Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pine Pollen Season is Upon Us!

PINE POLLEN SEASON HAS ARRIVED!  And I'm not talking about allergies...

I'm talking about one of nature's greatest gifts that is being given to us RIGHT NOW!  Look around your neighborhood or on your next drive or hike for a low-to-the-ground pine tree (you know, the evergreens with the long, skinny needles).  Notice the bright yellow/orange catkins or seedlings at the end of each branch.  Now flick it with your finger and watch for the cloud of yellow dust.  You've just found one of the world's best superfoods.  You are a wild food forager!

Now, quickly grab a dry glass container with a lid.  I'll explain why in a minute but -we have to ask fast before this year's season ends and we have to wait another 12 months to cash in.  Pick or cut the catkins from the end of the branches and place them in your glass jar.  Notice the yellow powder that collects in the bottom of the container.  This is the good stuff!

Pine pollen is basically the pine tree's reproductive system.  Male catkins spread this yellow pollen (ever had your car dusted with yellow stuff in the spring?).  This dust, or pollen, sustains the pine population.  It also happens to be a nutrient dense superfood that is adaptogenic, meaning if consumed regularly it can identify areas of distress in your body and help treat.  Not only is it highly medicinal but loaded with a host of nutrients including vitamins A B-Carotene, B1, B2, B3, B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Molybdenum, Phosphorous, Potassium, Selenium, Silicon, Sodium, and Zinc.  Additionally, it contains over 20 amino acids making it a complete protein.

You sure don't find all that on a nutrition label - especially for free!  If you're wondering what all this means, just think of pine pollen as nature's anti-inflammatory, immunity booster reduce, pain reliever, endlarged prostate reducer, cholesterol aid, anti-arthritic and anti-tumor wonder food. 

Additionally, pine pollen is a natural source of testosterone.  As an androgen containing sterols (plant steroids), this pollen is able to raise your testosterone and balance estrogen levels in your blood.   With the very high estrogen levels in our public water and modern food system (thanks to soy fillers, birth control traces in our drinking water, etc), a natural testosterone booster and hormone regulator can be of huge benefit to both males and females. 

Balanced and normal testosterone levels can increase libido and assist with the body's ability to build muscle.  How about that?  Whoever thought we could get so turned on over yellow dust from a pine tree!?!  The list of benefits goes on and on but I figured I would leave it with increased sex drive and big muscles. 

So you've decided you want what the pine tree has to offer.  Now what?  Well, you can leave it in powder form as it falls off the catkins in your glass jar.  You can capsule it or just add it to your morning smoothie, or put it in tincture form.  This is how we do it in our house and it is really very simple.  Just buy some organic vodka (available at most liquor stores or specialty groceries), pour into your glass jar with your catkins and let sit for a few weeks.  Then transfer to tincture bottles.  1-2 times per day, put a couple drops under your tongue.  How simple and inexpensive as that?

Here is the deal, though.  You have to act NOW!  Pine pollen season is short-lived.  Just a couple weeks per year.  Pollen is currently out right now at our house.  Higher elevations seem to be a bit behind so if you've missed it around your home, just plan a hike in late May or early June and you may still be able to find some.  Just don't forget your glass jar.

If you've missed the season altogether or just don't know what to look for, let me know as we collected extra just for that reason. 

Happy Pine Pollen Season!

Thanks to for some of the detailed benefits.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

From Breast to Best: Transitioning from nursing to the best foods on earth

Now that our little guy, Case, is a year old and eating a good amount of solid foods, I'm noticing him wanting to nurse less.  I'm not consciously weaning him but rather letting him make the choice, as I did with Booker who just weaned himself one day at 13 months old.  As Case is eating more food, I've had several people ask me about what we feed him and what my plan is for after he is through nursing.  So, since they've asked, I thought I would share our philosophy on weaning and replacing the best food on earth with the next best thing.
Selfishly, I would nurse forever.  I cherish the one-on-one time and, honestly, I love being the center of my baby's world for this period of time that goes so quickly.  I don't ever really want this sacred time to end.  However, I know that, as they grow, breast milk becomes nutritionally insufficient.  I suppose also that nursing too long may create some sort of negative social repercussions for my little ones :).  While I would be happy to continue nursing for long after the one year point, both my babies have seemed to view their first birthday as a sign to begin the transition away from mama. 
Since nursing is a primal act and a food source we as a species were intended to eat, it is very important to my husband and me that our little one transition to something very close to as wild and pure.  For that reason, we are filling his diet with as many wild foods as possible.  He is still nursing at wake-up but soon after has a smoothie made with wild dandelions and/or plantain, nettles, pine needles, frozen wild blackberries and spring water.  We also include raw honey, raw cashews and both the water and meat of a young coconut.  He loves it and it makes my heart smile to see him filling himself with some of the best foods in the world.  The smoothie is a great way to fill a little one with wild foods because the greens are a bit difficult for them to eat on their own and thawed frozen berries are a mess!  I can't wait for berry season when he can eat wild berries right off the vine with his big brother.
We mainly just focus on what we DO give him, making sure it is THE BEST FOOD EVER.  There are a few things we DON'T give him however, mainly because we don't want to gunk up his clean, perfect little system.  He has not had any grains at all, or dairy.  His first birthday cake was a raw cacao, coconut oil and honey combo that he devoured and was grain free.  In addition to the dairy and grain don'ts, we of course don't give him anything at all processed.  Only whole foods here because, well, that other stuff isn't really even food.
For the first 10-or-so-months while the little guy was nursing several times per day, I left his hydration to breast milk.  Now that he is beginning to nurse less, I fill his cup with either water straight from our local spring, coconut water straight from a raw young coconut, or chilled chaga tea. 
I've been asked at what point I start giving my babies whole foods and the answer is that, like with everything else, we try to listen to natural instincts.  We waited until they showed interest in real food but mainly when they got their teeth and seemed ready to chew.  To me, it seems like common sense that they would not be ready for solids before their bodies were equipped to eat them.  We don't do spoon-fed foods in our house because it just doesn't feel like human instinct.  Our babies go straight to feeding themselves whole, grain-free finger foods.  This probably doesn't matter at all, but it just feels right to us.
Anyway, there is my answer for those who have asked how we get our kids to eat healthy foods.  If you start them with nothing but the best, it will be all they know.  The only obstacle is trying to balance the best food ever with the temptation of all the other crap food that everyone seems to like to offer them as they get older.  That is one of my biggest challenges as a parent but I'll save that for another post at another time.  Until then, I am going to go nurse my sweet little baby while I still can...
                                          Case covered in his morning smoothie.
                                           Booker eating weeds he picked from the yard.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

I treated my 3 boys this morning to heart-shaped raw cacao fudge.  I forgot to take a picture before they devoured their treats but I did get photos of the aftermath on our 10-month-old's sweet little face.  I didn't follow a recipe for these but just threw the following together until it tasted right and seemed about the right consistency.  I would say it was about:
  • 2.5 cups of raw, organic cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons raw, organic coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey
I mixed the 3 ingredients in the Vitamix, poured into 9x13 baking dish and stored in freezer for about an hour.  I then cut into heart shapes and wrapped up with twine for a super cute superfood Valentine's Day treat.  I just love creating superfood desserts that feel like a really special treat to our 4-year-old and are actually GOOD for him!