The Best Herbs for Cooler Climates

The Best Herbs for Cooler Climates

Many herbs are annuals, because they cannot survive the frost of winter. This includes all peppers, which are native to tropical areas. Other plants set seed and die back in fall. Some herbs, quite graciously, are evergreen and will continue growing well into frost. Selecting cool weather herbs is the secret to a winter garden.

Rosemary

This herb is a favorite for many beginning gardens. It is native to the Mediterranean area, which means it will survive in a wide range of temperatures. Some varieties of rosemary are better matched to the cold than other varieties, so it is important to look at the package’s description. While it can be grown from seed, most garden centers sell seedlings, and they are inexpensive. Keep in mind that Rosemary does not like to be waterlogged.

Thyme

Thyme has a minty and lemony flavor, and it grows well in cool weather and frequently parched soil. It is another favorite from Southern Europe. It tends to survive in cool weather, but it often prefers to be sheltered from excessive rain. Watering thyme infrequently results in a stronger flavor and better root growth. Thyme is ideal for growing in pots, which can be taken inside if the weather becomes too cold and wet.

Parsley

A relative of carrots, parsley tops can be stir friend and served fresh as a part of many meals. Parsley is popular no because of a strong flavor but for its refreshing taste in salads, soups and sandwiches. The deepest part of winter will kill the top of parsley, but the taproot survives and will bloom again next spring.

Sage

Sage is a popular herb that will survive into the middle of winter. It starts growing in early spring, and both the seedling and the mature green will tolerate some frost. When the weather turns very cold, it is simpler just to pick remaining sage and bring it inside to dry. Save is great for soups, and can be stir fried with meat and other vegetables.

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Resources

Haglund, Robin; Winter Herbs to Grow and Eat; fiskars; Accessed January 13, 2014

Growing Thyme; Bonnieplants; Accessed January 14, 2014

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Three Great Reasons to Give Blood

Three Great Reasons to Give Blood

It can be hard to find time in your busy modern life to give blood. However, there are many good reasons to give blood — and helping others is just the beginning.

Here are the three top reasons to attend the next blood drive near you.

1. The demand is high. Many people assume that hospitals have enough blood, but this is not the case in many areas. People do not just need blood for transfusions after trauma, but after childbirth, for cancer treatments and for a variety of other issues. When a hospital has a low supply of blood, they must prioritize use so that some patients who need blood for a non-emergency reason simply cannot have it. The need for a continuing supply in all blood types is higher than most people realize. The generosity of blood donors ensures that people get the medical care they need.

2. Donating blood may be good for your heart. Recent studies have found that people who donate blood on a regular basis have an 88% reduced risk of heart attack throughout their lifetime over those who do not donate blood. The cause is not conclusive at this time but is thought to be due to lower blood viscosity.

3. Donating blood may lower your risk of diabetes. Blood donors have been found to have a lower chance of developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome than non-donors. This is due to reduced iron stores. While anemia, or low blood iron, can be dangerous, high levels of iron in the blood is harmful as well. Many Americans unknowingly have more iron than they need, which could be enough to damage their endocrine system.

Giving blood is not just an act of generosity, but part of a healthy lifestyle. Consult your physician to find out if giving blood is a healthy choice for you.

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References

Houschyar, Khosrow et al; Effects of Phlebotomy-Induced Reduction of Body Iron Stores on Metabolic Syndrome; BMC Medicine; Accessed January 13, 2015

Salonen, Jukka et al; Donation of Blood Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Myocardial Infarction; American Journal of Epidemiology; accessed January 13, 2015

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The Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

The Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

If you’re looking to improve your health, one of the easiest ways to do so is to drink water with a squeeze of lemon. Water is essential to optimal health, and adding lemon can make water tastier and palatable. Lemon-infused water is a refreshing drink, far better for you than lattes or commercial vitamin water.

Lemons offer great health benefits in their little yellow package. They’re high in vitamins C and B, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and fiber. The vitamin C in lemons is a vital component for your immune system. It also aids in the repair and growth of your body’s tissues. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which works to help reduce free radical damage and inflammation.

When you are stressed, your vitamin C levels drop; adding lemon-water to your diet will assist in combating the underlying damage caused by stress. Lemon is also high in folate — a B vitamin, and potassium.

Adding a squeeze of lemon to your daily water has another health benefit: it can help remove toxins from your liver and digestive system. The citric acid in lemon juice helps to cleanse the liver, aids in producing digestive juices and helps clean out excess calcium from the kidneys and arteries. The juice of half a lemon in an eight ounce glass of water is recommended by some health professionals, however you may want to adjust the amount of lemon to your personal taste.

When your pH balance leans towards the acidic, disease may enter the picture. When your pH moves into alkaline territory, you may be healthier. Lemon’s citric acid makes this tart fruit one of the most alkaline foods you can consume. By eating alkaline foods, you’ll help your body maintain a healthy pH balance. Most fruits and vegetables are alkaline, while dairy, red meat and sugar tend to make the body more acidic.

Drinking adequate amounts of water is one of the cornerstones of good health. By adding a healthy squeeze of lemon, you’ll be giving your body a good nutritional boost and at the same time, helping to cleanse your system.

According to Huffington Post, It’s ideal to keep a pitcher of room temperature water and lemons on hand, and each morning, squeeze the juice from half a lemon (or a whole lemon if you’re over 150 pounds) into an 8 oz. cup of water. The website LifeHack, also suggests drinking lemon water first thing in the morning, and then waiting 15 to 30 minutes to have breakfast.

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References

Budzienski, Jaime; Benefits of Lemon Water; LiveStrong; accessed November 8, 2014

Kannall, Erica; What Are the Health Benefits of Drinking Lemon-Infused Water? SFGate; accessed November 8, 2014

Brady, Krissy; 11 Benefits of Lemon Water You Didn’t Know About; Lifehack; accessed November 8, 2014

Jensen, Linnea; 5 Amazing Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water; Mind Body Green; accessed November 8, 2014

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Great Houseplants for People Without A Green Thumb

Great Houseplants for People Without A Green Thumb

The houseplant has been a staple in homes for home decor and added health benefits. Many clean the air and some eliminate odors. Many are also notorious for their labor. However, not all houseplants require tedious watering routines to mimic tropical climates. A large variety of houseplants are available that require little care and will provide long-term benefits to their owner.

Succulents

Some of the most unusual and hardy plants are known as succulents. These plants range from the everlasting Jade plant with its shiny leaves and short stature to the beautiful buds of a Christmas cactus. These plants require very little water and actual prefer an arid environment. They enjoy filtered sunlight and can grow in colder indoor temperatures. They make excellent indoor plants in the winter months for cold climates.

Pothos

The Pothos plant is a great starter plant that requires little water and continues to grow in length. They enjoy indirect light and can grow in quite dry soil. These plants contain vines that extend over a foot outside the pot. This additional vining ability makes them an excellent choice for larger bathrooms or entryways. They are one of the houseplants that can also be propagated from a cutting.

Aloe Vera

The Aloe plant is an amazing plant with unique benefits. Its thin cylindrical leaves add texture and interest for home decor. The leaves contain chemicals that are beneficial to the skin. They help soothe burns and provide additional moisture during dry months. They do require well-drained soil and sunlight. However, the root ball takes quickly to soil and grow continuously during the warmer months. Most growers find this to be a cost-effective way of access to this health beneficial plant.

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References

Boyle, Erin; 9 Secrets to Growing Succulents Indoors; Gardenista; accessed Jan 12, 2015

Elias, Nina; 10 Things You Can Do with Aloe Vera; Prevention; accessed Jan 12, 2015

Trinklein, David; Caring for Houseplants; University of Missouri Extension; accessed Jan 12, 2015

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High-Sugar vs. Low-Sugar Beverages

High-Sugar vs. Low-Sugar Beverages

High-sugar drinks play a large role in the obesity epidemic seen in developed countries. These drinks are found everywhere from fast-food chains to school locker rooms. Although they are high in calories, they are not very satisfying, and drinking them may lead you to make poor dietary choices the rest of the day.

Some of the top offenders in the high-sugar category include:

Soda

Soda has made its way into the grain of American culture. Many people drink a liter or more each day, which may contribute to obesity and illness.

Sports Drinks

Often thought of as being healthful due to the added electrolytes, a 12-ounce sports drink actually contains around five teaspoons of added sugar.

Juice Cocktails

Not to be confused with their healthier cousins, juice cocktails typically contain up to 12 teaspoons of added sugar per 12 ounces and very little actual fruit juice.

People of any age can try replacing these sugary drinks with a few of the following more healthful options:

100% Fruit Juice

This juice contains natural rather than added sugars. Remember that it is still best to drink juice in moderation.

Flavored or Carbonated Waters

Flavored water is a great way to get fruity flavor without sugar; carbonated water will give you the fizzy fix you might be wanting.

Tea

Green tea and other teas are filled with antioxidants, and can be enjoyed hot or cold, making them excellent alternatives to sugary drinks.

Coffee

Coffee is another calorie-free option as long as it is consumed without lots of sugar or sweeteners.

Milk

Milk is rich in calcium and other minerals that are especially important for healthy growth in children.

Water

There is something to be said for the cool crispness of a glass of water. Those who are not used to this flavorless beverage can try adding a squirt of lemon or lime for a delicious, healthy twist.

Companion Article:
Low and High Calorie Cocktails and Drinks

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References

Rayski, Adrienne; 10 Soda Alternatives; Everyday Health; accessed September 24, 2014

How Sweet Is It?; Harvard School of Public Health; accessed September 24, 2014

Low Sugar Drinks for Kids; Healthy Families BC; accessed September 24, 2014

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Our Favorite Calorie Tracking Apps!

Our Favorite Calorie Tracking Apps

Staying on track with your weight loss goals has never been easier for those who are constantly on the go. These three mobile fitness apps make weight loss convenient and simple so you always know exactly where you are with your goals.

My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal is one of the most popular online fitness websites, and it its free iPhone app makes it even easier to track your fitness and keep up with your diet goals. You can set and record your daily caloric intake from any location, in order to help you stay on track. The app also allows you to log your exercise and food intake into your online MyFitnessPal.com account by syncing all changes made on your iPhone.

Diet Assistant

The free Diet Assistant weight loss app is available for iPhone and Android. It helps you resist temptation by allowing you to enter your target weight and have it design a meal plan for you. The app even works for specific diet types, such as low-carb or vegetarian. It finds foods to suit your specific tastes and creates a daily menu plus shopping lists.

SparkPeople

The free SparkPeople app, available for iPhone and Android, is much more than just a calorie counter. It not only tracks calories and food intake, but also includes a fitness log and access to articles, videos and recipes. They also have a Healthy Recipe app that features over 500,000 recipes from Spark Recipes. This app has an excellent search feature and displays the calorie and nutritional info. for the recipe. The app can also access their video demonstrations of cooking techniques and more.

Apps are available for any mobile phone to help you keep track of your calorie and weight loss goals. Before you have that slice of cake, check your app to see if you can afford those calories for the day or what you will have to do to burn them off. You can stay on track wherever you go with apps that are right in the palm of your hand.

Looking for vitamins, herbal supplements and other alternatives to help you keep a healthy balance in your life? Check out the thousands of products we sell at iHerb.com. Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get  you $10 off any first time order with a $40 minimum purchase or $5 off any first time order less than $40.

References

MyFitnessPal iPhone App; MyFitnessPal; accessed January 13, 2015

Wilson, Stephanie; The Best Weight Loss iPhone and Android Apps of the Year; Healthline; accessed January 13, 2015

Our Most Popular Apps; SparkPeople; accessed January 13, 2015

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Vegetarian Protein Sources

Vegetarian Protein Sources

Whether you have come to the vegetarian lifestyle out of your compassion for animals or for its proven health benefits, you may have questions. One common concern people new to a plant-based diet have is, “Hey! Where do I get protein now?” Knowing your plant-based protein sources will be helpful.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds provide protein, fats and other essential nutrients. Some of the best nuts and seeds are almonds, hemp seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds. They can be added to baked goods, tossed into salads and eaten plain.

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are versatile protein providers. Substitute kidney beans for meat in chili or make burgers from black beans. Include garbanzos (in hummus) or enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Peanuts are not nuts at all, but a type of legume.) Tofu can be prepared in many ways. It works well with marinades and absorbs the flavor of any dish it’s in. Soy products, such as tofu or tempeh, are also high protein sources.

Other Protein  Sources

Seitan is a chewy, vegetarian protein source made from wheat gluten. Certain whole grains, such as quinoa, wheat bran, oats, spelt, rye and wheat germ are also good sources of protein. Spirulina is a high-protein member of the algae family that can be added to recipes.

As a vegetarian, eating a varied diet is important so that you are sure to consume the nutrients your body needs. Enjoy the many plant-based sources of protein — from nuts to beans.

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References

Barnard, Tanya and Kramer, Sarah; How It All Vegan!; Arsenal Pulp Press; accessed October 8, 2014.

Pratt, Steven and Matthews, Kathy; SuperFoods Rx; HarperCollins; accessed October 8, 2014.

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Help for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) Pain!

Help for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) Pain!

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, commonly called TMJ, affects 28% of adults in the United States. Common symptoms of TMJ include:

  • tension and pain in the face and jaw
  • difficulty turning the head
  • neck pain and tension
  • toothaches
  • problems reading or working on a computer
  • headaches
  • problems yawning, chewing, or opening your mouth
  • ear pain
  • jaw popping and cracking
  • pain and stiffness in your mid-back

Causes and Treatment of TMJ

There are several possible causes of TMJ, with the most common being misaligned teeth and teeth clenching. While these two causes can usually be corrected, others such as trauma and degenerative disease may not be correctable.

While there are many conventional treatments for the pain caused by TMJ, there are also complementary and alternative treatments that do not have as many side effects.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy for TMJ pain includes doing exercises that help relax face and neck muscles, especially jaw muscles. You will be guided through a routine of exercises such as jaw stretches, which include moving your jaw back and forth, from side to side and up and down in sets repeated several times daily.

Chinese Medicine for TMJ

In traditional Chinese medicine, the jaw is connected to the stomach meridians. Acupuncture has been proven effective in relieving TMJ pain. Patients are often taught how to apply acupressure and self-massage techniques for pain relief.

Nutrition and Supplements

When TMJ pain strikes, eat only soft foods that do not require much chewing. Avoid inflammatory foods such as caffeine and saturated fats.

TMJ is a common ailment with many treatment methods. Natural treatment methods include physical therapy, acupuncture and acupressure. Certain nutritional supplements — such as B vitamins as well as vitamins C and E — may also help relieve TMJ pain.

Looking for vitamins, herbal supplements and other alternatives to help you keep a healthy balance in your life? Check out the thousands of products we sell at iHerb.com. Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get  you $10 off any first time order with a $40 minimum purchase or $5 off any first time order less than $40.

References

TMJ Pain and Physical Therapy; University of Georgia Health Center; accessed November 11, 2014

Treat TMJ With Oriental Medicine; Pacific College of Oriental Medicine; accessed November 11, 2014

Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD; Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction; University of Maryland Medical Center; accessed November 11, 2014

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Garlic Curry Chicken

Garlic Curry Chicken
Photo and Recipe from Kankana Saxena of the Playful Cooking Blog

Garlic Curry Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken, boneless or with bones
  • 15 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp.  turmeric powder
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 green chilies, slit in center
  • salt
  • oil

Instructions

  1. Grate 10 cloves of garlic and mix it with grated ginger, yogurt, turmeric and salt. Marinate chicken pieces with the mixture and let it rest for at least 5 hours. Keeping it overnight would make it more flavorful.
  2. Bring a wok or deep pan to medium heat. Add oil, green chili, bay leaves and rest of the garlic (smashed). Once the oil is infused, add onion and sauté until it turns slightly golden.
  3. Finally, add the marinated chicken and stir it to mix everything together. Allow it to cook at medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally in between.
  4. Taste for salt and add any, if required.
  5. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and serve with steamed rice or Indian flat bread.
  6. Optional: For gravy, feel free to add water while cooking chicken and adjust salt accordingly.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Garlic Curry Chicken
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb chicken, boneless or with bones
  • 15 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 green chilies, slit in center
  • salt
  • oil
Instructions
  1. Grate 10 cloves of garlic and mix it with grated ginger, yogurt, turmeric and salt. Marinate chicken pieces with the mixture and let it rest for at least 5 hours. Keeping it overnight would make it more flavorful.
  2. Bring a wok or deep pan to medium heat. Add oil, green chili, bay leaves and rest of the garlic (smashed). Once the oil is infused, add onion and sauté until it turns slightly golden.
  3. Finally, add the marinated chicken and stir it to mix everything together. Allow it to cook at medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally in between.
  4. Taste for salt and add any, if required.
  5. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and serve with steamed rice or Indian flat bread.
  6. Optional: For gravy, feel free to add water while cooking chicken and adjust salt accordingly.

 iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Rewards Code WOW123 to get $10 off your first order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off orders less than $40.

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How to Extend the Life of Your Produce

How to Extend the Life of Your Produce

One of the best ways to get ample nutrients from the foods we eat is to choose fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of these foods do not have long shelf lives and will quickly spoil if they are not kept in the refrigerator. On the other hand, some fruits and vegetables will develop bad flavors or develop a poor texture if they are kept in the refrigerator. For example, tomatoes can become soft and mealy if they are kept in the crisper.

Other produce that should be kept in a bowl on the counter, rather than the refrigerator, include winter squash, citrus fruits, bananas, cucumbers and peppers.

Storage Tips for Longer Life:

Asparagus

Asparagus should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped completely in a paper towel to prevent too much moisture, or placed in a glass of water with a paper towel wrapped around the tops. The stalks taste best when eaten after only a couple of days.

Berries

All berries will spoil quickly if not refrigerated. The softest berries, such as raspberries and blackberries, should be washed and dried thoroughly before being stored in a single layer.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms stay best when kept in a paper bag in the refrigerator. They will quickly spoil once they are washed; therefore, individuals should only wash mushrooms immediately before using them.

Some Ripened Fruits

Peaches, pears, nectarines and plums should be placed in the refrigerator after they have ripened completely in order to prevent them from rotting.

Lettuce

Lettuce should also be refrigerated only when dry. If pre-washing lettuce, one must be careful to dry it thoroughly with paper towels before refrigeration.

Herbs

All herbs except basil need refrigeration. Many types, such as rosemary and thyme, can be placed upright in a glass of water similar to a vase of flowers.

Vidalia Onions

Surprisingly, these delicious onions should also be stored in the refrigerator. Each should be wrapped in a paper towel to protect them from dehydration.

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Rewards Code WOW123 to get $10 off your first order with a minimum $40 purchase or $5 off orders less than $40.

References

Storing Fruits and Vegetables; Food Network; accessed November 13, 2014

Barnes, Liza; How to Keep Fruits and Veggies Fresh; SparkPeople; accessed November 13, 2014

Guide to Storing Fruit: Where to Keep Fruit; Still Tasty; accessed November 13, 2014

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