September 21, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Peter’s school throws a birthday party for each child on the class day nearest to his or her birthday. So, today is Peter’s first school birthday party! And that requires me to provide the snack for the day.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the days of bringing birthday cupcakes to school are over. It says so right in the school’s handbook. You see, those cupcakes may contain peanuts, eggs, dairy, wheat, gluten, chocolate, and for all we know, mad cow disease. Cupcakes and birthday cakes are forbidden at many schools now since they may contain potential allergens.
I take allergies very seriously. My niece has a peanut allergy and because of that I held off giving nuts to Peter until just a few months ago. Thankfully he is not allergic, which makes snack time so much easier now that I can give him the nut-filled Lara bars that I am addicted to often eat. Being a student of nutrition, I am confounded by the number and types of allergies kids have these days. I just don’t get it. Searching the web brings up an array of theories, none of which provide a definitive explanation. But, that topic can be a post (or book) on its own.
I wanted to bring a snack a little more festive than a box of Goldfish crackers, so today’s post is about the wacky, but hopefully allergen-free, ”cupcakes” I made for Peter’s class this morning. I got the idea from Angela at Oh She Glows . (Thanks, Angela!)
I made a “frosting” by combining sunflower seed butter and brown rice syrup fluff:
Cored and halved organic apples:
Plopped the “frosting” on the apple halves and jazzed them up by topping them with carob chips:
(I apologize for the horrendous pictures. I was running very late this morning.)
OK, so this version tastes…fine. However, when I make them for us at home, I’ll definitely use the peanut butter and fluff “frosting” with real dark chocolate chips version. Peter liked both versions, actually. Regardless of the version, I think it is a cute idea and it will be fun to experiment with different types of “frosting.”
I’m off to pick up Peter from school. We’ll see how well these “cupcakes” went over with the rest of the class!
April 9, 2010 § Leave a Comment
A friend who suffers from seasonal allergies recently asked me about natural remedies. She uses a neti pot (nasal irrigation), but feels that it’s just not doing the job on its own. So I consulted some of my reference books and the websites of Drs. Mercola and Weil and culled this list of natural remedies. It’s an overwhelming list, for sure, but information is power, and if you try one thing for a while with little or no results, you can try another tip, or tips, from the list.
Here we go:
My #1 recommendation is nasal irrigation. For severe allergies, rinsing can be done four times a day until symptoms are relieved.
If you need further relief, you may want to try one of these herbal recommendations:
1. Stinging Nettle (recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil. Supplements are available on Vitacost.com). This is definitely the most talked about herb I could find with regard to allergy treatment.
2. Quercetin (also recommended by Dr. Weil. Supplements are available on Vitacost.com)
3. Homeopathic remedies from BioAllers (recommended in the book “Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing” http://www.bioallers.com/category-exec/category_id/580 and http://www.vitacost.com/BioAllers-Allergy-Relief-Pollen-Hayfever-Allergy-Treatment/pd_section-pr#ProductReviews)
4. Visit an acupuncturist who practices Chinese medicine. There are herbal formulas in Chinese medicine that are known to help relieve allergy symptoms. Acupuncture itself may also relieve symptoms. (If you live in central MA, I recommend Root and Branch Oriental Medicine. Geoff and Eileen are just great.)
Now, I don’t have personal experience with these herbs, so I can’t tell you if they actually work. I can tell you that you should not take herbs if you’re pregnant or nursing or if you’re taking another antihistamine. I can only recommend that you research all four of the suggestions and determine whether you feel comfortable trying one of them.
Here are some suggestions from Dr. Joseph Mercola (Note: some of the links will lead you directly to a video clip [what I'm saying is, it's noisy. So be careful clicking if you're at work]):
1. Strengthening your immune system: Eliminate or limit sugars and grains from your diet as detailed in my nutrition plan and even more in-depth in my book Take Control of Your Health.
2. Exercising: The rate of hay fever among inactive kids is more than double that of healthier, more active youngsters, so regular exercise is an important tool to help prevent allergies from forming in the first place. (Note: the same can be said for adults)
3. Addressing your emotional stress: The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is one profoundly simple, inexpensive and effective tool to address the underlying emotional traumas that can devastate your immune system and allow allergies to flourish.
4. Getting plenty of animal-based omega-3 fat: The omega-3 fat in fish oil and krill oil helps reduce both allergic and inflammatory response.
5. Optimizing your vitamin D levels: Healthy amounts of vitamin D can also help to lower inflammation.
6. Taking a high-quality probiotic: Good bacteria (probiotics) may help lower levels of an antibody that produces allergy symptoms while raising levels of a different antibody, called IgG, that may play a protective role against allergic reactions.
7. Considering an air purifier for your home, to help remove airborne allergens (Dr. Andrew Weil adds this: I recommend a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes particles in the air by forcing it through screens containing microscopic pores. These devices work well and aren’t too expensive. Get one for the main rooms in your house, or move one from room to room regularly. Avoid air-filtering equipment that generates ozone (HEPA filters don’t).
And some more tips from Dr. Weil:
•Follow a low-protein diet and try to eliminate milk and milk products. Excessive protein can irritate the immune system and keep it in a state of overreactivity. The protein in cow’s milk is a frequent offender. (Dr. Mercola’s advice and this advice may make you wonder what you should actually eat, but I think limiting sugars and dairy products are your best bet. Especially dairy since it’s mucous forming.) (Note: there are two words that you will never hear me speak. One is “mucous” and the other is “moist”)
•Try hypnosis, which can lessen or completely prevent allergic reactions and facilitate the immune system’s unlearning of its pointless habits (in this case, an inappropriate response to pollen, dust, mold or animal hair or other substances that cannot really hurt us).
•Consider whether stress impacts your allergy and, if so, take steps to reduce it. I’ve seen long-standing, severe seasonal allergies disappear when people switched jobs, left a relationship or otherwise eliminated a source of stress.
•Dust-proof your bedroom by eliminating wall-to-wall carpets, down-filled blankets, feather pillows and other dust catchers.
•Substitute window shades for Venetian blinds, which can trap dust; be sure to wash curtains regularly in hot water to kill dust mites.
•Encase your mattress in an airtight, dust-proof plastic cover; dust your furniture with a damp cloth; and damp-mop floors regularly to pick up dust.
And from WebMD:
According to New York University allergist Clifford Bassett, MD, if you suffer from ragweed or other weed pollen allergies, “you should avoid eating melon, banana, cucumber, sunflower seeds, chamomile, and any herbal supplements containing echinacea, all of which can make symptoms much worse,” he says… (Note - I’ve seen recommendations to take echinacea for allergies, so there’s definitely some contradiction going on with that herb.)
And finally, also from WebMD:
…In addition, both Hardy and Frieri caution that if allergies are moderate to severe, you should not self-treat — even with seemingly benign natural products — without checking with your allergist first. When you are ready to try some alternative care, Hardy says one key to success is starting treatment before allergy symptoms kick in. The ideal time to begin, she says, is “three weeks before allergy season is scheduled to start.”
I hope you can find some relief using one or more of these suggestions. But, please, consult your doctor or allergist if you’re currently taking any other medications before you take any herbs. Just because herbs are “natural” doesn’t mean they can’t have an adverse effect.