Wild Arkansas

November 5, 2011

Leafy green blues

Filed under: food, health, organic greens, wellness — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 12:54 am

 Twenty-five years ago I read a health article from a popular woman’s magazine that told me if I ate leafy greens at least twice a week I would avoid the perils of premenstrual crabbiness.

I was a skeptic, but I tried it. The “experiment” began two weeks before menses. I ate bok choy, spinach, turnip greens and lots of lettuce. That time of the month came and went with no significance and that was the evidence.

My husband told me that since we had been married, he had not gotten through a month without having to deal with the mood changes. For him this was a remakable improvment, simply because there were no petty arguments escalating to talk of divorce.

Upon recall, I remembered feeling as if he was being a jerk simply because he watched a ball game.

But that was twenty-five years ago and times and the people have changed.

Today we have more incidence of food-related illnesses and food-related behaviors than we did back then. More people eat fast food and more children suffer from ADHD.

Children consume pizza and chicken McNuggets as regular diet staples and unfortunately suffer from that consumption. Diabetes, obesity and mood disorders are a result.

From my own experience, I know what I consume affects my moods and my health. After my juicing experiment I began eating a lot more leafy greens again. My diet consists of mostly vegetables and fruits, though I do eat some fish.

The before and after are remarkable, only in that they are graphic representations of the way I felt about the world around me.

Before: my diet consisted of whatever was in the house. When I shopped for food, I shopped for convenience. What would take less time to prepare? What can I pop in the microwave? Taste, comfort and convenience were the most important factors. I ate fruits or vegetables about once a week or when I foraged them.

Comfort included not dealing with other people. When I had to deal with other people I tried to make the experience as brief as possible.

Now: I deal with people daily because I also work as a customer service representative. Fortunately, today it’s not nearly as traumatic an experience as it was a month ago.

That sounds and feels like an extreme statement of fact, but in fact, it is true.

In the age of information it’s difficult to believe that people don’t know eating pizza or other fast food every night is not bad for them. Maybe it’s denial.

Listen to your mother. Leafy greens are good for you. Eat your vegetables. Eat fruit for dessert. I guarantee…Yes, I guarantee… You will be a happier, healthier person for it.





October 31, 2011

Juicing II

Filed under: food, health — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 1:26 am

Day 3

Afternoon: I was in downtown Siloam Springs and ended up getting a blueberry, strawberry smoothie from the Cafe on Broadway. Fresh ingredients by the way, and quite yummy.

Evening: a cup of spinach, three carrots and one pear. The color wasn’t good, but the taste surprised me. Sweet and light tasting.


Day 4

Morning: Pineapple, banana (for puree), one carrot. Very nice.

Afternoon: Carrot, pineapple, apple

Evening: 2 carrots, 2 apples, finished the pineapple. About 1/2 cup.

Was still needing something around 10 pm, so I made a snack juice of orange, cucumber and apple. Approximately 8 ounces.

Throughout this juicing, I have learned that eating healthy doesn’t cost more. In fact in dollars, it is beginning to cost less.

The “healthy food costs more,” myth is just that–a myth.  A mental transformation comes with the physical change of consumption habits. The healthier the food and the more thought put into the act of preparation, the less we eat. I’m not sure why it works that way, but it has for me. I think it does for most people.

The less thought we put into what we’re consuming, the more we consume.

At the end of day 4 of juicing, I may have spent a total of $15.00 on food. That includes the blueberry smoothie from the Cafe on Broadway.

I can’t say I’m not looking forward to eating whole food again. Something cooked. But, I know that my eating habits have changed.


Day 5

Morning: Apple, carrot, orange.

Today I began eating whole foods again.

Afternoon/lunch: Spinach, cucumber, tomato and garlic, mixed together with about 1 tsp of low-fat honey dijon dressing.

In 4 days of juicing I lost about 10 lbs. Back down to size 9/10. Was previously at 10/11.


A few comments:

The purpose for juicing, to me, was to illustrate how healthy I could eat. Instead of grabbing a bag of chips, grabbing a bag of grapes. Or, cherry tomatoes. Make a healthy juice.

We all have options, we choose not to exercise those options at times.

Our current food system, advertising and the culture we live tends to encourage us to eat unhealthy. For all the Joe Cross’s we have, we also have McD’s, KFC and Long John Silver’s luring us through the doors.

The only way to change the food system is to vote with your dollars. Vote healthy, vote for healthy food. Say goodbye to corporate food system and hello to the local green grocer or farmer. And.. abovel all, thank people like Joe Cross for being so inspirational.

Thanks Joe.

Carla R. Herrera

Siloam Springs, AR.

October 28, 2011


Filed under: health — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 6:27 pm

Inspired by Joe Cross, from the film,Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, I thought I would try a ten-day juice diet. So it began Wednesday (10/26). I’m going to try a few foraged goods along with the diet, but have no idea how much I’m going to gather. It takes quite a bit of product to make a full glass of juice.

I’m also drinking water and green tea.


Day 1 – Morning: Mango, carrot, strawberries.

Afternoon: Carrot, apple and strawberries.

Evening: Tomato, carrot, cabbage, garlic.

Notes: The first two juices of the day were great. The last, I could barely drink. I think the cabbage ruined it, but the whole clove of garlic I added created a very spicy, cabbage tasting drink. Not good. I ended up only taking a few sips and poured the rest down the drain.

I think I need to get a book with different types of juice recipes.

Didn’t feel hungry at all until 3-4 pm. Then I felt a desire for real food. I worry I won’t have the proper nutrients, but I think with a little study I can find out what I need.


Day 2 – Morning: Started out with banana, apple, carrot and one plum. Very light tasting and sweet. Though I don’t feel “full”, I feel satisfied. I’m not hungry.

Afternoon: cucumber, pear, apple, plum.

After lunch, I had to run some errands and found myself surrounded by food. Real food. Or the stuff we usually think of as real food. In the midst of one of the stores we visited, I found myself wanting to go to the deli. The smell alone was overwhelming. Had to leave.

Evening: Pear, two apples, carrots, grapes.

I felt fine for awhile, but right around 10 pm I began getting hungry. I wanted to bite into something. Popcorn, a whole cucumber, a banana with peanut butter.

Fortunately, I kept my mind off it by writing this blog post about food that I can’t have.

I think the craving is part addiction. Most of us are addicted to food in an unhealthy way. Instead of eating for the nutrition we need, we tend to eat for other reasons.

I believe the juicing is a good break away from that addiction. It kind of illustrates in a (mentally) heavy-handed way how unhealthy our addictions are.

I don’t know if I can do a full ten days, but I’m definitely trying. It’s a great test of will, but I miss food. Maybe that will change.


Day 3: Morning: Pineapple, carrot, pear. I used more than a cup of pineapple and when finished ended up with a little more than ten ounces.

Sweet, light with a bit of tartness. Hoping today goes better than yesterday. Last night around midnight I broke down and ate a cucumber.

Cost of juicing

I’ve heard many people say that juicing is really expensive, but when I compare the cost to regular groceries I don’t think preparing juices costs more.

I went to the local Aldi market to look at produce and found the prices to be very agreeable.

I bought enough produce to last through two days of juicing and came out of the store paying less than $10. For six meals, I’d have to say that’s economical.

For anyone local, check out the Aldi market on Hwy 412. It’s directly across the street from Walmart and the produce is less expensive.

You won’t have the vast choices the larger store provides, but Aldi provides in-season produce and there is enough of a selection to satisfy most people.

A few comparisons:

Walmart                                                    Aldi

lrg bag of carrots                      1.48                                                          .99

Anjou pears                               2.49 lb.                                                  4 for .99

(3-4 fruit per pound)

red del. apples                          2.79 lb.                                                  1.49 for 3 lbs.

Pineapple (whole)                   2.99                                                               .99

Green grapes                             1.58                                       Same, but in 1 lb. pkgs.

(seedless) Walmart only sells grapes in two pound packages.

Plums are .25 each at Aldi. Not sure what the price is at Walmart.

The better alternative would be a green grocer, but in Siloam Springs we don’t have that option.

Cost total: about $5.00 a day for one person, if you watch prices. Most of this is not organic produce, so the cost would be higher to go that route, though probably not that much higher.

January 13, 2009

City Life got you down?

Filed under: health — Tags: — WildArkansas @ 1:39 am

…scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control. While it’s long been recognized that city life is exhausting — that’s why Picasso left Paris — this new research suggests that cities actually dull our thinking, sometimes dramatically so.  read more

November 17, 2008

Universal Healthcare: What do you think?

Filed under: health, healthcare — Tags: , — WildArkansas @ 5:50 pm

Can the U.S. learn something from other developed nations that have switched to universal healthcare?

Watch the sneak peek of Sick Around the World below or watch the whole program from PBS at the Frontline site.

Also… watch Sick in America by John Stossel of 20/20.

November 7, 2008

Ready for Flu Season?

Filed under: health, herbs, nutrition — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 1:42 pm

Megan Witt, R.D. shares her insights on how to avoid and cut symptoms and length of illness in half.

From Ozark Natural Health…

“Fall’s cooling temperatures and changing colors signal the start of cold and flu season which also happens to coincide with the return of school. All of that togetherness and close contact means kids will be bringing home more than just their homework. No need to despair, just be prepared. …” Read more.

October 25, 2008

Local Herbalist Interview – Dena Fritz

Filed under: health, herbs — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 7:49 pm

Dena with dog Tux

Dena Fritz is an Arkansas herbalist who has been learning, experimenting with and creating plant tonics for about nine years. Though she doesn’t refer to herself as an herbalist, her knowledge and experience says otherwise.

She has a wealth of information she shares willingly and over a process of several days granted an interview over the internet and gave us her herbal toolkit and the Schulze Super Tonic recipe below.


CH = Me

DF = Dena

CH: How long have you been an herbalist?

DF: I started learning herbs nine years ago and made my first tincture then. I’m not sure I’m a “Herbalist” even today. There are so many different connotations to that word! To me, the Herbalist label is reserved for people who’ve had extensive schooling from an accredited source. I have not.

I consider myself more of a Plant Medicine Maker. I also migrate more to using local, native plants than traditional “herbs”, though I use those too.

CH: What started you on this path?

DF: It was a natural extension of learning self-sufficiency. Once I was comfortable in my self sufficiency knowledge, there were glaring blank spots in the medicinal herb and native plant areas.

CH: Do you sell your work or do you also treat people outside your family?

DF: I sell my herbal products. It’s illegal to treat people if you’re not a doctor or an accredited herbalist in a state that allows that.

CH: I’ve noticed online a few stories about herbalists who have had problems with the state of Arkansas. A few have been singled out and tend to have a lot of legal problems. Do you know anything about the legal ramifications of being a practicing clinical herbalist in Arkansas?

DF: I haven’t fully checked into the laws of Arkansas but as far as I know it’s illegal to claim an herb has any specific medicinal use or that any herbal treatment will cure any medical issue.

CH: I think of most herbalists as folk healers. My grandmother would put a spider web on a cut to stop the bleeding or make a cup of some nasty concoction and make us drink it when we started getting sick. Grandpa made us eat a poison oak leaf so we would never get poison oak and it worked, so I’ve always had an affinity for this kind of healing. Is this what herbalism is?

DF: That’s what it is to me. But there are so many variations. From “Folk Healer” to “Clinical Herbalist” and everything in between!

CH: What is the contemporary face of herbalism?

DF: I don’t think it’s describable, there are too many different faces. Ask a hundred herbalists what herbalism IS and you’ll get a hundred different answers.

CH: I’ve read a lot of warnings about herbal supplements and the FDA warns people about drinking herbal teas, so it seems that the average person would be a little scared to try something like traditional herbal medicine or an herbal supplement, is there a way to get around that kind of negative media?

DF: I doubt it. Others have tried, to no avail. The only way to get around it and learn the Truth is to do your own research. People that are more proactive with their health are generally more herbally inclined whereas those who only believe what the media says are not.
(I’m probably the wrong person to ask – I despise the media)

CH: Even though large amounts of ibuoprofin can damage your liver, we don’t see a lot of those types of warnings.

DF: Exactly!

CH: In contrast, if you take a cup of feverfew or chew on white willow bark you may get rid of the migraine without damaging the liver. Is this kind of thing frustrating to you?

DF: Yes! An herb ‘supposedly’ injures someone and it’s banished forever. On the other hand, an established medicine (like Tylenol) is KNOWN to kill thousands and it’s a big yawn.

CH: Would it be difficult for the average person to create some kind of herbal toolbox?

DF: Not at all.

CH: What would/should they put in it?

DF: Cayenne for sure. It’s known to stop bleeding – internally and externally and halt heart attacks and strokes.

After that, it’s pretty individual depending on what the needs are. Plantain for bug bites, Lobelia for breathing and Asthma issues, etc…

CH: How accessible are herbs to the average person? I mean, can anyone just go outside and find something to help with a headache or cough?

DF: Yes! Most of my favorite herbs are yard weeds.

CH: If you had to narrow your herbal supply down to five herbs, what would they be and why?

Cayenne – it’s practically a cure-all and also works as a catalyst for other herbs.
Plantain – great drawing power for bug bites and other toxins
Mullein – an excellent lung medicine
Bugle (Ajuga reptans, NOT Bugleweed) – my favorite pain killer internally and a wonderful wound healer externally.
Motherwort – good for the heart and a miracle worker when it comes to hormonal mood swings.

SUPER TONIC (Schulze Recipe*)

Chop equal parts of:

White Onion
Cayenne Pepper (or any other hot pepper)
Ginger Root
Horseradish Root

Place in jar and cover with Apple Cider Vinegar so that you have aprox 2/3 “stuff” with another 1/3 vinegar above. Shake or stir daily and let brew 2-8 weeks, then strain.

*From Schulze –
Therapeutic Action:
This is my famous plague formula. My patients swore it was the cure for the common cold. They were right!

The basic formula goes back to medieval Europe and the plagues. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic, destroying both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It’s also a potent anti-viral and anti-fungal formula. It will increase blood circulation to every cell, and kill all the bad guys.

2-10 dropperfuls (70-350 drops) gargle and swallow. Use 1 to 5 times daily as needed.

Visit Dena’s website or purchase some of her herbal recipes.

October 12, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Fast food in the backyard–The common mallow

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, health, herbs — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 10:18 pm

No one told us when we were young not to eat the little green cheese wheels off the mallow plants growing in the backyard.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned the whole mallow is edible and used as a medicinal herb in many parts of the world.

Malva neglecta or the Common Mallow has been used for at least six thousand years (that we know) as a staple food and a medicinal herb in Africa, Eastern Europe and parts of China, but has only been reported in the United States beginning in the early 19th century.

Mallow grows nearly everywhere and is a hardy perennial, or annual in cold climates. The plant cannot survive in climates that dip below 28˚F, but does manage to seed so that it returns in close proximity to the mother plant in following years.

In Turkey the common mallow is used to treat stomach disorders, ranging from peptic ulcers to heartburn to stomach ache. In Britain crushed and bruised shoots have been used as poultices for sores, abscesses and boils, with the small cheese-wheels being eaten whole as a gentle laxative.

The Iroquois used a poultice of the mallow plant to treat swellings of all kinds and a decoction for childhood colic.

We ate it, because we liked the way the fruit looked (cute cheese-wheel shapes), it was fast food, tasted good and we thought it was cool to walk around being able to gather food wherever we went.

As another invasive, Malva can be found nearly everywhere. It thrives in full sun and partial shade and can be found in waste areas, as well as, tended lawns. Most people fail to notice the plant because it is so common and is often mowed with other grass.

Despite its invasive nature, Mallow is another benevolent plant that can be used medicinally with no ill-effects listed.

The only warning I did run across in the research is that of plants growing in agricultural areas. These plants should be avoided because of the high selenium and nitrate content.

October 3, 2008

Is Your Food Safe?

Filed under: Edible plants, gardening, health, nutrition — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 4:14 am

There is a revolution happening in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America, a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat. This documentary explores the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled grocery store shelves for the past decade. It also examines the complex web of market and political forces that are changing what we eat as huge multi-national corporations seek to control the world’s food system.

October 1, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Maitake

Grifola frondosa, commonly called Maitake is one of the more popular and tasty wild mushrooms found today.

On a recent forage, Jack and I ran across a large bunch of the fungus and took a bit home. Though I’ve seen the mushroom in the produce sections of specialty stores and plenty of photos, I’ve never tried it.

Maitake in Japanese, literally means dancing mushroom. At one time the mushroom was so prized (for its medicinal properties) that those who found it would dance with joy.

After cleaning, I decided to cook a bit of it in butter and garlic and found this to be the most excellent mushrooms I’ve tasted. It’s light, crisp with a unique taste, not really comparable to anything else.

The research shows that Maitake is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine for lowering cholesterol, blood glucose and as an immune booster in addition to a few other things and has been used as far back as the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.).

Those who use Maitake tea, made with the dried mushroom and say it tastes and smells brothy. Though I haven’t tried it, that’s next on the ‘To Do’ list.

Researchers believe the mushroom may have constituents that promote programmed cell death and for cancer patients this is good news, as it would reduce tumor growth.

There have been several reported cases in Japanese studies in which subjects have experienced “…partial or complete remission in most cases.” Read more…

Though the research is inconclusive there is some talk of new trials and more extensive research into the mushroom and its medicinal benefits.

Regardless, I’m going to enjoy the culinary aspect.



The specimen I found was found at the base of red oak and most foragers do usually find it somewhere near oak trees.

Though I don’t see that this mushroom resembles others, some think it resembles Berkley’s Polypore (Bondarzewia berkeleyi).

If you do harvest your own Maitake, be sure to correctly identify and only collect healthy specimens. Cut away any damaged areas before preparing.

How to prepare Maitake

Maitake can be used in a variety of dishes and is excellent stir-fried or sautéed on its own.

Wash thoroughly before cooking.

Maitake Pesto

Pasta with Maitake and Camembert Cheese

Maitake and Eggplant Cheese fry and a few other Maitake recipes.


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