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Archive for January, 2013

Seaweed veggie rolls are one of my favorite healthy snacks.  What’s not to love? Beauty, flavor and nutrition graces every bite and it is like a little taste of Mother Nature herself in every mouthful.

How healthy, you ask?  Well…that depends on how many fruits and veggies you add to them, but the seaweed alone is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is a natural, rich source of protein and iodine, which is essential for maintaining proper thyroid function.  It is rich in carotenes, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and also contains sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chlorine, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, molybdenum, fluoride, manganese, boron, nickel and cobalt. Throw in a variety of fruits and veggies in a rainbow of colors and these are some powerful, energy-inducing snacks!

I refuse to call it ‘sushi’ anymore, though.  Every instantly thinks ‘raw fish’.  Don’t misunderstand…I ADORE sushi, raw fish and all, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I guess they have a ‘technical’ name, but I don’t know what it is. Veggie rolls?  Rice rolls? Seaweed rolls? I’ll just pretend like I came up with the idea for these all by myself and call them ‘Tammi’s Vegiriceseaweed Rolls’.  Has a nice ring to it, no?

Aren't they absolutely gorgeous?

Aren’t they absolutely gorgeous?

How could these beauties not make your mouth water? Trust me…this is one recipe you won’t want to pass on.

Tammi’s Vegiriceseaweed Rolls recipe:

  • 4-5 seaweed wrap sheets
  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Fresh fruit/veggie slices (anything that sounds good will work here.  Carrots, peppers, celery, eggplant, mango, avocado, apples, pears…
  • Cream cheese (Optional.  I like to use cream cheese with herbs like parsley, basil, mint, cilantro, dill, etc.)
  • Fish (Optional. I don’t recommend raw fish unless you know what you are doing, but tuna, salmon, shrimp and even sardines are quite tasty additions!)

Start your rice first.  Mix the rice and water in a glass or stainless steel pan and let sit for 15-20 minutes.  While this sits, set out your cream cheese.  You want this to soften up so it is easier to spread on the rice. If you are mixing herbs into it, do so now.

In a small bowl or cup (I like to use my smallest glass measuring cup), mix your vinegar, salt and sugar.  Place in a pot with appx 1-2″ of water and heat gently until salt and sugar is completely dissolved, stirring frequently. Don’t use wood or plastic utensils with the vinegar mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.

Rice, salt and sugar mix

Rice, salt and sugar mix

By now, your rice should be ready to cook.  Place a lid on the pot and heat on high until the water comes to a boil.  Stir, reduce heat to the lowest setting and let cook until water is completely absorbed.

While your rice cooks, slice all of your fruits and veggies into thin strips, lay out a sheet of wax paper that is larger than your seaweed sheet and get everything set up within reach.  Once you put the rice on the seaweed sheet you will want to work quickly.

Fruit and veggie slices

Fruit and veggie slices

When your rice is done cooking, spread it onto a glass or stainless cookie sheet to cool.  You want to spread it as thin as possible.  When it is no longer steaming and about room temperature, pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and stir gently with a wooden spoon until the rice is completely coated and you don’t have any vinegar mixture puddling underneath the rice.  Let sit for a few minutes while you set out a sheet of seaweed, shiny side down, on your wax paper.

Pour vinegar over rice and mix gently

Pour vinegar over rice and mix gently

Okay, now you are going to want to work quick so your seaweed sheets don’t get too soft and rubbery.  Put enough rice on the seaweed to completely cover the seaweed from edge to edge on 3 sides.  Leave appx 1″ of the sheet uncovered at the bottom so you can seal it up after you roll it.   If you are using cream cheese, spread a thin layer appx 1″ wide at the top of the sheet, on top of the rice.  If you are using some type of fish, place it on top of the cream cheese.  Add fruit/veggie strips on top of  the cream cheese and fish.

sushi assmbly

Grab the top of the seaweed sheet, holding the veggies in place as best you can and roll it up tight enough to be solid, but not so tight that you rip the seaweed sheet.  Seal the roll by wetting down the bottom exposed strip with cold water.  Set aside and repeat until your rice is gone.  I can usually get 4 thick rolls or 5 thin rolls from this recipe.

sushi rolls

Using a very sharp knife, slice the rolls into 1″ rounds.

sushi sliced

Garnish it with some pickled ginger, a dash of Bragg Amino Acids, a little dab of wasabi and you are ready to go! That’s it.  It is really very simple, once you know what you are doing.  Expect a learning curve the first time you make these.

sushi done

Here are a few tips to make your experience easier.

~If you want to be really fancy, you can buy sushi-rolling mats and bamboo spoons at most kitchen stores, but I’m way too cheap for all that.  My cheap wooden spoons work just fine and rolling them up by hand is really not that difficult.

~Keep a small bowl or glass of cold water mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar nearby.  Sushi rice is very sticky and you can use this to dip your fingers, knife and spoon in to keep the rice from sticking.

~If you accidentally rip one of the sheets as you are rolling, you can fix it by cutting a piece of seaweed wrap slightly larger than the tear, wet it and place the patch over the tear, patting it down securely.

~It is very important to use an extremely sharp knife when slicing the sushi rolls into rounds.  A dull knife will tear the seaweed sheets and ruin all of your hard work.  When the knife gets sticky from cutting through the rice, rinse it with the cold water/vinegar mixture.

~Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Sometimes, I like to make the layer of rice very thin and add lots of extra veggies.  Sometimes I like thicker rice and less veggies.  The more rice and veggies, the thicker your roll will be, and the more difficult it will be to roll.

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2017 has arrived, and brought with it the start of one of the worst flu epidemics in years.  What does that really mean, though?  What, exactly, is the flu? How do you know if you just have a really bad cold, or if those are actually symptoms of the flu?

Influenza, while it shares many symptoms of the common cold, is actually a totally different virus with it’s own unique chemistry.  Discovery Health‘s website has a great explanation of exactly what the Influenza virus is and how it works on the body.

Many people who suspect they have the flu head for the doctor or emergency room.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much your doctor can do.  Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, and can actually make the problem worse by weakening your immune system.  While the best line of defense is a good offense, we don’t always take care of ourselves the way we should, so we leave ourselves open to things like the cold or flu. And, don’t even get me started on how ridiculous I think getting a flu shot is…

Preventing the flu is simple.  Eat more fruits and veggies that contain vitamins and minerals that the body needs to remain healthy and function properly, especially those high in Vitamin C.  Citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts and strawberries area all very high in Vitamin C, as are many herbs like amla root, rose hips, elderberry, echinacea, nettles, dandelion and yellow dock.  Also, add some immune boosting herbs like astragalus, ginseng, golden seal, kelp, oregano and violets.  Adding many of these foods to your diet will help stave off any bacteria and viruses that try to take down your system.

If, by chance, they get through your carefully (or not so carefully) natural defenses and you find yourself with a nasty case of the flu, go ahead and eat some of them, anyway.  They will help rebuild a weakened immune system and will help your body recover more quickly.  Don’t stop there, though.  While most people spend 5-10 days recovering from the flu, here are some strategies that will help kick the flu in the butt much quicker ~ most often in 36 hours or less.

To provide your system with a quick, massive infusion of immune-boosting goodness, mix up this concoction:

  • Equal parts raw, local honey and fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger root
  • a pinch of cayenne

Mix them all up to make a liquid-y concoction and take 1 Tbsp every 1-2 hours until it is gone.  Repeat until the flu is gone.

Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?  Okay, well, maybe not so much.  In fact, it is pretty vile tasting unless you just like that sort of thing.  But, it works.  Fast.  As you are choking down this concoction know that I feel your pain, as do all the people living in my home.  We keep an upgraded version of this on hand all the time.  We laughingly call it ‘Zombie Juice” and are pretty sure it will protect us from every disease, both known and unknown, that has ever thought of existing, including the Zombie virus.  It has a mix of potent herbs that lend a most interesting dirt-flavored addition to the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and cayenne.  My family only tells me they aren’t feeling well if the REALLY aren’t feeling well, cause they know what I’m going to ask…”Did you take a Zombie Shot?”  I put it in a pretty bottle, though.  Do I get points for presentation, if not flavor…?

Boost your Vitamin D by stepping outside and getting a healthy dose of fresh air and sunshine.  I know…all you really wanna do is climb in bed and cry yourself to sleep, but I promise, ten minutes of this and you’ll feel better much faster!

Flowers

Because the flu is a respiratory illness, you want to make sure and keep your lungs and sinuses from getting stuffy and congested, or dry and painful.  Herbal teas will help sooth and clear the lungs.  Mullein leaves, wild cherry, horehound, peppermint and catnip are all fantastic for any type of respiratory issue and can be taken in huge amounts without causing any undesirable side effects.

Don’t forget the neti pot!  Again, keeping the sinuses free of mucus or excessive dryness, try this…flush the sinuses with a salt/distilled water mixture, then follow it with distilled water/olive oil rinse.  Use 1/4 tsp of olive oil to 2 cups water.  You don’t need much, but olive oil is moisturizing, antibacterial and mildly antiviral.  Since the influenza virus enters through the mouth, nose and ears, this will help fend off and kill any bacteria or viruses that have taken up residence in your sinus cavities.

Speaking of ears, mix up this blend of essential oils to help fight the flu from this often-overlooked angle.

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • Equal parts tea tree and  lavender oil ~ 6-8 drops of each
  • Add 3-4 drops each of any of the following:  rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, frankincense
  • If you don’t have all the oils available, use what you can get.  Mix them up, then warm the mixture by placing it in a small pan of hot water until it reaches a warmth that is comfortable. Don’t use boiling water.  Too much heat will kill the healing properties of the oils and cause the essential oils to vaporize off.  Place 3 drops in each ear.
  • These oils are also great when you drop a couple into your vaporizer or humidifier
  • This oil works great for ear aches, too!

Herbal chest rubs are also very soothing and help deliver the healing power of herbs via the skin, so you get healing from the outside, as well as internally.

chest rub 1

Hot, steamy baths with a couple tablespoons of Epsom salts thrown in will help open the pores of the skin to allow toxins to escape, they sooth and relax body and muscle aches, and the steam will help  keep your lungs moist and pliable so they can expel the mucus that is congesting them. Take as many as you can stand, as hot as you can stand.

Don’t fight the fever.  The fever is your body’s greatest friend during times of illness.  I know…standard medicine says to take some acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower the fever.  They tell you that fevers, especially high ones, are dangerous.  The truth is, your fever will never progress past 105 degrees, and that is only dangerous if there is no moisture present.  If you have a fever, drink as much water as you can to keep the heat in your body moist.  The fever is ‘cooking’ out the bacteria and viruses that are causing the illness.

Finally, get some rest!  Sleep brings with it the power to heal.  Go with it.  Sleep as much as you can.  A few herbs that can help you relax and drift off are valerian root, chamomile, hops and catnip. Find out more about their benefits in my other post, Searching for Sleep

Remember that the flu doesn’t have to be dangerous.  There is no way you can avoid the discomfort that comes with it, but you can definitely minimize the duration and severity of the flu.

Most importantly, don’t stop giving your body the things it needs just because you get to feeling a little better.  Keep it strong by eating plenty of colorful, nutritious, preferably organic fresh fruits and veggies. Drink lots of water.  Get plenty of fresh air, sunshine and light exercise.

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A Year Of Learning

Another new year has arrived and I can’t help but reflect on the year just passed and the new one to come.  I watch the news with a mixture of sadness, anger and just the smallest bit of hope.  Mass shootings, political upheaval, economic instability, disease, violence…  It is easy to overlook the bright, shining glimmer of hope in all of the darkness out there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaybe it is because, at 40, I’ve finally grown up enough to take more interest in the world around me, but it seems that 2012 was a difficult year.  Not personally.  In fact, for me it was a year that brought with it joy, happiness, wisdom, acceptance and an inner peace. It was a year in which I saw personal goals reached, new goals imagined and old goals revived.  In 2012, I learned, I shared, I taught and I succeeded.  Who could ask for a better year?  Well….me.  I’m aiming for bigger and better for 2013!

That being said, I think maybe it is wise to really look back at 2012 and take stock…figure out what I can do better, different or more efficiently.  Since I know how eager you are to hear all about me ~ let’s get started.

I mentioned that 2012 was a year of learning for me. Not just book learning, although I’ve done plenty of that in my effort to obtain my Master Herbalist Certification. This has been a journey that I have been on for, literally, half my life.  It has been fun, adventurous, frustrating and confusing at times, but it has always been fulfilling.  I will admit to a certain amount of arrogance when I finally enrolled in my Herbalist courses.  After all, I have been doing this forever.  Hands-on experience outweighs book learning any day of the week.  As I near the end of my courses, though, I find that I am learning so much new stuff and I am realizing just how much I don’t know!  It has been a serious lesson in humbleness and swallowing my pride.  For any of you that know me…well…neither of those lessons is settling well.  But, in learning these lessons, I have been given the opportunity to help many people by simply sharing knowledge, and I have seen people around me putting that knowledge to use with astounding results.  It gives me hope. In 2013, I hope to encounter many more opportunities to help those around me learn to live a more natural, simplistic life.

If I’m really lucky, attaining this goal will bring with it several side benefits.  If I can convince just one person that a natural approach to their healthcare is cheaper, more effective and longer lasting than the conventional healthcare system offered, I can negatively impact the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies, Monsanto Corporation and the greedy, corrupt medical system that kills thousands of people every year. Okay, sure…I’m not going to single-handedly bankrupt any of the aforementioned. I’m okay with that.  I will settle for making a tiny dent in their profit margin.

It was also a year of learning that I am not a super hero, capable of taking on and conquering the ills of the world with no damage points deducted for sleepless nights, unhealthy choices or extreme stress. In fact, as I lie here in my bed and write this, my swollen, sprained ankle is propped up on a pillow and I’m wishing I would have been more careful when stepping down off that ladder. It solidifies that I am not immortal and time will have its way with me. I feel the aches and pains that come with getting older.  I truly believe that I can read both the barometric pressure and general temperature by taking note of which joint in my body hurts the most.  I’m right at least as often as the weatherman, who, I’m pretty convinced is a compulsive liar. I digress, as usual…

So, I’m not a superhero.  I can live with that.  Even better, I can approach the new year with a solid plan to make next year better.  I can do more in my effort to aggravate all of my friends, family and facebook followers (that’s a lot of f’s!!!) with annoying posts about the dangers of gmo’s, vaccines, antibiotics, toothpaste dangers, and the world in general.  I can do more yoga, eat more raw foods, drink less coffee, grow more vegetables, learn to make a dish soap that I really like and lose 50 lbs.  Hopefully my efforts will inspire others to join me.  I mean, really…who wants to live forever if you don’t have any friends around to enjoy immortality with?

2012 was a year of learning my limitations ~ as a healer, as a mother, as a wife, as a friend…as a human.  It has taken 40 years, but I’m finally not afraid of saying no, of saying yes, of crying in front of someone, of laughing in front of someone.  I have learned that as long as I am truly and completely happy with me, everything else will work itself out.  I do my very best to help at least one person a day.  Maybe next year I’ll shoot for two a day.  I have learned how to let a child work on becoming an adult.  I have learned that to be a better me, I have to find time for me.  Granted, my time is 3 am when most normal humans are sleeping, but still…it is my time.  I have learned that to help others heal, I have to keep myself healthy, both emotionally and physically.  I want to live to be at least 100, if for no other reason than to piss off the people who don’t like me.  For that, I’m willing to sacrifice a candy bar and a soda or two!

In 2012, I made friends and lost friends.  I hurt others and I was hurt. I forgave and was forgiven.  I learned and I forgot. I saw a new life started and an old one ended. I touched history and I created history. It was a full year for me and I am more grateful for every single second than I can ever say.

In looking back at 2012, it is easy for me to make a plan for 2013.  I like to keep things simple, though. After all, I am getting up there in years and simplicity grows more appealing all the time, and I’ve learned that getting too specific and detail-oriented is a sure recipe for failure. So, here are my goals for 2013:

  • Live. I mean REALLY live.  For me, that means doing things that take me out of my comfort zone and challenge me to think bigger.  Doing things that make the heart race and the adrenaline flow and the belly flutter. It means doing something that makes me look back and ask, “Did I really just do that?” with a smile and a sense of accomplishment. If I’m lucky, I won’t end up in either the hospital or the pokey.
  • Love.  I’m not talking about the easy kind of love.  I’m talking about loving the ones that make it difficult.  The ones who challenge my patience…you know…the really stupid people that I usually just wanna smack some common sense into.  I want to learn to see something in them that is good and worthy. I’m pretty sure accomplishing this goal will help me avoid a future assault charge.
  • Laugh.  Every single day I want to find one thing that makes me laugh with true joy. Maybe at myself, maybe at someone else, maybe WITH someone else.  It doesn’t matter.  I just want to laugh. Please don’t be offended if it is you that I’m laughing at. I promise to give you plenty of opportunities to laugh at me before 2013 is over!
  • Learn.  This life is far too short to learn all of the things that I want to learn, but if I can learn one new thing a day, I will be infinitely smarter by this time next year.  That means that I will be more justified in lording my wisdom over others who are far less intelligent than I am.
  • Teach.  I want to share all those awesome things I am going to learn this year.  I want to be able to share and pass on the things that can make life bigger, better and more fulfilling for myself and those I come in contact with.  Maybe it will be through my blog, or through a class that I can offer, or maybe it will just be through a passing conversation in which I can share some tiny nugget of wisdom that I’ve been storing away.  This, too, will provide me with a sense of superiority, but I’ll do my best to keep that in check…

That’s about it, I think.  I considered adding things like quitting smoking, controlling my sarcasm and being less condescending to the idiots of the world, but we all know none of those things are really going to happen.  That would be almost as ridiculous as saying I’ll learn to be a more obedient wife or a less-interfering mother.  Not gonna happen and I’m trying to keep it real, friends!

Anyway, I’m totally looking forward to a new year and all that it may bring.  I hope that each and every one of you finds the same!

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