So you grew a ton of zucchini. Here are three yummy ways to perserve and enjoy them.
End of Summer is Squash time in the garden. There is a proliferation of Zucchini coming off the vines. Rather than eating zukes until we can't look at them anymore, I've been casting about to find different ways to preserve them so that we can enjoy them into the fall, and possibly the winter.
Here are the three things we’ve made this month using zucchinis that turned out fabulously.
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Frankly, I was a Dill pickle-making nube. But I had made mango and carrot pickle, Indian style from scratch before . So I went in using that knowledge to mix it up in the recipes I found. Here is what happened:
So, all in all, Zuke Pickle was a big hit!
2 pounds small zucchini (preferably about 4" or 8" long), trimmed and cut into spears
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt or pickling salt, divided
2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon dill seeds
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
4 star anise clove
12 garlic cloves, halved
4 red jalapeños or Fresno chilies, split lengthwise
2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
We love a good veggie spread at our house. There is nothing more satisfying than a Baba Ganoush or a humus and pita with a Greek salad on the side on a hot summer day. So when we stumbled across Zucchini Butter, we knew this would be a winner. It's basically Zucchini with a bit of butter, garlic and herbs, cooked down to a spreadable consistency. We have been eating it on baguette slices as an appy; in a veggie panini with Havarti cheese; and as a BBQ meat topper. It rocks in a burger or a-top a steak as an alternative to sauteed mushrooms. Added bonus: It keeps up to 2 weeks in the fridge and up to a year in the freezer.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 garlic cloves, gently smashed
2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
5-6 springs of rosemary (thyme and/or oregano is also good here)
1/2 teaspoon finely milled sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD
This recipe uses grated zucchini, picked fresh from the garden, semi-sweet chocolate chips and cocoa powder. The moisture from the zucchini gives the bread a decidedly brownie-like texture. Not complaining. Not now. Not ever! I’m loving this bread with a scoop of ice cream or a bit of custard and whipped cream. Okay, I’m now officially drooling!
I didn’t use all the zuke I grated so I measured out two cups, the amount needed for a loaf of Zuke bread, bagged and froze it for later use. This way we can keep enjoying Chocolate Zucchini Bread right through the fall, possibly winter.
2 cups grated zucchini (fresh or frozen then thawed)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (use natural unsweetened cocoa, NOT Dutch processed)
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts or seeds (optional)
6T tbsp unsalted butter, melted OR sunflower oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
Zucchini has not been a favourite with my kids over the years. They've always found it bland or too mushy, though I was always able to sneak it in with chocolate. And now, we have definitely upped our zucchini game. Plus, cooking with food harvested fresh from my garden is bringing me a lot of joy and satisfaction.
What have you been making out of zucchini lately?
CHIA SEED OIL: A SUPER MOISTURIZING ROCK STAR
Sometimes you meet a oil that you just love, and loves you back, inside and out. Chia Seed Oil is one of those ingredient rock stars for which I just can't sing enough praises. On the inside, Chia Seeds are a super food that bring so many health benefits. On the skin, it's pure magic. It's moisturizing, soothing, softening, protective and anti-aging.
A BIT OF CHIA SEED HISTORY
They ascribed their military prowess to the power of Chia in their diets. It was also used in their sacred and worldly ritual. Chia was given as sacrificial offering to the gods; extracted as tribute payments from conquered nations; and often used it as currency. Now, that's one valuable plant!
WHAT MAKES CHIA SEED SUCH A NUTRITIONAL SUPERSTAR?
Chia is rich in essential fatty acids, specifically omega-3 and omega-6. They are 5 x richer in calcium than cow’s milk; extremely high in vitamin C, 7 x more than oranges; high in iron, 3 x higher than spinach. Last but not least, chia seeds are also high in potassium, selenium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, E and B6. Not to mention fibre and protein. Added bonus: they are gluten-free.
So with all that nutritional power, chia seeds promote the correct functioning of the heart, brain and immune system while helping blood circulation by exerting an anti-oxidant function. They benefit teeth and bones, help improve your mental acuity, keep blood sugar and pressure in check, and are quite filling, should you be on a diet. All that in a tiny little seed.
WHAT MAKES CHIA SEED OIL FOR FABULOUS FOR SKIN?
Once again, it's that Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid content that skin just soaks up. These fatty acids help maintain moisture levels in the skin which reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as relieving dryness and flaking. Chia seed oil can also help with issues like rosacea or eczema on the face. It leaves your skin feeling soothed, smooth, soft and replenished. This is wonderful for dry and sensitive skin.
Chia seed oil is also a great source of vitamin B3 and zinc, which helps with oily skin and clogged pores. It also can help take down the inflammation and irritation that comes with break-outs.
It's also full of amazing antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, as well as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonoids, all of which protect your skin from environmental stressors. In fact, the antioxidants in chia seed oil have shown to be even stronger than vitamin C and vitamin E, two common and powerful antioxidants. This is exactly the kind of care normal skin needs to fight off signs of aging.
Put all of chia seed oils properties together—moisturizing, protection, and calming you have the perfect natural ingredient for maintaining your skin through all its changes. And that is why I chose to include it in all our Facial Oil blends.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
8 FABULOUS USES FOR ALOE VERA GEL
Aloe Vera is a cactus plant that belongs to the Liliaceae family. Known as the "Lily of the Desert", it is thought to have originated in the deserts of Sudan and then transported to the hot desert climates of the ancient world--Africa, India and China.
In ancient Egypt, Aloe Vera was known as the “plant of immortality.” Cleopatra used it in her daily skin treatments. Otherwise, it was used to treat burns, wounds, infections, parasites and fever in both China and Egypt. Legend has it that Alexander the Great, advised by Aristotle, conquered the island of Socotra, off the coast of Africa, for its supplies of Aloe Vera in order to treat wounded soldiers. Why he couldn’t have just traded for it, I don’t know. But it gives you an idea of just how valuable a plant Aloe Vera was to the ancients. More recently 1n 1944, the Japanese who were exposed to nuclear bombs applied aloe gel to their wounds and reported faster healing and less scarring. Wowza! That’s one powerful plant.
THE BENEFITS OF ALOE VERA IN HEALTH, WELLNESS AND SKIN CARE
Aloe Vera contains over 200 biologically active, naturally-occurring constituents including polysaccharides, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and minerals that promote nutrient absorption, digestive health, a healthy immune system, and a reduction of nitrates
Here’s a video from the Raw Chef showing how to remove Aloe Gel from the leaf.
SO NOW YOU'VE EXTRACTED THE GEL. HERE ARE 8 WAYS TO USE IT
1. Treat sunburn.
Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker. You can put pure gel onto your skin. You can also lay the aloe vera leaf rind that you took the gel from, gel side down on your skin.
2. Moisturize Skin.
Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel. It`s perfect for anyone with an oily skin complexion because it will moisturize while healing breakouts and their aftermath scars. Aloe vera gel can be used as an aftershave treatment as its healing properties can treat small cuts caused by shaving.
3. Treat Acne and Eczema
Aloe vera gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that gently and effectively reduce skin inflammation. Giberellin in aloe vera acts as a growth hormone stimulating the growth of new cells. It allows the skin to heal quickly and naturally with minimal scarring.
Aloe is soothing and can reduce skin inflammations, blistering and itchiness, while helping the skin to heal more rapidly. In Ayurvedic medicine Aloe is used to effectively heal chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.
4. Fight aging.
Need a little extra help on the fine line front? Aloe Vera gel to the rescue. As we age, we lose elasticity in the skin. Aloe gel contains a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin's natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated. It can work beautifully as a soothing eye gel.
5. Lessen Stretch Marks
Think of your skin as one big piece of elastic that’ll expand and contract as needed to accommodate growth. But if the skin stretches too far, too fast (due to pregnancy, say, or rapid weight gain or loss) the skin’s spring-back factor can be damaged, due to minor tears in the layers of the skin caused by sudden and excessive stretching And so…hello stretch marks. Aloe vera gel can help by healing these wounds and when they do, they fade. Goodbye stretch marks.
6. Nutritious Superfood
This solid material contains over 75 different nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones or phenolic compounds, lignin, saponins, sterols, amino acids and salicylic acid. Whew! That’s a mouthful but what does Aloe Vera ingested do for your body?
It can help boost your immune system. A major part of the immune system are the white blood cells that form the first line of defense by creating a barrier that hunts down and kills foreign particles, helping the body fight off infection and disease. A compromised immune system drops in white blood cell count; ingesting aloe Vera gel can help increase the body’s white blood cell count.
Aloe vera can also help the body clear out environmental toxins by boosting metabolism. It has a significant amount of antioxidant properties and it also helps the body absorb antioxidants from our foods and supplements.
Aloe Vera gel has also been shown to support healthy muscle and joint function, when ingested.
7. Soothes in Periodontal Disease.
According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Aloe Vera is extremely helpful in the treatment of gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. It reduces bleeding, inflammation and swelling of the gums. It is a powerful antiseptic in pockets where normal cleaning is difficult, and its antifungal properties help greatly in the problem of denture stomatitis, apthous ulcers, cracked and split corners of the mouth.
8. Digestive Aid.
Aloe Vera helps maintain a healthy intestinal pH while promoting a friendly environment for probiotics in the digestive tract. It also can assist in controlling bad bacteria growth that can inhibit nutrient absorption. Aloe Vera has been known to improve digestion and to relieve ulcers. Some people consider it a laxative, while others attribute that effect to its digestive qualities (which normalize the system and induce regularity).
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team
Do you have any favourite uses for Aloe Vera Gel? Please share in the Comments Section.
ACHES, ECZEMA AND CRAVINGS? IT COULD BE LEAKY GUT
What could joint pain, skin, problems, sugar cravings, food allergies, food sensitivities, constipation and autoimmune disease have in common? Would you believe, Leaky Gut Syndrome?
The ancient Greek physician and Hippocrates said that âall health and disease begins in the gutâ. Maybe he was on to something. Today, scientific, published study after study (which number in the several thousands) have grown our understanding of how modern diets and lifestyles negatively affect gut function and so lower our disease immunity In short, we could be currently eating ourselves into unwellness.
When my partner Thom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006, the neurologists tried a few drug combos, none of which worked. They verbally patted his head and told him that there was nothing to be done, that he should just accept his fate like a good boy. The condescension is not exaggerated. Enter me into his life in 2011, unable to accept that verdict. As a 3rd level Reiki practitioner familiar with plant-based remedies and aromatherapy, I had been around enough situations where people (including myself) could turn around physical conditions without having to revert to Western Medicine and its âtriage managementâ approach. And so the research into what could help Thom began. Which is when we met, âLeaky Gut Syndrome".
WHAT IS LEAKY GUT SYNDROME?
Your gut is a powerhouse that works night and day to process the food-fuel you put into your body. Your gut lining is like a security guard that lets beneficial nutrients into your bloodstream while keeping the toxic waste out so that it can be eliminated. Now imagine that there are so many toxins in your intestines that they have riddled your gut lining with holes through which undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria are free to enter your bloodstream and poison your body. Now you have Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Studies show that 80% of your immune system cells live in your gut. When random particles enter your bloodstream, your body sets off its warning alarm to tell your immune system to call in the troops and fight the infection. Your immune response will protect you, but each time itâs triggered, it causes systemic inflammation. And if the stream of toxins is relentless, your immune system will go into overdrive, preventing your body from being able to heal and repair itself naturally. The long-term effects of this could be more chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Leaky gut has also been linked to autism, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, obesity, cancer and Multiple Sclerosis. Cue Light Bulb Moment.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE LEAKY GUT?
According to those same studies, thereâs a direct link between the gut and the skin (gut-skin axis) gut and brain (gut-brain axis). What that means is that thereâs a long list of symptoms you could have when your immune system is fighting toxic infection. Here are some of them:
â¢ Skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis
â¢ Allergies, food sensitivities, and food intolerances
â¢ Digestive symptoms, like bloating, constipation, diarrhea
â¢ Candida yeast overgrowth
â¢ Irritable Bowel Diseases, like Celiac Disease, Crohnâs and ulcertaive colitis
â¢ Autoimmune diseases, like Hashimotoâs, rheumatoid arthritis, MS
â¢ Depression, anxiety
â¢ Hormonal imbalances, including PMS and estrogen dominance
â¢ Nutrient deficiencies
â¢ Brain fog
ââ¢ Chronic fatigue syndrome
The ones that twigged for Thom were Autoimmune disease, food allergies, skin conditions, brain fog, asthma and depression. So I began to research how we might be able to heal his gut.
CAN YOU HEAL A LEAKY GUT? EAT GUT HEALING FOODS
Our modern, North American fast food/processed food diet really sucks for health and wellness. The major culprits, in our experience, are refined sugar and carbs, trans-fats, gluten, non-organic dairy products,, wheat, additives and preservatives and pesticides. These pro-inflammatory foods are most damaging to gut health. Yet in North America we consume them on a regular basis.
So we made changes to his diet. Bye Bye Donuts, brownies, dairy, pasta, bread, noodles, lagers. Hello Green Smoothies, grass fed meat, coconut oil, veggies and fruits, seed butters, bone broth, sauerkraut, and Guiness. This process took some time. We eliminated foods and put them back to see what he reacted to. In the end, we found ourselves in the Paleo Diet terrain, which also works for me and my eczema. Iâve included a downloadable PDF from www.blog.kettleandfire.com of lists of foods that heal Leaky Gut and foods to stay away from. There are some things on the âNever Eatâ list that Thom can eat, just not everyday. Itâs all a matter of paying attention, trial, error. Or getting yourself tested to see what foods are âno go zonesâ for you. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to download the PDF.
Here are some gut-healing must-haves:
â¢ Bone Broth. It's full of collagen, gelatin and glutamine, which help heal and repair the gut lining. We make ours broth at the top of the week in a slow cooker. It get put into smoothies and other meals.
â¢ Lightly cooked veggies - steamed or stir fried in coconut oil. The rule of thumb is that raw foods can be hard for a leaky gut to digest. Iâd say see what works for your gut.
â¢ Coconut oil. Its natural antibacterial properties help combat bad bacteria in the gut; its anti-inflammatory properties can soothe and calm the intestinal lining. Besides, it provides much needed âbrain fuelâ. An essential ingredient of Thomâs smoothies, and my go-to for stir frys.
â¢ Grass fed meats are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids and mineralsâ two nutrients needed for gut health. And it tastes WAAAAY better than grain-fed meats.
â¢ Wild fatty fish or fish oil is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids. Fish also contains vitamin D, which has been linked to gut health. We also use flaxseed oil.
â¢ Oat Juice. It helps soothe and repair intestinal linings. We found that this was the case with Thom. If you have serious grain intolerance, this might not work for you.
KEEP STRESS LEVELS DOWN
This one is critical because stress unleashes hormones in your body that can exacerbate the immune system. Here are some suggestions to beat stress.
â¢ Go to bed an hour earlier each night (bonus: every hour of sleep you get before 11 p.m. is said to be worth 2 hours). I must confess that Netflix and binge watching sometimes makes this one hard to do!
â¢ Turn off the Tech before bed time. The artificial blue light from screens is linked to disturbances in your natural sleep and wake cycles. Yeah, also not an easy one for me, much easier for Thom.
â¢ Spend time outdoors (even if itâs just a 20-minute walk during your lunch break) to absorb vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is known as the âsunshine vitaminâ because it promotes a happier mood, and it also plays an important role in reducing gut inflammation. This one makes a huge difference!
â¢ Yoga, meditation, and exercise can help ground you through stress and release thoseâhappy hormonesâ, your bodyâs natural anti-depressants. Thom has been hitting the gym with our friend, Pam three times a week. His stability, strength and mood have greatly improved. I have been walking more and going to Zumba Classes. A little happy dancing goes a long way!
ââ¢ Hang out with with people who inspire and uplift. Do more things on your own that nurture your spirit. Spend less time with people and situations that depress or create anxiety. This is totally making a difference for Thom. And music is his go-to for soul nurturing.
PUT IN SOME GOOD BACTERIA
Probiotics are incredibly important when it comes to healing and preventing leaky gut. Not only do they help keep bad bacteria out of your digestive tract, they also strengthen the gut lining, to help prevent leaky gut. Thereâs a few things that can deplete good bacteria from your system: antibiotics, chronic stress, too many carbs, too much refined sugar and stomach viruses. But fear not, you can replace good bacteria with fermented foods like:
â¢ Unsweetened coconut or goat milk yogurt (organic cows milk yogurt if you donât have dairy sensitivities)
â¢ Apple cider vinegar (raw, unpasteurized, and with âthe motherâ)
â¢ Beet Kvass
â¢ Organic unsweetened goat milk kefir
âOr you can take a probiotic supplement that will contain several different strains of good bacteria. These can be found in the refrigerated section of your local health food store. Goat milk kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are Thomâs go-tos. Mine is organic yogurt, which I have with fruit and nuts in the morning.
DETOX YOUR SYSTEM
Detox Your System
While you canât control all the toxins around you, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to them. Number three below is actually one of my inspirations for starting Free Lion Body Care in the first place.
â¢ Drinking plenty of clean, filtered water.
â¢ Choosing organic produce when possible.
â¢ Switching to natural cosmetics, body care products, and household cleaning products. I make my own (!!).
â¢ Making it a priority to sweat. Sweating through exercise helps your body eliminate toxins naturally.
âThe state of your gut matters to your health, on a daily basis. Even the most basic, little changes can mean the difference to feeling more energetic, having healthier looking skin, and having deeper, more restful sleeps. And who doesnât want that!?
It is my hope that these changes weâve made are setting Thomâs body up for some success in the eventually healing MS department. Already we have seen improvement, though not total reversal, in his symptoms. And dude is WAAAAY happier to be around these days. I have no idea if the damage already caused by the disease is actually reversible. Apparently, the MS doctors donât either. So it comes down to choosing between, âNothing you can do, but be a good boy and have this pill while youâre waiting to dieâ vs. âHell, YA, letâs give that natural remedy a try. Whatâve we got to lose? And are you up for sit skiing this winter, honey?â For us, that choice is a no brainer.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team.
This blog post represents my opinion and experience only. Do what works for you. Below is downloadable PDF infographic on foods the help or hinder the gut.
You are what you eat, popular wisdom tells us. While I don’t feel overly like a grass fed cow, I’m going with the truism. What you eat DOES affect your overall health and most definitely your skin’s health. Whether you’re soothing dry, flaky skin, preventing wrinkles or healing acne, paying attention to what you put IN your body can make a huge difference. The overall guiding principle is keep it simple and as close to raw and unprocessed as possible, drink lots of water, stay away from trigger foods and most of all, really enjoy what you’re eating.
There are some foods for the skin that are on my must-have list, and a few to stay away from. Full disclosure: I am not a trained doctor, nurse or dietitian. I’m sharing some things i’ve learned through experience and research over the 50 years I’ve spent trying to solve my eczema issues. We've put them together for you in a handy infographic, Eat your Way to Healthy Skin. You can also download it using the link at the bottom of the page. We hope, though, it gives you some inspiration, ideas and food for thought.
And now the disclaimer: Our Eat Your Way to Healthy Skin infographic is intended to provide information only and should not be considered medical advice.
Sherazad Jamal, The Free Lion Team