Sweet Lilac Syrup

Nothing quite says spring like the delicate, sweet scent of lilac blooms wafting in through your windows. They certainly are beautiful to behold, but did you know they are also edible? While there are many ways to enjoy them, a simple syrup is an easy way to preserve the unique sensory experience of lilacs throughout the year. And yes, they taste just like they smell! It is absolutely exquisite.

Lilac flowers are purported to have medicinal qualities as well- there is some evidence they are a febrifuge (bring down fevers), help with digestive upset and gas, and have calming properties.

To make this recipe, you’ll only need your flowers, water, and sugar. While technically any sugar will work, ideally you want something minimally refined and without much flavor or color. Coconut or date sugar, for example, are so dark and rich-tasting that they would detract from the gentle floral notes of the lilac. My first choice would be maple sugar, but I had a difficult time tracking it down on short notice so I used organic beet sugar.

The first step is to gather as many fresh flowers as you can.

We are fortunate enough to have lilac bushes on both sides of our yard.

The most time-consuming part of this process is plucking the individual flowers off of the panicles. I grab ahold of a few of them at a time and pull. You’ll want to avoid using any leaves and stems, as that can make your syrup taste bitter.

Once your flowers have been plucked, you’re ready to start cooking. Keep in mind you can double, triple, or quadruple this recipe based upon how many flowers you’re able to gather.

Begin by bringing one cup of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Once it’s to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and add one cup of sugar. Stir until completely dissolved.

Next you’ll gently fold in two cups of flowers. Mix well, cover, and let sit for 6-8 hours.

Once the flowers are done infusing, you’ll want to use a mesh strainer or coffee filter to strain out the plant material. Store your syrup in a jar, and make sure to refrigerate. Add to beverages, desserts, yogurt, anything that would be enhanced with the beautiful lilac flavor.

This lilac lemonade was just 8 oz of unsweetened lemonade and 4 tbsp of lilac syrup. All you need is water and a freshly-squeezed lemon to make your own lemonade. Want an adult version? Add 4 tbsp of lilac syrup to one can of Truly Hard Lemonade. Enjoy!!!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Health Counselor/ Certified Herbalist/Holistic Nutritionist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. If you’re curious, schedule your complimentary consultation today!

Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2020. All rights reserved.

I tested my home for EMFs… with surprising results

EMFs, or electromagnetic frequencies, are seemingly unavoidable in our fast-paced modern world where we are increasingly surrounded by electronics. There’s a lot of fear surrounding this topic, paired with an abundance of conflicting information, confusion, and expensive products claimed to fix the problem. It also appears there’s not an abundance of conclusive scientific data on the risks, but there’s certainly enough out there to warrant practicing caution. According to a few studies, EMF exposure can increase the risk of certain diseases such as leukemia. A 1993 Swedish epidemiological study reported an increased risk of leukemia for children at levels of 2.0 mG or more (Feychting & Ahlbom, 1993). A Canadian study has reported increased risk of leukemia starting at 1.5 mG for children under age six (Green, Miller Villeneuve, Agnew, Greenberg, Li & Donnelly, 1999). And a German study has linked exposures as low as 1.0 mG to reduced survival rates for children recovering from leukemia (Svendsen, Weikopf, Kaatsch & Schuz, 2007).

To start off with- I am not an expert in this topic whatsoever; I am not an engineer, a doctor, or anything of the sort. I bought this meter myself and have no ties to any product mentioned in this article. But because there is so much conflicting information on the internet, I myself have a difficult time knowing what to believe. In my profession I try to guide my clients to make the best choices for their health while minimizing exposure to health risks, so I thought exploring where the risks truly are at would be not only helpful but also put to rest some of the confusion. So I set out to test common items that my family is exposed to on a daily basis, to see where the risk really lies. And there were a few scary items… but it wasn’t what I was expecting!

Now that being said I did speak with an electrical engineer with 20 years experience who used to work on smart meters, so I do have some valuable professional insight into this topic. I’ll include his commentary as we go along. One point he made is that a part of these readings are magnetic and not purely electric as those forces work together. It’s a complex topic that I am not qualified to elaborate on the details of so my goal is simply to show where you are being exposed in your home, where you are not, and whether or not popular EMF blocking products actually work.

To test these items, I used a TackLife brand EMF meter, which according to Amazon rated excellent for accuracy and quality. I tested all of these objects from multiple angles while they were powered on, and have recorded a few videos of the meter taking readings to show the range. I used the milligauss setting, which has a range from 0.1-199.9 mG. The green light indicates less than 4 mG, which according to the manufacturer is safe. The yellow light is 4-40 mG, and the red light is over 40 mG. I did not test electric field, as that does not apparently carry the same risks as electromagnetic field.

One thing I found interesting was that my entire home was at 0 for both electromagnetic energy and electric fields (which is another setting on the meter). Despite us having many electronics and Wi-Fi in our living space, there is no measureable amount of the frequencies lingering in our air like you tend to read about. There really was only EMF exposure when you were touching said object, or at least within a few inches of it. I was pleased to find that the EMFs dissipate rather quickly; when you keep even some of the worst culprits at least 10 inches or so from your body, you are getting literally no EMF exposure. This is a comfort, as some of these items are unavoidable. By simply creating more space between you and these objects, you can live with minimal daily EMF exposure.
I wanted to note that we don’t have many items that I had testing requests for such as wireless earbuds, so I do not know how they rate.

Let’s start with some of the lowest EMF readings. Mind you, this is not an expensive top-of-the-line product, so there may be some minute some level of electromagnetic energy in some of these items that are below 0.1. I personally have no health and safety concerns with items that test 0 on this meter.

• HP computer monitor – 0
• Fitbit- 0
• HP Envy wireless printer- 0 when powered on. However, we have been having issues with computer to printer communication, so I do not know what the levels are at while actively receiving signals or printing.
• Vizio TV with Firestick- 0 in the front, 2.7 at the back base. When moved just two inches away, levels went back to 0.
• Asus computer tower- 0 in the front, 1.4 in the back. As with almost all of these items, levels were at 0 when a couple inches away.
• PS3- 0
• Himalayan salt lamp- 0
• My son’s Leapfrog Lettersaurus- 0
• My car running with Bluetooth connected- 0. What was interesting was where there WAS a source of EMFs in my car. Only in the driver’s side well, on the right side next to my leg. As I revved my engine, the levels gradually went up to about 4 when at 3000 RPMs and 40 mph, and down to just below 1 when idling. Therefore… levels are relatively low, but only nearing the yellow indicator light when accelerating. I did not test it while at higher speeds on the highway.
• As expected, my Technicolor brand Wi-Fi router tested at a maximum reading of 28.8, but only in the back. The front ranged from 0 to .2, and was gone when moved a few inches away. According to the electrical engineer, this number should be higher at times. He recommended not keeping the router in a room where your family spends much of their time.

Router


• Lenovo laptop computer connected to Wi-Fi – 0 on the top parts, not surprisingly the bottom center that rests on your lap was 15.2. The back left end was 11.9. These levels did not change when streaming videos. Moral of this story- do not sit with your laptop on your lap. The EMFs dissipate just a couple inches away from the hotspots, so if you rest your laptop on a desk you are fine.
• My daughter’s iPad tested 4.1 at the top right corner, and 3.1 on the center of the back side of it.
• Dryer while running- maxed at 3.5, only near the control panel.

Clothes dryer


• Surge protector that my tv is plugged into- 17.8
• My Samsung phone charger went up to 29, and the frequency was detectable about 10 inches away from the outlet. This seemed to be one of the items that sent a frequency out farther. Keep your chargers away from your head!
• I unplugged the charger, and that same outlet came out at 13.3 and there were still detectable EMFs until I moved it about 10 inches away. However, my home is 94 years old, and the wiring is 11 years old. I don’t know if these numbers are different in more modern homes, but either way best not to sit next to outlets.

Outlet near my bed with charger


• Infant Optics digital baby monitor- the camera itself measured 10.7, and the monitor at 15.2. At just 5 inches away from both, EMFs were undetectable.
• My friend’s Alexa was at low levels on the top, but 23.5 at the bottom near the barcode. At a distance of about 8 inches, there were no EMFs.

The shockers:
• My circuit breaker was much lower than expected- only 16.8 at its worst and didn’t send energy more than a couple inches. See the video below for ranges.

Circuit breaker


• My smart meter. Recently installed by Kaukauna Utilities, I wasn’t too pleased about it because of all the buzz you hear about them being high in EMFs. After a discussion with the company I realized it wasn’t a choice I had, so I would have to live with it. On the top of the meter the EMF reading goes up to 117 which is high. It pulses and ranges from about 10 to 117 over the course of a few seconds. But… as with all of the other items tested, these levels only radiate out a couple inches. So I tested my living room wall, directly behind this meter. My house was built in 1926, and has no insulation on the outer walls. It is just what is called “glazed cinder” which is similar to brick, and plaster on the inside walls. The reading on the other side? Zero! There was literally no electromagnetic energy entering our house from our smart meter when I measured it. However… the electrical engineer said the problem is that there is a single VERY strong pulse that’s sent out once per month by the meter, and takes just a fraction of a second. So even if I were waiting at the right second in that month to measure it would be quite difficult. Therefore it is not a surprise that my meter didn’t measure anything, as it isn’t currently transmitting. So how do we solve the problem of this one super high EMF pulse? That’s a great question. I may call my provider to see if there’s a way I can find out when they get the reading, and leave the house during that time. The electrical engineer agreed that might be an option, but it’s unlikely they will be able to tell me when it transmits as it’s all automatic and computerized. But it does sound like this one fraction of a second is one of the highest EMF source in most homes.

Just inches from the smart meter, on the inside of my home


• My husband and I were both genuinely surprised that the reading we got from our Samsung Galaxy smartphones wasn’t higher. The entire phone reads 0 except for the top, which maxed out at 14.8 with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on. During an active phone call, however, it shot up to 22.6 at its highest. You know that warm feeling you get near your ear when you’ve been chatting on your smartphone for a while? Makes sense to me, as there’s a pretty hefty amount of electromagnetic energy radiating a couple inches into your ear and head. I’d suggest putting your calls on speakerphone and keeping a few inches from your head to eliminate this issue.

A picture of my husband’s phone while connected to a call with me


• We tested my friend’s Google Pixel smartphone, which she had purchased an orgonite EMF blocker for. Her phone also only had detectable EMFs at the top, like ours. With the blocker on it, it came out at 4.1 max. Without the blocker… also 4.1. Her expensive blocker product did nothing. During an active call, hers went up to 4.8. It was interesting to see such a huge difference in EMF levels between brands.

• My Sunbeam electric heating pad was a shocker- it went up to 39.2. Obviously this product is designed to be up against your body so there’s no way to lessen EMF exposure. It looks like I’ll be taking more hot baths when I dislocate. However, I did find that once it was up to temperature the max levels dropped down to about 10. So if you have to use one, let it heat up first before touching it.

• My husband’s new pride and joy, our Shark Ion Vacuum. 153! Yikes! The good news is if you keep it away from your body, EMF exposure is minimal.

Shark Ion vacuum

Now here are the worst offenders. The first one was a shock to me, but I felt good about the fact I only use it maybe once a year. Ironically the second two are items I use regularly to keep my family healthy… and the amount of EMFs coming from them are downright alarming.

• My John Frieda hairdryer MAXED OUT THE METER! That means it’s at 200 mG or more, which is very high. See the video below.

John Frieda hair dryer


• My new Nutribullet… MAXED OUT THE METER! Yikes. I’m not giving up my smoothies any time soon, but now I know to stay a fair distance away. It registered 0 at about 10 inches away.
• And the one that hurts my heart the most… my Breville juicer MAXED OUT THE METER! Again, there are so many benefits of juicing fresh fruits and veggies, but now I’m going to just keep a distance while it’s running.

Juicer and Blender


• One thing I did not get to test because I do not have one in my home, is a microwave. The electrical engineer I spoke to said they are off the charts for EMFs, far higher than the juicer and Nutribullet. I do have access to one at my office, however, so I’ll update this as soon as I get readings. He had mentioned I likely would need a different type of meter to get more accurate readings on high EMF things like microwaves and smart meters.

So what about “EMF blocking” products?

Per request I did use shungite stones between the meter and objects, and even a large quantity of them made no difference in the levels. Fluorite stones had no impact. I had one request to see if aluminum foil made any difference, and it did not. A friend brought over her large plasterite octahedron EMF blocker… and it also did nothing.

Elite shungite stones

Edited to add- I used 16 layers of tin foil when testing, both as a sheet and on a faraday cage. Because those both did nothing I literally wrapped the 16 layers of foil around the end of my meter to see if that would help. The levels actually went up from my initial 5 readings and maxed out the meter. I may have coincidentally caught it was pulsing higher, or the foil may have amplified it somehow. That I do not know.

So let’s defer to the expert on this topic, because it seems like it isn’t as simple as placing an object between you and the EMF sources. He says “Simply put you would have to cover your whole body, or the EMF blockers are useless. Something like an EMF blocking ring or other item could at the very most block only the area it is on the body, if it just happens to be between the specific thing causing the EMF. But the rest of your body is still exposed. An EMF blocking paint would have to have metal in it and would take many coats of paint to even sort of work, and it would have to cover every single surface of a room or the EMF would just come from a different direction. So the easy way to avoid high levels of EMF as you stated would be to stay a safe distance from these things that as you found is usually 10-12 inches. The items that would probably be the worst would be standing right next to a Wi-Fi router and talking on a cell phone with it up to your ear during an active call. I understand why people go fanatical with this stuff. As we (him and his wife) went over this we even discussed how we could relocate our router in our home to reduce our own exposure as it is something to be concerned about. It is in our family room now, where we spend the most time and proximity. Ideally we would have it farther away from us as the farther away the more those levels drop off. But instead of these considerations many people are buying products that really only give them a false sense of security. There is just so much more to it. Like so many things, if there is a buck to be made people will try to capitalize on it. But yes, even an electrical engineer has concerns about EMF, you just need to recognize that there are some things to be more concerned with than others.”

One thing I can certainly conclude from this experience as he said, is there really isn’t a need for any special type of “blocker” product unless you’re insistent upon cuddling with a running Nutribullet. Keep a bit of distance and you’re fine. In summary- most objects do not need to be feared, there are unsuspecting items in your home to be mindful of, EMF blockers appear not to work and if they do you’d have to cover your body in them, and ultimately keeping your distance from high EMF sources is your best way to stay safe.

So what surprised you the most? Are there any objects you’d be interested in having me test? Comment below and let me know!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Health Counselor/ Certified Herbalist/Holistic Nutritionist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. If you’re curious, schedule your complimentary consultation today!

Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com

Copyright Megan Normansell 2020. All rights reserved.

How to Stay Young: Advice from Wisconsin’s Healthiest Septuagenarian Couple

The mystical fountain of youth… could it exist? Maybe it’s not some magical elixir, high tech drug, or enchanted hot spring bath. What if your choices on a daily basis, the people you choose to surround yourself with, your environment, and the food on your plate could slow down the aging process?

Lucas_Cranach_-_Der_Jungbrunnen_(Gemäldegalerie_Berlin)

The idea isn’t so far-fetched; we know there are many things that speed up the aging process such as stress, malnutrition, exposure to pollution and toxins. Just as we know there are things proven to slow down the aging process, such as regular exercise, a low-stress lifestyle, and daily consumption of key antioxidants. The fascinating book “Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People” highlights “longevity hotspots” around the world, where people not only live longer but look younger, feel younger, chronic disease is rare, obesity is nearly unheard of, and they are active into old age.

I happen to have two people in my life who seemingly have stumbled upon this “fountain of youth.” From a young age, my great aunt & uncle Rachel & Greg Kresse of Wausau, Wisconsin have been role models to me. I credit them with sparking an early interest in herbs and nutrition in first my mother, then myself. Growing up my mother always had Echinacea in the garden, fresh vegetables and herbs, and zinc tablets in the medicine cabinet to keep us from getting sick. Rachel has always been on top of cutting edge research in the fields of health and nutrition and has shared that information with the family. She blends that expertise with her knowledge of traditional farming and foraging gained from growing up on a mid-century northern Wisconsin farm. Her mother, Esther, brought over the ancient traditions of mushroom & berry foraging from Russia, a tradition my husband and I are passionate about reviving. Greg on the other hand, has a career specializing in psychiatry. I think this beautifully accentuates the other half of the “fountain of youth” equation- social well-being and support, emotional health, a good sense of humor, self-care, and the role of exercise and food on mental health.

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A race in 2019

When you see them sharing pictures with their medals from cross-country ski races or of the biking adventures they’ve gone on, you’d think you’re looking at a 50-something couple blessed with the luck of good genes. But what you’re really looking at is a couple who are the products of their lifestyle… at 70 & 71 years old.

Not only are Greg & Rachel an inspiration to me, but they are a fascinating case indeed because their health simply cannot be attributed to purely “good luck,” as they are genetically unique. I set out to interview them to find out exactly what their secrets are, and what kind of advice they have for the rest of us who want to live long, healthy lives.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

Rachel: “I’m a 71 year old retired educator. I currently manage the Wausau Night Gliders which is a middle school Nordic Ski Racing Team, I’m a gardener, and continuing athlete (bike, swim, walk/hike, Nordic Ski, and Yoga). I still compete in shorter Nordic races of 10K, but often pleasure ski for 2 hours at a time.”

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Greg: “I’m 70, and work part-time as a Psychotherapist specializing in addiction. I’m head coach of the racing team that Rachel manages, do all the heavy gardening work, and am a continuing athlete (bike, swim, hike, Nordic Ski, and not enough yoga per Rachel J). I continue to win in my age division in Nordic races including the Kortelopet, which is a race of 29 K = 17.98 miles. I was excited to finish the Classic Korte in 1 hr 52 minutes in 2019, coming in overall in 48th place out of 1068 skiers of all age groups.”

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What was your diet like growing up, and what is your diet like now?

Rachel: “I grew up with whole foods from my parent’s farm and pastured beef, pork, and chicken/eggs. Everything was naturally organic until the 1950s/60s, when pesticides including DDT began to be used. The danger was not known at the time. Growing up we foraged blackberries, blueberries, mushrooms (we think they were honey mushrooms), and asparagus. My parents grew things like cabbage, green beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, carrots, apples, pears, leaf lettuce, potatoes, sometimes okra, and they made traditionally lacto-fermented sauerkraut. Kale wasn’t popular back then but we grow lots of it in our garden now.

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Picking wild blackberries near their house

Greg had a terrible diet growing up- lots of processed cereal and milk. They probably had a pretty typical diet for someone who didn’t live on a farm in the 50s and 60s; they ate a lot of their food out of cans.

Currently and for quite a few years previous we have followed a mostly organic diet high in vegetables and fiber, low in meat, and have been dairy-free for at least the last 3 years. Our diet has changed as we have aged. Generally we eat a vegetarian diet today with a little bit of fish and eggs. We do a lot of vegetarian soups with beans, peas, lentils, and full of every vegetable and mushroom I have. In summer we eat from the garden every day. A consistent lunch for us is a blend of beans and a whole grain (usually barley, freekeh, or kamut), rolled up in a healthy tortilla with lettuce, avocado, and tomato. Then we have a side of a cooked veggie like cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, or something else from the garden. Most of our protein comes from beans. We lacto-ferment things like cucumbers to make our own pickles and last year’s batch was the best.”

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A colorful homemade meal I enjoyed at their house last summer

What are your favorite foods that you incorporate daily?

“All vegetables (especially the cruciferous ones), onions/garlic, beans and/or legumes every day, olive oil, and avocados. We grow much of our food organically in our gardens.

We follow Dr. Fuhrman, M.D.’s book “The End of Heart Disease” dietary recommendations, which is filling your plate mostly with veggies, then beans, whole grains, nuts, and fruits, and very small amounts of meat. We also follow many of the guidelines found in the book “Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., PhD. This book recommends eating lots of fruits and vegetables, staying away from white sugar and bad fats such as trans-fat, exercising, fostering a positive mental outlook and practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.”

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Beautiful veggies from their garden

What foods do you avoid like the plague?

“Mostly saturated fats and foods high in omega-6 fatty acids – whether organic or not! That includes processed snacks, fast foods, baked goods, fatty meats, and cured meats. While saturated fats are important for kids, once you get past a certain age they are more detrimental and you don’t need as much in your diet.

We avoid white sugar as best as we can, but we follow a 80/20 rule for treats and special occasions. We use maple syrup that our friends make, raw organic honey, or organic agave for sweetening foods instead of white sugar.”

How are you involved in your local community, and do you feel that’s played a role in your health and wellness?

“We maintain a Little Free Library on our property, and of course engage with kids and their parents through summer and winter ski programs that we run. We actively try to encourage neighbors to garden, and have healthy pesticide-free lawns. Our neighbor read that article you shared about Minnesota compensating people for replacing their lawns with bee-friendly native plants, and he’s actually thinking about getting rid of his lawn chemicals!

Being active definitely made a difference in our lives as we made many friends from all over the state in our early years being runners and skiers, and have maintained many of those friendships for over 40 years.”

(Greg and Rachel’s Little Free Library even made it into USA Today magazine!)

usatodayarticle

Are there any health issues that run in your families? Have they become issues for you?

Rachel: “I inherited my mother’s bunions and osteoarthritis. I’ve managed my foot issues with orthotics, especially when I was a runner for 30 years. Movement helps osteoarthritis, so continued physical activities are important.”

Greg: “Much of my family history is overshadowed by lifestyle issues that caused my father’s death at 64 (2 pack a day Camel unfiltered cigarette smoker all his life and obesity). My mother lived to 95. She had far fewer issues, with heart disease being a primary problem. Our diet changed a number of years ago because of my atherosclerosis and an increase in my LDL which had not been a problem when I was younger. The physician wanted to prescribe statins and we chose to go the diet route instead. The goal was LDL of 70 and I achieved that, to my cardiologist’s surprise, in about 6 weeks. I’ve maintained an excellent level below 70 and extremely low triglycerides.”

July 2019 Rachel & Theo

Rachel and my son Theo

How much time do you spend outside?

“Greg spends much of his time outdoors in all seasons. If he is not doing a sport activity he is doing something with the garden or landscape/prairie or building another rock wall! In comparison to Greg, I spend less time outdoors because I do most of the garden harvesting, preserving and cooking, and I dislike summer heat and bugs.

A warning about childhood and early adult sunburns – Greg has had permanent DNA damage from major youth sunburns which has resulted in skin cancer. It’s important to get vitamin D from the sun, but burns are damaging and the damage won’t show for many years.”

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Greg showing Theo around the gardens

You have a beautiful yard full of both prairie and food gardens. Is gardening something you recommend to others?

“It’s important to grow your own food because you have control over how it is grown and you know exactly what you’re getting. If you have the space, why not grow plants you can eat? You don’t even need a lot of space to grow some of these things as they are vertical- beans grow up, peas grow up. Why not plant a fruit bush instead of ornamental? Then you have free raspberries, currants, or blackberries. We preserve and store so much food from our yard that I estimate we save a couple thousand dollars per year on groceries.”

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Did I mention a good sense of humor helps keep you young??

How do you avoid the temptation to eat at restaurants?

“We enjoy eating out at restaurants, but we don’t do it as often as most people. We always carry food with us when we travel, so the temptation isn’t really there. When we do, we try to pick healthier options like vegetarian dishes at Mexican restaurants. Before you called I was cutting up apples, oranges, & grapes for snacks, put our breakfast porridge in containers for the race tomorrow morning, and I made sandwiches with baby carrots for after the race.”

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Do you take any regular supplements or teas?

“We drink green tea daily, with a small amount of kombucha as a daily lunch/supper cold drink. We take a number of supplements such as turmeric root for joints, and Greg takes niacin for cholesterol.”

Do you take any pharmaceutical drugs?

Greg: “I am on a blood thinner.”

Rachel is on no prescription meds.

How has your lifestyle affected your marriage, and vice versa?

“I tell the ski kids (teenagers) to pick boyfriends/girlfriends that are “sport compatible” and they always laugh at that. But if you don’t have common interests/activities, I believe it is harder to relate and enjoy each other as you move through the marriage and/or relationship.”

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How does your health compare to others you know that are your age?

“We have had some medical issues whether from inheritance or past accidents similar to many others, but our activity level in most instances is much higher than most our age. For me, an example would be the four high school friends I get together with on a yearly basis. Three of them are incapacitated by obesity (have difficulty even walking), and the other one maintains some activity biking. So while slightly overweight, she still maintains mobility and energy to do things. Excess weight seems to be the determinate.”

2018 Anniversary Bike 2

What do you think are the biggest factors in your ability to stay well and active into your 70’s?

“Sleep 7-8 hours, eat as well as you can, move in many different ways (not just one activity), meditate or have some spiritual context in your life, and have some “young” friends. I still wear makeup and lip gloss at the starting line- I might not always be the fastest, but at least I’ll still look good.”

If you could give the rest of the world one piece of advice to stay happy and healthy at any age, what would it be?

“I don’t know that I have a grand piece of advice to give, but perseverance does help!”

Thanksgiving 2019 ABR 1

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us!! Do you have any questions for Rachel and Greg? If so, post them in the comments!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Health Counselor/ Certified Herbalist/Holistic Nutritionist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. If you’re curious, schedule your complimentary consultation today!

Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2020. All rights reserved.

Thai Peanut Butter Sweet Potatoes

Sweet, creamy, and zingy, this recipe makes a fantastic plant-based dish!

Ingredients for the sweet potatoes and slaw:

2 large sweet potatoes
3 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup green onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 lime)
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
A bit extra chopped green onion for the garnish

Ingredients for the sauce:

1/3 cup organic peanut butter
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice (1 lime)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons water


Instructions:
Bake the sweet potatoes in the oven at 350 for about an hour or until tender when pierced with a fork.
To make the slaw, you’ll slice the red cabbage into thin ribbons, enough for 3 cups. Chop the peppers and green onion. In a large bowl, mix together the cabbage, peppers, & green onion with the lime juice and salt.
To make the Thai peanut butter sauce, you’ll whisk together the peanut butter, tamari soy sauce, lime juice, maple syrup, and water. 

To serve:

Slice the sweet potatoes in half and place a generous serving of slaw on top. Drizzle with the Thai peanut butter sauce and sprinkle with the extra chopped green onions. Enjoy!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
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Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2020. All rights reserved.

Maple Chaga Latte

Like coffee? Want healthy alternatives to Starbucks? Want less caffeine and more immune support? This is for you!

I love making this warm drink on a chilly Autumn morning or before work as a gentle pick-me-up. Chaga has immune modulating properties, making it the perfect drink to help fight off colds & flu.

1. Boil about 4 chaga chunks for an hour in a gallon of water. Strain away the chaga pieces and store them in the freezer for future use. They can be reused around 5 times. Refrigerate any tea you don’t immediately need and it will keep for 2 days.

2. Brew a batch of fresh coffee. I like any organic fair trade brand.

3. Combine 4 oz chaga tea with 4 oz coffee in a mug.

4. Add a splash of your favorite milk (organic cow milk, almond milk, macadamia milk, etc), and three spoons of organic pure maple syrup. We use homemade syrup from our silver maples for a slight butterscotch flavor.

Enjoy!! ☕

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious?
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2019 All rights reserved.

Green Bean & Saffron Lamb Stew

The authentic flavors of Morocco, bursting with flavorful superfood spices! Free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, grains, and a long-winded story about my childhood that forces you to scroll down for eight minutes before finally arriving at the recipe. So… enjoy! 😉

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb organic lamb stew meat, cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric root
  • 3/4 tsp saffron threads
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped with juice retained
  • 1 lb fresh green beans, cut in half
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 lime

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the lamb, garlic, turmeric, saffron, onions, celery, salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the tomatoes with their juice and 1 cup of water, cover and cook for 40 minutes.
  3. Add the beans and cook for another 15 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mint. Cut the lime in half, and squeeze all of its juice into the pot. Stir well and serve hot.

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2019 All rights reserved. 

Organic Egg Taste Test- Which to Buy and Which to Ditch? (Round 2)

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Last year my little family of foodies did a taste test to find out which organic chicken eggs were the best quality- you can read it here Little Theo was just a speck in my tummy for the last test and isn’t old enough today to indulge with us (sorry little bean!), but I included my husband Matt along with our five year-old daughter Eliana and her questionable egg-describing adjectives again.

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We know that of all the options in the grocery store organic eggs are the best choice; an organic certification means the hens must be fed organic feed and have access to the outdoors; animal by-products and GMO crops in feed are prohibited. There can be no traces of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Forced molting is not allowed, the animals cannot be caged, and the certification requires maintenance of basic animal welfare standards.

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Having access to your own home-raised organic chickens is obviously even better, but for those of us who don’t live in an area where it is legal to keep chickens, we need another option. It seems the number of organic brands is growing by the day… which to choose? But don’t fret- we are again taking all of the guesswork out of finding the best eggs and are putting our previous champion Blue Sky Family Farms up against four new contenders.

I purchased all five of the organic products at Woodman’s in Appleton, WI.  To stay consistent with what a typical mom’s shopping trip may look like, I used the very scientific method of “I just got done with work and need to grab the first eggs I see because I need to get home as soon as possible and make dinner.” All were fairly similar in appearance, each carton of eggs having slight variance in color, mottling, and size.

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When they were cracked open, we found there were some pretty noticeable differences in the color of the yolks though. Full Circle Organics had a slightly thinner shell.

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All had similar sell-by dates, were cooked at the same time in a cast iron pan at the same temperature, and were unsalted.

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Our observations were as follows:

BRAND PRICE LOCATION PACKAGE CLAIMS MATT’S REVIEW MEGAN’S REVIEW 5 YEAR OLD’S REVIEW
Farmer’s Hen House Organics

(free range)

$3.99 per dozen Kalona, IA “Amish/Mennonite farms, free range, certified humane” “A little bit of richness. Tasting fat, but not much depth. Clean with no aftertaste.” “A little big chemically? Good, but not much depth.” “Tastes like eggs.”
Farmer’s Hen House Organics

(pastured)

$4.89 per dozen Kalona, IA “Pastured, 108 sq ft per bird guaranteed, certified humane” “Definitely more flavor than the first, with the same richness.” “Rich, better than their free range version. Not complex.” “Tastes better than the last one.”
Pete &

Gerry’s

Organics

$4.99 per dozen Monroe, NH “Free range, small family farms, certified humane, vegetarian feed & outdoor forage” “Rich but less complex flavor compared to the last two. The white is very good.” “Creamy, but it feels like it should have more flavor given the texture of it.” “Mushrooms. Mushroom eggs.”
Blue Sky Family Farm Organics $5.79 per dozen Warsaw, IN “Pastured, outside 365 days a year, certified humane.” “Much more full flavor. You experience the taste across the whole of your tongue. The whites have more flavor than the others.” “Mmm. That’s really good. Rich, deep, savory.” “Buttery”
Full Circle Organics  

$4.19 per dozen

 

Skokie, IL “Feed does not contain processed animal proteins, free roaming hens” “Well-rounded flavor. The whites are better than all of the others.” “Good and rich. But with a weird flavor that sticks to my tongue.” “Bleeegh. But good.”

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What was particularly interesting to me was that of the same Farmer’s Hen House brand, you could clearly taste and see the difference in the eggs that were from pastured chickens vs the ones from free range chickens. According to the rather broad “free range” regulations the chickens must be allowed to move unrestricted without being confined, and eat a vegetarian diet. Which is odd to me, because chickens are not natural vegetarians. There is no requirement for access to pasture, they must only be allowed gravel or dirt.  Pastured chickens on the other hand, must have access to pasture and have the opportunity to eat a more healthful, natural diet for them which includes bugs, worms, and other non-vegetarian things.

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So which were the best and which failed the test?

#1- Blue Sky Family Farms  (again! our reigning champion!)

#2- Full Circle Organics ( I must note, my husband and I disagreed on this- I felt it was tied with Pete & Gerry’s)

#3- Pete & Gerry’s

#4- Farmer’s Hen House Pastured

#5- Farmer’s Hen House Free Range

So there you go! While I must say they all were good (and much better tasting than the cheap eggs) it was yet another interesting experiment. I’m rather impressed with Blue Sky Family Farm’s consistency and exceptional quality, and they are now officially our best pick out of NINE organic products. The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly rung true yet again; Blue Sky was well-worth the extra cash, and the cheapest of the five was the only one I would never buy again. Stay tuned and follow my blog and facebook page– I’ll be sourcing more brands to taste test in the future. Which eggs would you like to see tested? Let me know!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2019 All rights reserved. 

Flowering Miso Ramen Noodle Soup

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This is my quick and easy version of miso soup, utilizing the seasonal flavors of Wisconsin.  You can easily customize it to make it your own! This recipe is vegetarian and gluten free.

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Ingredients:

  • 7 oz of organic tofu or tempeh, cut into small cubes
  • A handful of dried wild-harvested kelp, broken into small pieces. You can also buy flaked dulse or kelp, which is available in natural food stores or on Amazon here. The kelp in my recipe was wild harvested by my husband on the beautiful coast of Cornwall.17904022_10158699659570195_12146867265582433_n17951811_10158699660110195_900942998429416303_n
  • About 48 oz of miso broth. You can make your own with something as simple as miso paste and water, but I used Kettle & Fire brand miso chicken bone broth.
  • Handful of green onions or chives, chopped
  • Handful of your favorite mushrooms, sliced. I’d suggest using whatever is in season in nature, or if you’re not a forager any grocery store mushrooms will do. I used wild oyster mushrooms. 62483073_1312413752243479_8338620546384134144_n (2)
  • 1.5 cups of fresh bean sprouts
  • 5 oz of dried brown rice or black rice ramen noodles. I used BGreen brand. You can also use some cooked whole grain brown or black rice instead.
  • A handful of wildflowers to garnish. I used Damesrocket, as it’s a common tasty invasive in Wisconsin. Violets, creeping Charlie, dandelion flowers, or any edible flowers from your woods or garden would work. Any brassica flowers are edible, so if you grow kale, radishes, etc you can use the flowers from those too! 64436626_385574508969013_500426559715278848_n

Bring your miso broth up to a boil, then add the mushrooms and kelp. After 10 minutes bring the heat down a bit and add the noodles and bean sprouts. Once the noodles have been cooked for the length of time recommended on the package (mine were about 5 minutes) turn the heat off. Now add the tofu/tempeh.

Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve in a bowl. Finish by sprinkling with the chopped green onions or chives and your flowers of choice. Enjoy!!

 

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2019 All rights reserved. 

Pheasant Back Mushroom “Bacon”

One of my favorite fungi creations- pheasant back bacon. Most meat-eaters will agree it’s delicious, umami, and reminiscent of bacon, and is the only vegan “bacon” that is whole food. It’s also chock full of cancer- fighting polysaccharides.Pheasant back mushrooms are just popping up in Wisconsin so keep your eyes open! Check out Wild Food Wisconsin if you need some help with ID.Very easy to make- chop your fresh pheasant back mushroom into small bacon-bit sized pieces and pan fry in either butter or olive oil until golden brown and crispy. (I prefer butter, but if you’re vegan you’ll want to do olive oil.) Season while cooking with Himalayan salt and a sprinkle of smoked paprika and that’s it!

Put on anything you would normally put bacon bits on, or eat as is as a snack.

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com     –     megan@aayushealth.com    –    920-327-2221

 

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2019. All rights reserved. 

Wild Food ID & Helpful Books

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When it comes to wild food, proper ID is essential. The following are important guidelines that will be helpful for ensuring you can enjoy the best foods on the planet. This is an excerpt from our Wild Food Wisconsin Facebook group.

  • Use 3-5 reliable identification methods. The books below are some that I like and recommend.
  • Google is not an ID method. This many times results in misidentification- you’re at the mercy of incorrectly categorized photo tags and every random person on the internet with an opinion. Google can be helpful for getting a general feel for things, but still use 3-5 other ID methods on top of it. There are some good websites, however, including http://www.mushroomexpert.com, http://www.rogersmushrooms.com, http://wisflora.herbarium.wisc.edu/ , and http://www.dnr.wi.gov. Just make sure it’s legit before trusting a site.
  • Know toxic/inedible lookalikes. For example chanterelles may look like jack o’ lantern mushrooms.
  • Use all of your senses (smell, texture, spore sprint, colors, etc). No book, picture, website, will ever teach you what mindfully handling a plant or mushroom can.
  • Learn habitats- you won’t find watercress in a desert, and you won’t chaga on a willow tree.
  • Learn when this plant/mushroom is edible, and what parts. Some plants have edible fruits but the rest of the plant is toxic, some edibles are toxic or inedible at certain points during growth, some are toxic raw but healthy cooked, etc.
  • Knowing the growing seasons can help narrow down ID. For example morels don’t fruit in fall, maitake doesn’t fruit in spring.
  • Use Wild Food Wisconsin to bounce ideas off of! When posting an ID request, please share detailed info including pics of caps/stem/undersides of mushrooms, any flowers or leaves, habitat (on a dead pine, growing in a swamp, etc), and any observations you have about it. Once you have some good ideas from members, I’d recommend referring to a couple other ID methods for confirmation.

Happy & safe foraging!

Megan & Matthew Normansell

Our ever-growing book recommendations, with links to purchase:

Native Plants of the Midwest by Alan Branhagan

Mushrooms of the Midwest by Michael Kuo

Month-by-Month Gardening in Wisconsin by Melinda Meyers

Incredible Wild Edibles by Samuel Thayer

Wildflowers of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Region by Merel R. Black and Emmet J. Judziewicz

The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer

Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer

Wisconsin Medicinal Herbs by Phyllis Heitkamp

Spring Flora of Wisconsin by Norman Fassett

Trees of Wisconsin Field Guide by Stan Tekiela

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms by National Audubon Society

Mushrooms and Other Fungi of North America by Roger Phillips

American Household Botany by Judith Sumner

Medicinal Mushrooms – A Clinical Guide by Martin Powell

Mushrooms of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada by Timothy J. Baroni

The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl

Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets

A Kid’s Herb Book: For Children of All Ages by Lesley Tierra

Mushrooms: More than 70 Inspiring Recipes by Jacque Malouf

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat by Ellen Zachos

Native American Medicinal Plants: An Ethnobotanical Dictionary by Daniel Moerman

Maple: 100 Sweet & Savory Recipes by Katie Webster

Native American Food Plants: An Ethnobotanical Dictionary by Daniel Moerman

Herbs to the Rescue- Herbal First Aid Handbook by Kurt King

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers by National Audubon Society

The Wildcrafting Brewer: Creating Unique Drinks and Boozy Concoctions from Nature’s Ingredients by Pascal Baudar

The New Wildcrafted Cuisine: Exploring the Exotic Gastronomy of Local Terroir by Pascal Baudar

Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke

Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Bradford Angier

Mushrooms for Health by Greg Marley

The Homebrewer’s Garden by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Peterson Field Guides: Edible Wild Plants by Lee Allen Peterson

Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar

Wild Garlic, Gooseberries, and Me: A Chef’s Stories and Recipes from the Land by Denis Cotter

National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Wildflowers of North America by David M. Brandenburg

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Chanterelle Dreams and Amanita Nightmares by Greg Marley

Toxic and Hallucinogenic Mushroom Poisoning: A handbook for physicians and mushroom hunters by Gary Lincoff and D. H. Mitchel

Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants Second Edition (plants only) by Lewis S. Nelson, Richard D. Shih, Michael J. Balick

Mushrooms: Poisons and Panaceas: A Handbook for Naturalists, Mycologists, and Physicians by Denis R. Benjamin

AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants First Edition (mushrooms and plants) by Kenneth F. Lampe, Mary Ann McCann

Mushroom Playing Cards by Paul Stamets

The Famous Mushroom Playing Cards

The Famous Tree Playing Cards

The Famous Herb Playing Cards

Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guide by Teresa Marrone

Food for Free by Richard Mabey

Others we’ve added to our collection:

Mushroom Cultivation: An Illustrated Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms at Home by Tavis Lynch

Mushroom Word Guide: Etymology, Pronunciation, and Meanings of over 1,500 Words by Robert Hallock PhD

KIDS BOOKS

Mushroom in the Rain by Mirra Ginsburg

Sweety by Andrea Zull

A Kids Herb Book by Lesley Tierra

The Mushroom Fan Club by Elise Gravel

The Herb Fairies Series by Kimberly Gallagher
Book 1: Stellaria’s Big Find (about chickweed)

Book 2: Secrets in the Scotch Broom (about violets)

Book 3: A Fairy Festival Surprise (about plantain)

Book 4: Treasure by Hopping Frog Pond (about lemon balm)

Book 5: The Secret Trail (about chamomile)

Book 6: Cally’s Summer Extravaganza (about calendula)

Book 7: Through the Mists (about elderberry)

Book 8: The Heart of Dwarf Mountain (about marshmallow root)

Book 9: A Magical Ride (about burdock)

Book 10: The Root of Kindness (about pine needles)

Book 11: Fireside Stories (about rose hips)

Book 12: Zeylani’s Tropical Oasis (about cinnamon)

Book 13: Healing the Heart of the Forest (about dandelion)

The 13 book set

Happy reading!!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.

http://www.aayushealth.com – megan@aayushealth.com – 920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2020. All rights reserved.