Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just Passing Through

Dear Loyal Readers and Friends of Darius -

It is with great sadness that I am posting on Darius' behalf. At 10:13am on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, Darius took her last breath and left this world. As you know from following her blog, she was a passionate, multi-talented and multi-faceted woman. I knew her for 30+ years as my beloved Aunt Donna.

There are no words to fill the void that she has left in my heart and in this world. She was always just passing through, soaking in as much experience in this world as she possibly could, and sharing every ounce of her knowledge and perspective with anyone who wanted to partake.

I hope that she has blessed your life as she has mine, from this, her little corner of the world wide web.

Thank you for sharing and supporting my wonderful Aunt.

Shawnee R. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Guide to Pesticides in Produce

We all worry about what's in or on our foods. This may be a help.
The growing concerns about chemical pesticide exposure in our food is exactly why the Environmental Working Group (EWG) developed its annual list of “clean” and “dirty” foods. From EWG’s website ( )

The Dirty Dozen
    Nectarines (imported)
    Grapes (imported)
    Sweet Bell Peppers
    Blueberries (domestic)
    Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen
    Sweet Corn
    Sweet Peas
    Cantaloupe (domestic)
    Sweet Potatoes

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Preparedness and Disease

If you have followed my blog for long, you know that 2 important factors for me are nutrient-dense (healthy) foods, and being prepared for what may come our way.

I usually have a good stock in my pantry of home-canned foods but with being hospitalized 7 times last year I really cut into the larder without the energy to replace items.

Normally I have enough stored (canned) veggies and meats for as much as a year, enough water filters for several months, a pile of dry firewood in case I have to cook over an open fire or on my wood stove when it's cold, but that has diminished over the last year. I hope this year will be better, and my garden productive.

However, one thing I'm not prepared for is a pandemic. I just have 2 banker's boxes of medical stuff like bandages and antiseptics and 2 good first-aid books with drawings even an idiot should be able to understand.

I watched a show on the history channel last week about the Bubonic Plague and I just cannot wrap my mind around losing half the population... about 100 MILLION people in Europe at the time. Often there were so many deaths in a single day that they could not keep up with burials.

Think about your extended family, add in some friends and neighbors, and then imagine half of them dead in short order of a disease without control. That's scary.

The CDC says there are STILL pockets of the Plague around the world... that's also scary. Plus, the more they adulterate our food supply, the more we become vulnerable to ANY disease that comes along... and the diseases have grown more resistant to our "modern medicines" thanks to feeding antibiotics to the animals grown for us to eat, and the air-carried pollen of GMO's.

I wish I had some suggestions for those kind of preparations but I don't. I DO think eating as healthy as we can is a first line of defense but that may not be enough to avoid a disaster.

If any of you have any good suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Zinc and Colds

I've kept zinc supplements and lozenges on hand for years, taking some whenever I've had a cold coming on, but never looked into exactly how and why it works. I never take it in a daily basis because I think I get enough in my foods.

Scientists at the University of Adelaide, AU have discovered how Zinc interplays with one of the deadliest bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, which kills more than one million people a year by causing pneumonia, meningitis and other serious infectious diseases.

Zinc starves the bacteria that need to feed off manganese (an essential metal), bacteria that can to thrive and attack the body. By blocking this process, Zinc weakens the bacteria and makes the job of the immune system so much easier.

The essential mineral Zinc, is one of the very best anti-bacterial agents.

Food Sources:
Beef and Lamb
Pork & Chicken
Wheat Germ
Spinach and Silverbeet (Chard)
Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
Cocoa and Chocolate (Cocoa Powder)
Dry Beans or Legumes

Zinc - An Essential Mineral

Zinc is an essential mineral present in nearly every cell of your body. Zinc stimulates the work of about 100 enzymes that keep your body functioning normally. In addition, your body needs zinc to use nutrients for immunity, for wound healing and for maintaining your senses of taste and smell. Food is the best source of zinc, as supplements have not proven (to date) to be a sufficient source. It is very difficult to get too much zinc in your diet; however, supplements may cause harmful side effects: Lowering of HDL (good) cholesterol levels, weakening of immune response and impairment of copper absorption. Zinc is found in many different foods from both animal and plant sources so you can usually get all you need from a variety of foods.

Foods of animal origin are the best sources: Lean meat, poultry, and some seafood, liver and, in small amounts, milk and eggs. In fact, the body absorbs zinc better from a diet rich in animal protein than from one high in plant protein. You also get zinc from whole-grain foods, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals and some legumes, but phytates in those foods can decrease its rate of absorption.

If you are deficient in zinc, symptoms include reduced immunity, appetite loss, skin changes and impaired growth - and, during pregnancy, birth defects. The causes are poor intake, poor absorption, zinc loss or increased need. Vegetarians may need more since zinc from plant sources is not absorbed as well as zinc from other sources. Fortified cereal may be the best source.

There are some health-conditions linked to poor zinc status: Digestive diseases, alcoholism, inadequate calorie intake and poor infant and childhood growth. The USDA found that high fat, low-carbohydrate diets do not provide an adequate supply of zinc. If you suspect a deficiency, talk to your doctor about your symptoms before trying a supplement. Should you and your doctor decide you need a supplement, read the label's Supplement Facts to help keep your daily zinc intake under the UL.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pricing Convenience

This is my 1,000th post on this blog, despite not being my original information. I'm looking forward to starting seeds as the weather begins to warm and melt the snow cover, and plan on a larger garden than I intended this due to what I fear is more rising food costs. Growing more food and cooking from scratch also means looking at what others do as short-cuts in convenience.

Today everything is convenient. You cook your meals by pushing a microwave button. Your car shifts itself, and your GPS tells you where to go. If you go to a  public restroom, you don't even have to flush the toilet! This tedious chore is a thing of the past because the toilet now has a small electronic "eye" connected to the Central Restroom Command Post, located deep underground somewhere near Omaha, Neb., where highly trained workers watch you on high-definition TV screens and make the flush decision for you. ("I say we push the button." "Wait, not yet!")

So we have it pretty easy. But we have paid a price for all this convenience: We don't know how to do anything anymore. We're helpless without our technology. Have you ever been standing in line to pay a cashier when something went wrong with the electronic cash register? Suddenly your safe, comfortable, modern world crumbles and you are plunged into a terrifying nightmare postapocalyptic hell where people might have to do math USING ONLY THEIR BRAINS.

Regular American adults are no more capable of doing math than they are of photosynthesis. If you hand a cashier a $20 bill for an item costing $13.47, both you and the cashier are going to look at the cash register to see how much you get back and both of you will unquestioningly accept the cash register's decision. It may say $6.53; it may say $5.89; it may be in a generous mood and say $8.41. But whatever it says, that's how much change you will get because both you and the cashier know the machine is WAY smarter than you.

I tried for several painful minutes to show a neighbor’s granddaughter how to do long division, at which point she gently told me I should go back to watching "Storage Wars" and she would figure out long division on her own. And she did. I don't know where she got the information. Probably from the Internet.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Affording groceries

With the severity of this winter across much of the US, coming food prices are starting to worry me. I had planned only a small garden this summer due to my health issues but I need to re-think that plan because I NEED to eat healthy foods.

I just paid almost $17 for two grass-fed beef shanks which are usually a cheap cut of meat, and lemons (not even organic) were just barely under a dollar each.

Here are a few sites with information, although I don't agree with some of them that are merely cost-cutting without addressing healthier foods. No doubt bulk fills our stomachs, but does it make or keep us healthy?

Affording groceries duringtimes of rapid price increases

During the past two years alone, the price of some household staples such as bread, milk, and eggs have increased in price by as much as 69%, while the median household income has only increased 1%.

•In Soups and Stews that call for diced potatoes, use uncooked rice instead. Allow half an hour for soup or stew to simmer so rice can cook.

•Use cooked rice in place of oats or bread crumbs in meatloaf and hamburger patties to make them go further.

•This is not food related... BUT keep a rice hot pack around the house for those aches, pains, and headaches that arise from time to time. Take a clean tube sock, fill halfway with rice, and tie a knot in the end. When you need a good hot pack, just heat in the microwave for about a minute or so. Be careful because it gives off a moist heat and can burn skin if too hot when placed directly on it. This is a long lasting heat source that can be made in a jiff!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Junk DNA and Hope

A different kind of post for me... "junk DNA".

We all carry what is called junk DNA, which is our DNA for which no discernible function has been identified.

There have been a few books written in the last few years about Indigo Children, and those traits are very much like the Star Children in a recent history channel story. Star Children, like Indigo Children, are said to possess psychic, spiritual, and other extra sensory abilities to bring about peace and topple corrupt systems. 

Could this just be activation of some of our junk DNA? 

If it's true, does all this indicate Hope for this lovely blue planet we inhabit?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Weather takes its toll

The weather takes its toll... we've gone days/weeks with frozen pipes and loss of electric power, not to mention the apathy that sets in when nothing works.

Here's a couple of links you may find interesting. I know I have posted before about the adulteration of extra virgin olive oil, and here's an update. The second link is good news on the food front.

Extra Virgin Suicide

California Legalized Selling Food Made At Home And Created Over A Thousand Local Businesses

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Praising Solar Gain

Most of us have been experincing the arctic polar plunge into the US in the last few weeks, me included. We have had frozen pipes, impassable roads, school closings and more snow and ice that I'd like. 

I have extreme cabin fever.

But, there's a lesson I learned in all of this. I have long been a supporter of passive solar energy but it really has come to the forefront in this awful weather. Usually on cold days, I run out and start my old truck and let it warm up before I try to go anywhere. 

Despite recent temps in the single digits, we have had a couple of days with (cold) sunshine. On those days I try to get out for perishable groceries if the roads are passable. I've discovered that even in 5ºF weather, the cab of my truck is warm and toasty in the sunshine, without any need to warm up the engine, thus proving how solar gain really works even in dreadfully cold weather.

It gives me a great prospective now on designing wit6h passive solar gain in mind.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Growing Micro Greens and Health

Beet and Kale Microgreens, Photo Borrowed from Johnny's Selected Seeds

One of the things I've discovered during my declining health is what my diet is missing from salads. During the summer, I eat enough fresh vegetables (including tomatoes) that I don't notice any deficit, but it has become more apparent lately.

When I was first diagnosed with liver disease, they put me through 6 months of testing all parts of my body to determine if I was healthy enough for a liver transplant. During that time, they pulled all my teeth except 6 teeth in the lower front. Tooth decay had been a life-long problem for me despite throwing many thousands of dollars into my mouth for root canals, crowns and bridges and still losing the teeth.

Medicare will not pay for dentures and I haven't had an extra $5-6,000 sitting around to pay for them myself, but I get by except for the few things I cannot chew easily, notably a steak and most salad greens. I can manage romaine but not the baby greens I so love, and eating only romaine in salads gets old.

Micro greens turn out to be a great alternative that I can actually chew, and interestingly enough, they contain more nutrition than those same greens grown to full size! Over the course of this past summer I have been buying micro greens at the farmer's market but now they are closed for the winter so I ordered seeds and trays to grow my own, inside on a bookshelf under a windowsill.

To start off, I bought a quarter pound each of 2 mixes from Johnny's, one spicy (red and green mustards with various textures) and one a mild mix (Mizuna, Cabbage, Kale, and Kohlrabi). When I get the hang of growing them, I can buy the specific micro greens I prefer (and there are oodles of choices), but I thought this was a good way to start.

After 4 Days

My first try was to sow just a few rows of each in one tray just to see how they grow, although my ordered pack of trays was for 6 trays. I only have enough windowsill for 2 trays, leaving room enough for my cat to lounge in the sun's scant rays.

The first seeds (uncovered) sprouted in 4-5 days and the instructions said 10-15 days to maturity (cutting). I think the first sowing will barely make 1 salad with other additions, so I should get 2-3 servings per full tray and will do continuous sowing as I use them.

After 6-7 Days

I should be able to cut them in another week. 

Update, Dec 23. My micro greens are languishing for lack of enough light on the window sills. They don't even have a true set of leaves yet and are very leggy. My after-Christmas chore will be to hang a grow light (a fluorescent light with one cool-white bulb and one warm-light bulb) over that windowsill before I sow another batch. I have the light fixture, just need bulbs but I'm NOT braving the last-minute Christmas shoppers for them.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Eggs... whole or just whites?

For several months (or maybe more) fast food chains like McD's and Subway have been pushing breakfast items that contain egg whites without any yolks.

I know the egg whites contain protein, but what is in the yolks making them omit them?

Our brains run on fats, but not just any fats. Not canola oil, not corn oil, not soy oil, and not most other processed oils. Our brains need what's in animal fats such as egg yolks and free-range meats. Free-range eggs are a good and inexpensive source of those needed fats.

So, my questions are what's in it for those food chains (and who sold them on that idea, anyway)? Are they trying to dumb us down even more? It has to be a "follow the money" thing. Equally important to me is WHAT are they doing with all those egg yolks they don't use?? Must be millions a week just for McD's.  (Have you ever seen a chicken lay an egg without a yolk?)

Inquiring minds want to know.