Pink Himalayan Salt Health Benefits

Is This Table and Cooking Condiment Worth the Added Expense?

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Ladling out pink Himalayan salt
Ladling out pink Himalayan salt
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Looking at most recipes, there are commonly five kinds of salt you will see–table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Celtic salt, and pink or Himalayan salt. In all honesty, I don’t find much difference in flavor between them. The choice you make boils down to personal taste, price, degree of cultural hipness as you describe your dish to your guests, and other factors.

What Makes Himalayan Salt Different?

The most obvious characteristic is that it is, well, pink! I’m not a big fan of the color pink (there’s my toxic masculinity showing again!) but this condiment wears it tolerably well. The two most important distinctions are its origin and its health benefits.

According to Fooducate, “Himalayan salts is actually not from the Himalayas. It is sourced from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, about 300 miles to the west of the Himalayan Mountain Range. This salt mine is the second largest in the world, and has been a source of salt for over 2000 years. Despite this lengthy history, the “Himalayan” brand gained popularity in the Western world only in the past 15 years.”1



What are the Health Benefits of Pink Salt?

People have made many nutrition claims about Himalayan salt over the years. Some insist salt lamps help purify the air. Some say it can detoxify the body of heavy minerals. Some (optimistic) mountebanks have even suggested it can increase libido.

  • Iodine naturally occurs in Himalayan salt. The chemical element iodine is necessary for the proper functioning of our thyroid gland.2
  • It is about 96% sodium chloride, the same as table salt. This is what makes it conveniently interchangeable with table salt in, say, your favorite whole wheat bread recipe.
  • The remaining 4% are potassium, calcium and magnesium, as well as tens of additional trace minerals.
  • It prevents hyponatremia, meaning low sodium levels in the blood. Eating enough sodium through a healthy diet is vital to preventing this dangerous and painful condition.
  • It plays an key role in your small intestine’s ability to absorb chloride, amino acids, glucose, and water.
  • Sodium also assists your stomach in breaking down food which releases nutrients for absorption.

So, despite having trace minerals that other salts might not, do the health benefits really register or is it all just marketing hype? WebMD says, “research has not demonstrated that Himalayan salt has any unique health benefits compared to other dietary salt. The mineral impurities that give it a pink color, often promoted as healthful, are far too low in concentration to be nutritionally beneficial. You would have to eat a lethal amount of sodium to achieve helpful quantities of the other minerals.”3



Additional Reading

Resources

  1. Fooducate, Himalayan Salt – 10 Things to Know, https://www.fooducate.com/community/post/Himalayan-Salt-10-Things-to-Know/57A355B1-7CE7-3C26-48D8-A9A1BBA83175
  2. Steve Fentress, Moment of Science, Why Does Table Salt Contain Iodide?, https://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/table-salt-iodide.php
  3. WebMD, Himalayan Salt: Is It Good for You?, https://www.webmd.com/diet/himalayan-salt-good-for-you#1

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

Delicious 100% Cocoa Lowers Blood Pressure

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith

Ghirardelli chocolate cupcakes
Ghirardelli chocolate cupcakes
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I’ll have to confess, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I enjoy the odd Reese’s peanut butter cups or pieces, but regular candy or cake, not so much. I do eat a small square of dark chocolate every day because it’s been shown to lower blood pressure naturally. The ingredient in this Ghirardelli chocolate cupcake recipe falls in that category; it is not processed with alkali, otherwise known as the Dutch method. That kind of processing takes away the hypertension benefit.

*Remember: once you lick the frosting off a cupcake, it becomes a muffin. And muffins are healthy. You’re welcome.

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 Cup pure cane sugar (or the sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/3 Cup flaxseed meal (for antioxidants, fiber, protein)
  • 3/4 Cup wheat bran (fiber)
  • 3/4 cup Ghirardelli premium baking unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Himalayan (pink) salt; it retains all the essential minerals that are removed from commercial salt
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 3/4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 Cups water, boiling
  • Frosting of your choice; or not

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
  2. Put baking cups in your cupcake pans. this recipe makes 31 or so cupcakes, so you’ll need 3 pans that hold a dozen each.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add in the milk and butter.
  5. Mix with a beater, medium speed, 2 minutes. Any stronger and you’ll likely be decorating the wall.
  6. Add in the vanilla extract and the eggs.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Stir in the boiling water.
  9. Divide among the baking cups. Filling them about 80% full each leaves just enough room for rising.
  10. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes. Test doneness by pushing down lightly in the center with your fingertip. If the dent springs up nicely, you’re good to go.
  11. Remove from oven, cool, and frost if desired. I don’t frost mine; She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed does. As Pappy used to say, “Each to his own, said the man who kissed the cow.”
  12. Enjoy!


I came up with this version of Ghirardelli chocolate cupcake recipe to add another healthy option to my snacks, baking, and workout recovery food list. But that aside, it’s just plain tasty.

Additional Reading


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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Getting Enough Minerals in Your Diet?

Insufficient Nutrition Can Be Robbing Your Optimal Health

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Forms of Nutraceuticals
Forms of Nutraceuticals
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So what exactly are nutraceuticals? According to Dictionary.com, they are, “a bioactive compound occurring as a food component, additive, or product, including vitamins, dietary fiber, herbal extracts, carotenoids, and probiotics: nutraceuticals are said to promote health and well-being, allegedly helping in the prevention and treatment of disease.”1

So basically, these include dietary supplements as well as basic foods. Ideally, we would get all necessary minerals and nutrients via the food groups but this is rarely the case due to lifestyle. You may have assumed that since minerals are in so many foods you are in the safe zone. Not so; in many cases strict vegans and even borderline vegetarians may be missing out on important trace minerals and the ones in your multi-vitamin may not be as high-quality as you suppose.

Calcium for Strong Bones, Teeth, and Heart

Calcium is one of the most important and abundant minerals in our bodies. WebMD.com says, “Calcium is a mineral that is an essential part of bones and teeth. The heart, nerves, and blood-clotting systems also need calcium to work. Calcium-rich foods include milk and dairy products, kale and broccoli, as well as the calcium-enriched citrus juices, mineral water, canned fish with bones, and soy products processed with calcium. Calcium is also taken as a supplement.”2 Which foods are calcium-rich? According to Kidshealth.org,3

  • Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice, cereals and, crackers
  • Canned salmon, anchovies, and sardines with bones
  • Green leafy vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli

Potassium for Your Nervous System

Potassium keeps your muscles and your nervous system working properly and minimizes the possibility of cramps. Your blood and bodily tissues, including muscles, contain water. Potassium helps ensure that the quantity of water is optimized between cells and body fluids; it performs a balancing act. You can find it in:

  • Legumes, such as beans, split peas, lentils
  • Bananas, tomatoes
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes, with skin intact
  • Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli

Zinc for Your Immune System

We all know the importance of our immune systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, this mineral gives a powerful boost to your immune system. This system fights off common illnesses and infections. It is also involved cellular growth and assists in healing wounds, such as cuts. It is found in:

  • A variety of nuts including cashews, pecans, walnuts, and almonds
  • Legumes, such as peanuts, split peas, and lentils
  • Cuts of meats such as beef, pork, and chicken

The Strength of Iron

Our bodies utilize the mineral iron to transport oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our bodies. This is a critical function because our bodies depend on oxygen to maintain life. Iron also assists in the production of hemoglobin. This is the component in our red blood cells that moves oxygen throughout our bodies. Get your iron in:

  • Eggs
  • By cooking in cast iron cookware
  • Dried fruits like apricots and raisins
  • Whole and enriched grains like quinoa, wheat, and oats
  • Various cuts of meat, particularly red meat like liver or beef

Steps for Good Health

All the minerals listed above originated in the earth and seas and got into the food chain that way. Research shows that the mineral depletion in the soil was about 85% during the years from 1900 to 1940.

Adding specific soil amendments in organic farming programs has made a measure of progress in bringing soil health back from the brink. Unfortunately, chemical techniques are still applied to most crops and meats found in your local grocery store. To maximize your health goals:

  • Take your supplements daily.
  • Purchase organic produce and free range meat whenever possible. Yes, you’ll pay a bit more but mineral and nutrient deficiencies cost even more in the long run.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity puts stress and strain on your body and impacts your overall health. Intermittent fasting for weight loss and maintenance is a great strategy for most people.
  • Consume fresh, local fruits and produce. They generally taste better and as a bonus they support your local economy which impacts you directly.

Getting enough minerals in your diet with healthy foods and supplements is not difficult. It might take a slight alteration in your lifestyle but you’ll be happier in the long run.

References

  1. Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nutraceutical?s=t
  2. WebMD.com, Calcium, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-781/calcium
  3. Mary l. Gavin M.D., Kidshealth.org, Minerals, https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/minerals.html

Further Reading and Relevant Recipes


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Egg Spinach Pie Recipe

Comfort Food With Just Enough Spice to Wake Your Taste Buds

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Egg and spinach pie
Egg and spinach pie
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I had plenty of time to get hungry yesterday afternoon while I was on a long hike with one of my dogs. I felt creative so I came up with this simple egg and spinach pie recipe. I enjoyed it and I bet you will too. As usual, use organic ingredients when possible.

Ingredient List for the Crust

  • 3/4 Cup Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal
  • Whole wheat or white flour as needed
  • 1 Cup rice flour
  • 3 Cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
Making dough for the crust
Making dough for the crust


Ingredient List for the Filling Mix

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Habaneros
  • 4 Cups fresh spinach, chopped (I suppose you could use the frozen stuff if you prefer)
  • 3 Cups cheddar cheese, diced or shredded

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flaxseed meal, rice flour, and baking powder.
  3. Add in the water and mix well.
  4. Start adding in the whole wheat or white flour a bit at a time, mixing until you have a nice, stiff ball of dough.
  5. Turn it out onto the surface of your choice (I used a casserole dish.
  6. Roll out your dough so that it fits in the dish on the bottom and up the inside walls.
  7. Combine the filling mix ingredients and pour them into the dough.
  8. Bake. Mine took 50 minutes for this first time experiment recipe. When the egg mixture doesn’t jiggle, you’ve got it right.
  9. In the last 10 minutes, distribute the cheese on top so it will melt.
  10. Remove it from the oven, give it a couple minutes, and enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed this egg and spinach dish. Like most of my recipes, this one was developed with substitutions in mind. I had cheddar cheese on hand and it worked out well, but I’ll most likely get a bit more creative next time. Leave a comment if you made a delicious change!

Related Articles


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

5 Foods Dietitians Recommend

For Successful Weight Loss, Focus on Healthy Eating, not Limitation

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Foods that fight nutrient deficiencies
Foods that fight nutrient deficiencies
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Too many so-called weight loss diets focus on limiting what allow ourselves to eat, which sets us up for either failure at worst or a bad experience at best. Another popular approach is intermittent fasting. This helps by focusing on when we eat rather than what we eat. In this article we will take a look at specific foods that we should eat that most of us enjoy and are very versatile.

  • Basil seeds. These might be a little-known member of the culinary landscape (bet you don’t have any in your pantry), but basil seeds offer double the digestion-regulating fiber as chia seeds. Not only that, basil seeds are nutrient-packed. They contain lots of calcium for bone-building, magnesium, and iron, and plenty of inflammation-fighting antioxidant properties. If you can’t find them locally (the kind packaged for food not planting), I get mine on Amazon.com. Nutrineat.com says, “They help maintain the arteries clean and clear. They do not allow cholesterol to stick on the walls of the arteries. Thus, they help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. As the soaked seeds form a thick mass, they make a filling drink. When taken before meals, it can curb overeating. Thus, it can help maintain weight.”1
  • Barley. If you are into grains, barley is a great choice. Similar to oats, bike oats, barley contains soluble beta-glucan fiber that is fantastic for regulating digestion and supporting a healthy gut microbiota. Nutritiondata.self.com says that a one cup serving contains 193 calories, 44.3g carbohydrates, 6.0g dietary fiber, and a low 0.7g total fat.2
  • Eggplant. This vegetable is not only very affordable and available, it lends itself to dishes such as no-fry eggplant Parmesan, a personal favorite. One cup of raw eggplant has just 20.5 calories and 4.8 grams of carbohydrate, about half of which comes from fiber (2.4 grams). There are about 3 grams of naturally occurring sugars in eggplant. Eggplant is a low-glycemic food coming in at a “1” for a single serving. This makes it a great food before a long workout.
No-fry eggplant Parmesan recipe, breading
No-fry eggplant Parmesan recipe, preparation (recipe listed below)
  • Spaghetti squash. This one is also very affordable and easy to find in most grocery stores. Spaghetti squash is an easy-to-prepare, plant-based, low-carb veggie option. It’s high in vitamins B6 and C and fills you up with high-fiber content. And who couldn’t get a bit more fiber in their diet? One cup (150g) of spaghetti squash comes in at just 42 calories and 10 grams of carbs as compared to 220 calories and 43 grams of carbs in standard pasta. All this makes it a great diet choice. Don’t forget to compost those hulls; your ornamental or vegetable garden will thank you.
  • Black beans. Black beans are a gut health superfood because they’re super high in fiber at only 15g per cup. They offer a fermentable resistant starch that helps foster a healthy gut microbiota. The right combo of fiber, protein, and slow-digesting carbs keep your blood sugar stable yielding longer-lasting energy levels. Black beans also contain a number of critical minerals such as zinc, iron and energizing copper.

Adding these 7 foods dietitians recommend for your diet will result in successful weight loss and a more varied diet.

More Trending Articles to Enjoy



References

  1. Nutrineat.com, Basil Seeds Vs. Chia Seeds – A Complete and Detailed Comparison, https://nutrineat.com/basil-seeds-vs-chia-seeds
  2. Nutritiondata.self.com, Barley, pearled, cooked Nutrition Facts & Calories, https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5680/2


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

No-Knead Skillet Focaccia

This Organic Italian Bread is Suitable for a Dipping Sauce or As-Is

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
No-knead skillet focaccia
No-knead skillet focaccia
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Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread similar in style and texture to pizza; in some places, it is called “pizza bianca”. Focaccia can be served as a side dish or as homemade sandwich bread.

This recipe is rich with olive oil (which keeps it extra moist), topped with fragrant lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, and rosemary, and baked in a skillet to give it a perfectly golden, crispy crust.

You will be using an oven-safe skillet for this recipe. A cast iron skillet is best for achieving a super-crispy crust (and an effort-free way of getting a bit more iron into your diet)), but any oven-proof skillet will work.

Focaccia Ingredient List

Note: Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink or Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 package Fleischmann’s RapidRise yeast (or comparable)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (straight from my herb garden)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest (I just picked one off my Improved Meyer Lemon tree in my garden)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Chopped fresh basil to taste, if desired


Preparation Steps

  1. If you have a food processor, put the flour, salt, and yeast in it, fitted with the blade attachment, and pulse to combine. Add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Pulse until a rough ball of dough forms, about 15 (2-second) pulses. If you don’t have one, mix by hand in a mixing bowl.
  2. Drizzle 2 teaspoons oil in a large bowl. Flour your hands, scoop the dough out of the food processor, and form into a smooth ball. Put the ball of dough in the oiled bowl and turn it so it’s coated on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it sit at warm room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil into your cast iron or other ovenproof skillet and rub it well over the bottom and sides. Punch down the dough and place the dough in the skillet. Coax and stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the skillet until it reaches all the way to the edges. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rest at warm room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 450°F.
  4. Lightly dimple the surface of the dough with 2 knuckles. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over the dough so that it pools in some of the indentations and lightly coats the rest of the surface. Sprinkle with the rosemary, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, basil if you opted for it, and a bit more salt if desired. Of course, if you have high blood pressure, don’t.
  5. Place your skillet in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 400°F. Bake until lightly golden-brown. Start checking at 20 to 25 minutes but it may take longer than that.
  6. Remove your skillet from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Focaccia is best eaten when warm, but is also good at room temperature. If the crust gets too soft, reheat in a 350°F oven to crisp it up.



See, making no-knead skillet focaccia is a breeze, although it sounds very ooh-la la and exotic. The grocery store certainly prices it that way. But, throw off your consumer price shackles and make your own. Don’t be afraid to modify and experiment.

More Recipes and Cooking Tips



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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

8 Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

And How to Grow Hibiscus for Tea at Home

by Kelly R. Smith

Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
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Hibiscus tea (sometimes called “sour tea”) might not be so well known in the USA but it certainly is in other parts of the world. I’ve been drinking it for a few years now, both for the taste and the health benefits; it’s another item in my toolbox to keep my blood pressure in a reasonable range.. I add it to the grounds of my cold brew coffee maker, sometimes with fresh mint from my garden. Yeah, I know; wild, living on the edge. There are several hundred species of hibiscus plants that vary by the location and climate they are grown in, but Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselles is most commonly used to make hibiscus tea. As a bonus, they are stunning in tropical landscape plantings. But we are here to talk about the health benefits of hibiscus tea.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

  • It lowers blood pressure. This is a big one for me. All blood pressure medications have side effects. For me, I take lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor. It causes coughing and the feeling of being lethargic. Rebekah Edwards says, “A 2013 review by the University of Arizona discovered that hibiscus tea is used in 10 or more countries as a normal hypertension treatment without any reported adverse events or side effects — except in extremely high doses.”1
  • It’s packed with antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are molecules that help fight compounds we call free radicals, which inflict damage to your cells. The National Library of medicine noting their study says, “Hibiscus anthocyanin extract has reducing power that is approximately 2-fold that of the synthetic antioxidant, butylated hydroanisole.”2 Other than hibiscus, many other foods contain them; tart cherries are a good example.


  • It supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides. Dyslipidemia is a type of disorder that is characterized by noticeable changes in plasma lipids or lipoproteins, including two you are probably familiar with: cholesterol and triglycerides. As with blood pressure, hibiscus tea’s ability to reduce high “blood lipids” also extends to those with diabetes. A 2009 study had diabetes patients drink hibiscus tea two times a day for a full month and they found a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a marked decrease in total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • It may help to lower blood fat levels. The National Library of medicine citing a study of sour tea (ST) and black tea (BT) says, “The results of the present study showed that ST has a significant effect on blood lipid profile in patients with diabetes.”3 Many studies have shown that hibiscus tea reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides in people suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome. That said, other studies have shown conflicting results. Obviously, more research is needed in the general population.
  • It prevents oxidative stress. Like most healthy teas on the market, hibiscus is chock full of antioxidants that combat free radical damage caused by substandard nutrient diets and frequent exposure to dangerous chemicals. These antioxidants are found primarily in the anthocyanins of the plant, the natural pigments that give this flower its brilliant red color.
  • It may boost liver health. Your liver is essential to your overall health. Some of its jobs include producing proteins, secreting bile, and breaking down fat. One small human research study found that supplementing with hibiscus tea raised the antioxidant load in the bloodstream as well as reducing compounds that contribute to oxidative stress that damages cells.
  • It shows promise in fighting certain cancers. Although this idea is only starting to gain traction, there is already some evidence to support hibiscus tea’s anticancer power. It has been shown that hibiscus extracts cause apoptosis, or cell death, in leukemia cells. Although the exact mechanisms behind this aren’t clear as of yet, this could be a promising step in the ever-going fight against leukemia, which affects about a quarter of the children and adolescents currently struggling with cancer.
  • It reduces obesity and related risks. How? Human and animal studies have found a link between hibiscus tea and an elevated metabolism. Hibiscus extract may even inhibit you from absorbing as much starch and sucrose as you might from a typical meal. One study in particular gave 36 overweight participants either hibiscus extract or a placebo. After 12 weeks, hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat, body mass index and hip-to-waist ratio


Growing and Preparing Hibiscus for Tea at Home

Test your soil pH in a well-draining area that receives full sun at least six months before planting if possible, and, if needed, amend it using elemental sulfur or dolomitic lime to adjust the pH to between 6.1 and 7.8. The do best in humus-rich soil and full sunlight.

Harvest your flowers after they have bloomed. You want the calyxes (the main body of the flower). They should snap right off. Once you have your harvest, complete the steps to prepare and dry them. This video explains it in detail.

How to process hibiscus flowers for tea

Can you benefit from hibiscus tea? Of course! There’s something for everybody and if you grow your own supply you will save money and be certain it is organic.

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Reference

  1. .Rachael Link, Dr. Axe, Hibiscus Tea: The Antioxidant ‘Therapeutic Agent’ You Should Be Drinking, https://draxe.com/nutrition/hibiscus-tea/
  2. Taofeek O Ajiboye, et al, National Library of medicine, Antioxidant and drug detoxification potentials of Hibiscus sabdariffa anthocyanin extract, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21314460/
  3. Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, et al., National Library of medicine, Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19678781/


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Comfort Food Your Kids Will Eat

by Kelly R. Smith

Homemade mac and cheese comfort food
Homemade mac and cheese comfort food
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This Homemade mac and cheese is one of the favorite comfort foods in our humble abode, right up there with my ranch dressing cheeseburger. Even picky kids love it so you can slip in some vegetables if you like (hint, hint). It takes a little longer to make than that boxed stuff, but you have to ask, what is that yellow powder anyway? Soylent yellow? As with all recipes, I use as much organic ingredients as possible, and out of my own garden when possible.

Mac and Cheese Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rigatoni or the pasta shape of your choice. I like whole wheat but hey, you’ve got to get the kids to eat it, right?
  • Organic butter for your baking dish
  • 2 cups Half-and-Half
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2” squares or shredded
  • Kosher or pink salt to taste
  • Freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese if you can find it + a hand-full; I sometimes substitute shredded Swiss for the Reggiano
  • 7 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 35 organic basil leaves, cut into strips, more or less according to your taste. This is just one more reason to keep an organic spice garden. If you don’t have, or can’t find, fresh basil, use basil paste.
Fresh organic basil leaves
Fresh organic basil leaves


Preparation

  1. Cook your pasta to al dente texture.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Drain your pasta and rub organic butter liberally in a 9” X 13” Pyrex® baking dish and add the pasta.
  4. In a saucepan, combine the mozzarella, 2 cups of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Half-and-Half.
  5. Simmer, stirring often, until it’s a nice gooey mess!
  6. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Salt with caution if you have high blood pressure.
  7. Turn off the heat; stir in the tomatoes and basil.
  8. Pour the mixture all over the pasta and mix it in.
  9. Top with the hand-full of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  10. Bake for 18 minutes, spoon it out, and enjoy!.


One of the things I like about this recipe is the fact that there a multitude of different ways to modify your ingredients, depending on the whims of you and your family. For example, how about changing up your cheese? Adding blue cheese will give the dish a funky edge that goes well with a red wine. The shape of the pasta? Adding in your favorite spices? It’s your call with this easy homemade mac and cheese recipe.

More Articles Recipes to Try



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

The Health Benefits of Quinoa

Vegan Protein, Slow-Burning Fuel, Easy Preparation

by Kelly R. Smith

Cooked red quinoa, ready  to serve
Cooked red quinoa, ready to serve
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Runners, cyclists, and other athletes for that matter, need extra protein in their diet plans compared to their sedentary counterparts. Protein is an essential component in repairing the muscles which break down when working out.

To compound this issue, many people have adopted vegan/vegetarian diets, whether for health, religious, or trendy reasons. This makes it problematic to include a full range of nutrients, proteins and other amino acids in their meals on a daily basis. Ample protein is just one of the health benefits of quinoa.

So, Eat Quinoa for Protein

One of the simplest (and tastiest) ways to add essential amino acids (proteins) into your diet is to eat organic quinoa. This supergrain (pronounced keen-wa) is widely recognized as a “super food” by athletes, foodies, nutritionists, and others.

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, or goosefoot) is not in actuality a true cereal grain, but rather a “pseudo-cereal”; it is a food that is cooked and eaten like grains and has a similar nutrient profile. But from a botanical point of view, quinoa is closer to beets, chard, and spinach, and in fact the leaves can be eaten as well as the grains.



This is an very easy food to cook, just like rice, in fact. It can be eaten by itself or in a variety of dishes. It has long been traditionally cultivated in the Andes mountains located in South America. Fora long time in the past, production dipped as the invading Spanish Conquistadors forced the indigenous Inca Indians to grow potatoes instead. Horses weren’t the only thing they brought to the New World.

Nutritional Overview of Quinoa

There are several varieties available and they average an impressive 16.2% protein. To make a comparison, rice averages a meager 7.5%. It also contains an impressive amount of Lysine (398mg), folate (19% RDA), thiamine (13%), Manganese (58%) and vitamin B6 (11%).

To make matters even better, it ranks 35 on the glycemic index. Now compare that with basmati white rice at 58. A lower ranking means it is a slower-burning food. This makes it a natural choice to fuel endurance sports such as distance running.

Lysine is Important for Active People

The University of Maryland Medical Center says, “Lysine is important for proper growth, and it plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy. It also helps the body absorb and conserve calcium, and it plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a substance important for bones and connective tissues including skin, tendon, and cartilage.” It can promote wound healing by helping to create collagen.

Additionally, it may:

  • reduce anxiety by blocking stress response receptors.
  • protect against and treat cold sores by blocking arginine.
  • improve calcium absorption and retention.


How to Cook Quinoa

This grain is easy to cook; most varieties only take 10 to 20 minutes to cook. Just combine a 2 to 1 water/quinoa ratio. Check your package to make sure.

  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the quinoa.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Eat it by itself, your recipe, or add it to a salad.

It is also very adaptable to baking. For example, as an ingredient when baking bread. Because of the health benefits of quinoa, it is under consideration as a strong contender for a crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights. It has been designated as a “super crop” by the United Nations because of its potential to feed the hungry masses across the globe.

Further Reading



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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Grow Your Own Orange Tree, Harvest Citrus Fruit

When Life Gives You Oranges, Make Orange Juice!

by Kelly R. Smith

Making fresh orange juice
Making fresh orange juice
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This article was updated on 12/31/20.

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When my daughter Shannon was very young, she had an appetite for oranges that the local grocery store markets as “cuties.” In reality, they are a type of Mandarin orange. Just easy to peel. This caused me to embark on a journey to plant one fruit tree each year. Year one was that Mandarin orange tree, planted in the back yard.

The next year it was a Republic of Texas orange tree (pictured below). In the photo above, you might notice that the rinds darkened a bit from a slight freeze, but the insides remain fine. This tree bears fruit in the summer and by early December it’s ready for picking. No rush though; the fruit will hang there in suspended animation for months.



Choosing Your Fruit Trees

Many people make the mistake of seeing a tree at Walmart, Home Depot, or some other big box store, buying it, planting it, and then wondering why they never get any fruit. Well, it’s because these trees are sold irrespective of customer location. What works in upstate New York does not work here in south Texas. It is all about the growing zone — how freeze-tolerant the tree is. For example, consider the avocado tree. It is a southern tree but some species do well in moderate freezes.

Republic of Texas orange tree
Republic of Texas orange tree

The best bet is to go to a local nursery, after you do your initial research. They have a vested interest in the community and will likely want to keep a customer base. There are other resources to consider. Here, we have Randy Lemon, graduate of Texas A&M, who does a local radio show. I’ve listened to his weekend show for years and I have to admit, I wasn’t totally onboard initially because he poo-pooed organic, but now that his advertisers have began offering organic products, it’s all good. Imagine.

The bottom line here (I know you’ve been waiting for it) is that it is always a good time to put in your own fruit trees. You might be a prepper or not. You might trust organic produce at the grocery store or not. You might just want to save money. Regardless, there is a lot to be said for self-sufficiency. And, if you’ve got the real estate, why not?

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Did you find this article helpful? Millions of readers rely on information on this blog and our main site to stay informed and find meaningful solutions. Please chip in as little as $3 to keep this site free for all.

 





Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.

About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.