Wednesday, November 17, 2010
About an hour ago we took down this old dead oak tree for firewood. After we hitched it and the tractor dragged it away, I was going back to the car when the dogs got my attention. They were all staring at something on the ground, somethings small and brown that was making a strange hissing noise. It was a little bat, lying flat on the dirt and screaming his head off in panic. I shooed the dogs and picked it up gently with my leather gloves. Its mouth was wide open and it was panting, evidently frightened. I talked to it soothingly for a few moments and it stopped hissing, then closed its mouth. It really seemed to be listening, looked at me and moved its ears with the sounds..Its face was the cutest, CUTEST little puppy face I ever saw! He had a wise expression and really looked like he understood what I was telling him. We drove together back to the house, just as it was getting dark. I was really afraid that he had been hit in the fall of the tree, and he would just die like all the other hurt wild animal you pick up...But I checked his little body, his wings and legs seemed whole, even his little tail was ok, no scratches, no blood....just a scared little bat trembling in my hand...
And then suddenly he flew! He took off from my hand and flew three circles above my head...hovered for a moment then took off into the woods...
Finally a story with an happy ending!! What a fascinating, lovely little creature!!! I miss you already!!
Friday, November 5, 2010
Well life took over again and even the few minutes needed for a blog are now occupied with things that need to be done.
Maybe the real reason is that I feel like I still have so much to learn before can say anything of my own...And sincerely there is enough people out there that just write just for the sake of having an audience.
Well I am about to go back to being a student again, and very very excited about it!
I am about to start the "Certification in Whole Food Nutrition" program from the International Foundation for Nutrition and Health. This is what I have been looking for for a long time, and can not wait to dig in!
So in the meantime the blog will probably suffer....but then again, I will have so much more to write about...
Friday, August 27, 2010
Allergies and Hay Fever
Holistic Healthcare - Ask the Doctor
Saturday, 01 January 2000 16:37
Question: I am a 34-year-old male and basically in excellent health. However, ever since I was about ten years old, I have had hay fever so bad that I feel like I almost miss Spring. From early May to mid June my eyes water, my nose runs and my throat itches. I get short of breath and every year I end up with a sinus infection. I have been treated with allergy shots which helped for a while, decongestants which made me drowsy, the new allergy medicines which just made me feel funny and homeopathic medicines which only gave very temporary relief. Do you have any advice for me?
Answer: Allergies and hay fever are among the most common maladies suffered by modern Americans. Allergy medication every year is among the top five best selling drugs and if you count asthma, eczema and food allergies, almost one out of three Americans has some sort of allergy. Surprisingly, this condition is of relatively recent origin as even the homeopathic doctors in the early part of the century rarely described allergic diseases or hay fever. As I have discussed in this column, many changes in our life-styles and habits have occurred this century which probably account for this rising incidence.
Specifically, the best theory on the etiology of allergies is that they are related to an imbalance in the functioning of our adrenal gland. More exactly, when the adrenal cortex – that part of our adrenal gland that makes various hormones (such as cortisone) that mediate the inflammatory response – is weak or underactive, then a variety of symptoms occur. Besides inflammation, which can manifest as asthma, weeping skin or hay fever, depending on the site of the inflammation, these adrenal hormones also regulate such functions as sugar balance (via glucocorticoids), mineral balance (via mineralocorticoids) and sexual development (via the sex hormones.) A key point in understanding the therapy for supporting adrenal function is that all of these hormones are synthesized from cholesterol, and that the adrenal cortex is the organ in our bodies with the most need for the vitamin C complex to maintain its function. Also, it seems as if the adrenal cortex is very sensitive to blood sugar levels and that consumption of refined carbohydrates is at the bottom of many cases of allergies for both humans and in animal studies. The natural therapy for all allergies, therefore, is not cortisone – the conventional therapy for allergic disease but which suppresses and eventually weakens our adrenal glands – but a nutritional and supplemental program which actually rebuilds and rebalances our adrenal cortex.
The first step in this therapy is to absolutely avoid all refined carbohydrates including bread, pasta and sugar, as well as most sweet foods such as maple syrup and fruit juices, while any allergic symptoms are present. The diet should be rhythmical, that is you should eat three meals a day with no snacks in between. At each meal eat about 1/3 animal food, 1/3 properly prepared whole grains and 1/3 vegetables in a variety of ways, and with plenty of good quality butter. To aid in mineral balance, use only Celtic sea salt. I also suggest people include zucchini daily in their diet and to make liberal use of bone broths as the minerals in these foods seems to lessen allergic symptoms.
To help "immunize" yourself against pollen, eat 1 tablespoon of really raw honey (locally produced if possible) with the addition of about 1/2 tablespoon of fresh bee pollen. With the bee pollen, start with a few granules and gradually increase to the full dose. Eat foods high in the full vitamin C complex such as sprouts, sauerkraut, raw milk and fresh berries. Also, take a supplement with these components such as Cataplex C or Collagen C from Standard Process, or acerola berries, about 250 mg. three times a day, from Schiff, or from Springreen (816-221-3298).
Often with my patients I add either sublingual or intravenous adrenal cortical extract to augment adrenal function. Your physician can obtain the adrenal cortex preparations from Apothecure (800) 545-9960. They also make a product called Adrenal Cortex Support which is a combination of desiccated adrenal gland, vitamin C, magnesium and licorice root, an herbal medicine well known for its ability to strengthen adrenal function.
Most people get significant relief from this regimen after about three to four weeks, so don't forget to start early next year!
Copyright: ©1999 Tom Cowan. All Rights Reserved. First published in Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Health Journal
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Moving to Forest Ranch has brought one major advantage to my life! Now I have time and space to keep a vegetable garden. So for the first time, since the days of helping my beloved nonno (grandpa) with his garden on the Como lake, I got my own little piece of soil to try my green thumb!
It happened almost by accident....as I was digging an old pile of soil left on the propriety I saw a bunch of earthorms in there....mmmhhh that is the sign for a place that plants would really like! So decided to put there one of my watermelon starts that I germinated in April, and had to rush indoors into a pot when it froze again...
then I put an okra that had had the same troublesome beginning...both baby plants looked very scrawny and miserable when I transplanted them. then I decided to throw in a bag of TJ organic potatoes that were germinating like crazy...
As things started to look better I got excited and decided to add some more....a tomatillo and a cucumber brought by our friend Aaaron, planted a few more watermelon seeds and some beans for good measure....well long story short the pile of dirt got colonized!
Now I watch the melong get bigger every day, and I had the great pleasure to eat the arrugola and few cucumbers....
I feel like I literally going back to my roots....to those long summer days in Tremezzo, when I was helping my granfather harvest hay....
So I come home every night, with very dusty feet, after checking on the garden, with a tomato or a cucumber in my hand and I feel happier that I have been in a long time!
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
There is a lot of talk of healthy sustainable food around. Fantastic authors like Michael Pollan and Barbara Kinsgsolver bring us a wealth of information about our food sources and the "American Diet". Yes, the information is all out there, there is no more excuse for ignorance, but how many of us actually take a proactive approach and decide to control what food comes into our body?
I know a lot of people choose to be vegetarians as a humanitarian choice for the rights of animals. I am sure most people would not want to eat the meat, milk and eggs from factory farms if they were really confronted with what goes on behind those walls.
The logical alternative seems to just do a 180 and turn your back on that awful reality and stop supporting it. The problem is that being a vegetarian does NOT stop supporting the factory farm / industrial agriculture system. Every time you open a package containing food you have done it again. Be it tofurky or soymilk, they are just as much the products of a NON SUSTAINABLE system as a feed lot cow is.
So what is the alternative?
Thank goodness there is one and its easier and less expensive than we imagine! Its LOCAL food. Best would be LOCAL ORGANIC food!!!
Local food means get to know your farmer! Means supporting small family farms versus the big multinational corporations. It means keeping money and resources in your area, saving fuel, pollution and packaging materials.
"But I live in Los Angeles (New York etc..)" you will say "and I have NO time to take trips to look for farmers to buy food, I barely even have time to eat!!!"
Well even in the big city we have choices now! There is farmers markets everywhere, on almost every day of the week. There you can really meet your farmers, and if you can basically shop once for the whole week.
You can order a CSA box. (Community Supported Agriculture) That will make it even easier, as you will not have to spend time thinking about what to buy, it comes packaged for you, fresh, plentiful and seasonal. They also include recipes for the veggies they include.
At the farmers market you can also meet small local cattle and poultry farmers. They are usually able to take orders and you can buy a whole or partial steer that will then be processed and delivered to you neatly packaged and frozen.
That is what Deb, our mentor and landlord here did. She purchased half a free range organic steer from the Book Farm, the same one where we get our raw milk.
The animals are grown on free pasture, never confined (except to the barn when is cold) and never fed grains. When the time to process them comes they are humanely slaughtered then brought to a small facility in the nearby town of Durham where the meat is cut and packed.
From there we pick it up and bring it home neatly vacuum packed and frozen.
From the farm to our table the meat did not travel more than 40 miles. We know that the animals we are eating led peaceful, stress free lives on the pastures, eating what Nature designed a cow to eat. Their manure did not pollute the water ways and the ground as it was composted and used in a vegetable garden. They were not injected with antibiotics and hormones, as they were a healthy breed eating healthy food from a healthy soil free of pesticides.
This is a sustainable cycle.
One that could continue far into the future, like it came from a far past. Humans have lived in harmony within natural cycles for thousands of years, until they decided to start taking shortcuts....
Well enough moralizing, the bottom line is that we had a delicious meal healthy for us and for our Earth, and with just a little step outside the comfort zone of the usual, we can all do that!
RESOURCES AND INFORMATIONAL LINKS:
Joel Salatin, the guru of sustainable farming.
A great photographic story of the process of buying an organic steer:
All about local sustainable food:
A farmers market locator
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
After all the preserving and freezing we decided we had to make a pie right away!
This is Deb's recipe for
GLUTEN FREE CHERRY CRUMBLE PIE:
Instead of a crust this pie only has a crumble topping.
1 cup of gluten free flower
1 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup of toasted almonds
1 cup pecans
6 tablespoons of softened coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
5 cups of pitted cherries
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, except cherries, till a crumbly texture is reached. Put cherries in a pyrex or pie dish. Distribute topping evenly on top.
Bake pie 30 min at 400°.
Serve with vanilla frozen raw cream. (Raw milk homemade version of ice cream)
Our very nice neighbor Donna let us pick a ton of cherries from her overloaded trees. Luckily she also let us borrow her cherry stoner, so processing 10 lb of cherries was not too hard. first we picked cherries for few hours, then we had to run home and remove the pits right away before they started to spoil. (very ripe cherries!)
This proved to be a bit of a messier job than we expected, with cherry juice squirting everywhere, but with a good assemblage chain, the work was over in less than an hour.
The first product of our labor was at least 9 lb of cherries ready for the freezer and 4 jars of preserves, two with vodka and two with sugar. Now we are well stocked for a whole winter worth of cherry pies!
Monday, July 5, 2010
Finally we can eat protein!!! After 10 loooong days of raw veggies (and few cherries) we can finally add protein into the diet. Well actually we have cheated just a little, and had chicken a couple of times, when we were out, or just way too hungry!! Overall I am pretty happy with the way the Purification program is going, I definitively have been through some up and downs, dizzy, tired, cranky, bloated....it's all part of it. Oz lost 6 pounds in 10 days, a pretty dangerous thing for him, as he battles to keep his weight on, but to my great relief he has already put 3 back on. I maybe lost 3 pounds...as an added bonus, but we'll till the end of the program.
So today I was in the garden and I picked up a beautiful fennel and a bunch of small lettuces and watercress. I came home and the only protein I had handy was some cod (wild caught of course) from TJ's. Now the challenge was to combine all these elements into a yummy dinner. The result was actually better than my expectations, e voila' a new recipe is born:
POACHED COD WITH FENNEL ORANGE SALAD
(of course I recommend all seasonal, organic, local ingredients when possible)
For the salad
1 fennel with tops
1 small bunch watercress
1 green onion
1/4 cup olive oil
a dash of cayenne pepper
freshly grated black pepper
For the cod
1 large green onion
4 cod filets
most of the tops from the fennel
1/2 cup white whine
1/2 cup water
freshly grated black pepper
First prepare the salad so it will have the chance to marinate for about 1/2 hour.
Remove the zest from one of the oranges and save it in a small bowl.
Slice the fennel and the green onion very fine, put into a bowl with the watercress chopped and one orange peeled, skinned and cut in pieces.
Now use the bowl with the zest to mix the dressing adding the juice of one lemon, a dash of cayenne, a pinch of salt, 1/4 cup olive oil and some fresh pepper. Whisk the dressing together and add to fennel mix. Now is best to refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
Now the cod. In a 12-inch skillet prepare the poaching bed. Trim and slice the lemon and arrange it one layer across the bottom of the skillet, add sliced green onion and the all wispy parts from the fennel tops. Add wine and water. Now place cod fillets in skillet on top of the fennel tops. Cover pan with a tight fitting lid and turn the gas on high until the liquid will start to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook until the cod will look opaque and flake when pulled with a fork, about 12 to 15 minutes.
When the cod is done remove it gently with a spatula and hold it warm in a covered plate. Return the pan to high heat and simmer the cooking juices until reduced to few tablespoons.
Now strain cooking liquid into a bowl, add the juice of 1/2 orange, salt, pepper and some thinly sliced green onions.
I served the dish by making a layer of lettuce on individual plates, then gently laying the cod over it. Drizzle the fish with the sauce then place the chilled salad on the plate next to it.
I used cod for this recipe because that is what I had at home, feel free to use salmon (wild caught) or dover sole instead...
For good information about sustainable healthy seafood:
A interesting site about TJ's new seafood policies published by greenpeace
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
This is a raw salad. Romaine lettuce, cilantro, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower,sprouted sunflower seeds, mung bean sprouts and for dressing the Liquid Gold Elixir from Natalia Rose's book "The raw food detox diet".
Liquid Gold Elixir (SALAD DRESSING)
2 cups fresh lemon juice
3 whole cloves garlic
3 tablespoons minced ginger
3 tablespoons Nama Shoyu soy sauce
3 heaping tablespoons raw honey (omit for purification program)
1 ½ cups cold-pressed olive oil
1. Place all of the ingredients except the oil in blender.
2. Begin blending at normal speed.
3. As the mixture is blending, slowly add the olive oil until it’s completely blended.
On day 4 of our detox we realized that we were going to pick up 2 gallons of milk form the farm...and we could not drink it! So what do yo do with 2 gallons of fresh creamy raw milk in your fridge? You make cheese!! (that can be kept till the end of our diet)
We went to town and bought rennet, citric acid and some cheese cloth, and we were ready!
Now the process was really not so hard...it would have helped to have a little more room in my small kitchen. We got step by step instructions from the website of the people that make all the cheese accessories: http://www.cheesemaking.com
In the end we got a pretty decent mozzarealla, a bit tough, but as I sneaked a small bite the taste was great! The ricotta came out even better, although we only got a small amount. I can not wait to try to make hard cheeses!!
Here are the instructions from cheesemaking.com
Add 1 & 1/2 tsp. Citric Acid diluted in 1cup cool water to 1 gallon of cold milk. Heat slowly to 90F
Remove pot from burner slowly stir 1/4 tab or 1/4tsp of rennet diluted in 1/4cup. cool water for 30sec. Cover and leave for 5 minutes. Check the curd, it will look like custard and the whey will be clear. If too soft let set a few more minutes.
Now cut the curd into
1 inch squares with a knife that reaches the bottom of the pot.
Place pot back on stove and heat to 105F while stirring slowly. (If you will be stretching in water heat to 110F)
Take off the burner and continue sirring slowly for 2-5 minutes. Transfer the curd to a colander or bowl using a slotted spoon.
Notice how the curd is beginning to get firmer as the whey drains.
Continue separating the curd and notice the color of the whey.
Drain the whey from the curd while gently pressing to aid whey runoff.
Using a heat proof bowl microwave on High for 1 min. pour off the whey.
Knead and reheat for 30sec, repeat if needed until the curd is 135F, almost too hot to handle.
Now the fun begins,
knead the curd as you would bread dough
Remove curd from bowl and continue kneading, return it to the microwave if needed.
At this point, if hot enough, it will begin to stretch,
and stretch, and stretch some more this is what makes it Mozzarella.
I hope we're having fun now.
Now knead it back into a big ball until it is smooth and shiny.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Day 3 has been a bit up and down, I am tired, had a poison oak outbreak all over my arms, and got an headache that comes and goes.
I think I am not doing enough to get those toxins out....tomorrow I need to sweat more, do a dry brushing, drink more water, exercise!!! And tomorrow I have a photo shoot in the morning (I am the photographer) squeezed between the farmer's market and the weekly trip to the milk farm. As we can not have any milk for 3 weeks, on Sunday we are making cheese. That will be a fun experience to write about I think.
Well I think I am a little lightheaded now, so it's time for bed. Tomorrow is day 4, 6 more to go before eating any meat...
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Well, I have been quite obsessed with food and nutrition and with being healthy for a long time. (Since I moved to the US 17 years ago, I have not been once to a conventional allopathic doctor and I have never been to a hospital.) Now that I have finally changed our living environment for a much healtier one, it is time for a general health overhaul! What better time for a cooling and cleansing diet than 100 degree weather??!!
I do have to admit that this idea did not just arrive out of the blue, our landlord and dear friend Deb, who is an amazing chiropractor and nutritionist, did the same detox about a month ago. Being this a specific program from Standard Process, the manufacturer of all the whole food supplements I have been using with for the last seven years, I knew it would be a serious ad effective program.
Surprisingly, my husband Oz, joined me in the program, without even too much begging or convincing.
So here we are, at day two.
We are taking 3 or more shakes a day of protein and whole nutritional elements plus 30 capsules of greens, detoxing herbs and supplements.
In addition to that we can eat as much raw vegetables as we like, a little bit of fruit, herbal teas, and of course lots of water.
Today, as our fridge became dangerously empty, I ran into town and stocked up on organic veggies....then ran home and took out my raw recipe book.
The first yummy dish I made today was a Beet, carrot and zucchini salad with romaine lettuce, mung bean sprouts and a Umeboshi vinagrette.
Not bad for raw veggies.
Now after all this writing I am getting hungry again and am going to go and make myself a raw carrot ginger soup.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
At the beginning of last month, our landlady Deb started getting raw milk from her cow share in 2 Jersey cows from a local small farm. So after sampling the first jar of fresh, creamy, rich and delicious milk, I decided I was IN!!
I have been off dairy for the last few years because of a persistent mold/candida infestation in my lungs. So the naturopathic doctor told me I' better avoid dairy altogether! it has not been an easy path as you can imagine, especially if you are a big cheese fanatic as I am!
So after drinking the raw milk the first time, I went to my doctor and got (muscle) tested for it.....and to my extreme delight it turned out that the raw milk was actually GOOD for me! YAY!! So I asked the doctor about raw cheese, and that tested really well too! So my world suddenly became a much happier place!
Now what is the difference between raw milk and "normal" pasteurized milk you might ask?! "Real Science has identified that changes that occur in real raw milk pasteurization are not always beneficial to our health. Raw dairy products are naturally filled with living enzymes and cultures vital for health. Lactose intolerant consumers can eat raw milk because Lactase producing bacteria are present. In addition to pasteurization most milk available today is homogenized, which has been proven to alter the fat particles significantly to the point of creating a dangerous product from an excellent food source. Raw milk is high in antioxdidants vitamins, (including B-12) all 22 essential amino acids and natural enzymes." (extract from the Book Family Farm Cow Share pamphlet)
So last Saturday for the first time we went to pick up our raw milk, and we met our two gorgeous, generous producers: Ginger and Cinnamon.
They are two Jersey mix, pastured, grass fed organic cows....
And as I have to run to work in the garden now, I will fill you in on the subject of grass-fed beef next time!!
Happy milk drinking!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
That means it should be weed-proof!
After long weeks of studying the book "Gaia's Garden - a guide to home-scale permaculture" I finally got to apply my learning today, in making sheet mulch.
I have been quite obsessed with the concept of mulching since I first read about it...
It seems to me like the best way to start a new garden or improve on an old one.
Mulching improves the soil, gets rid of weeds, and makes use of a lot of materials that would usually end up burned, or in the trash. Seems like a bounty of benefits!
So today, book in hand, we went to help our neighbor to mulch an area infested by sweet peas. We had just weeded that area about 3 weeks ago, and the peas were just happlly starting to grow back.
So as permaculture tells us to make use of available materials when possible, we went around the propriety to look for stuff to use, without having to buy expensive wood chips or rice hulls...
We found an excellent compost pile, mixed with manure form the two horses, that was aged to perfection. Then for the main body of the mulch we figured we could used pine needles, as we are in the forest and the whole ground is covered with them.
Pine needles are slow to decompose and they look pretty nice and even so they make a perfect middle and top layer.
So here is our recipe for this "bomb-proof" sheet mulch:
Layer 1: whack down whatever weeds are present and leave on the ground. Then Add a 1 inch layer of compost / manure / grass clippings. (some nitrogen high material)
This layer encourages soil organisms and insects to start incorporating the mulch and turning into rich humus.
Layer 2 now we put the "sheet" part in, which consists of cardboard (plastic tape removed) and thick layers of newspapers. The paper needs to be well soaked with water before adding the next material. This layer is supposed to suffocate any weeds growing in the soil below.
Layer 3 another layer of compost, this time thicker. (about 3")
Layer 4 Is the thickest layer of carbon material, in our case we used the pine needles mixed with some dry leaves. We put his on about 8" deep.
This layer will eventually decompose and create the fluffy black humus rich soil that plants love! At this point water the muclh again until it reaches the moisture amount of a wrought sponge.
Layer 5 now a thin layer of good soil, or in our case more old, well composted horse manure.
Layer 6 And now for the top, a "pretty" layer of pine needles! Like we say in Italy "anche l'occhio vuole la sua parte" (the eye needs its part too...bad translation)
So here we are, endless loads of compost later, my back and arms got a real good workout today, and our sheet mulch is ready to go. We just have to wait about 6 months and then it will be ready for planting. Then a nice rich soil should be there waiting for us!
Now I am ready to jump in the hot tub with a cocktail for a lovely Friday nite after a day of satisfying work!
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Here I am, suddenly living in Forest Ranch, living my dream of going back to the land, being self sufficient and learning permaculture and organic gardening. It's a bit like living with one foot in the work boot and one foot in the high heel...
The high heel is my business, Omnatura, sustainable fashion accessories. Thanx to modern technology we live off the grid, but still have high speed internet... all I need nowadays to work and run the business.
So this blog will be about trying to live a full, gratifying sustainable life, and hopefully sharing ideas on how we can survive on this planet in a more conscious way.
- ► July (6)
- purification program = lots of raw food!!!
- Ricotta and Mozzarella...we made cheese!!
- Purification program Day 3
- The Purification Program - we are on day two!!
- Cherry and Apricot season has started!!
- We have a Raw Milk Cow Share!
- The first radishes from the garden!!
- Bomb-proof mulching!!!
- First day in Blogger's world
- Forest Ranch, CA, United States
- Omnatura was born in 2005 as a line of handmade jewellery in collaboration with artisans in the poor areas of the northeast of Brazil. Since then it has expanded to different countries, and has grown more and more into a concept for living. I am Vivica, the creator of Omnatura, and when my visions and priorities started shifting and expanding, I decided to let my business expand and shift with them. After all Omnatura could be translated into "All-Natural" (from the Latin base "omni" and "naturae"), and my life has been strongly moving towards this all-natural state.... After living in the city of Los Angeles for the last 17 years, and the city of Milano for many years before that, the call back to nature finally became reality this year in April, when we moved to the small community if Forest Ranch in Northern California. My dreams of self-sufficiency and threading lightly on this much abused planet are now becoming reality. A different pace of life, and still managing my business of sustainable fashions...now with more integrity than ever!