My Mom’s Strawberry Jam

 

So my mom passed away several years ago.  She was my best friend and I miss her every day.  This jam was one of her signature things – though she made the freezer jam version.

We used to go strawberry picking every year with family friends (you know who you are I and K) to Whittamore’s farm.  We would wash, clean, store and freeze the strawberries for later use – we had a ton of it in the chest freezer in the basement and some of it would turn into strawberry jam.  I remember almost falling into that freezer as a kid fishing out jam and strawberries.  Good memories.  I am smiling just typing this.

I used to come home from school and return to Waterloo or Chicago with at least 3 bottles of jam…  This past weekend I made, an properly preserved, 24 jars of my mom’s strawberry jam.  I do it to give out at gifts for the holidays – and to eat at home… It is great on toast – or ice cream (yum!).

Amazingly, Mom’s strawberry jam recipe somehow ended up on the box of pectin – wonder how that happened (ya, she wasn’t a chef but she followed recipes well – like me).  This summer, and the one before, my son Leo and I went to Whittamore’s farm and picked strawberries – froze them like mom used to, and they went into the jam last weekend.

If you are interested in doing this on your own, here is the recipe (from Bernardin’s pectin box):

  • 5 cups crushed strawberries
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 package Bernardin Pectin (I use the powdered not liquid)
  • 7 cups sugar (I use a bit less)

Yield is 8 jars of jam….

here is a link on how to sterilize and seal jars properly:

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/to-sterilize-jars-and-lids-for-preserving-102234

Once filled I also re-submerge the jars (full and sealed) and boil 20 minutes.

Super tasty and will last for 1 year on the shelf when canned properly.

I used to post on facebook when I was making jam…. I don’t know how many pots I have burned the bottom of – so be careful!  It’s ok  – self-deprecating posts are generally appreciated on facebook.

Have fun jamming!

 

 

TMJ Pain – My jaw hurts just writing this post

 

I am highly suggestible.  Anytime anyone comes in with jaw pain the right side of mine hurts. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint aka Jaw. The TMJ is a very complicated joint and without going into specifics it is very mobile which can make it susceptible to injury.

If you suffer with this you have probably already been to the dentist.  Maybe more than a couple different dentists.  You likely have a night guard and maybe a couple of other appliances.  They help a lot, some or not at all. So now what?  My friend, who is a dentist helped me with this post … He didn’t like my line about a couple of dentists above (but it does depend on who you see and I going to bet it wasn’t him…) He adds: “It’s all about position. Your teeth and muscles need to balance out so together with a dentist who knows how to balance the hardware and chiro helping out with the support, treatment is very successful”.   He is smart so I am going to agree.

Did you have any idea that a chiropractor can treat TMJ pain? So what does that mean or look like?

Here is what I typically do with patients – I will assess the jaw opening – how far does it open, is there a click somewhere on opening or closing, is the jaw opening with a shift to one side or the other – or does it open in an ‘S’ pattern?  I do a full history and examination and then…. treatment.  Usually this involves treatment of the muscles including ones right on the outside of the jaw (the Masseter muscle), the temple (Temporalis) and even ones that are intra-oral (the Pterygoids) – This hurts like hell but it works.  Usually in just a few treatments.  I also assess the neck and upper back, work on restoring the normal curves of the spine and give exercises for the jaw and neck to improve posture.  Depending upon the severity of the case we may do other things such as kinesotaping or other techniques.

Important point here – it works, it doesn’t usually take too long and it works.

Conservative care with a dentist and chiropractor can be super effective – I have a bunch of dentists referring to me now and hopefully more soon (I wrote this post upon prompting from a dentist friend in facebook-land who I actually haven’t seen in person in about 18-ish years …. now maybe eh D?)

I am superhuman – crap I hurt my back…

And so, I got the above picture from a patient via text this week with the following words attached: “I didn’t want to make two trips and now my lower back hurts… have anything this week at your home (office)?”

Yep, we’ve all done it. Sometimes we get away with it unscathed with no problems but most of the time we tweak something in to hurting… that picture above is 9 grocery bags from the car to condo by the way.

So, lesson one – make two trips

lesson 2- text me for an appointment because there is no way you will actually make two trips

This is a good one because she did. I did see her and her problem is minor and relatively easy to treat at this stage… leave it  a week or two or three and if it is unresolved the longer it has been around the longer it takes to get rid of as a general rule.  Even if it seems to go away you really shouldn’t ignore what your body is telling you hurts – these aches and pains that come and disappear unfortunately accumulate over time and build until one day you do something innocent seeming, like bending over at the sink to spit out your toothpaste, and you can’t get back up.  (Seriously I have heard this story I don’t know how many times over the years and when they told us that at school I thought they were joking).

Patients always ask me – Doc how did I get this? what can I avoid so this doesn’t happen again I mean I was only bending over the sink?!?!

Well the bending over the sink didn’t do all of it – it was the straw that broke the camels back (pun intended).  Life happens. We all do stuff we shouldn’t do like not make two trips, sit too long in front of the TV or computer, stand too long at work, lift things that are too heavy, engage in weekend warrior antics, play one sided sports like golf or hockey, carry kids in one arm primarily … I could go on forever and I haven’t even mentioned slips and falls and minor injuries.  Scar tissue and injury accumulate over the years.  Chiropractic care can make sure that you aren’t headed for that last straw by making sure that the minor things that are there already are taken care of before that happens.   Love living life to the fullest myself and I don’t have time for setbacks…. Chiropractic wellness care is just for that. And if you do hurt yourself, don’t wait, make the call and get it fixed sooner than later.

Have a more comfortable and healthy Pregnancy with Chiropractic

I am a chiropractor and a mom.  I have been through a pregnancy and a really rough delivery.  I know the pain that can happen during pregnancy – I had some pretty severe back pain during my pregnancy and at times had difficulty getting out of bed.  With some self care, a specific stabilizing belt that I wore for a couple of months, and some care from chiropractic friends, I managed to make it through it all while continuing to practice right up until I had the baby.

It can be rough. But it doesn’t have to be – there is help out there.  I love helping pre- and post-natal women and have been doing it since I started practicing almost 17 years ago.  I have to say I developed a much MUCH better appreciation for what pregnant women go through regarding pain after my own.  I really feel we are best at providing treatment when we can really empathize with the problem.

Over the years I have seen it all from sciatica to round ligament pain to swollen and sore legs and feet, carpal tunnel syndrome (from swelling due to pregnancy), headaches and neck pain and way more.  More than once I have been called in for an emergency house call for someone who couldn’t get out of bed because of back pain during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby.  I am always honoured to be able to help.

While writing this blog I found some information directly from the Canadian Chiropractic Association – so I though why try to re-write something so well written? The following was taken directly from the Canadian Chiropractic Association Website –

“At least 50% of pregnant women will experience back pain, with many suffering from severe discomfort that impacts their activities of daily living. Pregnancy-related back pain can be multi-factorial and rarely only has one cause. Back pain, wrist pain and leg cramps are the most common complaints reported.

The average healthy weight gain is approximately 30 lbs, most of which is around the abdomen adding a significant frontal load. The added weight puts stress on the back, hips, knees and feet/ankles. Additional weight can lead to altered posture and biomechanics as we change the way we sleep, stand, and move during pregnancy. As the baby grows and the uterus expands, the abdominal muscles also stretch and lose their ability to support as they did. The change in posture, shifting forward, may cause pain and discomfort specifically in the lower back.

During the third trimester, levels of the hormone “relaxin” increase and contribute to the loosening of joints in order for the pelvis to accommodate for enlarged uterus, the baby and later birth. However, the loosening of joints can decrease joint stability and further alter posture. Other structures including musculature may be taxed, resulting in a predisposition to pain and injury. This may result in back pain.

Women report pain and discomfort including:

  • Neck pain
  • Low back pain
  • Mid-back pain
  • Pelvic pain and pressure
  • Aching legs and buttocks
  • Peripheral swelling
  • Sciatica or shooting pain down the leg/foot
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Night-time muscle spasms
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • De Quervain tenosynovitis
  • Sleep disturbances

Studies have shown that manual therapy, including chiropractic, can help decrease pain in pregnancy and labour. Chiropractors can provide safe, effective and drug-free conservative care to relieve pain and improve function during pregnancy and after birth.

 

Reduce back and pelvic pain: Conservative care including spinal manipulation and mobilization of joints and soft tissue therapy can help reduce pain and improve function.

Relieve fatigued, aching muscles: Chiropractic treatment plans can include soft tissue therapy and various modalities including TENS, IFC, and acupuncture among others. Chiropractors can also recommend exercises to help rehabilitate postural changes.

Help prepare for childbirth: A chiropractor can recommend safe, effective exercises and stretches to help prepare your body for the baby’s delivery.

Ensure a faster recovery: As part of a comprehensive plan of management, chiropractic treatment can help manage quicker recovery and address post-natal biomechanical complaints and rehabilitation.”

 

Sciatica – it can be a pain in the butt (also in the thigh, leg, groin…)

Sciatica can be an amazingly painful condition.  The symptoms can include back pain with pain into the butt, thigh, calf, sometimes the foot and even the groin.  There can even be pain into the genital area.   Amazingly sometimes there is no back pain at all but just a combination of pain in the other regions mentioned (leg, butt, thigh, groin etc…).

I have had patients come in to see me embarrassed about their symptoms (especially with the groin or genital pain) and confused because their family doctor really had no suggestions or solutions.

Here is the cool thing:  We can help you fix it.

If its chronic and has been around a long time, or if it is relatively new and only been there a week or two there are a ton of things we can do.

Often sciatica results from inflammation in and around the sciatic nerve.  This big nerve travels down your leg and provides motor power and sensation to the whole leg.  This is why the pain can be is such varied locations.  Prolonged standing often really aggravates this pain.  Sometimes it is difficult to find a position that is at all comfortable.  Sleep can even be interrupted.

When I treat this condition I always do deep tissue treatment to the sacroiliac joints and piriformis muscle.  This joint and muscle are the closest things to the sciatic nerve and the piriformis muscle actually lays right on top of the sciatic nerve and can compress it if it is too tight.  So muscle treatment, treatment of the joints to relieve the inflammation in the area and restore motion to the joint are key in solving this problem.  Prescription of exercise is also key to stretch tight muscles and strengthen the core to ensure this condition doesn’t come back.

I too have suffered with sciatica and know what a pain in the butt it can be.  It doesn’t need to be suffered with – there is something that we can do about it.

 

Scoliosis – what you can do about it

Scoliosis is a condition that causes abnormal curves in the spine.  Scoliosis is more prevalent in females but all children while they are growing should be checked for scoliosis.  This can be done at a routine visit to the chiropractor and is something that I do with all of patients regularly re-checking the children and adolescents.

So what if you have scoliosis?  Generally it gets evaluated and measured and monitored.  It used to be that the most severe cases would require surgery or bracing. Recently, the literature has shown that the surgery for scoliosis (the insertion of rods in the spine) is not as effective as it was once thought to be and may not help at all.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much that will actually correct a scoliosis.  But it can be managed with conservative care.

Because there are unusual curves in the spine this can put pressure and irritation into different muscle groups and joints of the spine.  One side will be really tight, and the other really lax or loose.  Pain can result from tight muscles and joints causing inflammation which often manifests as upper back or neck pain, headaches or lower back pain.  With regular physical care and maintenance I have seen patients with scoliosis go from having pain on a daily basis to no pain at all. There is always hope.  Even if you have had scoliosis and pain for years, there is something that can be done.  With gentle physical treatment including adjustments, soft tissue release and exercises the pain can be lessened and even removed.

For young children and teenagers with scoliosis it is important to keep the spine moving and the muscles prone to tightness loose so that the pain doesn’t manifest at all.

Don’t ignore your scoliosis! I can help you and teach you things you can do to keep yourself well, moving and out of pain for as long as possible.

I have #*@%&! Fruit flies! – An Easy Peasy Solution

 

Everyone hates being swarmed in the kitchen by fruit flies.   Here is an easy solution to the problem.

Don’t get fruit flies.

(O.K. fine that was my Dad’s answer…)

first find the culprit – aging fruit or veggies usually do it – get rid of them if needed or put in the refrigerator.

If you can’t find the culprit  – it is ok this solution will hopefully catch all of the files and get rid of the problem.

 

Get a small bowl and fill it with about a half a centimeter of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Put plastic wrap over the top and secure with an elastic band. Poke holes in the plastic big enough for the flies to get in.  Place near where you see the flies and wait.  They cant resist the smell of the Apple Cider Vinegar and once they go into the trap they cant get out.

Easy and safe method of getting rid of them with no harsh chemicals.

Look I caught one already….

So I hear there is a Gastrointestinal bug around – Your Grandmother was right, you should listen to her.

So a Gastrointestinal bug generally takes us unaware and can hit with nausea, vomiting and for added fun…. diarrhea. (I can never spell that word, I had to spell check – think its my mind blocking it out… fair enough).

People confuse with the flu or call it the ‘stomach flu’ but really it has nothing to do with the flu (which is cause by one of the many influenza viruses) while a GI or Gastrointestinal bug can have varied causes…. mostly the ones that go through us fast (like in 24 to 48 hours) are viral.  So basically you have to keep hydrated and wait it out while trying to be as comfortable as possible.  If it lasts longer than a day or you are worried you aren’t keeping hydrated please seek medical care – dehydration is very dangerous – and it can happen fast, especially with children.

I generally suggest water or flat ginger ale or chicken soup.  Stay away from Gatoraide as a general rule as the loads of sugar wont do you any favours and it really isn’t formulated for this kind of illness.  Pedialyte or Gastrolyte work too . Research has actually been done on chicken soup and illness and people who consume home made chicken soup actually do fair better on recovery from illness.  (Seriously, Grandma is always right so just give in).

While you are nauseated something you can do to help the nausea is smell Peppermint Essential Oil .  It works remarkably fast, is safe as you are just smelling it, and totally non-invasive.  Good for kids and pregnant women too.  One caveat.  The oils you can buy off the shelf are not all equal.  There is no laws governing what companies put on their bottles or in them.  For this reason you may thing you have a pure essential oil that is not.  I use Young Living Essential Oils in my practice and at home as I am happy with their process of standardizing what is in every bottle and they have outside labs cross check the contents.  It is a great product.

Ok, so now you are in recovery mode and your tummy is tender.  What do you go back to eating right away so as to not freak out your system?

Back to grandma and her advice: B.R.A.T.

Eat only B.R.A.T. for 24 hours then you should be good to reintroduce other foods slowly.  Take your time re-introducing meats (especially red meat – this may take a week or so) and dairy (can take even longer). Sometimes your normal flora in the gut is off after one of these bouts with a bug and especially diary and meet can trigger another bout of diarrhea.  Happened with my son not long ago… sigh, poor kid (He is all good now though thanks!).  Also – a good probiotic can really help – really we should all take one daily but especially in this situation.  If is your kids who are sick there are also really good chewable probiotics formulated for children.

Wait – what is BRAT?

B- bananas

R- rice

A – apple sauce

T- toast

These things tend to be binding and easy on the GI system and have a bonus of generally being around the house.  If you don’t have apple sauce on hand here is a quick recipe for apple sauce that can be easily whipped up:

Apple Sauce

3 apples

water

honey

cinnamon

seriously that’s it – peel and core apples and chop – throw in a pot and cover with water.  Boil this adding water periodically as it evaporates until the apples lose their form and you can smush them.  Add honey for sweetness and cinnamon (but be careful with this on a tender tummy not all will like it).  The honey has the added bonus of being anti-microbial and has been used since antiquity for healing.  Certainly can’t hurt here.

Also, almost goes without saying… wash your hands lots. Best way to prevent the spread of illness.  Be serious about it.  I make my son sing the alphabet song as he is soaping up – that’s about how long you need to do it. Then let the soap and water flow ‘downhill’ as you rinse it off so as to carry the virus or bacteria away from you and down the drain (I mean angle hands down and let water flow from wrists to fingertips and off).

Something Grandma may not have known is that chiropractic adjustments have been shown to boost the white blood cell count – if you are feeling sick you shouldn’t cancel you appointment you should go to see the chiropractor -or book an appointment at the start of the cold – we can boost your immune system! Stay healthy this cold and flu season – one of the ways to do that is regular chiropractic care.  If you have more questions about this please contact Dr. Karen.

Hope all this helps.  And remember, just listen to your Grandmother.  She was right all along.

Greens with Miso Dressing (AKA – OMG I FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHAT TO DO WITH SWISS CHARD!!!)

I had a dream.  Every. Time. I. Went. To. The Grocery. Store.

I dreamt of Swiss Chard.

Seriously.

I really loved the look of the beautiful leafy green and red veggie but I had no idea what to do with it (that I would actually like).

This recipe is the solution.  It makes a perfect side to any meal and is tangy and has a hint of turmeric.  So so yummy.

Here is the recipe (reproduced with permission from thirteenmoons.ca)

Greens with Miso Dressing (serves 4 and is GF, V)

Miso dressing (makes 1 cup):

1/4 cup white miso

2 Tbsp tahini

1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 c water

1 Tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill

1/2 tsp turmeric

 

Greens:

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

4 cups kale, SWISS CHARD or other hardy greens

2/3 cup water divided

4 cups napa cabbage or bok choy thinly chopped

1 Tbsp tamari

8 Tbsp miso dressing

 

To make the dressing put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  I used an immersion blender.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

To prepare the greens, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the hearty greens and 1/3 cup water and cook until the liquid evaporates.  Add the cabbage, tamari and remaining 1/3 cup of water.  Cook until greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a bow and drizzel miso dressing overtop, toss and serve.

Strong Bone Stew – No Bones About it (no really – its Vegan!)

The strong bones in this stew doesn’t refer to ingredeients in the stew but rather the nutrients contained in it. This neutrient dense stew combines root veggies and all sorts of great stuff that is great for your bones and skeleton.

Most importantly, it is delicious and easy.  Granted it does take some time but the hardest part about it is chopping all of the root veggies that go in it.

It is hearty and warm and delicious.  It is another recipe from the wellness retreat called Thirteen moons.   I made a big pot and we will eat from it all week.  Perfect for a grey cold day. Here is the recipe reproduced with permission.

Strong Bone Stew

Stew base:

2 Tbsp olive oil or Ghee

1 cup chopped onion

1-3 cloves garlic

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup quartered mushrooms

4 cups root veggies (potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips or winter squash cubed)

 

Sauce (make separately):

1/2 cup wakame seaweed

2 Tbsp miso

2 tsp tamari

1/3 cup tahini

2 Thsp cup peanut or nut butter * there is an allergy in my house so I substituted wow butter and it tasted great.

1Tbsp apple cider vinegar

 

-In a large heavy bottomed pot heat ghee and add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft.  Add veggie stoc and bring to a boil.  Add veggies and seaweed and simmer 45 minutes adding more water or broth if needed.

While stew simmers mix together miso, tamari, tahini, nut butter and vinegar in a large measuring cup or bowl and set aside.

Just before serving ladle enough hot broth into miso to make it thin enough to pour into stew.  Add to stew.  Continue to cook on low for 5 minutes. Serve hot with nice crusty bread or quinoa.