Health Recipes

Your Brain on Elderberry

Posted on Updated on


My kids always ask me for elderberry capsules when they start getting sick. I think it’s great that they choose this over any other cold or flu medicine ❤ !  Elderberry is a folk remedy with a crazy list of benefits.  It’s a powerful antioxidant, helps lower cholesterol, improves vision, and helps your body fight bacterial and viral infections. Elderberry juice has been used to treat influenza, and was very effective!

But, of course, I’m interested in what elderberry does for your brain:

“Elderberries are wild shrubs, growing eight to ten feet tall, and are found along streambeds and waste areas across most of North America. They are exceptionally high in aconthocyanins, a potent antioxidant that helps protect brain cells and mitochondria from damage.” –Dr. Terry Wahls

“Elderberries are packed with quercetin, a flavonoid that’s critical to your brain’s health. Like blueberries and strawberries, the flavonoids found in elderberries help reduce harmful inflammation at a cellular level. Additionally, quercetin increases the activity of your cells’ mitochondria, which you can think of as the “powerhouses” within each of your cells. By boosting your mitochondrial activity, you’ll boost your overall energy level, too.” – Dr. Majid Fotuhi, author of The Memory Cure

I was talking to a guy last year about  the benefits of elderberry. He said, “Oh, I have those in my back yard. We never do anything with them.” He invited me to come over when his berries got ripe this year. I was so excited! I decided I was going to make my own elderberry syrup. I was going to be that mom!

He called to tell me the berries were ready last Friday. I started researching recipes and found out that  some elderberries are poisonous. And even the ones that aren’t poisonous need to be cooked to remove toxins from them. The stems need to be removed because they’re poisonous. There’s nothing like the internet to make a person paranoid. I wasn’t even sure if I should do it. But elderberries are one of my favorite natural remedies, so I decided to try.

Yesterday, I brought my daughter and her friend over to pick them. The berries were too high to reach, so the elderberry guy pruned some of the branches from the high part of the bush and we started picking them off.

The berries were unbelievably tiny! It took a super long time, but the elderberry guy was really funny and entertaining, so the time flew by. Later, he gave us a tour of his AMAZING 100 year old house. The girls got to pick some blueberries, too, until my daughter got freaked out by the spiders.  It was an adventure.

Tonight I cooked up 1/2 the berries after looking at this recipe. Of course, I didn’t actually follow the recipe because I almost never do.

In the pan:

*1 1/2 cups elderberries with every single stem removed 🙂

*about 10 leaves from the stevia plant in my garden

*2 tsp ground cinnamon

*1/2 tsp ground ginger

* 1/2 cup water

I brought them to a boil and then reduced the heat. I simmered them for about 45 minutes. They smelled great. I tried putting the mixture through a strainer and hardly any came out. I ended up putting the whole mixture in the blender and adding 3/4 cup of water (I should have put more water in there to begin with), and blending it up. I made a HUGE mess and used up a lot of dishes. But it tasted really good!

I put the pulpy stuff into some of those ice cube trays that look like hearts. Then I put them in the freezer for later.

Next time I would use more water-maybe about  2 1/2 to 3 cups? And then I would have some syrup to put through the strainer. I don’t want it to be too runny, though, because I am not using honey to thicken it up.

I’m still alive :). My brain feels better already.

My New Favorite Morning Drink (Besides Coffee)

Posted on Updated on

lemon Himalayan salt

Here it is:

*8 oz warm/hot water

*Juice of 1 lemon

*1/8 tsp of sea salt (Himalayan, Celtic, Realsalt, etc.)

*Stevia if desired

Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

That’s it! This drink does so many good things for your body.

Drinking 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt in your water helps it work better for hydrating every part of your body. I’ve tried many times in my life to “drink enough water” like I was supposed to. It never made me feel better and I had to go to the bathroom a lot. Now I know that it’s important to drink water with a bit of salt in it in order to get all of the benefits.  This is SO IMPORTANT if you have adrenal fatigue, which a lot of us do :). We drink too many cups of coffee to kick our adrenals into action. The adrenals only have so much to give!

The adrenals produce a lot of different hormones: stress hormones, sex hormones, and a hormone called aldosterone. Aldosterone tells the kidneys to retain sodium when it’s needed, for many functions in the body. One important function of salt is to facilitate the transport of nutrients into the cells, such as calcium, magnesium, glucose, and amino acids(sodium-potassium pump). If you have adrenal fatigue, this isn’t working so well.  James Wilson (author of Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome) says:

“Another consequence of low aldosterone is electrolyte imbalance and cell dehydration, which both have negative effects on almost all physiological reactions in the body. Aside from salt cravings, low blood pressure and light-headedness, patients with adrenal fatigue often experience an irregular heartbeat, lethargy, muscle weakness, and increased thirst. These are all a result of imbalance in sodium and other minerals, including potassium and magnesium. Increasing your salt intake is one way to help restore these imbalances.”

So give your poor adrenals some love! ❤

In addition to the hydration and adrenal benefits, lemon water in the morning can assist your body with digestion and detoxification (more info here). In my opinion, improving digestion and detoxification are two of the most important things you can do to improve your mental health. And I am a BIG FAN of mental health and balanced energy!

I’ve had enough ups and downs in my life, have you?

The Good Guys- Probiotics

Posted on Updated on


I’ve been a fan of bacteria for a long time. I gave probiotics to my son and they helped him recover from waaaay too many antibiotics given to him as a baby (repeated ear infections).

The bacteria that survived these antibiotics ate his little baby teeth in short order. As in “Oh, Honey, you have a little cavity, we’ll have to take you to the dentist soon.” Then, a month or two later, he had cavities down to his gums. It was not a proud mommy moment when I had to take my son to get 4 crowns when he was 4 years old.

His digestive symptoms were horrible.  And he also got a bad case of warts all over his hands and other areas of his body, including his chin!  When I gave him probiotic supplements for all of these issues, the warts went away in a few months. 80% of your immune system is actually located in your digestive tract!

So while I knew about probiotics, it never occurred to me to grow them in my own kitchen. It sounds kind of risky, doesn’t it? But then my friend gave me some kefir grains to make my own kefir.  When I was doing research about kefir, I found out that most traditional cultures prepare fermented foods.

Fermenting preserves food and helps digestion. I talked to people who weren’t raised in this country and I found out that most of them eat some sort of fermented food and swear by the health benefits. Sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, kvass, kimchi, cortido, and homemade yogurt are examples. But we “civilized” people prefer to be sanitized :).

I heard about kombucha, and I was just getting ready to try some when they pulled it off of the market.  I decided I HAD to try it to see what the big deal was, right? So as soon as it reappeared in my Fred Meyer health food section, I bought some. I was pretty sad when I tasted it. It just tasted like vinegar to me, but I had paid $3.00 for it so I decided to drink it anyway. About half way through I suddenly got this relaxed yet energized feeling. I was hooked!  I know what you’re thinking, it was NOT the teensy bit of alcohol in it. This energy and good feeling lasted for the rest of the day. So I hunted down a SCOBY on Craigslist and started brewing my own. I like it with ginger juice. Yum!

I also ferment organic vegetables like cucumbers, beets, cabbage, carrots, onion, etc. If they aren’t organic they don’t ferment well. Pesticides? Bleach?

My favorite veggie recipe is this one:

Cortido (adapted from: Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon)

  • 1 large cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, grated
  • 2 medium onions, quartered lengthwise and very finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of pressed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

I chop everything up and put it in mason jars to ferment for 4-7 days. I wait until it tastes “pickled”, then I put it in the refrigerator when it tastes like I want it to. Some folks use air lock jars or crocks.

If you’re interested in making your own kitchen experiments, I suggest joining the Wild Fermentation Facebook group. They ferment everything imaginable.

You see, fermented foods like kombucha and sauerkraut can repopulate your gut bacteria (and beneficial yeast). And they also have detoxifying acids that can assist your liver. These two things alone are HUGELY important in managing depression/anxiety!

There is a lot going on in our gut that scientists have discovered just in the past few years. They’ve discovered that gut bacteria manufacture most of the serotonin in the body.  GABA is manufactured in our gut, too.

Depression is also influenced by inflammatory cytokines. The inflammation is caused by things that stress the body. Heavy metals,toxins, and sub-clinical infection are a few things that can put the immune system on high alert to try to get rid of the threats to the body. Kombucha and fermented veggies contain acids to assist the liver in detoxifying these substances. Then good microbes in the foods safely shuttle the toxins out of your body.

Thanks, Detoxify Your Life, for the link love :). Go check out Karen’s blog on her experiences with brewing her own kombucha!

Happy growing!

This post was shared on Healing with Food Friday.