The Survival Mom » Staying Healthy http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Five Misconceptions About Herbal Preparedness http://thesurvivalmom.com/five-misconceptions-herbal-preparedness/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=five-misconceptions-herbal-preparedness http://thesurvivalmom.com/five-misconceptions-herbal-preparedness/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 06:00:04 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16707 As an herbalist and a prepper, I have noticed several common misconceptions people have about using herbs in general, but that especially apply to people interested in learning about herbs for preparedness. These misunderstandings usually come from overly simplified ideas Read More

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5 MisconceptionsAs an herbalist and a prepper, I have noticed several common misconceptions people have about using herbs in general, but that especially apply to people interested in learning about herbs for preparedness.

These misunderstandings usually come from overly simplified ideas about plants and herbalism.

Keeping it simple is good, but oversimplification can get in the way and, in this case, even cause harm. So what’s a would-be herbal prepper to do?

Let’s look at the five most common misconceptions about herbs that seem to affect the prepper community.

Misconception #1: If It’s Natural, It Must Be Safe

Reality: Not necessarily! Most herbs have a high margin of safety, but some are toxic in large amounts or under certain conditions. Some herbs should be avoided during pregnancy because of historical use as abortifacients.

Other herbs that were considered safe traditionally have been found to contain toxic compounds when subjected to modern research. Examples include herbs like Borage and Comfrey, which contain alkaloids that can cause liver problems.

Herbs can also interact with other medications, so make sure you keep your doctor apprised of any herbal supplements you take regularly.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), herbs are classified into three groups: the first level are as safe as foods. The second are more targeted in their effects on the human body and are used safely as needed. The third level are used sparingly, and may contain plants that modern science has identified as toxic.

For example, lobelia is an herb commonly used for lung problems and as a natural aid to stop smoking. Lobeline, part of the plant’s chemical profile, is similiar in structure to nicotine but is non- habit forming. However, in large amounts, lobeline can act as an emetic and cause vomiting.

Misconception#2: Herbs Don’t Really Work – I Tried Them

Reality: You may not have been using the right herb for the job, or used it the right way. Herbs actually have a complex relationship with the human body when used correctly. Because worldwide traditions of herbalism focus on the state of balance within the human body as a whole, rather than the modern, western fascination with disease as a separate entity, it can be difficult to translate the proper use of herbs into a modern context.

Many resources make the mistake of oversimplifying, listing herb after herb under each category with no distinction of the most appropriate situation for use. A great example of this is herbs for coughs. The list typically goes something like this: plantain, coltsfoot, thyme, marshmallow, cherry bark, pleurisy root, elecampane, mullein…and it could go on! Does that mean that all the herbs on the list can be used interchangeably? Far from it!

Plantain and Marshmallow are going to give the most benefit to a dry cough where there is only a little mucus that is hard to bring up. Herbs that can be used when there is lots of mucus that the body is trying to expel include cherry bark and elecampane.

Mullein is a wonderful herb for coughs, but it is traditionally used for allergies and asthma rather than an acute respiratory illness. Herbalists observed that it works on the cough reflex, so using it while the body is trying to get rid of lots of mucus is not a good idea! Suppressing the reflex and having the mucus just sit around in the lungs can set the stage for infection.

So, as you can see, all of the above herbs are great for coughs, but it’s important to consider the type of cough for best results.

In addition, some herbs are drunk as a tea, others are inhaled in steam, and still others are applied topically. You can rub chamomile on your tummy all day long, and it still won’t help you sleep the way drinking a cup of chamomile tea does.

Misconception #3: Herbs Don’t Really Work – There’s No Science.

Reality: Much of the current research on herbs has been done overseas, rather than here in the US, but there is actually plenty of literature in medical journals worldwide to explore. Most research focuses on identifying the active constituents in the chemistry of plants. This leads to more information on why a plant traditionally used for a given ailment was effective, and how that can be harnessed for the modern pharmaceutical industry.

Digitoxin is a cardiac drug that is one example of this. It was originally extracted from the herb Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), used by medieval herbalists.

It is interesting to note that many traditions of herbalism rely on taste to group herbs into different useful categories. Before modern chemical analysis emerged, this was a crude way of noticing that the chemical make ups of the plants were different.

Many “bitter” tasting herbs were observed to have a “cooling” effect on the body, and therefore matched with the observation of “heat” in the body. “Heat” conditions in traditional herbalism are a broad category that include cases that would be explained by modern science in terms of bacterial infection. Modern science confirms that many of the bitter principles found in herbs have an antibacterial capacity that makes them suited for use in an infected, or  “hot”, condition.

It’s also important to note, however, that the chemical makeup of plants is complex enough that science is only beginning to scratch the surface of the way they interact with the body. Sometimes reducing the plant down to one or two chemicals that seem to be “active” is actually another oversimplification in itself. But it’s a start.

A great resource on the chemical science behind herbalism is the textbook Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman.

Misconception #4: Animals can tell what plants they need instinctively or by taste. So can I!

Reality: This is a really, really bad idea.

Here’s why:

Yes, herbalists traditionally group herbs for use by taste. Herbs that were sweet, salty, bitter, or sour were believed to have an affinity for different body systems and conditions. (See number three, above.) However, when this myth comes up in the prepper community, people are usually talking about using taste and instinct to IDENTIFY random plants they find growing nearby and make use of them.

This is either used as an excuse to avoid learning how to identify plants safely out of laziness, or for the sake of some weird “I’m Very in Tune with my Body” bragging rights. Either way, considering that cattle poison themselves rather frequently (just ask any experienced rancher), and that most of the people who have this misconception can’t “intuitively” identify poison ivy, it’s safe to say that there is an incredibly dangerous disconnection here.

A great example here is water hemlock, which regularly poisons both people and livestock. It is a common wild plant in the carrot family, but a single bite of the root can kill an adult human, and cattle have died in less than fifteen minutes after ingesting more. The few people who have survived accidental ingestion have remarked that it’s quite pleasant tasting.

Exhibit A: If you don’t know what it is, don’t put it in your mouth. Period.

Misconception #5 I’ll Just Stock up on Field Guides and Books. If SHTF, I can Forage for Everything I Need.

Reality: People who don’t spend a lot of time in nature often don’t realize that it is a far cry from the mythical, unspoiled bounty of the collective imagination. Nature is not a grocery store.

For one thing, just like garden vegetables, wild herbs and plants have an ideal harvesting window that can vary by the length of their life cycle. We don’t experience this in our modern grocery stores because of worldwide shipping and greenhouse growing, but very few plants can be harvested year round. There’s almost nothing available from late fall through mid-spring in most natural settings.

Why do you think canning was invented?

Another problem with relying on books and planning to harvest “as needed” in a SHTF scenario is the potential difficulty in resource management – the threat of over harvesting. Stands of wild plants require special care to avoid wiping them out permanently in a single harvest. In some cases, this means harvesting less than 1/10 of the plants in an area that can be acres in size, and allowing rest years for the population to re-stabilize.

SHTF, you can bet no one is going to be concerned about whether they pick too much. This problem doesn’t even occur to most people now. “Poaching” and over harvesting for the commercial trade is an issue even without the desperation implied by a SHTF scenario.

During a major disruption, it’s possible that many areas would be stripped of available edible and medicinal plants in short order and take years to recover.

The Take- Away

So, considering these five misconceptions, I think there are three very important things the prepper community needs to take into account if we want to consider herbalism as a viable skill for our personal and community toolkits.

For one thing: know thy plants! It’s better to know a few herbs very well than to have had a brush with many. Learn how to identify the herbs which you use the most in every stage of growth, and learn all of the small distinctions in use that set them apart from other herbs in the same category.

For another: get set now. Stock an herbal pantry with your most commonly used herbs in their dried, bulk form and in alcohol extracts. As a minimum, consider four oz of the dried herbs per person, stored in an airtight container away from light and temperature extremes. This will need to be replaced yearly.

Keep a minimum of four oz of each extract per person. These can last much longer (in some cases more than ten years!).

And last, whenever possible, learn to grow your own herbs. Even a small container garden on a patio can be used later to grow a larger garden if it becomes necessary.

By learning from these five misconceptions, not only do you have a much better chance of using herbs safely and effectively for health and well-being now, but also in scenarios where you are down to no other options.

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Homesteading Health Tip: Sneaky Sugars To Watch Out For http://thesurvivalmom.com/homesteading-health-tip-sneaky-sugars-watch/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=homesteading-health-tip-sneaky-sugars-watch http://thesurvivalmom.com/homesteading-health-tip-sneaky-sugars-watch/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 06:00:43 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16472 As part of my Gluten Free journey, I removed refined sugars from my diet and even cut back on the natural sugars that kind of appease my sweet tooth. Of course, that meant checking what is added to food when Read More

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sneakysugars - Karen LynnAs part of my Gluten Free journey, I removed refined sugars from my diet and even cut back on the natural sugars that kind of appease my sweet tooth. Of course, that meant checking what is added to food when when go grocery shopping.

I did not  realize just how rampant it is until I became more educated on refined sugars and their effect on my body, my brain, and my general health. The food industry is sneaking sugars into a lot of foods on the grocery shelves – even food items I didn’t expect to see sugar added to.

Coffee drinks were not a big surprise, although I am not sure everyone realizes just how much sugar is in those delicious caffeinated beverages. Other items were surprises – bread and yogurt, for example.

Bread

Yes, read your bread labels carefully. I recently picked up a loaf of bread and it stated on the label: Made without high fructose corn syrup and I was thinking…corn syrup really in my bread? Bread doesn’t weigh in high on the sugar scale, but I didn’t like seeing the trends in labeling since it means many companies are adding high fructose corn syrup or other sugars.

I don’t know about you, but when I choose bread for my family – and I do because they haven’t all given up bread – I look for company’s that are using more healthful options with their ingredients.

Catsup or Ketchup

This once-healthy condiment is now loaded with sneaky sugars. Just turn the label over  and read it. One product in particular not only added high fructose corn syrup, they added a little extra regular corn syrup for good measure.

So what do you do? If all else fails, you can make your own ketchup. It’s really not terribly difficult. (Keep an eye out for the October 2014 podcast with the writer of that article on The Survival Mom Radio Network.)

Let’s face it: not everyone is going to make their own catsup. You can follow my lead and just avoid it for most meals, but there are many new kinds of catsups on the market, including lower sugar, spicy, lower sodium, and more. I recently purchased a low sugar version on vacation and liked it well enough to continue using it. Personally, I have already given up my bread, so I really want to keep the catsup on my hot dog. I feel like I’m at a Baseball field. It’s more festive!

Spaghetti Sauce

It actually stunned me when I started making better eating choices and saw how many sugars are on your plate of pasta. I had always known to stay away from fatty white sauces, but I never knew to steer clear of sugar laden marinara or spaghetti sauce.

Now, I prefer to just add home-canned diced tomatoes to most of my food. There are also healthier store bought sources of canned tomatoes that use proper canning techniques. It may seem too plain to your palate at first, but season it with a few well appointed seasonings (such as basil and oregano) and you will be won over in know time.

Flavored Yogurts

Many of these are loaded with either sugar or aspartame. I started making my own plain, full fat yogurt and add fruit and nuts. My husband does not care for plain yogurt, so he switched to cottage cheese. Sometimes eliminating sugars takes a little more change, but whatever works for your family is the right choice.

Parents for sure don’t want their children eating too much sugar. If your kids won’t go for the plain yogurt, try adding a teaspoon or two of honey (raw, of course) or a low sugar jam. It will be sweeter for them, but much healthier than the list of chemicals and sneaky sugars they are slipping into flavored yogurt.

Coffee Drinks (Lattes, Frozen Coffee Beverages, etc.)

Not so sneaky, but there are so many gourmet coffee shops and specialty coffee drinks I thought it worth mentioning.

The average small latte has about 200 calories and 13 grams of sugar. A small caramel frozen coffee beverage boasts an even higher sugar content – a whopping 60 grams of sugar.

Alternatives?

I am an avid enthusiast of all things honey and well that’s easy for me to say since we are beekeepers and have an abundance of it. The primary sugars I keep in my family’s diet are natural sugars, mostly honey and stevia. If we were not beekeepers I would probably eat even less.

I’m thankful I gave up coffee drinks a long time ago! Give me a nice delicious cup of coffee with a little cream and honey, and I’m a happy gal. And when I say a little honey, I mean a very little maybe a ¼ to a ½ of a tsp., and a very generous tablespoon of cream.

For some folks sugar is not a problem, but understanding those sneaky sugars is key because that might change later, such as when you have kids. Simply getting older forces many of us to start paying attention, whether we want to or not. If you start earlier, maybe you can put that day off a bit longer, and provide a good example to  your family. (Even if you are a teenager now, you can be the example to your parents.)

Now, when I purchase spaghetti sauce or almost anything else pre-made, I take the time to read the labels.

These are just a few examples of some sneaky sugars that can sneak into you and your family’s diet. Be watchful and put on your spy glasses! I am a Certified “Sugar Spy” these days! ;) I hope you have accepted this mission to join me, and that you enjoyed my latest homesteading health tip for The Survival Mom Blog.

Disclaimer:  I am not a nutrition expert, just a Suburban Homesteader who is slowly educating herself on how to eat healthier and live a healthier more active lifestyle!

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Have You Read The Label? Make Your Own (Healthier) Salad Dressing http://thesurvivalmom.com/read-label-healthier-salad-dressing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=read-label-healthier-salad-dressing http://thesurvivalmom.com/read-label-healthier-salad-dressing/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 06:00:44 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16086 So you’re standing over a big wooden bowl beholding your masterpiece. This is no ordinary salad. There are roasted baby carrots from your CSA, locally sourced cheese, grilled radicchio, organic orange segments, and baby greens you grew with your own Read More

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salad dressingSo you’re standing over a big wooden bowl beholding your masterpiece. This is no ordinary salad. There are roasted baby carrots from your CSA, locally sourced cheese, grilled radicchio, organic orange segments, and baby greens you grew with your own hands. Because you care about the environment, the local economy and what your family eats.

Now you need some dressing.

Mmmm…it’s the disodium guanylate that gives it that homemade touch….

When did salad dressing get so gross?

I could go on and on (as I’m wont to do) about the dual loss of Mom’s cooking and Home Ec class, the folly of farm subsidies making bad food cheap, advertisers, food fads and imaginary allergies, etc. The sad bottom line is: It happened when we let it happen. We were seduced by “easy” and abdicated our food choices to people who DO NOT have our best interests at heart. Our bad.

There are dozens of books specific to dressings or with great dressing sections. A couple of great ones are Oils and Vinegars by Liz Franklin and the generally awesome How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. But here’s an overvembarrassed.lettuceiew:

What does dressing do?

All too often, it disguises a wilty, boring, or weird salad. Ever notice that we tend to put less dressing on a really great salad? The time to start thinking about dressing is before making the salad, not after.

Yes, there are days when all we have time or supplies for is lettuce/tomato/cucumber. That’s where assertive dressings like blue-cheese, Green Goddess, and Caesar come in. In such a case, try sticking those tomato chunks (brushed with oil) under the broiler for a couple minutes, too.

What’s in dressing?

Typically, oil and vinegar. Or at least, something oily and something acidic plus assorted seasonings.

Cropping up around the country are stores where you can taste the oils and vinegars. They bottle them to order and some even give a refill discount. Most of them ship. Odds are that your local Weight Watchers knows where they are. Full Disclosure: I work at this one: O’Live A Little but there are others.

Let’s talk about oil: Thankfully, people are finally waking up to the fact that bad, biased science from a bygone era gave fats and oils an undeserved bad rap. Our ancestors have been eating plant and animal fats since time immemorial. It’s the fake fats that are the problem. Did you know that hydrogenated oil was originally formulated to make soap and candles? That’s where it should stay.

Salad oils

Soy, Canola and Corn: Flavorless and odorless, they’re supposed to be more versatile. When did flavor become undesirable? Again, when we wanted convenience and “one oil to rule them all.” Farm subsidies made them artificially cheap and we grew accustomed to their taste (or lack thereof).

Be aware that in America, right now, any corn product that isn’t organic is almost certainly genetically modified! Canola and soy almost as much so. So if you do want a neutral oil, look for organic, but try having at least 2 oils around for different flavors.

Olive: There are tons of myths about olive oil. So here are some facts:

  • Color does not indicate quality or freshness
  • A great deal of it claiming to be Italian is really from someplace else but bottled in Italy, most is from Spain
  • EVOO doesn’t always taste better or milder (some is actually very bitter; taste is about variety, location, freshness and storage conditions)
  • Non-extra virgin isn’t necessarily substandard.

Tree nuts: Walnut, hazel, pecan, etc. Delicious and silky but very delicate and easily overpowered. Works nicely with nuts, dried fruits (especially cranberries) and mild fresh fruits like pears, figs and dates.

Sesame: Almost always toasted, very assertive. Usually paired with classic Asian flavors like ginger, lemongrass and soy sauce. It’s also great on salads that are next to or topped with salmon or green beans.

Squash Seed Oils: Remember eating the toasted seeds from your jack’o lantern as a kid? They press those and other squash seeds for oil now. Now, I’ve become allergic to peanuts. I don’t miss peanuts per se; I miss peanut butter. I about died when I tried roasted Butternut squash seed oil. It tastes like peanut butter! And if you mix it with a thick, well-aged balsamic vinegar in your favorite fruit flavor, that makes peanut butter and jelly! That’s a nice dressing for a mild salad but also try it on Belgian waffles topped with whipped cream or mascarpone cheese!

Which brings us to…

Vinegars

There are basically 2 kinds: Regular and Balsamic.

Regular (a word which hereafter shall mean “not balsamic “): These are typically made from grapes or apples. Red wine, white wine, sherry, etc. are usually just that. Read the label though! Sometimes “apple cider” or “Chardonnay” vinegar is really cheap, distilled white pickling vinegar with a little of the advertised vinegar added. Such pretenders are usually flat and boring, often harsh and bitter.

Don’t be afraid of blends like cider/white wine or sherry/champagne; the dominant flavor gets dialed down and makes it more versatile. For a more savory/Umami quality, try Malt vinegar. Made from barley, it’s ubiquitous on fish and chips but try it on salads with seafood, sweet potatoes and cheese. If you like the flavor  but want to tame it slightly, a touch of honey and a pinch of cinnamon or bay leaf will do wonders.

Vinegars made from red wines are typically more earthy and complex. Rice wine vinegar is very mild. Champagne is mild and versatile and is the favorite of artisanal picklers. Sherry vinegar is more interesting like red, but milder and often sweeter. Just as with alcohol, the word “dry” means “not sweet.”

Speaking of alcohol, many people who don’t drink alcohol for religious reasons shun vinegars made from them. That’s a personal choice. But I will say this: There’s no alcohol in them. Also, they don’t taste the same, according to alcohol drinkers; this removes the concern about getting accustomed to the taste and being tempted to drink actual Fire-Water. Cooking and baking with alcohol is another matter that we’ll leave for another time, but as for vinegar, you can save the distilled white for pickles.

For guidance on brands, ask friends and try some. Cooks Illustrated Magazine and their PBS show America’s Test Kitchen are another good resource. If you buy one that’s not terrible but not quite knocking your socks off, add your favorite herb or mix in a little Balsamic.

Balsamic: There’s a lot of confusion and myth about balsamic vinegar. In a nutshell, it’s crushed white wine grapes that are caramelized and aged in charred casks. As it ages, it also condenses and becomes thicker and sweeter. Experts and fans usually consider 8 years a minimum age but prefer 12 or more. Avoid ones that are barely aged (or just red wine vinegar) with thickeners and a ton of sugar added. White balsamic is not caramelized and the casks are uncharred, so it’s a lighter color and typically less sweet. It’s a less nuanced flavor but a cleaner, more floral one.

Flavored Balsamic vinegars are usually traditional balsamic flavored with fruit and other flavor concentrates. Why not add the flavor in the beginning? Because sometimes the aging process is not kind to a flavor and it doesn’t end up tasting like peach, mango, or whatever.

Part of the beauty of 12yr+ balsamic vinegars is that they can be drizzled directly on a salad without any oil…they stick! (That’s why Weight Watchers knows where the local on-tap shop is.) If you do use oil, far less is required than with regular vinegars. It becomes all about flavor. One of my favorite combinations is green apple White Balsamic with about 10% scallion olive oil.

What about “creamy” dressing?

That’s simply a dairy product in place of part or all of the oil. It’s usually buttermilk or yogurt, but other dairy is sometimes used including, of course, blue cheese. When I was in college in Idaho, they would dip or slather anything – a-ny-thing – with Ranch dressing. Salt Lake City was worse. A chef I worked with there bemoaned that Ranch dressing was “the second largest religion in Utah.”

Look at how many preservatives are in bottled creamy dressings and you’ll see why it’s best to keep homemade ones refrigerated and use within a few days.

Assertive, creamy dressings are a good excuse for iceberg lettuce. Or put them on a simple salad of any mild, crunchy greens with just tomato and cukes.

Here’s my mother’s version of creamy:

Sharon’s  Creamy Garlic Dressing

1 C mayonnaise (your oil and vinegar are already there)
1 Tb garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
About 2 Tb milk
Combine and refrigerate for at least an hour to reconstitute. Should be thick and gloppy. Thin with a little more milk if desired.
(One of my favorite things about Preppers is that you can talk about garlic powder in front of them without recrimination.)

Some Random Pairings and Observations

  • Roasted root veggies love orange and fennel.
  • When using citrus fruit, use the juice in place of some or all of the vinegar.
  • If you can’t have balsamic vinegar due to migraines or other reason, mix your favorite jam with some regular vinegar or a blend of citrus juices.
  • Hatred of arugula is often genetic. The smell and taste are nauseating. Don’t push.
  • Fresh herbs are best, but dried ones should be stored as whole as possible.
  • Replace dried herbs annually, use at about half volume of fresh, allow at least an hour for reconstitution.
  • Most salads become a meal with the addition of beans or other protein source.
  • Beans should be large/soft enough to get a fork into. Chasing small ones is annoying.

Recreating Favorite Brands

Maybe you can’t. Maybe that’s a good thing. My family and I are in love with a particular ketchup-esque make and model of bottled dressing. It has no equivalent in other brands. We dress salad with it but we also use it with or instead of ketchup and sometimes like Worcestershire sauce. I’ve tried many recipes from the internet and my own imagination and I can’t exactly reproduce it. That’s because I’m not using guar gum, maltodextrin, or anything cooked up in a lab. I also refuse to make corn syrup the first ingredient. Every time I fail to recreate it, I’m able to let go of the original just a little more. I’m down to just using it on burgers and fries, which are an occasional indulgence.

Like our hands and feet, our tongues develop habits. They steer toward the familiar. When we eat real food made from real ingredients, our tongues develop new habits. Healthier, cheaper habits that last a lifetime and just maybe extend and enrich that life.

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Everybody’s talking about Ebola — Here’s what you should know http://thesurvivalmom.com/ebola-heres-know/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ebola-heres-know http://thesurvivalmom.com/ebola-heres-know/#comments Sat, 02 Aug 2014 06:32:59 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16928 Several countries in West Africa are in the throes of an epidemic of Ebola virus. Over 1,200 cases and almost 700 deaths in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia make it a candidate for the next great pandemic. Read More

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ebolaSeveral countries in West Africa are in the throes of an epidemic of Ebola virus. Over 1,200 cases and almost 700 deaths in the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia make it a candidate for the next great pandemic. The disease has decimated health care workers, with a number of doctors, nurses, missionaries, and others dying from the illness. Indeed, the Peace Corps is now pulling its workers from the affected countries as we speak.

The Ebola outbreak hit close to home when American, Patrick Sawyer, died in Lagos, Nigeria, en route to visit his family in Minnesota. Although he did not become Patient Zero in the U.S., other infected Americans were transferred to the CDC hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite all this, few people really know what Ebola virus is and how it does its damage, and they certainly don’t know what to do if it arrives in their neighborhood.

Ebola virus, a member of the Filoviridae virus family, was first reported in 1976, when 602 cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo resulted in 431 deaths. Ebola, named after the river where the first victims were identified, has several variants, a sign that it probably has the capacity to mutate.

What do we know?

Not much. How Ebola manages to first infect humans is poorly understood. Primates like monkeys and apes are possible agents of transmission (also called vectors), although birds, rodents, bats, pigs, and insects may be more likely to transmit the disease. The virus can even be transmitted to dogs, although they don’t seem to get sick.

Ebola appears to be transmitted through saliva and other bodily fluids, even sweat. The practice of relatives and workers washing a body before burial may have helped spread the disease. A 2012 Canadian study suggested that the virus may also be transmitted in air droplets. Given the highly contagious nature of the disease, this would be big trouble if true, but hasn’t been proven.

Signs and symptoms of Ebola

What does Ebola virus do to its victims? Ebola causes a hemorrhagic fever with a 25-90% death rate, much higher than even the worst of the influenza pandemics of the past century. Compare this to a 2.5% death rate from the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, and 0.1% from routine influenza outbreak.

Symptoms begin presenting about 2 weeks after exposure. Ebola patients develop the sudden onset of what first appears to be influenza: aches and pains, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fever and chills, and malaise are commonly seen at this stage. Nausea is noted, often accompanied by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Later on, the central nervous system becomes affected causing severe headaches, altered mental status, and seizures. Sometimes this results in the patient going into a coma. Evidence of disorders in blood clotting are seen in advanced stages of the disease.

Signs include:

• Spotty Rashes
• Bruises
• Broken blood vessels in the skin
• Collections of blood under the skin after injections
• Bloody vomit or sputum
• Spontaneous nosebleeds
• Bleeding from gums
• Blood in bowel movements

Once bleeding disorders occur, the likelihood of survival is slim. Although deaths from severe hemorrhage have occurred in women giving birth, multiple organ failure leading to shock is the usual cause of death.

Prevention

It’s thought that Ebola doesn’t spread until a victim develops symptoms. As the illness progresses, however, bodily fluids from diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding become very contagious. Poor hygiene and lack of proper medical supplies in underdeveloped countries, such as in West Africa impede the progress of medical authorities to tame the outbreak. The best they can do is isolate sick individuals as best they can and follow infectious disease precautions. This is something they are, apparently, not doing so well, because so many medical personnel are getting sick. When the doctors and nurses are dying, you know you have an illness about which to be truly concerned. Imagine if the disease becomes worldwide.

Treatment of Ebola

So how do we cure Ebola? We don’t. There is no known treatment, cure, or vaccine for Ebola at present. The doctors can only try to make the patient comfortable and hope they get better on their own. Therefore, I recommend stocking up on masks, gowns, eye protection, and gloves, and learn about how to have an effective survival sick room. We’ve got a video on our YouTube channel on the subject.

Why you should care

So what’s the big deal. Why should an epidemic in Africa matter to citizens of countries thousands of miles away? Well, this outbreak is not in the deepest areas of Africa, it’s on the west coast, a more populated and easily traveled area. News about the virus is disrupting the economies of the countries affected, and their governments haven’t been all that straightforward about giving reports, until just recently. As such, many natives of the countries affected are suspicious of health workers, sometimes blocking them from entering their villages with knives and machetes.

The country of Guinea, where the first cases occurred, is the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminum. Therefore, exports from the country go to many of the world’s manufacturing plants. The advent of air travel can easily spread the disease throughout the world is just 24 hours. As a matter of fact, a Liberian official took sick on a flight to Nigeria, one of the most populous countries in Africa, and died soon after. With an incubation period of a couple of weeks, you might have Ebola and not even know it (until you’ve infected a lot of other people).

This may be a third-world disease now, but it wouldn’t take much to make it, indeed, the next great pandemic. We’ll keep you posted.

This article contributed by Dr. Joe Alton, also known as Dr. Bones. Visit Doom and Bloom to learn more about medical preparedness and check out Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy’s bestselling book, The Survival Medicine Handbook.

 

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Eat Real Food for the Healthiest Body Ever http://thesurvivalmom.com/eat-real-food/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=eat-real-food http://thesurvivalmom.com/eat-real-food/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:00:29 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16310 The idea of “clean eating” sounds great, but the reality can be intimidating. When you are used to processed foods, it can be difficult to make the switch to healthy eating. The body becomes physically addicted to high levels of Read More

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eat real foodThe idea of “clean eating” sounds great, but the reality can be intimidating. When you are used to processed foods, it can be difficult to make the switch to healthy eating. The body becomes physically addicted to high levels of sugar and salt, and it can be a challenge to change our normal rotation of “go to” foods.

Why make the transition to eating real food? A healthy body is a prepared body — ready to make quick decisions, ready to protect home and family, ready to move as far and as fast as necessary. Many preppers have rooms full of stored food and prepper supplies, but they’ve neglected their most important asset: their own bodies.

How to make the switch to eat real food

There are two ways to introduce healthier foods into a diet. One is to replace foods you currently eat and trying to stick as close to your usual foods as possible, and the other is to change how you eat entirely, making a new routine with new foods. Both of these methods have their benefits and drawbacks, so I have found that a combination of both works best for me.

For example, if you usually eat boxed cereal for breakfast, try replacing it with fruit and cottage cheese, yogurt and granola, or muesli. These foods are higher in protein and whole grains, and lower in sugars and fast burning carbs.

You will feel more energy for a longer time, but since your body may be physically used to a sugar rush first thing in the morning, you may find yourself craving something sweet. This is when a break in routine can help, and instead of trying to force yourself to hold off til lunch, or cracking and reaching for the chocolate, try having a piece of fresh fruit to hold you over.

Remember, that all simple carbohydrates, such as bread, doughnuts, fruit juice, and most packaged cereals will cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Now is the perfect time to begin deleting them from your diet.

Tips for making the transition easier

Fresh Fruit Tip

Prep your fruit ahead of time. It may seem like a pain or unnecessary, but you will thank yourself later. To me, a cut apple or peach is much more appetizing than having to deal with a drippy, messy, whole one, and cut fruit can even be eaten with a fork if you are busy with work.

At lunch time, instead of processed lunch meats which can contain unwanted sodium and nitrites/nitrates, try using leftovers from dinner to make your own sandwiches on whole grain bread or put the sandwich fixin’s on top of a big salad. We make our own chicken salad by cutting up leftover pieces of roast chicken or chicken breast. If you make a roast beef or pork roast, try slicing off thin pieces to use in a sandwich the next day. Take the extra time to add lettuce and tomato to your sandwiches, you’ll need less meat and will get an extra serving of fruit and veg.

You can also vary the “carnivore” routine and make a lunch of hummus and crackers, avocado on toast, or peanut butter and banana.

Sandwich Bread Tip

If you can’t get used to the taste of regular whole wheat, try pumpernickel or 12 grain. An even healthier choice is sprouted bread, such as the Ezekiel brand.

Instead of drinking sugary soda during the day, try homemade iced tea, which is easy to make ahead of time, or cut up fruit and put in a pitcher of water. I love to cut limes and put them in seltzer for a fizzy drink that is healthier than soda. Most restaurants will serve seltzer or sparkling water if you are looking for something more interesting than water but want to skip out on the soda.

For an afternoon snack, instead of a bag of chips, try dehydrated fruits or vegetables. You’ll still get that snacky “crunch” without all the MSG and other scary ingredients. Just make sure to read the labels and beware of “natural flavorings” as well as eating too much of the dried fruit with all their sugar.  A handful of nuts is another healthy option. Almonds in particular are high in protein and won’t give you that bloated feeling from too much sodium.

Homemade dinners can be a pain, especially when you take the time to use fresh vegetables and wholesome ingredients that are not prepared ahead of time. Eat for what your body needs. If you need iron, incorporate red meat. If you want to lower your cholesterol, eat lean meats like chicken breast and ground turkey.

Dinner Tip

Do yourself a favor when you make healthy recipes and double the batch so you’ll have enough to freeze for another night or for lunches later in the week. Doing this will not only keep you off of frozen pizza and takeout, but it saves time and money in the long run.

Here are some “Don’ts” to make the transition to healthier eating easier:

  • Don’t go to the health food store and buy lots of expensive food that you have never tried, hoping you’ll like it.
  • Don’t try to replace items you usually use with their “low fat, high ingredient” counterparts (eg. switching butter for margarine, or coke for diet coke). Many of these foods that may seem healthier but are not actually good for you. They contain many harmful ingredients like fake sugars and hydrogenated oils.
  • Don’t force your family to eat food they hate. If your husband hates ground turkey, there are other healthy meats you can try instead.
  • Don’t buy the lie that healthier versions of your usual recipes will taste just as good. I made this mistake with whole-wheat pasta and couldn’t figure out how to use it for a long time because I was using it as a replacement for white pasta. Whole-wheat pasta has an entirely different flavor and so I needed to find new recipes that worked well with that flavor.

All in all, you’ll have to find the way that works for you, but incorporating fresh foods and healthier choices into your lifestyle is not as hard as it seems. In my house, the “big change” did not happen all at once. I started incorporating fruits and vegetables into our meals, experimenting with healthier options, and in about one summer we had made a complete lifestyle change!

Some websites you may find helpful

All Day I Dream About Food

GNOWFGLINS

Kalyn’s Kitchen

SkinnyTaste

And listen to these podcasts by Jessica Brassington, host of My Kale Kids:

“Starting Your Journey”

“Supermarket Superstar”

“It All Started With a Crunchy Piece of Kale”

 

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The Prepared Immune System: Four Herbs to Know (Other Than Echinacea) http://thesurvivalmom.com/prepared-immune-system-four-herbs-know-echinacea/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=prepared-immune-system-four-herbs-know-echinacea http://thesurvivalmom.com/prepared-immune-system-four-herbs-know-echinacea/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15972 Your immune system protects you from many threats even on a normal day. After  stamina and physical conditioning for your body, making sure your immune system is in top shape should be your next big priority for health preparedness. The Read More

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preparedimmunesystemYour immune system protects you from many threats even on a normal day. After  stamina and physical conditioning for your body, making sure your immune system is in top shape should be your next big priority for health preparedness.

The immune system isn’t isolated in one area of your body, though. It’s an incredibly complex system made up of cells communicating in your bloodstream, in your bones, and even in your intestines! A full 70% of immune cells can be found in the gut, and modern research is only just beginning to understand the way “good” bacteria (probiotics) in the gut can have an influence on overall immunity.

This is just one example of how the strength of your immune system relies on many different factors and many other body systems. Sleep, stress, nutrition, and hygiene are all important, and so is exercise. Some studies indicate that regular, moderate exercise can decrease the incidence of illness by almost 30%. But, once you have all the bases covered in terms of lifestyle and hygiene, herbs can add another layer of support.

Using Herbs for Immune Support

If you are doing everything else to support your health and immune system that we just mentioned, there should be no need to use herbs for immunity on a daily basis. But many people (myself included) find it helpful to use herbs for immunity at the onset of acute symptoms.

Even if you are doing everything right, busy schedules and chronic stress can wear down the immune system over time. A single high stress event, such as the sudden loss of a loved one or another personal emergency can tip the scales of the immune system. For any long distance or high performing athletes out there, you may know that while a little exercise is great for the immune system, the toll of running a marathon or other rigorous training can have a short term negative impact on immune resistance. A little boost to the immune system at the right time can make all the difference in the world.

Four Herbs For Immune Support

So, when I am looking to give my immune system an extra boost, here are the herbs I am most likely to turn to:

1. Andrographis: An herb native to India, Andrographis paniculata is traditionally used as a bitter tonic, antipyretic, and stomachic. Modern studies have shown that it helps activate the immune system and enhance immune function. It seems to have a broad influence and affect several parts of the immune system.

2. Oregon Grape root: Oregon grape root, mahonia aquifolium, is currently being studied for use in conjunction with antibiotics. One of the chemical components of the herb, berberine, appears to make antibiotics more effective by decreasing or eliminating bacteria’s ability to resist antibiotics. Traditional herbalists refer to Oregon grape as a cooling herb, so it is paired with “heat” signs in the body, a category that includes many types of infection.

However, simply labeling it as an herbal “antibiotic” is much too simplified and misleading – a fate that often also befalls echinacea and goldenseal. One of my favorite articles about this plant can be found here at Methowe Valley Herbs. Rosalee de Foret does a great job explaining how to most effectively use this herb.

3. Elderberry: This one is a favorite of mine! Elder, Sambucus nigra,  is a versatile herb, with both the flowers and berries being commonly used. The berries have been studied for their ability to increase cytokine cell production by the immune system, and also for their ability to interfere with viruses as they try to gain a foothold in the body.

Cytokines are the proteins released by immune cells to communicate with one another and coordinate an attack on bacteria or viruses. Elderflower tea is traditionally used for hayfever, and it is one of my favorites teas for allergy season.

4. Reishi and Maitake Mushrooms: Several types of culinary mushrooms have traditionally been valued for their medicinal properties as well. Reishi (Ganoderma spp) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa) are two of the most common, but what all of these mushrooms have in common is a substance called beta-glucans. Among other things, these substances appear to help the immune system by boosting cells of the immune system called macrophages and natural killer cells.

Other Considerations

Because these herbs have been shown to affect the immune system, they should be used cautiously by anyone with autoimmune disorders - only under a doctor’s supervision, if at all. As I mentioned earlier, there normally shouldn’t be a need to use any immune herbs on a daily basis. However, I would be comfortable using a good mushroom blend as part of a daily wellness plan long-term in the event of an epidemic or pandemic.

Personally, I supplement with teas or extracts when I first start feeling like I have a cold or flu coming on, and usually continue supplementing for five to seven days. If I catch it early enough, noticing that I’m getting “that feeling,” I may simply use a blend of yarrow, elder and peppermint as a tea and go to bed early that night. Often, that’s all I need to tip the scales back in my favor.

It’s a traditional trick that has worked very well for me many times. For things that come on suddenly, or are more localized than a cold or flu, I may continue to supplement for ten to fourteen days. My personal rule is: if it gets worse after three days of taking good care of myself, I go the the doctor. Also, if it’s really unusual – something that I haven’t experienced before or am not sure about, I go to the doctor immediately. For other things, rest and a little herbal TLC are usually all I need.

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Medical Book Review: The Prepper Pages http://thesurvivalmom.com/scavenge-first-aid-prepper-page/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=scavenge-first-aid-prepper-page http://thesurvivalmom.com/scavenge-first-aid-prepper-page/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:13 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15886 Generally speaking, if I buy an e-book, then I don’t buy the same book in print form. I’m making an exception for The Prepper Pages: A Surgeon’s Guide to Scavenging Items for a Medical Kit, and Putting Them to Use Read More

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Generally speaking, if I buy an e-book, then I don’t buy the same book in print form. I’m making an exception for The Prepper PagesThe Prepper Pages: A Surgeon’s Guide to Scavenging Items for a Medical Kit, and Putting Them to Use While Bugging Out by Dr. Ryan Chamberlin. It’s that good.

What makes this book so good? Knowing exactly which items you should keep on hand for emergencies and having specific advice on how to use them.

If you are in a disaster area, there might be a doctor around but the odds are slim that they wouldhave sterile sutures and a scalpel on hand, or not enough for everyone in need. Having a small stock of your own scalpels and sutures isn’t a bad idea.

Since Dr. Chamberlin is a surgeon, surgical items and skills are covered more extensively in this book than in most similar books, but that is precisely what makes this so useful. He covers topics most skim over.

A secondary focus of the book is how to scavenge items or find them in non-traditional places. For the large number of people who get nervous having our data (including shopping habits) tracked, that’s a definite bonus.

Specific Items, Not General Categories

Like most preppers and people who live a bit far from emergency services, I have a substantial First Aid kit. However, there are things I don’t have because I simply have never figured out exactly what I need or how to get it. Scalpels and sutures are two of them.

Scalpels come with numbers and are different sizes and shapes. I’m not a surgeon, and I’m not going to become one. I don’t need or want 20 boxes of different sized scalpels. I want one, maybe two, so we have a sterile scalpel if we ever need them. (Side note: they can be handy in a pinch when doing detailed craft work.) This book explains exactly which sizes are best and why!

Dr. Chamberlin also talks about not only what suturing material is best for different uses both in ordinary life and in an emergency, but also where to buy it, what sizes to buy, and how to do basic sutures. In a true emergency, that could be a literal lifesaver. Other topics include the differences in vinyl, nitrile, and latex gloves, treating snake bites, and food poisoning.

Scavenge First Aid Items

While we all hope to never be in a situation with looting, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are proof enough that it can happen, even here. But if you could loot items from a place, you can certainly buy them there, and that’s good information to have.

Knowing where to scavenge First Aid items can also help you save money by giving you a less-expensive alternative or an easier place to buy them. It’s also nice to be able to spread out your sales and help several smaller stores, instead of one large one.

It is a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected. You may be confident that no one in your family has a latex allergy and will not react to the one kind of suture you bought, but the reality is that you might be wrong. I have used bandages my entire life – Band Aid brand, Nexcare, Care Mark, generic, all kinds, sizes, brands and types with no problems. I particularly like the Nexcare tattoo-style bandages.

Following a minor surgical procedure, I found out I am allergic to the adhesive in bandages. It’s not a big deal, but it could be in a true disaster, so remember to be flexible and have some variety in your supplies. We now have paper tape and more gauze squares on hand for me, but simply keeping a few different brands of bandages might be enough for other families.

Because The Prepper Pages: A Surgeon’s Guide to Scavenging Items for a Medical Kit, and Putting Them to Use While Bugging Out by Dr. Ryan Chamberlin contains highly useful information, much of which isn’t found elsewhere, I highly recommend this book.

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Backpack First Aid Kit for Kids — A Must-Have! http://thesurvivalmom.com/first-aid-kit-for-kids/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=first-aid-kit-for-kids http://thesurvivalmom.com/first-aid-kit-for-kids/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:00:44 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=16316 You might carry a complete EMT kit in your purse, but it’s only useful if your kids are with you when they’re hurt.  If they go to school, spend the night with friends, or attend sports practices without you, they Read More

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first aid kit for kidsYou might carry a complete EMT kit in your purse, but it’s only useful if your kids are with you when they’re hurt.  If they go to school, spend the night with friends, or attend sports practices without you, they need their own Everyday Carry first aid kit for kids.  The trick is to make it useful and compact enough to keep all the time without breaking their backs—or the bank.

Start with $1

The carry case in the photo came from the Dollar Tree, but I’ve bought similar versions in the travel-size section of Target and Wal-Mart.  Pick up a few. Trust me—once you build them, you’ll want one in the backpack, the bat bag, the sleepover bag, your purse, and several more to restock their contents.

This one came with alcohol swabs, gauze pads, and more than 30 bandages!  I pared it down to 6 bandages and added a giant knee-sized bandage and butterfly bandage from the stash in my medicine cabinet.  Now I can fit in other important stuff.

 $5 Add-ins

Neo-to-Go fits perfectly into this case. Break the seal and show your little guys how to use it.  I LOVE that even my seven-year-old can do it with no mess and no waste.

Eye Drops may require adult help for smaller kids, but at least it will be available. My optometrist sister likes Murine. (The tiny Systane packets take up less room, but they’re a bit pricey.)  My own kit has the re-wetting drops that came free with my contact solution. Bonus! Eye drops are perfect for flushing debris from eyes or squeezing to irrigate a dirty wound. (Gravelly bike wrecks, anyone?)

Advanced Options

Water Jel is a topical analgesic that eases the pain of burns and actually stops the burn from progressing.  You know how a steak continues to cook after it’s removed from the heat? Your skin does that, too.  But for under $15 you can get 25 little 1/8 oz. packets to divvy up among your first aid kits—even the larger ones you have floating around. We’ve used them for campfire mishaps, of course, but they’re also great for soothing sunburns. I have only been able to find this product inexpensively on Amazon.

NasalCease stops nosebleeds instantly! Again, practice with little ones ahead of time—particularly if they are prone to nosebleeds. The product is as flat as a bandage and fits nicely at the bottom of the case. I bought it for wrestling season.  The trainers use tampons to staunch nosebleeds for the big boys, but those just don’t work for tiny little nostrils.  Expect to pay about $10 for a box of 5.

first aid kit for kidsOver-the-counter medications also fit. I included a blister-pouch of (chewable) Benadryl in all but the backpack kit (so nobody gets in trouble at school). My kiddos are allergic to wasp stings, but not badly enough to warrant Epi-pens.  The sooner they get an antihistamine, the less severe the symptoms.  So when they’re stung at a sleepover and not sure how to explain things to the mom-in-charge, they’ll have what they need.

I wrote instructions on the top of the lid with Sharpie: STINGS—1 pink.  I did the same with generic Tylenol.  Many adults don’t carry kid-friendly doses, and I sure don’t want anyone unknowingly giving my kiddos aspirin! But the blister pouch has a label on the back to confirm the lid’s instructions: FEVER—2 purple

For Older Kids (and Moms!)

Tweezers (removing ticks and splinters) and a safety pin (relieving severe blood blisters) will fit, as well.

Pack ‘em Up!

Let the kids help fit everything in; they’ll know the location of every item and its use. They can even decorate with colored sharpies or stickers. Then, go crazy! At just over 3 ounces, you can stash one in every conceivable place–even the tackle box, the golf bag, and the camper. I’m sending one in each backpack for a healthy, self-reliant back-to-school.

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Greens: They’re Not Just For Salad Anymore http://thesurvivalmom.com/greens-theyre-just-salad-anymore/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=greens-theyre-just-salad-anymore http://thesurvivalmom.com/greens-theyre-just-salad-anymore/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15168 It happens every summer. It first happens around late June. You’re contemplating what to make for dinner and repeatedly allow yourself to become distracted because you know they’re there …in the fridge…or the garden…mocking you. Greens. You bought or grew Read More

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It happens every summer. It first happens around late June. You’re contemplating what to make for dinner and repeatedly allow yourself to become distracted because you know they’re there …in the fridge…or the garden…mocking you.

Greens. You bought or grew them because they’re inexpensive per serving, they’re easy to grow and they’re just sooooo good for you! And you swore that this summer you’d eat more salad.

But what’s on that salad? There’s no law that says there has to be tomato. Or cucumber or anything else. One of the best salads I ever had was a bed of Romaine topped with skinless grapefruit segments, shaved red onion, boneless sardines and balsamic vinegar. That having been said…

What if salad is the problem?

That bag of “Spring Mix” or it’s equivalent from the garden is all well and fine in a salad, but it reaches it’s full glory in a skillet. Here is a classic Tuscan concept (that might have been invented in an American restaurant, who knows?).

Warning: My recipes contain a lot of eyeballing. Take a moment and accept it.

Tuscan Sautéed Greens

1/3 Cup or so raisins
1 T lightly chopped pignoli (pine nuts) – optional but heavenly
2-3 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic,minced. (Please don’t use pre-minced from a jar. It’s often bitter. And just so sad.)
12-16 oz bag of Spring Mix or same amount of homegrown mixed greens  (Caveat: careful of too much arugula. It can overpower. Kale needs a little more cooking time unless it’s baby kale, and lettuce should barely touch the skillet. Okay that was 3 caveats, so sue me.)

1) Place raisins in about a cup of very hot water, set aside. Don’t fully reconstitute, just “plump”.
2) Toast pignoli in dry skillet until light golden brown. Careful, they burn quickly. Remove from skillet and set aside.
3) Turn up skillet to medium-high. Add oil and allow to heat until oil ripples, about a minute. Do not use ” high”. That’s just for boiling water.
4) Add garlic and sauté for about a minute till light golden brown.
5) Add greens and toss just until wilted, not cooked.
6) Add drained raisins and pignoli, toss.

This is fantastic next to any pasta dish and lots of meats and casseroles. But why stop there? Make extra and and use as an ingredient in other things ( “repurpose” in restaurant-speak):

  • Chop and apply to mini toast as hors d’oeuvres
  • Stuff into large shell pasta or roll up in lasagne noodles and bake in red or white sauce
  • Use as a layer in traditional or pumpkin lasagna
  • Fold into an omelet
  • Add to a hot turkey sandwich
  • Add white beans, garbanzo beans or pasta and make it a whole meal
  • Use as a bed for oven roasted root vegetables

You can even use it as what I call “sad soup fixer”. Stir it into a not-so-fabulous soup that needs some help rather than adding salt or cheese.

imageThat brings me to a peeve of mine about soup. Ever notice that with just a handful of exceptions, most notably Portuguese Kale soup, greens in soup are usually a third-rate afterthought? You’re served an otherwise respectable bowlful and there they are…three little shreds of spinach or cabbage…lurking apologetically off to the side.

I object! Soup Greens have nothing for which to apologize!

When I was a kid, I worked in a restaurant that sold “Tomato Florentine Soup”. It was amazing. It tasted like pizza! It was in-your-face-spinachy with an aggressive amount of basil. But, alas, it was a commercial frozen concentrate so the ingredients were a mystery.

I tried lots of recipes (before and after the internet), a lot of which started with brand-which-shall-not-be-named tomato soup concentrate. Eewwww. I was finally forced to recreate it myself:

Tomato Florentine soup

1-2 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced.
1 t. dried oregano
Pinch dried thyme
1 can (28 oz) diced/crushed tomatoes in purée. If using tomatoes in juice, add 2 T paste.
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups Beef stock
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini, small shells, elbows or other spoonable pasta
1/2 cup fresh or frozen Italian green beans (optional)
About 12 oz. fresh baby spinach or bigger spinach roughly chopped. All stems removed.
Basil leaves – About 6 large or equal amount smaller leaves chopped or chiffonade (rolled up and sliced in ribbons). You can start with less and add more later if you like.
1-2 T good balsamic vinegar (Note: avoid balsamic vinegars whose labels include words like blend, condiment, drizzle, glaze, etc. That’s a lot like “cheese food product”.)
Parmesan cheese for garnish

1) Heat oil on medium heat in large stockpot. Sauté onions 2 minutes, add garlic, and sauté another 2-3 min until both are tender.
2) Add dry herbs, both stocks and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
3) Add pasta and beans, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer till pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.
4) Turn off heat and stir in spinach and basil. Cover and let rest 5 min. Add balsamic vinegar and serve topped with cheese.

Just as with the Tuscan Sautéed Greens, the addition of soup beans or extra pasta makes this a whole, healthy meal. But if you want leftover soup, cook the pasta separately and reduce simmer time to 5 minutes.

Those are just 2 possibilities to get you started. All kinds of soups and sautés are greens-friendly. One of the best soup cookbooks out there is The Big Book of Soups and Stews by Maryana Vollstedt.  Any Jamie Oliver book is also a good place for recipes using greens. Quiche, frittata and savory pies/tarts are another rich source of  experimentation. Be brave! Unless its burned, there is no failed savory experiment that can’t be made edible by the application of bacon, cheese, or gravy.

So take that, you smarmy salad bowl!

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Five Essential Oils to Keep in Your Purse http://thesurvivalmom.com/five-essential-oils-keep-purse/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=five-essential-oils-keep-purse http://thesurvivalmom.com/five-essential-oils-keep-purse/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:00:37 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=15538 Essential oils are like magic in a bottle. Many are far more powerful than we realize, and get way less credit than they deserve. They can be utilized in a wide variety of situations. Sometimes the stickiest situations happen when Read More

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essentialoils

Essential oils are like magic in a bottle. Many are far more powerful than we realize, and get way less credit than they deserve. They can be utilized in a wide variety of situations.

Sometimes the stickiest situations happen when we’re out and about, away from the medicine arsenal at home. Don’t let this happen! Carrying a few essential oils in your pocketbook could be one of the best decisions you’ve made.

Here are the top five I couldn’t go without, after a few cautions.

  • Be careful to avoid any oils contacting your eyes.
  • Some, but not all, essential oils are toxic if taken internally. Eucalyptus, for example.
  • You rarely need more than a few drops.

Eucalyptus essential oil

I can’t say how many times my family has used this. During the colds/flu season, it’s been a life-saver for us. It’s one of the most effective oils for treating a runny nose and helps discharge mucus from the respiratory tract. It’s also mentally invigorating and increases alertness, giving you a greater ability to concentrate.

As an anti-inflammatory, it’s helpful in treating arthritis and lower back pain, as well as muscle cramps, spasms, and sprains. Eucalyptus boosts your respiratory and immune system and helps with a whole host of other problems: poor circulation, diarrhea, bursitis, tendinitis, bladder infections, and fungal infections.

It’s also good for a number of skin problems – oily skin, infected pores, and boils to name a few. Its antiseptic properties help to relieve pain, itchiness, and swelling from bug bites and stings, as well as serving as an effective insect repellent.

Oh, and once you’ve smelled eucalyptus, you can’t forget that powerful scent. It’s a fabulous odor remover.

Lavender essential oil

Excellent for PMS cramps and discomfort. Massage a few drops into the abdominal area for some soothing relief.

As a tension reliever, lavender oil can be massaged directly into the neck and shoulder muscles. Its calming properties relieve headaches, hypertension, stress, depression, anxiety and insomnia. It improves memory, circulation, digestion, skin problems, earaches, hair loss, respiratory problems, and a number of women’s health issues.

As an antiseptic and anti-bacterial, lavender can be applied directly to burns and stings, where it will cool the pain. It will also stimulate blood flow to the affected area, which will aid in the healing process.

Peppermint essential oil

One of the best oils I’ve found for headaches. Just massage a drop into your forehead – being careful to avoid your eyes!!

Peppermint’s powerful scent can act as an effective air deodorizer. It also has an amazing ability to increase alertness to aid with concentration. In small doses, Peppermint has a cooling, soothing effect, and when combined with lavender it can be useful in treating sunburns.

Peppermint is beneficial in treating osteoarthritis, cramps, muscular relaxation & sprains, and lower back pain, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. It aids with digestion, especially helpful in treating irritable bowel syndrome. It’s an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and an expectorant that is helpful during coughing attacks.

It can also relieve itching from allergies and is frequently used as an insect repellent. As an astringent, peppermint is good for bacterial or viral infections of the mouth, as well as a variety of digestion issues, nausea and diarrhea. Make sure you look up how exactly to use it in this context, though, as some essential oils are toxic if taken internally.

When my dad was struggling with a sports-related knee injury, I had him rub peppermint oil on the inflamed area. He enjoyed the scent and I think the oil brought some relief to his discomfort.

Lemon essential oil

At a picnic and don’t have anything for the kids to wash their hands with? Put a few drops of lemon essential oil in everyone’s palms. It’s a fabulous antibacterial. Lemon works wonders on sore throats, as well as bacterial and viral infections of the mouth and is a great antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes — including insect bites and stings.

Helps with circulation, respiratory and digestion issues, and is great for relieving headaches. As an antidepressant, it refreshes and stimulates personal well-being, improves mood and emotions, while also improving your memory.

It’s also great for improving nails & cuticles, is an effective hair rinse, and can even help with hair loss and skin problems. Plus, it smells delightfully fresh and clean!

Tea Tree essential oil

Another family favorite. Tea Tree oil has anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s well-known for curing bacterial and viral infections of the face and mouth, including sore throats, earaches, and acne & blemishes, and works exceptionally well treating oily skin.

It can be used as another insect repellent. Its healing, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties make it a good choice for preventing infection, as well as aiding in decreasing inflammation and killing bacteria.

A powerful antiseptic, tea tree oil is useful in the first-aid treatment of minor cuts and wounds. As a pulmonary antiseptic, Tea Tree is an anti-inflammatory and an expectorant that’s good for the sinuses. It’s especially helpful in relieving coughs, colds & sinus problems.

With these five oils, you can work wonders. Make sure to keep them safely packaged in your pocketbook to prevent breaks or spills. Consider putting each oil container in a plastic baggie or two for starters, and don’t leave your purse in a hot vehicle for too long.

Enjoy your new portable magic medicine cabinet!

NOTE FROM LISA: I use and recommend Young Living essential oils after using them for several years. In this article, I write about the oils I use most often. You can learn more about Young Living oils here as well as how to become a wholesale customer, receiving a very nice discount on Young Living oils and other products with no obligation to sell the products or recruit others.

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