Sunday, December 15, 2013

Vegan Moroccan Tagine with Prunes and Preserved Lemons

This is made traditionally with lamb or goat meat and chicken stock.  Here is a vegan alternative

¼ cup olive oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or chopped fine
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper or ground chilli pepper
1/8 tsp saffron threads, crushed

4 cups of stock or water with 2-3 vegetable bouillon cubes.  (I use 2 salt free and 1 regular bouillon cube)
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs parsley
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
6 small carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
½ butternut squash cut into 2 inch pieces
8 - 12 preserved lemon sections – rinse, remove pulp and cut into thin strips

*Meatless Beef Strips or any good vegetarian meat substitute

In a large pot heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until they begin to give up their juices.  Add the ground spices and saffron and cook for another 3 minutes or until the onions a soft.  Stir occasionally and can add 1 tsp of water if it looks like it is sticking.
Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Add the bay leaves and parsley, and reduce the heat to s simmer.  Cover lightly and cook for 10 minutes.

(If you are using a slow cooker, this is the time to transfer your broth over and add your vegetables)

Add the potatoes, carrots and squash and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are almost tender.
Taste and top with more stock if needed.

Prepare the couscous. While the couscous is cooking, drain the prunes, and add them along with the preserved lemon to the tagine.  Cook an additional 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Preserved Lemons
1 wide jar with a lid – about 1 quart size
A glass or ceramic ‘something’ to push the lemons down into the juice.  I use a shot glass or a glass lid from an antique mason jar that fits down in
8 – 10 organic lemons
Coarse salt
Put a tablespoon of salt into bottom of jar
Cut the lemons into quarters, but don’t cut them all the way through so you can spread them open
Remove any obvious pits
Put each lemon into the jar a put another sprinkle of salt on it
Push it down firmly
Continue to layer until almost full

Press down until the juice covers all the slices – if not, juice another lemon and pour juice to cover
Use the glass ‘something’ to hold the lemons down into the juice and put on the lid – Marinate in fridge for 3 to 6 weeks

Moroccan Spiced Preserved Lemons

Tlbs black peppercorns, crushed
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
Vegetable oil

This recipe calls for the lemons to be quartered, de-pitted and rubbed with Kosher salt and set aside for 24 hours become soft and limp

Pat the lemon pieces with a clean cloth and arrange in layers in a sterilized glass jar.  Lightly sprinkle each layer with a little paprika, crushed pepper and olive oil.  Add the garlic clove and a bay leaf at every third level and the cinnamon stick in the middle.  Cover the lemon with a combination of half olive and half vegetable oil.  Seal and refrigerate.
Marinate 3 weeks and will keep up to 6 more weeks
Serve in Tagine, grilled fish or curry dishes.

Side sauce – optional
½ cup hot broth with 1 Tlbs virgin olive oil melted into it (or butter)
1 Tlbs. lemon/lime juice
1 Tlbs chopped cilantro
A dash of hot stuff (optional)  I like PC Fiery Thai Dipping Sauce

1 ½ cup instant cous cous
A little salt and a little olive oil
2 cups boiling water

In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil, add salt and oil and then stir.  Add couscous and stir again.  Cover and take off the heat.  Let sit for 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed and fluff up the grains with a fork. 
On a large serving platter make an outer ring the couscous and place the tagine in the centre.
Garnish with sprigs of parsley or cilantro.  Serve the sauce in a gravy boat on the side
Serve with a side of spinach salad that is dressed with a light citrus dressing and Lebanese style pita bread wedges

Serves 6

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Love of Small Spaces

I love small spaces.  I love the challenges.  I love to see the possibilities come to form.  I love organization.  I love to create aesthetic.  I am a minimalist by nature.

My Facebook friends notice that I frequently post design ideas and 'tiny homes' articles.  I love it when people think outside the box.

Here are some pictures from my former down town office.  I really wanted to put French doors here, but unfortunately this was a weight bearing wall.  In fact this was the original brick exterior wall, before an addition was put on.  The compromise was to create a long window and to have a glass panel put in.  Landlord Kurt Halmer and Phil Sommer of Sommer Design Studio both helped me here.

The window was limited to the height of the textured glass available.  Hence the small window on top of the side panel.  We took out the wood insets in the old doors and replaced them with the textured textured glass.

Inside my office was a door leading to the outside.  We added inserts of the glass there too, as well as replacing the glass on the long side window that opened to allow ventilation.

This textured wall was done by taking long pieces of grass and painting over them like mad, using a roller.  The trick was to start in one corner and continue around the room so it would look like the wind was blowing from the same direction.

Here is a 'Sommer Design' indoor water fountain.

The Ikea baskets house my hanging file frames.  Much nicer than a metal file cabinet and more compact as well. With the help of a couple of skilled friends and a free weekend we created built in furniture and a framework around the whole room.

This was my version of a Japanese garden.   The bamboo frame gave the plants a place to live and because the frame was free standing  eight inches from the wall, it made the room feel airy and larger. I bought lengths of bamboo in bulk, wired the joins together through drilled holes and covered the wire with rattan ribbon.

Wood from old utility shelving was salvaged to create cheap custom made furniture to fit the space.  Having shelves mounted on the wall left uncluttered floor space and still allowed that everything I needed was at hand.

The whole idea is that if I have to spend eight working hours a day in a small 8' by 10' room without going bonkers, I need natural light, beauty, and a feeling of open space. The challenge with small spaces is to create visual space.  No clutter, no excessive furniture or knick knacks.

I presently work and live in the same building; a century old  Victorian that my landlords duplexed.  I love it.  This is the room where I work.

The biggest challenge was how to downsize my personal living space to 250 square feet. The rest of the studio flat is a spacious uncluttered open reception area and my office itself. My landlords blessed me by installing natural bamboo flooring. The continuous natural floor gives the eye the impression of more space.

You can get a sense of how narrow my kitchen is by this photo.

The fridge on the right is the kitchen boundary and beyond is the sitting area.  When this was a single family home, this room was a child's bedroom, probably the nursery, with no closets.

Underneath the counter is the washing machine.  I have since replaced this appliance with an apartment sized front loading model that fits the counter top exactly. The kitchen cabinets and counter are on the left against the wall.

The advantage here is triangulation; there is only three steps from the sink to the fridge.  Only about three steps anywhere really.

Here is the view of the sink and cabinets.  I took off the upper doors to enjoy seeing my beautiful pottery.  The great thing about organizing small spaces is that if you don't see it, you probably don't have it.

The pantry cabinet in the photo below occupies the 'dead space' behind the door.  Broom and mop hide behind here too.  A clothes rack is also attached to the back of the door. Pots and pans are hung on a rack on the wall above.

When you have tall ceilings, shelving and cupboards can be mounted on the walls.

 The kitchen island is actually two 'assembly required' dressers from Canadian Tire.  I bolted them together and created an impervious work surface by tacking a piece of robust fake-wood flooring on top.

The wicker drawers provide great storage when every inch counts.  The only caution is to be careful of the weight.  Great for spices, Tupperware, pasta, linens, cooking tools, bits and hand blender.  Everything is at hand.

I chose not to make space for a range.  Instead I have two counter top induction cookers, a hot plate and a smaller wall mounted oven.  I have a rice cooker, a slow cooker, a counter top grill, and a warming plate.  These appliances can move around depending on what I am doing.  I can morph what space I need free and how my work is going to flow.

Here you can see the fridge and the sitting room beyond.  I used a canvas and frame screen taped to the right of the fridge to create a 'room' divider. I painted it to match the walls.

I appreciate that I am able to cook and visit with my friends at the same time.I am a vegan cook and on occasion I cater from this tiny kitchen.  I don't entertain chaos, so sometimes I really need to think through my battle-plan before I start.  Still, the space works.

I am not formally trained in design, however I have consulted for businesses and residential homes. I specialize in how to make something out of nothing, in little space and on a shoe string budget.

For this service, I charge my usual hourly rate.

Take time to enjoy your nests and have a wonderful holiday season
_ Nelda

Fresh Spring Rolls with the Ultimate Easy Dipping Sauce


Fresh Spring Rolls

These spring rolls are my all time favourite food.  They are like salad and finger food at the same time.  I serve by putting sauce in the bottom of a bowl, and fan the spring rolls in the bowl.

Making Spring Rolls 
8 large rice paper wrappers
8 ounce package rice vermicelli noodles or bean thread noodle, soften with boiling water and cool enough to handle
4 green onions cut in thin strips
2 carrots cut in julienne strips, lightly steamed and flash cooled
1 red pepper cut in thin julienne strips
3 Tbs fresh Thai Basil cut in thin strips
3 Tbs fresh mint leaves cut in thin strips
3 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves cut in thin strips
1 cup of lettuce cut in thin strips
8 ounces cooked shrimp cut lengthwise in half or tofu cut in thin strips or ……
Use sliced crabmeat; pre grilled chicken, smoked salmon or Spicy Dry Tofu

Prep all your veggies and ingredients in advance
Soften the paper by dipping the rice papers one at a time in a large flat bottomed dish of cool water for about 1 minute.  Hold it by one edge and let the water drain off it.  Lay on a the counter or a cutting board  and let them soften.  Re moisten if necessary.

On the side nearest you, place the meat, tofu, a small handful of noodle, the greens, carrots, pepper, herbs etc and roll the paper around the filling like a jelly roll.   Keep your mass rather long and narrow.  Be careful not to over fill.  Flip in each end and continue to roll trying to keep the roll tight around the filling.

Place on serving dish, seam side down.  To keep them from drying out, cover with waxed paper placed over the top. You can also soak a rice paper and place that on top.  Discard before serving.

Get creative
Anything that doesn’t squeal can be made into a rice wrap.  Some examples are: chicken or mock chicken salad or green salad with a yogurt/fruit dressing.  Dress the salad lightly before you roll.  Don’t have it dripping with dressing, just enough to flavour.

For dressings to dip your spring rolls into: 

Mix about a ¼ cup of lightly ground Gomasio into the basic balsamic vinaigrette,
or mix equal parts of peanut sauce with the balsamic dressing. 

Balsamic Vinaigrette Basic
2 parts oil to one part vinegar - If you find dressings have too much bite, add 1 tablespoon of water. 
Balsamic Vinegar is strong tasting – so add a little less than the full part
Crush 1 garlic clove and add to oil
Add 1Tbs of Dijon mustard (emulsifier)
Herbamere to taste
This is better made ahead and left to marinate a bit.

Japanese Gomasio
Rinse 1 cup of brown sesame seeds in sieve under tepid running water
Let drain
Use dry cast iron skillet –medium heat 
Cut dulse into small bits
Toast in pan until dulse is crisp
Add 1 tsp Celtic salt –ground fine
Up end sieve and dump in sesame seeds all at once
Spread over bottom of skillet and leave it to dry for a bit
Stir gently and fairly constantly (you may need to reduce heat)
This is ready when seeds are fragrant, slightly golden and hollow
Cool slightly and store in an airtight jar.
Grind about ¼ cup of the seeds using a mortar and pestle, or small coffee grinder and add to the basic Balsamic Vinaigrette. 

Peanut Sauce
¼ cup of crunchy organic peanut butter
Add boiling hot water and mix, a little at a time, just until you get a smooth consistency
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs Braggs Aminos or Tamari sauce
1 tsp or more Thai red pepper sauce
1 inch or more ginger root, pealed and grated
1 clove of garlic minced fine
Adjust flavourings to taste
(I mix this with equal parts balsamic vinaigrette)

Oriental Dressing
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup warm brown rice syrup or agave syrup
1 Tbs water
1 Tbs sesame or canola oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp grated ginger root
¼ tsp toasted sesame oil
A little hot stuff

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Slow Cooker Glazed Pecans

I always like to make something stupendous for the holiday season.  This is my one time of year to break out of my usual 'healthy' food style.

I had a brain wave that I wanted to make glazed pecans and was catapulted into action when I found a no work-no brain recipe.  I made a few batches and was really happy with the results.

This week I met up with a friend and we had our annual Christmas exchange of gifts.  She gave me glazed pecans!  Go figure!

If this is a brain wave that is crossing the nation, I thought I had better share the lazy person's version of this classic.

3 Cups raw pecans
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon organic coconut oil

Throw everything into your slow cooker and turn on low.  Cook for anywhere from one to three hours (no slow cooker is alike), stirring often with a paddle .  At first you will see that the syrup is dripping from your spoon.  As time goes on, it will be stickier and thicker.  At the end, there won't be any residue on spoon.  It will all be on the pecans.

Pull the plug and let cool.  When you are ready to move your treats to an airtight container, go down the side with a sturdy butter or dinner knife and wiggle to loosen the pecans.  Mine just kind of blasted apart with little effort.  That's it.  No muss and no fuss.

These treats are fabulous additions to yoghurt or ice cream deserts, or in salads.

Spinach Salad with Glazed Pecans and Pomegranates
3 tablespoons 'elite' olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or maple balsamic
Herbamere/sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 or 4 rings of paper thin red onion
4 tablespoons of glazed pecans
1/2 bin washed baby spinach
pomegranate seeds 1/4 to 12 of the fruit

Put the oil, vinegar, mustard and salt all into the bottom of a salad bowl.  Whisk these together thoroughly.
Add the spinach and toss lightly but pay special attention that all the leaves have a light coating of dressing
Place the red onion rings, glazed pecans and pomegranates on top and serve.

I wish you all the best of homey things this Christmas Season and blessings in abundance for this coming New Year.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Gluten free is a big deal right now.  Thankfully, a new breed of medical doctors are emerging who are putting together the chronic illness/diet relationship.  The question is, have we as a species always had a problem with cultivated grains, or is this an across-the-board weakness that has come about for another reason?

The food I was offered was cow’s dairy which I do not tolerate.  Within the first three months of my life, gluten grains (which are very complicated and hard to digest) in the form of boxed Pablum were pushed.  Realize it takes humans a full eight years to develop a fully functioning digestive engine.  Some adults still have an underdeveloped or damaged gut, and are limping through life struggling to be well.

Baby Boomers are the Pablum generation
Baby Boomers are also the front line generation of test subjects in the consumption of genetically manipulated food.  This started with the hybridization of grains to create more disease resistant crops.  As a result, my generation has had ‘Franken-food in our diets for decades starting with hybridization and moving on to more complex and evil manipulation of genetics.

We are part of a wacky experiment
When we eat meat that has been genetically altered, this is a different creature than ‘cow’ or ‘chicken’. These new creatures change us physically in unpredictable ways.  How we individually and collectively respond to genetically altered foods is at best, a very wacky experiment, where nobody is particular is paying attention to the results.

My adventures into the diet revolution began in 1984.  My daughter was suffering from repeated ear infections and had been treated with repeated antibiotics.  When I was told she needed a surgical procedure to put tubes in her ears, I freaked out!  At this point I took my daughter to see a herbal/nutritional practitioner.

When I was told to eliminate dairy and wheat from both our diets, I didn't have the substitution choices that I see today in most grocery stores or health food stores.  What I did instead was to explore Asian recipes where dairy and wheat was not staple ingredients.  Later on I introduced moderate amounts of goat and sheep based cheeses as a treat item.

For some people, gluten may be at the root of many chronic health issues
For any kind of inflammatory conditions and degenerative conditions, eliminating gluten is a reasonable place to begin.  It isn't going to be easy because gluten will be hidden in to many things.  Any form of commercial thickeners including soup bases or corn starch may have gluten added.  Always look for ‘gluten free’.

I have a few clients who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  They avoid all gluten.  By sticking to a strict gluten free diet they have been able to reduce and avoid flare ups.  One person is on no medication, and the others on reduced medication.  In my world there are other factors with any auto-immune condition that have to do with modifiers and DNA.  There is more to change and heal rather than just a list of what one must avoid.

In my world, grains work well for some people and not for others. If you do well with organic grains, spelt or kamut may be a reasonable substitution if wheat is a problem, but again why push the same thing day after day. There are a variety of grains, oats, rye, barley, rice, wild rice, teff, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat.  Add spelt and kamut to that list and you have a working diet – Unless gluten sensitivity or  is an issue.  In this case avoid all gluten grains: wheat, spelt, kamut, rye, barley, buckwheat.

To many people, 'the staff of life' is the processed thing that comes out of a box.  This is a processed food. Many people also use bread as a constant in their diet.  Flour is a processed food that acts like glue in the gut.  Try cooking real grains opt for eco-friendly containers to tote instead of the never ending sandwiches.

For gluten free thickeners try making a roux (French style of cooking gravy).  Just cook a tablespoon of starch (tapioca, arrowroot is a good substitute for cornstarch or any flour) in 2 tablespoons of hot oil in a saucepan,  cook it for a minute, then add liquid; water, nut/seed milk, broth or leftover vegetable cooking water a little at a time and stir like crazy until you get the gravy thickness you are looking for.  I use this as a thickener for soups and sauces.

Soaked/sprouted grain breads may be a good choice for some people when consumed moderately, but again, the whole bread thing is overdone in people's diets generally.  You can freeze the loaf and take one out at a time as a treat.

Dairy Substitutes

I use all kinds of milk-like things.  Almond milk (soak nuts overnight, strain off soaking water, add filtered water in a blender and blend the be-jiggers out of it.  Strain and voilà!). Seeds take much less soaking time, but can be made into milks as well.  I also like coconut milk and cashew milk. Variety is the thing.  I like soy but use the commercial stuff very sparingly.  Rice or rice/almond may be good as a milk substitute.

Just a note that you can 'milk up' nut butters by adding hot water gradually in small amounts, and stir like crazy.  Add Braggs or tamari, dry mustard or Dijon mustard, parsley, garlic.  Flavour it up in any way that you prefer.  Consider making a sauce out of sesame seeds (Tahini sauce), peanuts (Satay) almonds, cashews, hazelnuts sunflower or really any nut or seed you like and tolerate well.

Red Star brand nutritional yeast has a cheesy taste and you may like this instead of the pricey cheese substitutes.  Is one of my favourite things for popcorn or as a Parmesean substitute or when I want to make a roux-cheese-like sauce.  You can try other brands of nutritional yeast, but Red Star so far anyway, has the best taste.

For anyone willing to make radical changes in the pursuit of better health, I would suggest to stay away from all dairy products and all gluten grains and the by-products of these staples.  Lactose free alone may not work.  Lactose free means that they have removed the milk sugars, but all other bits are still there.  For example I am fine with lactose, but don’t tolerate the beta-albumin proteins in cow’s milk.

If I am going to be part of an experiment I would prefer to be in control of it.  Eliminate gluten and dairy for 12 weeks and see what happens.  You just might feel better.  If you add it back in to your diet and you feel worse, you have just had the experience of a successful experiment.

As usual, these comments are not meant to prescribe or diagnose, but are offered as ‘food for thought’.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Natural Approach to Laundry

I met a woman in my local grocery store recently, who picked my brain around what laundry detergent I used and what I would recommend.

The truth is that I don’t use any.  This invited a deeper explanation, and this is what has motivated the writing of this blog post.

When my daughter was a baby, she had severe diaper rash and hyper-sensitive skin.  I had to wrap my mind around laundry alternatives very early on in my housekeeping career.  

Most people smell like their laundry detergent and they don’t realize it.  Just walking down the laundry/cleaning aisle in the grocery store gives me a headache. The ‘McFrugal’ in me also wants to mention how unnecessarily expensive these commercial laundry products are. 

I notice is how powdered laundry products build a residual in fabrics and make them feel stiff and rough.  This is especially true in regard to silk, linen, and rayon.  I am a Thrift Store junkie and I have a hound’s nose for finding treasures.  Often I have to soak and rinse clothing dozens of times, just to get out the residual laundry products. I just keep rinsing until the water is so longer soapy.  Fabrics get noticeably softer with each rinse. 

Instead of detergents:
Replace laundry powders with 1/8 to 1/4 cup of regular white vinegar.  Vinegar cuts the skin oils, deodorizes and helps to keep colours true, especially in cotton, rayon and silk.  If I need a little extra oomph, try adding about a tablespoon of dish detergent to the load. If you prefer to use a natural liquid laundry detergent, I would still suggest using as little as you can get away with.

I don’t own a dryer so I have no advise here.  I lightly spin the clothes in my machine or prefer to hand wash and wrap in a towel to sop up the water.  I hang the clothes up right away on a hanger carefully.  This means that I never need to iron.  Dry clothes can be hung right into the closet.  

Wash and Wear?  No - oils from our skin can go rancid in fabric.  A better plan is to wear and wash.  Wear something once then rinse or wash lightly in vinegar, then rinse in clear water.  

I wash whites in warm water.   I grate some of a bar of basic laundry soap into a wash-cloth by using a micro-plane grater.  I gather it up loosely and throw it in with the rest of the load.

Soaking is the old fashioned way to really get clothes clean without wearing them out, physically or chemically.

Oxygen Bleach is a safe and effective way of whitening without weakening and destroying fabrics.  

Even regular medicinal peroxide can be used to treat a stain on white fabric.  For extra care use a Q-tip to get spot-on, and then dilute quickly with water as soon as the offending spot is faded to your satisfaction.

Make your own heavy duty laundry soap:
Buy a good basic laundry bar in the Health food store (or make your own).  Grate the bar with a micro plane or grate in a food processor.  Add equal parts of Washing Soda and Borax (a natural bleach and disinfectant).  This is excellent for serious man-type laundry.

Stain Removal:  
If you become a Master at treating stains, many articles can be saved from the rubbish bin.  Removing stains may only require a spot of dish detergent or a dollop of your foaming hand soap on it.  Put it in the hamper until wash day.

I make my own foaming hand soap.  Buy a foam dispensing product and when it is empty fill it with 1 Tlbs organic shower gel to 1 about cup distilled water.  Body Shop’s ‘Satuma’ is what I use.

Stains from the oil from salad dressing can spell the ruin for natural fabrics.  I feel that I have nothing to lose by trying and if the detergent or soap trick alone doesn't work, I spray the spot with Orange Appeal or TKO (a natural solvent made from the outer skin of oranges.  Just to note that this orange essence it is very toxic to cats).  Let the garment sit until it is dry to the touch; then put a dollop of foamed hand soap on the same spot, let it dry and then re- wash it again.

I have used Laundry Discs in the past and many people swear by them.  The purchase cost is high ($70) but the discs can last for years with good care.   I have had these, but never bothered to replace them.  

I never have to face a mountain of family laundry.  I look for machines that include cold wash, soak, gentle and hand-wash settings rather than heavy duty settings.  I am not in any way suggesting that this is the ‘right way’of laundry, only offering this as being ‘my way’. 

If you have persistent skin or respiratory issues, consider this; towels, linens and clothing treated with commercial laundry products may be the culprit.  These products also have a harmful environmental impact. I hope this answers your questions.  Thanks for asking.

Take care


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why Autumn is the Season for the Lungs and Large Intestine

According to Oriental tradition, the metal element encompasses the autumn season and highlights the lungs and large intestine.  The fall is the perfect time to address the needs of these two important organs.

Specialized Kinesiology is the energy system I use for assessments.  This gives one the opportunity to look at the body relationally; organs, glands and muscles.  Muscle testing can give a profound up to the moment insight into the body’s strengths as well as its stresses.

In regard to the lungs, the muscles sharing this same meridian are:  the anterior serratus (think the 'red cap' salute), the deltoids (rotator cuff), coracobrachialis (think ‘the Fonz’ salute), and the diaphragm.  If the energy circuit to the muscles is weak, logic would say that this same lack of energy supply would also affect the organs and glands on the same river of energy.

The lungs often get used by the body’s detox system as an overflow system.  This once a year clean out can be really helpful, especially before the additional stresses of extreme cold and dry heat.  There are many herbal formulas this help to clean the lungs and respiratory system.  Lung Flush by Omega Alpha and the Inula formulas by Genestra are excellent. 

Hydration is essential here as well.  This means 1 to 2 ounces every ½ hour.  Foods rich in Vitamin C and eating lung and spleen can be helpful to strengthen the lungs.  This can be obtained in pill form for the squeamish.

The large intestine is the other organ on the metal meridian.  The muscles in this group include the Fascia lata which runs down the outside of the thigh from hip to knee, the Hamstrings, and the Quadratus lumborum. We don’t tend to see back issues or knee issues, or chronically tight hamstrings as having at their root, an elimination problem.  As with the lungs, Vitamin C and optimum hydration are essential for bowel health.

There are many good bowel cleanse products available.  I do have a caution here.  If you have or suspect you have some problems or impacted areas, bulking up all of a sudden is not a wise plan.  Something simple like increasing vegetables in your diet will increase natural fibre.

Flax seed tea (a heaping teaspoon of seeds cracked open in a coffee grinder, put into a mug and fill mug with very hot water.  Let it sit for a few minutes until the contents get a little thick and drink it down).  Food grade aloe vera juice can be helpful as well.  This is a very gentle healing approach especially if there is discomfort or inflammation present.  Marshmallow herb and Slippery Elm are helpful to lubricate and soothe.  These herbs do not interfere with absorption in the GI tract.

To improve hydration in the bowel, cook barley grain in lots of water. To decrease excess water in the bowel pan-toast barley until it is fragrant and then add water and tender-cook.

How fortunate we are to have a 2,000 year old health system at our fingertips; the best of the east and west and the old and the new.  Integrated health is the blessing of this day and age.  

Metal Element Nutrition

The following are Metal Element foods:

 Fennel seed, Fenugreek, Flax seed, Parsnips, 
Horse radish, Daikon radish, Chai tea in milk, Ginger, Barley, White potatoes, Cauliflower, 
Cabbage, Tofu

Wilted Kale Salad with Mushrooms and Red Onion

  • Curly Green Kale sliced fine, enough to fill a large heat proof salad bowl, taking out the large stems and veins
  • Slice ¼ medium red onion in thin slices
  • Slice 2 Cups of firm white button mushrooms 
  • Heat 1/3 Cup of light oil in sauté pan on medium heat
Add the sliced mushrooms sauté and stir frequently until you see the mushroom exuding juice
Quickly add ¼ Cup of Balsamic vinegar and cook for 2 minutes

Take off heat and add 1 heaping tsp of Dijon Mustard into the centre of the pan stirring well to mix
Quickly pour hot dressing over the kale and mix well
The Kale will turn a bright green.
Taste add more Balsamic dressing if needed
Add onions and toss lightly
To serve, grind Gomasio coarsely and sprinkle on top
In this way Gomasio tastes like bacon

Japanese Gomasio

Rinse 1 cup of brown sesame seeds in sieve under tepid running water
Let drain
Use dry cast iron skillet –medium heat 
Cut dulse into very small bits using scissors
Toast dulse in pan until the dulse is crisp
Add 1 tsp Celtic salt –ground fine

Up end the sieve and dump in sesame seeds all at once
Spread the seeds over bottom of skillet and leave it to dry for several minutes until the seeds no longer stick to the bottom of the pan.  Be patient.  This is the 'screw up' point.

Stir gently and fairly constantly (you may need to reduce heat)
This is ready when seeds are fragrant, slightly golden and hollow (crush one to see)
Cool and store in an airtight jar.
To release the calcium and minerals inside the seed, coarsely grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle or by using a small coffee grinder.  Do this just before serving. 

For an interesting and calcium rich salad dressing, grind about ¼ cup with mortar and pestle, or small coffee grinder and add to a basic vinaigrette.  

2 parts oil to one part vinegar - If you find dressings have too much bite, add 1 tablespoon of water.  

Balsamic Vinaigrette
Balsamic Vinegar is strong tasting – so add a little less than the full part
Crush 1 garlic clove and add to oil
Add 1Tbs of Dijon mustard (emulsifier)
Herbamere to taste

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Healing Overview

 My mom was a socially involved go-getter and when I was a child, (I was the youngest of four) and I needed more individual attention, I would have sick days where I would be looked after: couch, blankie-wank, eggnog  Mr. Dress-Up. 

Of course when I was an adult (with a child of my own and a full time job to look after) and I felt neglected or overwhelmed, guess what? I had all of the exact same symptoms over and over, except for the adult-self, there were no perks. 

I was experiencing a pattern; successful for the child at the time it was wired in, but this certainly diminished the quality of life for me as an adult.

When you think of the human body as a complex computer, it makes sense to recognize that our bodies get hardwired over time. Neurological goat paths turn into Neuro-super- highways as we traffic those same patterns over and over. Our emotional experiences become our cellular experiences.

I question people around: is it seasonal, does it change with barometric pressure, or times of elevated pollen, or by going indoors/outdoors, are your symptom worse when you lie down, or bend down, thirsty/thirst less? Do your symptoms occur only on weekdays or weekends? Many small pieces when put together, make a more complete picture.

Laterality is an interesting phenomenon. For many people, all their physical concerns will tend to be on the same side of their body. Often they will not notice until I point this out. Grief and loss often revolve around significant dates. This has been coined ‘anniversary syndrome’. 

Like Frodo, people often have a difficult time yearly, around the date of a traumatic or significant date. Often women will feel unaccountably depressed around the date of a miscarriage or lost child. Again, we may not consciously be aware this is happening.

I also pay attention to people’s languageing. I will often hear “I can’t stand it” or “I'm working my ____ off” or “I'm losing my grip”. Our bodies are designed to be expressive, and I assume that the area of our body that is expressing discomfort is only our body attempt to get our attention. The body talks, but are we listening?

We can live in a house for a couple years and a Plumber or Carpenter will listen to us with rapt attention to hear clues about what the problem may be. Yet we can live in our own bodies for decades and our health care providers will act as if we are a stranger in our own house. 

As a complementary health care provider, listening is my most valuable tool. Sometimes people need to hear something come out of their own mouths.  

When working with a health care provider, make sure they are not by-passing the interview. This is a valuable process where locked-in patterns can be illuminated.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Cure for Old Knees

Marlene Dietrich once said, “Careful dress and grooming can take 20 years off a woman’s age but nobody can fool a flight of stairs”.

We are only as old as our knees think we are
Many people believe that it is normal to expect that our bodies are going to wear out and break down.  Is this true in all cases?  Perhaps we give in too soon.  I’d like to share my personal process of bringing my feet and knees back to health.  I am living proof that our bodies can heal and repair and that there is real value in an alternative approach.

Walking the talk! 
 The last three years have been a limp of faith for me. I love to dance.  Five years ago, I decided to take ballroom dance and I now have my bronze level in 7 dances.  I fast tracked with the goal to complete this within three years… high heels.

I have moved my home and office 3 times within the last 8 years and have done extensive remodelling each time.  Read ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’.   I have a gift and passion for designing small spaces. I love giving that part of me free rein.    

Two of these re-locations required 3 months of work each.  As a result, I have had the joy and satisfaction of creating unique and beautiful home and work spaces.  On the dark side, my poor old body has to bear the brunt of these Olympian  projects.  

If my body were a horse I’d have been reported to the SPCA.

This is going to read like the never ending saga, so if you don’t want the morbid details…..quit while you still can.

Move #2
Three years ago on after a stressful move, I could hardly stand on my feet.  If I put one shoe on I couldn't put my weight on that foot to put the other shoe on.  I still had to paint, unpack my home and office and get back to work as soon as possible.  So why did this happen all of a sudden?

The truth is it wasn't all of a sudden.  We are taking about 60 years of history here.  I was looking at acute and chronic elements affecting many major systems of my body:  structural, immune, circulatory, urinary, hepatic, lymphatic and nervous system. 

Arch Supports and Orthotics
I’d like to make a comment about arch supports and orthotics.  Architects will be the first to tell you about arches and how the pressure from above makes them stronger.  Putting pressure from beneath them makes them weaker.  Many people swear by arch support technology, but I have to say that they make no sense to me. I wasn't looking for a crutch.   I wanted my feet back.

What I Chose to do
I made an appointment with my brilliant RMT (Registered Massage Therapist).  She began to work on the structure of my foot, and began to break down and iron out the scar tissue that had built over time in the arches of my feet.  This condition is called ‘Plantar Fasciitis’.  

With Plantar Fasciitis the plantar muscles can begin to shorten and if left untreated, can pull the heel bone forward and down, which then causes bruising when you put weight on it.  Also when you step down and the tissues aren't warmed up, the tissue rips a bit more and the body creates more scaring in its attempts to heal the tearing.  This can be reversed.  During treatments I practically had to bite down on a belt because this procedure really hurts.  This took a few visits. 

Next, I made an appointment with a reflexologist.  She started easing the general structure back to mobility.  She said I had ‘uni-foot’.  It felt like a block of wood.  Over the next few weeks, my feet began to articulate in the way that they were designed.  Then she started on the reflexes.  Many were painfully active.  The significant ones were the kidney and urinary reflexes which were active for many weeks as was the sciatic nerve reflexes. 

The sciatic nerve runs all the way from the atlas wedge in the neck (C1) down the back, divides in two and runs down the legs to the heel.  Most people complain about the pain in their leg or in one buttock, but I noticed the inflamed nerve issues in my heel and feet.  Working with kidney drainage and getting the nerve inflammation down was the piece that I know well, so I put myself on’ a taste of my own medicine’.  Inositol, (a water soluble B factor vitamin) by the way is a big player when you need to get the inflammation down quickly in the nervous system.  I took about 8 to 12 capsules a day for about a week then reduced to about 4 a day.  

After several reflexology visits, and time, and some wise self-care my feet were feeling mint
Move #3
Two years ago I started renovation on an upstairs flat which took three months to become livable.  This required 10 and 12 hour days, 6 days a week.  In addition I was trying to keep up with my client needs. 

I moved before I had finished painting the walls.  Within 5 days I left for a 10 day trip to Texas.  I took the opportunity to rest.  I had 10 hurting digits and knees that felt broken.  When I got back home, only my thumbs were still hurting.  Hurting or not, I launched into painting walls and getting my life settled again.

Last May I was carrying my groceries in a back-pack while I carried my bike up 3 steps onto the porch.  When I put the combined weight on my left leg I heard a huge ‘crunch’ and my knee gave out.  It hurt so badly I thought I had broken something. 

Getting the inflammation down is the first thing.  Putting a bag of frozen peas on it and using homoeopathic Arnica helped.  After this injury I started to experience wicked leg cramps when my knees were flexed that did not respond to magnesium supplementation.  (For the keeners I will list all assorted products used near the end of this article.)

Lucky for me I know really clever people in the healing field.  My colleagues (RMT and Electronic homoeopathy) helped me figure out what was going on.  The chronic bit was scar tissue that had built up over time to the point where my knee was pushed slightly out of joint.  When I put the weight on it that fateful day I crunched through the scar tissue.  I was left with stretched and misaligned tendons, ligaments and cartilage. I couldn't put any lateral flexion on the injured knee at all.   This made trying to sleep a whole lot of fun!

I also had circulation congestion (bruising and blood clot) issues that were chronic (ageing) in my legs which was the underlying issue in the cramping.  This congestion also can contribute to restless legs. Kidney drainage (congestion) causing swelling and fluid in the knees was also a root concern.  There were a list of usual suspects (infections such as bacteria, parasites, mixed infections and their TOXINS in my system and especially getting stored in my knees).  I also had to address the poor circulation to my extremities.  If the blood is not flowing well, the healing potential body in the local area will not detox well or receive nutrition well either.  There was still scar tissue needing to be broken down in both my knees.

The key modalities were massage therapy, reflexology,electronic homeopathy, nutritional, herbal and homeopathic therapies.

Here is a list of products and why
I didn't take them all at once, but this is the general list of players over the last 10 months:

Prickly Ash Combo – herbal - circulation

Cleavers Combo - herbal - blood, lymph, liver, kidneys

Borage Combo – herbal – adrenal, immune

Nettles tincture – herbal – blood – minerals

Glucosaplex – natural anti-inflammatory with kidney drainage built in and a highly absorbable glucosamine

MSM Glucosamine – connective tissue nutrients for repair to joints

Unda # 25 for arterial and circulation clean up

Unda # 33 for clean-up of peripheral circulation

Unda # 258 – joint drainer – liver and kidneys

Pinus Montana – herbal/homeopathic to stimulate repair of joints and bone surfaces.

Anti-inflam – herbal – to reduce swelling

Vegan Protein – building blocks for repair

Essential Fatty Acids – anti-inflammatory and lubricates the joint surfaces/ nervous system nutrition

Hyaluronic Acid – increase synovial fluid in joints

Cina homeopathic/Oil of Oregano/Echinacea Mix 1 – infection fighters

Vege Greens – detoxifier and general nutrition

Liquid magnesium – feeds muscles

Juncturinum Plex – helps stimulate repair of joints and bone

Super Cal Mag – minerals

Flora Salushaus liquid cal-mag – highly absorbable minerals and nervous system nutrition

Sinew Plex – nutrition for building and strengthening connective tissue

Topical creams:
I started out using Trammel gel.  This helped for the initial swelling.  Then I switched to arnica topical cream and Now brand MSM, arnica and Glucosamine liposome lotion.  I used Minute Muscle Relief cream.  I have Guinea- pigged almost everything my suppliers had available during the last 10 months.

Here is the mixture that worked the best for providing comfort and healing - swelling, pain, re-sprains, re-strains and bruising (circulation).  Apply morning and night or as often as needed to find relief.

Arnica cream - 1 part (Unda)

Minute Muscle Relief cream (Peaceland) – 1 part

Devil’s Claw cream (Genestra) – 1 part

PharMax ‘delivera’ compound base cream (Seroyal) – 1 part


Resting the injured part of our body is often the missing ingredient.  Wisdom prevails.  We need to determine what approach will speed the healing process.  Do we push on through or do we give the injury total rest. 

Re-injury is the factor that slows down healing.  Few of us have lives where we can rest completely.  I tried to find the healthy balance where I was able to rest my knees (the local area) but get enough movement to promote and enhance circulation and lymph flow.  Keeping muscles strong and toned prevents undue strain on the associated connective tissues.

I'm back on track, wearing flip flops, or bare feet (my favourite).  I'm biking, walking and playing with horses.  I can trust that ol' knee to get me safely in the saddle.  

A Desire to Heal
The path of healing chronic issues isn't for the faint of heart, but when we truly desire to heal,  it is a matter of patiently peeling though the layers in priority. Take it a step at a time; work with what presents itself and then as each layer resolves, go deeper.

Whew!  This was wordy.  Great that you stuck with it to the end.
Keep well_  Nelda