Natural Healing Omaha Blog
Summer berries eaten in season offer the most health benefits
My guest blogger, Jen Wilford, shares what she discovered about herself, and primitive man, when she started eating seasonally.
For most of my adult life I knew that eating seasonally was a good idea to save money at the grocery store. It wasn’t until I took a series of classes with a local nutritionist that I learned the real magic of eating seasonally through the lens of Chinese medicine.
Eating seasonally gives the body the right nutrients in one season to help prepare it to be healthy in the next season. It offers the right organs a rest in one season to help prepare those specific organs for the next season. A year of eating seasonally provides whole body health improvements that you may have been struggling with otherwise. That perspective gave me a whole new appreciation for the delightful early summer treat of strawberries.
Strawberries are the first fruit that appear on the landscape in early summer. If you’re eating seasonally, you’ve just come out of a “fruitless” winter and a spring where salad greens and asparagus have dominated your plate. Your first bite of a ripe strawberry tastes like a sweet dessert! And that’s quite a miracle considering that strawberries rank at the bottom when it comes to sugar content.
Anthropologically, the strawberry is meant to be the gateway to a summer of slightly higher sugar content than the other seasons due to the continual supply of seasonal fruit like watermelon and raspberries and ending with apples in the fall. It prepares the body to handle just a few more carbohydrates in preparation for the coming winter. Anthropologists believe this helped the body put on a little extra layer of fat to help paleolithic man get through winter without freezing. Winter was a time of scarcity during which that little extra layer of fat meant the difference between survival and death.
Fortunately, surviving the winter is less of a concern these days, but a healthy body and strong immunity are not. When you take a closer look at the nutrition profile of a strawberry, you’ll find that just 100 grams contains 98% of your recommended amount of vitamin C. Based on serving size, only blackberries and walnuts contain more antioxidents.
Here are my tips for maximizing your strawberry experience:
- Only purchase strawberries when they are in season, which is the month of June in the Midwest. They taste the best and cost the least.
- Purchase organic strawberries when possible because conventional strawberries rank among the highest in pesticide residues.
- Grow a little patch of strawberries in a sunny spot in your yard. They are easy to take care of, and freshly picked strawberries contain the highest levels of nutrients.
- Think twice about U-Pick strawberry farms. Be sure to ask them about the pesticides they use. It’s hard to manage acres of strawberries without them, and gorging on their strawberries can give you a high dose.
What about strawberry recipes, you ask? Nah, just eat the strawberry. Whole. Savor the taste. Appreciate the season. Share a bowl with a loved one that doesn’t mind your company with strawberry juice dripping down your chin. That’s the best strawberry recipe!
Jennifer Allen is a local food rights advocate and food educator. Her passion is helping to connect consumers with farmers.
A client brought his 94-year old mother to me, asking for help with her 4 months of bowel incontinence. It was making her miserable and exhausted, not to mention the discouraging loss of dignity that goes with that sort of thing.
Her doctors had prescribed all sorts of medications, but nothing worked. She was getting weaker every day. In my office, she covered up with her winter coat, looking frail and pale, but I could see the feisty woman she’d once been, underneath the weariness.
I suggested that her nursing staff stop serving her fruit juices, cold fruit, iced tea, and cottage cheese, all of which are known to contribute to loose stools and digestive problems for those with the TCM pattern of Spleen Qi Deficiency.
It’s a clinical term that describes a pattern of disharmony in Traditional Chinese Medicine. People with this pattern have sometimes been weakened by a long period of stress, like an illness (my client had suffered a stroke), or excessive cold, damp foods, or both.
A week later, the client’s son called to say that even before starting the course of herbs I recommended, she was having 50% fewer episodes of incontinence, and felt stronger overall. The staff was surprised at how much warmer foods, soups, and hot teas, improved her quality of life.
Holistic healing isn’t always about taking an herb or supplement. It takes into account everything from lifestyle factors to diet, and even spiritual practices. A minor adjustment like the temperature of your food can make a big difference in the whole you.
Could there be one simple practice that needs a tiny little turn-of-the-dial in your life or the life of someone close to you?
A funny thing happened when I hit the ‘Send’ button one morning. I accidentally told my mom, and about 12 other women friends, that I was glad she didn’t embarrass me in front of them at a mother-daughter event.
And you know what she said in her email reply? “I’m glad I didn’t embarrass you. The thought had crossed my mind.” My mom is a total good sport, but I almost never give her credit for it. I wonder if it occurred to her that I might embarrass HER?
I have a not-so-loving relationship with my mother. It’s not her fault. People always tell me how charming and funny and lovely she is. How much they enjoy having her around. But all I see through my judging eyes is someone who struggled with bipolar disease and didn’t pay enough attention to me.
I never stop to remember that she gave birth to 5 children in 7 years, moving with her military husband to at least 5 different bases, with no ‘I’m too tired to cook’ processed food dinners on the days when everyone was sick or crying or snowed in.
It rarely occurs to me that she was an inspiration for my holistic-style career. She insisted on whole wheat bread and a ‘no sugary snacks’ household, when Wonder Bread and Super Sugar Crisp were standard fare in 70’s suburban homes.
I always forget that she was the one who told my sister and I (I guess she assumed it was a given for my brothers) that we could do anything we wanted with our lives, and proved it by doing exactly that. As soon as we kids were all in school, she put her Chemistry and Physics degrees to work in a series of jobs that landed her in a professional engineering career.
That’s the kind of life that would make a grown kid proud of their parent. Even if I stopped right there, it would be plenty of reason to kick myself for missing opportunities to tell her.
We’ve seen Mom flirt with death at least 3 times. None of us kids thought she would live to see 2020.
Instead of sending accidental emails about how embarrassing my mom is, I hope to be a good sport and take the high road with her a little more often. That’s how I’ll honor Mom on Mother’s Day.
That little email has me wondering, now, if my own kids feel this way about me. I guess what goes around, comes around.
Healthy cleansing can be the push you need to better health
Today’s guest blog that started as an enthusiastic email from my friend Carolyn, who was tired of being ‘stuck’ in her old patterns. She found a way to break through after a couple weeks of seasonal cleansing. With some light editing of exclamation points, I’ll let her tell the story…
I was recently guided to attend one of Mo’s classes – a Spring cleanse. What a good idea, I thought. Get a little healthier, feel a little better, you know…the usual. Little did I know that this 2-week cleanse would completely change my life – healing my unhealthy patterns at a very deep level – and giving me a renewed sense of self.
The class turned out to be a cooking class, meant to prepare us for this 2-week, nearly vegan life-style. Mo, by showing us the actual “to-dos”, empowered us to go find the healthiest foods we could, and re-engage with our kitchens. And her enthusiasm and commitment to each of us was contagious.
It was tough, but because I’m married to an amazing man who also loves to cook (and who realized quickly that life was simply going to be easier by getting on board with this one). We made our collective way through it. I won’t give the details of everything this diet pushed us through in this blog (but perhaps over a healthy lunch??) but on the other side of 2 weeks….here’s what we are experiencing: my diarrhea (my companion for the last 20 or so years) is completely gone. We’re both sleeping through the night (rare!). My husband’s snoring….gone. He’s lost 13 pounds, I’ve lost 7, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Seriously, the energy that we are experiencing and the way our new bodies feel has changed us. We can never go back to drinking wine nearly every single night. Miracle of miracles, the desire is gone! Who knew? And who wants a huge chunk of beef in their stomachs now? Not us. Of course, we’re enjoying these things again, but in moderation as opposed to gluttony. We’re the “all in” types….enough said. The way our bodies feel now has actually become our dietary compass, and it’s joyful!
Last but certainly not least, because I’m getting a full night’s sleep, I’m getting up earlier, finding time for breakfast again, and have gotten back into a morning meditation practice – something I haven’t had in my life for years.
We are changed…
Seasonal cleansing is a gentle and safe way to bring about subtle (or in Carolyn’s case, not-so-subtle) change when you’re feeling stuck or stagnant. It could turn out to be just the nudge you needed to break a bad habit and start some new ones. Take cleansing to a holistic new healthy level – schedule a personal visit with me (text 402.965.0097). Email email@example.com for more information.
When was the last time you took a new route to work or changed the part in your hair? Did you decide a really long time ago you didn’t like a certain food, like brussel sprouts, so you never, ever tried it again?
It’s easy to to make a habit of behaviors that feel comfortable, flow smoothly, and only require occasional minor adaptation. Routines provide a safe feeling. You know what to expect. You come to identify with the person you see in the mirror.
Granted, there’s something to be said for making a habit of regular dental hygiene, for instance, or driving to work using a route with predictable stoplights and traffic patterns.
Habits allow you to funnel less mental energy into everyday routines. That frees up your mind for creative thoughts, like ‘what’s a seven-letter word for organic fertilizer?’
When you’re in your daily groove, you don’t always notice problems until they’re BIG ones. We follow the same patterns day to day, despite that tiny warning light that says ‘stop and check engine’.
Years ago, I struggled to recover from the depleting drugs and the emotional drain of chemo years ago. It frustrated me that habits which used to comfort me – eating sweet, rich food, drinking coffee to wake up, and blaming other people for my problems – didn’t satisfy me anymore. My habits had formed a roadblock to healing.
Having a health crisis has a way of making you re-examine how you do just about everything. That’s how I discovered the truth about this old maxim – if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
When it comes to health care, we’ve been trained to get results without requiring a change of habits. A pill or surgery gets the depression, the pain, or chronic irritation to stop bothering us. But this approach often masks the real issue, and we end up having to deal with the core problem eventually.
There’s no way around it. Getting genuinely healthy means making permanent CHANGE. And there’s no time like the present to start. My life coach calls these ‘small, sweet steps’.
- Start by observing habitual behavior, like midnight snacking, mindless refills of coffee all morning, or even checking and re-checking email, texts, and social media 88 times a day (the national average for smartphone users).
- Decide ahead of time what you’ll do when faced with the temptation to snack, fill up your cup, and tap into social media to kill time.
- Be specific, then write it down. “I will only check my [insert social media platform] twice a day at [insert actual times].
- And then stick to it. Give yourself a week to catch on. And eventually you’ll get un-stuck, lose weight, sleep better, feel less pain, be less stressed out. And happier.
Every now and then, it’s healthy to fluster and confound your brain, shut down the cruise control driving those habits.
Like freshly hiked paths, these brain connections have to be ‘trod on’ over and over until the new behavior/thought is learned and becomes the new routine. That takes some work. It will frustrate and irritate you. It will tempt even the strongest of you to slip back into old patterns.
Without a plan, I always fail at this. I’m a genius at coming up with excuses for unhealthy behavior – the best one is “I don’t really have PROOF that this is a problem for me, so one more [insert behavior] won’t hurt.”
By mapping out my detour, I know where I’m going and what success looks like. At the new destination is a sense of accomplishment, pride, and a more flexible, creative me, with brain connections that lead to crossword answers like ‘compost’ [raise your hand if you got that one 🙂 ].
It took this late bloomer a few extra years to grow into herbal medicine.
Some Spring seasons, I get a little fidgety waiting for the daffodils and tulips. Can you blame me? I’ve spent most of my life expecting Nebraska Spring to prove that winter doesn’t last for-EVER.
The thing is, I can totally relate to a season that takes its time showing up. I’ve always been a little late to the party myself. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been hopelessly behind in personal fashion, trendy fads and hairstyles. That didn’t stop me from trying to style my own hair for second-grade picture day.
And for someone who’s always in a hurry, it surprises me as much as anybody that it took me so long to figure out my vocation. For Spring and me, it’s been fits and starts the whole way. One day we’re radiant and hopeful, the next, we’re plunged into gray and gloomy.
I didn’t figure out this herbalist thing until way after 40. By then, my younger sister was already retired, my brothers were well into their careers, and my friends were accomplished teachers, attorneys, dentists, and the types of professionals I was encouraged to be as a kid.
Then, like a fluky Spring snowstorm, the defining moment of my life came along out of nowhere. Instead of losing all hope of finding my calling, treatment and recovery from breast cancer planted the seed for my herbalist roots. Sitting in the chemo room watching the pink stuff draining into my veins, I hit the proverbial rock bottom. I finally gave myself permission to start healing all the wounds that got me there. Like those seeds in Yellowstone, the ones that need an intense fire to germinate, I needed a trial by fire.
It took me a few years to get it all straightened out, but some perennial force has kept me going and growing. I dug up buried emotional and physical pain, pulled it apart and used it as compost for my herbalism work. All those years of pain finally make sense. Healing and recovery were the life experiences I needed to appreciate the suffering my clients carry with them.
Yeah, I took my time, tried on a couple suits that didn’t fit. Raised three kids I’m seriously proud of. It hasn’t been a wasted life by any measure. And now, I get to put it all together with a lifelong curiosity and love of learning, into my work as an herbalist who’s just emerging after a long winter (and some seriously bad hair days).
Winter really doesn’t last forever. Maybe just another week…
In Chinese medicine, it’s taught that a healthy Liver means more than a nicely ‘detoxed’ body. It also holds the key to the free and healthy expression of emotions. Your Liver ensures balanced expressions of righteous anger, sadness, fear, and even the creativity.
When you’re robbed of the ability to express yourself and your needs freely and appropriately, you get stuck. You stop growing. You lose the courage or resolve to change and evolve. Your sense of direction and drive to excel at what you do just peters out.
If you feel stuck, directionless, or without focus or inspiration, maybe your Liver could use a cleanse. What better time than after a dark, cold Winter to wake up your body with lighter, greener foods?
For millennia, cultures around the world have formed detoxing or cleansing rituals around certain seasons or spiritual practices. Consider the use of sweat lodges in Native American cultures, European healing spas, Ayurvedic Pancha karma. The Catholic Lenten season of fasting, prayer, and alms-giving is a perfect example of a Spring ritual of rebirth.
Get inspired with a healthy Spring Cleanse. Love your Liver, which the Chinese say is most active in Spring, and your whole body will thank you. For personal guidance on how to conduct an effective, healthy cleanse this Spring, schedule a visit with me today. Tex 402.965-0097 or email info@NaturalHealingOmaha.com.
Every Spring, Mother Nature launches clouds of pollen that stir up misery ranging from sneezes to red eyes and swollen faces. Then, she provides the gift that calms, soothes, and relieves it all.
Start now, and lower the chance of spring allergies morphing into infection. Stop symptoms before they start.
Here are some of the plants in her green bag of tricks, to relieve your springtime woes.
*Nettle leaf tea – stinging nettle leaf provides gentle relief for mild, allergy-related symptoms – itchy, watery eyes, sniffly nose, headache pressure, even ear itching. Let a teabag steep for 5-10 minutes, and drink 2-3 cups daily, a few days before symptoms tend to begin. Nettle leaf is also loaded with essential minerals that nourish your tired adrenals. That means your immune system will love it, too. Just a simple weed, with powerful, rejuvenating properties.
*Eyebright tea or tincture – Eyes tearing up and watering? Itchy ears or tired eyes? Eyebright tea. For a soothing compress, soak a wet cloth in your tea, and apply the cloth directly to your tired eyes. One application can be enough to relieve the irritation. This works with an ordinary green tea bag, too!
*Bi Min Gan Wan – if your allergies have a tendency to become sinus infections, this Chinese herbal ‘teapill’ is for you. At the first hint of sinus pressure, congestion, or pain, take the recommended dose. Wake up congested every morning? Bi Min Gan Wan clears up your clogged head without drying, like anti-histamines can.
*Local Honey – Local honey is incredibly good at ‘inoculating’ your immune system in small doses over a long time, giving you a fighting chance with local pollens. A once-daily teaspoon of local honey won’t completely clear up this season’s symptoms, but if you stick to it, by this time next spring or fall, you could be tip-toeing through the tulips with a clear nose.
*Is Ragweed Your Trigger? – You might be surprised that ragweed allergies tend to respond well to an herbal remedy containing – get this – ragweed the plant. Tincturing the leaves before the plant blooms creates the ‘like cures like’ homeopathic effect for ragweed allergy relief. It even reduces symptoms from all sorts of other offending pollens. Here’s a great blog about this phenomenon, from my teacher, Lesley Tierra.
How about scheduling a Quick Stop, 15-minute visit before the season hits? For less than most co-payments, we can design a personalized solution to your seasonal challenges. Schedule your Quick Stop appointment today – $35 plus herbs. Text 402-965-0097.
White bean soup with gluten-free cornbread. Snow day deliciousness.
When I think of snow, I think soup. So, of course I spent our Nebraska snow day in the kitchen cooking up a bowl of tummy-warming homemade soup.
Here’s how to start a pot of white bean soup cooking for your family:
Soak a 1 lb bag of white beans, great northern or navy beans in water overnight. In the morning, drain and set aside.
Chop one onion, 6-8 stalks of celery, 5 large carrots, 4 cloves of garlic and 2 turnips. Place in soup pot and saute in 2 Tbsp ghee, butter or oil until onion is translucent.
Add drained beans, 6-8 cups water, 1 heaping Tbsp vegetable bullion, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1 tsp thyme leaves and 1 lb neck bones, smoked ham or turkey bone or ham hock.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. Take the bones out, remove all the meat you can and throw bones away (or make your doggie really happy and share). Return meat to soup, adding salt or seasonings to taste. Cook 5 more minutes and serve with gluten-free cornbread (I used Bob’s Red Mill – very tasty and easy mix). YUM!
Since I was kid, I’ve been fighting sleep. When everyone else was snoring in their beds on Saturday morning, the 12-year old Mo was awake, buzzing around, making homemade cinnamon rolls from a box of Bisquick.
It’s been a source of frustration, and a blessing, to be an early riser. It didn’t bother me nearly so much then as it does now. I mean, waking at 3:30 am some mornings and not falling back to sleep, or always getting up before my alarm, is downright annoying.
So recently, I trotted out an Ayurvedic solution I’d forgotten about, and wouldn’t you know, I slept like a log. All I really wanted was something to soothe my dry winter skin, so I took a long bath and then slathered on sesame oil…all over. Voila! Finally, 8 straight hours of sleep. I slept so hard my neck had a crick in it – you know that feeling?
What is it about oil on dry skin that calms the mind? Ayurvedic physicians know this particular healing method well. It’s a big component of what’s known as pancha karma therapy. But you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars at an ashram or Ayurvedic clinic to get the benefits of a simple sesame oil rubdown. Just open your cupboard and pour it on.
What are YOUR favorite sleep remedies?