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?

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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!)

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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!”

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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.

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. 

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.

Avocado Quinoa Pilaf

This recipe is simple and easy, yet tasty and packed full of nutritious goodness. You can add any other fresh veggies from your garden or farmers market as well, such as fresh chopped kale or grape tomatoes.

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Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 tsp minced garlic

2 1/2 cups quinoa, soaked and rinsed ( I used a blend of both red and white)

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

1/2 tsp porcini salt (get mine here.… handcrafted with wild Wisconsin gourmet porcini!)

1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp lemon juice

4-6 oz feta cheese, crumbled

1 ripe avocado, chopped

1/3 cup cucumber, chopped

1/3 cup bell peppers, chopped small (orange, yellow, red, and/or green)

1 can hearts of palm, sliced into rounds

 

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.

Stir in the quinoa, broth, and salt.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from the heat and stir in tomatoes, parsley, thyme, avocado, cucumber, hearts of palm, peppers, lemon juice and feta. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Warmly,

Megan (Kerkhoff) Normansell, 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!

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

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2019 All rights reserved. 

Roasted Holiday Chestnuts

Chestnuts are now available in stores, and are perfect for the winter season. Their sweet, buttery flavor goes well in many dishes, as well as on their own as a nutritious snack. I’ve found they are so tasty plain that you really don’t need any seasonings.  This easy recipe comes from my husband Matt at Eden Wild Food, who used to forage for wild chestnuts in his home country of England.

Chestnuts provide protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, vitamin C, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin a, vitamin e, and heart healthy good fats, so it’s a snack you can feel good about!
Ingredients:
As many raw, fresh chestnuts as you’d like to roast
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Very carefully, cut a slit from one end to the other on the flat side of the chestnut, as pictured in the third chestnut from the left.
  • Once you’ve cut all your shells, place them flat side up on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until you notice the shell along the cracks begins to peel up a bit. Pull them out of the oven and peek at the nut inside- initially they will be soft and floury and are ready to eat at this point. Some people prefer them more caramelized, and the outer surface of the nut will be a more golden brown color. Let them cook until you get the color/texture you’d prefer.
  • Take out of the oven and let cool. To remove the shell, you’ll want to squeeze it from both sides at the same time until the crack widens. Then you’ll be able to peel off the shell and skin to reveal your roasted nut. Enjoy!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, 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!

 

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

 

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Maple Butternut Squash & Figs

Squash season is upon us! Butternut has always been my favorite, and I love finding creative ways to enhance its sweetness. Great for bones, eye health, blood pressure, this fall vegetable is chock full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Just one cup of it provides you with 6.5 grams of fiber, 19% daily value magnesium, 12% daily value potassium, 41% daily value vitamin C, up to 20% daily value for most of your b vitamins, 163% daily value beta carotene, and more. Try this easy, nutritious dessert (or snack) with just 5 simple ingredients.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 butternut squash (others like acorn squash work fine too!)
  • real maple syrup
  • cinnamon powder
  • hemp seeds
  • dried figs

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Directions:

  • Half or quarter your squash, remove seeds and fibrous pulp, and place it in a baking dish. Pour water in the dish.
  • Bake the squash in the oven at 350 until it is easily pierced with a fork. Depending upon its size, this may take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.
  • When it’s fully cooked, peel the skin off and transfer to a bowl. Mash slightly.
  • Drizzle lightly with your maple syrup and sprinkle with desired amounts of cinnamon and hemp seeds.
  • Slice your figs and arrange on top. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Warmly,

Megan Normansell, 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 2018 All rights reserved. 

Giant Puffball Mushroom Pizza

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If you’re avoiding processed grains/flours or lowering your carbs, or none of the above and just love mindblowing unique food, you’re going to want to try this giant puffball mushroom pizza. Calvatia gigantea is a white, round mushroom commonly found in meadows, fields, and deciduous forests all over the world, and hence the name they can get rather large. The ones pictured here were found on September 10th, 2018 in Wisconsin. While there aren’t a lot of studies on the medicinal benefits, they do contain powerful polysaccharides and have been found to inhibit lung cancer cells. 

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Mushrooms kind of excite me.

If you’re new to wild mushroom hunting be sure you properly identify and don’t confuse them with something like earthballs, which are toxic. These fungi have a soft, bread-like texture so you can use them to make anything you might normally make bread with. French toast is on the menu for tomorrow!

Now get this- the crust of this pizza is made from the thinly sliced puffball mushroom, then it’s topped with FIVE other wild gourmet mushrooms! Obviously most people won’t have access to a crazy amount of different mushroom species, but all you really need to make this pizza is the puffballs.  Throw on your favorite toppings and make it your own, such as onions, peppers, olives, button mushrooms from the store, or pepperoni.

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Some of the other mushroom species included on the pizza, picked just the day before the puffballs

First, I carefully cut them into a round 1 inch thick slice. Then they were pan-fried in a cast iron pan on both sides for about 5 minutes and seasoned with olive oil and Himalayan salt.

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Next, onto the pizza pan. I topped mine with Italian seasonings and pizza sauce, sautéed hedgehog mushrooms, porcini, chicken of the woods, and yellow legged chanterelles, then organic shredded cheese.

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Bake your pizza at 425 for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is just starting to turn golden brown. These crusts will be soft, not crunchy. Enjoy!!

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Thanks for visiting!

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!

Get Even Healthier!
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally and holistically.  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 2018. All rights reserved. 

My Experience with the Train Wrecker

31589824_10102096509660343_782335860698775552_nA fairly uncommon but interesting Pheasant Back mushroom (cerioporus squamosus) look-alike, Neolentinus lepidius, is commonly known as the Train Wrecker. From afar, the earth-toned feathered patterning on the cap may have you convinced you’ve spotted a Pheasant Back. It’s had me momentarily confused! Once you get closer you’ll notice the distinct differences, beginning with the observation that this mushroom has gills, where a pheasant back has pores. Where pheasant backs have a distinctive cucumber/watermelon scent, the train wrecker has a very pleasant, fresh anise aroma to it. Neolentinus lepidius also has a tough, ringed stem with scales that match that of the cap.

I tend to find that in Wisconsin the Train Wreckers fruit as Pheasant Backs are finishing up their spring season, but you still may find them side by side in the same habitat. The two specimens seen above were growing about 15 feet apart in Outagamie county the first week of June.

This fungi prefers pine, but gets its name from its fondness for old railroad ties and unbridled chaos. They are unlikely to cause train crashes today due to stronger chemicals being used on the wood to discourage fungal growth. Quite an impressive little mushroom, isn’t it?

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Photo credit: Rachael Young. Sheboygan, WI

Now I see quite a bit of contradictory opinions on whether or not it’s suitable for your dinner plate. It is considered to be edible, but very tough and not too pleasant. I do not find this mushroom in books often, so I also don’t have many opinions to go off of. Despite the fact that there are no recorded poisonings, it could easily contain hazardous chemicals if growing on treated wood so be cautious where you obtain it from if you plan on ingesting.

When I took this picture last year I wasn’t quite brave enough to try it, but when my spot fruits again this spring I certainly will be updating this article with my culinary experience (good or bad). Maybe with it being a cousin to shiitake I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Stay tuned!

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UPDATE: (June 3, 2018)

I was pleased to find a baby train wrecker fruiting today in this same spot, and we had the opportunity to taste it, fried up with butter and salt. We ate the caps only, as the stems are very tough.

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Is that a baby bump or did I eat too many mushrooms?

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My husband: “It tastes like every other mushroom I’ve ever had.”

Me: “It tastes like and has the texture of oysters!”

So, I must say, this fungi definitely is worth eating. Perhaps those who did not enjoy it had tasted specimens that were older and tougher. Either way, I enjoyed our experiment!

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, 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 2018 All rights reserved. 

Lentil Tacos with Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing

Trying to lose weight, reduce portions, reduce inflammation, regulate digestion, improve diabetes, treat anemia, increase energy, prevent cancer,  improve atherosclerosis, support heart health, help your nervous system, live longer, or grow a healthy baby? Lentils, a part of the human diet since Paleolithic times, may be your new best friend. This pulse even has more disease-fighting phenols than apples, cherries, plums, broccoli, cabbage, grapes, & onions.

 

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Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • I large tomato, cubed
  • 2 cups of cooked lentils
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt
  • 2 cups of shredded red cabbage
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 4 medium carrots, shredded
  • Cilantro to garnish
  • ½ avocado, sliced or cubed
  • 8 organic corn tortillas

Sauce Ingredients:

  • ½ cup organic plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • ½ pureed avocado

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onions for 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic, turmeric, salt, cooked lentils, and tomatoes to the onions, and stir well for another 5 minutes.
  3. Place your carrot shreds and cabbage shreds in their own bowls. Cut your lime in half and squeeze one of the halves over the carrots and cabbage. Sprinkle with Himalayan salt.
  4. Prepare your sauce by mixing the yogurt, avocado puree, ¼ tsp salt, and the juice from the remaining lime half together in a bowl.
  5. Serve on warmed tortillas as pictured and enjoy!

 

Warmly,

Megan Normansell, 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 2018 All rights reserved.