Mint Transplant Success

My friend Brian and I share a plot at a local urban garden. We’ve planted carrots and broccoli and cabbage among a few other things. Brian’s been growing herbs over at his apartment but I was too scared to try herbs. Until recently!

I saw that there was wild mint growing near the water hoses at the garden – many different varieties of mint! So I asked the garden manager if I could dig some up and take it home to grow on my balcony. He said yes!

Last weekend, I pulled up some regular mint and some chocolate mint and using the leftover dirt from Brian’s herbs, I transplanted the regular mint into an old coconut oil bucket and the chocolate mint into a plastic bag-lined paper bag on a tin pie plate. Then I watered them both well.

Over the last few days I’ve been checking the dirt and pulling off dead leaves so the plant can give energy to the live leaves. And today! Today I noticed that the live leaves no longer feel wilted! They’ve livened up! The roots have started to grow! The transplant was successful!! I know it’s only mint and mint is hardy and it was likely to succeed. But I’m still excited.

Homemade Ginger-Mint Looseleaf Tisane for me!!

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Tasty Trailers: DIRT

Dirt. It’s a good thing. I consider it mother nature’s vaccine. I like to play in it. Grow stuff in it. And sling it at that cute boy I married.

We can tend to sometimes think of dirt as dead. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, ya know?  But dirt is a community of organisms. It’s alive. And we’re killing it.

Modern agricultural practices are eating away at our soil.

One of my favourite food bloggers linked to a new film called, you guessed it, DIRT.

Here’s the trailer…

Just like FOOD INC, KING CORN, and BIG RIVER were all films worth talking about, DIRT is worth our time.

And what about stevia?

I little over a year ago, I wrote about how stevia had been approved by the FDA for human consumption.  I’ve been using stevia for about five years now and so-far-I-haven’t-had-any-problems.

A day or two ago I came across this little tidbit on a paleo blog I read.  And I wanted to share.

There’s some scientific evidence to support the notion that Stevia is safe, even in type 2 diabetes patients1, 2. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated to have antihypertensive properties, as shown by Chan et al.3 and a long-term study4.

The bottom line is that Stevia seems to be safe, but we need more research to rule out possible side effects.

Yay!  Stevia = safe!  But hmmm…  Could there be side effects?  Wonder what those could be…  Perhaps it’s best to continue to use stevia in moderation, eh?

The great thing about this post too, is that they list references.

  1. Gregersen S, Jeppesen PB, Holst JJ, Hermansen K. Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects. Metabolism. 2004 Jan;53(1):73-6.
  2. Barriocanal LA, Palacios M, Benitez G, Benitez S, Jimenez JT, Jimenez N, Rojas V. Apparent lack of pharmacological effect of steviol glycosides used as sweeteners in humans. A pilot study of repeated exposures in some normotensive and hypotensive individuals and in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2008 Jun;51(1):37-41. Epub 2008 Mar 5.
  3. Chan P, Tomlinson B, Chen YJ, Liu JC, Hsieh MH, Cheng JT. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;50(3):215-20.
  4. Hsieh MH, Chan P, Sue YM, Liu JC, Liang TH, Huang TY, Tomlinson B, Chow MS, Kao PF, Chen YJ. Clin Ther. 2003 Nov;25(11):2797-808. Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension: a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study

Where’d Y’all’s Milk Come From?

I usually buy my raw milk from Organic Pastures Dairy.  I buy it at my local grocers.

Details on why raw milk here. And here!

But raw milk is expensive so I only buy enough for drinking straight or I buy cream.  I’m certinaly not going to use raw milk to make cappuccinos!  I’m essentially pasturizing the milk when I steam it!  So I buy cheaper, pasteurized milk for when we make cappuccinos.  Except, I try to buy organic, whole and non-homoginzed milk.  So I buy the Organic Cream Top Milk from Trader Joe’s.  I liked that it was non-homoginized but I didn’t like that I didn’t know where it came from!

But now I do!

I just found this little website that will tell me where the milk in my grocery store jug has come from!  Ie. which dairy!  Now you can know if your milk is coming from a reputable dairy or not!

I discovered that my Organic Cream Top Milk is coming from a great dairy in Northern California called Straus Family Creamery.  I’m so excited to know this!

Check out your milk!  You can also check your cheese, yogurt, ice cream or any dairy product!

Agave Concerns

My affaire with agave nectar was passionate but short-lived. I discovered it while doing Weight Watchers, when I was looking for low-calorie sweeteners. I stopped using Splenda a long time ago. I currently use Stevia because I can tolerate the aftertaste. But inbetween those, I flirted with agave syrup. And agave syrup flirted back. It promised an all-natural satisfaction for my sweet tooth while being low-glycemic. It promised not to make me fat.

But why is this sweetener low-glycemic? It seemed like a contradiction! Too good to be true!

It was…

I follow the thoughts from all sorts of food camps. As a Weight Watcher Lifetime Member, I know quite well what the Good Health Guidelines are (which follow the national food plan), I follow a few raw vegan blogs just to see what’s happening over on that side of the river, I pay attention to the whole food community (the Price-Pottenger people and Michael Pollan) and I faithfully read my low-carb, primal and paleo diet blogs.

And here’s the thing, most food camps are decrying agave syrup!

Here’s a quote from one of my favourite whole food blogs:

The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites.

Agave syrup isn’t natural.

Here’s a quote from a raw foods website I found:

Agave Syrup is advertised as “low glycemic” and marketed towards diabetics. It is true, that agave itself is low glycemic.  [But] we have to consider why agave syrup is “low glycemic.” It is due to the unusually high concentration of fructose (90%) compared to the small amount of glucose (10%). Nowhere in nature does this ratio of fructose to glucose occur naturally. One of the next closest foods that contain almost this concentration of glucose to fructose is high fructose corn syrup used in making soda(HFCS 55), which only contains 55% fructose.

This quote goes on to explain why fructose is low glycemic:

…glucose is metabolized by every cell in the body, and fructose must be metabolized by the liver. Tests on animals show that the livers of animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrohosis of the liver. This is similar to the livers of alcoholics.

And why is this bad?  In a post from a paleo blogger we find this:

Fructose makes your liver create new fat, gives you more small dense LDL and oxidized LDL — the worst, true artery “clogging” kind — and gives you a fat belly.

The raw food blog continues:

Fructose appears to interfere with copper metabolism. This causes collagen and elastin being unable to form. Collagen and elastin are connective tissue which essentially hold the body together. A deficiency in copper can also lead to bone fragility, anemia, defects of the arteries and bone, infertility, high cholesterol levels, heart attacks and ironically enough an inability to control blood sugar levels.

Fructose … reduces the sensitivity of insulin receptors. Insulin receptors are the way glucose enters a cell to be metabolized. As a result, the body needs to make more insulin to handle the same amount of glucose.

Fructose consumption has been shown to increase blood lactic acid, especially for people with conditions such as diabetes. Extreme elevations may cause metabolic acidosis.

Consumption of fructose leads to mineral losses, especially excretions of iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc compared to subjects fed sucrose.

Fructose also raises serum triglycerides (blood fats) significantly.

Being low-glycemic isn’t necessarily a good thing.

And in this post from a polular paleo proponent, a study is mentioned in which they studied the effects of glucose versus fructose (agave is 90% fructose):

After ten weeks, both groups had gained about three pounds. But they didn’t gain it in the same place. The fructose group gained a disproportionate amount of visceral fat…! Visceral fat is the most dangerous type; it’s associated with and contributes to chronic disease, particularly metabolic syndrome….

The fructose group [also] saw a worsening of blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity. They also saw an increase in small, dense LDL particles and oxidized LDL, both factors that associate strongly with the risk of heart attack and may in fact contribute to it. Liver synthesis of fat after meals increased by 75%. If you look at table 4, it’s clear that the fructose group experienced a major metabolic shift, and the glucose group didn’t. Practically every parameter they measured in the fructose group changed significantly over the course of the 9 weeks. It’s incredible.

Fructose is worse than glucose.

Here’s an article from NaturalNews.com that goes into much more detail.

Here’s an agave post from a pro-dairy blog that links to several good resources.

And finally, here’s good post from another low-carb blog I read.

For your health, avoid agave.

Is beauty is only skin deep?

You try to eat organic, pastured, local foods. You keep a clean home. You drink plenty of water and avoid soft drinks. You think you’re treating your body well, right? But did you know that whatever you put on your skin, you are ingesting?

Last night I pulled out a ton of lotions and shampoos and other random cosmetics from my counter and found this website – Cosmetics Database. I went through each bottle of stuff, and if I couldn’t find the actual product, I looked up the individual ingredients. If any of the top five ingredients were 4 or higher on the danger scale, that product got sacked. Out of 40 items, only 3 were safe. 3. A cuticle oil, a facial spray, and my Witch Hazel. Even my mineral powder foundation is dangerous! The mascara was borderline.

So it’s all gettin’ tossed.

Here’s an example. I had a bottle of Ocean Potion 100% Aloe Vera in my cabinet. 100% Aloe Vera! That’s good right? Wrong. I turned the bottle over and checked out the ingredients. Ew! Why on earth does 100% Aloe Vera gel need Yellow No. 5?! Here’s the product listing on Cosmetics Database. It’s a moderate hazard at 6/10! But think about it! I’m putting that on my skin when its in need of healing!! When my skin needs healing, I shouldn’t be slathering hazardous chemicals all over it!

It’s over, cosmetics industry. You and I are through. Except for my mineral powder foundation. I use a nut oil base to protect my skin from the powder. So I’ll use that foundation up. But once it’s gone, I’m gonna find a less hazardous version. Same with the rest of my makeup.

Check it out, and see what you’re ingesting with your daily lotion, shampoo, or foundation. Even Neutrogena body lotion isn’t safe. Neither is Physician’s Formula. For example…