I love the holidays, it seems there are more opportunities to spend quality time with friends and family. And, always, along with that quality time there is a meal, or finger foods or some sort of refreshment. Who doesn’t enjoy such occasions? Even an introvert can find opportunities to enjoy themselves in a small intimate gathering.

The gift giving and big sit-down meals of Christmas are a wonderful thing. And so is a simple bowl of soup shared during a warm conversation with a friend. I think sometimes we push ourselves more than is necessary when hosting these events. I don’t believe that we necessarily do these things from a sense of prideful boasting, but more from a desire to please. None-the-less, in an increasingly complex and complicated world, let’s move toward the basics. A simple meal, shared with friends, regularly. There is some science to prove this act alone could extend your life!

Keep on reading!

As my regular readers know, I recently completed my Integrative Nutrition Health Coach program @Institite for Integrative Nutrition. One topic we covered during my education was the microbiome. Well, I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but I find this area of self-knowledge amazingly interesting, therefore the topic of today’s rather long and detailed post. Please hang with me to the end, you will be so glad you did!

Continue reading “Fermenting Frenzy”

Mountain R&R


Earlier this month I celebrated my last birthday of my 50’s. My husband and I went camping in our cute Little Guy Max, an over-sized teardrop camper. We took along our new bicycles so we could ride along the New River State Park  bike trail.

Our first evening was quiet and uneventful – exactly the way a camping trip ought to be. We had a slow peaceful start to my birthday. I wandered around the camp site taking pictures andvideos as I sipped at my chai tea.  

Our first full day, and the only day we’d be there without the rest of our gang, we decided to take an extended bike ride along the New River trail – from our campground in Fries, VA to Galax, VA, two small towns in the southern Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains. It was 17 miles, one way, to Galax, which didn’t seem like very far to me. Ha! I learned better by the end of the day.

What a beautiful day for a bike ride along wide gravel trails, following an old converted rail way along one of the oldest rivers in the US. In no time we were at Fries Junction. From here we could turn one way and head toward Galax, a short 12 miles away. The first amazing scenery was the bridge spanning the river, it was very wide at that place and the bridge was paved with boards. Unfortunately, the old iron walls were still in place, so we couldn’t look at the river as we rode across it. About a mile or so further on we came to the tunnel. 

This was one big, dark tunnel. It was so dark that as you entered you left daylight behind, and only when you were nearly half-way through the tunnel and rounded a slight curve did you see the daylight of the exit many yards ahead. Had there been anything or anyone hiding in the midst of that tunnel I would have never seen them, and had they been in my path, they would have been run over. 

After the tunnel it was uneventful riding with a tributary to the New River along first one side then the other of our trail. We twisted and switch-backed our way through about 1,000 feet of elevation climb until we were suddenly back among civilization, and then at the
Galax end of the trail. About 17 miles, and it had taken nearly 3 hours to complete it. Now, I must say we rode steadily, but not in a rush, but I certainly didn’t expect it to take that long for us to complete the outward portion of our trip.

Much later, after dinner, my thighs began to ache. Just a dull sore kind of ache. I avoid using OTC medication like aspirin or other NSAIDs, but I adore my doTerra essential oils. I hadn’t packed well on this trip; I had forgotten shampoo, deodorant, and many of my go-to essential oils. But, I did have lavender. I applied a couple drops to each thigh. Ah, in a few minutes the pain was mostly gone. What pleasant relief. We enjoyed our evening with our camping buddies, and then it was off to bed. 

Around 2am I woke to cicada songs, and to an incessant ache in my thighs. Tossing and turning I just couldn’t get back to sleep. At 3 I got up, rustled through all my essential oil supplies for something stronger than lavender. Ah, I found it, a small sample of doTerra’s Deep Blue. I applied just a small dot, the size of a pea, to each leg, and in moments the pain was gone, and did not return. Nor was I tight, sore, or achy the next day. What a wonderful blessing! I’ve always heard others tell their tales of Deep Blue‘s pain relieving abilities, but didn’t truly appreciate them until I got to experience them for myself. 

 

 

 

 

 

We all have one. We’re born with it, and we have it to be very end, or at least most of it, or maybe some of it. Our brain is hidden from sight, and can take decades of abuse before it begins to fail us. How often do we think about taking care of it?

Researchers are beginning to see a link between obesity, depression, and Alzheimers. All three are considered expressions of unhealthy lifestyles. And all three don’t happen the first time you have a donut for breakfast, or drink too much beer. Single events are not a lifestyle, until they become a lifestyle.

So, what are you doing in your every day life that could be, shall we say, not so great for your brain health and longevity? Think about all those things you’ve heard everyone saying for years are related to poor health. There are all the known things like drugs, alcohol, smoking, excessive caffeine, toxins in our food and environment. Then there are things we don’t think about much, like previous brain injuries, high stress, lack of exercise, even unhealthy peers.

Yes, let’s talk about our peers for a moment. Recall when you were in school your mom was concerned about who you socialized with? The thought was always that whomever we spend time with is who we will be like. Well, that old adage remains true years later. If you primarily socialize with people who make healthy choices, you will tend to be healthier, and if not, well, you made your choice.

So, getting back to our brains, how can we help them out? By making good decisions, engaging with a positive peer group, minimizing toxins in our food, water, environment, increasing the omega 3’s in our diet, and regularly exercising. These things in addition to the basics of good living like a great diet, enough sleep (count that as 8 hours), maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and practicing gratitude.

Of that rather long list let me pick out omega 3’s. There is a difference in pasture raised eggs, dairy and meat. Do your own searches, there is a vast array of information out there. Once you’ve made up your mind, then seek out places you can get higher quality more nutritious foods. Your brain will thank you. 

What other foods support your brain? Well, we can paint with a broad brush and suggest the Mediterranean diet in general. Or we can select individual foods to add into our existing diet. If you want individual foods consider green tea, walnuts, avocados, and blueberries. 

And finally, while it does seem to be true that we are what we eat. We are also who we socialize with, as mentioned before. Humans are social creatures, so be sure to get out and spend pleasurable time with others frequently, it is good for your brain. Exercise is also great for the brain, it reduces the risk of depression, but also helps boost memory and coordination. And follow your passion when it comes to creative hobbies – from painting to dancing or playing music, these hobbies allow you an outlet for self-expression as you keep your brain challenged.

 

If you like what you read here, and want to dig deeper, let me know!

For the last few years lots of people “in the know” have been encouraging coconut oil as a more nutritious option. Then in July someone posted a YouTube claiming it is poison!!! Well I can tell you I use it extensively and haven’t suffered any ill effects.

So what is up? Read the article below for a glimpse into the hidden world of the science and lies about our food, our bodies, and our healthy options.

Once again it appears big business pulls the strings for the puppets at our federal agencies and even universities to spin things their way.


How in the world can margarine- a wholly man-made food-like substance ever be better for you than a natural plant-based food consumed by civilizations for centuries???

I may not be an Ivy League professor, but I do have common sense. Please take a look at Dr. Mercola’s videothen share it, comment, and voice your opinion!!!

 

 

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A long time ago, literally over 20 years, I ran across some information about fluoride that said it was a toxic byproduct of the manufacturing process. Yuck. I thought, what is it doing in our toothpaste?

As I did more research I found that it was ‘easier’ to sell it to municipalities to dump it in drinking water than to dispose of it. Double yuck.

So, while raising my children they did NOT use fluoride toothpaste, nor did I allow the dentist to give them fluoride treatments. Of the six children we raised only 1 had any cavities, and frankly, I just couldn’t get that one to brush her teeth as regularly as she ought to. [I still love you girlie!]

And here we are, years later. No one has ‘blown the whistle’ on fluoride. 

You know, one of the things I read all those years ago was that Hitler’s organization intentionally put fluoride into the drinking water of populations they were seeking to control. Just as farmers had known for years that a little fluoride makes a bull more docile, Hitler sought to take over entire populations with little to no resistance. Check out Bryson’s book, The Fluoride Deception, for the details. These ideas makes me cringe, I wish it was not true.

Doesn’t that just make your blood boil? How many American communities are poisoning our water with toxic chemicals which have very little if any proven value in our bodies? Where has the American spirit of independence, that idea of picking ourselves up by the proverbial bootstraps and making something of ourselves gone? 

I don’t mean to be political, nor do I want to ruin anyone’s day. But please, do your own research, check out far more famous folks than me and see what they say about fluoride. Then run as fast as you can to your bathroom cabinet and carry those tubes of poison laced toothpaste out to the trash can. I use, love, and recommend doTerra’s onGuard toothpaste. It includes essential oils which not only taste great but support your health and wellness. 

See what Vani Hari, Food Babe says about fluoride.

See what Dr. Axe says here

Fluoride

And print and share this infographic with anyone you know who brushes their teeth. 🙂

What have you done to reduce toxicity in your daily life? I’d love to hear from you, post your comments below.

Health Coaching

Eos

© Lady On A Quest

“Blossom where you’re planted.”

Daisy’

Saturday morning musings

Late Summer

It is late August. Several months ago we made our final mortgage payment on our dream home. It sits on almost 6 acres, partly wooded, partly fields, and partly ‘yard.’ There is something about the feeling of knowing you own your home, each blade of grass seems special, when a month ago it wasn’t. It is an odd, but wonderful feeling. All my adult life I’ve paid rent or a mortgage. Now, in my very late 50s, that phase of my life is done. I don’t think I’ll miss it.

So, now that we own it, let’s make it work for us. Let’s do something that will support us into our middle years (planning on a life well beyond 100, so I can say that, I suppose.) Anyway, we have decided to expand on our little farm. For the last 5 years I’ve done a garden, about 20, 4’x4′ raised beds with various beds bordering them. Each year we have volunteer tomatoes, and some squash, greens, beets, okra, peppers and the like. This summer I’ve dried some herbs: basil, thyme, and mint. 

We’re expanding. In the past we had a ‘lower garden’ in a different location on the property. I put bigger plants there, zucchini, okra, corn, even watermelon. Let me digress for a watermelon story. I didn’t plant seeds, but rather bought baby plants at a local Amish nursery. It was a hot afternoon when I got home so I put the flat in the shade next to the garage while I planted the flowers. [See, ladies, I do have my priorities right!] Anyway, while my back was turned so to speak, my lawn-mowing hubby came by and started into my flat of baby plants. He realized the error of his ways quick enough, backed up and went on. Meanwhile, in a frenzied attempt to save the plants I stalked out to the raised beds and plopped all the plants in the ground – temporarily. Time passed.

One day I determined to revitalize the lower garden, and it just made sense to move something big like watermelon out to the lower garden. So I did. The rows were covered with a woven landscaping fabric to keep the weeds at bay. It was black. Next morning my little 3′ watermelon vines were limp and burned up. Quickly I placed some straw between them and the hot fabric. Grabbed my watering can and attempted to drown them in an effort to ensure they revived.

More time passes. The watermelons revive, limping along, beginning to fight with the crab grass which seems like it wants to take over the whole world. Then comes the day we decide to expand the lower garden. Well, you can’t cut down trees and brush, chip the branches, grind the stumps, and till the area with the plants in place. So I moved them, again. Yes, that makes 3 times. 

The watermelons are not doing great. But they are also not dead. I suppose there is a lesson in there, something like – blossom where you’re planted, or it is important to put down roots, or maybe, moving around a lot isn’t great for your vitality.

Back to today’s story. It is a nice overcast day, hot, but not 90 degrees and sunny. I worked in the garden some this morning, used the blower to clear the fresh cut grass off the driveway. Removed an old rotten board from the edge of the garlic and herbs area along the south side of the little garden. Cut some thyme and put it in the dehydrator. Cut the seed heads from the Black-eyed Susans next to my little shed and up by the studio; then strategically scattered them along a bank on the front side of the big field. Next year we should have a whole wall of sunshine there. Around about 11:30 I was starting to get really hungry. That’s when I realized I had a bowl of thawing blueberries and raspberries sitting on the counter, since about 7 this morning. So, after starting a load of laundry I added my walnuts, chia seeds, bee pollen, and yogurt to the berries and gave them a stir. In between bites I put together the ingredients for my chai tea. Yes, we’re finally getting to the recipe now. As I was working through the recipe, and eating a bite of my berries, nuts, and yogurt I took a quick run out to the compost heap. When I came back into the house, the aroma of the hot spices assaulted me with such glorious goodness I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Once the tea ingredients were assembled I brewed up a pot in my very favorite dragon-fly cast iron tea pot, and sat down to tell you this story.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of tea. Originally I received this tea as a gift, I loved it so much I asked for the recipe. I’ve made it several times, and generally am a bit generous with all the spices and herbs. My current batch is made with Anthony’s organic English Breakfast tea. For my preferences I like more spices and less tea. I don’t use sweetener, just a big splash of local Amish grass-milk

 

Ingredients

36-40 green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns (or a mix)
3 tablespoon fennel seeds
1.5 teaspoon coriander seeds
1.5 teaspoon whole cloves
4 4-inch cinnamon stickhome123

6 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1.5 cup loose black or green tea (I prefer about 1/4c green, the rest black)

With a sharp knife, split the cardamom pods in half, long way seems to work best.

Wrap the cinnamon stick in some cheese cloth, or even a paper towel, lay it on a chopping board and give it a few good whacks with a meat tenderizer, rolling pin, or hammer. The goal is to get small pieces, not dust! The more surface area you create the more opportunity there is for cinnamon essence to permeate your tea. NOTE: Once I tried using powered cinnamon, don’t. Something strange happens to powered cinnamon when it sits in a tea pot for an hour or so, the word slimy does seem appropriate in that condition, and it makes the last little bit of tea quite unappetizing. 

Place the cardamom in a small cast iron skillet along with the peppercorns, fennel, coriander, cloves and cinnamon. Stirring occasionally, toast over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant. Remove and cool a couple minutes.

Then the original instructions say to crush spices lightly with a rolling pin or in a mortar and pestle. I use the pestle in the cast iron pan.

In a bowl, toss the spices, candied ginger and tea together until blended.

The original recipe said to use about 1 tablespoon of tea for a cup. I use my lovely pot, which holds about 28 ounces of water, so I use 2-3 tablespoons.

In Japan the Tea Ceremony is very ritualized. At my house, the tea ceremony is pleasant and relaxing, using a pretty pot and tiny cast iron cup makes the whole experience special. 

Please share your comments about how you enjoy your tea or how you like this recipe.

 

Microbiome.
It may be a new word to some, but it is a key to wellness and health. Our bodies are a temple, our Bible tells us this. And, science has been exposing that there is truth in the Bible we do not yet understand. And, I don’t know how to get this across and not seem loony but I’m going to try to explain this idea here, briefly. Then I encourage you to access additional information either at the links below or other sources.
Our bodies are amazing feats of ‘engineering’ which science has yet not been able to completely understand. But, understanding is growing.
I would not call myself a scientist, but, I understand some. And what the science related to our microbiome is telling us is that we have more of a symbiotic relationship with all the little bugs that live in us then we ever thought.
For example: There is a bacteria in our gut which releases a compound which our body uses as a signal to create

serotonin

a compound present in blood platelets and serum that constricts blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter. 

 

Check out this website hosted by Jeffrey Smith for a wealth of information on GMOs, microbiome, and more!

Or see what Dr. David Perlmutter has to say about the growing list of microbiome threatening drugs.

Or check in on Dr. Axe, who has an article about eating dirt to improve our health.

Or Dr. Oz has a bunch of resources, like this one about what your gut reveals about your health.

Check my other blogs about microbiome and fermented foods, or even see my yogurt, sauerkraut, or fermented veggies recipes.

I am very fortunate to work for a company that encourages employee wellness. For the last several years I’ve had a high-deductible health plan combined with a health savings account. One of our benefits is the opportunity to participate in a wellness program in which we have an opportunity to earn cash deposits into our health savings plan by meeting pre-defined daily step goals. So, this backdrop provides the following story.

Years ago I got my first Fitbit, it was a lovely little gadget, a big improvement over the basic pedometer I’d been using. Those 5 little lights indicated my status toward meeting my daily step goal. Over a couple of years I walked a lot, so much my chiropractor challenged me to run in a 5K he was sponsoring. So I did. At some point my Fitbit wristband broke. They replaced it. But, I had moved beyond walking, and wanted more.

I think my next tracker was a MisFit Shine. I really liked the size, and for the time, style of the Shine. And, if you understood the code, it doubled as a watch. I was really moving up in the world of trackers. Then, close to my end of warranty, the Shine slipped out of the bracelet, and was lost. I contacted MisFit, they replaced it.

At this point I began to wonder if the fitness tracker industry had to replace nearly every device sold. My faith in the MisFit began to wane. Somewhere around this time I believe I upgraded to another tracker, my cell phone. RunKeeper was my app of choice. Back in December 2015 they sponsored the first global 5K, if you tracked your run on that date you could purchase a hoodie. I have the hoodie, and was very excited about participating, individually. Running in Small Town America, in a global 5K, with thousands of others, and all alone.

It wasn’t too long after that run that I wanted a real running tracker, something with GPS and maybe even a heart rate tracker. First I tried the Tom Tom Spark + music. It had everything I could ask for, and I loved it, despite it’s large and clunky size. But, alas, there was no method to get the daily steps from the Spark into the health tracking portal. I returned the Tom Tom, ultimately settling on a Garmin 325. The watch was huge, and was a nice smart watch with notifications, and great tracking of runs. Now I had more data than I needed, and ran based on heart rates not how I felt.

I kept that Garmin for about 2 years. Wore out the band, got a nice one from Amazon, but I suspect it will also wear out before long, the little band that you stick the excess strap into is just not robust enough. Speaking of the strap, as a diminutive lady, the strap wrapped all the way around, almost touching the body of the watch, so there was a lot of excess to keep corralled. I spent a lot of time, daily, fidgeting with the band, trying to keep it neat and tidy. It was always springing free and creating a cumbersome bulkiness on my petite wrist.

Then I saw the Apple Watch, series 3. Nice watch. Small, reasonable looking, while perhaps not stylish, it is at least more elegant than the Garmin. Still has GPS, still tracks heart rate, sleep, and all those Smart Watch features – including music! But it doesn’t talk to the health tracking portal. Ugh! I tried an intermediary software that would pull from the Heart app and push the data into FitBit – but it was only pushing the steps taken with the phone in hand, and I don’t carry my phone with me all day!  Finally identified an app that talks with the portal and my iPhone, and now everything is as it should be.

Yesterday I took my first run with the basic running app, it seemed to do well. Unfortunately I paused the tracking without realizing it, and failed to track about 3/4 of a mile. I’m looking forward to using the new watch to train for my first 2018 5K. One of the features of the watch is the ability to store music, and listen wirelessly. I can’t explain the liberty of running wireless. I kept commenting to my husband as I twirled around like Pinocchio, “There are no strings on me!”

One of my daughter’s favorite movies is The Sound of Music, and the title of this page pastedGraphic.pngbrings warm memories of family snuggles as we watched great movies together. So while in my mind the hills are alive with the sound of music, I am here this evening to provide you with links to some of my favorite people, and places in the web.

 

Vani Hari, the Food Babe, she ranks right up there. What a brave and courageous hero she is for all of us, taking on “Big Food” and often, with the help of the Food Babe Army, winning in the fight to get clean food. Her story would strike a cord with many who have less than idea health, who struggle to eat well, and find they are being duped at every turn. She provides email newsletters, recipes, a wide assortment of eating and diet options, opportunities to engage in the fight for clean food, and has most recently launched her own line of products, Truvani. Products with real ingredients, and honest labels. Please check her out!

For several years I have gotten some measure of our groceries from Green Polkadot Box. Their goal is to provide clean, non-GMO and organic food and supplements. They also have plans for regional ‘growing centers’ where they propose to grow fresh produce hydroponically and deliver straight to your door.

Recently I encountered a most compelling talk from Gary Taubes on carbohydrates, and insulin, and why we get fat, and even a little bit of WWII history. If you struggle in any way with your weight, please take a look at his page, get his book, or at least watch a You Tube or two! Check out his books – The Case Against Sugar, Why We Get Fat, or Good Calories Bad Calories. Gary is a journalist, not a doctor or nutritionist. The evidence he presents is hard to ignore.

And then, there is the school I am enrolled in, what a life changing experience! The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Just check them out.

Everyone has heard of Doctor Oz. Have you ever watched his show? I haven’t, but I stumbled across his book, at Walmart. I bought it on a whim. Great read. It is the sort of book that I wish I could prescribe to people. Not only does he relate what foods are good and bad, but then he’s got some great meal plans, recipes, and suggestions for getting the most benefit from the foods you eat.