Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Guillain-Barré Syndrome

This is a condition that I learned about when reading The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. "Guillain-Barré syndrome, or GBS, usually attacks a month or so after a patient has had a common viral or bacterial infection." _ "an autoimmune illness in which the nerve's myelin sheaths are destroyed by the body's own immune system." To me, this definition sounds interestingly similar to Multiple Sclerosis. _"infusions of immunoglobulin, or other people's healthy immune cells, the standard treatment for GBS." To read much more into this enlightening topic, you may check this book out at your local library. However, I must admit, the more that I read this book, the more I wish I owned it: great as a reference.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Anti-Inflammatory Herbs, Foods, and Beverages

  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Coriander
  • White Willow Bark
  • Pineapple
  • Red Wine*
  • Stout Beer*
  • Dark Chocolate*
  • Fish Oil*
  • Coconut Oil*
  • Olive Oil*
  • Butter*
  • Potatoes*

* In moderation

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Favorite Friendly Flora Source: Kefir

Kefir grains are a combination of bacteria and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars.

I make my homemade kefir by fermenting the kefir grains in either an animal milk (goat, cow, etc.) or in a vegetable or nut milk product (coconut, almond, oat, etc.) along with (maybe) some whey powder or whipping cream to aid in thickening the mixture. I set the grains suspending in the milk product for 2 days on countertop (at room temperature). This allows the mixture to ferment long enough to become a good kefir. After fermenting, strain the mixture through a plastic colander to remove the grains. A thicker kefir makes a great homemade sour cream.

My "nana" likes to make labne (kefir cheese) by fermenting the kefir, removing the grains, and then running the mixture through a cheese cloth and allow to drain. What is left in the cloth (the sediment) is the labne. My sister and her husband, ferment juices into wines, spritzers, beers, and also to ferment herbs with. Kefir needs sugar to survive. Lactose or fructose both work; however, once you transfer a portion of your grains to fructose, you shouldn't go back to a milk product with these grains. Discoloration generally occurs in the grains by taking on the juice's tint. The more you use your kefir grains in a milk mixture, the more the grains will grow.

I like to make a coconut milk kefir and gently fold in my homemade marshmallow fluff. This makes a very tasty fruit dip. Serve chilled. This recipe can deflate if exposed to heat. To help prevent this, you may want to add softened and whipped cream cheese to you coconut milk before or after fermenting in kefir grains and folding in fluff.

My Marshmallow Fluff recipe:

3 egg whites
1 tbs. vanilla extract
2 cups homemade light corn syrup substitute:
2 cups white sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar, and a dash of salt
2 cups homemade powdered sugar:
2 cups white sugar, 1 tbs. corn starch, and 1 tbs. tapioca starch/flour

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Plastic-Free Coffee Maker

Here lately I have read and heard so much bad publicity about plastics. You know what I’m talking about: the lady at work who chooses not to microwave her lunch in a plastic container ... or hearing about certain plastics breaking down or “leaching” into what is stored inside of them or onto other dishes in the dishwasher ... or remember this one, “Never freeze then thaw out your water bottles”. Yeah, there is certainly a lot of hype or skepticism out there about plastics and their safety, but how much of this should we really be concerned about? In the past, all I have really been concerned with is not to store something in a plastic container that may stain it; generally something acidic like tomatoes.

Just the other day, though, I got to thinking about the coffee maker my husband and I used to have, and how I appreciated the stainless steal lined pitcher it had. Nowadays, we have one of those fancy coffee makers with a large plastic carafe instead of the pot. My husband likes it for the convenience of being able to dispense your coffee as you need it; this is done by simply pressing your mug against a button. However, there are a lot of plastic fixtures within the coffee maker that are exposed to the coffee, which is very acidic and also "of course" very hot when brewed. We have always used regular ceramic mugs instead of plastic mugs to drink out of, but is this all the "plastic exposure" to really be aware of?

So the question came to me, “Is there such a thing as a plastic-free coffee maker?” ... and sure enough there are! There are french presses, percolators, and a little retro, but very efficient Chemex Coffee Maker! The Chemex supposedly makes coffee just as tasty as your conventional drip coffee maker; however, you do have more control over the brew because you are bringing the water to a boil in a kettle and transferring it to this lovely appliance ... and no electricity needed, which makes this coffee maker great for camping. However, you wouldn't want to place the Chemex directly on an open flame or on a burner for it is made of glass and doesn't conduct heat too well. With a percolator you can though! The percolator has always been a camping staple, and works by water seeping through the coffee grounds and leaving the coffee chamber through the bottom, dropping back into the lower half of the pot, and is then forced up the tube again. This causes the brew to continually seep through the grounds until the overall temperature of the liquid approaches boiling point. This is known as the "perking" action, which signals to you that the coffee is ready to serve. A french press requires coffee of a "coarser" grind than what is used for most drip brew coffee filters, as finer grounds will seep through the press filter and into the coffee. With the coffee grounds remaining in direct contact with the brewing water, and the grounds are being filtered from the water by a mesh instead of a paper filter, the coffee brewed with the french press captures more of the coffee's flavor and essential oils, which supposedly become trapped in a traditional drip coffee maker's paper filter. Something to think about, huh? Well to each their own. ;-)