Living Naturally Blog

About this Blog

Margaret Boyles lives in a wood-heated house in central New Hampshire. She grows vegetables, keeps chickens, swims in a backyard pond in summer, snowshoes in the surrounding woods in winter, and commutes by bike whenever possible.

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October 3, 2015

Celery. Almost every refrigerator holds a sleeve of it. Raw, it’s a grab-and-go food, with a satisfying crunch and a handy groove for holding anything spreadable. Cooked, it imparts a delicate flavor to salads, soups, and stir-fries. And it has only 11 calories per cup. Yet it is most often described as bland, boring, watery. Nonetheless, celery qualifies as a high-powered health food. Although it isn’t strong in conventional nutrients, it does contain dozens of phytonutrients. Celery’s... more

September 30, 2015

I’ll admit to a lifelong coffee addiction. I drink it strong, black, and unsweetened. We buy ours from our local food co-op—fair-trade, organic French Roast—and grind it fresh for every pot. I will say also that coffee contradicts many of my values. I stay far away from other addictive substances. I certainly don’t grow it myself and my consumption doesn’t support local agriculture. And yet, drinking lots of coffee—as much as 3-5 or more cups per day—has been associated with numerous health... more

September 19, 2015

The humble beet, steamed, boiled, roasted, pickled, borscht’ed—but especially served raw—has emerged as a nutrient-dense food considered especially beneficial for health. If you’ve never considered beets for breakfast, snacks, or potluck food, these facts may spark your imagination: Research has demonstrated that eating beets, especially raw, or drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, and improve both exercise performance and blood flow to the brain—probably because of the high... more

September 17, 2015

There's a famous New Yorker cartoon from the early 1990’s (click on image to enlarge) about recycling. It shows a long stream of people trudging up the many switchbacks of a flaming ramp to deposit items in an endless string of boxes labeled tea bags, wadded up masking tape, broken ball point pens, not blue paper, etc. The cartoon is captioned Recycling in Hell. That’s how I feel about most artsy-crafty projects that “repurpose” household discards. While I love seeing those chandeliers from... more

August 13, 2015

I’ve blogged about apples before, but it’s time for an update. Apple harvest is coming up! Find local apples at pick-your-own operations, farmstands, farmers’ markets, and even supermarkets. I love most any apple variety, but I’m especially looking forward to the McCouns (my favorite for eating fresh), and the Baldwin and Northern Spy varieties that come later in October (best for longer storage). Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Research keeps accumulating to suggest the old adage... more

July 17, 2015

Scientists have determined that each of us has a unique “odor-print,” as distinctive as our fingerprints! Nope, this odor-print isn’t altered by your recent garlic-laden meal or by perfumes, aftershaves, or deodorants.  Your individual odor-print is created by different amounts of 120 chemical compounds. When there is disease, your body produces different odors, some of which dogs can identify! Some day, understanding these odors may help us diagnose diseases earlier and more accurately. Below... more

June 6, 2015

A few years back, my adult daughter moved to a toney Virginia suburb, where she found it challenging to live on her modest salary. One evening the phone rang. “Exciting news, mom! I finally found a fresh vegetable I can afford here—a gigantic bag of kale for only 99 cents! It will last me a whole week.” I wondered why the kale was priced so modestly, when a head of broccoli in the same store cost $2.50. “Well, I don’t think people actually eat much kale around here. The bag was labeled ‘... more

April 23, 2015

I always enjoy a big pot of pine needle tea in the spring. As soon as spring arrives, I head outside and gather a small bag of white pine needles from young seedling trees.  The inner bark and needles of our region’s conifers have a long history of medicinal use among the Native Americans. White-pine needle tea is especially rich in vitamins C and A, contains numerous other plant compounds with medicinal value, and may have saved the lives of early European explorers.  Pine Needle Tea Recipe... more

April 8, 2015

My mother dosed her family with generous amounts of dandelion greens as soon as she discovered their bright leaves poking up through the thatch of the back lawn. One of nine children growing up during the Depression on a Vermont dairy farm, Mom regaled us with many stories of the wild-food foraging that supplemented the self-reliant family diet. Dandelions, the first fresh greens of spring, ranked high on her list of important foraged foods. I inherited my mother’s dandelion fork, a simple... more

March 10, 2015

Remember Beatrix Potter’s famous children’s story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit? After his forbidden excursion into Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden (where he ate lettuces, French beans, and radishes) and a harrowing escape, the mischievous Peter finally arrived home, sick to his tummy and exhausted, whereupon his mother dosed him with chamomile tea and put him to bed. Mother Rabbit was definitely on to something. Dating back at least 2000 years to the ancient Egyptians, people have used dried... more


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