Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Choose the Perfect Teapot

You've picked your favorite loose leaf tea and now you want to know the best way to brew...not only for yourself but for others as well.  This is where the classic teapot comes into play.  Why even use one?  What are they for?  Do I need one?  Hopefully these questions will be answered as well as a few guidelines to help you choose the best one to suit your needs.  Yes, "needs."  A tea drinker NEEDS a teapot like fish need water.  It's just the nature of leaves.  Tea needs a place to be brewed in not only an ideal container, but also for visual presentation.

Visual presentation for tea?  Yes.  Let's take a look at the coffee house phenomenon. What makes us willing to pay some big $$ for a cup of coffee at a coffee house when we could get it for 99 cents at the gas station?  Let's face it.  We not only love the way our coffee and tea taste, we also are having lots of fun with the process of how it's made too.

The Asian cultures have always valued their teas.  The Japanese are known to have a choreographed tea ceremony in order "to prepare a bowl of tea from one's heart."  The Chinese have special small teapots and steep leaves in a very specific way and multiple times in order to savor each small cup of tea and to compare each infusion with the other.  Now if these aren't sensory experiences, I don't know what is.

Tea doesn't need to be this elaborate, but it does help us to understand the value of the right teapot and infuser for the purpose.

1.  Consider a teapot if you're brewing loose leaf teas.  If you are using teabags, then there is really no point to invest in one.  However, teapots are perfect for loose teas.  They allow the teas to swell and expand in the water if you use a teapot without a brewer basket.  You'll just want to make sure you have a tea filter or some kind of strainer when pouring your tea.  Also, you will want to make only the right amount of tea for drinking right away so the tea leaves don't sit and become bitter.  You can always add some more hot water again for another infusion, just let the tea leaves steep a little longer.

Found this one at a local tea house...a six cup teapot.

2. When investing in a teapot, consider how many people you want to serve.  I have teapots in all sizes because...well, you get it, I love them.  However, my first every day use teapot was a 4 cup floral one my mom found at an outlet store.  It is still my standard one today.  I use it for family pots of tea as well as for company.  A four cup teapot is good to hold four 8 oz. cups of tea.  This is good for multiple cups for two people or one cup for more company.  It works even for one person if you enjoy tea.

I eventually invested in a large six cup teapot because I was entertaining more and once you serve people good tea, they always come back for more! Most of my friends (and our son's friends) are now true tea lovers and always expect a cup when they come to visit.

My four cup first new one.

3. You may want to invest in a teapot with a brewer basket.  My personal daily teapot is a 24 oz. model I bought some time ago to replace my French press (another way to brew tea!)  I really like the mesh basket that came with it because it filters out the tiny leaves of rooibos tea, my every day tea.  A basket doesn't let the leaves flow as freely, but it does allow my tea to sit as I can take out the basket and re-steep later. 

I really like its more modern design and clean lines.  It takes tea out of the Victorian tea rooms and makes it more appealing to the younger crowd as well as the guys.  Not that I don't like tea rooms...I love them!  But I like the idea of drinking tea in a more modern way or even oriental only adds to the romance of it.

My 24 oz teapot with brewer basket.

4.  Consider using a new teapot for your everyday tea.  When I first started out in tea, I came into the possession of some beautiful vintage from England that I love.  I would use them happily until one day my sister-in-law, who used to work for a major pottery told me that lead in the glaze on dishes was not regulated until after the 1970's.  So, it would probably be good if you are drinking tea for health reasons to use a newer teapot or better yet a lead-free (in the glaze) one.  I read one blogger's post how lead could possibly leach into your food/drink if the glaze becomes cracked or scratched.  Not to panic anyone, but just a thought if you get serious about drinking tea, especially for its health benefits.1

Here is a link to a lead-free site that sells teapots and sets....Bee House Teapots and Tableware

My younger son's personal teapot.  It makes about 10 oz. of tea.

5. Consider alternate types of teapots. I was just gifted this very cool "infuser/teapot" for Christmas.  I love it.  It's the best of both worlds.  It steeps your tea very loose leafed AND you can watch the tea leaves unfurl.  After that fun, you simply set it on top of your cup or travel mug and the tea is released from a bar being pressed by the rim of your mug.  It's a great experience.  It's made with BPA-free plastic, so you need to decide if you feel comfortable with using it.  I like it for a change as I use my ceramic teapot most days.

This teapot is a bit costly, but since I got it as a gift, I won't say a thing. You can find the one I have here.

Well, hope this is a bit helpful as you explore your own tea journey.  It can seem overwhelming, but you just start out with one canister of loose leafed tea, one infuser and one teapot at a time.  You may stop there or you may find yourself needing a larger teapot for all those wonderful friends and family in your life...blessings!

Learning about tea?  You may want to read my other tea posts...Three Reasons Why to Buy Bulk Loose Leaf Tea  

What's your favorite teapot?

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Seed Packets: Packages of Promise

There has always been something very enticing about a seed packet.  Whenever I see them in a store or in a catalog, I have to stop and look at them; almost as if I've never seen them before.  Maybe it's because they only make their appearance once a year.  Or maybe it's the rows of enticing pictures and colors that pull me in. They seem to stand out like picture postcards foretelling of happy times to come.
Whatever it is; I'm always drawn to them.  They scream out life in the middle of winter,  speak of hope for new seasons, and forecast great things coming my way if I'll only bring them home.

 It's not just the pictures that draw me either, the names are compelling as well.  The old timers who named many of the heirloom varieties were very creative and descriptive.  No Green Bean No. 17 here.

 With such names as "Green Tiger," "Red Russian," and "Dragon's Tongue," I feel as if I'm in the middle of a fantasy story itself, anxiously waiting for the story to unfold.

 Each packet holds the key to a new life in the recesses of it's paper shell.  Tiny seeds of promise, hope, life and renewal.  Promises that if you carefully follow its instructions, you will reap a harvest of fruitfulness and abundance.  I really like that...

All this in a 98 cent packet + good soil and water + a little hard work + faithfulness and hope = Abundant Harvest.  Wow.  I'm in!  Guess that's why gardening is such a rewarding way of life.  

Here's hoping all your promises come true this year...blessings!

Are you seed packet addict fan? 

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Scoop on Sugar: What We Need to Know

Photo Source
It's the month of January and most of us have our New Year's resolutions of losing weight, eating better and exercising more.  So following this trend, I thought a post about a sneaky health culprit would be in order.

Now, I happen to have a sweet tooth.  I mean...I like sugar.  However, I have felt its effects for some time now and so I've made a conscious effort to cut it back if not almost out of my diet (except at Christmas!)  At least refined sugars (sugars taken out of their natural state.)  

So this post is meant to be informative and to help you come to your own conclusions regarding sugar.  I won't be trying to say to not eat a cookie or ice cream ever again, but maybe raise some awareness of what sugar (in all its different forms) is;  based on just a bit of the vast amount of information out there.

There is so much to read and study about sugar but I won't be doing that here.  I just want to share a few things I learned along the way and also a few things I discovered personally with sugar consumption.

1. The only sugar form your body needs or will use is glucose. 

 Although the body does require sugar (glucose), as this is the only fuel the brain can use, it is important to remember the physiology of digestion. The properly functioning human organism can produce all the glucose the brain needs through the digestion of whole, natural, unprocessed foods. 1  Dr. John Yudkin of Queens College, London, states "all human nutritional needs can be met in full without having to take a single spoonful of white or brown or raw sugar." 2

So, understanding that our body doesn't NEED any additional sugar beyond what we can get from fruits and unprocessed whole grains helps us to see where sugar should be in our diet.  After all, sugar shouldn't be in our food pyramid at all as we don't need it.  I mean, in America we are going to consume it, but need to understand that it's not just an empty calorie,  it's  been found to be detrimental to our health when we consume it in quantity every day.

Americans typically consume around 150 pounds of sugar a year based on a USDA finding.  That includes sugar we add to our food as well as processed food, soda, bread, crackers, candy, desserts and so on...  3

I found different stats online for this but the point is, we as Americans eat A LOT of sugar!  So, therein the problem lies. 

Photo Source
2. Sugar is sugar is sugar.

Now this is true up to a point.  High-Fructose Sugar is a different form of sugar which can only be metabolized in the liver.  It is therefore thought to be worse than sucrose or the conventional white sugar.  But, sugar is still sugar.  So, be it brown, raw, turbinado, agave, molasses and even's still sugar.  

So when baking, it really doesn't matter too much if you use white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, or agave nectar ((Read: The Truth About Agave).

Why? Because most sugars have the same effect on the body.  So, there really isn't a "healthy sugar" except what is naturally occurring in fruits and unprocessed foods.

BlackStrap molasses was actually the only sugar that had some beneficial properties.  In one tablespoon, it has 14% of the RDA for calcium and 28% for iron. 4  It's still sugar, but it does at least give you a bit of nutrition with it.
I personally believe that raw honey is a better sugar for you as well. As long as it's unrefined and not pasteurized, it has some healing properties in it that make it valuable for a natural remedy.  It still needs to be used in moderation as it actually "raises blood sugar levels more than sucrose (white sugar)." 5  

The reason this information is important is so we understand that no matter what type of sugar we're eating, it's still sugar and needs to be moderated.  As Americans we tend to think, "it's the healthy version so I can eat as much as I want" and that's just not true.

3. Sugar has a negative impact on our overall health. 

It seems a bit amazing to me to see that so many studies need to be done in order to link sugar consumption to health issues and obesity.  You'll still find conflicting studies as cola producers who conduct their own research say "Why, no! Soda doesn't make children fat."  It seems we've lost the common sense of better times to think we need to spend millions of dollars to prove what we're already seeing...sugar leads to obesity and obesity can lead to health problems.

We've all seen the effects of sugar on a group of toddlers before...if you haven't then trust me, it's not fun!  So, why is it difficult for us to believe that sugar consumed in large amounts doesn't cause other issues?

Here are a few: 

Tooth decay - bacteria on our teeth "grabs" the sugar, feeds on it and turns it into plaque...yuck. 

Raises your Insulin Level - Our bodies produce insulin to suppress the effects of sugar in our bodies.  However, if we start to produce too much insulin, this can lead to high blood pressure, sodium retention and osteoporosis.

Depresses the Immune System - White blood cells need a large amount of vitamin C to fight bacteria and viruses.  Sugar however, has a chemical composition very similar to Vitamin C. When there's too much sugar around, it ends up taking the place of vitamin C.

Upsets the Body's Mineral Balance - "Refined sugars contain no nutrients (vitamins and minerals) of their own. So in order for them to be absorbed by the body, they have to use the nutrients already stored in the body. They thus reduce the levels of essential minerals and vitamins in the body without providing any benefits."6

Contributes to Weight Gain - "When the body receives an appropriate amount of sugar, in more complex forms, throughout the day, it can absorb and process the sugar as energy over the course of the day. However, when the body has too much sugar, two things happen: first, the body will concentrate on burning the sugar, because it is a toxic substance, instead of burning the fat reserves you already have. Second, what the body can't burn right away, it will store as additional saturated fat stores. So too much sugar not only keeps you from maintaining a good weight or even losing weight, but it definitely adds to the fat you have to carry around." 7

It Can Show Up in Your Skin - When we consume too much sugar, it leads to a rapid blood sugar spike which ultimately leads to inflammation.  This will show up through your skin, your bodies largest organ. 8
I personally have noticed a difference when I don't eat much sugar.  I have chronic eczema (an allergic type dermatitis) and found that it cleared up when I cut sugar out of my diet.  The only time it breaks out now is when I start eating sugar.  Now, it could be the sugar and the fats that are included in what I would be eating (like cookies/ice cream) but I've noticed this time and time again.  Our two teen sons know this when their skin starts to break out...they cut out sweets and cut back on junk food/fast food.

I didn't even mention diabetes either. I also read some information linking sugar to cardiovascular problems and even gout! 

So what does this all mean?  I guess to sum it all up; "a little sugar goes a long way."  It's most important to know as much as we can so we can make the best informed food choices for us and our families.  (And again, I hardly mentioned high fructose corn syrup which would be a post in itself!  HFC is found in almost every processed food, including bread to barbeque sauce.)

 Kids are naturally drawn to sugar and they have been the biggest victims so far.  Fruit juices (there's no need for a fruit juice...whole fruit is so much better), soda, candy, chips, pretzels and so on are a constant distraction for them.  

We never made the mistake of "outlawing" these foods to our kids, but instead helped them to understand how the food would impact them.  Sometimes they would listen, other times they would overeat junk food, but so far, they are making some really great food choices for ages 16 and 19.  Isn't that the point anyway?  To help them to learn how to choose wisely?

Okay, that's it! Hope you were able to learn a few things...blessings!

Notes and Bibliography:

2. Yudkin, John, Sweet and Dangerous, Wyden, 1972.

Of further interest: 

Sugar: The Bitter Truth (Video: Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Windowsill Herb Garden

I was perusing Pinterest in October and found a pin about starting certain herbs from cuttings.  I was very intrigued especially since Rosemary was mentioned as one of them and I ALWAYS buy a new plant every year as they don't winter over where I live.  I have tried and tried to keep them through the winter, even getting them through until early Spring, only to have a late freeze "do them in."  I tried keeping them inside too, but after discarding many Rosemary "corpses" early winter, I gave up.
However, it is known universally that true gardeners never really give up, we only replant.  So, I figured I would try again by trying this method of  taking cuttings and see if I could keep them alive over winter.

So I was amazed and shocked to find that the Rosemary seems to happily root themselves in a bit of water.  Just take a clipping of a stem down to the woody part.  Remove the lower leaves and place in container...that's it.  Insta-Rosemary plants...well, give or take a week or two.  However, if you are patient, they will root.  And as you can see mine did.  
And then I planted two out of five of them.  They did well for awhile and then the inevitable came...
more herbal carnage. 
I couldn't show you a picture, because a dead plant is a disgrace to a gardener, even if it's only on a windowsill.
So, I started another cutting and it's happily rooted in water.  Where it's going to stay for now.
I also brought in the "mother plant."  And she's alive and even growing.  
I am fiercely trying to ignore her and only water when I see branches wilt as overwatering is a fast death sentence to Rosemary.

This parsley is actually not a cutting but a plant I started in late fall.  I don't think it's going to grow much bigger but I'm determined to keep it alive as I love its leaves.

My basil cuttings?  I only had one casualty and that was due to over or under watering...not sure which one it was.  However, the others rooted and were planted and are doing pretty well so far.
I have five more to plant, but am moving slowly on the planting as I don't want to lose any of them and they are still happy in their water.
I even managed to start a few peppermints from the plants in late November or early December.  Two out of five survived but they are making it.
I only have eastern windows, so anything that makes it will have to be especially hardy.

So, this is my winter garden.  Humble but happy.  A happy garden sight for white snowy days.  And the scent is a delicious reminder of outdoor summertime meals.

What's your favorite herb to cook with in the winter?  Blessings! 

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Health Benefits of Tea

 What's one beverage that costs pennies per cup and is full of antioxidants and health benefits as well?   You can find it everywhere and tastes great?  Look no further than your simple glass of, green, or somewhere in between, this centuries old plant has been providing leaves of wholesome goodness for past and present civilizations.  It tends to get lost in our coffee drinking culture (I love coffee myself) but will hopefully be coming into the limelight even more as we discover just what a gem of an herbal this is!

Tea is not a wonder cure-all like many health claims out there try to boast.  It has been said to help everything from a cold to cancer.  And while most studies are very promising about its benefits, you'll find conflicting studies as well.  So I wanted to wade through all the information and get an understanding how tea can be a beneficial tonic, not a miracle cure, but a valuable drink to include in your daily diet. 

 "Camellia Sinensis."  Sounds like a character from the Lord of the Rings, but this is the latin name of the tea plant which is primarily grown in the eastern regions of the world including China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka (known for it's Ceylon tea) and Taiwan.  It's also grown in other locations, but these locations are called the "Big Five" because of their exceptional quality.

The tea plant is actually a cultivated evergreen which is usually trimmed to keep it's height below 6 feet.  If left to grow wild, it can reach up to 30 feet.

All forms of tea, black, green, oolong, yellow (not common in the U.S.) and white are all the same leaf.  They are processed differently.  Black tea is made by allowing the leaves to ferment which causes them to turn dark, while oolongs are partially fermented and greens are not fermented at all.  White teas are generally leaves picked at earlier times in the season and therefore have a much lighter flavor and color.  They are not fermented either.  

"Camellia Sinensis" (Photo Source)
You've probably seen some articles out there about the tea plant and the benefits they have for your health.  I've read them too and even though the claims do vary, tea is definitely an undervalued herbal health tool.  It's also economical and delicious...and that makes for a great natural health remedy.

Before we start, let's understand that all tea varieties, black, green, oolong and white, all have tremendous health benefits.  Green tea is supposed to offer a few more of it's own because the tea leaves haven't been oxidized or fermented like black tea.  However, if you only ever drink black tea, know that these health benefits are still very much present in the tea leaves.

1. All forms of tea are rich in flavonoids and  the antioxidant, "polyphenols".  They have been shown to have 10 times the amount of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables. What do these antioxidants do?  Basically, they look for cell-damaging free radicals and detoxify them.
What does this mean for our health?  "These antioxidants block DNA damage associated with tobacco and other toxic chemicals."1  This means that tea can help prevent against certain cancers in our body!  

What else does this mean? They also help protect against cardiovascular disease.  "The detoxifying effect of these antioxidants protects cells from free radicals, the damage that can lead to blood clot formation and atherosclerosis."2

"The bulk of research shows that regular tea drinkers, people who drink two cups or more a day, have less heart disease and stroke, lower total and LDL (often called "bad") cholesterol, and that they recover from heart attacks faster." 3

 This includes both black and green.  This was news for me as green tea is always being touted as the better tea of the two.  But according to an interview by WebMD with John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y., "In my lab, we found that green and black tea had identical amounts of polyphenols,"4  Which means drink whichever tea you like, they are all found to have lots of antioxidants.

2. Tea helps you to be  in a state of "calm alertness." 

Because the caffeine in tea is water soluble, the body is able to digest it easily and pass through your system quickly.  This is unlike coffee where the caffeine is not water soluble and stays in your body much longer leading to sleeplessness at night if consumed late.  Yes, there is less caffeine in tea as well so you can drink more of it without too much caffeine consumption if you're trying to avoid it.  (Info from "A Guide To Tea" by Chris Cason)

A good strong cup of English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast black tea in the morning is a good pick-me up if you need to wake up but won't stay too long in your body if coffee gives you "the jitters."

3. Tea is also reputed to help with digestive complaints. 

It seems tea is an old home remedy to help out with some of these mild digestive orders. It's supposed to be helpful in easing Irritable Bowel Syndrome because all teas contain some anti-inflammatory properties.  So, if the digestive disorder has to do with inflammation, tea having some "calming" properties should be of help. 

4. Green tea is found to contain fluoride and is helpful in preventing cavities.  

 "Green tea contains compounds that appear to control inflammation and fight bacterial infection." 5
"Green tea’s anti-inflammatory powers seem to help control periodontal (gum) disease. A Japanese survey of almost 1,000 men found that those who drank green tea regularly had healthier gums than those who didn’t. A German study found similar positive results in people who were asked to chew candies containing green-tea extracts." 6
 So, have your kiddos brush their teeth AFTER they drink their favorite cup of tea...decaf of course!

Some Important Things to Consider: 

1. The health studies for tea seem to be varied and sometimes contradictory.  But all in all, tea has been consumed by the Chinese and Japanese for centuries and the civilizations have acknowledged the benefits of tea through their own usage.  It sometimes takes science to catch up with such years of experience.

2. Tea is not meant to be a cure-all.  When drinking it for your health, an overall healthful lifestyle needs to be lived.  Think of it as a tonic instead of a cure but a great beverage that contains some vitamins and healthful properties that can be good for your body.  All of teas benefits are not yet understood, so drinking it is a great alternative to the sugar and chemical filled drinks out there, especially when dining out. 

3. Tea is a great beverage to introduce to your children.  In the age of sugar laden sodas and energy drinks, tea is a great alternative.  Our kids drank herbal teas out of the their bottles and sippy cups and soon were introduced to mild green teas as they grew older.  This has helped them to stay away from these other harmful drinks.   With so many different varieties of tea, they each have their own favorites and have introduced their friends to gourmet tea as well. (They will drink soda, but they do a great job in limiting how much they drink and they don't get it very often.)

4. Tea bags contain these aforementioned health benefits but are usually made from what they call "tea dust" in the industry.  If you enjoy tea, you may want to explore the wonderful world of loose leaf tea as the flavors will have you coming back for more! 

5. Tea sold in bottles is usually made from a concentrate and LOTS of syrup.  I've tried them and basically they are (in my own opinion) not tea, but sugar water.  They do NOT have the same health benefits as brewed tea.  Our Subway restaurants carry brewed tea that is unsweetened as well.  This way you can control how much sugar you put in your own tea.

This is just a little bit of information of the benefits of tea.  New studies come out daily showing how helpful they can be.  Tea may not be a wonder cure-all, but it's definitely a great beverage to drink on a daily basis.  Served hot or cold, it's delicious and I know it's helping my body and not harming it.  

What's your favorite tea to drink?  Blessings!

Interested in more posts on tea?  Check out these other links...Three Reasons Why to Buy Bulk Loose Tea and Reviewing My Favorite Tea Steepers

Resources:,2,3,4)  5, 6

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

African Violets: A Color Feast in January

African Violet "Saint Paulia"

I started out gardening with houseplants.  After all, when you don't have any outdoor space, it only makes sense.  But philodendron, ivies, aloes and dieffenbachias just don't seem to satisfy everything in gardening...after all we garden not just for the love of gardening, but for "fruit."  This means either flowers, or something we can eat.  

Just looking at green is pretty nice, but to be honest, I need to anticipate something wonderful that comes with the's kind of like the change of seasons.  Even though it's difficult to switch from summer to fall to winter; there is something about the change that's gratifying. Moving from summer's greens to autumn's golds and reds and then to winter's white, blues and grays makes everything a little nicer...especially when winter is followed by the brilliant burst of the colors of spring.

So, growing these violets is a beautiful thing in the bleak days of winter.  I practically ignore them every other time of the year except to water and feed them.  But winter is when they become my focal point again.  As they bloom, I feel springtime is awakened!
This variegated purple version is my oldest.  A friend gave it to me as a thank-you gift in the year 2000.  Yes, I still have it and have almost killed it but thankfully it resisted my attempts. 
It's a great reminder of a friendship from long ago (my friend moved out-of-state) and I love the memories attached to it. 

So, just taking a little break from winter to enjoy these little blossoms of vibrant colors...hoping you enjoyed them just a little bit too...

What's your favorite indoor plant or flower?  Blessings!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Raw Garlic: Cold and Flu Fighter

It's definitely cold and flu season here in our part of the world and when it comes I head to the nearest super market to get our medicine.  Not in the pharmacy though...rather, the produce isle.  Yep, I'm looking high and low for those familiar whitish globes that are packed with antibiotic goodness...garlic, aka: "the stinking rose." That name is reported to have gone back to Greek and Roman times.  The stinking part is obvious, but the rose part of the name still seems to be a mystery.  But it's not mystery to me as I would rather have garlic over a rose in the landscape because of its immense value all year long. 

When it comes to a cold or flu, modern medicine can't really do much for you.  Antibiotics are only helpful for bacterial infections.  But garlic can help remedy the infection, cutting down on your sick time and helping to prevent any secondary infections like a sinus infection.

You've probably read lots of great information out there about the health benefits of garlic.  From helping your heart to preventing cancer, this little bulb packs of whollop of natural goodness.  Nowadays, it seems to be relegated to garlic bread found in your local freezer section.  But I'm determined to pass on the great news that garlic is an amazing healer and has saved our family from many a doctor's visit! 

First, let me give you the low-down on the anti-viral qualities of garlic.  Garlic is also anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and more.  And I quote; "Dr. Tariq Abdullah, a prominent garlic researcher stated in the August 1987 issue of Prevention: “Garlic has the broadest spectrum of any antimicrobial substance that we know of — it is antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiprotozoan and antiviral." (source)

Not too bad of a reputation considering the limited amount of ways we use garlic in the U.S.   We've even reduced garlic to powder and worse yet...minced garlic in a bottle.  Yes, I've used these for cooking, but I stop at the minced garlic.  I can't even describe the flavor, but garlic it isn't.  Okay, my opinions aside...garlic is amazing in your cooking but using it raw can be a great way to shorten a cold or flu OR even prevent one.

And that's what I'm talking about here...raw garlic.  The reason for garlic's amazing natural medicinal abilities is the marriage of two of garlic's chemical constituents, alliin a compound and alliinase an enzyme.  When garlic is cut, these two chemicals come together and form "allicin" which in turn makes the lovely smell of garlic AND is one compound that is the cold and flu fighter.  So, in order for garlic to be effective, these two lovelies must meet through mincing or dicing, so they can produce allicin.  If you let garlic sit for 10-15 minutes, it gives the compound plenty of time to develop it's power-packed abilities.

From all the information I gathered, it is the activation of this sulphur compound, "allicin" that occur during mincing or crushing that makes garlic anti-viral.  Heat will destroy this compound and it deteriorates with age.  Crushed garlic is most effective within the first hour if you want to use it and get the most active properties from it.  

Still wondering if it works?  So did I.  But we've been using garlic for a few decades and most recently in the last four years specifically for colds and flu.  Our family just went through a bout of the most recent flu.  This one was a doozy too. Two of us got it at first.  It was all upper respiratory, not stomach, but body aches, sneezing, fatigue, stuffy head, sinus drainage, sore name it.  So, we broke out the garlic, put raw diced garlic in all of our soup bowls (1-2) and poured hot soup over the cloves.  This was our lunch for many days.  We tried to have as much as 4 cloves a day while we were very sick.  We managed to get through the worst of it and we were able to be on our feet the whole time and out in public after about 4 days.  Now my husband had it next and it was very mild for him.  He had been eating LOTS of garlic while we were sick.  He had some problems with his lungs, but garlic having an "affinity for the lungs" soon took care of it.  

Our oldest son, who is usually the one who gets every sickness the first and the worst, NEVER got sick.  He took garlic in large amounts for many days and while he smelled like a piece of garlic bread, he never got sick.   However, realizing that garlic not only fights against bacteria and viruses but also stimulates your immune system, it's not so strange to see how well it worked.

How do I eat raw garlic?

1) In a blender, combine 1-2 cloves of garlic with 2 tomatoes, a bit of basil, onion and celery for your own V-8 drink.  Add a little salt to taste.
2) Add 1 or 2 minced cloves to hot broth (not boiling) or soup and consume right away.  
3) Make some fresh salsa and make sure to add at least one clove to the portion you're eating.  You don't have to consume it all at once, but try to eat it within a reasonable amount of time to ensure the garlic's potency.
4) Add raw minced garlic to honey or vinegar (Apple Cider), let it steep for as long as possible. Take the honey by eating a teaspoonful and use the vinegar as a dressing.
5) Make garlic oil.  Mince garlic into oil and let it steep for 15 minutes.  Apply this oil to the bottom of your feet at bedtime and wear socks.  The compound in the oil will go into your system.  This is great for children and if you don't want to eat the garlic.  Our family uses this method a lot and it works for us. 

Some Things to Consider:

1) Garlic isn't going to get rid of your cold or flu right away.  It will take some time but it does cut down on the severity of what you have. Most natural medicines work this way.
2) Staying away from sugar is crucial when fighting any kind of infection as it hinders your immune system from fighting the infection.  Try to eat only fruit (not juice).
3) Getting adequate rest and sleep is also important.  Drink plenty of fluids and medicinal teas.  We drank pots of my Vanilla Peppermint Medley (Read my post on peppermint here) and filtered water.  Lots of fluids help to flush out the infection and keep you super hydrated.  All these things will help your body get over whatever your body is fighting.

Why Use Garlic?

It's effective, it's easy to use and is ridiculously inexpensive.  You can use many other herbal remedies but for the money, garlic is our hands-down favorite.  It's the most potent single herb we've found and it works.   It tastes good and you'll be getting lots of other health benefits as well.  

Well, hope your winter season is cold and flu free...but if not, there's always the amazing herb garlic to give you a hand!

Have you used garlic to help your colds and flu? Blessings!

For more on garlic, you can read my post, Garlic Ear Oil Remedy.

Resources used for this post:

(All information in this post is purely educational and in no way meant to diagnose or prescribe medical advice.  Please seek a health professional for any serious health complications.)

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