Smorgasbord Health Column – Major Organs and systems of the body – The Female Reproductive System Part One – Sally Cronin


I repeat this series in particular every year, in the hopes that those who are new to the blog will find it interesting and useful. I worked with couples who were planning on getting pregnant and it was important that both understood how each other’s reproductive systems worked. Also that the health of the father to be was as important as the mother’s. On more than one occasion the mother to be would be taking care of herself and getting fit, whilst the father to be was still going down the pub, smoking and eating takeaways..

As they say it takes two….

Also that it is a good idea to get both into shape at least six months before trying for a baby and if you know someone who is planning on getting pregnant you might pass this series along.

In recent weeks I have covered most of the major systems in the body and the female and male reproductive systems have a huge influence on our health from the moment we are born until we die.

These systems generally conform to a set pattern of development, however there are times when nature has its own agenda, resulting in changes that we are now embracing more fully.  I am going to begin with the female reproductive system, how it works and links to posts that I have written on related diseases such as breast cancer.

This series is not just for women or men specifically, but also their partners. Understanding how your own body works is important.. but it is also important for the men and women in our lives understand how our bodies work too. Very often in a relationship it is our partner who notices changes to our bodies or our behaviour that can indicate a health problem.

First I will look at the female reproductive system in a series of posts that give an overview of the system and also what can go wrong with it.

What is under the skin.

The-Female-Reproductive-System-WWe usually spot when something is out of place externally or when there are lumps and bumps that look dodgy. The problem is that most of us do not know when something is wrong with organs or systems that run automatically beneath our skin, until a problem occurs.   Women are well aware of monthly changes in our bodies which is a good indicator that there might be something wrong or that we might be pregnant. But what about when we stop having our periods and the physical indications are no longer there.

Whilst it is not my intention to lecture on anatomy, it is very useful if you have some idea of how a system is put together and the main organs involved.

The reproductive system and where it begins at conception.

In humans it takes male and female sex cells to make a baby. These sex cells are called gametes and the male is sperm and the female is the egg or ovum. These sex cells usually meet in the female reproductive system – although in this day and age they could also meet in a petri-dish in a fertility clinic.

Humans pass on certain characteristics of themselves onto the next generation such as hair or eye colour and in some unfortunate cases inherited diseases. Genes are the special carriers of these characteristics and a child can inherit from both its mother and father and also the ancestors of its parents going back many generations.

The two reproductive systems in males and females are very different, but both carry out the same task of producing, nurturing and transporting either the egg or the sperm. They also complement each other and evolution has ensured that the two reproductive systems work together pleasurably as well as effectively.

The female reproductive system

Zygote-WThe aim of the female reproductive system is to produce healthy eggs (ova), to facilitate sexual intercourse so that the egg can be fertilised (then called a zygote) and protect and nourish the resulting embryo and foetus until it is fully developed and then give birth.

The physical aspects

The female reproductive system is housed within the pelvis. Externally, the vulva (cover) is located between the legs and protects the entrance to the vagina and the other reproductive organs inside the pelvis.

There is a fleshy area just above the vagina called the mons pubis and two pairs of skin flaps called the labia (lips) surround the vaginal opening and contain the clitoris. Also, between the labia are the openings for the urethra (carrying urine from the bladder) and the vagina.

Internally, the vagina, uterus (womb), fallopian tubes and ovaries are protected by the pelvic girdle and are responsible for the production and fertilisation of the egg and the protection of the foetus as it develops to full term.

The vagina

The vagina is a tube approximately 8 to 12 centimetres long in an adult woman. It has muscular walls and can expand and contract as needed. Normally it is contracted but when expanded it can accommodate the head and body of a baby during the final stages of labour.

As with any of the body’s airways and passages the vagina has a lubricating mucus membrane as a lining. This protects it from bacterial infection and also keeps it moist and prepared for sexual activity. The vagina has three major roles; as an entrance and stimulator for the penis, to provide a safe birth canal and also a path for menstrual blood expelled from the uterus each month.

The opening to the vagina is partially covered with a thin sheet of tissue called the hymen, which has probably caused more problems for women than any other part of the reproductive system. Virginity or the lack of was judged on whether this tissue was intact on a girl’s wedding night and in royal circles it was essential that courtiers be present to testify to a blooded sheet as evidence of the bride’s virtue. In some cultures it is still considered critical that this evidence is produced despite the fact that in many cases the hymen has already been ruptured at some point in a girl’s normal activities or that the hymen has not been stretched or torn sufficiently to bleed. This resulted in some sleight of hand by bride’s and their female relatives who resorted to spotting sheets with chicken blood to avoid recriminations. Hence the voyeuristic behaviour by senior courtiers or family members in time gone past on the first night of the honeymoon.

The vagina joins to the womb at the thickly walled cervix (neck) which is extremely narrow outside of pregnancy but can expand sufficiently to allow the baby’s head to pass through it on its way out of the womb.

The uterus (womb)

Despite the fact that the womb is only about 7 centimetres long and 5 centimetres wide it contains some of the strongest muscles in the body. It can expand to hold sextuplets and contract sufficiently to send a baby out and into the birth canal during labour. This pear shaped organ is also vulnerable to infections; cancers and benign tumours called fibroids which are one of the leading causes of its removal (hysterectomy).

In the second stage of the menstrual cycle the womb recognises that the hormone levels indicate that there has been no fertilisation of the egg that has passed through the fallopian tube within the last two weeks. Blood and tissues from the inner lining of the womb detach and leave the body via the vagina. Usually this lasts three to five days and in the first few months after puberty it is likely to be irregular. As with the other areas within the reproductive system women can experience problems with this process. Many women suffer from irregular, heavy and painful periods throughout their teens and often up to their first pregnancy when in many cases the menstrual cycle can settle down. Some women suffer from menstrual problems right up to their menopause and there is usually a hormonal or dietary imbalance involved that requires correcting.

The fallopian tubes

At the upper corners of the womb are the fallopian tubes, which are the connection to the ovaries. The fallopian tubes are around 10 centimetres in length and look a little like a long piece of spaghetti with a narrow opening the size of a needle. At the ovary end, fronds wrap around the egg sacs waiting to catch eggs as they are released.

Tiny hairs then propel the egg back down the fallopian tube to the womb. Fallopian tubes can be damaged by infections or can become distorted preventing the passage of the eggs through the tube or allowing sperm to enter and fertilise them.

The ovaries

Structure-of-an-Ovary-WThe ovaries are two oval shaped organs situated either side of the womb. They produce, store and then release eggs into the fallopian tubes in a process called ovulation, which takes place once a month halfway through a woman’s reproductive cycle.

When a baby girl is born she has already got 400,000 eggs in her ovaries that will remain inactive until she reaches puberty. This is the time that hormones kick in for both boys and girls and the reproductive cycle is begun.

The eggs develop and mature inside follicles which are tiny fluid filled sacs in each ovary and midway through each cycle one egg is released into the fallopian tubes.

The pituitary gland located in the central part of the brain, releases hormones that in turn stimulate the ovaries to produce the female sex hormones including oestrogen. Breasts will develop and towards the end of this first stage of puberty the ovaries begin to release eggs monthly as part of the menstrual cycle.

There are a number of problems associated with the ovaries including ovarian cysts and more rarely ovarian cancer. There is also a hormonal condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (pcos) which is the result of too many male hormones being produced by the ovaries. This results in cysts forming on enlarged ovaries and usually becomes apparent in a girl’s teenage years.

Next time a look at the Endocrine system and the hormones that drive our reproductive system.  When they say it is all in the mind.. it is!

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction in ebooks you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

I hope you have found useful and your feedback is always welcome.. thanks Sally.

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Smorgasbord Health Column – What causes your Cravings – Part Four – Coal, Dirt and other strange stuff by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the series on a sensation that has been blamed for our consumption or over consumption of certain foods since we were old enough to make excuses! How often do we tell ourselves or others that ‘we crave’ chocolate, crisps, cheese, soda, fried food or even something non-food related… such as dirt or coal?

We tend to assume that our craving is a form of addiction that only one food or drink can satisfy, but in fact it is more likely that it is our body reacting to a lack of an essential nutrient absent from our regular diet. Or that we are under stress and that has resulted in a imbalance in our hormone production.

During this series, I am going to be looking at some of the causes of a craving, whether it is a need for an essential nutrient or is down to a habit that has formed or because we are stressed. I will also give you the food fix that will supply that nutrient or suggest some strategies to cope with an unreasonable expectation for a food by your body and your mind.

Last time  Salt : https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/smorgasbord-health-column-what-causes-your-cravings-part-three-salt-and-trace-minerals-by-sally-cronin/

What causes your Cravings – Part Four – Coal, Dirt and other strange stuff

This week a look at non-food cravings which tend to be very during pregnancy when the body is working for two. It usually indicates a lack of iron or minerals in the diet and whilst it is obvious that in pregnancy, a craving for coal or cardboard might be expected, it can also happen to all of us at some point in our lives. Usually after intense dieting over a prolonged period of time, or after an illness which has resulted in a depletion of the bodies stores.

Some cravings may be associated with a change in the way a person smells or tastes and may have no direct link to a specific nutrient, but generally there are two that should be considered. Especially if someone is a vegetarian or vegan. That would be iron and Vitamin B12.

The condition is called ‘Pica’ and whilst it many only be a temporary condition in pregnancy, for some it is a compulsive behaviour that is long term.

Also the foods that are craved are unlikely to contain the deficient nutrient, but the brain becomes confused when trying to point you in the right direction…For example there could be a combination of dehydration and iron and other mineral deficiencies if someone craves ice. Water depending on source, is rich in these minerals and your body is trying to solve two problems at the same time.

It is also not restricted to humans, as animals too will seek out substances to satisfy a nutrient need instinctively. Chewing the skirting board may not always be about boredom or mischief, it could be that a dog is missing trace minerals in their diet.

Sam started doing this at about six months old and having researched it I spoke to the vet who recommended a mineral supplement to add to his food during the growth phase. After about a week, he stopped chewing the skirting board.

I am not a fan of dry dog food especially cheap brands, but even in a natural food diet, it is still important to include foods that contain all the nutrients a dog needs, especially in the growth phase.

You might like to read this post on dog nutrition which will give you something to think about: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/dog-food-ten-scary-truths/

Here is an extract from an article on animals eating soilhttps://remineralize.org/2017/05/craving-minerals-eating-rocks-why-do-animals-and-humans-eat-rock-dust/

Aside from wild monkeys, domestic animals are also known to involuntarily engage in geophagy during the consumption of grass and roots. Research in New Zealand found that sheep ingest more than 75 kg of soils, and dairy cows ingest more than 650 kg of soils in a year. The research contended that soil can be a large source of iodine and cobalt, the latter of which is used to make Vitamin B12[2]. Vitamin B12 is essential to the creation of red blood cells and DNA, as well as to the support of normal neurological function

Source: “Vitamin B12.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 Feb. 2016. Web.

And here is another piece that might shed some light on the human need for rocks, clay etc: Wikipedia

A mineral lick (also known as a salt lick) is a place where animals can go to lick essential mineral nutrients from a deposit of salts and other minerals. Mineral licks can be naturally occurring or artificial (such as blocks of salt that farmers place in pastures for livestock to lick). Natural licks are common, and they provide essential elements such as phosphorus and the biometals (sodium, calcium, iron, zinc, and trace elements) required in the springtime for bone, muscle and other growth in deer and other wildlife, such as moose, elephants, tapirs, cattle, woodchucks, domestic sheep, fox squirrels, mountain goats and porcupines. Such licks are especially important in ecosystems with poor general availability of nutrients. Harsh weather exposes salty mineral deposits that draw animals from miles away for a taste of needed nutrients. It is thought that certain fauna can detect calcium in salt licks

Here are the sources of Iron and Vitamin B12, two of the likely deficiencies that could cause a craving for non food items… and the trace minerals that your body is encouraging you to forage for!

Dietary iron is found in two forms, haem iron and non-haem iron. (Heme in US). Haem iron, which is the most absorbable, is found only in animal flesh as it is taken from the haemoglobin and myoglobin in animal tissue. Non-haem iron is found in plant foods.

Although there are iron rich plant foods they come with an additional element called phytates which bind to the iron and inhibit its absorption by the body. This means that vegetarians in particular need to consume Vitamin C rich foods at the same time as it disrupts the action of the phytates, releasing more iron into the body.

Iron (non-haem) rich plant food sources include whole grains and fortifed cereals, watercress, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, legumes, Sweet Potatoes tofu, pumpkin seeds, and tofu. Strawberries, tomatoes,watermelon, prunes and dried apricots.

Iron (Haem)rich protein sources include:

mussels Cockles, Mussels, Clams, Liver, Kidneys, Poultry, Halibut, Salmon, Haddock, Tuna, Canned sardines, Home cooked ham.

tunaPrunes and other dried fruit especially Apricots, Whole grain rice, Spinach, Nuts, Tofu, Beans, Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds, Wheat germ, Cocoa

seedsDrinking and eating high Vitamin C content foods at the same time may help your body absorb iron more efficiently especially if you are vegetarian or if you have a low animal protein diet.

Vitamin B12 – beef, offal like liver, eggs and dairy.. also mackerel, shellfish such as clams and crabs, fortified cereals and tofu, Marmite and cottage, feta and mozzarella cheese.

It is better to drink a cold glass of milk than to eat yoghurt as the fermentation process destroys most of the B12 as does boiling milk.

There are very few sources, if any of B12 in plants, although some people do believe that eating fermented Soya products, sea weeds and algae will provide the vitamin. However analysis of these products shows that whilst some of them do contain B12 it is in the form of B12 analogues which are unable to be absorbed by the human body.

On a personal note: In the last few months I have been eating less red meat and eating fish and poultry. However, despite not eating for years… I suddenly had an urge for Marmite!  I bought a jar last week and had on my breakfast toast… upping my daily intake of the Vitamin Bs, including B12 along with a host of other nutrients in this low calorie spread or drink.  And a much tastier than chewing on a lump of coal!

If you are eating a varied diet with foods from the list, you should be getting sufficient without supplementation. If you are over 50 you may find that you do need additional support in the form of a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. However, first make sure you are getting from the best possible source which is fresh food.

Go through the list of the other minerals you might be deficient in and make a note of any you may not be getting sufficient off based on the food groups that contain them.  And questions please ask.

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.

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 – the best source of natural sodium is fish and shellfish, plainly cooked without batter.

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

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2019

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction in ebooks you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019/

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis.

Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. However, I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

Thanks for dropping in and please help spread the word by sharing..Sally.

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Buy a Book for Christmas – The last author to be (self-promoted) and Free Giveaway – Sally Cronin!


Time for some self-promotion…. but I do come bearing gifts!

Here are a selection of my books that are on Kindle and therefore available on Amazon. I do have print versions but because of Amazon and its interpretation of the Inland Revenue rules on VAT…they are now only sold direct and through bookstores.

I am going to share the books and one of their reviews, and offer five of the E-versions to you as a Christmas gift. I have no expectation of a review, but I write books to be read, and it gives me pleasure to know that someone is intrigued enough to want to accept the book.

The offer runs from today 18th December until Midnight Christmas Eve 2018 wherever you live

I am an independent seller on Amazon so don’t do free versions of the book there. All you need to do is choose your book from the five in the giveaway offer and email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

My latest book is Tales from the Irish Garden – a story of desperation, flight, love and adventures in a new land for the fairy court of Queen Filigree. (Not included in the Free Giveaway)

The queen of Magia and her court have fled their sun filled Spanish homeland and the palace beneath the magnolia tree.

Arriving on the backs of geese and swans, they seek sanctuary in the magic garden of The Storyteller who welcomes them to the Emerald Island, a place where rain is almost a daily feature.

Grateful for their safe haven and the generosity of their host, the queen and her courtiers embrace their new surroundings with delight.

As the seasons change throughout the year, they come into contact with many of the human and animal inhabitants of the garden and the surrounding forest, all of whom have a story to tell.

This is a magical fairy story infused with fantasy and romance, as well as opportunities for mischief in the company of goblins, witches and Lerpersians. Suitable for ages 10 to 100 years old…..

Please meet Queen Filigree as created by Donata Zawadzka

One of the recent reviews for the book

Loved it!  on December 14, 2018

I was attracted to this book because of its title. Show me a title concerning Ireland, and you’ve got my attention! I had seen good reviews of this book and, as are legions of others, have been a devoted fan of author Sally Cronin’s blog Smorgasbord on WordPress for years. And so it was that I bought Tales From the Irish Garden, not fully knowing what to expect. To say I was roped in from the onset puts it mildly! I was immediately bowled over by the minute details in this highly creative story, one part fantasy, one part fairy story and all parts sheer, delightful suspension of belief. Only, and here’s the kicker, as I read this engaging story, lured along by its romantic, magical undercurrents, I began to intuit the deeply human parables! Sally Cronin is a writer gifted with insight, humor, whimsy, and unparalleled story pacing abilities. Tales From the Irish Garden invites the reader to enter a plausible, magical realm so real as to make the reader want to stay there.

Read the reviews and buy the book on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Irish-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B07HMXTFKG

Now time for the books that are included in the Christmas Giveaway….

What’s in Name – Volume Two – Stories of life and romance.  (Part of Free Giveaway)

About What’s in a Name Volume Two

Our legacy is not always about money or fame, but rather in the way that people remember our name after we have gone. In these sixteen short stories we discover the reasons why special men and women will stay in the hearts and minds of those who have met them. Romance, revenge and sacrifice all play their part in the lives of these characters.

Kenneth watches the love of his life dance on New Year’s Eve while Lily plants very special flowers every spring for her father. Martha helps out a work colleague as Norman steps back out into the world to make a difference. Owen brings light into a house and Patrick risks his life in the skies over Britain and holds back from telling a beautiful redhead that he loves her.

Meet Queenie and Rosemary who have both lost their husbands and must face a very different future. One that will take courage and the use of new technology.

Sonia is an entitled princess whose father has reached the end of his tether and Theresa has to deal with a bully in the checkout. Usher is an arrogant narcissist with a docile wife and is used to getting his own way and Vanessa worries about the future of her relationship with her teenage son.

Walter is a loner and is happy with just his dog for company, Xenia is the long awaited first baby of a young couple. Yves is a dashing romeo who has the tables turned on him unexpectedly and Zoe… Well she can see into the future.

In one way or another all these characters will be remembered by those whose lives they have touched.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

on November 21, 2018

This second volume continues where the first book left off. The first story begins with “Kenneth,” and the rest of the stories flow through to “Zoe.” The author includes a bonus story at the end called, “The Village Square.”Prepare to be transported into the lives of the many personalities, Sally Cronin creates, inspired by a first name only. Each person’s name has a different tale to tell or life to lead, all carefully constructed to draw the reader into their experiences. Linking the stories together are the themes of romance and family. Need I say more?

I’m a great fan of short stories and find them some of the most satisfying bedtime reading there is. But, this book offered more than that. Sally Cronin writes in such a way that she evokes a range of emotions from the reader.

On numerous occasions, I couldn’t help but cheer or cry for several of the characters. The writing touched my heart.

Many of the stories are filled with plenty of sudden developments that will leave you guessing. Some, I couldn’t even attempt to guess the ending, which I found to be a special gift to the reader. Each story is character driven, and the author skillfully reels you in until a satisfying end is reached.

My favorite story was called, Queenie, who after the death of her husband, finds her way forward by taking on a project that matters most to her – her granddaughter’s happiness. Queenie’s granddaughter, Penny, is a psychiatrist and unmarried.

Nana (Queenie) decides that she must help her find a husband before she is called to her husband’s side in the great beyond. Of course, there are plenty of shenanigans that take place, but the underlying truths that unfold touched me deeply. This is the author’s style – she allows you to feel her stories.

The “What’s in a Name,” two book series, has proved to be one of my most favorite short story compilations. I’ll reread these stories, and greet them like long lost friends. Believe me; there’s something here for everyone!

MY RATING: Character Believability: 5 Flow and Pace: 5 Reader Engagement: 5 Reader Enrichment: 5 Reader Enjoyment: 5 Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 Stars

 You can read the other reviews: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0748MLZ1W/

and Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Name-Stories-Life-Romance-ebook/dp/B0748MLZ1W

What’s in a Name Volume One(Part of Free Giveaway)

About the collection

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?

One of the reviews for the collection

on April 17, 2018

This was a beautiful collection of short stories with an intriguing premise: each story is titled by the name of its main character, and there is one story with a male name and one with a female name for each letter of the alphabet (through J–Vol. II completes the alphabet). The way I describe it is far less simple than Sally Cronin makes it. The stories vary widely. Some are funny, some poignant, some teach a lesson. A couple of them made me cry, which is why I recommend that you have a box of tissues nearby when you read the collection. The one thing that each story does have is a surprising twist at the end–something the reader doesn’t see coming. I thoroughly enjoyed the collection and look forward eagerly to reading Volume II.

You can read the other reviews: https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Name-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whats-Name-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Tales from the Garden (also in Spanish Edition) (Part of the Free Giveaway)
tales-from-the-garden-coverFairy Stories for children of all ages, from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden, forever.

With over 80 photos/illustrations, “Tales from the Garden” by Sally Cronin,reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees.

You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories.

The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here.

One of the reviews for the book.

Have you ever walked around your garden, enjoying the birds, insects and lovely flowers and wondered if magic could be hiding there? Sally Cronin obviously has, for this enchanting book explores the magical goings-on in her own garden. From the stone guardians and fairy folk, each tale is full of hidden worlds and magical places. Each one a miniature fairy tale of priceless gemlike proportions. I especially enjoyed the many illustrations that accompany each tale, and reading this book encouraged me to relax and let my imagination take me on a magical journey through this wonderful garden. It will probably change the way I feel about my own garden forever.

Read more reviews on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0180Q6CKM

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Garden-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B0180Q6CKM

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story (Included in the Free Giveaway)

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About Sam – A Shaggy Dog Story

The true story of Sam, a rough collie, written from his perspective. A tribute to a true friend and a genuine family member.

Millions of families around the World believe that their pet, dog or cat is the most intelligent, beautiful and loyal friend that anyone could have. And they are absolutely right.

From the first moment that I met Sam, when he was just three weeks old, his personality and charm shone from his button eyes. Like many pet owners, we were convinced he understood every word we spoke and he actually could say one or two himself. Rather than tell his story from our perspective I have given him a voice and let him tell his own.

I can only imagine what he really thought about his two and four-legged friends but I do hope he loved us as much as we adored him and the time he spent with us shining brightly in our lives. If only our pets could talk how much richer the world would be, and funnier.

One of the recent reviews for Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story

I’m in love with Sam  on September 21, 2018

What a wonderful find. Being that I’m an animal lover and have spent a great many years involved in dog rescue, I was instantly drawn to the cover of this book. The beautiful photo is of Sam, who I instantly fell in love with as the pages unfolded in this marvelous story. From puppy-hood to a new home, new friends, Sam’s first language is cat. And it’s understandable when in the story we meet Henry, the toothless, feral cat, that Sam’s mistress Sally rescued. This friendship was funny, and sweet, and poignant–everything that makes up a beautiful friendship. It also served as a vehicle to introduce us to Sally’s heart–one filled with compassion. I could go on and on and on but then this review would be longer than his sweet, short read.

But I can’t leave without mentioning how this book made me smile: from Sam’s retelling of his first wee-wee in the house to that never happening again; to his going outside and along with the piddle leaving a “fragrant parcel” (he uses Sally’s words); to the soot on his snout from diving into the fireplace, etc. This book is an absolute uplifting treat.

Read more reviews on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GM0HPQE

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sam-Shaggy-Story-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B00GM0HPQE

Just an Odd Job Girl (Included in the Free Giveaway)

 

About Just an Odd Job Girl

Imogen was fifty!

Life is unpredictable and will often throw you a curve ball that knocks you out of the park.

For Imogen this curve ball knocked her out of a twenty five year marriage and a lovingly renovated home into a single life at age 50. She had been a very contented wife and mother of two children, who for every one of those 25 years had thought her husband had been equally as happy. It was a shock to find out that she had been delusional and replaced so easily.

Her confidence was non-existent. She had forgotten any skills she possessed and was totally unprepared to enter the modern job market. Or so she thought.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Aug 02, 2018 Carol Taylor rated it five Stars

Imogen was traded in at the age of 50 for a younger model or Fast Tracker in her words. I smiled and laughed out loud throughout as I could relate to much except my dress was made of tin foil and not red. Occupied at first by getting her new home in order Imogen then found herself eating and watching movies and of course piling on the pounds. Determined to make a change after seeing an advert in a local paper she took the plunge and went for an interview.

Andrew Jenkins was like no one Imogen had met and once he had put Imogen at her ease invited her to start at the beginning of her work history to put Imogen at her ease he explained that this would help him build a picture and enable him to find the perfect job for her. What followed was a joy to read and anyone who reads this is very likely to discover that they are not so very different to Imogen and the discoveries she made about herself and how it truly reflects the life story of so many women of a certain age.

The author has an easy going style which makes this story hard to put down as she goes through the many jobs she had Sally Cronin tells the tale of many and varied positions some being just downright funny. A story of a life before children and after they had flown the nest and Imogen had been discarded but how she rose like a phoenix from the flames a new woman. If you want a light-hearted read with a moral attached then this book is recommended and I will definitely be reading more from this author I loved it.

A light entertaining read with a powerful message

Read the other reviews on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M10F4O4

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-Odd-Girl-Sally-Cronin-ebook/dp/B00M10F4O4

How to get your free e-book version of these books.

Please email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com and let me know if you would like a mobi version for Kindle or epub for other devices.  As I mentioned earlier, I have no expectation of a review but if you do enjoy the book a quick email to let me know would be fantastic.

Look forward to hearing from you.

The offer runs from today 18th December until Midnight Christmas Eve 2018 wherever you live

 

Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind – Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol – Honey: Nectar of the Gods


Carol is on her summer break and I am house and dog sitting for my sister, so we thought you wouldn’t mind having a reminder of some of the dishes that we put together this time last year. I supplied the ingredients and their nutritional benefits and Carol prepared delicious meals from scratch. Carol will be back next week with her usual Food Column, and I am sure that she will have something special for us.

This week it is the turn of honey which has been providing sweetness to our diet for thousands of years. First a look at its many health benefits and then Carol is going to work her magic in the kitchen.

Many people are enjoying the benefits of plant based sweeteners such as Stevia which are very useful in cooking and as an alternative to table sugar.  I do use at times but I still use honey for its reputation for thousands of years as a healing food.

I doubt that there are many people today who are not aware of the health risks in consuming too much sugar-rich food. Diabetes is on the increase, especially in children, and along with obesity is likely to be one of the top causes of premature death within a few years.

To my mind, the insidious inclusion of sugars in processed foods and equally as bad the introduction of toxic artificial sweeteners is one of the reasons for increased levels of cancer and degenerative diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. We are becoming nutritionally deficient as we become more and more reliant on convenience and junk food laden with fats and sugars.

Honey is the exception and I encourage even my clients with Candida Albicans to use it in moderation as a healthy alternative to sugar or artificial sweeteners.

History of Honey.

For thousands of years it has been used both as a nutritious addition to diet and as an effective medicine and the oldest reference to this delicacy dates back to 5500 BC. At that time Lower Egypt was actually called Bee Land while the Upper Egypt was called Reed Land. By 2500 BC bee keeping was well established and a thriving trade existed between Egypt and India – where honey became associated with religious rites.

Apparently, 110 large pots of honey was equivalent to one donkey or ox. Babylonian and Sumerian clay tablets describe honey’s use as a medicine, some of which included powdered bees, which was considered a cure for bladder stones and dropsy. In all over half of the documented remedies, recognised from these periods in our history, were based on honey.

At first honey was treasured, due to not only its sweet taste but also its rarity. It was considered to be a divine substance and therefore it played a substantial role in many ancient people’s rites and ceremonies. Apart from anointing the dead, jars of honey were sent into the next world to nourish the deceased and in some civilisations honey took on mythical and magical properties.

The Aztecs and Mayan cultures of South America kept colonies of native bees, for their honey and wax, mainly for use as medicine. Sometime in the 16th or 17th century settlers brought European bees into the Americas and honey became more available to everyone.

It is considered to be very pure and therefore used in marriage rites around the world including in our own expression of “honeymoon” as it promoted fertility and was thought to act as an aphrodisiac.

If all that is not enough to tempt you to use honey on a daily basis then some of the health benefits of honey may be able to persuade you.

Raw Irish Honey: http://www.coolmorebees.com/honey-harvest/

Health benefits of honey

Having given honey such a wonderful lead-in I now have to put in a proviso and that is that not all honey is created equal.

Bees make honey for their own nourishment from the nectar collected from flowers and the enzymes in their saliva. They carry the honey back to the hive where it is deposited in the cells in the walls where it dries out and forms that consistency that we are familiar with.

The quality and medicinal qualities of honey are very dependent on the plants that the bees producing that honey have had access to. Most of the commercially available honey originates from bees feeding on clovers, heather and acacia plants but there are some wonderful flavours available from bees with access to herb plants such as thyme and lavender.

Unfortunately, in the processing of wild honey to the commercially acceptable product you find on most supermarket shelves, many of the nutrients can be lost. One in particular that is a very valuable anti-bacterial agent is Propolis, the glue that bees use to seal the hive and protect the contents. This is usually present in small amounts in wild honey but is lost in processing – unless it is marked on the jar. You can buy Propolis honey but it can be a little more expensive but worth it.

One of the best honeys in the world comes from New Zealand and is called Manuka honey and because of its reputation for healing it is very heavily tested and regulated to maintain its high standards.

Active Manuka honey is used both internally and externally to treat a number of medical conditions and research is being conducted to legitimise the claims that are made of its effectiveness which show a great deal of promise. Currently it may help prevent stomach ulcers, poor digestion, gastritis, Helicobacter Pylori (H.Pylori), skin ulcers, sore throats, skin infections, boost immune system and energy levels. It is thought that it might even work effectively against MRSA, which would be very interesting.

If you are eating honey then do buy locally and if possible from source. Visit the beekeeper and you should see someone in glowing health, which will be a testament to the quality of his bees and honey. We had bee farms near where we lived in Madrid and they are miles from pollution and surrounded by wild plants of every variety in the hills.

Internal health benefits

Good quality raw honey is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. It is also an amazing energy source and certainly Greek athletes used both honey and figs to enhance their performance on the track. Modern researchers conducted a study using athletes, some of which were given a honey, some sugar and some maltodextrin as the carbohydrate source. The athletes who were given the honey maintained a steady blood sugar level throughout the two hour training session and their recovery times was much better than those athletes on the alternative energy sources.

For anyone suffering from diabetes, finding a sweetener that does not affect blood sugar levels dramatically is vitally important and honey would appear to raise levels far less than any other refined alternative. However, this still does not mean that a diabetic can eat honey freely but it does mean that breakfast porridge and cups of tea can benefit from a little sweetness if it is required. Please check with your doctor beforehand.

It has also been found that natural honey rather than processed honey can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels (smaller particle cholesterol that when oxidised can attach to the walls of arteries and block them), homocysteine levels and increases the level of HDL (healthy cholesterol) helping to prevent heart disease.

Honey’s healing properties are beneficial for stomach ulcers, sore throats and intestinal damage with a balancing effect on intestinal bacteria. This includes Candida Albicans, which goes against most therapists’ philosophy of eliminating all sweeteners from a sufferer’s diet. All my clients have switched to honey in their programmes and it seems to not only help in the recovery but also provides a small element of sweetness to satisfy cravings.

It has been found that taking natural honey on a daily basis raises blood levels of the protective antioxidant compounds that we need to prevent disease and to heal ourselves. Admittedly the subjects in the study that confirmed this consumed four tablespoons of buckwheat honey per day which would grate on even my sweet tooth. I do believe as you know in the accumulative effect and therefore over a period of time taking a teaspoon or so of honey per day on food or in drinks should benefit you in the long term.

External health benefits

As with ulcers internally, honey is excellent for external wound healing. Honey absorbs water in the wound inhibiting the growth of bacteria and fungi. Also honey contains glucose oxidase that when mixed with water produces hydrogen peroxide which is a mild antiseptic. There are also specific enzymes in honey, particularly Manuka honey that appear to speed up the healing process in combination with the common antioxidant properties.

Now time to hand over to Carol to share some of the wonderful ways you can incorporate honey into your diet.

Honey, Nectar of the Gods.

What a brilliant post from Sally on the benefits of honey, there is nothing like locally produced raw honey if you can get it, if not buy the best honey you can either Manuka or Propolis honey, you will reap the benefits health and taste wise.

Where do I get my honey? Well my first bottle ……I was sitting on the beach with my sun downer…..fending off the ever-present sellers of touristy bits and bobs……when a man appeared carrying a very heavy-looking bucket ….what did he have…Well I had to look and what a surprise…it was fresh, very fresh honeycomb..and he strained the most glorious bottle of fresh honey…I just had to purchase it…the taste was so fresh and very slightly scented…amazing and a beautiful golden colour.

Just the thing to make some delish Honey, Coconut and Lemon Pancakes.

This recipe makes 5-6.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of coconut flour.
  • 1 tbsp of honey.
  • 1 cup of coconut milk.
  • 8 eggs.
  • 1/4 tsp of baking soda.
  • Coconut oil or butter for frying, lemon wedges and extra honey to serve.

To prepare:

Place all of the pancake ingredients in a large bowl and combine well. Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and add one teaspoon of coconut oil, covering the base of the pan while it melts. Add a large scoop of pancake batter into the frying pan and cook until the top of the pancake begins to bubble and has started to cook. Flip the pancake over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes or until the pancake has cooked through. Repeat with the remaining batter then serve with a drizzle of honey and a lemon wedge for squeezing the juice over the pancakes.

And enjoy!

Now I have moved to the North of Thailand I get my honey straight from the comb…I am so lucky and I know that and it is beautiful.

I always take a little apple cider vinegar with a spoonful of honey in hot water first thing in the morning…on an empty tummy I have been taking it for a couple of years ..it is said to fight off joint inflammation and I don’t suffer from joint pain or anything…..

Almond and mixed nuts

Need a quick gift or a healthy snack then these almonds or mixed nuts are delicious and super easy to make. Just mix honey into some raw almonds or nuts of your choice and sprinkle them with sea salt. Bake for about 25minutes in the oven…You can even get creative with the spices…a little chilli or cinnamon….

Honey mixed with Dijon mustard makes a lovely glaze for BBQ meats. Or one of my favourites is ¾ cup of honey, 1 tbsp red chillies finely chopped, 1 tbsp green chillies finely chopped and 1 tbsp lime juice. Mix all together and leave for 1 hour in fridge it is then ready to use.

Another wonderful dip for a cold meat platter on a summer’s day

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil,
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped,
  • 1/2-1 tsp red pepper flakes,
  • 1/3 cup honey,
  • 2 tsp soy sauce,
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar,
  • ¼ to ½ cup water
  • and 2 tsp cornstarch.

To prepare:

In a small bowl stir together the honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ¼ cup of water and the cornstarch.

Put the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat and let the mix warm up for about 30 seconds, add the garlic and cook until fragrant and just starting to colour, 15-20 seconds max.

Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 15-30 seconds until garlic is very lightly browned.

Restir the honey mixture and pour into the saucepan, bring to a simmer stirring, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins stirring frequently.

Add more water if desired.


.You now have a lovely dip for your cold platter.

What I also love is chilli infused honey… Place honey in a saucepan and warm until it reaches 180 degrees on a sugar thermometer. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. Then pour your honey over a jar of chillies. Cool to room temperature.

Beautiful with meat or fish….

For a lovely honey, ginger and mint tea which not only tastes great but is full of health benefits as it is anti oxidant and anti flammatory.

  • Take a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger and chop finely or grate.
  • 2 cups of water
  • The juice of 1 med lemon or lime about 3 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Mint leaves.

Bring the water to the boil and steep the ginger fro 10-15 minutes, add the honey and lemon juice then strain to catch the ginger bits although if I have grated the ginger then I leave it in. Add the mint.

Serve hot or cold …I like it chilled and keep a jug in the fridge.

Well, we can’t leave you without a cake to have with your elevenses or afternoon tea… Can we???

This lovely honey cake is beautiful and lasts for 4-5 days wrapped and stored in an airtight container.

I definitely need airtight and ant proof container here as those pesky little sugar ants get in the smallest of gaps they even get in unopened packets…grrrr

Honey Cake.

Oven 140C Fan/160C/Gas 3.

Grease and line a 20cm round loose bottomed cake tin.

Ingredients:

  • 250 gm clear honey plus 2tbsp to glaze cake.
  • 225 gm unsalted butter
  • 100 gm raw cane sugar
  • 3 large eggs beaten
  • 300 gm unbleached SR flour

To prepare:

Cut the butter into pieces and put in a pan with the honey and the sugar once it has melted then increase the heat and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Then leave to cool for 10- 15 minutes as you don’t want the eggs to scramble.

Once the mix has cooled down beat the eggs into the mix then add the mix to the sieved flour. Beat until smooth.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until well risen and golden brown. A skewer should come out clean.

Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and melt 2 tbsp of honey and brush the top of the cake with the melted honey.

Leave to cool.

Well that all for this week I hope you have enjoyed mine and Sally’s collaboration because we love doing it.

If you love it then please share with your friends or reblog as we want to show as many people as we can that good, healthy food need not be expensive or hard to find it is just normal foods you can grow yourself or buy from your farmers market or local store.

My thanks to Carol for another fantastic array of foods that bring honey into the spotlight.

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!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

Please feel free to share thanks Sally

The other posts in the Food and Cookery Column can be found in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

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Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind – Cook From Scratch with Sally and Carol – Carrots from Afghanistan


Carol is on her summer break and I am house and dog sitting for my sister, so we thought you wouldn’t mind having a reminder of some of the dishes that we put together this time last year. I supplied the ingredients and their nutritional benefits and Carol prepared delicious meals from scratch.

Carol Taylor is a wonderful cook and uses fresh ingredients that she either grows herself of buys a the market in Thailand where she lives.

First a look at the carrot’s origins and its health benefits.

The humble carrot is a vegetable most of us take for granted. Carrots have an ancient history originating in Afghanistan.  The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact, the Greeks called the carrot ‘Philtron’ and used it as an aphrodisiac.  Don’t all rush to the supermarket!

In Asia, the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century.  It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite!  In those days, the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white.  They were cultivated together and over time, it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.

The Elizabethans on receiving the carrots from mainland Europe did some rather strange things with them.  Some ate the roots but others used the feathery foliage for decoration in hats (Ascot) and on their clothes.  I am sure like every fashion statement this may come and revisit us at some point.  The colonists took the carrot to America but they were not cultivated there until the last couple of centuries.

The Health benefits of carrots

Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A (retinol), beta-carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium.  Of all of the nutrients, Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot.  As far as the eyes are concerned it is the Vitamin A and the Beta-carotene which are the most important nutrients. Vitamin A, helps your eyes adjust to light changes when you come in from outside and helps keep your eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist.

Vitamin A also prevents night blindness. If the vitamin A deficiency causing night blindness is not corrected, it can then lead to a condition called xerophthalmia, causing extremely dry eyes, possibly corneal ulcers and swollen eyelids. If left untreated, xerophthalmia can lead to blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness in developing countries. Vitamin A may possibly prevent cataracts from forming and may help prevent macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in the world.

Beta-carotene is one of about 500 compounds called carotenoids, which are present in most fruit and vegetables. The body changes beta-carotene into Vitamin A, which promotes a healthy immune system and healthy cell growth.  The body can only change so much beta-carotene into Vitamin A and any excess boosts the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant in its own right.  Antioxidants prevent free radical damage to cells, tissues and most importantly to the fat in our bloodstream that can lead to blocked arteries and heart disease.

Alpha carotene has often been overlooked in carrots but some interesting studies in Japan indicate that Alpha carotene might be even more powerful than Beta-carotene in the fight against cancer. As far as our general health is concerned, carrots play an important role in neutralising acid in the body.

Acidity and alkalinity in the body.

All acids have similar properties to each other because they all release hydrogen into solutions. Acidity is measure using the pH (potential of hydrogen) scales.   The scale runs from 0 to 14.  All acids have a pH measurement between 0 to below 7 on the scale.

Acids are present in all living organisms including the human body.  Acids in plants react differently than acids in protein rich foods such as animal products. All foods are burned in the body leaving an ash as a result, if the food contains a predominance of sulphur, phosphorus, chlorine then an acid ash is produced.

The body has developed different strategies to ensure that the balance between acid and alkali is optimum for each of its different organs and systemic functions.

A minor deviation from the optimum balance can have a devastating effect on the operating systems of the body and can lead to coma and death so the body has a number of buffer systems to maintain that balance. When the blood is too alkaline the heart contracts and ceases to beat and when too acidic it relaxes and ceases to beat.

Eating carrots and other vegetables and fruits that burn to an alkaline ash in the body help balance both the acidic ash foods we consume and some external stress triggers.

I am now handing over to Carol who is going to show you some terrific ways to prepare this humble but nutritionally packed vegetable.

All vegetables are versatile but I think the humble carrot which is cheap to buy, easy to grow and with so many health benefits and culinary uses that it deserves just a bit more than being called just a carrot.

Today I am going to show you a few recipes which I make using carrots so come with me and if you have any wonderful carrot recipes then please share with us in the comments we are always on the lookout for wonderful local recipes using carrots.

Sally and I hope that you are enjoying reading all her good sound advice about the healthy benefits of the carrot and having recipes in the post so that you can then incorporate carrots into your diet. We are trying to show that good healthy food needn’t be boring or bland but can be enjoyable to cook and eat.

Because food should be fun and enjoyable.

What better way to get one of your 5 a day than to add a piece of carrot to your smoothie.

I am getting a tad more adventurous and using all sorts of fruit and veggies in my smoothies.

Today I not only used a chunk of carrot but a slice of tomato and a slice of beetroot(not)pickled…lol…as well as the fruit and I think it is one of the best I have made.

I used a large chunk of watermelon, pineapple, yellow melon and dragon fruit. A slice of tomato, a slice of beetroot, a chunk of carrot and some crushed ice.
Then into the blender, blitz until smooth and viola a lovely healthy smoothie.

But play with and use whatever fruit you have which is in season…I might add a squeeze of lime or a little coconut milk it really depends how I feel and what I have..Even frozen fruits are great for smoothies.

I always find the smoothies are sweet enough for me from the natural fruit and vegetable sugars but some don’t and add a little sugar syrup with the fruit and vegetables.

And that is my tropical sunshine in a glass…. Isn’t it a beautiful colour?

Lovely new spring carrots just cooked in olive oil, glazed with honey and seasoned, delicious in their simplicity.

Photo by Thomas Gamstaetter on Unsplash

Ingredients

You need 1 kilo of baby carrots or new carrots
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp honey…I use fresh raw honey
Salt and pepper to season.

Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Tip the washed carrots into a roasting pan and toss with the oil and season with salt and pepper. If you have some fresh or frozen herbs then in they can go. Roast for 25/30 minutes then drizzle the vinegar and honey over the carrots, toss well and return to the oven for about 20 minutes.

Serve as a side dish.

Other ways to include carrots in your daily diet.

  • Grated carrots can be added to your coleslaw, or add a few sultanas to some grated carrots and drizzled with a oil dressing they make a nice accompaniment to a salad.
  • Washed pieces of carrot can be given to children to snack on…nice and healthy.
  • Carrot batons are lovely with batons of peppers and a nice home- made hummus or dip.
  • Carrots steamed gently and then pureed with a little juice from the steaming water and a tiny bit of butter mixed in and a little pepper and no salt as there is salt in the butter it makes a lovely puree for a baby..my son lived on buttered carrots as a baby and nothing else he loved them. He is now a fit healthy adult who loves and eats lots of vegetables. You can also steam a little cauliflower and broccoli to add to the carrots.
  • Pickling Jalapenos then add a few carrots they are lovely pickled with the jalapenos. Just slice a carrot thinly and add to the pickling vinegar when you are heating it, cook for 5 minutes then add your sliced jalapenos and put into sterilised jars. So easy to do and very nice.

On a cold winters day how about a nice warming bowl of carrot soup? I also add carrots to my pumpkin soup…it is such a versatile little vegetable.

Carrot Soup.

Ingredients: Serves 2

2 carrots washed and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
Half onion chopped
1/2 cloves garlic chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger finely chopped or grated
The zest and juice of half an orange 500ml of fresh vegetable stock or chicken stock
Salt and black pepper to season.
Crème fresh and coriander, to garnish. I use Coconut milk and a sprinkle of chilli flakes…but that’s me I love my chilli.

To prepare…

Gently cook the onion in a saucepan with the olive oil until it has softened but not coloured, add the garlic, ginger and orange zest and cook for a minute or 2. Then add the carrots and pour in the stock.

Simmer until the carrots are very tender and using a hand blender blend until smooth.
Serve and garnish as above with crème fresh and coriander or coconut milk and some chilli flakes as I do

Well, we can’t have a post about carrots and not have a recipe for carrot cake…Can we???

Ingredients:

  • 2 and ½ cups (310 gm) of all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 and ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp each of ground cloves, nutmeg and ground ginger (I have fresh ginger )in my garden so always finely chop or grate and add to the mix instead of ground ginger.
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 and 1/14 cups (250 gm) of light or dark brown sugar (I use raw coconut sugar)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 large carrots grated
  • 1 cup (8oz) of crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup (125 gm) chopped walnuts

To prepare

Pre heat the oven to 350F (175C) and grease a 9 x 13 oven proof dish.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices all together in a large bowl. Set to one side.

Stir the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract together and then pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and stir or whisk until combined.

Fold in the carrots, pineapple and the walnuts. Spread the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 45-55 minutes and as ovens vary keep an eye out so it doesn’t overcook. If you find the edges are browning too quickly then lightly cover with foil.

When it is cooked a skewer or toothpick inserted into the cake centre will come out clean.

Allow to cool completely before adding topping.

For the topping you will need:

  • 8 ounces (224 gm) block of cream cheese softened.
  • ½ cup (115 gm) butter
  • 3 cups (360 gm) of icing sugar plus extra if required.
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract.
  • Salt if required to taste.

To make topping using a hand held or stand mixer beat together the softened cream cheese and the icing sugar on low speed. Add in vanilla essence and beat on high for 2 minutes if you like your topping a little firmer then add more icing sugar but if you put the cake into the fridge the icing with set a little more.

This is a lovely moist cake made even better by the addition of the pineapple.

Cut into squares once cake is iced and ready.

That is all for now I hope you are enjoying this collaboration with Sally and myself as much as we are writing it and testing recipes. I have lots of other recipes with carrots but it would have ended up being like War and Peace so maybe we can incorporate some of the others in another post. There are plenty more exciting posts to come and if you try a recipe please let us know how it turned out as we love to hear from you.

Until next week stay safe, have fun and laugh a lot as laughter is the best medicine known to man and it has no side effects.

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!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

My thanks to Carol for these wonderful recipes and I hope you will join us again Please feel free to share thanks Sally

The other posts in the Food and Cookery Column can be found in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind- Cook from Scratch with Sally and Carol – Banana – Nutrient Boost, no packaging required!


Carol is on her summer break and I am house and dog sitting for my sister, so we thought you wouldn’t mind having a reminder of some of the dishes that we put together this time last year. I supplied the ingredients and their nutritional benefits and Carol prepared delicious meals from scratch.

The Banana – Nutrient Boost, no packaging required

The banana is not only a superfood packed with nutrients but it is also a definite winner in the therapeutic arena. The fruit has been around for at least a couple of thousand years and many cultures have used the banana in their fight against illness.

I have often been told that people do not eat bananas because they are fattening but will admit to eating a doughnut or a bar of chocolate everyday. A bar of chocolate which is 100gm is around 500 calories and 55% fat. A 100gm of banana (large) has 120/150 calories and is virtually fat free. I will leave you to do the maths.. and to read just want that 120 calories piece of fruit can do for you.

Health benefits.

The banana has many talents including keeping your bowels healthy, reducing your risk of heart disease and strokes, protecting you from ulcers, improving blood pressure, boosting your energy and your mood and help you reduce water retention.

More specifically the banana is a medicine cabinet in its own right. If we look at the diverse diseases and conditions that it is connected to you will realise how important it is in your diet.

Anaemia is the result of a lack of haemoglobin the oxygen-carrying agent in red blood cells. Iron is essential in the manufacture of this haemoglobin in the bone marrow and bananas are high in this mineral.

High blood pressure and stress related conditions effect many people and not just as they age. More and more children and young adults are showing signs of following a poor diet, high in junk food and low in natural fresh produce. Junk food is high in salt, which in the form of sodium and in excess causes elevated blood pressure.

The potassium in bananas helps lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, enhancing he excretion of water and sodium from the body and suppressing the hormones that cause elevations in blood pressure.

Potassium helps normalise the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates water balance. When we are stressed our metabolic rate increases, reducing our potassium levels and by eating a banana we can help re-balance all these symptoms in one snack.

Depression and nervous conditions can be helped by eating bananas as they contain tryptophan, a protein that converts into serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that makes you relax and improves your mood. The B vitamins in the fruit are also essential for a healthy central nervous system.

Heartburn is eased by eating a banana due to its antacid effect, and it has the added benefit of not causing stomach problems when used long term.

Ulcers in the stomach are very delicate and the banana is one of the few foods that can be eaten raw without causing any further distress or inflammation to the ulcer site. It also reduces over acidity and the irritation this causes to the lining of the stomach.

PMS is dreadful, not just for the woman concerned, but usually for the family around her. Eating a banana with its B6 not only helps alleviate the stress symptoms but also works to regulate the hormones causing the problem.

Weight loss – Contrary to popular belief that the banana is fattening, it actually provides one of the most complete meals in history for only 120/150 calories for a large banana.. As weight can be related to stressful environments, a banana is also very good as a work place snack to help you get through the day; without resorting to more unhealthy comfort foods.

Morning sickness and hangovers whilst hopefully not connected, tend to afflict us in the morning when blood sugar levels are likely to be low. Eating a banana is said to help stabilise this, and if you blend your banana with some milk and honey, you will also soothe and hydrate your body whilst calming the stomach.

Smoking – Cigarettes are tough to give up. I know having gone through the withdrawal symptoms myself 25 years ago. If you can manage without a nicotine patch, you might think about including a banana in your diet every day or when you have a craving. Not only will all the nutrients give you an energy boost but also the potassium and magnesium in the banana will help with your withdrawal symptoms including stress.

Warts and mosquito bites can be unsightly and the bites very itchy and whilst there are some products available in the pharmacies there are some old fashioned remedies that are worth mentioning. It is said that if you wrap the inside of the banana skin around a wart that it will disappear and it is reported that rubbing the inside of the skin over mosquito bites will take down the swelling and irritation. I cannot personally attest to that one but it won’t hurt to try.

As you can see the banana is a very useful ally in efforts to prevent illness and to help our bodies fight conditions when they occur. It is not the complete answer, as it needs to be included in a diet that contains all the essential elements. It is also not intended to take the place of necessary medication for serious illnesses. It is part of the wonderful pharmacy that we have available at our fingertips and should be enjoyed in as many ways as possible.

Now I am going to hand you over to Carol Taylor who is sharing some delicious ways to include bananas in your diet.

The Banana also known as the fruit of wise men.

I am sure most of you can get Bananas in your supermarket; these bananas will probably be the Cavendish by name as the original Banana favoured by the supermarkets was the Gros Michel which became extinct by 1960 as it was wiped out by a fungus called the Panama Disease.

This could happen at any time as Bananas are actually clones and if they become infected with a fungus it just runs rampant and kills them all.

The Banana a most versatile of fruits with so many uses…..Here in Thailand and in my garden Bananas grow in abundance.

So much so that I always freeze some ready to make smoothies.

The Bananas scientific name is Musa Sapientum which roughly translated means “Fruit of wise men”

Here it is called Kluay pronounce “ glue eye” spellings vary slightly around the regions and it is a tree-like perennial and officially classed as a herb, the world’s largest herb as it can reach 25 feet in height. The fruit is also classed as a berry.

Here in Thailand leaves are used to serve food on or wrap food in like these little parcels of tri coloured sticky rice topped with shredded pork.

The purple flowers are steamed and eaten with a spicy Thai dip.

To make Thai spicy dip:

Finely chop one small shallot, 1 clove of garlic, finely slice 6/8 fresh chillies, add 3 tbsp fish sauce and 2 tbsp fresh lime juice…I stir in a little-chopped coriander. If the dip is too salty add a little warm boiled water.

Mashed and mixed with a tbsp of heavy cream and a tbsp of honey and then applied to dry hair covered with a shower cap and a hot towel. Left for an hour and then rinsed off before shampooing the hair it is a wonderful moisturising treatment.

There is no end to the properties of this low calorie, no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol berry which is also rich in Vitamin C, Potassium, fibre and B6.

Here it is used to make bread and muffins.

Banana Bread.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 ripe bananas.
  • 1/3 Cup melted butter.
  • 1 cup sugar (I only used slightly less than 1/2 cup) don’t like it too sweet.
  • 1 egg beaten.
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence.
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder.
  • 1 1/2 Cups Flour.
  • Handful walnuts chopped (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350/175 degrees.
Use a 4 x 8 inch loaf tin.

Method:

  • Mash Banana, Stir in butter. Mix in Baking Soda and salt. Stir in sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix in flour.
  • Bake for 1hr- 1hr 10 mins.
  • Cool completely before removing from tin.

Once cold it can be eaten sliced on its own or with butter…I serve mine with a passion fruit butter sometimes it is nice to experiment with different flavoured butters.

If cooked the banana skins are edible, you will see fried bananas in abundance on the street food stalls…they are fried in batter, grilled on the BBQ in their skins and turned into golden fritters ( Kluay phao)

Banana spring rolls with a sweet dip or eaten green and raw with a spicy dip. (See recipe above)

They can be used to make a beautiful Banana Blossom stir fry.

Just wash the blossoms and put in a bowl of cold water with some lemon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil/olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp yellow split peas/chana dhal
  • 1 tbsp split green lentils/urad dhal
  • 1-2 dry red Chilli halved
  • 2 tsp tamarind juice
  • 5-8 Curry Leaves
  • 1 Banana flower blossoms
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut, fresh/frozen
  • Salt to taste

To cook!

Bring some water to the boil in a cooking pan and add the banana flower to a boiling water pot and cook for 10 minutes, until they are soft and done. Drain the water through a colander and squeeze with the hand to remove any excess water. Set them aside.

Heat oil in a cooking pan and once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, Let them pop, add lentils and halved red chillies. Now add tamarind juice and curry leaves and mix well, Mix in finely chopped onion and saute on a medium flame till they are light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add turmeric and mix well.

Add the cooked banana flower to the pan. Stir fry for 2 minutes at on a medium flame until they are mixed well with the spices.Add salt to taste and sprinkle grated coconut on top and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with steam rice.

Green unripe bananas are also used to make Tam Maak Kluay which is a version of the famous Som Tam (Papaya Salad) which I first had from a roadside stall near Bang Tao beach in Phuket and it is beautiful.

Just a piece of trivia…did you know? That more songs have been written about the Banana than any other fruit.

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!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

Connect to Carol

Blog: https://blondieaka.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheRealCarolT
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carol.taylor.1422

My thanks to Carol for these wonderful recipes and I hope you will join us again Please feel free to share thanks Sally

The other posts in the Food and Cookery Column can be found in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/carol-taylors-food-and-cookery-column-2018/

 

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Chapter Fifteen – Teeth Cleaning and Reflections on my Life


51uI0kWA+ML._UY250_Last time Sam shared his love of Christmas and parties (well sausages and cheese with a little bit of dancing).  But his life was not always carefree with a medical issue that needed emergency medical treatment.

Chapter Fifteen – Teeth Cleaning and Reflections on my Life

We had been in Madrid for about a year when one day I started to feel unwell. I had experienced tummy upsets periodically since I was about two years old. Sally would take me to the vet who would give me antibiotics and I would be alright again for a couple of months. At first they thought it was the food I was on and certain things did appear to be the trigger but no one came up with a definite answer.

The problem persisted in Madrid and in addition to the tummy upsets I began to feel feverish and suffered severe pain in my gut. We were going down south for a few weeks and the trip was agony for me. We had to stop every hour or so for me to get out and visit the bushes and by the time we got down to our apartment I did not feel very well at all.

Sally gave me some of my medicine and I spent a restless night. The next morning they had decided to take me to the vet where I was registered and as we left the apartment they noticed that I was bleeding onto the tiles.

They rushed me over to the animal hospital immediately where I had to go through the usual indignities of temperature and the most agonising examination I have ever had.
I also had what they call an ultra sound which looks into your body and the vet came back very concerned.

Apparently since I became adult I had suffered from a swollen and enlarge prostate that was badly infected. There was only one answer and that involved an operation.

Before I had the operation I had to have pills for six weeks to lower my testosterone levels and antibiotics. David and Sally decided to bring me back to Madrid to my normal vet, a very nice Spanish lady who smelt good and always gave me cheese after my injections.

I had no idea what the medication was for but I can tell you after two weeks something very strange began to happen. I lost interest in my girlfriends. Normally I would drag David around every night for nearly an hour visiting them all, kissing them through the fence and promising all of them my undivided love and attention. Now I would get about 100 yards down the road and wonder what I was doing there. Instead of thirty strategic wees along the way, I was down to one that lasted forty seconds on the nearest available bush. Very strange and I felt rather depressed about the whole thing.

Six weeks later and I could not even remember all my girlfriends’ names and seemed to spend my time dreaming of my favourite foods instead.

At least the pain was better and after six weeks David and Sally took me to my vets for the operation. Sally was very tearful which I did not understand as she told me I was just going to have my teeth cleaned. The vet gave me a little injection that I barely felt and I suddenly found myself feeling dizzy and sleepy. I slowly slid to the ground and lowered my head onto my paws. I heard David and Sally leave and tried to call for them but the next minute I was gone.

When I woke up I was still very groggy and my mouth felt a little sore. While I had been asleep they had taken the opportunity to give me a quick scale and polish but what I could not understand was why my bum hurt too!

I am absolutely fine now and have not experienced any further problems although I have to say that I do miss the girls and occasionally when I am out on my walks I get a whiff of a scent in the air that makes my tail wag and a memory of past lady friends stirs in my mind.

Of course the downside is that dogs in my position tend to focus on other pleasures, particularly those of a culinary variety. I have found that ladies are not the only thing missing from my life as sausages and full fat cheese seem to have gone the same way.

Other areas of my life remain the same. I still perform an extremely important function within the pack and I have to say that there is no doubt that they could not do without me.

I am still head of security and I carry out such duties as warning off Magpies who violate our airspace, helicopters that fly too low, the postman on his motor scooter who is not allowed through the gate and any domestic cats who might think they can make their beds on the sofa on the terrace.

One of my most important roles is barking up the shutters in the mornings after my walk and barking them down again at night. I receive a couple of pieces of cheese for this particular job as well as a great deal of praise.

 

The most important role however is as security consultant and back up to Sally. I listen very carefully to her language and tone and if she raises her voice or indicates any form of over excitement then I immediately move into the back up position and growl and bark accordingly. I am very protective of her and David has said it is my job to keep her safe at all costs. For this job I don’t need payment in the form of food and instead I accept several hugs and kisses. I still get my love in on the rug in front of the fireplace and David still manages to get down on the mat to hold my marrow bone for me which brings me great joy.

I am a very happy individual with simple needs. My dinners are wonderful with French dog biscuits, cooked chicken and chewy gizzards. Two or three times a week I have a hard-boiled egg and I really enjoy these best when they are still warm. Sally is always watching her weight and mine I am afraid to say but she still lets me have the occasional treat including one of her yoghurt covered rice cakes.

I am not up to spending hours chasing my ball in the garden but apart from my two big walks a day, David and I also check the perimeter of our property for intruders after lunch. I have several rather useful holes dug under bushes that need inspecting regularly and I still enjoy sneaking a crafty nip at an exposed leg from time to time.

If any of you dogs out there reading this story are having as good a life as I have then you are lucky indeed.

I now lie overlooking the mountains as the sun goes down – I can see across the valley to the hills on the other side and I can hear the dogs down there below me saying good night to each other. As I look back on my long and happy life and the friends that I have known and loved, I would not be anywhere else but here with my family.

©Sallycronin Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story 2009

Thank you for reading my memoir and I hope you have enjoyed my story. If you do not have a dog then perhaps you might adopt one and treat them to some sausages and cheese and a ‘love in’.. They will love you back loads.

If you would like to browse through Sally’s books..

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

As always I look forward to your comments.. thanks Sally