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We see insects, bugs, fleas…and many unwanted pests flying around and on our pets, we want to eliminate them. We flip newspapers, clap our hands in the air, run for the insect spray. We grin when we spray them and see it fall to the ground. “Did the mosquito fly away”? Did the fly vanish? Is the tick dead? All questions that come running into our head. We put the cover back on the can and walk away to continue our usual activities. The aroma of the insecticide still lingering in the air we breathe, exposing our kids, pets and everyone around us to the poisons coming from the toxic spray. A silent killer, we are not aware of the damage that happens on a molecular level from the constant exposure to these chemicals. We bite an apple and move on. No big deal. Right? Wrong…!

https://www.midoricide.com/blogs/midoricide-blog/6-toxic-slow-kill-agents-in-pet-products-available-in-pet-stores-nation-wide
Essential oils are truly the secret gifts of nature. Certain oils provide soothing, calming, invigorating, and refreshing effect. Combined with several different types of carrier oils, there are also known to provide skin healing and nourishing properties. The discovery of natural essence of these oil is more than sufficient in general skin and body care. It by far provides a better alternative than the toxic chemicals that has been embedded for so long in many care products. Essential oils incorporated into soaps, shampoo bars, shampoo, oils, conditioner produces amazing results. Some oil blends not only take care of inflammation but also provides that silky gentle touch.Overtime, with natural soaps, you will notice the change in skin texture, a pampered soft skin texture. There's such a huge difference between using natural soaps containing essential oil vs commercially sold overly processed soaps. Sometimes, it is said that we are creatures of habit and do not like change. However, when i look at the ingredients in these final products,i know we want the best for our families.The question always arises, why is this ingredient in this product even though research and test shows it could contain traces of impurities which are carcinogenic in some cases. We can't prevent everything but we can certainly get the best that nature has to offer by looking much closer at what is provided to us. By doing this,we improve our general and natural living.
This winter we had a heavy rain season and I think the dampness in the air cause some mold on a nightstand near a closed sliding glass door. I tried cleaning it up with vinegar but it came back. What can I do to fix that?

International Wild Edibles #2: Morels


International Wild Edibles #2: Morels




What a pleasant surprise.  While on a morning mission to find a few earthworms to add to our garden beds back at home, we found some wonderful little treasures as my then five year old daughter and I ascended into a forest from our local Shinto shrine in Yokohama:  Morels!



She had never seen a morel before and from the look on her face, it could have been a gnome, she was so surprised.  And I was surprised too as I didn’t know that morels grew in Japan.  So we collected the mushrooms and brought back a few handfuls of dandelion leaves and other lettuc-y weed greens and prepared a wild foraged lunch appetizer to go with the main course.


Things To Know Before Eating Wild Mushrooms


Below: morels, halved covered in flour and fried in butter on a skillet. To the left, stir fried dandelion green… As they like to say in Japan… Oishii!


International edibles #2,morel,brunch,sauteed


All wild edibles and especially wild mushrooms can be a little difficult to identify without a lot of attention to detail and at the very least, a good reference guide to wild edibles.  I like Peterson Guides as a general reference and there are so many more.  In the case of Morels, there are several mushrooms that could be mistaken for a false morel if not careful.  False morels will usually have more wavy or ‘brainy’ looking caps compared to true Morels, which have deeply pitted and webbed caps.  Morels are also hollow inside, from the top and all the way down to the bottom of the stem.  So if you cut a mushroom open and it’s fleshy, or has any kind of pulp inside, DO NOT EAT IT.


Beware of False Morels! Get started with safe edible mushroom identification.

Where do Morels Grow?


This is an International Edible, right?  The great thing about wild edibles is that many of them are just like people in the sense that they can live wherever they are comfortable.  A plant hardiness map can show you where in the world you can find many of the plants that are familiar to you.


International edibles #2,plant,hardiness,map,world,global,international,edibles,zone,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

World Plant Hardiness Map


Not all plants can live anywhere, but it’s a comfort to know that plants do not recognize the nation state.


 


Hey! If you enjoyed International Wild Edibles #2, then you should check out this one in the International Edibles series too! 

 


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I Have a Sweet Tooth for Sweet and Spicy Teas


You are probably thinking about making a cup of hot tea and squeezing a nice dollop or two of honey into your steaming mug.  Back when I first started drinking herbal tea I also would invariably add a nice spoonful of honey, or (my favorite) drop a peppermint candy in there to let it slowly dissolve.  The sweetener was a comforting thing and helped me to acquire a taste for many new varieties and combinations of herbal tea.  However as I learned more and my tastes matured, I began to discover that:


My teas didn’t always need to be sweet to be delicious and


There are many herbs that are sweet without adding sugar.


The joy of finally being able to enjoy herbs in their naked form, without the gaudy clothing to mask their essential tastes prompted me to encourage you to try it too.


Here is my list of 5 Sweet and Spicy Teas That Don’t Need Sugar


Licorice

5 Sweet and Spicy Teas, Licorice Root


What makes is sweet?  Glycyrrhizic acid.

This super sweet root that was the inspiration behind twizzler sticks is said to be 50 times as sweet as sugar, thanks to Glycyrrhizic acid.  It doesn’t taste that sweet as a tea though.  The kind of sweetness licorice has is more like short and sweet, quickly evaporating from your tastebuds.  This herb is a tonic and an adaptogen (more on those in a future post) and an anti-inflammatory making it a great ingredient in herbal teas for sore throats.


 


Getting Thirsty? Shop Herbal Teas at Amazon


 


Cinnamon


5 Sweet and Spicy Teas, cinnamon,sweet,herb,spice


What makes it sweet?  Maybe it’s association with sweet foods.

Cinnamon may not actually be sweet, but it’s flavor is an amazing compliment to baked goods.  The “spice” in “sugar and spice and anything nice” must be referring to cinnamon.  So add it in to spice up your sweet teas.  It’s a soothing digestive for sensitive stomachs.


 


Fenugreek

5 Sweet and Spicy Teas, sweet herb,african,seed,indian,restorative, nourishing


What makes it sweet?  Flavenoids in the seeds

Fenugreek is an ancient herbal medicine used since ancient times in Africa, India and the Middle East.  It was prized as a nourishing herb due to it’s high protein content.  Fenugreek was used for a wide variety of ailments from lowering cholesterol to treating stomach ailments and there has been some clinical trials as well.  Some evidence shows that fenugreek can inhibit some types of cancer cells.


 


Spearmint

5 Sweet and Spicy Teas. spearmint,sweet,flavorful,palatable,herb


What makes it sweet?  It’s kind of a mystery.

Spearmint is in a long-running popularity contest with Peppermint.  While they are both part of the mint family, they are used in different ways.  There is a debate out there about which one is better, peppermint or spearmint.  For me, Spearmint is a milder herb and adds more sweetness to a tea and less menthol.  So if you want a tea that opens your sinuses and lungs, go with peppermint.  If you are looking for a flavor enhancer that’s not so strong, choose Spearmint.


 


Stevia

5 Sweet and Spicy Teas, super,sweet,leaf,herb,miracle,sweetener


What makes it sweet?   Steviol-glycosides

Licorice might be 50 times sweeter than sugar…  That’s no comparison to Stevia because Stevia is somewhere between 150 and 200 times sweeter than sugar!  This is the miracle sweetener that is so easy to use.  Just pinch a leaf off of a stevia plant and if you really need to sweeten your tea, this is how you do it.


Look out for more sweet and spicy teas, recipes and unique qualities of these medicinals in the menu under “Herbs“.


 


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Chickweed: Stealthy Edible Plants


Common Plant Otherwise Known As Chickweed


Having a knowledge of edible plants that are abundant in many different countries provides a deeply satisfying sense of place for people living and/or traveling abroad.  Familiar plants can be like familiar friends, constant companions that travel with you wherever you go.  It’s such a pleasure to find nutritious wild edibles and herbs that can be discovered in similar climates all over the world.

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Some Tidbits About This Unassuming Herb

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While most of us know this common plant, growing in a range of soil types and acidities as a somewhat common weed (or maybe we wouldn’t even recognize it at all), Chickweed is actually a nutritious and delicious spring salad ingredient, sure to surprise and please at your next Spring Solstice party.  Full of nutrition and fiber, this tender spring green is fresh and palatable and can really fill you up as it grows in large tangled colonies, which makes it very easy to scoop up in the arms like so many bales of hay.


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This Past Spring, I Took A Little Walk Through Yoyogi Park

Chickweed Seven Herbs Samurai


in central Tokyo and found, growing in a quiet and shady corner of the park, one of my favorite abundant wild foods:  Chickweed!  or, in Japanese, Hakobera はこべら.   This wildly undervalued plant is one of Japan’s traditional ingredients in the annual winter Festival of Seven Herbs – “Nanakusa no Sekku” 七草の節句.  Thanks in part to this longstanding traditional holiday, most Japanese people have eaten this herb, possibly every year of their lives, even if they don’t know what it looks like or where it comes from.


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But how many people would recognize it when seen growing in a waste area by the side of the road?


or, as in this case, in a quiet corner of a park in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world? Probably very few, and that’s unfortunate.  I eat wild edibles regularly and there is absolutely nothing demeaning about them.  I find people have strange reactions to eating things they’re not accustomed to, but if we utilized the abundance of nature more effectively, we could really solve some problems!


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Chickweed is a very abundant edible,


usually growing in large wispy green patches and is best to eat when still covered by the morning spring mist. I gathered a rather decadent bag full and will save some to hang and dry and the rest will be in my salads for the rest of the week. Go to a park near you and taste some of this lovely Spring green for yourself!


Learn more about other stealthy edible plants like chickweed by going and harvesting some for yourself!  And look out for future International wild edibles posts and discover a world of edible foods waiting to be discovered.

 

If you’ve ever been into a health food store,


you’ve probably come across a brand called Auromere.  These days, Auromere ayurvedic products, from Neem powered toothpastes to mudbaths and incense are easily recognized in any health food market.  But 30 years ago, when Auromere first started out, Neem was unheard of and they introduced Auryuvedic health care to the Western world in a big way, fascinating the alternative health community with previously unknown products.  And until recently, I had no idea why Auromere was destined to be my favorite Aurovedic brand.


Far, far away, not far from the southern city of Chennai,  you might find the legacy of two of the twentieth century’s greatest utopian innovators: 


 


Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfasa, aka., The Mother.  These two spiritual partners collaborated to express their unique truth and message to the world with a revolutionary vision:  Integral Yoga.  While other spiritual teachers in India were guiding their students to renounce their bodies and deny the material world, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother confidently believed that a pure state of spiritual bliss was possible to normal folks, here on Earth.  They believed and taught about a regularized healthy way that could allow people to live fulfilling, active lives.  Their vision was in many ways quite simple.  They focused on the basics, on exercise and education, on daily healthy activity and creative acts, and taught about their brand of spiritual fulfillment that was available to everyone.  To fully realize their vision, The Mother imagined a beautiful city, a new paradigm of community, creating a harmonized physical town called Auroville.


 


You would have to see Auroville to believe it, so here you go… The crown jewel of Auroville, in the very center of the city design is a giant orb covered Auromere Ayurvedic Products, Why Auromere is my favorite Ayurvedic brandwith golden disks, an immaculate meditation chamber called the Matra Mandir. I have personally meditated in the top of the orb and it was a bit of a life changing experience.


 


Auroville was imagined to be a full working community.  Intertwined with all of this vision, Sri Aurobindo had a deep passion for his native India and the Indian tradition, and Ayurvedic medicine is one of India’s great traditional sciences.  And that is where Auromere comes into play.


Why Auromere Ayurvedic Products? The community of people who created Auromere,


maker of your favorite Ayurvedic toothpaste are a part of the Integral Yoga community and it was a great pleasure to learn that they give a portion of their proceeds to support the Integral Yoga community in India, and also to directly help some poor communities in regions nearby too.  It’s always great to learn that a company is even better than you thought it was.  Thank you Auromere for being an excellent business and putting people before profit.


Why Auromere ayurvedic products?  It’s fantastic!  If you want to visit Auromere, it is open to the public.  The easiest access is by way of flight to Chennai (Madras).  It’s worth the trip.

 


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