For The Greater Goods (sm)

Krissy

Organic Teething Biscuit Recipes

My baby is 2 now, and has cut most of her teeth, so I haven’t had the need to use organic teething biscuits for some time now, but when she was teething, I was baking up a storm of different kinds of teething friendly goodies.  With my first two kids I went with whatever my mom used on my siblings and I growing up which was the Nabisco’s Zwieback toast.  Do they still make that? I’m scared to look.  I also remember using a brand from Ger which I dreaded giving my kids because it made the biggest mess.

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Photo credit: Abigail Batchelder

That is why with my last baby and now living a healthy lifestyle I wanted to stray from the conventional teething biscuits I once knew and wanted to make my own organic teething biscuits with healthy baby friendly ingredients.   These recipes are very versatile, so you will be able to substitute many ingredients!

Basic Organic Teething Biscuit Recipe

(Best for babies age 1 and up, see note below)

Mix dry ingredients in.  Add in syrup, if using, and melted oil.  Form date-like shapes and put on greased baking sheet or parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Flip them halfway through so that you have a nice golden crisp on both sides of biscuit. Store in uncovered dish for at least 24 hours which will harden them even more.

*There are many variations you can do with this organic teething biscuit recipe. Try using pumpkin instead of applesauce and add pumpkin spice, or add mashed banana instead of applesauce with a tsp. of cinnamon.   So many options you can try!

Grain Free (Gluten Free) Organic Teething Biscuits

  • 1 – 1/2 cups Almond flour (or try using 1 cup sprouted flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 egg yolks (pastured raised preferred)
  • 1/2 cup purred/mashed fruit (applesauce, mashed bananas, pumpkin, carrots sweet potato etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like to use the non-alcohol extract)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or use bleach free parchment paper . Beat oil and egg yolks together, mixing well. Add mashed fruit or vegetables.

Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and fold into wet mixture until combined. If the mixture is too dry, add a little more water by the teaspoons. The dough will be stiff but should not crumble. Knead the dough and roll out on a floured surface or parchment paper to form an about 12 inch log. Cut small slices 1/4-1/2 inch thick and arrange on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes (depending on oven) and flip half way through for even baking.

If you would rather buy your biscuits try this brand.   Have you made organic teething biscuits before, what were you favorite ingredients?

Notes: 

*Most babies’ digestion is not prepared for processing grains especially wheat, before the age of one.  In order to process grains, we need to make the enzyme Amylase. Babies do not make this enzyme in large enough amounts to digest grains until their molar teeth are fully developed. And for most kids this doesn’t happen until they are closer to 2 years old. So, what happens when babies are given grains that they cannot digest? It irritates the lining of their little digestive tract and can have a negative impact on the balance of good and bad bacteria in their tummy. If babies tummy’s are chronically irritated and inflamed this can lead to a host of problems which including food allergies, asthma and even behavioral problems. Many parents (including myself with my first two children) are fed a diet of  cheerios, toast, pasta and other processed foods that have no nutritional value and that are filled with GMO’s, sugar and hydrogenated oils (trans fats), we are leaving less room in their diet for nutrient-rich foods that they need to be healthy.

*Spouted flours – The grains have been sprouted and then dehydrated and finally ground to make flour. This process neutralized the phytic acid in the grains. Phytic acid can combine with minerals in our body (zinc, calcium, etc.) and block their absorption. This can lead to mineral deficiencies and bone loss.

Eating Healthy: Tips for a Healthy Diet & Lifestyle

Eating healthy is defined many different ways by many people.  Sometimes it can be a little confusing and sometimes, downright overwhelming.  Seems like every few years the media is telling us, “eat a no fat diet”, “stay awayeating-healthy from carbs”, “sprinkle this chemical on your food to make you feel full!” The list goes on and on and on.  So is there really a right way to eat, is there a good diet?   The answer is simply….. YES!  Now to clarify what I mean by ‘diet’ let’s look at the two definitions of ‘diet’.  The first definition of the word diet is the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.  The second definition (which most people think of when they hear the word ‘diet’) is a special course of food to which one restricts oneself to lose weight.

Today we are talking about the first definition: the kind of foods humans should be eating.  Do you know what kinds of food you should be eating in order to be eating healthy?  Well I will give it to you in very simple terms.  We humans should be eating whole foods, a nutrient dense diet.   What does that mean?   Whole foods equal 1 ingredient foods.  That means all your fruits vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, herbs etc.   If you eat a whole foods diet, you can guarantee that your body will be getting the nutrients it craves.   Now, you may ask, what if I am a Vegan, Vegetarian or Paleo, etc.?   Good question. No matter which lifestyle you lead, you should be following the same rule in order to be eating healthy: eat whole foods.  Did you know that Oreo’s are a vegan food?  Hmm… makes you wonder a little bit doesn’t it.  Most of us know there is nothing healthy about an Oreo cookie. Just because someone is vegan or vegetarian does not mean they are eating healthy. That is why everyone will benefit from a whole foods diet.  Limit or eliminate processed foods.  Try a balance of 80-20 or if you can 90-10 (the bigger number being whole foods and the lower number being processed).  That is a good goal for all who want to be eating healthy to work up to!

Tips to eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle:

1. Eat as many whole foods as you can, shoot for 80% of your meals being whole foods. The average person would benefit from a meal consisting of 40% Carbs (complex healthy carbs from vegetables and properly prepared grains) 30% protein and 30% fats.  We are all different so that ratio might vary from person to person.
2. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store. That is where you will find your whole foods like your produce, proteins (meats, poultry, fish) and dairy.
3. When buying your proteins ALWAYS buy and look for words like:

  • Grass-fed
  • Organic
  • Uncured and nitrate free
  • Free range or pastured raised (pastured are the best eggs)
  • Wild caught fish
    *This will help you get the best quality proteins which will be the most nutrient dense.

4. When it comes to your fruits and vegetables always do your best to buy organic or locally to help out and support the farmers around your area.
5. Don’t sweat it, if you have to buy conventional produce from time to time, just make sure you wash your produce really well to get the waxes and chemicals off.  A good tip is to fill up your sink with cold water and add a cup of vinegar.  Add your veggies and let them soak in the cold vinegar bath for 5-10 minutes.  I do this will almost all my veggies (local, conventional and organic).
6. When buying nuts and seeds always look for the word “raw”. This tells you that they haven’t been heated or treated.
7. Be cautious of the word “Natural” especially if you see this on meats, eggs, poultry, pork and fish. I mean all of that is natural, but in the industry it means that the meat contains no artificial colors, it has been minimally processed and there should be no additional artificial ingredients.  What this label is not telling you is how this animal was raised, what it ate or the conditions this animal lived in. I stay away from most everything that say’s “Natural” and doesn’t back it up.
8. Eat FAT!  People these days are so scared of fat I could write a whole book on this subject alone. Our bodies scream for good fats, not only are they good for you, but having good fats in our diets is absolutely essential.  Here is a very quick list of why fats are essential for our bodies:

  • They are our key source of energy, which is a nice long steady energy burn, unlike sugar which is a quick source (which craves you to want more). Fat burns slow which helps us to have more energy for a longer period of time.
  • Good fats are in every single cell in our bodies and they play a crucial role in our elimination of toxins and healthy fats are responsible for healthy liver function.
  • Fats are essential for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. Which means if we are taking and or eating foods with these vitamins they are absorbed into our body better if we are eating good quality fats.
  • Fats are also wonderful at managing the inflammation in our bodies.

9. Which fats do I eat then?

  • Fats to avoid at all costs are: Hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, highly processed vegetable oils like :  Canola, vegetable oils, margarines and those fake butters like Promise and Can’t believe it’s Not Butter. These fats are toxic and interfere with the roles healthy fats play within our bodies.
  • Instead good fats to add to your diet are organic, cold pressed and unrefined.  Which means the oils haven’t been heated to kill the nutrients.  These include: Coconut oil, Olive oil, raw butter, Grass-fed butters, ghee or clarified butter, fats from pastured animals like lard and tallow, hazelnut, sesame, flaxseed oil, fish oil, hemp and sunflower oils are all good.

10. Limit your sugar!  This is a huge topic and could be talked about alone. I’ll try to shorten it up a bit. Did you know in the year 1810 the average person consumed around 10 pounds of sugar a year.   In the year 2005 the average person consumed an average of 199 pounds of sugar a year.  Go ahead, read that last sentence again….  I was blown away too.  That’s pretty sad isn’t it?  And people wonder why there is so much sickness. Sugar is everywhere and it has many sneaky names too.  Make sure you read your labels and watch out for all these words: Brown sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, white sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, corn sugar, date sugar, maple sugar, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar. Hidden Names for Sugar: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, disaccharides, molasses, succanat, polysaccharides, sucrose, fructose, invert sugar, dextrose, sucrose, glucose, lactose, sorbitol, mannitol, honey, malt, malt extract, maltose, maltodextrin, rice extract. If you read the label and one of these is listed in the 1st 3 ingredients then you can guarantee it will be a high sugar product.

11. Fake sugars to avoid:

  • Aspartame aka Nutrasweet, Equal and this one is found in sodas, energy drinks, gum and many yogurts. Aspartame is one of the most studied artificial sweeteners, and has been accused of causing everything from weight gain to cancer.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup found in virtually everything from ice cream to spaghetti sauces.  It is highly processed from corn which will mostly likely contain GMO’s.  HFCS should be avoided like the plague.
  • Sucralose aka Splenda found in fruit drinks, canned fruit, etc.
  • Agave Nectar has more fructose than table sugar which, which means it’s less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar, but it is more likely to reduce your metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

There is so much to say about eating healthy, so much controversy, but in the end if you just stick to these couple things you can ensure you are doing right for your body.  So to end just remember these few things: shop the perimeter of the store for your whole nutrient dense foods and read your labels.

12 Natural Cold Remedies & Tips for Flu Season

Now that we are in the midst of the cold and flu season I thought I’d share some natural cold remedies to help you avoid getting ill. And if the flu or cold has already caught you, don’t fear, there are many natural ways to lessennatural-cold-remedies-for-flu-season the duration of your cold or flu and lessen those pesky symptoms.  What you might find surprising is that you might have many of these natural cold remedies right in your own kitchen!  No running to the store in the middle of the night to buy a bottle of cherry-flavored medication (which is full of chemicals and dyes).

I’m going to list several natural cold remedies. You pick what works best for you. Try out a few. I use all of these in my own home.

12 Natural Cold Remedies

  1. Elderberry Syrup. I wrote about this a couple months ago when the kids first started school. This is my favorite for prevention.  We are almost 2 months in to the school year and my kids have not had a single sniffle or cough!
  2. Vitamin D is a wonderful too for prevention too. Boosting vitamin D levels can help prevent illness in the first place, and taking several thousand IU a day while sick can help speed up recovery.  I’m in Washington State where we don’t see too much sunshine, so vitamin D is a must over here.
  3. Rest. I know this can be a hard one for busy adults, but most of our bodies healing comes while we are a rest and when we are sleeping so make sure at the first signs of illness, to start resting.  Get the kids into bed a 1/2 hour earlier.
  4. Hydrate! I can’t stress this enough. Drink lots of fluid. Water is the best. Water helps remove waste and flush toxins out of our body and this is especially important when we are sick. Not only does water help regulate our body temperate which is helpful when we have a fever, water actually empowers the body’s natural healing process.  So put down the sodas and juice and drink some water!
  5. Stay away from Junk. This means limit or remove all processed food from your diet while sick, which includes anything in a box, white breads, pastas, sugars and grains.  These all slow down our body’s healing process which will keep us sick for longer. Take out these foods and stick with whole foods.
  6. Vitamin C is probably the most important of all the antioxidant nutrients. When you feel a cold coming on a higher dose than usual can help in your body’s response to fight infection. Also it is known to have antiviral and anticancer effects.
  7. Oil of Oregano is an excellent early defense mechanism when you feel a cold or sore throat coming on. Simply take 3 drops of the oil once per day (you can mix it into a glass of orange juice) and you should notice results within a few hours. Repeat this once per day for up to 5 days until the symptoms are gone. This one works like a charm for me, but it can be hard to get the kids to do this one.
  8. Apple Cider Vinegar. Cold viruses tend to put our bodies into an overly acidic state, which makes it that much more difficult for our immunity to fight those sickies. But taking apple cider vinegar, a powerful alkalizing food, will help not only kill a cold but also lessen or completely take away its miserable symptoms. Mixing a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with warm water, honey, and lemon, and drinking the concoction a few times a day will help speed up recovery.  My kids take this very well. I add in some Vanilla Stevia and it tastes like apple pie.
  9. Neti-pot. This is one of my favorite.  If you have a sinus infection or stuffed up nose this really helps clear that junk out.  Mix 8oz. of spring water or distilled water (room temperate is best) with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.  Poor in your neti-pot and use. Also if you use this daily, I like to use it first thing in the morning, it will help prevent sinus infections from starting.
  10. Garlic. A powerhouse natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antibacterial, garlic can tackle almost any illness. For the most potent effect, finely mince 1-2 cloves and mix with a tablespoon or two of raw honey and take it that way. If you chew it, that action will help break down the enzymes in the garlic which will be more readily available. Note: Pregnant women should not take more than 1 clove of garlic medicinally per day. * I successfully healed my strep-throat last year using this method. I used the above method but doubled the recipes and added cayenne pepper and took 1/2 tsp every 1/2 hour (except while sleeping) for 2 days, then 3 x a day until it symptoms disappeared.  My Strep throat was gone in 5 days!
  11. Eucalyptus oil is one of my favorite natural cold remedies.  It is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and it is a natural expectorant.  When my kids show signs of coughs I put a few drops right onto their feet and rub it in. It works like a charm every time.  Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil etc.
  12. Echinacea. Supplementing with echinacea herb not only reduces your chances of developing a cold by more than 50 percent, but can also shorten the duration of cold symptoms by several days. Because it stimulates the immune system and promotes the activation of T-cells, echinacea is an excellent cold remedy, especially when combined with other natural cold remedies I listed.

I hope these natural cold remedies come in handy next time you are facing a cold or flu virus. Remember try different ones to see which works for you.  What are your go-to natural cold remedies?

Organic Granola Recipes: Maple Vanilla &Chocolate Chip

Granola always brings back sweet memories for me.  I remember when I was a kid my dad would come home from work with one of those old tins, (you know the ones that had Christmas scenes on them, and were once full of some sort of Scandinavian cookies) and when he would shake it, we knew exactly what it was!   Not cookies, but my grandma’s granola: simple, sweet and crunchy, the perfect granola!  Now that I’m grown and have a gluten sensitive daughter we have steered clear of granola and my kids’ favorite, granola bars. Steering clear of this isn’t only due to gluten intolerance, but also because often traditional, store-bought granola can be overly sweetened, processed and if you buy it at a conventional grocery store it will most likely contain GMO’s.  We don’t want that.  It’s always best to make your own or buy an organic granola brand which assures you that it is GMO free!

After trying out a few grain free recipes I finally came up with a version of my own organic granola recipe that is kid and husband approved!  I came up with a frozen organic granola bar which is pretty darn tasty too.  I hope you give them a try! 

Maple Vanilla Grain Free Organic Granola

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 170 (if your oven goes to 160 that would be preferable)

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Toss  nuts, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit in a blender or food processor (or chop if you have neither), and process blend briefly, until nuts, seeds and dried fruit are broken up –you want different sizes of the pieces of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, some whole, some broken, some ground. You know, what makes granola, well granola!

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Pour this mixture into a large bowl and stir in chia seeds, flax meal, coconut, and cinnamon.

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In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil and butter then whisk in honey, vanilla and sunflower/almond butter until smooth.

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Pour yummy liquid mixture into dry, and stir with a wooden spoon until liquid mixture is evenly coated.

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Spread maple vanilla organic granola out on a parchment lined baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring halfway through. After 30 minutes, it should be golden brown. Stir again, turn oven off, and let sit in the oven for 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and let it sit out and cool—this is when it will harden and get it’s crunchy texture.

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When it’s cooled completely cool, break it up with your hands and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Grain Free Chocolate Chip Organic Granola Bars:

My kids and husband love these snacks!  So quick and easy, and no baking required!

All you do is follow the above recipe, but when you get to step 5 let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes then add in the chocolate chips or chunks.

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Then instead of spreading onto a baking sheet, I use an 8”x 8” baking dish lined with parchment paper and pressed organic granola mixture into pan.  Stick it in the freezer for 2-3 hours and it’s done!

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Take them out, cut them up and keep in the freezer for a quick grab and go snack that your children will love!

Do you make your own organic granola?  Share your favorites in the comments!

Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers: A Look at Both the Pros & Cons

Cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers?  Which am I going to use on my baby?  If you are a mom, most importantly a new momma I am sure you have pondered this question once or twice before.  I know I did. On average your cloth-diapersbaby will probably spend around 25,000 hours in a diaper and need about 6,000 diaper changes in their first years of life. Crazy thought huh?!

Your decision to use disposable or cloth diapers will not only have a great impact on your baby’s comfort and health; it can also impact the environment, and your pocket as well.  Today we’re going to look at the pros and cons of both types of diapers!  Hopefully after you read this you will get a better idea of how you want to diaper your sweet baby!

Disposable Diapers

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to dispose

Cons

  • In a baby’s lifetime it will cost anywhere from $2000-2500 if using disposable diapers and if you are using organic eco-friendly disposables it is going to cost  you more around $3,000
  • They are horrible for our environment it is estimated that around 5 million tons of untreated waste is deposited into landfills via disposables every year.
  • Harder to potty-train; toddlers can’t feel wetness as much with disposables, so it’s harder for them to potty-train.
  • More diaper-rash; according to one study, 78% of babies in disposable diapers get diaper-rash, compared to only 7% of cloth diapered babies.
  • A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health in 1999, found that disposable diapers do release chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. VOCs are linked to toxic health effects over time and with a high level of exposure, including cancer and brain damage.

Cloth Diapers

Pros:

  • It’s cheaper; cloth diapers can be expensive for the initial set-up ($250-$700), but in the long run they work out a lot cheaper than disposables, depending on what system you use.
  • Reusable and eco-friendly.  Make sure you are using natural detergents like Charlie’s Soap or Allen’s Naturally to get these diapers clean, and if they’re really stinky, try Stink Out, a laundry additive especially for cloth diapers.
  • Less diaper-rash; cloth diapered babies tend to have less diaper-rash, because natural cotton fibers breathe more easily.
  • Can be used for future children; works out even cheaper because you can use for any more children you have.
  • Cloth diapered children tend to potty-train earlier, because the cloth tends to hold moisture closer to baby’s skin.
  • No more of the scary pins your mom had to deal with. Cloth diapers now come with Velcro or snap closures, shapes fitted to baby, waterproof bands around the waist and legs, and removable linings, making the cloth change just as quick and easy as the disposable.
  • Cloth diapers are CUTE… have you seen all the different patterns, colors and styles they come in?!

Cons:

  • Not as convenient as disposables.
  • Have to carry your dirty diapers around with you.
  • Not as absorbent as disposables causing you to change your baby more often.

Now that you have an idea of the pros and cons of both types of diapers which one are you going to choose?  I truly believe that if you want to truly go organic, cloth diapers is the only way to go.  Using cloth diapers ensures that you are not only protecting our planet but your precious baby more importantly.  If you still decide to use disposable diapers I highly recommend finding organic, disposable diapers and staying away from conventional, diapers (Pampers, Huggies etc).  As I sit here writing this blog post I can tell you that like the breastfeeding vs. organic baby formula debate, I have experience with each side of the debate when it comes to my own children.  I currently have a 23 month old and I started out using cloth diapers with her then switching to cheap disposable diapers when my life got hectic (I also gave away all my cloth diapers – big mistake!).  Well, you know what I just did while writing this post?  I ordered more cloth diapers!  Hopefully these pros and cons inspire you as well!

Some Eco-Friendly disposable diapers:

  • Naty Natural Babycare
  • Nurtured by Nature
  • Seventh Generation Free and Clear Baby Diapers
  • Earth’s Best Tender Care Chlorine Free Diapers

Have you cloth diapered your children?  If so do you have any tips or tricks or gentle advice for new mothers just starting out?  We would love to hear your comments!

Also check out how easily and quickly you can make your own eco-friendly, organic baby wipes.

Organic Baby Formula & Other Healthy Alternatives to Breastfeeding

As a mother I have been on every side of the breastfeeding vs. supplementing vs. organic baby formula debate. From not being able to nurse a child at all, to organic baby formula feeding, to breastfeeding with supplementation and currently I am fortunate to say that I was able to breastfeed by youngest child without supplements or bottles for the entire first year of her life.

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Photo credit: WebMD

Having been on all sides of the feeding baby spectrum I must point out how your child’s health benefits from breastfeeding:

  • Breast milk is perfectly designed for your baby’s physical and mental development.
  • Colostrum that is produced by the mammary glands during the first few days of a baby’s life helps guard baby against colds, flu, staph infections, polio and other viruses.
  • They also benefit from appropriate jaw, teeth and speech development as well as overall facial development
  • Breastfeeding diminishes the onset of type 2 diabetes in both the mother and the child.
  • Babies who are breastfed are less vulnerable to allergies and heart diseases.
  • Unlike formula, breast milk is able to adapt to the changing needs of your baby.
  • Breast milk contains live enzymes that help babies produce important antibodies and ward off infections.
  • Breast milk has just the right amount of nutrients for your baby and plays a key role in enhancing its immune system. This also improves the overall health of the mother.

And that’s just to name a few, there are so many other added benefits to breastfeeding your child, the one I like most is that it’s ALWAYS readily available.  I remember packing around water, formula, bottles and that was just no fun.  It’s so much easier when your baby’s meal is attached to you ;) Having said all that, I must express that even though mother’s milk is far superior to formula, the fact of the matter is sometimes it’s just not an option.  Some mothers are unable to breastfeed for medical reasons or they may have an inadequate milk supply or it may be that they’re not able to produce milk at all.  Each mother is different and every situation is different and there will be times when a mother needs to supplement.  In that case there are a few alternative options you may want to look into.

Healthy Alternative Options to Breastfeeding

A wonderful first option would be to find a trusted friend or a relative who might be willing to donate fresh milk or you can even find a milk bank to purchase donated milk (which has been tested).

Secondly, if that is not an option the next best thing would be to make your own formula, and personally if I had known this information with my formula fed baby, this is the direction I would have gone. Here are some great whole foods based formula recipes, based on Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions.

Organic Baby Formula

Lastly, if none of the above alternative options work for you that’s when I would look into pre-made organic baby formula.  Make sure you read your labels and stay away from conventional formulas and always make sure you buy organic baby formula.  Here is a good organic baby formula option.  This brand of organic baby formula is suggested for a baby 12 months and older. For infants less than 12 months, use as directed by a healthcare professional.

The most important advice I could give to any new mom, is to do your research and educate yourself on breastfeeding and organic baby formula feeding and that way you can make the best decisions for you and your child.

*Note on Goat milk: Although goat milk is rich in fat, it must be used with caution in infant feeding as it lacks folic acid and is low in vitamin B12  (both are essential to growth and development).  Look here and under the first recipe it will say, Variation: Goat Milk Formula which will instruct you how to make a proper goat milk recipe.

Organic Gelatin Powder: Benefits, Uses & Cooking Tips

I don’t know about you, but in the past when I heard the word, gelatin I would automatically think Jell-O! After learning more and more about it, I’d now say it could almost be classified as a superfood, because of its many

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Photo credit: NaturalHealth365.com

amazing health benefits and uses.  We have even incorporated organic gelatin powder into our family’s whole food diet and use it often. Here is why:

Benefits of Organic Gelatin:

  1. Organic gelatin contains half of the 18 essential amino acids, needed for survival with one of the most important amino acid called glycine.
  2. It improves digestion by naturally binding to water and helps food move through the digestive tract more easily.
  3. If you want to lose weight gelatin is thought to increase the production of Human Growth Hormone and to boost metabolism.  And with its nutrient-dense content, it also helps keep you full!
  4. Check this out: some experts suggest adding gelatin to the diet to help alleviate a number of allergies.
  5. It can help tighten up loose skin and reduce wrinkles when taken internally. Some say it helps with cellulite.
  6. Organic gelatin is good for both joint and bone health because it contains many of amino acids important in helping to prevent the weakness of cartilage in joints.  With its anti-inflammatory traits it has also been shown to reduce  the pain of inflammation of arthritis.
  7. Organic gelatin can help speed to heal wounds more quickly.
  8. Organic gelatin has an amnio acid called glycine which plays an important role in the neurotransmitters within the brain. Glycine helps us to get a more restful sleep and not only that it will also help reduce daytime sleepiness and help improve your memory during waking hours.
  9. Organic gelatin is a great detoxifier, helps liver remove toxins from our body.
  10. Lastly, look no further for healthy, strong hair, nails and teeth. Organic gelatin contains karatin a protein which is found in our hair, nails and teeth.

Uses For Organic Gelatin:

  • You can use this just as you would any gelatin powder. The difference is that it’s organic meaning it will not contain any preservatives, additives or chemicals.  You will be getting a better quality outcome with wonderful health benefits.
  • Organic gelatin is very versatile.  Try adding a bit to the next soup or stew you make.
  • Powdered gelatin can be used in making tasty desserts of all sorts.  Homemade Jell-Os, mousses, and puddings with organic gelatin are so yummy.  You can even make marshmallows.
  • Add 1 tsp to your shampoo to help your hair grow thick and strong.
  • Take as a daily supplement. I like to actually drink mine in tea. Add 1 Tbsp to your tea and stir.
  • Using in place of your protein powder for smoothies is an excellent alternative.
  • 1 Tbsp in a cup of chamomile tea before bed will help you get that good sleep (I mix the gelatin in with a little cold water first then poor in the hot – this helps with clumping).

Organic Gelatin Cooking Tips:

  • Jellies should never be frozen. After defrosting they lose their smooth consistency and become brittle.
  • Too much sugar can inhibit gelatinization. The more sugar in the recipe, the softer the resultant gelatin will be.
  • When making jellies and puddings using raw kiwis, figs, pineapple, papayas or mangoes you should briefly steam the fruit or pour hot water over it prior to preparation. These fruits contain an enzyme that splits protein, which breaks up the gelatin and makes it liquefy.
  • Never add gelatin to boiling liquid because it loses its gelling strength.
  • Unprepared gelatin has an indefinite shelf-life as long as it is wrapped airtight and stored in a cool, dry place.

Do you use Organic Gelatin Powder?  What are your favorite uses?

Elderberry Syrup Recipe for Combating Flu Season

Now that summer has almost ended and most of our kiddos are back in school, there is one thing looming on my mind… the dreaded flu season.  I love it when the kids go back to school, but what I DON’T love is what they elderberry-syrup-recipeBRING home from school: GERMS!   With all the onslaught of germs comes the sniffles, pukes, night time coughing and fevers… and what I hate even more is that after one kid gets sick, the other ones soon do too… and it seems to go on forever.  Even me, who prided myself on not getting sick had to drag myself to my N.D. last year when I got the flu for the first time in 6 years (and it took me down…hard!).  At the end of my appointment my N.D. typed up my “prescriptions” and first thing on the list was Elderberry Syrup.

He began to tell me that a study was done between Tamiflu (a well-known flu medication) and elderberry syrup comparing how they treat the flu and elderberry syrup knocked Tamiflu out of the park!  Elderberries contain a ton of healthy properties (including antioxidants, tannins, vitamins A, B, and C, flavonoids, and much more), which help strengthen the immune system, which makes elderberry syrup very effective in treating the flu.  But to buy elderberry syrup through my N.D. or health food store it seemed to run anywhere from $15-$20 for a 4-8 oz. bottle.  I thought that was a little steep so I decided I wanted to save some money and take a stab at making my own.  I did and I was able to make 2 batches (of 16 oz. or more) in what it cost for a 4-8 oz. bottle.  What’s even better is that elderberry syrup tastes delicious!  It’s not a syrup I have to fight my children to take…they ask for it!  Now let’s get started with the recipe!

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Ingredients:

elderberry-syrup-ingredients

  • 2/3 cup dried elderberries
  • 3-3 1/2 cup water (distilled, spring or filtered is best, preferably not tap water)
  • 2 tbsp. of one of the following : garlic (chopped), Ginger root, dried echincacea)
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks or powder
  • 1 tsp. dried whole cloves or 1/2 tsp clove powder  (optional)
  • 1 cup raw or local honey or local honey

Step 1: Place berries, water, and spices in a saucepan.

elderberry-syrup-recipe-step-1

Step 2: Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45-50 minutes. (I was busy with my toddler and mine simmered for around 60 minutes, and it was fine) The liquid will reduce a bit, and that’s perfectly normal.

elderberry-syrup-recipe-step-2

Step 3: Smash the berries to release remaining juice and strain the mixture, I used a fine strainer here but I have also used a nut milk bag and was able to squeeze a lot more juice out, I was a just a little lazy this time around.

elderberry-syrup-recipe-step-3

Step 4: Now that the liquid is cooled down a bit, stir in your honey.  We do this here because if we did this step in the beginning when the liquid is very hot it would kill all those important flu fighting enzymes in the honey.

elderberry-syrup-recipe-step-4

There you have it your very own, flu fighting Elderberry Syrup!

Elderberry-Syrup

Standard dosage for prevention:

Babies – Under the age of 1 should not take syrup which contains honey.

Kids – 1/2 -1 tsp. a daily

Adults – 1/2 tbsp. – 1 tbsp. daily

When the onset of flu or colds strike take normal dosages every 2-3 hours until symptoms are gone. Elderberry syrup stored in a glass container, tightly in the refrigerator will last up to two months!

Not into making Syrup. Try this Elderberry Juice and here are some other good immune boosting supplements!

*Note:  In my recipe above I used garlic.  I usually use grated ginger or dried Echinacea. I wasn’t sure how it was going to taste with the garlic so I decided that  I would grate some organic orange zest purely for flavor.  Using the garlic did change the flavor profile but thankfully the kids still like it…just wouldn’t want to pour it over my pancakes.  Experiment with the flavors you like!

Do The Math: Making Your Own Elderberry Syrup vs. Buying It

I want to show you how much I spent making this flu fighting syrup I want to break it down for you.

  • 2/3 c dried Elderberries = $3.40 (1.70 an oz. at my local herb store)
  • Spices combined (unless you are using Echinacea root then it might be a little more) = less than $1.00
  • 3 c Distilled water= $0.25
  • Raw honey = $3.50 (depending on honey brand you use it could be more or less)

Total= $8.15

That’s a HUGE savings compared to this and you should yield around 190 tsp or 60 Tbsp per batch!

Oh, one more time with the reminder: I’m not a health care professional (yet, starting school next week though, yippee!) and this blog post does not take place of any medical advice. If you have questions, please consult your health care professional.

Here’s to a healthy flu season!   Don’t forget to drink your water.  Good tip is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day (for example: if you weight 150lbs drink 70 ounces of water)!

Share with us in the comments what you do to help keep your immunity up during the flu season!

Aloe Vera: 24 Amazing Health Benefits

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 aloe-vera-health-benefitseven 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.

 

How To Make Ghee (Clarified Butter): A D.I.Y. Tutorial

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):

Step 1:

ghee-step-1

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.

Step 2:

ghee-step-2

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).

Step 3:

ghee-step-3

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.

Step 4:

ghee-step-4

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.

Step 5:

ghee-step-5

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!

* Want to read more about Ghee here and here are some good reads.

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