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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Make a Doosie of a Smoothie

Smoothies are a very convenient way to sneak in plenty of nutrition for the picky eater, the person too busy to take the time to sit down to a decent meal, or even the elderly who often have poor appetites and it is a challenge to get enough calories into them.

All you need is your blender and ingredients you most likely already have in your freezer, refrigerator or pantry.

Buying bagged frozen fruit is always an option, but if you buy fruit or product in bulk during their growing season, freeze the surplus and have it available any time of the year.
Pictured here are peaches, but you can use strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, whatever you prefer.
 Wash if necessary, (berries such as raspberries and strawberries lose flavor when washed). Dab the fruit dry with paper towels. Fruits like pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon and peaches need to be cut up into pieces. Berries are simply spread out onto the baking sheet or plate. What you use depends on if you have a deep freezer which would hold a large baking sheet, or are limited to your kitchen size freezer. Spread out the fruit on the sheet or plate and put into the freezer. Don't just dump the cut up fruit into your zip-lock bag or container or you'll end up with a frozen lump of fruit. Optional to prevent peaches from browning is to stir a bit of lemon juice into the cut-up fruit. If you get them into the freezer quickly, browning shouldn't be a problem. 

Once frozen, put the fruit pieces into a freezer zip-lock baggie or container and store in the freezer. When ready to take some out for your smoothie, take what you need and return the rest to the freezer. Be sure to label your bags so that you can easily identify the fruit and so the old gets used before the new. This bag of peaches was taken from the freezer a year after originally frozen. Try to use them up within a year so they don't lose value from ice crystals building up.

Bananas have a very limited shelf life before they get spotty, soft and overripe. Don't throw them away! Peel them and then individually roll each one up in wax paper. Put the wrapped bananas into a freezer ziploc baggie and pop into the freezer. Then when you make your smoothie, a banana is always available. Bananas are often part of a smoothie recipe. This is because once frozen they are great to thicken up your blender concoction and adds a natural sweetness.

When ready to make your smoothie, simply take out of the bags the amount of fruit you need and put the bag back into the freezer. The fruit should break apart fairly easily. If it is a solid lump, just bang a bit and the pieces will separate apart again.

The recipes below are for fruit based smoothie drinks. Use your imagination and create your own recipes to include vegetables as well. Avocados and fresh spinach leaves are very nutritious and their mild flavor would not be overpowering.

Should your drink be too runny and you want to thicken it up, just add ice cubes and reblend.

An optional addition to any of these smoothies would be a raw egg. We use raw eggs in our smoothies but they come from my own chickens. Do not use raw eggs purchased at the supermarket if you even suspect they came from factory farmed chickens. Only consume raw eggs if you know their origins and are confident they are not possible carriers of the bacteria, salmonella.

PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE

About 1/2 cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
Dash vanilla extract
Choice of either orange juice or almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or dairy milk
1 heaping tbsp coconut powder or coconut oil (optional)
1 tbsp flax seed oil (optional)

Gradually add either the orange juice OR one of milk types while blending.
Add only enough until you reach your preferred consistency.
Blend about 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy.
 Serves 1

BERRY BERRY BLEND SMOOTHIE

About 1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries or combination of types of berries
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
Dash vanilla extract
Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or dairy milk
1 heaping tbsp coconut powder or coconut oil (optional)
1 tbsp flax seed oil (optional)

Gradually add one of the milk types while blending.
Add only enough until you reach your preferred consistency.
Blend about 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy.
Serves 1

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE 

1 frozen banana
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or dairy milk
1 heaping tbsp coconut powder or 1 - 3 tsp. coconut oil (optional)
1 tbsp flax seed oil (optional)
Dash vanilla extract
2 - 4 tbsp. chocolate chips, carob chips or raw cacao ribs 
Handful of ice cubes
 
Blend about 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy.
Serves 1


Enjoy!





Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rosemary, Help Me Remember



 "That's Rosemary, that's for remembrance; I pray you, love, remember."  William Shakespeare

Rosemary, an ancient folk remedy for improving memory, is the herb of love and remembrance, steeped in thousands of years of myth and tradition.  A member of the mint family, this herb is native to seaside regions of the Mediterranean and North Africa. The Latin name Rosemarinus means dew of the sea, probably in reference to its little beautiful blue flowers when in bloom.

Herbalist Jeanne Rose states, "Inhaled scents feed directly into the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning." Being rosemary is a mental stimulant, it is a good choice for the aromatherapy diffuser or simmer pot.

Rosemary can become a very good friend for the student, someone giving a speech or presentation, or so many of us with a long to-do list trying to multitask. This herb can help one remain focused and retain the information.

 According to James A. Duke in "The Green Pharmacy", oxidative damage caused by free radical oxygen molecules in the body plays a role in Alzheimer's. Rosemary contains antioxidants which are compounds that help eliminate free radicals, particularly rosmarinic acid.
Also, people with Alzheimer's often have an acetylcholine deficiency. It isn't clear whether this deficiency is part of the cause of the disease or results from it. Rosemary is said to help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, therefore there is good reason to make use of this safe and pleasant herb. It certainly couldn't hurt to try it.

Aside from memory issues, rosemary is said to offer a wide range of health benefits.
Being several of the plant's compounds are absorbed through the skin and blood-brain barrier, forms of its use include herbal massage oils, bath oils, balms, shampoos, body sprays and herbal vinegars and tinctures.

Just breathing in the scent of rosemary, be it the fresh plant or its essential oil, often helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Test taking can be a little less of an ordeal with the help of a rosemary body spray or even sniffing a tissue to which a drop or two of the essential oil had been added.

Rosemary infused in a carrier oil such as olive oil or almond oil results in a wonderful massage or bath oil to help relieve joint pain and relax tight, stiff muscles.

Rosemary stimulates circulation, therefore very useful for those cold days when you come in from the cold with numb fingers and toes.

Rosemary Liniment

Rosemary & Lavender Body Spray
 
If interested in historical stories associated with the herb Rosemary read this post.

Rosemary essential oil should not be taken internally.
Rosemary essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy.
Don't self treat a chronic condition such as depression or Dementia with essential oils. Such conditions should be monitored under the care of a physician.

 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Autumn fun with children


It may be difficult to say good-bye to those lazy summer days, but the arrival of September brings with it the stir of excitement as school buses roll again and holiday displays begin to appear in department stores. As much fun as it is for children to prepare for Halloween dress-up, parades and trick-or-treating, autumn can be so much more.

Get them outside, open their world to the glory of the fall season. Introduce children to the beauty of autumn's color palette and notice things like the smell of dry leaves, the thrill of jumping on hay bales, and the taste of an apple cider slushie. Give them opportunities for hands-on experience at fall festivals with their corn mazes, hay bales, pumpkin patches and leaf piles.

With a little imagination there is also a lot of fun you can create right at home.  These pictures were taken years ago when my kids were small, but we just loved creating stuff like this:

                                                   
Homemade scarecrows are easily made by stuffing hay or straw into an old shirt and a pair of bluejeans. Here we used a big sunflower head and plucked out the seeds to form a face. In its hands it is holding a bouquet of seed pods from the Chinese Lantern plants. Add a bundle of cornstalks, a few pumpkins and potted mums, and you and your kids can be proud of your front door display.


                                                
This one is our pumpkin man. I don't remember how I held them together, probably a stick is stuck from pumpkin to pumpkin. The hair looks like I used a little bunch of Cockscomb flower, the arms are Cockscomb as well. The mouth looks like a green bean, the eyes are an everlasting type of flower called Strawflowers, and the buttons are Globe Amaranth. Most likely, the flowers were held on with toothpicks. Use whatever you have on hand to decorate. The important thing is to encourage your child to be hands-on and use his or her imagination.


 A fun fall activity to do with children is to make these cute bird seed hangers. Not only is it a fun craft to do together, but children learn the importance of helping our wild birds survive the upcoming cold weather.


This book, Green Fun, by Maryanne Gjersvik is from the 1970's but is the cutest little book of ideas to have fun with natural plant material such as flowers, weeds, seeds and leaves.

Enjoy and create memories!