Friday, December 19, 2014

SALT vs the common cold (or how to kick a cold in three easy steps!)

Salt. Maybe you think you know salt. Great on steak and popcorn and cookies batter has no flavor without it. Come winter, salt is great for melting ice. Other than that? Yup, it’s easier to float in salt water. I hear a lot of negative talk about salt in terms of health, but most of that is hype. In fact, no less than Scientific American debunked the myth in this excellent article from 2011. So let’s all stop hating on salt. We need it and this week it’s my hero.

Why? Well, friends let me tell you a tale…

Three days before my BOOK SIGNING AND CELEBRATION, I came down with my first cold in years. Great, right? Here I am peddling a book about how you can be healthier and I would be a sniffling mess come Saturday. This was bad.

My head was a cement block. I was overcome by rapid-fire sneezing that lasted for minutes at a time. The world seemed like a foggy place, my head ached, and I was drained of all energy, so I curled up by the woodstove to commence feeling sorry for myself. 

Being still is not one of my greater talents, so my mind began spinning. I got up and retrieved the lap top. I could not be sick. That was the bottom line. I spent a few minutes (possibly much more) on the internet looking for answers and decided that no, it wasn’t nasal polyps (whose description fit my symptoms to a tee!), it was really just a cold. 

One wise-sounding doctor-type said that the most important thing to do when you develop a cold is open up your nose. If it stays blocked, the infection can travel to your sinuses, ears, throat and God knows where else. This made sense.

Energized by a plan of action to open up my nose which seemed as solid as badly overcooked grits. It was time to break out the nasal lavage. I posted about this little gem a few years back. Powerful is what it is. I mixed a generous half teaspoon of celtic salt in a cup of hot water and squirted it up my nose every few hours. Yes, it’s kind of gross and yes, it is kind of uncomfortable at first, but gosh daily, it works. 

Over the course of the next 36 hours, I used the lavage followed by a hot shower probably five times. The combination of the cleared nasal passages and the steam was heavenly.

To combat what seemed like a potential sore throat caused by drippy sinuses, I gargled with salt water (little higher ratio – probably a tablespoon per cup of hot water). I remember being forced to do this as a kid and protesting because it made me feel as if I was drowning.  But grandmothers tend to be right and besides, I was desperate. This was another case of re-discovering something from my youth that I never appreciated at the time, like my mother’s cooking or my little brother’s jokes. The gargling worked beautifully. The sore throat that was to be never was.

My other major weapon in this battle to kill my cold was food. Since I couldn’t taste anything the first day – I downed spinach at every meal, followed by grapefruit. Plenty of iron and vitamin C. I drank several pots of “cold chaser” tea which I keep on hand (find this at Cherie AnneDesigns in York!). It has plenty of thyme in it which is a primo healing herb when it comes to combating colds. I added a drop of Vitamin D (2000IU) to the first cup of the day. I reached for other superfoods like walnuts, oranges, and tomato soup – all loaded with vitamins to help my body combat and kick out my cold.

I went from miserable and barely functioning on Wednesday to feeling just fine on Friday. 48 hours of salt, steam, powerful foods, and no drugs.

By Saturday you would never have known I’d been sick. It was a wonderful day all around. Let me take this moment to send another shout out of thanks to everyone who made it over to celebrate with me.  This intentional battle with a cold would have been great information for the book. Ever since its publication, I’ve been stumbling upon more chapters I could have added. But it had to end somewhere. Living intentionally is a way of life that changes on a daily basis.

p.s. If You’d like your own copy of my new book – Live Intentionally: 65 Challenges for a Healthier Happier Life, you can purchase it on Amazon, or through the mail from me (signed copies and no shipping!) or, if you live around here purchase directly from me or one of my soon to be local retailers (Main Street Beauty Works and Cherie Anne Designs, where you can also pick up some Cold Chaser tea!).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finally - Lavash Crackers!

So ages ago, I promised I would post about the incredible Lavash Crackers I created. I know you’ve been saying to yourself, “When the heck is she going to post about those Lavash Crackers? What is up with that? She said she would post the recipe! Unreliable bloggess!” (Or maybe not.)

At any rate, below are the pictures and recipe for these amazing, melt in your mouth, uber crackers. I’ve always called them Lavish Crackers which is what they are – lavish, but the correct term is Lavash. These crackers originate in Armenia. I was inspired to learn to make them myself because I pay nearly an arm and a leg (where does that saying come from – was there a time when you could sell your arm and leg for big money?) for them at my favorite deli where I go to buy coconut gouda (I kid you not – it is heaven in a cheese).

Here is my annotated recipe (with pictures!) adapted from one I found in Organic Gardening magazine.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mornings: From Chaos to Calm (you can do it!)

Lately, our mornings have been getting out of hand. I crawl out of bed on the third snooze, pull on as many clothes as I can manage (my husband waits for the fourth snooze to get up and build fires in the woodstoves that heat our house) and put a pot of oatmeal on the stove for the kids. I then begin the CHORE of waking them all up. In the process, I am many times growled at and threatened. Trying not to take it personally (they’re teenagers), I generally throw in a load of laundry, locate my sneakers and my contacts and head out for a run. Then while running, I worry that one of them didn’t get up and I’ll return not only to a kitchen with oatmeal dripping down the stove and dishes abandoned on the table, but a child still snoozing oblivious to the beginning of another glorious day.

As I clean up the debris left from three obvious dashes out the door in my absence, I lament that our mornings have come to this. I fret that my middle child will find it hard to concentrate, once again having left without time to make lunch. I worry that the fact that no one brushed their teeth this morning (or any morning of late) means they will all end up with cavities and bad breath. I sigh when I find homework (due today!) abandoned on the kitchen table next to the jar of raisins. After that, I move on to berating myself for allowing my children to become such slobs in the first place and me for being so selfish that I leave for a run without making sure they are ready for their day.

One morning this week, as I turned yet another lap at the park (I couldn’t run my normal route due to the gauntlet of hunters dotting the trees surrounding our roads -it's hunting season in York County this week), I decided that it was time for a change. Our mornings need to be more intentional (to borrow a phrase from a soon-to-be bestselling book).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Giving the Sweet Potato it's Due

We harvested out sweet potatoes over a month ago, laying them out on my workbench to “cure” and then storing them in our “root cellar”. There are a LOT of sweet potatoes in there. Maybe more than enough.

I made sweet potato fries (my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes), roasted sweet potatoes, and sweet potato chips, but there are generally a limited number of customers in my family when it comes to sweet potatoes. Most everybody will eat the fries, but after that the audience drops substantially to about two. This is a sadness because I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes. In fact, I’m a superfan of this superfood. But I know someone who is more like a KING of sweet potatoes than a mere fan, like me. So, dear readers, let me introduce you to Mr. Jack.

Jack is a retired professor of Towson State University and runs the pool where my children have grown up. He not only makes careful use of the TIME OUT chair and teaches killer water aerobics, he also created and hosts the Pennsylvania Sweet Potato Festival (with the help of his amazing wife Bev). Jack knows more about sweet potatoes than anyone in my world, so rather than write a sub-par post on the beauty of the sweet potato (which I’ve done before), I interviewed Jack!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why Food isn't Food Anymore.....

Here's a helpful infographic that underscores plenty of my previous posts. (And yes, I'm cheating a little this week but the book is sooooo close to ready!) Food Fillers

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Create a Professional Kitchen (even if you're an amateur)

Once upon a time, I organized our kitchen. I threw out things we never used and sorted the useful items into the prime drawers. I gathered all the spices, donated the duplicates, and lined up the jars with the labels facing outwards. I matched up all the plastic containers and tossed anything without a matching lid. I cleared the counters of erroneous items that had come to reside there by default. I even took down every piece of children’s art on the fridge. The entire kitchen looked ready for show. Because it was. The house was for sale. Why is it we never really clean out clutter or make our spaces truly tidy until we’re either expecting the Queen or putting the house up for sale? Don’t we deserve to live in such pristine places, too?

This week the topic for my evening class was “Clearing Clutter and Cleaning” and in honor of that I began emptying drawers and scouring my kitchen for wasted stuff and wasted space. This is not a job done in one morning. This is a job that takes determination, a large trash can, and several extra boxes for donations and indecision. Let me share my 10-step Kitchen plan with you!