My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flummox the Flu with Elderberries!

Let me just begin this post by saying that I think flummox is one of those many words that is underappreciated and underused. So I'm giving it some props. :-)

I had a hard time adjusting to BW being back to work today, and still can't believe his vacation is over! The week went by fast, as vacation weeks always do, but I'm glad he got to have a week off before heading into the nightmare that is the holiday season at UPS (and, apparently, FedEx!)...

During this time of year especially, BW works very long hours, gets far too little rest, is in and out of cold, often nasty weather all day, and is exposed to countless germs. Given that he delivers to several schools, two hospitals, a nursing home and most of the doctors' offices, clinics and surgical centers, it's a wonder he doesn't come down with every variety of plague and pestilence and bring them home to me! We don't get flu shots, but in the 9+ years since we became vegan we haven't had colds or the flu. No doubt, our healthy, nutrient-dense food and regular exercise keep our immune systems in fine fettle (another fun word we see too little of, IMO). It also helps that I avoid town, and the sick people therein, as much as possible (and not just during flu season, lol). But BW doesn't have that luxury, so keeping "Typhoid Mary" germ-free is a bigger challenge. We're diligent about hand washing and he uses alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer* during the day when he can't get to soap and water, and we take two teaspoons of Sambucol syrup every day. We discovered Sambucol (made from elderberries) about three or four years ago and have been impressed.

Though we've not suffered from the flu in years, if we get really worn down (like BW can during UPS "peak"), and start to get that yuk feeling in the head and/or throat that's usually a sign you're coming down with something, we've taken the appropriate dose of Sambucol and wham... the germs are flummoxed and surrender within a day or two. It's amazing. So we've been keeping this stuff on hand during every flu season. This is the first year we've been taking the preventative dose, though, so we're going through it faster and the stuff ain't cheap (still a bargain compared to getting the flu, though!) So I was delighted to get my latest newsletter from Mountain Rose Herbs, sharing this video for making your own elderberry syrup!

Since we don't use honey, I'll be making mine with delicious, honey-like agave nectar. The reason I haven't made any yet is because I need to procure dried elderberries! Tomorrow my friend Robyn and I are planning a shopping trip to Billings (MT), home to a couple of great health food stores/food co-ops, so before ordering some from Mountain Rose herbs, I'll see if I can get some up there.

The homemade syrup isn't exactly the Sambucol formula so the required maintenance dose is a bit higher, but even so - making it yourself is a lot less expensive.

(*You can also make your own hand sanitizer by mixing 1 tsp of vegetable glycerin and 1 cup isopropyl alcohol. Not as thick as the store-bought kind, but just as effective).

I just can't think of elderberries without the French knight's taunt from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" popping into my head! "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" Oh yeah? Well, hamsters are cute and at least dad probably never got the flu! ;-) (Apparently being told you smell of elderberries is an insult because, according to's A Modern Herbal, fresh elderberry flowers "have an odour scarcely pleasant.")

So here's to a healthy flu season with no delivery vehicle crashes, unpleasant odours, or taunting French "kniggits." :-)

Wednesday Update: Robyn and I had a fun and productive day with her sister Rhonda up in Billings. I had a wonderful quinoa dish for lunch at the Good Earth Food Co-Op that I must try to replicate, got a few great deals and brought home a LOT of foodstuffs (including some of the prettiest organic kale I've ever seen!), and am feeling a wonderful sense of abundance with my well-stocked pantry. But alas... there was nary an elderberry to be found in all of Billings! So I'll be ordering some from Mountain Rose as soon as they get in a couple of out-of-stock teas I want. Meanwhile, I bought three things I've never tried before: Hungarian Paprika, Lemon Curry, and Chia Seeds. Oh, and I took a good, deep whiff from the bin of elderberry flowers so I could report just how nasty they actually smell (honestly, the things I do for my blog!), but I didn't think they smelled unpleasant at all! I certainly had a lot of fun entertaining myself in the bulk foods section! :-)

Nov 30 Update: I received my elderberries on Friday, and made my first batch of syrup today. It was very easy, and made the house smell wonderful while it simmered. But the flavor... oh, my! It tastes like a dessert topping! (When BW took his first dose he said, "Are you sure this is GOOD for us?" lol) I'm going to cut back on the agave nectar next time, it was sweeter than it needs to be. But those spices really make this delicious! What a yummy way to keep the flu at bay! :-)

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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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