Health

Hibiscus

I call it hibiscus. I recently learned it has many other names around the world including… karkade, red tea, Jamaica sorrel, roselle, and sour tea.

Whatever you call it, it’s a staple in my home, especially now with so many viruses and germs floating around.

Using it as a tea is supposed to have tons of health benefits including fighting a cold, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, it can even help with weight loss.

That’s why I add it to my tea every morning! 

I love the red hibiscus variety!  It’s called Hibiscus sabdariffa.  Not only is it gorgeous but it’s filled with antioxidant and anticancer properties.  That’s why the red flowers of this variety are most commonly used for medical purposes. 

So let’s talk more about the benefits!

It contains Vitamin C and iron and as I mentioned, it’s a rich source of antioxidants.  But what does that really mean?

Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which attacks your cells and raise your risk for disease.

It also helps reduce oxidative damage, which is known to exacerbate the aging process.

I don’t know about you, but if there’s a chance that one plant can help protect me from disease, strengthen my immune system, lower inflammation, AND reduce wrinkles, I’m sold!  Did I say it’s also a delicious drink?

How to use it

One way to seep the benefits of hibiscus is by making hibiscus tea.  It’s naturally caffeine-free.  I found many articles online with several ways to use the flower for tea.  I keep it simple; I drop three whole calyxes (pictured above) into my mug, add boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes.  I sweeten it with a little honey or stevia leaves from the garden.  Once you’ve taken your calyxes from your tea glass, they are still useable for all sorts of things including relish.

Throughout the season, I dry the calyxes and leaves so I can have fresh tea all year long.  Remember the whole plant is edible!  So toss the leaves in your smoothies and salad.  You can even sauté the leaves like spinach, although fresh will give you more benefits.

If you have a yummy recipe, I’d love to try it!  Send us photos and recipes to our email and I’ll post them on our social media pages.

If you don’t have the honor of planting a hibiscus plant right now, you can still reap the benefits.

You’ll find supplements and teas at grocery stores and online.

  • Do keep in mind; since hibiscus is supposed to lower your blood pressure and affect blood sugar levels, some suggest you stop using it at least two weeks before scheduled surgery. The idea is that since it affects your blood sugar, it could make it difficult to control during surgery.

How to grow it

Now you may be wondering – how can I grow this at home? Well, good news because hibiscus is fairly easy to grow, even here in the Arizona desert climate. This plant can take the high temperatures, but cannot withstand cold weather below freezing.

Hibiscus typically thrives best in full morning sun, with some afternoon shade.

While the temps are still nice, we water our hibiscus plants every other day. Once temps reach over 100 degrees, we move to daily watering.

Deep watering encourages the plant to develop deeper roots, making it tougher when the weather gets hot and dry. Some gardeners flood their beds for about 25 minutes in order to saturate the soil.

March is the ideal time to plant your own hibiscus seeds here in Phoenix. Roselle hibiscus is what we plant. It germinates at soil temperatures between 75°- 85°F, and does well directly sown in the garden.

Dig a hole about 1 foot deep and 2 feet wide in moist soil. The roots need lots of room and the plant can get at least 4 feet wide so if you are planting more than one, give them some space. The branches can get heavy so you may want to use stakes for support, but our plants are fine without.

Next fill the hole with a mix of compost and soil, then plant your seeds about one centimeter deep before covering them with soil.

Keep the soil moist in order for the seeds to germinate.

For healthy upkeep of your hibiscus, try using compost as a fertilizer!

We add worm tea to our plants about once every two weeks.

Don’t get too anxious. It takes about six months to mature so don’t expect to harvest until fall. But trust me, it is totally worth the wait.

One of the best parts about hibiscus is it comes back every year.

We planted our plant years ago and I haven’t had to plant since.

In fact we have several volunteer plants throughout the yard and we harvest lots of seeds every season

So if you’re still looking for Roselle hibiscus seeds, check out the GreenDesertLifestyle Etsy shop!

 

Health

Is climate change solvable?

Is climate change solvable?

How to lower your carbon footprint.

It’s no secret that caring about our planet does more than help our environment; it helps our wallets, our health, our food supply, our sanity! I could go on and on. Science consistently shows our choices are killing our planet, so climate change is real… but it’s not unsolvable.

So let’s focus on solutions!

Here are 10 realistic things you can do right now to lower your carbon footprint:

  1. Grow your own veggies.

Growing a garden is not only beneficial for our body, it’s great for the environment. Replacing 20 percent of the food you buy with food you grow can reduce your carbon footprint by about 68 pounds of CO2 per year.  But that number can fluctuate, depending on other things you’re doing around your garden.  Things like mowing the lawn and using synthetic fertilizers and peat increases your garden carbon footprint so consider your resources with everything you do.

To put things in perspective… the average person exhales about 2 pounds of CO2 per day.

  1. Composting

Composting your food and yard scraps stops it from going into the landfill.  It’s also a great solution to the fertilizer issue because rather than the waste breaking down and producing the greenhouse gas methane, you are creating nutrient-rich soil.

Fun or not so fun fact: Greenhouse gas methane is thought to be more than 80 times more harmful than carbon dioxide.

  1. Plant a tree.

Trees absorb CO2, then release oxygen into the air.  Just one mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year, while producing more than 250 pounds of oxygen each year. The average  person needs about 1600 pounds per year to survive. So every tree counts.

Other bonuses of trees include providing shade, absorbing and retaining water and many trees actually have medicinal benefits.

  1. Eat less meat.

You don’t have to completely give up meat but moderation does wonders.  For every day that you omit meat and dairy from your diet, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds!  Imagine if everyone committed to just two days per week of avoiding meat products; the results could be priceless!

  1. Choose Conscious Clothing

When you’re buying new clothes, choose garments made from eco-friendly fabrics including organic cotton and hemp, and buy good quality so that it lasts. Another option is to shop re-sale stores.

Also don’t toss your old clothes, upcycle them, trade with friends, or even sale or donate them. Most anything is better than sending them to landfills.

  1. Wash your clothes in cold water.

You can save up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year just by using cold water for two loads of laundry per week.

  1. Reduce your water usage.

There’s only so much water… we can’t really make any more of it, not enough to sustain our lifestyle.  So cherish it. That could mean taking shorter showers, turning the water off while brushing your teeth and only turning it on to rinse. Simply thinking of ways to conserve water.

Do you know how the water is cold when you first turn on the shower?  How many of us are going to start the shower cold?  But that’s a lot of water to waste.  While I’m waiting for the water to heat up, I let the cold water run into a bucket to use later.

  1. Minimize your energy use.

Adjust your hot water heater.  Turn it down to 120˚F. This can save about 500 pounds of CO2 a year.

Don’t forget the simple things like turning off lights and appliances when you’re not using them and switch to energy efficient light bulbs and of course limiting your time on the road.  All of this will help save you money as well.

Another way we minimize our energy is by using the sun.  It powers our offgrid container homes.  We also use the sun to make our meals which is so awesome because nothing burns!

  1. Just say no.

Avoid single use plastics and paper products by saying “no thank you.”  Take your own bags to the grocery store, and when you forget, simply ask for brown bags if it’s an option.

  1. Recycle and Reuse.

The goal is to keep products out of the landfill, so take care of your things so you can reuse and upcycle them.  That includes things that may seem disposable. For example, when my kids were younger, I packed some of their lunch in sandwich bags.  But the rule was to bring back all of their bags daily so we could wash them and reuse because realistically plastic isn’t going away, we use it too much in our society. But we can still be mindful.

So what’s your next step?  Calculate your carbon footprint… that means summing up the emissions from everything you do — from what you eat, to how you get around, to what you buy… even how you wash your clothes.

It doesn’t have to be a strenuous process.  There are tons of online carbon footprint calculators that make it easy.

So once you know how you are contributing to our carbon crisis, you can do something about it.  Simply make small changes in your lifestyle so it doesn’t feel hard or feel like you’re making huge sacrifices.  The little things count and they motivate all of us to do the bigger things.  And if everything feels to big for you, try other alternatives like carbon offsetting… it’s a simple way for you to pay for your carbon footprint by supporting programs that can help reduce greenhouse gases.

Remember, the problems aren’t going away just because we want them to.  Once carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, it’s in no hurry to leave.  It stays around for a long time… anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years.  So what we do today directly affects how we and our future generations live tomorrow.

The planet provides us with everything we need to survive.  Let’s not take it for granted. Instead let’s strive for zero waste. Let’s make our planet a priority. Let’s encourage our engineers to design with the end in mind… mimic nature.

Health

A New Line of Fashion to Add to your Wardrobe

I want to introduce to you a new line of fashion to add to your wardrobe… conscious clothing.

It’s a simple way to keep toxins out of our bodies, land and our lifestyle.

I won’t bore you with ALL of the harm our clothes are causing, but I’ll touch on some of the basics:

Most clothes are made from cotton.  And many traditional cotton farmers ensure they get healthy crops by spraying pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosates.  Glyphosates are known, even noted by the World Health Organization, as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Probably?  And it’s still okay that it’s being used?

Those same glyphosates leech into our skin and bloodstream; runs into aquifers used by other farmers and is blown throughout the atmosphere.  The same chemical that is supposed to “maybe” cause cancer?

Another thing glyphosates are known for is killing beneficial gut bacteria.  That’s your immune system! 

And did you know that cotton clothing requires 1/3 of a pound of chemicals for a single shirt, chemicals that are harmful to our environment?

I could go on and on.  They’re all examples of how the clothes we buy have a huge impact on or health and environment.  So we should be just as mindful of what we put On our body as we are about what we put IN our body.

So what do you do?

Consider resale stores and clothing swaps. You can take clothes you have and sale them for other clothes. This is a great way to get rid of kid clothes as they grow as well.

  1. This can be such a fun experience, especially if you’re crafty.  Take clothes you already have and create new ones.  I get it, most of us probably aren’t going to become overnight fashion designers and start upcycling our entire wardrobe, but it’s an option.
  2. Buy eco-friendly clothing. By wearing organic and eating organic, we lower the demand for so many toxic chemicals and we force farmers, scientists and engineers to come up with something better for our guts and environment.  I realize it really isn’t feasible for most of us to get rid of all of our clothes and start over with everything organic;.  But we all can limit the amount of new, traditional clothing we buy.  If you are going to shop new, make the majority of your purchases organic. 

I can’t pretend that my entire wardrobe is filled with conscious clothing, but it’s definitely the goal! I will admit, I’m in my 40’s and I still have clothing from high school.  How’s that for leaving less of a footprint!

As a commitment to sustainability we offer organic clothing with affirmations that reflect techniques that lessen our footprint.  Check out our merchandise… we have everything from shirts, hoodies, bags, even a graphic novel in the form of an e-book

Health

Calendula

Calendula officinals: None of us are immune, we all get cuts and bruises. But we don’t have to make the scars permanent.

Calendula officinalis is known to help you heal faster, it’s edible, and you can grow it! 

It’s also known as the Pot Marigold because they are in the same family, but don’t confuse it with ornamental marigolds. They do not have the same medicinal uses and are not all edible.

Calendula officinalis has so many benefits that even the FDA couldn’t deny its super powers. The FDA has approved it for internal and topical use.

Herbalists suggest using it to treat cuts, abrasions, sores, insect bites, diaper rash… even hemorrhoids and athletes foot!

I was surprised to learn how many medicinal things this pretty yellow flower is known to do.

Medicinally, it’s said the petals have been used since the 12th century! Internally it was used for things like fevers, upset stomachs and ulcers.

But its main use was similar to how many use it today, externally as a remedy for skin conditions and wound infections.

How it’s used:

Nothing is wasted! The entire plant can be used in herbal medicine… for tinctures, extracts, and teas.

If you’re not growing your own plants, I suggest using dried petals for tea, about a tablespoon  to one cup of water, or a small handful of dried whole flowers.

You can drink the tea for its healing powers, rinse with it to help with sores inside your mouth, or gargle it for sore throats… among other things.

You can also grind the flowers into powder for ointments and oils.

And although the petals are a little bitter, they are edible.  Some people add them to their leafy salads.

 So no matter how you choose to use it, just use it… the natural benefits make it worthwhile.

Click here for a list of dozens of other natural remedies using things you may already have in your home.

Health

Black Rice

Benefits of Black Rice

What really makes black rice a nutritional powerhouse?

Anything called “forbidden” automatically peaks my curiosity.  So of course when I first heard about black rice, I was intrigued!  And after learning about all of its benefits, I eventually became obsessed.  So of course I have to share with you what I found and one of my favorite recipes!

I’ll start with a quick history of why black rice is known as “forbidden rice.”

The story is that in ancient China, black rice was reserved for royalty and wealthy because it was believed to be the healthiest of all rice varieties, meaning it would ensure longevity.

So common people were not only forbidden to consume it, they were also forbidden to grow it.  Sound familiar?

Well it’s not forbidden anymore, so why not reap the benefits!  And there are so many, including being a good source of iron, fiber and protein.  But the main thing that makes it a superfood is a pigment also responsible for its black-purple color – Anthocyanin.  It’s one of the most powerful types of antioxidants and has also been found to have potent anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.  In fact, I learned that when it comes to antioxidants, black rice is 30 times more effective than white rice.

So why is it so nutrient rich compared to other types of rice? Basically it’s sold as a whole grain.  That means black rice isn’t stripped of its nutrients during the milling process.

I haven’t found any reasons not to eat the nutritional powerhouse, other than it is a little more expensive than traditional brown and white rice.  I pay $3-$4 per pound for organic black rice, compared to about $2 for organic brown rice. Please let me know if you find a better cost for the same quality of course.

For me, it’s worth the extra cost to give my body the royal treatment.  Plus, I love the nutty flavor.

Below is a yummy recipe for the Fried Black Rice that you see in the photo. 

What you’ll need:

* 1 cup black rice

* 2.5 cups veggie broth or water

* 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil

* 1 medium onion (finely chopped)

* 1 clove of garlic (finely chopped)

* 1 carrot (finely chopped)

* 1 lemon for juicing (1/3 cup)

* ¼ cup Tamari or soy sauce

* 1 teaspoon salt

* ½ teaspoon pepper

* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

* 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

* 2 tablespoons green onions

 

How to Make It

  1. In a saucepan, add black rice and cover with broth or water. Bring it to a boil, then cover and cook for about 35 minutes. (When I make it in my Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker, I use 2 cups of black rice to 3 cups of water for 18 minutes.  You can also make it in a solar oven)
  2. In the meantime, add oil to large skillet or wok and stir-fry your veggies (onion, garlic, carrot)
  3. Stir in the black rice and Tamari or soy sauce and season with salt and pepper
  4. Add fresh basil, cilantro and green onions
  5. Serve

 

Remember, our goal is self sufficiency so keep it simple.  Use what you already have at home if possible to create your nutritional masterpiece.  You can add tofu or meat for protein.  Get creative and share your photos and recipes!

 

Health

Disease prevention

LIFE HACK: Preventing disease

So let’s talk about ways to put your immune system on beast mode. They are forgotten jewels that many of us have taken for granted.  I know I did. But…If you implement these… it’ll make it easier to offset disease and illness. So let’s get into it…..

One of the biggest weapons for health is the sun.  The vitamin d… created by the exposure to the sun… not only helps with things like healthy bones… optimal heart function and  cell growth… but did you know that humans can actually photosynthesize the sun’s energy?

We can photosynthesize the energy directly OR by having enough chlorophyll in our blood when we’re exposed to the sun.

The chlorophyll molecule continues to absorb the sun’s energy and transfers that energy into you.

 So it’s critical that we get the sun… especially since there are so many diseases associated with low vitamin d… like diabetes… high blood pressure… multiple sclerosis… asthma in children… cancer… the list goes on.

But the key to getting the biggest benefit is your diet and hydrations have to be on point. So eat green first then get some sun for a free energy and an extra immune boost.

The next benefit is grounding.  Do you remember  how good it felt as a child to run around outside barefoot?  Well there was a reason!

Grounding or earthling is the process of reconnecting to the Earth’s subtle, natural, electrical energy. The grounding points on the body are the palm of your hands and bottoms of your feet.  So grounding happens whenever you touch or walk barefoot on grass, sand, dirt, or on concrete.

Throughout the day we may pick up charge, or extra electrons from our phones, wifi, microwaves, stoves, computers, driving in our cars, carpet, other electrical devices, you name it. 

This extra charge is noise as far as the body is concerned. When touching the Earth, a path is created for this extra charge to flow out of the body or into the body…whichever is necessary… in order to bring the body back to its most natural balanced electrical state.  This removing or pairing of electrons helps rid the body of free radicals. This is where our immune system is most efficient. It’s the natural energetic state that humans experienced throughout history when we lived in direct contact with the Earth.

As time went on we started to wear shoes and became disconnected and lost this lil added benefit.  Some of us may go days, weeks even months without ever touching the earth… which means we’re carrying around these charges and free radicals inside of us.

Here is a picture of blood while grounding. You can see the blood is in motion when naturally exposed to a ground.  This reduced blood viscosity makes it easier for the blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your cells.   

The journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine says “Grounding appears to be one of the simplest and yet most profound interventions for helping reduce cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular events”

The benefits don’t just stop there folks…     

Some to the benefits included but are not limited to:

Improved sleep, reduced pain & inflammation, more antioxidants, accelerated healing of injuries, less clumping of red blood cells, and reduced blood viscosity.

Keep in mind… walking barefoot indoors… on surfaces like your carpet, wood, or tile… is not grounding… because those surfaces are insulated from the earth.

THE easiest way to ground is to touch the earth.  You can walk outside barefoot.  Trees are grounded, so you can touch a tree.  And if you want to take it to another level, garden barefoot.   So reclaim the full potential of your immune system. 

Eat green, get sun and stay grounded

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