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November Nuggets!

Corn and Nutmeg

As the days shorten and we celebrate meaningful end-of-year rituals, our family, friends, and pets are ready to settle in for a warm cuddle. Slowing down isn’t always possible, so we still need to rally our energy to meet the demands of work, school, community, and home.

But to meet these goals, we have to care for ourselves! If you’re visiting us today, you’re already interested in rallying and maintaining the energy Life calls for during the onset of Winter. Let’s look at some ideas that tap into nourishing cultural traditions.

What better way to embrace these ideas than to consider the agricultural heritages of American indigenous cultures on which many of our fall meals are based? I’m thinking about the Three Sisters: corn, beans, and squash, but focus here on how corn constitutes a great part of our lives.

Corn is a cereal. The advent of grain cultivation made way for more settled ways of life for our ancestors. The many varieties corn (or maize) they planted were the result of generations of genetic manipulation that mimic the breeding strategies natural to all seeding plants. Corn supplies energy from complex carbohydrates, fat, and protein, and provides Vitamin C, folic acid and essential minerals. In addition to consuming the fresh, frozen, or canned kernels in a myriad of ways, we enjoy an abundance of ground grain in grits and polenta, breads, cakes, breakfast cereal, chips, and tortillas.

But today, at least 90% of the corn we and livestock eat are GMOs: genetically modified organisms. These laboratory-engineered plants express unnatural behaviors: tolerating herbicides and drought and resisting disease and infestation with genetically inserted insecticidal chemicals and bio-organisms.

Producers of patented GMOs legally prohibit farmers from saving and planting seed produced by their crops. They must buy it from Big Ag annually. The benefits increase crop yields for a hungry world, but over the years, these practices reveal some harmful environmental impacts to other plants and beneficial insects. Studies also suggest that that eating GMOs or animals fed them poses health risks to us, including intestinal degeneration and reproductive and internal organ impairment. But don’t let this put you off corn! Be mindful of choosing organic, unmodified produce. Look for labels that say “organic” and feature the little butterfly that symbolizes “non-GMO project verified.”

As we digest the above ideas, we also wonder:
What else warms us this fall coming upon winter? The comforting flavor and aroma of fragrant exotic spices, like cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and nutmeg, for starters. I’m drawn to nutmeg not just for flavor but as a healing botanical when used as an essential oil. Native to Indonesia, nutmeg comes from the shell of the mace seed. It is considered a warming plant that assists digestion, soothes respiratory passages, and alleviates muscular aches and pains. The essential oil is said to support emotional well-being, too, by sharpening focus and intention. Couldn’t we all use a little bit more of that at this time of year?

So the upshot of these November Nuggets is that you deserve to enjoy the sweet, nourishing heritage of maize and the warming qualities of nutmeg.

Here are a few ways to enjoy sweet corn for your Thanksgiving meal and nutmeg now and year ‘round.

Autumn Blessings to one and all!

Recipes

Comfort Food Corn Pudding

This fragrant, custardy “bready” pudding is pure comfort food! Aim for organic ingredients whenever possible.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:
One package of cornbread mix (not corn meal), about 20 oz. (optionally gluten-free)
Two cups of cooked whole kernel corn, fresh or frozen (thawed)
Two cans of creamed corn ½ cup melted butter
Two cups sour cream, low-fat sour cream; or half yogurt, half sour cream
Two eggs ¼ cup raw or brown sugar (IF the cornbread mix doesn’t contain sugar)
½ teaspoon of nutmeg

Grease a casserole dish or cast iron pan with butter or oil.
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour into the dish or pan and bake for about 30 minutes until bubbly and creamy.

Golden Milk

Golden Milk is aptly named, for the turmeric powder on which it’s based lends a glorious, glowing tone to anything it’s added to. It’s a comforting brew, especially in the evening before bedtime.

Turmeric root has been used for thousands of years for cooking and healing. Therapeutically it’s used for moderating inflammation and supporting immunity, wound healing, and musculoskeletal strength. Fresh root is readily available these days, but the ground dry powder is quite potent and just as nourishing. So it makes sense to make Golden Milk a part of your regular regimen.

First, make the Golden Paste:
Blend a quarter cup of turmeric powder with a half teaspoon of ground black pepper and a half cup of water. Black pepper enhances the bioavailability of turmeric, but if you’re not fond of it, you can omit. Warm in a saucepan on medium-low heat until pasty, for about six or eight minutes at most. Lower the heat to avoid scorching the paste. The cooled mixture can be stored in a glass jar in your fridge.

Make the Golden Milk:
One cup of dairy milk or nondairy “milk,” such as almond, coconut, hemp, or rice
One teaspoon of oil: coconut, almond, or olive oil; or ghee (clarified butter)
One quarter teaspoon of Golden Paste
Optional: add a pinch of fresh grated or ground ginger; add a sprinkle of ground nutmeg, or a couple of drops of nutmeg extract or food-grade nutmeg essential oil
Sweet option: a tablespoon of honey or agave syrup Warm the liquid in a saucepan on medium-low heat until foamy but not boiling. If you don’t have Golden Paste on hand, you can add a quarter teaspoon of turmeric with a pinch of pepper to your liquid, along with the oil and optional spices and sweetener.

Enjoy!

Therapeutic Nutmeg Oil Body Rub

As I’ve noted above, nutmeg is considered a warming plant. The essential oil is said to support emotional well-being by sharpening focus and intention. This body rub is a simple, effective way to enjoy the benefits of nutmeg just when you need it!

I recommend adding essential oils to a carrier oil, rather than applying it directly to your skin. Essential oils are highly concentrated and some can cause reactions if applied in their pure form. Carrier oils that work well are cold pressed from plant sources. Coconut, almond, avocado, apricot kernel, olive, argan, jojoba, and grapeseed oils are all excellent options.

To prepare:
To a four-ounce glass jar pour the carrier oil of your choice. Add five drops of nutmeg essential oil.
Nutmeg oil can also be added to your preferred massage oil. Or add it to your aromatherapy diffuser for that seasonal “air”!
Nutmeg interfaces beautifully with other essential oils, depending on your therapeutic focus.
For additional blend recommendations, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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