Archive for August, 2009

How to start a garden, save money, and eat fresh!

AARP the magazine featured a great article recently, detailing a full plan for a vegetable garden in your yard. I’ve been looking for something like this all summer! This year was too busy and I spent too much time away from home to start my organic vegetable garden, but I’m armed with all the information I need to get a great start on next year!

The article talks about specific plot sizes, how to prepare your soil, keep out greedy animals, what is will all cost and how much you can save on groceries.

The author also points out how a garden can be a teaching experience:

Most vegetables are annuals, planted anew each year, but I tuck in a few alpine strawberries, too. These tiny, exquisite plants bear fruit all season and remain in place from year to year, to our grandchildren’s delight. They head for the strawberry row the minute their parents pull up in the driveway. Our sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes are also kid magnets, and I like to think our small foragers are gleaning far more than a healthful snack. They’re learning that growing food brings joy, and that dividend is priceless.

I would add to that, not only does growing food bring joy (which it definately does) but also that it nurtures an understanding that the food you grow needs balanced care, sunlight, water, protection etc, just as people do. This lesson makes it easier to understand why it is unhealthy for people to eat and drink junk and fake foods, and to have respectful balanced care for their own bodies. What a great lesson to draw on, especially in the teen years!

Dirt Cheap Eats.

14 Healing Remedies with Honey

selected from Yoga + Joyful Living

14 Healing Remedies with Honey
By Vasant Lad, Yoga +

The fossil record tells us honeybees have been around for 150 million years or more. No one knows when we discovered the treasure hidden in their hives, but paintings of beekeepers lining the walls of a cave in Spain prove that we have been practicing the art of beekeeping for at least 7,000 years. Honey is versatile. It has been prized as a sweetener, as medicine, as an offering for the gods, as currency, and as a symbol of love. In Greek mythology, for example, Cupid dips his arrows in honey before aiming them at our hearts.

Honey also shows up in scripture. The Qur’an describes rivers of honey in paradise, and the Old Testament speaks of the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. This golden elixir also appears in the Veda. (The Sanskrit word for honey is madhu.)

According to ayurveda, honey is the nectar of life. Because it is created from the essence of a flower’s sex organs, it has a natural affinity with reproductive tissue. It can also heal sore throats, colds, coughs, ulcers, burns, and wounds. And when ingested with a healing herb (like ashwagandha), honey travels to the deepest tissues, transporting the chemical properties and the subtle energies of medicine to the cellular level.

[Slow Poison]
Ayurveda says that raw honey is medicine, but cooked honey is a slow poison. Why? In its natural form, honey is rich in minerals, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and carbohydrates. But heat strips honey of most of its nutritional value and transforms the honey molecules into a non-homogenized glue that adheres to mucous membranes and clogs subtle energy channels. Cooked honey creates cellular toxicity and may lead to immunological dysfunction. It can also clog the arteries and lead to atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries), hampering blood flow to the vital organs. So as a general rule, honey should never be cooked, and nothing should be cooked with honey. Instead, add raw honey to yogurt, warm tea, or spread it on bread or toast.

These days, most honey sold commercially has been heated and should be avoided. Look for the words “raw” or “unpasteurized” on honey at a health-food store or online at places like the Ayurvedic Institute (www.ayurveda.com) or www.eBeeHoney.com. But the purest form of honey is local and raw because it helps prevent (or calm) seasonal allergies and is full of prana (vital energy). As summer approaches, check your local farmers’ market, and if you live in the country, keep an eye out for roadside honey stands.

Honey, Help Me!
Ayurvedic texts are full of honey-based remedies for a wide range of ailments.

For obesity, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol, drink a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of honey and 5 to 10 drops of apple cider vinegar early in the morning daily. (Ayurvedic texts say honey scrapes fat and cholesterol from the body’s tissues.)

To relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, take 1 teaspoon of honey with 200 mg powdered guggulu daily.

To heal oral ulcers, apply 1 teaspoon honey and a pinch of turmeric to canker sores, mouth ulcers, or sores on the tongue. This mixture will generate saliva and draw out toxins; spit it out to speed the healing process. For internal ulcers, mix a cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey twice daily.

To heal a wound, dress it daily with sterilized gauze brushed with honey; dispose at night.

For the common cold, mix 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1 teaspoon honey and eat two or three times a day.

To clear your sinuses, take a mixture of 1 teaspoon each of fresh ginger juice and honey two or three times a day.

For asthma, eat a mixture made of 1/2 teaspoon bay leaf powder, 1/4 teaspoon pippali, and 1 teaspoon of honey two or three times daily.

For nausea, vomiting, and/or indigestion, mix one part lemon juice with one part honey. Dip your index finger into this mixture and lick it slowly twice daily.

For anxiety, drink 1 cup of orange juice with 1 teaspoon of honey and a pinch of nutmeg powder twice daily.

To help reduce the craving for cigarettes, chew small pieces of pineapple with 1/2 teaspoon of honey before smoking.

For abdominal pain, take a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon ajwan (celery seeds), and 1 teaspoon of honey before lunch and dinner daily.

For chronic fever, make a tea of 1 teaspoon of holy basil (tulsi) and 1 cup of hot water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper powder and 1 teaspoon of honey. Take two or three times a day.

To aid poor circulation, mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon trikatu, and 1 teaspoon honey in 1 cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes. Take twice a day.

To stop hiccups, mix 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon castor oil in a container. Dip your index finger into the mixture and lick it. Repeat every 10 minutes until your hiccups stop. (Hiccups are due to spasm of the diaphragm, and these ingredients in equal proportion are anti-spasmodic.)

Did you know?
To make one pound of honey, a swarm of honeybees flies about 24,000 miles and visits 3 to 9 million flowers.

Because its qualities are heating and sweet, honey is good for kapha and vata, and in moderation with pitta.

Please Note
Raw honey is not recommended for infants under the age of 18 months, the very elderly, or others with compromised immune systems.

Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc, is a world-renowned ayurvedic physician and author. He is the founder of the Ayurvedic Institute (www.ayurveda.com) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Yoga+ is an award-winning, independent magazine that contemplates the deeper dimensions of spiritual life–exploring the power of yoga practice and philosophy to not only transform our bodies and minds, but inspire meaningful engagement in our society, environment, and the global community.

via http://www.care2.com/greenliving/14-healing-remedies-with-honey.html

Fix Your Posture in Two Easy Steps

If you sit at a desk and work on a computer for most of your workday, you already know that your posture suffers. Here is a secret which will help you become more aware of your slouched shoulders and learn to prevent all pain and injuries caused by poor posture. Say goodbye to tension headaches, upper back strain, shoulder aches and unattractive posture!

After six years of helping office workers deal with job-related pain, I discovered that following two easy steps will guarantee an improvement in the quality of daily life in front of a computer.

To prevent the hunchback look, not to mention tension headaches, tightened shoulders and neck muscles, you need to follow 2 simple steps:

1. Stretch out your chest

2. Strengthen your upper back

Stretch out your chest

Your chest tightens because your arms are held out in front of your body all day in an unnatural position. Typing and using the mouse, for example, can cause chest muscles to shorten. Pulling the arms forward for many hours a day contributes to a slouched look, giving the appearance of tiredness, lack of confidence and overall weakness. You can easily perform a chest stretch by doing the following:

– Place the inside of your forearm against an open door frame slightly above shoulder height

– Turn away from the door until you feel a comfortable stretch in the chest

– Be sure to hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds and perform it on both sides, 2 times per day every day

Strengthen your upper back

If you work at a computer long enough your upper back is bound to become strained. With prolonged sitting, we allow our heads to hang too far in front of their bodies…mostly because of back fatigue. Over time, this postural mistake will pull and weaken the muscles in the upper back which are supposed to hold the head straight. By strengthening the upper back, we can prevent the head from falling forward and stop many of the problems that come with it (tension headaches for one!). Perform standing rowing exercises to build back the strength lost in the upper back and you won’t believe the difference.

– To get into position, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Bend forward slowly at the waist so your back is at a 45-degree angle. Make sure to keep your back straight, and your head positioned forward, not down at the floor. Try to avoid slouching your shoulders.

– With your arms hanging at your sides, hold light weights (soup cans or light dumbbells) in each hand, making sure to position your head properly by looking at the wall straight ahead of you.

– Pull the weights straight up toward your body, concentrating on squeezing the shoulder blades together for a count of 3

– Slowly release the weights straight down to your sides and repeat

– Do 3 sets of 10 every day

I can’t stress enough the importance of these two exercises. The chest stretch allows your shoulders to move back, and the rowing not only pulls your shoulders back, but also increases strength in your upper back, keeping your head in a safe, proper position and preventing future neck and upper back pain.

via Fix Your Posture in Two Easy Steps.

4 Tips for Happiness

selected from Delicious Living

While you might already be familiar with some feel-good tips, like exercising regularly and making time for families and friendships, research has uncovered more ways to build on these fundamentals. Here are four things you can do right now to take your well-being to the next level.

1. Use your brain

“When it comes to brain chemistry, if you don’t use it, you lose it,” says Joe Dispenza, DC, author of Evolve Your Brain, (Health Communications, 2007). “When you think differently, you create new circuits in the brain, which creates new patterns in behavior and feeling.” Meditation can open up those circuits and boost happiness by cultivating contentment increasing blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain–the source of the higher-level thinking that enables us to chart our own course instead of just reacting to our environment. It also enables you to recognize and minimize thoughts that lead to unhappiness–such as those that center on guilt, blame, judgment, and pessimism–and favor those that foster a more positive state.

2. Foresee and reflect on happiness

It’s true that happiness is in the now, but thinking
about positive things in the past and those that you anticipate in the future can actually boost your present happiness. “Savoring past pleasurable experiences boosts your positive emotions in the present, and positive emotions are the key to happiness,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness (The Penguin Press, 2008). Relish in the contentment the event triggered, not rue the fact that the experience is over. Anticipating happy events–like watching a funny movie–can also lift your mood. Research has even shown that you don’t need to laugh to reap the effects: Men who were planning to watch their favorite funny movies saw a significant increase in mood-enhancing hormones even before the movie started.

3. Buy someone a present or give to charity

Whether having more money boosts happiness over the long-term is up for debate. But research from the University of British Columbia has found that using your own money on someone else’s behalf produces a happiness surge. The researchers gave students either $5 or $20 and told half the students to buy something for themselves and the other half to spend it on someone else. Those who donated their money to charity or bought a gift for a friend reported a significantly bigger increase in well-being. And there was no difference in the uptick in good feelings between those who spent $5 and those who spent $20, suggesting that even small gestures have a big impact.

4. Eat dark chocolate

Food feeds your brain in addition to fueling your body. “Dark chocolate is the perfect brain food,” says Cheryle Hart, MD, author of The Feel-Good Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2008). While you don’t want to overdo it, indulging a little can give you an extra boost just when you need one. Sugars fuel the brain, caffeine provides an energy lift, and magnesium helps the body manufacture serotonin. Hart suggests one or two ounces of organic, high-quality dark chocolate in the midafternoon, when serotonin typically dips to its lowest level of the day.

via 4 Tips for Happiness | Healthy and Green Living.