Monthly Archives: November 2013

Boosting Life Choices: Greek Yogurt

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Greek Yogurt

How many times have you said, or heard anyone else say “healthy foods are either too expensive or don’t taste good”? We all want to be health conscious and for the most part try to be. However, even in the best of intentions it either comes down to the taste or the expense for some. What if I told you that there’s something out there that tastes great, comes in a variety of flavors, but also is also very inexpensive? Something that you can get great health benefits from as well as lose weight? Would you try it?

Greek yogurt is high in protein, lower in carbs, and lower in sodium content than regular yogurt. Studies have shown that people who ate just 3 servings of fat-free Greek yogurt daily lost 22% more weight and 66% more body fat than those who just cut calories.

Yogurt promotes vaginal health, intestinal heath, enhances immunity, & lowers blood pressure. Greek yogurt has “friendly bacteria”. This friendly bacterium is a probiotic that is found in foods such as yogurt that help strengthen the immune system.  Probiotic means “for life”. Yogurt is the most probiotic containing food out there.

Women who get yeast infections can benefit from these bacteria.  People suffering from ulcers can also get relief from the healthy bacteria in Greek yogurt. Don’t get me wrong, you should still take the medications prescribed by your doctor but adding Greek yogurt to your diet will also aid in not only healing the ulcer or yeast infection but help keep any recurrence at bay. However, be sure to talk to your doctor about any medical conditions you may have and eating any kind of yogurt.

According to the Center for Applied Special Technology, there are studies to see if probiotics can help in preventing kidney stones, treating infectious diarrhea and diarrhea in children in third world countries. There’s an article in Caring.com which states that probiotics in Greek yogurt is a powerful agent in fighting chronic pain.  It is also a great source of Vitamin D…if you’re like me and don’t like to be out in the sun that much this is a great alternative.

Greek Yogurt has been around for thousands of years. In Greece, newlyweds eat yogurt with walnuts and honey for prosperity. They also believe it’s an aphrodisiac.

There are many varieties & flavors of Greek yogurt available in our grocery stores, health food stores, even in gas stations. For those who would like to make their own at home try culturesforhealth.com/greek-yogurt-starter. There are other great starters on that site as well.

So, I challenge those that, like myself… used to say “healthy foods don’t taste good or are too expensive”:  go out and try this creamy, sweet, and delicious snack for all the health benefits it provides.  Lose weight and gain a healthier immune system.

Greek yogurt smoothie

Greek Yogurt Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces Blueberry Greek Yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • 4 frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 4 ice cubes

Directions:

Combine all ingredients, blend on high until smooth.

 

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Boosting Life Choices: Watercress

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Watercress 

How many people do you know have affected in some way by cancer? Or better yet, how many people do you know that haven’t? I’m sure the numbers are alarming. So, what if I told you there was something out there that has been used to help cancer patients, something that in combination with other nutrients can fight cancer? Would you try it? I can’t speak for the rest of you but I would!

Watercress has been used in treating the following ailments and many more:

  • Coughs
  • Head colds
  • Bronchial ailments
  •  Tuberculosis
  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Indigestion
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • Cataracts
  • Edema
  • Night blindness
  • Leukemia
  • Alcohol detox
  • Cancer
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Heart conditions
  • Eczema
  • Bleeding gums
  • Weight loss
  • Spina bifida

Today I will touch on a few.  Cancer, cough & lung problems, and alcohol detox as every single one of these alone has been an issue in the lives of many.

Watercress & Cancer- Research at South Hampton University has shown that breast cancer survivors have had higher levels of the molecules to fight cancer in their blood after eating 3oz of watercress per day. It is know that tumors send out “signals” to the body asking for more blood and oxygen to help then grow. Research has shown that Watercress has phenethyl isothiocyanate which help “turn off these signals” in the body.

It is said that a combination of;  watercress, garlic, cruciferous vegetables, raw almond milk, raw celery juice, super foods like spirulina and chlorella, radish sprouts, supplements like zinc, selenium and reishi mushrooms, and rainforest herbs like cat’s claw, …and you have one of the most powerful anti-cancer treatment plans. This is not saying it’s a cure for cancer but it can aid in fighting cancer. Of course you should always consult with your doctor when thinking of trying any of these methods and alternative food combinations.

Watercress & Detox- Watercress is a great detox food. The leaves have many nutrients and B-Vitamins, potassium, zinc, vitamin E & C which and have several diuretic properties which help the body flush out the toxins. You can use watercress in juicing; add to salads, soups, or sandwiches.

Studies have shown that adding watercress to soups can help a cough. Watercress is very helpful in cleansing the lungs of its toxins. It is recommended for smokers, those that get second hand smoke and those living in polluted areas. Today I’m giving you 2 recipes because I feel this one is a great nutrient to help with lung problems. The soup really tastes great, mad it today and even my husband, who really doesn’t like to try new things, said it was pretty good. He’s a smoker and I felt he could use all the lung cleansing he needs!

watercress and crab salad

Watercress & Crab Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches watercress, trimmed and chopped
  • 6 ounces imitation crabmeat, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all in a large bowl, chill and serve.

Watercress Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of watercress stems and leaves
  • 500 gm of pork ribs, or lean pork, or skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of dried honey dates , omit this if you can’t find this in your area (or you can use 1 1/2 cups dried red dates instead)
  • 4 litres of water
  • enough salt to taste

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a pot or slow cooker, bring to a boil. Remove any “scum” that is floating at the top, bring down the heat to low and simmer the soup for 4 hours (minimum). Season to taste.

Boosting Life Choices: Wheat Germ

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Wheat Germ

I was intrigued when I found out that Wheat Germ has many healing properties. The Germ is the seed where the new plant will germinate. It’s the part of the plant with high concentrations  of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fatty acids.

People with skin problems can benefit from Wheat Germ oil. Wheat Germ oil is recommended for soap making due to its high contents of vitamins A, E, D and fatty acids. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant, it also contains squalane. Squalane is a natural bactericide with healing properties. Squalane is involved in cell growth. Those with psoriasis can benefit from its healing properties.  In fact, one of my children suffers from psoriasis. Of course I went to the local health food store to get it. It’s only been a couple days since he started using the oil but the redness and inflammation has gone down considerably.  There’s even shampoo out there with Wheat Germ oil that can be used for seborrheic dermatitis, and scalp psoriasis.

Wheat Germ is very high in vitamin B, which helps support a healthy immune system. Wheat Germ contains high amounts of folic acid, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin. All of which are essential to a body’s proper functioning.  Wheat Germ is rich in potassium, which is a mineral that keeps the body balanced and counteracts sodium. Anemia patients can benefits from its high level of iron. Magnesium, another mineral found in Wheat Germ, helps form teeth enamel and healthy bones.

Those suffering from constipation, colon problems and even cancer can benefit from Wheat Germ. It is very high in fiber; one tablespoon of Wheat Germ is the same as 1 gram of fiber. It is also beneficial in controlling diabetes or heart diseases.

As always, please consult with your physician before adding anything to your diet and remember it is not in place of any medications you have been prescribed for any medical condition you many have.

wheat germ and banana muffins

Wheat Germ & Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 16 muffin cups with foil muffin papers. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in wheat germ. Combine bananas, milk, eggs, oil and vanilla extract in large bowl and whisk to blend. Mix in dry ingredients. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, dividing equally.

Bake muffins until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Boosting Life Choices: Elderberry

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Elderberry- fruit of the elder tree

Elderberry contain natural substances called flavonoids, rich in antioxidants these flavonoids help fight inflammation, reduce swelling and boost the immune system. Elderberry has been used for centuries on skin wounds.

Research has shown that Elderberry can help ease flu like symptoms such as fever, headaches, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue. Perhaps lessening the flu symptoms by more than half of its duration. Interesting enough was that a lab study was found where Elderberry may have been effective in fighting the swine flu. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.  Although research continues, it may also have a connection where it can help with bronchitis and bacterial infections. However, use of this for more than 5 days is not recommended as long term use is not known.

In 1985 Elderberries were listed in the CRC handbook of Medicinal Herbs and in 2000 in Mosbys Nursing Drug reference for colds, flu, yeast infections, congestion, and hay fever. In Israel they treat cancer and AIDS patients with Elderberry. This is probably widely used for many ailments due to it’s capability of enhancing the immune system to defend the body against a variety of diseases. Research has shown that Elderberry contains more antioxidant properties than vitamin E or C.

If you are planning on using Elderberry please consult with your doctor. Although research has shown it to have some healing properties there are side effects as well. One cannot consume raw Elderberry or consume any other part of the plant, as it is poisonous.  It contains a chemical that produces cyanide. People with allergies, diabetes, lupus, MS and other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis should consult with your doctor. Children, pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use Elderberry.

Elderberry must be cooked, I cannot stress this enough. Elderberry is available as a liquid, syrup, and tincture, as well as in capsule and lozenge forms.  University of Maryland Medical center suggests that the lozenges help aid sore throats and flu like symptoms.

elderberry pie

Elderberry Pie 

Makes one pie

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 4 cups elderberries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2. Mix cornstarch in a little bit of water and add to berries and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly until desired thickness. Add more cornstarch if not thick enough. Add lemon juice.

3. Pour into bottom crust. Dot with butter. Put on top crust or make a lattice.

4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) until browned and berries are bubbling through holes in the crust, approximately 40 minutes.

5. Note: It is a good idea to put a pan or foil under the pie as it bakes since it might bubble over.

Boosting Life Choices: Oregon Grape

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Oregon Grape

Oregon grape root is full of alkaloids and berbamines that make up its bitter taste. This is beneficial in relieving constipation, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids , diverticulosis and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Researchers have found that it also has antibiotic and anticancer properties.  Studies in China have shown that it promotes recovery after patients have had chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

How many out there suffer from psoriasis? More than one can imagine. It wasn’t until it affected my family that I became aware of how many have this condition and how many things there are out there to treat it. However, not every treatment is effective for everyone and some work great at first but then become resistant to a particular treatment and you’re back to square one.

Interesting though, there are many non-traditional  treatments out there. You just need to find it, try it and if stops working find something else. Oregon grape, oddly enough, can be used on psoriasis.  Oregon grape can also be used to treat ulcers, GERD, infections and as a bowel cleanser. Oregon grape can be used in tea, jam or jelly, to help the digestive system as mentioned previously.

MRSA is a staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Thousands of people die each year with this serious infection. Currently there are studies on Oregon grape for MRSA because it contains a multidrug resistance pump inhibitor. This inhibitor works to decrease bacterial resistance to antibiotics allowing the antibiotics to do their job. How MRSA works is that it has a pump in its cell that pumps out the antibiotics so that they don’t do work against the bacteria. Essentially the Oregon grape pump inhibitor can stop that pumping from the MRSA cell so that the antibiotics can do their job.  This means that using Oregon grape with the antibiotics to treat MRSA will increase the effectiveness in fighting the deadly infection.

I’m looking to use it for my son’s psoriasis, although he is currently using  which has been very effective it may only be a matter of time before we need to move on to the next treatment due to him developing a resistance.

oregon grape jam

Oregon grape jam (or jelly) 

Makes approximately four 6-ounce jars

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 cups fresh-picked Oregon Grapes, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ packet = 1 ounce ( ½ of a 1/3 cup measure) commercial pectin
  • 2½ cups sugar

Method:

Boil rinsed Oregon Grapes in 2 cups of water for about 10 minutes.

Pour mixture through a colander set over a large pan. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the pulp then press some of it through the colander into the pan below. Discard the seeds. (At this point, to make jelly, strain the pulp through cheesecloth.)

Bring mixture to a boil again.

Stir in 1 ounce commercial pectin, bring to a rolling boil.

Add 2½ cups sugar, stirring constantly. Stir and boil for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Ladle the jam into the jars. Cover loosely with a towel overnight.

When set (probably by the next morning), the jam may be refrigerated for up to three weeks, or frozen for up to a year. Or you may can the jam or jelly as you usually do.

Boosting Life Choices: Açai

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Açai

I was introduced to Açai berry about 7 years ago in the form of a juice. The focus of this fruit that is found in Central and South America has been its high antioxidant content. Research is focusing on the possibility that it may help prevent heart disease and cancer as well as aid with weight reduction.

The Açai berry contains anthocyanins and flavonoids that defend the body against “life’s stressors” and also aid in the body’s cell protection system. I suffer from endometriosis. The hip pain I get from this is sometimes so bad that I’m unable to walk.  Since I have been drinking Açai the pain is more manageable and sometimes I am pain free for months. So, is it psychological or is it Açai? I have not changed anything, not taking anything different or doing anything different for this. So, if it’s Açai, I have found a great natural way to help my endometriosis. If it’s psychological, why didn’t I psych myself out earlier in life? Haha!

Some beauty products contain Açai oil due to its high antioxidant properties and it’s ability for the antioxidant levels to remain high when the oil is pressed and stored for long periods of time. Therefore, it is used in body creams, skin therapy, shampoo conditioners and many other products.

People with allergies to pollen or other berries may have a reaction to Açai. Therefore, it is very important to always consult with your doctor to make sure this is safe for you.

açai smoothie

Rainforest Açai Smoothie Recipe

Author: Kimberly Snyder

(Makes 1 serving)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 packet frozen açai
  • ½ Tbs. raw cacao (optional)
  • Stevia to taste
  • ½ avocado (optional to make thicker and more filling)

Instructions

Using a good blender, blend the açai and almond milk at low speed until you’ve broken down the Açai, then move to a higher speed. Once it is smooth, use the Stevia. Add the ½ of an avocado  to make a denser snack or dessert. Enjoy!

Boosting Life Choices: Artichokes

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Artichokes

Dip into fiber. More people should be on familiar terms with this unusual vegetable with the petal-shaped leaves. It contains amazing amounts of fiber, with one medium artichoke weighing in at 5.2 grams. That’s more than you get in a whole bowl of oat-bran cereal, a rich fiber source. And that gives you a good head start on getting the 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day that the National Cancer Institute recommends for optimum health.

Although artichokes don’t have large quantities of nutrients, they have enough vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium to help combat diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. And weight watchers should note that a whole medium ‘choke has a mere 53 calories. Also, eating an artichoke properly takes time, which can help overeaters control their appetites.

A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable and they ranked seventh in a study of the antioxidant levels of 1,000 different foods. Some of the powerful antioxidants are quercetin, rutin, anthocyanins, cynarin, luteolin, and silymarin.

Studies done with artichoke leaf extract have found that they induce apoptosis (cell death) and reduce cell proliferation in many different forms of cancer, including prostate cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer. An Italian study found that a diet rich in the flavanoids present in artichokes reduces the risk of cancer. The pulp of artichoke leaves contains a polyphenol antioxidant called cynarin which increases bile flow. Thanks to cynarin and another antioxidant, silymarin, artichokes are very beneficial to the liver. Studies have found they may even regenerate liver tissue. Artichokes have long been used in folk and alternative medicine as a treatment for liver ailments and the scientific studies are now proving them to be correct.

Artichokes also help the digestive system. They are a natural diuretic, they aid digestion, improve gallbladder function and, as mentioned above, they are of great benefit to the liver. Thanks to their positive effects on the liver, many people swear by artichokes as a hangover treatment. Instead of the hair of the dog, try the leaves of an artichoke. Ingredients in artichoke leaves have been shown to reduce cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase. They raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).

The artichoke has been near and dear to me since I was a little girl and is still probably my favorite in the vegetable kingdom, even more so, now that I know all of the healing benefits. They have such an incredibly unique taste and they simply just make me happy.

artichoke

How To Cook Artichokes

I personally like to boil my artichokes. Rinse them real good because little critters can be found in them sometimes, if not properly washed. Grab a big pot and put two artichokes in and fill up with water until they slightly start to float. Put the pot onto the stove on high. When the water starts to boil, put a lid on, turn the heat down to medium and wait about 40 minutes and they should be done. I love to just eat them with melted butter which is much more healthy than mayonnaise or a hollandaise sauce. The pure and delicious taste of the artichoke is enough for me. How about you?