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The End

The past week was fascinating in that the messages across the nation were one of two themes--receiving counsel or end times. Pastor Lon Solomon just finished his series of summarizing the bible and concluding of course with "Jesus WINS" in his revelation synopsis. Pastor Tory Dobbs of Grace Church spoke the last three weeks on The End Times--preparation is the key, are you ready, and end times signs.  Pastor John Crosby of Christ Presbyterian Church spoke on Rehoboam's bad council noting that the decisions we make on a daily basis make us who we are. Pastor Bill Bohline of Hosanna Church used the identical reference using the number of decisions we make in a day (70), year (20550), and lifetime  (70 years 1788500) to say how it will "shape your life and direct your life and develop your character." Jim Cymbala spoke of Paul's stand for Jesus always and everywhere.  Tom Anthony of Oak Hills Church spoke of the "and" of Acts 2:46 referencing fellowship and advice/counsel/evangelism in the Church and in the community.
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Do not be a Nabal

  Back track to the single best Father's day sermon (condensed) by Mike Bartolomeo
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Ready to leave the wilderness

Summary of last Sunday sermons from many--to include Pope Francis, John Crosby, Max Lucado, John MacArthur, Kay Arthur, John March of New City Church, Lord of Life Luthern, Mike Bartolomeo Church for the Harvest (Stay tuned for his Father's Day sermon--truly the best of Father's day sermons I have heard) Lon Solomon--Max Lucado and Lon Solomon delivered truly extraordinary sermons
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Anti-Diotrephes

Summary of last Sunday sermons from Pope Francis, John Crosby, Max Lucado, John MacArthur, Kay Arthur    
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"Like the Palm"

"The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon." Psalm 92:12

I’ve been considering this verse for the last couple of months. What does it mean to flourish and what’s so special about the palm tree? Strong’s bible dictionary defines flourish as “to bud, sprout, shoot, bloom.”  So to put it in people terms that would be like “growing, transforming, standing upright in character, and producing “fruit” (attributes and products of value to give to the world around us).  The righteous1 are supposed to do this like the palm tree.  Listed below are some features of the palm tree and some verses that we can emulate.  At the end, I’ll share some of my new favorite recipes from one of my favorite members of the palm family, the coconut.

The references to the palm tree occur many places in the Bible.  The first occurrence is in Exodus 15:27 describing Elim, the oasis with seventy palm trees and twelve springs of water.  One palm tree for each of the seventy elders and one spring of water for each tribe of Israel.2  Bishop K. C. Pillai, an acclaimed authority on the Eastern Culture of the Bible, teaches that there are four types of palm trees that grow in the bible regions: the coconut palm, the date palm, the plantain or banana palm, and the palm tree of the scriptures which is described below as having the following attributes.3

  •  Uprightness. The palm tree stretches itself straight and tall into the air (up to 80 or 90 ft). It is stately, strong, and upright, not crooked. People would come to Deborah, the first female judge of Israel, under the palm tree for righteous judgement. (Psalm 19:13, Psalm 37:37, Psalm 97:11, Psalm 112:2-4, Proverbs 11:6, Proverb 16:17)
  • Strength and Power. Palm trees flourish in harsh environments where the choking sand surrounds it and the burning heat scorches it. Their root systems are so secure that they can withstand severe storms, even monsoons without being uprooted. They are flexible and bend, but do not break. Because of this quality, the palm branches were carried as symbolic tokens of victory for celebrations or to honor people of importance. (Acts 1:8, Ephesians 3:17 & 6:13, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Romans 8:36-37) 
  • Fruitfulness. The palm tree bears fruit that can be used for sustenance through all seasons. Not only is the fruit useful, but all parts of the tree are valuable to meet many needs. A recent study reports 360 uses of the coconut palm, in particular, half of which are for food. The fruit and roots have medicinal virtues. The leaves make a variety of articles for domestic use (baskets, clothes, etc.) The fibers of the boughs are used to manufacture thread, ropes, and rigging. The sap can be used to make sugar, liquor and vinegar.  And the trunk is excellent wood for building or fuel. (Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 1:5-8, Titus 3:14) 
  • Guidance. Palm trees in the desert are a sign of the presence of water (Exodus. 15:27). They are a guide to survival for those in a weary land. (Proverbs 11:3 & 23:19, Isaiah 58:11, John 16:13, Acts 8:31, 1 Timothy 5:14)
  • Permanence. Palm trees can survive and produce fruit for many, many years.  They are known to commonly live past 100 years. They were used in decoration throughout the temple of God during the Old Testament (a copy of the heavenly design revealed in Ezekiel 40) as an emblem of the beauty and perseverance of the people of God. (Psalm 92:13-14 & 112:5-6, Proverb 10:25, Isaiah 60:21, John 5:24)

 

Though not the palm tree that was frequently referred to in the bible, the coconut palm has many merits as well.  The oldest fossils of coconuts have been found in India, dating back to the 1st century B.C..  So, it could have been an available food at the time through trade, though not specifically mentioned.  Those of us today living in the Northern Hemisphere are very fortunate to have access to this amazing food even though it only grows in tropical regions.

There are two food products in particular that are made from the coconut that are credited by many as being instrumental in reversing two of the most disturbing disease conditions in our society that pharmaceuticals haven’t been able to help, Autism and Alzheimer's. You don’t have to have a disease, though, to benefit from the healing power of these foods.  The first is coconut water kefir and the second is coconut oil.

Coconut Water Kefir

young coconutsThe clear liquid inside young coconuts is loaded with minerals and is sooo delicious and refreshing.  It is so pure and sterile that in World War II both American and Japanese doctors found that in emergencies they could use the coconut water in place of sterile glucose for I.V. solutions.  The water contains about 2 T of natural sugars (about 50% glucose, 35 % sucrose and 15% fructose).4  For an average healthy person this is fine to drink occasionally, but for those suffering with illness particularly yeast related, like autism, sugars of any kind can aggravate the condition.  When this water is fermented using probiotic cultures, the sugars are consumed and the resulting drink becomes even more healthful. I have attached a video for making this wonderful drink yourself.

You can drink it as it is (tart, refreshing and effervescent) or flavor it with a little juice or stevia.  It is the perfect rehydration or sports drink.  I know what your thinking...“Isn’t this expensive?”  Well, yes, if you’re buying individual coconuts at your local co-op. But, if you have an asian market near by, you can usually get them for at least half the price if not less, especially by the case.  And, because the turn over is faster, they are often times fresher.  So it’s more expensive that soda, but cheaper than beer.  I’m gonna tell you another secret...you don’thave to use the expensive culture powder shown in this video.  You can use milk kefir or water kefir grains that are often shared for free among many health food communities.  They will continue to replicate and last indefinitely as long as you feed them often enough. Because this drink is so helpful for a number of conditions, a popular brand of coco kefir is now selling in the stores for 5 times the cost of making it yourself at home.  Here are just a few of it’s benefits.

        • coconut waterPromotes healthy intestinal flora. 
        • Reduces sugar cravings. 
        • Contains important nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, and manganese. 
        • Cleanses the liver and intestines
        • Clears your skin for a healthy complexion
        • Increases energy and overall feeling of well-being. 

 

Coconut Oil

The oil is made from the dried coconut meat and has amazing anti-fungal/viral/bacterial properties in addition to tasting delicious and nourishing your brain and body.  Coconut oil is so versatile.  I use it in everything - sauteeing meat and veggies, baking, homemade nut butter, chocolate/carob frozen treats, moisturizer for my skin and hair and more.  Of all the plant based oils, it is the healthiest to cook with since its saturated fat content keeps it stable at average cooking temperatures preventing the production of free radicals.  Here are just some of the benefits touted by popular natural health advocate, Dr. Mercola:

        • Promotes your heart health open coconut
        • Promotes weight loss, when needed
        • Supports your immune system health
        • Supports a healthy metabolism
        • Provides you with an immediate energy source
        • Keeps your skin healthy and youthful looking
        • Supports the proper functioning of your thyroid gland

 

For more, check out the rest of his article “This Cooking Oil is a Powerful Virus-Destroyer and Antibiotic…”  Also be sure to watch this video of a doctor who recovered her husband from alzheimer's simply by adding coconut oil to his food throughout the day.

Another one of my favorite coconut foods is coconut milk.  Now, if you’ve never made fresh coconut milk for yourself, you simply must, at least once.  It is the most delicious decadent thing I have ever tasted. But, finding a fresh brown mature coconut is difficult and breaking it open to cut out the meat even more so.  The whole process is quite tedious and time consuming.  So, for most of us, not realistic to do on a regular basis.  However, if your lucky enough to have an asian market close to you, you can sometimes find just plain frozen grated coconut meat with no preservatives.  In that case, you can just blend it in a blender with enough water to cover and strain out the fiber.  Then you have almost fresh coconut milk for less than the cost of canned and without the BPA and preservatives that are commonly found in canned goods.  Just don’t throw the pulp away.  If you’ve read my last post, you know how I don’t like to waste anything.  Well, if you dehydrate the remaining coconut fiber, you can make coconut flour to be used in baked goods or as a coating for pan-fried fish or chicken.  I made fried chicken livers with a seasoned coconut flour coating for breakfast a couple weeks ago, and believe it or not, it is now one of my family’s most requested breakfast items.  Here’s a great link for that recipe.

And last, but definitely not least, is the wonderful alternative mineral rich palm sugar that has recently become available in natural food stores.  It is made from the sap of the cut palm flowers.  I often use a mixture of this delicious sugar and stevia to make yummy sweet, but low glycemic, desserts for my family which they very much appreciate.  Here’s a link for more info on palm sugar.  

I could go on forever about how great coconuts are, but I promise I’ll only share one more cool tidbit.  After all the food products are removed from the coconut, the shells that remain are also very valuable.  They are ground and used to make filtering media for some of the most effective water and air purifications systems available.  This is just a highlight of a few of the benefits of just one member of the palm family.  As you can tell I really like coconut.  But, if you don’t, that’s ok, because whether you eat coconut of not, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you can still “flourish like the palm.”

1  According to the Bible, the righteous are not just those that always do good and live according to a law, but those who believe in Jesus Christ.  Romans 3:21-22 says, "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe..."
 
2 Thru, Erling. "The Palm Tree in the Bible." Erling Thru.  16 Mar 2009. 3 Jul 2012 <http://erling.typepad.com/erling_thu/2009/03/the-palm-tree-in-the-bible.html>.
 
3McChesney, Yvonne. "The Palm Tree of the Holy Lands."   Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver.  1 Jan 2012. 3 Jul 2012 <http://www.picturesofsilver.com/orientalisms/palm_tree_of_the_holy_lands.htm>.
 
4 "Biochemical Profile of Coconut Water from Coconut Palms Planted in an Inland Region." Society of Brazilian Pediatrics: 2006. 2 Jul 2012 <http://www.scielo.br/pdf/jped/v82n4/en_v82n4a14.pdf>
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How to Get Cheap Clean Fish

Fish was and still is a common food in the bible lands, one that Jesus ate with his disciples on numerous ocassions, even in his resurrected body.  It was the main course of the meal that Jesus miraculously multiplied to feed thousands of people on two occasions.  He even refered to it as a “good gift” to give your children when they ask for something to eat.  (Matthew 7:10-11)

Sadly, though, it is an unforetunate fact that our waters, particularly lakes and rivers, are becoming more and more polluted and so is our fish supply.  I grew up on river fish that my Dad would catch fresh for our family and I remember loving it.  We even used to eat the catfish (not in the category of clean fish described in the Bible) which are bottom feeders and scavengers.  I remember we stopped that when an article had come out about how drug dealers had dumped their drugs in the Potomac River to avoid being caught and then the drugs started showing up in the catfish...yikes. 

The bummer of it all is that fish is such an excellent brain food.  It is a great source of easily digestible protien, minerals (notably iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus), vitamins (especially A and D), and omega-3 essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA).  Also, fish has been shown to be an important part of the diet of many long-lived peoples around the world.  However, because of polluted waters, many fish are contaminated with dangerous levels of mercury, lead, PCBs, BPA and other contaminants.  Even before chemical pollution was a problem, God gave His chosen people dietary guidelines about what seafoods were good to eat. 

Deuteronomy 14:9-10:
These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat. And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.

Today, scientists have discovered that fish with fins and scales have digestive systems that reduce the absorption of poisons and toxins from their enviornment into their flesh.  The safest fish for consumption are wild caught deep sea fish with fins and scales.  If you know the water quality of a fresh water source near you is good (by testing), then by all means enjoy fresh caught fish from it.  For those who don’t have access to good fishing sites, I have compiled a list of commonly available ocean fish that are biblically specified “clean” and shown to have low or moderate amounts of mercury.

Lowest Levels of Mercury

(Recommended 2-3 servings per week
or no more than 2 for pregnant
women and children
)

Moderate Levels of Mercury

(Recommended no more than 6 servings
per month or 3 orless for
pregnant women and children)

Anchovies
Butterfish
Croaker (Atlantic)
Flounder
Haddock (Atlantic)
Hake
Herring
Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
Mullet
Perch (Ocean)
Pollock
Salmon
Sardine
Shad (American)
Sole/Turbot (Pacific)
Whitefish
Whiting

Bass (Striped, Black)
Carp
Cod (Alaskan)
Croaker (White Pacific)
Halibut (Atlantic)
Halibut (Pacific)
Jacksmelt (Silverside)
Mahi Mahi
Sablefish
Sea Trout (Weakfish)
Snapper
Tuna (Canned Chunk Light)
Tuna (Skipjack)

 

If you’re land locked like me, finding good quality fish is very difficult.  Most fish available in the store is farm raised (like Talapia).  Farm raised fish are commonly fed unnatural diets of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and are notoriously contaminated with antibiotics, unnatural hormones and synthetic dyes.  There are only two seafood markets in my area that fly in fresh ocean fish.  When I went to check out what they sold I had sticker shock!  Almost nothing was less that $15.99/lb (most were over $20) and that included the farm raised fish.

So what’s a single income family of five (all boys I might add) to do?  Well, we could just not eat fish OR you can eat the scraps:)  What?  Eat the scraps?  Yes.  I bought 5 pounds of halibut carcase (fins, bones and head) for only $1.30/lb (some places will just give it to you for free).  Then, I put half of it in my large crockpot with onions, wine and herbs and the other in my freezer for another meal.  I was able to pick out enough tender peices of fish after simmering the stock overnight to make an entire meal the next day with extra stock reserved in the freezer for future use.  Fish stock is amazingly healthful and loaded with minerals (like iodine) in which many people are deficient.  Many recommend supplementing with seaweed to get these ocean minerals, but the problem of pollution is the same with seaweed, except that they are more vunerable to contamination because they don’t have detoxification systems like fish.

Just to warn you, your whole house will smell like fish when you make the stock.  So maybe wait for a day when you can air the house out if that bothers you.  Amazingly, once the stock is boiled down it rarely has a fishy flavor.  In fact, it can be used to cook grains like quinoa or rice with almost no discernable impact to its flavor if you use them in a salad or with other herbs.  It’s an easy, inexpensive and resourceful way to get minerals like iodine, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus, fat soluable vitamins A and D, and omega 3 fatty acids into your diet.

Look at all the fish I got off of just half a halibut carcase.  Then I added lots of veggies and some dressing to make fish salad.  My boys enjoyed wrapping thier “tacos” in iceberg lettuce leaves.  It was delicious!  So many times I have bought frozen fish only to be greatly disappointed by its rubbery texture and strong fishy flavor.

But this fish was mild, buttery and tender, just like I remember fresh fish growing up.  Still concerned about mercury?  If you read my last post you’ll remember that cilantro is a potent mercury detoxifier and it just so happens that it tastes wonderful with fish.  Amazing, huh?  Maybe God designed it that way:)

Here’s the Quick and Easy Halibut Salad recipe I used from Healing Naturally by Bee (www.healingnaturallybybee.com/recipes) © Copyright 2004 Susan Vanamburgh-Garth (www.thenaturalkitchen@yahoo.com).  This recipe is so simple. It takes only 15 minutes to prepare! Serves 2 as a main salad entree, or 4 as an appetizer.

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh Alaskan halibut, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups tomatoes (a colorful assortment of yellow, red, and orange), diced
1/4 cup sweet red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 or 3 limes (about 1/3 cup)  (*I only used 1 lime)
1 teaspoon ocean sea salt
cracked black pepper, optional
1 jalapeno pepper, optional
extra virgin olive oil, optional
1 avocado, diced or sliced, optional
butter lettuce leaves, optional

Preparation:
Heat 1 inch of non-chlorinated water in a medium pot with a lid.  Add a little sea salt to the water once it is boiling and gently add fish.  Turn heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove fish from water with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate. Put the plate into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, until fish is slightly chilled.  While fish is chilling, put onions, sea salt and lime juice in a non-metal mixing bowl, and let the onions soak in lime juice a few minutes. Gently toss fish pieces into the lime juice mixture.  They will fall apart somewhat, but don't worry about that.  It will still be beautiful and yummy! Add the tomatoes and cilantro, and gently combine. Arrange butter lettuce leaves on plates, and divide the fish mixture evenly among the plates. Drizzle any remaining juices from the bowl over the salads.

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Raw Crackers: The New Unleavened Bread

Maybe it's because I'm on a tight budget or maybe I’m just wired this way because it's in my genes, but I can’t bear to throw away food.  I can still hear my Grandmother’s voice, in her real southern accent, when working in my kitchen.  “Waste not, want not, Mandy.”  My mother also was known as the “Queen of Leftovers”, but I think I have her trumped.  Little bits of veggies and peels and leftover bones from a roast I throw in the freezer till I can make a pot of stock.  Then when the bones are soo soft they disinegrate I even blend them up into soups (hey, it's a cheap mineral supplement...just don’t tell my kids).  The ends of bread that nobody wants I grind into crumbs and stick in the freezer for future use.  I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I use something that most people would throw away and turn it into something healthy and delicious.  

This is one reason I like to make crackers, because I can put things that I wouldn’t eat alone in them and they still taste great.  The other reason is that most store-bought crackers are made with high gluten modern wheat, refined sugars and genetically modified oils.  The ones that don't contain any of those things taste like cardboard and cost twice as much.  So here are a few of my favorite raw cracker recipes that use pulp from juicing and making nut milk.  You’ll be surprised how good they are.  They are a wonderful healthy high-fiber snack that my kids are as excited about as they are chips.  And most of these recipes are good for a variety of nutritional healing programs like the Body Ecology, GAPS, Gluten Free/Dairy Free, Paleo and Candida/Yeast Free diets.

Almond Crackers
1 cup firmly packed fresh raw almond pulp
2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or coconut oil or palm oil)
2 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped or 1 T dried
½ teaspoon sea salt (I prefer celtic or pink himalyan)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Roll dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper until ¼ inch thick. Remove top piece of parchment paper and score with a pizza cutter to make 2 inch sqaure crackers. Transfer by sliding parchment paper with rolled dough onto baking sheet or dehydrator tray. Dry on the living foods setting of a dehydrator (110-115 degrees) or lowest oven setting until crisp (usually about 24 hours). Makes about 20 crackers.  Let crackers come to room temperature on baking sheet, then serve or store in an air tight container in the fridge.  They will last a couple weeks in there.

Pumpkin Seed Italian Crackers
1 cup pumpkin seeds (soaked overnight and drained)
1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds (soaked overnight and drained)
2 cups vegetable pulp from juicing cucumbers and fennel
1/4 cup flaxseed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 handful of fresh parsley chopped
1 T dried italian seasoning
2 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth (a few little chunks left makes for nice texture).  Roll and dry according to the same instructions in the above recipe.  Makes about 40 crackers.

Sprouted Buckwheat Curry Crackers
6 cups sprouted buckwheat (start with 2 1/2 to 3 cups hulled buckwheat groats and then sprout for three days)
4 cups soaked sunflower seeds (start these the night before you make them on the last day of buckwheat sprouting or else they’ll turn brown)
2 carrots or 1 cup carrot pulp from juicing
2 zuchini
1 red pepper
1 1/2 T sea salt
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 T onion powder
2 T curry powder
1/4 cup chia seed
1/4 cup coconut oil

Blend the carrot, zuchini, red pepper and spices in a blender till smooth.  Then blend in the sprouts and seeds until smooth. (A little chunkiness adds some nice texture if you like.) Roll and dry according to the same instructions in the above recipe.  Makes about 100 crackers.

These crackers differ from traditional lavash or unleavened bread (made without yeast) in that they are grain free.  For those who are not sensitive to gluten, grain flours can be substituted for nuts in these recipes, but it is recommended that they be cooked in an oven at 350 degrees till crisp.  Alternatively, whole grains (wheat, kamut, spelt, barley or rye) can be sprouted, ground to a paste and then dehydrated like Essene bread (the bread made by the sect that many believe is responsible for preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls).  For more information about bread in the Bible you can read the chapter on bread in my ebook  "Food in the Bible".  Here's a good video on making sprouted crackers if you want a little more instruction on soaking and sprouting nuts and grains: Making Sprouted Crackers.  I find the parchment paper technique to be the easiest and cleanest method.  It is inexpensive and you can get it at most grocery stores next to the plastic wrap.  I made a little video to show you how it works.

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Bark Up The Right Tree

“And God said, Behold, I have given you...every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”     Genesis 1:29 (KJV)

Modern man has really lost touch with his environment and is suffering dearly for it. Just as so many are still blind to the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, many are also ignorant of the gifts God has given us in nature to sustain our bodies. If you think about all the trees that bear fruit with seed in it, most people only include a very few in their regular diets. And most of those have been so hybridized that they no longer actually even yield viable seed (e.g. oranges, grapes, bananas, kiwis, apples). But there are 1,000s more with gifts to give that researchers are still discovering to this day. One such tree that is the highlight of this post is the Pau D’ Arco tree.

Pau D’Arco is a beautiful tree with magenta blossoms that has been used medicinally in South America to treat cancer and other diseases. Research has found it to contain compounds that have potent anti-fungal properties (even better that common prescription anti-fungal drugs) in laboratory studies. The anti-fungal properties of the herb are so strong, that its bark never molds or mildews after being cut down. Other compounds in the bark are believed to fight bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, and they may also have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes pau d’arco a beneficial treatment for individuals suffering from wounds and infections of all kinds. Pau d’arco works as a blood purifier and blood builder. The herb is often used as an immune system enhancer for treating colds, flu, herpes, yeast infections, vaginitis, candida, boils, ringworm and hepatitis, and to eradicate allergies, asthma, dermatitis and eczema caused by environmental factors. In his book “The Little Herb Encyclopedia,” Jack Ritchason claims that pau d’arco reduces tumors of all kinds by dissolving them. Other medicinal benefits of pau d’arco include reducing insulin dependence in diabetic patients, relieving arthritis pain and the pain associated with cancer, and treating gastritis and peptic ulcers. It is a liver protector and may help neutralize poisons that infiltrate the liver. 1

With a benefits list like that who wouldn’t want to incorporate this powerhouse herb into their diet? Are you dealing with allergies, fighting a yeast/fungal infection, struggling with diabetes or even cancer? Do you really crave a creamy sweet coffee drink, but know that it doesn’t support your health needs? Well, I’d like to present to you the delicious, nutritious, fungus fighting Pau D’Arco Chai Latte. This is an excellent alternative to coffee and regular black tea drinks that have caffeine which is addictive and stresses the body as well as often being loaded with sugar. I’m very excited to share this featured recipe with you. The inspiration for this drink came from my Sister-in-Law, Riley (you can see her other delicious recipes at www.mostlyrawmom.com). I took her basic idea and souped it up. Since most of this recipe comes from a tree, I have decided to call it the “Chai ‘Tree’ Latte”.

Chai “Tree” Latte

2 T pau d’arco bark
1 cinnamon stick
3 red rooibos chai tea bags
1 quart filtered water
1 1/2 cups raw almonds (soaked overnight in water to cover)
1 tsp slippery elm bark powder
1 tsp vanilla (powder or extract)
3 T coconut oil or coconut cream
2 pinch stevia powder or drops liquid extract
1 pinch of sea salt

Put the pau d’arco and cinnamon stick into a non-reactive saucepan with a little over a quart of water. If you like your tea really spicy add in a few cloves and peppercorns, too. Bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 20 min. Turn off the heat and add the rooibos tea bags to steep for 10 min. Allow to cool. Strain almonds and put them in the blender with the strained tea liquid. Blend on high until well blended and then strain through a nut milk bag or fine strainer. Pour the flavored milk back in the blender and add the coconut oil, slippery elm, vanilla, stevia and sea salt. Then blend till frothy. Add ice or re-warm to your liking. This recipe makes 1 quart which will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days or it can be frozen in ice cube trays to blend into a frappachino another time.  I did the math and this recipe costs approximately $3.75/quart with all organic ingredients. So you're getting 3 coffee shop lattes for the price of one without paying the price with your health.

To simplify this recipe, you could use any milk of your choosing (pre-made nut milk, coconut milk, or dairy milk and/or cream). Be aware though that most store bought nut milks are laden with sugar and harmful oils. As far as dairy goes, I’m a fan of raw cow and goat milk from healthy grass-fed animals. However, since most people who would want to make this drink will probably do so for medicinal purposes, dairy could aggravate the ailments for which this recipe was intended.

There are two other complimentary herbal tree barks in this recipe, cinnamon and slippery elm, which add flavor and additional healing properties. Cinnamon kills bacteria and yeasts that cause stomach ulcers and urinary-tract infections, and even helps the body regulate blood sugar. A few years ago, it was discovered that just the smell of cinnamon could improve cognitive function.2  Slippery Elm, which acts as an emulsifier in this recipe, is a mucilaginous herb also helps absorb toxins in the bowel. In fact, slippery elm bark powder is very soothing to the entire digestive system. It coats, relaxes, and heals all inflamed tissues including irritated mucous membranes of the stomach, bowels, and kidneys. For this reason it is especially useful for treating diarrhea and bowel weakness. Since the herb is slightly sweet, it is a great nourishing food for sick children.3

My kids really like this drink and always ask for more. I agree with Mary Poppins that medicine should taste good...except just without the sugar. And that’s another highlight of this recipe...it’s sugar free. Instead it uses the herbal sweetener stevia which does not affect blood sugar or feed yeast and bacterial infections. The rooibos tea, rich in antioxidants, also has a hint of sweetness and confers the benefits of calming the digestive tract, reducing nervous tension, enhancing immune response, and balancing blood sugar and blood fats.4  Last but not least, coconut oil gives this tea its delicious creaminess while at the same time providing enormous health benefits like optimizing healthy body weight, fighting viral, fungal and bacterial infections, and protecting against Alzheimer's and heart disease.5

If you decide to drink this regularly for it’s anti-fungal effects, many sources recommend to discontinue use for one week out of every three and rotate with the use of other anti-fungal herbs to prevent candida yeasts from developing resistance to herbal medicines. It is advised that you consult a health professional knowledgeable in herbal medicine before taking any herbal supplement, especially if you are currently taking prescription drugs or suffer from serious illness.

P.S. If you’re wondering what to do with the left over almond pulp, check out my next post for a delicious cracker recipe.

* Opening photo by Irene Nobrega.

1 Pau D’Arco Herb Benefits and Uses.  The Modern Herbal: Healing With Herbs, Essential Oils, Home Remedies and Alternative Medicine. 28 May 2012 <http://themodernherbal.com/2010/06/pau-darco-herb-benefits-and-uses/>.

2 Eifrig, David Jr.. “Can Spices Improve Your Brain Power?” Bulk Herb Store. 16 May 2012 <http://www.bulkherbstore.com/Cinnamon-Sticks-Whole_Organic>.

3 Herbs: Slippery Elm Bark Powder.  Bulk Herb Store.  28 May 2012 <http://www.bulkherbstore.com/Slippery-Elm-Bark-Powder?s=slippery%20elm>.

4 Mulder.  “Rooibos The Miracle Tea.”  Hub Pages. 28 May 2012 <http://mulder.hubpages.com/hub/Rooibos-The-Miracle-tea>.

5 Mercola, Joseph.  “This Cooking Oil is a Powerful Virus-Destroyer and Antibiotic…”  Mercola.com Take Control of Your Health. 22 Oct 2010. 28 May 2012 <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/22/coconut-oil-and-saturated-fats-can-make-you-healthy.aspx>.

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Precious Pesto

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth...to you it shall be for meat.”
Genesis 1:29 (KJV)

Pesto is such a wonderful way to enjoy the taste of spring.  It is so versatile and can be incorporated into a wide variety of meals with meats, fish, eggs, chips, pasta, vegetables, crackers, bread, soups, mashed potatoes or mixed in with avocado for a dip.  Most people are familiar with the delicious basil pesto that Italians put on pasta.  But, did you know that you can make pesto out of any combination of herbs and spices?  In an effort to expand the quantity and variety of herbs in my diet, I have compiled a variety of unusual pesto recipes.

Surprisingly, some of the edible greens which have the highest nutritional profiles are actually considered “weeds”.  Unfortunately, a great deal of money is spent (as well as toxic chemicals sprayed) to eradicate them when we could just eat them.  The recipes that follow contain just a few of the “herbs bearing seed which are upon the face of the earth.”  Hopefully, you can relax about fighting them in your yard and start feeding them to your family instead.  Just make sure these plants are growing in an area not near a road that hasn’t been sprayed with any pesticides or pooped on by a pet.1

Last fall I identified some common edible weeds in various places in my yard and when they went to seed, I gathered them and sprinkled them right in a garden bed that I didn’t want to plant this year.  Now I have a no effort crop of these tasty edible “weeds” right at my fingertips.  For those of you reading who are not as brave or just too busy to explore your yard for potential food, the first recipe I share uses common cilantro that’s usually well stocked on grocery store shelves.

This recipe is near and dear to my heart, since I have been using it medicinally on my son that has recently tested high for mercury.  At the same time we became aware of lead paint hazards in our home (built in the 1930's) that he was playing near and his doctor suspected had become a toxic exposure for him.  Heavy metal poisoning can cause hormonal imbalances, cancer, thyroid problems, neurological disturbances, learning problems, depression, food allergies, parasites and skin problems.  My sweet, tender-hearted little boy started to become very moody, easily upset and experienced digestive issues, trouble with learning and poor memory.  If you are dealing with behavioral issues with your child, despite a loving home and practicing biblical training, you should consider heavy metal toxicity (particularly mercury and lead) to be a possible significant factor.  Studies have shown a significant link between elevated blood lead levels in children and future crime arrests. (www.naturalnews.com)

Luckily, cilantro, or chinese parsley, is a potent metal detoxifier.  It can help with the excretion of mercury, lead, and aluminum from even the central nervous sytem in the body.  Combined with the benefits of the other ingredients in the following recipe, this delicious food is a powerful tissue cleanser.  The suggested dose of 2-3 teaspoons a day for two weeks is purportedly enough to increase the urinary excretion of mercury, lead, and aluminum, thus effectively removing these toxic metals from our bodies.  Now that’s some good medicine.  Thankfully, my son is doing much better since we started giving him cilantro and some other natural supplements.

Cilantro Pesto

2 cups fresh cilantro including stems (vitamin A)
2/3 cup flaxseed oil (sold in dark refrigerated bottle)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup almonds or cashews
1/2 cup Brazil nuts (selenium)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (cysteine)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (zinc, magnesium)
4 tablespoons lemon juice (vitamin C)

2 tsp nutritional yeast (for dairy free option) or 1/2 cup parmesean cheese
2 tsp dulse or seaweed (like kelp)
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp algae (like broken cell chlorella)
Sea salt to taste

Cilantro PestoPulse the cilantro and flaxseed oil in a blender or food processor for 1 minute.  Add the garlic, nuts and seeds, dulse, algae and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste.  Add a pinch of sea salt to taste and blend again.  Store in dark glass jars if possible.  It freezes well, so you can purchase cilantro in season and fill enough jars to last through the year.  (naturalfarmacy.com)

 

Chickweed Pesto

Chickweed is high in vitamin C, calcium, and iron as well as many other important minerals.  It is also very nourishing for the lungs.  Eating chickweed thins the membranes of your cells so that nutrients are more readily absorbed and utilized.  Chickweed can also be used topically for skin eruptions, hemorrhoids, cuts, wounds, burns, etc.. (www.learningherbs.com)

Ingredients:
2 packed cups chopped fresh chickweed
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
3 Tablespoons of pine nuts or sunflower seeds
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. salt

Process in a blender or food processor as described above in the cilantro pesto recipe.

Purslane Pesto

Purslane was reportedly Gahndi’s favorite food.  It looks a lot like a succulent houseplant but generally is classified as a weed.  Purslane's thick leaves taste pleasantly grassy and slightly bitter.  Purslane has more beta-carotene than spinach, alpha linolenic acid (a type of omega-3 fatty acid) as well as high levels of magnesium and potassium.  Historically it has been used as a remedy for arthritis and inflammation by European cultures and in respiratory and circulatory function by Chinese herbalists. (chubbyvegetarian.blogspot.com)

Ingredients:
1 bunch of purslane, stems removed
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup walnuts
juice from half a lemon
2 tsp. honey
sea salt and pepper to taste

Process in a blender or food processor as described above in the cilantro pesto recipe.

Lambsquarter Pesto

Lambsquarter is also known as wild spinach, goosefoot or pigweed.  It tastes like spinach but is even more nutritious.  It is a good source of niacin, folate, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, Thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. (nutritiondata.self.com)

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh lambsquarters leaves (stems removed)
2 cups fresh basil or wild arugula leaves
1/2 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup pine nuts or pecans
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

Process in a blender or food processor as described above in the cilantro pesto recipe.

I recently learned an amazing story about Anne Wigmore, the famous naturopathic doctor and founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute.  She championed the health benefits of wheatgrass and other green juices and is the reason you see those beautiful trays of green grass at juice/smoothie bars and health food stores everywhere today.  Well, her inspiration for educating people of the benefits of these types of juices came from her experience as a child in Lithuania during World War I.  She was abandoned by her parents, in the midst of a bloody warfare in her village.  Food was hard to find because soldiers looted gardens and farms.  She and her grandmother survived for two years mostly by consuming weeds and grasses.  She finally escaped to the U.S. and found work in a bakery, where she eagerly consumed the baked delicacies.  Her health diminished greatly on that diet and so she returned to what she had learned years before using herbs to completely heal herself of colon cancer.  Wow to the wonderful power of herbs...and that’s just a small demonstration in the natural world of God’s big power.  How much greater is “His power toward us who believe?2

1 You should always consult an herb identification guide and/or an experienced herbalist before eating foraged plants that are new to you.

2 Ephesians 1:17-21

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True Bread and Living Water

If you haven’t already discovered my site, this is a health blog all about improving quality of life through food choices.  Well, I’m going to start by telling you good food and clean water is not enough.  I’m sorry to disappoint you, but even the most perfect nutritional regimen and cleanest water is not enough to produce the kind of life and vitality God intended for man.  What man really needs is “true bread and living water,” the real recipe for life.  The Bible explains how to get them both.

In the beginning of John Chapter 6, a great multitude of people began following Jesus because they witnessed miracles of healing he performed on those with diseases.  The crowd had traveled so long to hear him speak that Jesus thought to feed them and asked his disciples where they could get food.  All they could muster up was 5 barley loaves and two small fish, enough for maybe 2 or 3 people at the most.  But by the power of God it was miraculously transformed into enough to feed thousands with 12 baskets of left-overs to spare.  After retreating on the sea of Galilee, the crowds sought him again on the other side and he said

John 6:26-27

...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Their response to this was to ask Jesus for another sign so they could believe in him, a sign like the one Moses performed in the Old Testment record of Manna (divine bread) being given to the people of Isreal in the wilderness.

John 6:32-35

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

The people were only interested in Jesus because he filled their bellies.  Jesus pointed them away from the here and now and offered them something eternal, security for their future, on earth and beyond.

John 6:40

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

It’s God’s will for people to have eternal spiritual life, not only physical life.  A healthy physical life is still incomplete without spiritual life from God.  

John 6:47-51

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

I am that bread of life.

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

In the last verse, Jesus says that the bread he will give for the life of the world is his flesh.  Not long after that he, this perfect Son of God was tortured and executed as an innocent man.  His death paid the penalty for the sin of an ungrateful world in order to provide forgiveness, reconciliation with God and eternal life for those who would recieve it.  He gave his flesh and Jesus is asking people to “eat” him.  It sounds pretty crazy and if you read the rest of the record you’ll see that it upset quite a few of his followers.  Good thing his disciples understood he was speaking figuratively, or else the last supper would have looked more like a cannibalistic tribal ceremony instead of a farewell dinner.  When you eat something you take it into your body to utilize it for nourishment, growth and/or comfort.  Jesus Christ can be all of that for us, meeting our physical, spiritual and emotional needs.  You have probably heard the expression “You are what you eat.”  Well, we can feast on Jesus until we become like him.  

You would think that after following Jesus so far and watching him perform so many miracles that his disciples wouldn’t be so quick to leave him.  But this teaching was a little to much for them...all they wanted was some more of the old bread.

John 6:66-69

From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

What would you answer Jesus?  Will you also go away or will you be like Peter and say, “to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art the son of the living God.”

So what else could we possibly need with “the living bread”?  Well, how about some “living water” to wash it down.  Jesus is offering that on the menu as well.  In John, chapter 4, there is a story of a Samaritan women who met Jesus at the well.  He asks her for some water and she questions why he is asking her, since she is a Samaritan and he is a Jew. (Those two people groups were enemies at the time.)

John 4:10-11; 13-14

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?...

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

That’s pretty cool.  Instead of having to search for outside sources of water, Jesus offers us an inside source that is always pure and never dries up, but just keeps springing up into eternal life.  What do we have to do to get it?  Just ask.  It is the gift of God.

So what is true bread and living water?  It’s fellowship with Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the gift of holy spirit.  How do you get it?  Well in the words of Jesus, “...he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”  So come to him (read the gospel and New Testament Bible records to learn all about him, seek friends who know him already, leave behind the things that would keep you from him, and pray to know him better) and then...believe in him.  Trust who he said he was, what he said he did for us and what he promises to come.  That’s it...it’s so simple...but it is the beginning of a new life.  Once you’ve tasted this recipe for life you’ll want to share it with others.  Why go through life with standard fare when you can have the full meal deal with Christ?  With out him, you’ll only be hungering and thirsting for more.  

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