October 22, 2016

Miso for Health and Radiation Protection

This blog post is a little different because although the subject is very applicable to those who read my blog, this post has some references to my prepper group and in some cases I am addressing them directly. Please don't let that put you off! The information below could save your life, please read on!

At the last meeting of The Carolina Preppers Network, we were discussing the recent escalation of threats from Russia to use nuclear weapons against US interests. During that meeting the question came up about what kind of natural defense there was against radiation poisoning. I fielded a short answer and promised a blog post on the subject, so here it is!

There are several natural treatments for protection and elimination of radiation from the body. Today I will talk about Miso, a very effective and nutritious way to protect your body from the harmful effects of radiation. If there is enough interest in this subject, I can write another post on the other treatments in the near future. Please tell me if you are interested.

Miso has been a staple in the Japanese diet since 4th century B.C. You may have had it if you eat in sushi restaurants that serve a soup with the meal. Miso is a salty tasting paste made from cooked soybeans that have been inoculated with the Aspergillus oryzae  fungus, and then fermented for a year or more. The fungus completely breaks down the soy beans, changing their composition from a potentially unhealthy estrogen mimicking food to an very healthy anti-estrogenic food. The property changes of the soy beans during the fermentation process are actually responsible for miso's radiation protective capabilities. 

The discovery of the radiation busting properties of miso came after the bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Here is the story as it is documented in the medical journal, Toxicologic Pathology, *1 

 "When the 2nd atomic bomb was dropped in Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945, physician Tatuichiro Akizuki, along with 20 employees, were taking care of 70 tuberculosis patients at "Uragami Daiichi Hospital" (St. Francis Hospital) about 1.4 km away from ground zero. However, these people including Dr. Akizuki did not have any acute radiation disease. Dr. Akizuki considered that this was the result of consuming cups of wakame miso soup (miso soup with garnish of wakame seaweed) every day. Later, his hypothesis was translated into English and became known in the West.  Years later In the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident on April 26, 1986, in the Ukraine, many Europeans consumed miso soup as a preventive measure for radiation diseases.

In 1972, Akizuki's theory was confirmed when researchers discovered that miso contains dipilocolonic acid, an alkaloid that chelates heavy metals, such as radioactive strontium, and discharges them from the body. However, the most convincing evidence demonstrating the protection miso offers to those exposed to radiation was published in Japan in 1989. Professor Akihiro Ito, at Hiroshima University's Atomic Radioactivity Medical Lab, read reports of European countries importing truckloads of miso from Japan after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.*2

Since Dr. Akizuki's initial realization and publication of his findings, there have been multiple well documented studies done trying to pinpoint the exact properties that provide the radioactive protection and at what point in the fermentation process is the miso at the optimal radiation fighting strength. In one study laboratory rats were fed miso that had fermented for different amounts of time, 30 days, 90 days and 180 days. each rat was fed a different strength of miso for two weeks and then exposed to radiation. The studies showed that miso that had been fermented for at least 180 days had a protected the rats from the harmful affects of radiation exposure, those miso that were less mature than 180 days had no gave no protection from radiation. *Read the whole study here   Although miso has been scientifically proven to protect against radiation exposure, it has its limits. It cannot protect from the blast, from radiation burns or from extreme amounts of radiation exposure. Also, it is most effective when in the system prior to radiation exposure. 

Since miso is most effective when in the body prior to exposure, it is probably a good idea to begin proactively using miso, by incorporating it into your daily diet. Which is a good idea anyway, since miso is also very effective in protecting against several kinds of cancer including breast, liver, intestinal and stomach cancer as well as hypertension, (Even though miso is high in salt, it has been shown to actually have a positive affect on hypertension. Instead of causing a rise in blood pressure, it actually reduces it).

There are many kinds of miso, some made with soy and rice, some with soy and barley, even one made from chickpeas instead of soy, but for the purpose of protecting against radiation, the miso of choice is the red miso. Red miso is made from soybeans and barley which is fermented much longer than white or yellow miso and has the highest quantity of soybeans. The radiation protecting properties don't develop in miso that is fermented for less than 180 days. Red miso is fermented for 18 months. Although I use all the different kinds of miso in my kitchen, depending on what I am using it for, but my absolute favorite is the red miso. It has a meaty, rich flavor and adds a depth of character to the foods I prepare with it. (I am giving away one of my kitchen secrets here... wink, wink). 

Miso is available at most natural food stores, Earth Fare in Charlotte carries it so does Whole Foods and Healthy Home Market. I use Miso Master for several reasons: it is made from organic soy beans and organic barley, so you can be sure it isn't GMO, (most non organic soybeans are GMO), it is an unpasturized, vital living food, (pasturized miso is dead, it won't be any use as a protection against radiation). It is also gluten free, kosher and is made locally, for almost 30 years in Asheville, NC. Most other brands I have tried cannot compete in quality or taste and I always buy local if possible. 

Miso is a fermented food, so if you are making your own, it can be left in its crock at room temperature while fermenting. Once fermentation is complete and you start using it and exposing it to the air, it is best to store in a cool dark place. I keep my collection of Miso Master miso tubs in the back corner of the fridge in a stack that is easy to get to. In a grid down situation, it is possible to store miso at room temperature as long as you are sure it is unpasturized. If you keep a layer of plastic in contact with the surface of the miso, and keep it in the coolest darkest place you can find it will be fine. It may form a thin layer of mold on top, but it is a harmless kind of mold, so just scrape it off and use what is underneath. For Long Term Storage I have located a source of freeze dried Red Miso. It comes in a 3.5 oz. size, in a bag,  and a 45 oz. size in a can ,(click blue letter to follow link) Here is some info from the package of freeze dried miso:  Our red miso powder is produced in a USDA Certified Organic Facility. It does not contain any gluten or wheat. It's certified kosher, vegan and of course non-GMO. We've also laboratory-verified this miso powder to meet our A+++ high standard for purity. Importantly, this miso powder is freeze-dried to preserve its freshness and nutritional qualities. The cost may seem high, but it goes a long way and having a supply on hand of fresh miso for daily use and freeze dried for emergencies could save your life.

I use miso almost every day. I am vegan so there are a few dietary challenges that miso helps solve. It is hard for a vegan to get enough Vitamin B-12, (which is necessary for brain function, and for a healthy nervous system and blood cells. Miso doesn't have a complete daily requirement but it helps me get there). Miso is also a complete protein so if I am getting my miso daily, I don't need to think about protein intake. I tell you this because in some SHTF situations it might be very difficult to find enough sources of B-12 or a complete protein. So miso could be a solution to not having the availability of your usual protein sources. 

So what do you do with Miso? I make a simple miso soup for lunch, that has fresh chopped garlic and ginger, a pinch of wakame seaweed, (I will do a whole post on why you should have seaweed in your preps... your life could depend on having it), and an ample tablespoon of red miso. I put all the ingredients except the wakame, in a bullet blender and add 1/4 cup of water and blend. Then I pour the contents into a large soup bowl and pour in boiling water to fill about 3/4 of the bowl. I add the wakame, then leave for 5 minutes so the it can rehydrate. It is delicious! Miso can be added instead of salt and bouillon to soups, casseroles, meatloaf, chili, taco filling, really any food you want to give a rich, deep flavor. I use it in homemade salad dressings, in marinades, I brush it on grilled vegetables or use instead of butter and salt on corn on the cobb... yum! However I use it, I try to make sure that everyone in the house gets at least 1 tblsp. of miso a day, to protect from possible radiation exposure, heavy metals and other free radicals. The world we live in on a regular day exposes all of us to higher than safe levels of radiation, toxins and exposure to heavy metals. The use of miso is part of our cancer prevention program, so it isn't only good for protection against a nuclear event, it can help protect you in every day life from cancer causing toxins.

I know this is running long and I still have a few things left to say, but I think the info is important so hang in there I will be done soon! 

I have had this book on my book shelf since it was published in 1976... I guess I classify as a hippy... or at least that is what my kids and the leader of my Prepper's group who assigned me this post call me... This book is priceless for a couple of reasons, it has boo-koodles of really tasty and useful recipes, (400 recipes), provides invaluable information on the types of miso, its history and even how to make your own miso. Both the first edition which came out in 1976 and the second edition which was published by Ten Speed Press in 2001, are available on Amazon.com

This well worn copy has been on my shelf since 1976

I have found a source for the Aspergillis Oryzae and some other fun cultures for making other similarly healthful fermented foods.

Fun to be had now that I have my cultures!

 I have been searching for just the right kind of containers that will serve to house the miso I am going to make. It will be living on my counter for at least a year while it becomes its best self, so the container needed to be both specifically appropriate for this purpose and pretty enough to be taking up precious space on my counter for a year. I finally found them! I bought two to start with but am on the look out for more.They are really kimchee pots but will serve the purpose perfectly!

This will hold enough to keep us in miso for a year.
The outer lid protects the contents from dust, insects
 and unwanted airborne spores.

The inner lid is a second layer of protection from the elements.
After filling the inner lid will be put on and sealed shut with wax to
 prevent contamination. In other words... no peeking!
The interior is glazed and the jar is straight sided for ease of access..
the jar will be filled all the way to the top. Then the interior
 lid will be sealed and the outer lid will be place on . Then it will
 sit pretty as a picture on my counter for at least a year
 while secretly inside a miracle is happening....

  If anyone from my local group is interested in hanging with me and learning how to do this, touch base with me on the forum.
If you are interested in getting your own cultures for miso then here is the link to where you can buy them: www.gemculture.com

And finally, here is a sneek peek into a future post on alternative sources of protein and how to store and use organic soybeans...

*1. Toxicologic Pathology "Beneficial Biological Effects of Miso with Reference to Radiation Injury, Cancer and Hypertension"

*2. http://www.mitoku.com/products/miso/atomic_metals.html

October 8, 2016

Edible and Medicinal Landscaping : Garlic Chives

One of my favorite places to sit and have my coffee in the morning is the veranda that over looks our east side herb garden. In this garden we have a mix of annual and perennial flowers and culinary and medicinal herbs. The perennials are grown for their return performances every year and for the fact that most of them are either culinary or medicinal, and the annuals for their vibrant colors and attractiveness to beneficial insects. The combination gives us a riot of color and lots of bird and insect activity. It is bliss to sit out in the early morning mist, watching the garden wake up.

A perennial that excels in both form and function is the garlic chive. It looks lovely in spring, summer and fall. In the spring, its clumps of bright green blades are the first herbs to emerge from their winter slumber. I can start cutting them for light use just weeks after they emerge. In summer they become a cooling foil for the brilliant colors that abound in this garden. In late summer the garlic chives put up strong stems and clusters of clean white flowers that wave in the breeze and attract both bees and butterflies. In fall the shapely seed heads add some interest to the front of the beds.

A Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly enjoying the garlic chive blossoms.

Many other beneficial insects and pollinators
visit the garlic chive flowers as well.
Both garlic chives, Allium tuberosum, and onion chives, Allium schoenoprasum, come from the onion family. Unlike the onion chive which has hollow blades that taste faintly of onion and spring blooming pink flowers, the garlic chive has thick, flat, grass-like blades that have the strong flavor and scent of garlic and puts out star shaped clusters of white blooms in late summer. Onion chive bulbs are edible, and look like little onions, but garlic chives have no actual bulb, instead it has inedible, fiberous roots.The blades, buds, flowers and stems of both species are all edible; the seeds are used medicinally. I only have garlic chives in this heavy North Carolina soil since onion chives tend to be a bit more fussy. Maybe because it has bulbs that are prone to rot instead of the fibrous roots that garlic chive has. Both would be very pretty bordering a flower bed or as part of an herb garden.

                             Cultivation and Propagation

Garlic chives are a hardy perennial. They form tight clumps that can be divided and replanted to propagate and they will self seed. If started from seed the seeds should be planted indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost, sprinkle 10-15 seeds evenly distributed on top of the soil in the seed cells, cover with planting mix 1/8 to 1/4' thick over the seeds and firm. Keep evenly moist and feed once the sprouts emerge. For best results keep under artificial until danger of frost has passed, (follow the link to see my blog post on starting seeds indoors). They need full sun and like good rich soil and lots of water, they will take what they are given as far as water goes but they don't like shade.

                                   Nutritional Information

Garlic chives are high in vitamin C as well as Vitamin A, and Potassium. They contain high amounts of carotene, Vitamin B1, (thiamine) and Vitamin B2, (riboflavin) and a substantial amount of calcium and iron as well as other minerals.

                             Culinary Uses

The blades of garlic chives are best used raw in order to make the most of their nutritional value. They can be added to green salads, potato salad, chicken salad or tuna salad, or sprinkled on cooked foods like fish, right before being served. One of my favorite ways to use them is in Oi Sobagi, (follow the blue link for the recipe which is on my other blog A View From the Cottage), a Korean naturally fermented kimchee that is a staple at our house.

                             Medicinal Uses 

Traditionally, the blades of chives were used internally to treat intestinal parasites, to aid in digestion and boost the immune system. Topically they were bruised and used to take the sting out of a bee sting or treat a bug bite. The whole plant is antibacterial.The seeds are used to treat kidney and liver disorders.


You can start cutting the blades of garlic chives once they are 8-10 inches tall. Do not cut closer than 4" from the point where the blades split away from each other, about 4- 6 inches from the ground. If you have more than one clump, then take some from each clump rather than cutting it all from the same plant. I try to leave some tall blades on each clump for aesthetic purposes, but it is alright to cut them all, the plants will put up new blades post haste. The blossom stalks can be cut when the blooms are still tight buds and used in Asian cuisine, but I am very fond of the blooms in my garden and like to save the seed, so I don't cut the blooms.

To save the seed, when the seed heads start to turn yellow, cut the stalks just above the blade tips and hang upside down to dry. Put a container under the seed heads to catch the seeds that will begin to pop out as the heads dry, or Cut the heads from the stalks and use dehydrator trays or baking sheets to dry the seeds heads, or do what I do and use a Stack!t herb drying unit, cut the heads off and distribute evenly on the netting, leave in a spot with good air circulation until the seed heads are brown and papery and the black seeds are easily removed. Remove chaff by gently rubbing the seed heads between your hands and then blowing chaff away, (best done outside to reduce the mess, but use a tray under your hands so you don't lose your

These seed heads are ready for harvest.

Stalks are long and Seed heads are born high above the blades
so you can harvest the seed heads for hanging while leaving the blades on the plant.

Distribute the seed heads evenly, leaving air space between the heads.

Hang the Stack!t outside in good weather, but be sure to bring it in
 before it rains and or at the end of a day so it doesn't get damp from the dew.
 I have a place inside and outside for hanging mine.
 All you really need is a place that is dry and has good air circulation.

Garlic Chives are a winner in any garden, why don't you give them a try! Thanks for coming by! Comments are always appreciated... it is nice to know that I am not just talking to myself ;)

*All photos were taken by me unless otherwise noted. Please don't use my photos without asking me first...

October 4, 2016

Edible and Medicinal Landscaping : Lemongrass

Since we moved to our property in 1989, it has been our intention to grow as much of our food and medicine as our little property will support. Much of our yard is planted with "edible landscaping". We live in the country, in the unincorporated area outside of a small town. We are not in a subdivision, so we can plant whatever we want, where ever we want. But many people live in subdivisions that severely limit what people can plant in their own yards. So periodically I want to showcase an edible or medicinal plant that can go in the landscape of even the most domineering of HOA's. So, with landscaping limitations in mind, I present you the lovely, low maintenance, edible and medicinal Lemongrass!

Lemongrass is a beautiful, heat and moisture loving tropical. As a feature in the landscape it can take the place of or can be added to plantings of other strictly ornamental clumping grasses, like Blue Oat Grass or Tufted Hair Grass. No one would ever know that it is a edible and medicinal herb and would likely not offend any HOA planting restrictions.

                            The Nutritional Value of Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains Vitamin A, B1, (thiamine), B2,(riboflavin), B3,(niacin), B5, (pantothenic acid), 6, (pyrodoxine), and folate, (folic acid), and Vitamin C. It also provides many essential minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, phosphorus, copper, zinc and iron.  

                          The Medicinal Properties of Lemongrass

Aside from being a delicious addition to many culinary masterpieces, lemongrass also has many health benefits. It can be used in a variety of ways, in teas, in food, tinctures, salves and as hydrosols and essential oils. Lemongrass is antioxidant, anti fungal, and antimicrobial. It plays many roles in maintaining health. Lemongrass detoxifies the kidneys and liver, lower levels of uric acid and eliminates collected fats in the tissues. It lowers cholesterol, and reduces the risk of cardiac disease. It impedes the growth of liver and breast cancer, and promotes cellular apoptosis. The anti-inflammatory properties aid in gastric disorders such as constipation, ulcerated colitis, diarrhea and stomach aches. Due to its anti fungal properties it is effective in treating ringworm, athlete's foot, and other skin fungus issues. It aids in sleep, reduces fever, relieves aches and pains, soothes the nervous system, and treats respiratory infections. The essential oil when applied with a carrier oil to the skin, conditions connective tissues, which helps with tendinitis, fibromyalgia connective tissue spasms, and reduces edema.                           

             Growing and Using Lemongrass

When we lived in Costa Rica, I saw lemongrass growing wild everywhere, but had no idea what it was. One day I was visiting friends, we were walking their gardens to see what was growing and I saw the bright green grass clumps growing as a border in their herb garden. I asked them what it was and they told me it was lemongrass. Soon I had a clump of lemongrass in our rain forest garden on the mountain and have had it every year since.

Lemongrass is easy to grow. It is not fussy about soil types, and even though it likes moisture, it will hang tough even in drought conditions. Because it is a tropical, I plant lemongrass in large planters and bring them inside to winter over in the house before the first frost. But it can be planted in the ground and then lifted, potted up and brought in the house when the weather turns cold.                            
At the end of the season, I divide the lemongrass clumps into two categories over wintering and harvesting. I harvest the majority of it for use in cooking, tea making and medicines and transplant enough of the lemongrass to pots to start next years crop, and overwinter it in the house. To re-pot the lemongrass I will overwinter, I cut the tops back to about 6" above the fibrous neck of the stalks and pot it up with a mixture of compost, Coco Coir, (can be purchased at Walmart), and organic potting soil. I reserve the blades for drying and using in teas.

Lemongrass I pulled away from the clump to use for transplanting.
I can harvest individual stalks for use or for propagation,
without damaging the mother clump.
It is easy to "steal" from the clump for current use or for propagation.
Just find a thick fleshy stalk, pull sideways until the stalk separates
from the clump slightly and then pull up firmly until the stalk comes free
from the clump.There will be enough roots on the stalk to transplant.

The clumps that I harvest are treated in several ways, I trim the blades off of all the stalks, and dry them in my Stack!t dehydration rack or in my Excaliber Dehydrator, (the Stack!t works best for the thin blades of lemongrass since they air dry without a fan, the Excaliber tends to blow the blades around alot).

Skittles is quality controlling my work as I cut
the tops from the lemongrass I will transplant  
The fleshy parts of the stalk I divide into thirds. I peel the woody outside leaves from the stalks, trim off the root end of the lemongrass and blend one third of the harvest into a paste.  I put into a tiny cell ice tray and freeze. I then pop out the mini cubes, putting them into a freezer bag for use later in curries and other dishes.

The ice cube cell holds about a tablespoon, which is a great size
for freezing foods like lemongrass, home made tomato paste,
 and food blends like pesto. In this photo there is
sunflower seed pesto in the tray.
 I chop one third into 1/2 inch pieces and freeze for use infusions, tinctures and making medicinal honeys later.

I use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the stalks,
 since they are quite fiberous and difficult to cut.

The last third I peel then cut the stalks into 2 inch pieces. I split the pieces lengthwise into small sections and place them on dehydrator sheets and dry, using only the fan but no heat.

The dehydrated lemongrass can be stored several ways depending on what is on hand. It can be stored in a Mason jar with the two part lid and an small O2 absorber.

Another way is to Vacuum seal with a Foodsaver that has a Mason jar attachment, the corresponding sized Mason Jar and a two part lid.

The jar attachment for the Foodsaver is placed over the jar
 and the flat part of the lid.
The Foodsaver removes all the air from the jar causing a vacuum
which seals the lid to the jar just like it was processed in a canner.
Once the jar is sealed, the band can be put on and then the jar
 can be labeled and stored in a cool dark place. The contents will last
 for years if properly stored. (*note: It is not time for me to harvest
my lemongrass for the season, so I am using a few photos from other
 projects, in this case the calendula flowers I recently harvested).
If storing in Mason jars, the lemongrass should be stored in a cool, dark place to preserve the volatile oils. For longer term storage the dried lemongrass it is best to store in small mylar bags with an O2 absorber, labeled and kept with other LTS culinary and medicinal herbs.

So if you are looking for a plant to that serves multiple purposes, look no further, lemongrass is edible, medicinal and looks great in the landscaping.

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