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Organic Snacks & Hot Drinks for Your Cozy Winter Nights

Do you have fond memories of winter time when you were young? I know I do. One of my most fond memoriorganic snackses was coming inside from playing out in the snow, and my mom would have a huge pot of homemade hot cocoa and buttered toast ready for us. It was the best thing ever and warmed us kids right up. Today I’m going to be sharing some cozy winter time recipes for organic snacks and ideas for your next cozy winter night.

Warm and Cozy Organic Snacks:

Dairy Free Organic Hot Cocoa Recipe

Ingredients:

Tip: To make it Cocoa Mint, add a drop or two of peppermint extract.

Directions:

Combine coconut milk, vanilla, cocoa, and salt in a sauce pan and whisk together until combined. Over low-medium heat warm the milk, whisking continuously, until it starts to bubble gently. Remove from heat and stir in honey

One last tip! Sometimes I like to throw it all in my Vita-Mix for about 1 minute on High after the last step, it combines ingredients really well and kids love the frothy top it makes.

Organic Flavored Popcorn Recipe

I don’t know what it is about popcorn on a cold night but it is one of my favorite organic snacks this time of year.  I like to switch it up sometimes with different seasonings.

Ingredients:

Directions to make Popcorn:

Directions: In a 3-Qt pan, pour in 3 tbsp coconut oil in the pan. Add a couple corn kernels to the pan, cover and heat. When they pop, add remaining popcorn and cover and shake pan over medium heat until popping stops. Add desired seasonings. Makes about 16 cups.

Optional Flavors Popcorn Flavors:

1. Ranch: Melt 4 tablespoons coconut oil or butter with a 1/2 packet of organic ranch seasoning mix; toss with 16 cups hot popcorn and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Season with salt.

2. Garlic: Melt 4 tablespoons butter/coconut oil with 1 tbsp organic dried basil, 1 tsp organic garlic salt and sprinkled with 1/4 cup organic Parmesan cheese.

3. Brown Butter Cinnamon Sugar

Ingredients:

Directions:

Place butter in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Set pot over medium-low heat and stir constantly as butter melts and foams. After a few minutes, butter will turn golden and brown specks will form. When the foam subsides and the butter begins to smell nutty, remove from the heat. Butter should be deep golden brown but not black or burnt.  Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla (be prepared for butter to foam up quite a bit). While brown butter slightly cools, mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl until well combined.

Slowly drizzle brown butter over popcorn, allowing any black/dark brown sediment at the bottom of the pot to remain behind. Gently stir popcorn until evenly coated. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture over buttered popcorn; stir, and repeat with remaining cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.

Homemade Organic Chai Tea Concentrate Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pour water in to sauce pan over medium-low heat and bring to boil. Add tea bags and steep for 15-20 minutes. Remove tea bags and squeeze remaining liquid into pan.

When it cools slightly stir in honey and vanilla. Store in large mason jar and keep in fridge for up to 7-10 days.  To make use a 1:1 ratio. 1/2 cup chai concentrate to 1/2 c milk.

Chai Tea Latte Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pour chai tea into a small sauce pan on stove and heat on medium low just until warm. Pour milk into your high power blender and blend on high for 2 minutes. This will warm up milk and make if very frothy. Pour warm chai into mug then top with frothy milk.  If you have an espresso machine you can use that as well. Serves about 4.

What are your favorite organic snacks to cozy up to during the winter time? 

Stress Busting Organic Foods for the Holiday Season

The jam-packed parking lots, the shopping and crowds, the back-to-back diet-busting parties. The interminable chats with the in-laws, and even finances take a toll. We understand how easy it is to feel not so wonderful at this most wonderful time of the year.  That’s why I’ve rounded up some healthy organic foods that are perfect for beating those oh so common holiday blues.organic foods

First, What Does Stress do to the Body?

Stress is awful, it weakens your immune system, strains your heart, dampens your sex drive, creates aches and pains, and can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Your body can only work with what you feed it, so if you consume junk (processed foods), you’re going to feel junky in return. Filling and nourishing your body with the right organic foods can help keep your mood bright and the above stressors rolling off your back.

Foods That Add Stress to Body

So which foods should we avoid? The following foods increase stress and anxiety by either stimulating the brain the wrong way or putting the body under stress during the digestion process. Foods to avoid include:

  • Coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and other caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Refined sugars
  • Fried foods
  • Foods high in polyunsaturated fats found in processed foods

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s get down to what foods will help you bust the stress.

Stress Busting Organic Foods

  • Asparagus, yes I know, these skinny little stalks are known to make your urine smell funny. But they are high in folate, which is essential for keeping your cool.
  • Turkey - here’s the reason you feel so relaxed after eating turkey. The acid known as L-tryptophan is releasing serotonin, a chemical that calms your brain. The best turkey to buy is pasture raised turkeys.
  • Blueberries have some of the highest levels of an antioxidants and they’ve been linked to all kinds of positive health outcomes, including sharper cognition. But all berries, including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are super rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in alleviating stress.
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables Greens carry lots of B vitamins, including folate, like asparagus, which is important for easing symptoms of depression, relieving stress, and reducing anxiety. Good choices are kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard.
  • Cashews are an especially good source of zinc. Just 1-ounce serving has 11 percent of your daily allowance. Low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Since our bodies have no way of storing zinc, it’s important to get some every day.
  • Honey - You’ll get an instant kick and energy for the long haul. Plus, research shows that its antioxidant and antibacterial properties may improve your immunity.
  • Chamomile teaProbably the most recommend bedtime soothers around, but in addition to helping sleep it also helps calm the nerves.
  • Fatty Fish like salmon, herring, and tuna, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B6 and B12. These essential nutrients promote healthy brain function and elevate your mood—two important aspects of fighting stress.
  • Almonds & Sunflower Seeds – These easy-to-find crunchy snacks cut stress like a sharp knife. They contain riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and other important vitamins and minerals. Snacking on seeds and nuts throughout the day can prevent stress from building up. To maximize nutrition benefits, opt for raw varieties over salted and roasted.
  • Pumpkin Seeds contain L-tryptophan, which helps with good sleep, lowering depression and combating stress. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin (the feel good hormone) and niacin. Serotonin is also very helpful in helping us to have a good night’s sleep.
  • Dark Chocolate, in particular, is known to lower blood pressure, adding to a feeling of calm. It contains more polyphenols and flavonols—two important types of antioxidants. You can safely allow yourself dark chocolate as a snack once a week, or as a conscious indulgence.

I hope you can incorporate some of these stress boosting organic foods into your diet and even your holiday meals to help you calm those holiday blues!

What are your favorite ways to relieve stress during the holidays?

Beyond Probiotics: Maintain Healthy Digestion During the Holidays

Let’s start with a recap of what probiotics are. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria in probioticsour digestive system.  They help to improve absorption of nutrients and vitamins. Improved absorption means good digestion.  This allows your body to get the most nutritional value from the foods you eat and helps to regulate your digestive system. Sounds good, right? Well, with the holiday season being the dietary minefield that it is we wanted to give you some tips on how to keep your digestion on track this holiday season!

Now that we know what probiotics are, where do we get them?

Probiotic supplements are an excellent choice, they add healthy bacteria to the digestive tract, and actually digest sugars for their own fuel. They are a great antidote when we eat too many sweets, which is perfect for the holiday season. Probiotics are also found in cultured/fermented foods, such as yogurt (good quality) kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and probiotic drinks. Eating and drinking these foods daily will ensure a healthy digestive tract.

What Else Can We do To Help Digestion?

  • One of the primary ingredients to good digestion is water. Many of us are chronically dehydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of filtered water or herbal teas. Adequate hydration can curb excessive food cravings, and help us to not overeat, especially for sweets.
  • Sit down to eat. People tend to eat more and more quickly when they’re standing or walking than they do when they’re sitting. It seems like a fairly simple rule, you may be surprised how effective it can be. Sitting down is also less stress on your body because you are more relaxed and being relaxed helps our digestion work better.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.  Ideally, you should chew your food until it is liquid.  I know sounds gross, right? But your gut will love you. You will be satisfied with less food and you will have better digestion. Your saliva actually has enzymes that facilitate digestion. Also, it is easier to digest small particles than large ones. Most people eat too fast. Not chewing well stresses your digestive system and can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, digestive problems like gas and bloating and promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract which can lead to leaky gut and much worse.
  • Drink warm liquids before meals. Drinking warm water with lemon, Apple Cider Vinegar or broth, tea (peppermint or dandelion are good choices for digestion), or soup before a meal (15-30 minutes before) will prepare the digestive tract for digestion.
  • Add more veggies to your diet. Increasing intake of fruits and vegetables with high water content, especially raw, will help digestion and increase bowel transit time.
  • Avoid ice water as it suppresses circulation to the digestive tract.

I hope these tips help you this holiday season! Do you know any of more tips to help improve digestion? Share below!

Try These Organic Thanksgiving Recipes this Year

organic thanksgivingWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to start planning and preparing for the big feast. In case you’re like me, and still collecting recipes for next week, I thought I’d share a few of a few organic Thanksgiving recipes that I am going to try out this year; all of them made with easy, all-natural ingredients!

These dishes are so tasty your family may not even realize they’re eating healthier. Hope you enjoy them!

Organic Thanksgiving Turkey

To find a good organic, free range turkey. You have three options. Find a local farmer who raises them, this time of year it might be tricky because they will most likely be pre-sold.  Next best option is to find one at your local grocery store. The prices can be high, but it will be an easy choice. The only caution here is that many organic turkeys labeled organic have just been fed organic feed but are not truly free range. Still a better option, but nowhere near the nutrients of truly free range turkeys. Lastly, if the other two options don’t work, just order online. There are quite a few options to buy pastured turkeys online.  This year I will be trying a recipe for slow-roasted turkey with herb butter from Nourished Kitchen.

Organic Thanksgiving Sides

Isn’t everyone’s favorite thing the sides?!  I know they’re mine. Here’s one I’ll be trying:

Basic Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

Ingredients:

Instructions:

1. Cook sweet potatoes until tender. Remove skins and mash. When smooth, beat in butter, milk, salt, and spices. Beat well.

2. Fold in walnuts and turn into buttered baking dish.

3. Top with marshmallows and bake at 350 until marshmallows puff and become golden brown.

 

Organic Thanksgiving Dessertorganic thanksgiving recipe pumpkin bar

Can’t have Thanksgiving without a delicious dessert! Below is a recipe I made last year that turned out fantastic.

Grain – Free Pumpkin Bar Recipe

Adapted from this recipe

Directions for Cake

In a medium sized bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine, I actually took the easy route and threw it all in my Vitamix. Pour into an 8×8 oven safe baking dish (I lined mine with parchment paper for easy removal). Bake about 30 minutes until it’s nice and golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean and it is firm to the touch.

Top your Pumpkin Bars

These are my favorite toppings for these pumpkin bars. I like them all.

Coconut Cream Frosting

Ingredients:

Coconut Cream Frosting Directions:

Place your can of coconut milk in the fridge and leave overnight. Open the milk the next morning, and do not shake. The top of the can should be thick, scoop this out. About halfway through you should reach a point where the cream turns to water. Do not scoop out the water. Whip the vanilla into the cream until well-combined and fluffy. Spread on bars, cut into squares, and enjoy!

Maple Pecan Glaze (pictured above)

  • 3/4 c pecans
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (I used coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Spread on bars when completely cooled.

Head over to our Fabulous Fall Recipes board on Pinterest for more fun Thanksgiving meal ideas.
And more Thanksgiving recipes here:

*It’s easy to make any meal organic. Whether it be gluten-free, vegan, paleo, or traditional, buying organic ingredients will make all the difference.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving meals?

The Best Natural Sweeteners for Diabetics

natural sweetenersWhether you’re diabetic or not, sugar and even some other natural sweeteners are something you should be wary of. Don’t think that just because the package says sugar-free, that it’s good for you. Instead, let that be a red flag. This will give you the opportunity to turn that package around and give the ingredients label a good look. Key words you are looking to avoid are:

  • ACESULFAME POTASSIUM, ACESULFAME K or ACE-K
  • ASPARTAME
  • SACCHARIN
  • SUCRALOSE

All the above are ingredients that must be avoided, not just by diabetics, but for all of us. In the grocery stores you will see them labeled as Equal, Sweet-Low, Splenda and NutraSweet. These artificial sweeteners are used in snack foods, dairy foods, processed fruits, jams and jellies, sugar-free drinks, soda and other carbonated beverages, baked goods, condiments, chewing gum, supplements, and even in infant and children’s medicine. Why are they so bad? Well, long-term exposure to these chemicals has been found to promote memory loss, hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis (MS), dementia, nausea, migraines, sleep problems, vision impairment, depression and anxiety, Parkinson’s disease and brain tumors.

Best Natural Sweeteners For Diabetics

Xylitol

This natural sweetener is an all-natural sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and produced in small amounts by the human body. Xylitol is absorbed slowly and only partially utilized by the body, which means fewer calories. It can be substituted for most common sweeteners without compromising taste or texture. Xylitol has a few benefits too, it helps create a barrier between germs and your gums and has been shown to be beneficial for dental health. It’s why you’ll find a lot of chewing gums using this natural sweetener. Also, in addition of xylitol to saline nasal sprays, has been shown to make them more effective at improving and maintaining upper respiratory health. Xylitol helps prevent the causes of sinus issues and upper respiratory discomfort by stimulating the body’s natural cleansing process to clear away contaminants and irritants in the nasal passages (*Xylitol is highly dangerous for dogs so make sure to keep any xylitol products out of their reach. Even small amounts from candies can be toxic. If your dog eats a product that contains xylitol, it is important to take the dog to a veterinarian immediately.)

Erythritol

Discovered in 1848 and produced from Natural Sugar Cane Juice, which is naturally fermented and crystallized to create natural Erythritol. Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that is found in our bodies, as well as in many fruits, vegetables and even certain fermented foods. It has 95 percent less calories than sugar, although the FDA does label it as having little calories and a glycemic index of zero, Erythriotol makes an ideal sweetener for people with diabetes. So while it sweetens, it does without adding calories or spiking blood sugar the way other sweeteners do. And because it doesn’t ferment in your gut, you can use it without worrying about other unpleasant digestive issues that are often associated with other sugar alcohols.

Stevia

Is my top choice for diabetics for adding a little sweetness to their life. Stevia is a naturally occurring extract from the sweet leaf of a plant that belongs to the sunflower family. It has been used since early times as a sweet source (the leaves are 30- times sweeter than sugar). It grows in South America, and the leaves are similar in shape to the mint family. The great thing about Stevia is that it has virtually no calories, no sugar, and has no affect on blood sugar. Because Stevia is many times sweeter than sugar, it takes very little to make things sweet.

Further reading:

Are you a diabetic or watching your sweeteners? Which natural sweeteners do you like best?

Natural Body Care Tips: Keep Your Skin Hydrated All Winter

natural body careOne of the biggest complaints during winter season is having dry, chapped, itchy, and or sensitive skin. The reason is because in winter, there is cold, dry air and very little humidity. If we are not properly hydrated we lose moisture in our skin which leaves our skin feeling and looking less desirable. Before you decide to relocate to a warmer, more humid climate, take these steps to seal in the moisture and repair your winter skin.

Natural Body Care Tips for Keeping Your Skin Hydrated

Hydrate

The first and most important natural body care tip for hydrated skin is water.  Water is the most common nutritional deficiency in America. We just don’t drink enough water here. Did you know water cannot be stored, it’s being continually distributed and regulated throughout our body. This nakes daily water intake essential for a healthy body and healthy skin.  The rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day (Ex: A person weighing 160 pounds should drink 80 ounces of water each day). If you are one of those people who have a hard time drinking water visit my fruits and herb flavored water recipes and combinations post for tasty, easy ways to drink water.

Rethink Processed Foods

The second natural body care tip for hydrated skin may surprise you – its not about what you’re putting in or on you’re body, its what NOT to!  Foods with refined (overly processed) sugars dehydrate your skin, making it dry and less clear. Combined with the winter elements, loading up on these foods (which are usually high in trans fats, MSG, etc.) will leave you feeling blue this winter season. Though I would love to tell you to cut processed foods out completely (we all get cravings now and then), try to limit your processed foods in your home and replace them with more nutritious, whole food options.

Winter Showering

You might not like this natural body care tip but it does help a great deal.  Even though there is nothing better than taking a long, hot, relaxing bath on a cold winter day, it doesn’t do any favors for our skin. Long hot baths and showers have a drying effect on our skin. To help limit that you can add some bath salts or even sea salt to your bath water and taking shorter and cooler showers. Also applying moisturizer to the skin (coconut oil is my top choice) within 3 minutes of stepping out of the shower or bath will help keep skin hydrated. Avoid using soaps and deodorants with fragrance, or alcohol because they can strip your skin of its natural oils.

Vitamins for Skin

In order for your skin to look great, it has to be healthy. Vitamin B helps to restore collagen (a protein that keeps it firm) in the skin, which is especially important as you age. So load up on Vitamin B rich foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds and protein (bone broth is excellent source of collagen) to keep your skin looking healthy and hydrated! Vitamin E (most abundant nutrient found in the skin) also helps with the formation of collagen, and therefore can reduce wrinkles, scaring and increase hydration. Fish, nuts, avocados, olive oil, and spinach are excellent sources of vitamin E.

Fruit

Fruit, especially water-dense tropical fruit, is a great way to hydrate and protect your skin. Most fruit contains high levels of vitamins A and C, powerful antioxidant that replenishes nutrients in skin, promote collagen production, and help keep your skin supple and firm. Oranges, raspberries, cantaloupe, mangoes, pineapple, strawberries blueberries, watermelon, and grapefruits all contain skin-boosters, and are a tasty treat too.

Natural & Organic Moisturizers

When your skin needs a little extra in those cold, dry months and you reach for a body lotion, make sure you’re using ones with all natural and organic ingredients.  Some conventional lotions contain ingredients that actually dry out your skin.  Some of the better brands to look for are EO’s Everyone Lotion, Andalou Naturals, and Nourish.

I hope these natural body care tips help you to keep your skin hydrated and healthy all winter long. What are your favorite tips and tricks to keep your skin hydrated?

How to Keep Your Family from Getting Sick This Cold & Flu Season

flu seasonIt’s that time of year again, the wonderful holiday season which unfortunately means the dreaded cold and flu season. It’s the time of year when the weather is starting to cool and we are spending more of our time indoors and because of the back-to-back holidays it’s also the time of year when sweets like Halloween candy, Christmas cookies and caramel pumpkin lattes etc. are in full force. Most people don’t know that all those sweets (sugar) really take a toll on our immune systems which makes fighting illness more and more difficult.

With the following tips for boosting your immune system not only will it help protect you and your family against the cold and flu season, you can take control of your health and trim your time spent feeling under the weather during the holidays.

Immune Boosting Tips For Cold & Flu Season:

Eating Healthy

Sounds like a given right? Truth is many of us don’t know what it means to eat healthy. When it comes to boosting our immune system the best thing you can do is ditch the processed foods. Processed foods are packed with all kinds of sugars which impair our immunity. When building your immune system whole foods (foods with 1 ingredient) are going to be your best bet.

Sleep

When it comes to your immunity system, sleep is extremely important. When we are sleeping our immune system really kicks into gear and helps us recover more quickly from illness and much more. Need help on getting a good night’s rest? Visit my sleep solutions post for some tips.

Exercise

While colder weather may trigger an urge to curl up in a blanket with a cup of tea, moving your body and exercise will actually boost its immune function. In a 2006 study, researchers at the University of Washington enrolled 115 women in either a weekly 45-minute stretching session or 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. After 12 months, the exercisers had developed significantly fewer colds than the stretchers did. Don’t let the word exercise intimidate you. A brisk walk with the family for 20-30 minutes will do your body good!

Supplements

I love supplements. Good quality, properly sourced supplements can be very beneficial to our health and to help boost our immune system. Ideally we strive to get all the nutrients we need through an optimal diet, but sometimes we just can’t get all of one nutrient with the food we eat, and need to make up the difference in supplement form. The best supplements that I like to take during flu season are:

  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil – Contains Vitamins A and D, which are both necessary for many aspects of health, Immunity being a big one. While we can get Vitamin D from sunlight, Vitamin A can be harder to consume or absorb and fermented cod liver oil is an excellent source.
  • Probiotics - 70-80% of our immunity resides in our gut which makes probiotics very important for a healthy immune system. Probiotics help populate our gut with all that good bacteria (flora) which will help fighting sickness. Probiotics are especially important to take if you have ever been on antibiotics because while antibiotics can be useful in some cases they also destroy not only the bad bacteria, but the good bacteria as well.
  • ZincIs great for the immune system and can prevent a cold or flu virus from reproducing and can even help relieve respiratory symptoms. Adults should consume 50-75 mg a day when sick in capsule or lozenge. Those who avoid meat could be at risk for deficiency the recommended daily intake (RDI) is 15mg/day.

More Immune Boosting Tips

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is known to boost the immune system. It has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It is high in lauric acid and is thought to dissolve the lipid coating around some viruses and make them more susceptible to attack by the immune system. If sick, aim for 5-6 tablespoons per day in food or melted and stirred into hot tea.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry increases the production non-inflammatory infection-fighting cytokines as much as 10 fold. Elder berries are known to be effective against eight strains of influenza. This suggests that elder be superior to vaccines in preventing flu, because flu vaccines are only effective against known strains of flu, whereas the virus is continually mutating to new strains. I make elderberry syrup all year round but I especially like to make sure I have it one hand from September – April.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Is wonderful at helping the body to alkalize. When our body is alkalized it helps kill bacteria and virus. Yes, it tastes awful, but if you add 1 tablespoon to an 8oz glass of water and add a little raw honey, it’s actually pretty tasty!

More resources for cold/flu season:

How do you plan on keeping your family healthy during this cold and flu season? 

Organic Slow Cooker Recipes for Fall

For me fall is a super busy time of year. In my family we have four birthdays just weeks apart and it always seems to make our lives a little hectic. Keeping things simple, quick, and stress free as possible is a MUST! The last thing I want to hear is, “What’s for dinner, Mom?” and not have a clue. I hate that feeling. One way I avoid that dreaded question is to use my trusty crockpot and a handy list of slow cooker recipes! I love that I can throw some ingredients in the pot in the morning and when my husband and kids get home in the evening a nice slow cooked meal is waiting for them. It’s like magic…  I have a few favorite go-to meals that I make regularly with my crock pot, which are: whole chicken, chicken soup, chicken broth, and chili.  I just made chili tonight so I’ll share my super quick recipe with you!

All Meat Slow Cooker Chili

I love this recipe because you can make it your own (I’ve listed the basic version of the recipe so feel free to customize!). This recipe is good when we are getting to the low end of our groceries. I always seem to have these ingredients on hand so it makes for a quick, easy, stress-free dinner fix.

all-meat-slow-cooker-recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 -2 pounds grass fed, organic ground beef. (You can also use, ground turkey or chicken make sure it’s well sourced)
  • 1- 28 oz can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 large organic onion diced
  • 1 clove organic garlic chopped finely
  • 1/4 c Taco Seasoning (I make my own using this recipe)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Throw all the ingredients in the crock pot. (yep just that simple)

all-meat-slow-cooker-recipes-step-1

Set on low (2-3 hours) or High (5-6 hours) depending on how much time you have.   Today I started out on low for 3 hours and turned on high for 2 hours and it worked perfect for me. I also used frozen meat too, but because it was frozen I made sure I broke up the meat every hour or so, because I didn’t want to end up with huge chunks of ground meat…although I’m sure my husband would love that. Then like magic it’s DONE!!  See I told you it was like magic.  Just the kind of magic a mom likes.

all-meat-slow-cooker-recipes-final

I like to serve my chili on top of cabbage noodles (thinly sliced cabbage sautéed in olive oil until tender) and here are some of my family’s favorite chili toppings:

all-meat-slow-cooker-recipes-with-tortilla chips

My daughter likes to eat her chili with tortilla chips like a dip.

The sky is the limit really!

Don’t forget to serve some greens with your chili. I always have a massaged kale salad or a nice garden salad to company our chili!

My chili recipe was pretty basic today, but remember you can customize it and make it your own. Sometimes I like to dice a bunch of carrots, red and green peppers, and throw them in. If you like a thinner chili, you can add more diced tomatoes or even a small can of tomato sauce. Use your imagination and throw in any other spices or herbs you like!  The following is a bunch more slow cooker recipes, some might not list organic ingredients but just remember to choose organic ingredients whenever possible.

Slow Cooker Recipes:

What are you favorite slow cooker recipes for the fall season?

Tips for Eating Healthy During Pregnancy

Thinking about having a baby? Expecting a baby? Just had a baby? Eating healthy in all of those stages is critically important. Whatever stage you fall into, you have come to the right place. Today I’m giving you some easy to follow tips that you can implement at any stage of your pregnancy.

eating healthy

By File photo, Canwest News Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

14 Eating Healthy Tips During Pregnancy

1. Eat for Two?

Nope, don’t fall into that trap. Yes of course you need to bump up your food intake a little but you definitely don’t need to be eating two of every meal.

2. Stay Hydrated

Water is the best choice during pregnancy. Did you know that water accounts for 75% of your baby’s water weight at birth? Lack of water can lead to dehydration, dehydration equals stress and when mom’s body is in stress so is baby. So stay hydrated. Aim for 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water minimum, if you can drink more, go for it. For example a mother who weighs 150lbs would need to drink 75oz of water. Another good bonus is that staying hydrated also helps alleviate morning sickness.

3. Nitrates & Listeria

Packaged lunch meats are high in a preservative called sodium nitrate. Some specialists are of the opinion that sodium nitrates can lead to difficult complications during pregnancy. This is because the body turns nitrates into potential carcinogens. Another issue with cold cuts is that they may contain lots of the Listeria bacteria. Listeria can grow in refrigerated temperatures. This bacterium causes an ailment called Listeriosis which can cause problems during pregnancy such as miscarriage, premature delivery, infections or even death of the new born baby.

4. Good Fats

Don’t be scared of eating good fats. Fats are absolutely necessary for absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K which are vital for baby’s brain and organ development.  Coconut oil, butter, eggs, olive oil, quality red meats, and nuts are good choices for eating healthy fats.

5. Bad Fats

The human body does not have the capability to digest refined oils and trans-fats.  Consuming trans-fats can alter the composition of your breast milk and lowers the overall fat content.

Stay away from oils like: margarine, shortening, vegetable oils including canola oil, all hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils, and soybean oil.

6. Say Goodbye to Processed Foods

Unfortunately we are already passing toxins to our baby through the air we breathe and even chemicals we put on our skin (lotions, creams, shampoo etc.) the last thing we need to do is overload our system with unnecessary chemicals from the food we eat, which also offer little to no nutrition.

7. Fiber is your Friend

Eating healthy with a high fiber-diet includes eating properly prepared whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Fiber is important to keep the intestines moving to ensure good bowel function and elimination.  This also helps to avoid constipation, a common problem during pregnancy.

8. No Sugar

Avoid or greatly limit sugar intake in your diet and stick to natural sugars like maple syrup or raw honey in little quantity.  Bacteria, viruses, parasites all thrive off sugar.  Avoid aspartame1, sucralose2 and other artificial sugars, which are all chemical based.

9. Grab and Go

Always have healthy food snacks that are ready to go. When you get home from shopping, wash your produce right away and chop it up, store it in the fridge for easy access when you need a quick grab and go snack!  I liked to chop up carrots, celery, and my sweet husband would always cut me up a whole watermelon and keep it in the fridge when I wanted something for my “sweet tooth”.

10. Big Fish

Accumulate mercury in their bodies, which is transferred to you and your baby. Mercury causes damage to a baby’s nervous system. Stay away from swordfish, marlin, and shark. Limit tuna consumption too.  When choosing fish at the market always look for wild caught fish.

11. Organic

Eat as much organic or locally as you can.  If you can’t buy all of your produce organic, use the Environmental Working Group (EWG) ‘Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen‘ as a reference for which fruits and veggies you definitely should buy organic.

12. No Booze for You

Alcohol is not a bright idea while pregnant. It is linked to various health issues you want to avoid such as premature delivery, low birth weight, birth defects, and mental retardation. A little sip here and there is probably fine, but again, why take a risk?

13. Shop the Perimeter

The best tip when you go shopping is to shop the perimeter of the store, this is usually where all the good stuff is; your meats, poultry, seafood, produce, dairy. It’s when you get into the middle of the store and get lost in all those aisles with packaged and processed foods. This is where you really need to pay attention to the labels, read the ingredients.  Look for items that have less than 5 ingredients (more is NOT better).  Ingredients to avoid are:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Dyes, food colorings (red #40, yellow #5, red # 3 etc.)
  • Hydrogenated / partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
  • Artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin)
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • BHA & BHT
  • Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite (cured meats)
  • Potassium bromate  (found in commercial breads)

14. Double the Protein

When we are pregnant we need nearly twice as much protein. The average intake of protein is around 45grams; 75-80 grams is needed daily during pregnancy.  3oz of chicken breast is around 20-30grams of protein, so don’t worry it’s not that hard to get your protein in.  Here are some other great sources of protein.

  • Grass feed beef, lamb, bison
  • Pastured chicken/turkey
  • Pastured eggs
  • Nuts, seeds,  and legumes
  • Organic Dairy (milk, full fat yogurt, cheese)

If these tips seem overwhelming. Don’t worry you don’t have to add them all at once, but if you do, right on! Start by adding one or two tips, then build on that. Just by reading this you made a good first step to creating a healthy lifestyle for you and your baby!

 

1 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/04/16/aspartame-diet-soda.aspx

2 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/18/sucralose-side-effects.aspx

11 Tips For Non-GMO Shopping On A Budget

Do you want to learn the best ways to go Non-GMO shopping, even on a budget?  Even though the vast majority of processed foods found in supermarkets today contain GMO’s, it really isn’t that difficult to maintain a Non-GMO diet when you know what to look for.  Eating whole, unprocessed, organic food is an easy way to do it; here are some more tips for Non-GMO shopping, especially for those of us on a strict food budget.non-gmo shopping

11 Tips For Non-GMO Shopping:

  1. Look for products that are USDA Certified Organic.  Organic is the gold standard.  By choosing organic foods not only will you be sure that those foods are non-gmo, they will also be free of pesticides, herbicides and other nasty chemicals.

  2. Look for products that are Non-GMO Project Verified.  While you won’t know for sure if there are pesticide residue in the food, you’ll at least know that foods with the Non-GMO Project Verified logo on them are GMO free.

  3. If you see corn, soy, or canola oil on an ingredient label and that product is not organic or labelled non-gmo, assume it is GMO and avoid it.

  4. Learn the list of ingredients that are derived from corn and soy.  Click HERE for a great guide to these ingredients.

  5. Buy whole food ingredients, instead processed foods.

  6. Learn to cook from scratch.  For families on a tight food budget, cooking at home can save quite a bit of money.  Remember to make double batches and freeze meals for those busy nights.

  7. Buy your groceries at health food stores, natural markets or online at stores that disclose the GMO status of products.  Ordering online at shopOrganic assures you that you will not be buying any GMO products.

  8. Find your local farmer’s markets and talk to the farmers about how they grow their foods.  Buying local food in season is the best way to get the most value and nutrition from your food while supporting your local growers.

  9. Stock up when foods are on sale – food storage can be a great way to make your dollars go further.

  10. Learn how to use every part of your fruits and vegetables.  Freezing bits and pieces of veggies to make a vegetable broth is a good way to make sure that nothing goes to waste.  Compost any truly unusable bits of your fruits and veggies to use in your garden.  And speaking of gardens:

  11. Start a garden – it can be small and simply include a few vegetables that you eat regularly.  Make sure to start with organic seeds; carrots and radishes grow quickly and easily, or try lettuce or other greens, or herbs in a pot.

Do you have other tips on Non-GMO shopping?  Share them in the comments section below!

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