Several months ago I wrote about hope, which grew from my reflections on the meaning of hope and how it differs from optimism. As I’ve continued to reflect on hope and optimism, I’ve found my thoughts turning to the subject of faith.

As a professed Secular Franciscan, I feel a special affinity for St. Francis of Assisi, who espoused the simple virtues of Humility, Generosity, Reverence, Service, Respect, Prayer, Joy, and Love. The teachings of this gentle monk guide my daily life, including my approach to the ETMS. As I consider the subject of faith, the teachings of St. Francis inspire me.

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Once referred to as “the staff of life,” wheat has become a controversial food. Although people have been consuming wheat in various forms for thousands of years, increasing numbers of health conscious individuals are turning their backs on what was once regarded as a satisfying, nourishing staple.

In some cases, avoiding wheat is essential for health. Those with celiac disease—a serious inflammatory condition caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten—should never eat wheat or any other gluten containing grains. But while only 1% of people have celiac disease, millions more have adopted a gluten free diet—in particular, shunning wheat.

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One of my family’s favorite dishes is homemade pizza. Making pizza connects me to my Italian heritage, and I find satisfaction in creating this rustic, healthful food. My kids, of course, love the result.

Making pizza from scratch takes a bit of time, but not as much as you might think. I enjoy the entire process, beginning with grinding the whole grains into fresh flour. My favorite flours are made from Kamut and farro; to enhance the elasticity of the dough, I add a bit of gluten flour. The result is a satisfyingly chewy crust.

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As many of you know, I have been a lifelong musician. This summer I’ve had the pleasure of playing music with several professional musicians in the Rogue Valley, namely, my good friend and drummer, David Bolen. Having joined the “I Have A Dream” band for a special performance celebrating African American musicians at the Craterian Theatre in early 2016 under the direction of singer-songwriter, Doug Warner, I was beyond impressed by the caliber of musicianship. We all wanted to continue playing together, so I decided to bring the group together for a summer benefit concert for the Mederi Foundation.

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“I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”  ~Sherlock Holmes.

Conventional medicine has long been wary of traditional herbal medicine, particularly when it comes to the potential interactions of herbs and pharmaceutical drugs. However, the focus of conventional medicine always seems to be on the negative interactions of herbs and drugs, when in fact, herb-drug interactions can often be positive.

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Closely related to the culinary herb sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) is a plant with a rich history of use as a healing herb. Because this venerable herb has so many applications, it has become one of my favorites. I often include holy basil in adaptogenic tonics, and also find it useful for specific conditions, ranging from support for cancer and cardiovascular disease to improving skin health.

Native to India, holy basil is also known as tulsi, which means “the incomparable one.” Considered as sacred in the Hindu faith, most traditional homes and temples in India have at least one tulsi plant, which is used in prayers to insure personal health, spiritual purity, and family well-being. In Ayurvedic medicine, tulsi is classified as a rasayana, an herb that nourishes a person’s growth to perfect health and enlightenment and promotes long life.

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