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.

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 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.

September 22, 2008

When Healthy Eating Becomes Dangerous

Filed under: health, nutrition — Tags: , , — WildArkansas @ 6:12 pm

ABC’s John Stossel reports about when nutrition crunching becomes obsessive.

Article & Video

There is another article at Wikipedia that sheds a little more information about orthorexia.

This does not mean that one concerned with their diet is obsessive. If someone maintains their health through natural means, this is a great thing. When the diet becomes a primary focus or limits one’s ability to interact with others that’s a problem.

September 20, 2008

Arkansas is Full of Nuts!

Filed under: Edible plants, foraging, health, nutrition, nuts — Tags: , , , , — WildArkansas @ 9:01 pm

With autumn come the nuts, and Arkansas is full of ’em.

This morning I went on a short walk and found some hickory (Carya tomentosa) and Black Walnut (Juglans nigra).

I wanted to find out if processing needed to be done before munching and ran across Mother Earth’s Fall Guide to Nuts.

In case you’ve never read Mother Earth before, it’s one of the best sustainable living publications that I’ve run across and has been around for quite some time.

Most nuts you find you won’t have to process. They can be shelled and eaten raw. But with the Black Walnut, you do need to get the shell from the hull and then let it dry before eating. In some cases you may also want to roast the nut before eating, depending upon what stage of decomposition the hull was in when you found it.

If completely black, it’s best to leave it to the wildlife, because the tannins have leached into the nut meat and made it bitter. If the hull is still green, cut it from the nut, wash and set the nut (still in shell) out to dry.

The hickory nut needs no processing at all. You can take it from it’s hull, shell and eat it. The hickory I found wasn’t worth the trouble. I broke open the shell and the meat was tiny. The taste was a bit bland, but Jack (my dog) enjoyed it.

You can also find acorns, pecans and chinquapins in the area.

Time to go nuts!

September 17, 2008


This is three shorts (about 15 minutes) documentaries. 1) Robert Hart’s Forest Garden Find out loads about what forest gardening is, and how to make your own. 2) Edible Landscapes Second is an amazing case study about Rural Permaculture in Britain, showcasing loads of amazing edible plants and aquaculture and flowers, as well as fantastic medicinal plants. Look out for a cure for female infertility that’s dropped in here. 3) Urban Permaculture This is a brilliant and inspiring documentary of permaculture techniques used effectively in an urban back garden. WIth little more than 2 hours of work a week, this couple produce about a fifth of their food intake.

September 10, 2008

Wild Arkansas: Taraxacum officianale

With harvest season coming upon us, I’ve found the dandelion root is a favorite among wildcrafters. As one of the most widely distributed herbs, the mighty dande is still one of the most affordable. Primarily because it is so abundant.

Considered a weed by most people the common dandelion (Taraxacum officianale) is also considered by herbalists to be one of the most helpful and powerful herbs available.

The nutrition content alone is motivating factor to consider the dandelion a regular diet staple. Per every 100 grams of fresh plant the dande contains 190 mg of calcium, 13,650 I.U. [international units] of vitamin A, generous amounts of B complex vitamins and 36 mg. of vitamin C. It’s also rich in niacin, potassium and zinc.

But the benefits don’t stop there. The active constituents in dandelion cleanse and tone the liver and is used, “In the treatment of several kidney ailments and also chronic hypertension,” writes Michael Hallowell in Herbal Healing, a practical guide to medicinal herbs.

Historically, the Chinese have used dandelion in the treatment of breast ailments, reducing the size of cysts and tumors and promoting milk flow for new mothers. New studies have documented the plant to have antioxidant and in vitro anti-tumor constituents.

As an alterative, the dandelion is acknowledged to have the ability to alter the condition of a patient from one state to another. As a febrifuge the dande has the ability to reduce abnormally high body temperature and from personal experience, being menopausal, the days I take a cup of tea or infusion is another day without hot flashes.

Literature lauds Taraxacum’s laxative properties and its use as a blood and lymph cleaner, but by far the best thing about this herb is its accessibility. You can probably dig some from your back yard.


Make sure the plants you dig are far enough away from the road so as not to have absorbed toxins from local traffic.

A small shovel or knife should be worked around the base of the plant and once you feel the plant loosen, you should be able to pull the root with no problem. If dandelions are young the roots will be quite small and you may have to hunt for a few to get the amount you need.


The easiest and fastest method of drying is in the oven. I pre-heat to 300 degrees while washing the plant material and separating from the leaves. Lay everything flat on a baking pan, lower the temp to right below 200 and check and turn every few minutes.

If drying the leaves, they should be crackling to the touch when dry. Check the bottom parts of the leaves before taking from the oven as they take longer than any other part of the leaf. Drying the roots takes a bit longer and when done, you should be able to snap the root apart. If it still bends instead of snapping apart, there is still some moisture.

To air dry, hang in a cool, dark place and check it every couple days. For roots, it may take up to four weeks to dry.


There are few cautions against dandelion. Drug interactions include cautions for those who take lithium, other diuretics or hypoglycemics.

Though dandelion is extremely safe, remember to use in moderation. The carrot is also extremely safe but one man, Basil Brown, overdosed on carrot juice in 1974 after consuming ten gallons of the juice in ten days.

Using Dandelion

Though useful, the plant is very bitter to the taste.  To make it more palatable, I use sweetner and lemon with the plant or add to other tea mixtures.

The coffee can be made with the dried root of the plant by grating and using as a substitute or adding to other coffee. I use four tablespoons for a twelve-cup pot, but you may want to experiment a little and vary that for your own taste.

The tea can be made from any part of the dandelion. I use the leaves and flowers in an infusion/tea. The leaves seep for a bit longer than the flowers. Generally, I seep the leaves approx. 6 minutes and the fresh or dried flowers 4-5 mins. Sweeten and add lemon or honey to taste.

Dandelion salad
Wash greens and flowers thoroughly and add to other greens, radishes and other favorite salad veggies. Toss with olive oil and vinegar.

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