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Soda bread is made using baking soda as a leavening agent. The Native Americans had long used ash as the first form of baking soda. When combined with sour milk (we now use buttermilk), which contains lactic acid, a chemical reaction takes place that causes carbon dioxide to bubble. It was popular in the early years of the settlement of America by the Europeans, (as it was cheaper than regular bread) and didn’t require maintaining a specific temperature for the yeast to rise. It gained popularity when it was included in the 1796 book, American Cookery. Its adoption by the Irish came because it was cheaper than regular bread. Traditional Irish bread was mostly flat because of the poor quality of local wheat that did not rise well. They were also able to cook it on a griddle, since many poor Irish did not have stoves that made this type of bread. This made it a common and popular way to bake bread. The traditional X cut across the top of the bread is said to have been a way to ward off evil spirits. Today Irish Soda Bread is baked in millions of households across the U.S. to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (and to help absorb the alcohol consumed).
Below is a basic recipe. You can find online recipes that include nuts, fruits, and seeds.
3 cups flour
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 ½ tsp salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until it forms a ball - do not knead, that will make the bread tougher.
Flour hands and workspace.
Knead and shape into a smooth ball.
Dust the ball lightly with flour and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
With kitchen shears or knife, cut an X into the top of the ball.
Bake until golden brown, around 35 min.
Let cool as long as you can control yourself, but while still warm, slice and eat with butter.
You will want to use the bread within a week. It will tend to dry out, so it is best to store the bread in an airtight bag.
You can keep it frozen in a freezer for up to 3 months.
Ask around in your family - many have recipes passed down for generations. It can create an added sense of connection to history and your family tree while you bake delicious bread!
You've likely heard about microdosing somewhere. By definition, microdosing is the act of consuming minimal amounts of a psychedelic substance to achieve a benefit while minimizing undesirable side effects. It's a new trend that has emerged from the need for alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs for mental health conditions. For some, it is merely a way to foster more creativity or attain a higher-self. Many individuals have added microdosing to their regular routine (hello, Reddit). They frequently report they are more creative, have more energy, enjoy better focus, and maintain improved relational skills. They also show reduced anxiety, stress, and depression.
With states like Colorado and California decriminalizing the use of these psychedelic substances, we see more and more scientific research. Though most of it currently leaves some efforts to be desired, the potential is clear, and scientists are pushing for further scientific validation. For instance, a study (Beckley Foundation, 2016) done on psychedelics was for those who suffered from treatment-resistant depression (TRD). They discovered that “Psilocybin was well-tolerated and induced rapid and lasting reduction in the severity of depressive symptoms.” Patients in this study reported that they attributed the treatment's effectiveness to “a greater willingness to accept all emotions.” The experience accelerated an emotional “conformation,” a challenging return to old traumas that had led to “emotional breakthrough and resolution.” Another pilot study (Grob, Danforth, & Chopra, 2011) done for anxiety in stage-4 cancer patients yielded the following: “Some of the data revealed a positive trend toward improved mood and anxiety.”
The most recent research from the Netherlands (Prochazkova, 2018) suggests that taking a small dose of the psychedelic substance psilocybin may improve both convergent and divergent thinking in ways that promote cognitive flexibility, creativity, and single-solution problem-solving. As Prochazkova and her co-authors said: “Taken together, our results suggest that consuming a microdose of [psychedelic] truffles allowed participants to create more out-of-the-box alternative solutions for a problem, thus providing preliminary support for the assumption that microdosing improves divergent thinking.”
Other promising research has demonstrated that psilocybin has the potential to help with addiction. In one study (Johnson, Garcia-Romeu, & Griffiths, 2017), over 80% of long-term smokers who took psilocybin for cognitive behavioral therapy quit entirely after six months, outperforming their drug counterparts, which sits at a 35% success rate over the same amount of time. Another proof-of-concept study (Bogenschutz, Forcehimes, & Pommy, 2015) done on alcoholics demonstrated a change in drinking habits and increases in alcohol abstinence. Hallucinogens have even shown benefits for certain types of head discomfort, including extended periods of remission after treatment with the psychedelic substances. (Sewell, Halpern, & Pope Jr, 2006 & Schindler, Gottschalk, & Weil, 2015)
There's also growing evidence that psilocybin and other psychedelics have the potential to rewire the brain. When brain imaging is captured under the influence of a psychedelic, researchers have noted a decreased blood flow to particular areas involved in emotional responses to fear and stress. Contrarily, they also observed increased stability in other brain networks associated with depressive symptoms. Carhart-Harris says, “Based on what we know from various brain imaging studies with psychedelics, as well as taking heed of what people say about their experiences, it may be that psychedelics do indeed ‘reset' the brain networks associated with depression, effectively enabling them to be lifted from the depressed state." (Carhart-Harris, Roseman, & Bolstridge, 2017)
In terms of what is happening now, there is research underway, funded by the US government, for Phase 2 of a study testing psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). It is slated to be fully completed by December 2020. Perhaps, by the time you read this, the research may be available (see https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03775200). Also, there are lots of great resources out there. I only mentioned a handful of the research available. If you’re curious and want to learn more, the world of information is at your fingers.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. The information in this article is solely the opinion of its author and in no way reflects the official stance of RidgeCrest Herbals regarding microdosing or psychedelics. The information in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Do you ever find yourself struggling to remember your dreams? Do you not dream at all? Dream journaling can help you remember your dreams, even if you don’t seem to have any. You can use an object, called a “Dream Anchor,” in your bedroom that you concentrate on while waking. This technique is based on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Your brain will start associating dreaming with the object, which helps improve recall.
Dream journaling allows you to have more vivid dreams, meaning you’ll remember the details better each time you write them down. This helps you gain control over your state of mind, making you much more aware of when you’re dreaming vs. when you’re awake.
Dream journaling has many benefits. It improves your memory and overall health, helps reduce nightmares, increases awareness, allows you to explore your subconscious, and improves your creativity. It only takes a few minutes each morning! Just give “expressive writing research” a quick Google, and you’ll be able to see the difference it makes for overall health.
How do you start? Easy peasy. Simply grab a plain old notebook and write it in immediately when you wake up. Keep in mind that this journal is only for dream documentation and shouldn’t be used for anything else. Sometimes starting with just a sentence or two is enough.
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