7 Foods to Fight the Common Cold

If you’re looking for ways to prevent winter colds and the flu, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store.

Citrus – vitamin C

Red bell peppers – have twice the vitamin C of citrus plus beta carotene

Broccoli – super charged with vitamins and minerals ready to do citrusbattle (raw is better)

Garlic – immune boosting and good at fighting infections

Ginger – gives a boost to the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties

Spinach – rich in vitamin C plus packed with antioxidants and beta carotene

Almonds – nuts are packed with Vitamin E which helps to build a healthy immune system

Turmeric – has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help stave off a cold or the flu



Drying Herbs

herbs2During the next 2-3 weeks we want to start gathering our herbs and making preparations for drying and storing for winter’s use. Gather herbs in the early morning after the dew has evaporated, this ensures a full flavor and it minimizes wilting. Be gentle with your picking and your selections, we don’t want bruised leaves.
Once you have gathered your herbs, they should not lie in the sun or unattended after harvesting. Instead, rinse your herbs in cool water and then gently shake to remove excess moisture. Sort through your pickings and discard all bruised, soiled or imperfect leaves and stems.

To dry your herbsdrying herbs in bags

Tear or punch holes in the sides of a lunch size brown  bag.  Take a small bunch (large amounts will mold) of herbs and secure them at the ends of the stems with a rubber band or string then suspend them in the bag and close the top with a rubber band. Place where air currents will circulate through the bag. Any leaves and seeds that fall off will be caught in the bottom of the bag.  This also keeps the herbs from browning as there is no direct sunlight to spoil their natural colors.

The bags can be left for about 2-3 weeks, then the herbs should be dry enough to crush into small pieces and stored in a glass jar with a lid.  Storage should be away from heat and in a cupboard to minimize sunlight exposure.  Most dried herbs retain their potency for about one year.

dried herbs


How to Make Rose Water

rose waterThere was a time when rose water was considered a luxury that fought off the aging processes and was used by the ladies in the high court. Although it has gone out of fashion it does have the ability to reduce inflammation, fight wrinkles and it is soothing to the skin plus helps to rehydrate the skin. Add the fragrance from the rose which helps fight depression and you have a wonderful natural homemade beauty product for next to nothing!

How to Make Rose Water – recipe

1. Rose petals to firmly pack 1 cup. If you’re using dried petals you don’t need to pack them in just use approximately 1 cup. Place the roses in a heat-resistant glass bowl.
2. Boil 2 cups of distilled water and pour the hot water over the rose petals. Cover the bowl with a lid or plate and allow the rose petals to steep for 30 minutes.
3. Cover a wide-mouthed jar, like a canning jar with a piece of cheesecloth and pour the rosewater into the jar. Discard the roses or put into a compost pile.
4. Store your rose water in the refrigerator to preserve it.

Note: If you make a rose water with alcohol or witch hazel refrigeration isn’t necessary.

3 Ways to Use Rose WaterRose 2

  1. Dampen a cotton pad with rose water and apply to face with a light brushing
  2. A mist can also be used during times when a little freshness is needed to hydrate and nourish your skin
  3. You can add rose water to your bath to help soften your skin


5 Tips for Treating Poison Ivy

Summer’s Poison Plant

Poison Ivy Vine

Poison Ivy Vine

Poison ivy is touted to be one of the most frequent causes of skin rashes among children and adults. It is more prevalent during the summer as we spend a lot of time out of doors, but can occur anytime of the year.

The rash is caused by skin contact with the oils or resin of the plants. The oils are absorbed in the skin rapidly, but don’t usually spread from person to person. Once a person has washed the oil completely off the skin, the rash itself is usually not contagious.

Poison ivy, poison oak and sumac all produce a resin called an urushiol, this resin can cause the allergic rash most of us can identify or have experience with. The plant genus is known as Toxicodendron and is found throughout the U.S. except for desert areas, higher elevations (above 4,000 feet), Alaska, and Hawaii. Poison ivy grows in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and in the mountainous parts of Mexico. It has also has a known existence in Japan, China and parts of Russia.

Poison ivy and poison oak have three leaflets, while poison sumac displays leaflets of five, seven, or more that are angled upward toward the top of the stem. It is recommended that people learn to recognize these plants, but this can be hard, since poison ivy, oak and sumac are often mixed in with other vegetation and not noticed until after the rash has begun.

Poison Oak

Poison Oak

5 Tips for Treating Poison Ivy – a little first aide 

Poison Sumac

Poison Sumac

• Wash the skin thoroughly with soap and cool or tepid water. Because the plant oil enters skin quickly, try to wash it off within 30 minutes. Don’t use hot water as this opens your pores even further.
• Scrub under the fingernails with a brush to prevent the plant oil from spreading to other parts of the body. Things hide under our nails and so do the oils of this plant.
• Wash clothing and shoes with soap and hot water. The plant oils can linger on them and other things that were exposed.
• Immediately bathe animals to remove the oils from their fur, most animals don’t react to the oils of these plants as we do. However, if you pet your animal after it has been exposed, then you will react (especially if your are already sensitive)
• Body heat and sweating can aggravate the itching. So, stay cool and apply cool compresses to your skin or after working in the yard, take a cool shower.

Lotions and Potions for Poison Ivy etc

Rash of poison oak, ivy and sumac are similar

Rash of poison oak, ivy and sumac are similar

• Calamine lotion is a long time reliable over the counter aide to help stop the itching
• Aloe Vera gel (make sure it is pure aloe vera) can also help with itching and healing of the rash and blisters
• Jewelweed, is an effective natural poison ivy treatment. A well-known herbal remedy for poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac rashes. Using the product in a spray bottle can be quite handy to carry around.
• Bathing in lukewarm water with an oatmeal bath to help relieve itching. Quick oats is easier than the regular oats as the smaller flakes will dissolve some.
• If creams, lotions, or bathing do not stop the itching, try Vitamin C to titration
• Wash tools and other objects with rubbing alcohol.

Do NOT touch skin or clothing that still have the resins as it will get you! Studies show that poison ivy is more virulent than in years gone by
Do NOT burn poison ivy, oak, or sumac to get rid of it. The resins can be spread via smoke and can cause severe reactions in people who are far downwind. These reactions are even more dangerous than skin reactions as they affect the breathing.

Crème Fraiche using saturated fat in your diet

creme fraicheUsing saturated fat in your diet

This is not a word that is often in my vocabulary, but upon studying our bodies need for more saturated fat…well one can’t eat butter all the time, so there must be other sources and crème fraiche is one of those sources you can use to satisfy your body’s natural needs for saturated fats.  Its a pretty tasty way for using saturated fat in your diet

Just for your information, in case you weren’t aware, your body needs both saturated and unsaturated fats. It doesn’t need trans-fats and so it is best to avoid all tans-fats. Saturated fat from grass-fed animals is a better choice to obtain saturated fats as opposed to industrially raised animals, but we do the best we can. Dairy, as in the case of a crème fraiche, comes from animals and is considered a saturated fat.

What do you do with crème fraiche?

Think along the lines of sour cream, something of which I personally love. Crème fraiche is a European style sour cream and it makes a wonderful topping for a variety of dishes including baked potatoes, black beans, or even a cucumber salad. You can also use it alongside main dishes such as fried soft-shell crabs or borscht and it’s a great addition to creamed soups and sauces.

You can combine crème fraiche with herbs, garlic, citrus zest, or spices for different applications, and few desserts are as luxurious as crème fraiche with seasonal berries and little shortcakes that delight the taste buds. One of my favorite uses for it is to combine it with an equal amount of heavy cream, just a tiny bit of sugar, and a little vanilla…whip as you would plain whipped cream. It makes a rather luxurious and slightly tangy topping for everything from butterscotch pudding to a fancy ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce and a sprinkle of crushed walnuts.

Crème fraiche recipe

1 pint of a good quality cream (a raw cream is best, but pasteurized will do, try to find one that hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized)
1 tablespoon of buttermilk
Place the cream in a glass container like a quart sized wide mouth canning jar
Add the buttermilk and stir well
Place a lid on the jar, you can use the lid and ring of the canning jar
Put the jar in a warm spot of the kitchen for 20-24 hours, then put in the refrigerator and chill
When the crème fraiche has been chilled it is ready to use

This recipe makes about 2 cups and will last a few days in the refrigerator, but of course it is not something you want to make just to have. Use it for that special meal you are planning for your family and be proud…you made it yourself!

What are Healthy Fats?

healthy oilsHealthy fats are essential for proper brain function as well as building healthy cells, absorbing vitamins and even protecting our organs.  Fat is also necessary for healthy skin and plays an important role in brain development of babies and children.  For centuries we used animal fats as an integral part of our diet and today it has come to light that eating healthy fat does not make you fat nor does it give you heart disease.  But, the question in our minds is what are healthy fats?

What are healthy fats?

Healthy fats like fish oils offer the essential fatty acid – omega 3.  The best sources are cold-water fish like salmon, sardines and tuna.  The experts recommend 2 servings of fish a week.  Other sources to add to your diet include flax seed, flax oil and hemp oil as well as grape seed oil.  We need to avoid processed fats and trans fats.

When choosing your oils  look for raw and unrefined oils, often your best bet is an unrefined expeller pressed oil.  It will state this fully on the label.  The processing of the oils matter a great deal as heat can often make the oil rancid and can create trans-fats during the processing.  Cold expeller pressed oils will not have these problems.


A simple acronym for remembering the best fats is ‘bacon’:

  • B – butter or ghee (clarified butter)
  • A – avocado and avocado oil
  • C – coconut oil/cream/milk (use the unrefined full fat and unsweetened varieties)
  • O – olive oil
  • N – nut oils

Cooking with fats

cooking with fatWe don’t often think about which fat or oil to cook with, but when the heat is too high, the fat or the oil can turn rancid.  What we look for in an oil or fat to cook with is one that has a high smoke point.

Guidelines for cooking with fats

For frying choose one of the following:

  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil
  • grape seed oil – remember expeller pressed
  • lard
  • peanut oil
  • sesame oil

The above oils and fats have a high smoke point of 400 degrees or higher and are good to use for most cooking needs.

For sauteing

These oils are termed medium and are good with vegetable stir fry or sauteing as the amount of heat needed is less than that of frying.  Their smoke point is from 350-400 degrees

  • almond oil
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • walnut oil

For lower heat under 350 the following is recommended:

  • fish oil
  • hemp oil
  • flax seed oil
  • sesame oil
  • all nut oils

The lower heat oils are good to use with your salad dressings or to flavor raw veggies and the like.

When cooking with fats it is important once again to not overheat the fat and it’s also important to know the difference between mechanically pressed or chemically extracted oils.  Chemical extraction uses toxic solvents and can leave residue behind in the oil as well as the oil maybe damaged during the treatment that is used to remove these solvents.  This is the processed used with most commercially prepared fats and oils.  Thus, it becomes important to understand the types of oils and fat you purchase.  For more information on processing oils check out the article on Truth in Olive Oil.





Maximize YOUR Food

Poor agricultural practices and excessive food processing tend to leave the food that ends up on your table a shadow of its former self in regards to the nutritional content of years gone by. Plus, we make things worse, when we cook these nutrient deprived foods and further destroy any nutritional value.  But, we have a plan!

How to maximize the nutrient value of food

To get the most nutrition out of your food,  focus on buying clean, whole foods.  Purchase organic if you can to lessen the effects of pesticide residue and use the following four methods to expand upon their nutritional value.

1. Juicing  2. Blending  3. Fermenting  4. Sprouting


Fresh raw fruit and vegetables have a maximum of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes before processing. Juicing this produce makes it much easier to assimilate the nutrients in your body, as they go straight into your system without having to be broken down. It would appear that our digestive systems today are lacking in many ways. Thus, there are varying limitations on what the digestive system can absorb, but juicing helps bypass that problem by liberating key nutrients from the tough plant cell walls for you, this ensures you get the most out of your fruits and vegetables.


Smoothies are becoming more popular as they are nutritious, easy to make and less expensive than juicing plus you keep the fiber. Blending doesn’t get you more nutrition out of your food but it is extremely easy and quick to prepare. One of our favorites is the kale shake, simply add a handful of fresh raw kale with a banana, some berries and water…blend for 3 minutes, pour into a glass and your meal is ready.


Sprouting is something few people do, but it is another exceptional way to deliver a concentrated source of nutrition that is different from eating the plant in its mature form.
Sprouts are ideal for improving your health because they are a highly digestible source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, beneficial enzymes, and phytochemicals. Sprouted foods have five to ten times higher B-vitamins, and twice the vitamin A, C, zinc, calcium and iron content of their non-sprouted counterparts, not to mention they are easy to digest. Sprouts also add some crunch to sandwiches and salads and they can be added to smoothies and to your juices.

Per calorie, sprouts may be arguably the most efficient form of nutrition, and they are very easy and economical to produce in your home.


Fermenting foods is one of the most powerful ways to introduce incredible nutrition to your body. The process of fermenting is simply a culturing process that produces beneficial bacteria that are very important in maintaining a healthy gut. Introducing them to your diet will improve the function of both your digestive and immune system plus enhance your liver, and your brain!

As an example, sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, is a source of many nutrients including:

– Vitamin B1, B6, and B9
– Vitamin C and K
– Manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron

Plus the live probiotics and enzymes that fermented foods contain makes fermented food unique.