Oct 10, 2018
by Aspen, Herbal Authoress
In 2012, I decided I needed to lose some weight, and decided I needed to have a strict no-sugar rule. I started October 1st and held myself to a high standard for a full 30 days until Halloween. It was incredibly difficult, but I did it. When I finally allowed myself a treat after weeks of dreaming about it, it didn’t even taste that good. Plus, I had lost 10 full pounds! I couldn’t believe it and decided to keep going. After another month of no sugar, it felt routine enough that I could put my will-power elsewhere and removed bread and pasta and other high-carb foods from my diet. Over the next six months, I continued to watch my clothes get looser and my self-confidence rise. Here is what I learned then, and a bit of what I have learned in the past six months as I have made a valiant effort to once again take control of my life through food:
- Eating healthy is a psychological game: I found when I began to stop thinking of myself as someone who was “on a diet” or “taking a break” from foods that were unhealthy, and instead started thinking of it as “I am just the type of person who eats this way” I ingrained healthy behavior into my sense of self, which made the decision for me.
- I am a sucker for peer pressure: The reason I fell off the bandwagon after being on such a good path for so long was that I caved to the constant invitations from my (future) in-laws, who were constantly trying to feed me sugar. When I finally had a little ice cream with them (which I did NOT enjoy), I had lost my excuse for future “no’s.” Just recently I have realized that more than half of my battle for the past six years has been going along with the poor food choices my spouse desired out of fear of rocking the boat.
- It gets harder as you get older: I was 30 the first time I went off sugar. I was single, I had full control over my kitchen, and I had lots of time. Now I am 36, I have a baby, and for years I had to accommodate other food habits. I have so many more responsibilities vying for my time that I have to sometimes choose between meal prep and sleep, or meal prep and the gym - or meal prep and a freakin’ shower! If I had stuck with those good habits six years ago, I would be in much better shape for this phase of life instead of trying to undo the past five years.
- It is about creating a healthy lifestyle, not about going on a diet: Back then it was easy for me to change the way I viewed myself and the way I chose to live my life. This time it is a little harder, but the concept is the same. I am working to see myself in a certain way, as a person who makes healthy choices and who uses food as a tool for health and nourishment rather than a way to cope with stress. If you try to diet, you are thinking in temporary terms. You have already put a limit on yourself.
Food and health could not be more closely related. You will see in the 2019 Almanac some of the things we at RidgeCrest are doing to establish good health for ourselves. When it comes down to it, though, healthful and mindful eating is one of the best things we can do emotionally, psychologically, and physically for ourselves.
For a great video on how to overcome the psychology of binge eating, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnAlwMfB2S0
Oct 10, 2018
by Nichole Carver, Your Magical Marketing Millenial
In the United States, there are many different types of labels - nutrition, supplement, cosmetic, chemical, and drug facts - and each category has different legal requirements they must meet in order to be put on the market. Not confusing at all, right? The laws can be highly political, leading to misinformation and confusion. To add even more to the cesspool - there can be separate rules or definitions for parts of each label. Because there is so much information - I’m going to stick to the one you use every day: the nutrition label (though I encourage you to research the others!).
The government recently passed legislation that changed the nutrition facts label, effective starting in July of 2018. Below are the differences (image taken from the FDA’s website with added emphasis):
Let’s review the why and what of these changes:
RED/GREEN: This is just a simple adjustment. They changed the labels to make the calorie and serving content more visible in an effort to make the population more aware of serving sizes and caloric intake, due to the growing obesity rate in the US. They also removed the total calories from fat due to all the research that shows the type of fat is more important than the amount (finally!). They also adjusted the serving sizes to be more realistic, basing it off of how much a person actually consumes at one time, not what they should be eating. A great example of this change is soda bottles. Their labels will all change to reflect a one-serving amount, whether it’s a 12 oz. or 20 oz. bottle.
BLUE: This is my favorite part of the new label requirements. They are requiring companies to disclose the amount of “added sugar” to the product. As research has clearly shown, sugar is the main culprit of our health crisis in the US. Too much sugar = fat storage. You can find the definition of what “added sugar” is at www.fda.gov. For more information on this subject, consider watching the documentary Sugar Coated.
ORANGE: This one is interesting. They’ve changed how nutrients are listed. You still get the percentage of the daily amount, but now you also get exactly how much of each nutrient is in the product in terms of weight. Weight is not my favorite measurement, but it’s an improvement over not knowing at all. They are requiring Vitamin D, Potassium, Calcium, and Iron to be listed on the labels. They’ve also decided that Vitamin A and C are not required ingredients, mainly because we are no longer in an extreme deficit of those two nutrients. Manufacturers can still add them voluntarily.
What else you need to know:
Trans Fat: In my opinion, this is one of the most deceptive practices in labeling that still exists (but not for long!). Just because your label says it has “Zero Trans Fat” DOES NOT mean that there are no trans fats in your product. It means that your product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat PER SERVING. How do you know your product has trans fat? Look for the word “hydrogenated”. If you find it in any form - there are trans fats involved. LUCKILY, the FDA has banned the addition of trans fats to foods starting July of 2018. Thank goodness!
Sugars: This is a long discussion, but there are some quick things you should know. Four to five grams of sugar is equivalent to about a teaspoon. You should consume less than 24 grams of added sugar in a day. Note that there is still no information on Daily Values for sugar because most processed foods go far above what we should be eating in a day. Anything ending in -ose is a form of sugar. Watch out for the particular harmful impersonator called “corn sugar”, it’s code for high fructose corn syrup, one of the most harmful forms of sugar you can consume (I can hear the cries of pancreas’s everywhere!).
“Non-sugars”, or artificial sweeteners, are also dangerous. Avoid aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose if you can. If you want to know what sugars are better for you - check out our previous 2016 Almanac article about the glycemic index or Google it.
Dietary Fiber: keep an eye on this one! What is classified as fiber and what is not is an interesting discussion that’s still happening at the time of this writing. There’s naturally occurring fiber and synthetic fibers. Find out what meets the dietary fiber criteria at www.fda.gov.
There’s a lot more to labeling - keep yourself updated by visiting the FDA’s website and staying politically active! Changes are happening all the time and across the various industries. Your voice is important!
Oct 10, 2018
by Connie, AP/AR Rocker
There is no greater pleasure than growing and using your own herbs. Harvesting and drying your herbs and edible flowers in the fall can ensure you still get quality, organic, locally grown herbs throughout the winter. But how do you make sure they don’t mold? Here is what you do:
Pick your herbs or flowers when you have time to process them right away. If something comes up, place them in your refrigerator with a damp paper towel over the top of them.
Know your herbs. Smaller herbs and flowers can be dried whole, while thicker or larger flowers may need to be separated before drying.
Dry flower clusters, like elderflowers and lilacs, upside down on a towel to help preserve some of the shape. Small branches of leaves that easily lay flat when placed on a surface, such as elder leaf, can stay together while drying. Leaves that cluster together, like lemon balm and mint, often do best if you detach each leaf before drying.
There are two ways to dry the flowers. You can tie small bunches together, making sure there is plenty of air exposure for each leaf or bud, and hang them upside down in a cool, dry area of your house. Or you can spread your flowers and herbs out in a single layer over a clean dish towel or several paper towels. Check twice a day and rotate so they dry evenly.
Try to choose an area in your house with good air circulation and where the collected plants won’t get disturbed or exposed to long stretches of direct sunlight. (Indirect sunlight is okay.) The kitchen table or empty spots on the counter seem to work fine. Once or twice a day, check how everything is drying and turn over individual pieces so that they dry evenly on both sides.
If you own one, a dehydrator is also a great way to dry herbs, especially if you’re in a hurry. Follow manufacturer’s directions, or dry on the lowest heat setting, checking every hour or so.
Oct 10, 2018
by RidgeCrest Herbals
Sep 20, 2018
by Meagan, Customer Service Mermaid
There’s been a lot of change in my life this year, both big and small. A long illness, new job, new homes, and basically a new me. Being the anxious person that I am, I’ve always wondered when things will take a turn for the worse, especially if I’ve been comfortable for a short while. It’s a terrible way to think, and very different from the positive thoughts I’ve recently strived to live by. But inevitability, change came the way it always does. But this time I did something different - I asked myself why I felt fear over change, even when it was good. I realized the first thing it made me feel was uncomfortable; I was conditioned to believe that all you can get out of being uncomfortable is negative. I’m now in the process of learning that it’s OK to be uncomfortable sometimes, and I am continually reminding myself to embrace the discomfort, it’s the only way you grow. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
Sep 18, 2018
by Matt Warnock, Herbal Head Honcho
Technology is great, but today’s technology often becomes tomorrow’s ecological disaster. The issues we face today, such as pollution and industrial waste, global warming, and atomic weapons, are often the direct result of yesterday’s technological advances. Perhaps we should be a little less egotistical about our modern state of knowledge. The fact is, our ancestors were much smarter than we give them credit for, and they had some rather ingenious and surprising technology.
For example, windmills are all the rage today for green power production—but the good people of Holland were using them hundreds of years ago to reclaim land from the sea so it could be farmed to support their growing population. Long dikes or causeways were built to wall in a shallow area of the sea, and once the sea was surrounded by a land wall, windmills were built to operate water screws that lifted the ocean water up, over, and past the dikes, creating new land for farming. Knowing so well how to put wind power to work, it is no wonder the small country of Holland was one of the greatest trading nations in the days of sail!
At the Qutab mosque in Delhi, India, there is a pillar of iron 23 feet tall weighing 13,000 pounds, dating to the reign of the Gupta monarchs about 400 AD. The pillar is cylindrical, tapering from about 17 inches in diameter at the base to about 12 inches at the top, and was constructed by welding successive layers of iron. The most unusual thing about this pillar (besides its massive size) is that in the last 1,400 years, it has suffered almost no corrosion, thanks to an unusual metallurgical composition that includes high levels of phosphorus. The surface oxidizes to rust as other iron does, but the rust forms a unique weatherproof barrier that prevents the rust from penetrating any deeper into the metal. This metallurgic technology seems well ahead of its time.
Another stunning example of ancient technology is the Antikythera mechanism. Found in 1901 in a sunken Roman galley, this device tantalized scientists with its handmade bronze clockwork mechanism that was far older than any known mechanical clock. Though mechanical clocks were not developed in Europe until the beginning of the 13th century, the Antikythera mechanism dates to 100-150 BCE. As scientists have continued to study the workings of the device, which contains over 30 gears, its purpose has become more clear. The Antikythera mechanism was an astronomical calculator, capable of predicting the locations and phases of the sun, the moon, and the five classical planets. It was also capable of predicting eclipses. Clearly, Greek knowledge of mechanical devices was better than we thought!
There are many other historical items that remain tantalizing mysteries, from the so-called “Baghdad battery,” to the giant sculpted and stacked stones of Sacsayhuamán in Peru that used no mortar, and you can’t even slip a piece of paper between, even the unknown incendiary weapon called “Greek fire” that was used in 672 AD. Our ancestors had better technology than we know, and sometimes, they knew more than we do yet today.
Sep 18, 2018
by Chris Herbert, Sales Director
Sep 18, 2018
by Abbie Warnock-Matthews, Graphics Goddess
Autumn Aspens, Utah
Sep 18, 2018
by Abbie Warnock-Matthews, Graphics Goddess
Abbie’s Basil Ice Cream:
- 5 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1.5 ounces fresh basil leaves (your variety of Basil will affect the flavor of your ice cream, but they all seem to be good.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar aggressively until the mixture is thick and pale yellow in color. It should fall from the whisk in thick ribbons.
- Combine the milk, cream, and vanilla in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately, and mix it slowly into the egg mixture, whisking with other hand.
- Return mixture to the saucepan and cook slowly over low heat until custard base thickens slightly, and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and continue to stir (over an ice bath) until cold.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the basil leaves, drain over an ice bath, and squeeze out any excess moisture. Puree the basil leaves, and stir into the cooled ice cream base. Let the mixture infuse overnight.
- Strain the ice cream base through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any larger pieces of basil leaves. Freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's directions.
- Place the ice cream in an airtight container and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Freeze for 4-6 hours or until firm.
Allow ice cream to soften just slightly before serving.
Sep 8, 2018
by Nichole Carver, Your Magical Marketing Millennial
I recently began listening to the book “Non-Violent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg. Not only has it helped me better communicate (and I’m not even done yet!) it’s brought to my attention an interesting concept I’d like to share: observation versus evaluation. If you’ve read the book, this isn’t anything new to you, but might be a great refresher.
First, I’d like to define what those two words mean. Observation is the action or process of closely observing or monitoring something or someone to gather information. Evaluation is the making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something, in this case, the people with whom we are communicating; it is an assessment. Observation is objective. Evaluation is subjective. This is a key differentiation.
What’s important about defining the difference between these two is it affects how we perceive those around us and even our very own lives. It affects how we respond to the human condition. It affects our compassion and communication. It affects every single interaction we have in life. Indian Philosopher J. Krishnamurti has said, “For most of us, it is difficult to make observations, especially of people and their behavior, that are free of judgment, criticism, or other forms of analysis.” Wise words indeed.
For instance, here are some things we might say:
“She is always procrastinating.”
“My kids don’t do what I want.”
“He is a loud mouth.”
If I say these things, I am not making an observation, but an evaluation. If I were making a true observation it would sound more like this:
“She only studies the night before taking an exam.”
“The last four times I’ve asked my children to clean their room they didn’t do it.”
“He talks very loudly.”
When observation gets mixed with evaluation it turns into judgement, which makes it difficult to communicate with those around us effectively. It sounds to them like criticism. Who wants to talk to someone when they feel they are being criticized? When we use comments that are true observations it makes it hard for the other person to disagree or get defensive. Sometimes taking a step back and thinking about how to analyze a situation helps us see it for what it is, and not what we assume it to be. I’ve just been trying this simple concept recently, and it has helped a lot in my personal life. It’s easy to get upset, angry, sad, or frustrated. It’s easy to want to retaliate or defend yourself. It’s easy to brush off feelings and not address our personal concerns. It’s not easy to take a step back and state an observation in those moments (along with how it made you feel, but feelings is a whole other topic Marshall covers in his book. Most of us don’t properly express feelings). I hope this brief introduction gave you some food for thought and that it’s applicable to your own life. I also highly encourage you to read his book “Non-Violent Communication” for more in-depth information on how to communicate in a way that benefits the whole.
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