Citrus Electrolyte Drink

Thursday, July 30, 2020
Pixabay

No doubt about it… the doggie days of summer have arrived here in Missouri. Long, hot, humid and sometimes stormy days abound. I wouldn’t want them to go on for months but I admit that I do like them while they're here. A still hot evening on the deck with cicada songs, the twinkling of fireflies and dive bombs from hummingbirds is magical. Add to that a tall glass of kombucha, good conversation and the rare puff of coolness brushing my brow and I’m pretty grateful and content.

Nevertheless, when these hot days do come and we’re working in the garden it’s wise to remember to stop before too many hours pass and one’s face is blood red!  There is a very real consequence of pushing too hard when out in the hot sun and that’s called heatstroke. We do not want that! We don’t want heat exhaustion either which is the precursor.

It’s hard to stop when you’re enjoying an outdoor project but it’s important to take a break before stepping into the danger zone! And, In my opinion the very first thing to grab; before sitting down and even before a cool shower is a good electrolyte drink. I make my own and wouldn’t trade them for any store bought brand. So quick and easy to make too.

Electrolytes are important salts and minerals (potassium, magnesium, salt, etc.) in our bodies that conduct electrical impulses. They keep us functioning properly which is important if we want to keep breathing, thinking and moving. Kind of a biggie eh? So if you’ve sweat down your reserves, especially out in the sun then bring on some replenishment!

I’ve used the following recipe for a long time now and don’t recall who gave it to me but it’s my favorite.


Citrus Electrolyte Drink 
1 cup fresh orange juice (or purchased but not sweetened or from concentrate)
½ cup fresh lemon or lime juice (or purchased but not from concentrate)
4 Tbsp honey (local and raw if possible) or black strap molasses
¾ tsp Himalayan pink salt 
4 cups of water (filtered if possible)

Blend together well and store in the fridge - that’s it! 

Tip: Choosing molasses over honey will give your drink a darker appearance and a richer flavor. 

Profile (partial – see references for full) 
One medium orange: Vitamin C – 69.7 mg, Potassium – 237 mg, Calcium – 52.4 mg
One medium lemon: Vitamin C – 44.5 mg, Folate – 9.24 µg, Potassium – 116 mg.
One lime: Vitamin C – 11.1 mg, Potassium 38.8 mg.
Honey – 1 Tbs: carbohydrates – 17.3, multiple vitamins and minerals.
Molasses – contains many minerals and some vitamins. See this awesome article about the many benefits of molasses.
Himalayan pink salt: contains 88 total trace minerals, electrolytes and elements!

  
References:

The New England Journal of Medicine. Heatstroke. June 20, 2019 by Yoram Epstein, Ph.D., and Ran Yanovich, Ph.D. – retrieved from https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1810762

USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service. Orange, raw. Published 04/01/20 https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/786559/nutrients

USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service. Lemon, raw. Published 04/01/20 https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/786556/nutrients

USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service. Honey. Published 04/01/20. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/789126/nutrients

Healthy and Natural World. Molasses 101: Types, proven benefits uses and more (science based). By Jenny Hills, Nutritionist and Medical Writer. Retrieved from https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/molasses/

The Meadow. Minerals in Himalayan Pink Salt: Spectral Analysis. Retrieved from  https://themeadow.com/pages/minerals-in-himalayan-pink-salt-spectral-analysis (I am not promoting or affiliated with this source)



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Honeycomb Conundrum

Saturday, July 18, 2020

In the world of herbalism there is a concept called the Doctrine of Signatures. It’s a belief that the color and shape of a particular plant (or certain other items in nature) provides information on its best uses. No doubt, you’ve seen the graphics with examples of this doctrine; about how a slice of carrot resembles an eye and lo and behold carrots are known to be good for the eyes. Kidney beans help with kidney function; walnuts with brain function, etc, etc. Though I find it interesting, I’ve never personally put much stock in it and caution others to proceed carefully before putting it into practice.

I am however, absolutely convinced of the infallibility of God’s word. So when I came across the above proverb (16:24) I was intrigued and inspired to dig a little deeper. 


Anyone can plainly see that a honeycomb’s structure (right) greatly resembles the design within bone (left). So is this a “signature” indicating honeycomb is indicated for bone health?

I spent quite a bit of time researching to find scientific studies that exclaimed the benefits of honeycomb on bone structure. And although I did find a few sentences here and there extolling such virtues I was pretty well let down in discovering any significant benefit having a direct impact.

Does science have all the answers? Hardly! There are many substances that work in mysterious ways that are yet to be answered scientifically; just ask any herbalist that has seriously practiced and they will confirm that!

Please note that I am not saying honey is not beneficial. I know it has many great benefits and I use raw honey often. Honeycomb has benefits too, but I’m talking about bones specifically.

So it would seem that today, I am still on the outskirts of putting much faith in the signatures doctrine. But I did say that the bible is true so why doesn’t the proverb seem to pan out?

Here Is Why

Because of an allopathic conditioned mindset of a “take-this-for-that” fix! Furthermore, human nature seems to default to wanting a sign to direct our way (signatures). But especially because sometimes we really can’t see the forest for the trees.

The subject of the proverb is pleasant words, NOT the honeycomb! It’s God’s Word that is the teacher, the comforter and fixer. May each of us take His Word to heart as the foundation from which ALL blessings flow….

References:

The pleasant words here commended must be those which the heart of the wise teaches, and adds learning to (Proverbs 16:23), words of seasonable advice, instruction, and comfort, words taken from God's word, for that is it which Solomon had learned from his father to account sweeter than honey and the honey-comb, (Psalm 19:10). These words, to those that know how to relish them, 1. Are pleasant. They are like the honey-comb, sweet to the soul, which tastes in them that the Lord is gracious; nothing more grateful and agreeable to the new man than the word of God, and those words which are borrowed from it, (Psalm 119:103). 2. They are wholesome. Many things are pleasant that are not profitable, but these pleasant words are health to the bones, to the inward man, as well as sweet to the soul. They make the bones, which sin has broken and put out of joint, to rejoice. The bones are the strength of the body; and the good word of God is a means of spiritual strength, curing the diseases that weaken us. ~ Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.

Honey took its place not only among the luxuries, but among the medicines of the Israelites. This two-fold use made it all the more suitable to be an emblem both of the true Wisdom which is also true obedience, and of the “pleasant words” in which that Wisdom speaks. ~ Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. 


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KEFIR - My DIY Happy Drink

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

I first stumbled upon the wonders of milk kefir because I was desperate to find a remedy for my doggie Elvis' noisy (and I imagine painful) tummy. It's been many years now so I don't recall where I found the story but it was about a woman who helped her dog's digestive issues using milk kefir. The more I read about it the more I was convinced that I needed to make my own for him, and as it turned out, myself and family members too!

So What Is Kefir Anyway?

Milk kefir is a slightly sour and very creamy fermented milk drink. Sometimes people describe it as a drinkable yogurt but it has much more in the way of gut-friendly pre and pro-biotics than yogurt does. Needless to say, I fell in love with kefir and have shared grains with many others.

Grains? What The Heck Are Kefir Grains?

Kefir grains are a symbiotic culture of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that reside on the surface of complex polysaccharides. They are quite unique in appearance from other cultures used in fermentation and resemble miniature bits of cauliflower. They are rubbery in texture and will often clump together. In my house I simply call them my kefir babies (pictured) 😀. You will need kefir grains to make your own kefir at home. If you don’t have a friend who can get you started with some you can often purchase them from your local health food store. If that’s a no-go try my favorite on-line source here.

Have Kefir Every Day

My primary reason for having kefir every day is because it makes my digestive system happy. Fewer tummy aches and mad dashes to the potty room, less reflux and heartburn are good by me. The beneficial yeasts and bacteria that my digestion enjoys is also a tremendous boost to my immune system!

Donna Schwenk of Cultured Food Life is one of my favorite resources for kefir and she lists several reasons she stays on board with it. She says that kefir lowers blood pressure and blood sugar, aids in acid reflux, improves allergies, helps in detoxification (yay!), lowers cholesterol and has a calming effect on the nervous system. These are her own top reasons but there are many more. You can find her article and links here.

Do It Yourself!

You will need:

A tablespoon of kefir grains. This is a good starting amount but I have successfully made kefir with just ONE grain before.

Milk. I use raw fresh milk from a local dairy (jersey cows) with the cream skimmed off. To me, the next best option would be A2 milk that is NOT ultra-pasteurized. A2 milk’s protein is easier on digestion. Ultra-pasteurized milk has been heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit.

A glass jar with a plastic lid. I just use a quart canning jar and lid. Some folks see no problem using a metal lid and some just use a cloth or coffee filter to cover. I’ve tried all these methods but it’s my preference to use a plastic lid.

A plastic strainer. You will need to separate the grains from the kefir for your next batch. Again, some will use a metal strainer. I was taught to use plastic and I prefer it.

Okay so here’s the hard part. Place your kefir grains in the jar. Pour milk over the top to at least half-way up the jar. Put the lid on. Set it out of the way on your kitchen counter for 24 hours. There you go… too easy!! Yes, that is all there is to it. The milk has fermented and your kefir is made.

All you need to do now is put your strainer in a bowl and pour your kefir through it to separate the grains. You can pour it from there into a glass to drink immediately but I like to put it in the fridge to get cold first.

Don’t forget to put your separated grains in a nice clean jar and pour fresh milk over them to start a new batch. You are well on your way to kefir heaven now!
  
A Few Tips

I often like to flavor my kefir before I drink it. I like it plain too but mixing it up with some blueberries, mango, or peaches, a bit of honey and cinnamon is the bomb for sure. There are so many tasty combinations, just be creative.

There are lots and lots of recipes that use kefir. Just search the web and you’ll get plenty of ideas. My favorites are salad dressings, cheese and ice cream. You are definitely not stuck with just drinking it every day. Find fun ways to use it up.

Already made kefir will last in the fridge quite some time, it just gets thicker and more sour the longer it sits.

You can put your kefir grains in “vacation mode” by just putting them in fresh milk and placing them in the fridge instead of on the counter. They will stay fine that way for a couple weeks or longer. If they stay that way too long they might seem to be dead the first time out on the counter but often if you will just give them a second round of fresh milk and set on the counter again they will perk up. Kefir grains are pretty forgiving. I even accidentally fridge-froze my kefir grains once and after about 4 jump starts on the counter they sprang back!

In the winter time I put a sock over my kefir while it ferments because my house is cold at night. It will eventually thicken up without it but I like to keep it cozy and clipping along. I would never set it on a seedling mat however... no, too warm. 

Caution: If you are allergic or sensitive to milk please avoid ingesting milk kefir. You might want to look into water kefir instead. Yep, that's a thing... 


References:

Donna Schwenk’s Cultured Food Life: 7 Reason I Have Kefir Every Day. Retrieved from https://www.culturedfoodlife.com/7-reasons-i-have-kefir-every-day/

Cultures for Health. Composition of Milk Kefir Grains: Bacteria & Yeasts. Retrieved from https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/milk-kefir/milk-kefir-grains-composition-bacteria-yeast/

Healthline. A1 vs A2 milk – Does It Matter? By Atli Arnarson, PhD March 14, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/a1-vs-a2-milk#a1-concerns

  

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