Thursday, January 23, 2014

A CHALLENGE!

Just one challenge, and it's for the veterans I see especially. In fact the recipes started as that, but I've had feedback from others that it's been helpful. Back to the challenge. I read a note from a friend that shared this website: http://100happydays.com/  Check it out and come back; I'll still be here.


It would be great if this particular group, I'll call you 'Bay Vets,' could do this challenge. I heard on the news recently that when you ask someone that's stressed or depressed about what makes them happy, they'll answer in a general fashion, i.e., 'getting outside.' But when you ask them something that makes them sad, they have something particular in mind.

On the flip side, happy people give specifics that make them happy, and general things when it's something they don't like. So maybe if we can focus on the positive things a little more, we can take it to the next level. Yes, laughing in your sleep. Maybe not laughing, but you get the idea. Maybe you can talk amongst yourselves and find a place to post your '100 days' so you can share?

Yes, I do have a recipe, I'm going to write it tomorrow. Roasted vegetables, with squash, onions, potatoes, and garlic. Standby! In the meantime, sign up for the 100happydays challenge. I want feedback.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Recipe #2

Making the Basics: Mirepoix
Cost: About $5-6
Equipment: A large pan, a few onions, carrots, and 2 or 3 celery stalks, stock or broth
Time: About an hour

Colorful carrots
This is a fun thing to do, and it is the base for so many dishes you will want to make. It’s a great soup starter, and with the option of leaving vegetables whole or blending them, it gives you a few places to go from here. More about that after you’ve made it!

First, it’s just a trio of onions, celery, and carrots, in that order. Chop them up and sauté away. I used sheep’s butter on my last soup, and it was so wonderful. The flavor came through and it smelled heavenly. But any butter or oil will do – coconut, red palm (sustainably harvested, of course), olive, butter (even ghee, which is an Indian butter without the milk solids, which you can buy in a jar).

Now I’ve never been able to chop onions the way the chefs do on TV. I never will be able to, either. So my plan is to be careful and not lose any limbs. Use a few small onions or one large one. I chop the onion in half, from pole to pole. Then take the first half, and chop off

the top and bottom parts and peel off the skin. It should come off rather easily. Cut it in half across the equator. Now slice this quarter again and use the knife as if you were going from the crust to the interior, with the knife making longitudinal cuts so the onion falls into nice square pieces. I’m not fancy, it just gets the job done with minimal risk.

Dicing the onions, my way
Don’t think I owned a sharp knife till I graduated college, because I just didn’t trust myself. When I finally bought some sharp ones, it was a little bloody at first, but I got better at it quickly. Now do the same with the other 1/2 of the onion. Take out your pan (not Teflon!). Any large one will do. Put it over medium heat for a minute before you add the oil, then add the onions, coating them a bit with the oil. Let them soften and become translucent as they cook. Meanwhile, you will be chopping up the celery!

Celery dicing the easy way
Fancy chefs make all the pieces the same size, but they still taste the same, so do whatever makes you happy! I like to take 2 or 3 ribs, clean off the bottom and cut the top off before the first joint. The joints tend to be a bit bitter or tough, so toss them in some stock if you have some going, or put it in the compost. When slicing the celery, it’s easy to slice it down the middle, then slice it crossways, with all four to six sticks at once on the board.

About the same size
After the onions are nice and soft, add the celery. Meanwhile, if it browns, it adds some flavor, so don’t fret. Let’s get the carrots going, my least favorite vegetable to cut easily. Washing them first, it’s up to you whether you want to skin them first or not. I don’t, probably because I’m lazy. I also kind of feel like if you get some ‘dirt’ from the skin, it adds to your trace minerals! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. Chop off the top and bottom, making sure you get rid of any green in the base. I like to cut it in half, then half again, if they’re thin, then crossways like the celery. But sometimes I buy these big honkin’ carrots that are as big as my wrist in circumference. Those take a little more work. You can slice them in strips, but keep in mind the vegetables should all be about the same size. And that’s the key: 'about' can mean anything you want it to mean.

Burnt spoons don't add flavor

You’re now adding the carrots to this sauté, and it’s starting to smell good. It’s time to think about what to add next. As you let the carrots soften, think about what you want. This mix is a great base for many meals, and you can stop here and think.


Here are some options:
All kinds of flavor
1. Soup
2. Miso (there all all different flavors and colors)
3. Chili (What? Never heard of carrots in chili? Cuts the acid!)
4. Chop up some more vegetables and saute them too (options: corn, peas, zucchini, potato)
5. Add some salt and pepper and eat it now, as is

No wait! I know, take that stock out of the freezer and put it into the pan! I like to hold it under warm running water for a few seconds till it starts to slide out of the container (use a finger to stop its slide!). Add it to the pan. Let it melt. You now have a wonderful soup base, after adding salt and pepper to taste (remember to taste).

Only add miso when the heat is off!

The other options (organic, please!) after adding stock:
1.     Potatoes
2.     Cauliflower
3.     Beans
4.     Jerusalem artichokes
5.     Corn (no GMO please)
6.     Pasta (least healthy but can be OK)
7.     A can of tomatoes or tomato paste
8.  Celery root, diced

Smells heavenly
Note: Fresh tomatoes have skin that turns into little red sticks when made into soup; if you don't mind it, go for it. Otherwise, you have to dip them in boiling water after scoring the sides so the skin peels off first.


Now here's the tough part. To blend, or not to blend? If you have a blender stick, be careful if you're using a shallow pan! Or you can use a blender, but make sure it's not too hot, and not too full.

Have your bowl and spoon ready, and remember, if you like it really hot, a narrow bowl will keep it hot longer. If you’re more visual, you may want a shallow bowl to enjoy the pretty picture you’ve created. Enjoy!

Soup!






Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Recipe #1 Baking Chicken

Recipe #1


Baking Chicken


Cost: About $15
Equipment: Oven, chicken, baking dish, spice, olive oil (optional), apron (not optional if you wipe your hands on your pants like me)
Time: About an hour


We have established the fact that, if you’re reading this blog, you want to learn how to feed yourself in a healthy way. You might know some basics, or how to cook one or two things well. This blog will help those of you that haven't learned the real use of the kitchen to make some tempting meals. 

You can follow these directions and build on each recipe if you like. Those of you that know each other, get together and make these meals together. Share what you've learned, and expand your use of your skills. I’m hoping to write once a week, but before I promise, let’s see how we do. No worries, we’ll start with the basics, and you can learn in a progressive way. Once you master one recipe, you can either experiment, or if you’re a little unmotivated by the results, wait for the next! I’m going to only give gluten-free or grain-free foods, and healthy alternatives to things we love. I can’t say I don’t cheat once in awhile, so I expect you will too. I can devour a pint of Coconut Bliss in the blink of an eye. But we’re going to focus on building something.

Most of these recipes will build on one another. For instance, today we’ll talk about roasting a chicken. How to pick one out (a healthy one!), how to prepare it, and how to bake it. You’ll have to do the eating part, can’t help you there. And I’m never the one to cut the meat off the bone - I’m not good with knives. The next recipe will help you figure out what to do with the leftovers and the bones. This is the really good part! You will learn how to make things from the recipe before, and even if you don’t like one recipe, you will soon become adept at substitutions. So let’s get started!



Pots, pans, and glassware for your chicken
Before we head off the the store to corral ourselves a bird, we have to have something to bake it in. No, not the oven, I’m figuring you do have one of those. If you don’t, a large toaster oven might work if the chicken is small enough. But what we’re really after is to make sure we have something to put the chicken it while it bakes. There are a number of things you can use; a square Pyrex baking dish (8” or 9”), a round glass cake or pie pan, a large cast iron skillet (seasoned, of course), or a roasting pan that’s not to tall. You don’t want the chicken to steam while it cooks, which is what happens if the sides are too high. But it should be deep enough so that it catches the gravy without slopping over the side. A few things to avoid: no aluminum pans or Teflon coated bakeware. Aluminum is a toxin, and Teflon can kill your pet parrot. If it can kill your bird, it is not a good idea to be using it to cook your food. All set? OK, let’s get started.


In this blog, I wanted to keep it simple, so I started at Trader Joe’s. I will start by saying that I’ve done some research, and although they don’t publish it in mainstream media, Trader Joe’s does not use GMOs in any of it’s own brands. So we can go into the store knowing that the maltodextrin comes from Ecuador, and not GMO corn from the US. Now that we have that out of the way…just a bit about what you want your chicken to say on the label: PASTURE RAISED. Organic is good, but it’s not the best choice here. Chickens like to eat bugs (I'm sure they'd prefer organic bugs, but you can't get them to stay still to question them!). When do you think the last time a hen in a CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) got a bug? She lived her life never knowing one, organic or not! 


Brined or not? Your choice
Food raised on it’s natural diet is the healthiest choice. Take a look at the pictures - and see? They don’t cost that much more, and the chickens are happier (I believe this, I really do). We should realize our food is our fuel; these animals give their lives for our benefit. We should raise them the way they were meant to live, and give thanks when we sit down at the table.

Find the meat section, it’s usually along the wall. You want to find a chicken that looks good, you know, long legs, big chest...no, just kidding. Make sure it’s not bruised and red in areas, and it’s the right size, maybe 4 or 5 pounds, and not past it’s sticker date. Very simple. Then stroll by the sample coffees, have yourself an ounce, and then find the spices. These spices are perfect for what you want to do. All you really need is something to give it a little pizzazz! Take a look at these choices, I’m sure you’ll find something that wets your whistle. Don’t go for the heavy stuff like gravy or sauces, they often have stuff in them that’s not very healthy. We just want a nice crispy juicy chicken!


Now if you don’t have olive oil at home, I’m wondering if maybe we should start with the alphabet. If you have it, you’re done for now. Go home and put on the apron. If you don’t have olive oil, there’s a wonderful TJ’s brand that I love, in the round bottle.


This one looks good
Hurry on home while 
the bird’s still cold, 
and throw it in the 
sink. Turn the oven 
on to about 400 or 
425ᐤF. Cut off the 
wrapper and wash 
it out. Now, when I 
first started baking 
chicken, I never
looked for the giblets. 
I often cooked the 
giblets inside the 
neck cavity (the 
opening with the 
long skin) without 
even realizing they 
were there. It’s OK, 
it makes the juices 
flavorful. If you’re 
squeamish, cook 
them for the animals, if you have them, or toss them in the city-compost (only hot compost should have meat - not your backyard compost if it’s small). Pat the girl dry, and give her a little massage with some olive oil if you want. Not necessary, but it will help her pass over to the other side. Pull out your spice you’ve selected, and have at it. It’s OK to just use salt and pepper, but it can get old after a bit.


Here we get to put her in that baking dish, bending the little wings back so they hold the chicken level in the pan, it looks so professional. Now we’re ready to cook. Of course, you did remember to adjust the racks in the oven, right? Me neither! You’d think after all these years, I’d remember that before I turn on the oven, but no, only when I cook a turkey do I remember that. Put your bird in the oven and turn the oven down to 375. Cook for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Pull her out (you do have pot holders, don’t you?) and let her set for about 20 minutes to ½ hour. The juices coming out of the chicken should be clear. If they’re not, put the chicken back in again for another 15 minutes or so. Don’t forget to turn off the oven!

Some options at Trader Joe's
Although I’m not religious, giving thanks for our food is an important part of gratitude; you have something to nourish you, and this animal gave you its life. Say thanks. Yup, just ‘thanks!’


If you want to get fancy, there are some things you can do once you have mastered the above:
1. If you separate the skin from the meat beforehand, the skin gets nice and crispy without oil.
2. You can put things inside the cavity (make sure you do a cavity search before you add anything!). For instance, preserved lemon, sliced lemon or orange, onion, seasonings.
3. On top, you can put a few pats of butter (thin, of course).
4. If you’re feeling really creative, slice some onions for underneath the old girl, or maybe you have some ideas!
5. You can put some veggies around the bottom (not too many if it’s a tight fit), like carrot, onion, celery, potatoes. Just a few, ‘cause they will be swimming in juice and oil!


Although we didn’t talk about what else you ate with the chicken, we will build on this later. I don’t want to overwhelm anyone with the serious hard work this takes (yes, satire). When you have eaten all the meat you want (dark meat, white meat), toss the skin and put the entire carcass, juices and fat and all, into a big stockpot. OK, you may have to go back to the store! You have a few days to figure this out, while you’re eating the chicken. Cover the carcass almost to the top of the pot (any size, really, but you don’t want gallons if you’re doing this solo). Simmer the bones for a few hours at the lowest setting on your stove top. Let it cool, and then strain it (no, not a colander, a strainer - back to the store!) into containers that are either a cup or 2 cups. You can use yogurt containers or really, anything with a good lid. You’ll probably need 5 or 6 containers. 

Optional: I usually make the stock after dinner, then turn off the stove before bed. In the morning, the fat is congealed across the top, limiting any bacteria. You can leave it there for extra flavor when you cook with it.  I like to write the contents on the lid with a grease pencil: TS is turkey stock, CS is chicken, etc. Add the date, so you use the oldest stock first. The stock can be used straight from the freezer. Just turn the container upside down and run water over it. It will slide right into a pot. Two cups of broth to one cup of white rice, cook with a tight lid, and voile! in 10 minutes you have delicious rice. Brown takes a little longer, 30 to 40 minutes, you can look at the package. You can also use it for soup or pasta, which is another recipe! Hope you had fun. Give me any feedback or share an experience you had doing this so we can all learn.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Our Way of Life


smiling boy in red shirt
We can do better for our children
We’ve all heard the new statistics about autism. 

One in 50 now, and there are no signs of 
improvement on the horizon. But there are things we can do, more than staying away from vaccines. Is it just vaccines that have caused this problem? No, I have to say emphatically, no.
graph showing rise in number if ASD cases
Let me explain why I say this. Our bodies are made up of organisms and systems and cells and chemicals that all must find a way to work together to be healthy. Up until a few decades ago, this wasn’t a big deal. But life gets in the way, sometimes. Think about the last thing you did that you shouldn’t have. Yes, that’s the one. Now think about how your parents or grandparents dealt with that thing you shouldn’t have done. 


toxic smoke stacksWhat was the straw that broke the camel’s back? With all the puzzle pieces, maybe it will make sense. Maybe you can see the big picture. If your child has ASD, it may be that it was that last straw that caused him to stop communicating. Maybe it was the vaccine, maybe it was the food, the chemicals, the air, the plastics, the mercury in the fish you ate. These are things with which you and your children should not have to deal. But our lifestyles are not the idyllic picture we like to imagine. What caused that last straw? Can you identify it? 

DO NOT EAT fast foodWas it fast food? Grandparents didn’t have that option, or at least not in the way we got it. It’s ubiquitous now, and not just one or two places – you can find 5 or 6 places on the same 4 block area, and even in hospitals (CHILDREN’S HOSPITALS!) you will find fast food outlets. How many calories, sugar, and hydrogenated oils in that fancy coffee? Cut it out. Now. Don’t feed it to your kids. They will thank you. How many generations does it take to get sick? Two or three, if you’re eating poorly. How long to get better? Seven generations. OK, that was for cats, but you get the idea. It is a lot easier to eat well and stay well than burden your offspring. They’re supposed to be around to care for us!

young girl sleepingWas it poor sleep? Um hm. I see. Just wanted to finish that movie, or that book, or checking Facebook one more time. Watching that last YouTube video, because that dog was just too cute and you had to share! Or maybe you’re bringing work home from the office, or sewing the button on that shirt that lost one. But when you miss sleep, you have other ways you’re affected that you might not be seeing. For instance, what happens when you wake up tired? Yeah, the cup of coffee at 3pm that you shouldn’t have had that will keep you up late again. Or the candy bar you ate to get you through that meeting. People that scrimp on sleep end up gaining weight. Moms that have kids know that one. Sure, kids need sleep to grow, to keep their bones healthy, to keep their immune systems in good shape. If you don’t ensure they have enough sleep, you may have a piece of the puzzle. 

spoon in sugar bowlWas it having that last drink? So there are good things and bad things about alcohol. One of the bad things is that it turns into sugar in the body. The bad kind of sugar. When you have sugar in your body, you grow yeast. When you have yeast in your body, it craves sugar. You see the problem. Don’t do it too often. It’s not just alcohol. Sugar consumed by college students depressed their immune systems for 4 hours after they ate it. If there’s a bug going around, do you really want to be eating sugar? And sugary cough drops when you’re sick? No, don’t think so! So keep that sugar away, especially from your kids. No, it’s not a special treat when they eat it. It’s bad for them, and we need to stop thinking of sugar as a reward. Maybe this is another piece of the puzzle. 

Was it eating poorly? Processed food or restaurant, our food choices are getting us into more trouble than we can handle. I see people every day that can’t handle wheat anymore. It’s so common, I’m surprised there is bread on the shelves at grocery stores anymore. cabbage salad chicken onions eggplant for dinnerI am not surprised when people tell me how many people in the middle of (and increasingly, across) this country are obese. ‘Fat bombs’ is what one friend calls them. They hit 20 and blow up like balloons. Why? The food we eat has no nutrition in it. It has no fiber, no vitamins, no minerals. Our bodies are starving for nutrition, and we aren’t supplying it from our dead soils anymore. I see ads for food that has no fiber whatsoever, you know the stuff I mean. Pizza with cheese stuffed in the crust, covered with meat. Is it good for you? NO! Are you eating greens? cilantro leavesNO? Change your diet! Your parents didn’t eat this way, and neither did your grandparents. It’s gotten progressively worse to the point where our food supplies so little our bodies need that it is amazing we still function, albeit marginally. Don’t accept your child saying he won’t eat his greens. Grow some with him, outside in a pot if need be. He will be so proud he can grow food! Find something to cook together, engage your children in the kitchen. One child with ASD so loved cilantro he’d help his mother make salad every night, munching on the wonderfully detoxing herb as he helped. Maybe this is a piece of the puzzle? 

couple jogging early in the morningWas it sitting in front of the TV all night after work? In this country, we do so little for our body’s health and expect so much. This evening I went to the gym, and was stunned. A Friday evening and there were more people there than I’d ever seen in 10 years. I thought about why. People need connections, and not just the Facebook or LinkedIn or Google+ kind. They need to talk to each other and interact. Go out and do things. We’ve become very communicative on our posteriors, and those posteriors are growing. Gastric bypass or the lapband are not the way to go. Your bones will lose the weight instead of your body. people playing bocce in the grassIf you eat for comfort, when you do these procedures, you’re not dealing with the reason you put food in your mouth in the first place. Once you put the crimp on your stomach, you won’t have the one pleasure you’ve used to cheer yourself up. Don’t go for the quick fix. Fix the whole thing. Go for a walk, find a routine you enjoy. Do it with a friend, your kids, the dog, or plan a routine and stick with it. Wear a pedometer. Just do SOMETHING. Make sure your children see it’s healthy, and it’s a great thing to do. Let this be another piece in the puzzle. 

basket of fresh fruits and vegetablesWas it taking a laxative? If this is the case, you’re in bad shape (literally!). Your gut needs cleaning, and this is so important for your kids, too. They watch you eat, and they follow suit. Don’t give them bad examples. Stand up and be proud! Eat those kale chips. They DO taste good! Get that system moving. When your colon doesn’t process food, as it sits, it ferments and rots. The fluids in this mess are being recycled by your colon, and it dries out the waste and gets hard as it sits there. The fluids are now toxic, and your body has to deal with this stuff. You wouldn’t eat out of the toilet, so don’t let your gut go bad. Start with some fiber, like an apple – it’s got soluble and insoluble fiber. Drink more water, or tea, or something else healthy! Your body needs vitamins and minerals, and if you don’t eat a balanced diet, you won’t be healthy. Neither will your children, so don’t let this be the reason. Another piece of the puzzle?

children harvesting kale in the gardenOsteoporosis has become quite a problem in the last decade, and it looks to get worse. Are you the type of person that really doesn’t like to eat greens? Get over it! They’re necessary, and you must change your outlook. Go to the store and buy some kale. Dry-fry it with some garlic (no Teflon, please) for 5 minutes on high heat and you will be amazed. Chop up some baby kale, drizzle it with olive oil, lemon juice, some pine nuts and feta, a little white balsamic, and poof! Instant lunch. Delicious. And it has fiber! Dehydrate a head of kale (OK, washed in the package is alright) by mixing a tablespoon of peanut butter, the juice of a lemon, a teaspoon or two of miso, and add apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s!) till it’s like salad dressing. Toss them around in a big bowl and if you don’t have a dehydrator, put them on a cookie sheet at the lowest setting your oven has (below 118F keeps it in the live-food range). Check it after an hour or so. When you taste it to see if it’s done, you won’t be able to stop yourself. You are now a chef! 

quiche cut into squares with a side of carrotsStart fixing meals ahead of time, maybe on the weekend. Make a big pot of chili with REAL food, stuff that tastes good all by itself, and add greens and zucchini and lots of onions and garlic and beans. Freeze some of it if you need to, but in one-container meals. Three in the family? Freeze enough of this meal for next week. Use a slow cooker, make some soup. Leave it on low while you work. Easy dinner! Roasting a chicken? Throw the carcass in a stock pot for 3 or 4 hours on low and you’ve got stock for the next time you make soup or rice. We need amino acids we can only get from eating a rounded diet. Don’t throw away things your body (and your family) needs. 

Over the past decade, as a society, we have become so much more dependent on ‘time-saving’ inventions so that we can get more work done. Is this a good thing? I think not. If we can go back to doing things that take the time, maybe we would see that all time-saving has done for us is make us tired, fat, and unhappy. 

young girl blowung bubblesSome of the children I see with ASD are the sweetest kids. But they have toxins in their little bodies and can’t get them out. Is it just the vaccine? No. It’s also the gut that isn’t digesting, it’s the parent that thinks it’s OK to just let them eat Chuckie Cheese this once, it’s the food that comes straight from the microwave or wrapper. We need to get back to cooking real food and sitting down to real dinners. We need to take our child’s hand and go for a walk and just enjoy being out of doors, without checking the iPhone every few minutes. It’s the flu vaccine that the moms are given while pregnant. It’s the doctor that insists on a C-section for whatever reason (I always say I’ve never heard a doctor admit he did a C-section because it wasn’t needed!). It’s the medicine you’re taking for acid reflux when a change in your diet is all that’s needed. It’s the candy and the garbage we put in our children, thinking it’s normal or a special treat. No, vending machines don’t belong in schools. We need to teach our children about healthy food IN SCHOOL. 

young girl choosing carrots in the school cafeteriaRecently I watched Jamie Oliver on a YouTube series. I was horrified and couldn’t stop watching. The lunch ladies were saying, ‘Let’s see if they eat it.’ WHAT? You teach them about healthy food and they will eat it. They follow what they are taught. They follow what they see their parents doing. This is the first generation that will die younger than their parents. Shame on us. 

How about diet foods? Don’t. 
poster from Natural News showing food products which may contain aspartame

Aspartame should never have been allowed on the market. It is an excitotoxin and kills brain cells by opening the calcium ion channels and toxins flood the neurons. Once we lose 80 to 90% of them, plan on Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or ALS, or diabetes. Don’t use fake stuff, don’t use MSG. Look at those food labels. Autolyzed yeast extract? That’s a fancy name for MSG. In the 60’s they put MSG in baby food. Did they know better? Yes, but they did it anyway, until Congress was forced to act. Don’t believe these huge agro companies care a smidgeon for your sweet pea. They will sell your grandma poison and make her believe it’s good for her. The word ‘natural?’ Don’t buy anything that says ‘natural’ on the label. It’s pure baloney. And no, don’t eat baloney! 

baby brushing teethMake use of your computer to research things like what’s in your shampoo, or your kid’s toothpaste. Go to www.ewg.org and find out what’s in your mascara or new couch. SLS? Bad stuff, found in toothpaste and shampoo, used to wash floors (an industrial detergent!). Doesn’t belong in your child’s mouth. Find out what’s in your food. Find out what’s ON your food. Don’t believe that the restaurant doesn’t use MSG, ASK! Your computer is a wonderful resource when it comes to finding out what’s healthy and what’s not. Share recipes. Share exercise routines. Share inspiring healthy stories! 

We haven’t even talked about GMOs yet. Let’s save that for another time. Too scary. 

home-made popsicle in non-BPA plasticWhat ties all these things together? We’ve been sold a bill of goods by companies looking for a profit. Not just the big screen TVs, the drug companies, and the fast food places. By the companies looking to sell us on saving time, on immediate gratification. We need to get back to basics, and start eating whole foods. That will take some getting used to. But it’s cheaper, and it’s healthier. We need to stop relying on our doctors to give us a pill to make something better. You can improve your health. But you have to work on it. 

You may think I harass my clients into improvement. I don’t make suggestions much of the time. I often let them find their way with supplementing a few things. Suddenly they feel better and after a homeopathic remedy, they start wanting to improve. Often the parents of my ASD kids are wonderful loving parents that do everything possible to keep their child from slipping away. It’s often not something that they had control over. But we need to take control of our health back into our own hands. 

people buying fresh whole food at the farmer's marketLet’s start planning things. Find out what’s fun in your area – maybe a market or a festival, a street fair or local group meeting you’ve always wanted to join. Take a cooking class with your spouse or your kids. Have someone show you how to really shop for good food. Learn about nutrition. Get the Nutrition Almanac and study what you crave. Maybe you can find why you crave those particular things! 

Start somewhere, start small, but just START.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Are You Using Both Sides of Your Brain?

Finches impatiently waiting to feed
In looking at the science and art of homeopathy, I am struck by the inclusion of both hemispheres of the brain in using this wonderful modality. We listen and look at our clients; we analyze. We read our rubrics, and select which thoughts best convey our conception of the client. We may come to a few remedies that we feel are right, and whether through intuition backed by logic, or logic alone, we dispense a particular essence to our clients. This composition is rife with words that use one part of the brain. The act of typing involves both. Should we go to our software and look at families of remedies, we may take in text, and various icons or images that engage both sides of our brain. Left brain is hunter, killer, logic, analytic, causal, and linear. Right brain is iconic, illogical, intuitive, nurturing, empathetic.

Recently reading a skeptic's post on homeopathy online, it struck me that most of these skeptics are men. Most are young and white. I thought it odd, and talked with a fellow homeopath about his thoughts. He perceived them to be angry young men engaged in some science based career, feeling they didn't quite live up to the solid science academia that would recognize their talents. I got the feeling that they were angry they felt slighted by the scientific world, not being bright enough to make a name for themselves. After thinking on this for a long time, I added a bit more to it. Most homeopaths are women, most skeptics are men. Most women use their right brains, buttressed by their tendency to listen to intuition, and, having children, a nurturing tendency. Most men use their left brain, and tend to prefer science and logic over intuition and nurture. These men went deeper into their left brains, instead of correcting the imbalance. The imbalance comes when one lives solely on one side; when a man becomes too vested in his logical, alphabet-dependent left brain, which favors math and science. This is true with women, as well, when logic flies out the window, and intuition and emotion carry the reasoning away. When one lives too much on one side, perversity and psychosis can develop. Often, though, I find myself telling new mothers in my office to listen to their intuition; nothing brings it out more than a newborn baby. We were told by Dr. Spock to let the baby cry; a male writing a book on something we should have trusted ourselves to know! We are so much in our right-brain after childbirth, there is often that 'lost-my-brain' feeling we often describe as new moms. The left brain (memory, linear thinking) takes a back seat to our right brain (nurturing, intuitive), so desperately needed to raise our young.  How often does the young mother, craving some left-brain stimulation, feel ravenous for some adult conversation? This may be the overworked right brain letting her know there is an imbalance.

What about ridicule, a tool often employed by skeptics?  This is a fear-based, rigid reaction to losing power. The left brain is struggling to maintain power, and the right brain is dormant. The hunter/killer instincts are overdeveloped, and seeking blood. Feeding this need, the skeptic attacks, over and over, unaware of how it must look to onlookers. Looking back through history, we see the overreactions to new thought, new paradigms: witch hunting was the most obvious of these overreactions. Killing women was the largest mass murder in history, a hysteria there was no basis for it. Here were left-brain centered men attacking harmless, innocent women, and often children.

A junko pretends he's a finch
Sometimes, as with homeopathy, we must use both sides; either side will not carry the day. We must use our senses and our logic, our intuition and our analysis, to be successful. I've noticed sometimes, that I have a strong hunch that one remedy will be better than another. When alone, I often do not verbalize or cogitate on the reasoning. When at clinic with another homeopath, I often must. I now see how and why this happens, and realize it is more that I intuit something that has an actual logical thought process; selecting the remedy is often just the most obvious point this occurs.


How often do we use one side of our brain too often? Can you see in your own life where you may become stuck on one hemisphere? Too much book-reading, not enough image, or vice versa? I often feel the need to spin wool into yarn, or knit a few rows, just to center myself. It's often when my left side has become hypertrophied, and my right brain is screaming for attention. This morning I went outside with my tea and book. I sat and watched the finches fighting for room at the feeder. Even with 5 pages left in my book, I could not concentrate, and sat watching the finches till my right brain was happy. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Taking It Slow



Ecstatic mustard
Sometimes life gives us a message. Sometimes it’s pretty loud. Other times it’s a whisper, a gentle nudge. A hand waving in your face when you’re focused on the distant mountains. We listen or not, we see or don't. We may not have another chance. Is this a bad thing? I don’t know. 

Recently I had a doctor berate me because I hadn’t had some exam that was expected. I got the typical run around about how they can find things 15 years before they become a problem. I responded by saying that it may never become a problem. Why would you want to go to the doctor and check regularly for growths? How many parts of your body are you going to do have checked? I'm not interested. I'm the kind of optimist that will step in a mud puddle expecting it to be shallow. It always has been.

Tomatillos holding seed
You can excise something and take it away, but your body grew it, it came from you. It’s your disease. You can’t hide it, it’s your burden. I say let it go. Maybe it disappears in 5 years. Or wait 15 years. Deal with it. Find out what makes it go away. Awhile back a close family friend said he would never go back to a hospital ever, for anything. I immediately thought, no, you must go, I wouldn’t want to lose you, and neither would your mate. But thinking about that sentiment lately, I realize it was selfish. It’s his call. He must decide what he wants to do with his life, and no one else.


Happy parsley
If you can walk in someone else’s shoes, then you may see. I see now the point he made. Is it really necessary? Do we need to intervene in someone else’s path? What if they find what they are seeking on that road, the joy from the little things in life, instead of the cold hard world of a hospital? This may sound funny coming from a woman that went through IVF many times to have a wonderful, healthy, happy pregnancy and baby. But sometimes we don’t focus on the things we’re doing while we’re living through them. We focus on the goal. I always knew I’d have my baby, and I stayed the course through a lot of pain and sorrow. I’m so happy I did. I can look back and see the grief, but so much more the joy from looking at his face.  



Almost looks like snakeskin.
Having this son, I have had so much more from life, seeing the things we shared. I remember taking him to the health food store before he could talk, and letting him point to what he thought we should buy in the produce section. It was an experiment. I learned about passionfruit, cherimoya, and many other fruits and vegetables I’d never tried. Now I’ve let him go, finding his own way and am confident his childhood was happy and sound. 

 When I look around my garden, and dig my fingers into the dirt, pulling up a carrot, or removing a caterpillar, I feel the life, and love the wholeness. I wander outside and pick a few leaves of sorrel, munching on them as I water the blueberries and blood orange tree on the porch. The blood orange that’s never had a single blossom will bloom when it’s ready. I’m confident I will find the right combination, not allowing the clover or the vetch free reign at its feet, not too much citrus food, just the right amount of water, to make it healthy and productive.


Out for a walk: Luna, Renita, Jane, Rio

There is so much to be thankful for; these wonderful friends, human and animal, the wild and the tame, the life and the death.
Yesterday, Luna, my friends' almost blind and deaf 13 year old dachshund, was around the back of my cabin. When I caught up with her, she had feathers all over her mouth. She'd found a dead bird and made herself a meal. She was so happy.

It's all natural, it's the life we live. We take it or we leave it. So I’ve cut out the coffee, and have done some fasting. Will I flower? We’ll see. We have one life each. Live yours the way you want. Don't let others voices drown yours out. Above all, be happy with your choices.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Placebo Therapy

It's always fascinated me, the way people can take pills and assume they're going to do some good. What happens in the mind, that we trust someone to help us, and not do harm? Part of that answer may lie in the person taking the pills. If you're an optimist, I'll bet you're more likely to think your fellow man has your best interest at heart. If you're a pessimist, you may be suspicious, but depending on your age, you may put that thought aside. I've noticed people over about 70 or 75 tend, generally, to believe everything an MD tells them, and not question their instructions.


Once, my father-in-law, when offered juice, said he couldn't drink OJ. I asked about grapefruit, since I was about to squeeze some fresh. He said his doctor hadn't mentioned grapefruit. Of course, knowing there are meds that have been shown to be less effective with grapefruit, this had me wondering. When I asked him why his doctor told him no OJ, he said (rather curtly) 'I don't know, he just said not to drink OJ.' Acid? Sugar? I couldn't quite figure out the reason for the dietary restriction. As he got more annoyed with me, I asked, 'What about tomato?' He just about fell off his chair, 'I don't know, he didn't SAY tomato, he just said ORANGE juice!!'  The trust was there, no need to ask why. Giving up the responsibility for your health to the doctor was the mantra of his era. Now, I think the public has become a little more wary. We've seen our trust eroded by the machinations of the pharmaceutical industry time and again. This has encouraged us to learn more about our health.

But now more information has come out about placebos. PLoS One researchers gave patients pills and TOLD them there were no active ingredients. They also told them these sugar pills might help their IBS. The pills reduced symptoms and improved quality of life! What happened here? The researcher, at Harvard Medical School, said, "We told participants they didn't have to believe in the placebo effect at all - but they had to take two pills a day." How do we tease out the many psychological influences here, not the least of which is the worse it tastes, the more painful the procedure, the more expensive it is, the more 'effective' it is deemed to be.

The interesting thing here, is that the control group also improved. Part of it may be the therapeutic relationship, which we've always recognized in homeopathy. Telling the story is the start of healing oneself.