Archive for the ‘Natural Healing’ Category

Bamboo shoots in a Japanese marketBamboo shoots: Add some bamboo to your diet for a little extra protein and exotic crunchiness

These days, it seems like there’s nothing you can’t do with bamboo. Surely you’ve heard about bamboo flooring. If you’ve ever been to Bambu Batu then you know about bamboo clothing and sheets and towels. You’ve probably heard about things like bamboo bicycles and toothbrushes. Then there are the more obscure items like bamboo charcoal and bamboo toothpaste. Most of those topics have been covered in our blogs, so you can follow the links to read more about them. 

NOTE: To make shopping easier, this article may include one or two affiliate links.

Can you eat bamboo?

So if you can wear bamboo, and sleep on it, and brush your teeth with it, and build a house from it, you sort of have to wonder: can I eat it too? Not surprisingly, the answer is YES. 

Eating bamboo is actually one of the oldest bamboo uses of all. It’s difficult to say for certain, but people in Asia have probably been eating bamboo as long as they have been eating rice. Some sources suggest that the cultivation of bamboo as a food source dates back some 7,000 years.

You might wonder how people could eat such a woody plant, prized for its hardness, used in flooring and cutting boards. In fact, when the fresh culms (or shoots) sprout up at the beginning of the growing season, usually spring or early summer, they are actually quite soft and tender. The important thing to know is that raw bamboo contains natural toxins (glycocides), and therefore must be cooked or fermented before they can be consumed by humans. So when we say to eat it fresh (which is usually best), that does not mean uncooked, it just means not dried, canned or fermented.

What are the best varieties of edible bamboo?

Of course, it’s a different story for the bamboo-loving panda bears. Their massive and specialized jaws, teeth and stomachs allow them to eat their bamboo mature and uncooked (i.e. hard and woody). For obvious reasons, we do NOT recommend trying this at home!

Among the couple thousand species of bamboo, there are just a handful of varieties that the connoisseurs consider most suitable for eating. So unless you’re growing one of the following strains, don’t go rushing into your bamboo garden to throw together a bamboo salad.

Bambusa oldhamii: Here’s a variety that might even be growing in your garden. Oldhamii is a giant timber bamboo, and the most widely grown strain in the U.S. Its shoots are highly valued and known to be tender, fragrant and delicious. If your grove is fully grown and healthy enough, you might try harvesting some fresh shoots. Just remember to boil them before eating. If you buy canned bamboo shoots from the store, they are likely to be this variety. Phyllostachys edulis: Also called Moso Bamboo, this giant timber variety is indigenous to China and Taiwan, and is also the most widely used for bamboo textiles. Mature stalks can grow nearly 100 feet tall and get to be several inches in diameter. Fresh shoots from a well-established grove can weigh more than 5 pounds; that’s a quite a meal. Depending what time of year it’s harvested, it may be dried or eaten fresh.  Phyllostachys bambusoides: a large timber bamboo from Japan whose shoots are eaten either fresh or dried.

If you plan to harvest shoots from your own bamboo garden, do it early in the growing season when the fresh culms are just beginning to emerge. Supposedly, the new culms that are still completely underground will taste the best. Slice them lengthwise in narrow strips for preparation.

How nutritious are bamboo shoots?

You wouldn’t think of woody bamboo stalks as being particularly high in nutrients. And they’re not, which is why panda bears have to spend almost the entire day eating (and chewing) just to get enough vitamins and minerals.

But as with many freshly sprouted seeds and grains, the young and tender bamboo culms are actually packed with nutrition.  That’s the stage when the nutrients are available and most highly concentrated. And when you think about the growth rate of these giant timber bamboos — some of them shoot up a foot or two a day — it should come as no surprise that those fresh, new sprouts are just loaded with fuel. 

Essentially, the young bamboo shoots are a great source of protein, minerals and fiber. At the same time, they are low in fat and sugar. By virtue of its growth habit, bamboo does not require any pesticides or fertilizers, unlike most commercial food crops. New research on the subject also suggests that bamboo can improve appetite and digestion, and even treat diseases like cancer. 

How does it taste?

Today bamboo shoots remain a very popular component in a wide variety of dishes throughout southeast Asia and beyond. But we don’t usually cook with bamboo because its exquisite flavor. Instead we use bamboo to add a little extra texture, as well as some fiber and protein. When it comes to flavor, we let those exotic Asian spices do the talking.

Bamboo makes an excellent addition to just about any kind of soup, curry or mixed vegetable dish. Meals that incorporate bamboo and coconut milk are especially popular in Indonesia and southeast Asia. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about! 

Fermented bamboo is common in Nepal and northern India. If you’re a fan of fermentation, you can check this recipe for Bastenga and Kesei. You might also enjoy this recipe for kimchi and this article on the science of sauerkraut

The variety of culinary uses for bamboo shoots is virtually unlimited. So get a hold of some culms and get into it. If you don’t have a good grove in your backyard or a fresh bamboo vendor at your local farmers market, you can find canned bamboo shoots at most Asian specialty shops or major supermarkets.

We’ve heard that bamboo and spinach also go very well together. If you have a favorite bamboo recipe you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments section below.

Cooking with bamboo kitchenwares

If you like cooking and eating bamboo, chances are you also enjoy cooking and eating with bamboo kitchen implements. Bambu Batu carries a wide selection of kitchen tools, from travel utensils to cutting boards. If you check online, you can also find some very high quality bamboo cutting boards at Amazon. Ideal for use in the kitchen, wood from bamboo is extremely hard and naturally antimicrobial, making it resistant to germs and easy to keep clean. 

Featured Image: Bamboo shoots in a Japanese market (Wikipedia)

How to grow kaleCheck it out!  DIY Garden presents The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Kale! This superfood boasts deep, earthy flavors that can range from rich and meaty to herbaceous and slightly bitter. And it is easy peasy to grow!  Here’s the link.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Kale!

Kale salad

Recipe serves two simple meals or four lip-smacking kale salad appetizers. Prep time approximately 15 minutes. No cooking involved.

Start with one hearty bunch of kale — Tuscan, dino, curly, any variety will do. Carefully remove the leaves and tear into more-or-less bite sized squares, discarding the fibrous stalks into your nearest compost receptacle.

Mix the following in a measuring cup: 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup Braggs® aminos

Then add roughly 1/4 cup of minced red onion, to taste. Let the onions soak in the juices for about 10 minutes if you want to take the edge off of the raw onion flavor.

Pour the dressing over the bite-sized strips of kale and massage gently and evenly until the kale feels tender. NOTE: it is important to actually massage the kale, rubbing and squeezing with your hands to really get the oil and lemon juice in there and soften up the leaves.

Finally, sprinkle with roasted pepitas and call it done. You can add a pinch of salt and pepper, but it’s really unnecessary. You can also add other salad toppings, depending on what’s in season. Our summertime kale salad often has fresh tomatoes and avocado. Serve it up with some homemade sourdough bread, and you’re good to go!

Mothers have reported that “the teenagers just devour it!” But rest assured, ordinary children and adults clearly crave it as well.

 

 

Incense from Bambu Batu

 

Scent is a sense that is intimately connected with human memory. The olfactory nerve is situated close to the amygdala, the area of the brain associated with emotion and emotional memory. Some biologists believe that olfactory memory evolved as an early form of communication. Surrounding yourself with comforting smells is not just a way to bring back pleasant experiences, but to also calm the nervous system and aid in meditation. At Bambu Batu, we carry a host of Indian, Nepali, and Tibetan incense. We are now proud to being offering Shoyedio Japanese incense in six individual blends and in variety packs of eight assorted scents.

As the legend goes, a piece of fragrant wood washed up on the shores of the Japanese island of Awaji 1,400 years ago. Recognizing its special fragrance, the locals preserved the treasure and offered it as a gift to Empress Suiko. In the early 18th century, Rokubei Moritsune Hata began to refine incense production techniques and introducing his creations to royalty and the general public. Twelve generations later, the Hata family is still crafting scents using the best natural ingredients. They are certified by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry, and the US Fish & Wildlife Department, ensuring that their recipes use materials that are sustainably harvested and use no animal products.

Each box of Shoyeido Incense contains a bundle of 35 sticks, each with a burn time of 45 minutes. Most of the recipes are sandalwood based and include premium woods, herbs and spices, and all products are made in their factory in Kyoto, Japan. No accelerants are use, ensuring a long burn time and a pure, headache-free smoke. Bambu Batu’s Shoyeido collection ranges in price from $2.95 to $5.95 depending on variety. Come take a whiff and find your favorite!

Seeds of Hope

For many of us in the Western world, potable water flowing from a tap is such a common occurrence that we barely think twice about turning a handle for one of the most vital resources on the planet. Rarely do we consider that millions of people around the world lack basic access to clean water due to poverty, lack of infrastructure, and environmental pollution.

Imagine being able to take concrete steps toward ending the spiral of poverty for vulnerable communities in Africa. Seeds of Hope International Partnerships is a non-profit organization that seeks to transform neighborhoods with the use of community development and holistic practices. They work towards bringing knowledge of water-borne diseases through education and increase quality of life. The organization was founded back in 2003 when Seeds of Hope Director, Kirk Schauer, visited Zambia with a group of pastors from California.

After witnessing the appalling state of the water infrastructure in the country, he became determined to make a difference. Seeds of Hope began a collaboration with Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology to implement methods of sanitation and to conduct trainings. Through BioSand Filters, community wells, AIDS/HIV lectures, Seeds of Hope is transforming local infrastructure from the grassroots.

On August 3, the Mountainbrook Community Church will host a Walk For Hope as an extension of the mission presented by Seeds of Hope. Adult tickets are available for $20 or $25 with t-shirt. Children under 12 are free. Participants will meet in the Mountainbrook parking lot at 8am.

Brendan Smith is saving the planet with seaweed

Modern man has been awful rough on the oceans. With climate change acidifying the seas, and through overfishing, pollution, dead zones and resource extraction, humans have done an amazing amount of damage to the world’s aquatic ecosystems. Brendan Smith encountered many of these challenges as a commercial fisherman. After realizing that most current fishing practices were unsustainable, he decided to settle in Long Island Sound and raise oysters. As of last year, he integrated kelp into his practices, creating a 3D farm that could take advantage of the entire water column. Once he added the green-blue algae, he found that the seaweed and shellfish had great economic and environmental benefits.

Now the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, Smith is looking to expand his 3D farm and educate others as to the applications of kelp and shellfish. Known as the “rainforest of the sea”, kelp is able to capture an incredible amount of carbon at almost five times that of land based plants. His 2o acre farm alone can sequester up to 134 tons a year. Seaweed and oysters can also filter out nitrogen which is the main cause of dead zones created by agricultural runoff. His Thimble Island Oyster Co. farm sucks up 164kg of nitrogen annually, purifying the water and converting the nutrients into a healthy source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Kelp also possesses the added bonus of being a terrific feedstock for biofuel. According to the US Department of Energy, a kelp farm the size of Maine could potentially produce enough algae to replace petroleum for the entire country. Farming kelp has the ability to jump-start what Smith describes as a “Blue-Green Economy” that could not only help to repair damaged ecosystems, but create valuable jobs and revamp a crumbling infrastructure. Instead of drilling and contaminating the water supply, why not take advantage of natural processes that allow life to flourish?

Jade Beall photography

The modern media landscape is crammed with images of Photoshopped bodies and faces that look more like oil paintings than depictions of real life. What most people hardly ever see is the variations and idiosyncrasies of the female form throughout motherhood, particularly during and after pregnancy. Unless they are studying the captivating imagery of Jade Beall.

Arizona photographer Jade Beall became fascinated with the maternal figure after the birth of her son in 2012. Although the birth was uncomplicated and joyous, she fell into a postpartum depression because she felt ugly, ashamed, and unattractive. After taking nude self-portraits of herself with her child and posting them on her website, she received hundreds of positive comments. Realizing that her work could be used as an agent of healing and reclamation of one’s physical self, she began the “A Beautiful Body” project. Through the series, she photographs her sitters for free, allowing them to heal from years of self-loathing, abuse, and disease.

Her first volume “A Beautiful Body” is primarily focused on mothers and their families. The book, which will be available in January, is the first of several which will deal with birth, aging, death, and beyond. Her edition is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, which has already exceeded its target goal. Offering her talents to act as medicine for both subjects and viewers, the black and white photographs are powerful reminders that beauty lies in the ability to give and sustain life, love, and the embodiment of compassion.

 

polluting your backyard

No one wants pollution spewing into the air, waterways, or land near where they live. Yet with chemicals and substances that are naked to the human eye, how can you know with any certainty what is who or what is polluting your backyard? Thank heavens for the Internet and crowdsourcing. With the help of modern technology, scientists, and advocates across the world, you have access to the information you need to monitor your home habitat.

Poisoned Places- NPR and their Poisoned Places series has created an interactive map that allows the user to see how polluted their neck of the woods has become. They take their aggregate data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: the Clean Air Act watch list, the Air Facility System (AFS), the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and the Risk Screening Environmental Indicators model (RSEI).

Superfund Sites Where you Live- The EPA allows you to find out if you are living next to a Superfund Site, or an area where pollutants or hazardous waste is located. The site also allows you see how the cleanups are progressing and access community resources that help educate and involve residents in the restoration of their neighborhoods.

Landsat Satellite Images- Pictures have the power to express what data sheets, charts, and tables are unable to infer. Google Landsat takes satellite images from space and through timelapse photography creates videos that chronicle urban development, climate change, and environmental destruction. Time magazine has compiled several of the most stunning pieces on their website.

Ventus: Developed by researchers at Arizona State University, Ventus is a computer game that uses crowdsourcing to track CO2 pollution from power plants across the world. Users are able to enter information as to the size, capacity, and output of each facility in a competition to win top honors from the website’s founders. In addition to identifying the new plants springing up around the globe, Ventus can be used as a tool by policy makers and scientists looking to reform energy infrastructure.

U.S. NRC – Chances are if you live near a nuclear power facility, you are already aware of your radioactive neighbor. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission offers several interactive maps that show the locations of nuclear power plants, waste storage and materials facilities.

 

Oh, honeybees! Forgive me for a moment while I extoll the virtues of the this humble insect. These hard-working ladies accomplish so much to contribute to human well-being. Aside from pollinating our crops and producing the miracle elixir that is honey, scientists have also found that bee venom can contribute to destroying HIV. Yes, that is correct, nanoparticles found in their naturally occurring compound can help to cure one of mankind’s most pressing medical catastrophes. So, in case it wasn’t enough to honor these brilliant bugs for their contributions to health, you may be surprised to learn how honeybees are working towards ensuring our collective safety.

Some very out-of-the-box scientists in Croatia are training honeybees to detect landmines. It may sound ridiculous at first, but upon further reflection, a tiny flying creature with a fantastic sense of smell might just be the perfect tool to identify the location of such destructive and sensitive weapons. Researchers from Zagreb University have developed a method of using a sugar solution laced with TNT to condition the bees to recognize the chemical signatures of the landmines. Nikola Kezic, the lead scientist of the project dubbed “Tiramisu” has high hopes for his hives. Weighing less than rats or dogs who have also been taught to search out the underground explosives. the bees have the potential to find the mines without setting them off.

During the Balkan wars, 750 square kilometers were laced with 90,000 ballistics without a set pattern or legend. Since the beginning of the conflicts in 1991, over 2,500 have perished from landmine explosions. For a country that is set to enter the EU this summer and one that hopes to maintain the safety of its population, any tool in its efforts to rid the country of the scourge of its turbulent past can be seen as nothing if not a step in the right direction. Croatia would like to become a tourist destination, and using the bees to make certain an area is safe for recreation could be an added reassurance. Now, if only we can return the favor to our winged warriors by reversing the colony collapse disorder brought about by climate change, pesticides, mites, and a host of other man made actions.

polluting your backyard

In the effort to combat climate change, we carpool, scale back our utility use, purchase carbon credits, and do our best to source our power from clean technologies. Yet, if we pay tuition, donate to non-profits, or have a stock portfolio, we may still be contributing to dirty energy. Many universities, local governments, and religious institutions have endowments or investments that benefit financially from fossil fuels. Seeing the support of coal companies, oil giants, and mining projects as antithetical to their moral and political proclivities, organizations across the nation are divesting from these markets.

The Fossil Free campaign helps to organize and support those who wish to give non-renewable resources the boot. Over 300 colleges have already started their own campaigns, including Brown University who is slated to vote on axing 15 coal and mining companies from their endowment this month. Major cities, such as San Francisco have decided that exacerbating climate change was not in the best interest of the planet or the Bay. Those interested can visit the website and either begin a petition or join an already existing call to action. In addition to hosting a platform to collect signatures, Fossil Free also provides relevant articles, charts, and studies to help make a strong and well-informed case.

As a strategy, taking away a source of revenue may be one of the quickest and most effective ways to halt fossil fuel infrastructure. Seeing as much of the industry has bought influence in Congress and around the world, pulling money away from conglomerates is one of the most powerful means of stopping a number of pipelines and mountaintop removals at one time. While it is true that companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal make billions of dollars and that the dissent of only a few small institutions may not at first make a huge dent, it is important to back up beliefs with concrete action. Not only igniting discussion and creating a PR nightmare, large endowments are responsible for billions of dollars themselves, and can make their voices heard if they decided to gather together to send a message and hit polluters where it hurts. Money could then be apportioned to back renewable energy and bolster a healthier, greener economy that would not only ease the burden of climate change, but give birth to a vibrant new market that benefits more small businesses and communities.

The time has come to tell the fossil fuel giants that carbon is so very last century.

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