Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Backyard Apple Butter

It's the first of September and so I feel I can comfortably say HAPPY FALL!!!!
(I know for my Florida readers that is a bit of a stretch ;) 
So, in celebration of fall I am sharing my Backyard Apple Butter recipe.  This recipe is easy and delicious and pretty close to fool proof.  With the rather large crop of backyard apples we harvested last week, I needed to find a great apple butter recipe.  After looking around at several recipes, my mom and I came up with one of our own - kind of a mixture of several different ones.  You make it in the crockpot all day so the most time-consuming part is peeling and cutting up the apples.  Here's what you will need... 

3 quarts of apples - peeled, cored, and diced
fresh lemon juice
3 cups of sugar
1 cup of apple cider
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
5-6 whole cloves in a bag
freshly ground nutmeg - to taste

Begin by peeling and cutting up the apples into about 1 inch pieces. Grab a cup of coffee and invite a friend over (or smile sweetly at your husband) - because this process takes a little time. 

Occasionally squeeze fresh lemon juice over the apple pieces to keep them from getting brown and mushy.
Once you have about 3 quarts of apples, 

pour the apple cider into the crockpot and turn it on high.  
Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the bag of cloves (I used muslin to make the bag)

Stir this well and let it cook on high for 2 hrs.  

After 2 hrs, turn it down to low for 5 hrs.   
Then, remove the lid and let it simmer on "keep warm" or a VERY low setting for 2-3 hrs.

REMOVE the clove bag, using tongs, and using an immersion blender, 
blend the apples until they are lovely and thick and sticky.  

(so...I forgot to remove the clove bag the first batch, and blended it up with my apples...whoops.  I think I'll keep that batch and just try to notice fabric pieces on my toast and pick them off - lol).

If you don't have an immersion blender (they are GREAT by the way) you can ladle small amounts of the hot apples into a blender and blend it up (leaving the lid vented just a little for the steam).  Once the apples have been blended into butter, boil about 2 inches of water in a pot and put your lids in to sterilize.  Fill the sink with HOT HOT water and place your jars in the water.  Spoon the apple butter into the hot jars.  Wipe the rim with a clean paper towel and place the lid on - screw into place.  Turn the jars upside down for about 30 minutes - then back to right side up.  Let them sit overnight to finish curing.  There you have it!

Yummy homemade apple butter!  Give it away as a gift, or drizzle it onto your oatmeal or toast.  Happy fall!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"check out the hook while my d.j. revolves it..."

Today I have my massage therapy hat on and we are going to talk about ice.  Can I just tell you that I HATE ICE.  I don't like it in my drinks - I don't like it on my body - I don't like it on the road.  I like to look at the ice outside my window while wrapped in a blanket.  I like the feel of ice underneath my ice skates - while the rest of me is cozy in a hat, scarf, and sweater.  Now - that being said - ice is the cheapest and one of the most effective treatments for acute and chronic pain.  Why?

  • It reduces inflammation
  • It breaks the pain cycle (when the nerves become numb they stop sending the pain signal to the brain, which gives the muscle and nerves a chance to relax and heal)
  • It is free
  • It is not difficult to use
  • There are very few contraindications (people who can't use it)
Seems like a no-brainer right?  but...most people don't like ice.  

Charlotte's Boo Boo Buddy which she calls the "cold basketball"
(I keep it in the freezer).   You can buy one here.

Most people like heat.  Mmmmmm...it's so cozy with a heating pad lying on your shoulders, relaxing your muscles, as you watch your favorite movie...but you might be doing more harm than good.  Heat can be effective, BUT if your injury has any inflammation - the heat will make it worse.
That is what heat does - it brings fresh, oxygenated blood to the area which can help with healing if the muscle is ischemic (lacking blood).  If heat feels good on your injury - here is the best way to use it.  Alternate heat with ice and always end your treatment with ice.
Example: start with 10 minutes of ice, then 10 minutes of MOIST heat (like a microwaveable rice pack), then 10 minutes of ice.  The contrast of cold and hot is actually very effective at healing muscular injuries.
* Never use heat on an acute injury until you have been to a doctor - use ice.*
If you are still struggling with the thought of a bag of frozen mixed vegetables on your neck (a popular substitute for an ice pack) this may help -

the "ice" doesn't have to be frozen water - a cool washcloth can be very effective as well.  So give it a try - you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain - relief from pain!
be well today, my friends

p.s. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist MA50989 and not an M.D.  If you are unsure of how to treat an injury please consult your Primary Care Physician.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Get Your Game on...

Bison and Beef Meatloaf:
Are you curious?  We were at Earth Fare this week, and they had ground bison meat on sale.  We were planning on making a meatloaf anyway, so we (my mom and I) decided to make it half ground bison meat and half ground grass-fed beef.  
 Why?  Here are some of the health benefits to eating bison meat.
You get more bang for your nutritional buck:  
* more PROTEIN and less CALORIES and FAT than beef and pork.
example: 3oz of bison meat has 143 calories and 2.4 grams of fat.  3 oz of lean beef has 211 calories and 10 grams of fat - pretty big difference! 
(you can learn more about that here.)
* great source of iron, zinc, B6, and B12.
When cooking bison, you have to be careful not to overcook it - because it has less fat, it can dry out quickly.  This is why we combined it with beef - the fat from the beef will keep your meatloaf moist.
Here is the recipe (feeds 4 adults):
3/4 lb of ground beef
3/4 lb of ground bison
3/4 cup of oatmeal
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 small onion - chopped
3/4 of a can of tomato sauce
celery salt (to taste)
salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup Ketchup
2 T of Brown Sugar
1 T of Worchestershire
Sit the meat in the sink, and let it come to room temperature.   Preheat your oven to 350.
Mix all of the ingredients for the meatloaf in a bowl.
 Line a loaf pan with tin foil (easy cleanup) and put the meaty mixture into the pan.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then put the sauce on top and bake for 5 more minutes.  Let it cool for 3-5 minutes before slicing.  We ate this meatloaf with fried apples and acorn squash - a really healthy, hearty meal!
 Have you ever tried bison?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Headache Pain Management

Image from Scientificamerican.com
Many, many people suffer from headaches - tension, hormonal, sinus, migraine...sometimes I feel like I get in a rut where I am popping ibuprofen every afternoon.  I don't like doing that.  If you feel the same way, here are some simple, natural ways to ease headache pain, and ward off daily headaches.
Yes, it means we have to be a little more responsible - but wouldn't you rather be responsible than be in pain? (some people actually answer No to that question - if that is you, this won't help you.)
We'll start with pain management:
  • Aromatherapy:  These oils can ease the pain of headaches.  Peppermint, Lavender, Pink Grapefruit.  You can apply one or two drops to the inside of your wrists, rub together, and inhale deeply.  You can even use them all together if you like!  Just mix about 1 drop peppermint, 3 drops lavender, and 2 drops p.grapefruit in 2 Tablespoons of a carrier oil - massage this on your temples, and your neck/shoulders (better yet, have your hubby do that for you).     ***peppermint oil should NOT be used on pregnant/nursing women or children under 2***
  • Ice:  This can be one of the most effective ways to treat any kind of pain.  Ice numbs the nerves and causes them to STOP sending pain signals to the brain.  This breaks the pain cycle.  Often when I have a headache, I put an icepack at the base of my neck and it really helps.  Just last night, I had a sinus headache, and the ice pack felt better on my forehead, so that's where it sat as I fell asleep.  Ice also reduces inflammation, which can be a major cause of headaches.
  • Shunt:  This involves both ice and heat.  Run a footbath, or a regular tub, with hot water.  Place your feet in the water.  Place an icepack on your head.  This will draw the blood away from your head, to your feet and should ease some of the discomfort.
Headache Prevention:
  • Hydration:  I will confess, I am the worst at this one.  I like to drink coffee - not water.  But I do feel  better when i drink water - and dehydration has been proven to be a major cause of headaches (especially ones that occur at the end of the day).
  • Exercise:  Doesn't it seem like this is the remedy for everything?  Why can't we just be lazy....I guess we can and that's why we're in pain.  As you probably know, exercise increases endorphins (natural pain killers), it increases circulation, and does a myriad of other important things. (blah blah blah just go exercise.)
  • Massage Therapy:  Especially useful for tension headaches, or stress-induced headaches.  Your L.M.T. can release the tension in your muscles, reducing the constraint on your nerves.  This does not have to be painful "deep tissue" massage.  Just a simple, slow massage can melt away many layers of tension.  A light scalp massage can be helpful too - this is a good one to use on your kids.
So there you have it - a few simple tips to headache pain management.  Let's try to be responsible for our health.  Those things I have mentioned are a lot cheaper than Dr. visits and OTC medication.  It IS easier to pop a pill, but is it better?  I don't think so.  It's also very empowering to know that you eased your family's pain.  YOU can change your circumstances.  We do need Dr.s for some things, yes, but let's try to be a bit more responsible in our health care (I'm speaking to myself here too).  I wish you good health today.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gluten Free Week

So I have been feeling kind of yuck lately - I feel like I am just eating whatever, with no thought or intention.  So...eating gluten free always makes me feel better.  Of course it also helps my hubby feel WAY better, because he is much more sensitive to it than I am.  I always feel less bloated and have more energy when I eat gluten free.

 (picture from Gluten Free Mommy)
So I created this menu and grocery list for you to eat gluten free with me!  It has no "weird" ingredients..like almond flour or xantham gum - and it should be pretty inexpensive.  No bread, no pasta - but there is lots of rice and even a chocolate cake recipe that I can't wait to try.  I encourage you to give it a try and see if you notice how much better you feel.  Most of the recipes are from Delightfully Gluten Free or Ginger Lemon Girl.  Good Luck!

Monday - Spaghetti Sauce Chicken (crockpot) put on top of rice , serve Green Beans on the side
Tuesday - Salmon Spinach Salad & Tortilla Chips with fruit
Wednesday -Ham and bean Soup (crockpot)
Thursday - Feta Chicken and Roasted Vegetables
Friday - Kielbasa and Sauerkraut serve over rice
Saturday - Breakfast for dinner - eggs, bacon, fruit
Sunday - Meatloaf served with Broccoli and fruit

Breakfast Ideas:
Gfree Breakfast Bars
Rice Chex Cereal

Lunch/Snack Ideas:
Peanut Butter Cookies
Tortilla Chips
Hot dogs wrapped in corn tortillas with cheese
Corn Tortilla Cheese Quesadillas
Baby Carrots
Rice Chex Mix (many different kinds)
Basically any kind of candy (see, you don't have to give up chocolate)

Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Cake

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sophisticated Baby

Charlotte's bathroom is also the Guest bathroom.  
Therefore, I didn't want to decorate it all rubber ducky or something.
  I want it to be a space adults can relax in too. 

I created this shower curtain - originally two panels
(bought at Ross for $10.00). 
Then I added the strip of fabric to the bottom of the panels,
and top stitched the seashells and seahorses on.  
Finishing touch: blue shell buttons at the tab tops.
 The result:  
Childlike whimsy in a grown up palate.
Would you like to come be my guest?

Monday, August 2, 2010


Whether you drink the tea or use the essential oil, Chamomile is a very useful healing herb.  It is a digestive tonic and a soporific (there's a word for you - it means sleep-inducing).
My favorite Chamomile Tea:
(mainly because it's Zhena's GYPSY tea)

Herbal Tea Uses:
-aids in digestion (neutralizes excess stomach acid)
-relieves headaches (especially those with nausea)
-aids in relieving insomnia
       For Babies and Mommies: 
- safe to use with children over one year of age - 
steep a tea bag and let it cool.  Pour half of the tea into a cup 
and fill it the rest of the way with juice or water.  
This will help your little one's tummy aches, it will soothe teething pain, 
and help them rest.
- safe to use when you are pregnant - 
it will relieve nausea, and provides valuable 
calcium phosphates to help you and your baby grow healthy bones.

Essential oil uses:
*NOTE* the oil is MUCH stronger than the tea.  It takes 25 tea bags to equal 1 drop of essential oil.

-aids in relieving insomnia - I like to put a drop or two on the bottom of my feet, massage in, and then slip on socks.  Very cozy.
-great in a bath to relieve stress
-anti-inflammatory and a sedative
-mild anti-depressant
-relieves the itching of insect bites
Remember to use a carrier oil, such as jojoba, sunflower, or olive (use 1-2 drops per Tablespoon of oil).
If you have any questions, feel free to email me (it's in the contact me section).  Have a lovely day!