Skip to content

Children’s Activities: Farm camp and a Farmer’s Market

October 22, 2012

Programs for healthy eating and lifestyle flourish here in the US, especially those for children. I had the privilege of working at an 8 week summer camp on an organic farm, partnering with a committed farming couple who taught about organic farming and healthy lifestyle to a diverse group of local children. We coordinated the sessions so children were able to learn about nature, farming and healthy eating. They were able to take part in gathering, preparing and tasting various foods and recipes.  For example, children gathered salad makings from the garden then chose, prepared and tasted their creations. Another time, under supervision they  gathered wild edible greens and children learned to make ‘pissenlit’ – dandelion salad with bacon and eggs from chickens on the farm. An outing to the beach where they learned how to gather clams was followed by a session on edible sea foods and clam chowder making. See the ‘How To Eat a Rainbow ‘  blog for more recipes.

The local farmers market was an opportunity to coordinate my ‘Eat a Rainbow Every Day’ project with Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Healthy Food Healthy Families program which educated and provided families with children access to local, seasonal foods through a creative program. On the day, children learned the benefits of eating different coloured fruits and vegetables through a series of experiencial activities.

Naturopathy; a self help technique for headaches and more

October 22, 2012
Self help technique

Points to hold

This is one of my favorite self-help techniques that may be useful for headaches, neck and shoulder tension, feeling out of sorts and is a traditionally used kinesiology practise for determining food intolerances when used by a trained kinesiologist.With palms of both hands toward the face, place the fingers of one hand (except for thumb), with the little finger at the outer corner of either eye (touching skin not eye) lay fingers in a straight line between the eye and ear.With other hand, place 2nd and third fingers behind oppsite ear lobe. Gently hold these points for 5-10 seconds then switch sides. You may feel a sense of relaxation, headache, neck/shoulder tension may diminish, coordination, energy and clarity of mind may improve.

This is especially useful if you’ve eaten a food that may not suit. It is however only a temporary ‘fix’ so will need repeating or better still-avoid culprit food!

The Challenges to Healthy Eating

October 22, 2012

Food choices are overwhelming and temptation is everywhere. Even the most health conscious among us can be side-tracked by social events, busy schedules, work commitments and a culture that revolves around fast food. Though plentiful, vegetables make their appearance in salads and are less frequently cooked and served with main courses both at resturants and at home. The cost of organic, clean food, free of additives can be prohibitive to some despite the best of intentions.

As energy and feelings of wellbeing falter, weight creeps on and signs of vibrant health waver, it becomes important to look for ways to  manage this.

Here are some ways I found to be helpful:

  • Be prepared try not to get caught out in order to  avoid drops in blood sugar which trigger cravings for high sugar and fatty fast foods. Bring foods with you that are low glycemic, slow release and appealing (to you). What works for me are chick pea flour pancake wraps ( oat cakes, hummous, seeds, nuts, cut up vegetables and pieces of chicken or turkey.
  • Eat a sustaining breakfast with some protein– it will keep you going much longer and help resist the temptation for sweets. This works so well that a popular cereal brand is using it on TV advertisements!
  • Try to have  regular mealtimes whenever possible. Everyone is unique and what works for one may not for another. Try different ways-grazing, 3 meals and 2-3 small snacks, no snacks, big breakfasts, small breakfasts, etc. -there are many possibilities.
  • Choose your indulgences with awareness.Sometimes just thinking about it presents one with different options.

Butternut Squash Hummous

October 22, 2012

Hummous and vegetables

This has a milder and slightly sweeter taste than traditional hummous. The butternut squash is roasted and gives the hummous a golden colour. It can be made with homemade (recipe to follow) or store-bought  hummous to which roasted squash is added.

1 small butternut squash, washed and pierced
Bake squash for about 40 min until tender. Cool and remove 1/2 of the flesh to a bowl and mash.

To make homemade hummous:
soak 1 mugful dried chick peas that have been well rinsed in a bowl full of water overnight. Rinse and cook chick peas in a pot covered with fresh water to which a small chopped onion and bay leaf have been added. Cook for 30-40 minutes until chick peas are firm tender. Drain stock and reserve, cool chick peas.
In the bowl of a food processor or blender add:
cooked chick peas
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 TBS lemon juice
2 TBS tahini (sesame paste)
1 tsp cumin
a little of reserved chick pea stock
Process or blend until mixed and as smooth as desired
Taste and add more lemon or tahini and season with salt or a little tamari. Mix in mashed butternut squash and adjust seasonings.  If using store-bought hummous, mix in butternut squash. Serve in a bowl with cut up raw vegetables like carrot sticks, sliced cucumber, pepper strips and crispbreads or pitta triangles.

Use remainder of squash instead of potato or rice with a main course or add it to soup.

Crunchy Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

October 22, 2012

Seasonal eatingFoods that grow at this time of year sustain, nourish and warm us because they are dense and less watery than those that grow in summer. Rich in antioxidants called carotenes which are responsible for their colour, one of these, beta carotene can be converted to Vitamin A when needed by the body. Vitamin A is used to keep the the mucous membranes of the throat, lungs, respiratory system and digestive systems moist. It also helps to protect against viruses.

Crunchy Stuffed Sweet Potato
serves 4
Scrub and dry 2 medium sweet potatoes and using a fork make some holes in them before baking. Put them on a baking sheet or dish and bake at 350For 180C until flesh is tender but not soft. Remove from oven and cool until able to handle. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out flesh with a spoon into a bowl and leaving skin intact replace it on baking sheet. In bowl mix flesh with 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon currants, raisins, dried cranberries or chopped apricots, 1 tablespoon toasted chopped nuts or seeds and mix gently. Have 1 teaspoon chopped nuts or seeds for topping to be added later. Fill each skin with mixture, place on baking sheet and put into oven at same temperature as previously. Bake until flesh is soft, top with chopped nuts and heat for 4 minutes. Sprinkle with coarsely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro before serving.

Spring Greens Pie

March 14, 2012

Here is a springtime recipe based on the ever popular Spanokopita or spinach and feta pie, full of green leafy goodness.  A good way to start spring cleaning! Use a variety of different green leaves in addition to  spinach such as chard, rocket, watercress, even a little sorrel or dandelion. Remember when they’re about 12 inches high nettles are ready to pick and make a super-food addition (use the top 4 leaves, pick in an unpolluted place, wearing gloves, cooking neutralises the sting).

Green Leaf Pie

This will serve 4 for a tasty lunch- accompany it with a mixed salad, topped with toasted seeds and a delicious vinaigrette.

Pre-heat oven to 180C

Brush a 7X10inch baking pan or dish with a little olive oil

One or more of the following –finely chopped in addition to spinach-to the equivalent of just under 1 kilo


Kale, watercress, nettles, rocket, Swiss chard, purple sprouting leaves, cabbage-finely chopped

1 medium onion –chopped

1 large leek -chopped

2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-2 Tablespoon fresh dill- finely chopped (optional or substitute your favourite herb)

100gm Sheep feta cheese- crumbled or use half ricotta or cottage cheese and half feta

2 TBS pine nuts (optional)

2-4 sheets filo pastry

4 medium mushrooms -chopped

Olive oil

Sauté onion and leek in a little olive oil, when soft add garlic and mushrooms-cook for 5 min. Add spinach and any other greens you’ve chosen. Cook mixture for about 5 minutes until leaves are cooked through. Cool. Add dill and crumbled feta (riccotta), leaving back about 2 tablespoons feta for topping. Stir and season to taste.

Place a filo sheets in the baking pan -use just enough to cover the bottom and sides, overlap if necessary. Brush with olive oil and place another sheet on top.  Spoon spinach mixture into the filo covered baking sheet. Sprinkle remaining feta and pine nuts onto the spinach mixture and fold excess filo over top of spinach. Pinch extra filo to form little ruffles and place on top or leave out. Brush with olive oil and place in oven –bake for 25 minute or until filo is golden brown.

Naturopathic Approaches to Spring

March 14, 2012


Hay fever or spring fever?

It’s here – evident all around; baby lambs, buds on trees, crocuses in bloom, an intoxicating scent in the air. Do you feel the stirrings of spring? Are you enjoying the smells, colours, tastes, a gentle spurt of energy or do you want to wish away the next few weeks or months ….

As this cycle emerges, so may symptoms –physical complaints that occur at this time of year. Spring colds, skin complaints and of course the most common – hay fever.

If this feels familiar there’s still time to take measures to make a difference as early tree pollens that cause  hay fever  aren’t due in some areas for 1-3 weeks.

Perhaps you were thinking about a cleanse or detox in January and it didn’t feel like the right season to start-well done, because now is the ideal time. The energy of spring supports our bodies’ elimination particularly the major detoxification organ-liver. However, if the thought of a detox  feels like too much, think of it more as a  nuturing and supportive regime. .

My understanding of this is that if the body is overburdened in some way, it uses back-up means to cleanse itself, which creates a stress on the body. It is most certainly the case if this is a regular seasonal occurrence. Colds, hay fever symptoms and skin conditions are all eliminative processes. If our skin, lungs, kidneys and digestion are working at their best capacity as organs of elimination, it is possible to reduce or prevent these signs. In fact, these symptomatic pointers are flagging up something that requires attention-a message from the body which is difficult to ignore when we have an itchy rash, weepy eyes or a runny nose.

A menu of ways to help….support the body’s cleansing capacity     

1. Clean up the diet

Decreasing sugar, alcohol, caffeine, salt, fried and processed foods reduces the burden on

the body’s eliminative organs thus helping them to be more efficient. Decreasing sugar, dairy and fat may be particularly helpful with hay fever symptoms.

2. Increase green vegetables

The chlorophyll in greens is helpful for cleansing and immunity.The darker the leaf the more magnesium a plant contains-essential for our immune systems. Of course include other coloured vegetables and fruits. Orange/yellow plant foods contain beta carotene which converts to vitamin A and supports the mucous membranes of the nose,throat and lungs. Red peppers and berries contain vitamin C and bioflavinoids. Have them lightly cooked as well as raw.

3. Drink water, lemon in water, herbal teas, dandelion coffee, fresh vegetable juices or green smoothies.

These aid cleansing by supporting the organs of elimination and do not stress the body the way sugary drinks and caffeine do.  Nettle tea is an excellent cleansing and immune support. Green smoothies, made from green leaves and fruit are not only tasty but beneficial.

There really isn’t a set amount as individual needs vary. Don’t forget fruits and vegetables are nmade up of water. Drink according to thirst and common sense.

4. Try to determine if certain foods are not suiting you then avoid them during your symptom season. A good clue is something that you regularly eat-perhaps daily.

These can increase catarrh, digestive problems, heat and inflammation. For example, cow dairy can increase hay fever symptoms for many people. The best way to test is to eliminate the food for about 10-14 days, re-introduce it and note affects (can be up to 3 days after).

5.  Dry skin brush before a bath or shower. Finish a shower or bath with alternating hot and cold water all over.

This supports the lymphatic system, helping with elimanation and immunity.

6. Exercise

Improves circulation, respiration, digestion and sweating. Using a mini trampoline

is great for the lymphatic system.

7.  Try a  sauna

Dry heat promotes sweating and elimination. Observe cautions with certain conditions

such as high blood pressure, etc.

8.   Spend time outdoors

If symptoms have not begun walk in nature (esp. by a body of  water (river, stream, sea)), soak up sunlight. Vitamin D from the sun is essential for immunity.  or using a non-petroleum jelly just inside the nostrils to catch pollen, esp.if going outdoors increases symptoms.

9. Other suggestions

As long as possible before hay fever symptoms begin try doing nasal inhalations with salt water, having small amounts of local honey, taking Vitamin C and Fish oils and following  suggestions 1-8 above.

Once symptoms begin it is difficult to stop them as this is an allergy response. However do try over the counter homeopathc hay fever remedies and tissue salts, Vitamin C,  Fish oils and Quercetin-a natural supplement that can be found in health food stores. Follow dietary recommendations 1-4.

Here is a springtime recipe based on the ever popular Spanokopita or spinach and feta pie, full of green leafy goodness.  A good way to start spring cleaning! Use a variety of different green leaves lin addition to  spinach such as chard, rocket, watercress, even a little sorrel or dandelion. Remember when they’re about 12 inches high nettles are ready to pick and make a super-food addition (use the top 4 leaves, pick in an unpolluted place, wearing gloves, cooking neutralises the sting).

see the recipe for Green Leaf Pie using the best of the season to provide nutrients and vitality for supporting the immune system


January 15, 2012

Nature’s tool kit

Naturopathy is not well known though it has been around for a long time. It is a philosophy and holistic healthcare system that recognises the healing power of nature present in all living things. As a healing system it aims to promote and restore health by employing various natural treatment approaches that may include: nutrition, lifestyle advice, detoxification techniques, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, naturopathic psychosocial support and other appropriate techniques.

The quote below, a definition of Naturopathy by Edward Earle Purinton has been described as a ‘beautiful and ‘idealistic’ .

Naturopathy is the perfected Science of Human Wholeness, and it includes all agencies, methods, systems, regimes, pratices and ideals of natural origin whereby human health may be restored.”.

Naturopathic principles

Naturopathy follows certain principles. The first, and one which informs all that Naturopathy is : Only nature heals or the healing power of nature.

Man and nature are amazingly resilient. Naturopaths were not the first to notice that the living organism possesses an inherent tendency to revert to the normal, and to overcome adversity, injury or disease. It is ordered, intelligent and virtually miraculous – provided that it can occur unobstructed. Nature has her own wisdom, and the greater part of naturopathic work consists of removing obstacles to nature’s healing power, the vis medicatrix naturae, thereby allowing her to complete the task unhindered.

The Hot Mustard Foot Bath

This technique helps with detoxification and symptoms of withdrawal such as headaches that can occur when stopping caffeine or other foods. It  is also a pleaseant technique to use if someone has a nasty head cold as it helps with congestion.

The principle is that by having the feet in hot water and a cold compress on the forehead, congestion is drawn down.

Supplies needed:

*    large basin or bowl of hot water big enough for both feet

*    1 teaspoon of dried mustard powder

*     lavender essential oil

*     face flannel

*     bowl of cold water


  1. Dissolve the mustard in hot water in large basin
  2. Add  2 or 3 drops of lavender oil to the cold water immerse flannel, then wring it out
  3. Sit and relax with feet in the hot mustard foot bath and cold flannel on the forehead- when it is no longer cool, wring it out again in the cold water and place on the forehead
  4. Do this as long as desired or until hot water cools

Cauliflower and Brassicas – winter’s champions

January 15, 2012

Try cauliflower in this tasty recipe

Read more…

Sharyn’s Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Cream

November 8, 2010


1 medium butternut squash – chopped into small pieces

1 medium onion-diced

1 TBS olive oil

2 tsp mild curry powder

¾ pt. vegetable stock

 1TBS coconut cream

100 ml apple juice

Salt and pepper

Coconut cream

2 TBS cream

1 TBS coconut cream

1 TBS plain yogurt


Sauté chopped onion and curry powder in olive oil for 5 min., stirring occasionally. Add chopped butternut squash and sauté for another 5 min. Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 min. until squash is tender (small pieces will cook more quickly). Remove from heat, cooling until suitable to go into a blender. Ladle chunks of butternut squash with a little of the cooking liquid into blender and blend in batches until smooth, putting back in saucepan as you go. Don’t use all of the liquid until all the squash to make sure that the soup will not be too watery. Once all the squash is blended add the apple juice then some or all of remaining liquid if need. Add coconut cream and stir until dissolved. Taste and season with salt and pepper. The soup should have a slightly thick consistency- like cream. Heat for 2min.

Coconut Cream

Beat cream until thick. Mix in coconut cream and yogurt. When serving soup, use 1 dessertspoonful for each bowl of soup. Alternatively serve with plain yogurt or crème fraiche.