Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Taste-Testing Storebought Soups

My family hasn't bought canned soup in about a decade. When we transitioned to a nutrient-dense diet, storebought soups and frozen dinners were removed from our diets and replaced with homemade foods for their superior taste and nutrition. Until recently, I've had no intention of re-introducing canned foods into our diets, but then...

My whole family had the flu. And we all had it bad. And it lasted well over a week. We did manage to make-do with leftovers and lots of simple foods while we were sick; thankfully, I had roasted a bunch of chicken and cooked a large batch of potatoes the day before I came down ill. But this experience did lead me to the realization that there is a place for some easy, off-the-shelf foods in our pantry. While I don't intend for them to become a significant part of our diets, I now plan to keep our pantry stocked with at least a small amount of canned foods for those times when cooking just isn't possible.

Thus, my family has embarked on a taste-testing experiment with organic canned soups. I'm focusing on brands and flavors that are locally available. So far, we've tried 9 different flavors, from 3 different companies. Some of the soups have been unbelievably horrendous; others have been decent and will have a place in our pantry.

None of the soups we've tried have been anywhere near as good as my homemade soups, but I didn't expect that they would anyway. Our goal has been to find some decent canned soups to have around for extra-busy times and extenuating circumstances. So while none of these soups rival our usual homemade fare, there are at least a few soups that I can keep on-the-shelf.

Our Soup Taste-Testing Methodology 

To give each soup a fair taste-test, we've done the following:
  • We try a few different soups side-by-side, so we can compare them.
  • In-between trying different soups, we make sure to clear our palates with a neutral drink or food such as milk, lemon water, crackers, etc.
  • Salt can be added to taste.
  • Soups that contain a large-proportion of ingredients that certain family members (ahem, my husband) dislike are not tried by those family members.  

So far, we have not found any particular type of canned soup that is well-liked by all four members of our family. That is pretty standard, though, as even a fair amount of my home-cooked food is loved by three and tolerated by one (and that one who doesn't love it is not always the same person). So, no big surprise there. Let's start with the worst.

The Worst

The Worst Soups are those that were hated by a majority of our family.

Pacific Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
This soup was the only one hated by all four of us.  It was an unappetizing gray color, it smelled unpleasant, and it tasted awful. Everyone tasted it once, and then the rest was thrown into the chicken-scraps pail. 0 out of 4 liked it. 

Amy's Organic Soups Hearty Minestrone with Vegetables
This soup combines beans, lentils, and vegetables.  Although that sounds like a promising start, there was a flavor that we didn't like, seeming to come from the spices.  Only one of us finished our small portion of this soup, and that one portion was not enjoyed much. 1/2 out of 4 liked it.

Amy's Organic Soups Chunky Vegetable
This soup should have been good. It's ingredients were just vegetables, salt, and pepper, with no spices. Yet, inexplicably, it tasted rather bad. 3 of us hated it, and 1 disliked it. No one finished their portions. 0 out of 4 liked it.

Pacific Organic Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
This soup combined chicken, wild rice, and vegetables. It didn't look or smell very good. Two of us hated it, one of use disliked it, and one of us thought it was tolerable but not good. 1/2 out of 4 liked it.

Simply Balanced Organic Tomato Basil Soup
This soup actually tasted okay for the first couple bites. 3 out of 4 of us thought it started out okay. But then, we all noticed that the flavor seemed to deteriorate and an off-flavor developed. To me, the off-flavor had a sweet-ish metallic flavor (which is surprising since this soup was in a paper carton, not a can).  None of us finished our small portions. 0 out of 4 liked it.

Pretty Good Soups

Pretty Good Soups are those that were liked by greater than half of our family.

Amy's Organic Soups Lentil Vegetable Soup (Light in Sodium)
This thick soup was a nice combination of lentils with vegetables and potatoes. Since my husband doesn't like lentils, he didn't participate in this taste-test. This soup did need extra salt. 2 out of 3 liked this soup quite a lot. And it was even tastier with some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese on top. 

Simply Balanced Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
The flavor of this soup was reminiscent of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, which my husband and I both loved in childhood. This soup did need added salt. All four of us actually liked the flavor, but one lamented that the chicken was "too dry" (and it was, because the chunks of chicken were somewhat large and overcooked as most canned soup meats are). This soup did have one ingredient I generally try to avoid (canola oil), but only a small amount.  3&1/2 out of 4 liked it.

Amy's Organic Soups Chunky Tomato Bisque (Light in Sodium)
This soup had a beautiful red color and nice aroma. It was the only "Low Sodium" soup that did not need added salt. The chunky tomatoes gave it a better consistency than the usual pureed tomato soups. 3 out of 4 liked it. 

Amy's Organic Soups Minestrone (Light in Sodium)
This soup had a nice combination of beans and vegetables.  Straight from the can, it did need a lot of added salt. But once salt was added, this soup was okay. 3 out of 4 liked it.

The Best

None. A Best Soup would be one that was well-liked by all four members of our family. So far, we haven't found any Best Soups, but I'm still hoping to. We'll keep trying.

Do you stock any canned soups in your pantry? Which ones are your favorites?


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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Real-Life Examples of First-Aid Treatment with Arnica

Arnica Montana is homeopathy's most well-known remedy, and for good reason. It is a most-excellent remedy for first-aid of a variety of different conditions. I've blogged previously about many uses for Arnica, but this time I wanted to share some real-life examples of Arnica being used to treat my family.

Arnica is the first-aid remedy that gets used most often in our household. While we can easily go weeks without needing any at all, there are also weeks like last week when every member of our household benefited from the amazing healing properties of homeopathic Arnica. It was a week that had me feeling grateful for Arnica, for sure!

Hypersensitivities Call For Modified Treatment

From a homeopathic perspective, all four members of my family are hypersensitive. People who are hypersensitive can be identified as those who exhibit any of the following:
  • sensitivities to noises, lights, and/or odors,
  • food sensitivities,
  • sensitivities to environmental influences such as detergents and lotions, and
  • sensitivities to conventional medicines and/or anesthesia.

Because of our hypersensitivities, we all have a propensity to having aggravations (overreactions) from homeopathic remedies. So, whereas a person with normal sensitivity could take multiple dry pellets of homeopathic Arnica in a first-aid situation, my family does better with smaller doses, lower potencies, and more-conservative dosing. Thus, the incidents described below are describing how we dose with Arnica given our hypersensitivities. I've also included some guidance for dosing without hypersensitivities in each of these examples. 

Disclaimer: The uses of homeopathic remedies described in this article are provided for educational use only. 

Scooter Injury

I was in the house one late afternoon when I heard a loud wailing outside. I ran out to find my daughter, who had been riding her new scooter in our driveway, crying hard and holding her leg. A quick examination showed a horizontal bruise forming across her shin, where her leg had landed hard against her scooter. Arnica is renowned for its ability to prompt healing of bumps and bruises, so it was the remedy of choice to use. Because I know that my daughter is prone to overreacting to even minor injuries, I started her first-aid treatment with only an application of homemade Arnica lotion.

Then I watched how my daughter progressed for the next 30 minutes. She was limping badly, and wincing when she put weight on the injured leg, so I could tell this injury could benefit from more than just Arnica lotion. Upon examining the injury again, a definite lump was forming over the horizontal bruise, and it was very tender. This prompted me to take her first-aid to the next step by giving my daughter an olfactory dose of Arnica 30x from a wet solution, which I keep on-hand in the kitchen cupboard for just such instances. (I make my wet solution of Arnica by dissolving one Arnica pellet in half a cup of water and then adding several Tablespoons of vodka to act as a preservative. The vodka makes this wet solution shelf-stable for months.) My daughter's olfactory dose of Arnica was administered by having her inhale one large sniff of the liquid solution through her nose.

(If my daughter was not hypersensitive, I would have given her one dry pellet of Arnica 30x or 30c by mouth upon my first examination, instead of using only Arnica lotion at that time.)

My daughter continued to limp on her leg that evening, but was in noticeably less pain. Before bed, I applied Arnica ointment, preferring it over lotion because it is thick and would be able to work overnight on the injury. When my daughter woke the next morning, there was no longer any pain, swelling, or bruising! As the day wore on, a small amount of bruising started to return to the injury, so some more Arnica lotion was applied. Nothing else was needed because the injury was no longer causing any pain. This injury healed rapidly and with much less pain because of the use homeopathic Arnica.


Landing Hard on the Head

My children, my mother, and I visited White Sands National Monument last week. While my son was sliding down a very steep sand dune, he lost control of his sled saucer and flipped over, landing hard on his head. He was crying and holding his head, saying it hurt on both sides. My son had already crash-landed on the dunes several times with no tears or crying, so I knew this was more serious since he was very upset.

Arnica excels at treating head injuries and is a great remedy for use when there could be a concussion, so I quickly got my first-aid kit from the car (where it had been kept cool with an ice pack). I administered one pellet of Arnica 6c by mouth to my son, and allowed him to suck on it for about 30 seconds before asking him to spit it out. (If my son was not hypersensitive, I would have used a higher potency, such as Arnica 30x or 30c, and I would have allowed him to finish the pellet rather than having him spit it out.)

After his dose of Arnica, my son quickly settled down and stopped crying. Within a few minutes, he was feeling well enough to climb another sand dune and continue playing. I checked in with him a few more times that afternoon and evening, and he reported that his head felt fine and there was no pain, so no more Arnica was needed after that first dose.

Smacked in the Face With a Bike Pump

I needed to pump up a wheelbarrow tire, and my daughter was helping by getting the bike pump. As I was about to pump up the tire, my daughter let go of the bike pump and it fell, with the handle hitting me squarely on the bridge of the nose. It hurt so bad I thought surely there must be blood (but there wasn't). After I made an (overly loud) exclamation of pain, I asked my daughter to get the Arnica lotion. I applied the lotion right away. By the next day, while there was still a small amount of pain if I pressed on the area, there was absolutely no bruising. Arnica really feels like a magical elixir sometimes, as I had feared I would have a large bruise on my face, and instead there was no visible trace of the injury.

(If I was not hypersensitive, I would have taken a pellet of Arnica 30x or 30c by mouth instead of just applying Arnica lotion.)


Overworking in the Garage

My husband was working hard at installing some new ceiling shelves in our garage. He was feeling rather fatigued near the end of his work, and we know from past experience that he tends to get very sore after such weekend exertions. I administered one Arnica 6c pellet by mouth when he was almost done working, and asked him to spit it out after about 30 seconds. (If my husband was not hypersensitive, I would have used a higher potency, such as Arnica 30x or 30c, and I would have allowed him to finish the pellet rather than having him spit it out.) Additionally, once my husband was done showering, he applied Arnica lotion to the areas that were feeling fatigued.

By the next day, my husband was feeling only mild-to-moderate soreness, instead of the strong soreness he tends to experience without using Arnica.

An Indispensable Remedy

Homeopathic Arnica is a wonderful first-aid remedy that soothed our injuries and overworked muscles. Certainly, we could have gotten by without using Arnica, but the healing process would have been longer and more painful. With Arnica, healing was quick and nearly painless. I hope these examples have helped you in understanding better how to use Arnica in your own family.

Do you use homeopathic Arnica? Do you have any success stories to share? 


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or licensed healthcare professional. I am a homeopathic practitioner whose services are considered complementary and alternative by the state of New Mexico. The uses of homeopathic remedies described herein are provided for educational use only.  

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