Smorgasbord Health – Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor – Wonderful Watermelon.

Welcome to Sally and Carol Taylor Cook from Scratch.. Actually Carol Taylor does the cooking and I get to tell you about the health benefits of our featured foods. This week it is the turn of the Watermelon to get the Sally and Carol Treatment. We would eat regularly as watermelons were sold both on the side of the road and in supermarkets very inexpensively. We would eat, but I also used to blitz the flesh as a base for smoothies and also cocktails… it lasted longer with a touch of vodka!!  Without alcohol it is a refreshing and hydrating treat for the whole family.

naughty-mischievous-baby-boys-01It took me a while to get around the pips in watermelon and learn the knack of spitting them out delicately rather than shooting them at the dog by accident. Once you master this quite simple dexterity you will have access to not only one of the most thirst quenching melons around but also a storehouse of health benefits.

Watermelons are obviously sweetest during the summer months but we were lucky enough that Spain has summer somewhere within its boundaries all year round and they are just as accessible at Christmas as in August.

Watermelons and health claims.

If you are an asthma or arthritis sufferer, eating this fruit year round may help improve the symptoms of your condition. Watermelon also has gained some recognition with regard to other medical problems too such as atherosclerosis, diabetes and colon cancer.


Watermelons first originated south of us in Africa and were first used medicinally by the Egyptians, but obviously the fruit was most prized for its water content in countries where rain was in short supply. Watermelons are now found in Asia, particularly in China and also in Russia where the fruit is a major crop for export. The United States is a major grower but you will find it growing in many desert countries or islands that have water shortages such as Iran and Turkey.


Apart from being a wonderful fruit packed with vitamin C, watermelon has something in common with the tomato and that is it’s very high concentration of Lycopene.

Lycopene not only gives fruit that vibrant red colour, but it also acts as an incredibly powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants protect us against the free radicals that cause oxidative damage to our cells, often resulting in serious illness such as cancer. It would also seem that healthy levels of lycopene in our fat tissues are also associated with reduced risk of heart attacks. This is due to the prevention of oxidation of cholesterol that so often leads to atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

Vitamin C and Vitamin A work on free radicals as well and are particularly linked to those that cause an increase in the severity of certain inflammatory diseases such as asthma and arthritis.

Vitamin A is essential for our healthy eyesight, especially at night. It helps cells produce normally which is why it is important in the first few months of pregnancy. It is also necessary for the health of our skin, the mucus membranes in our respiratory system (hence its benefits for asthma sufferers), bones, soft tissues and digestive and urinary tracts.


VITAMIN B1 (Thiamin) is a water- soluble vitamin, which means that it cannot be stored in the body. Any excess is excreted in our urine so it is essential that we obtain sufficient from our diet. Vitamin B1 helps to fuel our bodies by converting blood sugar into energy and also keeps our mucus membranes healthy. It is also needed to work with other B vitamins in maintaining a healthy nervous system

VITAMIN B6 (Pyridoxine) is the Master Vitamin for processing Amino Acids – the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. It assists in the formation of several neurotransmitters and can therefore help regulate mood. It has been shown to help lower homocysteine levels in the blood linked to heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. It produces haemoglobin the oxygen carrying pigment in the blood. It helps the release of carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscles for energy. It is involved in the production of antibodies and it helps balance female hormones. It is needed for the production of serotonin along with tryptophan and B12.

MAGNESIUM is an essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP the fuel the body runs on. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium. It is needed to balance calcium in the body and too much can result in very low levels of calcium.

POTASSIUM is the main cation (positively charged electrolyte). It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell. It allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body. It also regulates levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It is connected to normal heart rhythms.


There are about 1200 different varieties of watermelon and when you are picking one in the supermarket make sure the melon is symmetrical and firm with no cuts or bruises. The heavier it feels the better, as it is 92% water. If it feels a little light then it may be dry inside. If you are buying cut watermelon make sure the skin is bright red as pink flesh with white pith means it is past its sell by date. Eat within a couple of days. You can store at room temperature but it is best served chilled.

Now it is time to hand over to the expertise of Carol Taylor to transform this wonderful watermelon into delicious dishes.

Watermelon is a virtual powerhouse of nutrients, packed with Vitamin C and very readily available here in Thailand. It is used in smoothies, fruit shakes, restaurants always give a plate of watermelon after a meal.

I generally buy it ready sliced as I have a little lady just round the corner to me who sells the fruit freshly cut and bagged I also like to support local businesses.

When you are buying watermelon always pick the heaviest one as if they are light it means they are older and drying out.

Now how often have you bought water melon and thrown away the rind?? Hands up! I have or I did until I discovered a lovely recipe for Pickled Watermelon rind.

Now I make a lot of pickles and this one thing I hadn’t thought of pickling… you live and learn don’t you?


  • 4lb of Watermelon
  • 1 chilli thinly sliced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger finely sliced or diced
  • 2 star Anise
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tsp salt I use fresh mineral salt dried here
  • 1 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1 cup of sugar

Let’s Cook!

Using a vegetable peeler remove the outer green rind and slice the watermelon into I inch slices. Cut away all but 1/4 inch of the flesh (it is) the white part we are pickling. The red flesh keep for smoothies or ice cream or a nice salad with feta cheese.

Then cut the rind into 1 inch pieces.

Add the chilli, ginger, star anise, salt, pepper, rice vinegar and sugar plus ½ cup of water together in a pan, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the watermelon rind and bring back to a rolling boil and then again reducing the heat to a simmer for 5 mins or until the rinds are just tender. Remove the pan from the heat, and leave the liquid to cool down. You may need to weigh the watermelon down with a plate or lid, as it needs to stay submerged in the liquid until cool.

Once cooled then transfer to a container with a well fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before you eat…This will keep refrigerated for about 2/3 weeks if it lasts that long…lol

Enjoy with cold meats and cheese or just on its own from the container…

I just love watermelon any which way and sometimes I just cut them into rectangles and thread onto bamboo skewers. Then just sprinkle over some taco or fajita seasoning or I have a chilli and sugar mix which we eat with fruit and viola a fruit kebab with a bit of spice..

Watermelon and Gremolata

Another great way to eat watermelon is to cut it into triangles. Marinate these thick-cut “steak” fruit slices in a mixture of white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and rosemary. Grill watermelon slices and top them with a gremolata of walnuts, lemon zest and fresh parsley and wait for your taste buds to do a dance…

For the marinade:

  • ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  •  1/2 tsp Black pepper

For the gremalata:

  • ¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts.
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel

Let’s Cook!

Mix vinegar, oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Reserve 2 tbsp for drizzling the grilled watermelon. Put the watermelon steaks in a dish add the remaining marinade and put in the refrigerator for 20 minutes turning the steaks half way through.
Remove watermelon steaks from marinade. Reserve leftover marinade for brushing watermelon during grilling.

Grill watermelon steaks over a high heat for 2-4 minutes per side or until the grill marks appear, brushing with the leftover marinade.

To serve, cut watermelon steaks in half and drizzle with the reserved marinade. Then sprinkle with the walnut gremolata.


Watermelon smoothies are a lovely thing….

I am really getting into this smoothie making and I think this is one of my favourite smoothies.

I am learning to get the right amount and what I do is take the glass I am going to drink it from and fill the glass with my fruit that way I make just enough and if I am making more than one glass then I double up but it eliminates the guesswork.

Today’s smoothie was a mixture of fruit and vegetables.

I used a large chunk of Pineapple, Watermelon, yellow melon and dragon fruit, a slice or two of tomato, a slice of beetroot, a piece of carrot and a little ice.

Then put all the fruit into the liquidiser and a blitz for a minute or two and voila a lovely smoothie which makes your taste buds just dance in your mouth.


Or if your fancy is for iced tea then:- Watermelon and Basil Iced tea is amazing…


  • 1/8th of a medium watermelon cut into small triangles
  • 8 tea bags
  • 8 cups of boiling water
  • A sm bunch of basil
  • Sugar to taste if required.

Just pour the boiling water over the tea bags in a heat proof jug, steep for 10 minutes and remove the tea bags.

Allow the tea to cool down and refrigerate until cold.

Before serving add watermelon and basil to an individual glass with crushed ice and pour tea over the ice.

Serve and enjoy!

Prawn Salad with Watermelon.


  • 1lb of cooked peeled prawns
  • 4 cups of watermelon chopped
  • 2 avocados chopped
  • 1 medium red onion sliced
  • 2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tsp of raw honey
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ tsp mineral salt
  • A generous twist of black pepper
  • A generous handful of coriander

Let’s Cook!

In a large salad bowl combine the prawns, avocado, onion, jalapenos, and watermelon.

Whisk together lime juice, honey, salt, pepper and oil.

If you are not serving immediately, then refrigerate separately.

10 minutes before serving pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with coriander. This gives the flavours time to blend and develop.


Watermelon Sherbet.

  • 4 cups (600 grams) seedless watermelon, diced
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) FULL FAT coconut milk, shaken well
  • Juice from 1 lemon…I use lime
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (optional)

Let’s Cook!

In blender, combine watermelon, coconut milk lemon/lime juice, and pure maple syrup (if using for additional sweetness). I find watermelon sweet enough for me so I don’t use additional sweetener.

Blend until smooth.

Pour watermelon coconut puree into a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid (about 4 hours).

Remove from baking dish and with a sharp knife, cut frozen puree into ice cube sized pieces. Place fruit cubes in a food processor and process until the texture is silky smooth.

Transfer to container for freezing until firm (about 4 hours).

That’s all for now I hope you enjoyed these recipes and reading about the health benefits of the watermelon….

Again my thanks to Sally for allowing me to add my recipes to her wonderful informative post on the health benefits of the lovely watermelon.

As always I am so grateful to Carol for the time and effort that she puts into preparing these recipes and sharing them with us. A wonderful collaborator.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Connect to Carol


Please feel free to share thanks Sally

If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here:


Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Two ways to look at your shopping list – By Food and by Nutrient

Smorgasbord Health 2017

I like to repost this every few months and I realised that it was 10 months since the last time…. It is particularly relevant as we are in the middle of the series Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor where we look at a food and its health benefits as well as give you recipes to help you include in your regular diet.

Shopping list two ways – by Food and by Nutrient.

We usually compile our shopping list based on our preferences, tastes and sometimes pocket. But I have a slightly different method that you might find useful. The chemical interactions within our body that are essential for life – including the healthy functioning of our immune system – are only made possible by the raw ingredients in our diet. Even if you are having the occasional food fest, if your basic diet contains the right raw ingredients it won’t matter to your body. It is the everyday ingestion of sugars, Trans fats and white starches that cripple the system – I follow the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the time your body is getting what it needs, 20% of the time you can have what your heart and taste buds would like too.

Here are the two different lists – the nutrients we need and then the foods that are some of the best sources for those nutrients.  You can ring the changes within the categories and it is best to eat when fruit is in season. We now have access to a great many varieties of exotic fruits that give added benefit to our diets including the powerhouse that is the Avocado.

On a personal level I have half an avocado and a whole cooked onion every day and some fruits and vegetables are so nutrient dense that you can have these as staples and add others to bring in variety and other nutrients.


First the basic nutrients we need for energy and healthy functioning systems and organs.

Vitamins and anti-oxidants – A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (Folate) B12, C, D, E, K,

Minerals – Calcium, chloride, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc.

Amino Acids –   Essential Fatty Acids – Bioflavonoids – very strong anti-oxidants.

Quite a few foods fall into several categories so I will give you the top sources within the groups- these are the foods that should make up your basic shopping with seasonal fruits and vegetables when available.

For example, spinach has Vitamin A, B1, B2, B9, E, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium – I have included in the first group only. (Popeye knew what he was doing)

Vitamin A – carrots, red peppers, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe melon, nectarines, peaches and spinach. Cashew nuts.

Vitamin B1 – Pineapple, watermelon, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oats, brown rice, lentils, beans, eggs, lean ham and pork.

B2 – All green leafy vegetables, fish, milk, wheat germ, liver and kidney

B3 Asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, wholegrain bread and cereals. Turkey, Salmon, tuna, and cheese.

B5 – Corn, Cauliflower, Brewer’s yeast, avocado, duck, soybeans, lobster and strawberries.

B6 – Walnuts, bananas, lamb

B9 (folate) – nuts, beans and dark green vegetables.

B12– offal, dairy, marmite,

Vitamin C – virtually all fruit and vegetables already mentioned but also blackcurrants, blueberries, kiwi, cherries, grapefruits, oranges and watercress.

Vitamin D – Eggs, tinned salmon – fresh and tinned herrings.

Vitamin E – almonds, maize, apples, onions, shell fish, sunflower oil.

Vitamin K– dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, eggs.


Calcium – dairy, sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables.

Chromium – Whole grains, potatoes, onions and tomatoes – liver, seafood, cheese, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and pork

Copper – olives, nuts, beans, wholegrain cereals, dried fruits, meat, fish and poultry.

Iodine – cod, mackerel, haddock, eggs, live yoghurt, milk and strawberries.

Iron– shellfish, prunes, spinach, meats, cocoa.

Magnesium –dairy, seafood, apples, apricots, avocado, brown rice, spinach.

Manganese – beans, brown rice, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts, fresh fruit.

Phosphorus – poultry, whole grains.

Potassium – most fresh fruit and vegetables but in particular bananas, apricots, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, nectarines, potatoes.

Selenium – halibut, cod, salmon and tuna, mushrooms and Brazil Nuts.

Sodium – usually enough in our food but no more than 1 level teaspoon a day.

Zinc– seafood, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks and tofu.

Essential fatty acids –

Omega 3– flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkinseeds, avocados, dark green vegetables, poultry and salmon.

Omega 6 olive oil and some of the above.

Omega 9– avocado, olives, almonds.

Amino Acids – dairy products, fish, meat, poultry, soybeans, nuts and seeds.

The foods that supply these nutrients.

To ensure that you have everything in your basic diet to provide the nutrients you need your shopping list would look something like the following. Aim for at least 8 portions of fruit and vegetables per day not five. I know that people say that they could not possibly manage that but view them separately.. An apple, tomato, carrot, rocket leaves, portion of cucumber, medium potato, handful of cabbage, large spoonful of broccoli over two meals. That would be a salad at lunchtime and some cooked vegetables at night with a piece of fruit as a snack.

If you eat these foods each week you will be providing your body with the basic nutrients it needs to be healthy – you can obviously add other foods when you are eating out or for variety. Do try and avoid processed packets of vegetables or salads. Pre-cut vegetables (lose a very high percentage of their nutrients) and make sauces from these fresh ingredients for pasta and rice dishes. Make your own whole grain pizza base with fresh toppings. You will notice the difference in flavour.

tomatoesVegetables – carrots, red peppers, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, corn on the cob- any dark cabbage or Brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, watercress, dark lettuce leaves, cucumbers, celery, avocados and potatoes. (Frozen vegetables are fine and in fact I use often )


Fruit – Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, kiwi and any dark berries that are reasonably priced – try frozen. When in season – pineapples, apricots, cantaloupe melon, watermelon.


Wholegrains – brown rice- wholegrain bread – whole wheat pasta – Weetabix – shredded wheat – porridge oats. If you make your own bread then use wholegrain flour. Please do not buy sugar or chocolate covered cereals – more sugar than goodness.


Fish– Salmon fresh and tinned- cod – haddock (again frozen can be a good option) any white fish on offer – shellfish once a week such as mussels. Tinned sardines, Tuna and herrings – great for lighter meals.


Meat and poultry and Tofu– chicken or turkey – lamb, beef and pork. Lean ham for sandwiches, Venison if you enjoy it. Liver provides a wonderful array of nutrients served with onions and vegetables is delicious. Tofu for vegetarians has become more accessible and can be used by non-vegetarians once a week to provide the other benefits of soya it offers. Bacon once a week is fine but do bear in mind that most processed meats contain a lot of salt.

nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds – to put on your cereal in the mornings or as snacks – check prices out in your health food shop as well as supermarket. Almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts.


Dairy and Eggs- milk (full fat), butter and cheese (better to have the real stuff than whipped margarine) – yoghurt. Free Range Eggs – have at least three or four a week.

olive oil

Oils – Extra virgin Olive Oil (least processed) – great drizzled on vegetables with some seasoning and also eaten the Spanish way with balsamic vinegar on salads and also drizzled over toasted fresh bread. If you do not like the taste of Olive Oil then use Sunflower oil – do not use the light version of any oil as it has been processed heavily – use the good stuff.

green teaTea, coffee, honey and extras

Fluids are very important and we all need to take in at least one to two litres per day depending on your personal circumstances.. this means water, not fizzy drinks or glasses or fruit juice or six cups of tea.  Whilst tea and coffee will add to your fluid intake and do contain anti-oxidants that are good for health, you cannot beat plain water as far as your body is concerned.  We have 25 percent humidity this week and I will be drinking more than usual otherwise headaches, skin dryness and brain fog take over.

Rather than spoonful’s of sugar on your cereal etc, try honey. Try and find a local honey to you but do remember it is still high in sugars. Dark chocolate – over 70% a one or two squares per day particularly with a lovely cup of Americano coffee is a delicious way to get your antioxidants. Cocoa is great with some hot milk before bed – antioxidants and melatonin in a cup.

I hope you find these shopping lists helpful and certainly if you do eat a diet that regularly includes these particular ingredients, you will go a long way to preventing lifestyle related diseases including arthritis, osteoporosis, some cancers and dementia.

As always please feel free to leave a comment or if you would like a private word email me on

Paraskevidekatriaphobics – Have no fear – Friday 13th is lucky for some….


I want to be careful here because I have yet to do the weekly shop which involves driving to the supermarket and home again.  However, I like to think that Friday 13th is not unlucky for me since I was born on Friday 13th of February.

Certainly it proved quite lucky for my mother as her first two births had been quite a bit longer than expected.  This time, my father was actually based ashore and was home at 4pm when my mother went into labour.

She was booked into a nursing home in Winchester so they piled into the car and started the 20 mile journey certain that they had several hours in hand.  The only hiccup was having to follow an army truck full of soldiers for several miles along windy country roads, but never one to miss an opportunity for a flirt, my heavily pregnant mother, by all accounts, spent the time waving to them as they blew kisses in her direction.

My father was quite pragmatic when it came to such harmless behaviour but was probably sweating and swearing by now, as he tried to find a safe place to overtake.

Eventually, they arrived at the nursing home and my mother was admitted only to find that, Sally Georgina was in a hurry and I popped out like a shelled pea (my mother’s words not mine) at 6pm.

There have been quite a few Friday 13ths in the last 64 years and thankfully to date I have found them to be causes for celebration not only of my birthday but events and surprises. (The Euromillions numbers are already picked)

Anyway, because of my personal interest, I have over the years spent some time researching the reasons behind the fears that we have for Friday 13th.  Several cultures have feared both the day and the number. Ancient Vikings were concerned that Loki the God of Mischief would make up the numbers around the dinner table and Hindus also did not like that number assembled for a meal. The Last Supper had 13 guests and the crucifixion took place on a Friday.

Since no-one was actually there to verify it is difficult to confirm that it was a Friday 13th that Eve tempted Adam with the apple, but I won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Today many people will not have 13 guests around the table and in restaurants and hotels for example there will not be a 13th floor, table, bedroom etc. Not necessarily because the organisations are superstitious but because their guests are.  Hard to sell a hotel room number 13 on the 13th floor!

However, some ancient cultures revered the number including the Chinese and Egyptians.  They believed that 13 represented the afterlife but in a good way because that is where you would obtain your riches and reverence. (So much for my Euromillions win in this life then!)

Allegedly in more modern times male dominated religious orders objected to the number 13 since it was revered in Goddess worshipping, prehistoric cultures – and was therefore heavily associated with female power.  Girl power is not a 20th century invention, we simply reclaimed it.

Whatever the reasons and stories behind this distrust of the date, there is no doubt that millions of people around the world, in many cultures have definite views and extreme fears concerning their activities today.

However, in Spain it is not Friday that bears the brunt of the fear.. as it is Tuesday 13th which needs to be avoided.

However you can make it work to your advantage. My husband was happy that there were Paraskevidekatriaphobics.   He booked his driving test in 1980 and was given a date several weeks ahead, so he told them he would take any Friday 13th cancellations, and within a week he was driving away with a pass.

That is also a useful tip when trying to see a specialist in a more timely manner or scheduling an operation.. Friday 13th for some reason usually has free time slots!

I have no idea what today will bring.  But then when do we ever know, on any day of the week, on any date!

Anyway… the recommended viewing for tonight is of course!!!!!


Have a great day and perhaps to the Lottery and prove all those who fear Friday 13th that it is nonsense…..Sally



Cook from Scratch – Mushroom soup and Mushroom Chilli Carbonara

Mushrooms have wonderful health benefits and you can find out more about them and more delicious recipes here in a recent cook from scratch with Sally and Carol:

I love soups in the winter months and like to buy the boxes of mixed mushrooms with all their varying flavours that bring depth to a soup.


When preparing mushrooms remember that if you wash them you need to dry as much as possible before cooking, however with soup that is not too much of a problem since you need the liquid.

To serve four people a generous supper portion or six as a starter.

  • 250gm (8oz) mushrooms (the type of mushroom will determine colour – brown mushrooms give a depth of flavour but you can use shiitake or button too.
  • 1 medium onion.
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon and rind (try freezing your lemon before grating and you get the added vitamin C from the pith)
  • 600ml (pint) of chicken or vegetable stock.
  • 200ml (1/2 pint milk) I use full fat milk to give a creamy taste but you can use semi-skimmed.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (a pinch)
  • A half teaspoon of pimiento dulce to add a little spice and colour.

Wash and slice the mushrooms and put into a pan with the finely chopped onion and grated rind and lemon juice. Pour in the stock and milk and add the thyme and salt and pepper.

Cover the pan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Liquidise the soup and then return to the pan to reheat and check the seasoning.
Serve hot with warm French bread.


I love pasta although I do not eat as much carbohydrates these days as my requirement is much less than it used to be. However, we have a pasta dish with or without meat at least once a week. Here is a recipe using mushrooms and with a touch of added heat from chilli.

Serves 4 people.

  • 250gm (8oz) button, chestnut or shiitake mushrooms.
  • 300ml (1/2pint) hot water
  • 225gm (8oz) pasta of your choice – Tagliatelle or spaghetti is great especially whole wheat.
  • 1 crushed garlic clove or level teaspoon of garlic powder if you like the spice.
  • 25/30gm (just over an 1oz) butter
  • 15ml (1tbsp) Olive oil (do not worry about virgin or extra virgin for frying)
  • 1 Teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) single cream
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese and some chopped fresh parsley to garnish


Cook the pasta according to the preparation information on the packet, drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

In a pan lightly sauté the garlic if you have used fresh cloves in the butter and oil.

Add the mushrooms, chilli flakes and cook for about three minutes.

Pour in your hot water and boil to reduce the sauce.

Beat the eggs and the cream with the seasoning.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan of mushrooms and then add the eggs and cream.

Mix through the ingredients

Reheat so that the eggs are cooked but don’t boil.

Serve in a bowl with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

Images Pinterest.

You will find other recipes for the foods that I consider to be essential to our diet in Sally and Carol’s Cook from Scratch.

I hope you will enjoy trying these two recipes – thanks Sally..

If you have a recipe that you would like to share then please email me on

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterising the Body – Immune system boosting eating and recovery plan.

Smorgasbord Health 2017

As we head into October there is the likelihood that you will bump into someone who is desperate to pass on their cold or flu to you.  Whilst you may take every care and have a healthy diet, if you are stressed, overworked, or been on a plane recently!  You might be a perfect host for the odd virus or two.

In the last post I looked at Influenza in more detail as it can move through a family or community rapidly with some serious health concerns for both the very young and old.

The key to preventing upper respiratory infections such as colds and flu developing into the more serious bronchial conditions is to make sure that your immune system is fully functional.

Catching it early

If you are suffering the early signs of an infection, you should understand that it is a secondary condition. The primary condition that you are suffering from is called Lifestyle Induced Health Crisis! It sounds a bit dramatic but the reason you have become susceptible to a virus or bacteria is that your body is not fit enough to fight it. The fact is that we all have germs in our bodies that lie in wait, looking for a chance to escape into the bloodstream and wreak havoc.

When we are poorly nourished, under stress and using too many stimulants, such as cigarettes, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, any pathogens we are hosting get the chance they have been looking for.

Then we have the external opportunists such as cold and flu viruses who are looking for a new host with all the facilities necessary to help it flourish. Both bacteria and a virus love oxygen starved, nutrient poor, acidic, sugar laden, immune impoverished host who has little or no resistance.

The key to not picking up frequent colds, flu and other viral and bacterial infections is keeping your immune system in good working order.  To maintain a healthy immune system it requires constant attention.  You cannot choose a couple of weeks a year to give it a boost.  You have to maintain it with a mainly fresh, unprocessed diet of fresh vegetables, fruit and lean proteins for 80% of the time so that you can enjoy the other tasty foods we all enjoy 20% of the time.

If you eat that way and get fresh air and regular exercise you will find that you do not become susceptible to infections in the first place .  If you do contract a viral or bacterial infection then you need to give your immune system a boost to help it out.  Working with it rather than against it by consuming over the counter cold medication that drive the infection deeper into the system and only masking the symptoms. (Remember that antibiotics are not effective for viral infections such as colds)

Here is a link to a basic shopping list that provides the nutrients for a healthy immune system and in the header you will also find a nutrient directory that list those that are essential for our health with the foods that supply them.


Before I take a look at the foods, herbs and natural supplements that you can take to help fight, alleviate and protect you from an infection, I am going to give you the golden rules to follow that will support your body and let it heal when you are suffering from an infection of any kind. For those of us who have a pretty good immune system a cold will last approximately 7 days, and for children and young adults, will in fact mature and strengthen our resistance to future viral infections.  The problem is for babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems following long term illnesses or the treatments such as for cancer.

So for the rest of us, provided you treat the cold symptoms and your body’s defense mechanism with respect you should not suffer beyond the initial misery of the first few days.  Here are some tips to getting through them without complications to yourself or passing it on to others.

Oh and in case you did not read last week’s post.. it is lovely when you meet someone you know to stop and have a hug, a kiss or two on the cheek and to hold their hand in yours….. But do you know where they have been… and if they have a cold or flu?  Be a little more circumspect from October to May…. might save you 7 days of coughing and spluttering.

  1.  Rest is critical: your body, although great at multi-tasking under normal operating circumstances, needs to focus all its energies on fighting the invaders. Sleep is a great healer and you should just go with the flow. If you go to work you are going to pass on your cold to everyone anyway and you will also extend the length of the cold and possibly develop a more serious chest infection. Go to bed or lie on the sofa with a box of disposable tissues and plenty of fluids to hand.
  2. Fluids are also absolutely essential as your body will not only dehydrate but will be forming thick mucus in great quantities, blocking airways. You are likely to have a slight fever, which will raise your body temperature and you will also suffer chills that will make you feel cold. A combination of fresh fruit and vegetable juices and soups, along with 2 litres of fresh water will help flush the toxins from the body efficiently.
  3. The body, as I have just mentioned, needs to focus on getting rid of the infection and it has not got the resources to digest large and stodgy meals during the first few days. Little and often is the key and this is where the soups come in. I will give you the recipes for a chicken and vegetable soup, onion and garlic soup and a beef tea that are great, packed with infection fighting nutrients and can be served with brown rice, a little fresh-baked wholegrain bread or toast. Easily digestible foods such as milk free scrambled egg or spinach omelettes are ideal during this time.
  4. Dairy products increase the production of mucous and therefore congestion and I strongly suggest that you avoid them during the early stages of an infection. Also if bronchitis or other lung problem develops you should also give them a miss. Calcium however is very important in the battle against infection so you need to include other foods that contain this vital mineral.
  5. Bacteria and viruses love warm, moist, sugary and acidic conditions and so processed and sugar based foods and drinks are definitely off the menu. This includes all fizzy drinks, sugar on cereal and in tea and coffee, chocolate and heavily processed meats such as ham.
  6. The symptoms of a cold, flu and of bronchial infections are a detox process, with your body working extremely hard to get rid of the bacteria or virus. Taking suppressive over the counter cold remedies therefore drives the infection back into the body – and this is one of the reasons why something that begins as a simple cold, that the body can deal with, can turn into a more entrenched condition such as bronchitis.
  7. Use tissues rather than a material hanky and throw away after using – it may sound wasteful but if you continually apply infected nose mucus to your hands you will not only re-infect yourself but also others who your hands come into contact with. Put used tissues in a plastic bag and knot securely and dispose of safely.
  8. Wash your hands regularly or use a natural anti-viral hand lotion(see avoiding colds and influenza)
  9. If you are in bed or using a pillow on a sofa do remember that you will be sneezing and contaminating the pillow case during your infectious period. Change every morning and wash at high temperature.
  10. If you have a partner then if possible as soon as you have symptoms go and sleep elsewhere and do not share toothbrushes etc for the duration. Love might be blind but it is certainly not bug resistant!!
  11. If you feel a sneeze coming on then do cover your mouth and nose with a tissue so that you do not dispense germs across the universe.

Components of the immune boosting eating plan

This plan contains all the elements to help relieve symptoms and boost your immune system. The purpose is to boost your immune system as well as naturally support your body as it fights the infection on your behalf.


  • Two litres of fresh water. Combats dehydration and helps flush toxins from the body.
  • Fresh squeezed grapefruit and orange juice. Use ½ grapefruit to one large orange. Juice of a whole lemon in hot water with some Manuka Honey. Vitamin C and Manuka honey 15+ has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
  • Cranberry juice –  Antibacterial and for Vitamin C.
  • Herbal Teas – Drink as many of these as you like.
  • Green tea with juice of ½ lemon & teaspoon of honey. Antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidants, Vitamin C and energy. Soothing for throat and chest.
  • Fenugreek & thyme tea with a slice of lemon and spoon of honey. Expectorant – ridding the body of mucous, tonic and soothes sore throats.
  • Camomile tea with a slice of lemon and ginger. Soothing and anti-inflammatory. Ginger also promotes sweating part of the bodies defence system for getting rid of toxins.
  • Elderflower tea – Immune stimulating, anti-inflammatory and relieves catarrh. You can mix this tea with Green tea and serve hot or cold with lemon.
  • Soups – Have three times a day with a small piece of wholegrain toast or mixed with a tablespoon of cooked brown rice. Garlic and onion soup might leave your breath less than fragrant, but the combination of these ingredients provides many health benefits. Garlic, like the onion is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. With the current concerns that we have about potential ‘Super bugs’ it is interesting that garlic appears to be an effective antibiotic, even against some of these resistant strains.
  • Chicken and vegetable soup – Chicken contains Cysteine an amino acid that has a similar action to a drug called acetylcysteine, which is used to treat patients with bronchitis and respiratory infections. This soup relieves nasal congestion, reduces inflammation caused by active white blood cells, and provides most of the essential immune system nutrients and fluid and warmth.
  • Beef tea soup – This is an adaptation of the tea that has been used for hundreds of years to help invalids recover from most infections, particularly if they were bedridden for days or even weeks. This provides lean protein which the body needs to recover, the B vitamins essential to combat the stress of infection and rehydrates the body.

Light Meals

  • As I have already mentioned, it is a good idea not to overload the body with heavy stodgy meals while it is trying to fight infection. Salads tend to be unappealing which is why soups are so good at this time.
  • If you feel like eating something more solid then omelettes and scrambled eggs are light and easy to digest. Add spinach and onions to the omelettes to give you a nutrient boost and serve with a slice of toast.
  • A bowl of porridge with honey and a mashed banana and rice milk makes a creamy and nutritious breakfast or snack. You can also make a rice or semolina pudding with rice milk and add dried fruit or honey.


  • Apart from the fluids and juices that I have mentioned, eat whatever fruit appeals to you while you are feeling unwell. Any will give you a great boost to the immune system.
  • One in particular though is great at this time and that is pineapple. Apart from the usual healthy properties it contains Bromelain which reduces inflammation in general but also in the glands that tend to be swollen during an infection.
  • Pineapple also works to cleanse the body and blood and increase circulation, allowing toxins to be moved from effectively from infected sites and out of the body.


Thankfully, I do not often get colds but if I feel that I am getting some of the symptoms such as a scratchy throat and runny nose, I immediately start a course of 1,000 mg of Vitamin C three times a day with 30 mg of Zinc.

Zinc is also available in lozenge form and is great for sore throats. Both Zinc and Vitamin C are covered in more detail in the October Issue.

Increase the amount that you are eating as you begin to feel better but still stay with six light meals a day for a period of time until your body is fully recovered.

Recipe for Chicken Soup

Cook whole chicken. Take out of water and remove flesh before returning the carcass to the water for further hour to simmer. Remove carcass and add two finely chopped carrots (vitamin A and C), finely chopped large onion (antibacterial) ½ clove of crushed garlic (anti-bacterial and antiviral), bag of fresh chopped spinach (magnesium, iron and calcium). Bring to boil and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add back chopped chicken meat and bring back to boil. Either add a tablespoon of cooked brown rice to the bottom of a soup bowl or serve with wholegrain toast with olive oil.

Recipe for Beef Tea

This is an adaptation of the tea that has been used for hundreds of years to help invalids recover from most infections, particularly if they were bedridden for days or even weeks. Take 1 lb. of lean beefsteak (lean protein and vitamin Bs) and cut into cubes. Place 1-½ pints of cold water in a pan and bring to the boil. Skim of excess fat that accumulates on the surface. Add the salt and simmer for about an hour. Remove any scum on the surface during this time. Liquidise. Store in the refrigerator until needed and then bring required amount to the boil in a saucepan. Serve again with a little brown rice or whole grain bread and olive oil.


Recipes for Onion and Garlic Soup

Onion Soup
2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
2lbs (1kg) of peeled and thinly sliced onions
11/2 pints (900ml) of vegetable stock or water
2 garlic gloves, peeled and crushed
Lemon juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped parsley or chives.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and then fry the onions until they are soft and deep golden brown but not burnt. Add the stock or water, garlic and a few drops of lemon juice. Bring the soup to the boil and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the chopped parsley or chives and serve with warm wholegrain bread or add two tablespoons of cooked brown rice.

Creamy Garlic Soup
8oz (225 gm.) potatoes scrubbed and diced but not peeled.
2 garlic bulbs broken into cloves.
1-tablespoon olive oil.
Salt to taste
2 ½ pints (1.5litres) water.

Put the potatoes and the garlic in a pan with the water, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potato is tender. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then liquidise and pour through a sieve into a clean pan. Add more water to adjust the consistency to your liking. Whisk in the olive oil and add salt to taste.

Gently reheat before serving with wholegrain bread or Pitta bread.

Next time some alternative help in boosting your immune system… thanks for dropping in and look forward to your feedback.. thanks Sally





Something to Think About – Canadian Thanksgiving Day – And a chance to celebrate four years of blogging.


This post was originally posted in 2015 but with everything that has happened in the last few months on the world stage it seems appropriate on the day that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving to remind ourselves of how much we have in our lives to be thankful for.

It is also four years since I posted my first blog and so a chance to thank some of those who have supported me all the way and to new friends who have brightened my life.

The original concept of Thanksgiving was one of giving thanks for a new life, new home and new friends and that tradition is celebrated around the world in one form or another by different cultures on various days throughout the year.

Today the world is so much smaller as the Internet has enabled us to find friendship, love and common ground in virtually every country that has electricity. But however global our outlook, it is always great to reflect on the people in our lives and those basic needs for our well-being such as a roof over our heads and food on our table.

There are so many who still do not have these simple but essential requirements and that makes me very thankful indeed for the fact that I do.

More than anything else it is the people in my life that have brought the greatest happiness. Some only fleetingly and others who have gone too soon. Some I have been able to physically hug or hold hands with, and others I can only do so virtually. So today I thought I would share some of those who I am thankful for.  Whatever our circumstances it is love and friendship that sustains us through good times and the worst.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you celebrating today and here are some of the things that I am very grateful for and those who will be by my side or in my thoughts.


Our families

sally wedding day 1980

sally wedding day 1980


sally wedding day 1980

sally wedding day 1980

Old friends

sally wedding day 1980New Friends

new friends 2

A New Home

Plenty of rain for my flowers!

And last but not least a small selection of the global friends who have supported me and this blog over the last two years and certainly does not include everyone. Thank you so much and if your name is not here it is more about time and space than lack of thought!

Have a wonderful day and I hope that this will give you a nudge to whisper a thank you for everything that you have in your life…


Happy Thanksgiving and hugs to everyone.  ♥♥♥ Sally

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Cafe and Bookstore revamp, Archived Post bonanza and great guests.


Welcome to the weekly round up and so pleased that there have been so many guests this week. Delighted too that the Posts from your Archives has proved so popular. Some wonderful posts this week from Pete Johnson, Debby Gies, Carol Taylor, Jennie Fitzkee and Deana Metzke with more bloggers joining next week with the start of their four week series.

My thanks as always to William Price King, Paul Andruss and Carol Taylor for their contribution to the blog with fabulous posts covering music, mystery and legends and food.

And, last but not least, thank you for your continued support, views, likes, shares and comments...

Here are the posts from the week that you might have missed..

William Price King Meets Some Legends – Sir Tom Jones The Finale

This week was the last part in the series featuring Sir Tom Jones and some of his hits from the last decade. Still going strong at 77, this dynamic performer clearly has a huge following across all age groups.  Here he is in 1977 with another performer who has crossed the decades with style.. Tina Turner and Hot Legs. Next week we begin a new series with that fabulous talent – Dionne Warwick.

Writer in residence – Paul Andruss

It was Paul’s birthday yesterday and he recently sent me a post called The Gift and rather than share later in the series, I decided to share on Friday in honour of his special day. Paul writes exclusive posts for Smorgasbord that take a huge amount of research and time to prepare and I am eternally grateful that he accepted the invitation to be writer in residence. I am sure if you missed this post you will enjoy heading over to read. Thought provoking and resulted in some interesting comments.

Thomas the Rhymer

Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor and this week the health benefits of watercress and some wonderful recipes provided by Carol after creating in her kitchen in Thailand.

The Ultimate Bucket List – the top two items on Luanne Castle’s bucket list… time travel…and read on to find out what else.

Posts from your Archives

So pleased at the response to this series which showcases posts from YOUR archives. Perhaps from the start of your blogging career when you may have had fewer followers and you would like to share again with MINE.. It is a way of not only promoting your blog but also if you have books to promote I will add those in too. Email me with four links to posts that you would like to share again. If you want to promote your books then we can do that separately. I am looking for posts that are about life, love, adventure or an experience that you feel made a difference in your life.  Email me on

Here are this week’s Posts From Your Archives.

Carol Taylor with an entertaining anecdote about her father who despite requiring a walker for mobility managed to do some Cirque de Soleil moves!

Pete Johnson of Beetley Pete with a life changing experience that all parents can relate to.

Deana Metzke shared her experiences with the Olympics and her young son’s reaction to watching on television

D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies with a post on a relationship issue that applies to both male and female partners. When one is receiving more attention and success than the other it can require careful thought and management.

Jennie Fitzkee with reflections on the natural and unaffected conversation with young children

New Series – Guess Who I Bumped Into – I shall be doing my usual browse through my readers and will share a blogger each week who is new to me and who I think you might like to meet too. This week  author Peter Davidson who has published 28 books and has just begun a blog.. Marital Advice to my Grandson.. very entertaining.

Book Promotions – Air your Reviews – A chance to show case your most recent reviews.

Pure Trash Bette Stevens

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore Updates – New Releases and Reviews

N.B. The cafe and bookstore has had a facelift and over the coming weeks I will be increasing the number of book covers displayed and will also be including and extract from the most recent review for one of those books. The aim is to encourage readers to click the review link and end up in the buy page… I hope it helps.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves – New authors on the shelves of the Bookstore… if you would like to be featured then please email me

Odd Jobs and Characters – hosted by author Lyn Horner – My odd jobs that inspire my stories and characters.

This week I get to grips with a sword wielding champagne magnet and fall in love – not a bad day’s work!

Media Training for Authors – the series continues with a look at the some of the online watering holes where readers gather. There are several out there and once you get started you can explore others that might suit you better but achieve the same result. Bringing you together with readers and reviews.

Moyhill Publishing – Update.

Now that the house and garden renovations are nearing the end (garden weather dependent!) Moyhill Publishing is up and running again and we have been working quietly in the background for the last couple of months. We have just received a wonderful testimonial and I have updated some of the details and covers.

Health – that time of year when we need to make sure we are making dietary and lifestyle changes to boost our immune system.

Smorgasbord Pet health – Hip Dysplasia – get to know your puppy’s relatives.


Thank you once again for dropping and as always your feedback is very welcome. 


Afternoon video Rewind- Abstract art – by a mammoth talent

I do wish that we were able to take care of a couple of these magnificent beast who are being kept safe and healthy.  Not just because seeing them wandering around the garden helping themselves to succulent leaves would be a stunning sight every day but because I might have been able to prevail upon them to help with the outside painting we are in the process off!!!


Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterising your Body – Influenza the opportunistic pathogen.

Smorgasbord Health 2017

Influenza can have a very serious effect on the very young and old and those who have poorly functioning immune systems.  As we head into October I am going to repeat my series on winterising the body.

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the First World War. Between 20 and 40 million people died and because the figures were so horrendous we may never know the true extent of this awful two-year period. Very few countries were spared and its effects on an already devastated world population were horrendous. It was called the Spanish Flu because the earliest mortalities were in Spain were over 8 million people died.

Anywhere that soldiers or refugees gathered in large numbers became infected and the early outbreaks were largely ignored. Returning soldiers from the front brought the disease home to every city, town and village. Most of the populations throughout Europe were poorly nourished following the war years and were in no condition to fight off this virulent infection especially as there were none of the drugs that we have available today.

How ironic to have survived the war years, including years in the trenches to then succumb to an infection. They estimate that over a fifth of the world’s population was infected and those most at risk appear to have been between the ages of 20 and 40. The exact same age as those that fought for four hard years on various battlefronts. 28% of Americans were infected and over 675,000 Americans died. Of the US soldiers who died in Europe half were killed by influenza.

The initial cause of the outbreak has never been established. The theory was that conditions in the trenches and the use of chemicals such as mustard gas created the environment where the infection thrived. There have been links to unusually humid weather, which certainly created the perfect environment to foster viral and bacterial infections amongst sick, injured and immune suppressed soldiers and the medical staff who cared for them.

We have never seen anything like this since, but these figures illustrate that we cannot take these infections lightly and with the current threat of more virulent pathogens crossing the species barrier and taking advantage of our modern travel patterns, we need to take our own health seriously and look at ways to prevent infection.

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. In a person with a strong immune system the symptoms may be very mild with a headache, feverishness, sore throat, muscle aches and a runny nose. In very young children or in elderly patients there can also be gastric complications with vomiting and diarrhoea.

If left untreated or if a person has very little resistance to infection there can be complications including pneumonia. Dehydration is a problem that can exacerbate existing problems such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes.

The virus is spread in respiratory drops caused by coughing and sneezing although it is possible to catch the virus after touching contaminated surfaces and then passing the virus to the nose or mouth as with the common cold.

One of the problems with the flu is that you can infect someone else a day before you show the symptoms which gives you 24 hours to put others at risk at work, in schools or on public transport. Who of us has not sat next to someone on a plane for a few hours while they cough and splutter the way on holiday? An infected person is still contagious for five days after their symptoms have appeared. This usually means that it is very difficult to avoid contagion within a family where you live together in a close knit unit.

The same rules apply for the flu as for the common cold that I covered yesterday. Your main form of defense is the simple act of washing your hands frequently. It is also essential to limit your contact with people who are obviously suffering from an infection. As I have just mentioned this is difficult due to the nature of the progression of the influenza, that 24 hour window when there are no symptoms can result in multiple infections.

One answer during the flu months of October, November, December, January and February is to stop kissing and shaking hands with friends and family when you meet them. My mother when she hit 90 had a couple of colds one after the other and I put a ban on her usual habit of kissing everyone she met… For the next five years she did not get one cold. She also had an alcohol based hand sanitizer that she used when going out and after meeting people.

Also in the UK everyone over 65 can have an annual flu shot as can the carers of vulnerable groups. My mother had this every year and it obviously helped. There is some controversy over the vaccine and its safety. It is a decision you need to make after discussing with your doctor but my opinion on the subject is that certainly for those in their mid-70’s and 80’s the risk of the disease is greater than the jab…

The flu shot that is available from the autumn onwards. The vaccine contains killed virus and can be given to anyone over 6 months old.


Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections not viral infections, so going to your doctor and asking for them is not going to help.  However, antibiotics do play a role in the spread of infectious diseases.  Since their first use for the general public in the late 40’s and 50’s, antibiotics have been regarded as a cure-all.  As a child living in South Africa in the early 60’s I suffered six bouts of tonsilitis over the period of a year until my tonsils were removed. Within six months I had gained nearly 42lbs and it began a lifelong battle with my weight until I reached 330lbs 22 years ago.  It is a story that I have heard hundreds of times as I work with clients who are overweight, suffer from repeated infections and who suffer from specific food intolerances (not allergies).

Antibiotics are usually broad spectrum and therefore have a shotgun approach to killing bacteria responsible for infection…In the past and sadly far too often in the present, doctors do not take a urine, blood sample or swab to send off for testing to determine the specific bacteria causing the infection and will therefore prescribe the generalised formula antibiotic for that broad type of infection.

This results in a shock wave of bacterial death which does not only kill harmful bacteria but can devastate colonies of our beneficial bacteria in the chemical soup that is essential for life and health.

This includes the absolutely critical good bacteria in our intestines (the gut brain) where all our food is processed for nutrients and passed back into the bloodstream to keep us healthy.  So, repeated doses of antibiotics regularly to treat minor bacterial infections as well as erroneously for viral infections will compromise not just your health but your immune system which is your first line of defense.

Obviously, this does not mean that if you are currently taking a course of antibiotics prescribed for you by your doctor you suddenly stop.. If it is for a bacterial infection it is crucial that you always complete the course.  If you stop because you feel better you are setting yourself up for reinfection because pockets of the disease have not been killed off.  This will mean that within a short space of time you will need another course of drugs.

Non-completion of antibiotic prescribed courses is one of the leading causes of more serious infections taking hold in the body.

gingergrapefruit seed extract

There are a number of natural anti-bacterial and viral preparations that can help particularly if you have a healthy immune system.  These include the foods I mentioned in previous post.


The most at risk are 65 years old and over because they are more likely to have medical conditions that put them at risk of infection.
People who live in long term care facilities or hospitals.
A person of any age who is already suffering from a pre-existing condition such as heart disease or asthma.
Anyone on long term medication or repeated courses of antibiotics.
Children between the ages of 6 months and 24 months.
Anyone who is on assisted respiratory machinery.


For healthy people there is the option of a nasal spray that contains live but weakened flu viruses that do not actually cause the flu but stimulate the antibodies needed to protect against the full strength influenza virus.

It is very important that your immune system is as strong as it needs to be before the winter months. Apart from avoiding contact with those you know to be infected you have to guard against those people who are not showing symptoms. You will have no idea who has the virus or not so your best line of defense is to ensure your body is strong enough to fix the problem fast.


  • If you have the infection then do cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and discard hygienically straightaway.
  • Wash your own hands with soap and water at every opportunity or use a specific alcohol based hand cleaner.
  • Avoid touching your own eyes, nose or mouth to avoid re-infection.

Next time how to help the body recover from colds and influenza and some recipes for immune boosting soups that are tasty too.  Following that a post on alternative ways to boost your immune system

Thanks for dropping in and hope this has proved helpful. Thanks Sally


The Medicine Woman’s Larder – Sunflower Seeds and Oil – Sunshine all year round.

I am adding a few things to my Medicine Woman’s Larder that were not included in the series last year. As I work through my archives and update I am discovering posts from four years ago that benefit from a dust off and update.

Today I am going to cover a seed that is also used as an oil and is readily available in supermarkets all year round. The sight of sunflowers as you drive through France on the way to England has always typified the weather and lifestyle of Mediterranean countries. They are one of my favourite flowers and I used one as a logo for my business in Ireland.

The seeds are a fantastic powerhouse of nutrients and including them regularly in your diet will give your overall health a great boost.  The oil is great for cooking with or using in salad dressings.

Sunflower seed origins. It is believed that they originated from Mexico and Peru and they have been cultivated for around 5000 years, which is incredible. Native Indian Americans have used the seeds to eat and the oil for that length of time and they also used the leaves, roots and stems for medicine and dyes.

Powdered dry seeds have been used for centuries as a remedy for bronchitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, influenza and coughs. It was even believed that growing the plant in your garden prevented you getting flu’s and colds. It actually was valued for its beauty as well as its health benefits.

The Spanish explorers bought back seeds from South America and after being grown in Spain its use spread into France and into the rest of Europe. Russian and Eastern Europe have used it as an oilseed crop since the 18th century and the first commercial production of the oil was in 1830. Apart from South America, Spain, France and Russia, China is also a large commercial producer. The larger seeds are used for eating and the smaller ones for the oil industry.

What about the nutritional properties?

Sunflower seeds are very high in Vitamin E, B1 and have healthy amounts of B-complex vitamins, manganese, magnesium, copper, tryptophan, selenium, phosphorus and Folate. One of their great benefits is the amount of protein that they contain along with essential fatty acids.

Of particular benefit are the high levels of Vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. Vitamin E; As an antioxidant it protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body such as LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage and blood vessels. It can be used topically for skin health and is involved in the reproductive system. It may help prevent circulatory problems that lead to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease by preventing clots from forming. It improves the pulmonary function of the lungs and enhances the white blood cells ability to resist infection.

Magnesium: It is essential mineral needed for bone, protein and fatty acid formation, forming new cells, activating the B vitamins, relaxing muscles, clotting blood and forming ATP the fuel the body runs on. The secretion and action of insulin also needs magnesium. It is needed to balance calcium in the body and too much can result in very low levels of calcium.

Selenium: A very important trace mineral that activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer. It is vital for immune system function and may help prevent prostate cancer. There are concerns that our soil that crops are grown in such as grains is becoming selenium depleted which effects the amount found in our daily diet.  It is such an important nutrient that having a handful of sunflower seeds three or four times a week would be very beneficial.

What about the high fat content of Sunflower seed and oil? Actually Sunflower seeds contain what we term good fat in the form of essential fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids are very important to us, because they regulate oxygen use in the cells, are needed for healthy glandular function and increase levels of energy. Additionally they can alleviate allergies, symptoms of PMS, help lower LDL (lousy cholesterol) and raise HDL (healthy cholesterol), lower blood pressure, and they can lubricate joints and relieve the symptoms of arthritis.

The health benefits of these nutrients inSunflower seeds.

Apart from the anti-inflammatory effect on arthritis the high content of Vitamin E will also help prevent degenerative disease in the joints and the brain and lungs. Vitamin E is also essential for women going through the menopause as it can help with some of the more distressing symptoms such as hot flushes. As an antioxidant it prevents free radical damage and this applies to cholesterol as well. When cholesterol is oxidised it becomes unstable and forms plaque on the walls of the arteries. This in turn narrows the artery restricting blood flow and allowing clots to form.

The magnesium in sunflower seeds not only helps regulate the flow of calcium between blood and bone but also helps keep our nervous and muscular system healthy. Spasms are extremely painful including those that are part of the symptoms of a heart attack; magnesium helps prevent this happening. Magnesium has also been found to be helpful in Asthma and reducing migraine headaches as it works like Vitamin E in an inflammatory capacity.

Selenium has long been regarded as a possible preventative for cancer. We need to detox our bodies naturally every day of the harmful toxins we have taken in through our skin, by breathing and in our food. The liver is home to many very powerful antioxidant enzymes specifically designed to get rid of toxic waste, one of which is Glutathione peroxidase. Selenium is very important in the manufacture of this enzyme and may be why it is so powerful as an anti-cancer agent. Selenium is one of those antioxidants that not only encourages cells to repair themselves but also persuades cancerous cells to self-destruct.

What are the different ways to eat Sunflower seeds?

The best way is to use them for snacks or to throw into your salads. A very powerful but tasty way to eat your seeds and nuts is to make your own mix from pumpkinseeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts. A handful once a day will provide you with all the above nutrients, as they are all packed with them. I love walnuts and seeds in my salads and have a handful every day in that way. You can grind the seeds up and use in sauces for your meat, fish and chicken. You can add to a homemade muesli mix.

Recipe for crunch brown rice to accompany fish or chicken or on its own with a lush garden salad.

Cook sufficient brown rice for the number of guests that you have in vegetable stock. Cover to keep warm.

For the rice mix.

1 large onion finely chopped
4 oz. of chopped mushrooms.
1 red pepper chopped
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons of sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sultanas
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.
1 tablespoon of good quality Sunflower oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the sunflower oil in the pan and then added the onion, mushroom and pepper. Cook until soft and browning and then add the sunflower seeds and almonds. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl add your ingredients to your rice and mix thoroughly. Garnish with the parsley and serve with salad and meat or fish of your choice.


I hope that you have enjoyed the post and you can find recipes to accompany the foods in the Medicine Woman’s Larder in the series Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol Taylor.