Doing My Homework

My health coach gave me a pretty easy assignment this week: think about chewing.

Yes, chewing. She gave me a crash course on the digestive system which brought back memories of elementary school, learning about saliva and the esophagus and food’s journey through the miles of intestines. She also gave me a handout with some suggestions- suggestions which have turned out to be easy to read and not so easy to implement.

Do YOU chew every bite 30-50 times before you swallow it? I found out that my average is about 10. I’m now making more of an effort, but I have some work to do.

Why does it matter, you ask? (I’ve been doing some reading, so I’m not sure now what I’ve read and what Rebecca told me. I’ll give all the credit to her unless otherwise noted!) Saliva is alkaline. Alkaline reduces inflammation in the body. Chewing efficiently alkalizes our food before it’s swallowed which prevents inflammation. I guess that explains why eating on the go or “swallowing your food whole,” as my mother used to say I did, usually results in heartburn, indigestion, and/or stomach ache, i.e. inflammation of the gut. Chewing matters more than I realized.

I’m the one who didn’t want to take time to stop for lunch at all, so this is hard! Eating nine cups of fruits and vegetables every day requires more stopping-to-eat than I’m used to, and now I’m adding more chewing to that effort! But I’m already feeling better, so it’s worth it!

Assignment number two was to learn about albumin. I had heard of albumin in connection with eggs, but this time I was seeing the word on some blood work results. My albumin level was low, and Rebecca suggested I find out what it was and why it mattered. Albumen is the white of the egg, but, albumin is “any of numerous simple heat-coagulable water-soluble proteins that occur in blood plasma or serum, muscle, the whites of eggs, milk, and other animal substances and in many plant tissues and fluids,” per Merriam-Webster.

From various medical websites, I learned that albumin is produced by the liver, and it carries substances such as hormones and enzymes throughout the body. If the albumin level is low, it might indicate kidney failure or kidney disease or liver disease. Or it might indicate malnutrition. Well, none of those conditions appeal to me, but malnutrition seems to me to be the easiest one to correct!

My question is, will my nine cups of improved nutrition correct my albumin level? Maybe. Hopefully. According to Registered Dietician Sarah Pflugradt, “increasing the overall quality of the diet may help increase albumin levels in those who are malnourished.” Writing for livestrong.com, she also noted that some recent research indicates that “albumin was not a direct indicator of nutritional health, but rather a marker of the influence of illness on albumin. For instance, inflammation- present in many diseases- causes protein to break down in the body, leading to a decreased albumin.”

Homework results: I hereby promise to make every effort to efficiently chew every bite of nine cups of fruits and vegetables every day, hoping to reduce inflammation and to increase albumin.

Here are a few pictures of some of the delicious and nutrient-rich meals I’ve eaten lately. Recipes don’t seem to be necessary since a picture paints a thousand words, but I’ll be glad to give you the details if you ask.

 

Melissa’s Peach Pie

I promised my husband last year that I would bake a peach pie any time we had access to fresh peaches. We had two pies last year, baked from a recipe my mother-in-law copied from an old edition of Farm Wife News. Farm Wife News was revamped and renamed Country Woman in 1987, so this recipe has been around a long time. Credit for the “Colorado Peach Cream Pie” recipe goes to a Ruth Andrews. If you happen to know her or her descendants, please pass on our thanks!

This year, we’ve had fresh peaches two weeks in a row, thanks to Helena Market Days. I decided to tweak the tried-and-true recipe to produce a gluten-free, sugar-free peach dessert that was still delicious. Last week’s crust held together beautifully; this week’s didn’t and the result was more like a cobbler than a pie. Both, however, tasted delicious, so I’m calling them equally successful.

Here’s my new recipe. The flour ingredient determines the quality of the crust, so feel free to substitute your favorite to produce the crust you desire.

Melissa’s Peach Pie

Crust
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. gluten-free flour*
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Filling
4 cups fresh sliced peaches
1 cup xylitol, divided
2 Tbsp. gluten-free flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Topping
1/3 c. xylitol
1/3 c. gluten-free flour
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon

Crust: Cut butter into flour and salt. Press dough into 9-inch pie pan.

Filling: Slice peaches into a bowl; sprinkle with 1/4 c. xylitol. Let stand while preparing rest of filling. Combine 3/4 c. xylitol, flour, egg, salt and vanilla. Fold in sour cream. Stir into peaches. Pour into crust.

Bake 15 minutes at 400°. Reset oven to 350° and bake another 20 minutes.

To prepare the topping, combine all ingredients until crumbly.

Sprinkle the crumbs of the topping evenly over the top of the pie or around the edge. Bake the pie another 10 minutes at 400°.Melissa's Peach Pie.JPG

Serve warm and top with vanilla ice cream if desired.

*Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Mix produced a firm crust. King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Mix produced a less firm, more crumbly crust. You know what they say about financial investments? “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” I’m pretty sure that applies here, too!

The Best Squash Casserole

IMG_9458[1]

I’ll admit it. Squash is not my favorite vegetable. Not even close. But my new squash casserole recipe definitely moves it up in the rankings. I’ve been baking squash casserole for years now, and the gluten-free version I whipped up this week is the best squash casserole I’ve ever eaten- far better than the traditional recipe I’ve been preparing. (I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I started with fresh squash from Boozer Farms that I picked up Saturday at Helena Market Days!)

Gluten-Free Squash Casserole

 4 cups summer squash, sliced
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup 4C Gluten Free Plain Bread Crumbs*
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Add sliced squash to small amount of boiling water. Cover. When water returns to boiling, lower heat and cook until tender. Drain thoroughly and mash.

In a medium bowl, mix together all other ingredients. Combine with squash and mix well. Pour into a greased 1-quart casserole. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until casserole is slightly browned.

 *You can use any bread crumbs you have on hand, of course, but this is the ingredient that determines the texture of the casserole. The 4C brand bread crumbs yield a creamy casserole, unlike my usual dressing-like dish baked with regular bread crumbs. Experiment! I hope you enjoy yours as much as we enjoyed ours this week!

Fighting Inflammation

I was so thankful for Bromelain yesterday- still am, actually.  But then I learned that Bromelain and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be discontinued about two weeks before any surgical procedure to reduce the risk of post-operative bleeding.  And since I have surgery in my near future, I have discontinued my Bromelain.  I miss it already!

I quickly consulted my essential oil books and mixed up a blend of inflammation-fighters.  Here’s my recipe…

Anti-Inflammatory Essential Oil BlendOils for Inflammation.jpg

Combine the following oils in an amber glass bottle:

I took my blend to my physical terrorist therapist who used the oils during my session this morning.  (I can’t take the credit for that PT insult.  I overheard it at therapy today!)

While I can’t address inflammation with a supplement, I’m glad to be able to address it with essential oils.  How do YOU fight inflammation?

Thanks for reading!

There’s a lot to read out there.  And we appreciate you taking the time to read this blog.

We want to thank you for reading this blog post by giving you something else to read!  Today, when you place an order of $25 or more with Smith Family Resources, we’ll add a copy of Nourishing Traditions to your order, at no extra cost.

If you shop in our online store, send an email to smithfamresources@att.net after you place your order and tell us you saw this offer on the blog.

If you’re a local customer, mention this blog post when you place your order and we’ll tuck the book in with your products when you pick up.

This offer extends until Friday, February 5, 9:00 a.m., CT, or while supplies last, whichever occurs first.  Sorry, but this offer does not apply to orders placed before February 4.

Thanks for reading!

Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon

Nourishing Traditions is an amazing handbook of information about food, health and nutrition.  It has 688 pages and 773 recipes!

 

Natural Detangler

When I came across a recipe for a natural detangler recently, a certain curly-haired young friend came to mind.  This little guy not only has very curly hair but also has a very tender scalp.  Smoothing out those tangled curls becomes a very unpleasant experience for him.  I wondered if this combination would work for him.

So, I whipped up some detangler and gave it to his mom to try.  Success!

detangler before and after.png

Natural Detangler

Place ingredients in a 4 oz. spray bottle and fill with water.

Recipes for Natural Cleaners

Natural Cleaning Products, Smith Family Resources recipes

Last year I blogged about our homemade glass cleaner and wood cleaner.  The article that I shared on Pinterest has been re-pinned 174 times!  So, in case you missed it on our old blog, here are those recipes again…

Homemade Glass Cleaner recipe, Smith Family Resources

Homemade Glass Cleaner

 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
1 qt. water
5 drops lemon essential oil
($1.99 spray bottle purchased at Publix)

Homemade Wood Cleaner, Smith Family Resources

Homemade Wood Cleaner

8 oz. distilled white vinegar
8 oz. water
8 drops lemon essential oil

Have you made any cleaning products that have worked well in your home?
Share your recipes with us!

Click here to order Beeyoutiful essential oils
to add to your own homemade cleaners!

Guest Post: A Peppermint Oil Story

Giulia Colpo, Guest writer for Smith Family Resources, Peppermint Oil StoryWelcome guest writer Giulia Colpo to the SFR blog!  Giulia is a 16-year-old friend of mine who is not only a writer but also a student of natural health.   She can be found at DiabetesBroughtUsTogether.

Last Thursday, I worked in the yard with my family, building a fire pit.  We spent a good two to three hours outside digging out the ground, making the pit walls straight, hauling bricks, and building up the walls.

The next day, my back was extremely sore.  I pushed through the day (I was just glad that I didn’t have to do anything else strenuous that day), but by the night, I felt too tired and sore to do much more then lie on the couch.  While lying there, I had the thought that a back rub would feel nice, so I asked my mom to give me one.

I was right. It felt really good, especially when she got to the really sore parts.  Then it was her turn to have a good idea.  She came back from the kitchen with a drop of peppermint essential oil in a half teaspoon of Miracle and proceeded to rub it into my back.  It made my back feel spicy but good and relaxed.  It also smelled good!

The next day, my aching was gone, disappearing overnight. From now on, I will use peppermint oil for my aching muscles.

Thanks for sharing your peppermint oil story, Giulia!

Cold and Stuffy Nose Relief

http://www.beeyoutiful.com/113.htmlShare your story.  Have you tried this blend?  Have you used other essential oils for relief from common cold symptoms?

When I make this blend, I usually substitute peppermint for thyme.  I love the smell of eucalyptus and peppermint and lemon and tea tree.  It’s strong but pleasant, and the sensation of that steamy goodness opening up my stuffy nose would be worth it even if it didn’t smell good.

At least, it has been in the past.  Right now, I’m stuffy, so excuse me while I go boil a pot of water…

Click here to order Beeyoutiful essential oils from Smith Family Resources.

Getting Started with Essential Oils

almond oil (web)

It seems everyone is either using essential oils or selling them or both.  There are so many oils and so many possible applications, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the choices!

If you’re just getting started, consider Beeyoutiful Almond Oil.  This natural oil, 100% Pure & Natural prunus amygdalus dulcis, is extracted from almonds and is a great carrier oil.

Almond oil can also be used directly on the skin as a moisturizer or a massage oil.  Many essential oils can cause irritation if used directly on the skin.  They can be used safely when added to a carrier or base oil, such as almond oil.

Many of our favorite essential oil recipes use almond oil as the carrier oil.  Here’s my personal favorite.  This is our family’s fever treatment now–so much safer than over-the-counter medications!

Fever Relief
Add 3 drops of lemongrass oil to 1 tsp. of almond oil.
Apply to temples, wrists, bottoms of feet.

While you’re on your way to adding to your supply of essential oils, you can use almond oil directly on the skin as a moisturizer or a massage oil.  It is a great cuticle repairer, and it can also be used to remove make-up from skin.

lavender oil

Once you’ve begun with almond, add another great oil–lavender!

Lavender is a great massage oil.  Lavender’s anti-inflammatory properties help to relax and relieve sore, tense muscles.  Massage several drops of lavender oil into your feet.  You can also mix a few drops of lavender with almond oil for an overall body massage.

For a soothing soak, combine 4-5 drops of lavender oil with a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil and add to a warm bath.

Suffering from insomnia?  A couple of drops of lavender oil on your pillow will often bring on a restful sleep.  You might also use lavender oil in a diffuser beside your bed.

Lavender also has anti-fungal properties.  Apply a few drops to toenail fungus or athlete’s foot once or twice daily.  Within days, the lavender begins to break down the cell wall of the fungus and prevents new growth.  If the skin becomes dry from this treatment, add a few drops of almond oil to moisturize.

Lavender promotes quick regeneration of skin cells, so burns and wounds heal more rapidly when treated with lavender oil.

For regular use, even when you have no physical or emotional complaints, use lavender oil as a perfume by dabbing it on your pulse points.  This is far preferable to synthetic fragrances which can soak in and harm your body.

Beeyoutiful’s pure lavender essential oil is steam-distilled from the lavender plant.  Although it is considered safe to use internally as well as undiluted on skin and in bath water, it’s always best to test for skin allergy or sensitivity first.  Apply a drop diluted with a bit of almond oil to the inside of your elbow.  If there is no reaction after 10 minutes, you are probably not hypersensitive to lavender.

Almond and lavender are a good combination for getting started, but we’ve only scratched the surface!  Click here to learn more about Beeyoutiful essential oils and to start building your own collection!