I don’t know about you, but up until a few years ago all I really knew about aloe vera was that it was excellent for soothing sunburns. I had no idea that it was packed with so many other powerful benefits. Some people might even tell you that aloe vera is right up there with garlic when it comes to medicinal healing!
The aloe vera plant is a cactus like plant and is part of the Lily family (Liliaceae) which is the same family that garlic belongs too. When an aloe leaf is broken open it secretes a clear gel-like substance.
Aloe vera has both internal and external uses for our body and it contains over 200 active elements including: minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, polysaccharides, amino acids, enzymes and fatty-acids. It’s been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
24 Amazing Health Benefits of Aloe Vera:
1. Aloe vera is an alkaline forming food. Disease cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. Eating this helps alkalinize the body.
2. Anti-microbial, Germicidal, Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-viral, Disinfectant and Anti-biotic. WOW, if that doesn’t pack a punch on external and internal infections I don’t know what else can!
3. Reduces high blood pressure natural, by treating the cause and not just the symptoms.
4. Speeds up recovery in injuries.
5. Excellent for colon health, it can stop colon cancer in its tracks.
6. Helps treat and prevent Candida infections and other fungal infections
7. Can stop the growth of cancerous tumors
8. Helps slow the aging process
9. Can help lessen visibility of stretch marks
10. Helps aid in digestion (can aid in healing ulcers, also some say it can be a good laxative while others say it helps with regularity)
11. Helps support normal muscle and joint functions
12. Because of the fatty-acids it helps increase absorption of other supplements when taking with aloe vera gel or juice.
13. Great for dental health, can help heal periodontal disease and sooth sore gums
14. Boosts circulation in the body like numb hands and feet
15. It is a natural food preservative
16. Increases blood flow to the brain
17. Prevents kidney stones
18. Helps balance electrolytes which are important for physical endurance and sports, so get rid of that Gatorade and get some aloe!
19. Accelerates healing in wounds, burns and helps soothes arthritis pain
20. Protects body against oxidative stress (free radicals)
21. Very hydrating for our skin, which why it makes it excellent for skin repair and sun damage
22. Aloe vera contains 2 hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins which help stimulate the growth of cells which makes aloe a wonderful choice for healing acne.
23. Lower high cholesterol
24. Can be packed in wounds to help kill the bacteria and protect wounds from infection.
I hope now you will not just think of aloe vera as your topical choice for treating sunburns but as a whole body healer!
Some Notes About Aloe Vera:
- If you have never used aloe vera as a supplement or internally it’s best to start small then gradually increase over time.
- Remember aloe vera is incredibly medicinal plant, usually less is more when taken internally. It may cause adverse interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medications. Always consult your health care advisor with any questions you might have.
Where can you buy Aloe Vera?
Actually you might be able to find it right at your local grocery store. I was surprised to find some aloe leaves in our local grocery market (and it wasn’t even a health food store) If you buy your aloe leaves. Filet your leaves carefully and scoop out the gel.
You can find a wide variety of organic aloe vera gels and juices online.
What is ghee? Ghee is a staple ingredient in Indian cooking. You might have also heard it called butter oil or clarified butter. Many people with dairy or butter sensitivities often can still have ghee because in the cooking process (which I’ll show you below) the milk solids are removed (lactose and protein, which people can be sensitive and allergic too).
I started making ghee in my own home a few months ago when my youngest daughter (23 months) started developing a little rot on her teeth. When I took her to see our integrative dentist he wasn’t worried about her teeth in the slightest, but gave me some really good tips to help repair her teeth. One of the books in his office was Weston A. Price’s book titled, “Nutritional and Physical Degeneration”. In his book butter oil (ghee) is a key ingredient to re-enameling teeth because it contains certain fats and activating substances that help bond the nutrients in the body to the bones. Ghee also has anti-carcinogen effects that help protect against tooth decay. Who would have known, right?! It’s been two months of eating ghee and my daughter’s teeth are slowly on the mend. Not only that, ghee is delicious and I cannot imagine eating “Regular” butter ever again.
Here are a Few Other Added Benefits of Ghee:
- Ghee has a very high smoke point which makes it excellent for cooking, stir-fries and also frying.
- It’s excellent on anything you would use on or with regular butter, spread on your toast (how my daughter likes it) in all your baking recipes.
- It has a long shelf life. No need to refrigerate it. You can keep it in your pantry for up to 3-6 months…. but I can’t imagine how… the longest I have mine on my counter is 2 weeks!
- It’s excellent to take with your daily vitamins. Take 1/4-1/2 tsp along with your vitamins to help maximum absorption!
How to make Ghee (clarified butter or butter oil):
Start by using the best butter. I like to use 1lb Kerrygold unsalted butter because it comes from grass-fed pasture raised cows. You can also use organic unsalted butter too.
Unwrap the butter and place in a glass bowl or sauce pan on your stove at medium heat. Bring to a very slow boil (this will take several minutes, so be patient).
Once it starts to boil you will notice a white foam start to form. This is the milk solids that you will be getting rid of.
Now use a slotted spoon and skim off as much foam as you can. Don’t worry if you can’t get it all, because you will strain the rest off later. After you scoop out as much foam as you can, let simmer for 5-10 minutes to completely separate the milk solids from the butter oil. You can tell when this happens when the butter starts to become clearer and you can see the bottom of the pan. Sometimes you might see some milk solids start to turn brown, don’t worry. Again that will all be separated.
Use a fine mesh strainer and slowly poor into a wide mouth mason jar you can also use a funnel in your mason jar. This step will separate the rest of the milk solids from the butter oil. And that’s it. There you have it. Your very own, healthy, yummy, homemade Ghee! Enjoy!
Oh- I forgot to add that you can also buy Ghee if you aren’t inclined to make it yourself. Click here to see my favorite and trusted brand!
Have you ever heard of Ghee? I hope after today’s tutorial that you will pick up a jar or be inspired to make some at home! Tell me how yours turned out!
Maca is a superfood in its own right and what it is mostly known for is its energy boosting and hormonal properties. Did you know that maca goes back thousands of years and is grown in Peru at very high altitudes? In fact it is the highest altitude growing plant in the world. Maca is actually a root vegetable which kind of resembles a radish or a turnip but more sandy color and is part of the potato/starch family. Maca has a ton of nutritional goodness like; amino acids, carbohydrates, and tons of minerals including calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron, as well as vitamins B1, B2, B12, C and E and it’s high in potassium. Now take a look to see what this superfood can do!
- Helps to balance and regulate out our hormones to each individual person
- Decrease hot flashes in women with Menopause
- Reduce stress
- Normalize sleep
- Encourages muscle growth
- Treat PMS (Mood Swings)
- Help boost energy naturally (and without those coffee jitters or shakes)
- Increases Stamina and athletic performance
- Nicknamed “Natures Viagra” helps to naturally boost and improves sexual function and libido in men.
- Nourishes glandular system (Thyroid, pituitary, and adrenal glands to name a few)
- Reverse vaginal dryness
- Lessens aches and pains
- Helps slow down the aging process
- Restores balance to the body, especially our hormones
- Helps improve mental awareness/clarity
- Low in calories
How To Add Maca to Your Diet:
Maca’s benefits are usually noticed very quickly after you start adding them to your diet. Remember to start taking maca slowly, starting with 1/2 tsp a day and working up over a week or two’s time until you reach 1-2 tsp a day. It’s actually good to take time off from maca, so your body doesn’t get too accustomed to it. If you take it for a week, take a week off or a month on, month off. Find a good cycle that works for you! Also, keep in mind maca has an earthy, nutty flavor which sometimes can have hints of butterscotch, now here are some ideas for how to add maca to your meals:
- Add to your smoothies
- Mix or blend into your milk or juice
- Mix into your muffin or pancake recipes
- Stir into your hot breakfast cereal
- Add it to your cookie recipes nn bn
- Sprinkle onto your popcorn (especially yummy if your popcorn is popped with coconut oil)
One Last Thing About Maca!
Because maca can have powerful effects on our bodies and to our health remember that it is NOT a drug. It is a plant and it is NOT toxic to our bodies. If you are just starting out in your healthy lifestyle and you start taking maca, you may notice flu like systems, don’t be alarmed. Maca is SO nutrient dense that it is pushing all or “throwing out” all those toxins out of your body to replace with what your body is craving…nutrients!
Have you ever used maca? What was your experience?
Last week we posted a blog post on sea salt recipes for beauty care. This week we wanted to explain the difference between organic sea saltand table salt. Many people don’t think about the little things we’re putting into our
foods, but there’s a big difference between the table salt you’re used to seeing on the dinner table and sea salt.
Sea Salt Vs. Table Salt
Table salt is much like white sugar, highly processed and refined. There is 84 trace minerals in pure sea salt. After table salt has been processed more than 80 of those essential minerals have been removed and in their place they add back into or “enrich” with anti-clumping, anti-drying fillers like aluminum compounds. Potassium iodine is also added because the natural iodine in sea salt was removed during processing. You also might see some kind of bleaching additive too, to keep the salt nice and white. Does that sound like a salt you want to be using in your baking or adding to your meals? I hope not!
Has a whopping 84 minerals and trace elements. It is an unprocessed, unrefined “raw” and truly natural salt which is hand mined in salt caves that were formed 250 million years ago as ocean salt settled in little pockets around the earth. Pretty cool huh?!
The Truth About Salt
You are probably accustomed to thinking that salt is bad for you, period…that is true, to an extent. But it’s table salt who is the enemy. Eating common table salt actually causes excess fluid in your body that can contribute to many different things: arthritis, kidney and gall bladder stones, gout, cellulite. It can cause diabetes and obesity to worsen. Table salt causes blood pressure to rise quickly because the blood is working hard to remove the toxins in that salt away from the heart, that is why some doctors will tell you to limit salt in-take if you have high blood pressure. The preservatives and additives that are added to table salt can do their own damage to our bodies over time, like:
- Kidney, liver problems
- Heart disease
- Thyroid problems
- Muscle cramps
That’s just to name a few! So, if you have table salt in your home right now, I suggest you go throw it out and replace it with some natural sea salt.
The Health Benefits of Sea Salt
Like I said before sea salt has 84 minerals and trace elements and the cool thing is that those minerals and elements are identical to the elements found in our body. Some benefits of using sea salt daily are:
- Builds a strong immune system
- Helps fight acne
- Aids in digestion
- Promotes healthy pH balance in our body
- Helps with nerve stimulation
- Salt contains magnesium, which is important for producing enzymes, nerve transmission, bone formation, forming tooth enamel, and resistance to heart disease and important for babies developing brain
- Promotes sleep naturally
- Promotes blood sugar health
- Anti aging
- Regulates water content in our body
- Helps with circulation
- Great for your skin
- Supports respiratory health
- Good for detoxing
- Helps with proper functioning of the adrenal glands
How to use Sea Salt to Stay Healthy
You can use it just as you would your thrown out table salt.
- Season your cooking
- Sprinkle on your meals
- Add to your favorite baking recipes
- Use to make salt scrubs
- Soothing bath: Add 1/2 -1c of sea salt to your warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. Helps draw out toxins and leaves your skin smooth.
- Drink before bed to help you sleep 1/2 teaspoon to 1 glass of water.
- Mix with warm water to gargle when you feel a sore throat coming on
- Use to make your neti-pot solution: 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt to 8 oz. of distilled water.
I hope this helped convince you to turn away from table salt once and for all. What is your favorite sea salt and how do you like to use it? Psst! My favorite is Himalayan salt!
Yes! It can be done, and it’s actually quite simple and requires very little time, few ingredients and it is very cost effective, especially if you already have some of these ingredients on hand. Why make my own organic diaper cream when it’s so easy to buy? Good question. So many of us moms are unaware of the dangers of conventional baby care products (can’t lie I was too, with my first two children). For example: I have a very old tube of A+ D Original Ointment in front of me right now (that I received as a baby shower gift two years ago) and the ingredients include: Petrolatum, cod liver oil, Fragrance, Light mineral oil, Microcrystalline wax and paraffin. If petrolatum (petroleum jelly) doesn’t set off a red flag to you right away then you might want to read this article right away. Fragrance is another red flag. I always put a product back that has the word “fragrance” listed in the ingredients. Why? Because fragrance is considered a trade secret, so companies don’t have to tell us what’s in it – often dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds are in just that simple word…fragrance. Pretty alarming huh? Don’t fret, if making your own organic products seems a little intimidating to you then you can buy a perfectly safe organic diaper cream here. But if you do have the time and interest to make your own organic diaper cream, it’s not as hard as it may seem and it’s so rewarding when you apply it to your sweet baby’s skin.
Healthy, Homemade Organic Diaper Cream Recipe
What you will need:
- 1/2 c Coconut Oil (read about the many benefits here)
- 1/4 c Shea Butter
- 1 T Beeswax (optional)
- 1 T Vegetable Glycerin (Optional)
- Herbs (optional, In this batch I used 1T each Chamomile flowers and Calendula which both have has anti-bacterial properties. Chamomile has and added anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic properties.
- Essential Oils (also optional, I like to use 5-10 drops of Lavender)
- 1 tsp Arrowroot Powder (optional, has extra drying power) Whoops! Not pictured.
Heat some water in double boiler or saucepan over medium high heat (I use a glass bowl on top of my sauce pan as my double boiler, which I designate for all my home making products) Melt the coconut oil. If you wish to add herbs, add them now and turn heat to low and let sit for 1 hour (pictured above). If you are NOT using herbs you can add the beeswax now also.
Strain Herbs in a fine mesh strainer. * If using beeswax return to double boiler pain and melt beeswax. Once beeswax is melted continue to the next step
Poor coconut oil in a mixing bowl and add shea butter and your optional arrowroot powder and vegetable glycerin. Mix until Shea butter is melted and all ingredients are combined. (you can even use a fork to mash it in also)
In the winter I skip this step because it is usually cool enough, but it’s been a steady 75 degrees and above in the Pacific Northwest and my coconut oil has been mostly liquid so I like to stick my whole mixing bowl into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to slightly solidify. You can totally skip this step, but it just makes a prettier end product.
Mix until you get fluffy white peaks or until it resembles yummy whipped cream or vanilla frosting, yes, it looks good enough to eat!
Oh wait I almost forgot. If using essential oils.. it’s not too late to add them in now…like me!
Give the mixer a few turns to incorporate that oil then you’re done!
Just scoop your cream into a container or jar and there you have it. Your very own, chemical free happy baby, happier mommy butt cream!!!
- In hot weather this will want to melt, so best to store in a jar, in a cool place away from sun/ heat. Perfectly fine to use when melted though. I like to put mine in the fridge for awhile if it starts to melt.
- If you want to use chamomile you can also use a chamomile tea bag and let it steep in coconut oil.
- A little goes a long way
- This is safe to use with cloth diapers. I used it successfully when I cloth diapered my baby. I never had a problem with build up. You might have to strip them or run them through a vinegar baking soda rinse.
- This is not only good for baby butts. I use this all the time on baby’s skin and on mine!
- And if this was too much for you. I totally understand. Just click here and buy a perfectly safe alternative!
If you missed my other blogs about natural baby care it’s not too late! Take a look now!
Have you ever made your own baby products? How did they turn out?
I was introduced to hemp some years ago while visiting a grade school friend. She offered me a glass of chocolate hemp milk and I fell in love. Sadly I didn’t continue my quest of the benefits of hemp until recently. Sure I’ve had many yummy products which contained either hemp seeds or hemp oil, but never before had I bought them for my own use. When I bought my first bag of hemp seeds, I admit I didn’t even wait to get to my car before I ripped into the bag to grab a handful to shove in my mouth! After having two more big handfuls I looked at the nutritional facts on the back and noticed… holy cow, I just ate 14 grams of fat in less than 1 minute! Don’t fret! It’s GOOD fat and along with that 14 grams of fat came 10 grams of protein in just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds! Pretty awesome right?! I was so excited about the nutrient profile of this superfood that I couldn’t wait to research all the health benefits of these yummy, little, seeds! After I started researching I realized that If I were to blog about all the wonderful benefits of this little superfood, you would be reading for quite some time, so for your benefit I touched on my favorites and instead will leave you links at the bottom for further reading if you wish!
13 Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds and Hemp Seed Oil
- Hemp seeds have an advantage over other seeds purely because of its oil. The natural oil in hemp seeds contains a very high quality of protein which and has 10 essential amino acids making it a complete protein. This protein has a very similar structure to proteins in our blood making it easy to digest even more so than proteins found in meats, cheeses and whole eggs.
- They’re an excellent source of essential fatty acids (EFA’s) which include Omega 3 and 6 (I could write a whole blog about the benefits of EFA’s alone!).
- Hemp seeds are comprised of 27% carbohydrates, almost all are in the form of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is good for slowing glucose absorption. Insoluble fiber’s job is moving matter through your digestive system and keeping your bowel movements regular.
- Hemp helps to reduce inflammation and improves circulation, also helps people who have heart disease, arthritis, and even psoriasis.
- Helps improve organ function and boosts immunity levels.
- There are NO known allergies to hemp foods. They can be eaten by those who are unable to tolerate dairy, nuts or gluten.
- Aids in weight loss, naturally. You can reduce cravings and boost your metabolic rate while getting a good dose of essential fats, proteins and most vitamins among other nutrients necessary for promoting good health.
- Aids in lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure.
- Hemp oil contains plant sterols which may reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancer.
- Hemp seeds and hemp oil are great in promoting cellular health.
- At a cellular level, they lubricate membranes and eliminate wastes such as lactic acid in post-exercise muscles. What does that mean to you? No or less soreness after exercise.
- Over time eating hemp seeds heals and moisturizes skin, and reduces inflammation.
- One of my favorite benefits is that the EFA’s in hemp seeds have anti-cancer properties that inhibit tumor growth.
Delicious Hemp Seeds – How do you eat these things?
Hemp seeds have a nutty flavor and can be added to most anything!
- Eat them raw
- Throw a few tablespoons of seeds into your smoothie
- Sprinkle on top of salads or yogurt
- If you have a Vita-Mix or Blentec you can make your own delicious hemp butter. Just throw in a couple cups of seed and let it go until you reach the consistency you like.
- When I make pancakes for the kids I like to mix in a tablespoon or two into the batter
- Sprinkle on top of your favorite cold or hot breakfast cereal.
Where do you buy hemp seeds? Try your local health food stores or click here to buy easily online! How do you eat your hemp seeds? Share your ideas or recipes in comments below!
WAIT! Remember I said I’d leave you links to more reading? Here you go! Enjoy!
Hemp Seed Nutritional Profile
Hemp Seed: The Most Nutritionally Complete Food Source
Hemp seed Health Benefits
By now we all know that organic foods and products are healthier and better for us than those that aren’t. Organic milk, organic produce, organic grains…..but what about a key element in all our baking and cooking that makes our dishes taste delicious… what about organic spices? Yes, spices and herbs are best to buy organic too! I know in the beginning of my wellness journey I had no idea that using organic spices had an impact on my health, but the more I learned the more I realized that those nasty store bought packets of ranch dip, taco seasonings and Italian seasonings that I was buying on a weekly basis, didn’t contain organic spices, and were packed with icky ingredients such as MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) and other chemical additives I can’t pronounce.
Of course now I use organic spices to make my own seasoning blends, well, really now I make EVERYTHING using organic materials… (I even make my own shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant, but that can be for a future blog!).
Organic Spices in D.I.Y. Seasoning Blends
Making your own seasoning blends does take a little time, but it’s worth it. Just knowing your family isn’t getting any extra unwanted and unnecessary sodium and chemicals in the food you prepare for them, is all worth it. Plus, it only takes a little chunk of time, because once you’re done you have a ton of seasonings that you won’t have to buy or make for a while! And if you buy your organic spices and herbs in bulk at shopOrganic, it will save you money in the long run! Now here are a few of my favorite seasoning blends using organic spices, that I make most often!
Taco Seasoning Blend Recipe with Organic Spices:
1/4 cup Cumin Powder
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 tablespoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Oregano
1-4 Tablespoons Cayenne Powder (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 teaspoon ground pepper
To Make: Place all ingredients in bowl and mix. Store in an air tight container or jar (I like to use mason jars). Use just like you would use with any taco seasonings. I use about 2 Tbsp. per pound of meat when I am making tacos. Adjust it to your preference.
Italian Seasoning Blend with Organic Spices:
1/2 cup Basil
1/2 cup Oregano
1/4 cup Rosemary
1/4 cup Marjoram
1/4 cup Thyme
1/4 cup Sage
2 -3 Tablespoons Dried Minced Garlic
To make: This one I actually throw in my vita mix and pulse it a few times just to cut down the rosemary and make it a tad finer. You can also use a mortar and pestle or a food processer. Store in container until ready to use. Use in all your favorite Italian recipes.
Ranch Dressing Mix with Organic Spices:
1/4 cup Dried Parsley
1 Tablespoon Dill
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Basil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper
2-4 teaspoons Sea Salt (optional)
To Make: Mix together and store in an air tight container.
For dressing: Mix 2 tablespoons dry Ranch mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream.
For Dip: Mix 2 tablespoons dry Ranch Mix with 2 cups of sour cream or yogurt. Store in fridge until ready to use.
Dry Onion Soup Mix with Organic Spices:
2/3 cup Dried, Minced Onion
3 teaspoons Parsley Flakes
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
2 teaspoons Turmeric (optional )
1 teaspoon Celery Seed (or omit salt and use Celery Salt)
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Organic Sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Mix all ingredients and store in jar. Remember to shake before each use.
Use 4 tablespoons in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix. Store this in a dry, cool place.
Tip: If you buy herbs in bulk you can freeze them for longer use!
Those are my four most used seasonings using organic spices in my home. Which organic spices and herbs are your favorites? Do you have a seasoning you would like to share? I know I would love to see if anyone has a good homemade curry seasoning recipe… I just can’t seem to make a good one!
How to Make Organic Milk from Organic Raw Almonds:
- Soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water 6-8 hours or overnight (make sure the nuts are covered in water).
- When done soaking pour out the water and rinse, then pour nuts in your blender.
- Add 3 cups of filtered water and blend on high for 3 minutes.
- Strain milk through a nut bag, sieve or cheese cloth. Place in a jar and put in fridge. Use within 3-4 days.
How to Make Organic Milk from Cashews (this is my favorite, quick easy, no fuss):
- Pour 1 cup of raw cashews right into your blender (no need to soak or rinse)
- Add 3 cups of water and blend on high for 2-3 minutes. Pour in jar and use within 3-4 days (no need to strain)
- To make an extra special treat, here is a little variation: Vanilla Honey Cinnamon Cashew Milk. Just add the following ingredients to your blender alongside the nuts:
- 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2-2 tbsp of Honey (you can also use maple syrup or stevia to sweeten also)
Important Note about Raw Almonds:
In 2007 the USDA implemented a mandatory pasteurization program for almonds in the U.S. This rule was called for in response to two recalls of raw almonds from conventional farms due to the presence of salmonella. So please take caution that if you purchase organic almonds in North America, they will have gone through steam pasteurization. Unfortunately in North America, now that “raw” almonds are pasteurized (by one of the above methods) they are still able to label them as “raw” because they aren’t roasted. When experimenting with pasteurized raw almonds, I found that they did still sprout. While there’s no guarantee that a pasteurized almond would sprout, some are making it to market with their life force intact.
What’s your favorite kind of organic milk? Do you make your own organic milk? Or do you have a favorite brand?
1. “Cashews,” WHFoods.org
2. “Walnuts,” WHFoods.org
Who doesn’t love a drizzle (or flood) of liquid amber on their stack of pancakes for breakfast?! I know I do and my kids certainly do as well. We love using organic maple syrup and I will tell you why it’s not only delicious but nutritious as well, but first I want to warn you what not to buy! When you are walking down the aisle at your local grocery on a mission to get syrup…don’t be fooled by the eye catching bottles like Mrs. Butterworth’s or the sweet face of Aunt Jemima smiling back at you. Those syrups are what we call “fake” syrup. There are around 10-12 ingredients in those “syrups”, which include: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring and other artificial flavors. Yuck, I know!
The better choice for your family is definitely going to be organic maple syrup. It’s pure, it’s natural, it’s organic and the best part is there are actual health benefits to switching to or using pure organic maple syrup! Not only is it a whole food (1 ingredient) organic maple syrup has some actual nutritional benefits! Did you know organic maple syrup contains Zinc and Manganese? Manganese is a trace mineral which is an essential component in a number of enzymes that are important for energy production and antioxidant defense. Zinc is an essential mineral for our immune systems which help protect our body from unwanted invaders like viruses and bad bacteria! I don’t think you will find those awesome benefits in that cute Mrs. Butterworth’s bottle!
Organic Maple Syrup: Grade A vs. Grade B
Another question that might come up when you are buying organic maple syrup is what is the difference between Grade A and B? The good news is the difference is ONLY in the taste. Grade A does not mean it’s better in the quality of the syrup or nutritional value. It’s only for color and flavor. Grade A or “Grade A Dark Amber” is usually harvested in the beginning of the season and is lighter in color and milder of the syrups and sometimes has a slightly thinner consistency and is perfect for pouring all over your stack of flapjacks in the morning.
Then there is “Grade B” (my personal favorite), Grade B is usually your darker, thicker syrup which has that real “maple” taste and yummy caramel undertones. This syrup is excellent to use in your baking recipes in place of other sweeteners like sugar and brown sugar and will give your baked goods that slight scent of maple when it’s in the oven. Now that you know the difference between the two, I hope you will try each one out and see what you like the best!
9 Delicious Ways to Add organic maple syrup Other Than On Pancakes
Let’s face it we all know it’s good over your favorite pancakes, so here are some other ways to use it:
1. Drizzle on top of your oatmeal in the morning
2. Be adventurous instead of sugar cubes and honey, try some organic maple syrup in your tea or coffee for a unique taste
3. Substitute it in your favorite baked recipes. It’s worked well for me in Muffins
4. Drizzled over peaches and cream for a sweet dessert or snack
5. Smoothies! Sometimes instead of Raw Honey or Stevia I like to switch it up with organic maple syrup.
6. My kids love honey on toast but if we are out of honey try maple syrup. Toast a piece of sprouted grain bread and spread on your butter of choice (my kids love peanut butter and almond butter) then drizzle with organic maple syrup and top with sliced bananas!
7. Baked Sweet “Sweet” Potato. Bake a sweet potato when it’s done spread a little coconut oil and drizzle with organic maple syrup and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt …. such a treat!
8. For a yummy chicken or salmon marinade
Combine 1/3 c soy sauce,1/2 c organic maple syrup, 1/4 c fresh squeezed orange juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger root and if using on fish add 1 tsp dried Dill Weed. Combine together in bowl. Pour over your chicken or fish and let marinate for 1-3 hours or overnight.
9. Apple Sunday Recipe:
2 Apples chopped
2 Tablespoons butter of choice (I like Almond or pecan butter for this recipe)
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
2 Tablespoons chopped nuts (again I like pecans, almonds or walnuts)
1 teaspoon of vanilla (or almond extract)
coconut flakes (optional)
To make: Blend or mix together the butter, extract, syrup until smooth. Divide the apples into two bowls and pour the mixture over the apples. Top with nuts and coconut flakes!
Those are some ways we use organic maple syrup in our home. What are your favorite ways to enjoy this delicious treat? Let me know in comments below!
I have known about organic chia seeds for some time now but I didn’t really start incorporating them into my diet until about a year and a half ago, and only to help me with my weight loss regimen. After having my 4th and final child I was ready and determined to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight (again). I had read that taking 1 tablespoon of organic chia seeds with water 15 minutes before your meals helps you to feel fuller. And so I started incorporating organic chia seeds into my diet more with recipes like:
Organic Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding Recipe:
- 1 Cup of milk (cow, goat or any nut milks)
- 1/4 c of Chia Seeds
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
- Couple tablespoons of raw honey or Stevia to taste
Heat milk, vanilla in a small sauce pan until hot (not boiling) stir in the organic chia seeds and take off heat. Let mix sit for 10 minutes or until thick. Stir in raw honey and other add in. You can make this chocolate pudding by adding a tsp. or two of raw Cacao powder!
And I soon noticed that adding these organic chia seeds to my diet was definitely making me feel fuller sooner, and healthier, and so I knew there must be more to this little, gelatinous, seed so I started to research and I was blown away by the many nutritional benefits of this magical, little seed!
10 Health Benefits of Organic Chia Seeds:
1. High in Protein: Chia seeds have the highest amount of protein than any other grain (about 2.5-3 g per 1 tbsp). Organic chia seeds are easily absorbed and digestible. Chia has a total of 19 essential amino acids which makes it a complete protein source . Chia seeds can even replace the protein in those protein shakes!
2. Joint Pain: Daily use of chia over time will greatly reduce or eliminate joint pain. The omega 3 in organic chia seeds are a proven anti-inflammatory. Even the Aztecs ate chia seeds to relieve knee pain. A number of arthritis sufferers have reported reduced pain and inflammation after a few weeks of taking organic chia seeds. The high concentration of omega-3 helps to lubricate joints and keep them supple.
3. Rich in Fiber: Organic chia seeds are also very high in fiber, 10 grams in just 2 tablespoons which makes up 1/3 of your daily fiber intake. Chia seed fiber is 5%-10% mucilloid soluble dietary fiber (helps lower cholesterol and manage diabetes) 90%-95% insoluble dietary fiber (promotes healthy regularity). Taking chia daily will greatly aid your regularity.
4. Antioxidants: Organic chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, cancer and aging. Per serving they contain a much higher level of antioxidants than blueberries! So that high antioxidant profile also helps them have a very long shelf life. They last almost two years without refrigeration.
5. Gluten Free: If you are like me and have a gluten free child in your home or you yourself are gluten free, don’t fret because organic chia seeds contain no gluten or grains. Therefore, all of the nutritional benefits of organic chia seeds can be obtained on a gluten-free diet.
6. High Energy Food: Chia is known as a mega energy food. Athletes (like runners, climbers, weight lifters, etc.) take it because of its prolonged sustained release of energy. It has twice the potassium as bananas. It easily can give you sustainable energy throughout your daily cardio and strength workouts. You will be amazed at your increased energy levels.
7. Recovery: Amino acids are the “building blocks of protein” while antioxidants are the ultimate defense against free radicals. Organic chia seeds are full of both. Eat them soon after your workout to jump start recovery.
8. Omega 3 and 6: Organic chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Organic chia seeds’ lipid profile is composed of 60 percent omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids , and has the highest known natural percentage of alpha linolenic fatty acid. More than flax seeds even (which needs to be ground, or in oil form which can be expensive and has a limited shelf life) or salmon. Omega 3 and 6 help our brain functions and naturally brightens our mood. They also help our central nervous system and cell membranes health. Omega oils are important for our vital organs, especially our thyroid and skin cells. chia also is an important part of heart healthy eating and cardiovascular health.
9. Detoxification: Similar to psyllium, the swelling action of chia in the body helps to cleanse and soothe the colon, and absorb toxins while lubricating and strengthening the contraction of muscles.
10. Weight Loss: Like I mentioned above that I started using organic chia seeds for an aid in my weight loss here is why: The essential fatty acids contained in organic chia seeds helps to boost our metabolism and promote lean muscle mass. The seeds are sometimes added to food to provide bulk and nutrients while adding very few calories. For these reasons, many people have found organic chia seeds are quite useful in weight loss and maintaining your weight when you have reached your goal.
Other Ways to Incorporate Organic Chia Seeds in Your Diet:
- As a drink. Add 1 tablespoon to your favorite drink
- Incorporate into your smoothies
- Stir into your prepared oatmeal or other warm breakfast porridge
- Stir into your hot tea
Now aren’t you happy you know of all the amazing qualities and benefits of this super seed?! They sure have come a long way since the famous Chia Pet craze… you remember the little jingle right? “Chi-Chi-Chia”, well who knew that those crazy pets were actually a power house super-food! Just go to your favorite health food store or pick some up here and start incorporating them into your diet today!