Friday, August 30, 2019

Hormones and Your Mood

     I don't know if it's due to the influence of social media, or just a general change in awareness, but it seems that certain disorders are starting to have a lot more light shinning on them these days. Mostly I'm talking about mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. However, even with all this new attention, we're still not seeing much about how other conditions in the body can affect our moods, and trust me, they can. The most well known example is PMS, but why does PMS have such an effect on our moods? One simple word, Hormones.

     Hormones can have a HUGE impact on our mental and emotional health. In the most basic sense, hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout our bodies, influencing every system and coordinating complex processes (such as birth, metabolism, fertility, and growth). Without hormones, our bodies would not change during puberty, process food, or respond efficiently during times of crisis. Hormones, and our entire endocrine system, play a major part in health for both men and women during all stages of life. Unfortunately, this important system is often overlooked by medical practitioners who are focused on a specific problem. Quite too often, the hormones are neglected and looked at only as a last resort.

     Some of the most well known hormones are estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, and serotonin. While all of these have an impact on our moods, there are some, less well known, hormones that can have an even bigger impact. For women, one of these is progesterone. Progesterone is a major fertility hormone, but it's also a major restorative and anti-anxiety hormone. Low progesterone levels can be linked to severe PMS-related problems, such as mood swings, irritability, and depression. Men have similar issues when their testosterone is low. Low testosterone can cause severe mood swings and depression in men, along with all the other problems we are more familiar with.

     Now I know that I harp on stress quite often, but it does have that much of an impact. Both low testosterone in men, and low progesterone in women, can be linked to excessive stress. One major reason for this is simply a lack of supplies. Cortisol is a major stress hormone that our body releases when it perceives stress. Even something as routine as a deadline, financial concerns, or traffic can cause the body to create and release cortisol. However, the raw materials our bodies use to do this are the same raw materials that our bodies use to make other hormones such as testosterone and progesterone. If we are constantly in stressful situations, our body won't have enough of the raw materials left over to make those, all important, hormones because it will be too busy making cortisol.

     If you are struggling with mood disorders and you think your hormones may be, at least in part, to blame. Talk to your doctor about having your endocrine levels checked and to see what you may be able to do to help balance them out. You can also try to keep your stress levels lower, eat a balanced diet, exercise, go out in nature, and supplement with vitamins and herbs to help balance out your hormones.


5 Signs Hormones are Sabotaging Your Body: Oprah:

Chemical Messengers- How Hormones Affect Our Mood: The Conversation:

The Connection Between Hormones and Mood: BePure:

Hormones and Mood- From Menarche to Menopause and Beyond: Pub Med:

Menopause Mood Swings: Hormon Health:

Ovulation Hormones- Here's How The Menstrual Cycle Phases Affect Your Mood:

Why Do Hormones Affect Your Mood: Thrive Global:

Monday, August 19, 2019

Easy Slow Cooker Recipes

     School is back in session, and whether or not you have children or are a teacher, you might be having to change you schedule. Those schedule changes can be tough at times, leaving you tired and sometimes scrambling for easy food ideas. So I figured that I'd share with you some of my favorite, prepare-ahead crock pot recipes. As always, these are vegetarian/vegan friendly and all gluten free. Feel free to throw in some chicken, beef, or pork though if you would like.

1. Lasagna is always a hit in any household. This one is especially awesome because it uses zucchini and eggplant in place of noodles, so you can prepare it the night before and put it on high as soon as you come home, you'll have a healthy, home cooked meal in just a few hours. Using the veggies means that the noodles won't be overcooked and mushy, no matter how long they soak before being cooked. Bonus, the veggies add a bit more nutrition for those picky eaters that don't like to eat their veggies. There is a bit of an issue with the veggies making this lasagna a bit soggy if you don't bake or grill them before hand, however the lasagna is still tasty if you just discard the excess liquid before eating.

Veggie Lasagna

2 medium Zucchini
1 medium Eggplant
1 medium Red Onion, diced
1 medium Green Bell Pepper, diced
16 oz Ricotta Cheese or Silken Tofu
`2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese or Substitute (my favorite is Rice cheese)
For the sauce:
¼ medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into chunks
½ stalk of celery, cut into large chunks
½ medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
1 16 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
3 tbsp fresh Parsley leaves, chopped
3 tbsp fresh Basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon dried Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

     For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency, you should have it a bit thick because it'll thin out a little in the cooking process.
     Slice the zucchini and eggplant lengthwise, about ¼ inch thick or thinner, to resemble lasagna noodles. *optional Grill or Bake these veggies to reduce the liquid. Grill- preheat a grill or grill pan and grill the “noodles” for about 2-3 minutes, flip and repeat. Bake- preheat your oven to 500 degrees and place the “noodles” on a cookie sheet (don't use wax or parchment paper as it will burn) and bake for about 5-8 minutes. Work in small batches, do not stack your “noodles.”
     If you are using the tofu option, make sure you drain the tofu well and mix it up before you start layering.
     Start with a spoonful of sauce, or a few, to just cover the bottom of your crock pot. The lay out the first layer of zucchini, covering as much of the bottom as possible. Spoon out some ricotta/tofu and sprinkle your onions and bell peppers over it. Next layer the eggplant over that. Spoon out some ricotta/tofu over that. Sprinkle on your onions and bell peppers, then spoon a little more sauce and sprinkle some mozzarella. Then do a layer of zucchini, and repeat alternating zucchini and eggplant until you reach the last layer. For this, simply spoon out more sauce and use the remaining bit of mozzarella.
     Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Uncover and reduce to “keep warm” (or your lowest setting) for 30 minutes to 1 hour to help reduce the liquid left in the bottom of the pot. Serve hot and enjoy!

2. Who doesn't love tacos? This recipe is a great one to stick in the crock pot for a few hours and forget about it. It does have a lot of prep involved, cutting up veggies and whatnot. Just get everything ready the night before and you're good to go!

Quinoa and Cauliflower Tacos

1 cup Quinoa, uncooked and rinsed very well and drained
1 cup Vegetable Broth
1 15oz can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 15oz can Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup Chunky Salsa
1 lb Cauliflower, riced
1 medium Red Onion, diced
¼ cup fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped
4 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
1-3 teaspoons Cayenne or Chipotle Seasoning (put as much as you'd like, it can get spicy)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Your Choice of Toppings
my family likes Green Onion, Tomatoes, Avocado, Lettuce, Shredded Cheese, and Sour Cream

     Rinse your quinoa very well. You can also toast it to enhance the flavor, but this step is optional.
     In a crock pot, combine all ingredients, stir them up well, cover and cook on high 2 ½-3 hours.      Quinoa tends to get mushy when cooked for long periods of time, so I don't recommend cooking on low with this recipe. If you crock pot runs low, you can cook it for an additional hour without the quinoa being too mushy, but keep an eye on it.
     When the quinoa is cooked through, it's time to pile on your toppings and enjoy!

3. This next recipe is one that I grew up eating and is always a hit. Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite meals, and they're pretty darn easy to throw into a crock pot and forget for a few hours.

Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers

6 medium Bell Peppers (green is standard, but this recipe works just as well with yellow or red)
1 ½ cups Rice, cooked ahead (works best if cooked the day before, or longer)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
½ cup Mushrooms, diced
1 Celery Stalk, diced
¼ cup shredded Carrots
1 medium Red Onion, diced
1 can (14oz-16oz) Diced Tomatoes, with the liquid
2 cups cooked Lentils
3 teaspoons Parsley
1 teaspoon Oregano
½ teaspoon Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups shredded Cheese or Substitute of your choice (I like Colby Jack for this)

     Cut off the tops of the peppers, clean them out and place them in the crock pot.
     In a bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (minus the cheese) and stuff each pepper with about 1 cup of the mixture. Cover and cook on low for about 6-8 hours, or on high for about 3-4 hours.
     Remove lid and sprinkle on the cheese. Cover and cook for an additional 15 min, or until the cheese melts. Serve hot and enjoy!

4. Jambalaya and Gumbo are some of my favorite foods. So of course, I have a version that uses my crock pot! This one is a great one to cook on the cooler days of the year, though it's great year round I tend to crave it in the Fall. The other great thing about Jambalaya is that there are barely any rules. Some people say that it's not Jambalaya without sausage and/or shrimp, but you can make it with anything you want. As long as there's rice, Cajun seasonings, and the “Holy Trinity” (onion, celery, and bell pepper) you can really change it up in endless ways.If you'd rather make Gumbo, simply add a cup of sliced Okra and serve the cooked rice separately.

Vegan Jambalaya

2 Celery Stalks, diced
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
3 Bell Peppers, diced (green is standard, but red and yellow work well, or try 1 of each)
1 Jalapeno, diced (if you like extra heat, leave the seeds in, if not seed that pepper)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb Vegan Gluten Free Sausage, sliced
1 can White Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14oz-16oz) Diced Tomatoes, and the liquid
4 cups Veggie Broth
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
½ cup fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Oregano
½ teaspoon Thyme
½-1 teaspoon Cayenne (or more if you like it super spicy)
1-2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups uncooked Rice

     Combine all ingredients, except the rice, in your crock pot. Stir well and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.
     Remove lid, add rice, give it another good stir. Replace the lid and cook on high for an additional 20 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice. Continue to cook another 5 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Enjoy!

5. Stroganoff was a staple in my house when I was growing up. I still love it, even now, and it's a great dish to cook in the crock pot.

Mushroom Stroganoff

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 lbs Mushrooms of your choice (I usually use a blend of portobellos and white buttons), leave any very small ones whole, and half or quartered larger ones 
1 medium Onion(yellow or white), roughly chopped
3-4 cloves Garlic, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Paprika
3-4 teaspoons Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ cup Sour Cream or Vegan Sour Cream
Cooked Gluten Free Noodles

     Combine all ingredients, except the sour cream and noodles, in your crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. 
     After 4 hours, stir in remaining ingredients and serve. Enjoy!

     If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

Saturday, August 10, 2019


     Some of you might have figured out by now that I am a gigantic nerd. One thing that I love to do is study history, specifically Medieval history. One of my favorite historical people to read about is Hildegard, a German Benedictine abatess who is well known for her musical compositions as well as her work as a natural scientist (two of my favorite topics, both modernly and historically). She wrote several books that describe the human body and how it interacts with the natural world, with specifics on what she believed to be the cause of disease. Her works are important for a number of reasons, but largely because the people who practiced Medieval medicine tended to be women who did not write their findings down, however Hildegard did.

     I mention Hildegard because she wrote quite a bit about an herb she called Bertram. Today we know of this herb as Feverfew, or Tanacetum parthenium. Feverfew is originally native to Southeastern Europe, North Africa, India, and the Mediterranean. But it has also become naturalized in Australia and North America. It is a member of the Asteraceae family, and closely resembles Chamomile. In most areas, it blooms from July through October. Feverfew's leaves smell lightly of citrus, and the whole plant only grows to about 46 cm in height.

     Feverfew was one of Hildegard's favorite herb. She notes, in her Physica, that “...the healthy eat Bertram, because it reduces bad juices, and multiplies the good in human blood, and makes a clear mind. For a patient who is physically run down, Bertram brings back his strength. It leaves nothing in humans undigested, and it prepares the body for good digestion when eaten diligently. It reduces the mucilage in the head, and leads to purifying juices, which purify the eyes. Whether you eat it dry, or in cooked foods, Bertram is as useful to a sick person as to a healthy man. Bertram shoos illness from its host and prevents falling ill. It brings moisture and saliva back to the mouth, and returns us good health.” But these are just a few of the things that Feverfew can be used for.

Medicinal Uses:

Common Names- Feverfew, Featherfew, Bertram, Akaraka, Spanish Chamomile, Bride’s Button, Bachelor’s Button, Febrifuge Plant, Wild Chamomile, Flirtwort, Compositae, Mutterkraut

Scientific NameTanacetum parthenium previously known as Crysanthemum parthenium

Edibility- Feverfew is edible, but not considered a choice edible, or an important food source. The dried flowers are used to flavor certain pastries and wines. The plant is also used in cooking to impart an aromatic bitter taste to certain foods.

Summary of Actions- Analgesic, Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antipyretic, Antispasmodic, Aperient, Bitter Tonic, Cardio-tonic, Carminative, Circulation, COX-2 Inhibitor, Demulcent, Diaphoretic, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge, Insect Repellant, Purgative, Relaxant, Stimulant,Vermifuge

Parts Used- Ariel parts

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Xiao Bai Ju in TCM, Feverfew is active on the Lung, Liver, and Stomach Meridians. It's bitter and cool. It tonifies yin, clears heat, clears wind heat, clears liver heat, and calms shen. This makes it useful for migraines, headaches, nausea, vomiting, menstrual disorders, fevers, dizziness, arthritis, anxiety, to increase appetite, and to soothe red, itchy skin disorders.

Essential Oil and Aromatherapy- The essential oil of Feverfew helps to promote calm concentration and focus. It can also help calm vertigo, or a spinning head. Rub a little bit on your temples to help in the case of headache or migraine. It's scent is very similar to camphor, so do not use this essential oil if you are prone to seizures. It blends well with Lavender, Peppermint, Spruce, Frankincense, Rose Otto, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, and Tansy.

Migraines- The active ingredients in Feverfew act on blood platelets and limit the release of serotonin, which contributes to migraine headaches through its effect on blood flow in the brain. Uncontrolled serotonin distributions are one trigger for the discomfort associated with migraines.

Pain and Inflammation- Recent studies have shown that Feverfew has the ability to reduce inflammation, particularly the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other joint conditions. It helps to prevent damage to joints that comes from the degeneration associated with aging, helping to prevent further damage to the joints.

Skin Conditions and Irritation- The demulcent actions of Feverfew help to sooth inflammation in the skin, helping to treat inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Cancer- In a 2005 study, scientists discovered that parthenolide extracted from Feverfew inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells in the lab. Showing that it has promise in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Fever- The herbs name, Feverfew, derives from the Latin word, febrifugia, meaning, “fever reducer.” One of it's most traditional used is just for this. It helps reduce fevers by promoting perspiration.

Women's Health and Labor- Feverfew helps to relieve cramps, relax nerves, and sooth the nervous system. All of these properties have given it a great reputation as an herb that helps relieve PMS symptoms and to help regulate labor pains to ease labor. It can also be used to induce or ease menstrual flow, which makes it dangerous to take in the early terms of pregnancy.

Digestion- Feverfew is a bitter tonic, helping to improve digestion by stimulating bile flow. It's also a carminative, helping to reduce gas and indigestion.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- This herb should not be given to children under two years of age and should not be used if you are breastfeeding. Avoid this herb during pregnancy as Feverfew might cause uterine contractions and abortion. May cause oral ulcers and tongue soreness if the leaves are chewed, fresh or dried. Because Feverfew does have an effect on the circulatory system, use caution when taking certain medications, especially blood thinners. People who have allergies to members of the Compositae (or Asteraceae) family, which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, Feverfew and many other herbs, should not take this herb internally. Do not use the essential oil if you are prone to seizures!

     I only included a basic introduction to Feverfew. I hope you have gained a new appreciation for this amazing little herb. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and want to see more, Become a Patron!


11 Impressive Benefits of Feverfew: Organic Facts:

Feverfew: AARM:

Feverfew: Gaia Herbs:

Feverfew: Oils and Plants:

Feverfew: RX List:

Feverfew: White Rabbit Institute of Healing:

Feverfew Benefits: Indigo Herbs:

Feverfew Essential Oil: Living Libations:

Feverfew: Indian Mirror:

Feverfew: Peace Health:

Feverfew and Crysanthemum: Planet Herbs:

Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium: Annie's Remedy:

Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium: Ayur Times:

Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium: Ayurvedia Medicare:

Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium- A Systematic Review: US National Library of Medicine:

Feverfew Tanacetum partheniumUses, Health Benefits, Dosage, Medicinal Properties: Krishna Herbals:

Feverfew- The Natural Headache Reliever that May Cure Cancer: Dr. Axe:

The Health Benefits of Feverfew: Very Well Health:

Hildegard's Feverfew Uses: Healthy Hildegard:

Tanacetum parthenium: Always Ayurveda:

Tanacetum parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium: MedicineNet:


Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...