Cooking and Food Health

Toxic Peanut Butter

Peanuts in a BowlCancer causing toxins in peanut butter…what next? They are more correctly called: aflatoxins. Peanuts, and certain other crops such as corn contain the highest risks of aflatoxin contamination, because they attract the molds Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Aflatoxins are the most toxic, naturally occuring carcinogens known. Yikes!

FYI–“Afla”toxin takes its name from the short hand of  its causative agent, the mold  A. flavus, A. fla.

A little side trip

I have always wondered why so many people had peanut sensitivities. But I reasoned my doubts away, thinking peanuts were just highly allergic, like milk. After all, there are so many lactose intolerant people out there, right?

Well, a few months ago, we were introduced to the wonders and health benefits of drinking raw milk, and educated by Mark McAfee on why lactose intolerant people can drink raw milk without any reactions whatsoever. It’s as simple as this: in raw milk, the lactase enzyme hasn’t been killed in the pasteurization process. This enzyme is necessary for many people to be able to break down the milk sugars they drink. Very exciting for certain members of our extended family who haven’t been able to drink store milk for decades! Believe me, they are cured and can drink raw milk all day long now with no adverse reactions.

So I revisited my questions on the peanut butter problem. See, God stuck me with this “inquiring mind” that just won’t stop. I can’t help it. And here’s what I  found out. The question is…

Do you really want to know?

Lest you think I’m basing this on internet drivel–please verify it all at the Cornell University website where you will learn wa-ay more than I have room for in this post!

The FAO, Food and Agricultural Organization, estimates that 25% of the world’s crops are affected by mycotoxins, of which aflatoxins are the most notorious.

Aflatoxins are sometimes detected in milk, cheese, corn, peanuts, cottonseed, nuts, almonds, figs, spices, and animal feeds . Milk, eggs, and meat products are occasionally contaminated because of the animal consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated feed.

Most people agree that aflatoxins should be considered very dangerous, and not at all allowable in food, if detectable. However, the United States FDA has set the allowable concentration for aflatoxins in human foods at 20 ppb (parts per billion). Foreign markets let far less get past them, allowing only 4-15 ppb. Animal feed can contain up to 100 ppb, which as we saw previously, sometimes allows for contamination of our dairy products and eggs. Because these molds are colorless, and don’t break down in cooking, it’s difficult to know if our foods are contaminated in these ways. And who knows what slow and steady exposure to aflatoxins will lead to over many years time?

SHOCKER: Evidence exists that Iraq used aflatoxins in their biological weapons–specifically in bombs and warheads! Agh!They evidently think that aflatoxins pose somewhat of a danger to humans!

But back to peanut butter…

Supposedly humans have a high tolerance for aflatoxin exposure, but I’m not willing to take that risk, when the lab results have shown such carcinogenic effects on animals. And not when the experts are also saying that children are  at risk from chronic exposure (pb&j anyone?), with such side effects as stunted growth and delayed development.

So you might want to check these things out for yourself.

Personally, our family loves sunbutter made from sunflower seeds. Almond and cashew butters are some other delicious nut butters, great with apple slices, in smoothies, or spread on romaine lettuce leaves and then drizzled with a bit of raw honey! Mmm! We haven’t yet tried to substitute these for peanut butter in cookies…but it’s on our can’t-wait-to-try-this list!

P.S. Since I brought up nut butters, it might be of interest to clarify that peanuts aren’t actually nuts, they are legumes… ;O)

Cooking and Food Health

Barley Biscuits

Manna from Heaven would be so lovely, in my opinion. We’ve had such a snow-laden winter, that the poor chickens haven’t wanted to free range much. Why bother when the ground is covered with cold, white stuff, right? Sometimes I walk through the drifting snowflakes to do my twice a day chores, and dream of manna. Yes. If those snowflakes were only manna, I’d never again have to pay organic feed prices for my flock!

I did have a manna experience this past week, when our Bible study friends came by and blessed us with their stash of organic grains, and even several bags of milled flour, kinds I’d always wanted to experiment with, but hadn’t yet! Hard red winter wheat, millet, rye, barley, spelt–which is one of our all time favorite grains!  Sadly, my friend is giving me these things because her young son has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes…and because of this awesome site’s life changing info: Living Without Type 1, she is finding great success in eliminating grains and dairy from their diet. I encourage you to check the site out yourselves, it’s amazing, people are dealing with Type 1 by changing their diets–eliminating grains, dairy, going raw and organic and as a result, no more insulin shots! This is the delight of  “food therapy”–as opposed to drug therapy, check it out!

So tonight we gave barley flour a try…and WOW! We are hooked…fly thee to thy nearest health food store, get some barley flour and hie thee home to bake these…

Barley Biscuits–makes 9-10 biscuits

1. Blend the following dry ingredients in a mixing bowl:

  • 2 cups barley milled from whole barley (or buy barley flour)
  • 4 tsp baking powder (I recommend low sodium and aluminum free)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (we love Farmer John’s “real salt”)

2. Blend together in separate bowl:

  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I keep powdered buttermilk on hand, as well as kefir which can be substituted for buttermilk)
  • 1 1/2 TB oil
  • 1 1/2 TB melted butter, unsalted

Or, instead of separating the last two ingredients, you could use 3 TB oil, or 3 TB melted butter–but it’s delicious half and half.

3. Blend liquid ingredients into dry ingredients just until mixed. Dough will be quite soft, like batter, and very light.

4. Drop spoonfuls of batter on lightly greased cookie sheet or stoneware, and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden on the bottom.

These are the fluffiest, lightest, whole grain biscuits ever–with delicious taste that will appeal to the whole family!

(and while you eat them, pretend you’re one of the 5,000 being fed on five small barley loaves and two fish…)

Next thing I want to try…Ezekiel bread!

Cooking and Food Farm Life Health

Let’s talk organic!

Okay, the bottom line is age related problems and diseases are widely thought to be caused by two things: consuming insufficient nutrients and adding on top of that, a lifetime truckload of toxic chemicals. This alone is a huge argument for eating organic food when possible–firstly because it is chock full of nutrients, antioxidants and Omega 3’s compared to your non-organic foods and secondly…it contains no toxic chemicals or heavy metals–while unorganic foods are saturated with them in various forms, thanks to fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

(Go read this article at Science Daily for just one example of how toxic chemicals found in pesticides cause things like Parkinson’s disease, and for more stats on just how much healthier organic foods are than their unorganic counterparts visit this article.)

Yet, very few people–at least in my experience here in the mid-west–want their family and friends to label them as organic fanatics! So here’s my disclaimer to all my family and friends: going all organic is my *someday* goal, but never to the point of “bringing my own snacks to parties” etc. Our family loves food, loves fellowship and we have plenty of unhealthy eating habits. That said…I have to write this post. It’s pretty important info in today’s McDonald’s “dumbed down” culture where kids are raised loving refined products made from white flours and sugars, where genetically modified foods abound, and grocery stores sell HFCS everything and milk-flavored drinking beverages. What has happened to real food??? And why aren’t more people demanding answers?

I’ll tell you what happened…this profit driven, fast-turnover, long shelf life agenda happened. Sadly, going “organic” has had a bad rep in past years, but as more people get educated about health, they’re seeing how valuable real food really is. Organic is simply the way people grew food before the chemical ways became the norm. Back when dirt was dirt, and honeybees weren’t dying from all the pesticides.

I recently viewed The Truth about Organic Food, a 75 minute 2007 DVD interview of David Getoff, a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor with a full time health and wellness practice in San Diego, California. Wonderful introduction and overview of what “organic” is, why it’s beneficial and necessary for a long, healthy life, and how to know which “organic” products are worth buying. For instance, grass fed, free range, cage free and natural all mean varying degrees of “good for you”…and certain organic beefs were only organic (hormone & antibiotic free) for their last 90 days on this earth, according to organic standards in labeling. Organic labeling can be tricky, and just because something is organic does not mean it is healthy. Sure an organic candy bar is probably more healthy for you than a normal one, but as David Getoff says, “Cobra venom is organic–mercury, arsenic, and lead get pulled out of the earth and they’re organic!” So do your research, or better yet, grow your own!

Interesting history regarding fertilizers…

Chemical fertilizers replaced “green manure crops” as a way to put minerals and nutrients back into the soil, more time and cost effectively. Farmers and scientists must have put their heads together to find a way to grab back those seasons spent raising rye grass or other “green manure” crops that would then be plowed under as a way to naturally replenish the soil of all the goodies that crops take in their making. Somebody did the research, and found that the top chemicals the soil needed were N, P, and K–the ones found on all the fertilizer bags you buy at the farm store: Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus. So they reasoned, let’s just pour this on, and get things back in the ground. Money talks, and this would be cheaper than growing a green manure crop, not to mention, you’d get those months back for growing a cash crop. Makes a lot of sense. Problem is, there are SO many minerals that our bodies need for health that are not contained in a bag of NPK fertilizer! For instance, one that Getoff shared in the DVD was Boron–Boron is a deficiency duly noted in osteoporosis patients. Selenium is another, if you don’t get enough Selenium, the cancer rate goes way up.

But on the outside, these plants grown with chemical fertilizers look great. They are cheaper for the farmer, but they are not giving the people what they need–trace minerals and nutrients, AND the foods don’t taste as good.

Organic growers have found a wealth of minerals still in the ocean and use soil amendments such as kelp meal, crabshell meal, fish meal to put the minerals and life back into nutrient robbed soil. Visit for more info. For even more info, check out the book: Worms Eat My Garbage.

Interesting thoughts regarding pesticides…

Okay, so in the beginning, somebody wanted to keep the bugs from eating plants. As in a lot of things, no one seems to have put a lot of thought into the far-reaching effects of dumping chemicals in the ground. How would insectisides affect beneficial insects, birds, bees and pollination…the soil itself? It is interesting to note, that on big organic farms, pests aren’t a terrible problem. It almost seems as if the pests are attracted to the wilting, unhealthy plants, leaving the others alone. However, if today’s conventional farmer were to give up using his pesticides after years of use, all the insects in the world would demolish his crop. David Getoff likens it to the way a shark is attracted to a dying fish. I know personally, if I remember to put newspaper collars on my tomato seedlings, I never have cutworms. Good-bye Seven’s dust forever…now if only there were an easier remedy for squash bugs than squashing…

Avoid unorganic fats because of pesticide saturation

Another biggie that I took away from watching this DVD was the fact that pesticides are fat soluble. This means that the pesticide residue on our fruits and veggies (which by the way, is not easily washed or soaked off) binds to our fat cells. Fat soluble, NOT water soluble…these buggars are not going to be eliminated via sweat or urination. And so many people are on low-fat diets, that these toxins are going to sit around in their fat cells indefinitely. The good news, is that you can let go of these old fats by eating new, organic ones. And it’s a pretty important step to take in the organic process…switching to organic fats. Because so many toxic chemicals bind to fats, David Getoff recommends definitely switching to using EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), organic butter, and buying organic eggs for the high-fat content in egg yolks, and organic pastured poultry meat for the good fats found in the skin. Same thing with nuts, since they are very high fat. Buy organic.

To sum up, make changes where you can. Our family has been taking small steps as we’ve found the avenues to support this way of eating. Okay, maybe butchering my own chickens hasn’t been that “small” of a step, but it sure didn’t happen overnight! Switching to organic fats (EVOO, Coconut oil and butter), organic free range eggs and raw milk are things we definitely all should look into, as these things contain more toxic residue that sits around in our bodies causing trouble.

Yes, organic costs more. So put less money into the less important things. Do you really need that new car? Good health is more important. Organically grown foods have more vitamins, no toxins, and thousands of percents more minerals. There are ways around the cost, one of which is to grow your own foods without pesticides, etc. Or find a CSA farm in your area and see if they’ll let you work off part of a season’s food share. Find a food co-op at which you can purchase all your favorite health store goodies at wholesale prices, and so much more!

Finally, if you aren’t yet convinced, a Rutgers University study compared commercially- vs. organically-grown fruits and vegetables. They were astounded at how organic produce whopped the competition!

Commercially grown fruits and vegetables are less expensive, are prettier to look at, contain approximately 10-50% of the nutrients found in organic produce, are often depleted in enzymes, and are contaminated with a variety of herbicides, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.

In comparing organically and commercially grown wheat, researchers found the organic wheat contained 20-80% less metal residues (aluminum, cadmium, cobalt, lead, mercury), and contained 25-1300% more of specific nutrients (calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur, and zinc).

Why should we buy organic? Why indeed…


Black Currant Tea

“Bread and water can so easily be toast and tea.”–author unknown

Two years into my coffee-free lifestyle and hot teas are finally becoming *my thing*! I’m so happy about it, too. The health benefits of tea drinking are fabulous. I’ve already shared here about my favorite, ginger tea, and another one the girls and I enjoy is organic peppermint leaf tea, which we buy in bulk!

Here’s a new one: Black Currant Tea. Long a favorite of the “tea queen” at my church–by that I mean that we’re extremely blessed to have a godly “older woman” who coincidentally throws the BEST tea parties EVER and also hosts meetings for stay-at-home moms every Wednesday at our church. Black Currant tea and orange cranberry scones are staple treats at these weekly gatherings, and though I am a sporadic guest to these occasions, I really enjoy and look forward to a “spot” of this bracing, dark tea.

I asked my friend where she purchases her Black Currant tea, and she highly recommends First Colony Coffees and Teas for the quality and taste, she assures me there is none other!

For one thing, my quest for teas has to keep me away from the caffeinated variety. And I was also curious as to the health benefits of this particular kind. Am I happy about the results? Fairly happy…

No caffeine in the real Black Currant tea, check! However, it seems that it’s difficult to find unless you make your own from dried leaves off the black currant bush! *Edited to add: After publishing this post I was alerted to the fact that First Colony’s Black Currant tea is actually black tea leaves flavored with the essence of Black Currant berries. Too bad, huh! Still, a great tasting tea, however, it does have caffeine.  :O( Which might not bother most of you!

But if you happen upon an authentic Black Currant bush, or tea that isn’t just flavored with the essence of Black Currant, you’ve stumbled on a gold mine of good health! Pioneers relied on Black Currants heavily for their home remedies. Health benefits include:

  • Black Currant berries are packed with Vitamin C
  • It’s soothing to a sore throat, as the berries are full of tannins which fight bacteria at the outset of a cold
  • French plant scientists have long believed that Black Currant is useful in draining tissues…ie: anywhere you have congested tissues as per: inflammations, arthritis, gout, prostatitis and…
  • It’s helpful in clearing up skin problems such as dermatitis, psoriasis, or eczema. According to the French, skin problems respond well to liver therapies, and Black Currant is widely used in France as a liver remedy.
  • Black Currant tea gives many menopausal women relief because it’s a well known hormone regulator
  • It increases micro-circulation which is helpful for women suffering with varicose veins
  • It improves visual acuity
  • It’s believed to be a preventative for Alzheimers
  • It can be used as a treatment to expel intestinal parasites

And so much more!

To make an infusion of Black Current Tea, take one tablespoon of the leaves and pour one cup boiling water over them. Steep for ten minutes and enjoy!

“There is nobody who, having a garden, shouldn’t plant a great number [of black currant bushes] for the needs of their family,” wrote the Abbé P. Bailly de Montaran in 1712. And he added: “Black currant is a fruit that promotes long life in human beings.”

Cooking and Food Health

Cream of Asparagus Soup

AsparagusI’m so excited about this spur-of-the-moment recipe! Mostly because my two youngest daughters hold no fondness for steamed asparagus, but both requested seconds of this  deliciously healthy soup!

Do you ever start making a meal with no ideas on what you’re actually going to end up with? I did this today at lunchtime. When staring into my pantry netted no appetizing ideas, I removed a package of asparagus from the freezer and started some water boiling in a saucepan. We’re out of noodles and I didn’t feel like making any, and I wasn’t much in the mood for sandwiches either…so as I stood there watching the asparagus steam, I decided to try–for the first time ever–my hand at cream of asparagus soup!

Here’s what I did, because it’s super easy and I’m sure glad I’ve found a way to get asparagus into my two youngest!

Mary’s Cream of Asparagus Soup

  • 6 oz (half of a 12 oz pkg) frozen asparagus spears (or the fresh equivalent), steamed till tender (save the cooking water)
  • chicken bouillon to fix 2-3 cups broth (or use prepared broth)
  • one minced clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Co-Jack cheese
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Great White Northern Bean flour

Remove steamed asparagus from saucepan and puree it till smooth, or use a food chopper to chop it fine. Add 2-3 cups water to the “asparagus water” and bring it to a boil, adding bouillon to dissolve, or prepared chicken broth. Add minced garlic and onion, and whisk in 3-4 TB bean flour till dissolved. Return pureed asparagus to pot and add milk and cheese. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes, until soup has thickened and cheese has melted. Eat your hearts out.

If you don’t have bean flour, you could just thicken it with flour by removing 3/4 cup of the soup broth to a separate bowl and whisking in 2-3 TB flour till blended then adding it to the soup again…but the bean flour works marvelously and is so much healthier for your family!

Mmm! Wish we’d had leftovers. Oh–this recipe makes five big bowls full.

Cooking and Food Health

Healthier Gravies and Soups with Bean Flour

That lady at church, the one handing out snack sized baggies of white bean flour samples? Yeah, that’d be me.  You see, I just discovered the absolute coolest (this week anyway) substitute for flour as a thickening agent! Great White Northern beans!

Country Beans by Rita Bingham, is another superb cookbook for the serious homemaker. Whether you want to sneak that extra bit of protein into soups and sauces, or if you’re trying to cater to special diets (gluten-free, lactose-free, for instance) this cookbook is a worthwhile purchase. My copy was given to me a month ago and I can only say I wish I’d had it 15 years ago when I first started keeping hearth and home!

After reading about the multiple uses for bean flour, I’ve had a blast experimenting. Thankfully, my mom is generously loaning me her wheat grinder to grind up beans*. Pinto beans for an excellent instant refried bean recipe (3/4 cup of this make-ahead mix whisked into 2.5 cups boiling water and voila, refried beans in minutes–which mixed with picante sauce and topped with melted cheese…mmmm–it’s so good!), Great White Northern beans for thickening gravies and soups a tablespoon at a time. Best part about it is you can’t taste the beans!

I made a big pot of tomato soup to go with grilled cheese sandwiches the other day when we had friends over…none of the six children present were aware that they were eating beans with their soup. And the soup thickened up so nicely…

Today I fixed pot roast for lunch with my parents. In making gravy, I poured the pan juices from the beef roast into a sauce pan, brought them to boiling and added 3 tablespoons white bean powder, whisking thoroughly with my Pampered Chef mini-whipper (every cook needs one of these, they eradicate lumps!). I let it simmer for several minutes and served it with Yukon Gold potatoes and the beef…talk about tasty and smooth, and the perfect gravy consistency. Three cheers for bean powder!

This cookbook has a variety of ways to use up beans, from chips to crackers to hearty bean soups (it’s not all about powdered beans!) to breads and salads, to sprouting beans and canning them, and how to incorporate them into breakfast foods, drinks and shakes.

Last but not least, here are some pluses about bean flour:

  • bean flours are said to be easier to digest
  • and implementing them into your cooking a little bit at a time helps your digestive system develop the enzymes needed to digest beans efficiently
  • bean flour thickens in 1-3 minutes after adding it to hot soups and gravies
  • beans are cheap, big nutritional bang for your buck
  • no chemical additives, colorings, flavorings–a great whole foods choice
  • beans are high in B vitamins, iron, and carbohydrates (these bean carbs are “working calories” which digest slowly and satisfy your hunger longer!)

What other incredibly unique cookbooks are out there? I’d love to know!

*note: when using a grain grinder to grind beans, run a cup of hard wheat berries through after every two cups of beans to clean the grinding stones.

Farm Life Health

Dreaming of Spring

Rainstorms last night and this morning have left the outdoors a bit too muddy for me, personally, to be out there enjoying it! But it’s 60 degrees out there and the wind is whipping,  sure to dry things out soon enough.

Small Comforts

So we’re letting the hope of springtime blow in through the windows. Why not? Rains tamped down any threat of dust, the temperature’s right, and I’ve been in a spring cleaning mood all morning! Windows MUST be open for the enthusiastic spring clean, right? Admittedly, I should say the desire is there, but  it hasn’t progressed beyond wishful thinking as we’ve been too busy doing school and crafting Valentines to get much cleaning accomplished. Quite the opposite, as mothers of crafters know all too well.

But I had to get on here and exclaim about this day! Can it possibly be the middle of February? We’ve had the corn stove turned off for three days! Three days!

What’s the weather like in your hometown? And doesn’t this picture beg you to pack a picnic and take to the woods? Ahh, I can smell the fresh air now!


Remedies for Hormonal Headaches

I’ve been getting some behind-the-scenes email queries about certain health issues. I think there is a real desire to go natural when possible, and I have to admit, even *I’ve* been somewhat surprised, and as a result, highly excited by how well all of my herbal experiments have turned out on my family and loved ones! Just last week my own four year old daughter woke up with a full-blown cold, miserable head congestion, sore throat, cough. So I consulted my 10 Essential Herbs book and began giving her the recommended mixture of Slippery Elm Powder and powdered Ginger in apple juice, and would you believe, four days later she was 100%? I also gave her a couple of doses of Super Tonic every day, but that’s it.

But enough on colds, today we’re talking headaches. First, I did my homework, studying up in the above mentioned herb book, and here are a few handy and, er, *interesting* things I found out to aid in getting the upper hand on headaches:

  • Drink fresh Ginger Root tea…if you don’t have fresh ginger root, powdered ginger (again, fresh so it’s nice and potent) works good too, mix 3/4-1 teaspoon into hot water and add honey.
  • Soak your feet in a strong Ginger decoction made by simmering 8 oz finely chopped fresh ginger or 1/4 cup powdered Ginger in a quart or so of water for 20 minutes. Add this concentrate to a washtub of water and soak feet.
  • Try Peppermint oil rubbed into the temples or forehead, behind the ears or in the big “dent” at the base of your skull.

Going to add that for me personally, when I feel a slight headache coming on, I get down my baggie of dried yarrow blossoms (from Farmer John) and make myself some tea. It fixes me right up. Good stuff. Not available at your typical health food store, but widely available when foraged outdoors, so I’m told! Can’t wait till next June so I can learn to recognize it myself!

So last Friday, John and his wife invited me over to talk health, and I mentioned the quest I was on for natural help for hormonal headaches, griefs and pains. They showed me this great foam product in a pump called “Progesta Cream”, made by the Life-Flo company. It’s to be rubbed into the abdomen, inner thighs, inner arms, etc on the three “good” weeks, and skipped altogether during your period. They really recommended it for PMS issues of all kinds, including the hormonal headache, and also for post-menopausal stuff.

Good info to know!

Any other tips out there? Inquiring minds…yadda yadda yadda…*wink*


Herbal Helps for Coughs and Colds

Drying HerbsRubbing my hands together with glee…this is such a fascinating subject! I’ve mentioned here before what an education I’ve received from the book, 10 Essential Herbs by Lalitha Thomas. Farmer John gave me this book–FYI, to those of you who might not know, he’s my knowledgeable CSA farmer-neighbor who has, along with his sweetheart of a wife, taken me under his wing and taught me much in the past two or three months!

I devoured this book in two or three sittings, and immediately ordered myself a supply of six of the harder-to-find herbs showcased in the books. I was that impressed.

If you have even a passing interest in taking control of your family’s health via natural methods, you must have this book! It’s a fascinating read, an educational smorgasbord about herbs and their many uses in maintaining or regaining optimum health within a limited budget.

For instance, my mom has bronchitis–undiagnosed, but she’s had it so many times in life, she should know, right? So I looked up bronchitis in this book, and it led me to the chapter on Slippery Elm Powder.  Evidently, Slippery Elm is excellent for any “itis”, including bronchitis, but also arthritis, colitis, prostatitus, tendonitis, conjunctivitis, etc.

You stir a teaspoon of Slippery Elm Powder into juice or tea, preferably room temperature–so it will dissolve better, 3-5 times a day while bronchitis persists. It’s a demulcent and a mucilaginous herb…which means:

“…it has soothing, softening, buffering and poison-drawing qualities as well as contains significant amounts of mucilage, a slippery, sticky and soothing substance of high nutritional value that coats, protects, and rejuvenates an area from infection, inflammation and other irritants.” (emphasis mine)

Now, I couldn’t force these herbs upon my poor mom without trying them myself first. Imagine my relief to find that Slippery Elm Powder is  tasty, with almost a nutty flavor! Lalitha recommends mixing it with 1/4-1/2 parts powdered ginger (a good carrier herb that complements SEP) to ramp up the action of Slippery Elm in your system. I put these two herbs in the recommended portions (1 tsp SEP to 1/2 tsp ginger) in a cup of apple cider and it was delicious.

Now here is a home-made recipe for cough syrup, also utilizing Slippery Elm Powder.

Cough Syrup

~Slippery Elm helps “collect and expel mucus, acts against inflammations, and serves to soothe and nourish…it really shines as a cough syrup”

  • 4 TB Slippery Elm Powder
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 raw onion, chopped (optional)

Simmer and stir gently on stove top for twenty minutes. Store in refrigerator. Feel free to add a little water to bring it to a more runny consistency. You can add ginger to this, a few drops of an essential oil such as clove oil for its antiseptic and pain-numbing qualities.  For maximum potency, store in refrigerator for only a few weeks before starting with a fresh batch.Sweet and Low

This book simplifies herbistry…it’s down-to-earth information even children can absorb and utilize. I’m hoping my family will stay reasonably healthy, but if not, I’m looking forward to putting this great knowledge to the test by making herbal honeyballs, medicinal teas, decoctions, tinctures and even “people paste”–an incredible alternative to stitches!

And it’s one more step towards being more self-sufficient in a world going crazy.

Anyway, Slippery Elm in its dried inner bark form is worth pursuing! It’s a great defense against many conditions including constipation, gall bladder, vaginitis, urinary tract infections, athlete’s foot, hemorrhoids, etc. I’ve shared only a trace amount of the info on this one herb available in Lalitha’s book. Another great reason to buy this book? The author breaks down dosage information for each herb for the different age groups: Infants to 3 years; Children 4 years to 10 years; and Children 11 years to Adults.

Remember, I’m no certified health guru…I’m just a mom, passing along some info for you to have if you want it. Of course you need to use good judgment and common sense when following any home-remedy directives. So buy the book, or do your own research before taking my word for it!

Get proactive about your family’s health!

Cooking and Food Health

Blender Breakfasts Using Healthy Whole Grains

This morning we had “Blender Waffles” made with uncooked long grain brown rice. How neat is that? If you’re like me, you didn’t know you could do such a thing without grinding your brown rice into rice flour first. Don’t have a grain mill? Got a tough blender? Read on.

One of my homeschool mom friends gave me an early Christmas present: Sue Gregg’s Breakfasts…with Blender Batter Baking Allergy Alternatives cookbook. Now I’ve always known that baking bread with whole grains that you’ve milled into flour yourself was best for my family, but this cookbook explains why in detail. Ever wonder why your typical white flour at the store is “enriched”? Because white flour doesn’t have all the life-sustaining nutrients that whole wheat flour has. So they’ve enriched it with iron and three synthetic B-vitamins, but that doesn’t nearly replace the more than 30 nutrients nor the fiber that’s been lost. The calcium content of whole grains, for instance, is four times that of white flour.

This cookbook doesn’t stop at explaining the various kinds of grains and which ones are more easily digested by allergy sufferers…Spelt, Kamut, Hard Red Winter and Spring Wheats, Hard White Wheat, Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Corn, Oats, Brown Rice, Barley, Rye, Millet, Triticale, Buckwheat, Sorghum, Quinoa, Amaranth, Teff, and Wild Rice…it also goes into how to make homemade yogurt, your own cereals, blender batters, how to store your grains, where to find these grains, shopping lists, plus nutritional info on fruits, eggs, milks, nuts, etc. And a ton of nutritious tasty-sounding breakfast recipes.

This is a cooking textbook! A must have for any serious homemaker.

I devoured this book in two late night reading sessions–it’s that eye-opening! But the light really went on when I came to the section on “Whole Grain Blender Magic!”. Wow. You don’t need a grain mill if you have a good quality blender! To test your blender, throw some ice cubes in it and see if it will crush them. I didn’t think my blender was that great–after all, it’s 15 years old and smells hot every time I use it, but my good ole Osterizer came through for me for these waffles! Worked great.

Sue Gregg not only gives specific blender recipes, she tells you how to adapt the process to your favorite recipes. Now you can’t make yeast breads, cookie doughs or biscuits in your blender, because blender recipes rely on more liquids than you need for those things. But for waffles, pancakes, muffins, coffee cakes, crepes, and corn breads, you’ve got it made!

Now I’m assuming you agree with me that using whole grains is 100% better nutritionally. But get this. The author explains how soaking your grains (which is what you do when you use the blender recipes) for 7 hours or overnight allows the enzymes to break up the phytates in the fibers, allowing your body to get the maximum absorption of all the goodies in your whole grain foods. And talk about convenient. It took me less than five minutes last night to throw some buttermilk, vanilla, olive oil and long grain brown rice in the blender. After blending those for three minutes on high, I followed Sue’s directions on letting it sit in the belnder all night at room temperature. Then this morning we simply added the remaining ingredients, and poured the batter onto my steaming waffle iron…and the waffles were out-of-this-world!!! We all loved them.

To buy the Breakfasts cookbook, go here.

For a free whole foods cooking lesson with Sue, including pictures and recipes, follow this link. Hope you enjoy the blender waffles/pancakes as much as we have!

P.S. Brown Rice is gluten-free, so these pancakes/waffles are gluten-free! At the above link, Sue gives the recipe, but she recommends different combinations of grains. To use her recipe with brown rice only, substitute 1 cup raw brown rice…