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Category: Health

Smoothies in the Heat

There is a heat wave that has been going on for week, unusual at this time of year, but it happens occasionally

My husband is the one and and only cook most of the time at a busy pub right beside a baking hot ashphalt ferry dock on the island where we live. Sometimes he doesn’t get time to take breaks to eat properly and sustain his energy and rehydrate himself during the summer when the kitchen is busy and tempurtures in the kitchen sometimes reach 120 degrees. To keep him from becoming too depelted during such times when people really love their deep fried food, I make him this clean, cold energizing smoothie chilled in the freezer and brought to him right in the heat of the moment. He says it revives him…


Pomegranite plum and beet smoothie.


1 part canned beets with the juice… one part fermented canned plums. These are sweet Italian plums canned with a little bit of sea salt, before I learned about fermenting for the salt pickled plums I was after, a little bit of Chinese 5 spice, pomegranite molasas and water….

You whip it up in the blender, and put in freezer for 15-20 minutes, until near freezing. The flavors combine sweet, salty and tart. A teaspoon of spirulina adds protien and a green flavour, a teaspoon of honey adds a touch of sweetness to it.

Our Empathy, a precious resource

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Is your personal empathy being depleated by the media?

Empathy is important, here’s why.

I check out the headlines of the few major newspapers that still reach my island whenever I am at the store. They are soon to be discontinued because of printing being outsourced and not able to be delivered on the day of relevance. I ‘m sure they will contain numerous stories in which they will continue to report statistics of more unemployment, more outsourcing of our jobs to foregin countries. But for now, they are still here. Yesterday’s cover story featured a huge front page photo of a man’s bloody and beaten face. I turned away from it, the headline was about “why we pay to watch men fight.”

Call me old fashioned, if you will, but one of the reasons I prefer newspapers and journalism for news stories as opposed to TV is that they are not zooming in and sensationalizing the gory details of every story. Radio news works for me too. I want to know what happened, but I don’t want to feel it in my heart that much. I don’t want to lose sleep over it because maybe I’m one of the few people left who still feel empathy. I also don’t want to lose this quality being de sensitized to the experience of my fellow human beings by constantly watching and looking at gory photos of a wounded fellow person and then having to expunge it from my consciousness in order to unwind from the experiance, to feel good and be effective in my place in the world, regardless of what horrible tragedy happens elsewhere that I can do nothing to stop or help.

Is this empathy? When I can’t help but look at a picture of a wounded person and for a split second imagine vividly what it may feel like to be them. Its a tiny little charge of pain and horror that it adds to my day, to my consciousness, that must later be removed. I wonder why this emotion continues to exist at odds with what I see all around me. It seems like empathy just brings you down, makes you unable to handle what everyone else is into, makes you long for some kind of sheltered life instead of fully participating. So you may ask why is empathy important?
I have techniques to remove the horror from the core of my being where it penetrates when I sympathize or empathize with another human being. It takes a while. I have to do some Tai Chi, walk in nature, meditate, but why do I need this in order to deal with the world?

A lot of people are not so aware, so sensitive. They would think me extreme. People watch gory news everyday, some the moment they wake up, some just before bed. The newspaper published that gruesome painful photo because its competing with the internet where news stories zoom in on the pain and the horror in great detail. This is not a movie with special effects, this is a real human being’s suffering. In fact, the mass appeal of movies declines in favor of reality tv, documentries showing it all, and sensational daily news.

I think the newspaper could have a decent market for their product if they refrained from sensationalizing the gory details of pain and suffering on their front page, if they stood out from all the internet media and tv media showing us the same old gruesome photos. There’s got to be others like me, who want to save their empathy for the people they actually encounter in real life and not have it colonized by the media through the effort of trying to keep yourself informed. If I see pain and suffering, I want my empathy in tact to motivate me to help the other person like the decent human being that I really am inside. That is why I do not want to become desensitized to violence and suffering by seeing it so much that I have to tune it out in order not to be adversely affected.

I heard about a phenomena that is happening more and more at the scenes of disasters and accidents. People with their smart phones in there taking photos, not heroically rescuing the people caught in the tragic situation, but taking selfies with themselves standing next to the carnage, the disaster of the day, trivialized to a background by having TV news on three times a day on the regular channels and 24/7 on the news channels. Everyone wants to be the first to post it on Face book, be a reality TV star or something. This is a serious loss of a valuable part of human nature. Empathy evolved for a reason. The emotional sting when you see blood, or when you hear screaming, or when you look at tragedy is meant to motivate behavior. The ability to tune it out is meant for a reason too, such as what happens in times of wars when it becomes necessary to survive. This is not meant to be our everyday experience from the first awareness of childhood, tuning out our natural born empathy in order to participate in a world increasingly bombarding us with real horrific haunting images colonizing our brains where the urge to help people should be.
I’m not suggesting to tune out all news. We do need to know about the violence and tragedy occurring in the world, along with other developments. But we do not need to encounter it in a way that uses up a limited and precious resource within us. That’s why I prefer radio news. It takes 5 minutes to inform me of what would take an hour to watch on TV. That way I can have a concept of the big picture of whats happening without invading the space of a single person’s moment of trauma. That way I can avoid having my precious limited supply of empathy depleted on strangers far away that I will never be able to help, and have it intact to motivate me into action for the people whom I encounter in real life. This is why I say that empathy must be treated as a precious resource within us by being selective, instead of de sensitized.

Feel free to leave comments if this interests you. Its catagorized in Homegrown Health and Homegrown Success, because part of being a successful human being is having some empathy, otherwise you’d just be one more psycopath.

Your empathy is precious, don’t let it be colonized or stolen from your heart and brain.

Here is another article for further reading about Empathy and what it is on another blog

Cooking with Stinging Nettles

At this time of year, on the west coast of BC, a lot of people, myself included pick and use stinging nettles as a super food, high in vitamins. Seriously. We do. The sting in stinging nettles is caused by tiny hairs on the plant, which no longer sting after the nettle is dried or cooked.

Some people use nettles for tea, they boil the nettle and then drink the water. I prefer stinging nettle as a vegetable, not unlike spinach, but with a more potent, wild flavor. I love the stinging nettle, it is one of the first foods available in spring. As the winter storms blow endlessly on, with driving wind and rain, we go to beaches to watch the big waves smashing driftwood into smithereens along the shoreline, and I watch the bushes and roadsides intently for that first sign of spring, the stinging nettles, poking their way up from the ground. The first shoots are the best. I pick them until they become tough, sometime in May. I pick only the tops once they grow big though, or selectively harvest individual leaves. The stems become excessively tough and were once used to make fibers and rope that was of strong, durable quality. You can see how this happened if you attempt to cook and eat them at this point.
I have made nettle beer, which is supposed to be medicinal and healthy. I didn’t like it very much and ended up giving most of it away. This recipe, along with a lot of information about the value of nettles is in Susan Weed’s wise woman herb book.

One of the most basic things I did during my years on the road as a teenager was dry both nettles and dandelion greens to make my often convenient and instant, cheap food a little more nutritional and flavorful. I made a sort of spice blend for the various types of Kraft dinner and instant noodles I was eating at the time, with nettle flakes, dandelion greens, engavita yeast flakes, Parmesan cheese and cyanne pepper. This was my universal noodle spice. I carried it in my purse and added it to bland soups and sandwiches, or the many bowls of instant Mr Noodles I was stuck eating during this era of my life. Anyway, the dishes I make with stinging nettles and pasta have evolved significantly since those hard times when I was just setting out on the independent roads of life and my choices to have wild vegetables and greens came about because I could neither afford, nor store, the regular kind.

These days, I make stinging nettle lasagna, and stinging nettle spanakopita, stinging nettle dip and stinging nettle soups. But dried stinging nettle leaves are a staple in my food supply and I dry large amounts each year to sprinkle into soups, sauces and just about everything, adding a super green food that has A, B, C, E, F K and P, as well as trace mineral your body needs like iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and silica.

To dry nettles, spread them on screens near your stove, heat registers or with a space heater blowing over them, or in the sun. You could put them in the racks of your dehydrator until the hairs no longer sting and the leaves can be crumpled into flakes by hand. Store in shaker bottles for convienent use. If it is out and easy to use, you will find yourself adding it to dishes where it will be good.

To harvest nettles, find a patch and go when the patch has grown to about knee height with some smaller nettles coming up. Wear gloves and use scissors. You can pick nettles with your hands, and by breaking off the stem under the first 4 leaves, but it is more likely that you will pull up the whole plant by the roots using this method and kill it, we don’t really want to do that. Stems left in the ground will regrow another top and live to bear their seeds, thus not depleting the nettle patch with your careful harvesting. Cut the top leaves off of every 5th plant at the most. This is especially important if you are picking nettles in an urban or well populated area where there may be other people wanting nettles from the same patch, and it is respectful to the plant and group of plants living its life. It is also of utmost importance if the nettle patch is quite small and thinned out. But there are lots of places where there are miles of nettles in all directions, so one rarely needs to pick from a patch that is sparse where this would be a problem.

To cook the nettles, put 1 inch of water in a saucepan with a lid. Turn on the heat and stuff in as many nettles as you can fit in the pot and put the lid down. The nettles steam in the pot with just a little bit of water. They shrink to half their size. You can add more nettles after they shrink to ensure you have enough to make what you would like. Be sure not to let it boil dry.

If you would like more “nettle tea” which is essentially what the water you steam your nettles in becomes, you may add more water. Boiling your rice, noodles or potatoes in nettle tea gives some of the flavour and some of the vitamins present in the nettles to the other food being cooked. Pasta may take on a green tint, but valuable vitamins are being added. However, if your nettles are picked near a road, you may want to discard this tea and not use it. The steaming process cleans the nettles, but what it cleaned off of them will be in the water.
Rinse the nettles off once they are steamed, after about 4 or 5 minutes, chop them up and use as you would for spinach, except that the flavor is a lot stronger than spinach.

Here is a recipie

Parmesan nettles,

Steam a pot full of stinging nettles, reserving water for boiling pasta if clean.

Saute in a pan garlic and oinion in olive oil mixed with another cooking oil of a higher temperture rating, such as sunflower or grapeseed oil.
Add cooked nettles and saute in the now garlic and onion flavored oil for about 5 to 10 minutes, meanwhile, boil pasta in nettle water, with oil and salt added. I recommend spaghetti or vermicelli for this dish.

Add salt and pepper to the pan with your nettles,
In a bowl mix up some wine with yoghourt and Parmesan cheese. Mix in nutritional yeast flakes and cyanne pepper to taste.
When the pasta is done, rinse it off under cold water and then add to sauteing mixture. Save some of the nettle water in case additional liquid is needed.
Add the pasta to the sauteing mixture.
At this point, capers, if you have them could be added.
A splash of wine would be a good idea in the sauteing pan at this time, either red or white, whichever you may happen to be sipping on as you cook. If you are not having wine, a good balsamic vinegar would be appropriate in the dish here as well. (even if wine is present, it is still good to use both)
Mix the pasta with the nettles, garlic and oil. Then add the yoghourt Parmesan mixture and mix it in so that each noodle is coated with it, adding wine and the nettle pasta water as necessary so nothing is getting burnt or sticking to the bottom. A dash of oregano at this point is a good idea as well.
Turn off the heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes so the flavors can mix.

Dish it up in plates or bowls. This is Parmesan Nettles, the fine delicacy of a dish that evolved out of the humble beginnings of my survival food on the road of instant noodles with nettle Parmesan sprinkles. It is exquisite with a side dish of garlic oil fried spot prawns fresh from the traps, but stands up well on its own.

Feel free to try this dish and comment on what you think of it, or share stories of your own experiances with the mighty stinging nettle in the comments section below.

The Dreaded Cancer Scare, and What to do about it


Everyone knows someone who either had cancer or died of it. Most people are related to such a person. If the cancer victim in your life is a parent or grandparent or both, you will also hear afterward a lot of talk about how the origins of the disease may be genetic. It tends to run in families. Your doctor may think you need to get tested more because of family history. To add to the loss of your family member is the dread that you may be next, that the odds are even worse for you than they are for everyone in general.

If you are prone to having anxiety about disease, this may trigger it in a big way, particularly if you are still slowly getting over the loss of your loved one. Especially if you sat by their bedside while they were suffering and felt trace elements of your loved one’s pain in your own body. Especially if you wished somehow that you could help them face their time of trial and felt helpless in doing so. If you spent many nights feeling the presence of your loved one close by, comforting you, only to have it fade into the nightmare of the cancer that killed your loved one also being present, as if it lurks in the night searching for another victim to devour.

Maybe you experience some symptoms and think that they may be psychosomatic because of your recent experience. But your doctor still thinks you should get tested because of family history.

People tell you, “put that thought out of your mind.” Thinking about a disease increases your chances of getting it. Losing sleep lowers your immunity to disease in general. Being stressed out doesn’t help either. But this is easier said than done.

Putting that thought out of your mind may feel like procrastination or denial. It comes creeping back in moments when your guard is let down. It takes energy to keep that thought out of your mind and when the energy is depleted, the thought comes back, along with the anxiety.

The thing to do is to change your fear to empowerment. You do this by taking action. There are some small ways in which you can take charge of your health in this kind of situation, both the potential disease and the dread that you may be more likely to get it than other people.

You think of what you don’t want. Same thing as everyone doesn’t want. You don’t want to get cancer. The thought of it is empowered by your feeling of fear and dread.

Then, think instead of what you do what. You want to feel strong and healthy, feel good inside your own body. Empower that thought with feelings. Good feelings just as strong as the fear that came creeping in there. Do something physical that you enjoy, that makes your body feel good. You can make yourself more healthy, and give yourself more vitality.

You can also detox whatever toxins may be accumulating in your body, either from the stress of losing your loved one and having the scare, or from the world that is always feeding us crap likely to make us sick.

We don’t have to let it make us sick. You can read all the personal accounts online of people who say they cured their own cancer with common natural and household items, such as apple cider vinegar, broccoli juice, baking soda and cannabis oil, (if you live in a place where it is legal and available) A lot of these items, along with their positive story online will not hurt you if you try them, and will ease the dread of disease that comes creeping in with the sadness of losing a loved one to cancer and all the literature and talk about the causes being genetic. I am not a doctor to give medical advice, but a teaspoon of baking soda in water each day probably won’t hurt you… and it may be a small action you can take so “putting that thought out of your head” doesn’t take a constant battle of willpower that you will lose if ever you get tired or emotionally drained. You don’t have to forcefully evict the thought of dread. You face it, and know that you are taking action that may be helpful. There are also articles about the possibility of cancer being linked to body PH. You can test your saliva with an inexpensive water testing strip and know for yourself if you are in the healthy range of acidity/alkaline balance.


Because the nature of dread is you don’t know if you have an illness or not, so you don’t know if you need to do something or not. But detoxing the body is good for you anyway, and will empower you to detox the mind while you are at it.

Diatomaceous Earth has been said to remove parasites and toxins when used as a gentle internal cleanser, as well as providing the body with trace minerals. Be sure to use a food grade variety if you try this.

Some people swear by turmeric and honey, some people take their health into their own hands with vegetable juice cleanses. Even if all the evidence is anecdotal, there is evidence in medical literature that placebos work on a lot of people who try them. So choose something that resonates with you, something that rings true, and check into whether it may be harmful before trying it. And empower your self with health in the weeks leading up to your test. Honour the memory of your loved one without experiencing the dread of disease.

Just because you may have a family history that includes tragedy doesn’t mean you can’t do a few things to decrease the odds of your getting it.


The Search for Radiation Free Nori Sheets

Hi. I have been searching for radiation free nori sheets to make home made sushi ever since I heard about radation leaking from the disabled melted down nuclear power plant at Fukashima Japan into the Pacific ocean.

The first thing I did after this disaster happened was buy a huge package of both nori and wasabi, which would have been made and exported before it happened. It is now 2014 and I have run out. I have been searching for a Canadian made source of nori sheets, but have not found any. I used to buy nori that was made in Richmond, years ago at the Chinese grocery store in Courteny BC, but since the historic Chinese grocery store closed down, I have not been able to find it. For a while, we made rice balls with sushi rice and fish inside them and rolled them in some locally harvested nori flakes, but it was never quite as good as sushi made with nori wraps.

So I asked at grocery stores and health food stores, at specialty stores and big box stores, if any one knew if the nori they sold contained radiation from the Fukashima nuclear disaster, and if anyone was trying to find a source of nori that was not radio active. Most could not answer.

As a commercial fisher, I realized that our fish and seafood was not being tested for radiation to my knowledge, by buyers or the goverment or anyone. This made me very uneasy. Nori is a seaweed grown off the coast of Japan and China, directly in close proximity to the worst ongoing nuclear disaster the world has ever known. And nowhere is there evidence of the main commercial crops of nori being tested for radiation. No storekeeper that I have encountered, even those who sell “organic” nori sheets can tell me if its been tested for radiation. So I finally found a source that tests thier product daily. Its not a source in BC like I am still hoping to find for some genuine homegrown nori sheets, but at least its tested, both on site and in north America. Here’s a link to the site that sells it.

and here is some information about the product, from their site. I searched for a Canadian, or North American supplier, but did not find one that shipped to Canada. Wonder if the Nori Sheets made in Richmond are still available anywhere? I have searched for them for years, but can not remember the brand name. At least these people are having theirs tested.

Product information

“About our Nori – Organic, Kosher, Radiation FREE Welcome to! Our Raw Organic Nori is:

Certified Organic USDA & EcoCert
Certified Kosher By Orthodox Union
RAW – UN-Toasted UnCooked, our nori is dried at under 85 degrees F.
Sealed in packages of 50 sheets for Freshness
Package has a Zipper Lock Seal to reseal and retain Freshness
100% Radiation and contaminant Free – tested in the USA every batch!

Our product is USDA / Ecocert Certified Organic, as well as Kosher Certified. In addition we also test at a independent Laboratory here in the U.S. for more then 450 potential contaminants including pesticide residues and heavy metals, as well as many different Isotopes of Radiation. Out Nori has come out 100 percent “Non Detectable” in every single category.

We use only 1 species (Porphyra Yezoensis) in ALL of our Nori production. This species is in the Red/Purple Algae family and considered the Highest in Nutrition. ALL of our Nori Sheets, Flakes, and Powder are all made from Porphyra Yezoensis and only the top 15 to 20 percent of Harvest makes are grade for item production. The sheets, powder, and flakes are all USDA Certified Organic, Ecocert Certified Organic and Kosher Certified

Our Nori is available in Flakes, Powder and Full size sushi Nori sheets. The sheets come sealed in a package of 50 sheets.


The Tsunami disaster occurred off the northern coast of Japan on the Pacific Ocean side. Our Nori growing site is in a 4000 acre Certified Organic growing area located below the southern tip of Japan in the Sea of Japan near the China coast. To be classified as Internationally Certified Organic growing waters, the area is weekly tested and must have an minimum of 3 year continuous “Clean” results to make this classification. The “Ecocert” program based in France, is much stricter then the USDA Organic program.

The prevailing winds and currents near Japan, travel from south to north, eventually circling around and head from north to south down the western coast of the United States. Even though there was virtually no threat to our geographic location, our factory conducted Daily Radiation Testing early on with continued testing still on going. All tests have shown 100 % non detectable results.

In addition, we send samples to an independent Lab located here in the U.S. (New Jersey) We test for all known isotopes of Radiation from earthquake disaster and have been found 100 % non detectable in all categories.

Please be assured that our Raw Organic Nori is safe and unaffected. We will continue to constantly monitor our supply to ensure the safety of our customers.”


So although it is grown in Japan, it is tested both in Japan and the USA. Most of the commercially available nori is not even tested. I know, I looked into this because I love sushi and I want to do my best to avoid radiation from the fallout of Fukashima. How can we continue to enjoy the seafood we love?

Not reckless abandon, but not needless paranoia either. The answer is to find a trusted and tested source.


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