The lymphatic system is a key immune response, responsible for dealing with inflammation and detoxifying your body from some 3 pounds of toxins each year. As the lymph system breaks down waste products it also recycles usable materials so that the body can use them for growth and repair. When the lymph system becomes congested, the body’s ability to detoxify and heal is seriously impaired. Clogged lymphatics have been linked to auto-immune conditions, infection, anxiety and depression as well as other imbalances. ⠀
One of the first things done in a foot zone is the opening of some key lymph drains. My drawing is rough, but you can see the location. When pressing a fingertip or knuckle into these locations, you will feel a softer spot between the bones and muscles. If this spot does not feel pliable and hollow, gently use your thumb or knuckle to massage it. As the drain starts to open, you will feel the area hollow out. It may be tender. This can take a few minutes if the lymph system is congested or if it has been working hard due to illness or disease.⠀
If you just have a mild cold or allergies, opening these three drains may help your body to get things moving. Sometimes your body just needs a little extra help. Your nose may even start running shortly afterwards! ⠀
If there continues to be puffiness or tenderness in these drains, however, you might need to do a little more. If you have a bug that you can’t shake, if you have swelling in your hands or feet, or if you have an infection, inflammation, or an auto-immune condition, there are many more locations that lymph is drained throughout a foot zone so a full foot zone can be really helpful. ⠀
In between zones, Dry Brushing is one simple thing that you can add to your daily routine that can help keep the lymph system flowing.
What is Dry Brushing? It is exactly what it sounds like. Each morning, before showering, use a natural bristled brush on your skin. Brush from the ends of your limbs in to your armpit or groin, and from those areas to your heart. This pulls all the surface lymph in the proper direction and gets it moving for the day.⠀There are additional benefits to Dry Brushing, such as increased circulation, skin exfoliation, increased energy and possibly a reduction in the appearance of cellulite.⠀
Besides Dry Brushing, here are five other things you can do at home to keep your lymph system happy.
In a nutshell, the lymph system likes movement. The lymph system doesn’t have a pump; it relies on your muscles to pump lymph back to the heart when you move. Exercise of any type keeps lymph flowing, particularly exercise that gets the limbs moving consistently – cycling, running, zumba, even walking. Pick your favorite!
Even at a relatively low intensity, jumping on a mini trampoline or balance ball can give a quick boost to your lymph system.
If you are familiar with tapping techniques, EFT, or acupressure points, these can also be used to encourage lymphatic drainage. As a bonus, you can get some stress relief along with some sinus drainage! Just Google “tapping for lymphatic drainage,” and many explanations and videos will pop up.
Citrus essential oils, lavender, and rosemary can be beneficial for lymphatic circulation, and they are inexpensive and enjoyable. Dilute well, and massage onto the feet. Spend some time really working in the oil and enjoy a mini self-massage!
Additionally, staying hydrated is necessary for the flow of lymph and other body fluids. Try adding a squeeze of lemon juice to your water and reap the benefits of both! Your body and immune system will thank you.
Take care of your body so it can take care of you! ⠀
Various forms of rhythm have been found to provide a regulating effect for the nervous system. Epilepsy, ADD/ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Dysfunction, and stuttering are a few of the ailments that show a disruption in the normal rhythms of the nervous system.The use of rhythm may provide therapeutic benefits for individuals who are challenged with these conditions. For those who were not at the presentation, I will be expounding more on this topic over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!
The handouts provide a brief description of selected techniques, the individuals who may benefit most from these techniques, and many references to further resources for those who want to start learning more. Enjoy!
Rhythm & the Nervous System – UFZA Conference Presentation page 1
Rhythm & the Nervous System – UFZA Conference Presentation page 2
A friend called me recently, wondering what would suggest for a sore throat and congestion. It was the middle of the night, so she was limited to what could be purchased over the counter, or what she already had on hand. When it comes to being sick, I try to start with the gentlest approach, and then go from there. I usually start with food and essential oils. At some point, it makes sense to use the drugs available to us, especially if doing so prevents a doctor’s visit, a more serious prescription, a hospital stay or worse. So, from mildest to strongest, here are our favorite remedies for sore throat, cough, and congestion.
Honey: To sooth a sore throat or reduce coughing, a cup of hot water with a tablespoon of honey and lemon juice can be beneficial. If you have apple cider vinegar on hand, I like to add a tablespoon of it as well. Honey has been a traditional folk remedy for coughing, and recent studies have shown it to be as effective or more effective than traditional cough medicines (1,2,3).
Essential oils: To really break up congestion, I get out my essential oils. There are many that are effective, but eucalyptus tops the list. If you don’t have eucalyptus, try lavender, peppermint, or cedarwood. These first three oils are part of my Top 10 essential oils to always keep on hand. Eucalyptus is an expectorant, meaning it helps break up mucous so that coughs are productive. It is also antibacterial & antiseptic, and soothing for lungs and sinuses. Some researchers think it may be anti-inflammatory.
Remember, these are extremely concentrated, so always dilute well when applying to skin. For children, I recommend applying to the feet instead of elsewhere on the body whenever possible. For congestion and sore throat, apply the oil to the ball of the feet, the big toe, and the “neck” of the big toe, and you will cover all the reflex points for breathing and sinuses. Besides being safer, applying to the feet is also very effective. My youngest responds more quickly to oils on the feet than she does to an oral dose of traditional medication. I also like to diffuse a blend containing eucalyptus whenever we are stuffy to help keep us breathing (4). Diffusing or applying an immune blend with oregano or thyme is also a good idea whenever you are sick. Oregano is also in my Top 10 must have oils because of its antibacterial effectiveness.
Cough drops: We like Luden’s cherry or Ricola if we just need mild soothing, but when we get really gunky I reach for Fisherman’s Friend cough drops. These contain menthol, claim to have been made for more than 100 years, look like that claim is true, and they work. They are great at bedtime when you need to break up congestion to breathe and need to stop coughing in order to fall asleep.
Listerine: If your throat is killing you, and nothing else has worked, try gargling with Listerine several times a day. It has menthol, thymol, methyl salicate, and eucalyptol in it, man-made derivatives of the active ingredients in peppermint, thyme, wintergreen, and eucalyptus oils. Methyl salicate is related to aspirin, so it has pain relieving properties and may be anti-inflammatory.
Over-the-counter Medicines: If all else fails, before heading to the doctor, we will try Mucinex D, Sudafed, or lemon-flavored Theraflu drinks. If nothing else has worked, and an ear or sinus infection is imminent, these are the toughest things we have tried that don’t require a prescription. The first two do, however, require a pharmacist to get them for you, so they won’t be available on those midnight trips to the store.
Sleep: This should really be #1 on the list, but often we put it last. I believe that when you take care of yourself, your body can heal itself, but most of this healing is done when you are at rest, so if you don’t rest, you really limit your ability to heal. If you have tried everything and you aren’t getting worse, but you aren’t getting any better either, try getting some sleep! Your body will thank you!
All sources accessed 12/11/15
For the crust:
1/2 cup figs or dates, chopped
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup nuts, chopped (I used pecans)
2 TB coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 TB melted butter
1-2 TB honey
1 tsp vanilla
For the filling:
Zest from 3 limes
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (3 limes; Can use lime concentrate to make 1/2 cup)
3 TB unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups ripe avocado (2 1/2 avocados)
1/3-1/2 cup honey (to taste)
1/2 cup kefir or buttermilk
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 drops lime essential oil
1/8 tsp lemon extract
Preheat oven to 325 F. Soak dates in warm water. Combine dry ingredients in food processor or blender and chop coarsely. Chop dates. Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix until it sticks together. Pat into pie plate. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
Zest & juice limes. Heat lime juice in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Add gelatin and stir until smooth. Combine with remaining ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Pour over crust and chill 4-6 hours
I came across two fun new favorites this week, a song and a book series, and they both turned out to be created by local Utahns. So this is a highlight showing a little local love.
The first new favorite was introduced to us by the Halloween house down the street. It plays music in time with holiday lights and scenes. He has a scene of a bride and groom zombie set to a fabulous zombie love song. You can hear it and watch it’s delightful animation, created by the song-writer’s 14-year-old niece, here: The Zombie Song. Her website, StephanieMabey.com, has all of her other music, including a free download of the zombie song!
My other newly discovered favorite thing is a book by Charlie N. Holmberg, called The Paper Magician. I picked it up at the library, and I could barely put it down. Even better was that I still liked it after I finished it, and I wanted more! Do you know the feeling? Good books create an alternate world that I want to keep living. I don’t want to leave the characters; I want to keep watching them grow. This was one of those books.
Holmberg has created a whimsical world of magic set in the early 1900’s. Her particularly unique twist is that magic is available to everyone, but with limits. Attending magical college is very expensive, and even then, magicians have only one man-made material they will work with, such as paper, metal, or plastic. Of course, there are evil magicians which is what leads us to our main conflict. Seriously, I haven’t read such a well-written (and well-edited) book with a decent plot in a long time. There is humor, deep emotion, fantasy, and a hint of romance. I’ll just let you read the rest.
What made me even more happy is that it is part of a trilogy that has been completely published already! (Anyone else tired of book series that consume years of our lives? Hand raised here.) I was put-off by the 36 holds ahead of me in the library system to get the second book, so I just ordered all three books for my personal library. I am re-reading the first one until they get here. I liked it that much.
The entire series and the author’s other work can be viewed on her website, CharlieNHolmberg.com. If you are going to order any of her books from amazon, use the links from her website!
Happy reading & listening
I wanted a creamy feeling salve for dry skin in a dry climate, but it couldn’t feel greasy or tacky on the skin for too long, and it had to have a good glide since I wanted to use it for foot zoning also.
The basic ratio to make any salve is 1 part beeswax with 4 parts oil. Any butters (shea, coconut oil, cocoa butter, mango butter, lanolin, etc) can be added without changing the ratio.
Just melt the beeswax and butters on 50% power in the microwave or in a double-boiler on low heat. Add the oils, and stir occasionally as it cools to prevent separation.
If you want to add water-based liquids, you can add up to 2 parts to the above recipe.
Always melt and combine the oils first, and then add the water-based liquids. This requires more vigorous stirring. I like to use an immersion blender; with the stick blender, they combine and are ready to use in less than one minute.
So, now that you have had your science lesson 😉 here are the oils I used.
1 oz shea butter
1/2 oz coconut oil (virgin)
1/2 oz cocoa butter
1/4 oz lanolin
4 parts oil:
1 1/2 oz peach oil
1 1/2 oz sunflower oil
3/4 oz avocado oil
1/4 oz tamanu oil
optional – (see note above)
1/2 oz aloe vera juice or gel
1/2 oz glycerin
If you want to use this as a “naked salve,” so that you can use it to apply essential oils (or for foot zoning), then don’t add any essential oils. If you do want to scent it, add the essential oil after the oils have cooled partially or when you add the water-based ingredients. Vanilla is a great scent to blend with the slightly nutty smell.
Note: The aloe vera and glycerine help lighten the end feel of the salve so that it doesn’t feel as heavy. They are optional though, and it is still a great salve without them. If you want to make a larger batch, I recommend leaving them out because the shelf life is shortened when you use them. I made a larger jar without them, and then remelt a smaller amount and add the liquids as I need.
To do this, it is 7 parts salve to 1/2 part each aloe gel and glycerin.
The beautiful thing about oils is that you can substitute and use what you have on hand. They interchange really well. If you don’t like a recipe, you can always re-melt and add other ingredients until you have a mix you like. Start with a small batch (even smaller that what is above) if you are trying a new combination. I like to switch my scale to grams for smaller batches. If you don’t have a scale, 1 oz is roughly equivalent to 2 TB for most oils.
This is why I used the oils I included:
The natural beeswax, virgin coconut oil, cocoa butter and tamanu oil are what gave it the nutty scent. Hemp oil is also supposed to have a nutty scent and I will probably try including some of that with that in the future as well. Coconut oil absorbs rapidly, so it also helps with the absorption of any essential oils you want to apply at the same time.
The sunflower oil gives it a good glide so that it rubs in well and doesn’t feel sticky. The olive oil adds a little staying power, so that you stay moisturized longer, because it absorbs more slowly. I like to use the light olive oil because extra virgin olive oil stays greasy feeling for a long time. You can still use EVOO, just use less and add more of another lighter oil.
Peach oil and avocado oil are just medium viscosity oils. They don’t absorb too quickly, which is often a problem here in Utah, and they don’t absorb too slowly or clog skin. Some people like sweet almond oil, but I always have to use olive oil with it because it still doesn’t provide enough moisture on its own in our climate.
Shea butter needs no explanation if you have ever tried it. It is just creamy and luxurious. I even use it on its own.
Don’t let all the information overwhelm you. It really is hard to mess up, especially if you just start with the oil-based ingredients. It’s a bit like making jello or pudding; it is harder to describe than it is to do!
For me, making my own salves and soaps has been really fun, and a bit addictive! I love being able to make exactly what I want AND know that whatever it is, there are no harmful ingredients. About 3 years ago, I stopped using commercial soaps, lotions and hair products on myself or my youngest daughter and her eczema completely disappeared.
If you order from thesage.com
, go to the Catalog, and then the Fixed oils category. They have everything except the light olive oil, which I get from Costco, and the aloe vera which I get from Wal-mart in the pharmacy department. It is in a gallon sized jug and is under $7.
Sometimes you just need a fast dinner that isn’t full of processed ingredients and preservatives. Sometimes you just want light, simple meal that satisfies your palate. This recipe fits the bill for both those situations. Even my young teenager can prepare it, and it tastes good. With simple ingredients like garlic, fresh mushrooms, and parmesan cheese this Garlic Mushroom Pasta is a great alternative to the traditional canned spaghetti dinner. Add some fresh vegetables on the side, like asparagus or grilled zucchini, and you have a simple, nourishing meal ready in less time than it takes to have a pizza delivered!
Garlic Mushroom Pasta
2 TB olive oil
12 oz mushrooms
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Cool pasta in boiling water until tender. Reserve 1 cup cooking water. Drain and return to pot.
While pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in frying pan. Add mushrooms and garlic, add salt and pepper to taste, and cover. Stir occasionally until mushrooms have softened and released liquid (about 7-10 minutes). Once softened, uncover pan and cook another 3-5 minutes.
Add mushrooms and parmesan to drained noodles. Toss to combine, adding as much reserved pasta water as needed to create a light sauce (about 1/3 – 1/2 cup).
Sprinkle with additional parmesan and serve immediately.
My children are funny; one of their favorite foods is tofu. I didn’t even know what tofu was for sure until I had a roommate in college who ate it. I certainly wouldn’t have picked it as one of my top foods. However, they like it, and they will both eat some pretty healthy foods if tofu is in the dish. So, I learned about tofu and how to cook with it. This Simple Tofu Stir-fry is one of the earliest recipes we enjoyed; it is easy to make with whatever vegetables you have on hand and like to eat. Perhaps you can even encourage your picky eaters to try a new food if it is mixed with some of the things they like. (I’m still crossing my fingers that it might work for a child in this house – good luck!)
Simple Tofu Stir-fry
1 package of firm tofu, diced
1 1/2 lbs broccoli
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced with seeds removed
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
2 tbsp ginger grated
2 tbsp cornstarch
6 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp rice vinegar
optional: other vegetables as desired (carrots, peas, green beans, zucchini)
Prepare the tofu by rinsing gently in water while still in the container. Pour out liquid and place tofu onto a soft towel to pat dry. Blanch broccoli in salted boiling water
Heat a frying pan with the oil and fry the tofu, red peppers, and green onions in 1/2 inch cubes until tofu is brown. Add broccoli, garlic and ginger to pan and toss together.
Whisk remaining ingredients together in bowl and add to pan
Stir together until coated and serve on rice.
When I was a growing up, my mom used to make Cream of Broccoli Soup on cold winter days. As a child, I was NOT excited to eat it, but once I left home, I used to search out good Cream of Broccoli soups on cold days or when I missed home. I finally got the recipe and learned to make my own because there really wasn’t much that was as good as Mom’s.
I have adapted my recipe to make it somewhat lower in calories than the original. We like to serve it in bread bowls or with a hearty roll if we have them on hand. Pick up some fresh rolls from a local bakery to eat along with this for the perfect, simple winter meal.
Cydne’s Cream of Broccoli Soup
2 cups chicken broth (can be made with bouillon)
16 oz broccoli, chopped*
1/2 large onion, finely diced
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 can evaporated milk
2 tsp mustard
1 cup grated cheese, plus extra for serving
In a large pot, cook broccoli and onion in broth until tender. In a separate saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour, milk and mustard and bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. Add sauce to the broth & broccoli and mix. Add cheese and heat until melted. Serve hot with grated cheese on top, in a bread bowl or with a roll on the side.
*Cauliflower or mushrooms can be substituted for some or all of the broccoli
When my family visits, they always like to visit Olive Garden for dinner; I am fine with their meals, but what I really love is their Zuppa Toscana soup. An internet search produced the original recipe, but it made nearly FIVE gallons at a time – just a bit more than my family eats at a typical meal. I adapted it and made a few slight changes to come up with the recipe that follows. Now you just need to pick up some soft rolls from a local bakery to dip in your soup in place of breadsticks and you are all set for your very own OG experience without leaving home!
Yield: 2 1/2 qts (10 cups)
2-3 slices diced bacon
1/2 lb ground sausage
¼ – ½ tsp crushed red pepper (according to taste)
¼ lb yellow onion, grated (~1/2 onion)
2-3 minced cloves garlic
5 cups hot water
2 TB chicken soup base
1 1/4 lbs yellow potatoes, ¼” sliced (~2 large russets)
2 oz (1/8 lb) fresh kale, 3/4” cut (~ 1 cup, chopped)
½ cup heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp mustard powder
Cook bacon in microwave; save grease. Preheat pot to Med-High heat. Add sausage & red pepper. Cook until internal temp reaches 165 F, approximately 10 minutes. Break up large pieces. Remove from pot & drain well. Place bacon & onion in pot. Cook until onions are transparent, approximately 15 minutes. Add garlic puree, sauté 1 minute. Add water and chicken base. Stir with whisk until base is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Reduce heat to Med. Break up potatoes with masher. Add kale, sausage, and cream. Simmer 5 minutes.
*mustard greens also work in place of kale
We have beautiful butternut squash from our garden this summer, so here are two recipes to warm you up and satisfy your taste buds. Butternut Squash Soup & Sopapillas are the perfect companions. The first, Butternut Squash Soup, is the perfect meal on a cool fall evening – thick, creamy and warm – and sopapillas are great for sopping up the extra. Squash sopapillas are moist and, surprisingly, don’t taste of squash! So, if you have squash-haters in your family, these sopapillas are a great way to use your squash and slip some extra nutrition into your meal!
Butternut Squash Soup
6 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs squash)
2 large sweet apples, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TB butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp curry powder
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (use more for a thinner soup)
8 oz sour cream or plain yogurt*
2 tsp salt
sour cream and croutons (optional)
Peel and cube the squash and apples into small pieces. Dice the onions.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook 5-6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add squash, apples, brown sugar and curry powder. Cook and stir one minute or until curry is fragrant.
Add stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 25-30 minutes or until squash is very soft. Remove from heat.
Carefully ladle 1/3 of mixture into a blender (do not attempt to mix all of the soup at one time!). Leave the plug in the lid slightly open to allow steam to escape and pulse the blender until no chunks remain. Pour into a mixing bowl. Repeat one more time. Mash the remaining soup mixture and add to the puree.
Return to pot and whisk in sour cream and salt until completely incorporated. Return to heat and bring to a simmer again.
Remove from heat and garnish with sour cream and croutons if desired.
*I like to use homemade yogurt that has been strained for several hours
recipe adapted from The Pampered Chef
Second Day soup – Thai inspired vegetables and rice
Add cooked vegetables (whatever you have – carrots, zucchini, green beans, snap peas, mushrooms) and shredded chicken (leftover Turkey, anyone?) to the leftover soup and serve over rice.
Butternut Squash Sopapillas
1 1/4 cups Butternut squash
4 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 TB (1 cube) butter, melted
2 cups oil, for pan-frying
Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Stir together the squash and melted butter. Stir the flour mixture into the squash until blended. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and satiny, adding a little more flour if necessary. Cover dough and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Roll out dough to 1/8″ thick and cut into 3″ diameter circles. Poke each circle with a fork in the center to prevent it from ballooning when frying.
Pour vegetable oil into a large skillet and heat over med-high heat until hot. Place several of the circles into the oil and cook until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels. Cook remainder the same way.
Serve with whipped butter, honey, jam, honey-butter, or soup.
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
I lived in Idaho for a brief period of time as a child, and the one thing I remember is that we truly did eat potatoes often. Our favorites were the baby red potatoes, and they are still a favorite today. Red Potatoes have a more tender and thin peel than the traditional russet potatoes used for baking. This means that you can wash them, cut them, and bake them without having to peel them. Raise your hand if no peeling sounds good to you (My hand is up!) Even my children will eat the skins of Baby Reds, and that means that they are getting all the good nutrition that is found in the skin. This recipe for Grilled Garlic Baby Red Potatoes is my favorite kind of cooking because it is simple, delicious, easy to clean up, and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen in the summer!
Grilled Baby Red Potatoes with Garlic
2 TB olive oil
1 1/2 lbs redskin potatoes (or substitute Yukon Gold)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Preheat grill to medium heat (375 F). Tear off a sheet of foil about 2 feet long; rub a bit of olive oil on the foil to prevent sticking. Wash potatoes and cut into 3/4″ cubes. In a medium bowl, toss potatoes, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Transfer potatoes to the foil sheet. Wrap the foil around the potatoes and crimp edges together across top and then sides. Place on a plate to carry to grill. Place packet on the preheated grill and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from grill to plate and carefully open packet (watch out for steam!) Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve.