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7 Health Benefits of Eating Organic Cinnamon

There is no better way to kick off the fall season then by talking about one of fall’s most loved spices… organic cinnamon!  Mmm I can smell those pumpkin pies baking already! Cinnamon is one of those spices that most of us have in our kitchen cupboards, but many of us may not be aware of the many health benefits it there are in organic cinnamon.

organic cinnamonWhy organic? Well because it ensures you it has not been irradiated, which means being exposed to ionized radiation for a period of time (which may lead to decreased amounts of vitamin C and carotenoids). Irradiated foods contain more free radicals (free radicals make our bodies more prone to chronic diseases, like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes). And, irradiation plants emit ozone into the environment. Pretty good reasons to buy organic cinnamon I’d say!

Some Benefits of Organic Cinnamon:

  1. May help treat Type 2 Diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing the amount of insulin production in the body. Research shows that cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, lowering blood sugar after eating.
  2. It’s a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Has been shown to stop medication resistant yeast infections and also has been effective against three strains of Candida albicans fungus. Not only that, cinnamon is by far the best remedy for stomach bugs and food poisoning like E.Coli, which sickens more than 100,000 people each year.
  3. Cinnamon may actually prevent the spread and growth of cancer cells1. Cancer cells abnormally take up glucose, ignoring regular metabolic signals. Cinnamon may play a role in reestablishing the proper signals and keeping sugar levels under control so cancer cells cannot grow as quickly or spread as far.
  4. So much more than a spice, cinnamon is rich in manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber too. By adding it to any recipe, you are increasing your minerals and it is one of the top seven anti-oxidants in the world, which reduce the formation of “free radicals” that cause cancer and also increase aging.
  5. Cinnamon has been found to be an effective natural remedy for eliminate headache and migraine relief.
  6. In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon has been used for digestion upset like: gas, nausea and diarrhea and helps relieve symptoms of IBS. It is also believed to improve the body’s ability to digest fruit, milk and other dairy products.
  7. Just smelling cinnamon or chewing cinnamon gum is enough to boost brain activity, according to another study. In fact, test scores were higher, and memory, visual recognition, and motor speed were greatly enhanced in individuals who took a whiff of cinnamon, compared with individuals who smelled jasmine, peppermint, or no fragrance at all. If you put an oil diffuser in your car and add cinnamon oil, studies2 have shown to improve alertness behind the wheel.

Organic Cinnamon – Uses and Tips:

  • Mix cinnamon oil with hydrogen peroxide and spray your cutting board and kitchen sink to clean, especially after you have cut meats. Spray it in your refrigerator. It’s safe and natural.
  • Cinnamon is a well known warming agent making it great for massage. Combined with a carrier oil it is highly effective in relaxing and relieving muscle pain. Some put a few drops in their bath to relax and to sooth tired and aching muscles.
  • Half a teaspoon in a cup of tea with lemon juice and honey when colds or flu strike.
  • In tincture recipes to increase absorption of the herbs and for flavor.
  • A dash or two of cinnamon added to soups such as lentil or black bean may add an exotic flavor, plus provide the warming goodness may bring relief to those feeling under the weather.
  • Cinnamon oil in a diffuser.
  • Add one to two teaspoons of ground cinnamon to your coffee before brewing. It gives the coffee a nice cinnamon flavor and is an easy way to incorporate cinnamon into your diet.
  • Sprinkle or add into your favorite baked goods like, muffins, spice cakes and pies.
  • Add to your oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast.
  • Use in homemade elderberry syrup to protect against the flu.

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19000754
2. http://www.wju.edu/about/adm_news_story.asp?iNewsID=1882&strBack=/about/adm_news_archive.asp

What are your favorite ways to use organic cinnamon?

General Mills Buys Annie’s Homegrown; shopOrganic Offers Alternatives

If you haven’t heard the buzz yet, General Mills has purchased Annie’s Homegrown/Annie’s Naturals.  While they promise that their ingredients won’t change and their commitment to using non-gmo ingredients is as strong as ever, they have allied themselves on the pro GMO side by default.annie's

General Mills may be looking to take advantage of the increase in sales of organic products, but savvy organic consumers are turning away from Annie’s, now that they have been purchased.

With a commitment to not carry any brands whose parent company donates to oppose GMO labeling, shopOrganic will no longer be selling Annie’s Homegrown or Annie’s Naturals products.  We are moving out the remainder of the inventory that we already purchased pre-aquisition and that will be it for our relationship with Annie’s.  We believe in putting our money where our mouth is and we believe that consumers have the power to shape our economy.  Let’s shape it toward organic producers who still believe in the spirit of organic.

I know that many families rely on Annie’s products to feed their kids foods that are familiar, that are fun and that they like to eat.  We’d like to suggest some alternatives for you to choose from.

If you like Annie’s Mac and Cheese:

If you like Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies & Pretzels:

If you like Annie’s Fruit Snacks:

If you like Annie’s Salad Dressing:

If you like Annie’s Gluten Free Cookies:

If you like Annie’s BBQ or Worcestershire Sauce:

If you like Annie’s Granola Bars:

If you like Annie’s Ketchup & Mustard:

Healthy Snacks for Entertaining at Home

As its getting colder out, our activities tend to move indoors, and when we get together with friends, healthy snacks aren’t always the first thing we think of.   Today I’m going to give you some tips and ideas to make your get-togethers a bit healthier!healthy snacks

3 Tips for Making Healthy Snacks for Entertaining at Home

Tip 1: When it comes to grilling beef, poultry, pork etc., always try to use grass-fed beef or organic pastured, free range chicken and pork that is nitrate free, for the best possible quality.

Tip 2: When making your dishes, always strive to use as much organic ingredients as possible, this will lessen your exposure to chemicals, pesticides, and additives, and will ensure you get the most nutritional benefits from your food.

Tip 3: LIMIT or DO NOT USE overly processed foods (if you just can’t give up the chips and dip, make sure they’re organic… but try and limit your intake of chips and be sure to read your labels! The fewer ingredients the better when it comes to packaged foods).

With those three very important tips, you can make any meal or snack a healthier one.

25 Healthy snacks and treats for entertaining at home:

  1. Chorizo stuffed Jalapenos wrapped in bacon (my husband’s favorite snack food). All you need is 1lb of nitrate free chorizo and bacon. Cook chorizo all the way through in a skillet, slice jalapenos in half and seed them, stuff each half with chorizo and wrap in bacon. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30minutes (until bacon is cooked through). You can also grill these too! Note: This normally calls for cream cheese, feel free to add 8oz after the chorizo has been cooked and cooled slightly.
  2. Tortilla chips and salsa
  3. Chicken wings – try these healthier versions here.
  4. Veggie platter with ranch dip.
  5. Fruit platter (or make it fun with fruit skewers)
  6. Potato chips! Jackson’s Honest is my favorite potato chip to indulge on!
  7. Organic roasted pistachio nuts
  8. Trail mix
  9. Organic popcorn popped in coconut oil, sprinkle it with some nutritional yeast for some added B vitamins.
  10. Kale Chips
  11. Guacamole dip: this recipe looks fantastic!
  12. Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  13. Deviled Eggs: Recipe here.
  14. Nachos (if you follow the 3 tips above you will be good, just load them with as much veggies as possible)
  15. Beef Jerky
  16. Pretzels or this recipe for a grain free option
  17. Rice Cakes (be good topped with smoked salmon )
  18. Chili  with toppings (cheese, chopped onion, sour cream, salsa)
  19. Crispy Chicken Dippers  
  20. Pizza – again with following the 3 tips! Or try this “pizza” recipe for something out of the box.  My family loves it!
  21. Sweet Potato Chips
  22. Bacon Chicken Bites
  23. Organic Granola
  24. Prosciutto Wrapped Melon
  25. Bacon Wrapped Dates

 

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Share in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

I hope these tips and snack ideas help you to make your next game day a little healthier!  What are your favorite healthy football snacks?

P.S. Go Hawks!

Easy Organic Dinners for Back to School Season

With school back in full swing, for many of us that means our days just got busier. With kids in sports, organic dinnersafter school activities, lots of running around and homework, I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to worry about is what to cook for dinner. Today I’m going to list a bunch of easy recipes for organic dinners for you, that are going to be fairly quick to prepare, but also healthy for your family. I cook 100% gluten free in my home, so many of these recipe might be on the more “paleo-ish” side of things, but please feel free to switch up these recipes to fit how your family eats!  Just make sure you buy organic ingredients!

Quick & Easy Chili

I personally make this at least once a week, it’s so quick and easy and my family loves it. It’s also a great recipe to switch up the ingredients in from time to time.

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs ground beef (grass fed is best)
  • 1 28oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 7oz can tomato paste
  • 1 or 2 onions diced finely (I actually pre blend (puree) a bunch of onions with garlic and freeze them in ice cube trays to throw into dishes (saves on watering eyes). I used 6 cubes for this chili.
  • 1 Large bell pepper diced (any color will do, I like to use green)
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely (I already pureed mine with my onions)
  • 1 Jalapeño (seeded and chopped) this is optional, just added some extra heat.
  • 2 Tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon each of: cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander
  • ¼ Teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Brown your beef in a pot. When it’s almost all the way browned I like to throw in my diced peppers, and onion (or cubes) and sauté them until slightly tender.

Add your spices, stir well.

Then add all your canned tomatoes to the meat mixture and stir until well combined.

Simmer for as long as you wish. It will be warm in about 10 minutes, but if you have time you can let it simmer all day if you want! Serves 6-8 depending on bowl size.

To serve you have many options: Serve on top of a bed of zoodles (zucchini noodles) or spaghetti squash, or for the non-paleo you can serve over rice, regular spaghetti noodles or even on top of a baked potato. Top your chili with fresh diced onion, sour cream, cheese!

Crock Pot Chicken

This is another dish I make once a week. Because I get two meals for the price of one. It’s so basic, simple and you can go as fancy as you like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 organic whole chicken (my crock-pot holds a 5-6lb bird)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • Crock pot
  • Spices if desired.

Directions:

Properly prepare and handle your chicken. Lay slices of onion on the bottom of your crockpot and lay breast side down right on top of the onions.  For extra flavor you can run your chicken with desired spices.

Add a small amount of water or broth to the pot. I think I do 1-2 cups.

Cover and cook on low for 4-8 hours.  When the meat is falling off the bones is how I like it. To be sure just test your chicken with a thermometer (165 degrees).

Serve with sides of steamed vegetables. Severs 6-8 depending on bird size.

Tip: You will have a lot of liquid in your pot when the chicken is done. You can make gravy out of it if you wish. What I like to do is keep the liquid in the pot with the onions. I get all the meat off my chicken and throw the rest of the chicken (bones/skin) back into the crockpot. I add more onions, roughly chopped carrots and celery and fill the crock-pot up with water. Cover and that cook on low for anywhere from 12 hours or until the next day. Then from there you can strain and make chicken soup for your next dinner, or you can save the broth in freezer safe containers and use for later use!

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound beef tips or any cut of steak (grass fed preferably)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Onion sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 Organic Mushroom Sauce Mix
  • 1 cup organic sour cream
  • 8 ounces egg noodles

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup water on high and brown beef on each side. Add sliced mushrooms and onions (optional) sauté with beef for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn heat to low. Add the 1 cup water, broth and the Mushroom Sauce Mix and stir.

Stir in sour cream.

Leave meat/sauce dish simmering on low heat and prepare egg noodles according to the directions on the package. Serve mixture over prepared noodles when ready. Severs 4-6.

* Instead of egg noodles, try kelp noodles, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or even gluten free pastas.

Here are links to more Easy Organic Dinners:

When you’re trying to feed your family organic dinners, what are you easy go-to meals on busy week days? Please share your favorites!

7 Benefits of Feeding Your Family Organic Food

I get many questions about the importance of organic foods. People ask if it is really that big of a deal, and some sadly don’t even know what organic means! And so, here’s a quick reminder of what organic means:organic food

Organic (or-gan-ic): Food produced without the use of artificial or chemically formulated substances.

That’s it. Plain and simple. Eat organic and consume less toxic chemicals! A few years ago, I made organic brownies to bring to a social function and a gentleman asked me what my treat was, I told him they were dark chocolate organic brownies…and he immediately said that he doesn’t eat “that stuff”. I said, “What do you mean? Organic just means that no chemicals were used.” This man had no clue what organic meant. It’s so sad, and I know there are many others out there like him.

Seven benefits of eating and feeding your family organic foods:

1. Less toxic load.

We get enough toxic load from the air we breathe (think car exhaust, secondhand smoke, chlorine in our water, etc.).  The last thing we need to do is eat our chemicals. Choosing organic can lessen your toxic load by two-thirds; that’s pretty significant to me, and a much better for your family. A note for babies: The advantages of organic foods might be highest for babies because of the amount of food they eat relative to body size. The average baby is born with around 200 toxins and carcinogens in their body. By the time kids reach their 2nd year, most have passed the lethal limit for the toxins. By feeding your child organic food, they will have about one-sixth the amount of carcinogens in their blood. Thus you will decrease the chances of illnesses significantly. Therefore, especially for infants and children an organic food diet is incredibly important.

2. You know where it comes from.

Food is considered organic if it comes from a farming system that avoids man made fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics and growth regulators. Instead, most organic farmers rely on basic crop rotation, using animal and plant manures, and hand weeding to grow their products. That benefits us because the foods contain no hydrogenated fats, artificial colors or flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.

3. Avoid GMO’s.

More recently, an increase in production of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) and the lack of labeling of these foods is causing many of us to choose organic. The impact of GMO foods and our health is still being studied, but the results so far do not look good. Rat studies show depressed immune systems, reproductive dysfunction, cancer, allergies, toxicity and more. In one 2005 study, conducted at the Russian Academy of Sciences, a 55% death rate of rat pups born to rats fed a GMO soy diet was discovered, compared to a 9% death rate of rat pups born to rats fed a non-GMO soy diet. Nearly 70% of all processed foods contain GMO ingredients, so choosing organic is the only guarantee that our food is free of GMO’s.

4. Tastes Better.

Yes! Have you ever ate an organic strawberry vs. a conventionally grown strawberry, or even an organic pastured egg vs. a conventional egg? The taste is so different. You will find that organic fruits usually always tastes sweeter and vegetables will taste bolder in flavor. It’s hard to go back to conventional once you have tasted organic. I think this is also true for how organic food looks. Organic foods just look more vibrant and healthy in size, shape and color!

5. Nutritional punch.

Antioxidants are important nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables and have been shown to impart multiple health benefits, including the prevention of many cancers and helps to slow our aging process. Some studies show that organic foods may have more antioxidants compared to commercial varieties. A 2012 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture discovered higher antioxidants, including vitamin C, in organic broccoli compared to conventional.

6. Organic meats or meats produced by local farmers are healthier.

As for organic meats and poultry, to be considered organic, animals cannot be fed animal byproducts (which reduces the risk of mad cow disease) and antibiotics additives that means that organic diary and meat products do not contain these residues. Repeated exposure to low doses of antibiotic residues can disrupt the normal flora of the human gut, reducing the number of healthful bacteria and leaving humans more vulnerable to harmful bacteria and illness, because remember 70-80% of our immunity is in our gut. Also organic fed animals are given more space to move around and access to the outdoors, which help to keep the animals healthy.

7. Help Detox.

Eating organic foods for just five days can rid the body of virtually all pesticide residues. Think you can’t afford it? Look for in-season deals at local farmers’ markets, buy in bulk, buy organic food online and preserve the excess to enjoy during the winter months.

I think the best benefit to eating organic foods is the guilt-free pleasure associated with the whole experience. Isn’t it reassuring to know that, by eating organic, you’re not only helping the environment but you’re feeding your family good, pure food that’s fresh and preservative free?! I think so!

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re trying to reduce pesticides and chemicals in your family’s diet, the best thing is either to buy food labeled “organic,” or ask the grower directly if you are concerned about how they grow their food. Most farmers are more than happy to share with you.

What are some of the benefits your family has received from switching to an organic diet?

Healthy Snacks for Heading Back to School

For most of us parents, the back to school countdown has officially begun. I know I’ve got my own countdown going on. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer time with my kids, but I can’t wait for the familiar daily routine we have when the kids are in school. I do know that with school also comes the after school snacks. If you’re a parent you’ve undoubtedly heard something like this a few… hundred times, “Mom, can I have a snack?”   healthy snacksI hear this every single day right after they walk through the door, after they kick their shoes off and set their backpacks down. It’s like clockwork.  Sometimes I actually have a snack ready for them, other times I’m scrambling around the pantry and refrigerator to figure out what I can make with the options I have.  The one thing I do know: every snack I feed them is a healthy snack.   So what kind of snacks are they?  I will list a bunch of easy ideas for healthy snacks, then maybe you can get creative with your own!

20 Healthy Snacks Ideas:

  1. Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
  2. Trail mix (1c soaked nuts, 1/2 c seeds, 1/2 c chopped dried fruit)
  3. Homemade Granola
  4. Homemade popcorn using organic popcorn seeds and coconut oil.
  5. Smoothies
  6. Veggie sticks with dip (try making your own homemade ranch dip)
  7. Nitrate free meat or deli slices rolled up with cheese sticks
  8. Peaches and Cream with cinnamon: sliced or diced fresh peaches, drizzled with milk of choice and cinnamon
  9. Cherry Chocolate Truffles
  10. Organic Greek yogurt sprinkled with choice of toppings (chopped nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruits)
  11. Frogs on a Log ( the classic celery with nut butters and raisins or dried cranberries on top)
  12. Hard boiled eggs with sea salt
  13. Homemade popsicles 
  14. Leftovers (this is especially true if we made homemade pizza the previous night)
  15. Plantain chips with homemade salsa
  16. Toast  (we are gluten free in my home so sometimes they like gluten free bread toasted , spread with coconut oil or ghee and topped with raw honey or homemade jam
  17. Lettuce boats (yep my daughter likes these for snack…butter lettuce or romaine hearts are good for the “boat”, lay some nitrate free meat in there with a little cheese or an avocado slice)
  18. Homemade Chocolate (and yes, it’s healthy)
  19.  Homemade Fruit roll ups (recipe here)
  20. Cucumber slices with cream cheese

I hope these healthy snack ideas gave you a good back to school start! What are you kids favorite healthy snacks? Heck, what are yours?

Pet Dental Health – Top 5 Tips + Products That Help

As with humans, good dental hygiene in pets is linked directly to good health. While pet dental health has only become a focus of care in the past decade or so, it’s clear that taking care of your pet’s dental needs in a preventive manner is much less costly and far better for your pet’s overall health. With that, let’s look at our top five pet dental health tips and a few products that might make your life as your pet’s dental hygienist a bit easier!pet dental health

It’s often wise to take your pet for a checkup with your vet for a baseline on their tooth and gum health then create a plan for improvement (if needed). Your vet can tell you what to look for in your pet – dental health is partially related for overall health and partly tied to genetics, just like humans. So, get an idea of current status then use these tips to improve your pet’s dental health over time. Our four-legged friends can’t tell us when they have dental problems, so keep an eye out for changes to gum color or tongue, changes in eating habits or appetite. Beyond that, try these tips to keep Fido or Fluffy in great health!

1. Healthy Diet

Clean food is key to good dental health. Be sure to feed your pets clean, organic food appropriate for their age and activity levels. Fresh veggies can be great low calorie treats and add to your pet’s nutritional health. My dog loves raw carrots, apples and cucumbers and they sure make her breath sweet.

2. Clean, fresh water

Make sure you provide your pet with clean, fresh water daily. It’s vital to their overall health. Clean water every day (more often if your dog is like mine and drops her filthy tennis ball in the bowl). If you leave your dog outside in a yard at times, ensure there’s water outside as well. Even in winter, the dry weather can dehydrate your pet quickly.

3. Appropriate chew treats

Treats that your dog will chew on help clean teeth and scrape tartar off at the same time. According to the ASPCA,’ chew toys can satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chomp, while making teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help massage gums and help keep teeth clean by scraping away soft tartar. Toxin-free rawhide, nylon and rubber chew toys are best. Gnawing also reduces your dog’s overall stress level, prevents boredom and provides an appropriate outlet for the natural need to chew. ‘

4. Do A Sniff Test

Your dog’s breath should smell, well, like a dog (and your cat’s like a cat) – but it shouldn’t be so horrible that it makes you faint. A health dog (or cat)’s mouth shouldn’t stink. A strong, foul odor is a sign of gum disease or an infection, both of which can be harmful if left untreated. Your pet’s gums should be pinkish, not white and not red. Check frequently so you know what ‘normal’ is for your pet then you’ll be able to spot changes and consult with your vet, as needed. Dark spots, bumps and other irregularities should be noted and monitors. Some dogs and cats have speckled interiors, so you should learn what ‘normal’ looks like and ask your vet if you see something new, different or concerning.

5. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth…If You Can

Sometimes it’s easier said than done. If you train your dog from a young age to tolerate your finger (and then a toothbrush) in its mouth, you may be able to brush its teeth. If you adopt an older dog who won’t tolerate it, use chews and treats that have a similar effect. My 10 year old Border Collie (adopted at the tender age of 9…) won’t bite when I brush, but some nights it’s a three-ring circus getting to the brushing. I use chews that are intended to clean her teeth and it’s a good compromise – brush sometimes, chew others.

Looking for products to help with pet dental health?

Castor & Pollux Rawhide Chews

Newman’s Own Organic Dental Dog Bone

Ark Naturals – Breath-Less Brushless Chewable Toothpaste

Ark Naturals – Breath-Less Plaque Zapper

Do you have any tips on pet dental health that have helped you and your fur-family?

Stay Hydrated with Flavored Water Recipes

Its summer time and I know most of us are hot. Hey, I’m in the Northwest and we have been having some pretty good summer weather this season. It’s been wonderful, but hot too, and when it’s hot we perspire more, which means we need to replace the liquid lost more frequently.  So what do you do when you get bored of just drinking plain water to stay hydrated?  Well there are many things out there, but just make sure you stay away from things like soda, energy drinks, caffeinated cold drinks etc. Those are all diuretics and will actually dehydrate you even more.  I’m going to give you a few fun flavored water recipes that will not only keep you hydrated but are also fun to make, taste delicious and good for you too. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ingredients you can use!

Fruits and Herb Flavored Water Recipes and Combinations

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart Mason jar (you can use a 2 quart jar or container if wanting to make larger quantity, just double recipe)
  • 1 cup of fresh fruit (always use organic fruit when possible)
  • If using herbs add a sprig of fresh herbs
  • Ice cubes and spring water
  • sweetener to taste (optional): Stevia or raw honey are good options.

Directions for making Watermelon Basil flavored water:

Step 1: Get all your ingredients and supplies ready

flavored water recipes

Step 2: Add fresh herbs to jar and mash with a wooden spoon (I use the handle) this helps release the flavor

flavored water recipes 2

Step 3: Add fruit to jar, and again mash, mix the fruit to release the juice. The more you mash the more flavor it will have.

flavored water recipes 3

Step 4: Fill the Jar with ice cubes then add water to reach top of jar, add sweetener if using. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight for a stronger flavor.

flavored water recipes 4

Step 5: When ready to serve, pour into serving glasses, you might want to strain out the drinks that may contain seeds. This will keep about 3 days in the refrigerator.

flavored water recipes 5

Flavor combinations for flavored water recipes are unlimited really.  Here’s a list of some of my favorites, feel free to play with it and make up your own. This is a time to let your creativity flow!  And remember you don’t have to use herbs, you can use just fruit if you wish.

  • Watermelon Basil (like pictured above)
  • Tropical: pineapple, mango, papaya. You can even pour in a little coconut water for that extra tropical boost and more importantly that will give you some beneficial electrolytes
  • Citrus: lemon, lime, and orange- just need a few slices of each
  • Berry Bliss: blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Cucumber Lemon is a classic flavor combo
  • Strawberry Mint
  • Orange and Lavender-I have not tried this combination yet due to a lavender sensitivity but, this was suggested to me by a few friends of mine. If you try this combo I would love to know how you like it. Make sure you strain this one! I might have to try this one with grated fresh ginger in place of the lavender.

Chocolate Mint Flavored Water Recipe

This recipe is so simple.  This one is my kids favorite… really who doesn’t love chocolate!

Ingredients:

  • Mint leaves (as much or as little as you like, depending on your preference)
  • Chocolate flavored Stevia (5-15 drops to taste or depending on size of jar or water bottle)

Instructions:

Fill any jar you wish with spring water and simply add mint leaves and chocolate stevia. Give it a good shake and enjoy.

I hope these recipes help encourage you to drink more water and to stay hydrated the rest of the summer!

What is your favorite way to drink or flavor your water?

Kitchen Tools – the Essential 7

I was in my kitchen the other day cleaning out and organizing my cupboards, and realized that I have so many kitchen tools that I have barely touched in the last five years.  It’s really amazing how your kitchen changes when you begin a healthy lifestyle. I came across an angel food cake pan, cookie cutters, bread machine and many more kitchen gadgets I haven’t used in years. So what do I use most in my kitchen these days?

Here’s a list of seven of my most favorite kitchen tools, gadgets and items that are definitely essential to me and my healthy lifestyle.

  1. Vitamix (a Blendec will work too): The Vitamix has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve had mine going on four years now and I use it at least 2 times a day!  I make everything with my Vitamix, from nut milks, smoothies, ice-cream, soup, even mayonnaise, and much more! I think it’s my favorite item in my whole house!
  2. Chef Knife: I use my chef’s knife for everything in my kitchen, well all the cutting and chopping, that is. It’s my universal knife. I love it. A chef’s knife is usually 8-10 inches long (I like the 8″) and has a slight triangular shape.  Make sure it’s sharp and good quality.
  3. Nut Milk Bag: If you are like me and make your own nut milks then you probably have a nut milk bag. I really find it’s my favorite way to make milk, just blend up your nuts for a few minutes and pour it in the bag and strain. Super easy to use and quick to clean!
  4. Mason Jars:  If you come to my house, you will see these jars ALL over the place. I use them for everything (e.g. canning, freezing broth, drinking glasses, making kombucha, fermenting veggies, storing homemade lotion, salves and balms, and I even use them to make my tinctures). In my home these are a very essential item.
  5. Bamboo cooking utensils: I ditched the plastic years ago, and replaced all the cooking utensils I could with bamboo. Bamboo is much more natural and eco friendly choice, and much more cost effective I might add. Oh, same goes for the cutting board, make sure it’s bamboo too.
  6. Measuring cups/spoons: I like to eyeball a lot of ingredients, but when you bake it, it gets kind of tricky, so it’s better to take the guess out and be precise.
  7. Salad Spinner: I eat salads daily and I love to wash my lettuce and herbs then throw them in the spinner to dry, it’s quick and easy.

I know I could add a few more to this list, but for my kitchen those are the top essential kitchen tools I use mostly on a daily basis! What are your favorite kitchen tools? Could you narrow your list down to just seven?  Try it, it’s hard!

Organic Salad Recipes & DIY Dressings

Today is all about salad!  Summer time is perfect for salads.  Our gardens and Farmers’ Markets are overflowing with beautiful organic vegetables and one of the best and easiest ways to use those vegetables is to make a organic salad!  You salad-dressing-101can’t go wrong with a salad, plus fresh veggies are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so if you can eat at least one fresh organic salad a day your body will be thanking you!  What makes salad even more fun to make?  Salad dressings!  I don’t know about you, but making salad dressing was always kind of intimidating for me, but not anymore with our little Salad Dressing 101!  This salad dressing cheater is my life saver, making dressings have never been easier.  Just pick 1 option from the first 2 steps and throw in any flavor options you like from the 3rd step and you have a delicious dressing for your organic salad. Feel free to come up with your own!

3 Organic Salad Recipes & DIY Dressings

Quick Bacon Spinach Salad

Salad Ingredients

  • 6 slices of organic bacon (cooked and crumbled)
  • 12 oz of organic fresh spinach (pre-washed)

Salad Dressing 101: Orange Vinaigrette

To prepare:

In a blender, combine the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, add the olive oil in a steady stream until combined. Transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.

To serve, put the spinach in a large bowl. Toss with enough of the vinaigrette to coat the spinach. Sprinkle with the crisp bacon crumbles, toss again, and serve.

Massaged Kale Salad

Salad Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (packed) torn organic kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 radish or small daikon thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 large organic avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 organic cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 organic bell pepper chopped ( I like orange or red for color)
  • 1/2 organic red onion diced
  • 1 small thinly sliced organic carrot (or grated)
  • organic sunflower seeds

Salad Dressing 101:

To prepare:

First whisk the salad dressing ingredients together. Place the kale that has been washed, and torn (no stems), into a big bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the kale and massage the dressing into the kale with your hands until all the leaves are coated sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Set aside and chop your vegetables.  Add chopped veggies to massaged kale and toss.  Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top (optional) and serve!

Butter Peach Pecan salad

Salad Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup organic pecans (roasted and chopped)
  • 6 cups organic butter lettuce torn
  • 1/2 cup organic white cheddar cheese chopped
  • 1 ripe organic peach sliced

Salad Dressing 101:

From step 1 - grapeseed oil (2 tablespoons)

From step 2 – champagne or organic red wine vinegar (1 1/2 tablespoons)

From step 3 – organic dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon, raw honey 1/2 teaspoon

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, pinch of salt and  pepper. Add the butter lettuce, peaches, cheddar, and pecans and toss to coat. And that’s it!

Now these are just a few ideas of some easy organic salad recipes and dressings that you can make. I would love to know what your favorite salads and dressing recipes are!

Remember, use organic ingredients whenever possible!

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