Tag Archive | natural

Boxed Dinners ~ Activities for Foodie Couples

imageIf you haven’t heard about these blessings in a box, they are called Meal Delivery Services, and they are being shipped to most locations worldwide. I think they are an awesome idea for folks wanting to learn how to cook, learn new meals, save money and time, stuck in a ‘food rut’ (us), along with dieting or even just eating better!  We’ve batted this idea around for a bit… Having fresh ingredients arrive at our door to make meals for a few nights a week. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a savings or an expense. My husband really took a hold of this idea and ran with it. He compared many of the Dinner Box companies that deliver in our area. He decide Blue Apron was the best fit for us. They source the food as local as possible to me. I love supporting my community.

When he told me about the future box coming, he had sparkles in his eyes. He was genuinely excited to cook these meals! He then tells me the most mushy, lovey-dovey thing… “I can’t wait to spend time with you in the kitchen cooking these meals.” Awe! What a Sweety-Pie!!! I love you, honey.

Our first three meals arrived on a Friday. We picked Friday, so we would have more time to cook the meals over the weekend. The part I really like is that the amounts are per-determined, and there is no waste or leftovers. I feel like we waste too much food here. Another huge pro for going with this arrangement.

There are also beautifully done recipe cards with photos for most of the steps in the recipe. If there is something missing on the card, you can always go to their website to learn how to reproduce the technique they are asking you to do. There are many how-to videos, other recipes and comments from other Blue Apron clients.

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Lemon Caper Catfish, Chicken Paillard and Bucatini Pasta Bolognese, were our weeks choices. In plain English: Lemon catfish w/kale, Chicken & potatoes & Spaghetti w/meat sauce. There are generally 3 meat meals and 3 vegetarian meals, for a total of 6 meals to choose from for a week. Blue Apron only offers 3 meals a week, whereas other companies do offer 2 -7 meals a week. As I am a carnivore, the veggie meals are somewhat wasted on me. Yes, roasted cauliflower sounds yummy, but that is a side dish, not the centerpiece of the meal.

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The Chicken Paillard was to die for! I have never roasted a fennel before and I have been missing out! If you’ve never done it, buy one in the next grocery run. They are amazing roasted. We figured even if we didn’t like some part of the meal, it would introduce us to other types of food and how to cook it. A con was the size of the potato. It was smaller than my fist, and we had to split it. I get it. It’s called PORTION CONTROL 😉 Fatty-Fat-Fat!

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Sometimes we had to read the directions 10X to wrap our minds around something. The directions for the Bucatini Pasta Bolognese had us cooking veggies and sauce before we cooked the meat in the veggies. Huh? I’ve generally always cooked the meat first, then added other ingredients. This recipe also had us adding chopped brussels sprouts near the end of the process. In the end, it was a super yummy meal. I still like my spaghetti sauce better (I use pork shoulder), however I will now add carrot, celery and chopped brussels sprouts to mine!

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Here is the Lemon Caper Catfish. The catfish was great. It was on a bed of lentils and kale. I like many veggies, but you lost me at both lentils and kale. Blech! I can say that the lentils were not the same kind my Mom used for soup. These were called the ‘caviar of lentils’ and even resembled it. They were actually pretty good. Not the texture of dirt, like my Ma’s. The kale was kale. There was no helping it. In the end, I would just do this recipe with spinach and call it a day.

My hubby and I are very pleased with our choices, the turnout and the amount of fun we’ve been having in the kitchen. I’d really have to wait for more data, however the total amount of groceries and the Blue Apron box were even last week, thus it is a wash, budget wise. YEAH!! I would highly suggest trying one of these services out! Even if it’s just for a week here and there. I love that we don’t have to argue about ‘what’s for dinner?’ or spend time making a list or being pissed that we forgot something at the store!! I feel like this may take a lot of stress away from us, which makes it worth its weight in gold.
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I can’t wait for our next box and our next foodie adventure!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Magic ‘Psilocybin’ Mushrooms Help Cancer Patients With Depression & Anxiety

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I wish there weren’t so many laws telling us what we can and cannot do to our own bodies…

Scientists have recently completed more studies concerning cancer patients and end of life care using ‘Magic Mushrooms’.

Psilocybin is a naturally occurring compound that is produced by more than 200 species mushrooms, collectively known as “Psilocybin mushrooms”. The most potent are members of the genus Psilocybe, such as P. azurescens, P. semilanceata, and P. cyanescens, but psilocybin has also been isolated from about a dozen other genera.

I read this write-up from Science Daily:
Improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers in recent years have led to a marked increase in patients’ physical survival rates. While doctors can treat the physical disease, what is not well understood is how best to address the psychological needs of patients with cancer.

In addition to the physical pain associated with cancer, many patients also experience psychologically harmful symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, and denial. Social isolation, in addition to hopelessness, helplessness and loss of independence, has also been associated with significant psychological suffering in patients coping with advanced-stage cancer.

A recently published book chapter “Use of the Classic Hallucinogen Psilocybin for Treatment of Existential Distress Associated with Cancer,” reviews the potential of a novel psychoactive drug, psilocybin, in alleviating the psychological and spiritual distress that often accompanies a life-threatening cancer diagnosis.

The chapter, published in Psychological Aspects of Cancer: A Guide to Emotional and Psychological Consequences of Cancer, Their Causes, and Their Management, was co-written by Anthony P. Bossis, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine at the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) and Langone Medical Center.

The hallucinogen treatment model with psilocybin has been shown to induce a mystical or spiritual experience and is a unique therapeutic approach to reduce the anxiety of terminal cancer patients.

“Mystical or peak consciousness states in cancer patients have been associated with a number of benefits including improved psychological, spiritual, and existential well-being,” said Dr. Bossis.

Psilocybin (a serotonergic psychoactive agent) is a naturally occurring active component of many species of mushrooms, and is rapidly metabolized to psilocin, a highly potent activator of serotonin receptors. In addition to receiving the psilocybin compound, patients enrolled in the study also receive psychological preparation prior to the psilocybin dosing followed by a brief series of integrative psychotherapeutic sessions.

The chapter includes a clinical case vignette of a patient in the ongoing Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study at the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research. Participants undergo two drug administration sessions in which psilocybin is administered on one occasion and a placebo on the other.

“The primary objective of this phase I, double-blind, controlled pilot study is to assess the efficacy of psilocybin administration on psychosocial distress, with the specific primary outcome variable being anxiety associated with advanced and/or recurrent cancer,” said Bossis. “Secondary outcome measures will look at the effect of psilocybin on symptoms of pain perception, depression, existential/psychospiritual distress, attitudes toward illness, quality of life, and spiritual/mystical states of consciousness,” said Bossis.

The clinical vignette describes a patient who, over the course of three years, experienced extreme fatigue, pain, overall body aches, discomfort and psychological distress due to cancer and intensive biweekly chemotherapy. The patient became increasingly anxious and depressed and was enrolled in two study sessions; in one he received psilocybin and the other placebo. Despite continuing the arduous chemotherapy schedule, suffering from illness, and undergoing additional surgical procedures, the patient continued to report a marked improvement in attitude, coping, and mood 18 weeks after his session and stated, “my quality of life is dramatically improved,” the patient said.

Stephen Ross, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine at the NYUCD is the principal investigator for the study; Dr. Bossis and Jeffrey Guss, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry are co-principal investigators.

The co-authors of the chapter were: Charles S. Grob, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Roland R. Griffiths, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University.

The Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study was also recently highlighted in a News article, “Opening Doors of Perception: Psychedelic Drugs and End-of-Life Care” in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“The emotional, spiritual and existential distress that can often accompany a diagnosis of cancer often goes unidentified and untreated in cancer patients. Patients who have benefited from psilocybin clinical research have reported less anxiety, improved quality of life, enhanced psychological and spiritual well-being, and a greater acceptance of the life-changes brought on by cancer. It is a welcome development that this promising and novel clinical research model utilizing psilocybin has begun to gain clinical and academic attention,” Bossis notes.

The Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study is currently recruiting additional subjects. To enroll or learn more, please visit BluestoneCenter.org or http://www.nyucanceranxiety.org/

New York University. (2013, January 31). Potential of psilocybin to alleviate psychological and spiritual distress in cancer patients is revealed ScienceDaily Retrieved December 1, 2016 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130131095040.htm

Dog Dinners

Our boys are spoiled…. but, this is not news to anyone!

I’ve read many articles, blogs, stories, etc, that tells us not to feed our dogs people food. I can understand a few of the issues with the theory. There are lots of chemicals and preservatives in people food. Not that there aren’t any in many dog foods.

In my opinion, drooling, begging dogs are probably the biggest reason folks don’t feed their dogs people food. It can also teach a dog that the human food marinating on the counter is theirs and just waiting to be stolen. My dogs have never tried, let alone they are too small to get anything off the counter top.

I, on the other hand, don’t like wasting food and give my boys left-overs when they occur. My meals contain very few chemicals, low sodium, gluten free and include a balance of good foods.

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Today’s special: Pot Roast!

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I mix the left-overs with their regular food. There’s no drooling dogs during dinner, as they don’t know they are getting human food until the bowls are put on the floor. However, shortly after being served, the bowl is quickly dispatched to their hungry tummies.

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Breck taking down this bowl! That bowl didn’t have a chance… Empty in 10 minutes! Happy dog!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Plants That Bite! Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica

Last weekend I was doing some indoor pot maintenance and had a shocking little surprise. I was bitten… By a PLANT! Well, stung would be more like it. I looked down to see I had grabbed a hold of some stinging nettle or Urtica dioica. As I rubbed out the prickles*, I decided I would provide this post as a public service message to all of you that want to become horticulturists. This job is DANGEROUS! It would be safer to become a fireman, cop or perhaps a crash test dummy…

*In botanical terms, thorns are derived from shoots, spines are derived from leaves and prickles are derived from the epidermis and can be found anywhere on the plant.

This is what the culprit looks like. Forgive the late Easter decoration… I left it there for a size reference. Not very large, if hiking, you wouldn’t even notice this ‘lil guy. It’s when it sneaks-up on you, all alone in a pot, not worth me putting gloves on to yank it does it pull a sneak attack and stings! ZZZZZT!

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Stinging Nettle – Urtica dioica

Not all things are evil all the time. Nettle has a good side. It is a great herb with many wonderful medical benefits.

For centuries, nettle has been utilized to treat allergy symptoms. It has been found that nettle’s aerial parts (used in tea) may decrease the amount of histamine that is produced by the body in response to an allergen. An allergen is an element such as pollen that may trigger an immune response in individuals who are sensitive to it. Through this possible action, the aerial parts of nettle may help to reduce allergy symptoms.

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There is no part of this plant that does not sting..

Another hypothesis is that nettle’s aerial parts may interfere with the body’s production of prostaglandins and other inflammation-causing chemicals. Subsequently, nettle may have an anti-inflammatory effect. It may also heighten responses of the immune system. Chemicals in nettle’s aerial parts are also thought to reduce the feeling of pain or interfere with the way that nerves send pain signals. All of the effects may reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis and other similar conditions.

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When it comes to prickles on this plant, they are EVERYWHERE on this plant!!

Nettle has been studied and shown promise in treating:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • Bladder infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Gingivitis
  • Gout
  • Kidney stones
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Sciatica
  • Tendinitis

The root is used as a diuretic, for relief of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) including other prostate problems and as a natural remedy to treat or prevent baldness.

An infusion of the plant is very valuable in treating:

  • Anemia
  • Excessive menstruation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatism
  • Eczema

A nettle extract can be applied to the skin to relieve joint pain and muscle aches. The astringent properties of nettle’s aerial parts may also help to reduce the swelling of hemorrhoids and stop bleeding from minor skin injuries such as razor nicks. An astringent shrinks and tightens the top layers of skin or mucous membranes, thereby reducing secretions, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness. As a shampoo additive, it can help curb dandruff and clean overly oily hair and scalp.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plants