1/29/14

Essentials Oils to Make Your Workout More Productive

30 Minutes of exercise which raises your heart rate each day is recommended for optimum heart health. Just 30 min. You do not have to be a marathon runner or a boot camp graduate to benefit from exercise. All you have to do is "Just do It!" A mini trampoline, some arm circles, or overhead presses. Some sitting leg lifts while you  talk on the phone or watch TV! All of these movements help to circulate oxygen and reduce inflammation.


Sometimes the hardest part of exercise is just to get going. I have this problem especially in the winter when it is cold and I would rather snuggle up with a kindle and read than head to the gym. Cuz, if you haven't noticed, or you live in Southern California, it is cold out!! One way to get motivated is to simply open a bottle of essential oil and smell!

There are wonderful oils that can energize and motivate. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Citrus Blends
  • Grounding Blend
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Tangerine
  • Lime
It is of course a great irony that the one thing that will make us feel better...and warmer, is the one thing we most do not want to do: EXERCISE! Along with the oils, it is a great mood enhancer.

Next, take some of that citrus oil or peppermint and rub a bit on your chest. It will help get the blood flowing and oxygen building.  If you need a little more boost, try a drop of peppermint on the tongue. Or add lemon and peppermint to your water. It gets the oxygen flowing.

Heading to yoga? Try some frankincense or sandalwood oil to help you remain grounded, reduce stress and improve, well, your balance. Of course, all the essential oils in the world, would not allow me to get into this position, ever!!



When exercising, your body relies on the circulatory system to transport oxygen. There are essential oils that help with this oxygenation process, giving your more energy. Oxygen stimulating oils include, but are certainly not limited to:
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Bergamot
  • Cedar
  • Cypress
Drinking a lot of water can help with muscle stiffness. But lactic acid is no joke and can cause sore and tight muscles after a workout. Too soothe these muscles, try one of these oils on site with a hot compress:
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Helichrysum
  • Wintergreen
  • Lemongrass
Where there is swelling involved, a cold compress is best. But to improve the look of this shiner,  these oils may help improve appearance.
  • Cypress      
  • Deep Blue
  • Geranium
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass

Do you regularly incorporate essential oils into your workout? What has been the result?


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1/27/14

Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding


This month I am on a mission to add vegetables to every meal. I am not a huge fan of them, veggies that is. If they are served with my meal, then I am enthusiastic to down them, but I hate preparing them. I saw a recipe not long ago for a sweet potato frosting. It had me intrigued. I decided to make my own version as a pudding for breakfast! I have made chocolate pudding with avocado and banana before. It tastes good right after it is done, but once it sits a bit, especially overnight, it ripens and I can no longer eat it. Not the case with this gem. Plus, it is a great way to get veggies without realizing you are eating veggies. It is not super sweet. The less sugar you eat, the sweeter it tastes. So, if you are eating donuts and drinking soda each day, this may not be sweet enough. Add more maple syrup if needed.

The miracle is to take something that threatens to gag me, just looking at it:


And turn it into a beautiful,
                                creamy,
                                               chocolaty decadence like this:


Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding:

2 cups diced sweet potato
1/4 cup coconut cream or whipping cream
2 T Hydrolysate Gelatin (optional, but recommended)
3 dates, pitted and soaked
4 T cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 t chocolate extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 T pure maple syrup (optional)

Put the dates in a cup of water and let soak overnight. Cook sweet potato for 15 min until tender. Drain and cool. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and let it whirr. So Easy. If you want it thinner, add a bit more coconut cream or whipping cream. Give it a taste. To me it was sweet with just the dates. To get kids to eat it, you may need to add a few T of maple syrup. If it tastes anything like sweet potatoes, add a bit more cocoa.  Spoon into a glass bowl and add 1-2 drops of orange, cinnamon, peppermint, or lemon essential oil, if desired. I like the orange best.

Coconut Whipping Cream:
Take a can of organic, full fat coconut milk and put it in the fridge overnight. When you open it, you will find cream on the top. Skim it off and whip it up with a fork and a tad bit of maple syrup. Use as you would whipping cream.

Do you have a wonderful dish that contains hidden vegetables? I would love to read them!

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you order through them, I get a portion of the proceeds. This helps me out when I am experimenting in the kitchen and mess up with expensive ingredients.   I thank you for your support!
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1/23/14

8 Natural Baby Gifts for the New "GREEN" Mom


Photo courtesy of Kensiem.com
 
Oh Baby! I have a lot of baby showers to attend in the near future. If I knew way back when what I know now, I would have done things so differently with my babies. Knowing what I do now, I can't stand the thought of giving traditional "baby" products to new moms. So, I have come up with some other great ideas of items that will be safe and wonderful for baby inside and out. Some, I have made. Some I have discovered. Here are eight ideas, along with recipes and resources. Pull out the lavender, cuz baby's skin loves lavender. I recommend dōTERRA, the only one I trust to be pure enough for baby.

1. Talc Free Baby Powder:



1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup Arrowroot Powder
1 drop myrrh or roman chamomile essential oil
2 drops lavender essential oil
1/4 cup finely ground oats

(Other oils that would be great: frankincense, sandalwood, helichrysum, or geranium)

Combine ingredients and gift them in these awesome Stainless Steel Shakers ! Awesome, classy gift!


2. Baby lotion:

Johnson & Johnson baby lotion that is so popular and smells so much like baby is rated a 6 out of 10 on the EWG site. Way too toxic for my skin, let alone a new baby. Why not make this simple blend.
Take 1/2 cup hard coconut oil and whip it up in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
Add 15 drops lavender oil. Spread liberally on baby.

3. Baby Bum Balm:

Desitin diaper rash cream that I slathered all over my babies is rated 5 at EWG. That in my mind is like a 50% which is the grade of F. Making your own is easy and inexpensive. No need to reserve this just for baby, it has saved our dry, cracked hands this winter. Don't think I would try that with Desitin. EWWW.



Bum Balm
2/3 cup Coconut oil
1/3p olive oil
2 oz  Beeswax
4 Cocoa Butter Wafers
30 drops lavender
15 drops myrrh
 
(Other oils that would be great: Roman Chamomile, frankincense, rose, sandalwood, helichrysum, or geranium.)
Or try this:
2 oz fractionated coconut oil
15 drops lavender
5 drops myrrh
Spray on irritated bottom so as to avoid touching an already sore spot.


4. Baby bath/shampoo:






1/4 cup Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap (I used lavender)
1/3-1/2 cup distilled water
1/2 tsp almond or olive oil
10 drops lavender
5 drops orange (optional)







5. Calming bath salts:

1 cup Epson salts
4-5 drops lavender oil
Put in a container and shake it up!
With instructions: Add one TBS to baby's bath before bed.

6. Monster Spray:




1 spray bottle
1 t Epson salts
5 drops lavender oil
5 drops Roman Chamomile

Mix all together in spray bottle.







7. Baby cloths from Norwex:


There really is no need to use soap on baby. Some of us just can not fathom that, however. But for those who are ready to get rid of the suds all together, this baby cloth is a great idea. I have three and love them for my kids. With silver woven into the already plush microfiber, it grabs proteins off the skin and leaves skin smelling...clean.







1/21/14

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo



I know that true southerners will probably hang me for blasphemy, but I don't know what else to call this dish. It is chicken, sausage and veggies with Cajun seasoning. There is no okra in mine, even if I am an Okie. Never will be. But you could add the slimy buggers if you wish! Ours is great the way it is and one of my most requested dinners by my kids.

Instead of okra, I use these:

 
Sausage and Chicken "Gumbo"
1 lb chicken diced
1-2 T coconut oil
1 cup each diced carrot, celery, onion, tomato (or a can of diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 smoked sausage or kielbasa diced

 
Brown the chicken in the coconut oil over medium/high heat. Sprinkle liberally with Cajun seasoning to taste. For a bit of kick, add 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper as well. Lower the temp to medium and add the veggies. Cover and let steam 10-15 minutes until soft. Then add the smoked sausage and return the lid until it is warmed through (about 5 min).

Serve over steamed rice or spaghetti squash. Also great over lentils.

 
So, do you gumbo? What veggies do you add?

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1/20/14

Can You Wash Dishes With Plain Vinegar?

I have had that question brewing in my mind for over a year now. I have tried home made dish detergent and store bought, and always had the same results: dishes that came out dirtier than they went in. In 4 years of owning our dishwasher, we have taken it completely apart twice to clean out all the gunk build up which ultimately ends up all over our dishes. It. Is. Disgusting. So, after our last all day affair at cleaning out the dishwasher, I decided we would never load it with soap again. We have a secret ingredient: Vinegar.


That is all. Nothing more. Well, almost nothing more.  I also have 2 young men who have to put a little elbow grease into their dish loading duty. They get by with help from scotch bright pads and this awesome mesh dish cloth from Norwex. Love this thing.


We rinse the dishes thoroughly, scrub off the stuck on stuff with this cloth, then load the dishwasher. Add vinegar to the soap holder, shut it and turn it on. That is all. It has been almost a month now and my dishwasher has never looked so clean inside. My dishes have never been so clean and grit free.


So, why do we spend a fortune each year on cleaners like Cascade when vinegar has worked all along? I did it because that is what you do. Well, if vinegar can sanitize counters, and elbow grease can get off the stuck on stuff, why can't it do the same with my dishes? Oh, yeah, it can! Did you all know this trick? If so, why didn't you share it with me? The best part is that there is nothing to assemble. No difficult ingredients to procure. Just vinegar. Couldn't be easier. Couldn't be cleaner.

A few tips:
Rinse dishes off right away so it is easy, peasy to rinse before loading.
Pay attention to silverware. Make sure each utensil gets scrubbed before loading.
Use hot water to remove oily residue from dishes before loading.

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1/15/14

Browned Butter and Sea Salt Rice Krispie Treats

Makeover your Rice Krispie Treats with real food ingredients!

 
Salted, Browned Butter, Marshmallow Treats

1 batch of coconut sugar marshmallow crème
3 T butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
6-8 cups Rice Krispie type cereal (can also used puffed rice)

Measure the cereal into a large mixing bowl. Put butter in a fry pan and let it melt on medium heat. Once it is melted, keep an eye on it. It will melt to a pretty pail yellow. That is great for popcorn. But for this dessert, we need more! Keep it going for 4-5 minutes until it turns slightly brown and starts to smell like mom's Christmas toffee. Love. That. Smell! Some describe it as nutty. But it doesn't smell like nuts to me. To me, it is Christmas! Pull if off the burner and add the salt.

Now, if you pour the marshmallow crème on it now, it will melt into liquid and be no good on the cereal. Also, if your pour hot, hot liquid on rice cereal, it kinda cooks it and the texture that is left is that of soggy cereal....ewww! Let it cool slightly and add just a dab of the fluffy marshmallow and stir to cool it even more. Add the rest of the crème once you can touch it with your finger.  Then add the rest. It should melt down quite easily as it is not firmed up. Once it is all combined, pour it onto the cereal and give it a mix.



Grease a pan and then pour it in. It is not as sticky as commercial marshmallows, so I suggest popping into the fridge to set up. Then you can pop them out and cut them up. Try not to eat the entire pan in one setting.

 

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1/14/14

Make Your Own Marshmallows


If marshmallows were a grade, they would be a big fat fluffy F! They are the opposite of nutrition. They are practically tasteless unless you toast them. They contain "controversial" ingredients. 
 
Ingredients in marshmallows: 
       
Why do we eat these?     
 
Well in college the answer was: Because they are fat free!  I can't tell you how much junk I used to eat because of that fact alone. How far I have come! And I made a marshmallow that has flavor and depth, and natural color...but it is still fat free...in case that matters.
 
 
The reason today is...we need marshmallows to make browned butter salted Rice Krispie treats (recipe to come)...and nutter fluffer sandwiches. I miss those. I really do. This particular recipe did not yield a spreadable product, so back to the drawing board on the sandwich! It works perfectly for Krispie treats, however. Also, hot chocolate needs marshmallows. Especially ones that melt into a creamy, dreamy coconutty bliss.
 
 

Coconut Sugar Marshmallows
1/2 cup coconut sugar "karo" syrup
1 cup cool water (divided)
1 pinch of salt
1-2 T Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin
1 tsp vanilla

Add 1/2 cup water, salt, and the "karo" to a pot. Bring it to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Let it boil until it comes to 235-240 F or soft ball stage.

While it is boiling away, add 1/2 cup water to a stand mixer. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let is sit. Just before you add the hot liquid, give it a whip for a minute or two. With the whipping blades removed, slowly pour the hot liquid into the cold. Add the whippers back and let it go. It is dark and syrupy looking for the first 5-10 min, but then it will start to thicken like cream and get lighter in color. When this happens, add the vanilla. It took my stand mixer 20 min to get all light and whipped. Pour it into a greased pan and let sit overnight until set up. (Easiest if you line the pan with foil or parchment paper. Turn out on cutting surface and cut into pieces. Full of flavor, these are not your ordinary marshmallows!

Alternately, you can use the crème immediately in home made Salted Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1/13/14

Make Your Own "Karo" Syrup

 
I ran across a recipe for salted browned butter Rice Krispie treats last week. My son brought me a bag of marshmallows from who knows where in the depths of the pantry.  Rather than have to fight him or hear him throw a tantrum as I threw them in the trash, I gave into temptation.  I pulled out that recipe and gave it a try. Oh merciful piece of heaven! I don't even like Rice Krispie treats with marshmallow. But I couldn't get enough of them.  I know what was in them, however, which made me feel a bit creepy. So, I decided to experiment. I love a good experiment.

Step one:
Make your own karo syrup.  I have found recipes that  use honey or maple syrup. Two problems there: Expensive!! And neither one is the flavor I want in my marshmallows. So, I made my own "karo." It is better than anything! And really easy.

2 cups Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Then clip on a candy thermometer and let it go for 12-15 min until it reaches soft ball stage. (Around 234 F) Yields 1 cup of syrup.

Yeah, it is brown. But so is our bread and we love it!  The taste of this is very rich and sweet. I love it. Add maple and vanilla here for an awesome home made syrup.

Step Two:
Make the marshmallows!


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1/6/14

Wild Food Foraging

I have several goals for 2014 and plan to write about some of them here for accountability reasons. The first is one I never would have considered, even six months ago. I have been reading a bit about foraging for food. Who me? Yes, me. Why not? I used to drive 2 hours round trip for raw milk. This is not so different.

 
But where to start? I live in the country and all the farms around us are owned privately, so knowing where to do this is a mystery. But my hubby and I are thinking this would be a very fun activity for the family. My kids already know that food does not come from the drive thru. Well, some of them do. We have a nephew living with us who when I make up cookie dough asks, "What is that?"
Really? You have never seen cookie dough? He has been amazed as he watches how food comes together in a kitchen. And for the most part, seems to relish meal times.

I naively thought that food foraging would be similar to geocaching and I could get online and find coordinates for berries or sand plums or some other of nature's delicacies. I live for online shopping. Why should this be any different? Get on the computer, look it up, pick it up. On second thought, does UPS deliver wild rhubarb? No, it seems not. So, I have put in a request with an expert to go on a foraging walk not too far from my home. Sounds fun, doesn't it? (But seriously, if you know of a service that does deliver...just kidding, sorta!)

I want my kids to know that not all of our food arrives on the porch via Fed Ex. To have a greater appreciation for this beautiful earth we live on and the gifts that it provides. Plants nourish our bodies...we know that. Plants have healing properties....we have experienced that. But plants in the wild are edible? I admit, I myself know very little about that. We saw a wild berry plant once.  But otherwise, I have no idea what else there is out here in Oklahoma to eat. This year, I intend to change that. And hope not to poison my family in the process.If nothing else, for a chance to explore in the sunshine and soak in the vitamin D. I was inspired even more by this post I read today. I have never had the least bit of desire to live up in the Arctic (Aka North of Missouri) due to the bone chilling cold that blankets the entire region from October to June(ish). But it looks like despite that, there is much more wild food to be had from maple syrup to twisted stalk which reported tastes like cucumbers. What do we get in Oklahoma?

 
 
 
Mushrooms! Really? EWWW! And Wild Desert Gourds.

Food isn't the only thing you can forage. I went to visit my sister in Oregon a few months ago and she had me drinking water they fill up at a local natural spring. Really? She drives to find quality milk, produce, and now water? Oh, but it tasted good. Who ever thought of foraging for something as simple as water? And why should you? Why not just turn on the tap and drink the chlorinated, florinated, perhaps brominated water from the city? That is a topic for another time. In the mean time, find a spring near you here. Unfortunately, the nearest one to me is 1 hour and 15 min one way. We may do it sometime, and see how much we can haul home!

I intend to work on this goal in 2014. So, do any of you wonderful readers out there have any resources you can share on this subject? Places to forage, great experiences you have had? Please share!!

Here are a few resources that have helped me get started. What ones can you add?

Find a spring
Wild Foraging in Oklahoma

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1/4/14

Crock Pot and Freezer Meals:

Make this year a little more organized!


One of my New Year's resolutions is to make better use of time. Yea, that has been one for years. I would even like to say I am better than I used to be. But that would be a lie. I am still horrible at it. I am in need of serious intervention.

The fallout to an unorganized day always lands on dinner. This is a problem in a home where I cook from scratch and have no boxed anything or stuff in a can to eat. Because no one in my home can cook if it doesn't come from a box, or a can...except me. I really ought to fix that!

Well, I have hope this year. I have found a few good resources and am excited to try them out.

 
The first is a beautiful e-book by Stacy Myers called Crock on. You will not find canned soup or processed sugars, or white flour in the ingredients. On the other hand, the recipes do not require you to work from sun up to sun down skinning a chicken, or gathering wild herbs. They are real food recipes made easy. I am looking forward to trying Maple Sesame Chicken, Coconut Sweet Potatoes, and Creamy, Cheesy Corn....may do that one right now!!

I like how Stacy writes, she makes me giggle. And who doesn't need a few more giggles in their lives?

The second resource to help with dinner is From Your Freezer To Your Family: Back to School Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes by Stephanie Brandt Cornais.

This is a mini e-book with  6 gluten free, grain free recipes and instructions on how to assemble, and a grocery list for each dish. Every recipe is family friendly and looks absolutely delicious.

This, my husband and kids can do: Open Freezer, Pull out bag, Put in oven. I am definitely going to be setting aside a freezer cooking day. And they can all help me chop, fill and freeze.

You can get these books from Amazon. Crock On!
Or a paperback version of the full version from Ms. Cornais: From Your Freezer To Your Family: Slow Cooker Freezer Recipes

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