Rambutan…..rambu-what???

rambutan(source)

Native to Malaysia, this fruit is also grown in  Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia.  This particular tree can grow to about 50 – 80 feet high, but it’s not the height that interests me….look at the fruit!  Have you ever seen anything like this before??

Rambutan is closely related to the lychee fruit (and I know you remember THIS post, she said sarcastically).  And here’s the weird part…there are three different kinds of rambutan (no, that isn’t the weird part, the next part is the weird part). 

There is the male fruit, the hermaphrodite functioning as males and the hermaphrodite functioning as females Wha???

To the peeps in southeast Asia, this little beauty is as normal as an apple is to us, or at least most of us.

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YepShe’s pretty hairy, isn’t she….or he?  The word rambut in Malay is ‘hairy’, which you can see on the spiky rind, but don’t worry…if you bit into one of these little jewels there would be no ouchie.  They are soft and harmless.

So what do we do with it and how the heck do we eat it:   You can purchase the rambutan in Asian/Chinese markets in the produce area.  And you want to look for ones with bright red skin, not so much orange or yellow.  And don’t purchase if you see they have ‘black’ hairs….in fact, don’t purchase anything in the produce section with black hair on it…..(insert gag here).

Health Benefits:  Rambutans are high in vitamin C, plus copper, manganese, and trace elements of many other nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and iron.

How do we get to the good part:  Make a cut through the skin with a sharp knife.  Note: If your rambutans are very ripe, they can also be twisted open between your hands, and the fruit simply pops out.  Next peel away the skin and either cut out the seed inside or pop it into your mouth and have fun spitting the seed out!  (they frown on this in the produce department so wait until you get home).

Here’s a beautiful and tropical fruit salad to enjoy! (via)

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Ingredients:

  • YIELD: 1 large bowl of fruit salad
  • 1+1/2 cups fresh papaya, cubed
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or canned
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup mango, cubed
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced or cut into quarters
  • 1 cup other fruit, local OR exotic such as blueberries, melon, dragon fruit, lychees, longans, or rambutans
  • Garnish: starfruit slices
  • FRUIT SALAD DRESSING:
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar OR palm sugar

Preparation:

  1. Stir fruit salad dressing ingredients together in a cup until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.
  2. Place all the fresh fruit in a mixing bowl.
  3. Pour the dressing over and toss well to mix.
  4. Pour or scoop the fruit salad into a serving bowl, or into a prepared pineapple boat (as pictured).  Garnish just before serving with a star fruit slice.

Star Fruit Tip: To keep starfruit from going brown after slicing, simply drizzle over some fresh lime or lemon juice.

nuts over this yummy scrub!

scrub_2420(via)

Rosmarinus officinalis, or Rosemary is  a wonderful herb to have in your garden, your kitchen and even your bathroom!

Rosemary has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that leave the skin smelling clean with its earthy aroma.  This particular scrub is made with rosemary and pecans, which have more than 19 vitamins and minerals to their name!

You’re going to want to keep this scrub near the sink with a small (think demitasse) spoon nearby.  Use this scrub after gardening or whenever your hands feel dry and need an extra kick of moisture.  This is also good to have in the shower for elbows, feet and knees.  Just be careful if you use a glass container….maybe you should find a cute plastic one for the shower.

ROSEMARY PECAN SUGAR SCRUB (recipe source)

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 cup pecans (raw)

1/4 cup sea salt

6 T. coconut oil

2 T. fresh rosemary

In a food processor, combine all ingredients.  Pulse until well blended.  Pour mixture into a decorative glass container with lid.

Gently rub spoonful of scrub onto hands (or feet) and rinse with warm water.  Use scrub within one week for best results.

rosemary

your knock-out-the-migraine grocery list…

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MIGRAINES……ugh.  Just the word sends me into a tizzy!!

If you have them, you know that there are certain foods that trigger those horrible headaches.  You know, so now let’s look at the flip side.

 THIS is a list of foods that have high levels of nutrients such as, riboflavin, magnesium, and omega-3 fats, so we can knock out those nasty migraines!

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FRUIT

  • apples (green and yellow, not red)
  • berries
  • cantaloupe
  • cherries
  • cranberries
  • honeydew
  • mangoes
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • pears (brown and green only, not red)
  • watermelon

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VEGETABLES

  • artichoke (fresh, not canned)
  • asparagus
  • beets
  • beans, starchy (black cannellini, garbanzo, kidney and white)
  • bell peppers
  • broccoli
  • broccoli raab
  • brussel sprouts
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • corn
  • cucumbers
  • dark leafy greens
  • lettuce
  • mushrooms
  • potatoes
  • pumpkin
  • rhubarb
  • spinach
  • squash, summer
  • squash, winter (acorn and butternut)
  • turnips
  • zucchini

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LEAN PROTEINS

  • fresh beef (organic, grass fed lean cuts)
  • fresh chicken (organic, free range)
  • eggs (organic, free range)
  • fresh turkey (organic, free range)

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NUTS AND SEEDS

  • chia seeds
  • flaxseeds
  • pumpkin seeds (raw)
  • sunflower seeds (raw)

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WHOLE GRAINS

  • amaranth
  • bulgur
  • cereal, whole grain
  • bread, whole grain
  • crackers, whole grain (no MSG)
  • millet
  • oats
  • pasta, whole grain
  • popcorn, air-pooped
  • quinoa
  • rice, brown and wild

Some of these foods might be a trigger for YOU.  Keep a food  diary and try a one month long elimination diet by eating foods from this list.  Slowly introduce potential trigger foods one at a time so you can determine which foods to avoid.

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living with labels….

organic 

 

There’s a difference???

So are “natural” and “organic” synonymous with each other?  Well, I’m hopefully going to shed a little light in the label war and you can judge for yourself.  Let’s start…

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ORGANIC:  Products bearing this label are required to contain no less than 95% certified organic ingredients.  The remaining 5% are non-organic and synthetic ingredients.

100% ORGANIC:  By law, these products have to be made entirely of certified organic ingredients, produced in accordance with federal organic standards and include no  synthetics.

MADE WITH ORGANIC INGREDIENTS:  These products have a 70/30 split of organic and non-organic ingredients that have been approved by the USDA.

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NATURAL:  Concerning meat, it means the manufacturer claims to have used no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.   “Naturally raised means  no growth promoters, antibiotics, animal by-products, or fish by-products.

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FREE RANGE:  This label does NOT mean that the animals have spent most of the time outdoors.  To use this label means the producers have to only offer the animals outdoor access as little as 5 minutes per dayBut “allowing access” doesn’t mean much. A small door in a barn with thousands  of chickens technically gives chickens an opportunity to go outside, but that  doesn’t mean that they’ll have access to grass (it may only be a concrete slab). (via)

Bottom line:  Eat fresh.  Eat local.  Do it.

Eat-Local

He Shu Wu….who?

images What the???

Well, here’s a new one to me!  He Shu Wu.  (pronounced huh show woo)

He Shu Wu is is one of the most popular and highly revered tonic herbs in Asian herbalism.  It is said to possess almost magical properties and the ‘elderly’ love it the most, believing it can maintain hair color, preserve youthfulness and restore fertility.  What’s not to love?

According to dragonherbs.com,

He Shou Wu is widely used in Chinese tonic herbalism as a tonic to prevent premature aging by tonifying the Kidney and Liver functions, toning up Jing (vital essence), nourishing the blood, and fortifying the muscles, tendons and bones. It strengthens and stabilizes the lower back and knees. He Shou Wu is used to enhance sexual drive, increase sperm count and to strengthen sperm and ova. It is also widely used in Asia to maintain the youthful condition and color of the hair. This is one of its most popular attributes. Because it is a very mild sedative, it will calm the nervous system, and because it has components that are potent antioxidants with gentle anti-inflammatory action in the liver, it can clear the eyes.”

Well…….there you go! 

images  Pretty, no?  No. 

But, let’s summarize:

  • liver and kidney tonic
  • relieves constipation (with Dang Gui and Hemp Seed)
  • helps with insomnia
  • clears skin problems
  • elevated serum cholesterol
  • weakness
  • excessive sweating
  • pain

But before you get all giggly about this herb, there are some side effects you might want to investigate first……Read more about side effects HERE.  And ALWAYS consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any new program…

  • loose stools
  • skin rash
  • numbness
  • liver dysfunction
  • estrogenic effects

It can be purchased HERE in tablet form.  According to Natural News, William Rudolph, “Potency and quality are keys when consuming He Shou Wu. It should have been  growing for at least 4 years and it needs to be properly prepared (by a  qualified herbalist) to experience the full tonic effects. This is done by  slicing the root shortly after harvesting and then boiling it in a soup of black  beans. It can then be made into a powder suitable for mixing in smoothies, or it  can also be taken in capsule or tincture form.”

Learn more:  http://www.naturalnews.com/028709_gray_hair_He_Shou_Wu.html

changing the way we eat…

Seriously, we can be such idiots when we are hungry.

Do you realize that we have completely transformed what, when and how we eat, since our great-grandparent’s day?  We live our lives in such a hurry, eating in our cars, in front of our televisions sets or standing in the kitchen.  We throw frozen food in little plastic trays in the microwave and don’t even give it a second thought.  We have forgotten to stop and enjoy the aromas, feel the textures or even taste our food.  (I’m guilty too!)

Back in our great-grandparents day, or even our grandparents day (depending on your age), most had gardens and did their own growing and harvesting.   As Michael Pollan states, “If it came from the planet, eat it.  If it was made in a plant, don’t.”

Back in the 1850s, the women of rural American were still  primarily cooking with ingredients that were grown on their own farms or in their gardens.  Any foods  they couldn’t produce themselves were often purchased in bulk  from the local general store. Can  you imagine if our ancestors were to walk into our grocery stores today?  The center of the store, where the packaged, over processed foods live, is larger than the produce section!

Our ancestors ate whole and unprocessed vegetables, along with fruits, grains, beans and nuts.  They didn’t run to the freezer section to grab some frozen french fries or a lean cuisine.

Somewhere along the way we became disconnected from the real foods that have to be plucked, harvested or squeezed and have chosen the ‘easy‘ way.

The good news is that we CAN change and our health will benefit in the long run.

Buy live, organic foods.  If you are able to make a trip each day to the store your food will be that much fresher!  Take a few minutes to inspect your produce carefully.  Remember, organic produce may be less colorful or less perfectly shaped, but have you every bought a big, red tomato from the grocery store only to find out that it was weak and had no flavor?  YUK!  They might not look perfect, but at least you know there aren’t pesticides sprayed all over them.

Start paying attention to the times of the day that you eat your food.  Use all your senses.  Look at your food, smell your food and enjoy your food!  Make it special!  Turn off the television and play some relaxing music.  Start your meal off with a blessing.  Sit at the table, even if you are alone, and maybe it’s time to pull out the good china!  Try to place your fork back on the plate after each bite so you can focus on what you are eating.

You’re worth it!  The point is to be relaxed and chew slowly.

Now…be sure you have living foods on your plate!  You may be surprised to find that by making good choices now, you can dramatically improve the quality of your life!

using ‘green’ bug repellents on the fly….er, mosquito..

When your backyard is 3 million acres of a Natural Forest, you need a little something with ‘ooompf’ to keep the pesky insects at bay.  However, we’re not about to let some pesky flying bugs ruin an entire summer of backyard barbecues, hikes in the woods or just a walk around the property to keep us indoors!

I grew up in Texas where mosquitoes ruled.  We were the kids that would play in the cul-de-sac during the late evenings when the mosquito truck would pull through the neighborhood, spewing a nasty chemical (DDT) into the air.  We were the kids that chased….yes!  chased the truck, playing hide and go seek and riding our bikes in the toxic fog!  We were practically bathing in it!!  (insert twitch and asthmatic cough here)

Thankfully, times have changed!   There are some natural, ‘green’ solutions to be rid of those blood suckers: (via)

  • Blend of essential oils:
    1. Mix the following essential oils in a 4 oz. container: 20 drops Eucalyptus oil, 20 drops Cedarwood oil, 10 drops Tea Tree oil, and 10 drops Geranium oil.
    2. Add 2 oz. of a carrier oil (such as Jojoba). Mix well.
  • Mint-based bug spray:
    1. Place 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of either catnip, spearmint, or pennyroyal (all in the mint family) in a spray bottle.
    2. Add 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol and 1 cup of water.
    3. Shake well.
  • Herbal insect repellent safe for use on the face:
    1. Blend 4 drops each of sandalwood, cajeput, and lavender essential oils with 2 teaspoons of carrier oil (such as extra virgin olive oil).
    2. Mix well and apply as needed.
  • Vodka Mist Insect Repellent:
    1. Mix the following in a spray bottle: 50 drops Jojoba, 50 drops Lavender, 25 drops Eucalyptus lemon, 25 drops Lemongrass, 25 drops Patchouli, and 25 drops Cajeput.
    2. Add 1 fluid ounce of vodka (to the spray bottle..not your mouth, people!)
    3. Mix well.
    4. Apply jojoba oil before spraying the repellent on the skin.
  • Natural insect repellent lotion:
    1. Place 2 ounces distilled water in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Slowly drizzle in 2 ounces of olive oil while beating quickly with a wire whisk.
    3. After the oil is mixed into the distilled water, stir in 120 drops of citronella essential oil.

Making homemade bug spray helps you go green because…

  • You do not need to purchase chemical bug sprays. Using products containing the insect repellent DEET may be harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife, as well as human health.

One of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought conventional bug sprays for personal use is N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, as it’s commonly known. DEET, which is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects. DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the US population each year. Although DEET is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems; according to the EPA, at least 18 different cases of children suffering adverse nuerological effects, as well as the deaths of two adults, have been associated with DEET. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have found that DEET causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats.[1]

DEET has been shown to have a negative impact on wildlife and water sources in production and during use. DEET is toxic to birds and aquatic life. DEET has been found in approximately 75 percent of U.S. water sources, including the Mississippi River.[2]

SO STAY INFORMED NOT INDOORS…

(1) Cornell – DEET Mosquito Repellent: New pharmacology study of impacts

(2) About.com – The Downside of DEET Insect Repellents: Health and Environmental Risks Associated with the Use of DEET

toxic makeup?…

Do you know what is lurking in your cosmetics? Take a look…and tell your girlfriends!

1,4-dioxane: A known animal carcinogen and probable human carcinogen, according to the EPA. It’s also a byproduct of a petrochemical process known as “ethyoxlation,” which involves adding ethylene oxide (a toxin linked to breast cancer) to other chemicals to render them less harsh. More than 56 cosmetics ingredients are associated with 1,4-dioxane, including sodium laureth sulfate, sodium myreth sulfate, polyethylene glycol, and chemicals that end in “xynol,” “ceteareth” and “oleth.”

Aluminum chlorohydrate: An astringent used as a topical antiperspirant or topical body deodorant. Aluminum is a neurotoxin that alters the function of the blood-brain barrier, linking it to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Ammonia: A compound used in hair dyes and bleaches. It releases a caustic, pungent gas that severely irritates the eyes and respiratory tract.

Dibutyl phthalate: A chemical plasticizer found in nail polish and mascara that helps prevent cracking. Studies have shown that it causes birth defects and harms male reproductive organs. DBP and other forms of phthalates are also frequently present in fragrances used in air fresheners, cleaning detergents, and hair sprays. A loophole in federal law allows phthalates to be included in fragrances without ever appearing on the product’s label, which means that phthalates are more ubiquitous than we realize. In September 2000, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found seven phthalates, including DBP, in the bodies of all 289 persons they tested. More alarming, however, was the fact that women of child-bearing age, who could conceivably be pregnant and expose their fetuses to dangerous toxins while in the womb, appeared to receive the highest exposures–up to 20 times more DBP than the average person, well above the federal safety standard.

Formaldehyde: A preservative and disinfectant classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen. Found in cosmetics such as mascara and eye shadows, formaldehyde can cause nausea, coughing, and asthma symptoms, as well as burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat.

Lead actetate: Although banned from use in cosmetics in the European Union, this lead compound, which is a known developmental and neurotoxin, can be found in hair dyes and cleansers in the United States.

Hydroquinone: A skin-bleaching chemical, as well as a possible carcinogen, neurotoxin, and skin sensitizer. Hydroquinone can cause a disfiguring skin disease called ochronosis, which results in irreversible black-blue lesions.

Mercury: Used as a preservative and antibacterial agent in cosmetics such as mascara, where it can be listed under the name “thimersoal,” mercury can damage brain function even at low levels. Mercury can be found in eye drops and certain imported skin-lightening creams, as well.

Nanoparticles: Largely untested, these extremely minuscule particles are usually undeclared on product labels, even though they can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. You can find them in bronzers, eye shadows, sunscreens, and lotions.

Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, isoparapben, etc.): The most common preservatives used in cosmetics to prevent bacterial and fungal growth. Parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, which some studies show plays a role in the development breast cancer and urogenital abnormalities.

Triclosan: An antibacterial compound found in cleansers, deodorants and other cosmetic products that is classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen. Overuse could also result in strains of drug-resistant superbacteria.

Toluene: A solvent and nervous-system toxin found in some nail polishes. High amounts can affect kidneys and cause birth defects. It’s also used to dissolve paint and as an octane booster in gasoline fuels used in internal combustion engines.  (taken from treehugger.com)

Get back to basics, ladies. Did you know that Castor Oil is great for oily skin? Pour about two tablespoons into your palm and add a few drops of jojoba oil and massage onto your face. Leave on for about two minutes (relax.. go lay down!) soak a washcloth with hot water, place on skin and let it steam your pores open. Then lightly wipe away all oil! Trust me! It all comes off and your face is soft and lovely!!
Use coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of your lotion that contains drying alcohol.
Try brown sugar as an all over body scrub. Just add some coconut oil and you will be soft and smell delicious!

Whatever you put on your skin will travel to your liver in 60 seconds!  Eeek!  Ladies, lets love our liver!! Check-up your makeup and go natural…..naturally!