Living Naturally

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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.

June 23, 2016

The humble oat (Avena sativa) has a long history of medicinal uses use that continues to this day. Modern research suggests that oats or extracts of oats may reduces cholesterol, lower blood pressure, help prevent athersclerosis, promote wound healing, and slow proliferation of colon cancer cells. For at least 4,000 years, healers have found oats especially valuable for skin care. Check the labels on high-end soaps, lotions, and hair-care products. You’ll be surprised at how many contain some... more

June 20, 2016

What are haiku poems? The traditional structure of the classical Japanese poetic form known as haiku include a personal observation, a concrete seasonal reference, a pivot word or turning point that introduces an insight/shock of awareness, and all in only three lines of text totaling 17 syllables. I try to write a haiku poem every day. I recommend it! I call my poems “household haiku” or “homestead haiku” because they record everyday occurrences as I go about my day. Why Write a Haiku Poem?... more

June 20, 2016

Understand what “health risks” mean—are they “relative” risks or “absolute” risks. Claims can be misleading (and downright scary). You’ve seen the headlines: “Breakthrough therapy cuts risk of [name a disease] 60 percent!”, or “[Name your condition] patients have an 85 percent higher risk of [name a condition] than people who don’t.” The first case celebrates what appears to be a breakthrough, the second a cause for intense fear. Research shows that most of us exaggerate not only the risks... more

June 20, 2016

There’s nothing homelier—or, homier—than a steaming bowl of ordinary green/brown lentil soup. But, hey, looks aren’t everything. As a staple food, lentils seem to have everything but looks going for them. For starters, lentils (along with their close relatives beans, chickpeas, and dry peas called pulses)  have been called an “almost perfect food.” Low in fat and sodium, low-glycemic, gluten-free, and they’re an especially rich source of fiber, protein, folate, potassium, and antioxidant... more

June 13, 2016

Are you spending the summer without A/C? Here are our tips for trying not to sweat! Actually, we should sweat in the heat. Sweating is part of the complex system our bodies have evolved to dissipate heat. Sweat cools the body as it evaporates from the skin. I’ve never lived or worked in an air-conditioned space. Here in New Hampshire, most of us can get along with fans, cold drinks, and outdoor swimming. But the record-breaking heat and high humidity this summer has made the generally dreaded... more

June 13, 2016

Hot flash! It comes on suddenly, a sensation of heat rising up through the chest, neck, and face, sometimes accompanied by profuse sweating, and lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. Women all over the world experience hot flashes before, during, and sometimes long after menopause. Whether you call them bouffées de chaleur, vampata di calore, or hitzewallung, hot flashes and the drenching night sweats that may accompany them, are among the primary signs of menopause, the natural end of... more

May 24, 2016

Among the easiest-to-grow houseplants, aloe vera will decorate a kitchen shelf with quiet grace while doing double duty as a self-regenerating first-aid kit. A native of southern Africa, aloe vera has fleshy leaves containing numerous plant compounds with antimicrobial, pain-reducing, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Used medicinally for at least 6,000 years, the succulent plant spread throughout the world to become important in the traditional medicine of ancient Egypt, Rome,... more

May 17, 2016

Yep, asparagus is good for you, so even if you don’t grow it yourself, grab a big bunch from a nearby farmer’s’ market when it’s in season locally. Using a pickaxe to break up the dense iron-oxide hardpan beneath the thin topsoil of my hillside vegetable garden, then filling the trench with a thick layer of good topsoil mixed with compost, I planted my first asparagus roots 35 years ago. They’ve been sending up delectable green shoots ever since. From mid-May until the Fourth of July (when... more

May 16, 2016

Food occupies a unique position in our lives at the confluence of health, comfort, culture, social relationships, geography, and family budget. In tough economic times, the question becomes how to eat within a tight budget without sacrificing superior nutrition, cultural tradition, great taste, variety, ease of preparation, and deep-down satisfaction. Incessant food advertising in an aggressive consumer culture makes it especially difficult to stay away from the trendy new food innovations.... more

May 9, 2016

I count among my greatest achievements the fact that I’ve eaten something from the hillside garden behind my house or the wild land around it nearly every day for more than 45 years. What a miraculous fact of daily life that the ground beneath our feet passes into plants, then into ourselves and becomes our bones, blood and tears. We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon, And we got to get ourselves back to the garden. –Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young Can you think... more

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