Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Favorite Super-Seed: Quinoa

I have had several people ask me about quinoa (keen-wa) in the last week so I decided to blog about one of my favorite foods J
I was introduced to this superfood when my family went gluten free.  I missed couscous and a close friend suggested quinoa.  It’s just as easy to cook as rice, and in my opinion tastes better!

Many mistake quinoa for a grain but the yellowish pods are actually the seed of a plant called chenopodium quinoa, native to Peru and related to beets, chard and spinach. The plant resembles spinach, but with 3- to 9-foot stalks that take on a magenta hue. The large seed heads make up nearly half the plant and vary in color: red, purple, pink and yellow.

In the Andes Mountains, where they have been growing for more than 5,000 years, quinoa plants have overcome the challenges of high altitude, intense heat, freezing temperatures and little annual rainfall. Peru and Bolivia maintain seed banks with 1,800 types of quinoa. It has only been grown in the U.S. since the 1980s.
The Incas considered quinoa sacred, and held it in such high regard that they referred to it as chisaya mama, or mother of all grains, because of its nutritional properties and ability to survive the harsh environment found at high altitudes.

Quinoa has been classified as a "super crop" by the United Nations because of its high protein content. It is a complete protein, which means it has all nine essential amino acids. It also contains the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous. The fact that it has magnesium, copper and phosphorous means that quinoa is especially good for those that have migraine headaches, atherosclerosis and diabetes. 

The coating, which protects growing seeds from birds and the intense rays of the high-altitude sun, can make your quinoa taste bitter.  Place the quinoa in a strainer & rinse with cold water to get rid of the bitter coating. Then add one part quinoa to two parts liquid in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. In a mere 15 minutes, the seeds will be plump, fluffy and ready to eat.

One cup of cooked quinoa has just 220 calories.  Quinoa is a great source of healthy carbohydrates, and also provides 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein per serving.  It’s available in most grocery stores now and always in health food stores.  It's delicious served cold as or on a salad as well as hot.  Try ground quinoa in place of an oatmeal breakfast, a little honey & some fruit - oh so yummy! I put quinoa in almost everything! 

Here is an excellent write-up on quinoa with healthy facts and here are some yummy recipes.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Power Packed Algae: Chlorella

I added this superfood almost 3 years ago to my daughters diet to detox the heavy metals in her body from vaccinations and such.  Chlorella is perfect for body detoxification. It binds with heavy metals and pesticides that accumulate in the body and eliminates them. It's high content of chlorophyll cleanses the blood stream and the elimination channels, insuring that metabolic wastes are carried away from the tissues. Side effects are fresh breath and reduced body odor :-)
Besides natural detoxification, Chlorella also provides inflammation control, cholesterol regulation, immune system strength, estrogen balance, blood sugar stabilization, and digestive bliss. It is loaded with antioxidants to keep you looking and feeling young, and even reduces the percentage of body fat. It has shown to be effective at reversing degenerative diseases such as all types of cancers, diabetes, liver disorders, high blood pressure, and obesity.  Chlorella accelerates healing, protects against radiation, helps in the treatment of Candida albicans and relieves arthritis pain.

Chlorella is an alkaline food, which promotes increased bone mass since the body is not sacrificing minerals from the bones to create proper acid/alkaline balance.  The consumption of alkaline foods also improves immune function, kidney function and energy levels.

Truly a power packed amazing algae, this is one superfood I make sure we have on hand!  It's available in both tablets and powder.  We mix the powder into almond milk, smoothies or shake it on to our meals. 

Places to get Chlorella: Natural News.com Store or local health food stores.  A favorite Chlorella containing raw superfood mix is Juvo, available from LuckyVitamin.com or Vitacost.com.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Relax, detox & beautify!

Tired, stressed?  When is the last time you pampered yourself with a nice warm, relaxing bath?  Have you ever added Dead Sea salts to your bath?  How about some essential oils of lavender?

Dead Sea salts are full of minerals and the benefits of bathing in them are amazing!  Here's a list of therapeutic benefits:

  • Allergies: the bromide & magnesium in Dead Sea salts help relieve allergies by cleansing & detoxifying
  • Aging: promotes cell regeneration & studies have shown a 40% reduction in the depth of wrinkling
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriac Arthritis & Osteoarthritis: minerals are absorbed while soaking, stimulating blood circulation thereby minimizing inflammatory response & reducing soreness & stiffness
  • Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema & Dandruff: all are relieved with regular soaking, it's believed the high concentration of magnesium improves skin hydration and reduces inflammation
  • Stress: soaking in these salts causes a drop in blood pressure & muscle relaxation
Dead Sea salts contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, bromides & sodium.  Magnesium combats stress & fluid retention, slowing skin aging & calming the nervous system.  The calcium is effective at preventing water retention, increasing circulation & strengthening bones & nails.  Potassium energizes the body, helps to balance moisture & is a crucial mineral to replenish after exercise.  Bromides ease muscle stiffness & relax muscles.  Sodium is important for lymphatic fluid balance & immune system function.

So you can see why bathing in these salts are so incredibly beneficial.  I started bathing my daughter in these salts when she was 18 months to aid in detoxing her from all the chemicals that had invaded her body in her short little life (see my Body Burden Blog).  At that time I was unaware of all the uses these salts had.  Take some time to pamper yourself, add a few tablespoons of Dead Sea salt to your bath & a few drops of your favorite essential oil & relax!  Pooh bear toys are optional :) 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mullein: Magical Medicine!

Mullein is a genus of the figwort family Scrophulariaceae.  Native to Europe and Asia, mulleins are now found in many parts of the world. It can easily adapt to various environments and grows on barren lands or waste grounds, more likely on gravel and sand.  Mullein is a tremendously valuable herb for treating an assortment of ailments.

Uses for Mullein include, but not limited to:
  • Treats disorders of the respiratory tract such as bronchitis and tracheitis.

  • Used for centuries to treat coughs and congestions.  Used as an expectorant for promoting the discharge of mucus and as demulcent to sooth the irritated mucus membranes.

  • Anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing inflammation and stimulating fluid production in the mucus cells. It serves as a perfect remedy for dry coughs in conditions like asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough and tuberculosis.

  • Used to treat several urinary tract and bladder irritations and infections.  

  • Mullein tea made from the flowers and leaf extract is a strong ans soothing sedative and is effective against several conditions such as migraines, sore throat, chest pain, colds, coughs and kidney infections.

  • Consuming fresh mullein leaves boiled in milk, works great for tuberculosis. This mixture of mullein leaves and milk can also be applied as a poultice to cure boils, hemorrhoids, carbuncles, chilblains and skin ulcers.

  • Helps in treating painful urination and constipation.

  • The oil obtained from mullein is very effective against several harmful infections and diseases.

  • An infusion of mullein flowers in olive oil is used to treat earaches, gum and mouth ulcers, piles and other mucus membrane inflammations, because of it's anti-bacterial properties.

  • A decoction made from the roots of mullein is used to alleviate toothaches and also to relieve cramps and convulsions.

  • Taken internally, helps in the treatment of chest pains, diarrhea and bleeding of the lungs and bowels.

  • A poultice made from mullein leaves is used for treating minor burns, rashes, swellings and sunburns

  • We keep dried mullein leaf on hand year round, this is why:  A few summers ago my daughter was stung by something, it began to swell immedately into a raised circular bump...but it didn't stop there.  The swelling went into her hand & fingers and then climbed up her arm, in a panic I gave her Benadryl.  This brought the swelling down a bit for a couple hours but overall it was not helpfull.  Because we didn't know what stung her, choosing a homeopathic remedy was difficult and our homeopath was busy with another patient.  I contacted an herbalist friend who suggested I make a poultice out of mullein and aloe.  I placed the poultice on my daughter and literally watched the swelling disapear completely in less than 5 minutes and never came back...  WOW!  As I learned more about this valuable herb, we began to use it in tea with a little local raw honey during the occational colds for coughs and stuffy heads.  It truly works as an expectorant and calms the cough. 

    Learn more about this magical herb here:

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    But how do you get your calcium if you don't eat dairy?

    Wow, if I had a dime for every time I've heard this question I'd be rich!  I removed dairy from my daughters diet somewhere around 18mo of age in part because she was diagnosed with asthma.  Talk about going against the grain, I can't tell you how many questions I still get to this day about how she gets her vit D, how she gets her calcium, aren't you worried about her growing bones, etc.  Well, when I researched dairy I did not like what I found and eliminating it from her diet is one of the reasons we were able to say goodbye to asthma forever.
    DAIRY IS NOT YOUR ONLY SOURCE OF CALCIUM!!!!!!  And, it's not the best source either! So, to answer the question, how do you get your calcium if you don't eat dairy?  From good old fruits and veggies!  *One of the greatest myths in America is that milk and dairy products provide the calcium we need for strong bones.  Fact is, pasteurized dairy products from grain fed cows are very acidic and actually leach the calcium from your bones unless you already have an incredibly alkaline diet to begin with.  Most Americans however eat the mostly processed SAD: Standard American Diet.  Some of the best bone building vegetables are the dark leafy greens including spinach, kale, collards etc.  You get the same amount of calcium in one cup of broccoli as you do from one cup of milk. 

    Here's an interesting breakdown:

    Calcium in Milligrams per 100 Calories

    Watercress...................... 800
    Turnip greens.................. .650
    Collard greens................. 548
    Mustard greens.................490
    Spinach........................... 450
    Broccoli.......................... 387
    Swiss cheese................... 250
    Milk (2-percent).............. 245
    Green onions................... 240
    Okra............................... 213
    Cabbage......................... 196
    Whole milk..................... 190
    Cheddar cheese.............. 179
    American cheese............. 160

    Here is a link to an interesting article which summarizes why it is unnatural and unhealthy to consume dairy:

    *Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/030488_healthy_bones_science.html#ixzz175k29SWe

    As far as vitamin D3 goes, we prefer ours from the sun and supplement during the colder months.  Using milk as your only source of vit D is not a good idea in my opinion.  The vitamin D in dairy is likely to be synthetic and it's nowhere near the levels needed to maintain good health.
    I like to add these to a tossed salad along with a mixture of other yummy greens like arugula, spinach and romaine.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    What's your body burden?

    The things I learned when investigating just how toxic my little girls life really was on a day to day basis shocked me.  I thought I was feeding her healthy foods & bathing her in soaps made for babies... I had no idea just how loaded with chemicals a lot of the products we used were.  Lets just start with external body burden for now.

    Your skin is the largest organ on your body, and yes, it does absorb what you put on it.  If you think Johnson's&Johnson's makes safe products for your infant, think again.  When reading ingredients, keep this in mind; if you can't pronounce it & you wouldn't eat it, you should not put it on your skin.  EWG's Cosmetic Safety Database is the best place to go to find out what your products are rated at for safety as well as giving you an explanation of ingredients & how the toxic ones can harm you.  For example, according to EWG, J&J's No More Tears Baby Shampoo's ingredients are linked to:
    • Developmental/reproductive toxicity
    • Allergies/immunotoxicity
    • Neurotoxicity
    • Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
    • Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
    • Enhanced skin absorption
    • Contamination concerns
     And to think, this is the same stuff the hospital used to give my newborn her first bath.  Wow.  

    Of the multiple chemical ingredients in our daily products, there is one in particular that most people mistakingly consider harmless.  Fragrance is NOT REGULATED by the FDA.  Heres a few notes from a Fragrance Fact Sheet
    • There are 3,000 – 5,000 chemicals used in fragrance.
    • 95% of these chemicals are derived from petroleum.
    • Over 80% of the chemicals in fragrance have not been tested for human toxicity.
    • Some of the chemicals found in fragranced products are on the EPA hazardous waste list.
    • The perfume industry is not regulated by any government agency and is not required to disclose the ingredients in “fragrance”.
    Many of the chemicals in perfume are the same chemicals in cigarette smoke, and yet there is no regulation of the fragrance industry.  Many people are "bothered" by perfumes - developing headaches, sinus problems, and even asthma from exposures.  Many have gotten sick or even disabled from wearing (or being exposed to) fragrances and using other scented products.  Fragrances are  used in almost every cleaning, laundry, and personal-care product on the market!  Aside from the damage caused when inhaling, these chemicals go directly into the bloodstream when applied to our skin and are also absorbed into the skin from our clothing.  

    Better choices are listed on the Fragrance Fact Sheet  as well.  We use organic personal care items, laundry soaps, cleaners etc.  We burn unscented soy candles & use essential oils as perfumes.  My favorite place for personal care items is Soulful Earth Herbals.  I have become friends with the owner over the years, she is very knowledgeable in the health benefits of herbs.  She's a wonderful person & her heart & soul goes into making her products.  We love them all, my mom even swears by the Arthritis Rub.   

    Changing our body burden has made a huge impact in our lives, especially for my little girl.  She was diagnosed with asthma at 18 months of age.  Removing toxic chemicals from every day items along with dietary changes, homeopathy, and chiropractic care, just to name a few, at 2 years of age I was able to REMOVE ALL ASTHMATIC MEDICATIONS FOREVER.  She is a little over 4 years old now & no signs of the asthma or the eczema that plagued her have reared their ugly head for over 2 years.

    Friday, November 19, 2010


    I have always been that person who never liked to take medications, just didn't "feel" right.  However, I trusted my physicians without question and followed along the "normal" path most people choose.  That is, until my baby girl proved to me through her "illnesses" at only 1year of age that my original "gut feeling" was right.  Something was terribly wrong with our pharmaceutically dependent way of living.

    In this blog I will share our story along with a plethora of useful & healthy ways to live without the use of medications.  I believe there isn't one way to healing, there are several and they address body, mind and spirit as well.

    Morgan at 1 year old