June 20, 2011

Salve Making...

Alright... I hate to break promises, but am insanely busy right now painting my house and getting some big projects completed, so I am reposting this from the old blog. I just hate to say that I'll do something and then not do it in a timely manner.
A salve is basically nothing more than an oil mixed with a wax. I tend to use olive oil with bees' wax. Before combining these items I infuse the oil with the desired herbs. The whole process takes about 3-4 hours, and you can walk away from it during this time.
This recipe is BooBoo Salve... good for cuts, bleeding, rashes, bruises, etc... I have put it on open wounds as well as sore areas with good results. I have seen it stop bleeding and mild itching. The chemical allantoin is found in comfrey and has properties that are really strong so before applying make sure you have the wound cleaned out as your would will heal quickly. It may also be used as an alternative to neosporin-type creams.



I used some dried and some fresh herbs. Generally dried herbs are more potent than fresh so take that into consideration when putting this together; you will need about half of a dried to a part of fresh (if this makes sense). It is also considered a good idea to use either all fresh or all dried as you want to control moisture content in your salve, but I threw caution to the wind and used both. I have yarrow growing well and used some fresh leaves along with the lavender that is now growing. I chopped them up into smaller pieces so that more surface area increased. Increasing the surface area allows more of the herb to contact the oil.


I added all of the herbs into the top of a double boiler. I rig up a pyrex bowl over a pot of simmering water. I like using glass as it is non-reactive. The temps don't get too high and works well.


Cover the herbs with olive oil and allow them to steep for 3 hours or so in the double boiler... the herbs will look dark and crunchy when they are done. I did check the temp of the oil a few times and it generally stayed around 150 degrees. Be careful to not let your water run dry in the bottom of the boiler.

After the herbs are used up looking you need to strain them from your oil. They will have a definite 'used' look to them and be dark and crunchy in appearance. I use a small hand-held strainer and pour the oil thru. I mush it with a spoon to make sure that I get all of the oil I can out of the herbs.



I wipe out the original bowl and put the oil back in it over the simmering water. Now is time to add the beeswax to your infused oil, and stir it until it is melted.

***comfrey will make your oil green with your salve also being green***

It is hard to gauge the texture of a salve initially as you have a liquid. One way to determine the texture of the salve is to dip a metal spoon into the liquid and put it in the freezer. In a few seconds it will have hardened and should be close to what you will end up with. I generally will put in a modest amount (about a 4:1 ratio with the oil) and add if it seems too soft.

Next I assemble my jars. You can get cosmetic jars or use tupperware or mason jars.... it really doesn't matter. Before pouring the salve into the jars I add my scents and preservatives. For BooBoo Salve I tend to use Tea Tree Oil and Lavender essential oil, but you can use what you want. Tea tree oil is useful in healing as it has antiseptic properties though so I do recommend it.

I add the drops of these items into the bottow of the salve jars and then gently pour the hot liquid salve into them and allow them to cool.

Meanwhile for clean-up... I recommend using the simmering water for cleanup. You have a bowl that you just melted wax in and if it gets cooled the wax will harden in your bowl. I usually pour the simmering water into the empty salve bowl and wash it quickly making sure that I get all of the wax out before rinsing with normal water.

That's pretty much it.... Now you have your own homemade salve....




June 16, 2011

My Favorite Salve...

I think that living simply means not just whole foods, but the integration of herbals into our daily life. I made a salve years ago that is still my favorite so I wanted to share it again.
BooBoo salve is a green salve perfect for cuts, scrapes, bites, and even sunburns and splinters.
It contains comfrey for healing and tissue regeneration. It can be used on broken bones, sprains and rashes as well.
Plantain is used to draw and soothe. It helps to stop pain and decrease inflammation.
I use yarrow to stop bleeding, echinacea as an anti-infective, and mullein to soothe.
I also usually throw in some lavender (fresh) because it's pretty and then add tea tree oil and grape seed extract for additional antibacterial properties and preservation.
I know that there have been studies done regarding the use of lavender and tea tree oil in combination, but I believe that the small amounts used here are safe, and haven't noted any of the potential adverse reactions.
You can look at each of these herbs in detail in most herb books, but the Modern Herbal by Mrs Grieve is available online for free, and is a good resource to make note of.
These are my choices for herbs. As you learn more, you are able to discern what herbs will work best for you. You can add and tailor each formula to your specific needs.
The official formula I use is this:

2 parts comfrey
1 part Echinacea purpura
1 part plantain
1 part mullein

1 part yarrow
Olive oil
Bees’ wax
Tea Tree essential oil
Grapefruit seed extract
Lavender essential oil

Most of these herbs are easy to grow or gather, and then dry. The only thing that I tend to buy is the echinacea as mine isn't quite ready for me to harvest as I prefer using the root herbally.

Some feel that herbs are best in the dried form, but I have to admit that while I do use mostly dried, I do tend to throw some fresh ones in as well. I've never had a salve mold, which is what the issue is with fresh and dry together.
Salve making is pretty simple and straight forward. Put herbs in pot, cover with some form of oil or fat, heat gently to transfer herbal properties to oil, strain, add a hardening agent (wax), cool and enjoy.
For those who want or need more instruction, I'll be posting a tutorial soon, hopefully tomorrow.

June 15, 2011

Week 3, or The Guru-ize

7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8


This is the continuation of my weekly journal as I transition to a more plant-based, whole foods diet. This week, I've had the above verse on my mind. I think so often about how we look to this program or that programs for guidance, but do we really dig deep and really grow and learn?
I've been reading alot lately on this and have run into some concern from others who feel that this means returning (yes, I did say returning) to a vegetarian or even vegan diet. There are questions in the world of Nourishing Traditions and Weston Price if a meatless diet is a valid choice. I've been reading several books regarding this as well. The China Study by T. Colin Campbell was recommended by on the Green Smoothie Girl's website and she often sites it in her videos.
I think that information is a good thing. You can't just rely on what someone one the internet says, no matter how valid the source. You can't just do like someone tells you; you really need to look at the why and the how.
So as much as I've linked, for your convenience, to the Green Smoothie Girl or Nourishing Tradition-friendly sites, I will be the first to admit that, while there is some great information and a great plan, no one has the perfect plan for me and my family.
What is right for us is, I feel, is a specific plan. I do think that we need to focus more on the fruit and vegetables with some whole grains added in. We have consciously chosen to limit meat, but not eliminate it altogether just yet.
God wants good for us all, but not necessarily the same things for each of us. I need to be paying attention to where He is leading, and not what some chick in Utah or some suit in Virginia is telling me.
I see this over and over, be it a preacher, a politician, or even a diet plan. We wrap ourselves in their philosophy and become a voice and slave to man. Like the people of Israel, we are wanting a leader or a guru to tell us what to do. It is easy to just follow someone else's plan, but is it always the right thing, is the question.
I think that it is wonderful to have a cause. I think it is good to share what we know with others, but I just encourage everyone to take that information and pray that you use it as God would wish. Educate yourself, document what you do and how it works for you, and don't give up if something isn't right for you.
So, while I am benefitting so much from eating more vegetables and fruits, I'm feeling better that I've gotten my head straightened out a bit this week as well.

June 14, 2011

Herbal Ally


I've been using herbals intentionally for the past 20 or so years, but it was just recently that I heard the phrase herbal ally.

The idea that herbs are individual beings that we need to get to personally know had crossed my mind, but I had never really decided to take the study very far. It's easy to just read a book or an article, but to dedicate a year or so to study the nature of a plant, and to have it become a part of your life and your friend seemed foreign to me.

The idea did intrigue me though, but I thought it might be something for the more hardcore herbies out there. After all, I don't have time for major immersion... I just want to hit the basics and move on. Plus, I'm not really an herbalist, am I? I just dabble?

But then somthing strange happened.

An herb kept coming into my life. Over a week people kept giving me, or I kept finding Evening Primrose.

Yeah, the pink ones grow wild down the sides of the roads here, but I was offered some and thought it would look nice so I planted it in the back yard.

I did a quick search and found that herbally, it didn't have alot going for it. It still looked nice though, so I wasn't really disappointed.

Then the next day I found more evening primrose, but a different variety, growing wild, in my backyard. I had never seen it before and there were 6 healthy plants all growing in one spot, so I transferred them to my garden bed.

Later the next week, strangely enough, my mother brought me another variety of evening primrose.

This all seemed very odd, but I took it that maybe I this is something I really need to investigate.

The thing is, most people know evening primrose, but as a capsule containing the oil, or as the wildflowers on the roadside. It's not known for it's amazing herbal healing powers, but I wonder....

I'm choosing to take this year to learn more about evening primrose. I want to follow it thru the year and see how it grows and changes. I need to learn more about where it likes to grow and what it needs. I want to be more observant and noticing of what it shows itself to be. I am going to learn how others have used it herbally and investigate how I might be able to integrate it into my life.

June 13, 2011

Herbals....

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Genesis 1:29

I slacked off on my gardening the past few years, but decided this year to start slowly building back up with my herbals. Yes, some are culinary, some medicinal, and others just for the soul.
This week, I want to be a bit more thoughtful regarding herbs. You have to learn that, yeah, you can just stick it in the ground and see what happens, or you can pay attention to what your plants are telling you. You can watch and learn what they need and how they respond.
I want to remember, mainly, why I love growing things and why I started with herbs to begin with.
The thing is, for me, I wonder why I go thru the motions when I can just go buy a capsule or dried herb from a distributor? Why take the extra steps, it's not like I can grow everything I need?
The interesting thing I've found is that, while you can't grow everything, is that if you grow and cultivate what you can then so often it will provided more than you realize in more ways than you thought possible.
We get so used to the actions of pharmaceuticals and compounds that have very specific uses and broad side effects and adverse reactions that we transfer this to herbs. God made plants, like people, in such an amazing manner that it is almost impossible to know everything each herb can do. And what might work for one, might not for another. Life is a mysterious force that a lab can't replicate, and plants are alive.
So while I'm not looking at turning my home into an arboretum (hmmmm.....) I am being more focused on cultivating relationships with more plants, and learning about the wild ones that live near me.

June 10, 2011

The Crud

I mentioned in my summary of week 2 of including more greens/dietary changes, that I had the crud. Unfortunately, it is still lingering and getting on my last nerve.
It seems to be going around here, and I thought it might be valid to discuss how I've treated it. I'm not completely over it, but it is rounding its course at this time.
First, I'm not big on going to doctors. I think knowing your body and what is and isn't within your bounds of healing and normalcy is key though. I wasn't running a fever and, while a pain to deal with, I was pretty sure I was dealing with something that was going to be self-resolving.
I think that so often that modern Americans get impatient with the process of the body. They want things fixed immediately, or at least to feel like they told a doctor and are doing what they were told to be fixed.
The truth is, it is really just about treating the symptoms, not actual healing. The body is going to do, what it's going to do. No pill will speed up the process generally.
I think this is why I enjoy herbalist Susun Weed so much. She gives Six Steps to Healing with the first (or step 0) being to do nothing. Personally, I prefer to utilize steps 0-3 for the most part as that fits my philosophy and style. I find that if I live within the bounds of those steps, the others tend to not be required.
Learning, focusing and nourishing are things that I tend to find the most productive when personally dealing with minor illness.
Learning goes to what I mentioned earlier.... know your body and what it can handle and its norms. Focus your energy on relaxing and breath. Continue a healthy, nourishing diet.
When I think back to those comfort items of childhood, like sodas and sweets, I am reminded that I have I know better now. These simple sugars and empty calories are not what I need despite my natural want for them. I need to perservere with whole grains and greens, I need water not soda, despite my body's cravings.
Yes, I have used some herbs, especially at night, to decrease symptoms so I can rest. I've used the last dregs of my wild cherry tincture, elecampane and even turmeric with honey (and I hate turmeric). I will also admit to a dose of nyquil one bad night. I'm not saying drugs are bad by any means and use them as needed. I needed rest and a night without coughing.
To me, it's all about giving your body what it needs to heal itself.... Good knowledge, good attitude and good food.

June 9, 2011

Back on Track

The last few years have been a bit difficult for me with personal issues, but it has come time to move on an get back on track.
I find that I don't like to repeat myself.... I like to constantly move forward and continue learning.I've had more of a push to seek out healthier whole foods in addition to the whole green smoothie thing.
This is where I found GNOWFGLINS.I won't even try to pronounce it (hope this doesn't offend, but it sounds yankee to me-ha!) but I will say that they have been an encouragement to me in my whole foods journey.
I've gone back to making yogurt and kefir, and even got some water grains to try out.
My newest fixation is the simplicity of sourdough. I've been baking bread from my own milled grain for about 6 years now, and feel that I've finally gotten the hang of it. So since I'm feeling proficient at it, I guess I need to do something to throw a wrench in the whole process. So I decided to start sourdough.
I haven't made any bread yet as I'm still growing my starter, but I'm anxiously awaiting another week or so to try it out.
You can download for free(!) the GNOWFGLINS starter guide. They also have a bunch of free recipes on their blog site as well.
I have also signed up for their ecourses and videos. I did just go for the trial one month, but I've been very impressed with the content. I am familiar with most of the skills, but sometimes I just need to 'see' how things are supposed to look for it to jive in my mind, and they fit the bill.
So I'm back to focusing on living simply, but keeping it healthy, fun and interesting!

June 8, 2011

Week 2 Update....

Have to say that I've had a not so good week.
Apparently there has been some respiratory crud going around here, and though I've not been sick for over 2 years, this was the week my body decided to succumb.
I initially thought it might be related to a cleansing reaction from dietary changes, but after 3-4 days of coughing up a lung I figured maybe it was just the crud.
On the upside, most people I know have it for a few weeks before getting better. I only had to deal about 5 days, which seems to be my limit for these things.
So... what other breakthru's have I had this week?
Number 1 is that I've decided that I like coffee and I like flavored creamer so I will NOT be giving these up. I did get rid of all artificial sweetners and all sodas, but I'm sticking with my 1 cup of morning coffee, at least for now.
I also have been drinking a ton of water along with consistent exercise.
Steps 2 and 3 in the GSG's 12 Step program include having salads daily and making your own dressings. We are adding more salads in this week, but I've got a huge stash of salad dressings in the pantry so I've not made my own. I probably need to so that I don't get overwhelmed at the thought when we do run out and then just go buy more.
I'm getting in a good amount of fruits and veggies daily, and still feeling good from them.
I have also learned that you need to make sure you don't grab some of the plastic bag that the spinach comes in and add it to your smoothies... it really doesn't taste that good.
Don't know if it is just my body's reaction, but while my skin still looks alright, less wrinkles, I have noticed some mild breakouts in the same spot I was having issues with before. It didn't get that bad, but has stayed mild.
And the good news! I'm down 4 pounds this week in weight.
Goals for the next week include adding in more salads, making some dressings of my own, and trying some new recipes. I'm also going to start back with the kefir, both water and milk. I just need to be careful and not drink this instead of water.

June 7, 2011

Blender thoughts/addendum

In addition to my Ninja blender, I also have a blender with my Bosch mixer. Due to us making smoothies so frequently, I thought it prudent to get another one that had a bit more power. I found the Ninja 1000w blender with a 72 oz capacity at Target on sale for $85. Kohls also carries it if you shop there.
I did make smoothies my Bosch and it worked well, but I was afraid that the constant, high-power use would burn it out.
The 'rule' or recommendation I heard was that if it is a blender that can crush ice, then you can use it for smoothies.
I wasn't ready to spend or commit to purchasing an expensive blender just yet. Yeah, $85 isn't cheap, but it is less than the $400 for the VitaMix or Blendtec that come in at around 1300w.
So if your $20 blender can crush ice then go for it.

The Real Thing













While I enjoy the Hot Pink Smoothie for breakfast, I love having greens in the afternoon.

I've been asked my favorite recipes, but there is really very little to it.

A key point with green smoothies is that it is wise to vary your greens and not eat the same ones over and over. This is prudent, though, with all diet choices.

My favorite choices right now are spinach, kale and bananas. I just can't seem to get enough of these. The cool thing is that you can use most anything. If it is edible, you can add it. That means weeds from your yard, the over-abundance of veggies that all come in at one time from the garden, or stuff you have stowed away in the freezer. Smoothies are very forgiving and can tolerate more than any salad can.

My main recipe, once again, comes from the Green Smoothie Girl's book and 12 Step program. She has alot of the science and her story behind her choices as well if you are so led.

My ingredients are simple.... water, about 3/4 pound of greens (I used most of a 10 oz bag of spinach with a couple of kale leaves), a mango (left the peel, but didn't use the core), some bananas and strawberries. I also added half a lemon (peel, pith and all) but forgot to add it to the picture.

I put the greens in my blender (a Ninja 1000w machine from target) with the water. I usually do them in 2 batches as I can't put all of them in at the same time. Spinach has a mild flavor and my kids even enjoy it. I personally like the kale. I wash it first, but then just kinda tear and shove it into the blender. I usually add the lemon with the second batch of greens. After these are liquified, I add the fruit all at one time. Process until liquid.

I don't use the mango core, but probably could, I also am not crazy about the peel on the mango, but am too lazy to peel it. Apple peels are tastier, plus I put them in whole (but cut up), seed and all. You are getting some amazing antioxidants from the seeds and peels of the whole fruit. The only parts I don't use are the peels from the bananas and they go into the compost bin.

So... you don't need an expensive, high-power blender (though you probably have a smoother drink, if you do), a ton of exotic foods, or a ton of time. You can make this in about 10 minutes using whatever is fresh and available.

This usually makes about 6-8 cups for me (I start with 2 cups of filtered water). You are getting many servings of vegetables from this one drink.

They are incredibly filling and I advocate starting slowly if you aren't used to all the veggies. I usually have a cup or so for an afternoon snack, and then have 2-4 cups for or with dinner.

What's just crazy amazing to me is when you look at the sheer amount of what went into this drink and to think you just ate half a pound of greens with a banana and some mango and berries (I split mine with my husband) without having to sit and actually eat it! You are getting all of this nutrition, but it isn't hard, or time consuming, or expensive. It just seems like a good thing to me.

June 6, 2011

A (Not So) Green Smoothie










Morning time. I am not a breakfast person, but I realize how important it is to eat something in the morning. Yeah, I'd be quite happy with an endless supply of coffee and creamer, but that's not what's going to keep me healthy and give me the real energy I need for the day.



In light of my new green smoothie kick, I've been enjoying the Green Smoothie Girl's Hot Pink Smoothie in the mornings. You can see a demo of it here with the recipe.

The thing about green, or any other color, smoothies, is that there is so much flexibility. You really can't screw it up. It's really up to you what you use.

My variation of the original recipe is because I can't find cheap young coconuts here. Next time I head to Decatur, sure, but out in the country we aren't growing alot of them.

These are pretty much all of my ingredients. I did use just half of the beet, peeled (and saved the other half for tomorrow), 2 carrots, some frozen strawberries, 2 bananas and some cashews.







I put the half of a beet (today with tops), carrots and cashews in the blender with 2 cups (or so) of water. I blend until smooth and then add everything else and blend some more. I also add a bit of stevia to sweeten it all.



This makes about a quart so I split it with my husband for breakfast or save it for the next morning if he's wanting something more.

This is a very filling drink. You are getting 1/4 a beet, 1 carrot, 1 banana, some cashews and some berries. It fills me up until lunch, at least.

Make sure you get plenty of water to help keep all that fiber moving in the mornings.

Enjoy!

June 4, 2011

Running...

As much as I love getting my Bob on, I still love to go running in my Five Fingers. I never thought I'd consider myself a runner. After all, I'm a chubby, middle-aged chick.
The thing is that I slacked off this winter as it was so freezing here. So now that it is 90 degrees again, I'm ready to go back out and get into my running groove again.
Potential for problems start with trying to do too much too fast. This is how you get injured. So I've started over with my own version of the couch to 5k/10k plan.
I had it posted on the old blog, but moved it here so I could find it.
I'm just starting and have completed week 1. I also admit to just doing 2 days for week 1 as I have kept up cardio pretty well.
The main thing to remember is that if you need to repeat a week or take it slow, then you can do it. Nothing is ever set in stone... it should be fun.
Right now I'm breaking in a new pair of Five Finger Komodo Sports. Have to admit that I truly loved my sprints, but these are very comfy with more padding around the foot, have a thicker sole, and just feel more shoe-like overall. Not really the feel I was wanting, but they also don't stink as bad and feel great. They might be a good fit for someone not wanting to commit to a real minimalist shoe and who need a bit more.
The link for my running plan is on the right sidebar as a page. Enjoy!

June 1, 2011

Week 1

In the GreenSmoothieGirl's 12 step program she encourages you to keep a journal and document changes, both big and small, that you see as you go.
I am so not one for journalling and if I wrote it down I'd only lose it and it would be one more thing to keep up with.
I figure it is much more efficient and easier to find if I just put it all out there here.
I had been drinking green smoothies for a bit, but a week ago (technically 10 days ago but the holiday and work bumped a few days) I made the conscious decision to start drinking at least a quart a day.
I've usually done 2 cups of a hot pink smoothie in the morning with 2-4 cups of a green smoothie in the evening.
First... I feel great. My energy level is thru the roof and I've been able to work long, frustrating shifts and get exercise time and everything done that I've wanted to. I'm not tired or draggy.
Step one to the program is to eliminate stimulants and alcohol, and I have done so with the exception of half a cup of coffee in the morning. The thing is, it isn't really good anymore. I'd rather just drink my smoothie and skip the coffee, but it is more difficult on work days. I'm giving myself another week to fully kick the habit.
Other things I've noticed... my skin is beautiful. It is tight and alot of the fine lines/wrinkles are gone or less noticable. Overall my pores seem tighter and skin seems tighter and glows.
Areas where I had fat seem softer (that makes no sense) but the fat seemed firm beforehand and now it seems less dense?
My appetite has decreased, and I'm craving healthier foods. I've been offered candy and turned it down as it just seemed yuck and overly processed.
Exercise is easier and I have more energy.
My stomach is flatter.
Another big deal for me is that I've come off of my DIM supplement (story on old blog). I think that this is majorly helping my estrogen balancing issues. My face is cleared up, and my symptoms are gone. I had absolutely NO pms symptoms this last week.

Things I haven't noticed....
I haven't lost but 1/2 a pound. I really expected more weight loss.
My bowel habits haven't changed. I expected some difference, but haven't seen it.

Goals for the next few days....
Get more water, continue morning and night smoothies, focus on more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.