Monday, March 22, 2010

Naturally Beautiful Eggs For Spring Holidays

There are many good natural substitutes for the egg coloring kits available at the supermarket. These ingredients are readily available and non-toxic. Even the non-toxic kits can contain petroleum products. Any food product with coloring contains color additives such as Red No. 3 and Yellow No. 5. These additives are associated with allergies and according to a 1983 study by the FDA, were found to cause tumors in the case of Red No. 3 and hives from Yellow No. 5. It is unnecessary to expose your families to these toxins when there are so many great natural substitutes available.

To make the dye make sure you have enough liquid to cover the eggs you are trying to color. The ratio should be ¾ cup water to 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. The vinegar helps to extract the coloring agent from the botanical ingredients. If you are using leafy greens then substitute 1 tsp of baking soda for the vinegar. Use up to 4 cups of vegetable solids and 3–4 tablespoons for spices per quart of liquid. Simmer the ingredients for about half an hour adding ingredients and/or vinegar to increase the color of the dye.

Colors available

Red - Red onion peels or Beets

Brown - Black tea

Orange - Peels from yellow onions

Red-orange – Chili powder

Yellow - Turmeric

Lime Green/pale yellow - Green Tea

Green - Frozen spinach, remember to use baking soda not vinegar

Blue - Red cabbage

Purple - Frozen blueberries

Several sources suggested leaving the botanicals in the dye solution in order to achieve a mottled effect on the dying process but you can strain the solution with a coffee filter if you want a smoother appearance. If you are not planning to eat the eggs you may want to try boiling them in the dying solution. This is not recommend for eggs that you may consume simply because it produces a rubbery texture and off taste.

You can experiment with other plants and spices to try and get different colors but remember that eggshells are porous and it is important not to use any toxic materials for the dye solution. Colors vary in intensity – for more color leave the eggs in solution for an extended time. Remember to turn them so that they take up dye evenly. Find a hard surface on which to dry the eggs because they will have imprints if you place them on paper towels to dry.

You can incorporate texture by pressing leaves and grasses onto the egg while dying them. You can also wrap the eggs with string prior to dying to leave lines on the finished product. Add a shine to the finished product by brushing with olive oil.

Hollow eggshells can be preserved by varnishing or a light coat of white glue.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Natural Disease Prevention

We’ve heard a lot about colds and influenza and the controversy surrounding the vaccination programs. There are some important steps that can be taken to naturally protect yourself from these diseases.

One of the most important steps is to make sure that you have adequate vitamin D levels. It is no secret that cases of colds and flu are found in greater numbers during the fall and winter seasons. During these seasons there is less sunlight and correspondingly lower vitamin D levels. Studies suggest that the optimal level in the blood should be 50 – 65 ng/ml (Holick MF. Calcium and Vitamin D. Diagnostics and Therapeutics. Clin Lab Med. 2000 Sep;20(3):569-90 as quoted in and even higher levels are recommended in the case of severe illness. Many Americans have levels below 20 ng/ml in late winter season. In previous years this vitamin was only mentioned in conjunction with calcium levels for bone density. But current research shows its importance in preventing and treating a vast array of conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Exposure to sunlight aids in natural vitamin D production but there are concerns with excess sun exposure and skin cancer so supplementation may be used. However, it is important to have blood levels checked prior to beginning a supplementation program because vitamin D can build up to toxic levels in the body. The proper test checks the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D which is the active form. There are many great articles online discussing vitamin D.

Make sure you take care of you body by keeping your spine in alignment – the proper function of the nervous system and body alignment keeps the immune system tuned for peak performance. Make sure to get enough rest and proper nutrition. Maintain adequate hydration – moist mucus membranes are one of our first lines of defense against bacteria and viruses. Use a vaporizer if your home air is dry due to use of the heating system.

Basic hygienic measures can be effective in prevention as well. Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose or mouth. These are portals of entry for bacteria and viruses and your hands may carry many of these pathogens. Wash hands frequently – use soap and warm water. Remember to soap well between fingers and around nails. Keep hands adequately moisturized after handwashing –dry cracked skin allows pathogens to enter. Do not lick fingers when counting money or shuffling papers. If you’ve been ill be sure to clean your phone and toothbrush to prevent reintroducing infection. Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing to prevent spread of infection.