Archive for Recipes

Coffee Depletes Key Nutrient

Yes sirree! Did you know that drinking just one cup of strong coffee or black tea within one hour of consuming a healthy meal will impair up to 60% of iron absorption? The stronger the coffee or tea, the greater the absorption of iron is undermined in your body.

Is that a problem?

It could be. Mild to moderate iron-deficiency may be asymptomatic or it can present symptoms such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, dizziness, restless leg syndrome, frequent infections, difficulty concentrating, cardiac problems, and more.

“Drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages with a meal is associated with a 39 – 90% reduction in iron absorption.” [1]

However, caffeine in and of itself only demonstrates a mild negative affect on iron levels compared to the extreme affects caused by tannins.

Do I have to give up my coffee?

Well maybe, maybe not. A severe deficiency may require a complete break from coffee, at least while rebuilding your body’s iron stores. However, if you must imbibe you will want to limit your intake and make sure to leave a one to two-hour window between consuming coffee and then consuming foods or supplements that contain iron. You will also want to increase the amount of food iron that you eat overall.

The Framingham Heart Study [3] was a large study of 634 elderly people from 67-93 years of age and who were still living on their own. It “found that each weekly cup of coffee was associated with a 1% lower level of ferritin, a protein that indicates iron storage levels.” [1]

What is the best way to get my iron?

Well, to begin with, it is not recommended to consume the inorganic form of iron called ferrous (Fe) sulfate which happens to be the most common form that is found in both supplements and in fortified foods.

“Iron used to fortify breakfast cereals ‘is a finely powdered metallic iron and is generally poorly assimilated.” [2]

Inorganic iron is not only used to fortify cereals, it is used to fortify wheat, maize (corn), and rice. Dairy, condiments, and sauces are also fortified. Therefore, one must consider any derivatives of these products such as bread, pastries, pasta, ice cream, tortillas, etc. to contain metallic iron.

Which real foods contain the iron my body needs?

The best organic food forms of iron are found in green vegetables, legumes, and meat (especially red meat and organ meat.) Unlike ferrous sulfate, dietary iron from real food is non-constipating and bio-available, making it the very best choice for your body!

Recipe: Darlene’s Mocha Delight!

~ A Delicious, Health-Promoting Coffee Substitute ~

  • 1 Cup Dandelion Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Cup Chicory Root, Roasted (cut & sifted)
  • 1 Heaping TSP Cacao, powdered
  • 1/4 TSP Powdered Cinnamon

In a pint jar, combine all the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Label and store with a secure lid.

Add 1/2 – 1 scant teaspoon (more or less as desired) to a tea infuser for each 8 to 16 ounces of water. (I like to use large coffee mugs for my tea!)
Pour boiling hot water over the tea and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes for a delicious “coffee-substitute” beverage or steep longer, 10 to 15 minutes, to draw out more nutrients and increase the health benefits.

Be sure to add some almond milk, coconut milk, or a maybe a little of both and you are good to go. There is a natural sweetness to this recipe that does not require additional sweeteners. It is great cold as the “chocolaty” taste seems to increase as it cools. Yum.

Dandelion is a treasure-trove of nutrients. Unlike coffee, dandelion is high in iron as well as manganese and phosphorus. Chicory, like dandelion, is full of nutrients and an especially good source of potassium. Like dandelion, chicory is known to aid digestion making this a wonderful beverage to consume with a meal. Chicory and dandelion are a great combination.

‘Coffee people’ and ‘non-coffee’ people are pleasantly surprised when they try this hot beverage. It is satisfying, delicious, and provides a nutrient boost the body really craves.

Darlene’s Mocha Delight!

Share your favorite coffee-substitute creation in the comments below or change-up this one and make it better! To your health!

Sources:
[1] Do Coffee and Caffeine Inhibit Iron Absorption?
[2] The Truth About Vitamins & Minerals in supplements: Why real nutrients are best! by Robert Thiel, Ph.D.
[3] Dietary determinants of iron stores in a free-living elderly population: The Framingham Heart Study

Make Your Own Healthy Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is a delicious condiment most people love to eat.  It can be dressed up and used in sauces, as a sandwich spread, as base for dips and salad dressings, and in a mix for meats and fish (a yummy addition to meatloaf and salmon loaf.)  You might be surprised at the innumerable and creative ways that mayo can be used in a non-edible fashion.

Using mayo as a face mask to soothe and soften one’s complexion has been around a long time. It is also used to relieve and moisten sunburn. It feels so good when applied cold.  It is an old-style hair conditioner. Just apply, massage into the hair and scalp, and leave it in for five or 10 minutes, then shampoo it out.  It can even help remove chewing gum from hair.  (Not that any of us would ever need that!) By saturating a finger with mayo a “stuck” ring can slide right off!

Old wooden furniture can get a welcome moisturizing and rejuvenating “face lift” by applying the gift of mayonnaise. Just be sure to spot test the area first. Simply apply and allow to set for a few minutes, then wipe off and buff.  By applying a little mayo to a squeaky hinge or to a bottle that needs stubborn residue removed.  It also as been touted as an effective application to tar or sap on one’s car.  Apply to the tar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe clean. (Again, spot test in a hidden area first.)

Mayo as a condiment is highly perishable. It has been a modern convenience for many of us that has taken some unfortunate wrong turns in the manufacturing process. Unnecessary sugar can often be found to be added to mayonnaise, cheaper and very unhealthy oils have been substituted for the nutritious oils once used, and the method for preserving mayo has drastically changed.

In light of these things, take heed before you go and purchase a jar of commercial mayonnaise because all commercial mayonnaise is now cold pasteurized.  Cold pasteurization is a method of sterilizing mayonnaise because raw eggs, a necessary ingredient in mayonnaise, cannot be allowed to set out on shelves at room temperature for months without going dangerously bad.  Sounds great, yes?  Well, no.  Unfortunately, cold pasteurization (also known as HPP or High-Pressure Processing, or irradiation) is a modern method of preserving food that uses extremely high amounts of pressure.

While there is great publicity about the “wonders” of this technique, there are also problems with the outcomes that are beyond the scope of this blog and what the industry is willing to admit.  Thoughtful consideration should be given to the nutritional devaluation of food caused by cold pasteurization, toxic radiolytic byproducts in addition to benzene resulting from the pressure, changes in the chemical composition of food, and contamination by toxic waste products from bacteria that remain unchanged throughout the irradiation process, along with the possibility of rapid re-contamination of food due to its sterilization.

The primary ingredient(s) in commercial mayonnaise are canola (rapeseed) and soybean oils both of which are mutagenic.[1]  Soy interferes with the bioavailability of nutrients and inhibits the function of enzymes.

Simply stated, enzymes have the important function of breaking down proteins into small enough bits that the body can assimilate them.  This kind of interference in digestion can cause many negative malnutrative effects such as cognitive impairment (250% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s), brain shrinkage and premature deterioration (think dementia), increased production of steroidal hormones and estrogen mimicking compounds (beyond what the body requires and not the same as the body makes), early puberty in girls and delayed puberty in boys (from said hormone disruption), menstrual difficulties in women and “permanent” PMS, and a myriad of other negative effects.[2]

On the positive side, when homemade using your own select ingredients, mayonnaise can be a source of healthy fat intake when used in moderation!  It is incorporated into many summer recipes such as dips, sauces, salad dressings, and is an absolutely delicious additions to one’s table.

Fast ‘N Snappy!

My favorite way to make mayo is by dirtying the least amount of dishes in the quickest amount of time.   That means I like to make my mayo in the same container that I store it in. Therefore, my container of choice is a wide-mouthed pint mason jar.

Here are the tools you will need to get started:

  • 1 pint-sized wide-mouthed canning jar and lid
  • A stick/immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender/Vita-mix/etc.  I have been told that you can hand whip mayo but that it takes much longer to set up.  That doesn’t jive with my “quickest amount of time” requirement so let us move right along…
  • A rubber spatula

The Mayo-Maker’s Secret

The key to making mayonnaise is to allow all the ingredients to sit out until they become room temperature.  If you add room temperature oil to cold eggs you would be the lucky one to get a proper emulsion.  Here are the basic ingredients you will need:  (Feel free to cut the recipe in half to suit your needs.)

Basic Recipe –

  • 2 Raw Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Water
  • ½ Tsp Sea Salt
  • 2-3 Tsps Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon Juice, or White Wine Vinegar
  • 2+/- Cups Oil

About the eggs. Farm fresh eggs are a great selection and carry little to no risk of contamination.  Simply wash the shell prior to using and allow to sit out on the counter-top until they are completely room temperature.  Also, for safety’s sake do not ever use an egg with a crack in it.

A Word About Oils

The oil you select will directly affect the flavor of your mayonnaise. Extra virgin olive oil has a very strong flavor and will work, however, many folks do not like in their mayo.  I find that I enjoy extra-virgin olive oil-based mayo better when I add more pungent spices like garlic, paprika, and horseradish.

“Safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed and canola oils should never be used in your mayonnaise. They are highly polyunsaturated, omega-6s that go rancid quickly (many are rancid by the time you buy them, but [you] cannot smell the rancidity because they’ve been perfumed), and increase your inflammation index.”[3]

Peanut oil, sesame seed oil, and grapeseed oil can be used.  Macadamia nut oil is “da bomb” from what I hear and avocado oil is another option, but presents a flavor with its own unique taste that not all will find suitable.  A combination of oils can also be used. This is handy to know should you run out of your favorite go to oil. Additionally, coconut oil can be used, but it must be liquefied to become an emulsion and it might be wise to begin with a second oil before adding the coconut oil as it is high in saturated fats.

Spices I like to add to the basic recipe above –

  • ¼  Tsp Garlic
  • ¼  Tsp Paprika
  • ½-1 Tsp Dill

Mayonnaise is delicious served plain or one can flavor it any way they like. For a yummy twist add fresh or dried herbs.  Parsley, oregano, chives, thyme, ground mustard, Dijon mustard, etc.  Experiment to find the combination that you like best.

The Mayonnaise “Trick”

Add a teaspoon of water to the egg yolks before adding the oil because “A little water physically broadens the space between fat droplets, helping them stay separate,”…“If the oil droplets don’t stay distinct from one another and evenly dispersed in the oil, the mayonnaise will break.” says Tucker Bunch, a chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America.[4]

Putting it all Together

Step #1 – **This is the most important step**

Everything must start out at room temperature.  To emulsify properly the oil and the eggs must be the same temperature.

Step #2

Crack the eggs and put the egg yolks (reserving the whites for the next step) and water into the canning jar. Blend them together until frothy.

Step #3

Add the egg whites, salt, lemon juice or vinegar, and your choice of spices.

Step #4

Next, pour a thin layer of oil into the jar.  About ¼ cup of oil ought to do it, that will be about 1/4 inch of oil floating on top. You don’t need a measuring cup, a guesstimate works fine.  Then re-insert the stick blender and pulse a number of times until the oil is incorporated into the egg mixture.

Step #5 – **Now take your time**

This is where you slow down and forget about your time constraints.  While processing, gradually add the oil in a thin, SLOW, steady stream until the mayo thickens (takes approximately 1 cup oil per egg.)

Helpful Hint: A grippy shelf liner works well to hold the canning jar. I run the stick blender with my left hand and pour the oil with my right hand. I am careful and take my time during this step. Of course, this would not be an issue with a traditional blender, but it is my preferred method. If you happen have someone wandering about the house with nothing to do, have them reach over and hold the jar steady.

Step #6

Clean off the rim of the jar if there is any food on it and then screw on the lid.  If you are using a blender or food processor you will need to use a spatula to spoon your mayo into a suitable container.  Then refrigerate.

As long as the mayonnaise remains refrigerated it is good for approximately 3-5 days. Enjoy!

What if it Flops?

Wait! Don’t throw it out! If it is runny, use it so make salad dressing by adding more vinegar and additional seasonings. Another option would be to stir in some sour cream and turn it into a veggie dip. You might even pour it into a delicious homemade soup or casserole. You still have time to refrigerate it and devise a plan. Then try again…

Have you made homemade mayonnaise? How did it turn out? Did you try this recipe? What is your favorite oil? Share your thoughts below …and make it better!

References

 [1] Mutagens from Heated Chinese and U.S. Cooking Oils
[2] Soy found to be ‘unfit for human consumption’ and what the industry never told you about it
[3] Ultimate Mayonnaise Recipes
[4] Mayonnaise: Oil, Egg and a Drop of Magic

Pass the Pumpkin Spices, Please!

by Shannyn Caldwell

Pumpkin spice ‘everything’ seems to be everywhere these days. It has been for months and will be for months to come. It’s not just for Thanksgiving anymore.  So let’s get to know this cozy flavor profile a little bit better.

Pumpkin Pie Spice. What are we actually talking about here? Well, once you get past the obligatory scoop of pumpkin, that is where you find the “spice.”

 

Pumpkin pie spice is a standard blend with many variations that look something like this:

*4 TSP Ground Cinnamon

*2 TSP Ground Ginger

*1 TSP Ground Cloves

*½ TSP Ground Nutmeg

The spices above are a blend of

very powerful medicines indeed!

When combined with pumpkin (an amazing comfort food in and of itself), we are looking at a potentially healing as well as delicious food.

Obviously, if you create a cake, pie, or smoothie of sugar-laden pumpkin spices, you will be working against medicinal properties of the spices, BUT you CAN find and create some very healthy recipes out like custards, pancakes, cookies, lattes, smoothies, and shakes that taste 100% like you are cheating the brains out of your diet.  However, you are really feeding your body healthful nutrients.

Here’s what we know about the healing properties of Pumpkin Pie Spices:

First, they are all warming spices which fight the cold and the damp.  All forms of herbalism (Western, Ayurveda, and Traditional Chinese Medicine) use these spices to balance out cold and damp conditions.

In addition to their warming qualities these spices have actions that go far beyond their mouthwatering scents and flavors.

Cinnamon is one of the healthiest spices on the planet. It can lower blood sugar levels & reduce heart disease risk!

Ginger aids digestion and helps upset stomach.

Clove is incredibly high in antioxidants. One-half teaspoon contains more than one-half cup of blueberries).  There is compelling research pairing clove with cancer and diabetic conditions.

Nutmeg aids an upset stomach and also helps with sleeplessness. It is interesting to consider the new research utilizing nutmeg and its effects on cancer and kidney disease.

So, maybe just maybe, the “Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING” people are onto something.  Hmmm, I think I might go make a latte…

Heavens to Betsy! Liquid Laundry Soap

Author: Shannyn Caldwell, Student ~ Genesis School of Natural Health

I got super tired of spending my family’s hard-earned coin on garbage detergent and so I did some digging and came up with this heavenly spin on a Pinterest money saving fave!

I hacked the recipe because I couldn’t find washing soda in my dear home town, so I learned to make it and felt it was only fair to spill the beans on how!

So, dear diva, you should know that washing soda can be made easily from baking soda. All you do is cover a cookie sheet with plain ‘ol baking soda and…bake it! Go figure! About 20 minutes at 400 does the trick. You’ll see. It changes…gets softer, less composed.  That done, you’re off to the organic/fair trade/money saving races!

Here’s the recipe I used: 

  • Whisk 1/2 cup washing soda with 1/4 cup borax. Add 1 cup boiling water.
  • Stir in 1 TBSP Castile soap (I used peppermint because it’s what we had on hand), 1/4 cup white vinegar and 20 drops of essential oil. (I used lemon and peppermint.)
  • Pour into an empty and clean gallon jug and top with hot water!

BOOM! Mom win!

1/4 Cup takes care of 1 large load!

If you try it, let me know how it turns out in the comments! If you’ve got questions, ask away! Bless your sparkly clean socks off for reading and sharing. I hope you have fun rocking your laundry!

Cheers!