Archives for category: Healing With Food

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My son is lying in bed home from school with severe intermittent cramping, and of course my first thought as always is to try to get some fermented food into him. (Pretty sure it’s not his appendix.) I know that fighting bacteria with bacteria is effective, and that probiotic, bacterial-rich ferments, even small spoonfuls of “pickle juice” (brine), support a rebalance.  So I’m relieved when he requests “one of [my] homemade fizzy drinks”  — some version of water kefir.

There is continuously new research emerging about the microorganisms in our digestive systems and relationship to disease, including dementia, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes.  Yesterday I read about research concerning Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in this regard, and an interesting summation of positive and negative aspects of antibiotics.  And there have been absolutely fantastic episodes on BBC Radio 4 on the Food Programme, if you are lucky enough to have access to these links:  That Gut Feeling Part One and That Gut Feeling Part Two.  Since listening to these radio docs, I have been thinking of my own microbiome as an organ I can easily make healthier by daily dietary choices, such as increasing fibre, variety and of course including raw and unpasteurised and fermented foods, as well as reducing processed foods. Read the rest of this entry »

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A medieval garden – from British Library MS Royal 6 E IX f. 15v

The Healing Power of a Garden – A Medieval View.  Came across this article this morning and felt a surge of springtime joy, reading about Henry of Huntingdon’s Anglicanus Ortus, a Verse Herbal of the Twelfth Century.

“This is no ordinary herbal: the work is staged first as a discussion between a master and a student walking around a garden, inspecting the plants in their separate beds, and then as an awkward performance by the same master before Apollo and a critical audience, seated in a theatre at the garden’s centre. Beyond its didactic and performative aspects, the entire work is framed as a prayer to God’s generative capacity and the rational order of nature.” –http://pims.ca/pdf/st180.pdf 

Check out this link for enticing excerpts pertaining to oregano, strawberry, dill, horseradish, and more.  Am a bit sad it’s a $175 book — doesn’t it feel like historical cultural production like this should somehow exist in the commons, for all of us to learn from and enjoy? Maybe this is a book Google might buy and put up on the web…

Welsh Fermentation Festival

We are excited to anounce our first ever Welsh Fermentation Festival, a day to explore all things fermented.  Come along for a fun day of tasting, drinking, workshops, music and more.   Stallholders and workshops to be anounced soon!

Festival will be held at Welsh Mountain Cider, Prospect Orchard, Llanidloes SY186JY

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Amazing loving solidarity work, feeding people in the refugee encampments in the cold, wet muddiness on the outskirts of Calais. Reblogging from ThatCan’tBeRightBlog.  Please share in your networks.

It’s thrilling though rare to learn about traditional fermenting with vegetables in Britain, and in Wales in particular.  This Beetroot Stout is a healing recipe that is totally new to me. Read the rest of this entry »

On the occasion of the death of Val Doonican this week, I found myself listening to this song “Cod Liver Oil.”  It’s a ballad of a man fed up with life with his withered wife, and the miracle cure of weight gain, lifted depression and renewed strength that takes place when she starts taking Cod Liver Oil.

I realised that in all these years I hadn’t paid attention to talk in my actual and virtual networks about this traditional remedy, was curious, and so sent off a quick question to my good friend Anna Jenkins, a knowledgable, very critically-minded person and a tireless researcher on matters of health and sustainability.  Watch this space if she ever develops a website.

“Is there a link you’d recommend if I wanted to learn about (fermented) cod liver oil? Or fish oils in general?” I asked Anna, expecting a link or two.

But because it was Anna I’d asked, I received a thoughtful and fairly comprehensive response, which I’m very happy to share with readers. Read the rest of this entry »

Ah yesterday was National Garlic Day but who knew until today? So I’m posting this fabulous film which seems to be online if only temporarily, by the wonderful filmmaker Les Blank who died just over two years ago now. And yesterday it was that I heard something, via an old friend’s daughter’s friend’s German grandmother: a clove of garlic simmered in milk cures anything.  OK, maybe!

Postscript 30 April: Just noticed this video has been taken down for copyright infringement.  I guess this is where you would buy it.

Never mind, it's beginning to feel like spring!

Yes, they’re daffodils, and no, they’re not edible, but I’m trying to cheer myself up and not bring all of you down.  Cough, cough, hack, hack, up in the middle of the night, cough, cough, hack, hack.  Are some of you out there the same? Pity us.

I’ve been really craving good old fashioned Chicken Soup, in which you simmer the chicken with carrots, onions, leeks, celery, parsley, peppercorns, parsnip and dill if you are lucky.  Noodles would be great– I like the way Japanese Udon noodles get all gloopy the way I remember from cans of Chicken Noodle soup when I ate such things. Cough, cough, cough. Read the rest of this entry »

Pea Green Lemon Balm Juice

“Je via sano!” — apparently that’s Esperanto for “To your health!” Here’s my daughter holding the elixir of groovy, raw, detoxing, alkalising, mineralising, energising health juiced from the rampant growth in our alternately sunny and rainy spring garden.

I had impulsively thrown some marrowfat peas on one of our raised beds, and they grew so fast they were hiding our beloved chives and strawberries from the sun.  I hadn’t had a proper plan.  So I pulled them all up, and there was quite a lot of pea growth, each one maybe somewhere in between what you might imagine as a Pea Shoot and a Pea Green.  I threw my shoe in there to show you the bulk.

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The texture was a little stringy and chewy, even once pureed in a pesto with almonds and olive oil.  Not quite nice enough. I’d been then inclined just to sautee some in garlic and olive oil, but there were so many to clean and pick through. And a feeling of laziness overtook me.  How it came to me to pull out the juicer my husband bought at a carboot sale, I can’t recall.

Read the rest of this entry »

I have loved and learned from Paula Wolfert’s writing on North African and Mediterranean foods through the years. Besides this video being a fun portrait of a really charming person, it’s inspiring how Paula loves life and is taking a DIY approach to her own health and staving off cognitive decline with careful attention to diet.  I also love that she’s gone public with this– it’s brave and a gift to all of us as Alzheimer’s is so scarily on the rise.  Her decision to be “out” takes the shame away. I love that lady!

There are various nutritional approaches to mental decline that make sense to me.  A few years ago Oliver Tickell wrote about the role of trans-fats, and this more recently, in modern diets and fought successfully to have hydrogenated fats removed from foods in the UK.  I’ve read recently, and we’ll all be hearing a lot more about the role of carbohydrates and gluten in spiking the sugar load in the brain, which is apparently deleterious.  And when I first saw the video with Paula Wolfert above, it was in the context of what’s basically an advert for a brand of Prebiotics — and as an advert, therefore made me sceptical.

Not that buying prebiotics is a bad thing, but it’s possible to get “prebiotics” nutritionally, though maybe it’s just easier and more predictable in a supplement.  The Wikipedia article (I have to stop quoting like this!) says ” Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system in ways claimed to be beneficial to health.”  In other words, Prebiotics aid the Probiotics that we know are part of “gut health,” found in fermented foods that on this blog I am so fond of making and promoting.  Probiotics encompass  that thriving world of micro-organisms that need to form our “micro-flora:” humans evolved with them for health and immunity.  They are the positive bacteria that help us digest, to glean nutrition from our food, and keep the intestines — our “second brain” — happy and impermeable.  All this is very much in the nutrition and health news; I am just trying to string together what I can…

Anything with inulin like Jerusalem Artichokes, chicory, also dandelion roots, apparently, is a good Prebiotic, and so are leeks and onions.   My nutritionist friend Annie Green  says ” if someone is prone to bloating or IBS-like symptoms its not always a good idea” — she recommends people checking out “FODMAPS” —  so many things to consider.

I have had terrible stomach pain from overdoing Jerusalem Artichokes (which I love) (and which my friend Vicky mixes with Chard to make a delicious soup called Poor Man’s Watercress Soup, should your body be OK with this food).  Just had to mention that soup– it was so yummy!  Maybe if I’d eaten more totally-probiotic sauerkraut that day, the Prebiotics would have vanquished the ill-effects?  Or maybe I’m someone who would benefit from a Prebiotic supplement?

I’m just musing–  not feeling like I have to be authoritative with knowledge in any way, this sunny morning….

There is so much.  So many people and issues with grains, with depression, with mental “disorders,” (hate using that word), with terrible stomach ailments, migraines, allergies.   So many approaches to dietary health, to heal, to help us get old gracefully.  Taking our health into our own hands, not counting on the efficacy of what pharmaceuticals offer (which isn’t to say totally rejecting them, IMHO)– this is part of DIY culture too.  Paula Wolfert, doing it for Alzheimer’s, is a Food Hero.

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