Thursday, April 30, 2009

antioxidants for influenza

Have you ever heard of Resveratrol? Alpha Lipoic Acid? These too have been show to help increase the antioxidants in our body and help the influenza virus from replicating in our bodies.
They are available at good quality health food stores, and I will post later with detailed information about how they work, and how to take them.
Also, Undenatured Whey Protein is safe for your whole family.
Disclaimer: If you are HIGHLY allergic to milk, this is not for you. It is considered a low allergen milk product, but if you are sensitive don't risk it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Baby Artichokes!


Spring vegetables are my favorites of all year. I could dream all day about english peas, baby artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, spring onions, green garlic. At my local grocery store, SPD I asked the vegetable guy twice to pretty please get some baby artichokes. A week later I was scooping them into my bag. That is why SPD is the best grocery store in my mind. That kind of service is non-existent in most places these days.
So here is my one dish wonder of today. I served with pasta and pecorino romano cheese.
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into big chunks
3 shallots, peeled, cut in half
10-14 baby artichokes, trimmed (cut top and bottom off and all the outer leaves)
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt
a major drizzle of olive oil (maybe 1/4 cup)
1 cup white wine
1 tbls fresh thyme
1 tbls fresh rosemary
mix together and put in a 375 degree oven covered for 20 minutes
then uncover, stir, and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the juices are thick and chicken is starting to brown.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine virus and Glutathione



Two posts tonight.
Here is a small piece of nutritional information about influenza.
First, the swine flu is a type A Influenza. Death from influenza usually occurs from inflammation at the lungs caused by the virus that causes fluid to accumulate in the lungs progressing into pneumonia. So is it possible to decrease lung inflammation to prevent pneumonia?
Yes.
According to the Dept. of Biochemistry at Emory University Glutathione, a type of antioxidant has both in vitro and in vivo anti-influenza activity. And oxidative stress that causes low glutathione levels in the oral, nasal, upper airways may enhance suseptibility to influenza infection. In another study it was shown that glutathione was found to down-regulate influenza's ability to replacate in the presence of glutathione in host cells.
This in my mind, could be an explanation of why people in Mexico could be falling fatally ill to influenza and not in the US.
Mexico City has some of the worst air pollution in the world. Air pollution causes oxidative stress in our bodies and lungs. Oxidative stress causes free radical in our bodies. Glutathione, known as the "Master Antioxidant" neutralizes free radicals. It also is an important detoxifier for our liver. So people who are perpetually exposed to air pollution tend to have lower glutathione levels circulating in their bodies. Just a thought.
So how make sure you have enough glutathione in your body?
Undenatured Whey Protein.
It is relatively inexpensive, and effective for increasing lung glutathione. But, undenatured whey must not be put in a blender to make a smoothie (breaks the fragile bonds) and is very specific. Most whey protein powders are not undenatured.
I will go over some other antioxidants and delivery systems for combating influenza (and anything that causes oxidative stress for that matter) in the coming days. Unless this is beyond boring to my dear readers. I will ask my sister. She is a good meter for how I am doing on my blog....

Kale Coconut Soup



Spring is almost here, but there are still some cool nights and cloudy days. Today was like that, so I made soup. Soooo easy. It will only take an hour. Vegetarian too.

Kale Coconut Soup

1 bunch kale washed and chopped
1/2 onion diced
1 shallot diced
1 clove garlic minced
2 cups butternut squash 1 inch cubes
1 tsp. coriander powder
2 cans coconut milk
6 cups chicken stock
1 tbls. grated ginger
1 dash cayenne
1/2 mango (optional)
Juice of one lemon
1 tbls sugar
olive oil

Using a vegetable peeler, remove skin off of butternut squash and then slice into 2 inch wide pieces. Than cut to smaller 1 inch pieces. Drizzle a bit of olive oil in your soup pot and sautee for about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside in bowl. You will add this back to the soup about 20 min. before you serve the soup. If you over cook the butternut squash it will fall apart (which if fine if you like that).

No need to clean the soup pot. Just add onions, shallots, garlic, ginger and coriander in atleast 1 tbls. olive oil and sautee until starting to brown and translucent about 10 min.

Pour chicken stock directly into pan, bring to simmer and cook for 20 min.

Add coconut milk, cayenne, lemon juice and sugar. Whisk if the coconut is clumping.

This is where I added mango but you can skip this step because it makes this whole recipe more involved. Ladle out 2 cups of soup into a bowl. Add 1/2 of mango peeled off its skin. Use an immersion blender to mix the mango completely into the stock. Add back to the soup.

Add butternut squash and kale. Cook covered on med. low heat for 20 minutes.

I made brown jasmine rice to serve with this and it added a nice aroma. Also, I added some fresh chopped cilantro before eating. The cayenne is optional. I only added the slightest dash because M. won't eat spice. She did not notice it tonight, but I do think even a subtle heat makes the dish more well rounded.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

party










It was a fun party. I bought pizza dough from Whole Foods, and each of the kids made their own pizzas. Then D. rolled out the dough and made some amazing pies for the adults. My favorite pizza was topped with spring onions, goat cheese and drizzled with truffle oil.
For drinks I made fruit punch. A while back I bought a punch bowl and glasses from the thrift store for under $10. The glasses are super-thick, so even if they get dropped they don't break. And, everyone gets a glass instead of paper cups. Totally old school, but every party I have with kids I bust out the punch bowl and everyone loves it. I also bought a metal fruit mold from the thrift store and the night before the party I put frozen berries in the mold and fill with juice or lemonade. The next day when I am making the punch, I pop out the frozen fruit ring, and put it in the punch bowl. It keeps it cold, but it also looks really pretty. I usually dilute a bottle of juice with a bottle of sparkling water. Today I tore up some mint leaves and we had raspberry lemonade punch with mint!
If you look closely in the top photo, M's birthday cake was not cake. It was brownies. She requested ghiradelli boxed brownies for her party. I would have made her any kind of cake, but she declined. It was slightly hard for me to fulfill her request and not do homemade, but I did.

Here is my salad recipe for today

Watercress Salad
2 bunches watercress (I buy the hydroponically grown) washed and stems cut off
2 pink lady or granny smith apples cut into 1" pieces
5 endives cut into 1" pieces
1 bunch radishes sliced thin
1/4 head lettuce of your choosing washed and torn into bite size pieces
1/2 cup mint torn into pieces

Dressing
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp mustard
pinch salt
6 grinds pepper
whisk with a fork
toss the salad before adding dressing. Add dressing and toss well.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jungle Gym


Here is the Jungle Gym. Or Swing Set. I keep trying to figure out which is right. This is the "big project" for M's birthday. Our family has so kindly donated to the swing set fund I started and now tomorrow, we have M's birthday party to celebrate it.
The pictures above are not the finished product. That is just the 11th hour product. We are very tired adults here in our house tonight from the kid project. And I did not even work half as hard as D. did.
I swept, raked, weeded, washed dishes, cooked lunch and cooked dinner, did the dishes again, emptied the dishwasher, did 2 loads of laundry and put M. to bed. Whew.
Now I just want to watch a movie. But with swine flu happening in the world, I have a lot to think about.
And, because I am so brilliant and it only took me 5 months to realize I can send picture emails to myself off my camera phone, I will post pics of the finished swing set tomorrow.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bring your Niece to work day





Yesterday M. went with Auntie to bring you kid to work day at her corporate office. They decorated t-shirts, had a fashion show (M. did the fashion show twice), picked out accessories and clothes for a photo shoot, played a recycling game and got a goodie bag.
The de-briefing I got from my sister is that M. was her usual outgoing self plus a little extra. During the fashion show she sashayed down the runway only to stop, drop and pose for the cameras. Hilarious. Anyway here are some photos of aunt and daughter from her big day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dirty Samosas



This afternoon I watched as M. walked casually around the house and yard with a toothpick she had gotten out of our neighbor's car when they came for a short visit. I was intrigued by what she wanted to poke. First it was a sword coming for my eye, but I told her to knock it off and she moved on to other victims. I saw the sliding door screen and the deck get some pokes. I was sure she was off to find the cat next. A good ten or fifteen minutes has gone by and she was mysteriously quiet inside. I jumped up because that is always trouble.
In the kitchen stabbing away at my freshly baked samosas I had spent the afternoon making, there she was, toothpick in hand.
I went outside to vent to my husband who was working on putting M's new swing set together.

"I am so frustrated right now at M. She just put toothpick holes in my samosas"

"So what?"

"She has been carrying around that dirty toothpick poking things, and now that is in my samosas"

"I don't care where the toothpick has been. I will eat those"

"You will eat the dirty samosas?"

"Yes!! I will eat the dirty samosas! Who cares about that anyhow??"

Oh. Ok. You eat those then. Enjoy your dinner.
I ate the ones without the holes.
M. on the other hand made sure to request a samosa without holes too. She was very specific about it. "Mama. No holes. Ok? No holes for me."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How it went

What a success yesterday was. There were 4 other families from our community who were there, and M. seemed really comfortable and I loved that we knew other children and parents. Towards the end of the gathering, all the parents sat in a circle with the teachers while the kids played outside. The teachers gave some explanations about themselves and the kindergarten. All the parents introduced themselves and gave a bit of information about why they were drawn to waldorf. I realized that all the people in that room wanted to be there. They were willing participants in the micro-community of the school. M. would be a part of a community people were excited about and felt passionate about. The other local school we will not be attending on the other hand, is a mix of those very excited and motivated, but also those completely apathetic. Their kids have to go to school, and so they are there. I think kids take that in, and notice those things. I want to participate in an intentional school community people believe in. A school I can get behind.
Yesterday the teachers told us about a special thing that happens in kindergarten that sums up why I love this school. There is a basket they showed us of little waldorf dolls. These dolls are called Precious Ones. They come from the Fairy Mother. Each kindergartener is given a special Precious One to take care of while they are in kindergarten. Each doll has a story and a personality. I really felt like I was taking care of M. yesterday. Yes, I am going to be annoyed with the long drive. But she is going to be surrounded by loving hands that are taking care of her spirit and her innocence, not worrying about letters, numbers and academic standards.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

kindergarten

Today is "The Day in The Life of Kindergarten" at M.'s potential school. I am thinking about the 48 minute drive to the school from my house, and the pressure parents feel when choosing their child's school. We are lucky that here in the country we don't face pressures to enroll their children into expensive private schools that have lengthy waiting lists. But, we do have charter schools that are part of the public school system that offer an alternative curriculum. We chose a charter school that is a K-8 waldorf school. The very long drive aside, I am very excited that M. will potentially be at a school heavy on music, art, virtues and individualized learning that does not include homework or textbooks. I was sad to find out a couple of weeks ago there are 40 kids on the waiting list for 18 spots because I don't have a plan B.
We have a local elementary school 3 miles from our house, but I am opting to not send M. there for about 10 different reasons, but mostly because I disagree on the curriculum. This has created somewhat of a firestorm in our community because people are very passionate about their local schools and have a vested interest in maintaining their survival. At community events like May Day and Halloween people like us who are choosing not to send their kids to the local school have been publically humiliated and chastized for not supporting the local community. There is a public forum at these events, where people can speak in the middle of a circle surrounded by hundreds of people. This has been used at a platform for airing both judgemental and non-judgemental opinions toward a group of parents choosing to send their children elsewhere. But, today I am putting that all aside to enjoy meeting new parents, children and teachers at the school we will hopefully soon be calling our own.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

it was pretty gross

I have a little game I play with myself when I go to public places (like airports) it is called "The Gross Magnet Game". Today it went like this:
(and it goes from least to most gross)
1. flight #1 man sneezes (and I counted) 6 times w/o covering mouth on my very small plane. Each time I cringe. Husband looks at me and laughs

2. Lady at Seattle's Best Coffee greets me with a face mask and then touches my coffee cup. Now was she wearing a mask to keep the germs away from herself, or to keep her germs away from me?

3. Lady on flight #2 who was sitting in front of me coughed her nasty smokers cough/severe bronchitis/maybe TB? for 5 1/2 hours. Husband still laughing at me when I say for the 23rd time "oh my god I think she is going to drive me crazy".

DRUM ROLL PLEASE cause this almost made me vomit myself....and it takes the cake for all gross things I have witnessed in a public place

4. Foreign guy sitting next to me in airport terminal clipping his finger nails.
With out a trash can or anything else to catch the clippings. Just right there in the open. I did gasp when he made eye contact with me. I did death stare him three times. He must not understand death stare in his language.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Piggy's





Our last night here, we are going to an amazing brick oven pizza place that has organic green salads. I am very excited. But today, on the way taking M. to see Monsters vs. Aliens we stopped at Piggy's for a hot dog. It is an old school kinda place where two hot dogs set me back $3.75. I put my fear aside for a moment and ordered onions on my hot dog hoping they would not contain salmonella. We sat on the bench inside waiting for our hot dogs to go, and I noticed old license plates hanging above the cash register. The one that caught my eye said "License to Kill Terrorists Who Come to America". I whipped out my camera phone and stood in the middle of the dang restaurant (yeah, I think everyone looked especially after M. said really loudly "are you taking a picture?") and took a photo of the license plate so I could always remember and appreciate all the different opinions in this free county of ours. Even if I don't agree with them.

leaving tomorrow

I am sad to go home tomorrow.
I love vacations from life.
I have a lot to get back to; I have over 10 clients to start working with and now an office to work out of one day a week!
M. is going to have severe issues saying goodbye to Angus the dog. There was still the pokes, prods and of course undying love from my daughter. Last time she talked about her heart being sad saying goodbye to the dog. I think she loves us too. Maybe.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

easter party

I don't have my camera cord with me or I would be posting some of the cute easter party pics. We went to the country club yesterday and I was able to witness first hand the cute southern fashion style (hats! pastels! preppy!) not seen in norcal. At the party, we ate buffet, and the salad bar had three dressing choices: ranch, ranch and italian. And because ranch dressing is a secret love of mine (and a big one cause I would eat it with almost anything) I felt right at home. Ranch=Happiness for me.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

zebra cake



Easter basket is done. I am going to hide eggs soon.
Made turkey potpie for dinner and used bisquik as the topping. It was almost difficult to not make the biscuit topping from scratch, but boy, easy and quick has a place in the world. Going to the grocery stores here in the south is so fascinating to me. I love watching what other people eat. Shitake mushrooms are almost $13 a pound here. In california at my local grocery store they are around $7 a pound. I buy shitake mushrooms every week at home. But I wouldn't buy them if they were that expensive. I remove the stems and bake the shitakes on a cookie sheet and then coarsely chop them and add to brown rice dishes, mix in with pasta, on a spinach salad or over grilled steak.
Have you ever made zebra cake or icebox cake? It is a tradition in D's family. Tomorrow we are eating it with Easter dinner. Here is the recipe:

1 box chocolate wafers
1 container heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
powdered sugar to taste

whip the cream, and smear about a tablespoon of whipped cream between each cookie. Line up the cookies horizontally on a plate. Frost the outside of the cake with any remaining cream.
Cover very loosely with tin foil and put in fridge over night. The wafers absorb liquid out of the cream and expand. Cutting the cake on a bias will produce a striped piece. It seriously tastes like an oreo cookie. Kids love it and it is very very very easy to make. The wafers are sometimes found near ice cream cones in the grocery store and not in the cookie isle. Smitten kitchen blog has a homemade recipe for these wafer cookies I am going to make sometime soon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

the game

I am reading Eclipe the book after Twilight and it is taking up all my time.
Also I have been obsessed with thunderstorms all day and the internet was not working.
I started a new"game" for M. I had to do something; she is using "stupid and hate" way too much. I set out a glass full of jelly beans. Every time she says something that is inappropriate, she is required to remove a jelly bean. She can earn them back however, by helping out in the house doing something useful. At the end of the week if she has all her jelly beans still in the jar, she gets to do something special with the family that she chooses. So far the last two days I have seen a 90% improvement in her attitude. See, Bribery Works. I have scientific proof.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Going to SF and Paper Source




I will stop talking about my illness. Soon. As soon as I am better.
Today I am still 100 degree fever, pink eye, and exhausted. I started taking the Mercurius and things are getting worse before they get better (lots of homeopathic remedies work that way). But I had the Flu last year and this stupid cold virus is damn near close to how bad the flu was.
Anyway, I am going to SF today to go to a seminar with my sister. It has been planned for a while now and I am going sick or not. There happens to be a Paper Source a couple of blocks from her house and because I am getting so many nutrition referrals I have run out of my cute file folders. I am getting more today from the Paper Source. So sweet!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

ND

I got M. and I in to see the Naturopath today.
She checked us out, and we are just sick, not infected.
But, she told me to suck it up and take sudafed on the flight on tuesday. Ok, she did not say "suck it up" but nearly. When she looked into our ears she told me exactly what she was seeing, "reddness, pulled back, but no puss". That is my kind of Dr. She gives me lots and lots of information.
After, I went to the pharmacist and practically gave her my finger prints for a box of sudafed! (to totally clear my ears for the flight)

little sick




I have been below radar because of sickness. Today is the 5th day I have been sick and today I am the worst! Goopy eyes, clogged ears, and a sore throat that feels like strep. I had to take a motrin last night so I could sleep because my glands and throat were so sore. M. still had a bit of a fever last night which was day 7 of a fever. I looked it up however and it appears it is an adenovirus which can cause the extreme sore throat and conjunctivis. I have had a fever hovering around 99 degrees (my normal is 97ish) now for 5 days.
I am going to town today to pick up homeopathic remedy for the two of us. Mercurius is a remedy for sore throat, swollen glands, clogged ears and conjunctivitis! I thought to take M. to the dr. and have her look at her ears, but 95% of the time our pediatrician has been completely useless. She usually says "lots of fluids, a humidifier and motrin" and then gets a blank stare like she is waiting for us to get out of her office. Yeah, duh, I think I got that covered.
Most importantly is getting our ears back to normal before we fly next tuesday.
Of course, my husband did not get sick. He seems to always miss the sick train. M now thinks daddy's don't get sick.
They don't get sneezed and snotted on either. Thats my job.

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