Archive for Natural Cooking

Something More than Pumpkin Pie

This is the time of year for Winter Squash and that old seasonal favorite, Pumpkins. We all have leftover Pumpkin, mostly from the Halloween carvings but also from tabletop decorations of fresh Squash and Gourds that are not eaten. My next post will be on crafts you can make with fresh Gourds. Today we are going to tackle the leftover Pumpkin. Although everyone is familiar with the use of leftover Pumpkin in pies and for the roasted seeds, there just aren’t a lot of tasty recipes for that leftover Pumpkin that everyone in the family will eat. So I thought I’d tackle some great ideas for recipes using that leftover Pumpkin and make sure to toss in something for everyone. I promise you these recipes will give you something more than the same old Pumpkin Pie..

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Fall Projects for Roses

You have been enjoying the Rose Garden all summer, watching the lovely flowers bloom and smelling their luscious fragrance. Now you are left with the coming of fall and the bloom is off the Rose. You have a house full of fallen petals from those lovely stalks you had in vases. You have a garden covered in pretty red, pink and yellow petals as your plants thin down, preparing for the colder, darker days ahead. You are thinking about raking them up but maybe just let them scatter. DON’T! Get busy and gather them all up. Don’t throw them out and let them fly off in a gust. There are many wonderful things you can make using these Rose petals, leaves and stems! They will make fodder for fascinating fall projects during the boring, indoor days you must now face. The beach and the sun may be fading, but the flowers are about to take over your life.

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Get Out And Find Your Own Food!

I know a lot of you are starting to grow your own food. Some of you have been doing it for a while. And a lot of you, like me, have been trying it off and on with limited success. My tomato seedlings look pretty poor right now but I think a few peppers are going to be viable. It’s a hit and miss affair with a lot depending on how healthy the seeds are to begin with. Anyways, some of you are doing this because of concerns over the quality of the food we are being sold and others are doing it simply because money is tight. From my vantage point, money is very tight and growing food can help lift some of that stress. It can also give our bodies a reprieve from all the additives and chemicals in our commercial foods.

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What’s In Your Food?

There is a big movement among Americans today to go more natural in their eating habits, such as switching to organic, buying local or eating more natural foods, foods that aren’t so processed. I thought it might be interesting to talk about processed foods and why they are so bad for you. Since my blog is about being natural, I thought I’d give you guys one more reason to do it.

I am sure that you are aware of the questions about the safety of many food additives, from food dyes to trans fats. A lot of information about additives has been in the news along with the many scares over food safety. A scare such as the ones we’ve had in recent years may linger in our minds long after researchers find that there’s actually no cause for alarm. It can take years, or even decades, to find out the truth, and sometimes the case is never really closed. So it’s always a good idea to do your research and play it safe when not really sure.

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How to Avoid Biotech Foods

I have recently come to realize that a lot of the foods I consume are GM, or genetically modified, foods. These are commonly called biotech foods, too, for the fact that they are engineered in a lab rather than on a farm. The idea kind of makes me sick, to be truthful, but being a vegetarian I have discovered that many grains and vegetable proteins are GM.

I suddenly became aware of this fact when I was on several sites for the companies that make may of the products I have been eating. The veggie burgers and meat substitutes I often enjoy are made of wheat gluten, vegetable protein and textured soy are made from GM soy, veggies, wheat and oil. I was shocked, to say the least. I had been stupidly believing that what I was eating was “natural”. I guess the joke is on me.

But according to many researchers, GM foods may have an impact on our mental and emotional health and this is a measurement that is not evaluated in most traditional food safety assessments. On average, the Government proclaims that GM foods are safe and fine to consume. Do you have any idea how many you are currently consuming? I have heard that there isn’t a single can of corn distributed in America that is not GM. Does that bother you?

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Olive Leaves Lower Blood Pressure

This is great news. There has been a new study just completed and the results were published in the September issue of the journal, “Phytotherapy Research”. Seeing that this is a rather dry and boring publication for anyone outside of industry professionals, I thought I’d put it in plain English for my readers. This study is showing that Olive Leaf extract lowers blood pressure AND cholesterol levels. This study was performed on adult twins diagnosed with borderline hypertension. I think it might be too dangerous to study people with really high blood pressure because the study requires getting off medication and this is risky.

The study had these volunteers take 500mg of Olive Leaf extract every day for 8 weeks. During this course of treatment, their systolic blood pressure (the higher or top number of the reading) fell by 5 points on average. Other study participants took up to 1000mg a day and their systolic reading fell by an average of 11 points. I guess this proves, the more the merrier.

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How to Detox your Kitchen

I have written posts in the past on how to green the kitchen but not everybody is ready to take every step in that direction. So even if you’re not going to go all the way green, you should at least consider detoxing. That means getting the dangerous stuff out of your kitchen and making it safe as well as clean and accessible.

Many of the products that are used in the kitchen, from cooking to cleaning, can affect your central nervous system and cause symptoms that make you think you’re going mad. When you get on edge or feel irritable, it’s not always menopause or that you lack sleep. Sometimes it’s the toxic chemicals you are spraying all over the place in pursuit of bacteria. Consider lightening the chemical load through a simple detox. Here are the steps:

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Herb Up Vinegar and Oil

I know this was like a little craze a few years back, to make or go out and buy herbal vinegars and oils. Then there was a case of poisoning because of rancid garlic in oil and this craze just fizzled out. But the products that came out of the momentary fad were really fantastic and there is no reason to avoid these great items. You can make it yourself and do it carefully so that no one will get sick. And some the recipes make such good vinegars and oils that once you eat them you won’t want the grocery store stuff again.

So just for the fun of it I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes and see how you like them. They are really easy to make, they only need a few common ingredients and they are worth the wait as they age. My personal favorite is Raspberry Vinegar. It is so good that I’ve drank it down by itself, like it were a sauce or a fruity wine. Seriously. So get out the pots and pans.. and bottles! It’s time to make some very cool and very delicious homemade vinegars and oils.

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How To Go Organic On The Cheap

I know you keep hearing that it’s a good idea to go organic, both for the planet and for your family. But if you’re like me, you’ve stopped yourself from doing it because of the price tag. I even ran a little test at one time a few years back and made comparisons. I went to two different stores with the same amount of money and bought ordinary inorganic food at one store and then organic at the other. I had to do it at two separate stores because only one health food store in our area has everything organic. The grocery didn’t have a lot of stuff that I would ordinarily buy as organic items. The organic cart was really tiny compared to the “regular” cart. So I always wanted to go organic, I just didn’t think I could afford it.

Well, I came across some great ideas on the web that I thought I’d give a try. Many of the ones I found didn’t apply to me or were impossible for me to do but there were many that did help me a lot. I decided to add them to a post and put them on the blog, including the ones that didn’t work for me as well as the ones that did. No two people are alike. I hope you can use some of these ideas to help you buy more organic without blasting your bank account.  Here are the ABC’s:

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Eating and Using Garden Weeds

I have written posts on eating and using weeds before but I thought maybe a list would be a good way to make it all clear and easy to follow. I was going through an old gardening book of mine, one that was a bible for me in my early days of learning. In the back there was a section of several pages listing common weeds in the yard and how to eradicate them. Many of the weeds pictured I now know to be useful in many ways and some are even edible. I recall when I first got the book, over 15 years ago, I went over that list like written law and spent weekends chasing and killing these weeds. I remember the names of all of the weed killing preparations I spent hours in WalMart investigating and buying. I thought of a weekend afternoon pulling weeds as a part of a workout. I lived in a nice waterfront house in those days and the yard was perfect: manicured, weed free and green.

But I also recall that about 10 years ago, when I first started investigating herbs, I was doing my usual routine in the yard and pulling up weeds. I lived in a small apartment at that time and had a yard that looked like a rubble patch dotted with what I recognized as weeds. During my weed pulling exercise I suddenly realized that I had a handful of Shepherds Purse in one hand and a pile of Chickweed next to me. In my new learnings about herbs I knew right away that these were useful herbs and not really weeds after all. I had just learned how to make Dandelion tea for a diuretic and had had my first salad with Purslane. So I stopped cold in my tracks and haven’t gone to my mindless weed killing routine since. Oh, I know that some of those nasty little plants are indeed weeds and these should be killed and tossed. And not into the compost, please! The useless ones include Goosegrass, Crabgrass and most grasses you don’t intend to grow as your lawn; Sedge; Reed; Clover; Buttercups; Carpetweeds; and a ton of others that you know are a problem. However, look my list over carefully and make sure that you don’t destroy the good guys in the process and then check out the post that follows each plant to find out what to do with them when you get lucky enough to find them.

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