Allergies don't have to be a life sentence! Here are 4 steps that will get you on your way to healing and reversing allergies! Find out more!
I have been getting more bold in the kitchen, and this December I decided to create alternative recipes featuring some of my favorite Christmas cookies. To enjoy.
I decided on my first cookie to make, Christmas Wreath cookies. And as I was running through my ingredients and working out substitutions I came to the decorative red hots.
And I was faced with a dilemma... could I create a red hot, or should I simply bite the bullet and just use traditional red hots. Maybe I could even find a healthy brand...
But my all-or-nothing attitude kicked in. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right.
And that meant making red hots. From scratch. A quick search revealed that it was possible... in essence red hots are a sugar brittle flavored with spices, like cinnamon.
I knew how to make candy out of honey. This could work.
It did work. But I'll admit that when I make the Christmas Wreaths in the future I may use boughten red hots... and tell people they are just for decoration and to pick them off.
Because making homemade red hots is a labor of love. There is no other way to put it. But being able to put healthy, three ingredient red hots on your Christmas cookies is amazing! And if you don't care if they are rounded into tiny, holly-berry decorative balls, then this is a really easy candy to make!
GAPS Legal Homemade Red Hots / Cinnamon Hard Candy
1/2 cup water
1 cup honey
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 package natural red coloring (I used this one)
Combine the honey and water on the stovetop in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently.
You want to heat it at a temperature that is not too hot that it burns, but if it's too low it will take forever to get to temperature.
You're going to have to find your heat sweet spot. It should take between 5-10 minutes to get to soft ball stage, if it's taking longer, turn it up!
Soft ball stage occurs around 235°. If you don't have a thermometer available, you can drip some into a clear glass of cold water. It will form into a little ball upon hitting the water. For a little harder candy (I recommend this), let it go a minute or two after you hit the soft-ball stage.
After whisking thoroughly, pour the liquid onto some parchment paper to cool When it has cooled enough to touch (doesn't take very long), then use well buttered fingers to form tiny little balls
Not tolerating butter? Any fat will do—the key is to prevent sticking!
Roll those little suckers quickly... after a while the candy will get too hard to work with. You can reheat it to soften in up, but believe me, you will be ready to stop rolling balls. Better yet, recruit a friend (or two) to roll with you!
Set the balls in a cold place (outside works for us right now!) When they are hard, gather them up and store them in a container in the fridge. This prevents the balls from clumping. This candy could be made into any size (I only chose red hot size because of the Christmas wreath cookies)... or simply cooled and broken into pieces. It is a delicious treat!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your trust is important. I only recommend products I trust.
Homemade Red Hots
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup honey
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 package natural red coloring (I usedthis one)
How to cook Homemade Red Hots
- Combine the honey and water on the stovetop in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently.
- You want to heat it at a temperature that is not too hot that it burns, but if it's too low it will take forever to get to temperature.
- You're going to have to find your heat sweet spot. It should take between 5-10 minutes to get to soft ball stage, if it's taking longer, turn it up!
- Soft ball stage occurs around 235°. If you don't have a thermometer available, you can drip some into a clear glass of cold water. It will form into a little ball upon hitting the water. For a little harder candy (I recommend this), let it go a minute or two after you hit the soft-ball stage.
- After whisking thoroughly, pour the liquid onto some parchment paper to cool When it has cooled enough to touch (doesn't take very long), then use well buttered fingers to form tiny little balls
- Not tolerating butter? Any fat will do—the key is to prevent sticking!
- Roll those little suckers quickly... after a while the candy will get too hard to work with. You can reheat it to soften in up, but believe me, you will be ready to stop rolling balls. Better yet, recruit a friend (or two) to roll with you!
- Set the balls in a cold place (outside works for us right now!) When they are hard, gather them up and store them in a container in the fridge. This prevents the balls from clumping. This candy could be made into any size (I only chose red hot size because of the Christmas wreath cookies)... or simply cooled and broken into pieces. It is a delicious treat!
Food allergies are a popular topic right now, and it seems like more and more people are reacting to foods. If you don't react to a certain food, then you probably know someone who does.
First, let’s clarify what I mean by a “food allergy.” The technical definition of a food allergy is a specific immune response to a protein that is in contact with, or is inside, the body.
For the purposes of this article, I am referring to a food allergy in the popular sense, which means any reaction that happens after eating a certain food.
Food reaction symptoms can include itching, hives, headaches, fatigue, cough, runny nose, breathing difficulties, bloating, upset stomach, flatulence, diarrhea or constipation, fever, reddened ears or cheeks, nerve pain, irritability, mood swings, blood sugar instability, and sleeping problems.
And it seems like food allergies are increasing. The questions is, why? There are many theories:
It’s just a fad, simply the latest craze to jump on.
We have gotten better at diagnosing.
It’s a government conspiracy.
Our bodies have changed, or maybe our food has.
These are all good theories, but what is the truth? I think there is sometruth in many of these theories, but I think it has the most to do with the last one. Our bodes and our food have changed.
I do not believe that doctors are better at diagnosing disease, and the increase is too significant to be written off for a health fad. But if we look at our modern methods of raising, preparing and eating food compared to any other time in human history, we see that there are huge differences! Let’s look at the way we grow, prepare and eat food to find out.
Food: Is it a Digestibility Problem?
There is a difference between an food allergy, and a digestibility problem. How food is grown and prepared makes a huge difference in how easy it is for our body to digest it.
Hybrid breeds and GMOs may not be recognized by the body.
Pasteurization and canning change the protein structure.
Soaked or sprouted nuts and grains are more digestible.
Meat from animals eating inappropriate foods can cause reactions.
Soy is highly indigestible unless fermented for a long time.
Mold (often found on nuts and grains) is often undetectable.
So sometimes a person isn’t actually allergic to a food, but is reacting to the modification, processing, or lack of processing that a food has gone through. So before you write off whole, real foods like eggs, dairy, meat, and even grains, look at how it was raised and prepared. You may find that you don't have to limit those foods!
Body: Is it a Leaky-Gut Problem?
Most of the time, an allergic reaction is not the fault of the substance (allergen) itself, but comes from a leaky gut and overactive immune system.
Here's how it works:
Substances we come into contact with (or eat) are supposed to be stopped by barriers (skin, mucus membrane, or gut lining). If the substance is beneficial to our body, it is broken down, and then allowed to be absorbed into the bloodstream. If it is harmful it is kept out and removed. When we have damaged membranes (like a leaky gut), substances enter the bloodstream without being analyzed or broken down. This causes an inflammatory reaction, including the symptoms listed above. When the problem is corrected by healing and sealing the gut lining, substances can no longer get into the bloodstream to cause a reaction, and the reaction disappears!
Food reactions don’t have to be forever!
Every food reaction has the potential to be reversed. So before you limit yourself to a gluten or dairy-free life, consider changing your food sourcing or preparation, and addressing any underlying issues in your gut. You may not need to avoid that food forever! If you or your child has food reactions, here's what you can do about it:
Eat more animal fat, especially grass-fed butter
Drink meat stock regularly (directions)
Remove the food you react to (until your gut is healed)
Start taking a probiotic (see which ones I recommend)
Start buying food that is raised naturally
Prepare food properly (check out Nourishing Traditions)
Find a practitioner who understands how to heal allergies
As with all change, healing takes time. Be patient with yourself and your body. You will likely notice a positive change right away, however you may not see significant changes for months. Press on! Keep going! You can do it!
Keep on the journey, Onward!
Note: Some reactions to foods are very severe, and are not so simply reversed, such as in anaphylaxis. Sometimes these reactions can be overcome, and sometimes they cannot. If you have an anaphylactic reaction to a substance, I do not recommend trying that substance on your own. It’s best to work with a practitioner. Disclosure: Contains affiliate links, which help support my blogging. Your trust is important to me, and I only recommend resources I trust.
Spring has come to my neighborhood! Over the last week, things have been budding and growing. Green has been showing, and flowers blooming. The sounds of spring have been happening for awhile, but are now in full force—birds chirping, squirrels chattering, and children playing. I took an sunset tour around my neighborhood to enjoy the spring evening, and I want to share with you some of the pictures I took. Then keep reading for some natural ways to manage your spring allergies!
There is another way I know that spring is here… my allergies have started to flare. Since going through the GAPS diet, my allergies are mild compared to what they used to be, but they still cause minor irritation—enough that I need to address them. So today I am going to share with you what I do to manage my allergies naturally. But before we discuss management techniques, let’s review what allergies are. Allergy symptoms are a product of the immune system. And we can think of them as a signal from our body to let us know that something is going on. Basically, they signal two things:
The first is that an allergen (a protein chain that is usually referred to as an antigen) has bypassed the body’s protective mechanisms. When this happens, the body mounts a non-specific immune response (an inflammatory response) against that allergen. In this process, certain cells (called mast cells) are degranulated, and release things like histamine into the bloodstream. Histamine travels to receptor sites in the GI tract, respiratory tract and the skin. These receptors then trigger a further response to the allergen, and we see symptoms like hives, mucus production, and swelling.
The second is that our liver is unable to keep up with processing mediators (like histamine) that have been released in the inflammatory response. As we saw above, histamine triggers the symptoms we are accustomed to in an allergic reaction. Histamine is not a problem when it is being processed and removed by the liver fairly quickly. But when it continues to circulate (because the liver isn’t pulling it out fast enough) it will continue to cause unpleasant symptoms—sending you signals that your body needs some assistance.
Okay, now that we are on the same page about what allergy symptoms are, let’s talk about ways to support your body so you don't suffer from them! Again, these symptoms are signals that your body needs some help. So what can we do to help support the liver and immune system?
Feed it Fat
The immune system is a very hungry organ, and what it likes best to eat is fat! Especially the Vitamins A and D that it contains. These are both found in abundance in butter, as well as lard, fermented cod liver oil, and other animal fats. The cholesterol found in these fats also plays an important role, for it is cholesterol that helps the body repairdamage from inflammation (watch this video for more on this).
There are two benefits to eating sauerkraut (or fermented cabbage any way). The first is the probiotic benefit. The root cause of allergies is a leaky gut. Bad gut flora has everything to do with this. (This is too much to discuss in this post, so if you have further questions, I recommend chapter 6 of my book Notes From a GAPS Practitioner.) So eating probiotics will help the allergy problem, both long-term and short-term. However, if you are unused to eating large amounts of sauerkraut, I recommend you work up to it slowly. The second benefit of sauerkraut is the high amount of Vitamin C available in it. Lacto-fermenting cabbage increased the bioavailability of Vitamin C by about 4 times. Our immune system also needs Vitamin C to function well. So consuming large amounts of sauerkraut is like taking Vitamin C daily (which you could take in other ways, like arceola cherry powder). I enjoy sauerkraut, and find that if I eat between 1-3 cups a day (broken up with meals, or as a snack), my allergy symptoms are fairly well managed. I generally feel that my itchy eyes and throat are calmed down within about 20 minutes of eating it.
Apply Lavender Essential Oil
This is my quick-acting go-to if my symptoms are overwhelming. Lavender is a powerful antihistamine. If I run into a situation where my allergies flare up quickly, like having a cat rub against me, or when the cottonwood trees are seeding, I pull out my lavender oil. There are several ways to use it. You can apply it topically near the area that is affected (best for skin issues) or on the bottoms of your feet (if you don’t like the smell). You can diffuse it, so you breathe it into your mucus membranes and calm the histamine response there. Or (if you have a pure and safe brand like the one I use), you can take it internally. I prefer to place a drop or two under my tongue and let it absorb sublingually. This is the quickest way to get it into the bloodstream. Lavender tastes about like it smells, but the quick relief I get far outweighs the bitter taste it leaves. I usually feel relief from my symptoms in 2-5 minutes, but for most people it may take 10-20 minutes to feel the effect.
Support Your Liver
There are ways to help the liver when it is overtaxed. First, reduce the amount of toxins you are asking the liver to process, thus adding to its workload. In the spring I am more careful about what I eat. There are some foods I have “graduated” to that can be too much for my body to handle when it also has to deal with extra histamines in my “allergy season.” In the same way, it is good to be cautious about other toxins from chemicals in the environment (or on our skin) that are overloading the body. It is also important to use other methods of detox, such as detox baths and juicing, to help remove toxins and thus reducing the workload of the liver. Finally, eating liver (consuming the animal organ that matches our struggling organ is always helpful) regularly can be helpful. If you don’t like it, you can take desiccated liver. And for a little extra support, I will sometimes take the Standard Process supplement Antronex.
Try Something New
I have not tried this yet because I just learned about it, but this season I am going to try lacto-fermenting honey! Most of us have heard that honey can help with allergies, but it turns out that lacto-fermenting the honey increases these benefits even more! I’m interested to see how it turns out, and if it helps. The honey does have to be local to have a strong effect, and I fortunately have a little honey left over from the year I tried beekeeping. If you want to learn more about it, I would recommend starting HERE.
If you have tried lacto-fermenting honey, found success with any of these natural means, or want to share other things you have found helpful with the community, then leave it in a comment below!
References: McCance, K. and Huether, S. (2006). Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults and Children. Elsevier Mosby. Philadelphia, PA. Pg. 249-255. Lavender and the Nervous System. Koulivarnd, P. Ghadiri, M., Gorji, A. (September 4, 2012) Retrieved March 20, 2017 from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/681304/