Archive for Nutrition

Brewing Kombucha at Home

Brewing Kombucha at Home

I like drinking Kombucha. I love the tangy, tingly, bubbliness of it. I also love the health benefits, mainly, the probiotics. What I don’t like is the price of buying it at the grocery store of Whole Foods.  So, I started brewing Kombucha at home a few years ago.Making Kombucha

Brewing Kombucha at home can be intimidating, but with a little practice, it is very easy. Just follow the directions, do your homework, and, learn from my mistakes so that hopefully you can avoid the ones I made.

So, are you ready to start brewing Kombucha at home?

Before you get started, you will need to plan ahead, order some supplies, and gather all the items you’ll need.    You can get everything you need from Hannah Crum, The Kombucha Mamma, and my kombucha guru.  The only place I would ever purchase a SCOBY is from Hannah. Read More→

A half cup of ice cream

Who eats a half cup of ice cream?

Let’s face it. We live in a nation of obesity, chronic disease, and countless health problems. In fact, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Think about that: every two out of three people struggle with their weight, which can lead to obesity-related diseases and health implications that cause clinic and hospital visits for which health insurance must pay. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it was estimated in 2008 that obesity costs the United States $147 billion (CDC). That is a lot of money! That money could be used for education, infrastructure, housing, defense, and the list goes on. The point is that the U.S. has become unhealthy.

Times are changingIMG_4451

Times are changing, habits are changing and people are eating too much.  I’ve heard talk of a ‘fat tax’.  Personally, I don’t believe punishing taxes affect behavior. Take cigarettes for example—there is a huge tax on them…..yet people who want to smoke still are willing to pay the penalty. No, rather than a ‘fat tax’, what we need to do is fix the underlying cause of obesity and unhealthy food choices. Perhaps we should be given a more accurate representation of what we are eating and change the current FDA’s standard of food labels. Read More→

The many benefits of coconut oil

Returning to nature for your medicine cabinet doesn’t require exotic ingredients. In fact, I mostly stick with easily obtainable, simple ingredients.  One of my absolute favorite additions to my natural medicine cabinet is  COCONUT OIL. Organic, virgin coconut oil.

trader joes coconut oilYou’ll see arbitrary language on coconut oil labels. The main thing to keep in mind is virgin, or cold pressed.  Here is what Trader Joe’s says about their organic coconut oil: “To make our Organic Virgin Coconut Oil our supplier starts with freshly harvested coconuts that are de-husked and grated. Then, when the meat of the coconut is still fresh, it’s cold pressed and filtered to remove any remaining pieces of the fruit. That’s the process. Nothing more. Some coconut oil is extracted using high heat, chemicals and even bleach. Not ours. Producing the oil in this more pure, natural way, we are able to retain the nutrients, flavor characteristics and aromas of fresh coconuts. Use Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in cooking – it stands up to relatively high heat and imparts a distinctive flavor – in salad dressings, for baking, and even as a moisturizer for dry skin. It’s true! It will fluctuate from a liquid to a solid state, depending on the temperature at which it’s stored, so don’t be surprised when you see liquid in a jar that’s been stored in a hot pantry.” Read More→

The Wonders of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

The wonders of raw apple cider vinegarMy previous post was my recipe for Fire Cider.  In the recipe for Fire Cider, raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is one of the 6 ingredients.  That recipe got me to thinking about Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (henceforth to be referred to as RACV) and I decided to research it. 

Discovering the many wonders of raw apple cider vinegar

The use of raw apple cider vinegar dates back thousands of years. Its use was documented in Egyptian cultures, was written about in the Bible, and even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, spoke of its use in 500 BC.  The product is made from apples, using a 2-stage fermenting process.  Hard apple cider is made during the first stage of fermentation followed by apple cider vinegar during the second stage.  The differences between RACV and the clear, distilled white vinegar most of us are familiar with is vast. It would be like comparing the difference between whole wheat flour and bleached white flour. Distilled white vinegar has been processed to remove all living sediment. RACV has all the nutrients still intact. While distilled white vinegar, and even commercial apple cider vinegar look appealing, they no longer contain any living nutrients, enzymes, and living sediment known as the “mother”,  that makes RACV so wonderful. In the 1950’s, companies started distilling, filtering, pasteurizing and refining vinegar, and thus, the enzymes are killed, and the vinegar becomes dead,  and has no nutritional value. Yes, it is great for cleaning windows, as a laundry additive and softener, fighting household odors, killing grass and weeds, and many other uses, but it no longer is beneficial health-wise.  

So, what makes raw apple cider vinegar so wonderful for your health?

It’s the nutrients.  The nutrients that are allowed to remain after the 2-step fermentation process are what makes RACV so wonderful.  Read More→

Fire Cider

Nature is so amazing. As I move toward a more natural and holistic lifestyle, I am having a blast learning about how to incorporate some miraculous and healing foods into my diet.  Some people think that a ‘natural lifestyle’ is difficult, expensive, inconvenient and time consuming.  It can be. But as I research natural living, I am focusing on finding easy ways for the average person to incorporate natural health into their lifestyles. I love to research and experiment, and I am always creating some new science experiment in my kitchen.  My current projects are creating all natural herbal tinctures. I’m creating a recipe for an all natural herbal tincture to support menopausal hormone imbalance. I’m also creating a tincture of calcium from herbs, and I’m making some new essential oil blends based off a very expensive multi-level marketing company’s’ blends.  And, I’m very excited that I will be starting to home brew my own kombucha tea in a few weeks.  I will be writing about all of these adventures in my kitchen,so please check back here often.

Fire Cider

I recently wrote a post called 31 reasons why you should love garlic in which I highlighted how truly amazing this fragrant herb is. If you missed it, please read it, you’ll find some wonderful uses for garlic and you’ll see how versatile it is.  One of my recent creations in the kitchen has been my brew of fire cider, a tonic of garlic, ginger, onion, habanero pepper, horseradish and apple cider vinegar.  After examining several recipes, I tweaked, made a few changes, and have come up with my own version of Fire Cider. Read More→

5 easy ways to boost your immune system

boost your immune systemFinally, after 7 months of winter in Minnesnowta, I finally am out on my deck, enjoying my coffee and writing a blog post.  I only wish it were a happier subject.   You see, just when you thought we were ‘out of the woods’ as far as cold and flu season goes, we have something new to worry about.  Mind you, I am not an alarmist.  I am cautious, and I am a realist.  I’ve been quietly watching the news, (not mainstream media, I get my news from alternate sources because I don’t trust the mainstream media).  I have been watching the rise of H7N9 bird flu, and it has me cautiously alarmed.  As of this writing, 140 people have been infected in China and Taiwan, and at least 24 have died.  I know that doesn’t sound like a very big number, compared to China’s huge population.  But H7N9 bird flu strain is transmitted from chickens that don’t get sick,  to unsuspecting people. The worrisome part is that there have been two confirmed cases of person to person transmission.   Another startling statistic, is that the kill rate of people dying from the disease is 20%, which is among the the highest ever witness in a bird flu strain.  In addition, the bird flu strain has spread outside of China and into Taiwan.  Needless to say, I am cautiously alarmed.  While I don’t think this will result in a global pandemic, it is in the back of my mind, and I am realistic enough to see the possibility.  Now is the time to prepare. What is it they say in sports? The best offense is a good defense?

Best defense:  boost your immune system before you get sick

It’s pretty easy to boost your immune system through diet, especially if you start before you get sick. The first thing you want to do is eat well.  Poor nutrition impairs immune function. French fries, soft drinks and alcohol don’t build strong immune systems or white blood cells(your immune system defenders). Rather,  diets high in fruits, vegetables and nuts and adequate protein are what  promotes immune health. Read More→

4 Foods that help with depression

In 431 B.C., Hippocrates, the father of medicine,  said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  If only he knew how true that would be in 2013.  Many people find benefit and help from what Westerners consider ‘traditional’ medicine, but often fail to recognize the power of food and Hippocrates’ philosophy has been all but forgotten.   Maybe we could paraphrase him and the power of food: Garbage in, garbage out.  

In the spirit of Hippocrates, let’s explore some foods that help with depression

Depression has become a huge problem in our culture.  In fact, according to the CDC, an estimated 1 in 10 U.S. adults report depression.  We can reverse this trend!  We all know that food has a major effect on the mind–just think “comfort food”.    Many of the symptoms of depression can be directly linked to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the standard American diet, which is largely comprised of empty carbs, caffeine and sugar. Depression, mood swings and fatigue often have a common cause: poor nutrition. Avoiding depression or recovering from a depressive episode is often as easy as changing your diet and boosting your consumption of key foods that help with depression by delivering  brain-boosting nutrients and help regulate brain chemistry. Let’s look at some foods, that if consumed regularly and in their whole state, can help combat and prevent depression. 

Foods that help with depression are those high in B Vitamins

B vitamins play a major role is controlling mood. Vitamin B6, B9 (Folate), and B12 deficiencies have been linked to symptoms of depression, so getting enough of these vitamins may be a good place to start.  B6  is a key enzyme in the manufacturing of serotonin(regulates mood)  and norepinephrine (a stress hormone).   Both B12 and B9 (folate) are  important as they are needed for the manufacture of  SAMe, a chemical that the body uses to increase serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that  play a role in depression.

Sources of B Vitamins:  Good sources for B vitamins include kombucha, whole grains, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, tempeh, beans, nutritional yeast,  brewer’s yeast, and molasses. However, while yeast used in beer making is high in B vitamins, the bioavailability ranges from poor to negative because  drinking ethanol inhibits absorption. Brewer’s Yeast contains vitamins B1, B2 and B3.  Brewer’s yeast should be avoided if you do not tolerate yeast well, but if you do, mix a thimbleful into any smoothie for your daily dose. This superfood packs a wide assortment of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Amino acids are vital for the nervous system, which makes brewer’s yeast a no-brainer for treating depression.

Whole Grain Foods help with depression 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.netI’m wondering if increased depression in our society comes as a side effect of the ever-popular low carb diets.  Not only will the added carbohydrates of whole grain foods ensure you are not deficient (experts suggest at least 45-60 percent of your calories via macronutrients to come from carbohydrates), but the added fiber in your diet will help you get the most from your food. These foods are packed with nutritional value, including healthy sources of vitamins and amino acids. Make it a note to eat more complex carbohydrates!  These are known to raise the body’s levels of tryptophan, which is the amino acid that helps make serotonin. 

Whole grain foods: The ancient grains of quinoa, millet, teff, amaranth, spelt, barley are excellent because they are less likely to be man-modified or processed.  Also brown rice, whole grain wheat and oat. Brown rice contains vitamins B1 and B3, and folic acid. It is a low-glycemic food, which means it releases glucose into the bloodstream gradually, preventing sugar lows and mood swings. Brown rice  provides many of the trace minerals we need to function properly, as well as being a high-fiber food that can keep the digestive system healthy and lower cholesterol. Instant varieties of rice do not offer these benefits. Any time you see “instant” on a food label, avoid it.  Whole-grain oats contain folic acid, pantothenic acid and vitamins B6 and B1. Oats help lower cholesterol, are soothing to the digestive tract and help avoid the blood sugar crash-and-burn that can lead to crabbiness and mood swings. Read More→

Why are GMOs bad?

What’s the big deal about GMOs, and why are they bad?

They are in the news more and more.  What are GMOs?

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.netGMOs are genetically modified organisms.  Scientists working in laboratories are splicing the genes of vegetable seedlings with poisonous pesticides and herbicides so the plants are inherently protected from the insects and worms that might damage them. The majority of products Americans eat daily contain some form of GMO soy, corn, canola (rapeseed) oil or cotton seed oil. Research shows that consuming the popular herbicide/pesticide Roundup leads to the mutation of cells in the human body, in turn fueling the development of malignant tumors and other various forms of cancer.  That’s why GMOs are bad.

As the plants grow, they already contain genes from toxic concoctions. Some countries are cautious and GMOs knowing there are not enough studies on the long term effects from this bio-engineering  and are even boycotting American exports of major vegetables, dairy, and meat products for this specific reason, including Germany.

Consider this: What if over half of all the food being sold in grocery stores contained pesticides that you couldn’t taste or smell, with no warnings on the labels, and then you got cancer from eating them after ten years? Or, what if a pregnant mother could get her baby vaccinated in the womb with an insecticide, so that no insects would ever bite the child after it was born? Would anyone be crazy enough to do it, especially if it was FDA approved?

More than 85% of all corn, soy and canola oil are GMO

GMOs are bad because eating GMO food is like eating poison

GMO vegetables and all of their by-products are not labeled as GMO in the United States. Currently, 93% of soy, canola and cottonseed oil, 86% of corn, 95% of sugar beets, 13% of squash, and rice is on the cutting board now. As much as 77% of the world’s soy is GMO also. Think for a moment about all of the popular products that have some kind of processed soy or corn in them; it would take an entire book to list them all. GM potatoes and tomatoes have been taken off the market.

To appreciate the size of this health and environmental disaster, one should understand the 96% rule. For the first time ever, science has created models that combine the clinical and genetic similarities of rodents, great apes and humans for determining the odds of acquiring cancer.

A comparison of genetic blueprints with that of the human genome shows that our closest living relatives share 96% of our DNA ( Before now, scientists had hypothesized that it was only about 35%. The FDA and CDC quite often denounce research regarding popular cancer causing foods, additives, and artificial sweeteners because tests are only run on rats and mice, but not humans. Now we know we are affected by toxins, just like the other animals.

More bad news about GMOs

To pour salt in the wound, GMO pesticides not only kill most of the nutrients in foods, 

What’s the cure? Eat only organic food from local farmers markets and health-food grocery stores. And if you say it’s more expensive, you’re wrong. Surgery and chemotherapy for stomach, kidney and colon cancer far exceed the price of non-GMO foods, drinks, candy and gum (and that’s with health insurance). Also, let your voice be heard about GMO labeling.

The best news:  Trader Joes has issued a statement that all Trader Joe’s private label products contain NO GMOs.  None! I have always loved Trader Joes, but when I heard this, my love deepened even more!

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 What are your thoughts about GMOs?

PennySue Mueller


Penny Mueller
Email: Penny Mueller