Cayenne Tea – Excellent Wellness and Anti-Flu Support

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You don’t have the flu but it’s out there.  You can’t avoid being in public so you want to protect your immune system as much as possible, but you don’t have a lot of money to spend.

Try Cayenne Tea.  I’m having some this morning.  It’s an inexpensive, warming spice and a blood mover,  so it gets YOU moving as well.  Just 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne is enough to do the trick.  Sip an 8-ounce cup a few times a day.

Recipe:
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
8 ounces hot, boiling water

Enjoy!

cayenne tea

Protandim – Anti-aging Breakthrough

 

I have never been one for any supplements using the words “breakthrough” or “miracle” however when I went searching the web in September, to find a product I could really get on board with – being an herbalist and leaning towards natural supplements – I was quite intrigued with this one.

I went to the website – Lifevantage.com – and found that I can only purchase if I am introduced by a rep.  However, I checked out the ingredients and saw that they are all natural, all herbal and they are a patented formula that is capable of reaching the mitochondria via the NRF2 pathways.

You might not know what that means, but I did.  Nutrition reaching the cellular level has been the goal of almost all supplement manufacturers.

Read about NRF2 here.

I was getting excited about what this could mean for me –   especially since I had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome – a complicated disorder with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in my body – my CRP (C-Reactive Protein) levels were at 11.2 (should be at .05 for function) – and my energy was limited to 10 minutes per half hour.

I needed to know more so I called the company to ask how I can be introduced to a rep, and talk to me more about this.   A representative called me and I was quickly put in touch with a doctor.  I asked him how this could help me have energy.  He led me to several studies that had been done and were published on PubMed, on Oxidative Stress, as well as the youtube video above (and there are many other videos as well.)

More studies can be found on Pubmed.  One such study may be found here but please feel free to look it up using key words such as Protandim and Oxidative stress.

I decided to try it.  Within 1 week I began to get some energy back and today I am taking this product for over 3 months.  I am not sleeping during the day and have been able to get back to work in the health food store (before this, I was not).

If you want to know more about Protandim, please send me a message.  I’d love to share it with you.  In the meantime take a look at this Product Information sheet. You will see its patent and the herbs used, which are formulated in a proper ratio to each other, that make it possible to reach the mitochondria and nourish the cells.

Darlene

Keto (High-Fat, Low-Carb) Thin Mint Bark

This, by far, has got to be my best keto treat yet.  And it is so easy to make!

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2 Heaping Tablespoons Extra Virgin, Cold-Pressed Unrefined Coconut Oil
1 Scoop (about 2 Heaping Tablespoons) Vanilla Whey Protein Powder (Pea Protein, Egg-White Protein or other Protein Powder of your choice is also good but I like the vanilla or you may choose chocolate)
1-2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (dark)
2 Tablespoons Grade B Pure Maple Syrup (Grade B is more expensive but has high nutritive value.  Grade A is good for taste alone, but I want to make sure that whatever I do is high in nutrition.)
1 capful Chocolate Peppermint Extract
Crushed Walnuts
Chia Seed
Sunflower Seeds (unsalted)
Himalayah Salt

Let the coconut oil sit at room temperature until soft.  If it is not soft and you don’t mind using a microwave for 10 seconds, that is fine as well.

Add the next four ingredients to the coconut oil and blend well, using a spoon, until it forms a thick paste.

Spread the mixture onto a paper plate (or flat plate with parchment paper) until thinly spread to cover as much area as you can, being careful to not spread so thinly you can see the plate. IMG_0365

Sprinkle with walnuts, chia seed, sunflower seeds and salt to lightly cover.  There is no set amount but a guideline might be a tablespoon for nuts and seeds and 1/2 teaspoon for the salt.

Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and cut like a tic-tac-toe board.

Enjoy!

Keto Coconut Vanilla Fudge

I loved my Cardamom Chocolate Keto fudge so much, I had to play around with vanilla fudge as well – and I do love vanilla more than chocolate – I know, I’m the odd man out.

The key to good keto fudge is the cream cheese, whether you choose regular cream cheese or the vegan option made with almond milk, makes no difference except your preference, however I find the vegan option makes it “fudgier” and regular cream cheese makes it more like candy.

Keto Coconut Vanilla Fudge

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin, Cold-Processed Coconut Oil (room temperature for better blending)
1 Large Scoop of Vanilla Whey Powder
2 Tablespoons Almond Flour (meal is okay)
2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese (or vegan substitute)
2 Packets Stevia (or 2 teaspoons preferred natural sugar substitute such as erythritol)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Blend with a fork or spoon until well blended then add
1 Tablespoon of unsweetened shredded coconut
Mix until even throughout

By teaspoonful, drop onto a plate suitable for the freezer, and keep in freezer for at least 15 minutes.   Makes about 10 (but as you can see by the picture, they were so yummy, my family and I couldn’t wait!)

Eat a few for breakfast alone or have one before a meal to help prevent overeating.  Fats do not trigger insulin, the fat-storing hormone.  Sugar does.  So while these are not low-calorie foods, they are not “fattening” when eaten in moderation.

I can have dessert every morning for breakfast – and yes, I do eat dessert first!

 

Keto Chocolate Cardamom Fudge

I learned about cardamom when a new Indian restaurant opened up in the neighborhood, and we had to check it out.  Prior to that, I had not had Indian food (“I had been deprived of many cuisines growing up in an Italian household” she said, tongue-in-cheek).
When I first bit into my food, I tasted a burst of perfume on my tongue;  I wasn’t loving it.  After a few visits, the flavor of cardamom started to intrigue me but I wasn’t yet ready to experiment with it in any of my dishes I prepared at home.

I loved its fragrance in my nose but not on my tongue, so I experimented with perfume making and massage oils.  After awhile, I was ready to try it in my own foods.  The key to keeping from biting into the enormous burst of perfume taste in your mouth is to use very few pods at a time (unless you are a cardamom pro and have developed a taste already.)  This is not a spice that requires several pods.

I recently learned that cardamom was more than just a fragrant spice.  It has some nutritional benefits, quite a few in fact.

So, what is it?  Cardamom is a spice that is in the Zingiberacaea family (the same family as ginger), and is found in hard-shelled pods.  It is often called The Queen of Spices, and ranks as the third most expensive spice in the world, following saffron and vanilla pods.  However, you can buy it in small quantities and use just a little at a time.

Cardamom, as previously stated, is a burst of perfume in your mouth, however, in small doses, the taste is hardly noticed.  It is the aroma in the nose that compliments, but it is more than a fragrant spice used in Indian dishes.  Its health benefits include preventing colorectal cancer,  improvement of cardiovascular health, prevention of gastrointestinal disorders, as an anti-depressant, and has antispasmodic and antibacterial properties as well.
cardamominfo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all its benefits, including its wonderful aroma, I wanted to experiment on my own with this intriguing herb.Because I am on the keto diet (High fat – moderate protein – low carb), I often experiment with various good Omega-3 or 6 fats in various dishes.  This morning,  I made

Keto Chocolate Cardamom Fudge 

2 Tablespoons Unrefined, Extra Virgin Cold-pressed Coconut Oil (left at room temperature so it mixes well but you can pop in microwave for 10 seconds if you like)
2 Tablespoons Almond Butter (without added sugar or salt)
2 Tablespoons Almond Flour (meal is okay)
2 Tablespoons Vegan Cream Cheese (I used this brand).
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
2 Packets of Pure Stevia (or erythritol)
4 Cardamom pods
Chopped Walnuts

Blend first seven ingredients by hand, using a fork or spoon.  Stir until well-blended.   Break open the 4 pods and sprinkle in your mixture.  Stir throughout.

Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the mixture at a time, roll into balls and put on a dish.  Flatten with two fingers if you like, or just leave in a ball.  Or, if you want to get fancy, you can put in a candy mold.  (I didn’t get fancy this morning).

This mixture should give you about 10 balls/bars.

Add about 2 chopped walnuts to each bar (or you can grind your walnuts and sprinkle on top).

Pop in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Enjoy.  (This is not a low-calorie food, however, because of its high fat content, one or two should satisfy you.)

While this looks like dessert, on a keto diet, you actually eat these first.  One should fill you so you don’t overdo your regular meal.   I can eat 2-3 for breakfast alone.

chocolate cardamom keto fudge
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I love what the cardamom adds to this.  If you are not sure about cardamom just yet, no worries, it isn’t essential to making keto fudge.  You can leave it out but I’m an herbalist!  I need herbs and love what they add to my creations.

Play around with it.  Instead of chocolate powder, add a teaspoon of Golden Milk powder if you have it.  Or you can add unsweetened coconut flakes instead of walnuts.

But if you do use cardamom, I’d love to know your thoughts.   Please leave a comment.

Pathways of Elimination: The Liver

In 1994, a Russian naturopathic physician named Ilya Metchnikoff discovered that the body would recycle whatever toxin it could not purge via the elimination pathways.  These pathways are the lungs, liver, kidneys, skin, colon lymph and blood.  Each of these pathways works with the others to break down and eliminate toxins from the body.  If one of the pathways is compromised in any way, it places greater burden on the other pathways.

Constipation is an example of the colon not functioning to its fullest capacity. Edema in the tissues is an example of the kidneys, lymph and skin not functioning to their fullest capacity.  Bloating, belching and flatulence or gas are the result of the liver not functioning well. Poor circulation is an example of the blood pathway not functioning at its best.

The key to good health is to know these seven pathways and do whatever it takes to keep them functioning optimally.

So let’s talk liver!   The function of the liver is to break down everything that enters the body and redistribute it to other organs or pathways.  Toxins will be distributed to the kidneys and colon, however when it gets overloaded, it tries to utilize every other elimination system until they become full.  The liver chemically converts destructive toxins into less harmful substances that the colon and kidneys can eliminate. When toxins fail to be eliminated due to overburdening of the pathways, they are then sent to the fat cells to be stored.

Some helpful herbs for the liver are milk thistle (silybum maarianum), artichoke leaf (cynara slolymus), dandelion root (taraxacum oficinales), ashwagandha (withania somnifera), and garlic (allum sativum).  Dandelion root is widely available in our backyards (but collect what is about 100 feet away from the roads to protect from possible pesticide contamination from neighboring yards or spray trucks).   The greens are bitter and can be added to salads, or steamed and added with other greens.

Make your own Dandelion Root Tea

Gather the entire plant from your backyard.  Some lawns will still have dandelions growing in the fall but others may need to wait until spring.  Spring dandelions are best for leaf gathering because the leaves are tender and new, but fall dandelions are best for root harvesting because they are more nutrient dense.

There are a lot of dandelion look-a likes out there so be sure you are pulling up a dandelion plant.  The leaves are long, and jagged (pictured below).

Shake dirt off before bringing into the home and remember that there are insect eggs and possibly adult insects so be sure to wash the whole plant well to remove what dirt and insects did not shake off.

Separate the root from the leaves and chop the root coarsely.  Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a saucepan and add 2 teaspoons of the root.  Cover and lower the heat to simmer for about a minute.  Remove from heat and let steep for about 40 minutes. You may add the leaves and flowers about 5-7 minutes before you are ready to strain it so as not to damage the nutrition from them.

Strain by placing a strainer over your teacup and pour.  Add honey if desired.

Drinking a few cups daily will help cleanse your liver and support its function.  If you have bloating, belching, gas, or constipation, dandelion root tea may help remove the burden.

 

What Do All Those Labels Mean?

Product labels are important to understand. Not everything that is labeled natural is safer. For example, when the label says “natural flavoring” what comes to your mind?  Safer? Better?  Non-toxic? Bio-available (able to be assimilated into the body quickly)?

The FDA does not require a definition for the term “natural flavorings” so you won’t always see what these flavorings consist of.  Castoreum is a natural flavoring. It is used as a vanilla substitute, sometimes raspberry flavoring.

***I’m going to get gross here – just a warning… Proceed at your own risk. ******

Castoreum, according to Ruth Winter, author of “A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients” (Winter 2009),  is a “creamy, orange-brown substance with a strong, penetrating odor or bitter taste that consists of the dried, perineal glands of the beaver and their secretions.  The glands and secretions are taken from the area between the vulva and the anus in the female beaver and from the scrotum and the anus in the male beaver.”

It’s not listed on your food ingredients label because it doesn’t have to be.  Foods labeled as “all-natural” may be injected with sodium to enhance flavor, or have a high volume of high fructose corn syrup.

It is important to understand this while you are reading labels because much of the foods you are purchasing contain chemicals that cause endocrine disruption.    Let’s take a look at some of these labels.

Multigrain
When you see this word, it brings the image of pure health to mind, but in actuality it is a marketing term that means more than one grain are used in the processing of this highly processed food, which has been stripped of all its nutrients for better digestion, and then enhanced with synthetic vitamins and minerals and called “enriched.”  Most are not even absorbed into the body.

No Sugar Added
This sounds like it is low in sugar, using only the sugar that only occurs naturally, however, sugar is hidden in other ingredients.  While there is no sugar (focus on the word “sugar”) added, there are additional sugars added if the list contains the following:

  • Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup
  • Dextrose or crystal dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
  • Glucose
  • Evaporated cane juice or fruit juice
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Dextrin and maltodextrin
  • Rice syrup
  • Molasses
  • Evaporated corn sweetener
  • Confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • Agave nectar
  • Other fruit nectars (for example, pear nectar)

Sugar Free
This does not mean healthier or lower in calories.  It may be full of artificial sweeteners and often means a lot of bad fat has been added to enhance flavor. (Doesn’t fat taste yummy? **Note** Good fat is good but that is not what is added to enhance flavor).

Zero Trans-Fat
Trans-fats are bad for your heart, clogging arteries and increasing insulin resistance, but when the label reads zero trans-fat, it is likely that .5 mg per serving of trans fat is included, which the FDA allows to count as zero-trans-fat.  Marketers know that most  who are eating chips are not necessarily into portion control so they will eat more than one serving and that’s what they bank on by adding the label.  So, two servings yields 1 mg of trans fat, which would then have to be listed in the ingredients list, along with saturated, mono and polyunsaturated fat.

“Grass-Fed”
A term that claims animals are fed solely on a diet of grass or hay and have continuous outdoor access. Cattle are natural ruminants that eat grass, so they are healthier and learner this way. Grain fed cattle of ten become sickened an need antibiotics or growth ho0rmones. Grass-fed beef has been shown to have higher amounts of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The labels should also include a certificate organic label to verify it was not eating grass that was exposed to or treated with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

Organic
There are various “organic” labels.  Each mean something different.  “Organic” produce means it has higher vitamin and mineral content because the soil has been worked and nourished to include minerals that may have been depleted from it due to overuse or poor quality.  They are free of herbicides and pesticides as well.  It also means that it must have an ingredients list, comprising 95% or more of certified organic ingredients, being free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes; and they must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation or genetic engineering, according to the USDA.  The remaining 5% may only be foods processed with additives on an approved list.  Water , for example, is not organic because it is a mineral.

100% organic means the food is completely organic and may display the USDA Organic Seal or “Certified organic labels”.

Choosing organic ingredients may be a little pricier at first, but take into consideration that as you begin to choose organic, keeping free of processed foods with synthetic additives and chemicals that attack your endocrine system, as well as produce that has been treated with harsh chemicals and pesticides, your body will be more energetic and healthy.  That means less money at the doctor’s office, insurance costs and medications.

So, let’s get “clean”…..    Understand that all ingredients are organic.

Detox Soup

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Start with a tablespoon of Cold Pressed Unrefined Coconut Oil  detox soup 2

Add 4 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced or diced

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Add one onion, thinly sliceddetox soup 4

Add four larger sized Baby Bella mushrooms (pictured are button, but bella is more nutritious)

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detox soup 6
Add 1/4 inch of fresh ginger
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Ginger is very pungent so if you are not sure about ginger, dice it finer than what I have here. I like ginger and I will get a healthy taste of it on every spoon if left this thick.

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Add about 1/4-1/2 cup of finely chopped carrots

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Add 2 stalks of celery, sliced down the middle and then across

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Add a handful of at least 3 varieties of leafy greens – I chose escarole, spinach and cabbage.
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1 zucchini

Then add 4 ounce of organic,  full-fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth.

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Add your spices about 5 minutes before soup is done. I chose basil, and oregano for their antiviral, and antibacterial effects, I chose cilantro because it is the number one herb to detox from heavy metals.  If you aren’t wild about cilantro, use parsley instead.  Feel free to get creative with other herbs.

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Enjoy.