DIY Kitchen Herbs

Fresh or dried herbs are relatively inexpensive to buy, so why cultivate your own?  Only you can answer that for yourself.  I like to grow as many of the herbs I use in the kitchen, myself!  Why?  Because they are fresh, I know they are not sprayed with pesticides etc. and they are just there right outside the back door.  I only ‘pick fresh’, dry or freeze whatever I will use, so no waste of produce or of money.   For me, there is also the basic satisfaction of seeing something grow, from seed in some cases, into something that adds, at its least, nutritional value and at its best may provide medicinal benefits with no inherent side-effects.  Bonus – they look so good in the garden!

I am not a qualified herbalist so any of the herbs I talk about in this post are in general circulation and use.  The benefits are easily researched and I will try to provide links for a deeper dive should you be interested in knowing more.  Apologies in advance for the links provided.  Many websites have an annoying number of ads and ‘request to subscribe’ pop-ups.  So, it is just extra information if you want and, of course, you can always do your own research.

You don’t need a big garden or even a garden at all, to grow herbs.  Most herbs can be grown in pots/planters.  My advice would be to grow the herbs you know you will use.  I have parsley, rosemary, sage, chives, lemon balm, thyme and lemon verbena.  I have recently started some coriander from seed as I read that even this late in the year it will grow.  I can verify that this is true as within a week the seeds have peeped above the soil.  I will soon need to transfer them into a bigger tray.  Another herb I will add next year is oregano.  I have grown mint in the past and it grows like crazy so you would need lots of growing space for it.  This would be a good example of weighing up whether to grow a herb or not.  Q) What would I use mint for?  A) Tea, flavouring drinks like Kombucha.  Q2) Would it be easier to buy some mint tea?  A2) Yes!   Conclusion – the inconvenience outweighs the benefit of growing it myself.

How to use your DIY Herbs

In the past I have used herbs fresh or frozen.  It is only this year that I have ventured into drying herbs for ‘future’ use.  Why?  It is somewhat prompted by rumours of possible disruption to food and energy supplies.  My personal philosophy being “better safe than sorry” and “sure why not”!   Once a herb is completely dried it can be stored long term and used in many ways.

So far I have not found it necessary to have a dehydrator to dry herbs.  These can be quite expensive machines but if you can afford one – good for you.  I hear dehydrators don’t use so much electricity so it would be ideal to have one if you are dehydrating lots of produce.  Some air fryers, as well a regular oven, can also be used to dehydrate food.

You can air dry your herbs, especially this time of year when it is warm and dry.  We are experiencing some lovely weather here in Ireland.   This is what I am doing at the moment (as seen in the picture on the left).  Here are the steps I follow – first pick a small amount of fresh herbs and then wash them thoroughly but gently.  Dry them off with a paper towel or clean tea towel.  The herbs are then ready to be ‘air dried’.  I just use some net bags and hang them from a pole in the utility room which gets plenty of light.  I have found that Rosemary and Lemon Balm dry quickly.  Parsley and Sage seem to take a little longer.  So, if you want to do your ‘storing’ all in the one day, you can finish off the drying in the oven.  The leaves should feel crunchy, not pliable in any way.  Spread the herbs onto a baking sheet in the oven.  Heat the oven to 50°C and leave the oven door ajar.   Check after 1/2 hr. to see if the herbs are crisp and dry, keep going until they are.  [Any moisture left in the leaves may cause the herb to grow mouldy in time and render them useless].  You can also do the whole drying process in the oven but you may as well benefit from this nice weather we are having.  Won’t cost you a thing!!

Once dried completely,  just add the Sage leaves and Lemon balm leaves to storage jars, just as they are.  I use the lemon balm for tea and cold drink flavouring.  Fresh lemon balm leaves can be used when baking fish in the oven.  Dried it can be added to any recipe to provide a lemony flavour.    Lemon balm is recommended for anxiety and insomnia.  It can be taken as a herbal tea at night.  More about the benefits of Lemon balm here.

Sage, I would use it mostly in savoury foods like soup, meat dishes and savoury breads.  It is quite delicious cooked in butter on the pan with sliced mushrooms.  It can also be used to make Sage tea and its benefits are many.  More about the benefits of Sage tea here.

Parsley – my favourite!!  The smell always bring me back to secondary school days – cookery class – you always had to have that sprig of parsley to garnish your dish!!  Shame if it is cast to one side.  Parsley is full of great nutrition.  It grows best in spring and summer so if you want to enjoy the taste and benefits all year round, drying is a good way to preserve it.  I got flat leaf  parsley seeds and started planting from seed this year for the first time.  Turned out great!!  It is flourishing in the garden planter.  I use it liberally in salads.  I’ve added it to lentil bread instead of dill and little by little I’m drying and storing it to use in the winter.  Parsley is rich in vitamins and minerals, and its high cholorophyll content makes is an excellent blood purifier.  After I dried a recent batch of parsley I ran it through the high speed blender to produce a powder.  This would be an excellent nutritious addition to a smoothie, soup or sauce.

Rosemary usually survives the winter and flourishes again in the spring, summer and autumn.  I add fresh cleaned rosemary sprigs to the bottle of any new purchase of olive oil.  Though it is not ‘obvious’ to the naked eye, oils go rancid over time and rancid oils are not healthy to consume.  Adding some fresh sprigs of Rosemary to the bottle slows down the ‘ageing’ process.   The electrons in the oil and those in the rosemary connect harmoniously making the oil more stable, not to mention more nutritious.  Place fresh clean springs of Rosemary on any meat you are going to cook.  Cooking meat produces ‘carcinogens’ in the process and Rosemary mitigates some of that damage.  I chopped up my last batch of dried Rosemary into really small pieces.  This would be perfect for including in meat dishes, for making Rosemary potato wedges etc.  The benefits of Rosemary are many and you can read more about it here.

All of the above herbs are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and rich in phyto-nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Growing and using your own herbs costs you one thing you may need to consider – TIME!  If you have a little time to spare, it is well worth the effort.  I would like to think that our food and fuel supply will always be assured, but ‘just in case’ this is one way to boost your nutrition using fresh and dried herbs from your own back yard.

Once you start you won’t be able to stop.

Anne ♥

 

Savoury Lentil Cake

This post is an update / addition to the previous blog entitled ‘Red Split Lentil Bread’.  As promised I tried the second recipe suggestion given in the video link provided in the previous blog.   The ingredients to make the lentil bread are the same as this savoury cake but with the addition of a few more ingredients namely cheese, onion and herbs.  The rest of the instructions given for the lentil bread are the same for this recipe.  For the additions I used Greek Feta (200g) diced, a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley (because I have it growing in my back yard), a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped onion and a 1/4 teaspoon of coarse black pepper. 

Other varieties of cheese you can use include Halloumi, Mozzarella or basically any soft cheese.   Other suggested herbs are Dill or Basil.  I used finely chopped red onion but you could also use fresh spring onion, dried onion or chives.  

When I previously made the lentil bread I just greased the tin with olive oil as suggested in the video but I found it difficult to get the bread out of the baking tray without breaking it.  This time I used a baking tin liner.  I cooked this one in a round baking tin.  When the cake cooled down completely I was able to peel the liner off carefully without breaking the cake.

As I suspected, the savoury cake is really delicious and I am glad to be able to add it to my favourite recipes for regular use.  I had a slice of the cake this morning for breakfast served cold with some fresh cherry tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing (on the tomatoes).   The cheese and herbs combine harmoniously with the rest of the ingredients.   It would make a great lunch dish combined with a mixed salad.   Again, it holds together very well and so it could be added to your picnic basket for a filling and nutritious meal on the go.

 

You may be aware that there are concerns worldwide about shortages of wheat and other food products.  You will know how quickly we were plunged into fuel shortages and rising fuel prices.  I anticipate that more flexibility may be called for when it comes to our food choices in order to get the best nutrition into your diet.  ‘Bread’ is a real staple in our diet in Ireland.  We are slow to abandon bread even when it has a deleterious effect on our health.  Upon being told that her starving peasant subjects had no bread to eat, Marie-Antoinette, the queen of France during the French revolution, apparently responded “Let them eat cake”!  OK, so we’re not quite there.  We still have a wide variety of foods available to us, but changes could be coming down the line.  Save this cake recipe as it is very nutrition dense, not to mention delicious.   Marie-Antoinette’s subjects would have been well fed on this cake.  Of course, I get that the point of the story is not really ‘the bread/cake’ but the fact that she had no awareness of the real experience of her ‘peasants’ lives, their experience of life being so completely removed from her own.  Hmmm….. sound familiar??  Have we closed the gap between the rich and the poor 3-4 centuries later??  ‘Food for thought’!   If we did have to resort to using other flours to make bread or bread substitutes, lentils are a really good choice.  Apart from being relatively inexpensive, they have a long shelf life so you could buy in bulk now and be prepared.   It’s culinary uses are many and varied.  Lentils are ‘gluten free’ and are therefore unlikely to cause an immune reaction or digestive issues unlike wheat products.

Try it folks, you won’t be disappointed.  

🙂

Anne

Pomegranate Flavour Fizzy Drink

This post is an update on a previous post entitled ‘Probiotic Fizzy Lemonade’.  You can check that out under Blog / Recipes.  Since then I have tried new flavours for this homemade drink.  I often use fresh pomegranate in my breakfast bowl but I came to try pomegranate as a fizzy drink flavour after my sister was clearing her kitchen of fresh produce to travel abroad and gave me a spare one.  In that first batch I made I also added some fresh lime juice (as I just happen to have a left over lime).  It turned out to be a delicious flavour combination.  I’ve since made a little video of how to use a pomegranate to make probiotic fizzy drinks.  [Click YouTube Icon below – it is 5 mins 31 seconds long]

Next time around I might add ‘star anise’ to the fermenting bottle of pomegranate to see how that flavour combination works.  I have used star anise in Kombucha in the past.  I really like the flavour it adds to the drink.  Finding flavour combinations that appeal to you is a matter of experimenting, but no matter what the outcome, the drink remains a really healthy option!

I just need to NOTE here that every time you use a pomegranate the flavour outcome will depend on the quality and ripeness of the fruit.  If you open a pomegranate and the seeds are a dark red and the juice rushes out as you cut into the fruit, this is likely to ultimately produce a richer, sweeter flavoured drink.  Unfortunately, when buying a pomegranate it can be pot luck as to whether it is ideal for juicing.  I have often purchased pomegranate that had quite dry and opaque looking seeds which are ok for sprinkling on your breakfast bowl or salad, but I wouldn’t recommend it for juicing.  It’s hard to tell before you open the fruit what you are going to find inside!

If you have watched the video I hope you enjoyed it and realize I am not a professional video maker by far.  I just produced it on my phone with an app called ‘Film Maker’ as a handy visual to follow.  If you are like me, I tend to follow a visual better than reading down through written text.  However, as previously stated, you will find the written instructions on how to make the ‘ginger bug’ starter and fizzy drink in my previous blog entitled ‘Probiotic Fizzy Lemonade’.

Enjoy 🙂

Anne

How to make Sauerkraut

I have to admit that even since childhood I have NOT been a fan of cooked cabbage or any cooked cruciferous vegetables for that matter.  In retrospect, when I consider how it was offered ‘plain cooked, perhaps even overcooked, smelly veg’ 😦 , I’m not surprised it didn’t appeal.  ‘No offence mother’!!  I could not be swayed, and I mean, AT ALL!!

Turns out cruciferous vegetables (cabbage in all its forms, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, radishes etc.) are one of the most nutritionally valuable and health beneficial foods you can consume.  The phytonutrients (phyto = plant) in crucifers protect our health by working as antioxidants to disarm free radicals before they can damage DNA, cell membranes and fat-containing molecules such as cholesterol.  These compounds actually signal our genes to increase production of enzymes involved in detoxification, the cleansing process through which our bodies eliminate harmful compounds.

In any case, I won’t be too hard on myself for having rejected crucifers for so long, since boiling drastically reduces the nutritional benefits which is lost through heat and into the water that went down the plug hole 😊.  In later years however, I happily consume various forms of raw cabbage e.g. coleslaw and other cruciferous containing salad dishes and of course, sauerkraut.   Some lightly steamed Broccoli drenched in butter with a sprinkle of pepper is also very pleasing to my taste buds, whereas to eat it overcooked is still a chore ☹  Here it is worth noting for anyone with Thyroid issues, it is best to cook crucifers even a little to deactivate the goitrogens contained in these vegetables.

You can read more about the benefits of cruciferous vegetables here.

Finally, with regard to the benefit of cruciferous vegetable in general, most nutritional therapists will be familiar with these benefits in relation to hormonal balance for both male and female hormones.  An increase in consumption of cruciferous vegetables is usually recommended and/or supplementation with diindolylmethane or DIM for short.

Classic Sauerkraut Recipe
(Dry salting method)     [To make one – 2 Litre Jar]
  • Head of Red or White Cabbage or mix
  • Sea Salt (800g of cabbage to 1 tablespoon of salt)
  • Juniper berries (1 ½ tblsp)
  • Caraway seeds (1 tblsp)
Method:
  1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut out the core, then shred the cabbage. You can use a sharp kitchen knife or the shredder blade on a food processor.
  2. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and add the salt. Massage the salt through the cabbage and leave to stand for 30-60 minutes.  Mix in the berries and seeds.  (These add flavour but are optional).
  3. With washed hands massage the mixture until it is wet and limp.
  4. Fill a sterilized jar with handfuls of the mixture, making sure to press it firmly down with your fist. You will see more liquid seeping out.
  5. Fill the jar to within 2.5cm of the top. For successful fermentation it is crucial to keep the cabbage submerged, so place a weight on it.  [You can use the outer leaves at the top of the kraut and place a weight in the middle.  I have some heavy glass t-light holders which I have found to work well].
  6. Close the lid. Leave it sit for anything from 1 to 6 weeks.
  7. If you are using an airtight jar you may need to burp (release the build-up of carbon dioxide gas) by opening the lid once in a while. [Personally, I have never had to do this and have left my Sauerkraut ferments for 21 days unopened on most occasions.   Just keep an eye on it.  Local temperature is a key factor and in Ireland anyway, temperatures are generally not that high so it slows the process down.  Fermenting is definitely a learning process and you’ll get to know what to expect the more you experiment].
  8. When you are happy with the flavour and texture you can store the jar in the fridge. [I tend to make a bigger amount than I can use so I usually transfer it to smaller jars in the fridge].

Note:  The longer you leave your sauerkraut to ferment the more of a probiotic punch it will contain.

Sauerkraut benefits:

The process of fermentation increases the bio-availability of the plants nutrients making it even more nutritious than the original cabbage.  It is high in Vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium and a very good source of dietary fibre.  Other minerals it contains are iron, potassium, copper and manganese.

If you happen to find yourself in love with sauerkraut, please note that moderation is advised.  It is best to eat fermented cruciferous vegetables as condiments, not as large components of the diet.

You can do a deeper dive into the benefits of Sauerkraut here.

For me, as I’ve said, it provides a tasty, easily made and stored source of vegetable and at the same time a source of natural probiotic.  The strains of live friendly bacteria are diverse.  Probiotics in supplement form are great but you could cut out this expense by regularly including fermented foods into your diet.  It is comparatively way less expensive.  It may cost you a little more time in the kitchen but even this is minimal as it becomes just part of your routine.

I started my fermenting journey with Kefir.  I’m not a big fan of milk so I didn’t continue making this for very long.  Then I moved on to making Kombucha.  This is really nice and I tried many and varied types of tea and added flavours.  But, to date my favourite ferment besides Sauerkraut, is ‘Probiotic Fizzy Lemonade’.  It doesn’t have to be lemon. You can find my instructions on this website here. I have most recently tried pomegranate and this turned out to be really, really tasty.

Though my fermenting journey started with my Nutritional Therapy training where we learned to make kefir and water kefir, I currently rely on ‘The Cultured Club’ book by Dearbhla Reynolds to expand my knowledge and experience with ferments.

References

The Cultured Club’ ….subtitle ‘Fabulous Funky Fermentation Recipes’  by Derbhla Reynolds.

World’s Healthiest Foods [On-line] – ‘Optimizing Your Cells’ Detoxification/Cleansing Ability by Eating Cabbage and Other Cruciferous Veg’

Dr. Axe [On-line] – ‘5 Health Benefits of Sauerkraut and How to Make Your Own’

Immune Support – Vitamin C

The Role of Vitamin C in Immunity

Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.  In times of high stress the adrenals glands are also under more pressure to produce the stress hormones to keep us going, but at a cost.  Vitamin C helps to heal any damage caused by excess stress.

But we can only get Vitamin C from our diet.  The body cannot make it. 

Vitamin C is also a water soluble vitamin so it doesn’t stay in the body for long.  This is good in one sense as there is no chance of toxicity.  On the other hand, this means we need to be sure of getting our daily dose.

Food is a great bio-available way to boost your vitamin C intake.  Make sure to get some into your diet to build a strong immune system.

Research into the use of high dose IV Vitamin C with Corona Virus patients in China showed promising results by reducing symptoms and speeding recovery.  You can read more about it at this website www.vitaminC4covid.com

Getting your daily Vitamin C

Although getting IV Vitamin C is not something we can generally avail of, we can take preventive measure by ensuring we have adequate Vitamin C in our diet for a start.  The photo above gives the best food sources.

After that, if you feel a cold or any infection coming on, you can easily boost your Vitamin C levels.  A good powdered form of Vitamin C is available from most health stores.  You could add 1 gram to a bottle of water and take a few mouthfuls every hour throughout the day.  You can also buy ‘slow release Vitamin C ‘ which will be released into the body over time.  This is the best way to take Vitamin C because the body will eliminate any Vitamin C it cannot use there and then.  Vitamin C is not stored in the body like the fat soluble vitamins A and D.

Another link

Alliance of Natural Health – Research :  Covid 19 and Vitamin C

♥ Anne

Get these Anti’s

A new born baby has an absorbent mind, like a sponge!  This allows the baby to easily learn the language spoken by the people around them.  It does this learning so effortlessly it might appear that it was destined by its DNA just like the colour of its hair.  But this is not the case!  Language does not grow like hair and teeth.  Acquiring a language is a learning skill that involves lots of interaction between the brain and the outside world.  The child’s mind is particularly suited for this task.  Amazing as this is, acquiring language doesn’t end with childhood.  Have you noticed that when you embark on a new project, interest, area of study or line of work, there is a whole new language that goes with it?  It dawns on me sometimes when I’m happily listing off the health benefits of a particular food, saying it’s anti this that and the other, that perhaps people don’t really get it.  As adults we have a tendency to skim past what we don’t immediately understand.  It’s like a foreign language, you just blank it out.  So, I’d like to pause and explain a couple of very important ‘anti’s’ as they relate to nutrition and health.

Getting the Anti’s

Oxidation, inflammation, cancer, bacteria and viruses etc. are enemies to the health of the body which needs supportive nutrients and other factors to fight back.  Simply put, if you wanted to address a bacterial threat you would choose anti-bacterial properties.  So, in general, ‘anti’ as a prefix is a good thing!  It is pretty obvious what anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-histamine, anti-aging and anti-cancer mean.  Foods, supplements, essential oils, remedies etc. that have these ‘anti’ properties support the body in fighting that particular threat.

Inflammation and oxidation are less easily understood.  We loosely associate inflammation with pain.  We seek out anti-inflammatories at the Pharmacy for this, yet the harmful effects of inflammation go way, way beyond aches and pains!   And, when it comes to oxidative damage, unless you have studied nutrition or biochemistry, you might easily glaze over with this one too.

So, if you want to read on, I will explain a little bit more about the insidious effects of inflammation and oxidation on the body, how it gets there and why we all need the support of anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants.

Continue reading “Get these Anti’s”

DIM Vegetables

Diindolylmethane, or DIM, is a compound that is formed in your body during the digestion of foods that contain the nutrient indole-3-carbinol.  Indole-3-carbinol is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.  Eating these foods, therefore, provides your body with DIM.  DIM supports the liver in detoxifying and removing harmful molecules including carcinogens, from the body.

Source: Google Images

The vegetables in this photo look very inviting but if you are anything like me you will need some convincing and to be a little more creative in their use.  I’m definitely not a fan of overcooked broccoli, cabbage or Brussels sprouts. YUCK!!  What’s that smell?  But apparently, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Since finding out how beneficial these vegetables are for hormone balance and cancer prevention, I’m finding new and tasty ways to get them in.

How does cauliflower curry soup sound?  There are lots of recipes out there for cauliflower rice as a substitute for rice.  White cabbage can make up a healthy coleslaw.  Not forgetting that a couple of spoonfuls of Sauerkraut on your salad or dinner also ticks this box.

Chopping or chewing cruciferous vegetables results in the formation of these bio-active products. Eating them either raw, lightly sautéed, quickly stir-fried, or steamed is best to retain the full array of nutrients.  If you wish to experiment with them raw, try juicing, fresh salads, marinated salads, and adding sprouts or greens to your sandwiches. But the most important thing is to eat more of them!  Individuals with thyroid function concerns should consume these vegetables mostly cooked (vs. raw).

There are lots of different cruciferous vegetables to choose from, so if you’re including these wonderful vegetables as a regular part of your diet, be sure to keep up the variety.

Apart from the well known and often quoted varieties like broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, there are also the less published members of this family, namely:

Rocket;  bok choy;  garden cress;  kale (all colours);  horseradish;  mustard seeds (all colours);  turnip root and greens;  watercress;  real wasabi and  radish, greens and sprouts.

These recipes look amazing  – Dr Oz Cruciferous Veggie Recipes

Are You What You Eat?

You would probably expect someone like me who has studied nutrition, to completely agree with the statement ‘you are what you eat’.  After all, my job is to convince you that you need to eat nutritious foods.  Eat healthy become healthy, it’s simple, right?  Sorry folks, I wish it was that simple.

But you already know this!   Every time you switch on the TV, read a magazine article or link in to social media, conflicting ‘truths’ abound as to what is good and bad food.  First fat is bad!  You should eat low-fat to avoid heart disease!  Now that’s wrong!  Now fat is good and you need full fat!  Eggs are the best source of protein?  What about the cholesterol … bad for you? Meat, is it bad or does it have a high bio-availability of protein and other nutrients that are good for you? And on it goes until most of us don’t know what to believe or who to trust.   I wish I could tell you I’m about to make things crystal clear but that would just be another lie.   I can tell you from my own experience though, that a good understanding of nutrition allows me to see through a lot of this apparent confusion for what it really is.  But even this knowledge doesn’t make the journey of implementing healthier eating any less challenging.

I have come to the conclusion that unless you are someone like Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, running a small holding, growing and making your own food and producing your own meat and dairy, there is no way to know with any certainty that what you are eating is healthy.  The Hugh’s of this world can ignore the media hype but the rest of us have very little control over food quality and its possible effect on our health.  We are in the vulnerable position of having to trust others.  People are unaware of the changing nature of food!  The egg of fifty years ago looks the same today but nutritionally it is very different.  In its purest form, eggs and most other natural foods can only truly claim their rightful status if they have been grown or fed naturally in a natural environment.

The Illness, pharma, healthcare including [gyms /health stores /alternatives] and food industries are big businesses that are busy selling ‘health’ in one form or another.  They battle it out in the public arena like the gladiators of old.  They need to win your trust to keep you invested!  But this constant stream of media sensationalism creates a great deal of fear and solves nothing.  Ongoing stress is a waste of your valuable energy and is NOT good for your health. Think about this for a moment if your health is their concern, what if by some miracle we all became well enough tomorrow not to need them – what would that mean for business?  There is a place in our lives for all of these services but see it also for what it is – business.  The only person that really cares about your health is you!  And, you are not powerless in this!  The good news is, looking after your health is a choice you can make at any time.  It will be challenging!   Our society is not currently set up to make this easy for you.  More good news – if you are reading this blog you are still alive.  What you are eating hasn’t killed you – YET 🙂  Read on if you want to find out how to keep calm and carry on in the face of forces outside of your control.  There is a lot you can do for yourself in the pursuit of better health.

Continue reading “Are You What You Eat?”

Magnesium ‘Miracle Mineral’

In my first blog about Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, I explained that it is unusual for Nutritional Therapists to recommend a single nutrient supplement, but that Vitamin D could be the exception.  Why?   Over many years, science has shown how insufficient vitamin D levels contribute to health concerns on virtually every level and many have responded by boosting levels with supplementation or quality time in the sun.   But here is another nutrient which has a similarly wide-reaching effect in the body, which is also largely deficient in the population and could benefit from supplementation.  Magnesium!  Every known illness is associated with magnesium deficiency.  Like vitamin D, magnesium supports seemingly endless functions and bodily systems.   It is a macro-mineral, the fourth most abundant in the body and a co-factor (a molecule that assists in chemical processes in the body) for the proper functioning of 325 enzymes.  Ongoing magnesium deficiency has been linked to numbness and tingling, muscle cramps and twitches, headaches and migraines, constipation, insomnia, irregular heart rhythms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, premenstrual syndrome, personality changes, anxiety, fatigue and weakness, fibromyalgia, vertigo, and seizures…. and that’s just for a start!   But why such widespread lack?  Historically humans met their needs for magnesium through clean spring, river or lake mineral rich water and ate food grown in mineral rich soil.  Magnesium is much more plentiful in the diet than vitamin D, provided you are including magnesium rich foods.  Even so, mineral depleted soil produces a much lower mineral content in natural foods as compared to the beginning of the last century.  Other modern day factors also contribute to its depletion in the body such as stress, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and sugar.  In this context, deficiency is easier to fathom!  Like vitamin D, having sufficient levels of magnesium could stack the potential for many more health benefits in your favour.  If you are interested in knowing more about magnesium, the best dietary and other sources, and the best type of magnesium to supplement with, then read on!   Q. Prefer to watch a video?  I have posted a link at the end of the blog.

Continue reading “Magnesium ‘Miracle Mineral’”

Spice Aid Cabinet

Mankind has sought out plants with medicinal properties since time immemorial.  Even today when there have been great developments in the field of chemistry, pharmaceuticals and medicine, these medicinal plants have lost none of their importance.  Botanical drugs are at the birth place of the current pharmaceutical industry, for example, the ancient Egyptians used the bark of the Willow tree for the relief of aches and pains.  The willow tree yields ‘salicylic acid’ which is the active pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory component that is used to make the aspirin of today.  Probably because big pharma don’t really want you to know that some of your inexpensive household herbs and spices could be the answer to your aches, pains and other health conditions, this information has become generally suppressed and instead we are encouraged by media advertising to believe that pharmaceutical drugs are the only solution.  The general public has consequently lost trust in natural remedies while big pharma secretly know their benefits.  Plant based medical practices like traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic and Naturopathic medicine, for example, are often viewed as a last resort when conventional medicine offers us no solution.  Ideally the reverse would be the case, where natural remedies are used first and pharmaceutical drugs, with their known side-effects, are a last resort.  In this blog I am sharing my knowledge of some of the spices that are ‘hot’ in the world of nutrition.  You may already have them in your spice cabinet.  They offer a relatively inexpensive way of stacking some health benefits in your favour with little effort!   Mother Nature’s flavour favours. Many spices have health benefits, too many to cover here, so I have narrowed them down to some of the most popular and widely used today in the prevention and treatment of the chronic diseases.  I have checked each spice for known interactions {A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions}. There are none for those mentioned and so they are completely safe to use.  So, what are these little pots of magic dust??  Read on to find out!

Continue reading “Spice Aid Cabinet”