Monday, June 27, 2011

Greening My Blood Sugars

I'm almost reluctant to post this because I don't want to inspire anyone to tinker in an irresponsible way with their own health, or have anyone mimic what has worked for me without seeking their own medical supervision.   So whatever you read here is simply MY experience, not my recommendation for anyone else.

I am my own guinea pig...that's what I'm saying.

And the second thing I'm saying is that I might never have known that I could SOLVE a very crucial problem as a diabetic with any of these things, were it not for the availability of a wide range of resources via the internet...not all of which are trustworthy, but the bulk of which can be cross-referenced, compared, and gleaned from.  Here are the players God has provided in our own backyard, which have each added up in different ways to bringing my blood sugars down from Very Scary, to normal...TODAY...for the first time in years:

Certain tree leaves made into strong tea
Certain fresh green herbs
Black beans
Certain cooked greens
Certain spices

My sugars had gotten out of control, for reasons I don't fully understand except that the longer I am diabetic, the more stubborn the symptoms seem to be in responding to improvement.   The trick now is keeping the numbers in a good range and eventuall easing off the prescription meds, or at least reducing them.

I still need to lose's my Achilles heel, and my body is so so resistant at this point.  But when my sugars surged to over 450 a couple months ago, the biggest problem was that I was already on the maximum dose of this level of oral medication,and I REALLY don't want to graduate to insulin injections.

In a somewhat more desperate run of Google searching, I have run across so many more anecdotal mentions of common plants useful in different cultures for either lowering, controlling, or stabilizing blood sugars.  Since natural plants don't come with "parental government controls" (thank goodness!) as far as dosage recommendations and a list of contraindications, we are CAUTIOUSLY testing some of these (the ones with the fewest cautionary mentions) on ourselves.  This is just my own personal philosophy, but I believe that if we learn, learn, learn as we go and judiciously ease into the use of some of these natural "remedies," the likelihood of permanent damage and side effects is significantly less than that of most pharaceuticals, most of which are synthetic.   The fact that our backyard plants are pesticide-free, suited to our climate and location, hardy (some are considered weeds), and either free or inexpensive all adds up to encouragement and availability instead of the pricey dollar figure of so many "magic bullets" offered elsewhere.

We don't have this down pat yet...maybe we never will?   But we've eased into more natural eating.  I tried going "mostly raw" for a time, and gained some experience and some benefits.  What I carry with me from that is the determination to eat more greens of all sorts.  Our regular eating had included unbalanced proportions of cooked foods and too few raw the myriad greens that can be paired with almost anything to round out a meal and ramp up the body's energy and nutrients.  The simple act of including a wide variety of greens, raw or cooked, to our daily meals meant a noticeable health difference.

Black beans are now a staple in our household -- we had them quite often before, anyway, since Jack is from Cuba and since both of us seem to digest black beans easier than most other types of beans.  But n ow we have them almost daily.  When I read a while back that black beans in particular significantly help slow down the metabolizing of sugars, helping diabetics sustain a "slow burn" rather than quick spikes, I decided to test it on myself.  And it doesn't hurt that I happen to really like black beans...   A simple blend of spices, after some tinkering around, really does the trick, and we use our new pressure cooker to make them from scratch.  Maybe I'll be tired of them someday, but for now they are a great "side" for so many things and I find myself needing to use very little meat throughout the week because of how "meaty" the black beans are in a meal, even for Jack (which is amazing since he's the meat eater around beans do the trick instead of meat for him now, most times).

The other recent addition to our regimen (read my disclaimer above, don't do as I do...) is the use of loquat tree leaves for fresh tea taken daily.

Loquat leaves have a shiny top side and a slightly fuzzy underside.   When washing to make tea from the leaves, the fuzz of the underside must be rubbed off under running water, or it can slightly irritate the throat.  We take four loquat leaves (just go outside and pick them), clean them under running water (making sure the fuzz is rubbed off), tear them into pieces, cover with a good amount of water, and heat in a stainless steel pan till boiling.  We simmer it, covered, about 10 minutes at a fast simmer (sometimes add a cinnamon stick for extra flavor and extra blood sugar regulation), and then turn the heat down to low and let it stay there till whenever we're ready to drink it.  We pour it out into individual mugs through a small strainer, and the color turns out a rich mahogany brown.  The taste is fresh and fragrant and not heavy or very distinctive.  The cinnamon goes well with the loquat tea.

I try to drink that at least once a day, but we like it so much we usually drink at least two full mugs each, daily.

This is the 7th day I've been drinking the loquat tea, and today is the first day my daytime blood sugar reading was in the FULLY NORMAL range.

I"m VERY pleased and excited!  I credit the black beans AND the loquat tea, as well as the combination of other plants we alternate eating from the backyard (weeds such as Bidens alba, the gynura procumbens, the moringa, etc), almost all of which require almost no fuss or true "gardening skills" to grow.

Color me happy!  I'll keep posting here about my progress, but since this is the first day I saw "Normal," I had to report in with the news :)

Whatever ails us, I am encouraged that there is MUCH information to be further researched simply by beginning with an internet search, a willingness to keep looking for more natural answers, and a determination to not give up...

I truly believe God gave us the green herb (plural) for healing.  Not as a magic bullet, but for vitality and longevity and a closer eye to elements so taken for granted, such as the soil beneath our feet, and the plants we've come to think of as weeds.  I laugh to keep finding that I can make a meal from the weeds I pass by everyday, and that our mower chews right up, and that the goodness contained within those plants exceeds so many bottles I could pay an arm and a leg for at the health food store.  (Don't get me wrong, we still frequent the health food store and take some supplements)   I discover another "weed" that was sitting beside my house all along and learn of its benefits...and laugh at my own ignorance...and begin to feel really really RICH.  How blessed we are by our Creator that food and medicine are so abundant, they frequently are chopped back and considered pests!

SO glad God has a sense of humor!  And I'm so glad He uses the humble things in ways much mightier than we were conditioned to understand.

What are some of your favorite "humble" plants with big nutritional and medicinal punch?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!!!!

Happy Father's Day to all you great dads out there, and all you men who step in to be the man in a child's life a father should be.

And as is the case for some of us whose good father was the Almighty alone, I am daily thankful for Him!!!

Happy Father's Day to my husband, Jack, who is the earthly man in my daughter's life who best defines the term Great Dad   :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Eating of the Green

"...I have given every green herb for food." Bereshit/Genesis 1:20

Gynura procumbens and fresh Bidens Alba, enough growing to have some regular harvests...a delicious medicinal "mess 'o greens"!

What wild and/or intentionally-grown green's in your salad bowl or stewpot?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Blast! Mosaic Virus, I Think

Ding dang dong...I think the "heat stress" that I assumed resulted in the  yellowing of the cucumber plants is really Mosaic virus.  They look yellow and blasted (the leaves) and have a geometric pattern across them.  Internet search indicates Mosaic virus, spread by aphids most likely (even though I have seen none).

And there are blooms all over the plants!

Does anyone have any experience with this?  I suspect I need to pull the vines and burn them.  With so many blooms on the vines, that sounds drastic.  If anyone knows an alternative, I'm open to learning!

If not, well Boston Pickling cucumber either is not as suited for my area as my garden center wanted to promote, or I just need to try again in a different location or different time of year.  (We're down here in Florida, y'all...)

Advice appreciated...!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tomato Cuttings

I'm trying my hand with some cuttings from our indeterminate tomato plants while they're in their first flush of good growth and vining like crazy.  If they can root and grow into mature plants, it sure would make for some happy tomato harvests ahead!

I read a lot of suggestions online, but decided to go with the easiest of them, which is simply placing the stems of the cuttings into some basic potting soil (in pots) and keeping them in the shade and moistening them daily until they get some size to them.   Then I can move them to a sunnier location to harden off and and later transplant them into an in-ground full sun location, or so I hope.

The ones I'll be trying to multiply by this method are the German Johnson, Black Prince, and the Yellow Pear.

I originally got these heirloom varieties at the local garden center, priced buy 2 get one I walked away with a total of 9 that day.  Think of all the cuttings I can get from these without disrupting their fruiting...maybe there is succession planting in our future?

Coincidentally, there are black oil sunflowers growing near the tomatoes, as well as some flowers of different types, cultivated and wild.  I've noticed the sunflowers are a cheerful trap crop for the stink bugs, luring them from focusing soley on the tomatoes, and so far the only thing I've had to do to discourage the stink bugs when I see them on the tomatoes is to spray them off with the water hose.  That may change, but our hands-off tendencies mean we're waiting to see the insect population keep its natural balance without too much interference from us.

I'm counting the days till TOMATOES...

Can't wait to see if the tomato experiment works.  If so, it's even easier than growing from seed! (at this point)

Anyone out here ever grown tomatoes from vine cuttings?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Baby, It's Hot Outside

(apologies ahead of time for maiming the original Baby, It's Cold Outside)

Baby, It's Hot Outside
warped lyrics by me

I really can’t stay (Baby, it’s hot out here)
It's blazing today  (Wouldn't you like a beer?)
The garden's not in (That sunburn across your nose...)
It's hot as sin (...want me to spray you with the hose?)

I melt when I step out the door (I'll turn down the AC some more)
My windshield has started to crack (...Triple A will call right back)
Just help me up off of the floor (Need me to fan you some more?)
Well, maybe some ice cold tea (Here's one for you, and one for me)

The neighbors might think (They're at the Bingo hall)
Say, what’s in this drink (think you can stand, or crawl?)
I wish I knew how (Here, let me have that cup...)
To catch my breath (How many fingers am I holding up?)

I'm sweating more more more more sir (I'm not getting too much closer)
I think I might self-combust (Well, aim the other way if you must)
Let's sit in the cool (Here Baby, the kiddie pool)
Oh, but it’s HOT outside

I simply must go (It’s HOT outside)
My clinical strength (Baby, it’s HOT outside)
deodorant gel (hon, you don't look so well...)
just bit the dust (re-apply as often as you must)

Those thunderclouds look suspicious (This watermelon tastes delicious)
We better listen for an alarm (I won't let you come to harm)
These thunderstorms can be so vicious (We'll eat and then we'll do the dishes)
Well maybe till the rain slows down (It's really far for you to drive to town)

I’ve got to get home (Baby, it's wet out there)
Say, lend me a comb (It’s up to your knees out there)
You’re such a great guy (I just saw a tree blow by)
Where is my raincoat (I think you're gonna need a boat)

There’s bound to be folks talk later (I better start the generator...)
At least there will be plenty implied (I hope the freezer hasn't died)
I really can’t stay (The power is out)
Oh, but baby it’s HOT outside

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Edible Weed Roundup: Bidens alba, Spanish Needles or Common Beggarticks

The best kind of Roundup is a harvest of edible greens...even if they're  the sort, like this plant, also touted by some folks as being one of the worst annual weeds.  I guess beauty (and worth??) is in the eye of the beholder!  The Bidens alba, and its nearly identical brother, the Bidens pilosa, are some of the hardiest naturally-occurring forbs...yes, WEEDS to some.  But I prefer to think of them as the superheroes of the natural world!

We walked past these for years in our area, unaware of their edible benefits.  The Bidens alba/Spanish Needle is a modest wildflower with small white flowers, and quite the bee and butterfly attractor.  The only precautions I can find as far as edibility are  photosensitivity (don't eat it if you're going to have skin exposed to the sun soon after) and to avoid eating it if you're in an area where opals are mined....the video (below) from Green Dean's site explains why.  It goes by other names, most of which indicate the brittle seeds that stick to the coats of animals (like my dog) or pant legs, like so many little needles.

It grows right alongside our cultivated plants and most any  place its friendly presence so desires, but doesn't seem to be a drain on its neighbors' fertility.  It is unobtrusive and in our philosophy of "benign neglect" we've allowed them to flourish side-by-side with anything else we've planted.  We love a diversity of plants, and this one, though hardy, is hardly invasive.  We feel a natural mix of plants ensures a diversity of pollinators, insect "trap" plants, soil enhancers, and so on.

I recently learned that this plant is higly edible, very nutritious, wonderful as a nectar plant for bees, and prolific enough to even be grown as a crop, if one so desired.  As it is, we have so many everywhere throughout our property, I think we have enough to harvest as a potherb during warm weather.  This is welcome news!  We LOVE edible greens, especially the carefree sort!

Here's where I first learned of the Biden alba, at one of my favorite sites, Green Dean's Eat The Weeds

And here is his short video on identification and information about the Spanish Needles plants:

This plant like to tuck itself along the edges of our porch and just about anywhere, and it's easy to identify.
I harvested the leaves by clipping off "branches" of it and stripping the leaves to cook in a pot of mixed greens.

We like our garden spiders to deal with the insect population, rather than spraying chemicals.

Here's a closeup of the blooms.  Later, the little needlelike seeds enjoy hitching a ride with anything that comes along brushing up against them.

Closeup of the garden spider.  Even though I like garden spiders, I prefer them at a distance ;-)

Harvest of mixed greens.  Bidens alba leaves are at the bottom left corner.  (The loquat leaves on top arent for the pot but are for tea)

Pot of freshly-harvested mixed greens...Bidens alba, Gynura procumbens, Okinawan spinach, Stingless chaya, moringa oleifera.  Since the chaya has to be cooked at least 20 minutes, these will boil then simmer with some chopped onion and a little olive oil  and sea salt in enough water to cover.  Not only is it packed with nutrition (off the charts!) but includes some blood-sugar-regulating properties, too.  YAY!

Have you ever tried eating a Bidens?   This will be our first batch to taste...I'll report back to tell you how palatable they are.

What "weeds" do you love to eat?