My First Blog Post

About Me

I’m Becky Barranca, many know me by my maiden name, Rebecca Lynn Rodriguez.  I am a daughter of God, I like to call him Yahweh.  I’m married to Fernando Barranca the love of my life, and the mother of 4 beautiful children that we were blessed with. I am a daughter and a sister and a stepmom and have been blessed with a wonderful extended family. I am a 4th generation proud Arizonan of Mexican descent, so I enjoy a colorful culture that blends the rich heritages of both the USA and Mexico together.  I was in the life insurance business for more than 20 years, and now I dedicate my time to homeschooling my children, ministry work and a home bakery.

GROWING UP and now, I have always been drawn to nature and I spend a lot of time outdoors.  Like many in my culture, as a young girl, my grandparents taught me about using natural remedies for minor ailments.  My Aunt Carmen taught me about using malva (mallow) for hair and “bledo” (amaranth) and “verdolagas” (purslane) to make healthy green dishes for dinner.   My Tata Kiki taught me about grapefruit tree flowers to make tea and Nana Belia gave me “manzanilla” (chamomile) for tummy aches.  Auntie Marilyn taught me about using chaparral (creosote) for healing.   Using plants as nutrition and for possible healing of ailments has been a part of my life and culture since childhood.  I look forward to sharing what I have learned with you!

One common aspect of our Hispanic culture is that we LOVE our tortillas, sweet breads and sugary drinks! So in addition to learning about nature’s remedies, as a child I also enjoyed having fresh tortillas from Carolinas, pan dulce from Food City, which usually included my Tata Kiki’s favorite, cochitos!   Sometimes my cousins and I would try to sneak one of my Tata Vic’s Strawberry Barq’s sodas in a glass bottle.  But he always caught us lol!! 

Unfortunately for me, the refined carbs and sweets took a toll on my teeth resulting in lots of fillings as a young person. And I still struggle a bit with my weight, because I really do like bread!  But what I have changed now is that I don’t have as much of those things anymore, and I have found healthier alternatives to the refined sugars and grains.  Instead of soda, we drink fresh organic Jamaica (Hibiscus tea) sweetened with a little raw honey or coconut sugar. Instead of tortillas, we’ll have some Forbidden Rice (black rice) to complement our dishes.  As for the delicious pan dulces and cochitos– well we do splurge a couple of times a year!  Now though, we try to focus on grain free and organic desserts and sourdough breads at our home bakery Hollyhock and Nopal Bakery LLC.    

CANCER?  As I have grown older, I have learned more about healthy eating and living. But even though I have tried to live a healthy life for many years now, I’ve always been aware that just being human puts us at risk for cancer! My concern as a woman had always been focused on breast or reproductive organ cancers.  In fact, in the early 2000’s I ran a non profit organization that focused on Hispanic Women’s breast health issues.  I spent several years teaching on the importance of taking care of ourselves. Unfortunately through the years I have lost several friends to cancer and their passing has left scars on my heart. 

In early 2019, feeling very tired and thinking I had a thyroid imbalance, I went for a regular checkup and had my annual blood tests done.  I was shocked the following week when I was given a diagnosis of cancer! Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.  I had never had anemia or blood issues and in fact had never heard of CLL. The next couple of months became a whirlwind of more blood testing and visiting cancer centers for specialist opinions. I even took a trip to Monterrey, Mexico to visit with one of the top hematologists there to get a third opinion and confirm the diagnosis. Now I’m under care at Mayo Clinic and SCNM and I am so thankful to God to say that this cancer is not aggressive and that most people live many years without needing treatment.  However, in the meantime because my immune system is under more stress, I tire easily and I need to be extra cautious and aware of my health. 

The cancer diagnosis has changed my mindset about life. It has reminded me that life is precious and we have to make the most of every moment! At the same time I know that God is able to heal me!  It has been quite a life change and a journey that I am just embarking on, and I hope you will join me as I walk through this and all the seasons of my life!   

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.


How to Make Immune Boosting “Fire Cider”

Preparing fire cider

Adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs recipe

Fire Cider is an immune boosting elixir that you can make at home that provides natural immune boosting properties and is also a great digestion aid. I will make a video soon, but I wanted to get this recipe out to you now, especially as we are in the midst of Covid 19 fears. This is just one more thing you can do to continue boosting your immune system and try to avoid getting sick!             

I chopped:

Horseradish about 1 ½ cups chopped

Fresh organic ginger root, about 1/2 cup

Organic garlic 10-15 cloves

Serrano Chile Peppers 2-3

Red onion 1

And added:

Dried Rosemary 1 tsp

Organic black pepper 1 tsp

Powdered turmeric 1 tsp

Cayenne pepper ½ tsp

To fill a ½ gallon glass mason jar

Then add organic raw apple cider to cover

Let sit in a dark area for at least 30 days shaking often.

Make sure to use a plastic cap on the mason jar

After 30 strain into a clean mason jar with an unbleached cheesecloth and make sure to squeeze out all the liquid into the jar.  

Add raw honey to taste if desired.

Enjoy a tablespoon or two a day, and more it you feel something coming on.

*This post is not intended to be medical advice. Check with your health care professional before using.


What is Your Plan in Times of Covid?

Me spending too much time in from of the computer trying to navigate Sars Cov 2 information

Times are scary and confusing right now. So many paradoxes. But, do you have a plan? 

We don’t know what to think

We are seeing Covid numbers increasing in Arizona and other states. Sadly people are dying and healthcare workers are severely overworked. Yet in many areas we see deaths decrease or stay steady on average.

We are fiercely concerned for our loved ones but at the same time we see that survival rate averages more than 99%.  We hear of hospitals invoking their own Do Not Resuscitate policies without the patient’s consent due to age and or fragility. On the other hand we hear of 100 year old patients recovering fully.

A ton of new cases appear but we have heard top medical “czars” say that testing may be only 50% accurate in some cases.

Medical and other workers are asked to repeat testing over and over, with some occurrence of same individual’s positives being counted as new cases. News of unconfirmed cases being counted as positives. We are told that asymptomatic cases spread disease, then experts state that there are very few asymptomatic cases.

Cheap antimalarial drugs approved for decades are banned for Covid use yet many doctors have prescribed them to Covid patients with great success. Ii is said that community spread comes from highly sanitized health clubs (where the majority of patrons are extra healthy), but not from riots where there is no social distancing..

We are told by government leaders not to wear masks,

To wear masks,

To only wear masks when you can’t social distance,

To now all being mandated to wear masks.

Hospitals getting full, yet many hospitals have recently increased scheduled surgeries and are releasing hundreds of recovered Covid patients.

So many scientific studies to review and consider.

CDC making mask recommendations citing studies that mention nothing about masks.

Public calling 911 to report non mask wearers and taking up operator’s minutes when true emergencies are happening.  

Native American communities are severely affected, yet are receiving food boxes full of sugary cereals, pop tarts and processed snack foods and juices. Elevated blood sugar levels are especially prevalent in our native communities.

Government food box contents

News reporters solemnly declare death rates in the first half of their broadcast and then later joke about how much junk food they have been eating since quarantine started.  How can that be funny during what is called a pandemic, when we know for a fact that sugars and processed food damage the immune system?

I find all of this overwhelming!

Mask Mania!

We have a civil right to choose to wear a mask or not. At the moment I know of no STATUTORY LAW requiring masks. The current narrative seems to make one believe that a mask is the only way to protect ourselves from Covid. We’re not really even talking about hand washing anymore. Yet in wearing masks, let’s not get complacent and have a false sense of security. Have we ever considered that we aren’t using masks properly, that most are not disposing of or changing their mask every few hours as recommended by experts?   I asked a grocery store worker how often they changed their disposable masks and he responded, every 3-4 days.  What? 

Dirty masks and long-term use gloves are providing a perfect bacterial breeding ground host for a virus to catch on to and thrive, and subsequently be breathed in or out.  

Many studies have shown that while cloth masks will block respiratory droplets within the mask, they do not prevent the airborne spread of virus particles because of their miniscule size and the fact that cloth coverings have several openings.  Even while blocking droplets, virus molecules can still pass through a cloth mask to another person. So while we may think that we covered, are we still breathing out germs? What about when someone sneezes? Where does the mask go then?  Are we carrying several extra masks around with us at the stores? I would submit to you that most are not. Maybe we should be carrying extra heavy duty tissues for those cases.

These mask do not claim to filter virus particles

What is one to do?

As a cancer patient, I simply cannot rely on my or anyone’s mask to protect me or my loved ones from a virus.  So, I needed to figure out what to do for ourselves. Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, I have spent many (TOO MANY in fact) hours researching data and facts and trying to discern what is real and what is not. What are politics, money makers and narratives with an agenda and what are not. But thankfully in the time since March I’ve strengthened what I have already known about immune system building and natural antiviral/antibacterial methods and had the chance to talk with health professionals about Covid. 

Organic garlic, nature’s antiviral and antibacterial

I’ve come up with a daily protocol to help protect myself and my family from viral and bacterial infections.  It does take some  work, and can be tedious but it is worth it. It includes a no processed sugar/food diet, tons of garlic and onions and herbs, specific herbal tinctures, and internal and external cleansing.  As a family we make sure we are eating healthy, exercising, taking supplements and using essential oils daily. I also have an emergency plan for what to do if I or a family member were to contract Covid.

This is one of my medicine cabinets, the other is full of dried herbs

So now, why don’t we stop the debating, arguing and name calling and get to work on a time-tested solution against sickness? Which is – A STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM

A strong immune system is key. There are so many methods to build your immune system, if you follow me here or on Facebook you may have seen some of the posts I have made with tips to stay healthy.  These are my basic tips:

EAT HEALTHY AND SUPPLEMENT YOUR DIET, CUT OUT SUGARS AND PROCESSED FOODS

EXERCISE DAILY

STOP SMOKING

DON’T DRINK EXCESSIVELY

SLEEP WELL

REDUCE STRESS

REMOVE TOXINS FROM YOUR LIFE.

Recently, while having an intravenous Vitamin C drip I had the opportunity to talk with an RN who has dealt with several Covid cases. I asked her what could I do to stay out of a hospital if I contracted Covid. Her response was simple and easy to do, some of the things she mentioned were:

-Drink lots of hot fluids

-Take Vitamin C several times throughout the day

-Take Zinc and Vitamin D

-Be sure to get out in the sun.

Most importantly, she emphasized that Covid patients need to keep moving, (which will help the circulatory system) for example walking, and to sleep sitting up.

I have a lot of other things I would do on top of that, but I wanted to share her advice with you.  Check with your medical professional if you are sick as to what is the proper protocol for you.

What is your plan to stay healthy and to try to stay away from the hospitals if you contract Covid? 

We need to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR HEALTH and OUR HEALING. We cannot solely count on government mandates and differing experts to keep us safe. I recommend that you research to find out which protocols may work best for you and your family.

Check with your doctor to see what supplements will be right for you.  Start using the supplements now so that your body is used to them and wouldn’t be a change to your system when you are sick.   

Make bone broths, and freeze them, have electrolytes like coconut water and trace minerals on hand. Always keep fresh organic garlic and onions available.

Have a plan in place that is simple to follow and prepared ahead of time.  The human body is an amazing system, fortify it and let it do its job!

*** THE INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS NOT MEANT TO BE MEDICAL ADVICE. CONSULT YOUR HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONER FOR QUESTIONS REGARDING YOUR PERSONAL HEALTH.


Hydration is Critical to a Healthy Immune System

Becky’s Immunity Boosting Tip Number 3: Hydration!

Another super simple yet extremely important way to keep your immune system working well is to STAY HYDRATED with water

Healthy Immune systems need hydration to keep all of the body systems working. The amount of water in the human body can range from 50-75%, so that gives us an idea how important water is to the body!

Adequate water hydration helps to oxygenate the blood found in our body, and that pumps up our cells in order to function at full capacity. Cells working at full capacity will do the best job of fighting germs, bacteria, and viruses. https://hydratem8.com/health/can-water-improve-immune-system/

Water also aides in proper elimination of toxins and wastes from the body

Protects tissues and joints

So how much water should we be drinking?  Conventional theory says a person should drink 8 8oz glasses per day.  However, it really does vary depending on your body weight, lifestyle, health status and of course the weather where you live.  Check with your medical professional about how much water you should be drinking every day.

What are some refreshing alternatives to sugary soft drinks and other unhealthy beverages?

Why not try making a quick sparkling lemonade with sparkling water, lemon juice and stevia natural sweetener?

One of my favorite daily refreshing and hydrating drinks is this great combo of

Sparkling water, fresh citrus juice, a dash of himalayan salt, and a few drops of trace minerals.

Another one of our favorites at home is organic hibiscus tea. The kids really love over ice in the hotter months!

How about making a Jamaican ginger/pineapple/turmeric drink and have some on hand throughout the week?

Homemade kombucha is another super healthy and refreshing daily beverage.

What are some of your favorite recipes for healthy homemade beverages that hydrate?


The 2 EASIEST First Steps to Building a Better Immune System!

Swiss Chard is one of the healthiest veggies around!

In an unprecedented time of self-quarantine, “social distancing”, mandatory mask wearing and talk of injections in order to stop the spread of a virus, we must consider what is the best way to avoid becoming sick and protecting others from becoming sick. 

I think that the best way to avoid getting sick is to have a healthy body and a healthy, optimally functioning immune system.   With this post, I am beginning a series which will outline easy tips to help you build your immune system, which is critical in these trying times.  A healthy immune system can provide an inhospitable environment to pathogens attempting to enter the body, hopefully rendering dangerous viruses and bacteria “dead on arrival”!

My tip for building a healthy immune system is a simple one: 

FIRST Avoid all refined sugars Sugar breaks down the immune system in a matter of hours, damages liver and kidneys, causes mood swings, raises blood sugar levels, accelerates aging and loss of collagen, feeds cancer and hormone issues and can be overall detrimental to the body. We need to avoid this as much as possible.

SECOND, avoid eating processed foods. Processed foods contain unnatural ingredients, preservatives, chemicals and toxins. The body is unable to break down these fake ingredients properly which can cause strain on the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system etc. This makes it more difficult for the immune system to properly function.

So regarding particular items, I’m talking mainly about:

White sugars, products made with high fructose corn syrup, refined white flours, most pre-packaged foods,  and of course just about all commercial fast foods and most of all Soda, Diet Sodas and Sugary/Artificially Sweetened Beverages

Why is the soda out of stock when we are trying to stay healthy?

So does that mean we should never eat sweets again or have a few chips and a tasty burger every once in a while?  No not necessarily. I think it’s ok to have a treat every once in a while,

BUT SERIOUSLY, ONLY EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE,

especially in a time when we are really trying to avoid getting sick.  This is such simple idea, yet for many of us, can be a difficult one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging either, because I’m one of those who really likes sweets!

Even the local newscasters joke about how much junk food they are eating in quarantine, just minutes after giving their alarming reports about the day’s presumed Covid 19 death counts. Drives me crazy!

So let’s figure out some easy ways to replace those bad bad sugars and processed foods with some healthier alternatives: You can start transitioning towards healthier treats made with healthy sweeteners, more fresh foods and some homemade fun foods! For sweeteners, try raw honey, real stevia (not the tru stuff), coconut sugar, whole rapadura sugar.

Try more

Fresh fruit,

Veggies with hummus,

Sourdough crackers,

Healthy nuts and seeds

More fruit,

And more veggies lol! 

Lots of healthy refreshing beverages and teas

And for the every once in a while sweet treat, how about:

Some dark chocolate,

Coconut flour chocolate chip cookies,  

Almond flour peanut butter cookies made with coconut sugar

Sourdough discard brownies,  

Organic kale chips

What have you been doing these days to replace sugar and processed foods?


How to Make Immune Building Elderberry Syrup!

Homemade Elderberry Syrup
In front of elderberry bush at Hassayampa River Preserve in Arizona April 2020

Please note: this post contains affiliate links, if you purchase a product from my link I may receive a small commission, however it will have no effect on the price of the product. Thank for your support!

The elderberry has become very popular in the past couple of years, but elderberry tinctures and syrup are time tested natural immune boosters that have been in use for centuries or more.  Elderberries (official name Sambucus Nigra) are harvested in many different parts of the world. 

Elderberry as an antiviral?

Ripe elderberries!
Elderberries before ripened at Hassayampa River, Arizona

According to the World Health Organization More than people across the world suffer from influenza and as many as 250,000-600,000 deaths are reported annually.

The CDC reports (accessed April 9, 2020) that from October 1, 2019 to March 28, 2020 there have been 24,000 to 63,000 influenza deaths.

While no supplement or herb is shown proven to cure or prevent disease, it is interesting to know that several studies have proven that elderberry is active against influenza.  The study cited below states that:

“Elderberry compounds have been found to be highly effective against influenza and as an immune booster.  In this particular study it was shown that …that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus,” said Dr Golnoosh Torabian. “It inhibits the early stages of an infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells…” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133644.htm?fbclid=IwAR3o7y3DHek7qNPZLwHvhw_HBsb1gH-gWUkIJY7sJ55Gbj_9ZniCzDhvXAg

PLEASE NOTE: There is currently no research available to confirm that elderberry is active against the COVID 19 virus. Please consult with your medical professional with questions regarding Coronavirus.

Elderberries have many nutritional benefits:

  • High in vitamin C: 
  • High in dietary fiber: 
  • A good source of phenolic acids: 
  • A good source of flavonols: 
  • Rich in anthocyanins: 

You never want to eat raw/fresh elderberries because they may cause nausea and vomiting.  Eating them boiled and prepared into a syrup or in a tincture/extract is the best way to get health benefits.

My daughter and I prepared this elderberry syrup,  adapted from Katie Wells’ recipe https://wellnessmama.com/1888/elderberry-syrup/

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. I prefer to use whole cloves and mash them with a mortar and pestle to bring out the essential oils.
  • Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
  • Remove from heat and let cool until it is cool enough to be handled.
  • Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil, I use my bean masher.
  • Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  • Discard (and compost if you can) the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
  • When it is no longer hot, add the honey and stir well.
  • When the honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a  mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  • Store in the refrigerator up to seven days, adults may take one tablespoon per day, children over 2 years 1/2- 1 tsp. Many have taken normal dose up to four times in the case of flu.
Fresh Organic Ginger
Mixing the spices!
Clove, one of my favorite spices!

Enjoy your elderberry syrup! It has a smooth, sweet taste and is easy to take daily for up to twelve weeks. We take a couple of days off from the dosage a couple of days a week to let the body rest. The kids have gotten into a good routine and it’s not a chore to have them take their syrup!

If you prefer to buy rather than make the syrup, try this elderberry extract https://amzn.to/3cqDM3K.

Let me know if you made some or bought some….


Seven Benefits of Eating Pomegranates

I wanted to get this post up before the pomegranate season was completely over. I have loved pomegranates since I was a child, we had several trees in our backyard in Central Phoenix. I loved to just pull them off the stem, crack them open and eat them outside.  Now we have had pomegranates in our yard in Mesa since we moved in, but this is the first year that I really paid attention to watering them accurately. In the weeks before I went to Mexico City this fall, I was patiently waiting for my pomegranates to be ready.

Hanging out amongst my trees

When I arrived back from the Distrito Federal, (D.F. as many call the Capitol of Mexico) my pomegranates were ripe and waiting for me! Hurray! I was so excited (it’s the little things in life)!

Pomegranates have become extremely popular in the last decade or so, but they are truly an ancient fruit, originating in the Near East – Persia and India. They eventually made their way to the U.S. with the Spanish explorers who called them granadas, and now they are in my backyard, lol!!

Some of the our pomegranate harvest

HORTICULTURE

The pomegranate is actually a shrub rather than a tree as is generally thought. It grows well in arid areas, which makes it nice for those of us whose live in the 115+ degree summer weather! Given the proper amount of water and in the proper way, these shrubs/bushes will flourish even in the desert!

This summer I noticed that while some of my pomegranates were growing nice and large, some were also splitting. I made a call to the friendly and helpful Maricopa Cooperative Extension https://extension.arizona.edu/maricopa and they gave me some great watering tips. Apparently the reason my fruit was splitting was because I was watering them unevenly, too much some times and not enough at others. So I put them on a consistent deep watering plan and that seemed to really help.

Large but some about ready to split

Pomegranate Health Benefits

Pomegranates have so many health benefits, it will be hard to list all of them here! Some of the most important are:

Very in high antioxidants, which could aid in preventing cancer and fight certain types of tumor growth. Contain flavonols which may decrease inflammation in the body.

Improves memory

Supplies Iron to blood

High amounts of Vitamin K and C

May lower blood pressure

May reduce plaque in carotid artery and improve heart health, this study in the Clinical Health Journal found that patients who were given pomegranate juice demonstrated reduced LDL and blood pressure https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(03)00213-9/fulltext

May have anti-tumor effects in fighting breast cancer. The National Institute of Health studies have been conducted that shown pomegranate extract can inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23359482

The pomegranate leaf is also edible and has many health benefits.

*As always, the information provided here is not medical advice. Remember to consult with your medical provider to ensure that adding this or any food/herb/supplement will not contraindicate any medicines or health situation you may be experiencing.

Organic vs non organic? 

Well of course I always recommend eating organic foods a much as possible.  Regarding pomegranates, I researched the “Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen” and found them on neither,  maybe because the market is still emerging regarding this fruit and there have not been many studies done.  However, I did find in my research that the largest pomegranate producer in the USA does use pesticides in their production.  My suggestion as always is to grow your own if possible, if not then try the farmer’s market before buying conventional.  I have seen several posts on social media platforms from folks offering to sell pomegranates from their yards, please use discernment in these cases.

Finally ripened!!

My favorite way to eat pomegranate is straight from the tree. But I would also soon like to add a recipe for Chiles en Nogada. I first learned about this dish when I read the book “Como Agua Para Chocolate” and saw the movie. It looked so wonderful with all the different colors and flavors.

I do plan to make this dish in my kitchen some time soon and will share my recipe, but in the meantime here is a recipe you can try: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/chiles-en-nogada-recipe4-2062175

What is your favorite way to eat pomegranates??


Flor de Calabasa – The Amazing Pumpkin Blossom and Why It’s Healthy to Eat!

A precious bee is pollinating a pumpkin squash blossom on a farm I visited last month in
Hidalgo, Mexico

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, I have been fascinated lately with this wonderful little flower! Who knew that the beautiful flower we see growing in the garden with our squash could be so healthy! It is just the simple squash blossom, but until my dear friend Gloria showed me how to cook with it, I never paid much attention to it.

Besides having a lovely light and mildly sweet taste, the squash blossom has many nutritional benefits. It primarily offers vitamin C and A, as well as folates, phosphorous and magnesium, which are all very important nutrients for body function and health. They have very few calories and are low in carbohydrates so they make a great light snack.

Since squash blossoms are very delicate, you probably won’t find them in grocery store, it is possible that a local farmer’s market may have them from time to time. The best to place to get these flowers is from your own garden!

My pumpkin squash blossoms at home
Trying to get a selfie with my blossoms!

I have found it to be fairly easy to grow squash and pumpkin in my area, but I’m just trying to figure out how to get rid of the tiny ants that have been hanging around – without using any pesticides. I am also learning that there are male and female blossoms, and of course bees are needed to pollinate in order to produce fruit. I think that God is just so amazing in His design that He planned for the females to become fruit and the males are left for us to consume!! See this article for more information on how to distinguish the blossoms: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/squash/female-male-squash-blossoms.htm

The male squash blossom is the one to eat!

In the past Gloria spoke many times about the wonderful squash blossom quesadillas that she used to eat when she lived in Mexico. I never imagined it back then, but I had the chance to try this incredible dish with her near her family’s farm in Hidalgo last month!

While visiting the hot springs in Tlacotlapilco, we got to eat at the cocinas (or kitchen booths) that edged the pools. The ladies there made corn masa tortillas fresh on the griddle and served a comida corrida (daily special) as well as a la carte choices. Of course my choice was a flor de calabasa quesadilla and one with quelites (wild amaranth greens) both with melted Oaxaca style cheese that is very similar to mozzarella.

Oh my goodness were they ever delicious, and of course even better topped off with a spicy fresh salsa!

Handmade corn tortillas
Squash blossom quesadilla
Wild amaranth quesadilla

Amaranth greens are another incredible superfood. In my part of the world we call them bledo, has anyone ever heard of that? Like the squash blossom, the greens contain vitamin C, magnesium and phosphorus. Surprisingly they also have a marked amount of protein and calcium. This article gives a great summary of the amaranth health benefits: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/amaranth.html

You can make a great authentic Hidalgo style quesadilla right in your own kitchen as well! Here’s what we did to make ours:

Hidalgo Style Squash Blossom Quesadillas

Find the freshest squash blossoms available, (these can come from zucchini and other squash as well)

Clean/rinse gently but thoroughly, slice open to make sure there are no bees hiding out! Remove the stamen/pistil from the middle and set aside to dry.

Make the corn tortillas. I always try to use organic corn masa, Bob’s Red Mill has a really nice one. Cook the tortillas on a cast iron comal if possible, but take them off heat just before they are completely done. Set in a cloth towel to keep warm.

Chop the squash blossoms and about 1/2 white onion and a clove of minced garlic.

To make the quesadillas really authentic you will want to add some fresh chopped epazote herb as well. Dried will work also if you can get fresh. Taste this first, as it has a very distinct flavor and might take some getting used to! (:

Epazote Herb

Saute the chopped ingredients in a small amount of avocado oil or organic beef tallow, add salt and pepper to taste. Shred the Oaxaca cheese. Now you can start to fill the corn tortillas with the sauted ingredients and cheese and heat them in a hot skillet with a small amount of oil. Gently heat the quesadilla until cheese is melted, then add some fresh salsa if desired and ENJOY!!

Slicing the blossoms
The corn tortillas
Sauteing the blossoms and onions
Our Quesadillas de Flor de Calabasa!

These were really fun to make with the kids and they tasted great (almost as good as the ones in Hidalgo) Haha – there’s nothing like the real food on location!

What ideas do you have for cooking squash blossoms? I would love to hear about it!


My Visit to the Amazing and Beneficial Hot Springs of Tlacotlapilco, Hidalgo Mexico!

I recently returned from an amazing trip to Mexico City where I visited with a dear friend and her family. There is so much to say about my trip, I will be posting bits and pieces here on the blog as often as possible. One of the highlights of the trip was an excursion to Aguas Thermales (hot springs) of Tlacotlapilco, in the Mexican State of Hidalgo. https://youtu.be/pSOEa95eLak

When my friend Gloria asked me if I would like to go to the hot springs in Hidalgo, I didn’t have to think twice about it. I have been wanting to try bathing in thermal waters for years but never had the chance. And after seeing how my friend was quickly healed from her digestive issues after spending some time in the water, I thought that it might helpful in battling against the blood cancer I was diagnosed with.

The drive to Tlacotlapilco was beautiful, the green mountains and fields of maguey and nopales (prickly pear cactus) abounded everywhere. Hidalgo is such a beautiful state! It was a bit cloudy, but it never rained on us, thank goodness. Just enough cloud cover to make the sky even more beautiful.

Beautiful green landscape of Hildalgo, MX
Rows and rows of nopales
Famous maguey of Hildalgo

So back to the hot springs- we were blessed to have the water pools almost all to ourselves that day. There were three different pools, with varying degrees of heat. My favorite of course was the very hottest ( I love hot baths, showers and infrared saunas!) I got right in, and spent 15 minutes intervals in and out. After that I spent some time at the actual source of water pouring in from a large hose directly from the spring.

The hottest spring was in the middle of the larger pools

I was also able to swim a lot and spend time just floating and relaxing in the water with my dear friends. My friend Gloria and I had a deep conversation about a recurring dream that I have had, when I saw the river that flowed next the to hot springs I realized that it resembled the dream almost identically. Maybe in the future I will write more about that in the book that I hope to write someday soon- At The Feet of Christ.

The river is hidden in the background behind the palapas

While there is not an abundance of studies showing a correlation of thermal waters healing illness, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that claiming that because of the mineral content in the fresh water, hot spring bathing may aid in curing digestive disorders, skin disorders, circulation and high blood pressure. Here is a study suggesting that hot spring bathing could reduce systemic blood pressure https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00380-011-0220-7

I really enjoyed the hot springs, and yes I have to say that is was very therapeutic, and I felt really good afterwards. I really needed to drink a lot of water though to make sure I didn’t get dehydrated. I would have liked to take a blood test a few days after being in the water to see if there were any changes in my white blood cells and lymphocyte levels. I definitely recommend trying this if it works for you.

**Of course as in all cases, always check with your medical professional to confirm that entering a hot springs or any kind of balneotherapy treatment is safe for your particular health situation.

Feeling great at the hot springs!

And to make my experience even more incredible in Tlacotlapilco, we took advantage of the “cocinas” (kitchens) that were on premises. The food was amazing, keep an eye out for my post coming soon!

Now that I’m back in the states, I will be seeking out some hot springs that are easily accessible from Phoenix. Have you tried out any hot springs? Tell us about your experiences!


How to Make a Scrumptious Organic Peach Pie!

Organic Peach Pie from our Home Bakery – Hollyhock and Nopál

I’m back to writing now after enjoying celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) last week! It was a joyous time dwelling outdoors and just focusing on the presence of God and His beautiful creation. This is a photo of the sukkah we built in our backyard.

Our backyard sukkah

So last post I talked about the incredible nutritional value of peaches, and now I want to share my recipe for a sweet peach treat with you!

My love for peach pies started when I was very young. Around seven years old, my mother did me the wonderful favor of entering me into the Kids Cook summer cooking contest at the Arizona Republic/Phoenix Gazette Newspaper.  Each week we kids were to try a recipe and then mail a short report back to the newspaper about how it went. The peach pie recipe was my favorite!

My mother saved the recipes for me from the Phoenix Gazette Summer 1977! That’s me on the lower right at 7 years old.

In college, I started to use a recipe from the Fanny Farmer Baking Book. Now as a mom, I learned to perfect my pie crust preparation by taking tips from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook. It’s been a work in progress and I’m sure I’ll learn some new methods as time goes on!

These days I am using only organic ingredients for my peach pies since conventional peaches have high amounts of pesticide residues.

Peach Pie and Pie Dough

Basic Pie Dough Adapted from Marion Cunningham’s and recipe

For a 9 inch 2 crust pie:

2 1/4 cups organic all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

3/4 Organic palm shortening

6-7 Tbs cold filtered water

Mix flour and salt together in a food processor. Have cold water ready at hand. Place the palm shortening in bits onto the flour salt mixture. Pulse just until crumbly, don’t over mix. Add cold water one tablespoon at a time and pulse each time. Give two or three more pulses, just enough that the dough holds together, but again do not over mix. You should have a nice soft dough that is not sticky but not dry either. Remove dough from processor, cover and set aside.

Pie Filling

About 5-6 peeled, pitted, and sliced organic peaches

5 tablespoons organic flour

1/4 cup organic or coconut sugar

1/4 tsp Himalayan salt

1 Tb organic lemon juice, preferably fresh squeezed

2 Tbs organic unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 425 F

Roll out half of your dough on a floured surface and lift carefully into a glass pie pan. Then roll out other half and cut into 1/2 inch strips.

2nd half of dough cut in strips

Place peach slices in large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl mix flour, sugar, and salt, pour mixture over peaches and toss gently but well, add lemon juice. Pour fruit mixture into dough lined pan and then dot with butter. Don’t forget the butter!

Dotting with butter!

Moisten the edges of the bottom crust and then weave a lattice top. This is not required but sure makes for a pretty pie!

Sprinkle a little bit (or a lot) of organic sugar on top crust before baking. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes. Reduce to 350 and bake another 20-25 minutes until the top is browned. I always put a cookie sheet under the pie as it is baking since sometimes peach juice may bubble out of the top of the pie and make a big mess in the stove. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Enjoy!!


What I Didn’t Know About Peaches!

Fresh organic peaches from Utah

I think most people love peaches!  Eating a wonderfully sweet, ripe peach in the late Arizona summer is one of the most delicious taste experiences I know. Since I was a young girl I have been eating peaches and making peach pies every summer, so after reading this article by Dr. Axe https://draxe.com/nutrition/peach-nutrition/  I was pleasantly surprised to find out the amazing benefits of the Prunus persica (peach) 

According to the Dr. Axe article, eating peaches can be effective in the following areas:

1. Combats Free Radicals

2. Fights and Prevents Cancer

3. Prevents Dangerous Heart-Related Conditions

4. Reduces Inflammation

5. Treats Gut Disorders

6. Destroys Candida Fungus

7. Supports Healthy Eyes

Since I recently received a cancer diagnosis, the findings that the polyphenols in peaches can inhibit cancer growth was very encouraging. “A study at the Texas A&M University found that tumor growth and lung metastasis were inhibited in vivo by peach polyphenolics and may be considered as al chemopreventive tool to reduce the risk of metastasis  which can be supplied by consuming two to three peach fruit per day or alternatively using a dietary supplement peach polyphenol extract powder.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24745759). Even more reason to eat this delicious fruit!

Of course the best way to eat peaches is organic, fresh and never having been frozen or cooked.  I typically eat my fruit only once a day, separate from other foods to aid in digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

Dr. Axe posted a recipe for a great salad https://draxe.com/recipes/balsamic-peaches-and-goat-cheese-salad-recipe/ . I tried it at home with what I had on hand! Here’s my adapted recipe below.

Dandelion Green and Romaine Salad with Balsamic Peaches

Dandelion Greens with Balsamic Peaches Salad

Becky’s recipe adapted from Dr. Axe

  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon fermented balsamic vinegar
  • 2 organic peaches, cut into wedges
  • 1-2 pounds dandelion greens and romaine lettuce rinsed
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 cup raw walnut (soaked if possible)
  • 1 bunch basil, cut into thin strips
  • 4 ounces organic feta cheese, crumbled (reserve for last)
  • ⅓ cup kefir (preferably raw fermented)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon organic dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon raw honey
  • 2 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon fermented balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup organic olive oil
  • 1 or 2 organic garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic powdered garlic
  • Himalayan sea salt and organic black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine 1 tbsp. honey and vinegar; add peaches and coat.
  2. In large pan, sear peaches over medium heat for about 2 1/2 mins per side or until peaches are carmelized. remove and let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together peaches, dandelion greens, shallot, walnuts, basil
  4. Whisk together last 8 ingredients or combine in a Mason Jar
  5. Drizzle over salad and Serve with 1 oz Goat Cheese on top.

Carmelizing the Peaches with Fermented Balsamic Vinegar and EVOO
Making the dressing

Later I will share my peach pie recipe for those times when you want to splurge a little bit on a sweet treat!  

Enjoy your salad and your peaches too!