This set of questions comes in frequently enough from blog readers, clients and friends that I’ve decided just to address them all here, even though they’re more personal.
How old are you?
I’ll be 43 in May 2016. Yes, I look young for my age. It’s partly my high raw, extremely fresh (often just harvested) and nutrient dense vegetarian diet, partly genes, partly keeping my skin moisturized (I switch among a variety of natural things depending on season), and largely related to lifestyle. When you live more authentically, you look and feel a lot younger.
Is that your natural hair color?
Yes, mostly. I’ve used henna for about 10 years, but not to alter the color of my hair. I use it to coat the knotty strands and make them far lower maintenance, requiring no conditioner and only minimal hair washes per week. I wrote a popular post on all things henna back in 2009 when people also kept asking about my crazy hair. The day of and day after putting a henna mud pie on my head, my hair’s quite a lot redder than normal, but after that initial color burst, the henna color has very little difference from my natural hair color. I just don’t like to brush or wash my hair much, and without henna, those witchy knots get totally out of control with winter scarves!
What do you use for dental care?
Some of you might remember that I used to have lots of trouble with my teeth due to demineralization, low vitamin D, and a spine injury that compromised my digestive nerves, thereby keeping my body from fully extracting nutrients from my food. It was quite the journey to recover and avoid double digit root canals, but I not only avoided the root canals, I popped out most of my fillings and regrew enamel. A huge part of that process included exorcising someone else’s projected emotional issues that had lodged in my teeth. I won’t go into details here, because they’re private, but beware covert hypnosis by someone with bad teeth!! On the physical level, I found the following things very helpful:
I make my own version of ORAMD, with almond oil, peppermint oil and spearmint oil in whatever concentrations I intuit I need. I’m sure the ORAMD is more standardized, and it does work well. I just got tired of buying little bottles for more money than I would spend if I used bulk items to mix and match. Your mileage may vary. Please don’t ask me to recommend oils companies, as I know people who sell from a variety of lines and don’t wish to show favoritism. I’ve also used NOW oils from health food stores, and my gums and teeth responded well, although I’m pretty sure NOW is not normally considered food or pharmaceutical grade.
I drink raw goat milk and eat raw goat milk cheese. It’s illegal to sell raw milk in Indiana outside of a herd share, unless you’re selling it for animal use. I have a very hungry pet tooth! Actually, I need to find a new supplier, as mine is selling their goats and packing up the business and the herd share here is full. Raw cow milk did not heal my teeth. It relieved pain and stopped the progression of cavities, but not until I switched to raw goat milk did my fillings pop out and enamel regrow. For a protocol about using diet to heal your teeth, I highly recommend Ramiel Nagel’s book, “Cure Tooth Decay.” You probably won’t want to try everything in there (fish head soup and organ meats anyone?!), but the book also gives a list of the worst tooth offenders, so you can at least avoid those or modify how you prepare them. It includes a lot of recipes for tooth healing, plus information on healing the gut, as well.
I go through periods in which I drink a lot of herbal infusions, especially nettles and oat straw. I find horsetail gaggable, but if i want really shiny hair or super hard teeth, I will occasionally chug down a horsetail infusion. You can find out about infusions here and here.
To fix my underlying back issue, I found several things extremely helpful:
the BioMat (I use this every day, and I prefer the Mini, since you can move it around without much effort)
Dr. John Sarno’s book, “Healing Back Pain”
the DVD, “Yoga for Scoliosis”
and, much more recently, Dr. Eric Goodman’s “The Foundation Exercises”
I’ve also found as a general rule that the more time I spend in the garden and the less time I spend sitting at a computer, the healthier my back feels. I have hauled literally 10’s of thousands of pounds of wood mulch, compost, leaves, trees and more during the past three years. When I send my former chiropractor from Madison (also a dear friend) photos of our yard, she cannot believe — literally cannot believe — my back allowed me to do any of this, as she saw the shocking spinal x-rays from 2011. Even then, she and her chiropractor hubby thought they must have mixed up the x-rays, because by all accounts, I should not have been able to walk, let alone hike up mountains.
Due to an accident in 2011 that re-aggravated the spine injury from my 1998 car accident, when I first went to my chiropractor friends, I was in severe, chronic, crumple-up-and-silently-scream pain. Since implementing the things mentioned above, my back remains pain free most of the time. I’ve not seen a chiropractor since leaving Madison, even though I used to go two or three times per week. Now, on the rare occasion I overdo something, it just takes a few minutes on the BioMat to recalibrate, or else asking myself what I’m feeling pressured to do that’s off path for me. Once I “realign,” the back pain disappears.
Can I have your recipe for ____?
I don’t generally follow recipes — or, rather, I often follow four or more at a time, adjusting them to my own needs, desires and ingredients. I don’t often write things down while in the kitchen, because I’m usually making a horrific mess! That said, here are some recipes and general tips:
The Five Flavors Principle:
One secret to delicious soups, curries, sauces, pate’s, and stir fries is what David and I call the “Five Flavors Principle.” We add in whatever ingredients for the base, but then we put in at least a small amount of each of the five flavors — salty, sweet, bitter, pungent, and sour. We don’t use refined sugar or salt, so the sweet might be a base of pumpkin/squash/sweet potato, a little fruit like goji berries, a pinch of birch sweetener, honey, blackstrap molasses or maple syrup. Just a little usually does it for those last ones. For salt, we use Real Salt, Himalayan sea salt, miso, wheat free tamari, kombu (a sea vegetable that makes beans more digestible), or homemade pickle juice. We eat loads and loads of dark leafy greens, which usually take care of the bitter flavor. Many herbs also fit that category and add extra health benefits. For pungent, we use homegrown garlic or onions. For sour, we often use a splash of apple cider vinegar, but depending on the dish, sour could also include lemon or lime juice.
For non-Asian savory soups or dishes, often add some cooking sherry for depth of flavor. We can’t decide what category sherry goes into, as it covers a wide range of tastes. The cooking process removes the alcohol.
There’s a lot of wiggle room with the Five Flavors Principle, and it really gets you thinking about the base flavors of your ingredients. David is “The King of Soups,” so even if I make the entire meal, he usually tinkers with the final flavors during the last few moments of cooking. I honestly don’t know exact proportions even when I do the tinkering, because for me, cooking is a highly intuitive process. When you incorporate the five flavors, your food not only tastes better due to the balance of explosions on your tongue, but you end up getting trace vitamins and minerals that your body needs and therefore responds with a feeling of immense satisfaction.
What’s in your vegan alfredo sauce?
White scallop squash (peeled zucchini or yellow squash might also work, but we love the white scallop squash)
extra virgin organic olive oil
a bit of hot water to aid blending of the above in a Vitamix or other highspeed blender
Amounts really do vary, so taste test as you go.
Add to a pot and bring to a slow boil, continue to taste test for creaminess and add more nutritional yeast if needed. I usually soak dried porcini mushrooms and use peas from our garden, adding those towards the end, along with a splash or more of sherry and just one splash of wheat free tamari. We salt and pepper to taste at the table and garnish the sauce with chopped fresh parsley and chives, served over quinoa pasta (elbows or penne). It is super yum, and don’t be shy with the garlic!
How long have you been gardening?
I had a small garden for two years in Madison, plus some indoor herbs both winters in a sun room there. I began working on our current Goshen, Indiana garden in April 2013. It’s now a mini-farm with raised beds to deal with juglone (from former black walnut trees) poisoned soil, and planted in a permaculture design that incorporates many, many fruit and nut trees, bee and butterfly friendly flowers, herbs, and annual and perennial vegetables. Late this summer, I also took over the smaller yard (and house) next door. I planted around 1000 spring bulbs this fall, so the whole place should be rockin’ next spring!
Although I’ve had three summers here, I do my best to garden in some form year round. I always grow some kind of herbs in winter, along with cuttings of tender perennial veggies that need to winter indoors. This year, I’ve got a two foot long window box of lettuce sprouts, which I hope will keep us in fresh lettuce all winter, provided we get enough light in our southern window. I’ve also got various hoop houses and row covers outside with chard, kale, lettuce, and spinach. If we have our typically frigid Northern Indiana winter, we won’t get much production out of those in January, February and March, but one of the new raised beds sits in front of the south facing wall of the house next door. I hope some heat bounces back to the covered bed to keep us in spinach most of the winter. I do have indoor grow lights, but the laundry room of the new house has not yet made its transition into gardening prep room.
Do you ever teach gardening classes?
I haven’t yet, but I plan to do so starting next spring or summer (2016). If all goes well, I will complete my permaculture design course this winter, and I’m also looking into herbalist certification. I apprenticed with an herbalist back in 2001-2002 and have taken numerous classes, plus private study; however, I’m not certified to teach or consult. I hope to remedy that soon, as people keep expressing interest in herbs, gardening and permaculture. I’d love to share more tips and instruction, as truly, working with plants and trees is one of the most amazing ways to transform your life and our collective world.