Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Blog Posts on Pause for a While

Hello all.

I will be putting a pause on the blog posts for the foreseeable future. I've got a super busy summer coming up, and I'm going to be taking some time to practice what I preach by taking care of myself.

The Etsy shop is still open though, so if you are interested in purchasing, products check it out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chicken Soup Recipe for Recovery

A few weeks ago, I went to Nashville for the weekend. Even before I left for my trip I knew I was going to need something to help my body recover from the traveling, the not so healthy food I would be eating, and the whiskey I'd be drinking.  I tend to not be so careful about my food choices when I go somewhere new, because I love to try the local cuisine. This meant plenty of pulled pork, grits, and biscuits while in Nashville.

After I've spent a few days away from my preferred eating habits, I like to do a reset to get me back on track and to remind my body how good it feels when I eat nourishing foods. This chicken soup recipe is absolutely perfect for that. It's filled with chicken bone broth, and plenty of fibrous vegetables that get my body back on track.

Chicken soup has been used for centuries, in cultures all around the world, as a cure for the common cold. Recently scientists have studied the effects of chicken soup on the common cold and found that it has anti-inflammatory properties. After a weekend of eating and drinking foods that are often thought of as promoting inflammation, an anti-inflammatory remedy is just what I needed.

The anti-inflammatory action of this soup is increased with the addition of turmeric and ginger roots. 

When I make this soup, I purchase bone broth from my local reputable butcher (shoutout to The Piggery!!), because I simply do not have time or energy to make my own. I combine the bone broth with water and chicken broth powder for flavor. I also purchase an organic rotisserie chicken and break that apart so I can put meat in the soup. This saves tons of time, and makes this whole process much easier.

This recipe was inspired by A Spicy Perspective's Detox Chicken Soup.

This is my soup, it's not pretty, but it sure
tasty.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 rotisserie chicken
1 quart bone broth and 1 quart chicken broth
1 large onion
2 cups chopped celery
3 tablespoons shredded ginger
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 cleaned and sliced leek
2 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups broccoli
1/4 cup parsley
3-4 handfuls of chopped kale
salt and pepper


Directions

1. Chop and prepare vegetables. Tear apart chicken meat from bones and chop.
2. Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion, celery, ginger, garlic, and leek to the pot and saute until onions are translucent.
3. Add broth, carrots, apple cider vinegar, crushed red pepper, turmeric, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to simmer and cook until carrots are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Add chicken, parsley, and broccoli to the pot, continue to simmer until broccoli is soft.
5. Stir kale into soup, adding salt and pepper to taste. Once kale is wilted, turn off the heat and serve warm.

I usually double the recipe and freeze half of the pot. This way chicken soup will always be in my freezer when I need it.


💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Recommendation: The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health

A few years ago I started to become interested in the gut microbiota. You see, our bodies are covered with bacteria, viruses, and fungi inside and out. All of these species together make up the gut microbiota. For a long time people said that the number of bacteria cells on the human body outnumbered the human cells ten to one. That has since been disproved, but these microbes play a key role in keeping the human body healthy.

The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg is a fantastic book to read if you would like to learn more about the gut microbiome and it's effect on your health. This husband and wife team have a lab in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University in California. In their lab they explore interactions between the microbes that live in our gut and the host (us!).


In The Good Gut, the Sonnenburg's go through the current science we have available on the gut microbiota. This is a relatively new field and constantly expanding, so the most recent advances are not covered, but they've got the basic science down. They explain that the gut microbiota plays an incredibly important role in our overall health, both physical and mental. The microbes in our gut affect our immune system, metabolism, and the nervous system. Basically, if our gut microbes are out of whack, it's much more likely that we will not feel our best.

They go on to explain that the makeup of our microbiome starts at birth and continues on throughout the rest of our lives. Our microbiota is very individual and changes from person to person, based on their life experiences and the foods they eat. It is thought this may play a role in why some areas of the world have a higher predisposition to some diseases compared to others.
Kale by Dwight Sipler via Flickr. License.
In this book probiotics are also addressed. These probiotic bacteria are thought of as transient microbes, because they do not take up permanent residence in our guts. They are likely catalysts to encourage growth of beneficial bacteria when they have been overrun by too many harmful microbes, due to poor diet, medications, or even antibiotics.

Finally, they offer suggestions of the best way to feed your gut microbes; fiber. Beneficial gut microbes love fiber, and they do not like sugar or processed foods. Harmful microbes overtake the beneficial microbes when we eat too much sugar and processed food and not enough fiber. So the best thing we can do is fill our bodies with good fiber from vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. Kid friendly recipes are included in the book, along with suggestions for encouraging kids and picky eaters to try out new gut friendly foods.

If you are interested in learning about the gut microbiome, this book is a great place to start. I think the Sonnenburg's do a wonderful job of summarizing the research, pointing out where it is lacking, and providing information on future studies to look out for. Their tips for eating to feed your gut are handy, and I've tried a few of their recipes, which are lovely. Personally, I have implemented some of their ideas for keeping a healthy gut, and I have noticed a considerable difference in the way I feel.

By Environmental Illness Network via Flickr. License.
If you decide to start adding more fiber to your diet, I recommend starting slowly and gradually increasing your consumption. Adding too much too quickly could be rather uncomfortable and unpleasant for yourself and those around you (they mention this several times in the book).

💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Recipe: Peanut Butter, Honey, and Cinnamon Apple Dip

Good morning everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. This week the post will be short and sweet because I was traveling last weekend and I'm getting ready to travel this weekend too. I love going on trips, it's always been something that I have enjoyed.

I thought I would share a snack I enjoy making when I'm craving sweetness. It makes a great snack for during the work day or an after dinner dessert. I will be mixing up a batch before our road trip later this summer because I think it be the perfect thing to eat on the road.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons nut butter (almond or peanut work great)
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 apple

Directions

1. Stir the ingredients together and taste. Do you want it to be sweeter? Add honey. Want a bit more cinnamon? Add it in. 
2. Cut or slice apple
3. Dip apple slices in yummy concoction and enjoy.


Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Self-Care Sunday: Self Love and Hard Tuths

This week, Courtney and I agreed that I would write about Self-care, and tell you a bit about what it means to me. I believe that one of the most important aspects of self-care is self love. I also believe that true love is knowing and accepting everything about myself. This means getting to know all of myself, and sometimes means hearing hard truths. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to hear one of these truths from Courtney. 

You see, I was asked to interview with a business that I deeply respect. They work with battered women helping them to leaving abusive partners and get into safe living situations. The position itself wouldn't be taxing, but watching abused women come in and out every day would be for me, for two reasons. 

The first, and more obvious, reason is because most descent, and caring people hate knowing that another person is suffering. But in my case, I don't just dislike knowing it, I suffer with them as if it was my own. I forget that the way I can most help another is by staying healthy and whole myself so when they need support, I can be strong for them.

The other, and more personal, reason is because I have a very bad habit of adopting "strays". I'm that woman who feeds the feral cats, and brings the homeless person home to stay with her. I do this often to my own detriment. In a work situation like this, I could quickly end up jeopardizing not just my health and well being, but the well being of the women trying to get out of the worst situations.

This is where self love comes in. When Courtney pointed out to me that I have this habit, I had the opportunity to either take it as an insult, or embrace this aspect of myself. By embracing it, I can grow and change the habit into something healthier for not just myself, but the people I care about. I can also use my knowledge to make better choices in my life. 

Embracing all of my parts in the act of self love, is one of the hardest and deepest forms of self care for me. But it's harder for me to keep living my life hating myself for who I am, and unable to change because I keep denying who am I. 

What is self love for you? 


Many thanks to Courtney for inviting me to author this week's Self-Care Sunday post! 

Catherine

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wildcrafting Adventures: Sweet Birch

I decided I wanted to wildcraft some sweet birch for the birch oil that goes into some of my products this past weekend. So, Brad and I ventured into the woods with his parents and gathered a bunch Saturday. We had so much fun playing in the woods with his parents and their dogs!

Brad and I playing in the woods
Normally I purchase my herbs from a local farm in upstate New York, but I wanted to give wildcrafting a try. Wildcrafting is the process of gathering herbs from the wild to use in herbal preparations. I've done this a few times with goldenrod and dandelion, but never with a tree. I was super excited to get out there and harvest my own birch.

Sweet Birch (Betula Lenta) leaves
Sweet birch or Betula lenta, also known as black birch, contains wintergreen. A lovely smelling oil which contains methyl salicylate. This is similar to the main component of Asprin, and can also be found in topical pain relieving products such as Bengay. The oils from sweet birch are anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and especially useful for muscle and joint pain.

Brad's dad hard at work
Brad's dad was super helpful in identifying the proper trees, and cutting the branches down for me, and Brad carried the harvest back to the car. I was mostly along for the ride and to document our adventure.

Brad playing pack mule
One of my favorite things about this tree, is that whenever a branch is cut, you can smell the wintergreen. There's something about it that is comforting to me. This also makes the tree extremely easy to identify.

After harvesting, it's important to set the branches out so the leaves can wilt. This will prevent water getting into the oil, and causing the oil to spoil.

The full haul, laid out to wilt.
Sunday, I spent most of the day clipping leaves and shaving branches to make the oil. I prefer to use the double boiler method of oil infusion. It's much faster than other infusion methods, and it helps ensure there's no water in the oil.


I made tons of oil, and my house smells WONDERFUL! Seriously, I love how this stuff smells. I've also had my dehydrator running non-stop drying some leaves for future infusion. With all this oil, I will have plenty for weeks to come!

Have you ever gathered your own herbs? What's your favorite way to spend time in nature?

💗 Courtney

Blog advisement and editing by adreamingone.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Self-Care Sunday: What is Self-Care?

I am so excited to be bringing this series of posts to you. Self-care, self-love, and self-compassion are incredibly important topics to me and I am so glad I get to talk about them with you.

Love! by Farid Iqbal Ibrahim via Flickr, License
Self-care is consciously making choices that take care of your mind, body, and soul. These actions can be daily rituals such as yoga and meditation, or decisions we make on a daily basis to care for ourselves.

It's similar to the safety demonstration you see when you get on an airplane. Every time the oxygen mask demonstration is done, the flight attendant says to attach your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. You need to take care of you, before you can take care of anyone else. Another similar saying is: "you are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm."

This means that if you don't take care of yourself first, you can't help other people. I experienced this often during my teens and early twenties. I spent so much time worrying about other people, their feelings, and how I could help them, I didn't take the time to take care of myself. I was burnt out, exhausted, and eventually, I had nothing left for them, let alone myself. 

By CongerDesign via Pixabay
Sometimes, self-care is saying, "no, I'm sorry, I can't today, but I'll be there tomorrow." Sometimes self-care is taking the kids to the grandparents, or a friends for the day and going home to read a book, have some tea, or go on a date with your partner. Sometimes self-care is forming good habits, like showering regularly, brushing your teeth morning and night, or doing your laundry on a regular basis. Sometimes self-care is running errands, making phone calls, and doing chores. Sometimes self-care is building an exercise and healthy eating routine, and sometimes, it's having a glass of wine with dinner and ice cream for dessert. The list goes on...

You see, self-care is highly individual, and it is most important to do what is good for you. Your self-care routine is different from my self-care routine. Self-care is a conscious decision to take care of yourself in the best way you can.

There is no right way to practice self-care, and it is an ever evolving journey that will morph and change over time. 

Start small, pick one thing to do to take care of yourself, and see how that can change things for you.

What are some self-care practices you would like to start? 

💗 Courtney

Blog editing and advisement by adreamingone.