Health

Lifting Winter Blues: 7 Natural Strategies

Winter scene

It's winter. And in the Midwest, it's been kinda rough, with 42 days of below-zero temperatures and plenty of snow. If weathering the cold and gray is making you glum, here are seven ideas for boosting your mood and your energy so the next couple months don't feel so heavy.

 

Fortify yourself with vitamin D-3, the "sunshine vitamin." Low blood levels of vitamin D are linked to depression, as well as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. This fat-soluble vitamin is the only vitamin that can be generated by the body in a super cool chain-reaction that is catalyzed when our skin is exposed to sunlight, specifically UV-B rays. 

 

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Elderberries: From Medicine Cabinet to Table

Fellow foragers had warned me about elderberries. They cautioned me about the hours of tedious labor the dark purple berries demand. They told me how the stems, unripe red berries and even seeds can be slightly toxic as they contain a compound similar to cyanide, and how almost every stem must be painstakingly removed. I’m glad I didn’t listen to these warnings (or conveniently forgot them) as my grandfather and I struck out on a sunny early autumn afternoon to collect our elderberries from a ditch near the family cabin in northwestern Wisconsin. Visions of pies, jams and medicinal tinctures danced in my head, and the elderberry bush, laden with ripe berries seemed happy to oblige. When I pulled my octogenarian grandfather out of the bramble a half hour later, we had four paper bags full of berries. My grandfather wondered if this bounty would be enough for his jam and my various elderberry dreams.

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Wellness: Fat Does Not Make Us Fat

This post is part of an ongoing series on Wellness, which looks at the importance of health and healing in living a Simple, Good, and Tasty lifestyle. Also check out the previous Wellness posts on sugar and seasonal eating.

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Potlucks: Germaphobe Nightmare or Health-Boosting Opportunity?

According to a recent article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, “There’s a case for dirtying up your diet” in order to increase your exposure to bacteria. Really? More germs, not fewer? Yes! More germs, please, according to the article, “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs.” 

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Globally Aware: Live Animal Markets: Preserving Tradition or Incubating Disease?

Michelin-starred restaurants, street food stalls, and bucolic vineyards have always been top destinations for gastro-tourists, but open air markets and farmers' markets are now making the food tourist’s must-visit list, as well. Full of sights, sounds, and smells missing from sterile tourist centers, these sensory wonderlands offer visitors a way to experience authentic local foodways, especially in foreign countries, where the marketplace can be notably different than the neighborhood farmers market.

 

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Wellness: Breaking the Addiction Cycle of Sugar

This post is part of an ongoing series on Wellness, which looks at the importance of health and healing in living a Simple, Good, and Tasty lifestyle. Also check out the previous Wellness posts on seasonal eating and spring cleansing.


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Great Grains: Quinoa and the Problem of Popularity

This is the twelfth post in the series Great Grains, highlighting unusual whole grains and easy ways to incorporate them into your diet.

 

If quinoa had a résumé, I’m pretty sure that every one of us would have to hire it for whatever job it wanted. Ten seconds on Google pops up enough qualifications to make me wonder why I ever eat anything else:

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Wellness: Feeling the Seasons of Our Bodies

This post is part of an ongoing series on Wellness, which looks at the importance of health and healing in living a Simple, Good, and Tasty lifestyle.

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Intuitive Eating: What Do You Hunger For?

What snack do you turn to between meals, after a workout, or following a physically demanding project (like running a race or putting in the garden!)? Snacking choices say a lot about what the body needs – to replace and rebalance nutrients, restore fluids and enable overworked parts to recover.

 

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Great Grains: Amaranth - The Next Big Thing?

One of the things I love about writing about food is trying new ingredients. When I run across something at the farmers’ market or in the grocery aisle I haven’t cooked before, it almost always ends up in my cart. When amaranth (pronounced ah-mah-ran-th) found its way into my kitchen last month, I was skeptical but curious about what this tiny grain had to offer.

 

Trying new ingredients usually ends up one of three ways in my kitchen:

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