Monday, April 16, 2012

The Big Move!

The day finally came and we are officially moved into our new home.  We had a trailer hitch installed on the van for the move (used my brother's trailer) which will come in handy often I assume.  We spent a few days clearing out our old home and filling the new house with boxes.  Its been about 10 days since the big move and we are just getting settled in.  We have very few boxes left to unpack and have even starting cleaning up outside a bit.  We had a man come cut down a few trees that had grown right against the house allowing raccoons to hang out up there in the late evenings; their poop on our roof gave them away.  My Mom even spent some time weeding in the back gardens around our patio and sun room.  Our new batch of seeds arrived and we are getting ready to plant them, although I can't decide whether to do it before or after our upcoming vacation, which is much needed I amy add.  The gardens will not be ready here until mid summer but we are planting in the existing 2 raised garden beds as well as out at the CSA.  After our vacation Aaron will also be getting started on the chicken/duck coop.  Our day old birds arrive May 15th so we will need to get cracking.

Camp out with the kids our first night.

Front yard.
Front side yard from across the street.
Side yard. 
Back patio.

Backyard from opposite corner. 
Needless to say, we have our hands full!  It has been a long few weeks but I would not change a thing.  Now that we are in our new home it feels like we have been here forever.  It felt like home the moment I stepped foot into the house and we plan on having many wonderful memories raising our family here at BTC Acre! 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Coming along.

I spent some time over the past weekend moving some of the seedlings into their larger, temporary homes.  We will be in the new house after this weekend and will be able to keep the seedlings in the sunroom to prepare them for the great outdoors.  There are also some new sprouts coming up and I planted some more kale and cucumber seeds in larger pots.  I am hoping that more will germinate since we currently only have 1 of each from the first batch.  Hopefully we will be able to get some planting done out at the farming cooperative as well as get some gardens ready at the new place for the summer.

From the left: Wiltham Butternut Winter Squash, Brandywine Tomato,  Russian Red Kale.

Hopefully next year the gardens should all be setup and we will be far more organized.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Super Foods!

Not all foods are created equal.  If we were to compare the nutritional content of iceberg lettuce to kale many people would be flabbergasted by the results.  I have recently come across some foods that are not well known as being super foods... although they should be.  I became aware of some foods on this list from a film called "Hungry For Change" which was very informative and definitely worth watching.

Let me start off with a a few herbs that many people underestimate.

Parsley:   Souce
  • The activity of parsley's volatile oils qualifies it as a "chemoprotective" food, and in particular, a food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens. 
  • The flavonoids have been shown to function as antioxidants and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. In addition, extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood.
  • Also an excellent source of two vital nutrients that are also important for the prevention of many diseases: vitamin C and vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene) and folic acid
Cilantro/Corriander Seeds:   Souce
  • When tested on animals, coriander helps stimulate secretion of insulin and lower blood sugar. Reduced the amount of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in their cell membranes. And lowered levels of total and LDL, while actually increasing levels of HDL. 
  • Contains an antibacterial compound that may prove to be a safe, natural means of fighting Salmonella suggests a study published in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
  • A powerful natural cleansing agent. Effectively used to help remove heavy metals and other toxic agents from the body (chlorella also works well).  Source
Oregano:  Source
  • One of the most powerful healing herbs and natural anti-biotics ever studied.
  • Oregano Oil is an extraordinarily powerful natural anti-biotic.  
  • The strong phenol anti-oxidants in oregano destroy pathogenic bacteria, viruses and yeasts.
  • It is the third highest herb in oxygen radical absorbency capacity (ORAC).
  • One of the world's greatest sources of the powerful phenol component thymol. Thymol is great for improving digestive function as well as destroying harmful microbes.
  • Oregano oil has been classically used as a disinfectant, an aid for ear, nose, & throat/respiratory infections, candida, and any sort of bacterial or viral conditions.
  • Works to suppress inflammatory mediators and cancer cell production.
  • Studies have shown that carvacrol, a phenol anti-oxidant within oregano has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity when applied to food or taken in supplement form.
  • Also contains rosmarinic acid which has very strong cancer fighting properties.
Now onto some other super foods.

Spirulina (seaweed variety):  Source
  • The protein digestibility of spirulina is rated at 85% versus about 20% for beef.
  • A rich source of natural, plant-based iron, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
  • The alpha-linolenic acid profile in spirulina is the highest in the plant kingdom, coming in third overall behind milk and evening primrose oil.
  • Allergy sufferers who took 2000 mg spirulina every day saw significant improvement in their allergy symptoms.  (YAY FOR ME!!!)
  • Enhances exercise performance.
Chia Seeds (Salvia hispanica L):  Source

  • Contains the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acid found in nature
  • A complete source of protein. 
  • Have the power to stabilize blood sugar, and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Used as an endurance food by Aztecs and Mayans to increase the energy levels during hunting.
  • They absorb water very easily (9-10 times of their weight), therefore, resulting in prolonged hydration and retention of electrolytes.
  • Contain around 22% of protein, 35% of healthy fats (Omega 3, Omega 6), and around 25% of dietary fiber. Not only that, they also contain plenty of minerals and vitamins – A lot of calcium, potassium, and iron is found in these seeds.
  • Help the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins.
  • Provide relief from arthritis or diabetes (by absorbing sugar), decrease blood pressure, help with acid reflux, or just improve the general cardiac health.
  • Cleanses the colon, and gets rid of toxins.
  • Some research shows that it can also improve your mental performance and allow you to have a better rest during the night. 
Kale:  Source
  • An incredibly effective anti-inflammatory food
  • Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef.
  • Kale contains more calcium per calorie than milk (90 grams per serving) and is also better absorbed by the body than dairy.
  • One serving of kale contains 5 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber.
  • A serving of kale contains 121 mg of omega-3 fatty acids and 92.4 mg of omega-6 fatty acids.
  • An incredibly rich source of immune-boosting carotenoid and flavanoid antioxidants including vitamins A and C.
Aloe Vera Gel:  Source
  • Scientific research shows strong immunomodulatory and anti tumour properties for aloe vera polysaccharides.  One study published in International Immunopharmacology (1995) showed that aloe vera polysaccharides exhibited potent macrophage-activating activities including producing increased volumes of nitric oxide (which has antitumor potential).
  • Can also be used internally, reducing inflammation throughout the body from the inside out.
  • Also enhances skin health when used internally.
  • improves the quality of the blood and helps balance the blood chemistry in a way that lowers cholesterol and total triglycerides (in people with elevated levels).
  • It makes vitamin C, vitamin E and other antioxidants work better.
  • Polysaccharides in the aloe vera plant have curative effects on numerous digestive disorders. The Internet is a storehouse of information and testimonials about aloe vera curing IBS, ulcers, Crohn's disease and other disorders of the digestive tract.
  • Also has many skin care benefits.
Chamomile:  Source
  • Acts to sooth the smooth muscles lining the digestive tract, relieving irritable symptoms
  • Used commonly to treat anxiety disorders and insomnia
  • Aids in muscle pain associated with menstrual cramps and muscle strains
  • Certain active compounds in chamomile work similar to anti-anxiety medications, which promote relaxation in the brain and nervous system.
  • Fights bacterial infections by destroying the very bacteria that cause them. One of chamomile's active ingredients, Azulene, directly fights staphylococcus and streptococcus infections. 
  • Also has many skin care benefits.
Coconut Products:  Source
  • Highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. 
  • Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits.  There are too many benefits to mention in this post; many of which can be found here.
  • Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth."
  • Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).  They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  • Nutritional Content of types of Coconut products can be found here.  Links to coconut research can be found here.
Some other known super foods are Garlic (SourceSource), Goji berries, Wild Salmon, Cinnamon, Tumeric, Pomegranate, Quinoa, Avacado and Blueberries just to name a few.  

I am a firm believer that food heals!

Disclaimer:  I am not a health professional nor am I giving you medical advice.  I am simply sharing information for you to make your own informed decisions with regards to your health.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Homemade Neti Pot solution

Between allergy season (for me means nice weather) and cold and flu season I likely go through 30 boxes of tissues.  I will contract a cold from my husband from which he had the odd cough and sniffle and I can barely breath for a week.  I often will get severe congestion accompanied by pain in my sinuses (and eventually my entire face!) which lead to a sinus infection treated with antibiotics, which I loath!  There had to be a better way.  In came the NETI POT!

It was about a year or 2 ago that my wonderful mother in law introduced me to the neti pot.  I had been suffering from a terrible cold and sinus infection when she decided to purchase a neti pot for me and bring it by with a pot of homemade chicken soup... that's right, I am spoiled!  MAN, did this little pot ever save my life.  I have not taken antibiotics since receiving my neti pot!  The pot also came with 50 packets of pH balances sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate mixture (baking soda and salt).  It did not take long for me to go through these little packs so I decided to make my own.  Again, in came my Mother in law.  She had a recipe that she had been using with success for some time.  I gave this a whirl and EUREKA!  Works equally as well as the sachets you can buy... for me at least.  I have to imagine that the sachets you purchase are more refined and medical grade ingredients but for me, this homemade solution is working just fine.

3TBSP baking soda
1 heaping TBS salt (I used sea salt)

Simply mix these and add 1/2-1tsp per pot of lukewarm distilled water (tap water may contain pollutants).  I simply mix up a batch and keep it in a small tupperware in the washroom.  Be sure to use non iodized salt since iodized can irritate the sinus and exacerbate the condition.