Hal's Hat

Hal's Hat

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kid's Health

Since I changed the name of this blog (from some poorly focused garden blog to the vit/herb/ health thing), I will just start by writing about what obsesses me as a mother.
1. Kid's thrive with good nutrition. For some this may not include milk, cheese, peanut butter, tree nuts etc. For us though, it resembles Adele Davis mixed with a little hippy mama and a dash of americana country. I mean PROTEIN. Complex carbs from whole grains. A bit of natural sugar here and there for lovin' pep (both fruit and honey/ maple syrup). Fresh food (good eggs, homemade bread, beans and cheese, fruit, a sly vegetable when I can) and some basic nonchalance about junk food. Yep, I've been letting it go. Cookies at school? Whatev. A bag of candy? Yes, you can have a piece after you eat your peas and salmon cakes.
2. Kid's immune systems might need a boost too. I use an Elderberry, echinacea syrup. It helps with the constant barrage of preschool colds, infections, germs. It is a syrup so easy to drink.
Here are two different kinds: Elderberry echinacea syrup by NOW, Nature's way Elderberry syrup. NOW is a great vitamin company my dad always believed in.  Maybe because it was cheap?? Just sayin'; my dad was a confirmed cheapskate!  But more or less, NOW has always had less flashy packaging, less "bio-certified by lab tests" stuff and just as much potency.  So I stand by them as well.

*Just a word here: I use Lucky vitamin dot com, as well as Vitacost dot com. These two sites allow me to be busy and working and still get vitamins.  HOWEVER, I love and respect the Community Mercantile. And when I'm in Lawrence, I try to keep them in business by getting my necessities there. Supplement emergency? Go to the Merc! Need guidance? Ask Tyra! My dad, Hal Sears, helped to start and make their wonderful department what it is today. He guided and helped and healed lots of people from his place at the Merc.

Back to the info. Why elderberry? It is hugely anti-viral. It's botanical name is sambucus. It's an anti-oxidant and gets your immune system kicking. My daughters' respond quickly to it. Remember that potency is not what you may think. Stronger is not necessarily better. It is important to look at how far away from it's native environment the supplement is. There is a school of thought that believes that only whole food sources can provide health benefits. I believe it too- but pragmatically, I can't get elderberries into my food.  Dude. I'm just not up to the task!! So I look at syrup- a glycerin extract. This means that basically the berries are soaked in glycerin (sweet, vegetable based and kid edible!). Very close to the source! No huge machines, no high concentrations that may do more harm than good, nothing created in a lab. I could recreate this in my kitchen after picking elderberries this summer! I encourage you to do this if it floats your boat. Get back to me about plant identification- I'll give you some information on correctly identifying the elderberry plant and berries. DO NOT GO EATIN STRANGE BERRIES IN THE WOODS. Jeez. Do I have to tell you everything?? (Also, do not attempt to sue me. See disclaimer in my info section.)

be well- feed your kids and yourself good food. lay off the sugar. refined sugar makes your immune system crash- a complex thing with sugars inhibiting absorption of vitamin c I think.

Herbal Vinegar presentation, Greater KC Herb Study Society

Herbal Vinegars- October 14, 2009

Herbal Vinegars can be grouped in two ways.
Medicinal and Culinary
In most cases, they are NOT mutually exclusive. This presentation will briefly discuss the benefits (medicinal qualities) of the most common and easy to grow culinary herbs.
They are a traditional and ancient way to preserve herbs for use when an herb is not available (out of season, etc). Vinegars add flavor to foods and also preserve herb’s oils and vital ingredients.

Rosemary: Stimulates digestion (helps the gall bladder produce bile, necessary for proper liver function) Anti-bacterial Anti-fungal (topical and internal) Circulation! Direct application of oil or vinegar to arthritic joints or damaged blood vessels can stimulate and ease pain. Sage: Cold remedy (hot tea) Anti-bacterial: especially for Staph. Vinegar can be used as a gargle for laryngitis and tonsillitis.
Major components are vermifugal (kills worms)
Kills infections in mouth as a gargle Bronchitis- eases the pain and infection Eases flatulence (anti-spasmodic in smooth muscles in colon, bowels, etc)
Fennel: Soothes digestion (anti-spasmodic again in smooth muscles), helpful against colic, gas in infants and adults alike. Promotes production of breastmilk.
Hot Peppers (capsicum): Externally to stimulate muscles and ease arthritis Internally: ward of chills, aids circulation and early onset of colds Most effective heart stimulant around! Supports immune function (very high concentration of Vitamin C)

How do I make herbal vinegars?
Simply choose a clean jar with a tight fitting lid. The smaller the jar, the less vinegar you will use. Your jar can range from a peanut butter jar to an ornate Belgian beer bottle. If the lid is metal, cut a small piece of wax paper to put over the jar mouth when you are through. This will prevent the vinegar from corroding the metal lid!
Pack your herbs in. If you don’t care for the taste of the herb or the medicinal qualities, simply use a sprig. You won’t taste much nor will you get much out the herb. Usually, I use as much as I can harvest. I use half a jar to a whole jar full, depending upon the purpose. Then I pour in the vinegar until it covers all of the herbs. I put my wax paper on top and close my lid. Store for 2-4 weeks in a dark place. Light degrades the efficiency of vinegars and herbs alike. Pour off or remove herbs from jar (leaving one or two for looks, if you like). Enjoy in soups, salad dressings or as a medicinal gargle.
[A word on vinegars: for medicinal purposes, use unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. This will not have been heated to remove any bacteria. Therefore, a "mother" will grow in your vinegar. It is a harmless, actually helpful, active culture that will appear as a moldy or cloudy film within. It's all part of the medicine...]