Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Home Remedy for Cold Sores

 ( I use Herb Pharm Sage which I can find at my local natural food stores)

I have succumbed to the stress.  The stress of what, I'm not quite sure.  I don't feel stressed - although I am busy, I am not consternated about it in the least.  I am busy.  I am happy.  Life is good.  But the only time I get fever blisters is when I'm stressed out and tired (and exposed to more sunlight than usual).

So, fever blisters.  They suck.  I get after my girls if they use that word, but it's the only word that describes my complete disgust with my current situation. Well, there are other words, but none that are fit to print on this blog.  What are fever blisters, you ask?  They are cold sores, only tiny and multiplied.  They are evil incarnate.  Why write about this now?  Because apparently, 75% of the population suffers from cold sores.  I am not alone with this banal affliction.

I'd suffered from cold sores before.  I probably kissed the wrong guy in high school (sorry, Mom).  But they didn't turn into anything other than the odd cold sore until DH and I went on a cross-country trip to a friend's wedding.  It was a fun, but very stressful trip.  I was not feeling good (at that time, I had no idea what a gluten intolerance was), it was just after 9/11, I am afraid to fly, and DH was in grad school and unable to cope with anything other than scientific experiments and completing a thesis.  I planned the whole week long trip.  I had an agenda.  I knew where we were staying, where we were driving, how to get everywhere, what activities we were doing and I had confirmation numbers coming out of the wahzoo.  We had a great time.  I did the driving up and down the northern California coast.  I interfaced with the flight attendants, the bed and breakfast owners, the waitresses, the hosts of our activities (which included an awesome sailboat ride on the San Francisco Bay).  But I was also very anxious.  I had no idea there is an Ontario, California. So when we had a layover there, I was freaking out that we made an unintended trip to Canada.  We stayed at a hotel on Fisherman's Wharf and while there, I heard that the whole area was built on silt and in case of an earthquake, we'd sink right into the bay.  I could not sleep while we were there.  There was lots of sunshine, lots of wind...we had fun, but we came back home and I promptly ended up with a bad case of fever blisters.

Thankfully, during this evil outbreak DH and I were visiting my mom.  And my mom, because she is awesomeness incarnate, happened to have made her own herbal tinctures* (herbs steeped in vodka - I told you my mom was awesome).  When I emoted and obsessed about the fever blisters (which are like very tiny, painful blisters all that appeared all over my lips), she suggested dabbing sage tincture on my lips.  Why sage?  Sage is an antiviral.  So I did as my mom suggested.  Because as everyone knows, Moms Know Everything.  That first outbreak lasted a good two weeks.  The sage tincture stung, but it felt good at the same time.  Sage tea is also recommended (steep some tea, drink it and then place the tea bag on your lips for a little while), but I find sage tincture to be faster to find and easier to use.  Since then, I've had a few more outbreaks of fever blisters (I've learned to always have sage tincture in the medicine cabinet!).  They occur during times of stress and usually in the spring, when I'm spending more time in the sun. The virus can lie dormant for years before re-activating.  This time, it's been a year since my last outbreak.

I've also tried Abreva and lemon balm tincture (lemon balm also has antiviral properties, as does thyme and a number of other herbs).  But nothing works as well for me as sage tincture.  It's expensive, but it's worth it.  If I catch it early enough, sometimes the symptoms last only a day.  If I'm not fast enough, then the symptoms last a week.  But if I didn't use sage at all, it'd be two weeks of cold sore hell.  I'm a believer in sage.  I've been dabbing my lips with sage tincture for a day now and the symptoms are mostly tolerable.  Hopefully in a few days the evil cold sores will be on their last legs and I can stop obsessing about my lips!

*Herbal tinctures are medicines, not for drinking!

*Too much sage can be toxic.  Sage can also cause an allergic reaction in some people.  Please see here for possible side effects of sage.

*For a home remedy for cold sores using several herbal tinctures, see this recipe here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Temptation Cookies

It was my pleasure, this past school semester, to teach a home economics type of class at the girls' school.  I had so much fun!  The students told me they had fun too, and they didn't even complain when I gave them "homework" to do over the summer - to practice all the things we learned in class!  One of the components of the class was baking.  I searched for the easiest, least fussy, tastiest looking chocolate chip cookie recipe I could find, and landed on this one at Smitten Kitchen.  I modified it a smidge and we made it in class.  The cookies looked mouthwatering, but I could not confirm their delicousness myself (they were not gluten free, alas).  However I got very positive feedback about them from the general school population (including "these are the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever tasted!").  

Meeting such success, I promptly went home and made the cookies gluten free and vegan (would you expect anything less?).  I'm sorry there is no picture.  I took one and downloaded it but then we suspected our computer hosted a Trojan and DH rebuilt it just to be safe and in the ensuing scramble the picture disappeared.  I'll take one as soon as I can and post it, but until then, please take my word for it - these cookies are indeed crispy and chewy, especially right out of the oven.  I can usually exercise self-control when it comes to sweets, but I'll admit to indulging in these cookies.    Truthfully, it's a good thing girls and DH polished them off quickly and saved me from prolonged temptation!

Temptation Cookies
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. GF flour blend (I used this one)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut milk
2/3 cup lightly packed packed brown sugar
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

 In a medium bowl, sift together the flour through the xanthan gum, set aside.  In a large bowl, stir together the melted coconut oil, brown sugar, powdered sugar and vanilla together until the mixture resembles thick caramel.  Stir in the and applesauce, mixing well.  

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, stirring until blended.  Add another tablespoon or two of your flour blend if the mixture seems too wet.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Leave two inches between the cookies to allow for spreading.

Bake about 12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining cookie dough.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Creamy Cucumber Salad

For your consideration today:  Creamy Cucumber Salad.  My mom used to make this all the time with sour cream.    It is just as good with coconut cream (maybe even better).

1 small English Cucumber (seedless), washed and thinly sliced
1/3 cup coconut cream
2 tbsp. white or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. dried dill, if desired

Put the cucumber slices in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut cream through the dill.  Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking (I like to add a smidge more vinegar).  Add the cream mixture to the cucumber mixture and toss to coat.  Toss every so often for a couple of hours before serving cold.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Garden Pictures

Our garden is growing like gangbusters!  We planted seeds at the end of February and all the plants are now growing inches every day.  We have garlic and shallots (planted last fall), turnips, carrots, arugula, winter squash, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, a couple of varieties of tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, bibb lettuce and spinach (which were threatening to bolt so we harvested them), swiss chard, beets, summer squash and okra, which is just starting to get big.  It's very exciting!  Our herbs are happy too - we planted bail, oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme, lemon balm, chocolate mint, parsley and two different kinds of lavender.  I love watching the green things grow.  I just hope we can keep the plants alive during the long hot summer!

Here we have two raised beds (out of 7!) with summer squash and lemon cucumbers.  DH built a vertical frame for the vines.  There is netting in the middle which they like to climb.  I laughed at him while he hammered them into the ground.  He was on top of a tall ladder, beating the frames into the ground and all I could think of was that he was missing his tin foil hat.  I'm sure the neighbors, over their privacy fences, were wondering what the heck he was doing.  We may have been a little weird before (mowing our lawn with a push mower, gasp!), but we are now officially "the crazy neighbors".  That's okay.  Our garden is worth it.

Here is a shot of the backside of the cukes, showing swiss chard and bibb lettuce.  I've never had bibb lettuce before.  I have to tell you, it's pretty tasty.

Here's a close-up of our lettuce.  Pretty, no?

Here is a cluster of jalapeno peppers.  I've been told that they are divine brushed with olive oil and grilled, so that's what I'm going to do with them.

This is a pretty green tomato.  DH decided to plant the tomatoes along the south side of the house. They have a lot of fruit, but are taking a long time to ripen.  Probably later in the summer it won't take as long.

Here are some cherry tomatoes - my favorite!

Our zucchini plants are producing many flowers, but so far only one baby zucchini.  DH just noted that it's not taking, which means it has not been fertilized.  Which means it's time to plant some flowers close by that attract bees and butterflies!