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A Guide to Organic Sweeteners

I’ll admit it, I’ve got a sweet tooth.  I ditched refined sugars many years ago and have since turned to various natural and organic sweeteners to satisfy that craving.Organic Sweeteners

Most of us know that white sugar has no real nutritional value. But more importantly, because white sugar is so refined, it can rob your body of essential nutrients as it is digested. That’s why, as a general rule, it’s better to eat less-processed foods – they are typically more nutritionally complete and do not rob your body of essential nutrients as they’re digested. Some even contribute to your overall health by providing added nutrients.

So, next time you want to create something that’s naturally sweet and good for you too, reach for one of these alternative organic sweeteners. While some are better than others, you can be sure that organic sweeteners are going to be better than regular sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  Experiment and enjoy the new taste sensations you can create, knowing you’re contributing to your health.

11 Favorite Organic Sweeteners

Here is an alphabetical listing of the various natural and organic sweeteners available along with their benefits and how to use them.  You might find a few organic sweeteners you’ve never heard of or ones you’re interested in trying!

Agave Nectar
Agave nectar comes from the agave plant, which grows naturally in the desert southwest and is found abundantly in Mexico. The plant itself is a succulent that looks a bit like a pineapple. The nectar of this plant is obtained by pressing the leaves of the agave plant. Agave nectar, or syrup, is about 50% sweeter than table sugar but has a low glycemic index.  It has come under a lot of scrutiny lately because it is highly processed, and while it technically has a low glycemic index, the reason for that is the primary sugar in agave is fructose, not glucose.  Fructose can be damaging to your liver and heart. The liver processes fructose into triglycerides, or blood fats, which increase the risk of heart disease as well as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It also increases LDL cholesterol, promotes the buildup of fat around organs, increases blood pressure, makes tissues insulin-resistant (a precursor to diabetes), and increases the production of free radicals.  As a liquid sweetener, agave can be useful in certain recipes, however this is one of the organic sweeteners to use caution with.  While we should all try to consume less sweeteners in general, try to consume this one as little as possible.

Barley Malt
Barley malt is unique in this list of organic sweeteners in that is made from sprouted barley. It’s a thick brown syrup that has a taste similar to molasses. It can be used as a substitute for molasses or other organic sweeteners. It’s about half as sweet as table sugar, so you’ll need to adjust amounts to taste. It can be combined with maple syrup in recipes to yield a sweeter result. It contains complex carbohydrates as well as minerals and protein.

Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is made from brown rice and has a slightly butterscotch flavor. It’s about half as sweet as table sugar and can be used in recipes like other sweeteners. It can be combined with honey or maple syrup to yield a sweeter result.

Date Sugar
Date sugar is made from dates and comes in a granulated form. Date sugar is a course, brown granule that can be used instead of table sugar. However, date sugar burns easily, so use caution in recipes where high temperatures or long cooking time (stove top or oven) come into the picture. Date sugar contains complex carbohydrates and is fairly high in folic acid.

Honey
Honey is made by bees, which extract nectar from flowers. The color of honey depends on the plants from which the bees extract nectar – the color can be a light golden color to a rich dark golden brown. It is about 20-60% sweeter than table sugar, so you should adjust your measurements accordingly. Honey contains complex carbohydrates and some proponents believe that consuming honey from your local area may help reduce seasonal allergies, if those allergies are related to local plant pollen.

Maple sugar
Maple sugar is the granulated product made from maple syrup, which comes from the sap of maple trees. Maple sugar is a coarse light brown sugar that has roughly the same sweetness as table sugar. It contains complex carbohydrates as well as calcium and potassium. It can be used in recipes as an equal replacement for sugar.

Maple syrup
Maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees and is a rich, deep golden brown color. It is about as sweet as table sugar and less sweet than honey. It can be used in recipes where sugar is called for and can be combined with other less sweet sweeteners (brown rice syrup, barley malt) for a combined flavor that’s both pleasing and unique. Like maple sugar, it contains complex carbohydrates, calcium and potassium. Maple syrup comes in different grades. Grade A Amber is a light syrup with a mild flavor often used for making maple candy. Grade A Medium Amber has a slightly stronger maple flavor and is most often used as table syrup. Grade A Dark Amber has a stronger maple flavor and a darker color. Grade B, sometimes called cooking syrup, has the strongest maple flavor and some caramel flavor. It is sometimes used as table syrup for it’s distinct (and strong) maple flavor and also works well in cooking. With maple flavor, a B will get you A+ results!

Sucanat
Sucunat (a registered trademarked name) is made from dehydrated fresh cane juice. The process leaves more nutritional components in the product and it contains calcium, potassium and a small amount of iron. It has a taste similar to sugar and molasses. It comes in both syrup and granulated form and can be used in recipes calling for sugar of all kinds.

Stevia
Stevia comes from a South American plant by the same name and is related to the Marigold family. The leaves can be used, but the most common form found on the market today is a fine white powder that looks similar to aspartame or artificial sweeteners. The powder is 250-300 times sweeter than sugar, so small amounts will provide significant sweetness. Stevia has no glycemic value and does not contain carbohydrates, glucose or any form of sugar. Thus, it is safe for diabetics and has no side effects that artificial sweeteners (and aspartame) can have. Stevia has been used for thousands of years by the ancient people of South America and it is widely used in Japan to sweeten soft drinks, ready-made beverages and tea. It can be difficult to use in baking because it does not caramelize or melt like sugar does and it does not make baked goods crispy or gooey. If you want to use it for baking, look for stevia recipes or experiment, but don’t use it as straight substitute for sugar in baking. It’s great in non-baked products that require sweetening. Interestingly, it also has properties that help prevent cavities, so you can get your sweets and help your teeth all at once. One of my favorite ways to use flavored stevia is in beverages – try some rootbeer, cola, or vanilla creme stevia in some club soda and you’ve got a refreshing ‘soda’.

Turbinado sugar
Turbinado sugar is made from the cane plant, as is white table sugar. Turbinado sugar is slightly less processed than table sugar and through a tumbling process has about 2/3 of the molasses removed from it. This yields a light brown sugar that has the same sweetness as table sugar but is slightly less refined. It contains some complex carbohydrates has a slightly better nutritional profile than refined white table sugar.  Of the organic sweeteners in the list it is the most easily substituted sweetener for recipes.

Xylitol
Xylitol, a sweetener made from birch trees, does not require insulin in order to be metabolized so it is a great sugar alternative for diabetics.  It doesn’t cause any increase in blood sugar levels or serum insulin response.  Xylitol has other benefits as well.  It is great for your teeth and gums.  Xylitol creates 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.  It is also beneficial for sinus health; the antibacterial properties in the xylitol are beneficial for sinus infections.  (*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. )

What are your favorite organic sweeteners and how do you like to use them?  Let us know in the comments!

Organic Goji Berries: A Powerful Superfood

With superfoods being all the rage, let’s take a closer look at organic goji berries.  Often praised as the next fountain of youth, organic goji berries look like a shriveled red raisin.  They are both tangy and sweet with a raisin-like texture.organic goji berries

Organic goji berries are also known as wolfberries.  They come from a shrub that is native to China but grows in many parts of the world.  In Asia, goji berries have a reputation for extending life and are eating for many health reasons.  They have been associated with health benefits for diabetes, high blood pressure and age-related eye problems.

Filled with powerful antioxidants, organic goji berries join the list of other berries like acai, blueberry, cranberry and strawberry that have very high antioxidant levels.  The body uses antioxidants to combat damage from free radicals that can injure cells and damage DNA, creating abnormal cells.  Antioxidants can combat the destruction that free radicals cause.

High in Vitamin A and other carotenoids, organic goji berries can protect or even improve your vision.  They also contain the synergistic antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which are beneficial for eye health.

Organic goji berries are a great source of protein and minerals, containing 19 amino acids (including all 8 essential amino acids) as well as zinc, iron, copper, calcium, selenium and phosphorus.

Known as an adapotgen, organic goji berries help strengthen the body wherever it needs it.  They support the adrenal glands and endocrine glands, helping to keep stress feelings under control.

With all of those health benefits, you may be rushing to order some immediately, but what do you do with them once you have them?  Organic goji berries can be eaten dried like raisins in trail mixes, added to smoothies or desserts.  They can also be cooked into baked goods or used in herbal teas. Make sure to buy organic goji berries and not conventional, as the sulfites used on conventional dried fruits can be harmful to your health.

Organic goji berries recipes

Easy Organic Energy Bars

1 cup organic walnuts
1 cup organic almonds
1 cup organic pumpkin seeds
6-8 organic medjool dates
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 Tbsp organic coconut flour
½ cup organic maple syrup
½ cup organic cacao nibs
1 cup organic goji berries

Preheat oven to 350F.  Process in a food processor the walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds..  Add the dates and pulse a few times to combine but leave some texture.  Place the mixture in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well to combine ingredients.  Spread mixure into an 8×8 baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes, cut into squares and serve or store.  These freeze well for handy snacks.

Super Immunity Tea

2 cups filtered water
2 tsp fresh grated ginger root
1/2 lemon, sliced into thin slices
6 whole cloves
3 orange peels
1 Tbsp raw honey
Handful goji berries

Bring water to a boil then turn heat to low and add the  ginger, cloves, orange peels and lemon.  Steep for 10 minutes. Strain into tea cup and stir in honey and goji berries.  Enjoy.

Superfood Trail Mix

½ cup raw almonds
½ cup raw walnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup organic goji berries
¼ cup coconut flakes
¼ cup cacao nibs
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and store in an airtight container.

Chocolate-Banana-Goji Smoothie

2 frozen bananas, peeled
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/3 cup dried Goji berries
2 cups (or large handfuls) of fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
6 ounces of filtered water

Start by adding the liquid to your blender, then add the fruit, then the spinach. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.  If you do not have a high-speed blender, soak the goji berries for 10 minutes before adding them to your blender.

ABC’s of Organic Jam + Recipes

A – About Organic Jam, Jelly & Fruit Spreadorganic jam

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between a jam, jelly, fruit spread, marmalade, conserve, preserve and fruit butter, this guide should make it as clear as jelly.
Jam: A soft, smooth puree of crushed or chopped fruit cooked down with sugar. Jam must contain at least 55 percent sugar and 45 percent fruit.
Jelly: Clear and jelled, this is just the fruit juice and sugar with a jelling agent.  Jelly has no seeds or chunks of fruit. Jelly must contain at least 65 percent water soluble solids (sugar) and must be made with fruit juices or concentrates.
Preserve: Chopped or whole fruits cooked with sugar in a way that allows a syrupy base to hold suspended fruit chunks within it. must contain at least 55 percent sugar and 45 percent fruit.
Conserve: A more thickly stewed preserve, often made with more than one fruit.
Fruit Spread: This is like a jam but instead of sugar, alternative sweeteners or fruit juice concentrates are used.
Fruit Butter: A spread of slowly cooked fruit puree with a smooth, soft consistency.
Marmalade: A fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water.

B – Best Brands of Organic Jam, Jelly & Fruit Spread

Bionaturae Organic Fruit Spread: These organic fruit spreads are produced using hand-harvested heirloom varieties of fruit from select regions of Italy. The term “heirloom” describes a variety of fruit, flower or vegetable that has been grown in a certain region for centuries without any hybridization. The flavor of Italian heirloom fruit is sweet, intense and true. It speaks to the pride of the farmers who produce the fruits, and cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world.
Cadia Organic Preserves: Made with fresh organic fruits at the peak of ripeness, these organic preserves are great on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, muffins, scones or in yogurt.
Colorado Mountain Jam: These organic jams are made with fruit from organic orchards in Colorado.  A small family operation, their organic jam is award-winning and has intense flavor in unique varieties.
Crofter’s Organic Fruit Spread:  These organic fruit spreads come in kid-friendly flavors and adult varieties as well.  From the classing grape and strawbery to more exotic blood orange and pomegranate, Crofter’s offers a great taste at a great value.  Try their ‘Just Fruit’ varieties for organic jam without any added sugar.
Eden Organic Fruit Butter: Slowly simmered, Eden’s organic apple butter and organic cherry butter bring the flavor of a home cooked apple pie and cherry pie to an easy to use spread.  Great on toast, on muffins, crackers or right from the spoon.
Mediterranean Organic Preserves: Hand made in small batches on a 4th generation Italian family farm, and grown under the Mediterranean sun, these organic preserves are artisan crafted and are packed with fruit.

C – Cooking with Organic Jam, Jelly & Fruit Spread

Aside from the usual PB&J, there’s a whole lot you can do with organic jam, jelly and fruit spread, from sweet desserts to savory dinners, to delicious breakfasts.  Here are a few recipes using organic jam that you can try:

Jam Thumbprint Cookies
A sweet treat that kids and adults alike will love.
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 large egg
3 ¼ cups organic all-purpose flour
¾ cup organic jam (any flavor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg, and beat until thoroughly combined. With mixer on low, add flour, and mix just until incorporated. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons each). Place on baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart. Moisten thumb with water, and gently press the center of each ball, making an indentation about 1/2 inch wide and inch deep. Heat jam on the stove until liquefied and spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Savory Apricot Mustard Sauce
This works really well as a sauce for grilled chicken or pork
½ cup apricot preserves
2 Tbsp organic spicy brown mustard
1 ½ tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp grated ginger
Mix together and use as a dipping sauce or as a marinated for chicken, fish, or pork.

Jam Muffins
These are a great low fat alternative to jelly donuts
¼ cup organic jam, preserve or fruit spread
1 ½ cups organic all-purpose flour
½ cup organic whole wheat flour
½ cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup organic sunflower/safflower oil
1 egg
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
organic powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Grease the bottoms of 12 standard muffin cups. Whisk the jam in a small bowl until smooth and set it aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, oil, egg, and vanilla extract until blended. Stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients just until the batter is blended. Fill the muffin cups halfway with batter and use a spoon to make a shallow well in the center of each. Fill each well with a rounded teaspoon of jam and then cover the jam with more batter. Bake the muffins for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean (there may be jam on it). Let the muffins cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing them. Dust the tops with powdered sugar. Makes 1 dozen.

September Specials at shopOrganic

Each month shopOrganic offers a different selection of sale items so that you can save a little money on the path of making better choices.  These specials also give you an opportunity to try some new products that you might have overlooked before. We’ve highlighted some of these great products below. Be sure to head up to shopOrganic.com’s Sale section to see all of the September specials at shopOrganic.

September Specials at shopOrganic

479 Degrees Organic Gourmet Popcornseptember specials at shopOrganic
All flavors 10% Off

Try this premium organic gourmet popcorn made in small batches in San Francisco using only the finest ingredients.  Enjoy both savory flavors like Creamery Butter or Black Truffle & White Cheddar.  Try sweet flavors like Sea Salt & Caramel or Toasted Coconut & Caramel.  Click HERE to try them now.

 

 

Andalou NaturalsSeptember Specials at shopOrganic
Select skin care products 10% Off

Andalou Naturals is the first body care company to obtain Non-GMO Verified certification.  Andalou infuses the best of nature and knowledge into mindful and effective products that are good for people and the planet.  Their products are made with fruit stem cells which renews skin at the cellular level, blending nature and knowledge for visible  results. Click HERE to try them now.

 

Drew’s Organic Salad DressingSeptember Specials at shopOrganic
All varieties 10% Off

Turn your ordinary salads into something extraordinary with Drew’s organic salad dressings.  Drew’s takes your favorite classic dressings like French, Ranch and Caesar to the next level with organic ingredients.  Upgrade your salads with Drew’s organic salad dressings.  Click HERE to try them now.

 

 

NourishSeptember Specials at shopOrganic
Organic Body Care 10% Off

Nourish, a line of USDA Certified Organic body care, will delight your senses with their delicately scented skin and body care products.  Certified organic deodorant, body wash, lotion, body butter, body polish and hand wash in scents like Vanilla Almond, Fresh Fig, Lavender Mint, Wild Berries, or if you’re scent sensitive, Unscented.  Click HERE to try them now.

 

 

Lotus FoodsSeptember Specials at shopOrganic
Specialty Organic Rice 10% Off

From the tender pale green Jade Pearl Rice to dark and hearty Forbidden Rice, to mineral-rich Volcano Rice – make your side dishes extraordinary with Lotus Foods organic specialty rices.  Try using Forbidden Rice or the Jade Pearl rice in a delicious rice pudding using coconut milk for extra richness and flavor.  Click HERE to try them now.

 

 

OthenticSeptember Specials at shopOrganic
Organic Jarred Vegetables 10% Off  

Imported from Poland and made with simple old world ingredients, Othentic’s jarred vegetable salads and pickles will leave your taste buds tickled with great flavors.  The pickled baby beets are so tender and sweet, the spicy vegetable salad is tangy with a kick, the dill pickles have just the right amount of sour and crunch; try them all!    Click HERE to try them now.

 

 

Organic IndiaSeptember Specials at shopOrganic
Organic Tulsi Tea 10% off 
In India, the herb Tulsi, also called holy basil, has been widely known for its health promoting and medicinal value for thousands of years. Commonly called sacred or holy basil, it is a principal herb of Ayurveda, the ancient traditional holistic health system of India. Holy basil is known as “The Incomparable One”, “The Mother Medicine of Nature”, and “The Queen of Herbs”.  Try them all HERE!

 

Aura CaciaSeptember Specials at shopOrganic
Organic Facial Oils & Chakra Blends 10% off  

Creating balance between mind, body and spirit isn’t always easy. It takes conscious effort, focus and practice. Aura Cacia created seven chakra balancing essential oil blends to help you restore balance to your everyday life.   Use them in your meditation practice during yoga, include them in a self massage practice, use them in conjunction with chakra sound therapy, chakra color therapy, or simply use them as a fragrance to enjoy throughout the day. Click HERE to try them now.

 

September Specials at shopOrganicAura Cacia Organic Skin Care Oils are gathered from across the globe to bring you the best quality possible.  From Moroccan Argan oil to Senegalese Baobab oil, to Kenyan Macadamia Oil, Chilean Rosehip Oil and Vietnamese Tamanu Oil, these skin care oils are extremely beneficial for the skin.  Use them on their own or combine with some Aura Cacia Essential oils to create your own blend to nourish your skin.   Click HERE to try them now.

Take advantage of these great sale items and more throughout September at shopOrganic.

30 Amazing Household Uses for Organic Cornstarch

You may think of cornstarch as a thickener, and it is – it’s great for makings sauces and gravies but did you know it has a myriad of household uses also?  Check out this list of unusual uses for organic cornstarch and be prepared to be amazed.  Not only is organic cornstarch economical and organic cornstarchversatile, it is very eco friendly, just make sure you’re buying organic cornstarch  so you’re not getting GMO corn.

Kitchen Uses For Organic Cornstarch

DIY Baking Powder: If you run out of baking powder, all you have to do is mix 1 part of organic cornstarch with 1 part of baking soda and 2 parts cream of tartar and you’ve got baking powder.

Remove grease spots from walls: It’s happened to all of us, the splattering of grease in the kitchen.  To remove grease spots that may splatter onto the wall, sprinkle organic cornstarch onto a clot and rub the grease spot gently until it is gone.

Polish silver: Make a paste by mixing organic cornstarch with water. Use a damp cloth to apply this to your silverware. Let it dry, then rub it off with a clean soft cloth to make it shine like new.

Unstick marshmallows: If you’ve ever bought a bag of marshmallows and they’re all stuck together inside the bag?  Add some organic cornstarch to the bag and shake it up.  The cornstarch absorbs moisture and the marshmallows will separate.

Create a Perfect Fluffy Omelet: Just add ¼ teaspoon of organic cornstarch per egg, beat well and cook as usual for the fluffiest omelet ever.

 

Laundry Uses For Organic Cornstarch

Lift a scorch mark from fabric: If you’ve ever left the iron in one spot a little too long, you know the feeling of seeing that scorch mark and knowing you’ve ruined your clothes.  Save that clothing by wetting the scorched area and covering it with cornstarch.  Let it dry then brush it away and the scorch mark will be gone.

Remove blood stains: Whether it’s on clothing or table linens, you can remove or minimize a bloodstain with this method. Make a paste of cornstarch mixed with cold water. Cover the spot with the cornstarch paste and rub it gently into the fabric. Put the cloth in a sunny area to dry. Once it is dry, brush off the remaining residue. If the stain is not completely gone, repeat the process.

Remove grease on fabric: Blot as much grease as you can with a cloth and sprinkle cornstarch over the stain. Let it sit for ten minutes, and then shake it off. To break up the grease, dab the stain with white vinegar. Launder as normal.

Remove ink stains on fabric:  Mix a paste of cornstarch and milk and apply it to the stain.  Let it dry, brush off the residue, and launder as usual.

 

Bath & Body Uses For Organic Cornstarch

Dry shampoo: Even if you’re not ‘no-poo’ (no shampoo) all the time, if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to shower, sprinkle some organic cornstarch on your scalp.  Let it sit for a few minutes before brushing out.  The cornstarch will absorb the oil and make your hair look fresh.  This method also works great for pets.

Sweat & Odor Remover: To absorb sweat, sprinkle on some organic cornstarch. This will also help absorb body odor.

Sunburn, Bug Bites & Poison Ivy Relief: Make a paste of organic cornstarch and water and apply to the affected area.  Let the paste dry and then remove with lukewarm water.

Facial Mask:  Mix ¼ cup organic cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons milk and 1 egg white.  Mix until smooth and apply to face.  Let dry for 15 to 20 minutes then rinse off.

 

Household Uses For Organic Cornstarch

Remove ink stains from carpet: Mix milk with cornstarch to make a paste. Apply the paste to the ink stain. Allow to dry on the carpet for a few hours, and then brush off the dried residue and vacuum.

Give carpets a fresh scent: Sprinkle a little cornstarch on your carpeting. Wait about half an hour and then vacuum normally.

Soak up furniture polish residue: If you wind up with polish left on the surface of your furniture, sprinkle cornstarch lightly on furniture then wipe up the polish and cornstarch and buff the surface.

Make windows shine: Create your own window cleaning solution by mixing 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/2 cup ammonia and 1/2 cup white vinegar in a bucket containing 3-4 quarts (3-4 liters) warm water. Mix well and put the solution in a trigger spray bottle. Spray on the windows, then wipe with a warm-water rinse. Rub with a dry paper towel or lint-free cloth.

Get rid of roaches: Make a mixture that is 50 percent plaster of Paris and 50 percent cornstarch. Spread this in the crevices where roaches appear.

Remove stains on leather furniture. To get rid of oil stains from leather simply apply cornstarch to the oil spot. Leave the cornstarch in place overnight to give the cornstarch time to soak up the grease. The next day use a cloth to brush off all of the corn starch. You may need to repeat to remove the stain.

Save your books You can use cornstarch to help you prevent and kill mildew in your books.  Sprinkle cornstarch all throughout the book to absorb the moisture of the damp pages. Let the cornstarch sit several hours or overnight. Then take your books outside and brush the pages clean

Say no to squeaky floorboards: Sprinkle cornstarch in between the seams where the boards are rubbing together and the squeak will stop.

 

Organic Cornstarch Solutions for Babies & Kids

Untangle knots: Have your kids ever gotten their shoes tied in such tight knots that you can’t get them undone? Sprinkle the knot with a little cornstarch. It will then be easy to work the segments apart.

Make your own paste: The next time kids want to go wild with construction paper and paste, save money by making the paste yourself. Mix 3 teaspoons organic cornstarch with 4 teaspoons cold water. Stir to create a paste consistency. Use with fingers, wooden tongue depressor or popsicle stick.

Make finger paints: Mix together 1/4 cup organic cornstarch and 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until the mixture becomes thick. Pour your into several small containers and add food coloring to each container and you’ve got finger paints.

Clean stuffed animals To clean a stuffed toy, place the stuffed animal into a bag. Sprinkle cornstarch into the bag, close it tightly, and shake. Take the toys out of the back and brush them clean.

Make face paints: Mix two parts of organic cornstarch with one part of white vegetable shortening to make a non-toxic grease paint. Make different color variations by just adding a few drops of food coloring mix until you get the color you want.

Clean sticky playing cards:  Place the cards into a paper bag along with a 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Shake the bag. Remove cards and wipe them down and the sticky will be gone.

Un-stink shoes: If you’ve got active kids, you know how stinky their shoes can get.  Sprinkle some cornstarch inside the shoes to absorb perspiration and odor.

Diaper Rash Relief: To protect your baby from diaper rash, add ¼ cup of organic cornstarch to their bath water. To sooth diaper rash, powder their bottoms with cornstarch after each diaper change.

Remove grease stains from zinc oxide ointment: Use a spoon to scrape off as much of the ointment as you can. Sprinkle the stained area with cornstarch and let it sit for an hour or so. Brush the starch away and treat the stain with a grease-cutting dish soap. Wash in cool water.

Do you have any of your own tips and tricks for using organic cornstarch? Share below in the comments!

Sea Salt for Beautiful Skin and Hair – 3 DIY Recipes

Aside from being the most common seasoning, sea salt is said to have literally thousands of uses.  Sea salt can be used for cleaning, insect repellent, odor removing and a whole lot more.  One of my favorite ways to use sea salt is in homemade beauty treatments like exfoliating salt scrubs, facials, and even hair spray.sea salt

 Sea Salt Facial

Since sea salt is made by the evaporation of sea water, it contains many trace minerals which have  health benefits for the skin. It’s easy to gently exfoliate and stimulate your face a sea salt facial scrub.  Simply mix equal parts fine grind sea salt and olive oil with a few drops of essential oils.  Use rosemary essential oil for dry skin, lavender for acne, clary sage to reduce signs of aging.  You can also use any of Aura Cacia’s Facial Care Serums like baobab, argan or rosehip.  Blend together and gently massage the face and throat using upward strokes.  Let the mixture sit on your face for up to five minutes then rinse.  The sea salt will give your face an extraordinary glow.

Sea Salt Body Scrub

Sea salt is wonderful for removing dead skin cells. Since the coarser varieties are quite abrasive, it is a great choice for scrubbing dead skin from rough spots like elbows and feet.  It is also good for removing impurities and for helping flush toxins form the body.  The increased blood flow to the skin after using a salt scrub helps bring circulation to the skin, thus aiding the elimination of toxins.  Sea salt has also been shown to be therapeutic for muscle pain due to its high magnesium content. Magnesium functions as an electrolyte when it is consumed and this can help reduce muscle spasms and cramps.

To make your own sea salt body scrub you’ll first choose a base.  This will be a skin-friendly oil like almond, jojoba, avocado or apricot kernel.   Then choose a scent.  Using essential oils is a great way to customize your scrub.  For relaxing effects, try lavender, sandalwood, jasmine or lemon balm.  For uplifting effects, try bergamot, grapefruit, sweet orange or clary sage.  You can also create a body scrub with therapeutic effects.  Eucalyptus will help clear congestion and ease headaches, rosemary is great for arthritis and muscle aches, peppermint is a great decongestant.

Mix two parts salt to one part base oil.  Add just a few drops of essential oil to the mixture and mix well.  Use all over your body for healthy skin, healthy body, and healthy mood.

Sea Salt Hair Spray

I’ve always loved the way my hair looks after a day at the beach with that sea salty air blowing through it all day.  I even went so far as to buy a commercial hair spray that’s supposed to mimic that look using sea salt.  Since I don’t like to use unnatural chemicals in my hair, I sought out ways to re-create that look using natural ingredients and I found a few DIY recipes, tried them, and came up with a blend that I love.

All you need is an empty spray bottle, sea salt, coconut oil, and aloe vera gel.  Fill your spray bottle with 1 cup of water, preferably filtered or distilled.  Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon coconut oil.  Since you can use this spray any time of year, you may be making this in the wintertime and coconut oil will solidify in colder temperatures so you may want to substitute almond oil in the winter.  Add a teaspoon of aloe vera gel, place the top on the spray bottle and shake to combine everything.  Spray on damp (but not wet) hair and scrunch to create beach waves!

Do you have any favorite body care uses for sea salt? Please share them in the comments!

Fishy Food Cars Travel Cross Country to Promote GMO Labeling

Fishy Food Cars Travel Cross Country to Promote GMO Labeling (via Organic Connections Magazine)

On August 5, seventeen activists will set out on a cross-country 3300-mile journey from the nation’s capital to Seattle, Washington for what is being called the “Are We Eating Fishy Food Tour.” The tour features five mutant GMO art cars fitted…

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Organic Beverages: 2 Recipes For Electrolyte Replacement

When you think of electrolyte replacement drinks, those brightly colored sugary drinks quickly come to mind.  What many people don’t realize is that electrolyte replacement is very simple and you can make your own organic beverages for electrolyte replacement right at home.  No need for artificial flavors, artificial colors or excessively sweetened beverages – all you need is water, salt, and citrus.  Making your own electrolyte replacement drink at home saves money and ensures you’re getting the most nutrition.organic beverages

Let’s look at the ingredients in these simple organic beverages.  First we have water. Make sure you’re using pure water – distilled, filtered, or simply boiled.  Next up is the salt.  Electrolytes are salts that keep our body, muscles, and nerves functioning properly.   While technically any salt will do, I’d recommend using a high quality sea salt like himalayan pink salt or a celtic sea salt.  If the salt grains are large, grind them in a mortar and pestle before adding them to the water.  The last ingredient in this organic beverage is citrus.  Oranges are especially good (so that was why we always had orange slices at our childhood soccer games!) but you can also use grapefruit, lemon, lime or any other citrus that you like.

2 Organic Beverages Recipes for Electrolyte Replacement

SweetTart Electrolyte Booster

1/8 cup lemon juice

1/8 cup lime juice

1/2 tsp salt

1 squeezed orange

2 cups water

Mix and enjoy!

Quick and Easy Electrolyte Replacement

1 lemon, halved and squeezed into a glass

1 orange, halved and squeezed into a glass

1 spoonful of honey, stirred in

a few shakes of salt

Fill the rest of the glass with water, stir to combine the honey, and drink.

If you want to keep some organic beverages on hand to do the trick instead of making your own, try organic coconut water (or coconut water powder).

 

How to Make Your Own Organic Condiments Quickly & Easily

When I look at the ingredients lists for most condiments, even the organic condiments, I’m always just a little bit disappointed to find ingredients that I wouldn’t typically eat.  For instance, jarred organic mayonnaise will always contain soybean oil or canola oil.  Even though I know they’re non-gmo, since they’re organic, I still would rather use a different type of oil.  The solution? Make my own!  The same goes for ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, even ranch dressing.  So let’s take a look at just how easy it is to make them!organic condiments

DIY Organic Condiments

Organic Mayonnaise Recipe

The key to making homemade mayonnaise is to start with your ingredients at room temperature, so a few hours before you’re going to be making it, let your ingredients sit out on your counter.  This is one the organic condiments that once you taste it fresh, you may never be able to eat it jarred again.

Ingredients:
1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup plus 1 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients aside from 1 cup of olive oil in a blender or food processor.   Blend until well mixed – about 20 to 30 seconds.  Slowly drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while it is mixing.  This needs to be done very slowly so make sure that you’re pouring only the thinnest stream of olive oil into the mixture.  Once it is all combined it should look like the creamiest version of a mayo you’ve ever seen.  Place the mixture in a jar and refrigerate.  It should last for about a week longer than the expiration date on your egg.

Note: The olive oil you use will add flavor to your mayo.  If you’re using a strong tasting olive oil like Bariani, you’re going to have a strong tasting mayo, so choose an olive oil that has a light flavor if you don’t want it to overpower your mayo.  You can also use sunflower or safflower oil instead of olive oil.

Organic Ketchup Recipe

The kid-friendliest of the organic condiments, ketchup is a favorite of just about every kid I know.  Considering how much sugar is in commercially prepared ketchup, why not try making your own?

Ingredients:
7 oz tomato paste
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons sweetener of choice (try coconut sugar, coconut nectar, date sugar, or honey)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup filtered water

Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together completely.

Organic Mustard Recipe

Mustard is one of those organic condiments that can be made in a myriad of ways for everyone’s taste – from dijon to spicy brown to grainy mustards or super smooth spicy mustards, everyone has their favorite.  My favorite is the really grainy type so here’s a recipe to make your own at home.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup dry mustard powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 Tablespoons cold water

Place mustard seeds, wine vinegar, and wine in a small bowl and let stand for 3 hours. Empty the bowl into a blender or food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse until the seeds are broken. Add the remaining ingredients and process for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the container process for another 30 seconds. Place in a well-sealed container and refrigerate.  Allow to sit overnight before using.  Mustard mellow with age so if it is too strong at first, let it sit for a couple of weeks.

Organic Ranch Dressing Recipe

Its not that far of a stretch to group this salad dressing in with the rest of the organic condiments.  While technically a salad dressing and not a condiment, since so many kids will eat any veggie if its dipped in ranch, I’m treating it like one of the other organic condiments.  We don’t do a lot of dairy in my household so this is a recipe for a raw vegan ranch dressing that can stand up to the best traditional ranch dressing recipes.

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours and drained
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 pitted dates soaked in 1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup of the reserved date soak water
2 large cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons red onion
1 Tablespoon Herbamare
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped finely
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped finely
1 Tablespoon scallions (use the green part only), chopped finely

Add all ingredients except the fresh herbs to a blender and process until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and stir in the fresh herbs.  If you’re using this as a dip, store it in an airtight container and let it chill for 2 hours before serving.  If you’re using this as a dressing, add 1/2 to 1 cup of water and stir well before storing.

Are there other organic condiments you’d like to learn how to make?  Let us know in the comments and we’ll post recipes in a future blog!

Organic Oatmeal – More Than A Breakfast. 25 Creative Uses For Oats.

A bowl of organic oatmeal is a hearty and healthy breakfast, but did you know how versatile oatmeal really is?  Not only is it a high fiber, delicious breakfast food, it can be used for beauty care, kitchen cleanup, kids’ activities, and more.   Let’s take a look at 25 uses for organic oatmeal:organic oatmeal

Skin Care with Organic Oatmeal:

1. Acne: Spread cooked oatmeal (after it has cooled) over your problem skin. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse. Oatmeal can absorb and remove oil and bacteria from skin, and exfoliates dead skin cells, all of which can combat acne. Try adding honey and tea tree oil for more acne fighting power.

2. Itch relief:  If you’re suffering from the itchiness of poison ivy, chicken pox or even a sunburn, try an oatmeal bath.  As a kid who got a lot of poison ivy, I can vouch for this one.  Place oats in an an old piece of clean pantyhose and knot it around the faucet in the bathtub so that it hangs in the water.  Draw a warm bath, allowing the water to run through the oats.  Soak in the tub and use the pouch of oats to rub your itchy skin.

3. General skin problems: Its easy to make your own oatmeal soap or scrub for any skin problems.  To make a scrub, grind 2 Tbsp of oatmeal in a blender then add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and enough water to make a paste.  Spread on dry skin then rinse off after 10 minutes.  Oatmeal soap can be made using the bits of soap left in your shower.  Melt them down with a small amount of organic oatmeal and pour into a mold.  Cool and you have your own fresh organic oatmeal soap.

4. Rejuvenating face mask: Mix 1/2 cup hot water with 1/3 cup oatmeal for two or three minutes, then add two tablespoons each plain yogurt and honey, plus one egg white. Spread thinly on the face, then relax for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water.

5. Stress releif: You don’t need itchy skin to have an excuse for an oatmeal bath. Try adding a cup of milk, two cups of oats (in a pouch) and a tablespoon of honey to the bath to moisturize the skin and relax the body. You could also use scented oils in a ground oatmeal pouch, as described in the itch remedy above.

6. Go ‘No-Poo’: If you’re not familiar with the trend, many people are moving away from using shampoo and are using other methods to cleanse the hair and scalp.  Grind oatmeal into a powder and mix with an equal amount of baking soda. Rub into the scalp and let it soak up oils and odors, then brush out.

7. Itchy dogs: Dogs also suffer from dry skin and hair problems. Try mixing equal parts oats and warm water and rubbing the mixture thinly over a dog’s dry, itchy spots. Wrap in aluminum foil and keep the dog still for 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and repeat regularly until your dog is scratching less.

8. Pore Refiner: Mix 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup hot water, and 1/4 cup honey in a food processor. Let cool, and apply. Wait 10 minutes, and rinse.

9. DIY Scrub: To smooth out rough skin your body or face, make your own scrub out of oatmeal by grinding up two or three tablespoons of oats in a food processor. Add one or two teaspoons of baking soda and enough water to turn it into a paste. Smooth the scrub onto the skin and rub gently in a circular motion. After about 20 minutes, rinse off the paste with cool water.

Organic Oatmeal For Your Health:

10. Weight Loss: Oats have more fiber than wheat and other flours so cooking with oat flour offers a more full feeling with fewer calories.

11. Fuel Your Exercise: Studies have shown that oats can help fuel muscles during a workout. Eat oatmeal about three hours before your next endurance run or bike ride and enjoy the benefits of this high fiber complex carbohydrate.

12. Lower Cholesterol: The soluble fiber in oats lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Oatmeal may curb small LDL cholesterol particles, which may be riskier than bigger LDL particles.

13. Reduce Inflammation: Lab tests show that antioxidants in oats have anti-inflammatory properties. It would be impractical to try to eat the amount of oatmeal needed to get the antioxidant levels used in those tests, but smaller doses over time may have benefits.

14. Cardiovascular Benefits: Since organic oatmeal is high in fiber it offers many cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure. Postmenopausal women, who tend to develop high blood pressure, should eat six servings of oatmeal on a weekly basis. Studies show that men can also reduce their risk of heart failure if they eat one bowl of oatmeal, per day.

15. Stable Blood Sugar: A high fiber diet that includes organic oatmeal for breakfast will stabilize blood sugar levels and won’t cause the mid-morning slumps, which comes from eating a lot of sugar and carbs in the morning.

16. Immune System Booster: Oatmeal contains a type of fiber called beta-gluten fiber. This fiber protects against heart disease and also supports the immune system, helping the immune cells seek out and repair areas of the body that may be fighting a bacterial infection.

17. Prevent Diabetes: Oatmeal isn’t just a good source of fiber, it is also a good source of magnesium, which regulates the body’s insulin and glucose levels. It’s been shown that, over the course of eight years, women who eat a diet rich in whole grains like oatmeal can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by up to 31 percent.

18. Lower Risk of Breast Cancer: A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggested that premenopausal women can reduce their risk of breast cancer up to 41 percent by focusing on diets rich in oatmeal and other whole grains.

Household Uses For Organic Oatmeal:

19. Odor Absorber: Oatmeal can absorb odors in your refrigerator or bathroom.  Just leave a container of oats open in your fridge or any other smelly spot.

20. Kid’s Toy: Make your own substitute for Play-Doh with organic oatmeal. Just mix two parts oatmeal with one part flour and one part water.  Add some natural food coloring if you’d like.  Once mixed, it can be molded into virtually any shape and can be painted once dry.

21. Soak Up Oil Spills: Cover the oil puddle with uncooked oatmeal and let it sit for 5 minutes before sweeping it up.

Organic Oatmeal In Your Kitchen:

22. Breadcrumb Substitute: Process oats in a food processor and use in place of breadcrumbs in meatballs, meatloaf and veggie burgers.

23. All Purpose Flour Substitute:  Grind oats in a food processor to create oat flour and use as a healthier substitute for traditional flour in cookies, pancakes, breads and more.  You’ll get twice the fiber with less calories.

24. Homemade Granola:  Nothing is better than fresh warm granola right out of the oven.  Control the ingredients in your granola by making it at home.  Here’s a great recipe for a basic granola that you can add to with whatever dried fruits and nuts you like: http://www.chow.com/recipes/30062-basic-granola

25. Thickener:  Soups, stews and dips can be thickened with some ground oats or oat flour.

Now that you’ve seen the whole list, what are some of your favorite ways to use organic oatmeal?

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