder and suddenly you're a fat-burning machine? Well maybe not a machine, but fiery cayenne does seem to have an effect on increasing the metabolism. It's well documented that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that give Advil a run for its money, and cinnamon is coveted amongst those with metabolic disorders thanks to its blood sugar-lowering effect.

The rest of your spice rack isn't to be overlooked—there are some superfood seasonings hidden in the pantry that are worthy of a little more love. Put down the salt and start cooking with these spices—your blood pressure, waistline, and tastebuds will thank you.


Sweet, spicy, smoky—paprika comes in tons of different flavors and varieties, but it's always a vibrant brick red. Thanks to its plenitude of antioxidants that impart its quintessential color, paprika is also full of vitamins A and E. Together, they fight free radical damage in the body, but vitamin A also promotes cell growth and recovery, which supports anti-aging.


With its distinct taste and smell, fennel is often loved or loathed. If you fall into the latter category, this classic Italian seasoning is worth your adoration—full of phytonutrients, fennel has been proven to have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. A special phytonutrient called anethole found in fennel has been linked to slowing the growth of cancer cells and apoptosis, or cell death, in breast cancer cells. Additionally, fennel's antioxidants can help reverse damage to liver cells... So after a really rough night out, look to this spice to help heal your hangover.


Especially popular in some of the most beloved holiday foods—gingerbread, hot toddies, and pumpkin pie, to name a few—cloves are a warming and aromatic addition to any dish. Along with their lovely flavor, cloves impart another interesting element to dishes: eugenol. A compound found specifically in clove oil, eugenol is incredibly effective at protecting the body from external toxins found in the environment, like carbon tetrachloride. It's also a potent natural pesticide, so mixing a little clove oil into your lotion can ward off annoying mosquitos and bugs.

Bay Leaves

You don't really realize how important bay leaves are to Grandma's chicken noodle soup, your favorite bolognese sauce, or classic cooked beans until you accidentally forget to throw one into the mix. When you do overlook these dried leaves, it's clear that something is missing. Although the pungent, almost bittersweet flavor of bay leaves isn't necessarily appetizing on its own, when added into dishes and left to simmer, they impart a little extra depth and dimension. Plus, as it turns out, these leaves also bring some pharmacological properties to the table.

Even dried, bay leaves help the digestive system function properly, acting as a diuretic and eliminating toxins. They also contain a plethora of B-vitamins that support the nervous system to increase energy and amp up the metabolic rate.


Whether fresh or dried, thyme deserves a permanent place in your pantry, especially during the fall and winter months. The woody and aromatic herb has been used for centuries in aromatherapy to treat illness, but it's proven over time to be a powerful antimicrobial treatment. In fact, thyme actually encourages a healthy immune system by increasing white blood cell formation. Next time you feel a chill coming on, throw some thyme into almost any savory dish to reap the immune-boosting benefits of this spice.

Black Pepper

Try not to roll your eyes. Black pepper—no duh! Of course you already know about this spice. But before you skim to the next incredible ingredient, reconsider black pepper for its fat-burning powers. Yep, you read that right. That freshly ground black pepper you've been declining at restaurants for years can actually help your body break down fat cells. Plus, pepper raises core body temperature, forcing the body to eliminate toxins via sweat.


Too often, nutmeg is relegated to holiday treats (what's up, eggnog?), but there are plenty of reasons to throw nutmeg into your cooking all year round. Nutmeg has long been used as a home remedy for insomnia—and there's actually something to this old wives tale.

This spice has a high magnesium content, which has been proven to help those who suffer through restless nights fall asleep and relax far more easily than normally. The powerful antioxidants myristicin and elemicin found in nutmeg fight inflammation and pain, and some researchers believe actually slow down the deterioration of neural pathways in the brain. Slow down aging and maintain memory for a long time? Sounds like it's time to start adding nutmeg to every morning cup of joe.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Food Is Medicine: 20 Natural Painkillers in your Kitchen

This fascinating list, based on scientific research, also gives specific information as to which ache or pain a particular ingredient may assist with. The list is understandably very long and it is impossible to comprehensively deal with every ailment and cure listed.

Below you can find a list of the top 22 natural painkillers that are commonly found in nearly every kitchen. So next time you are feeling poorly, afflicted by aches and pains, before you rush off to the pharmacy, check out your natural painkillers list!

Please note however, that pain or other symptoms which persist could be a sign of something more serious and may require medical intervention. If you are concerned, consult your medical practitioner.

1.  Heal Heartburn with Cider Vinegar 

Sip 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water before every meal, and experts say you could shut down painful bouts of heartburn in as little as 24 hours. “Cider vinegar is rich in malic and tartaric acids, powerful digestive aids that speed the breakdown of fats and proteins so your stomach can empty quickly, before food washes up into the esophagus, triggering heartburn pain,” explains Joseph Brasco, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Center for Colon and Digestive Diseases in Huntsville, AL.

Help to relieve arthritis and muscle pain, and improve joint mobility. Find 30 amazing uses for Apple Cider Vinegar here.

2.  Ginger 

When Danish researchers asked achy people to jazz up their diets with ginger, it eased muscle and joint pain, swelling and stiffness for up to 63 percent of them within two months. Experts credit ginger’s potent compounds called gingerols, which prevent the production of pain-triggering hormones. The study-recommended dose: Add at least 1 teaspoon of dried ginger or 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger to meals daily.

3. Erase Earaches with Garlic

Treat that dreadful earache pain by placing two drops of warm garlic oil into your aching ear twice daily for five days. This simple treatment can clear up ear infections faster than prescription meds, say experts at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Scientists say garlic’s active ingredients (germanium, selenium, and sulfur compounds) are naturally toxic to dozens of different pain-causing bacteria. To whip up your own garlic oil gently simmer three cloves of crushed garlic in a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil for two minutes, strain, then refrigerate for up to two weeks, suggests Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., co-author of the book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. For an optimal experience, warm this mix slightly before using so the liquid will feel soothing in your ear canal.

4. Cure a Toothache with Cloves

Gently chewing on a clove can ease tooth pain and gum inflammation for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers. Experts point to a natural compound in cloves called eugenol, a powerful, natural anesthetic. Bonus: Sprinkling a ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves on meals daily may also protect your ticker. Scientists say this simple action helps stabilize blood sugar, plus dampen production of artery-clogging cholesterol in as little as three weeks.

5. Tame Chronic Pain with Turmeric

Studies show turmeric, a popular East Indian spice, is actually three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin and other similar chemical medications, plus it can help relieve chronic pain for 50 percent of people struggling with arthritis and even fibromyalgia, according to Cornell researchers. That’s because turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, naturally shuts down cyclooxygenase 2, an enzyme that churns out a stream of pain-producing hormones, explains nutrition researcher Julian Whitaker, M.D. and author of the book, Reversing Diabetes. The study-recommended dose: Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon daily onto any rice, poultry, meat or vegetable dish.

6. Relax Painful Muscles with Peppermint

Suffering from tight, sore muscles? Stubborn knots can hang around for months if they aren’t properly treated, says naturopath Mark Stengler, N.D., author of the book, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies. His advice: Three times each week, soak in a warm tub scented with 10 drops of peppermint oil. The warm water will relax your muscles, while the peppermint oil will naturally soothe your nerves — a combo that can ease muscle cramping 25 percent more effectively than over-the-counter painkillers, and cut the frequency of future flare-ups in half, says Stengler. Additionally, drinking peppermint tea may help to relieve sore throat and reduce feelings of upset stomach and abdominal pain caused by stress. The menthol in peppermint inhibits nerves that react to painful stimuli.

7. Give Your Back Some TLC with Grapes

Got an achy back? Grapes could be the ticket to a speedy recovery. Recent studies at Ohio State University suggest eating a heaping cup of grapes daily can relax tight blood vessels, significantly improving blood flow to damaged back tissues (and often within three hours of enjoying the first bowl). That’s great news because your back’s vertebrae and shock-absorbing discs are completely dependent on nearby blood vessels to bring them healing nutrients and oxygen, so improving blood flow is essential for healing damaged back tissue..

8. Fight Pain with Flaxseed

Recent research has shown that just 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed added to the daily diet, eases sore and painful breasts associated with the start of the menstrual cycle. There are a number of natural compounds in flaxseed which prevent estrogen spikes that can trigger breast pain. Applying flaxseed oil to the breast is also effective. More good news: You don’t have to be a master baker to sneak this healthy seed into your diet. Just sprinkle ground flax on oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce or add it to smoothies and veggie dips.

9. Prevent Pain with Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice cuts your risk of picking up a painful bladder infection. Cranberry juice flushes bacteria from the bladder by preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Drink at least 2 glasses of the juice per day as soon as you notice the signs of bladder infection. Find here more information on how to treat urinary tract infection naturally.

10. Tame Leg Cramps with Tomato Juice

Leg cramps are usually caused by a potassium deficiency due to heavy perspiration during exercise or when it is flushed out by diuretics. Tomato juice, rich in potassium, will reduce your risk of these painful leg cramps. Take 2 glasses daily to keep cramps at bay.

11. Heal Mouth Sores with Honey

Raw honey works wonders on sore throat and mouth sores. The natural enzymes in honey banish inflammation, help to destroy viruses and speed up the healing process. Cinnamon and honey mixed together are also promoted by Ayurvedic medicine and alternative medicine. In a paste form this mixture can be applied to the painful area and massaged into the skin. Mixing honey and cinnamon in a warm cup of water and drinking it on a regular basis has also shown to relieve arthritis symptoms.

12. Energize Migraine Medication with Coffee

Prone to migraines? Try muscling-up your painkiller with a coffee chaser. Whatever over-the-counter pain med you prefer, researchers at the National Headache Foundation say washing it down with a strong 12- ounce cup of coffee will boost the effectiveness of your medication by 40 percent or more. Experts say caffeine stimulates the stomach lining to absorb painkillers more quickly and more effectively.

13. Drink Tea to Relive Pain

The tannin in tea helps to stop the contractions in the intestines which occur during a bout of diarrhea or colitis. Drink plenty of tea to relieve the pain when suffering the unpleasant effects of diarrhea.

14. Mustard is an Anti-Inflammatory

For a congested and sore chest as a result of a cold, rub a generous amount of mustard onto your chest. Place a warm cloth over it to make an old-fashioned mustard poultice to relieve pain and congestion.  The active ingredients in mustard have fantastic pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

15. Take Away Pain of a Burn with Baking Soda 

An excellent way for easing the pain of a burn is with household baking soda. Make a paste and apply to affected area and cover with a wet gauze for a few minutes. The alkaline nature of the baking soda will neutralize the acid in the wound, preventing infection and reducing the pain. Find here 6 uses for baking soda as a kitchen medicine.

16. Heal Sinus Problems with Horseradish

Latest studies show sinusitis is the nation’s number one chronic health problem. And this condition doesn’t just spur congestion and facial pain, it also makes sufferers six times more likely to feel achy all-over. Horseradish to the rescue! According to German researchers, this eye-watering condiment naturally revs up blood flow to the sinus cavities, helping to open and drain clogged sinuses and heal sinus infections more quickly than decongestant sprays do. The study-recommended dose: One teaspoon twice daily (either on its own, or used as a sandwich or meat topping) until symptoms clear.

17. Heal Infections with Salt

Soaking infected minor cuts and scrapes naturally nixes inflammation, plus it’s anti-bacterial, so it quickly destroys the germs that cause swelling and pain. Just mix 1 teaspoon of salt into each cup of water, heat to the warmest temperature that you can comfortably stand, and then soak the affected area for 20 minutes twice daily, until your infection subsides.

18. Gargle with Lemon Juice 

Dilute lemon juice in water to ease the pain of a sore throat when used as a gargle.

11. Prevent Digestive Upsets with Pineapple

Got gas? One cup of fresh pineapple daily can cut painful bloating within 72 hours, say researchers at California’s Stanford University. That’s because pineapple is naturally packed with proteolytic enzymes, digestive aids that help speed the breakdown of pain-causing proteins in the stomach and small intestine.

20. Soothe a Sting with Meat Tenderizer

Use a meat tenderizer which has papain (papaya enzyme) to neutralize the venom in a jellyfish or bee sting.. A paste of meat tenderizer and water offers relief for back pain as well. Use a sufficient amount of the tenderizer and water and apply the paste directly to the areas of your back that are in pain. The enzymes will work to break down the proteins, reduce any inflammation and therefore soothe your back muscles.

21. Ease Sore Throat with Cayenne Pepper

The role of the cayenne pepper is to help relieve the pain in a sore throat. The main active compound found in cayenne is a substance known as capsaicin. Capsaicin has shown to contain pain-relieving properties by hindering the transmission of a neurotransmitter responsible for transmitted pain signals to your brain. If you can bear the taste, add 1 to 3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper in a glass of water (8 ounces) to find instant relief of migraine headache.

22. Chase Away Joint and Headache Pain with Cherries

A daily bowl of cherries could ease your ache, without the stomach upset so often triggered by today’s painkillers, say researchers at East Lansing’s Michigan State University . Their research reveals that anthocyanins, the compounds that give cherries their brilliant red color, are anti-inflammatories 10 times stronger than ibuprofen and aspirin. “Anthocyanins help shut down the powerful enzymes that kick-start tissue inflammation, so they can prevent, as well as treat, many different kinds of pain,” explains Muraleedharan Nair, Ph.D., professor of food science at Michigan State University . His advice: Enjoy 20 cherries (fresh, frozen or dried) daily, then continue until your pain disappears.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Learn How to Grow Peanuts in Your Spring Garden

Peanuts are not actually nuts, they are a vegetable that belongs to the legume family. Learn how to grow peanuts in your garden and enjoy the benefits of this hassle free, delicious crop.

Peanuts are native to South America and take about 120 days tomature. The plant is hardy and can withstand light spring and fall frosts. Although peanut plants are normally considered to be Southern crops, Northern gardeners can grow them successfully if they start the plants indoors, and use certain varieties that can withstand cooler climates.


Peanuts require full sun and soil with good drainage. You can ensure enough drainage by working in organic matter in order to make it loose and friable.

Peanut seeds can be planted hulled or unhulled but be sure not to remove the thin, pinkish brown seed coverings, otherwise the seed will not germinate.

If you live in a cooler climate, start your peanut plant indoors in a large pot about a month before the last frost. Seeds should be sowed on inch deep and placed in the sunniest spot possible. Be sure to water weekly. You can transplant your peanut seedlings into your outside garden once the soil is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Transplants should be spaced 10 inches apart.

If you live in a warmer climate, plant your crop outdoors around the last expected frost. Space your seeds 2 inches deep and 5 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. Be sure to water well and thin the plants to 10 inches apart.


Once it is about 1 foot tall, long, pointed pegs will grow from faded flowers and push 1 to 3 inches into the soil. This is where you will find the peanut. The soil around the plant should be soft enough so that the pegs growing from the plant do not have too much difficulty penetrating the soil. You can help your plant by laying down some light mulch, like grass clippings or straw to prevent the hardening of soil.

1 inch of water a week is perfect for a peanut plant. Since it is a legume, it can supply its own nitrogen. The use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer will encourage foliage instead of fruit, so try to avoid the use of any fertilizer that may contain a lot of nitrogen. Soil that is well-prepared will provide all the nutrients the plants need.


Once the leaves turn yellow and the peanuts’ inner shells have gold looking veins, your crop is ready to harvest. You can check the peanuts periodically by pulling out a few nuts and shelling them. The pegs will become very brittle and the pods will break off if you wait too long to harvest. To harvest, pull the entire plant our of the ground while the soil is moist. Dry the plant in an airy space until the leaves become crumbly. Once the plant is dried, remove the pods. Unshelled peanuts can be stored for up to a year if they are stored in an airtight container.