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Prepping For Women: A Self-Defense Guide (Part 5)

Ready Nutrition - Fri, 06/14/2019 - 06:07

Self-defense is incredibly important for women to know.  Women are usually seen as the “weaker sex” and it doesn’t matter whether we like it or not. Those who have more body mass will likely try to take advantage of those with less body mass, especially when supplies dwindle and the grocery stores run out of that last can of corn.

If you’ve ever experience Black Friday when a store runs out of clearance TVs, you’ll get a little bit of an idea as to how people will act when there’s no food on the shelves. So what then?


Well, a gun is the easiest and most effective way to defend yourself. I know some don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. There simply isn’t a better tool available to the everyday woman, in all honesty.  It takes little muscle force to use and once used to it, can be worn comfortably at all times. (If you just don’t like guns, stay tuned. We’ll include some other options for you toward the end.)

It’s always a little humorous and ironic when men suggest “the perfect gun for a woman”.  The bottom line is that there isn’t a perfect gun for a woman, there’s a perfect gun for you or a perfect gun for me. This is becoming a theme in our women’s preparedness articles. One-size, most often, does not fit all, and we are here to tell you that that is OK!

But because of that, we suggest that you begin to prepare now, and take your time learning what’s best for you.  We can offer suggestions and places to start, but ultimately, it’s up to you to take the steps necessary when you feel comfortable.

When choosing a gun, you need to think only about yourself, as the woman shooting it. It doesn’t matter what your husband, friend, or gardener says.  They aren’t wielding the weapon and that’s the most important piece of advice I can give. If you don’t like the way a Glock feels when you hold it (me! And I’m given all sorts of crap for this by men…) then don’t buy one. Get a gun you’ll be comfortable shooting. I understand the argument that you don’t want a cheap gun or something that will malfunction when the SHTF, but that’s why before anything bad happens is a good time to start shopping around.  This will take time, just like learning the menstrual cup.  But before you know it, you’ll have a good idea of where to start and which guns you should avoid.  Again, this is a personal decision. You’re literally taking your own protection into your own hands, and this decision shouldn’t be made lightly.  I suggest you go to a gun range that will allow you to rent whatever gun you want. Fire all of the guns as many times as you want before you make your decision.

The downside of a gun is the expense. They aren’t cheap, although you can pick up a revolver for just over $200 in some areas.  They are also something you’ll need to practice with, and ammo isn’t exactly cheap either. You’ll also need to invest in the necessary items to keep your gun performing optimally. So cleaning supplies and some lubricant should be on your purchase list.

Once you’ve got the gun bought, we recommend taking a class. Of course, you could learn to shoot in your backyard but maybe try a self-defense class.  Learn to defend yourself with a gun and from an assailant with a gun. This is the United States…you won’t be the only one armed when the SHTF.


Personally, my knives are tools and unless it’s the one I keep in my purse and it’s on me when the SHTF, I don’t have one for the sole purpose of self-defense.  But that doesn’t mean this choice is not right for you!  And in all honesty, I should learn to use a knife in self-defense. The truth is, we all need a good one in our prepper gear anyway, so learning to use it as a weapon is not a bad idea! There are classes out there that can teach you to use a knife in self-defense, and like the gun classes, it won’t hurt to invest in a training session. While a knife must be used up close for self-defense (as opposed to the gun) it may be something to just add to your person because the benefits of a knife are that they are not just self-defense weapons, but tools and the chances you’ll need a knife are very high.

Related Articles:

Three Important Considerations of a Good Survival Knife

What’s the Best Survival Knife?

Eight Self-Defense Tactics Every Woman Should Know

Bare Hands

Unfortunately, women should also learn to use their bare hands to defend themselves. This isn’t ideal, but necessary. There are excellent classes to take to help you learn. In order to make self-defense your natural reaction and know exactly what to do, it needs to be practiced often, so just keep that in mind. But when you do decide to learn, make sure you are in decent enough physical shape to exert the demands of a class. Eat well and move a little more.  Try to stay healthy.  This will help you in other ways if something bad does happen too.

It’s important to have situational awareness and be aware of your surroundings at all times.  Always know exactly what is happening around you.  This could even help prevent you from getting into a situation that may be less than ideal and lead to a fight.  It’s ok to hide or avoid an altercation too.

Society seems to dictate that women should be delicate, passive and always polite. In many cases, we give our power away because we feed into these societal norms. When the worst happens, a situation will escalate exorbitantly and women must know when to go from passive to a fierce warrior. We cannot stand idly by waiting for help. We must rise to the occasion and know how to give someone the beat down.

In order to prevent this article from stretching into infinity with suggestions and tips, we’re going to leave it at that. However, as with all of our other women’s preparedness articles, please leave any self-defense suggestions you may have in the comments!  If you help just one woman learn something that could benefit her, your one suggestion will be a success!

As women preppers, we understand we aren’t weaker than our male counterparts, we are simply different.


Read previous articles in this series:

Hygiene and Feminine Needs When Supplies Are Running Short

How To Handle Birth Control After The SHTF

Prepping For Women: How To Prepare MENTALLY When Our Brains Won’t Shut Off

Prepping for Women: Preparing For Pregnancy And Childbirth During An Emergency




A Growing Guide For Delicious Butternut Winter Squash

Ready Nutrition - Wed, 06/12/2019 - 05:18

Squash has been a staple in the gardens of many for years.  It’s easy to grow, and Butternut Winter Squash grows with a sweet and tender flavor, plus it’s easy to peel for quick effortless meals!

Waltham Butternut Winter Squash can be mixed into a creamy soup for those cold winter days or it can be sliced up and wrapped in aluminum foil and tossed onto a grill for a healthy BBQ zing. Squash varieties are many! They are colorful and incredibly easy to store and grow. Of course, there’s the added bonus of winter squash being one of the most nutritious crops you can grow in your garden. These hearty fruits will also hold onto their vitamins and nutrients throughout their long storage life. And growing butternut winter squash is so easy almost anyone can have some delicious and nutritious squash available for those winter and holiday recipes!

Butternut winter squash is not only flavorful, it’s good for you too! Butternut winter squash is one of the most popular varieties of squash and with good reason.  It contains a good supply of fiber, vitamin A, and potassium.  Butternut winter squash is also a good source of vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin C and manganese. The nutrients in butternut squash have also been shown to be beneficial for the human body by aiding digestion, blood pressure, keeping healthy skin, and lovely hair.

Butternut winter squash has the perfect combination of rich flavor and a smooth texture with natural resistance to squash vine borers. The seeds are relatively easy to sow and won’t take up much of your time or energy, so why not grab some seeds and grow some in your garden?


HELPFUL TIP: Butternut squash seeds will only germinate in warm soil, so it’s best to plant through summer. The butternut growing season is approximately 110-120 days for fruit maturation. Thus, if your season is a bit short, you can start the seeds indoors and direct them outside once the weather warms up. However, you will need to transplant the squash before the last frost in your region.

  • Plant the transplants in soil that is “well warmed” by the sun, approximately 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit (15-18 C). Soil should be at about 4-inch in depth.
  • Make planting pockets approximately 3 feet apart. Do this by making a hole about your garden spade’s depth, width, and height.
  • Fill the holes with a mixture of compost or well-rotted manure and soil and sprinkle fertilizer over the soil. Use a small tiller to turn the soil and mix in compost and fertilizer. The soil should be amended and fertilized as butternut winter squash plants are heavy feeders.
  • Plant one plant on top of each planting pocket, approximately 1 inch deep and cover with soil.
  • Water the plants gently with a watering can or spray with a garden hose.
  • Seeds should be planted at the same time as the transplants.
  • The ideal space for growing the plants is a hilly part of the garden and so if your garden has several small hills, plant 4 or 5 seeds on each hill.
  • After they sprout, thin down to 2 or 3 plants because squash takes up quite a bit of space.
  • Water regularly

Powdery Mildew: Caused by Sphaerotheca fuliginea. It starts as a white, powdery growth on the upper surface of leaves, and leads to reduced yield and poor fruit quality. Chemical control is essential, but consider planting tolerant cultivars and control the weeds.

Pumpkin Flies: This pest stings young fruit (usually smaller than 10 cm) and lays eggs in a cluster under the peel. Infected fruit rots. To control pumpkin flies, put out bait consisting of Dipterex, sugar, and water when flowering starts. Control with pesticide every seven to 10 days.

Fusarium Wilt: This disease is caused by the Fusarium oxysporum fungus. This fungus favors warm soil temperatures. Plants will wilt and die. Fusarium wilt is distinguishable by cutting the lower stem open. Look for stem tissues are light brown in color.
To rid your butternut winter squash of this disease, you could plant a disease-free seed; plant tolerant varieties, and adjust the soil pH to 6.5 using nitrate nitrogen.


Butternut winter squash will be ready to harvest when the skin becomes hard and is extremely difficult to pierce with your thumbnail. Waiting for the skin to harden is important because the squash can be stored for months without going bad if you can wait. However, you’ll need to harvest the squash before the first frost of the season. Do not wait too long to harvest as they have a tendency to rot quickly if they get exposed to frost. Cut the squash from the vines and be sure to maintain a  2 to 3 inch-long stem on squash. If stems break off or loosen, the fruit won’t store well. Gently remove any bits of blossom clinging to the bottom of the squash.


Immediately after harvesting, you’ll want to store the butternut winter squash inside. Store them in a cool and dry place. Do not refrigerate the whole squash, as it will keep for longer (up to six months) after cured and stored whole in a dark and dry place. Butternut winter squash should be stored at 50º to 55º Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 60 to 70 percent. If you want the squash to keep for longer, curing is the secret and it’s really easy!

Curing is simply storing winter squash at a warm temperature with good air circulation for a period of time, usually 10 to 14 days. Doing this allows some of the water within the squash to leave the fruit reducing the chances of it rotting. Curing also concentrates the natural sugars, which makes the squash taste sweeter and it slows down the fruit’s respiration rate, which enhances long-term storage. During the curing process, the skin becomes harder, forming a protective layer over the flesh. That harder skin slows respiration, which ultimately improves fruit keeping quality.  The harder skin will also keep the fruit from rotting as quickly and is squash’s secret to long-term storage during those winter months.



8 Delightful Ways a Fire Pit Adds Joy to Family Night

Ready Nutrition - Tue, 06/11/2019 - 06:47

Fire pits are becoming quite the popular backyard feature and it isn’t hard to see why. Who doesn’t like the idea of cozy nights spent around the warmth of a glowing fire with family and friends? And fire pits aren’t just for summer – when fall approaches and the nights start to get colder and longer, fire pits provide a nice warm place to gather with loved ones.

There are so many activities that can be done around a fire pit that you and your family will never get bored.

If you don’t already have a fire pit in your backyard, what are you waiting for?

The options for fire pits are as plentiful as the activities you can do around one.

When choosing a fire pit for your backyard, here are some factors to consider:

  • How much time and money you want to spend?
  • Where will you place the fire pit?
  • Do you want a pit that is portable or one that is permanent?
  • What kind of fuel do you prefer to use? (Wood, gas, propane, and gel fuels are common options.)

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to add a nice fire pit to your yard. There are many styles, sizes, and materials to choose from, so consider how much space you have, your budget, and of course, local ordinances. (Some municipalities ban open burning of any kind.)

Placing a fire pit in your yard can be as simple as buying a basic folding fire pit ring, a model with a cooking grate, or a more elaborate version that transforms into an accent table.

If you prefer to build things yourself, there are plenty of DIY fire pit options available. You can build a simple stone fire pit like the one in this video: DIY Experts Share How-to Build an Outdoor Fire Pit. If you would like a more elegant fire pit and don’t mind taking on larger DIY projects, something like this fire pit with built-in circular seating might be an option for you: Circular seating and fire pit construction with block and composite.

Another option is to have a professional build a fire pit for you. A contractor will make sure the job is done properly and in accordance with local codes.

No matter which option you choose, it is important to be aware of any local burning or building restrictions before you get started.

Here are some fire pit safety tips to keep in mind.

Backyard fire pits can be a safe addition to your outdoor space, but there are some precautions to consider. Here are some ways to ensure your fire pit is safe:

  • Keep fire pits at least 15 feet away from your house, other structures, and combustible materials.
  • Be sure to regularly clear leaves and other flammable materials from the area around your fire pit.
  • Your fire pit should be located in an open space, like on your patio or a cleared part of your landscape. Don’t place it on a wood deck.
  • Avoid lighting the pit during extremely windy weather, as the embers might go somewhere you don’t want them.
  • Make sure you have a bucket of water, hose, or extinguisher nearby before lighting the fire.
  • Do not wear loose-fitting clothing near the fire, or flammable materials like nylon.
  • Watch children and pets near fire pits. Supervise them at all times.
  • Keep the flame small: The larger it is, the bigger the chance for it to get out of hand.
  • Never use gasoline to start the fire.
  • Softwood like cedar and pine tend to throw sparks, so avoid using them or use caution.
  • Learn how to properly extinguish fires as well as how to safely dispose of ashes.
  • Keep a fire blanket (Amazon link) and a good fire extinguisher nearby just in case.
  • Stay up to date on any burn bans or ordinances that might be in effect in your region.

Safe fire pit surfaces include brick, stone, gravel, concrete, or some type of fire resistant composite material. Fire pits should never be placed on wood decks as this is a serious fire hazard. Generally, fire pits are constructed on a gravel or stone base.

Some safety concerns will be dependent upon the type of fuel you use, as HomeAdvisor explains:

Generally gas and wood are the most common types of fuel for outdoor fire pits. Those looking for a true experience often prefer burning real wood however that requires close supervision to keep the flames going, in addition to a sufficient supply of firewood. Besides real wood, the other fuel option for fire pits is gas. The use of gas or propane means that the fire will start instantly, but you don’t get the traditional smoke and crackling noises of a wood fire. There are some fire pits that can be purchased that allow for switching between wood and gas. Gas and propane should only be used in devices that are built for them. Flammable fluids such as gas or lighter fluid should never be used to light wood fires.

Now that we’ve covered the basics and have discussed safety, it’s time to have some fun!

Here are 8 ways to enjoy your fire pit.

Tell stories. Gather your family and friends around for storytime fun. Try making some stories up on the spot, or going around a circle and having each person add a line – the sillier the better. Have a budding artist in your family? Ask them to draw pictures to go with the story.

Play card games. Try this Conversation Starters Fire-Side Chats game or classic games like UNO (check out the Wilderness edition) (Amazon link)

Play board games. Grab those long-forgotten games from the back of the closet and bring them outside. This giant Checkers/Tic-Tac-Toe game is perfect for the backyard.

Enjoy some music. Or, have a karaoke party (Amazon link). If you have instruments, make your own music.

Cook dinner.  This can be as simple as cooking in foil packets (link to other article), making kebabs, or using your fire pit as a grill to prepare full meals.

Make s’mores. Classic s’mores are delicious, but feel free to get creative with them and add your own twist (Nutella, anyone?). Or, try recipe variations like the ones found here and here.

Skywatch. Watch the stars and learn about the constellations. These links provide information on what, when, and how to observe night sky events: Best Night Sky Events and Night Sky – What you can see this month.

Watch a movie outside. You’ll need an (Amazon links) outdoor movie screen, projector, and projector stand.

What do you think?

Do you have a fire pit? What kinds of activities do you think would be fun to do with one? Please share your ideas in the comments!


These Off-Grid Summer Strategies Could Save Your Food Supply and Keep You Safe

Ready Nutrition - Sun, 06/09/2019 - 20:47

In the coming months, the power grid will be pushed to extremes and can force homes off the grid if temperatures reach maximums. Or, in some cases, the electrical companies must turn the power off during extreme weather events like wildfires or rolling blackouts. Whatever the case may be, this creates an issue for those who have health issues, want to protect their perishable food supply, or avoid the frenzy at the stores for those scrambling to get supplies. Here are some informative tips on how to better prepare beforehand and how to minimize health-related issues from heat.

In the event of a grid failure, would you be prepared?

Preparing does not have to be costly or difficult. In most cases, all you need to concentrate on is maintaining your basic needs. In fact, there are many ways of living out a short-term disaster with minimal inconvenience. However, there are some situations that need to be accounted for that requires some resourcefulness. Consider reading The Prepper’s Blueprint for more concise instructions and a detailed guide to preparing for the worst. Keep in mind the needs of the elderly and young children, and pets.

1. Store extra water

When the power goes out, municipal water treatment facilities run on electricity to pump the water and may not be functioning fully. Therefore, after a given period of time, tap water may not be safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. While your state, local, or tribal health department will keep you updated and make specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area, having water stored ahead of time can circumvent this situation.

If we go by the suggestion from emergency organizations and have 1-gallon per person per day, a family of 5 will need 35 gallons of water per week. Can you imagine getting that amount at a grocery store during a disaster event? The easiest way is to pick up a few gallons each grocery store trip and stash them away. Moreover, give those one-time water bottles an extra use! Once the water in the bottles has been consumed, wash them out and fill them with water to be placed in the freezer. In an off-grid event, the frozen water bottles will keep food cold and when it thaws, you can drink the water. You can read more about water storage strategies to get more ideas.

On a side note, certain medication needs refrigeration to keep their strength. Having an off the grid compliant refrigerator dedicated to emergency medical needs could be helpful in your preparations. As well, freezing zip-loc bags of water could also assist in maintaining the integrity of these medications. Contact your doctor ahead of time to get further information for medication when the power goes out. The CDC recommends:

  • When the power is out for a day or more, throw away any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise.
  • If a life depends on the refrigerated drug, but the medications have been at room temperature, use them only until a new supply is available.
  • Replace all refrigerated drugs as soon as possible.
2. Protect your food sources

For these types of disasters, it is interesting to keep in mind the season, and the geographic locale where you reside with regards to your food supply and food shopping. Being that you are prepping for a summer event, you do not want to buy extra perishable foods that could spoil if you are off the grid longer than 24 hours. Instead, one off-grid strategy to note is to start depleting your freezer during the hot summer months before a disaster is imminent. The reason being is if you can keep your freezer almost empty and the refrigerator with about 2 to 3 days of food for the family your entire food supply is not completely lost if a disaster occurs. Read further about protecting your perishable food supply when the power goes out.

For the time being, you can concentrate on placing your food dollars into canned goods or long-life, shelf-stable meals, dried goods, and other foods that will be able to withstand the weather and are sealed up tight. This article has some great menu suggestions to get ideas that would only require extra water to prepare.

While most of your perishable food supply will keep for at least 24 more hours in the refrigerator, as a prepper you should be prepared to do what you can to save it. Start learning ways of preserving food: salt it, can it, smoke it, or dry it out.

3. Stock up on batteries 

Stocking up on batteries is a no-brainer for emergency preparedness supplies, but have you considered the importance of batteries for devices that rely on electricity to keep you alive? Let’s take oxygen therapy that relies on machines, for example.

According to this website, “those who use portable oxygen concentrators will have to ensure that they have enough power to run their machines until they can recharge any empty batteries. You should always have a fully charged battery on hand to rotate out with your regular battery, but you should also keep additional batteries in storage.

However, storing lithium batteries for the long-term must be done carefully. To ensure that your battery doesn’t lose its capacity, you should store your batteries, ideally, at a 40% charge around 60°F. You can also rotate all your extra batteries to make sure that there is at least one that is fully charged and not in use.”

In the event of an emergency in which power is precious, you may be able to reduce your oxygen intake to save your battery. Speak with your doctor to see if you would be able to lower your oxygen flow rate or dosage in the event of an emergency but remember only to do so if the doctor gives his or her explicit approval!

Battery-operated items can be a welcome friend in an off-grid summer event but there are many different batteries to keep in mind for different jobs. While having the easy-to-find batteries for replacing in flashlights and small accessories, you will also want extra batteries for larger items. Consider investing in a portable generator that can be charged from your car or with solar power.  Here are some other preparedness items to keep in mind:

4. Monitor your health

Heat-related deaths are the top weather-related killer in the United States with heatstroke being the most serious heat illness. It happens when the body can’t control its own temperature and its temperature rises rapidly. Sweating fails and the body cannot cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency care is not given.

Be aware of yours and others’ risk for heat-related medical issues such as stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and fainting. Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others.

  • Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.
  • People 65 years of age or older may not compensate for heat stress efficiently and are less likely to sense and respond to change in temperature.
  • People who are overweight may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat.
  • People who are prone to overexertion during work or exercise may become dehydrated and susceptible to heat sickness.
  • People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.
  • Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.

Remember to keep cool and use common sense:

  • Close the curtains and window blinds in the home to keep the home cooler.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and replace salts and minerals in your body. Do not take salt tablets unless under medical supervision.
  • Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing and shade their heads and faces with hats or an umbrella.
  • Limit sun exposure during mid-day hours and in places of potential severe exposure such as beaches.
  • Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area.

Keeping these considerations in mind will help make you more resilient to the lasting effects of power outages over the coming months.


Seed to Plate: Growing Tips for Juicy Corn

Ready Nutrition - Fri, 06/07/2019 - 05:29

Bantam sweet corn has been one of the homesteaders’ favorites for over one hundred years! It’s quick to grow, with the ears of corn being ready to harvest and eat in around 82 days. Plus, this delicious treat is packed full of nutrients and children love it! Try growing some bantam corn today!

Golden Bantam Corn supplies an excellent source of protein and is high in vitamin B6, iron, and magnesium.  Corn is also high in fiber making it an excellent choice for those with a less than ideal digestive system. Corn has a higher sugar content, but it is also a good source of two antioxidants, zeaxanthin, and lutein, which are good for eye health.

Did you know there’s a myth going around that the human body cannot digest corn? While it is true that if you eat a lot of it, you’ll see some kernels in your stool, but that’s a good thing if you have those digestive concerns mentioned earlier. Corn contains an insoluble fiber, which is the kind of fiber that goes through the body intact and gets those bowel movements going!


Starting corn seeds indoors is not recommended. Corn is rather particular about how it prefers to be grown. Unfortunately, for those in more northern climates, corn requires a long and frost-free growing season. Since sweet corn is wind-pollinated, it should be planted in blocks, rather than in single rows, so keep that in mind as well.

  • Work in aged manure or compost into the soil the fall before planting corn and let it overwinter in the soil. Corn is especially picky when it comes to the soil it prefers.
  • Make sure the soil temperature is above 60°F (16°C) for successful germination. (Up to 65°F/18°C for super sweet varieties.) In colder zones, the ground can be warmed by a black plastic cover if necessary. Plant seeds through holes in the plastic if using a cover.
  • Plant seeds outdoors two weeks after the last spring frost date. Plant the seeds 1.5 to 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. Make sure the rows 30 to 36 inches apart.
  • For sufficient pollination, plan your plot right. Don’t plant two long rows, rather, plant corn blocks of at least four rows.
  • You may choose to fertilize at planting time; corn is meant to grow rapidly. If you are confident that the soil is adequate, this can be skipped. But make sure your water the seeds well at planting time.
  • When your plants are 3 to 4 inches tall, thin them so they are 8 to 12 inches apart.

*HELPFUL TIP: If you live in a drier climate, it is imperative to monitor the corn and keep it well-watered. Corn has shallow roots, so water at a rate of 5 gallons per square yard. Mulch will also help with the reduction of evaporation. Soil must be well drained and capable of keeping a fairly constant rate of moisture.


There are quite a few pests and problems that corn is susceptible to. Beyond deer and raccoons, corn can be affected by:

Spotted Cucumber Beetle – If the stems of your seedlings are being eaten off, the leaves are yellowing and wilting, and holes are appearing, you may have a striped or spotted cucumber beetle problem. These pesky insects should be dealt with immediately, however, because they can carry bacterial diseases and viruses from plant to plant, such as bacterial wilt and mosaic virus. Adult striped cucumber beetles are about ¼ inch long and have a yellow-and-black–striped abdomen and a dark-colored head and antennae. Spotted cucumber beetles are the same length but have 12 black spots on a yellow abdomen. The larvae are worm-like, white, dark-headed, and have three pairs of legs on the thorax.

You can get rid of them by using yellow sticky traps to catch cucumber beetles. Also, try knocking the beetles to the ground and catching them with a piece of cardboard placed under the plant, or, use a handheld vacuum to suck up the beetles. They are very hard to hand pick, but it is easier to hand pick them with yellow gloves coated in petroleum jelly. You could also try to cover seedlings with row covers, though you must remove at the time of blossoming.

Flea Beetles -these bugs are small and shiny, with large rear legs. Their eggs are laid at the base of plant stems in the early summer after a feeding period, and the larvae feed at the roots. Adult beetles, about 1/16 inch long, feed on foliage, producing “shotholes” in the leaves. Flea beetles usually don’t cause fatal damage to established plants because the leaves are often too large. The real danger is that they can spread bacterial diseases, such as wilt and blight, from plant to plant, so deal with them as soon as possible.

Try a homemade spray to control flea beetles: 2 cups rubbing alcohol, 5 cups water, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap. Test out the mixture on a leaf of the plant, let it sit overnight, then spray the rest of the plant if you don’t notice any adverse effects. Spray the mixture on the foliage of garden plants that are susceptible to these pests. You can also try using white sticky traps. Insecticides can be used, but are generally unnecessary to control flea beetles.


  • It is time to harvest your corn when the tassels begin to turn brown and cobs start to swell. The kernels should be full and milky.
  • Pull ears downward and twist to take off the stalk.
  • Sweet corn varieties will lose their sweetness soon after harvesting, so prepare to eat or preserve the corn immediately after picking it.
  • Sweet corn freezes well, especially if the kernels are removed from the ears before freezing. A helpful guide on learning how to properly freeze corn can be found here.

Did you know that corn is the only native American grain? It was cultivated by Central American natives for at least 7,000 years as one of the “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash—of native American agriculture. The cornstalks grew tall and supported the climbing beans, while the squash sprawled out across the ground, helping to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.


How to Stay Safe While Traveling Abroad

Ready Nutrition - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 15:25

Summer is nearly here. The kids will be out of school soon, and you and your family will finally get some much-needed vacation time.

If you are planning a trip, it can be easy to get caught up in details about all of the exciting places you are going to visit, transportation, lodging, buying tickets, packing, and securing your home. There’s so much to do! But, be sure not to neglect one VERY important aspect of travel: safety.

Here’s how to make sure your vacation is a safe endeavor.

Research your destination.

Safety should always be your first priority. First, find out as much as you can about the safety of your destination. This is especially true if you are traveling to another country. For the most part, traveling throughout the world is safe, but there are safety precautions that should be taken no matter where you plan to go.

That being said, some locales are much riskier than others. This is something to keep in mind even if you are traveling in the United States. In fact, the US doesn’t even make the top ten list of most safe countries in the world, believe it or not! According to World Population Review’s Safest Countries In The World 2019, the top ten safest countries are:

  • Iceland
  • New Zealand
  • Austria
  • Portugal
  • Denmark
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • Ireland

If you are planning to travel within the United States, here are lists of the safest states and safest and most dangerous cities in the country: Best States – Public Safety Rankings and The 10 Safest and Most Dangerous Metro Cities in America for 2019.

Learn as much as you can about your destination before you plan a trip. Follow updates to make sure safety conditions don’t change prior to your vacation.

A good place to start your research is the U.S. Department of State’s website. There, you will find a travel advisories page that provides information on safety and security in every country in the world.

You can check for travel alerts before you plan a trip. The site uses a 4-level system for advisories:

Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.    

Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.

Level 3 – Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.

Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time. (source)

Travel Advisories are provided in list view with a search function and a color-coded world map.

Don’t be ignorant about where you are going. Make an effort to learn about the country, the political situation, the cultural norms, the safest spots for travelers, safe accommodations to stay and the areas or regions that are best avoided. The more you know, the better.

Get your travel documents organized.

If you are traveling abroad, there are certain documents you will need to carry with you. Checklists can be found here: Traveler’s Checklist.

Create an electronic backup of your immunization record, itinerary, medical insurance card, passport, plane tickets, travel insurance, and visas before you leave. Email the file to yourself and keep it in your inbox so you can access the information from your smartphone should the paperwork be lost or damaged. Print copies as well. Take one set of copies with you and give sets to family and/or friends just in case.

Collect emergency info and keep it in several places: in your luggage, in your hotel, on your person. Give a copy to each person in your family. Include contact info for local emergency services and your country’s embassy or consulate (if there is one).

You also can store all of this data in an app called TripIt.

While it might be tempting to keep all of your valuable items in your wallet or purse, it is not advisable. Keep anything you won’t be using in your hotel room, locked in a safe. Separate the monetary and identifying items you need to carry on you and put them in different places on your person. That way, if someone steals your wallet or purse, you won’t lose EVERYTHING.

There are backpacks, travel safes, carry bags and purses that have anti-theft features that you can purchase for use when you travel. Some products have features including slash-proof technology, security clips, and locks to deter thieves. Do not carry your wallet or other valuable items in your pockets (especially not in your BACK pocket).

Watch for pickpockets and thieves.

Speaking of important items you will be carrying around with you, please understand that pickpockets can be found pretty much everywhere, and they tend to prey on tourists. According to The Savvy Backpacker, there are some cities in Europe that are “pickpocket hotspots”:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Rome, Italy
  • Paris, France
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Athens, Greece
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Florence, Italy
  • London, England
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

Looks can be deceiving – many pickpockets do not look like common criminals. Many are young – between the ages of 10 to 16 – and are often well-dressed. Usually, they work in groups – one or two of them will create a distraction while another will steal items from unsuspecting individuals. Then, the thief might pass the stolen item(s) to another member of the group, and they will all scatter in different directions – making it difficult to figure out who actually has the stolen goods. Pickpockets often lurk at popular tourist attractions and in public transportation facilities.

A popular scam in Europe works like this. A group of thieves will pose as “charity workers” with clipboards:

They’ll approach you and point to a clipboard while signaling that they’re deaf and mute. They want you to sign a petition for charity. If you sign, they’ll ask for a donation to the charity. Of course the “charity” is fake — in fact, the money often goes to these girls’ “boss” (i.e., human traffickers). While the tourist is signing/reading the petition, there is often an accomplice trying to pickpocket the victim. (source)

Pickpockets and thieves use other tactics to steal from people. Most involve creating some kind of chaos in order to distract the victim so they can grab items from them. Thieves may bump into you, shove a map in your face, attempt to distract you while you are at an ATM, or drop or spill things in front of you.

Some scammers will pretend to offer you help with your bags. Some will even follow you down the street and try to chat you up so you will get comfortable and let your guard down. Don’t fall for it. Smile and keep walking. DO be friendly with hotel employees, taxi drivers, shopkeepers, and waiters, but be careful not to share too much personal information or details about your plans.

Be very careful about alcohol consumption while traveling abroad. Being drunk in public makes you more vulnerable to crime. Also, do not accept drinks from anyone you do not know. Avoid being out too late – getting back to your hotel at a fairly early hour can help you avoid the trouble that is sometimes associated with being out late.

Carry a whistle or personal safety alarm and a small flashlight. Consider using a doorstop alarm at your hotel.

Don’t look like a tourist.

Try to avoid walking around with a lot of bags or luggage. This makes you a prime target for thieves, as you will have difficulty paying attention to your surroundings while protecting all of the possessions you are lugging around.

Smartphones and tablets are also commonly stolen, so walking around with yours in your hand is not a good idea – thieves often run up to people and snatch them, or will swipe them off tables at restaurants and cafes. Keep your purse or bag in your lap – do not hang it on the back of your chair while dining out.

Expert traveler Norm Schriever offers a few additional tips:

Don’t walk around with an expensive camera or fancy jewelry hanging around your neck. Wear a cheap plastic watch, if any. Take it all off before you step out of a bar or restaurant at night. Carry a decoy wallet so if you get held up you can gladly throw them that one. Keep your wallet in your front pocket, and when you’re on a crowded street shift your backpack to the front.

Showing wealth will only make you more appealing to scammers and pickpockets. Try to blend in with the locals and your surroundings. Doing research on your destination is crucial for this reason. You’ll make yourself more vulnerable to con artists if you stick out like a sore thumb with your massive backpack, two cameras, and confused look on your face. You will attract a lot less attention if you make an effort to blend in.

Learn how to communicate in the country you are visiting, at least on a basic level. You should be able to ask for help in the local language.

While maps and foreign language phrase books are important items to carry with you, do not pull them out and start reading them while on a busy street. There are two reasons to avoid doing this: you’ll look like a lost tourist, and you’ll be distracted (both make you an easy target). Unless you are desperately lost and have no other option, do not ask strangers for directions. If possible, head into a restaurant or store to ask an employee if you need guidance. Plan your itinerary, routes, and directions in advance, from the safety (and privacy) of your hotel.

Be very careful about transportation – Don’t get into an unmarked cab. In some countries, it’s normal to use unmarked taxi services, just be aware of the situation and if you feel unsafe for any reason, wave them on and don’t get in.

If you rent a vehicle, keep the doors locked and windows up and don’t stop for anyone, ever. Never roll down your window or get out of the car if someone approaches you. For more on driving in other countries, see Driving and Road Safety Abroad.

Practice situational awareness.

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do while traveling, and it applies no matter your destination.

Always pay attention to your surrounds. Stay alert. If you are looking down at a map or have your nose buried in a guidebook or your smartphone, you will be an easy target for criminals. Keep your head up, watch what is going on around you, and acknowledge people. Project a strong and aware demeanor. Most criminals look for people who look fearful or weak.

When you enter a building or arrive at an attraction, take inventory of the area. Notice the people around you. If you see a suspicious person or item, you may take action to remove yourself from the situation and notify others of the potential threat. This is an optimal time to spot exits you can take in the case of an emergency.

If you think you are being followed, the best way to check is to pretend you were walking in the wrong direction. Turn around and go back where you came from. If the person continues to follow you, they may be a threat. Use this information to defend yourself or alert any nearby authorities.

Do not wear headphones while out in public, as they decrease your ability to hear what is going on around you.

Trust your instincts. If a person or situation seems off – if something just doesn’t seem right – do not ignore that feeling. It is better to be safe than sorry. To learn more about how to trust your gut and assess situations for danger, read The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence and Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane), both by Gavin de Becker (Amazon links).

What do you think?

Are there special precautions you take when traveling? What do you do to prepare for trips? How do you keep your family safe on vacation? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.


Balance Hormones Naturally With Herbal Tinctures

Ready Nutrition - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 07:17

Balancing your hormones may seem like an uphill battle, especially for women going through menopause and men who have prostate concerns.  But with the use of all natural and holistic herbal tinctures, your hormone troubles could be a thing of the past!

If you are looking for an easy way to help balance out your hormones more naturally, why not reap the benefits of medicinal plants, and take a look at what herbal tinctures might be able to do for you? While natural remedies have always widely been in use, their popularity is increasing as people seek safer, more gentle alternatives to pharmaceutical medications.

Tinctures are typically made by soaking herbs in alcohol for several weeks to extract the active components (phytochemicals) of the plants. After a few weeks, the herbal mixture is strained and the herb parts are removed, leaving behind the concentrated liquid. Alcohol is used because it is an excellent food-grade solvent and can extract herbal constituents (such as resins and alkaloids) that are poorly soluble in water. Another benefit of using alcohol as a solvent is that it is an excellent preservative that retains the freshness and potency of medicinal plants and greatly increases the shelf life of the tincture. Don’t worry – you won’t get intoxicated from the alcohol in tinctures.

Fresh or dried leaves, roots, bark, flowers, and berries may be used to make tinctures. They can be made from a single plant or a combination of plants. –Ready Nutrition

Herbal tinctures are highly effective at helping support sleeping issues and stress and anxiety, and their use is growing in popularity, especially for both men and women who dislike the chemical-laced toxic versions offered up by the pharmaceutical industry.


Men have unique concerns that women do not, so it only makes sense that they use a unique herbal blend for their specific needs. Ready Nutrition’s Prostate Power Organic Herbal Tincture is made using a combination of plant-derived medicines that support prostate and urinary tract health. The Prostate Power herbal tincture contains the Saw Palmetto herb, which is well known as a supplement packed full of health benefits for men with hormonal imbalances. Promising research shows that saw palmetto may help increase testosterone levels, improve prostate health, reduce inflammation, prevent hair loss, and enhance urinary tract function. Some research even suggests that saw palmetto could support prostate health and may aid in preventing issues like BPH and prostate cancer. According to one test-tube study, saw palmetto berry extract was able to decrease the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Herbal tinctures made specifically for men’s health concerns are often overshadowed by women’s formulas.  However, Ready Nutrition took the specific need of men in mind when making their prostate blend specifically for those humans who have prostate glands! The tincture can help relieve difficult urination due to enlargement of the prostate gland caused by age-related conditions in healthy men. Because it Contains Uva Ursi, a natural antibiotic, the Prostate Power herbal tincture can help relieve difficulty urinating due to a urinary tract infection in men as well.


Hormonal imbalances are a common complaint among women, especially those going through menopause, or those who have had hysterectomies. Ready Nutrition’s Woman’s Formula Organic Herbal Tincture is made using a combination of plant-derived medicines that gently relieve hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, periodic mood swings, and daytime fatigue. The main ingredient that will really support women’s health and hormones, is the black cohosh. The black cohosh herb is often used to treat perimenopause and menopause symptoms. In particular, these symptoms include hot flashes, moodiness, vaginal dryness, and excessive sweating.

Additionally, the Women’s Formula herbal tincture contains wild yam root. This herb has a slew of wondrous benefits! The bulb and roots of wild yams contain a chemical called diosgenin, which can influence the production of several useful hormones in human women, such as estrogen or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Consuming wild yam may be a natural way of promoting these hormones in the body, which could have certain medical benefits and support overall hormonal health. Traditional medicine practitioners suggest using wild yam as an alternative to estrogen replacement therapy for treating symptoms of menopause. The theory is that wild yam may increase or stabilize estrogen levels in the body to help relieve a person’s symptoms.

Herbal tinctures are commonly made with the same plants as herbal teas, but tinctures are much stronger – a dropper of tincture is more potent than a cup of steeped tea. In fact, you can even add Ready Nutrition tinctures to tea if you’d like. Tinctures have a milder, more subtle effect than pharmaceutical drugs, so it is important to have realistic expectations if you are using them for a chronic condition. Some tinctures DO provide rapid relief of symptoms, but most do not offer a quick fix.

Trying an herbal tincture to help with hormonal imbalances for either gender could be incredibly helpful. If you’re looking for a holistic an natural approach to medicine, a tincture could offer you the benefits you’re looking for!

Be holistically healthy and well!

*This article is for educational purposes only.  It is not meant to treat, cure, or diagnose any medical condition or ailment.  Please seek help from a medical professional if you have any questions or concerns about medications and herbal supplements.

11 Healthy Fire Pit Meals You Can Make This Summer

Ready Nutrition - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 13:00

Adding a fire pit to your backyard means you can enjoy more time outside, year-round. Who doesn’t like the idea of cozy nights spent around a glowing fire with family and friends – and s’mores?

While sitting around an outside fire over conjures up images of roasting marshmallows to make tasty treats, there are many other things you can cook over a fire with your family.

Accessories are a must

As a general rule, if you can cook it on a grill, you can cook it over a fire pit, as long as you have a grill grate. Depending on what you want to cook over your fire pit, you may need some additional accessories:

There are even gadgets that allow you to easily make 6 s’mores at a time (but I personally prefer the messy old-fashioned way of making them – gooey fingers and all).

Grilling food the non-messy way

When cooking over a fire, the most natural means of fuel are the best. Fuels such as wood, charcoal, and even propane would be safe to cook food with.

While there are many ways you can cook over your fire pit, here we will focus on one of the easiest and least messy methods – using foil packets. You can make these yourself by simply wrapping food in heavy duty foil, or you can purchase foil grilling bags.

Do not place your foil packets DIRECTLY on the fire – put them on a grill grate, in a broiler basket, or coals or a stone or brick that is placed on the fire. Open your foil packets slowly (away from your face) to allow steam to release slowly – be careful!

Always place the meat on the bottom of the packets so it will be closer to the heat source. Crunchy raw vegetables like carrots take longer to cook than softer ones, so steam them a bit first if you are in a hurry. Flip the packets a few times to ensure even cooking.

Experiment with different kinds of meat, vegetables, and seasonings. Following a recipe is not necessary – get creative and have fun with it!

11 divinely healthy fire pit meals

Toasty Sandwiches: Use your favorite bread and fillings – wrap the sandwiches in nonstick foil and place them near the fire (or on a grill grate) until they are nice and toasty.

Burritos: Wrap ingredients of your choice (meat, veggies, rice, cheese, salsa, beans) in large flour tortillas. Then wrap your burritos in foil and place in the fire until they are warm.

Herbed vegetable mix: Place chopped potatoes and vegetables of your choice (peppers and onions work well) in foil and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle herbs and seasonings of your choice on top, fold foil around veggies and seal to make packets, and cook over the fire for about 30 minutes (flip halfway through).

Spicy grilled corn: Combine your choice of seasonings in a small bowl (try cumin, coriander, and ginger or curry powder). Brush olive oil over ears of corn, then sprinkle with seasoning mixture. Wrap each ear in heavy-duty foil – seal tightly – and grill for 10-12 minutes.

Pineapple BBQ chicken: Marinate chicken in BBQ sauce and pineapple juice. Place in foil cooking bags or make packets with heavy-duty foil with fresh pineapple slices, red pepper, and onion. Grill for 30 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.

Lemon chicken with potatoes: This recipe combines herbs, spices, and fresh lemon with chicken and red potatoes for a delicious meal.

Butter, garlic, and herb steak: Herbed garlic butter, your choice of steak, red potatoes, peppers, and onion are placed in foil packets to make a complete meal in this recipe.

Sweet and sour tofu with vegetables: Place diced firm tofu (pre-baked varieties work best) on foil and add diced pineapple, sliced red pepper, thinly sliced green onion, garlic, sweet chili sauce, coconut milk, and pineapple juice. Fold the foil over and crimp edges. Heat over the fire for about 20 minutes.

Sausage and peppers: Combine sausage of your choice with bell peppers, onion, and a drizzle of olive oil. Place over the fire until sausage is fully cooked.

Berry crisp: Mix your choice of berries and a little lemon juice in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, rolled oats, a few small cubes of butter, and cinnamon. Add chopped nuts if desired. Place the berry mixture on pieces of foil, top with sugar-oat crumble, and seal your foil packets. Bake over the fire for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cinnamon apples: Slice your choice of apples (or use several kinds) and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little raw sugar. Place on foil and seal packets. Heat over the fire for about 20 minutes, or until apples reach desired softness.

Are there any fire pit or campfire recipes your family enjoys?

Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments!


Relieve Pain Gently And Naturally with Corydalis Root Herbal Tincture

Ready Nutrition - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 21:55

As people are increasingly turning to plants and nature to aid their body and mood, herbal and natural remedies will continue to increase in popularity.  Corydalis root is one of those herbal remedies and has been shown to be useful in the gentle relief of pain.

The corydalis plant is beautiful and its root is commonly used in herbal medicines and it has the potential to treat pain, and specifically, fibromyalgia pain.

The root of the Corydalis plant is known as YAN HU SUO. It is also known as Engosaku in Japan and Yonhosaek in Korean. YAN HU SUO is classified as a Blood Vitalizer in Traditional Chinese Medicine, according to Shen Clinic.  Many practitioners of Traditional Chinese herbal medicine consider YAN HU SUO (Corydalis root) to be the second most effective pain reliever, after opium. And while you likely won’t get the same pain relief from Corydalis root as you would from opium, it will be able to gently aid the body and support at least some pain relief in a more natural and less chemically processed manner. Plus, opioids tend to be highly addictive, while corydalis root herbal tinctures are not.

Pharmaceutical companies have even recently taken an interest in one of the chemical constituents of the herb, dehydrocorybulbine (DHCB). The drug makers say this is potentially useful in creating new, non-opioid drugs for pain relief. Other active alkaloids this herb including corydaline, dl-tetrahydropalmatine, protopine, corybulbine, β-homochelidonine, and others. The combined alkaloids are considered about 40% as effective as morphine, an opioid.

If you are looking for an easy way to reap the benefits of medicinal plants, take a look at herbal tinctures, and look no further than Ready Nutrition’s Corydalis Organic Herbal Tincture. This herbal medicine will help with gentle and temporary pain relief as it stimulates the immune system function and activates the body’s own natural defenses to reduce inflammation and temporarily relieve pain.

Research has shown that the herb has a light hypnotic and sedative effect in many animals and reduces menstrual flow and pain in humans. In another experiment, ingestion by humans produced no gastric side effects. As with most herbal supplements and tinctures, the research into natural medicines are not widely available, however, tinctures are still gaining in popularity as people drift from Big Pharma’s drugs.

Tinctures are typically made by soaking herbs in alcohol for several weeks to extract the active components (phytochemicals) of the plants. After a few weeks, the herbal mixture is strained and the herb parts are removed, leaving behind the concentrated liquid. Alcohol is used because it is an excellent food-grade solvent and can extract herbal constituents (such as resins and alkaloids) that are poorly soluble in water. Another benefit of using alcohol as a solvent is that it is an excellent preservative that retains the freshness and potency of medicinal plants and greatly increases the shelf life of the tincture. Don’t worry – you won’t get intoxicated from the alcohol in tinctures.

Fresh or dried leaves, roots, bark, flowers, and berries may be used to make tinctures. They can be made from a single plant or a combination of plants. –Ready Nutrition

Because herbal tinctures bypass the need to digest entire herbs in the gut they are rapidly and easily absorbed by the body. Due to the fact that they are also highly concentrated, dosages can be rather small and even be diluted in your favorite beverage, such as a brewed herbal tea or a glass of water.

Herbal tinctures, including those with Corydalis root, have a milder and more subtle effect than pharmaceutical drugs, so it is important to have realistic expectations if you are using them for a chronic condition. While some tinctures DO provide rapid relief of symptoms, but most do not offer a quick fix.

Remember that with natural remedies, more isn’t always better! Please follow the suggested dosage guidelines on your bottle’s label. If you have questions about which dosage is right for you, seek guidance from a trained professional.

*NOTE: Contact a doctor prior to trying corydalis root and please take precautions when using all herbal medicines! Corydalis root should not be used by pregnant and nursing women. Most Blood Vitalizers are used for pain relief, and most, including corydalis, should be completely avoided during pregnancy and nursing, as their strong blood moving characteristics could influence or detach a young fetus.

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any ailment, sickness, or disease. Please contact a medical professional before using any supplements if you have any questions or concerns.


Prepping for Women: Preparing For Pregnancy And Childbirth During An Emergency (Part 4)

Ready Nutrition - Tue, 05/28/2019 - 16:20

Being pregnant when the SHTF or getting pregnant after could both be dangerous to the mother and the baby.  But as women preppers, we will need to take this into account if we are of childbearing age so we can protect ourselves and our unborn child.

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know how wonderful it can be. You also know there are things that can go wrong, and when you’re carrying your child in an extended or long-term emergency that’s the last you want! Arm yourself with knowledge and think ahead, in your preparedness, and you will be fine!

There’s a very real possibility that in a worst-case scenario, a doctor will be unavailable to help if something goes wrong with a pregnancy during an emergency like a terrible winter storm or any other type of grid down event. For this reason, our first suggestion to deal with pregnancy during a survival time is to learn. Read everything you can about pregnancy, what to expect at certain times during and how to know if there’s a problem.  Making sure you and your unborn child are safe and healthy is the first line of defense. Most common pregnancy complications are:

  • Swelling
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Bleeding

But there is more to be aware of. Hit up your local library or peruse Amazon for some books about pregnancy.  Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy have a great book to look into that covers a multitude of medical emergencies. Further, they have an in-depth podcast on the subject. Listen here.

Part of learning is knowing your personal body’s weakness.  For example, when I was pregnant with my son, I always have very low blood pressure. I had such low blood pressure that I actually passed out after going into labor. These things are important to bear in mind when preparing.  Understand the idiocracies of your body. If you haven’t been pregnant before, knowing what to expect will be much harder, but you can still read every bit of information you can and stock up on informative books if it gives you peace of mind.

In addition to learning and knowing your own body and risks, you should keep yourself in good shape. Giving birth is much easier if you have prepared your body for that. The American Physical Therapy Association has great advice to get a pregnant woman’s body ready for birth.

In addition to the aforementioned ideas, you should think about creating your own “birthing kit.”  Even if you won’t be giving birth, if you’ve got one, you could be an enormous help to another mother and her baby. Helping others gives us purpose. We would like to give a special thank you to RN reader Jerry for his suggestion to add some of these items. A birthing kit could include the following:

  • Pillows and blankets
  • stethoscope, fetal and regular
  • blood pressure cuff
  • stopwatch (to measure contractions)
  • stainless steel bowls
  • towels
  • antiseptic soap
  • cleansing towelettes
  • receiving blanket
  • reusable baby diapers
  • surgical gloves
  • sterilized scissors/knife to cut the umbilical cord
  • sterilized eye, throat, nose syringe
  • garbage bags
  • candles and a flashlight (in case there’s no power and a woman is giving birth during the night)

This list is not exhaustive, it’s just a suggestion and a starter kit.

Just keep in mind you’ll want to calm the mother down and maker her comfortable, as birth without drugs is not common in the United States anymore, and if you’re helping a first-time mother, she may not know just how painful this process can be. You can get an old duffle bag and just keep adding things to it if you’de like to build up your birthing kit over time. A separate “baby kit” can be made to help a mother after she gives birth. (We’ll touch on infant care after the SHTF in a future article.)

Pregnancy is not going to be easy if the worst case scenario happens and no doctors are readily available. But you can make the experience much more comfortable for yourself or the special woman in need of your help.

If you are pregnant or get pregnant after something happens, keeping your circle supportive will always be beneficial too. You won’t be able to move around as well toward the end of your pregnancy and you just might need a little help.  Surround yourself with some good and loving family or friends who would be willing to help you too.  Having support will show the pregnant woman that she is not forgotten. I know for a fact my mother in law would deliver a baby for me if need be, and as knowledgeable as she is, I would trust her to do so. Having people like that in your corner will go far especially if you expect to make it through a dire situation!

If anyone has any suggestions or books for our pregnant preppers or women who could possibly become pregnant on how to handle it, please leave your suggestions in the comments! Let’s share ideas and help each other out!


Read previous articles in this series:

Hygiene and Feminine Needs When Supplies Are Running Short

How To Handle Birth Control After The SHTF

Prepping For Women: How To Prepare MENTALLY When Our Brains Won’t Shut Off


Without This Tool in Your Hurricane Supplies, You Could Be Screwed

Ready Nutrition - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 13:00

I wrote several articles (a series, a few years back) about my family’s experiences in Hurricane Katrina (Editor’s Notes: Links to these articles will be provided at the end of this article). With hurricane season about to crop up again in a few months, it’s important to remember how important tools are for hurricane preparedness endeavors and for rebuilding after a hurricane.

To maintain a general readiness stance for what may come down the pike, we’re going to discuss drills. Simple enough, right? Not necessarily, because all drills don’t satisfy the same needs: even two drills that are the same size and specs in appearance may function in totally different manners.

Not All Drills are the Same

Drills with cords are important. During times when electricity is available, the drills with cords will run stronger and steadier. Cordless drills are “finite,” in that the power pack/battery will eventually run down and have to be charged. That being said, I have a pair of Sears Craftsman’s from “back in the day” that run on cords for general-purpose work.

The biggest problem with cordless drills is that the battery runs down and becomes “un-rechargeable” long before the actual drill goes kaput. Then the price of a new battery is only a few dollars less than buying a completely new drill package. This is purposed: the planned inefficiency of a tool with a finite lifespan in order to assure new purchases of batteries or the whole shebang. The “Dick Jones” parts and contract philosophy out of the original “Robocop” holds true here.

I had a Ryobi cordless, an 18 V that just recently crossed the River Styx after serving me well for six years. My replacement for it? A DeWalt 20 V Model DCD 791 D2 ½” drill, that comes with an extra LiIon (Lithium Ion) battery pack. It comes with both battery packs fully charged, and this thing has a really high output. It has a variable speed trigger (essential when you don’t want to stop drilling but you don’t want it turning at full speed), and a three-setting work light built into the drill.

The cordless is really important for times when you don’t have power, and also to use on hard to reach places where a cord either will not stretch or you don’t have the time to fool with it. In addition, if you’re on the road, unless you have an outlet in your vehicle, the cordless drill is the way to go. I explained in the other articles how I needed to affix pressure-treated plywood to pre-drilled sections of my window casements prior to Katrina striking. As I used galvanized deck screws with hex heads, with a ratchet set it would’ve taken a while, but with the drill, I affixed them in no time.

With the two-pack of power packs, I can do my work and then have a fresh pack when the first one is expended, then charge the first while I’m working with the second one. This drill has a good warranty: three years on the drill, and two on the power packs. It has different torque settings for different drilling strengths, and all in all, it’s pretty rugged. I picked mine up for about $180. If you can’t find one in your area, you can order it online at www.amazon.com and have it sent to you.

The only thing I didn’t like about it is that it didn’t come with any attachments…not even your usual “token” piece with standard and Phillips screwdriver-heads on opposite ends. No matter: I’m using the one from the Ryobi and the other attachments that I already had. The best thing about it is that if I need to work with it, I can pull it out and begin without fooling around with any cords or what have you. When you’re pressed for time or have to fix something that was unforeseen (such as board up a window smashed out by a storm), you want a good drill that you can rely on. I highly recommend this one for price and quality: it should serve you well for whatever your need may be.  JJ out!


Additional Reading:

A Family’s Survival Story: Hurricane Katrina, (Part 1)

A Family’s Survival Story: Hurricane Katrina, (Part 2)

The Hurricane Primer


Prepping For Women: How To Prepare MENTALLY When Our Brains Won’t Shut Off

Ready Nutrition - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 15:03

One of the hardest things to get in order for us women is our mental state.  When thinking of how to prepare ourselves for a catastrophe, we also often worry and become mentally overloaded thinking about everything from our children and what they might need to our dog and what he might need.  Then, before we know it, our thoughts are spiraling out of control.

So how do we cope with making sure we remain mentally strong and “in the moment” while our mind is reeling and trying to prepare us for a bleak future and the safety of our families? Very personally and very diligently.

Related article: Mental Preparedness: The Mental Gymnastics Will Sharpen the Mind

As we mentioned in a previous article written for female preppers, not one of us is alike.  This is not only in reference to our personal “female anatomy” but our mental processes too.  Therefore, preparing yourself to overcome the mental strain may be different for some, but we can all take similar actions to make sure we are as strong as we can be!

You will need a level head and you will need to learn to remain calm while knowing you may have to defend yourself or your children.  That’s a lot of mental strain and that often shows up as stress, which is damaging to our bodies too. But there are ways to get through this, we promise!


I’ve found that those who are more religious prefer to use the term “prayer” while those who don’t subscribe to a religion like the term “meditation”, but both offer very similar mental benefits.  The goal is to just calm the mind.  Realize we don’t have to drive ourselves nuts trying to make sure we get everything perfect.  The truth is, it won’t be perfect because we aren’t even sure what exactly could be the cause of the next catastrophe: nuclear war? Economic collapse? Societal uprising? A food crisis? Or a mixture of them all?  It’s really impossible to say, to be fair, so let’s try to set aside a small amount of time every day for ourselves to quite those thoughts and be thankful for what we have now. Take the time to pray or meditate on the things you do have, and forget about what you still want or need in order to feel “prepped” for the next event.

Praying and meditating go a long way to get our mental state where we need to be to balance being wives, mothers, breadwinners, and preppers. Oftentimes, even women who don’t take on the added task of prepping for disaster feel overwhelmed, and it is OK! As long as we make sure we are taking ample time to de-stress and reconnect with our family or friends. Praying and meditation bring a sense of peace in a world that is increasingly moving more quickly and changing before our eyes.

Related article: 9 steps preppers should take to mentally prepare for a major disaster


Understand that not everything will go perfectly, but that there are others out there willing to give you free advice or a quick hug (even if it’s only digitally.) Know that you are not alone! All of us are struggling in some way mentally, whether we have a daughter that may “come of age” and experience her first period during an economic downturn or are pregnant and don’t know what we will possibly need as our baby ages in unstable times.

A community will give you a sense of belonging and help you hash out any concerns you have.  When I have mental blocks, I actually just take the time to sit with my older neighbor and ask him what he would do, or how he would prepare.  As a fellow prepper who has lived on this Earth over 35 years longer than I have, he has invaluable insight that I truly know I can only get from him. Talking things out is often not only a calming way to come to a solution, but it gives us the knowledge that we really aren’t in this alone.


Realizing you’ll probably have to defend your stash of food or water from hungry people, or knowing you may need to be more secretive and be able to hide some of your things and coming to terms with all of this is a huge step. Not one of us wants to hurt someone else, but when the SHTF, decisions about your survival and the survival of your children or spouse will likely need to be made.  Maybe, for example, you’re afraid of a lot of blood, but it’s important to know why and work toward mentally overcoming these things so you can be at your best during the worst times. If someone gets wounded, you’ll need to be able to cope with that, right?

This is the hardest part, I think because it involves acceptance.  We have to learn to accept that there are things we cannot do anything about, but our preparedness can help make those things an inconvenience as opposed to an apocalyptic scenario.

And here’s a little personal peace of mind from us: Know that by just preparing and getting your own family outfitted with backup plans and storing some food and water will help you in the long run.  It’s better to have it and never need it, than to need it and not have.  You’re already doing better than those who think there’s no reason to have an extra dollar in the bank or an extra can of beans in your pantry.


Read previous articles in this series:

Hygiene and Feminine Needs When Supplies Are Running Short

How To Handle Birth Control After The SHTF


How To Find Hope in Hopeless Situations

Ready Nutrition - Thu, 05/16/2019 - 06:33

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Natural disasters. Economic downturns. Personal financial problems. Civil unrest. Crime.

You are likely at least somewhat physically prepared for various kinds of disasters if you are a regular Ready Nutrition reader.

But are you mentally prepared?

Part of being preparedness-minded is keeping up with current events in order to be ready for anything. This means we are bombarded with bad news nearly every day. Unfortunately, this can cause our views on life to be quite bleak. Sometimes being informed makes it easy to slip into feelings of despair. And when bad times do invade our lives, it can be hard to hold on to hope. Feelings of depression and anxiety become more present than positive feelings.

While preparing for the worst is a positive thing – it is certainly better than being blindsided by a major event and not being ready to weather the storm –  it is important to your well-being to find balance.

There may come a time when all the preparation in the world doesn’t matter. Bad things DO happen, even to the best of us.

But even when the worst-case scenario becomes reality, there are ways to maintain some hope. How do you push back those dark clouds of hopelessness and find the strength to dig yourself out of the problem? How do you keep going when it seems like so much is working against you?

What is hope?

Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation.”

Hope is not your typical form of positivity, as Barbara L Fredrickson Ph.D., explains in Why Choose Hope?

Most positive emotions arise when we feel safe and satiated. Hope is the exception. It comes into play when our circumstances are dire – things are not going well or at least there’s considerable uncertainty about how things will turn out. Hope arises precisely within those moments when fear, hopelessness or despair seem just as likely. Perhaps you’ve just lost your job, your dreams for starting a new business or retiring. Hope, in times like these, is what psychologist Richard Lazarus describes as “fearing the worst but yearning for better.”

Hope literally opens us up. It removes the blinders of fear and despair and allows us to see the big picture. We become creative, unleashing our dreams for the future. This is because deep within the core of hope is the belief that things can change. No matter how awful or uncertain they are at the moment, things can turn out for the better. Possibilities exist. Belief in this better future sustains us. It keeps us from collapsing in despair. It infuses our bodies with the healing rhythms of positivity. It motivates us to tap into our signature capabilities and inventiveness to turn things around. It inspires us to build a better future.

Hopelessness can manifest in several ways.

In the book Hope in the Age of Anxiety, psychology professors Anthony Scioli and Henry Biller discuss hope from a variety of different perspectives. They say there are nine forms of hopelessness, each related to the disruption of one or more of the basic needs that comprise hope; attachment, mastery, or survival, as Therese J. Borchard explains in her review titled 9 Types of Hopelessness and How to Overcome Them:

The authors present three “pure forms” of hopelessness resulting from breakdowns in one of these three needs or “motive systems” (alienation, powerlessness, doom). There are also six “blended” forms of hopelessness which results when two needs are challenged. We can overcome hopelessness by first recognizing which of these nine types we are confronting. For each form of hopelessness, they present a mind-body-spirit treatment cocktail, involving a restructuring of thoughts, accessing the right kind of hope-sustaining relationship, and specific spiritual practices. Armed with these prescriptions we can summon the light back into our lives.

The 9 types of hopelessness listed in the book follow, along with some highlights from Borchard’s ideas for overcoming them.

1. Alienation: Feeling isolated and cut off from society and unworthy of care and support, which can cause even more withdrawal and pain

2. Forsakenness: Feeling abandoned, especially during times of greatest need

3. Uninspired: Lack of opportunities for growth and lack of positive role models

To alleviate feelings of alienation, forsakenness, and/or being uninspired, evaluate the available evidence to see if the feeling is justified or if you are overgeneralizing or engaging in all-or-nothing thinking.

4. Powerlessness: Feeling a loss of control over one’s life path and ability to achieve goals

5. Oppression: feeling subjugated by others or by society

6. Limitedness: Feeling deficient in some way, as if one does not have what it takes to make it in this world

Feelings of powerlessness, oppression, and limitedness can arise when we feel inadequate or doubt our talents and abilities. Create a list of all of your successes, and write down positive traits you have that disprove the idea that you are powerless.

7. Doom: feeling that one’s life is going to end, trapped in irreversible decline – those with a serious illness or suffering health effects of aging are particularly susceptible

8. Captivity: physical or emotional captivity enforced by an individual or group – examples would be prisoners or those who feel stuck in controlling and abusive relationships

9. Helplessness: feeling vulnerable, as if one is no longer safe in the world

To manage feelings of doom, captivity, and helplessness, examine the evidence that applies to your specific situation. Spend some time doing research and evaluate the entire body of facts that you gather. If you feel stuck in a dangerous situation, seeking outside assistance is a good idea as well.

Feelings of hopelessness are often rooted in irrational self-limiting beliefs.

Hope’s enemy is fear.

Frederickson emphasizes that choosing hope over fear is vital:

Hope and fear are not mere words or facial gestures. They’re deeply felt neurochemical stances toward our current circumstances – stances that alter our outlooks, our actions, as well as the life paths that unfold before us.

Fear is a powerful and primitive human emotion that alerts us to the presence of danger. To a certain extent, we have fear to thank for our very existence –  it played a critical role in keeping our ancestors alive and still serves as a survival mechanism. Fear causes two kinds of responses: biochemical (universal) and emotional (individual).

But sometimes fear turns into an irrational panic about imagined catastrophes that will likely never become reality. Chances are, you have heard of this popular acronym for fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.

When we confront a perceived threat, our bodies respond in specific ways. Physical reactions to fear include sweating, increased breathing rate, increased heart rate, peripheral blood vessel constriction, increased blood flow to muscles, and high adrenaline levels that make us extremely alert.

This physical response is also known as the “fight or flight” response, in which your body prepares itself to either enter combat or run away. This biochemical reaction is likely an evolutionary development and is an automatic response that is crucial to our survival.

Fear can lead to panic, which is why training yourself to recognize situations that signal actual danger is so important (I highly recommend the book The Gift of Fear). If you allow fear to take over, hope will be suffocated, and your well-being will be diminished as well.

Even if (or when) actual danger does show up on your doorstep, learning to control fear and panic can influence the outcome of the situation.

In the article Keeping Your Mind Present in the Midst of Chaos, Tess Pennington explains that in the event of an emergency, your state of mind can be more powerful than any prep you may have purchased:

It’s perfectly natural to feel some panic in a life-threatening situation, but it is your ability to overcome that panic and make good decisions that will ensure the survival of you and your family.

It’s important to understand what panic is. It is a collection of physical symptoms that are the human body’s attempt to survive. Unfortunately, the body is acting separately from the brain, and this can have some devastating physiological effects that countermand real survival.

The symptoms of panic can be debilitating and include a pounding heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, a choking feeling, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or gastrointestinal upset, feeling faint, and fear of losing control or of going crazy.

If you are focusing on being able to breathe, how are you going to deal with the actual threats surrounding you?

Having the right frame of mind to handle the stresses before and after a disaster is a key component to surviving the event, as Tess explains in Are You Ready Series: Using Mental Preparedness to Survive:

When fear strikes, it causes stress and anxiety, which can lead to poor decision-making, paralysis, and hopelessness. Mental preparation creates resilience and keeps a person moving on. Maintaining a positive, hopeful attitude in the wake of a disaster can literally keep a person alive; giving them the will to keep putting one foot in front of the other. When a person begins to doubt they will see tomorrow, they need to cling to hope and optimism.

For Tess’s tips on how to override your body’s natural tendency for “fight or flight”, please click here.

Living in fear can cause anxiety disorders. And, in some cases, people develop a fear OF fear. Most people tend to experience fear only during a situation that is perceived as scary or threatening, but those who suffer from anxiety disorders may become afraid that they will experience a fear response. They perceive their fear responses as negative and go out of their way to avoid those responses.

Cultivating hope is the antidote to living in fear.

In the article A Real Dose of Hope When You’re Feeling Hopeless, Margarita Tartakovsky writes:

According to Kate Allan in her uplifting book, You Can Do All Things: Drawings, Affirmations and Mindfulness  to Help With Anxiety and Depression, hopelessness is simply “a misbehaving brain doing misbehaving brain stuff. It’s like a bug, a glitch.”

Allan, who has anxiety and depression, understands first-hand what it’s like to deal with a sinking sense of hope. When she feels hopeless, she instantly tells herself, “You are depressed. This is depression.”

After many years of therapy, Allan has realized that her feelings of hopelessness are a sign—not “that life is bad or that my problems are impossible,” but “a weirdly dramatic notification from my brain that I am not keeping up on my self-care, and that I need to reach out and connect with somebody.”

This is when Allan turns to her mental health checklist, and asks herself: Did I sleep well? Have I eaten? Did I connect with anyone today? “If the answers to any of these are ‘no,’ I know I then need to be more careful with myself. It’s a signal that my defenses are down, and it takes little for my mental health to spiral into severe depression.”

You, too, can use your feelings of hopelessness to check in with yourself. What do I need? Am I meeting those needs? What am I telling myself?

Here are some other tips for building hope.

Ask for help. Are you the kind of person who wants to do it all alone? If so, remember that none of us is in this alone. You may have to muster up some courage to do this, but do consider reaching out for assistance from a friend or family member, or even an organization that offers such services.

Set goals.  Although there may be aspects of your situation that you cannot control, there are likely SOME things you can do to make things a bit easier for you now or in the future. Set some goals that are realistic, and be open to changing them as needed.

Shift your focus from problems to possible solutions. Often we get so focused on what’s going wrong in life that we forget about available resources – including our own skills and strengths. What CAN you do

Create a plan. Write down every possible action you can take now or in the near future to make the situation more bearable. Brainstorm with others if you can. Develop a written plan based on your goals, possible solutions, and ideas for action.

Break things down into small tasks. Once you have set goals and generated ideas for solutions and actions, break it all down into manageable tasks. Then, prioritize those tasks. Which action items need attention now, and which can wait?

Be flexible and adapt. Even the best-laid plans often don’t work out due to circumstances beyond our control. Be willing to adapt and overcome as needed.

Develop equanimity. A major concept in Stoic philosophy and in Buddhism, equanimity is mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in difficult situations. It refers to the mind being at peace even in the face of stressful and unpleasant experiences. Consider these wise words the late Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote in Psycho-Cybernetics, “Even in regard to tragic conditions and the most adverse environment, we can usually manage to be happier by NOT adding to the misfortune our own feelings of self-pity, resentment, and our own adverse opinions.” There may be circumstances in your life that are within your control but will take time and effort to improve. And, there may be circumstances that are NOT within your control, and never will be. Either way, meeting those circumstances with equanimity can make your life a whole lot more peaceful – and happy.

Believe in yourself. If the challenges you are facing are causing you to doubt yourself, think back to times when you have overcome obstacles and achieved success – no matter how small the instances. You have what you need within you – now, tap into it.

Value persistence and hard work. Take breaks if you can, but don’t give up. simply sitting around and attempting to conjure up feelings of hope won’t work – you have to take action.

Take heart in the small victories. Every little success counts. Take things day by day if you must – even moment by moment.

Related Reading

Are You Ready Series: Using Mental Preparedness to Survive

How to Condition Yourself to Face Your Fears

Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in a SHTF World



Promote Deep Relaxation With Valerian Root Herbal Tincture

Ready Nutrition - Tue, 05/14/2019 - 15:57

We all could use some relaxation and calm in our ever-stressful lives. Several herbs promote deep relaxation, but none quite like an herbal tincture with “nature’s Valium,” valerian root.

Herbal tinctures are gaining in popularity thanks to their safety in comparison to pharmaceutical drugs. If you are looking for an easy way to reap the benefits of medicinal plants, take a look at herbal tinctures.

A [herbal] tincture is a concentrated liquid herbal extract made from herbs that are taken orally.

Tinctures are typically made by soaking herbs in alcohol for several weeks to extract the active components (phytochemicals) of the plants. After a few weeks, the herbal mixture is strained and the herb parts are removed, leaving behind the concentrated liquid. Alcohol is used because it is an excellent food-grade solvent and can extract herbal constituents (such as resins and alkaloids) that are poorly soluble in water. Another benefit of using alcohol as a solvent is that it is an excellent preservative that retains the freshness and potency of medicinal plants and greatly increases the shelf life of the tincture. Don’t worry – you won’t get intoxicated from the alcohol in tinctures.

Fresh or dried leaves, roots, bark, flowers, and berries may be used to make tinctures. They can be made from a single plant or a combination of plants. –Ready Nutrition

One of the most impactful herbal tinctures for deep relaxation is valerian root. Valerian root is often referred to as “nature’s Valium.” In fact, this herb has been used since ancient times to promote tranquility and improve sleep. While some have questioned Valerian root’s safety and effectiveness, it likely isn’t nearly as dangerous or has long-term effects such as with chemical sleeping aids.

According to Healthline, the root portion of Valerian has been used in traditional medicine for at least 2,000 years. Unlike its delicately scented flowers, valerian root has a very strong, earthy odor due to the volatile oils and other compounds responsible for its sedative effects. Interestingly, the name “valerian” is derived from the Latin verb valere, which means “to be strong” or “to be healthy.”

Ready Nutrition’s Valerian Root herbal tincture is specially formulated to promote a total body deep relaxation. It is made using one of the most powerful plant-based sedatives that nature has to offer -Valerian root. The herbal tincture can be used to relieve occasional anxiety or panic attack, restless behavior, racing thoughts, nervous stomach, trouble sleeping, headache, and muscle spasms.

Valerian has received attention for its interaction with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger that helps regulate nerve impulses in your brain and nervous system. Researchers have shown through several studies that low GABA levels related to acute and chronic stress are linked to anxiety and low-quality sleep.   Valerenic acid has been found to inhibit the breakdown of GABA in the brain, resulting in feelings of calmness and tranquility – complete with a lot less stress! This is the same way anti-anxiety medications like Valium and Xanax work. Valerian root also contains the antioxidants hesperidin and linarin, which appear to have sedative and sleep-enhancing properties

All of this makes valerian root herbal tinctures an attractive option for those seeking a more relaxing overall feeling and better sleep.  It’s great for those who want to steer themselves toward a more natural and holistic lifestyle as well.

RN’s herbal tincture can be used by taking one or two dropperfuls every morning and night. Drop desired amount into water, tea, or your favorite beverage.

The good news is that Valerian is remarkably safe for most people, regardless of the fears. Studies have found that it does not cause adverse changes in DNA, nor does it interfere with cancer therapy in patients who take it to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. Furthermore, it does not appear to affect mental or physical performance when used as directed. One study found no difference in morning reaction time, alertness or concentration in people who took valerian the evening before, according to Healthline.

Pregnant women and children under the age of three should avoid valerian root. Valerian has been reported to cause headaches, stomach pain, and dizziness in a few cases. Ironically, even insomnia has been reported, although this is rare. If you have liver disease or another serious medical condition, it’s important to speak with your doctor about whether it is safe for you to take valerian.

*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to treat, cure, or diagnose any medical or health condition.  Please contact a medical professional if you have any questions about your health or supplements.

A Preparedness Guide for Women: How To Handle Birth Control After The SHTF (Part 2)

Ready Nutrition - Mon, 05/13/2019 - 05:41

Because women have different needs than men, when we prepare for a SHTF scenario, we must consider those needs. In the first part of our “Prepping as a Woman” series, we discussed how to prepare for women-related needs in a long-term emergency. In the second part of this series, we will expound on that and discuss birth control and how to deal with pregnancy prevention during a catastrophe.

Let’s get right into another controversial, uncomfortable, but necessary topic for female preppers:


The obvious answer is this problem is to stockpile prophylactics like condoms.  But these have a shelf life and become less effective with age, so having a stockpile of 20-year-old condoms won’t do you a whole lot of good! Another option that isn’t as easy seems like it would be oh-so-simple on the surface. Just stock up on contraceptives. However, most contraceptives are only available by prescription and that makes it almost impossible to stockpile.  Not only that, you will run into the same problem as you do with stockpiling condoms – if you do manage to store a year’s worth of birth control pills, their effectiveness will lessen as time goes on eventually making you vulnerable to pregnancy.

That doesn’t mean if you CAN store some pills and condoms that you shouldn’t, you definitely could and if it eases your mind, go for it!  But you should also consider using another method to protect yourself when using older birth control pills, or when those condoms run out or expire. Fortunately, there is a natural way to prevent pregnancy that could be useful during an apocalyptic event – whether you’ve stockpiled contraceptives or not.

NOTE: This advice is for the female preppers who have a partner and are looking to avoid pregnancy during and after the SHTF. This guide could also possibly be useful to those looking for a more natural way to prevent pregnancy as opposed to taking a pill every day.

The easiest way to use a natural birth control method may be the “thermometer” method.  As far as we know, thermometers can be stockpiled pretty easily! (I only say that because I am really good at dropping and breaking things and having a backup or two might be a good idea if you are as clumsy as I am.)  And, all joking aside, many women do use this as their only method of birth control choosing to go fully natural and stay away from the hormone-altering contraceptives.

The thermometer method (also often called the BBT or Basal Body Temperature method) works by using the temperature of your body upon waking in the morning.  It’s important to take your temperature at the same time every day, and right when you wake up for the utmost accuracy. Don’t check your phone first or get up to use to the bathroom.  Hold it for a few seconds so you can get an accurate reading if at all possible. The better you are at taking your temperature at the same time before doing ANYTHING else, the more accurate you will be and the more effective this method becomes.

After taking your temperature, you need to record it on a chart. You can buy some charts, print some for free off the internet, make your own, or use a smartphone app. (Obviously, you’ll want to know how to track your cycle on paper too and have extra charts available in case there is no way to power your smartphone.) There are books available to help you understand where to begin and how to read your charts. [Click here for free printable charts]

The changes in your temperature will be really small, tenths of a degree, in fact, so get a special large-scale basal thermometer. Some basal thermometers are used in your mouth, and others are used in your rectum (butt). Rectal thermometers are usually more accurate and reliable however they are also more uncomfortable and take longer to clean.  You’ll need to take extra care to disinfect a rectal thermometer, so bear that in mind.

Source: Fertility Friend

The basic idea is to find out when you ovulate and avoid sexual intercourse during those days to prevent pregnancy. This method is incredibly accurate if you can learn it, use it religiously, and get really in tune with your body and your charts. If you want to implement this birth control method, it is suggested that you wait for three months before going off contraceptives just to make sure you have 3 charts to reference. The more you can learn about your own body, the better and more effective this method becomes.  It does get easier too, so don’t freak out if your first few weeks are rough.


This one is pretty simple – we just aren’t going to suggest any of these for the female prepper. Internal Uterine Devices (IUDs) fall into this category.  They could work and be effective, but they need to be administered and removed by a doctor which isn’t helpful during a catastrophe or shortage of doctors.  They also come with side effects and complications that could make your life miserable without a SHTF situation taking place.  If you decide one of these is right for you, do your research and understand the possibilities, risks, and effectiveness.

The thermometer method has zero side effects (unless you eat the thermometer, please don’t) and for that reason, we will stick with that as our suggestion.

Learning how to naturally provide birth control for yourself could be an invaluable tool! You will still be able to be intimate with your husband or partner while having some peace of mind during a highly stressful situation. This is TRUELY the essence of prepping because you need to learn how to use this method before things go bad and implement the system beforehand to make sure it’s effective and will work for you!

As female preppers, we can do anything! If you are a female prepper and have any advice about birth control after the SHTF, please let your fellow women preppers know in the comments!


*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes ONLY! This article should not be misconstrued to be a political or religious statement of any kind.  This is simply a guide for women who would like to prevent pregnancy during an apocalyptic situation or use a natural pregnancy prevention method currently.


Hidden in Plain Sight: How To Create a Strategic Spider-Hole

Ready Nutrition - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 05:09

What we’re going to detail today does not involve any arachnids, but the Spider-Hole takes its name from the creatures. A Spider-Hole is meant to have the characteristics of the home constructed by the Trapdoor spider and other similar species. What does the Trapdoor spider do? He constructs a hole in the ground for himself and lines it with silk. Then the spider builds a “trapdoor” out of silk and debris from ground level to camouflage his portal. Then the spider waits, with the door open a “crack,” looking out with his eight eyes and awaiting movement of his prey.

Then, quick as a snap, he rushes out and jumps on his prey with lightning speed, and drags the now-envenomated prey down into his spider-hole. How’s that for a survival food prep? His technique has been used by man for some time, and we’re going to refresh on it here.

A Spider-Hole should not be used for a long-term hide unless you have no other options. You can prepare them on your property, and utilize them either for a temporary hide site or for a hasty fighting position with which to ambush an enemy. It is not to be used as a proper fighting position for a static defense, as a “foxhole,” as it is not a very defensible position. The spider hole is used to make a quick disappearing act, and also to prep for an ambush.

As we covered “Fabian Tactics” in the post-SHTF combat operations article, I will refresh briefly. Named after the Roman Consul Quintus Fabius Maximus, the Fabian Tactic is also referred to in the vernacular as a “hit-and-run” maneuver. It is especially useful in an ambush meant to slow down or harass a larger unit by a smaller force. Fabian Tactics are perfect for the Spider Hole: hide for a brief time, and when the moment is right, emerge or fire to give the enemy the soup-bone. Then seal up the Spider-Hole and move out of the area quickly and with a purpose.

Optimal places for a Spider-Hole are on the sides of hills with limited access to your rear once the Spider-Hole is in place, with large boulders or rock faces to your rear, and at the edge of a forest just before an open area (field) meets with it. The Spider-Hole should be able to accommodate one person and their rucksack and weapon. The best dimensions should be the length/height equal to 1 ½ the height of a man and twice the man’s girth for the diameter of the hole. The Spider -ole should be on a slight (very slight) grade for the interior chamber so that if the person inside is in the prone, the feet will be slightly lower than the torso.

Such will enable rest within the hole if necessary, and will not be too unnatural a position in which to lie. A Spider-Hole should be as flush with the earth in the entrance as possible, and the “portal” should be made of materials from the local area that do not appear out of place with the immediate site. Do not take those materials from the immediate site! Then there would be gaps/bare places that would be noticeable. The mouth should have some cover (such as a log, sandbags, or rocks), to be located at the entrance to fire a weapon behind, but not preventing you from escaping from the hole.

Essential Supplies to Add 

You will also want to tote in a quart or two-quart plastic bottle to urinate in if you need to be in the hole for an extended period of time.  Ladies: Medical supply warehouses make female “urinals” similar to a urine collecting bottle that are in hospitals. Cost is about $10.  Male or female, when you fill up the bottle, you’ll need to get out and pour it somewhere at a distance to the hole. Don’t allow the urine to turn to methane and then give the position away. If you need to fire your weapon from it? Put those earplugs in first. Triple-flanged earplugs seal off that ear canal and protect those eardrums from the shots. If you’re underground the sound will be amplified by the closed surroundings.

“Niceties” will be a poncho and a poncho liner to be able to wrap up in and insulate you from the ground. A pad would be a good thing.  Remember: you may have to leave it in a heartbeat and come back to it later. One of the primary tools is an entrenching tool (also referred to as an “E-tool,” and I recommend US Army issue with the protective case. The others are cheap pieces of junk. The military’s E-tool is durable and reliable. Your first choice is to use an existing hollow, but remember, it is a hasty position. You can always reinforce it with pressure-treated plywood and boards (to keep it from caving in) if you want to construct it for use on your property later.

You may also want to run out a couple of wireless remote cameras and a screen to monitor movements on trails if you decide to use the spider hole. Good thermal optics and night-vision devices will also be worth their weight in gold. Your family will need to know where each hole is located, and there needs to be a readily-remembered numbering or lettering system to identify the holes. You are once more only limited by your own imagination and creativity regarding these holes.

So, take the tips here and tailor them to your home ground. The Spider-Hole is another preparatory measure you can create to give yourself a hidden edge for when the SHTF and the going gets rough. It has worked well for spiders for millions of years, and it will work for preppers and survivalists, too. Stay in that good fight, camouflage those trapdoors right, and come out when you’re ready to bite!  JJ out!



A Preparedness Guide for Women: Hygiene and Feminine Needs When Supplies Are Running Short

Ready Nutrition - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 10:20

The prepper community can often feel like a “Men’s Only” club.  But there are women who want to prepare themselves and their families for the worst. Many ladies often feel like it’s a “guy thing” to get in the survivalist mindset. I’m here to say, we may be few and far between, but we are out there and ready to help support women in their desire to prepare for anything!

Whether we like it or not, we ladies have different bodies and different needs than our fellow male preppers.  We also need to prepare differently because of this, and we’ve compiled some tips for a series dedicated to women; some of which need to be discussed even though they are downright uncomfortable.

Sanitation is a critical component of being prepared for extended emergencies. In “The Prepper’s Blueprint“, Some of the greatest threats in an emergency occur after the disaster. Lack of accessible clean water following major disasters can quickly escalate and create secondary problems in a post SHTF situation. Additionally, those unsanitary conditions can exacerbate the spreading of diseases, infections and health risks.

With that in mind, since this is the first of the just for ladies series, let’s start with the most uncomfortable topic first:


The question I am asked most often when other women discover my family is one of “preppers” is how do women deal with their monthly visitor when feminine hygiene products are not readily available.  This one is uncomfortable, but it has an easy answer: Menstrual cups.

These have the added benefit of not being disposable and are better for our Earth and will save you a ton of money over time. One menstrual cup can last for 5 years!  Disposable pads and tampons could run out if there’s a run on a grocery store, but women can prepare by keeping a menstrual cup on hand or in a bug out bag [LINK]. Heck, why not have a couple in case something goes wrong?

The key to making a menstrual cup work is finding one that YOU like.  This is a very personal decision, as menstrual cups are not “one size fits all.” Not all menstrual cups are created equal and you may need to try a few before you are comfortable with their use and find one that will work for YOU.  Look around on Amazon and you will see many different options. Two popular versions are the Diva Cup and the Athena Menstrual Cup. These are shaped slightly different and only the woman using it can possibly know what shape will fit her body the best.

Once you’ve selected a menstrual cup, the process of learning how to use it begins. Trigger warning: it can it icky. Menstrual cups are designed to be inserted into the vagina where they collect the menstrual blood rather than absorb it such a tampon.  However, after you remove the cup, you simply dump the contents away and rinse it off for another use.

When you first begin the use of the menstrual cup, it’s wise to use a pad (disposable or otherwise) because there is a learning curve involved.  We would suggest getting to understand how to use it before something bad happens, just to be certain you know what you’re doing. Plus, again, disposable pads won’t be readily available. You will want something you can reuse, and  “period underwear” is an excellent option. It isn’t actually as uncomfortable as you’d think, but much like the menstrual cup, finding the right pair for YOU is essential.  While they won’t be effective as your only protection, they will be invaluable while learning to use the menstrual cup and could come in handy on the lighter days you just don’t need a cup for!


The last thing you’ll want is an infection when the SHTF, so it’s important to wash everything you use well and disinfect the menstrual cup. There may not be a way to completely eliminate your risk, as any catastrophe will be a difficult situation for everyone.  But you can mitigate the risks by keeping your hygiene top notch.

Once you are done menstruating, you will want to store your cup in a bag (most come with one.) Don’t just toss your cup into a backpack, as it’ll get dirty. But first, before you even consider storing your cup for use next month, soak it in hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes to make sure it’s clean, and let it air dry.


Maybe this is a good time to stock up on some peroxide, just in case. Not only that, if you are in a situation in which you must store water (you don’t have a well and an electricity-free way to get water out of it) you need to save extra for your personal hygiene and care of your women’s items. You will need to wash your period underwear as well as you possibly can considering where they will be on your body. That said, make sure you never neglect your feminine hygiene, as it could cause you to get a yeast infection and that won’t be fun at all in a SHTF situation!

Of course this is an uncomfortable topic, however, we need to discuss it as women and preppers. We definitely have different needs than men, and we will need to prepare for those regardless of how uncomfortable those topics may be.

Shopping List
  • water
  • peroxide
  • Menstrual cup
  • Period underwear
  • sanitary napkins
  • yeast infection cream
  • hand sanitizer

Are you a female prepper? Do you have any tips or advice for your fellow women? If so, let us know in the comments!



4 Reasons To Choose Heirloom Seeds For Your Garden

Ready Nutrition - Sat, 05/04/2019 - 06:59

Shopping for vegetable seeds, whether online or locally, you will come across two different types: hybrid and heirloom.  It’s important to always choose heirloom if you can, and there are several reasons for this.

Hybrid seeds are created by crossing two selected varieties, sometimes resulting in vigorous plants that yield more than those plants that grow from heirloom seeds. Heirloom vegetables, on the other hand, are the “old-time” varieties. They are open-pollinated instead of hybrid and saved and handed down through multiple generations of families. Neither are bad options, per se, but heirloom seeds are better and there a few reasons why you should try to use them as opposed to hybrid seeds.

  1. COST

Usually, heirloom seeds cost less than hybrid seeds. Check the catalogs and you’ll notice this. But the great news is that heirloom seeds reduce their cost further because you can save your own seeds. If you choose to do this, the price drops to nearly zero for the heirlooms. This will also lead you toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

How To Save Your Seeds For Planting Next Year


The second advantage of heirloom vegetables is that they are “less uniform” than hybrids.  This may seem like a con, however, since heirloom seeds are less uniform, they often don’t ripen all at once, and there will be less chance your food will be wasted.  Commercial growers love the uniformity of hybrids because they can pick the crop in one fell swoop and ship the vegetables to several stores for purchase all at once. But for the average everyday home gardener, a gradual supply of fresh produce is usually preferable to the glut of the all-at-once harvest that many hybrids provide.


Because heirloom seeds are saved and passed on to future generations, the seeds from the best plants are chosen, resulting in a better and more hearty flavor. When you are providing your own food with your seeds, and not shipping the vegetables across the country, flavor, over “shippability” matters. Backyard gardeners rarely cart their produce cross-town much less cross-country. Even today, small market farmers don’t usually transport their harvest in huge tractor trailers and even if they do, to stay in business, their veggies have to taste incredible by comparison to store bought produce. There’s no need to plant veggies bred to be tough when you can plant heirloom vegetables that are tender, sweet, juicy and just plain delicious – especially if you aren’t shipping those veggies!


Commercial growers often want seeds that will produce the most abundant crop.  Which is great, however, home gardeners choose flavor and nutrition, and heirlooms seeds create veggies that are a lot more nutritious than those from hybrid seeds. Even though hybrids will often outyield heirlooms, it turns out we’re now paying a hidden cost for this emphasis on higher yields and shippable vegetables. Recent research has revealed that in many cases, newer vegetables and grains are significantly less nutritious than heirlooms, according to Mother Nature News.

There are still 100% heirloom seeds out there for purchase too! Ready Nutrition offers a wonderful “Garden in a Can” full of non-GMO heirloom seeds in several different varieties. This is a great gift too for the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday.  All it takes to get started is one Ready Nutrition Brand Homestead Vegetable Garden-In-A-Can, some good dirt, clean water, a healthy dose of sunshine and a little TLC every day! Before you know it, you’ll be up to your ears in fresh food — enough to feed up to a family of eight for a whole year

Ready Nutrition sources only heirloom seed varieties because they truly believe the old adage that says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. These seeds are sourced through American farmers who pledge to never, ever use GMO crops. Additionally, these seeds are tested to make sure they are positively pesticide free!

If you are a home gardener and actually eat the vegetables you grow yourself, there is really no downside to choosing heirloom seeds. Plus, imagine how incredible it’ll feel to pass on the best of the best of your heirloom seeds to your children. I know nothing excites my kids more than planting starts with their seeds in the spring and eating the vegetables their plants produce over the summer.

That’s the additional added benefit! Kids who enjoy gardening and planting and saving their seeds grow up to eat a healthier diet than those who don’t. Children are naturally curious and every planting season is filled with excitement and joy. They all want to taste the fruits of their labor, so why not start a new family tradition beginning with heirloom seeds?

You won’t regret it!

Happy Planting!


Balance and Renew Hormones Naturally with These Tinctures

Ready Nutrition - Thu, 05/02/2019 - 13:54

The use of plants for healing purposes goes back centuries and forms the origin of much of modern medicine. While natural remedies have always widely been in use, their popularity is increasing as people seek safer, more gentle alternatives to pharmaceutical medications.

Hormones can be balanced naturally with herbal tinctures.

Hormone balance is a common health concern, and like many other issues, it often can be managed naturally. One way to use herbal remedies to do this is via tinctures. A tincture is a concentrated liquid herbal extract made from herbs that are taken orally. Tinctures are typically made by soaking herbs in alcohol for several weeks to extract the active components (phytochemicals) of the plants. Fresh or dried leaves, roots, bark, flowers, and berries may be used to make tinctures. They can be made from a single plant or a combination of plants. After a few weeks, the herbal mixture is strained and the herb parts are removed, leaving behind the concentrated liquid. Alcohol is used because it is an excellent food-grade solvent and can extract herbal constituents (such as resins and alkaloids) that are poorly soluble in water. Another benefit of using alcohol as a solvent is that it is an excellent preservative that retains the freshness and potency of medicinal plants and greatly increases the shelf life of the tincture.

For more on tinctures and how to use them, please see our guide: What You Need to Know About Herbal Tinctures and How to Use Them

Here are four herbal tinctures that can be used to help balance hormones for men and women.

St. John’s Wort Organic Herbal Tincture for Mood Balance & Positive Outlook

Also known as hypericum, Klamath weed, and goatweed, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a plant with yellow flowers whose medicinal uses were first recorded in ancient Greece. The flowering tops of St. John’s wort are used to prepare teas, tablets, and capsules containing concentrated extracts. It is important to understand that St. John’s wort interacts with many medications, which can make those medications less effective.

St. John’s Wort is a neurotransmitter modulator that increases serotonin levels in the brain through a process called natural reuptake inhibition. Boost mood, promote a positive mood balance, improve day-to-day outlook, and increase daytime energy levels with this tincture.


Saw Palmetto Organic Herbal Tincture for Men’s Hormone Balance, Reproductive Health & Sex Drive

Saw Palmetto is derived from the fruit of the Serenoa repens plant, which is native to the southeastern United States. The berries of the plant are commonly used in supplements to improve prostate health, balance hormone levels, and prevent hair loss in men. Saw Palmetto is also associated with other benefits, including decreased inflammation and improved urinary function.

Strengthen and tone the male reproductive system, promote healthy levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, and improve sex drive naturally with this tincture.


Woman’s Formula Organic Herbal Tincture for Female Hormone Balance, Hot Flashes & Period Relief

This proprietary blend contains a combination of plant-derived medicines that gently relieve hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, periodic mood swings, and daytime fatigue. (Contains Black Cohosh, Astragalus, Licorice, and Wild Yam Root)

Black Cohosh is an herb that is native to North America and has a long history of use. Native Americans used it to treat musculoskeletal pain, fever, cough, pneumonia, slow labor, and menstrual irregularities. European settlers used black cohosh to support women’s reproductive health.

Today, black cohosh is one of the most popular natural remedies for menopause. It is most commonly used for symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats (together known as vasomotor symptoms), vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, tinnitus, vertigo, sleep disturbances, nervousness, and irritability.

Generally considered to be safe according to research, Black Cohosh goes well with St. John’s Wort (while they are not synergistic, both together have shown added efficacy in managing vasomotor symptoms of menopause).

Astragalus is an important herb in traditional Chinese medicine that has been researched for its cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, and longevity effects.

Licorice is the root of a plant called Glycyrrhiza glabra. It has a long history of use for medicinal purposes and is an important herb in traditional Chinese medicine. It has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Licorice can stimulate the adrenal gland, which promotes healthy cortisol (a stress hormone) levels. It has estrogen-like effects and has been found to reduce the frequency and duration of hot flashes in postmenopausal women. Licorice may also be useful in relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Wild Yam Root contains a chemical called diosgenin, which can influence the production of several useful hormones, including estrogen. Consuming wild yam may be a natural way of promoting these hormones in the body, which could have certain medical benefits. Wild yams contain compounds that are believed to be particularly advantageous for menopause and premenstrual syndrome. The outer bark of wild yam root is high in a compound called saponin, which research shows may help lessen inflammation. Saponins can help relax and otherwise treat a number of conditions involving the abdominal and pelvic muscles, as well as arthritic and rheumatic conditions.

Damiana Organic Herbal Tincture Female Aphrodisiac for Sex Drive

Damiana, also known as “hierba de la pastora,” is an herb that belongs to the Turneraceae plant family and is native to Mexico and the southern US. It has a long history of use as a sexual stimulant and aphrodisiac and also is commonly used for menstrual disorders. In addition, Damiana can also help relieve stress, anxiety, and mild depression.

Strengthen and tone the female reproductive system, promote healthy female sex hormone levels, boost sex drive, and increase sexual appetite with this tincture.

Herbal tinctures are incredibly easy to use.

Simply take one or two dropper fulls every few hours (per the label’s instructions), or take as needed. Drop desired amount into warm water, tea, or your favorite beverage.

To learn more about Ready Nutrition Tinctures, please see our guide here: What You Need to Know About Herbal Tinctures and How to Use Them

Be well!





*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or ailment. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the creation or use of herbal tinctures. A person should speak to their doctor before using a tincture or any other herbal supplement, especially if they take medications.

Fermented Foods: Kick Your Health Up a Notch Naturally + 10 Healthy Ready Nutrition Recipes!

Ready Nutrition - Wed, 05/01/2019 - 13:06

Fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are widely available and wildly popular these days. There are good reasons for that – they provide some impressive health benefits.

Fermentation originated as a food preservation method and means to produce alcohol. The earliest record of fermentation dates back thousands of years, and nearly every civilization has included at least one fermented food in its culinary heritage. Bread, beer, Indian chutneys, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, soy sauce, pickles, and even chocolate are some examples of fermented foods that people around the world have created.

Fermented foods are preserved using an ancient process that boosts shelf life and increases nutritional value. In addition, they give your body a healthy dose of probiotics, which are live microorganisms that are important to good digestion and overall health. The bacteria in fermented foods are considered probiotics.

What is fermentation?

Fermentation is a process that involves the breakdown of sugars in foods by bacteria and yeast.

Here’s a more detailed explanation from a research review titled Inclusion of Fermented Foods in Food Guides around the World:

What exactly are fermented foods? Fermentation is a process that has been used by humans for thousands of years, with major roles in food preservation and alcohol production. Fermentation is primarily an anaerobic process converting sugars, such as glucose, to other compounds like alcohol, while producing energy for the microorganism or cell. Bacteria and yeast are microorganisms with the enzymatic capacity for fermentation, specifically, lactic acid fermentation in the former and ethanol fermentation in the latter. Many different products around the world are a result of fermentation, either occurring naturally or through addition of a starter culture. Different bacterial and yeast species are present in each case, which contribute to the unique flavors and textures present in fermented foods.

In the article Fermentation: A History, eatCultured explains it another way:

Fermentation, or more specifically of certain kinds of food, is called culturing. Essentially communities of microbes, or “cultures”, colonize a food. As they start to convert naturally occurring sugars in the food into energy for themselves, microbes cause spontaneous fermentation in the surrounding food or beverage.

That science is officially known as zymology and is really a study of naturally-occurring microbes, the family of organisms that play a role in fermentation.

During fermentation, these small organisms consume available biodegradable material – like the sugar in dairy or grains – without the presence of oxygen. This process is known as anaerobic digestion.

Anaerobic digestion creates a range of bi-products, from the bubbles in a bubbling bottle of kombucha to the textures and flavors of cheeses, dairy products, fermented vegetable products like sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), kimchi (cabbage again…) and of course, Cultured Coffee!

Lacto fermentation describes a process by which microorganisms convert sugars in vegetables and milk into lactic acid. Lactic acid is very beneficial to health. The more lactic acid present in food, the more acidic the taste will be. It is the main reason fermented foods taste tangy and refreshing.

Fermented foods offer a lot of health benefits.

Fermented foods are getting a lot of attention these days because they provide a wide range of probiotics that contribute to the health of the microbiome.

The bacteria and microorganisms that reside in your digestive tract are linked to a wide range of health conditions, so caring for your gut is very important. Probiotics have a range of positive effects on health, including the improvement of various inflammatory conditions, positive impacts on the immune system and even weight loss, and can alter the composition of the gut microbiome.

Fermented foods provide another unique benefit, according to The History and Health Benefits of Fermented Food:

In addition to supporting human health, Lactobacillus and other bacteria may protect against foodborne illness by inhibiting and eradicating foodborne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenesStaphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus. The inhibition of pathogenic bacteria may be due in part to pH, as well as antimicrobial bacteriocins produced by Lactobacillus to inhibit other competitive strains, including foodborne pathogens. While these findings support fermentation as a safe method of preservation, and consumption of fermented grain has been associated with decreases in foodborne illness, more research is needed.

Dr. David S. Ludwig, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explains that fermentation can extend the usability of food for months and can improve the flavor:

“For example, if you put cabbage on the shelf for a few weeks, it’ll spoil,” says Dr. Ludwig. “But if you ferment it into sauerkraut, it will last for months.” It’s the same concept with fermented dairy foods and proteins. “Think about how long milk lasts compared with cheese,” he says.

In addition to helping food last longer, fermentation also enhances the taste of foods, giving them added complexity. Plus, the fermentation process works other forms of magic on foods, changing them and adding nutrients. For example, by eating fermented vegetables, vegetarians can get vitamin B12, which otherwise isn’t present in plant foods, says Dr. Ludwig.

Here’s how to ferment vegetables.

To start fermenting vegetables you will need two things: equipment and fresh produce. Fermentation doesn’t require expensive gadgets, and to keep things simple, you can purchase a kit like The Easy Fermenter (Amazon link) or starter kits from Cultures for Health.

If you don’t want to use a starter, you can give wild fermentation (Amazon link) (also known as spontaneous fermentation) a try. Probiotics Center explains how it works:

Spontaneous fermentation refers to the process of letting natural bacteria already present on vegetables or in the milk to start the fermentation process. Therefore, no microorganisms are added for this process to happen. However, the right environment needs to be created to promote bacterial growth. This might involve shredding vegetables, adding salt, using airlocks, or keeping the right temperature.

Microorganisms are present in most vegetables and raw, unpasteurized milk or cream. Cabbage, carrots, celery and many other vegetables can have up to 40 different bacteria species naturally occurring. Some bacteria species will, under the right circumstances, start consuming sugars present in vegetables and dairy. This process produces other substances including lactic acid. Lactic acid is responsible for the familiar tart, tangy flavor of fermented foods.

Almost any vegetable can be fermented, and you aren’t limited to one veggie alone. You can create a mix of several different kinds along with herbs and spices of your choosing, so get creative! Here is a list of vegetables you can ferment that will inspire you: Fermenting Vegetables – A-Z Veggie List.

After you select your vegetables, you’ll need to prepare them for fermenting. Because the size and shape of the vegetables impact the speed of fermentation, keep the size of the vegetables in each batch consistent. There are several ways to prepare your veggies for fermenting – you can grate, shred, chop, julienne, or slice them, or leave them whole.

According to Cultures for Health:

Grating works well for hard or crunchy vegetables

Firm veggies can be sliced very thinly

Softer vegetables should be cut into thick pieces so they hold their shape

Small vegetables such as radishes, green beans, and brussel sprouts are easy to culture whole

Once you have prepared your vegetables, it is time to start fermenting them. Try these guidelines from Cultures for Health if you don’t already have instructions or are not using a kit.

First, choose your culture.

A fermented food recipe may call specifically for salt, salt and whey, or a starter culture. The method chosen can vary, depending on personal taste, special dietary requirements, and even the vegetables used.

If salt fermentation is the preferred method, choose from the different kinds of salt appropriate for culturing.

Next, prepare your brine:

Water used for preparing brine or starter culture should be as free from contaminants as possible, for the best-tasting fermented vegetables. Consider the points in this article before choosing your water source for culturing.

Then, weigh your veggies down:

Once the vegetables have been prepared and placed in the chosen fermentation vessel, weigh the vegetables down under the brine, keeping them in an anaerobic environment during the fermentation period.

Once the fermentation process is complete, it’s time to move your vegetables to cold storage. This guide from Cultures for Health can help you determine when your veggies are ready: How to Know When Your Fermented Vegetables Are Ready for Cold Storage.

Give these Ready Nutrition recipes a try.

What to Do with Your Radishes: Making Kimchi

Contemplating the Kombucha Craze

Make Your Own Sriracha Sauce

Lacto-Fermented Pickled Vegetables

Cheat Sheet for Making Homemade Yogurt

Why Sourdough is Great For Your Health + Recipes

Bread Making With Homemade Yeast

Kefir: Your Solution To Milk Without Refrigeration

Yogurt Cheese

A Fermenting Staple: Old Fashioned Sauerkraut

Have you fermented vegetables before?

If so, please feel free to offer tips, tricks, and ideas in the comments.

Be well!



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