Archive | October, 2014

New Cancer Test for Dogs Detects Illness in Time for Effective Treatment by Shawn Messonnier

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

Pet owners often ask if there’s an accurate, inexpensive way to test dogs for cancer before they develop clinical signs of it. A diagnosis early in the course of the disease is crucial for beginning effective treatment and better outcomes. Until recently, the answer to their question was no.

As a result, most owners have remained unaware of the problem until the cancer was well advanced and spread throughout the pet’s body. While chemotherapy can help some pets, the treatment is unable to heal most of them due to the advanced stage of most diagnosed cancers, which typically already have been active for six to 12 months or longer.

Early diagnosis would allow both traditional and natural therapies to be more effective. In some cases, chemotherapy might not even be needed, because natural medicines such as astragalus, essential fatty acids, mushroom extracts, ginseng and green tea may be able to reverse the cancer at its earliest stages.

Fortunately, dog owners can now secure an accurate early diagnosis using a new blood panel costing less than $200 including lab processing that enables veterinarians to detect cancer and other inflammatory diseases before a pet becomes ill. The tests provide valuable information about the dog’s health before overt signs of disease are observed, damage occurs and treatment options become more limited and expensive. Early detection tests for cancer in cats will be available soon.

The tests measure several aspects of cell irregularity, including abnormal cell division and systemic inflammatory activity, by detecting any increased levels of thymidine kinase and C-reactive protein in the pet’s body.

A study by California’s Veterinary Diagnostics Institute’s VDI Laboratory applying the new blood panel tests to 360 dogs followed their incidences of cancer and other serious diseases for up to a year. The researchers found that nearly all of the cancers that occurred were detected four to six months prior to the pet showing outward signs. Because the cancers were detected early and treated before the pet became overtly ill, costs to the pet owner were greatly reduced and the effectiveness of cancer treatment improved. The new cancer screening tests, which are designed to be part of a routine wellness plan, constitute the most comprehensive single blood diagnosis available in monitoring overall canine health.

It’s just as important to check the vitamin D status of canine patients. Low levels contribute to increased incidence of cancer and infectious diseases, according to a study published in the journal Veterinary and Comparative Oncology. Supplementing vitamin D levels is easy and inexpensive and may help reduce the incidence of serious disease later in life.

While the new blood panel tests have been shown to be highly accurate in early cancer detection, any test can miss it if the number of cancer cells is too small. Therefore, pets with negative test results should be retested every six months, while positive results prompt further diagnostic tests and initial treatment. Pets with cancer also benefit from these tests because they allow the vet to fine-tune a treatment plan and determine when a cancer may be coming out of remission.

The screening is recommended for all dogs 5 years of age and older. Only a small amount of blood is needed and results are available within a few weeks.

Shawn Messonnier, a doctor of veterinary medicine practicing in Plano, TX, is the award-winning author of The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets. For more information, visit

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Dynamic Duo Combining Chiropractic and Acupuncture Energizes Health by Kathleen Barnes

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

Chiropractic manipulation of the spine has long been a remedy for structural malfunctions such as aching backs and recurring headaches. Today, chiropractors are also treating neck pain from stress, plus tight shoulders and numb fingers from long hours of computer use. An increasing number of them are now incorporating acupuncture into their arsenal against disorders once treated by chiropractic alone with great success.

“What if you had a nail in your foot? You can do anything to try to heal it, but until you pull the nail out of your foot, you’ll still have a recurring problem,” explains Dr. James Campbell, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, a certified diplomate and incoming president of the American Board of Chiropractic Acupuncture (ABCA). “Like removing the nail, chiropractic removes the mechanical problem and opens the way for acupuncture to stimulate healing,”

Similarly, a chiropractic adjustment removes obstructions and opens acupuncture meridians to facilitate quick healing, “sometimes even immediately,” says Campbell, owner of Campbell Chiropractic Center. “Instead of having the needles in for 20 to 30 minutes, I can actually use a microcurrent device to access the meridians in the ears or on the hands and get the same results in five to 10 seconds.” He notes that relief can be both fast and permanent because the healing energy currents are able to circulate freely throughout the body.

Growing Movement

Combining the two modalities has been practiced for more than 40 years, although awareness of the enhanced effectiveness of doing so has been primarily realized in the eastern half of the U.S. The dual therapy is the brainchild of the late Dr. Richard Yennie, who initially became a Kansas City chiropractor after acupuncture healed a back injury shortly after World War II. An acupuncturist smuggled prohibited needles into Yennie’s Japanese hospital room in the sleeve of his kimono for treatments that ended with Yennie’s hospital discharge marked, “GKO,” meaning in the doctor’s opinion, “God only knows” how the intense back pain was healed.

While Yennie went on to teach judo and establish five judo-karate schools, his greatest achievement was bringing the two sciences together in the U.S. He founded both the Acupuncture Society of America and the American Board of Chiropractic Acupuncture, affiliated with the American Chiropractic Association. Certification as a diplomate requires 2,300 hours of training in the combined modalities.

Proven Practice

Doctor of Chiropractic Michael Kleker, of Aspen Wellness Center, in Fort Collins, Colorado, is also a state-licensed acupuncturist. “I can tailor treatments to whatever the individual needs,” he says.

For patients experiencing pain after spinal fusion surgery, with no possibility of any movement in their spine, Kleker finds that acupuncture helps manage the pain. “We can commonly get the person out of the chronic pain loop,” he says. He also finds the combination helpful in treating chronic migraines, tennis elbow and other chronic pain conditions. “When I started my practice in 1981, few chiropractors knew anything about acupuncture, let alone used it. Now there are more and more of us,” observes Kleker.

Both Kleker and Campbell are seeing increasing numbers of patients with problems related to high use of technology, facilitating greater challenges for chiropractors and new ways that adding acupuncture can be valuable.

Notebook computers and iPads have both upsides and downsides, Campbell remarks. Users can find relief from repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome by moving around portable devices. However, he is treating more patients for vertigo due to looking down at screens or neck pain from lying in bed looking up while using the devices.

“Blackberry thumb”, which refers to pain caused by texting, responds especially well to a combination of chiropractic manipulation of the thumb to free up the joint, and microcurrent or acupuncture needles to enhance energy flow in the area,” advises Campbell.

Prevention is the best cure for these problems, advises Kleker. He routinely informs patients about proper ergonomic positions for using traditional computers and mobile devices. He also suggests exercises to minimize or eliminate the structural challenges that accompany actively leveraging today’s technological world.

In addition to chiropractors who are increasingly adding acupuncture to their own credentials, an increasing number of chiropractors have added acupuncturists to their practices.

Therapy combining chiropractic and acupuncture has yet to be widely researched, but one study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine in 2012 reports the results of two acupuncture treatments followed by three acupuncture/chiropractic treatments for a women suffering from long-term migraine headaches. The migraines disappeared and had not returned a year later. Other studies show that combination therapy offers significant improvements in neck pain and tennis elbow.

Campbell relates a story of the power of chiropractic combined with acupuncture, when his young son, who was able to walk only with great difficulty, received a two-minute treatment from Yennie. Afterward, “My son got up and ran down the hall.”

Locate a certified practitioner at

Kathleen Barnes is the author of numerous natural health books. Connect at

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The Sun’s Electrifying Future Solar Power is a Worldwide Eco-Goldmine by Linda Sechrist

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

Energy Engine

Humankind has sought for centuries to harness the Sun because the cumulative energy of 15 minutes of its rays shining on Earth could power the world for a year. Following the invention of the solar collector in 1767, a slow, yet steady evolution of other breakthroughs in the quest include the photovoltaic (PV) effect observed in 1839, manufacture of solar cells in 1883 and a solar-powered communications satellite in 1958. Solar summits in 1973 and 1977 led to the inception of the Solar Energy Research Institute (now the National Renewable Energy Laboratory), part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Organization Act signed by then-President Jimmy Carter.

Making the most of the “alchemy of sunlight” that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin writes about in The Prize and The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World has required a global village of inventors, visionaries, scientists and engineers. Pioneering companies have produced technological advancements and reduced manufacturing costs that expand the sun’s services to the world. Today, thanks to solar power, many of the remotest villages in developing countries have electricity.

“Without solar photovoltaics on satellites and those powering the uplink transmitters, downlink receivers and associated equipment on the ground, the isolated residents of developing countries can’t join the modern world,” explains Neville Williams, author of the recently released book, Sun Power.

The founder of the guerilla nonprofit Solar Electric Light Fund (, Williams led the charge for electrifying households in 12 developing countries in 17 years beginning in 1990, using solar panels and systems funded by grants.“While we were cost-effective and decisive, the results were due to the honest, hardworking and dedicated people we found there,” he advises.

Williams initiated his pioneering advocacy of solar energy as a media specialist with the DOE during the Carter administration and served as the national media director for Greenpeace, in Washington, D.C. In 1997, he co-founded SELCO-India, which managed solar enterprises in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Vietnam and South Africa. In 2005, he founded the solar solutions supplier Standard Solar Inc., of Rockville, Maryland.

Economic Engine

The U.S. currently has an operating capacity of 13,000-plus megawatts of cumulative solar electricity—enough to power more than 2.2 million average American homes. As the industry grows, so does its impact. The Solar Foundation’s Solar Job Census 2013 reported nearly 143,000 solar workers in the U.S.—a 20 percent increase over 2012—at 6,100 businesses in 7,800 locations encompassing every state.

According to Yergin and Williams, the increasing value of nationwide solar installations has “electrified” the U.S. economy. In 2013, domestic solar electric installations were valued at $13.7 billion, compared to $11.5 billion in 2012 and $8.6 billion in 2011. The top 10 states for annual additions of photovoltaic capacity in residential and commercial applications are California, Arizona, New Jersey, North Carolina, Nevada, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Colorado, New York and New Mexico.

Currently, there are more than 550 major solar projects underway nationally. Under the Obama administration, 16 projects have been permitted on federal lands to provide 6,058 megawatts of generating capacity.

The two experts expect solar energy to be a major catalyst of global political and economic change. Williams contends that now is the time to fully access this cheapest form of unlimited energy.

“If millions of poor families in developing countries can get their electricity from the sun, why can’t Americans do the same?” he queries.

In a 2002 National Public Radio Planet Money podcast, Yergin, [chairman or president?] of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, in Massachusetts, addressed the concerns of everyone that sees the common sense of relying on solar energy. “Technology will be central to solutions for our energy challenges,” he says. “What needs to be done is very, very large, as are the risks and challenges. What we have going for us is the greatest resource of all—human creativity—and for the first time in history, we are going to see it employed on a global scale.”

To learn more, visit and

Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings. Visit for Neville William’s recorded interview.

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Sustainable Cityscapes Urban America is Going Green in a Big Way by Christine MacDonald

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

Today, buzzwords like “sustainability” and “green building” dominate discussions on how to overcome the unhealthful effects of climate change, extreme local weather events and pervasive pollution. Now, a growing body of research indicates an unexpected upside of living greener; it not only makes us healthier, but happier, too.

It’s all helping to spread the “green neighborhood” idea across the U.S., from pioneering metropolises like New York, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, to urban centers like Cincinnati, Detroit and Oakland, California.

Rethinking Redevelopment

A sustainable, or “eco”-city, generally runs on clean and renewable energy, reducing pollution and other ecological footprints rather than on fossil-fuels. Along with building entire eco-cities, developers also are striving to replace hard-luck industrial pasts and turn problems such as depopulated urban cores into opportunities for fresh approaches.

“We are having a major rethink about urban development,” says Rob Bennett, founding CEO of EcoDistricts (, a Portland-based nonprofit skilled in developing protocols for establishing modern and sustainable city neighborhoods. The group has recently extended help to seven other cities, including Boston, Denver and Los Angeles, applying innovations to everything from streetscapes to stormwater infrastructure.

“The failures of the old, decaying urban and suburban models are evident,” says Bennett. “We’re now learning how to do it well and create environmentally sustainable, people-centered districts.”

Healthy Housing

The concept of home is undergoing a radical makeover. From villages of “smallest houses” (usually no bigger than 350 square feet), to low-income urban housing complexes, people interested in smaller, more self-sufficient homes represent a fast-growing, increasingly influential segment of today’s housing market, according to experts such as Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House. Google trends reports that Internet searches for information on “tiny houses” has spiked recently. Economic freedom is one factor motivating many to radically downsize, according to Bloomberg news (

Cities nationwide have overhauled their building codes. Cincinnati, for example, has moved to the forefront of the eco-redevelopment trend with its emphasis on revamping instead of demolishing existing buildings. Private sector leaders are on board as well; a transition to buildings as sustainable ecosystems keeps gaining ground through certification programs such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and the “living building” movement begun by Seattle’s Cascadia Green Building Council has gone international.

Friendly Neighborhoods

Walkability is “in” these days, along with bike paths, locavore shopping and dining and expansion of public destinations, all of which draw residents out to meet their neighbors. This “new urbanism” is evident in places like Albuquerque’s emerging Mesa del Sol community and Florida’s proposed Babcock Ranch solar city.

While public and private sectors are involved, residents are the catalysts for much of the current metamorphoses. Whether it’s a guerrilla gardener movement—volunteers turning vacant lots and other eyesores into flowering oases—creative bartering services or nanny shares, people-helping-people approaches are gaining momentum.

The Public School, an adult education exchange that began in Los Angeles in 2007 and has since spread to a dozen cities worldwide, the Seattle Free School, the Free University of New York City and Washington, D.C.’s Knowledge Commons have taken the do-it-yourself movement into the realm of adult education. The latter offers more than 180 courses a year, most as free classes offered by and for local residents encompassing all neighborhoods, with topics ranging from urban foraging and vegan cooking to the workings of the criminal justice system.

Upgraded Transportation

With America’s roads increasingly clogged with pollution-spewing vehicles, urban planners in most larger U.S. cities are overseeing the expansion of subway and light rail systems, revamped street car systems and even ferry and water taxi services in some places. Meanwhile, electric vehicles (EV) got a boost from four New England states, plus Maryland, New York and Oregon, which have joined California in building networks of EV charging stations, funding fleets of no- or low-emission government cars and making green options clearer for consumers. If all goes as planned, the seven states estimate that 3.3 million plug-in automobiles could hit the streets by 2025.

Mass transit, biking and walking are often quicker and cheaper ways to get around in densely populated urban centers. Car sharing, bike-taxis and online app-centric taxi services are popular with increasingly car-free urban youth. Boston’s Hubway bike-share program addresses affordability with a $5 annual membership for low-income residents.

One common denominator of the new urbanism is an amplification of what’s considered the public welfare. Through partnerships among public and private sectors and community groups, organizations like EcoDistricts are developing ways to help communities in the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, seasonal flooding and water shortages. Coastal cities, for example, are grappling with ways to safeguard public transit and other vulnerable infrastructure.

Designing for better public health is a central tenet of sustainability, as well. Active Design Guidelines for promoting physical activity, which first gained traction in New York City before becoming a national trend, intend to get us moving. Banishing the central bank of elevators from central locations, architects substitute invitingly light and airy stairwells. Evolving cityscapes make it easier for commuters to walk and bike.

Tyson’s Corner, outside of Washington, D.C., has made sidewalk construction integral to the overhaul of its automobile-centric downtown area. Memphis recently added two lanes for bikes and pedestrians along Riverside Drive overlooking the Mississippi River, while Detroit’s HealthPark initiative has hundreds of the city’s public parks serving as sites for farm stands, mobile health clinics and free exercise classes.

Clean Energy

The ways we make and use energy are currently being re-envisioned on both large and small scales. Solar cooperatives have neighbors banding together to purchase solar panels at wholesale prices. Startup companies using computer algorithms map the solar production potential of virtually every rooftop in the country. However, while solar panels and wind turbines are rapidly becoming part of the new normal, they are only part of the energy revolution just getting started.

In the past several years, microgrids have proliferated at hospitals, military bases and universities from Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, to the University of California at San Diego. These electrical systems can operate in tandem with utility companies or as self-sufficient electrical islands that protect against power outages and increase energy efficiency, sometimes even generating revenue by selling unused electricity to the grid. While still costly and complicated to install, “Those barriers are likely to fall as more companies, communities and institutions adopt microgrids,” says Ryan Franks, technical program manager with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Local Food

What started with a few farmers’ markets feeding urban foodies has given way to a growing local food movement that’s beginning to also reach into low-income neighborhoods through mobile markets, a kind of farmers’ markets on wheels, and an explosion of urban gardens and city farms. Ohio City Farm ( grows food for in-need residents on six acres overlooking the Cleveland skyline. In Greenville, South Carolina, the Judson Community Garden is one of more than 100 gardens in the downtown area, notes Andrew Ratchford, who helped establish it in a neighborhood four miles from the nearest supermarket.

Giving residents an alternative to unhealthy convenience store fare is just one of the garden’s benefits, Ratchford says. “We’re seeing neighbors reestablish that relationship just by gardening together.”

Waste Reduction

While cities nationwide have long been working to augment their recycling and find more markets for residents’ castoffs, many are becoming more sophisticated in repurposing what was formerly considered trash. Reclaimed wood flooring in new homes and urban compost-sharing services are just two examples characterizing the evolution in how we depose of and even think about waste.

We may still be far from a world in which waste equals food, as described by environmental innovators William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their groundbreaking book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Nevertheless, projects certified as cradle-to-cradle are cutting manufacturing costs and reducing pollution.

For example, carpet maker Shaw Industries Group, in Dalton, Georgia, reports savings of $2.5 million in water and energy costs since 2012 when it improved its energy efficiency and began using more renewable material in its carpet tiles. Shaw is spending $17 million this year to expand its recycling program.

Stormwater runoff is a pervasive issue facing older cities. Many are now taking a green approach to supplementing—if not totally supplanting —old-fashioned underground sewage systems. Along with creating new parks and public spaces, current public spaces are often reconfigured and required to do more. Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Portland, among others, are instituting carefully planned and built green spaces to soak up rainwater and cut down on runoff into sewer drains—taking motor oil and other pollutants with it. Using revamped sidewalk, parking lot and roof designs, plus rain gardens designed to filter rainwater back into the ground, municipalities are even successfully reducing the need for costly underground sewer system overhauls.

The proliferation of rooftop gardens in places including Chicago, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C. New green roof incentives in many cities nationwide further exemplifies how what’s considered livable space is expanding. Altogether, eco-cities’ new green infrastructure is saving cities billions of dollars and improving the quality of life for residents by adding and enhancing public parklands and open spaces, a happy benefit for everyone.

Christine MacDonald is a freelance journalist in Washington, D.C., whose specialties include health and science. Visit

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An A for Apples It’s a Top-Ranked Superstar Fruit by Tania Melkonian

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

Nutrient density—an acknowledged characteristic of apples—is considered the most significant qualification for a superfood. “It’s one of the healthiest foods,” advises Case Adams, from Morro Bay, California, a naturopathic doctor with a Ph.D. in natural health sciences. Apples’ antioxidant power alone could elevate it to status as a superior superfood. Eating apples could help ward off America’s most pressing yet preventable, chronic illnesses, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cites as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Strategic Eating

Morwenna Given, a medical herbalist and Canadian member of the American Herbalists Guild, from Toronto, explains why and shares an analogy, “The normal metabolic processes of oxidation produce reactive oxygen species (free radicals) with unpaired electrons that hunt and steal partner electrons from the body’s cells. Imagine an electrical plug wherein the grounding wire has been eliminated or compromised. There is nothing to prevent a surge or fire.” This is comparable to what happens to a body impacted by a poor diet, lack of exercise, stress and illness; its healthy grounding is compromised.

When the overall damage to cell structure overwhelms the body’s innate antioxidation defenses, conditions are ripe for disease and accelerated aging. Foods high in antioxidants, like the apple, help to neutralize the damage and heal bodily tissues.

Flavonoids—like the quercetin just beneath the peel—are another of the apple’s powerful nutrient partners, notes Adams in his book, The Ancestors Diet. So, even when making applesauce, including the peel is vital. With the exception of vitamin C, all other nutrient compounds remain intact when the fruit is cooked.

Subtle differences in polyphenol levels exist among apple varieties, according to Linus Pauling Institute testing. Polyphenol compounds ultimately activate the fruit’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Northern spy, Fuji and especially red delicious varieties are the richest in antioxidants; empire and golden delicious harbor relatively low levels.

“Some older varieties that had lost popularity with large-scale commercial farmers are now being grafted again, thanks to a return to organic practices,” remarks Meredith Hayes, schools and student nutrition senior manager at FoodShare, a leading North American food security organization.

Note that conventionally grown apples top the Environmental Working Group’s list of 48 fruits and vegetables tested for pesticide residue ( That’s yet another sound reason, along with better taste and nutrition, to go organic.

Good Genes

“The purpose of any seed is to replicate the species,” explains Given. “The pulp around the seed protects and feeds the seed until it’s burrowed into the soil and germinates. Older species evolved to be protective of their seeds to survive against pests and other insults. Commercially grown produce, however, has generally bred out the secondary metabolites that house so many of a plant’s nutrients.”

It helps to know that imperfect-looking food has potentially synthesized more sugars and nutrients in response to stress in order to survive, making blemishes or irregular shapes more appealing as consumers discover the core value of non-homogenized fruit.

By recognizing and appreciating the apple during this season’s harvest, we honor its versatility, affordability, broad availability and culinary flexibility.

Tania Melkonian is a certified nutritionist and healthy culinary arts educator in Southwest Florida. Connect at

Apples in the Kitchen

Apple Pie Smoothie
(Empire, Golden Delicious)

Yields 2 large smoothies

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce or stewed apples
½ cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 chopped, pitted dates, soaked in water for ½ hour or 2 Tbsp maple syrup
(use dates if using a high-speed blender, otherwise use maple syrup)
1 cup ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds.

Courtesy of Elise Bauer,

Creamy Curried Apple Soup
(Gala, Jonagold)

Yields 6 large servings

2 Tbsp mild curry spice mix
1 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 head broccoli, stems peeled and separated from florets, all chopped roughly
2 medium apples, cored and chopped*
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3/4 cup unfiltered apple juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 sprig Thai basil for garnish

*During preparation, keep apples in a large bowl of ice water with one Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to prevent browning.

Heat a large pot on medium heat. When pot is warm, add spice mix until aroma is released. Add oil and stir for a minute.

Add onions and half of the apples, stirring the mixture until onions and apples soften. Add broccoli, stock and juice. Stir and reduce heat. Cover and cook on low for 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend in batches. Return to pot; add vinegar and the rest of apples. Stir and heat gently before serving.

This soup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to seven days or the puréed soup can be frozen for several months. Defrost and add diced, raw apples before heating and serving.

Courtesy of Tania Melkonian,

Apple-Cheddar Brunch Soufflé
(Granny Smith, Honeycrisp)

Yields 8 servings

3 slices gluten-free or sprouted grain bread, torn into 1-in pieces
6 eggs
1 cup milk (flax, coconut, almond or goat)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp black pepper
4 Tbsp grass-fed butter
3 large sage leaves
6 apples, cored and sliced into wedges (about 8 per apple)
1 cup grated goat’s milk cheddar cheese

Arrange bread on a baking sheet. Toast until light brown. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk eggs, milk and spices together until some small bubbles form on surface.

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Melt 3 Tbsp of butter and drop in sage leaves. Allow butter to bubble, not burn.

Drop apple wedges in and stir, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes until apples are slightly soft. Remove apple mixture from heat. Remove sage leaves.

Use 1 Tbsp butter to grease a 9-inch springform pan, deep Pyrex or Dutch oven. Arrange ⅓ of bread in a layer on the bottom. Sprinkle ¼ of grated cheese on top. Spoon ⅓ of apple mixture on top. Repeat twice. Pour egg mixture on top.

Bake on middle rack for 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Courtesy of Tania Melkonian,

Grilled Apple-Fennel Napoleons
(Gala, Macintosh, Fuji)

Yields 6 servings

1 large red or sweet onion
4 large apples, cored
2 medium fennel bulbs
½ cup olive oil divided into two ¼ cup portions
½ tsp each salt and anise seed, ground
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
Juice of a tangerine or clementine

Peel onion and, removing root, cut into 6 rings about ¼-inch thick. Cut apple into 12 rings of similar thickness. Cut fennel bulbs width-wise to make 12 to 15 smaller rings.

Combine ¼ cup oil, seasonings and vinegar in a bowl. Arrange onion, apple and fennel rings on a large baking dish or platter. Pour oil mixture on top, coating the surface of each ring. Turn rings over. Coat the other side.

Heat a grill pan, grill top or outdoor barbecue to medium-high heat. When removing rings from the oil mixture, allow any excess to drip into a platter.

Grill onions, apples and fennel in batches, ensuring grill surface is not crowded. Cook each ring for about 2 to 4 minutes per side allowing grill lines to develop and product to remain al dente (soft on the surface but crunchy in the middle). While rings are cooking, mix ¼ cup oil, tangerine juice and tarragon leaves in a blender.

After all rings are grilled, arrange 1 Napoleon per plate with onion ring at the bottom. Stack one apple ring on top of that and 2 or 3 fennel rings. Repeat with apple and fennel, ending with fennel on top. Evenly distribute tarragon dressing on each of the Napoleons. Serve immediately.

Courtesy of Tania Melkonian,

Grated Apple-Radish Salad with ‘Smoked Caramel’ Dressing
(Red Delicious)

Yields 6 servings

Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp organic tamari soy sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika (pimentón)
5 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp maple syrup

Whisk ingredients together until combined.

Salad Ingredients:

1 cup cooked red quinoa
2 cups grated apple
Grated radish (daikon or red work well)
1 cup chopped chives
1 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)

Combine ingredients together until incorporated. Add dressing just before serving and mix to combine.

Courtesy of Tania Melkonian,

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A New Direction for Neti Pots

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

Used for centuries in Asian cultures to support nasal health and eliminate toxins from the nasal mucosa, neti pots have recently become popular in the Western world and are recognized for their value in preventing and relieving sinus infections. Typically, a mild solution of unrefined sea salt and purified or distilled water is poured from one nostril through the other to flush out unwanted mucus, bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms. Herbalist Steven Frank, of Nature’s Rite, points to a powerful new paradigm that helps neti pot users deal even more effectively with infection: a regimen of aqueous, colloidal silver and soothing herbal and plant extracts.
Frank recommends using the neti pot with a colloidal silver wash that is retained in the nostrils for several minutes. “Bacteria and fungus stick rather well to the nasal mucosa and few are flushed out with simple saline flushes,” he explains. “Most of these nasty pathogens adhere to the mucosa with what is called a biofilm. Within this slime layer, they are well protected and thrive in the warm moist sinuses, so a small saline bath once a day doesn’t bother them much. However, colloidal silver disables certain enzymes needed by anaerobic bacteria, viruses, yeasts and fungus, resulting in their destruction. And, unlike antibiotics, silver does not allow resistant ‘super bugs’ to develop.”
He also suggests soothing the sinuses with restorative herbal decoctions. Calendula, plantain and aloe contain vital nutrients that soothe and heal, while Echinacea root and grapefruit seed extract offer antimicrobial benefits.
Frank emphasizes the importance of using a neti pot safely and responsibly and warns against table salt, which can irritate nasal membranes, and tap water, which may contain contaminants.
For more information, call 888-465-4404 or visit

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Birdfest and Bluegrass Nature Festival October 8-9

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

Again this year, on Saturday and Sunday, October 4-5, Birdfest and Bluegrass offers the chance to discover nature right in the Portland metro area’s own backyard, with a weekend packed with activities for visitors of all ages and interests. The annual festival is a celebration of the fall migration and opportunity to experience wildlife of the region and local history firsthand. Leading names in bluegrass provide musical accompaniment.
Ridgefield, Washington, with its small-town charm, is just a 25-minute drive from Portland. One of the festival’s signature events is the opportunity to observe sandhill cranes fly in and out of their night roost in a special sanctuary that is otherwise closed to the public.
Admission to the refuge is free during Birdfest and Bluegrass. Activities include guided bird and nature walks, live bird shows, tours of Cathlapotle Plankhouse, demonstrations of Native American life and traditions, and a salmon bake with samplings on Sunday. Children can learn about nature and have fun at the craft stations, storytelling tent and at the Audubon Society’s live bird show.
Special offerings on both days include guided kayak and canoe tours, Kiwa Trail tour and the spectacular sandhill crane tours at dawn and dusk. These tours are offered on a limited basis and fill quickly, with reservations and fees required.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit

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Holistic Learning Skills Workshop

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

Knowledge is power. Learning is a lifelong activity that is present in nearly every aspect of daily life. For many, acquiring and utilizing information effectively is a challenging and often negative experience. Adults and children struggle with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety, focus, retention and recall. Traditional methods don’t work well for every style and type of learning which leads to frustration, procrastination and avoidance.
However, learning is a natural ability and tapping into the right learning state can play a key role in commanding that ability. Learning can be easier and more rewarding—for anyone. There are many better techniques, methods, approaches, tools and resources out there but knowing how, what and where can be difficult and time consuming. Addressing the requests from clients and students, holistic practitioner and educator, Bonnie Van Schyndel, has created a one-day workshop that gives a complete, in-depth review of all of that and more. The workshop will show participants how to improve their skills and learn new ones, make learning easier, more positive and more effective, explore traditional and non-traditional methods, experience a variety of holistic tools, interact with the latest in learning technology and provide handouts and samples of resources.
This powerful and useful workshop is being held on October 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Workshop fee $97. Pre-registration required. Two scholarships available.
Location: Aspen Grove Wellness Center, 9925 SW Nimbus Ave., Ste. 100, Beaverton. Call 855-733-2872 for more information and to register.

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North Portland Wellness Center and Wild Hearts Event

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

The North Portland Wellness Center (NPWC) is excited to announce their new partnership with Wild Hearts Apothecary (, a non-profit founded by their own acupuncturist, Maura Dawgert. Wild Hearts Apothecary produces high-quality, handmade wild-crafted and organic herbal products. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefits alternative healthcare projects in low-income communities around the world.
NPWC invites you to experience a free mini-group acupuncture session and learn about Wild Hearts Apothecary at their Wild Hearts and Acupuncture invitational event on October 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Enjoy a cup of tea, get a 15-minute group acupuncture session, sample Wild Hearts products and receive 20 percent off all in-stock herbs, products and supplements, including the entire line of Wild Hearts Apothecary. No reservation is necessary but go early to ensure a spot in the treatment room.
Additionally, adding to their group acupuncture schedule on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, join them on Friday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon and support Wild Hearts. By taking care of yourself, you are helping others get the healthcare they need. Fifty percent of all the proceeds from the Friday morning clinic will go to support Wild Hearts.
Group style acupuncture treatments are an effective, efficient and affordable complement to NPWC’s private-room acupuncture sessions. Group treatment available: Wednesday 2 to 6 p.m., Thursday 2 to 7 p.m., Friday 2 to 6 p.m., and now support Wild Hearts with a visit to their group clinic every Friday morning. Join them October 22 for their group acupuncture and Wild Hearts event!

Location: 4922 N Vancouver Ave. 503-493-9398.

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Easy and Delicious Veg Classes

Posted on 05 October 2014 by Jason

“It changed my life!” These are the words Northwest Veg, a Portland/Vancouver nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and encouraging people to make vegan choices, hears, time after time, from people who have taken VEG 101. This course is a six-week series on vegetarianism, featuring both a lecture and a cooking demonstration (with samples) each week. The lectures provide an excellent grounding in topics such as health, nutrition, factory farming, environmental impact and other related subjects. The cooking demonstrations include grains, legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan and more.
Learn the basics in a friendly, casual and supportive atmosphere! It is also very affordable—just $55 for the entire series, including the food, or just $25 for low income. The next series begins October 12. Pre-registration is required.

For more information, or to register, please visit

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