Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lemon joy cookies

1 cup soft butter
21/2 cups spelt flour
1 cup arrowroot starch flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ cup honey
¼ cup plain soy milk
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients into the butter in the order shown. Roll into small balls and press with thumb on a baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes. Let them melt on your tongue.

greens+ energy treats

2 cup dates
1 1/3 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp honey
4 scoops ‘greens+ kids’
Shredded coconut

Use a food processor to chop the dates and almonds very fine. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the honey (the honey is there to help the mixture stick together – use only the amount that you need) and greens+ powder. Use your hands to form the mixture into small balls and roll in the coconut until they are coated. Put the balls in a freezer-safe container and eat cold on a hot day!

Love is in the air

Perfume sales are extremely high this week. Why is this? It’s because people have come to understand the intense connection between smell and romance. I am not talking about the pheromone-scent that is given off by the opposite sex and that lures us in without being consciously aware (and which cheesy infomercials say you can now buy to help make your wildest dreams come true!). I am referring to the scents around us that we can choose to use to our advantage.
Our olfactory nerves connect directly to the limbic brain where many of our emotions and memories are stored. Because of this, a scent can instantly trigger a very vivid memory or conversely, serve to make you unforgettable. Perfume manufacturers know this, and include a variety of odd notes to create signature scents that will appeal on a chemical level to a wide mix of people. You don’t need to buy an expensive label to get this effect though; you can do it yourself with a few oils and spices.
There are many essential oils that are reported to have aphrodisiac qualities. One that you’ll find in most blends is ylang-ylang. Its scent is hard to classify as it is floral, yet spicy, rich and sweet. Because of this it is used extensively in cosmetics, soaps, bubble baths, etc. There is a tradition in Indonesia to spread these flowers on the bed of a newly married couple. Ylang-ylang’s reputation as an aphrodisiac may come from its healing affects on the nervous system: neutralizing stress, depression and tension. Its beneficial affects on the circulatory system probably help in this respect too. The writer of one aromatherapy book stated that this oil “soothes and inhibits anger born of frustration.”
In one large survey done with men of a variety of ages, it was discovered that the scent most likely to arouse young men is cinnamon. In older men the most attractive smell is vanilla. Don’t ask me where the cut off is between the two! It kind of makes you want to bake something though, doesn’t it?
I have written extensively on cinnamon as it relates to blood sugar and how it heals the digestive system, but never on the perks it could have for your love life. Cinnamon is recognized as a general stimulant, encouraging good circulation and overall health. Like ylang-ylang, it helps the body deal with stress more efficiently, easing nervous tension and exhaustion. The two oils complement each other rather well and are often paired together in perfume blends. One note of caution is that cinnamon oil can irritate the skin and should only be used well diluted with some form of carrier oil (grapeseed oil works very well for massage) or unscented lotion.
Vanilla is harder to find good information on as it is usually not considered a true aromatherapy oil. The scent is very relaxing and will usually evoke pleasant memories. People report a sense of being transported “home” when they breathe it in.
Many other oils fall into this category, including rose, neroli, jasmine, and plain old black pepper. Whether you choose to add these scents to oil for a special massage, diffuse them through the room to set the atmosphere, wear them on your skin as your own unique perfume, or create a meal with attention to spices, the results are sure to be spectacular.

Bill C-51

I am always curious as to how certain pieces of legislature come about. The proposed Bill C-51 for instance, that is causing ripples of protest throughout the natural health field.
According the Government of Canada website Bill C-51 is; “An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, was introduced in the House of Commons on 8 April 2008. Among other things, the bill creates new offences relating to food, therapeutic products (a new term used in the bill that includes drugs) and cosmetics, requires licenses for importing food and for interprovincial trade in food, and makes amendments to the licensing of therapeutic products.” The claim is that this radical reformation of the current Food and Drug Act will help keep people safer.
In 2004 regulations were put into place to make sure that all manufacturers of herbs and vitamins meet certain standards. Many smaller companies were unable to afford the money and time needed to get this status, and as a result have disappeared from the market. Others have repeatedly been told to revamp their applications so that even four years later, their status is still dubious.
According to many of the petitions I’ve been asked to sign to stop this from being passed however, up to 60-75 percent of our natural health products could become outlawed and parents who give herbs and vitamins to children without the express permission of a medical doctor could be criminals. The new bill would replace the word “drug” as it appears throughout the Act, with the term “therapeutic product”, thus leaving all plant-based remedies under the same control as pharmaceuticals.
I don’t like to be alarmist and claims that I have read online about this Bill allowing the government to seize your assets, raid your home or business and throw you into jail for the heinous crime of making an herbal tincture seem like they may be exaggerated.
But as I write this, I am sitting in my yard, watching my herbs grow strong in the sunlight, and I wonder where the line between food and medicine will be drawn. For example, if I pick dandelion leaves out of my lawn and put them into a salad as a tonic for my liver, is that food or medicine? If I make my own salve using calendula flowers and give a jar to a friend as a gift, am I now manufacturing and bottling a drug? I’ve never thought of myself as the criminal type, but if teas made from my garden are suddenly banned I may find myself running a hippie-based black market! The implications are a little too Orwellian for my taste.
There are plenty of resources out there for people who would like to know more about this and try to make a difference. One is through Health Action Network (HANS) who is trying to be a voice for the health-conscious in Canada. They publish a great little magazine and are always looking for new members to spread the word There are also an abundance of online petitions you can sign, or drafts of letters you can download and send in to make your voice heard.
If worse comes to worse, I’ll save a bottle of echinacea for you.

Dial "D" for danger!

In your car, on they way to work, you see someone in front of you weaving a bit on the road. Not enough that you would classify it as “dangerous” perhaps, but enough that you’re a little nervous about passing them. As you drive past, you see the cell-phone in hand.
Admit it, we all do it every once and awhile and we all know that it’s dangerous. Did you know that it can be dangerous to use a cell while walking? A new study conducted with children age 8-10 using a virtual reality simulator showed that kids were significantly more likely to get hit by a virtual car when crossing the street when they were on a phone. The researchers concluded that the accident rate would be even higher if the person the kids were talking to on the phone was a best-friend, a cute boy or a parent they were in conflict with, rather than an unknown expert. The really scary news is that the confusion and bad decision making, for both children and drivers, lasts for several minutes longer than the phone call goes on. Could there be something more dangerous than just distraction going on here?
Many have heard that call -phones could cause cancer. Most of the health concerns are based on the fact that cell-phones use electro-magnetic radiation in the microwave range. Trust me, I am heavily aware of the irony in the fact that I stopped using a microwave and started using a cell-phone at pretty much the same time in my life! The World Health Organization has declared that there is no real evidence proving ill-effects from cell-phones or their base towers and appears to be highly critical of any studies that might state otherwise.
And yet, there are some compelling studies out there. Some scientists claim that they have lost funding and support form multinational corporations due to their findings. “Professor Ross Adey, a biologist, had his funding withdrawn by Motorola before completing research which showed that mobiles affected the number of brain tumors in animals. Dr. Henry Lai, who has been studying the biological effects of electromagnetic fields for 20 years, was asked three times to change findings on how they caused DNA breaks in rats.” (Fleming et al. “Cover-up claims over mobile phone danger.” Express Newspapers, May 24, 1999). These two scientists found that someone else was interested in their research. Many of their observations on the health effects of EMFs have been used in increasing the military’s understanding of these potential weapons applications (Earth Rising – The Revolution: Toward a Thousand Years of Peace. by Dr. Nick Begich and James Roderick, January 2000). I’m claiming all my sources here because I know this is a touchy subject and I want people to look into this more themselves.
There is a lot of information out there about the dangers of cell-phones, but not a lot of suggestions for reducing risks. Research suggests keeping phones away from areas that are particularly sensitive such as the heart, ovaries, and testis. Mushrooms such as maitake and reishi have been shown to help the body deal with certain frequencies. All herbs and foods that aid the nervous system, especially those that protect the myelin sheath such as lecithin, can be helpful as well. There are even devices that can be placed on the phone to reduce the negative affect.
Sometimes in studies, the affects on human tissues can seem insignificant because they only look at cell-phone radiation and only for a limited period of time. In real life however, most people in our society are now exposed to these waves from cell-phones on the road, cordless phones at home and work, micro waved food on the table and wireless internet on their laps! All those little bits probably add up after a time, don’t you think?

Caffeinated Kids

“Hi, I’ll have a Grande cappuccino with three shots of syrup and make it quick; my mom’s waiting for me.” It’s funny, but not really. The number of children under the age of twelve addicted to caffeine is staggering. Between pop, iced tea and chocolate, kids consume a lot of coffee in the average week.
Now many people would have read my article in the summer where I talked about my love of coffee, and all the antioxidant benefits that come along with it. This is by no means a retraction of what I said there! But children react differently to stimulants then adults do, and a nine or ten year old brain is simply unable to cope with the effects of caffeine.
Think about what happens when someone, even an adult, has too much caffeine. It becomes very difficult to concentrate, think clearly, or even sit still. Now think about how many kids in the school system have “learning difficulties” and “behavioral problems”, especially right after lunch.
Caffeine is also a diuretic. This means that kids who choose pop over water when it is hot out are much more likely to become dehydrated. Caffeine is acidifying to the system, throwing pH levels out of balance. Water is needed to right the scales again.
Both caffeine and the compounds required to carbonate soda tend to leach calcium and other minerals from the bones. We know now that measuring bone health of twelve-year-old girls can give a pretty good indication of who will have problems with osteoporosis later on in life. Bone density is influenced by dietary patterns very early in life.
How much caffeine are kids actually taking in over the course of a day? To put it in perspective, the average cup of coffee has between 60 and 150mg of caffeine (I’m assuming the difference is whether it was brewed at a bad restaurant or at my house, where the coffee is a meal unto itself). Decaf has 2-5mg, and tea has 40-80mg. Chocolate milk is 2-7mg; a 50gram chocolate bar can be between 3 and 64mg depending on the kind, a 12oz Coke is 64mg with Jolt Cola ringing in at 100mg. Quick math: if a 12oz Coke is 64mg of caffeine, how about those Super Big Gulp slurpees? I can feel my brain melting as I type the words.
While looking online for the above statistics, I found all kinds of websites making ridiculous claims about caffeine. Several stated that it is not addictive at all in average doses of less then four cups daily. Obviously I am imagining that nagging headache that starts up around noon if I don’t have my morning cup. Along this same line, I have heard complaints from parents that their kids seem irritable and sick every weekend. This is a bit of a change from the days when kids would seem to magically recover from illness as soon as Saturday morning arrived. Interestingly enough, these kids are the same ones that drink pop or iced tea at school every day. Coincidence?
Caffeine is not evil, even for children. It is found in foods naturally and is fine in small quantities. But it is mood altering and addictive. What other drugs do we so cavalierly offer to kids? Without getting fanatical about every piece of chocolate (organic dark chocolate, of course) the total amount of caffeine exposure for kids is something worth examining. There is an easy test to figure out if someone is addicted to something: take it away, and watch carefully what happens.