Chocolaty Goodness without the Guilt!!!

Chocolaty Goodness without the Guilt!!!.

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What is in your food today? – The GMO Issue


Follow this blog at Clean Living. Lots of great info from my nutritionist!

Originally posted on Clean Living:

I’m often asked by patients about GMO’s in our food and how do we tell if they are in our fruits, vegetables, or processed foods and the simple answer is that we do not know at this time. Currently, there are no rules or laws regarding the use of Genetically Modified Ingredients into our food supply. They were first introduced into our food supply in 1994 and since then, scientists have been scurrying to find new ways to “improve” on our food supply, but does this make our food supply just as safe?

If you want to eat clean and avoid any unnatural food items in your diet, the following list will help you decide which foods to choose at the market.

Top 10 Genetically Modified Foods

10. Sugar Beets

The sugar beet is one of the newest GM foods and one under severe scrutiny. Researchers produced an herbicide-resistant crop…

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Special Halloween Post: Parasites are here and they constantly attack us!

Watching scary moviesSome people, like myself, love a good horror flick and one of the enjoyed genres is parasitic lifeforms taking over our bodies and beginning a reign of terror. AMC has a decent list of their top ten parasite movies that includes a couple of my favs, The Puppet Masters and Alien. The idea that something is living inside us, slowly killing us and maybe even taking over our bodies is truly terrifying. In The Puppet Masters, the alien parasites actually tap into our nervous system and brains and control our bodies. Our minds are lost and we are stuck suffering doing their will and bidding until they are ready to move onto the next warm blooded body. I think that is worse than having an alien egg laid in my chest, only to pop out and kill me as it’s being born, but that’s just me! ;)

The Thing

“The Thing” – another on AMC’s list of top ten parasite movies


Tapeworm headSo how does this relate to this blog? More than you think… How do storytellers come up with this stuff, right? We all know of parasites in our real life worlds: ticks, leeches, tapeworms, etc. They are creepy crawlies that gross us out and have the potential to cause fear and panic because of diseases that may be associated with these things, some can lead to our deaths. However, there is a more insidious parasite (or parasites) out there that most people don’t even consider. It’s of the kind I mentioned, the kind that will take over your brain and make you do things you wouldn’t normally want to do.

Thinking back to my sugar blogs, and also based on a recent Facebook “conversation”, people crave foods. Our bodies get messages to the brain to tell them what needs to be fed. If you have a mineral deficiency, you may crave something salty since natural salt has so many minerals in it. But if you are using highly processed, iodized table salt, that craving will not go away. You find yourself craving more and more foods with no results. But this is a deficiency… not a parasite… What would be something that can be parasitic in nature, causing us to go crazy with food cravings and sending us on food binges against our will? You know the type! You go for a late night run to a fast food restaurant, or a store or gas station convenience store to get what you think your body is telling you to get because it just has to have it. You know with every fiber of your being that this isn’t good for you but you are helpless to stop it.

Pregnant woman craves ice creamNow let me get this straight right now: food cravings are there for a reason. There is a reason that we are typically helpless against them. It’s not a matter of “will power”. Someone that continues to crave and eat unhealthy foods isn’t lazy and weak! This is a common perception – that if you know it’s bad for you, you just need to not eat it. It isn’t that simple. Tell a pregnant woman to not eat ice cream because it isn’t healthy and see what happens! And like a pregnant woman craving food, it is a way for our bodies to communicate what we need. The problem arises, however, when our bodies are out of whack and we crave things we think we need, but we are really craving what something else in our bodies need.

Intestinal Yeast

Intestinal Yeast

Sugar cravings, for example, could very well be because of a yeast overload. Anyone that has fermented anything knows that yeast feeds on sugar. So what do you think happens when there is too much yeast in your body? It east the glucose that exists in your body, then your body sends messages out that our brain picks up to say “Eat more sugar!” Then you run to the nearest store and get a large bag of M&Ms, right? ;) To cure this particular issue, you need to seek help, preferably from a natropathic doctor or a nutritionist, to help rebalance the yeast issues. Can you rid of yeast through prescription medications? I don’t know for sure but if so, it’s not the path I recommend. What happens when you stop the medication but have not changed your eating habits and you continue to ingest far more yeast than you need? It will happen all over again. (Wellness Mama  has more on yeast overload and how to help rid of it, but I highly recommend working with a professional as well, especially since die off symptoms can be very bad!)

Yeast isn’t a true parasite as far as classification goes. It’s currently classified as a fungus; however, fungi obtain food by releasing enzymes that cause decomposition. So they act like a parasite and when inside a living host, such as our bodies, we are causing the decay (think, fermenting) of our tissue and especially of any food in our bodies. If we have a slowed digestive system (as most Americans do thanks to a bad diet, but I’ll get to that in a second) then food sits in our digestive tract for an extended period of time. This allows for things like yeast to thrive because it gives them time to break down that food and it rots in our tummies. Yup, there is a real-life, gory horror flick going on right now inside our stomachs!

Gas, fart, flatulenceYes, I said it, most people are fermenting food in their stomach and intestines without even knowing it. Gas, indigestion and other, even more painful, symptoms are evidence of this! A slowed digestion is the more likely cause of the average American’s indigestion issues than too much acid production. We’ve all seen the ads for over the counter and prescription medications for indigestion and the common idea is that there is just too much acid in our tummies and it comes back up the esophagus causing heart burn; over time there is damage to the esophagus which has its own list of problems. We run to get some meds, take them and hail their positive results… until the heart burn comes back, even while still on the meds. So you take increasing doses or mix meds to try and get it under control again. But seriously, Heart burn, indigestionwhen this happens, one can question the treatment and even the cause. What if it isn’t too much acid production? Chances are, it isn’t. Chances are, it’s the fact that food isn’t digesting and it’s just sitting there, rotting. It leaves less room for normal acid production so the acid comes back up your esophagus instead. The more you take meds to stop acid production, the less the food can be digested. This will lead to a plethora of problems, yeast overload being one of them. I was able to get control of my chronic indigestion and heart burn when I started seeing my nutritionist and began taking Zypan, which is Standard Process’s supplement that includes hydrochloric acid. Yes, it’s more stomach acid and it works like a charm!

So, be careful about how much candy you consume this Halloween! You may inadvertently be the battleground for your very own, personal parasite horror flick!

scary movie woman scream

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A Scary Run In With Nature and Lessons Learned.

Why have we shifted so far away from nature? Is it ease, is it laziness, or is it that we are so far removed that we fear what is out there (the plethora of man vs nature shows and movies is only part of the evidence of this)?

My FB Mobile Album has pics of plants for identification as well as family and pet pics.

I think it’s a combination of all of it and it’s something we can change more easily than we think.  I’ve been talking online a lot about learning to forage and have spent the past couple of weeks trying to identify various plants growing around my own home (I live on a rented lot). While walking my dogs, I’ll snap pictures with my phone of something I don’t know and upload it to Facebook to ask for help identifying them. I don’t want to fear nature. I want to reconnect with and embrace it, and foraging is a great way to start. I’ve not foraged yet, just learning the plants around me first.

I have not talked about this outside of the virtual world because I’m not ready to do it yet… or so I thought… sometimes one just needs a sudden shove in the right direction to get them going. I will say that I wish my shove hadn’t been so scary though!

Last night, as I was cooking dinner, my two younger sons (ages 9 and 5) took the dogs out, one at a time, after feeding them their dinner. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when they came back in after walking the second dog. I went about prepping dinner and getting it into the oven (our new fav meatloaf recipe, but almost doubled since we are a family of five and two pounds of beef would never feed us all), then hopped on my computer. My husband and 9 year old son walked into the kitchen from the back bedroom and my husband checks his throat, which is apparently really red. He gives him a little throat spray and my son grabs a bottle of water and starts chugging it as they return to the back bedroom. Suddenly, I hear my husband in the back bedroom telling my 9 year old to hurry up and “go tell mommy, now!”

tallow tree

Our neighbor’s tree that my son tried to nom on

He comes into the living room and informs me that he ate leaves off a tree while walking the dog. I immediately checked his throat and sure enough it was super red and irritated, but not swelling, which was a really good sign. If he were going into anaphylaxis or if it were more serious of a poisoning, then he would have already presented with more serious symptoms and I would have called an ambulance. But since a sore throat was his only symptom, I had him take me outside and show me the tree he ate from… Great… it was a tree that I had been trying to identify but hadn’t yet. Perfect, que fear and twinge of panic. I grabbed my phone, took a few pictures and uploaded them to Facebook. Then I got the links to each picture and made a post in a Facebook group called “Edible Wild Plants” along with an urgent plea to help identify because my son ate the leaves and has a very red and painful sore throat.

One of my friends replied that he didn’t know trees but would do what he could to help me identify it. And he busted his butt too! (Friends are amazing! Thank you, S.T.A.!!!) The sap was milky white, something that he explained was typically a bad sign in foraging. I decided to taste the leaves myself to see if they were bitter… and they were pretty nasty – Bleck! I had only chewed them for a couple of seconds and spit them out, but by the time I got back inside my house (less than a minute) my throat became scratchy and irritated.

I went back outside and had my son walk me through his steps one at a time and the reenactment revealed that he was trying to tell his little brother how healthy it is to eat plants (my youngest avoids veggies like the plague). So he took a few leaves and began to chew them but spit them out, as did my youngest. Then he tried to chew more leaves, but spit those out and my youngest never tried the second time. My youngest had zero symptoms. When he tries something new (always very reluctantly) he barely puts it in his mouth before spitting it out so, for once, I was glad he had done so! So this told me that my 9 year old had only chewed the leaves and not swallowed so I knew that the sap was what we were dealing with.

I had gone outside and taken some pictures of a more mature tree of the same species nearby so we could look at the fruit – which was waxy on the outside and still not fully developed but full of a milky substance. We both searched the web and found tree identifying programs (including on Arbor Day’s site) that gave us no answers.

unripe fruit on a tallow tree

Unripe fruit on a tallow tree

After about ten harrowing minutes, he and another friend that saw the same plea on my own profile, identified the tree as a Chinese Tallow Tree. And, yes, it’s toxic. So with that information I could call poison control (in the U.S. 1-800-222-1222). I told them that my son had eaten the leaves off a Chinese Tallow Tree after which she had to put me on hold to look it up, as she had never heard of it. After about only a minute she came back with great news! It’s only mildly toxic and the result can range from irritating to mild burns. Que huge sigh of relief. At this point, it had been about half an hour since he had tried the leaves. He and I both had sore throats for about two to three hours but it cleared up fine after that.

Thankfully, this wasn’t more serious. I sat down with him and explained how dangerous it can be to eat some plants and that it’s safer to not try a plant if we don’t know what it is. It’s not like the garden where I intentionally plant what is safe to eat. I also, at a later time to drive the point home, told him about the Death Angel mushroom (which doesn’t grow here but is a great example of why it’s not okay to eat something just because it is in nature).

What are the positives out of this incident? Well, for one, I finally know what this invasive and aggressively growing tree is (they are everywhere around here and it’s impossible to control them at this point). Another is that I took the dive and bit into a plant I didn’t know (but knew wouldn’t kill me, even if it was poisonous, based on my son’s only symptom of a sore throat). The last is that, while this plant drives me crazy because of how viral it is in spreading, it does actually have medicinal and utility uses!

Aggressive grower, that tallow tree is!

Aggressive grower, that tallow tree is! Image linked to source.

The leaves great for treating boils and other infected wounds (draw out infection) and the wax around the fruit is used in soap and candle making, hence the common name of “tallow” tree. There is some controversy over whether or not the oil is safe to use (say in place of tallow) but I would play it safe and not eat it or use it in cooking! Their is also the fact that this plant makes really great biofuel, which is a huge issue in regards to natural and sustainable fuel sources without tearing up the earth for oil and coal and natural gas OR ruining the soil with vast fields of monoculture (like GMO corn made for non food purposes – read: biofuel).

***Do NOT mess with the oil inside the fruit and seeds as it seems to be carcinogenic!*** (great, but, I only opened one seed, this one time – pretty sure a one time exposure won’t doom me though).

It is NOT native to the United States and was introduced here by Benjamin Franklin in the hopes of cultivating it for its many uses. It didn’t take long for it to spread and is now invasive, growing in many places around the country.

For information about this tree and its uses, please visit “Chinese Tallow Tree / Eat The Weeds”.

Posted in Foraging, Natural Remedies, Prepper/Survivalist Lite, Skin and Hair, Skin Care, Survivalism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Not all herbal oils are the same!

I want to clear up something that is irritating me. No, not my eczema though I’ll gladly celebrate the day when that is over with. I am talking about people confusing essential oils with infused oils. Infused oils are great and I use them all the time (several recipes up on my blog for them already); however, they are NOT essential oils! I’m sure that this is not intentional but it needs to be pointed out. They cannot always be used interchangeably so it’s important to know the difference between infused and essential oils.  First let’s start by properly defining each item.

Infused Oils

Infused Oils

Infused Oils

An infused oil is made by taking the desired herb(s) and soaking or double boiling in an oil (my favs are now grapeseed and coconut oils but you can technically use any food grade oil – cautionary advice is to avoid vegetable and canola oils because they have less nutrient values, can harm your health further and are very likely GMO; also avoid oils that go rancid quickly such as olive oil). I have make infused oil by two methods so far: double boiling and by sitting outside for a month in a jar, tightly sealed and in an airtight bag so that condensation from the outside weather didn’t breach the container’s lid. This allows for the sun light and moon and star light to be a part of the process. I’m not sure if one method is better over the other but if you pressed for time and need something quickly, then double boiling will be fine. I have a recipe for making infused oils via double boil (aka water bath) HERE.

Essential Oils

Lavender essential oilEssential Oils are the oils FROM the herb itself – and only those oils! If someone is telling you that you can get essential oil by infusing a different oil with the herb, they are mistaken. Essential oils, from the herb, can only be gotten via distillation or expression. Any other method does not result in true essential oils, therefore, they cannot be utilized the same way.

Here is a couple of many videos I found on YouTube about distilling herbs to make essential oils:

So, one can see there is a HUGE difference between infused oils and essential oils. I’m not going around, looking for blogs to correct but I do see a ton of blogs giving instructions for making infused oils, but calling them essential oils.

I do not have what I would need to make essential oils yet; however, some essential oils are so expensive that it makes it well worth the effort if you use oils a lot, which I do. Please feel free to add any info in the comments section you may have.


I have seen this questionable video as well:

She got these instructions from HERE. This isn’t the proper way to distill for just essential oil. There might be essential oil in the water but they were not separated, which is the point of a still. I have seen this method used to obtain distilled water from salt water in an ocean emergency scenario via my favorite survival show, Surviving Disaster. So I am confident that the result isn’t essential oil. I might try it out this week and see what I think; however, a commenter on the video points out it isn’t really essential oil but hydrosol, or herbal water, which I have made in the past by mixing essential oil with distilled water. I don’t know if there is an easy way to separate the newly distilled water and essential oil without a still so if anyone has any info on this, please let me know. :)

Posted in Essential Body Water, Essential Oils, Healthy Living, Illness and Disease, Infused Oils, Natural Remedies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Was Menopause Always So Difficult?

Women that I know, and once myself included, hate menopause. Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, memory loss, headaches, depression, higher risk for osteoperosis… the list of menopausal symptoms Insomniaseems endless. Is it any wonder that women fear and loathe this transition? But, why? Why is being a woman so damned difficult?!? Has it always been this way? Seems like evolution would come into play here and make us not want to perpetuate this seemingly terrible curse upon our own daughters. Certainly ERT/HRT (estrogen replacement therapy/hormone replacement therapy) is not the norm in cultures that still live as their ancestors did! So the question is, “Is this normal?”

I have discovered that healed adrenals (healed with Standard Process supplements via my nutritionist) and a proper diet (more akin to paleo diet) have kept these terrible symptoms at bay. So I began to search online for how menopause was viewed and treated in more primitive cultures that still exist today. I’m focusing this blog entry on one particular article* I found.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this article* as I do believe that proper food will keep menopause symptoms away, but there are a lot of good points:

“What’s more is that the women in Chichimilá, like the Japanese, seem to avoid osteoporosis. Though their estrogen levels drop at menopause, just like ours, and they experience a reduction in bone mineral density, as we do, there is no clinical evidence of an increase in bone fractures or osteoporosis.”

bone density, osteoporosisThe reason for this is that the bones aren’t necessarily weaker if they are less dense. When western women take estrogen in an effort to curb osteoporosis, the bone density increases because estrogen keeps old bone from shedding. Another thing missed is that progesterone helps replace old, dead bone that has shed with new bone. So a woman on ERT (estrogen replacement therapy) will indeed show more bone density, but it doesn’t mean those bones are stronger. In fact, they are weaker, especially since there is no progesterone to grow new, healthy bone.

“The Mayans have an all-natural, herb-based diet, and a slow, relatively easy pace of life, both elements which contribute heavily to fewer menopausal symptoms, and ideas we have emphasized at Women to Women for years. Mayan women also acquire new status when they enter menopause: they can become spiritual leaders of their communities.”


“Across indigenous cultures, from the Maori in New Zealand to the Iroquois Indians, post-menopausal women are community leaders with considerable power and status. To these people, menopause itself is the transition between being a member of the community at large to becoming a spiritual elder.”


“A common belief among traditional shamanic cultures — for example, Mayan women and the Cree women of Canada — is that women must enter menopause to access their shamanic and healing powers. Menstrual blood has the power to create life in the womb, so when women reach the age of retaining their “wise blood,” they cross the threshold into “wise womanhood” by keeping their wise blood within. At this point they become priestesses and healers — the spiritual leaders of their communities.”

Typically, traditional cultures view women in three stages: the girl, the mother and the crone. Crone wasn’t always a bad word and it shouldn’t be now. I’m technically still in the “mother” phase but feel like, not just biologically due to my hysterectomy, but emotionally am also entering the “crone” phase. Perhaps this is why I’ve taken such a strong interest in natural health and healing and am looking to a career as an herbalist…

Bad Freud, bad!

“No Freud, no! You put that cigar away right now and go back to being 6 feet under.” – East Anyhow

This article also talks about how Freud may have skewed the scale when it comes to how most (not all) native/primitive cultures view women in menopause. I admitedly don’t know a lot about him, but what I do know, I don’t care for at all. According to this article, he presented a patriarchal viewpoint in the Western cultures and there is this sense that women are only good for their ability to have children. So if a culture, say one like ours, view the “mother” stage as the ultimate, best and only useful stage of womanhood, then is it a wonder women dread aging and menopause to start with? Then add in all the complicated symptoms that we western women have to endure and it’s not fun, much less “normal” feeling!

Again, I do NOT agree with everything in that article as they still talk about menopause from a western viewpoint of taking HRT, however, there were some good points to consider, especially if you are not wanting to take ERT/HRT. Even “bioidentical” isn’t really natural (not in my sense of the word anyway – basically if you are not producing the hormone yourself, then it isn’t natural) and can raise the risks of cancer (I’m stunned that even my own GYN claims that ERT reduces the risk of some cancers, instead of pointing to the links to breast cancer – which is rampant in this Western society right now).

Why Am I So Wacky?I would urge every woman out there, menopausal or not, to read Why Am I So Wacky? and try to find a Weston A. Price Foundation member nutritionist to help them heal their adrenals (male or female). I do believe that modern medicine is doing far more harm than good. This is based on my own personal experiences and observations. I’m not a doctor or scientist but I don’t need to be in order to know that what we have been doing for the past 10 years has made things worse, not better.

One more thing to consider in regards to health overall, from a prepper standpoint, do you really want to have to rely on medications to keep you sane or seemingly healthy? Wouldn’t it be better to learn to be healthy with real, whole foods instead? It would be far easier in a survival situation to learn to be healthy by living off what nature provides so consider doing what you can with the help of a nutritionist to get off your medications and still be fit and healthy, or, as in our case, get fit and healthy before SHTF. Weston A. Price Foundation has a great member program where you can find a group and likely a nutritionist in your area!

*”Women to Women: A look at menopause across cultures” by Dixie Mills, MD

Posted in Food, Healthy Living, Illness and Disease, Prepper/Survivalist Lite, Survivalism, Total Life Care Charelston | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

There is no one right way to prep for survival…

The best thing people can do when prepping for survival is to prepare for them and their family’s situation. What works for one family may not work for another. There are so many varied living conditions in the United States alone that trying to have a step-by-step guide for survival would fail miserably. Likely the only one-size-fits all guideline that is appropriate across the board is to not be too vocal about.


People can target and stalk those with what is needed to survive, as easily as death can stalk anyone. (Image linked to source)

If you are in a suburban or city location, don’t brag to everyone and their brother about having three years worth of food stored. It makes you a target for all kinds of people, not just thugs, but those that you are friends with that haven’t prepped and are going to come running to you for their own survival. Not saying you can’t help out but know what you can and can’t do. Most SHTF scenarios right now are temporary, such as a natural disaster like a tornado or hurricane. In that case, those food stores are plentiful enough that you can help others out. But what if it’s something more severe, like societal breakdown and panic that lasts far longer than three years? What then?

***Read “Five Types of Looters You Must Prepare For” over at Urban Survival***

First, please allow me to say “Well done!” to those that have these stores of food, water, weapons, etc and to those that are actively homesteading and being self sufficient right now. You are FAR ahead of me in that aspect!

tornadoI am aiming for that but because we can’t afford to buy any land at all right now I have to prep in case SHTF before then. So what are my options? Because we live in a small trailer in a trailer park on a tiny rented lot, bugging out is pretty much our only option. Even if there is a slight threat of a tornado, we have to leave. It’s that simple. For something like a tornado warning, we just head to the mall or a close relative’s house until the storm passes. Pretty easy. But what if there is a hurricane? Well, still we go to family either locally or out of town, further away from the coast. Okay, so what if there is economic break down or a viral outbreak? What then? Right now, my plans are for us to be nomads. I’m learning foraging and will be learning this year to hunt and prepare what I kill. I’m still in the process of learning whatever weapons I can learn (guns, knives… I even have a dirk!). Another issue I’m tackling this summer is taking my kids outdoors this summer – not just to the beach or pool or public park – but I mean REALLY outdoors! Day hikes with only water on us to get by. They, as well as I, are really spoiled on modern conveniences like air conditioning, water supplies, refrigeration, etc. We need to break out of that NOW in order to be able to survive when it goes down.

I don’t think it’s possible to be 100% prepared for every scenario out there but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for it.  Consider if you have to leave your home and prep for that. If you do have to leave, how long will you be gone? Will you have a fallback position to bug out to, or will you remain nomadic?  Can you hunt? Do you know what plants are safe to eat and what aren’t? Are you armed and do you know how to use those arms? What are some scenarios that would require bugging out?

Colorado WildfiresWell, unfortunately, we are witness to the fires rampaging Colorado right now. No matter how much food and water you have stored, you can’t stay for that. Florida is in a state of emergency because of the flooding when Debby stalled over them. Staying isn’t an option for most in the event of that sort of flooding. If there is a viral outbreak, it won’t take long for stores to run out of food and public and emergency services to disappear. Levies break, people and economies are hard to control and predict, nature moves on whether we are in her way or not… Try to prepare for it all!

“Roamer, wanderer, Nomad, vagabond – Call me what you will!”

There is also a HUGE mental aspect to prepping. If you are homesteading or if you do have survival food, etc., what will you go through mentally if you do have to bug out? Have you prepared mentally, physically and skillfully for such a scenario?

I have two points here: 1) there are more ways to prepare than just buying up supplies and 2) don’t knock someone else’s plans because they are different than yours. Being nomadic isn’t a bad thing and it’s the way our species evolved. Agriculture is new (last few thousand years) compared to our history on this planet (roughly 150,000 – 200,000 years for specifically homo sapiens). Prepare for every scenario you can think of. Seek out other ideas and other scenarios you might not think of on your own. Networking is huge as well!

I’m very grateful that in a few months I have an offer to help someone butcher chickens because I don’t know how to do that. If it weren’t for reaching out and networking, I would not have that option right now!

Try to find as many solutions as you can for any and every scenario imaginable and learn it now. It will save your life someday…

****Free clipart from****

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