Living Naturally

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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November 8, 2015

Nothing speaks of fall and winter like the appearance of winter squashes and pumpkins in stores, farmers’ markets, and on our tables. It’s time to turn to the sweet, orange-fleshed hubbards, buttercups, butternuts, and acorns for comfort. Botanists also classify pumpkins among the winter squashes. Native to the New World, all varieties of squash and pumpkins belong to the genus Cucurbita within the large plant family Cucurbitacae. What is Winter Squash “Summer” squashes are varieties of... more

November 7, 2015

They arrive soon after you lie down to sleep: strange sensations creeping through your legs. People variously describe the sensations as tugging, pulling, tingling, stinging, throbbing, itching, or aching; others say it feels as if something is crawling or flowing inside their legs. The sensations produce a near-irresistible urge to get up and move around. This temporarily alleviates the problem, but it returns when you lie back down. It disrupts your sleep, and can disturb your sleeping ... more

November 4, 2015

From the moment we take that first breath, we keep breathing until we stop for good. But because breathing happens automatically, most of us rarely think about it, until we come down with a respiratory ailment or find ourselves puffing with exertion. Practice Breathing for Stress Relief Yet focused and deliberate attention to proper breathing is an ancient stress-relieving, health promoting technique. What’s more, it’s free, and doesn’t require equipment or professional help. Breathing... more

October 30, 2015

“After the ecstasy, the laundry.”  I’d say that famous zen saying also holds for agony. Yes, the laundry always awaits. Ecstasy or agony, laundry is a metaphor for everything about daily living that demands attention, and so also becomes part of a spiritual practice. In this case, it meant turning my attention to making new batches of homemade laundry detergent and oxygen bleach, both of them cheap, easy, effective, and non-toxic to humans and the environment. Homemade detergent Ten minutes of... more

October 20, 2015

Ever had a canker sore? These small white lesions can appear anywhere inside the mouth, including the gums, tongue, and inside of the lips.  They can make eating and drinking mighty uncomfortable for a week or more.  What are Canker Sores? Canker sores are whitish, red-bordered, slightly-cratered sores inside the mouth. Medical science knows that these commonly occurring sores by the somewhat frightening names, aphthous stomatitis, or aphthous ulcers. Women are more susceptible to canker... more

October 14, 2015

Among only a few native North American fruits cultivated commercially in the modern era, cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) stand out as a culinary star of the holiday feasting season. But their season doesn’t last long. Harvested from late September through October, the fresh fruit is only available through Christmas. I like to pick up several bags of fresh berries, pop them into appropriate containers and freeze them to use all winter. Only about 15 percent of the crop is marketed as fresh... more

October 13, 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 Health... more

October 11, 2015

I’ve blogged about apples before, but it’s time for an update since it’s apple harvest season. 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). Apples’ Health Benefits Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Research keeps accumulating... 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


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