Friday, February 26, 2016

CHLOROPHYLL: the green giant

Chloro-what??! If you rewind back to the days of desk sitting and page turning, you might be able to dig up this vaguely familiar word in the recess of your mind. Think elementary science class. Maybe something? If you're seeing green, you're on the right track.

Simplified, chlorophyll is the pigment that makes plants green and is vital in said plants ability to absorb energy from light, also know as photosynthesis.

I'll spare you the science lesson and get to why this is important, why you might care.

There has been much hype surrounding green veggies in the recent years. What's not new is why much of the hype is actually legit. Vegetables are nature's gift to us - a tasty package of many of the nutrients we need to survive. In addition, fresh, green veggies and herbs are full of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is said to aid the body in cleansing and detoxifying its cells [of which our bodies are made up of]. A clean, healthy cell has a better chance of optimally utilizing nutrients.

Of course, the best way to get chlorophyll is through fresh vegetables, but in the winter green is scarce. I've found taking chlorophyll in liquid form to be a nice stand-in rather than paying the high price for fresh greens flown in from various continents. In combination with the frozen veggies tucked in my freezer, chlorophyll helps nourish my body throughout the long winter months.

I want to be very clear that I'm not suggesting chlorophyll as the magic cure to prevent illness and I'm certainly not saying replace fresh green vegetables with chlorophyll. Illness happens even to the healthiest eaters, especially when said eaters have children in school. Green vegetables and herbs contain so many more nutrients in addition to chlorophyll and it would be a foolish substitution for the green stuff direct from the ground. I am suggesting that green, in liquid form, can aid a body in ridding the stuff that needs to go and strengthening the systems that could use it in months that come up empty in green.

As always, please research for yourself before giving chlorophyll a try and if you have specific health concerns or illness, consult a well-trained physician of natural medicine or your doctor prior to use.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

HERBAL GREEN TEA with peppermint and moringa

Green tea is one of my favorites but from a Chinese Medicine perspective, is very cooling. Great on a hot summer day but not necessarily what we're looking for in late winter. This tea falls more in the balancing category yet provides many of the benefits of traditional green tea. It's full green goodness, many of the herbs boasting a high chlorophyll content and all dense in nutrients.

Because over 50% of the herbs are on the neutral to cooling spectrum and can be a little drying, adding a teaspoon or two of blackstrap molasses will increase the warming energy and provide gentle lubricating benefits [know that this will change the flavor!]. Raw, pure and local honey can also be used for mild lubrication but will maintain the energy of the tea.


Note: All herbs are cut and dried unless otherwise noted. Please notice omissions necessary for listed health concerns. Clicking on the herb will take you to a more detailed, yet basic and understandable, profile including each herb's history and some medicinal benefits. 

1 c. peppermint leaves [cooling energy]
1/2 c. moringa leaves [warming energy]
1/2 c. nettle leaves [neutral-cool energy]
1/2 c. alfalfa leaves [neutral-cool energy]
1/4 c. lemon balm leaves [cool energy]
1/4 c. ginkgo leaves [neutral energy; omit if coagulation disorder present]
1/4 c. whole fenugreek seeds [warming energy; omit during pregnancy and replace with 1 - 2 T. ginger]

Place all ingredients in a large glass bowl and stir until combined. Scoop approximately one tablespoon of herb mix into a small press n' brew tea bags and seal with hot iron. Store in a glass jar with tight fitting lid in a cool, dark place for 6 - 8 months.

To brew: bring two cups of water to boil. Place one tea bag in a tea cup or pint size ball jar and fill with boiling water. Let steep for 15 - 20 minutes for a strong tea. Drink warm or at room temperature. Add pure, raw honey or blackstrap molasses as desired.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

DIAPER RASH SALVE for fungal infections

Early on, my husband and I realized that raising our youngest child was going to be no lazy walk in the park. She came on with a strength and stubbornness from the start. And the vocal chords to match. This particular little girl also brought with her bound up digestive and elimination systems and a tendency towards rashes, particularly bad in the diaper area that sent her into fits of rage and unpredictable thrashing. My husband and I didn't sleep for the first eighteen months of her life, rotating in shifts of three nights on and three nights off just trying to survive this little bit of terrible we'd found ourselves in. We were forced into using antibiotics and disposable diapers, prescription cream and suppositories - all things I had adamantly tried to avoid. I changed my diet, eliminating everything that might cause her discomfort, dealt with constant anxiety, was losing weight and had scary things happening to my body. On more than one occasion, I found myself curled up on the floor screaming and crying and wanting to run away.

I tell you all this for a couple reasons. First, to say it's hell. Parenting can be soul-crushingly difficult at times and is, in a very literal sense, a sacrifice of self. It requires a constant choice to say "yes". Yes I will stay, yes I will do my best, yes I will continue to show up and give and care and protect. And yes, I will let my kids see my failures and fears and say time and time again, I don't know and I'm sorry and I love you.

The second reason to share this part of my story is to say, it doesn't last. After a year and a half of sleeping no more than two or three hours a night, and not even in a row, my husband and I woke up and realized we'd slept six. Slowly my daughter's digestive discomfort and rashes began to diminish a bit. I began to understand this sensitive little being I cradled in my arms and we built a language of our own. I found a few [professional] people to walk me through healing, inside and out, and I surrounded myself with a group of friends I love like sisters. As my youngest gets older, I have been able to find space just for me. To sink into the things that bring me joy and hope and fill my life with beauty and creativity.

What I didn't give myself the grace to accept is that there are times in life that are really, really hard. They break us open and spill out our guts and there is no way to put things back exactly how they were. It's confusing and terrifying and maddening and exhausting. But these times also allow us to see that we were gifted an inner strength so much wider and deeper and powerful than we can actually grasp. Pain tends to tear open the curtain, revealing a more compassionate and accepting space. A space that invites us to come as we are and then walks us forward, asking us to keep the wonder of a child and grow into the wisdom and love of a saint.

Lets keep walking.


I've consistently used this salve recipe for just under two years and found it to be the only thing, outside of prescription cream, to diffuse the rash that to this day persists on my very stubborn child's bottom. She seems to be unfazed by sleeping in a mound of stinky fluid and excrement. Until we find the magic button that inspires her to step away from nighttime diapers, this salve is a must have for us.

Note: all of the herbs listed are dried. Measurements can be approximate. For the most part I eyeball it so don't get caught up in accuracy.

1 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 oz. beeswax
4 T. Oregon grape root, cut
2 T. yarrow, cut
2 T. calendula
1 T. myrrh gum tears
5 frankincense tears
2 - 3 drops pure lavender essential oil

Place dried herbs and oil in a quart-size glass jar with a tightly fitting lid. Shake to combine. Line the bottom of a Crock-pot with an old kitchen towel. Place the sealed jar in the center and then fill Crock-pot with enough water to cover the oil and herbs. Cook on low, uncovered, for 24 - 48 hours, adding water as needed to maintain water level.

Strain herbs and pour half of the oil into a double boiler. Add beeswax and cook over medium heat until was is completely melted, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, pour remaining oil into a medium size glass jar and add essential oil.

Once the wax has melted, add this mixture to the oil in glass jar. Mix well with a butter knife, small whisk, or spoon. Set aside, uncovered, until salve has solidified. Cover with a tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months [although, I'll admit, we keep ours around for longer and it works just fine].

Use as a preventative measure for nap or nighttime sleeping, in acute or chronic situations, or other rash ailments that find you. Test salve on a small patch of skin for any reaction prior to widespread use.

If condition persists or gets worse, it's best to check in with your pediatrician.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A DIFFERENT LOOK AT LOVE AND WARM OAT CEREAL with medjool dates, Hunza raisins, and Indian spices

Valentine's day is one cloaked in controversy and fluff and expectation. It can be beautiful in it's most humble sense - a day set aside to show those around you how much you care. It can be a day to pause and acknowledge the beautiful person you are. But it can be painful - a reminder of loss or disappointment or what never was.

But today, on this day of love, I wonder if we focus on a bit larger picture.

I love the idea of love God [or Spirit or whatever designation you've bestowed on this essence we understand as larger than ourselves] and love others.

I've found that sinking into this mystery of Spirit, sitting quietly in its presence, has led me into greater compassion for others. Rather than reacting from my own place of hurt, I am slowly learning to see first this light of Spirit we all share. A oneness we can enjoy because we are human and alive and here, on this earth, together. Differences slowly break under the weight of grace. Everything around is alive with a gentle yet powerful pulse.

In this place, wounds can be healed. A larger, more grand view of life set in place.

I don't write this as a theoretical idea - a notion I believe but haven't tested to be true.

Over the last two years I've worked intentionally to heal the brokenness stored deep within the crevices of my body, some a lifetime old. I've delved into yoga as more than a physical practice, but as a way of being. I've critically thought through the faith I was given at birth, wrestled it, and released what needed to go. I've grieved and celebrated and faced down all the fears and emotion I expend so much energy desperately trying to silence. And I've asked all the questions I've been afraid of. I've made space in my life for doubt and confusion and settled into not having the answers to some very big things.

And I've come out of all of this still walking. Still breathing. Still smiling although now in more settled, free, and authentic way.

On this day we call Valentine's, may you sink into whatever discomfort arises. May you equally melt into the joy. May you welcome all of the feelings that rise to the surface and give them a place at your interior table, acknowledging their importance and worth in your life. And then may you embrace the ones that lead you to a deeper sense of loving God and loving others. May you have the courage to go deep within yourself with a powerful sense of curiosity, dig up what lies there, and move into a place so much grander than you could ever imagine.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elizabeth Kubler Ross


This morning I woke up with this intense need for a warm, nourishing, grounding, and balancing breakfast. This recipe is my go to, especially when daybreak presents itself in the single digits. The spices found in the Korma powder are excellent at warming the body from the inside and anchoring the airy, empty feeling that so often comes from eating non-seasonally within the winter season [for example, cold salads and ice cream when the earth is covered in white]. Adding strong spices increases the flavor and satisfaction of the food, thus decreasing the need for excessive sweetener and salt.

Serves 4

1 1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
3 - 4 c. water [adjust to thickness desired, less water will give you a thicker cereal]
1/8 c. chia seeds
2 T. ghee
1 heaping tsp. Korma powder [see recipe below]
1/4 tsp. cardamom powder
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. sea salt
6 - 8 medjool dates, pitted and thinly sliced
1/4 c. Hunza golden raisins

Garnish options: maple syrup or raw honey, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, fresh or frozen berries, cut apple or pear, milk of choice, toasted coconut flakes

Korma Powder Recipe:

1 T. whole coriander seeds
1 T. whole cumin seeds
1 T. whole fennel seeds
1 T. whole mustard seeds
1 T. whole fenugreek seeds
1 T. whole cardamom seeds
1 T. poppy seeds
1 T. whole pepper seeds
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 T. ground ginger
1 T. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cloves

Place all Korma powder ingredients in a spice grinder or Vitamix dry container. Blend on high until a very fine powder is achieved. Transfer to an glass container with tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool, dark place.

In a medium size sauce pan, combine oats, chia seeds, cardamom, ginger, Korma powder, and sea salt. Add water and ghee and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Once water boils, reduce heat to low, add dates and raisins, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed, stirring frequently. Add more water for a thinner consistency.

Divide into bowls and top with garnishes desired. Serve warm.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Traveling with children is challenge enough. Add food allergies with food values and traveling can feel next to impossible.

However, there is a way around all this food chaos. A bit of planning ahead can save money, belly aches, and guilt. Having enough snacks on hand will also come in handy when travel plans don't go as expected and food options are few.

Fresh vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, nuts and seeds, whole food baked goods and crackers, and a couple sweet treats are easy packing fare that can sustain and satisfy even the most metabolically accelerated kids out there. Although not shown here, I also tuck away GoMacro bars and That's It! bars just in case.

Each of my kids get an insulated lunch bag of such goodies [with small ice pack] tucked inside their backpacks and are able to snack at will.

Travel on!


An Amazon search will prove there are a number of excellent reusable snack bags and containers out there. For air travel, we chose to forgo the reusable bags in lieu of disposable as it seems history repeats itself and these things seem to accidentally get thrown away. However, we did use reusable containers so we'd have them over the course of our trip and rinsed out the disposable bags to reuse them a few times over. 

It's also worth noting that pretzels and crackers are reserved specifically for trips or when called for as a school snack, not mainstays on our plates. Choose pre-packaged snack foods with the least amount of ingredients listed, unless those ingredients are whole foods like nuts and seeds.  

Of course there are ways to do this more seasonally [and I'd love to hear your ideas!], but we have embraced a bit of grace around this topic. We do what we can and then enjoy all of the local fare available at our destination. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

TEA FOR STOMACH DISTRESS, FLU, AND HEART BURN with chamomile, lemon balm, and licorice root

Last week I caught a stomach something that catapulted me straight into the belly of hell. A little dramatic. Maybe. Let's just say it was terrible and I'm still recovering. For me, part of the wreckage of such intense illness is extreme heart-burn. It kept me up nearly the whole of one night and brought me to tears with it's strength. Somewhere around three in the morning I was fumbling about the kitchen, looking for something, anything, to help. In a moment of blessed intervention, I remembered I had a pantry full of herbs and a bit a know-how on the topic. It's amazing how easy it can be to forget a simple, important thing like the ability and power we have to heal ourselves. Turns out chamomile, lemon balm, and licorice root can subdue even the most wicked acidic upheaval. This is a simple recipe with three ingredients worth tucking away in your medicine cabinet.


Chamomile has been popularized as an anti-stress and anxiety herb as well as an antidote to colic and a way to calm children. One of it's greatest strengths lies in it's ability to calm the stomach and fight infections. The oil of this lovely little flower is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Chamomile can be taken before and  after meals to reduce any unpleasant side effects that may be experienced.

Safety considerations: some sources maintain that chamomile should not be used for an extended period of time or if you are allergic to ragweed. That being said, chamomile is generally understood to be a very safe herb for humans of all ages.  


This herb is one of my favorites to grow: it comes back every year larger than before, smells amazing, and tastes delicious. Lemon balm is one of nature's best calming herbs, having an antispasmodic effect on both the stomach and nervous system. It's excellent for general exhaustion [think post-illness] and has strong antiviral properties. It's generally understood to be safe for both adults and children.


Licorice root is widely known as a respiratory tonic, used for bronchial congestion, sore throat and coughs. It works as an anti-inflammatory for the digestive tract and is sweet in taste, making it a great herb for kids. Both the endocrine and reproductive systems can benefit from this herb, specifically in the case of adrenal exhaustion.


Note: parts can refer to any form of measurement [teaspoon, tablespoon, etc.] however once a measurement is chosen, it should remain consistent throughout the recipe. For example, if a part is designated as teaspoon, then all of the parts within the recipe should be measured as teaspoons.

2 parts lemon balm
1 part chamomile flowers
1/2 part licorice root, cut

In a medium glass bowl, mix all ingredients. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a dark place at room temperature [ex. kitchen cupboard] for up to 6 months. Make your own teabags using press n' brew bags to have on hand when the need arises and store in a tightly sealed glass jar.

To Use:

Steep one tablespoon of herbs in 2 cups of boiling water for 15 - 30 minutes, depending on strength desired. Remove herbs and slowly sip until symptoms have decreased. Repeat as necessary.