Monday, September 22, 2014

Elderberry Tonic

Not sure if the Fire Cider Tonic mentioned in the previous post is for you?  Perhaps you have little ones that you don't think could stomach it.  Here is a great (and sweet!) tonic for your fall and winter health.  You may recognize it, as Elderberry Syrup has been getting a lot of good press lately.  Heck, we have even mentioned it on this blog way back in 2011!

This fantastic tonic made from Elderberries and honey boosts immunity, has great anti-viral properties, works as an anti-oxidant, and contains high amounts of Vitamin C.  It has even been reported to lessen the symptoms and duration of a cold or flu.  It has worked its magic for my family and could be just the medicine for yours.

Although it's a very gentle and safe herb, be sure to research contraindications and talk to a qualified health care professional before you mix up a batch. 

Here is my own recipe for this tonic.  Enjoy!

Elderberry Elixir


-4 oz Elderberries (about ½ cup)
-1 Cinnamon Stick
-1 tblspn Ginger
-3-4 sticks of Astragalus
-2 cups Water
-1 cup Honey


1. Mix ingredients (minus the honey) in a small saucepan
2. Bring to low boil.  Then, simmer covered until reduced by half (about 20 minutes).
3. Strain through mesh strainer or cheesecloth
4. Add Honey
5. Enjoy!
***Store in glass jars refrigerated for up to 2 weeks***

General dosage is 1-2 tsp for children, 3X daily.
Adult dosage is 1-2 tblspns, 3X daily.

Stay Healthy!
Kristin Henningsen M.S., C.H., R.Y.T.
Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall and Winter Tonics

As the official start of the Fall season arrives, so with it comes all those coughs, colds, and viruses that run rampant during this time of year.  Tonics can be a great way to boost immunity and prevent all those nasty bugs from affecting your family.  They are also easy to incorporate into your daily diet, so that each meal is an opportunity to get and stay healthy.

One such great tonic is the traditional remedy, Fire Cider.  This is a tasty vinegar based drink that is infused with powerful anti-microbial, decongestant, and spicy herbs that increase the circulation.  It will warm you up on those cold days, as well as stimulate your digestion and boost the immune system.  It's also easy to make!  Below is a recipe originally posted on the Mountain Rose Herbs blog. You can add it to veggie juice or smoothies, eggs, or on your salads as a dressing.  Go ahead and try it! You might just find your new favorite condiment.  

1/2 cup fresh grated organic ginger root
1/2 cup fresh grated organic horseradish root
1 medium organic onion, chopped
10 cloves of organic garlic, crushed or chopped
2 organic jalapeno peppers, chopped
Zest and juice from 1 organic lemon
Several sprigs of fresh organic rosemary or 2 tbsp of dried rosemary leaves
1 tbsp organic turmeric powder
organic apple cider vinegar
raw local honey to taste

Prepare all of your cold-fighting roots, fruits, and herbs and place them in a quart sized jar. If you’ve never grated fresh horseradish, be prepared for a powerful sinus opening experience! Use a piece of natural parchment paper or wax paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal. Shake well! Store in a dark, cool place for one month and remember to shake daily.
After one month, use cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid goodness as you can from the pulp while straining. Next, comes the honey! Add 1/4 cup of honey and stir until incorporated. Taste your cider and add another 1/4 cup until you reach the desired sweetness.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Image result for image of raspberry bush
A few years ago, I planted raspberry bushes along the west side of our house.  They usually produce a good amount of berries, and as long as I can beat our dogs and goats to them, I usually pick enough each day to enjoy on my oatmeal.  This summer, however, the bushes really outdid themselves.  I am picking enough each day to use in recipes, with some to spare!  

Raspberries are considered one of the "super foods" because they are high in antioxidants, low in fat and calories, and provide a generous amount of fiber per serving.  They also pack several nutrients, including potassium and calcium.  Finally, they help fight inflammatory issues.

Recently, I found this wonderful recipe to make raspberry jam.  I like it because it is low in sugar and does not require pectin.  Enjoy!

Image result for images of raspberry jam

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Recipe from Jamie Cooks It Up!
4 t cornstarch
1/2 C sugar
1 (12 ounce) package raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 t water
1 1/2 t lemon juice
1 T butter
1/2 t vanilla
dash salt


Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP
Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Football Season - Remember to Protect Your Voice

Have you ever lost your voice after cheering a little to loudly for your favorite football team?  Did you ever wake up with a sore throat and wonder why?  Vocal health is something that most people take for granted until they have a problem.   Just as we eat a well-balanced diet and exercise to stay healthy, maintaining proper vocal fitness is essential to overall well-being.

When used properly, vocal chords (technically called vocal “folds”) are muscles that vibrate together in a rhythmic pattern to produce sound.  If an injury occurs to the vocal folds, they are not able to vibrate normally, which results in hoarseness, reduced volume, or complete loss of voice.
Maintaining vocal fitness is something that everyone can do!  It only takes a minute or two to drink an extra glass of water or turn on a humidifier.  Prolonged irritation of the vocal folds can result in permanent damage.  Although this is rare, if you experience vocal hoarseness or other abnormalities that last longer than two weeks, it is best to consult your primary physician.
What promotes a healthy voice?  Here are some quick and easy tips that everyone can easily do:
·          Maintain proper hydration: 
·         Drink water to keep the vocal chords moist and limit substances that cause dehydration, such as caffeine.   It is important to note that drinking small amounts of water throughout the day is more effective than drinking large quantities all at once.
·         Certain medications, such as antihistamines, can also result in dehydration, so drink extra water if you take any of these medications on a regular basis.
·         Use a humidifier at night if you run the heater or air conditioning, or if you live in a dry climate.
·         Avoid smoky environments; do not smoke.
·         Use your voice responsibly:
·         Do not whisper.  When you whisper, you force your vocal chords to nearly close, which can cause muscle strain.
·         If you must project, use an amplification system.
·         Avoid clearing your throat.  Constant throat clearing can cause irritation or inflammation of the vocal chords.  The need to clear your throat is usually a symptom of something, so it might be wise to consult your doctor.
·         Do not shout or cough roughly, if possible.   Shouting and rough coughing is the same as slamming your vocal chords together.   This can result in irritation.
If you are interested in more information about vocal fitness, here are a few wonderful resources:
American Speech and Hearing Association: 
National Institution on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

Friday, September 12, 2014
Good Samaritan Laws

What do you think of when you hear about Good Samaritan Laws?  A duty to help those in need?  Protection when you provide CPR to a stranger?  Many people have heard of the law, but few are aware of how different the laws are from state to state.

Good Samaritan Laws are state statutes, which means that individual state governments have approved these laws in their states.  Some states choose to use the law to provide immunity to those who assist in emergency situations while other states actually require bystanders to help.  Here is a relative breakdown:

  • Most of the 50 states provide immunity to those who administer care in emergency situations
  • 8 states provide no immunity to private individuals not meeting certain criteria
  • 24 states provide immunity for physicians rendering emergency care in a hospital
  • 6 states exclude rendering emergency care in a hospital from Good Samaritan coverage
  • 2 states require a duty to assist; if it is a reasonable emergency, physicians must assist
  • (Source:
What does this mean for the average citizen who wishes to help out in emergency situations?  The answer is not clear, unfortunately.  A quick internet search will help you find the Good Samaritan Law in your state.  Most states will protect individuals who choose to assist injured people in emergency situations, as long as they use reasonable precautions and are of sound mind (i.e., have not been using drugs or alcohol).  The best advice is to offer help if you feel comfortable doing so at the time, but always be aware of your safety, as well.

Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP
Image result for CPR image
Thursday, September 11, 2014


Today is the 13th anniversary of 9/11.  This post is to honor those lost in that terrible tragedy, and for those who lost loved ones.

Prayer for the World
(Rabbi Harold Kushner)

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.

And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven. Amen.

Image result for flag image
Monday, September 8, 2014

Ode to Fall

Posted by Jeanette Andrade, MS,RDN,LDN

Fall is my favorite season. Unfortunately in Illinois it is a hit or miss to experience all that Fall has to offer. In any case, I decided to post a poem by John Keats (1820) that captures the essence of Fall:

To Autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
   Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
   Steady thy laden head across a brook;
   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
   Among the river sallows, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Keats, J. (1820). To Autumn. Retrieved from
Friday, September 5, 2014

Who's ready for some football?

By Jeanette Andrade MS,RDN,LDN

Fall is upon us as the leaves change colors, the nights become shorter, and more importantly, people are yelling at their TV screens on Saturdays and Sundays as football is back on the air. You may also be one of the many fortunate people to attend one or more games during the season. This may mean participating in a tailgate or two prior to kick off. Now when you think of tailgating you likely are not thinking low caloric/fat foods such as water, plain fruit, and fresh salad, but instead high caloric/fat foods such as beer, hot dogs, brats, and mayonnaise based salads. However, pulling off a healthy tailgate can be done with a little bit of creativity. Initially, I will discuss a healthy breakfast tailgate (many college games start early on Saturday) and then an afternoon/dinner tailgate.

When there is an early tailgate, most people would expect eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, and some cold orange juice. Well, I like to form my own twist to a traditional morning tailgate by making:
-A “fresh egg delight scramble” which includes egg whites and about 1-2 egg yolks, cooked spinach, quartered cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers (green, red, and yellow make it pretty), and mushrooms. You can sprinkle some low-fat cheese on there for some extra flavor

-A fruit salad that incorporates fall fruits- apples, pears, oranges, and bananas with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice to keep the fruit from browning

-Homemade biscuits made with skim milk and half of the butter the recipe calls for. Believe me hardly any one notices the lack of butter as the biscuits are fluffy and moist

-My husband loves using the grill, so we grill up some turkey sausages. Yes, there are turkey sausages that are low in fat and sodium such as Yorkshire Farms Morning Maple Turkey or Healthy Choice Turkey Sausages

-For beverages we serve ice cold water with fresh fruit slices (be creative as you don’t have to limit yourselves to limes or lemons, but use peaches, apples, pears, cucumbers) and lite Sangria (for those who like to have an adult beverage before or during a game)

For the later games, I like the “build your own” concept.  We have tried a taco bar where we provided 6” flour and corn tortillas and provided shrimp, chicken, and/or vegetables for our guests. The fixings were low-fat refried beans, brown rice, tomatoes, onions, fresh guacamole, and low-fat cheese. People loved these as they were fun to make and little as you could only pack so much on a 6” tortilla. You can try the same with a sandwich bar or even a salad bar (seriously people love different types of salads)

We also tried a pot-luck in which we told our guests that had to bring a homemade dish and if it was not already had to make it “light”. Many of our guests were from different countries, so we had healthy food from around the world- Indian, Asian, Mediterranean, African, and Central/ South American. This was fun as we learned about each other’s cultures and they learned how to make a heavy dish light in calories and fat.

In the end it would be quite easy to slap some burgers and hot dogs on the grill before a game, but why not make it fun and healthy?  GO TEAM!!!

About Me

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
View my complete profile