Green Smoothie Challenge Anyone?

Inspired by luscious looking verdigris concoctions I did something that I normally wouldn’t do. I signed up for Young and Raw‘s 30 day Green Smoothie Challenge. It starts today. I am not ready. I am a reluctant green smoothie guzzler.

So convince me. Tell me how good green smoothies are for me. Tell me if they are really going to make me feel better. What benefits am I going to gain? But most of all, tell me that they are really going to taste good!! (please!!)
Talk me into it folks!

Southeast Kansas Buying Club
Whole foods for less!

Serving Independence, Kansas

and surrounding areas.

 

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Healthy in the New Year?

Along with the new year come many resolutions to make oneself healthier via loosing weight, becoming more active, giving up a bad habit or other forms of “healthy”. Being a member of a buying club, most of us already have “healthy” in our daily vocabulary. Still some of us wouldn’t mind shedding a few pounds or adding more activity to our daily routines. And rightly we should.

Adding exercise or activity to your day doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rush out and buy a gym membership, although you could if you wanted to.  One way to add activity to your daily routine is to simply take the stairs, instead of the elevator. Or park farther away from the store entrance, adding extra steps to your walk to and from your car. For other simple ideas to increase your activity levels check here. If you do well with visual reminders, here are some Printable worksheets to track activity and help increase your activity level.

Now, what about food? Well many of us are already eating healthier. In our club we have members with a variety of dietary needs including: Raw diet, Traditional Foods (Nourishing Traditions style), Vegan, vegetarian, Gluten-free, Dairy-free and other special diets. So how do we improve on these? Eating nutrition dense foods is important for our well-being, but it’s easy to over eat when we are eating such foods. Slow down, chew your food well. Digestion begins in the mouth, both the action of chewing (which signals the stomach that food is on its way) and mixing your food with saliva (which contains enzymes to begin the digestion process) are vitally important and should be done well. In our modern fast food/microwave society, we find ourselves hurrying through meals, fast eating usually means that we haven’t chewed our food well.

A good rule of thumb is as follows: if you can tell what kind of food you are eating from the texture of the food in your mouth (not the taste), then you haven’t chewed it enough.

Chewing our food should not only make our food easier to swallow, it should slow our eating process down, so that we can enjoy our food, and allow our stomach the time to “feel” full, instead of leaping for that second helping before our stomach even realizes it’s got a job to do.

"Healthier" No-Bake Cookies, One more please??

“Healthier” No-Bake Cookies, One more please??

Portion control is just as important as what we eat. It’s easy for me to think to myself, “oh, this is healthy, I can have another portion”. “Healthy” is my excuse to eat more. Defeating the purpose of “healthy” in the first place! Visual portion control helps can be found here. And a generic points system can be found here, if counting points is more your style.

Let’s not forget that other important element to our well-being, water. Clear, pure water. Boring you say? Our bodies need sufficient water daily for proper function, to flush toxins, keep us hydrated (and avoid that winter dry skin) and keep our blood flowing well. The amount of water necessary for optimum health varies between the “Experts”. Around my house we’ve gone by the recommendation of “divide your body weight in half, and drink that many ounces in water” daily. So for a 180 pound person this would be approximately 90 ounces of water a day, or 6 16 oz glasses (rounded up). Drinking water not only helps us with hydration, it also helps us avoid the “munchies”. Often when we think our bodies are telling us that we are hungry, really what we need is water. Drink a glass of water, and if you’re still hungry, a healthy snack is in order, such as an apple or carrots with humus. Here’s a fun little Hydration Calculator Quiz.

Hopefully some of these tips and suggestions will help you to achieve your health goals for the new year. Here’s to a healthy New Year to you and yours from your Southeast Kansas Buying Club!

 

 

Hydrogen Peroxide

I have known about the health benefits of hydrogen peroxide since I was a mere child with a skinned up knee. When my mother would put the brown bottle stuff on my boo boos it was much more pleasant that the white bottle alternative. Besides the fact that watching those bubbles was quite distracting and help me forget the initial stinging sensation.

Fast forward to my teen years when my Grandparents were using H2O2 internally for its health benefits. Back then the Natural Food Center sold quarts of specially diluted and flavored H2O2 for consumption.

Then once again, in my grown up years, I learned about the uses of H2O2 as a bleach alternative and sterilizing agent, adding to the health benefits I already knew about.

More recently peroxide has been our mainstay for treating our swimming pool and keeping it algae free without harsh chemicals.  I’ve also experimented with H2O2 as a health boosting soak combined with Epsom Salt.  20 minutes of soothing, better than Calgon.

Once in a while I toss a 1/4 – 1/2 cup in the laundry if something is in need of whitening or I feel that it needs to be a little bit more “clean”.

Food grade hydrogen peroxide is 35%.  Common (medicinal) hydrogen peroxide in the brown bottles comes in at 3%.  Hair bleach is around 6%.  See dilution chart here. For cleaning, H2O2 is the best alternative to bleach and other caustic cleaners that off-gas nasty fumes. Caution must be used when dealing with undiluted H2O2 as it is a strong oxidizer. If spilled on your skin, you should immediately flush with copious amounts of water. It will turn your skin white, and feel like hundreds of tiny needles pricking into your skin.  It is quite uncomfortable, so please be careful. “In high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide is an aggressive oxidizer and will corrode many materials, including human skin.”  H2O2 should be stored in a cool, dark location, and kept in a child-proof container (with a child-proof cap, such as it comes in from the supplier).

Hydrogen peroxide 30 percent on skin.

I often use peroxide for cleaning my fresh greens and grapes. I just fill the sink, or container with cold water, add a splash of food grade peroxide (I don’t measure it) and let it soak for at least 15 minutes. When I’m ready to rinse it, there will bubbles collected on the surface from the H2O2 working.

For the unfortunate canine that has a run-in with Pepe Le Pew…

Mixed with baking soda and a small amount of hand soap, hydrogen peroxide is effective at removing skunk odor.

For more interesting and geeky information (like how they make those glow sticks) on peroxide, check here.

H2O2 is a great addition to a healthy, green home!

Herbal Tinctures

~by club member Brandi Monson.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make your own herbal tinctures, but think it was too hard or time-consuming? Well I’ve got good news for you! Making an herbal tincture is one of the easier things to do!

There’s a few preparatory steps that will probably take more time than actually making the tincture though, like going to your local liquor store to buy some high-proof vodka (100 proof) or everclear.  And of course procuring your herbs. If you’re using purchased herbs, simply get your herbs and cut open the bag. If you have to harvest your own herbs then this of course will take longer but may yield you a higher quality product besides yours sense of accomplishment of having made your tincture from scratch!
I have made many herbal tinctures in the past and it’s simply filling your  mason jar half full of your herb, filling with the menstruum (the vodka or sometimes vinegar), stirring, and letting it macerate for  4-6 weeks, depending on your herb type (roots take longer than leaves).

Food Matters has a great instructional video on making herbal tinctures. There’s written instructions too if you can’t access the video.  Show your tincture some love and give it a shake once in a while it’s macerating.

Another site suggest making tinctures based on moon cycles to get the best quality tincture. The new moon is the suggested starting time and makes it easy to remember when your tincture is finished, on the next new moon! Then all you have to do is strain our your herb, re-bottle and store in a cool, dark place.

Black walnut tincture is a great one to have on hand for a variety of uses, mostly when I think of black walnut I think of killing parasites. Here is a list of uses for black walnut tincture.  Since the black walnuts are already dropping from the trees here locally, this would be a good time to consider making your own black walnut tincture. Remember, tinctures keep for years if stored in a cool dark space. In theory, you can make enough tincture to last a decade in only one season.

To make black walnut tincture, you use the green hulls. So you must harvest your walnuts while the hull is still green. You’ll want to wear gloves unless you want you hands stained for the next moon cycle! Here’s a great instructional on making black walnut tincture in print.

If you’re extra hardy and want to further the process then crack those shells open after you’ve harvested your hulls, and harvest the tasty meats. Just be prepared for a fight. “Harvesting, hulling, cleaning, and cracking black walnuts requires considerable labor and patience.”  This site suggests soaking the nuts in order to soften the very hard shell.

If anyone wants to make black walnut tincture and doesn’t have any walnut trees you’re welcome to harvest some of mine. We have two large walnut trees and there’s plenty of green hulls out there right now. Although they are dropping fast. I’m not sure they will wait two more weeks to the new moon though.

I know that some of you have been wanting to make your own tinctures, so go ahead and give it a try! It’s easier than you think.

Iron Rich Green Smoothie

Contributed by Club Member Elizabeth Murray

When my little boy was 12 months old, he had a blood test to check for various things. The results came back with low IRON; the Doc prescribed over-the-counter iron drops. Well, me being me, I didn’t want to go that route first. I wanted to try diet first, then if that didn’t work, I’d do the supplements. In the past, I had made fruit smoothies frequently, then got out of the habit. Well, I decided this would be a good time to get back in the habit and this time make then green smoothies! So, I looked around for recipes and tried several different things. I ended up with the following mix of several recipes for our morning green smoothies. The Vit. C from the orange helps with the absorption of the Iron from the Blackstrap Molasses, hempseeds and spinach.

 

Smoothie, before...

Smoothie, after.

 

 

High Iron Orange Creamsicle Green Smoothie

1/2 cup raw cashews

1 cup orange juice (I have used almond milk or water before, but the orange juice gives it more of an orange flavor)

1/4 cup hempseeds (3 tbsps. has 11 g protein, and 16% DV of iron)

2 tbsp. blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp. has 20% DV iron)

3 tbsp pure maple syrup (to taste, use more or less depending on how sweet you want it)

6 oz. yogurt (I use soy vanilla or plain, you can use dairy yogurt)

Put all these into blender and begin blending to crush the cashews, until it is creamy and smooth (this will be several minutes in a regular blender, less in the Vitamix that I wish I had!)

Then ADD (with blender still running):

1 orange, peeled

1 banana, peeled

25-35 spinach leaves (depending on size of the leaves); you can also use kale or other greens…should be about 2 cups greens in all.

Continue blending until the greens are well blended and the resulting smoothie is a nice light green. Then add about 5-6 ice cubes and blend until they are mixed in. Then enjoy!

 

Blend until smooth in texture and uniform in color.

 

 

This recipe makes two large servings (adult size, so could be 1 adult, 2-3 kid servings) Each adult serving contains: 54% DV iron, 19 grams protein and around 500 calories. It’s enough to get me through the morning without needing anything else! Great way to start a day! And the follow up blood test showed much improvement in his IRON levels. Doc said to ‘keep doing what you’re doing’. So Kudos to Green Smoothies!!

 

A lovely way to start the day!

 

 

 

Fermenting

by member Brandi Monson

Several years ago I read Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and it challenged me to incorporate traditional style foods into our diet. We already ate most ‘home-made’ foods, you know,  things that didn’t come out of a box. But I wanted to incorporate the lacto-fermented veggies and condiments that the author so praises.

I started with sauerkraut thinking that it couldn’t be so hard, countless Germans have made this and it’s just cabbage after-all! To my surprise it was not only ‘not hard’ but super simple and turned out a delightfully light & crisp kraut that even my husband appreciates. (nothing at all like your store-bought canned sauerkraut.)

Next I tried fermented mustard. Okay, so I wasn’t so sure about this one. But I followed the recipe, mixed it up and let it sit on the counter for a few days. Then I put it in the fridge, and left it there. I would take it out every now and then and look at it, open the lid and smell it, still afraid to taste test it!  No one I knew had ever made this and I wasn’t feeling much like being a royal tester. So back into the fridge it would go.

Eventually I worked up the nerve to sample it, and much to my surprise, not only was it good, but it was fabulous.  Better than any gourmet mustard I have tried in the past, and I’ve tried a few. It had such a full mustard flavor, almost tasted  like it had horseradish in it, although it had none. Delicious. I even coaxed my health-food avoiding brother-in-law to sample it and he loved it. Needless to say, it didn’t last long.

So once again I’ve got the fermenting bug. I’ve tried kraut, kimchi (very good!!), mustard, ginger carrots, pickles (which didn’t turn out right, to the compost it went) and recently I fermented some lemons (more about those in another post). I would like to encourage everyone to give lacto-fermenting a try. It’s easy and wonderfully healthy, like yogurt supplying beneficial bacteria to your digestive system.

Go wild and ferment something tonight!!

P.S. Another informative book on fermenting foods is called Wild Fermentation by Sandor Elix Katz. Katz chronicles his health struggles as a gay man with full-blown AIDS. He maintains that his good health has come from eating raw fermented foods.