Why Eat Mindfully?

Mindful-Eating copy‘Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food,’ said Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, often referred to as the father of Western medicine.

Mindless Eating habits can lead to ill-health and obesity. Mindless eating is where someone eats on the run, in front of a computer or television; actually anywhere where little or no attention is given to the way, type, or amount of food consumed because focus and attention is elsewhere.

As an extreme example of this, I can remember an incident when I was in my early twenties where I was literally pacing the floor over some intense concern. Sometime later I noticed an empty packet of chocolate biscuit’s on the table. I had little recollection of getting the packet out of the cupboard and one by one consuming every single biscuit. My mind was so caught up elsewhere I was not even aware of eating, what I was eating or how much – but worst of all I had no memory of Enjoying those biscuits either! This was totally pointless consuming, which is what mindless consuming is.

Eat Mindfully and Listen to Your Body

Ancient and indigenous cultures lived in harmony with their bodies, knowing instinctively what they needed to stay healthy. This understanding and wisdom was passed down from generation to generation.

Food has the power to heal or harm. It’s not only what you eat, it is how you eat, when you eat, how often and how much you eat.

Take the time to notice the signals your body is sending you daily about your eating habits, through various sensations and symptoms.

To start listening to your body, some questions to ask may include:

1. Do I have immediate negative reactions after eating that can indicate food intolerance, such as: bloating, gas, belching (digestive distress), sneezing, itching, rashes, dizziness, or a fuzzy brain?

2. After my meals, do I feeling full but not satisfied or only full for a short time?

3. After my meals do I feel lethargic rather than renewed? Do I feel hyper but exhausted?

4. After eating do I feel… Sluggish, spacey, anxious, or irritable?

If you answered yes to any or all of the questions above, then the food you are eating and your relationship to it is out of balance and harmony with your body. Reconsider your relationship with your food.

Slow down the speed you are eating. By slowing down the speed you eat you are more likely to register when you are full. And taking the time to fully chew your food, helps pave the way for healthy digestion to take place.

Eat with awareness, without distractions, and utilize all 6 senses to gain full awareness and satisfaction from your food. Savior it and enjoy it!

Calmly eat with gratitude and appreciation, knowing you are being healthily nourished on all levels of your being. Eating can be a pleasure rather than a mindless ‘have to’ or greedy punishment.

When you practice mindful eating, more of what you eat will nourish you, making you feel good inside and out.

Untitled-2Shared on: From the Farm, Old-Fashioned Friday, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturday,Natural Living Monday, Real Food Forager

Some Basics for Chemical Free Cleaning

Chemical-Free-CleaningThe chemical revolution didn’t start in earnest until after world war II.  That is only 68 years ago, less than a lifetime, but  every body alive today carries the burden of these chemicals. Chemicals are now reaching us before we’re even born, with researchers finding a plethora of contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. There seems to be no escaping it.

The effects on health and environment of these chemicals has  undergone little or no testing and certainly not in the area of collective and accumulative effects of chemical toxicity.

Did you know that literally thousands of chemicals are allowed in your cleaning products?  The chlorine routinely used as a disinfectant in municipal water systems, is toxic, even at low concentrations.

Using typical household ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice for cleaning, is a good place to start lessening this chemical load, and save money at the same time.

Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a commonly available mineral made from soda ash, and is slightly alkaline with a pH of about 8.3 – 7 being neutral. It neutralizes acid-based odors and will eliminate perspiration and many other odors.  Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, or a simple paste of baking soda and water applied to sponge or cloth, it is used as a gentle non-abrasive cleanser to clean bench-tops, tiles, stove-top, bath, sink, inside fridge and much more and replaces a range of commercial cleaners.

I have written about the many uses of Baking Soda here Baking Soda for a Natural Clean  and here Baking Soda for a Natural Clean 2  and here Baking Soda for Personal Care

Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) can be made by heating a 1/2″ layer of baking soda in a glass baking dish in a 200 o C or 400 o F oven for about 30 minutes. It changes the molecular structure from NaHCO3 to Na2CO3. To test for change place a small amount of baking soda in a small bowl and a small amount of washing soda in a separate bowl. Put a few drops of lemon juice on each. The baking soda will fizz, but the washing soda will foam and turn bright yellow. Be careful handling the washing soda, and don’t taste it, it is highly alkaline, therefore caustic, with a pH around 11. It releases no harmful fumes and is far safer than a commercial solvent formula. Washing soda cuts through grease, disinfects, softens water and neutralizes odors. You may, like myself, find it easier to purchase your washing soda at the supermarket.               Caution – Don’t use it on fiberglass, aluminum or waxed floors—unless you intend to remove the wax.

Both Baking Soda and Washing Soda are in My Natural Homemade Laundry Powder Recipe. 

Soaps  and detergents are not the same. Soap is made using fat/oil and lye, while detergents are chemically based synthetic cleaners.

White Vinegar (acetic acid, pH about 2.3) and Lemon Juice (citric acid, pH about 2) are acidic—they neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water. White vinegar kills mildew and removes grease build up. It is also great for cleaning glass and mirrors. Lemon juice is one of the strongest food-acids. Use it to kill virtually any household bacteria in kitchens and bathrooms.

I add lemon skins to my bottle of white vinegar, and let them steep, to increase the cleaning effect of the vinegar – and the fragrance. They work really well together.

Here are some other uses for vinegar: Vinegar for a Natural Clean and More Uses for Vinegar

Mould is being called “the asbestos of a new generation”. Buildings today are much more ‘air tight’ than they were, helping to create ideal conditions for mould to flourish.

Mould is toxic, and dangerous. Growing research into mould has found its impact on health is so much more than just triggering asthma attacks, respiratory irritation, runny noses and allergic reactions.

Bleach merely bleaches mould so you can’t see it, but it doesn’t kill the root system and the mould will grow back.

Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82% of mould. The mould feeds off the vinegar to the extent where the cells actually burst. Add to this the strong fungicide action of clove or tea tree oil and you have a safe but powerful eliminator of mould.

Prepare a solution of white vinegar with clove oil or tea tree oil (approx. 1 teaspoon of oil to 1 litre of vinegar). Wear protective clothing, such as rubber gloves and apply the solution to the mouldy area gently with a sponge or mop. Spraying is not advised as it can cause spores to become airborne and spread to other locations. Allow the vinegar solution to stay in contact with the surface for at least 15 minutes or more. Ensure the treated area dries out as moulds will regrow if the surface remains damp.

Untitled-2Shared on: Wildcraft Wednesday, Old-Fashioned Friday, From the Farm, Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Natural Living Monday,

 

The Power of Your Breath

The-Power-of-the-BreathYour life is defined by your breath: you take your first breath when you’re born, and your last breath the moment you die.

Did you know breathing deeply into your diaphragm stimulates the lymphatic system to drain toxins and stale energy from your body.

And that Stress and Tension accumulates in your body when you take short, shallow, constricted or irregular breaths. Taking slow, deep, easy, spacious or relaxed breaths can quiet your mind, emotions and body chemistry in minutes.

Try this and experience the difference:

Breathing in to the count of 8 and breathing out to the count of 4 stimulates the Sympathetic Nervous System to rev up alertness & your body.

Breathe in to the count of 4 and breathe out to the count of 8 to trigger the Parasympathetic Nervous System to calmly clear the mind & relax your body.

What did you think, could you feel the difference?

Focus on Your Breath for Calm Clarity

This technique is called Breath Meditation or just simply Watching the Breath. It can be used when you feel overwhelmed by a problem or situation, or when you start to feel stressed. Or just to feel good, calm and rested. Sit or lie down, take a deeper breath in and say the word relax as you slowly exhale. Repeat if necessary, then start to just notice your breath; notice it coming in and notice it going out. You don’t have to change your breath in any way, just let it be, while you notice it coming in and going out. If you need to, you can think the word relax as you exhale for a while, then just sit without doing anything other than breath. Keep this up until you feel calm, quiet and happy just to sit and breathe. In this space your gut feelings and intuition can help guide you. So Just sit, and notice you are breathing a little longer.

Not so hard, is it?

Actually this is something I need to do quite a lot, because I become stressed and overwhelmed much more easily than I would like. It is so easy to just push on and sometimes it is very hard for me to just sit and notice my breath and ‘do’ nothing till the stress and anxiety reduces or leaves.

 

Untitled-2Shared on: Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Natural Living Monday

My Chickweed Pesto Recipe

Chickweed1

 

Enjoy the amazing health benefits of this ‘Superfood’, while eating some of your favorite foods. I think of Chickweed as a natural, super nutritious, tasty lettuce or as delicate, mild-tasting spinach. It also makes really delicious pesto. This is a plant, like fresh peas, where it is hard to walk past without picking some to munch on.

Remember it is OK to be versatile and diversify in the kitchen.

I am a person who tends to substitute and cook with what I have in the cupboard at the time. Being versatile in the kitchen can lead to better economy in the kitchen. Plus, versatility and diversity are the spice of life and the kitchen!

Practically any seed or nut can be used in your pesto (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seed (pepitas), pinenuts, cashew nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds). Whichever one or blend of them you choose to use, they will impart their own distinct character and flavor to the pesto. Experiment and see which nuts and seeds suit your budget and palate best.

I often like to substitute a ¼ of a cup to one cup of the Chickweed for some other herb such as Thai Basil, Mint, Plantain, Sweet Basil or any other kind of Basil. Or anything else that is in plentiful supply. My favourite is Thai Basil.

Soak the seeds or nuts in water for a few hours before use, to release the enzyme inhibitors and to increase their creaminess in your pesto.

 

Harvest-Chickweed

Harvested Chickweed

My Chickweed Pesto Recipe

2 cloves of Garlic
3 Tablespoons of Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
¼ tsp. salt with a little freshly ground black pepper added
2 cups chopped fresh Chickweed, or 11/2 cups of Chickweed and half a cup of Thai Basil and a few Plantain leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Parmesan or other Hard Cheese
Squeeze of Lime or Lemon juice (approx. 2 teaspoons or to taste)

To make:

Pound garlic and salt in a mortar.

Gradually add the nuts, then the greens and continue to pound.

Gradually add oil, until you have a smooth, thick paste, at your desired consistency.

I often like my pesto quite chunky and course, and not too soft, so I don’t pound it as long as you would for a smoother, softer pesto.

Stir in cheese.

Chickweed-Pesto

Alternatively, use a blender or small food processor for all the ingredients except the parmesan cheese, which you still stir in at the end.

And that is all there is to it!

Pesto-Display

Now you can Enjoy your Wonderfully Wild Homemade Chickweed Pesto on crackers, vegetable sticks or mixed in pasta. It also makes a great sandwich spread, or on pizzas, fish, meat or potatoes, or stuffed mushrooms. . . . . .

It’s so delicious, versatile and filled with amazing nutritional value as well.

This is a great example of Food as Medicine.

Untitled-2Shared on: From the Farm, Old Fashioned Friday, Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Real Food Forager, Wildcrafting Wednesday

7 Amazingly Simple Reminders for Happiness

Happy-Day

Artwork by Lillie

I came across these 7 amazingly simple reminders for having a happier day and thought I would share them with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

1. Say “No” to negativity. Negative emotions such as anger, frustration, envy, blame and impatience are normal in small doses. You can and will experience these emotions, but give yourself a time limit to stay in them.

2. Laugh out Loud. Open your clown chakra, by taking a deep breath and belly-laughing for two whole minutes straight. Laughter empowers you in hopeless situations, and gives you a sense of control when things around you seem to go crazy. If you can laugh at your situations you can survive them much more easily and comfortable. Don’t take Life or yourself too seriously.

3. Perform Random Acts of Kindness. Sharing abundance and goodwill makes people happy and gives you a warm feeling of satisfaction.

4. Give Your Inner Critic a Tea Break. Accept and give compliments rather than criticism and complaints.

5. Practice Shameless Affirmations. An affirmation is a short statement (present tense) of how you would like to be or how you would like things to be now. Make it a habit to repeat the affirmation quietly to yourself and out loud, as  often as you can remember. When your psyche hears, over and over again, how valuable you are as a person and how good your life is, you will start to believe it.

6. Choose how you respond to people and situations. You can either hide under the rock of denial and lash out and blame others, or you can behave with dignity, courage and humour. Know that you have the power to choose the image of a happy and confident person.

7. Dress for Success. A smile is the first thing someone notices about you. So remember to dress yourself in a smile.

 

signOffShared on: Old Fashioned Friday, From the Farm

The Wonderful World of Edible & Medicinal Weeds – Chickweed

ChickweedChickweed (Stellaria media – means little stars)

In the early 1900′s Chickweed was sold as a superfood in grocery stores throughout Europe, until people realized it was the same precious plant that was growing ‘everywhere’! This wonderful weed pops up in lawns, pastures, waste areas and anywhere there is moist soil and shady areas. Just like Plantain, Chickweed naturalized itself wherever the white man has settled, becoming another of the commonest and most useful weeds.

As an Edible Weed this Super-green is filled with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B12, C & D + Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, phosphorus, manganese, Selenium, Zinc, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Oleic-acid, Flavonoids, Bioflavonoids, phytonutrients, and saponins.

I was so excited to find some of this wonderful weed growing round the shaded side of the house. There are some bonuses to not mowing lawns! And Mmmm it is so delicious. If you are just starting out eating some of our wonderfully wild weeds this is a good one to start with as it has a deliciously crunchy mild flavor raw and tastes like spinach when it is cooked. I like to eat it as a salad green or make pesto with it, but it can also used in soups and stews as well or stir-fried.

Paracelsus in 1530 described Chickweed as ‘The elixir of life . . .one of the supreme healers’.

It is being recognized more and more that a lot of chronic health problems are caused by or at least exacerbated by inflammation, including joint pain, digestive upsets, blood vessel disease, memory problems, and even some cancers. Regular use of chickweed can take the heat out of inflammation, both internally and externally.

Chickweed soothes, cools, and removes bacteria. Women with “hot” bladders or cystitis adore chickweed fresh or as a tea, for its soothing and healing effects. It is also great to sip on the tea if you have a cold or flu.

Medicinal tea: To 1 tbs. dried herb, or 2 if it is fresh, add 2 cups boiling water and steep for at least 20 min. A little honey can be added to the tea for flavour if needed. Drink ½ – 1 cup, 2 to 4 times daily.

Chickweed contains soapy substances, called saponins that dissolve and break down unwanted matter, including disease-causing bacteria, cysts, benign tumors, thickened mucus in the respiratory and digestive systems, and excess fat cells. Yes, it even helps break down fat cells, assisting with weight loss!

A poultice of stems and leaves enclosed in muslin is often used to ease arthritis, joint pains, eczema, burns, itching, stings and other skin irritations, as well as for carbuncles, abscess or ulcers. Or you can bathe the affected area with Chickweed tea.

Another easy way to enjoy the amazing topical healing ability of Chickweed is in ‘Christie’s Miracle Balm’, a natural anti-septic healing cream.

This magical plant is also a back yard barometer, with it’s leaves folding up when it’s going to rain. The leaves also fold up at night. So Cute!  By the way, it is called chickweed because chickens love it.

Chickweed-flower

Chickweed is a bright green creeping plant, low to the ground with little white starry flowers. A very special key to identify Chickweed is to look for a very fine line of hairs that run up the stems and change sides of the stem at each leaf node. This is a unique signature of this special healer as are the little white starry flowers. It also has no milky sap in the stem. The leaves are egg-shaped, about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch broad, with a short point, pale green and quite smooth.

So, grab your scissors, and harvest some Chickweed for dinner tonight. You’ll make a new friend who can really help your everyday health and well-being, and not only when times are tough.

Untitled-2Shared on: From the Farm, Simply Natural Saturday, Simple Saturdays, Natural Living Monday, Old Fashioned Friday, Wildcrafting Wednesday

Natural Homemade Laundry Powder

Laundry-PowderDo you know what is in commercial laundry detergents and what effect they have on your health and the environment? Detergents in all forms – liquids, cakes or powders – are mistakenly accepted as safe, but more and more research is finding they are anything but safe for your health or our environment. Making your own All Natural Laundry Powder is a breeze and you will know for sure what is in it. This is yet another way you can reduce toxins in the home and save money at the same time. This is what is in my Homemade Laundry Powder: Baking Soda – (Sodium Bicarbonate) helps remove stains and any odor. It is gentler on delicate fabrics than Borax. Washing Soda – (Sodium Carbonate or Soda Ash) helps remove stains and grease as well as softening the water. It can even work as a fixative for some natural dyeing techniques. Soap – (Plain Soap Bar like Sunlight) cleans Citric Acid – helps break down grease and stains and is a natural bleaching agent, color brightener and water softener. Borax -  stain removal, and can also be used on whites as an alternative to bleach. (This can be left out if you prefer to go Borax free and more Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) added in its place) Soap-&-Laundry-Powder My Natural Homemade Laundry Powder Recipe: 1 cup Washing Soda 1 cup plain soap grated or powdered ½ cup Borax ¼ cup Baking Soda ¼ cup citric Acid Instructions: 1. First slice the bar of soap, using a sharp knife, into smaller pieces. Then put the soap pieces into the blender and blend on high to get it as close possible to powder form. If you haven’t got a blender, you can hand grate the soap as fine as you can. The finer the soap is ground or grated the easier it will dissolve during washing. I wash in cold water so this is quite important to me.

Powdered Plain Bar Soap

Powdered Plain Bar Soap

2. I then mix all the ingredients together and put them in an air tight jar or container ready for use. 3. I use a third of a cup of powder for a load of washing. 4. I often turn my washing machine off part way through the wash cycle for an hour or even ten hours, to let it soak before turning the machine back on to complete the wash cycle. This gives time for the cleaning ingredients to gently get in for a cleaner wash. All Natural Fabric Softener: I put 1/3 cup of vinegar in the last rinse cycle to act as a fabric softener. It also removes any soap residue that may still be in the fabric and makes sure the ph level has returned to a balanced level.  My clothes don’t smell of vinegar because any vinegar smell doesn’t linger for more than a minute in clothes. Have you ever used this recipe? 4 cups Lux Pure Soap Flakes 1 cup Methylated Spirits 1 cup Eucalyptus Oil Combine and store in a jar. My mother did and although it is a mix for washing woolens (and seemingly doesn’t need to be rinsed out after washing) she also used it in her washing machine for very dirty, greasy or oily clothes and it worked amazingly well. What is your favorite Natural Laundry product? Untitled-2 Shared on: From the Farm, Old Fashioned Friday, Simple Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Wildcrafting Wednesday