Have you thought about starting your own organic garden? There are so many benefits to starting your own organic garden: it’s cost effective, especially when you plant the vegetables you buy and use most in your home; it helps reduce the toxic chemicals and pesticides that we get from conventional foods, and you don’t have to worry about what kind of fertilizers and pesticides they are spraying on your crops; and it’s really a wonderful tool for your family, especially if you have young children, get them involved!
Here are 3 easy ways to start your own organic garden:
1. Kitchen Window Herb Garden
If you are new to gardening and want to see what all the fuss is about. Start small. Try growing a few herbs right in your kitchen. You can even just start with one or two plants! For growing herbs in your kitchen. It’s best to have a south-facing window that gets direct sunlight for at least 4-6 hours per day during the winter. If you don’t receive that much light, use supplemental lighting such as florescent shop bulbs to ensure proper growth of the herbs during the winter.
When you’re taking care of your new herbs, don’t forget the most common killer of houseplants: not enough water. To monitor the thirstiness of your plants, poke your finger into the soil once every 3-4 days. If the soil feels dry, it is time to water.
Some good choices for your window herb garden: parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram and winter savory and peppermint.
2. Raised Beds
I’m a big fan of raised-bed gardening. This is what we do in our family. Here are some reasons you might want to consider raised beds as well:
- More control over the location of the garden, you can pick a good spot which gets the best sun.
- Ability to choose the best soil for your particular plants.
- More efficient draining.
- Because the beds are raised it can be easier on your back and knees due to less bending and stooping.
- Easier to keep out weeds (one of my favorite reasons).
- The soil warms up earlier in a raised bed, so you can plant earlier and extend your growing season.
- Better ability to keep out ground-dwelling pests (chicken wire is great at keeping moles away).
- Perfect for kids who like to help in the garden.
Head over to This Old House to learn how to build your own raised bed.
3. Container Gardening
Container gardening is wonderful for people who live in the city or apartments without a yard. No yard is no excuse for why you cannot grow your own food. Containers come in every size…you can use small ones for your windows, larger ones for your porch, deck, or balcony, or you can hang them too! Containers also make it easier for you to control the soil, light, water and fertilizer.
Some Important Tips for Container Gardening:
1. Go Bigger
The greatest challenge of container vegetable growing is watering, because the soil dries out faster in pots than in the ground. A bigger container or pot will help it not dry out as fast, so get the biggest you can fit in your particular space. It’s fine to mix compatible plants in a single large pot. Make certain that any container has holes so excess water can drain away from the soil.
2. Watering is Key
Those “self-watering” containers have a reservoir beneath the soil topped with a grid through which the roots can reach down to the water. With these containers you won’t have to water as often, but you still have to be careful and watch to keep it filled. And in the hot summer, mature plants will empty that reservoir fast, so you may have to fill it daily. To help, try spreading some mulch over the soil in pots just as you would in a garden, to keep moisture from evaporating.
3. Start with Herbs
They are easy, especially if you begin with transplants, and will add a fresh-grown taste to almost any meal. Just remember to give them the conditions they prefer. All herbs need full sun, but some, such as rosemary, prefer dryer soil and fewer nutrients; basil needs more fertilizer and watering.
4. Move it
What is good about containers is that you can move them. In the morning you can stick them in the sunshine, and just keep moving them to follow the sun. It might take some remembering on your part but with a container garden you’ll have a lot of options.
Additional Resources to Help You Start an Organic Garden:
- How to Start Your Own Organic Garden
- Starting an Organic Garden: The Top 4 Benefits
- Make the Most of Your Organic Garden: How to Use/Freeze Zucchini
- Find a Community Garden in Your Area (perfect for people who have no room or space at home, and excellent for the community)
Have you started your own organic garden yet? What was the easiest or hardest part for you?
I don’t think there is anything better than waking up to a yummy smelling breakfast. Don’t even get me started on breakfast in bed! Nothing screams “I LOVE YOU” more than an organic breakfast in bed! Here are a few ideas that you can make for your sweetie.
This one is a quick, no fuss recipe, and you can serve it so many different ways. It may be fun to do a little breakfast bar in bed with 5 little cups of different toppings for your loved one to choose from.
Dutch Baby Recipe
- 3/4 cup flour (you can used gluten free flour )
- 3/4 cup milk (cow, nut or coconut milk)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup butter, ghee or coconut oil
Preheat your oven to 425. In a medium bowl whisk all ingredients except butter together until smooth (sometimes if I’m in a hurry I just throw it all in my blender). In a cast iron pan add the butter and place the pan in the oven and let butter melt while preheating. When done preheating add your mixture to the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until your Dutch Baby has puffed and is golden brown. Serve warm with whatever toppings you like.
Some Topping Ideas:
- Fresh cut fruit – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
- Nut butters like almond, cashew, peanut butter or a chocolate hazelnut would be delicious.
- Maple syrup or powdered sugar.
Sweet Potatoes and Eggs Recipe
- 3 teaspoons organic ghee, butter or coconut oil
- 1 large sweet potato or yam, washed + ends cut (if you don’t like sweet potatoes you can use russet or red)
- 3 large pastured eggs
- shredded cheddar cheese, or other sharp cheese
- salt and pepper
Grate your potato. Heat a 9”-10” skillet that is oven safe over medium heat and add your choice of fat. Once pan is hot, place the sweet potato in the pan and stir frequently until done to your liking. Usually takes about 8-12 minutes.
Set your oven to broil on high. Spread the sweet potato evenly around the pan and create 3 small wells for the eggs. Crack eggs one at a time and pour into each well. Let cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the white just starts to solidify and turn opaque. Sprinkle with cheese and place under the broiler, watching closely, until eggs are cooked to your liking.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Goes great with bacon and fresh fruit!
While it’s okay to splurge on special occasions with richer, fattening foods, you might consider using breakfast in bed as a time to show you care about someone’s health.
- 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 Handful of spinach or kale
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/2 cup liquid of choice (any juice or milk of choice)
- 1/2 cup water
- Ice (if I use frozen fruit then I don’t add much ice, if any)
*Sweetener – if you are like me and still like to add a little sweetness to it, I usually add a few drops of some vanilla stevia or a scoop of raw honey and sometimes a few dates (dates require a super blender).
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend to your preferred consistency.
5 Tips for the Perfect Breakfast in Bed
- Try hiding a poem, a card or a small flat gift under a plate.
- If you don’t have a breakfast-in-bed tray, fold a table cloth in half and lay it down. A nice basket filled with hand-held items like muffins, fruit and the morning paper can provide an elegant low-crumb experience.
- Breakfast in bed isn’t much fun if you don’t have time to leisurely enjoy it. So if you decide to serve breakfast pick a day when they will have plenty of time to eat their breakfast and savor the experience.
- Layer on the extra touches. Use your best china and silverware. Present the meal with a linen napkin. Put a chocolate on the tray or flowers.
- Save time in the morning by using a mix or premixing whatever you can the night before. Most muffin batters can be mixed the night before and stored in the refrigerator.
Even More Ideas for Breakfast in Bed:
- Pancakes are always easy—especially with a mix. You can make them special with a topping or by adding something as a filling. Cranberries, nuts, applesauce, or chocolate chips are popular considerations.
- French toast is always easy. Add a little extra cinnamon or nutmeg and maybe some vanilla extract or orange flavoring.
- Scrambled eggs can be quick and easy. Make it special with bacon bits and cheddar, or sausage, or sautéed vegetables. Nearly anything that you can do to an omelet, you can do to scrambled eggs.
- Strawberries and crème fraiche make for an elegant but easy breakfast dish.
- Pick a granola that he or she likes and serve it as a cereal or a parfait with yogurt.
- Cut fresh fruit and present it in an attractive bowl or on a platter.
- Pick up hot bagels and different flavors of cream cheese.
- Try broiling a grapefruit half topped with a sprinkling of brown sugar.
Have you have had an organic breakfast in bed? What was your favorite item served?
Do you find yourself depressed during the fall and winter months? Do you feel a lack of interest in activities, or feel socially withdrawn? Maybe you tend to gain weight or have a loss of appetite. These are all possible symptoms of having the winter blues also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). No fear, I’m here to give you few tips on what organic foods you can eat to help you with your winter blues!
Organic Foods for the Winter Blues
Leafy greens are packed with magnesium, iron, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. They are also a wonderful source of phytonutrients, helping boost the mood and prevent anxiety. Eat them lightly sautéed, throw them in your smoothie, or eat them raw in a salad.
Eggs, fish, shell fish and yogurt are all excellent choices, all of which have a ton of vitamin B12. When we are deficient in B12, we are more prone to winter blues and depression. B12 is commonly found in animal proteins. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll find B12 in nutritional yeast and in fortified non-dairy milks.
Onions are a high source of antioxidants, not only that they also help to lower stress and inflammation. Onions are also full of vitamin C, which help boost a good mood and prevent depression.
Research has shown that dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa kicks in the production of certain chemicals believed to up the levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter similar to adrenaline in that it helps block different kinds of pain. So when you’re down, pick up a bar with the highest cocoa content you can find and start feeling better instantly. Dark chocolate also lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.
Navel oranges contain about 60% (more than milk) of your daily calcium requirements. Calcium is a critical nutrient needed for preventing stress and depression. Oranges and leafy greens’ are a much healthier way to get your calcium requirements, and they are full of other nutrients as well. Oranges are especially high in Vitamin B6 and folate, two critical nutrients for preventing unfavorable moods and depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been praised for their numerous health benefits, including possibly influencing your moods. One study from the University of Pittsburgh found that people with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to experience moderate or mild symptoms of depression. The highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, and flax seed/flax seed oil.
Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan (like turkey), which lowers stress, prevents depression, and helps with anxiety. Pumpkin seeds are also incredibly high in protein. They are one of the only seeds to promote alkalinity in the body, which fights inflammation due to stress and a poor diet.
Other Alternatives for Easing the Winter Blues
The kind of vitamin D I’m talking about is the sunshine (unfortunately there are not many food sources with Vitamin D). Yes, it’s not a food, but it’s worth mentioning here. Vitamin D, has been linked to huge increases in immunity as well as lowering depression symptoms. The best way is to be out in the sunshine. If you are lacking in sun, I would talk to your health care professional about a good Vitamin D3 supplement.
As with other forms of depression, exercise can help alleviate seasonal affective disorder. Outdoor exercise will be most helpful. If you can’t exercise outside because it’s cold, rainy or snowy, choose the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine nearest the window at the gym, or exercise in the comforts of your own home. Do what you can, no excuses. Exercise will also help offset the weight gain that is common with the winter blues.
Have you ever experienced the winter blues? If so, what are your favorite ways to make yourself feel better?
Along with peas and beans, organic peanuts are members of the legume family, which are the the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom. They also have a variety of nutrients which include fiber, vitamin E (an antioxidant) and magnesium – all of which reduce the risk of heart disease.
Since peanuts are actually legumes, they have a soft and porous shell (unlike most nuts that have hard shells). Fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides can permeate the shell and reach the peanut itself and since peanuts are high in fat, they act like a sponge and absorb the pesticides. This is why it is really important to buy organic peanuts instead of conventional.
Organic peanuts can be eaten salted, dry roasted, boiled and even raw. I know many of us don’t think of peanuts as a food to cook with. Most of us, when we think of peanuts, we think snacks! I know I do. I think of eating peanuts at baseball games, peanuts in trail mix, as peanut butter or in my old favorite candy bars.
Organic peanuts are very versatile and can be used for so much more than snacking and peanut butter. Here are some international recipes using organic peanuts, which I hope will inspire you to start cooking with them.
7 International Recipes Using Organic Peanuts
- African Lamb and Peanut Stew – Hearty and aromatic!
- Kashata (East African Peanut Brittle) – Coconut and Cardmom make this Ugandan treat unique!
- Chicken Sate with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce - If you’re looking for a recipe with some spice to it, I’d try this one out!
- Pacific Rim Chili – I love chili, this sounds like a fun twist!
- Tropical Fruit with Ginger & Peanuts - Could be good for breakfast to or over yogurt!
- Indonesian Prawn & Peanut Wrap – This one sounds so yummy little sweet, little salty.
- Senegalese Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup – Sounds perfect for a cold winter day.
If you haven’t tried cooking with organic peanuts, I hope these recipes will give you some inspiration. What are your favorite organic peanut recipes?
There is nothing better than having a nice, big, bowl of hot organic soup during the cold winter months. There is just something so comforting about it. Though it hasn’t been too cold here in the Northwest so far this winter, I’m still finding that I love making soups on a weekly basis.
Adding more organic soup to your diet is a great way to lose weight or maintain weight. They are typically low in calories but filling. Try eating soup for dinner or at least starting your meal with a soup and see how full you’ll feel.
Soups are also excellent for busy, working families because you can double a recipe and freeze the leftovers, giving you an easy weeknight meal when your time is short.
Here are some of my favorite hearty winter time soup recipes.
Organic Soup Recipes for Winter
Garden Vegetable Soup Recipe
This soup is perfect for when you have a ton of vegetables that you need to eat before they go bad. I love making this soup and you can make it with any veggie you have. Today I used:
- 1/2 large cauliflower, chopped
- 5 ribs of celery chopped
- 3 rainbow carrots chopped or thinly sliced
- 1-cup frozen peas
- 2 cloves garlic chopped finely
- 1 cup corn
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon ghee (coconut oil, olive oil will work fine too)
- 2- 32oz containers of organic broth/stock of choice (today I used beef broth). If you have homemade broth on hand, please use that.
Directions (with images):
1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat your choice of fat, today I used ghee. While that’s warming up, and you haven’t done so already. Chop up all your veggies and get your spices ready.
2. When the ghee is melted and pan is nice and warm throw in the carrots, celery, onion:
3. Stir occasionally until onions are translucent, and veggies start to get tender, usually around 10, minutes, this is when I throw the garlic and spices in and stir for another minute or two.
4. Add broth and the rest of your vegetables.
5. Cover and cook for 45-60 minutes (check tenderness of your veggies). Add salt and pepper to taste.
There you have it a hearty garden vegetable soup.
Mountain Stew Recipe
I was given this recipes years ago, and I still have no idea who wrote this recipe or where it came from. I love it though and have made it several times. I like to mix up the vegetables and sometimes I add chicken.
- 1-15oz can kidney beans
- onion, sliced thin
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup cabbage, coarsely chopped
- 1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes with liquid
- 1 c diced red potatoes
- 4 c stock (I used chicken stock, you can use any you like)
- 1/3 cup uncooked rice
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder, or more to taste
- 1/2 grated cheese of choice (cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack etc)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and cook the onion and garlic, stirring until the onion is soft, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the bell pepper, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes (with liquid), chili powder, paprika, and cumin.
Continue cooking, stirring frequently for 3 more minutes. Add the rice, stock and the beans. Cover and cook over low heat until the stew is thick and the beans and rice are tender, about 2 hours on stove top or six hours in your slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Top with grated cheese.
Easy Chicken Pho Recipe
Pho is one of my family’s favorite meals, we love going out dinner to have a big bowl of pho. It’s also one of my husband and I’s favorite meal after a long day of snowboarding. Did you know it’s simple to make at home! Here is a quick recipe. This is perfect to make when you have leftover chicken or even turkey!
- 8 cups of organic chicken stock/broth (I love using homemade for this, makes it taste even more authentic)
- 2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chunked (whatever you prefer)
- 8 ounces of bean sprouts
- 1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves (optional)
- 1 lime wedged (optional)
- 1 Jalapeno thinly sliced
- 1 package of rice stick noodles
- Hoisin/ chili garlic sauce for serving
1. Add stock and chicken to crock pot. Cover and cook on Low for 6-7 hours or high for 3.
2. Add bean sprouts, noodles, and basil. Heat until noodles are softened.
3. Spoon soup into individual serving bowls and server with lime wedges, hoisin, or chili sauce.
Note: Always use organic ingredients whenever possible. This will lessen your exposure to unwanted chemicals and pesticides.
What are your favorite comforting soups for winter time?
Organic flaxseed has gained significant popularity among health-conscious Americans in recent years. However, despite the recent hype surrounding this little seed, a lot of people still have never heard of it. It may not exactly be a super food, but organic flaxseed certainly has many nutritional benefits. Although flax has been known to have been used thousands of years ago, even as far back as 1000BC because of its many health benefits, flax was until recently, relatively unknown.
Benefits of Organic Flaxseed:
1. Prevents Heart Disease
Omega 3 fatty acids are considered to be good fats and are important to our health, but they cannot be produced by our body. We must get them in from our foods. Because organic flaxseed is rich in omega 3, it can help to keep your heart healthy in a variety of ways, one way is that it helps fight inflammation in the body, which is a major cause of many diseases. Flaxseed also helps your heart health by naturally lowering your blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the chances of having a heart attack or congestive heart failure. The omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseed help reduce those risks.
2. Fiber Rich
Organic flaxseed is rich in fiber, both soluble and insoluble types. While soluble fiber helps to maintain proper gut and colon health, insoluble fiber plays a vital role in keeping the heart healthy by lowering LDL cholesterol levels. This property of flaxseed also aids in maintaining normal blood sugar levels for people suffering from blood sugar issues and diabetes.
3. Good Source of Protein
Organic flaxseed is a complete protein source, meaning that it contains every amino acid that your body can’t make on its own. It’s uncommon to find plant-based foods that are complete proteins, so flaxseed makes a great addition to vegetarian and vegan diets.
4. Boosts your Immune System
Organic flaxseed can help with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other immune disorders by building your immune system (which is mostly in our gut), healing you from the inside out, and preventing illness. Not only will you benefit from eating the nutrition your body is craving, but the flax lignans, omega 3, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals will help your body to heal and repair itself.
5. Aids in Weight Loss
Organic flaxseed forms an essential part of many diet programs, for those trying to lose weight, since it keeps blood sugar levels in check. Due to its richness in fiber, it keeps the stomach full and helps you to not over eat. Also the good fats in flax help keep you full for longer periods of time.
6. Helps to Fight and Prevent Cancers
Studies show that flaxseed may have a role in fighting cancer, particularly colon, prostate and breast cancer. The benefit is based on its high concentration of lignans, which are believed to inhibit the enzymes that promote tumor growth.
7. Boosts Brain Power
Your brain and body must have Omega 3 to function and survive, we must have fats. Omega 3 is one of those essential fats we need in order to prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia as well as helping with many mental disorders, depression, ADD + ADHD, difficulty sleeping, etc. Also, kids need Omega 3 so that their brains can develop properly. The only way for our body to get Omega 3 is through foods we eat, but much of the food we eat is cooked and processed; which does not contain any Omega 3 in it. Flaxseed is the perfect way to get more Omega 3 in our daily diet.
How to Get More Organic Flaxseed in Your Diet
Flaxseed has a light, nutty taste. Here are some ways to add it to the foods you already eat and enjoy:
- Sprinkle flaxseed on your cold cereal or hot oatmeal at breakfast.
- Add a teaspoon of ground flaxseed to the mustard or mayonnaise that you spread on your sandwich at lunch.
- Blend flaxseed into juice or smoothies.
- Sprinkle on salads or in soups.
- Mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into your yogurt.
Do you take flaxseed daily? How do you use it?
It’s 2015, Happy New Year! This year why not start things out right with committing to healthy eating. There are many ways to go about this, but today let’s talk about the top ten green foods that you should be eating. Adding a combination of these foods to your diet will benefit your health greatly! Maybe there are a few on this list you never tried. Introducing new foods into your diet is a cornerstone of healthy eating. It ensures that you get a variety of different minerals and vitamins, which bring different nutritional benefits.
10 Healthiest Green Foods You should be Eating
“Spinach makes ya strong!” That has been the Popeye tale for most of us, and that’s because this dark leafy green food is rich in iron. 1 cup of uncooked spinach has nearly 2mg of iron and only 15 calories. It is also a good source of fiber and has a small amount of protein. It is loaded with vitamin A, folate (folic acid), vitamin C and some vitamin E. The minerals Potassium, magnesium and calcium in spinach are high. Spinach can be a wonderful substitute for lettuce in salads, and lightly cooked spinach is concentrated in nutrients.
Asparagus is spring vegetable and the part we eat is actually the young underground sprouts or shoot. The asparagus tips are actually little flowers. Asparagus spears are often more expensive than other vegetables, because of their short season and the work it takes to harvest them. Asparagus have a good amount of vitamin c, vitamin A, sulfur, folic acid and potassium. It has some iron, calcium, magnesium and iodine and a little zinc as well.
These are one of my most favorite foods ever. Avocados do contain a lot of fat (about 23 grams in a medium-sized fruit), but it’s the cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated kind that nutrition experts love. Avocados also contain lutein, an antioxidant that protects eye health, and they also have some vitamin c, good amounts of vitamin A and a bit of vitamin E. Avocados are a wonderfully versatile addition to salads, tacos, soups, and on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.
On top of delivering a raft of cancer-fighting antioxidants, kale is one of the vegetable world’s top sources of vitamin A, which promotes eye and skin health and may help strengthen the immune system. It’s a good source of heart-healthy fiber and a 1-cup serving has almost as much vitamin C as an orange. Kale is also high in the minerals magnesium, potassium and iron and well known for folate (folic acid), which makes this also a wonderful food to eat during all stages of pregnancy including pre and post pregnancy as well (that is true for all leafy greens).
5. Brussel Sprouts
These are one of the cruciferous vegetables recently known for their ability to reduce cancer risk. Even though they are not many people’s favorite vegetable to eat – because of their peculiar taste (which is actual sulfur) and the fact that many people find they are gas producing, they however, are loaded with nutrition – they are high in vitamin A and C, folate (folic acid), and fiber and also fairly high in calcium, sulfur of course, phosphorus and potassium. Now only if we can get our children to eat them that would be an awesome accomplishment on all levels!
Had to have a few fruits in here! Research shows kiwifruit is surprisingly nutrient-dense. These fuzzy, little, green fruits provide 230 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C (almost twice that of an orange), more potassium than a banana, and 10 percent of the recommended daily allowances of vitamin E and folate. It’s also a good source of filling fiber. Slice some kiwi into your cereal, yogurt, or salad for a refreshing health boost. My kids like to cut them in half and eat them with a spoon!
7. Green Tea
I know this isn’t something you “eat” but I’m throwing this in there because I think it can be very beneficial to add to your healthy lifestyle and it’s green – it has it in the name! Green tea is an excellent source of catechins, another type of antioxidant. A subgroup of this compound known as EGCG has been studied for its potential role in preventing cancer and heart disease. One study showed that drinking one cup of green tea per day could decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent.
Leeks owe many of their anti-cancer superpowers to their sulfur compounds. These nutrients have been credited with everything from kicking cancer to boosting immunity. Studies also suggest leeks could help protect the digestive system from stomach and gastric cancers. They are a high fiber food that are related to green onions. They are mainly carbohydrate and fiber. They are also rich in potassium, iron and calcium and high in vitamin c. They can be stemmed or sautéed with other vegetable or used in soup.
The ‘coolest” of the vegetables, cucumbers are actually used medicinally for burns or irritated tissues. That’s why you always see cucumber slices on eyes, because it helps with stress, bags under eyes and inflammation or irritation. Cucumbers are eaten in their unripe state and usually raw. Interestingly they are not very high in any nutrient, but the seeds are actually the best source of vitamin E. Cucumbers also have some vitamin A and C.
Seaweed is gaining popularity, in part because it’s chock-full of minerals. Seaweed is a solid source of iodine (essential for thyroid health), packs a healthy dose of iron, and has unique anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Select a seaweed salad appetizer or sushi rolls made with nori next time you order Japanese food.
Healthy eating can be accomplished in so many different ways. Eating and introducing these green foods is just another simple way to become a healthier you! What green foods do you like best, and what green foods are you curious to try?
In the new year, many people will be making all sorts of resolutions like weight loss, quitting a bad habit, or maybe even something like running a marathon. All these resolutions are wonderful, but I think one of the best resolutions you can make is to take steps to create a green home. What does it mean to go green? Simply put, it means implementing certain lifestyle changes designed to help you live in a more eco-friendly way of life. It means becoming more environmentally aware and changing your behavior and lifestyle to reduce the amount of pollution and waste you generate.
We can do so much of that in our own home, and for little to no cost! I will give you six super easy and inexpensive tips to help make yourself a green home this coming New Year.
6 Tips to a Green Home
1. Enroll in online statements and get off junk mail lists
Many utility providers, cable companies, financial institutions, and more offer the option to receive online statements instead of printed statements. You just need to log in to the company’s website and change your preferences, or you can try calling the company’s customer service to do it that way. Reducing the amount of mail you receive reduces your impact on the environment in several ways. First, it reduces the number of trees that are cut down, which means there will be more trees converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. Second, a reduction in the amount of mail also reduces the amount of airplane/ vehicle delivery exhaust. Thirdly, it reduces the need for ink, which most of the time contains toxic chemical ingredients, and which takes a lot of fossil fuels to produce and distribute. Lastly, it reduces the amount of paper that ends up in landfills.
2. Unplug Electronics When Not In Use
Anything that has an LED (light emitting diode) that glows even after you turn it off continues to draw power (that you pay for). Your TV, cell phone charger, and printer are likely culprits. Unplug the offenders from wall sockets and plug them into power strips instead. When you leave a room, flip the strip switch to cut the flow of electricity. Just by doing this simple tip could save you up to $200 a year
3. No Shoes Allowed
Taking your shoes off before you enter your home is one is one of the easiest steps you can take to make your home more green and safe. Why? Well studies have shown that people track in all sorts of harmful toxins from outside the home when they walk into the house without removing their shoes. These toxins persist in the air in the form of dust, which is inhaled and absorbed by our skin as it settles on the floor and furniture. Chemicals stay in the air and on surfaces longer in our homes than they do outdoors, where the sun and rain help break down pesticide residues. This is especially important if you have small children, they spend most of their time on or near the floor, and can breathe in and touch chemical-laden dust or soil tracked in by shoes. Little kids who are constantly putting their hands and other objects in their mouths can ingest these dangerous particles and toxins, as well.
4. Recycle and Compost
Most cities will pick up and process recyclable material, and several (including San Francisco and Seattle) will also pick up compostable food material and yard waste. But let’s face it: You won’t recycle or compost if you don’t make it easy for yourself. Make sure to have bins for trash and recycling in every room, not just the kitchen! Tons of recyclable material is thrown away in homes offices and bathrooms because the recycling bin is too far away.
Half the trash that homes produce is composed of food scraps. When those go to the dump, they do nothing, but if you have a compost bin at your house, you can use those scraps to make fertilizer for your garden. Most outdoor composters cost between $100 and $600, depending on how large and secure they are. A more inexpensive choice is a DYI compost bin.
5. Wash Fewer but Fuller Loads of Laundry
Whenever you wash just a few clothes or dishes at a time rather than waiting for a full load to accumulate, you’re wasting water, power, and money. On average most American families of four washes around 540 loads of laundry a year, which consumes up to 21,000 gallons of water, and more than 150 loads of dishes, which uses about 1,500 gallons. All that energy is mostly consumed by washers and dishwashers to heat the water — about 90 percent in the clothes washer and 80 percent in the dishwasher. If you have to do short loads of laundry choose short cycles and use cold water. Just by washing two fewer loads of clothes and one less load of dishes a week and save up to 4,500 gallons of water a year!
6. Switch your cleaning products
What is the difference between natural cleaning products and traditional? The big difference is the active ingredient. Traditional cleaning products tend to have artificially produced cleaning agents, typically compounds that do not occur in nature. These tend to be toxic when introduced to nature and don’t break down (biodegrade) in nature very well. Green cleaning products tend to have naturally occurring compounds, like vinegar or Orange oil, or baking soda; and those that are man-made are biodegradable i.e. they quickly break down into naturally occurring substances that nature can recycle. As a result Green products are less toxic to the environment. For just about every traditional cleaning product you use, there is a natural alternative you can use in your green home. If you’re not sure where to start, try HERE.
Those are just six simple easy and inexpensive tips you can use to make your home more green in 2015!
What steps are you taking to create a green home?
Detoxing with various beverages is a great way to help give your body the nutrients it’s really craving. Detox drinks can give your digestive system a break from having to break down and digest food. This is especially helpful after the holiday season when we could use some help after indulging in sweets and treats and foods we don’t usually eat on a regular basis.
The liver is the most important detoxifying organ in the body, with over 300 functions. It only makes sense to drink fruits and vegetables to help it function at its best and give the liver a little break. Here is a list of detoxifying drink recipes that can be incorporated into any kind detox program you’re following, or you can just enjoy them purely for their health benefits.
7 Detox Drink Recipes
1. Lemon Cayenne Detox Drink
This drink is excellent because lemons help with numerous things. They aid in digestion, flush toxins out of liver and kidneys, help suppress appetite, boost immune system, cleans the blood and it also help move radiation from the body.
- 2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2tablespoons pure maple syrup or raw honey (I prefer raw honey)
- A pinch or more of ground cayenne pepper
- 10-12 oz of pure filtered water.
Pour it all together and shake good…or you can blend it all up in your blender.
This would be wonderful to drink right when you wake, before food or coffee, to help get your system ready for good.
2. Beet Kvass
Beets are loaded with nutrients and are an excellent blood tonic. They promote regularity, aid digestion, alkalize the blood, cleanse the liver and are good for kidney stones and other ailments. This recipe comes right from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I recommend this book to all.
- 3 medium or 2 large organic beets, peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup whey
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- Filtered water
Place beets, whey and salt in a 2 quart glass container. Add filtered water to fill the container. Stir well and cover securely. Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to the refrigerator.
3. Green Detox Juice
Green juice is very popular now. There are so many options when it comes to green juicing. Green juice helps aid in weight loss, helps to reduce chances of Alzheimer’s and also helps to reduce blood pressure also helps to prevent colon and liver cancers. Make sure to buy these fruits and vegetables organic. Especially while you’re doing a detox, you don’t want to be adding pesticides to your body.
- 2 Medium apples
- 4 Stalks of celery
- 1 Medium cucumber
- 6-8 kale leaves or a big handful of spinach
- a chunk of ginger (1″ diameter)
- 1/2 squeezed lemon
You can put this through a juicer or if you have a high powered blender (vitamix or blendtec, you can throw them in there)
4. Apple Cinnamon Detox Drink
Did you know both apples and cinnamon raise your metabolism? Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants and flavanoids, including Vitamins C and B Complex. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Cinnamon has many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, fighting diabetes, and helps relieve arthritis pain.
- 2 liter container
- 1 apple (I like Pink Lady, Honey Crisp or Fugi the best)
- 1 cinnamon stick. Don’t use powdered cinnamon, I tried this..and it got very clumpy.
- Filtered water.
Drop apple slices in the bottom of the pitcher (save a few to drop in your glass later) and then the cinnamon stick. Cover with ice about 1/2 way through then with water. Place in the fridge for 1 hour before serving. You can refill the container 2-3 times before it begins to lose flavor.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar Drink
The acids in apple cider vinegar bind to toxins and help the body get rid of them more effectively. It also helps fight against yeast, bacteria, and fungus. It helps breaks up mucus in the body and aids in digestion. It also helps circulation and helps the liver detoxify. This is best to drink with room temperature in the morning.
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- Stevia to taste (I like vanilla stevia in this because it gives it an almost apple pie taste)
- 8 oz of filtered water.
Add all ingredients together, stir and enjoy
6. Dandelion Tea
Dandelion Tea is shown to be very purifying for the body, and is a great aid in digestion. What dandelion does is raises levels of an enzyme in the body known for its detoxifying functions. These have been known to help the body get rid of carcinogens, or cancer-causing toxins in the body, which is definitely worth making this one of your daily rituals. Most people find that the taste is also pleasant, so the chore is not so bad. Make as you would any tea.
7. Green Coconut Smoothie
Limes bring a nice dose of detoxifying properties to this smoothie and coconut water is adding incredible amounts of potassium and electrolytes, kale rounds out the nutrients with doses of Vitamin K and A in addition to lutein and an abundance of antioxidants.
- 5 kale leaves
- 4/5 cup freshly squeezed limes
- 2 freshly squeezed lemons
- 1 cup coconut water
- 2 handfuls ice (more if desired)
- Raw honey to taste (I used about 3 Tbsp. – the kids like it with more)
Place all ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth. Add more water or ice to obtain desired consistency.
Do you have a favorite drink that helps you detox after the holidays?
Do you have fond memories of winter time when you were young? I know I do. One of my most fond memories was coming inside from playing out in the snow, and my mom would have a huge pot of homemade hot cocoa and buttered toast ready for us. It was the best thing ever and warmed us kids right up. Today I’m going to be sharing some cozy winter time recipes for organic snacks and ideas for your next cozy winter night.
Warm and Cozy Organic Snacks:
Dairy Free Organic Hot Cocoa Recipe
- 1 can organic coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp organic cacao powder
- 1-2 Tbsp. (or to taste) organic raw honey
- pinch sea salt
- 1/4 tsp organic vanilla
Tip: To make it Cocoa Mint, add a drop or two of peppermint extract.
Combine coconut milk, vanilla, cocoa, and salt in a sauce pan and whisk together until combined. Over low-medium heat warm the milk, whisking continuously, until it starts to bubble gently. Remove from heat and stir in honey
One last tip! Sometimes I like to throw it all in my Vita-Mix for about 1 minute on High after the last step, it combines ingredients really well and kids love the frothy top it makes.
Organic Flavored Popcorn Recipe
I don’t know what it is about popcorn on a cold night but it is one of my favorite organic snacks this time of year. I like to switch it up sometimes with different seasonings.
Directions to make Popcorn:
Directions: In a 3-Qt pan, pour in 3 tbsp coconut oil in the pan. Add a couple corn kernels to the pan, cover and heat. When they pop, add remaining popcorn and cover and shake pan over medium heat until popping stops. Add desired seasonings. Makes about 16 cups.
Optional Flavors Popcorn Flavors:
1. Ranch: Melt 4 tablespoons coconut oil or butter with a 1/2 packet of organic ranch seasoning mix; toss with 16 cups hot popcorn and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Season with salt.
3. Brown Butter Cinnamon Sugar
- 6 tablespoons salted butter, diced.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon organic cinnamon
Place butter in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Set pot over medium-low heat and stir constantly as butter melts and foams. After a few minutes, butter will turn golden and brown specks will form. When the foam subsides and the butter begins to smell nutty, remove from the heat. Butter should be deep golden brown but not black or burnt. Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla (be prepared for butter to foam up quite a bit). While brown butter slightly cools, mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl until well combined.
Slowly drizzle brown butter over popcorn, allowing any black/dark brown sediment at the bottom of the pot to remain behind. Gently stir popcorn until evenly coated. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture over buttered popcorn; stir, and repeat with remaining cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.
Homemade Organic Chai Tea Concentrate Recipe
- 4 cups of pure water
- 6 organic chai tea bags
- 3 Tbsp. raw honey
- 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
Pour water in to sauce pan over medium-low heat and bring to boil. Add tea bags and steep for 15-20 minutes. Remove tea bags and squeeze remaining liquid into pan.
When it cools slightly stir in honey and vanilla. Store in large mason jar and keep in fridge for up to 7-10 days. To make use a 1:1 ratio. 1/2 cup chai concentrate to 1/2 c milk.
Chai Tea Latte Recipe
Pour chai tea into a small sauce pan on stove and heat on medium low just until warm. Pour milk into your high power blender and blend on high for 2 minutes. This will warm up milk and make if very frothy. Pour warm chai into mug then top with frothy milk. If you have an espresso machine you can use that as well. Serves about 4.
What are your favorite organic snacks to cozy up to during the winter time?