Thursday, May 27, 2010

What's in my Kitchen? - Pau'd arco

Pau'd arco, also known as Taheebo or Lapacho, is derived from the inner bark of the Taheebo tree found in South America. The tree can live up to 700 years, and is only "ripe" for extraction after 40 years. The harvesting of Pau'd arco is done in a way that does not harm the tree.

Most often this herb is taken as a tea. It is best to buy the tea in loose form - it looks like bits of bark - as many companies, unfortunately, do not use a pure form, or use other fillers in capsules and tea bags.

Pau'd arco is known for it's potent antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. This makes it perfect for strengthening the immune system and detoxifying the system in general. It improves digestion, reduces fevers and cleanses the blood. It is also a rich source of iron and helps the body to replenish certain vital elements. Do your own research (like always) into these and other uses for Pau'd arco for more detailed information. My primary goals are for pain releif, liver cleansing and treatment of Candida (which is supposed to be very effective in treating Endometriosis).

One of the most popular uses for Pau'arco is in the treatment of Candida Albicans (the yeast that is responsible for woman's discomfort, among a host of other symptoms). Also used for the treatment of cancer (not only stopping the growth but reducing it as well, and/or simply for pain management), diabetes, immune deficiency disorders, cardiovascular problems, parasites, liver diseases and is excellent for pain management. It calms inflammation and pain related to the bowl, ulcers, arthritis and even the common cold. Research is being done on it's anti-malarial action. Because of it's great ability to detox, I would not recommend this for the pregnant or nursing - your baby will end up getting a lot of what you are cleaning out.

Pau d' arco is said to have no contraindications (does not interfere with other medications/ herbs - good news for cancer patients) and is non-toxic. Even so, it may increase the effectiveness of certain drugs (this may be good or bad), especially blood-thinning drugs. It's good to get advice from a Dr. and/or naturopath when taking meds. Apparently combining Pau'd arco with Yarbamate is supposed to increase it's effectiveness (I have not tried this - yet).

At times, as with any cleanse, symptoms may become worse, or new ones appear (headaches are a common one) before they get better. This is referred to as a "healing crisis" or "die off" reaction. This is the herb actually working and causing the yeast, toxins, etc. to be expelled - first into your system, and then eliminated through natural means (including the skin). Thus is it important to have a functioning bowel (at least 2-3 movements a day - 1 is not regular enough), so the toxins don't recirculate. If the "die off" is too much, than reduce the dosage to a tolerable amount and then gradually work back up again. Also, make sure you are drinking enough water. This is a common mistake that often cause a lot of headaches and unnecessary difficulties with cleansing. Water assists the body in flushing out all that junk.

Pau'd arco can also be used topically for inflammatory skin problems such as hemorrhoids, eczema and as an antiseptic for wounds.

The recipe that I use for the tea is 3 tablespoons Pau'd arco to 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil with the lid on, then simmer on low for 25 min. For those of you against boiled tea - you need the heat to draw out all that good stuff into the water.
The next time I make tea I reuse the above 3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra of fresh Pau'd arco. Continue as the first batch.

Strain and I like to drink it cool (room temp). Start out with 2 cups per day, then you can increase to 4 cups a day. Take for 6 weeks, then give your body a 4 week break.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bonne fĂȘte pour moi

A common dilemma for the food conscious is what to eat/ serve for birthdays. Well, as the saying goes, "let them eat cake!"

I often have so many recipes that I would like to try and have been wanting to make this for a while. It just so turned out that the timing was close to my birthday. This was the second course of supper.

This great coconut custard cake recipe comes from just-making-noise and the wonderful ice cream recipe comes from The Spunky Coconut. There are many options for a variety of dietary needs. This particular cake is not only gluten free but grain free as well. At first I ate the cake and ice cream together, but they both did seem better on their own. (I'm not a big food mixer). I will definitely make both of these again.

A "tradition" of sorts here on the community seems to be each person gets presented with a chocolate bar and their birthday. I, however, can't have store bought, sugared chocolate. But I think I got the better deal out of everyone.

I'd take this over a chocolate bar any day! a coconut! I'm spoiled.

The next logical thing to do was make smoothies. This was my birthday supper main course.

We were not totally sure what that round fruit was (the skins are in the bottom left of the picture), but we think it may be passion fruit. It was really good and made for a wonderfully tropical smoothie with banana, pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, apple, and coconut milk.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Charcoal and stings/bites

So wouldn't you know but I just finished a post on charcoal and it's general benefits, and I go out on a walk and get stung by an ant. So now, I'm immobile with my foot in a pan of charcoal water.

For those back in Canada, this situation may sound pretty funny. So what, I got bit by an ant. That usually doesn't cause too much concern. In Australia all the animals got a make-over and nothing is quite the same as anywhere else in the world.

This ant, for example, we believe it to be what the children all call a "jumper ant." I was warned about these when we first arrived here. Apparently, in true Aussie style, the "Jack jumper ant" is it's real name. Here's some tid-bits from Wikipedia.

The Jack jumper ant is a 1 - 1.2 cm long ant, relative to the "bull ant" (also been warned of these) and is native to Australia, especially Tasmania. They are territorial and are carnivorous (they apparently like my foot). Their sting is compared to wasps, bees and fire ants (although I've never had the pleasure, save for a tiny wasp). Apparently their sting is supposed to be quite powerful as they will even hunt wasps, although I'm not all that impressed - maybe because of the charcoal.

Their sting causes swelling (which was noted when I got home from my "walk" - the second part was a hobble - and took my sock off) and reddening. Wikipedia says that fever and a formation of a blister will occur, with increasing heart rate and dropped blood pressure. I'm not sure how general this information is, but I do know that after having my foot soaked in this charcoal bath for half an hour the swelling is already quite down - still stings a bit if I think about it though. No other side effects though. About 3% of the time, the bites cause allergic reactions in people resulting in death (like bee sting allergies). Therefore, there are more deaths due to "jumper ants" in Tasmania than spiders, snakes, wasps and sharks combined. This may sound impressive, but remember there aren't all that many people here, and there also is only one poisonous snake, and not that many shark incidences as the main land. Another site mentions that this is 1 death every four years, although severe illness occurs for many others.

So after I got stung, my husband and I returned home right away, it did hurt. Somehow the ant got in my shoe and bit me right under my strap, he was still sitting there when I took my shoe off to remove the "thorn" I thought wedged it's way in. It did get increasingly more painful on the hobble home. Immediately upon returning home my husband prepared a charcoal bath for my foot to soak in. Remember from my previous post that charcoal absorbs things. I don't measure anything, we just dumped a bunch of charcoal in enough water to cover my foot. And here I am. If I wanted to get up and around then I could make (or have someone else make) a charcoal poultice to put on the bite.

To make a poultice for a wound, bite, over your liver or kidney or other organ etc, mix 2 tablespoons each of ground flax seed or slippery elm bark (available at health food stores) (to hold water and keep the charcoal moist - charcoal must be wet to work) and charcoal (powder) in a small pot. Add 5-6 tablespoons water and bring to a boil and stir until toothpaste consistency. Spread evening on a clean cloth (even use a band-aid or paper towel if you have nothing else). The cloth should be appropriate for your application. You may not need to use all the recipe or you may need to double it, etc. Spread another piece of cloth over that, and cover with plastic wrap to keep poultice moist and your clothes clean. Leave on for a couple hours or overnight, depending on the desired use.

There are variations of the poultice recipe and whatever works for you is fine. Just remember, the charcoal needs to stay wet to be active. The charcoal absorbs odors and toxins, so if your placing the poultice on your liver, and the poultice starts to stink - this is a sign that you need a new poultice. Keep using the poultice until the foul odors are gone, or the swelling is gone, whatever fits your usage. And again, take some time to do your own research into charcoal and it's usages. I'm sure you'll be impressed.

Update: my foot is done soaking now, I've had it out of the water for a while. There is faint redness and you can see a small hole where the ant got a chunk of my skin. It's very hard to tell if the skin is raised and I can't feel any bump with my finger - I don't want to irritate it though just in case. But if it does start getting worse I know what to do!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's in my Kitchen? - Charcoal

Charcoal is not something that most people would expect to find in a kitchen. And no - it's not from burnt supper.

Charcoal is a substance that, surprisingly, is seldom talked about in the health world, except for in a water or air filter. That same thing that filters can be readily available at your fingertips. It's cheap (or even free) and very simple.

I first heard about charcoal several months ago. A friend of mine had moved into their newly purchased home, only to find mold. Not good. She heard about charcoal from a friend of hers and had started reading, "Charcoal (The complete handbook of Medicinal Charcoal and it's applications)". Soon her children started sporting black mustaches and she got a black ring about her bathtub, also her children stopped having bloody noses, and started breathing better. (They did work at repairing their house too.) I got the book from her and started reading it on the airplane on our move over to Australia. It's got me convinced - it helps that I was pretty convinced from my friends experience before I even started reading the book. Since then, the book has now been passed on even more - to New Zealand and then over to the Solomon Islands, because it's a simple remedy that works for such a host of things.

Charcoal isn't new either. Charcoal is mentioned in a 2000 year old, Sanskrit (ancient Indo-Aryan language) text for the treatment of water. Around 1550 BC the Egyptians used it to cure various ailments and poisoning. Hippocrates (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC ) and Pliny the elder (23 AD – 79 AD) also refer to it in their writings. In the 1800's a few scientists, each unto their own, decided to use themselves as Guinea Pigs and took equal amounts of various known poisons (arsenic, strychnine) and charcoal with no ill effect. (A major DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, or anywhere else for that matter). In the early 1900's activated charcoal became industrialized as a means for dealing with deadly gases from World War I. From their it has taken off, in the manufacturing world at least, for use in water and air filtration. For a more detailed history click here.

So...what's the big deal?

Basically, charcoal is an excellent absorber of all sorts of things. (Click here if you want the technical explanation.)

Charcoal absorbs poisons (natural and man-made) and toxins - including heavy metals - making it excellent for insect bites, poisonous bites, wound cleaning/ healing, water and air filtration, and foul odors. It is used in hospitals for drug overdose, it tames diarrhea and bloating. It is excellent to poultices as it can actually draw poisons out of the body (organs, etc.) through the skin onto the charcoal poultice itself. A specified list of all that charcoal can be used for would be too long for me to write right now.

The great thing is that it doesn't just absorb all these things, it grabs them and keeps them there until the charcoal is eliminated (through your system, or cleaned off).

There are no known allergies, completely safe for newborns and pregnant/ nursing women, and it doesn't cost very much at all. My guess is that the last reason is why many people have not heard about it - nobody's making money off of you, especially if you can make it yourself (and that is mostly what we do). (Note: while it is completely safe, taking too much too, often can deplete your nutrition - remember it absorbs things - including some good stuff you will want to keep).

We did buy some capsules (capsules dissolve better than the tablets) for convenience for internal usage. Although a tablespoon in a glass of water works too. The capsules are great to carry along with you and for ease of use in public, or when your not at home. It just so happens that we went to a restaurant right after buying some capsules, (not that we eat out often, we stopped in LA for a couple weeks on our move). The water in the restaurant was so awful. So I decided to try this charcoal thing for myself. I unscrewed one capsule and dumped it into my husbands glass of water while he looked around to see if anyone was watching - he was a bit nervous about the black water. (As a rule, I generally don't drink the water at restaurants, although he made me try a sip of his to see how bad it was). We waited a couple minutes and tasted the water again. We could not believe how good it tasted! It was great, if you don't mind drinking black water.

So what's it doing in my kitchen?

It is for sure a "medicine cabinet" prize (if I had a medicine cabinet), but I use it a lot in the kitchen. This is of my own invention, I haven't heard of anyone else doing this, and you may think it's pretty weird...

We all know that it's important to make sure the stuff we put in our mouths is clean. Unless you pick it from your own garden, you do not know where that stuff has been or who handled it - with or without washed hands. A lot of people touch your food in the process of getting it to your plate. We used to always buy organic for a variety of reasons, but down here it's not so easy to do so, so we have to make do with what's available. In "Charcoal" I read a story about a man who attempted suicide by drinking pesticides (didn't say which one). His wife found him and somehow she and others managed to get enough charcoal into him and saved his life. With all the pesticides and all the harmful effects of them, this story really intrigued me. If charcoal neutralizes the effect of pesticides and is effective even into deeper levels of (human) skin, even to draw toxins from the liver transdermally, than what can it do for pesticide laden food? Like I said, that's just me thinking. But that's what I do for my non-organic produce and it makes me feel better.

There are many other places to use charcoal including the garden, but I will have to talk about that some other time.

Experiment and research this for yourself, it's a very well kept secret, but it's also a very useful bunch of burnt wood.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Applesauce and Granola

Applesauce has been coming out of our ears lately with the rich abundance of apples.

A new-found, favorite way to eat applesauce is to load it with granola, and a generous portion of coconut milk/ cream.
A great way to start the day - not too heavy, but not too light - or as a snack for anytime.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Something that I've quite enjoyed with stuff like fruit salad and yogurt is granola. Since soaking everything I've often wondered how in the world I would make granola, the real way, with oats.

Then I read a post on Just Making Noise that she made some soaked oats. (She heard about it from Cheesesalve who also has a great blog on Real Food.)

So I set to soaking some oats, very excited about having granola again. It's nice to have that bit of crunch with some fruit.

I crushed my dehydrated oats into little bits, just the right size for granola. Since they are soaked, they all stick together so crushing them gets them back to regular "granola size".

I chopped up come soaked and dehydrated almonds. Sprinkled on dried coconut. Drizzled melted butter, olive oil, and maple syrup with about a tablespoon on vanilla added to the liquid (to mix in better). Sprinkled just a bit of salt on top and in the oven it goes.

I gently roasted it (I was making it for breakfast the same day). You can also just dehydrate it slowly for a raw version.

The house smelled so good!

When it was dried to my satisfaction I loaded it onto a waiting bowl of fresh fruit salad, and toped it with a bit of coconut milk!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


A little while back some of the folks here went to an orchard nearby to pick up the fallen apples from underneath the trees. The owner was very kind and did not even charge us for the apples, although we offered.

The result?

Two tons of perfectly good apples!

So guess what's been happening around here?

Lots and lots of applesauce, dried apples, plain old eating and the occasional apple pie. We are waiting on a press to make apple juice.

Back in Canada, often the stickers on the apples (even the organic) were marked "Australia", now I just wonder if some of you folks back home are eating some of the apples from the same orchard.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Last of the Summer Harvest

As most people are celebrating Spring, here in Tasmania, we are ushering in fall - and rain. "April showers bring"...May showers, and June showers, and July showers."

Fortunately things still do grow here in the winter. Things like lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower.

But sadly, the last of so many things have come.

We found a couple zucchini left in the garden. They're little but they will be perfect for a quick side dish.

This is something that works well when you want something quick.

Chop and cook onions until soft.

Add chopped zucchini and tomatoes.
Season with basil and Herbamare.

Heat through. The tomato and zucchini don't necessarily need to be cooked. They are quite nice just warmed.

(raw cheese would also be excellent on top - if you have access and can tolerate it)