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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April 21, 2016

The humble beet, steamed, boiled, roasted, pickled, borscht’ed—but especially served raw—is nutritious and offers many health benefits. Why Beets Are Healthy 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 concentration of... more

April 4, 2016

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 27, 2016

Think about plants. We can learn from the way they keep themselves healthy, and there are many ways that plants help human health. “Plants are the master chemists,” says Mary Ann Lila, who directs the Plants for Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University. “Because plants can’t move around, they have to manufacture what they need, not merely to grow and reproduce, but to defend, protect, and heal themselves.” To botanists, plants manufacture good stuff called “phytocompounds” (aka... more

March 24, 2016

Why do we crack our joints? Is it harmful?  Maybe you’ve picked up this common habit yourself. If not, most of us know folks who intentionally and constantly crack their knuckles (necks, backs, wrists, etc.), driving everyone around them batty.   Let’s get cracking on some answers …  Why do joints crack? The longstanding biomedical question of what causes knuckle-cracking sounds was only recently solved! The actual cause, scientists say: a phenomenon called tribonucleation, a “process... more

March 21, 2016

I knew I hadn’t failed childrearing entirely the night my young daughter walked into the kitchen and exclaimed, “Oh goody! Kale for supper.” Many years later, she left New Hampshire for Arlington, Virginia, and moved in with a friend while she looked for a job. During our first phone conversation after her arrival there, she announced, “I can’t afford the food here. Broccoli costs $2.50 a head, and I’m not talking organic.” Coming from a home that goes heavy on home-grown vegetables, and... more

March 10, 2016

Flat out of cheap, fast, and healthy menu ideas?  I’ll tell you how to make flatbread recipes. Pita, naan, tortilla, puri, roti, focaccia, lafah, appam, cong yu bing, chapati, dosa, paratha, mana’eesh, lavash, fatir, yufka, injera, blini, socca … Some variety of flatbread appears in nearly every ancient and modern cuisine around the world. It’s easy enough to understand the ubiquity of flatbreads: They use a minimum of ingredients: flour, water, perhaps a pinch of salt. The more elaborate... more

March 5, 2016

There’s a famous New Yorker cartoon from the early 1990’s 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 ballpoint 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 made from bicycle wheels, jewelry... more

February 26, 2016

Plantar warts are a common, frustrating problem, even with children. It’s better to prevent plantar warts or wait them out than try to cure them.  This is how the symptoms start … For a few weeks, I’d been complaining of a growing tenderness on the ball of my left foot. The tenderness gradually became real pain, until every footfall felt as if I were slapping the sore spot down over a small stone. One day after a bruising long run, I pulled off my sock to show my running partner the spot,... more

February 16, 2016

Carrots offer even more health benefits than the Vitamin A you might know about. Plus they’re inexpensive, always available, and easy to grow. Here are some of the ways that carrots are good for you. Carrots Are a Healthy Food They’re nutritious. A single carrot, raw or cooked, will provide more than a day’s worth of Vitamin A. Carrots are also a good source of fiber, and deliver a variety of vitamins and minerals in lesser amounts. Low in calories, carrots also carry a low glycemic load (... more

February 5, 2016

Eeow! Startled from a deep sleep, you suddenly come to with a shriek, as your calf, thigh, or maybe the arch of your foot contracts in violent pain. Emerging groggily from the edge of sleep or from a deep sleep, you struggle to straighten your leg, pull your toes forward, perhaps kneading the knotted muscles with your thumbs. After the spasms subside, you may get up and try to hobble around a bit to loosen up the painful area a little more. By now you’re completely awake, and you may not... more

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