For The Greater Goods (sm)

Krissy

12 Healthy Oils (fats) You Should Be Eating

Unfortunately fats/oils have gotten a bad rap over the past sixty years.   The low-fat/no-fat approach was first promotedhealthy-oils in the 1950’s by nutrition researcher Nathan Pritikin. Initially, Pritikin advocated a no-fat diet, high in un-refined carbohydrates, but after long-term research he realized  that a no-fat diet led to many physiological imbalances including fatigue, mood disorders like depression, nutrient and mineral deficiencies, weight issues and more.  Realizing that fat (fatty acids) were necessary for balanced health, Pritikin began promoting that a low-fat diet, including modest amounts of vegetable fats (from nuts and seeds), was actually more healthful than the no-fat diet approach. Hence, the low-fat diet was born and this dangerously flawed theory is still a core dietary recommendation among dieticians, clinical nutritionists, and doctors.

So throw that myth out the door, that fat makes you fat and is unhealthy for you!  The fact is that the human body NEEDS fat.  Why you ask?  Here are some excellent reasons:

How fats/oils of all kinds benefit our body:

  • Fats and oils satisfy our appetites
  • Fats and oils aid in healthy hormone balance in our body
  • Fats and oils are the main fuel for the muscles which includes the heart muscle.
  • Optimal liver and gallbladder function
  • Fats and oils help to nourish every cell in our bodies
  • Fats and oils allow us to heal quickly and effectively
  • Fats and oils are better source of energy. They are a long burning fuel unlike sugars/carbs which are fast burning.
  • Fats and oils promote healthy cholesterol levels.

Now after having said all that, which fats and oils do we use?!   Well this is where you have to be careful and really read your labels. There is a difference between good fats and bad fats.   When you are looking for good fats always look for the words: Cold Pressed, UN-refined (emphasizing the UN), Expeller Pressed, Organic and Extra Virgin.  Bad (Rancid) fats will say this:  Hydrogenated, Partially Hydrogenated, refined and they might trick you and say Cold PROCESSED (instead of Cold PRESSED) see that little trick they do there!  Dirty isn’t it!    Remember it’s very important to stay away from these oils, the human body CANNOT and does NOT have the capability to digest these rancid, refined oils.   So here is a list of the GOOD oils you should be using:

Top 12 Oils and Fats to use:

Saturated Fats

Best for cooking at higher temperatures and do not turn rancid easily, ideal for baking and sautéing

1. Ghee (Clarified butter) has a 500 smoke point making it my preferred oil/fat for cooking and baking and here is how to make it yourself.

2. Coconut oil, which has a smoke of about 350 degrees and one of my favorite oils.

3. Palm Kernel Oil (made from the kernels of palm fruit, and similar to coconut oil)

4. Lard and other animal fats from healthy sources

Monounsaturated Fats

Lower heat point, good for light sautéing, simmering and stir-frying.

5. Olive Oil (unfiltered is best, should be golden yellow/green in color and cloudy.)

6. Almond Oil

7. Avocado Oil

8. Sesame Oil

Polyunsaturated Fats

Easily damaged by light, heat and turn rancid easily, not used for cooking and should always be stored in dark containers in the refrigerator.

* UNSAFE FOR ANY KIND OF HEAT EXPOSURE! DO NOT USE FOR COOKING!   Use these oils instead as a supplement form or to make in a dressing.

9. Flax Seed Oil

10. Fish Oil

11. Grapeseed oil

12. Hemp Seed oil

Having a good balance of the above fats is key! If you eat a healthy combination of these oils then you will have a good balance of Essential Fatty Acids in your body!!

Oils/Fats that are UNSAFE in any circumstances:

Canola Oil and Cottonseed Oil

Both are HIGHLY processed oil. Don’t let the canola fool you ….listen to how it’s pronounced CON-ola.   Canola is the oil of the industry, and it is the oil they are currently using in the prepared foods at Whole Foods Markets across the country.  It has no place in our digestive track.  Cottonseed oil is one of the most genetically modified, pesticide- laden crops in America.  Stay away from it at all costs, if you eat Crisco…throw it out, cottonseed oil is one of the main ingredients!  So, did I stun you today?!  I hope right now that you are going through you kitchen looking for those bad oils and throwing them out!  If you stick to the list above then you will be okay!

Did this list surprise you or have you been cooking and using these healthy oils all along? 

Saving Money on Organic Foods: 10 Great Tips

Something I hear a lot is, “I would buy organic foods and products if they weren’t so expensive!”  This statement makessaving-money-on-organic-foods-tips me want to roll my eyes… and then roll them again. Really?  Too expensive?  I don’t think it’s more expensive than future medical costs you will incur if you continue to eat processed junk that can barely be called, “food”!  And while it’s probably obvious that this argument drives me up a wall, I have to remind myself that for a lot of people saving money on organic foods, and saving money in general, isn’t just a preference but it’s a necessity.  Not everyone has the luxury of buying all organic (I sure don’t), and some just don’t know where to start. This is where my heart gets soft, because I didn’t know either.  If someone would have informed me when I was younger I would have really appreciated that, not only knowing what foods I should be eating, but how to make an organic diet a sustainable one.  And so I’ve put together a few tips that I hope will make saving money on organic foods a little easier for you, and make your shopping trips more enjoyable.

Saving Money on Organic Foods

1. Did you know that you don’t have to buy all organic produce? There are some fruits and veggies that have less pesticides, making it okay to buy non-organic if you are in a pinch.  With my family of five, this has come in very handy.  Here is a good list to give you an idea of what you should buy organic and what is okay to buy conventional.  You’ll notice the fruit and veggies for which we eat the skin, we should always buy organic and most of the produce that has skin typically not for ingesting or have low pesticide ratings are okay to buy conventionally. Here are examples:

Produce that should be purchased organically:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Grapes
  • Hot peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Collards & kale
  • Summer squash & zucchini

Produce that is safe to purchase conventionally:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Sweet potatoes

2. The next best thing for saving money on organic foods is to buy locally. Some farmers cannot afford to have their farm be organic certified, so in the stores these will be labeled: “Locally Grown” or from local farmers.  Go to farmers markets and buy straight from the farmers where you can ask them questions on how they grow their food.

3. Get rid of the junk!  Buying fewer processed foods means less of your budget going towards junk and frees that money up for buying organic whole foods!

4. Next spring start your own organic garden.  My family did this and it helped lower the cost on produce for a good 6 months.  Plant the vegetables that you buy the most to help costs even more.  Plus it’s so rewarding to eat food that you grew in your back yard.

5. Buy in bulk. When you buy in bulk the upfront cost will be more, but you get more for your money and you will not have to buy those items for awhile.  This option is especially good for the items you use the most in your home like grains, nuts, seeds, flours, spices, beans and even household supplies. You can find a whole bunch of organic items to buy in bulk online.

6. Develop a meal plan.  I find that making a weekly or monthly meal plan helps in saving money on organic foods.  When you develop a meal plan you can make your shopping list very easy and you’ll know exactly what you have to buy and what ingredients you need to buy organic.  This helps on costs because you aren’t just buying things you might need, or might make and that helps not buying things that’ll just go to waste.

7. When you go to your grocery store, co-op or health food store look for the produce that is marked down because they are bruised or overly ripe. This is a good time to stock up. I like it when I get a ton of bananas and apples. I freeze the bananas and make applesauce and apple butter!

8. Go straight to the farm.  Usually when you go straight to the source you can get produce cheaper than the grocery stores and sometimes even a better deal than the farmers markets! You can check the web site Local Harvest for the markets that are in your area.

9. Buy organic foods that are in season. Out of season foods can cost more because of shipping costs, as well as the demand versus the availability of the item. Buying foods that are in season saves on the transport energy, and lowers the cost of the food.

10. Shop for organic foods and products online.  If you are in an area where you cannot get good organic food, and so saving money on organic foods isn’t the primary issue, shop online! It’s nice when you can have items delivered straight to your house and most places have deals for saving money on organic foods.

Have these tips helped you?  What tips can you share for saving money on organic foods?

5 Gluten Free Pasta Options

For the most part of 2013 my family has been doing its best to be gluten free, with the exceptions of my son and my

gluten-free-pasta-options

Photo Credit: Sam Newman

husband (it’s been hard and I think my son will get on board much easier than my husband, but I’m working on them both!).   We found out one of our daughter’s was gluten sensitive early this year and have been doing our best to adapt. One of her most missed foods is pasta.  In the beginning it was very hard, but since there are so many delicious gluten free foods available nowadays, we’ve been adapting fairly well and even my husband likes our gluten free pasta options. Before I give you a list of gluten free pasta options, here is a good read about gluten. Also, check out this article to see if you might be suffering from gluten intolerance and get tips for how to start living a gluten free lifestyle.  Now for the fun part…

5 Favorite Gluten Free Pasta Options:

  1. Believe it or not vegetables make a perfect substitute for traditional pasta noodles; Spaghetti squash in particular is an excellent option. Spaghetti and meatballs is my family’s favorite dish using Spaghetti squash. I have also used thinly sliced, cabbage and zucchini too!
  2. Brown Rice Pasta: I usually have this on hand in my home at all times for quick meals like gluten free macaroni and cheese.
  3. Corn Pasta is another option. I personally have never tried it before, but I’m very curious and I can’t wait to test it out on the family. When buying any type of corn, remember to always buy organic corn.
  4. Quinoa, did you know they can make pasta out of quinoa?  Quinoa is one of my favorites and I just love the taste and texture. Ancient Harvest does a blend of quinoa and corn that’s very delicious.
  5. Kelp Noodles are a great option too. I like these because they are quick and easy. You can rinse them off and eat them as is or heat them up in your favorite dish.  These are especially good in stir-fry’s.

Now that you have a few more gluten free pasta options, I hope you feel more confident in the kitchen knowing that you can use the options above to make your favorite dishes again.  Oh! One last gluten free pasta option! And this was a must: lasagna!  Yes, you can still have lasagna! Can you tell from all my exclamation points that it was my most missed pasta? It’s hard to find a good gluten free lasagna pasta!   I’m part Italian, going gluten free sounded like a death sentence for me at first, so I definitely sympathize with anyone’s gluten free lifestyle change.  I promise you though, you will make it work and in time you won’t even miss those wheat noodles anymore. Plus by going gluten free you are doing your body a wonderful favor so keep up the good work!

What is your favorite gluten free pasta?  Did you have a favorite pasta dish that you re-invented with gluten free substitutes?  

BPA FREE: What Does It Mean & Why Is It Important For Moms-to-be?

Are you pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have been worried about the BPA in plastics? Here is some BPA-freeinformation that can help you stay BPA Free and protect you and your baby before, during and after pregnancy.

What is BPA anyway?

BPA is a chemical called Bisphenol A and is the main component of polycarbonate, the hard, clear plastics sometimes used to make baby bottles, food storage containers, water bottles and much more. It can also be found in the lining in canned foods, filters of cigarettes, contact lenses and it even may be in certain “carbonless” receipts, where it coats paper to prevent ink smears.

How Can This Affect Moms-to-be?

  • Baby girls who are exposed while in the womb to BPA’s may develop behavior problems as children.
  • Children of mothers who have the high levels of BPA during pregnancy are twice as likely to wheeze in early childhood, than the children of mothers with the lower BPA’s.
  • Some studies suggest that possible effects from BPA could be most pronounced in infants and young children. Their bodies are still developing and they are not as efficient at eliminating substances from their systems.
  • BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It changes the way our body’s hormones function, mimicking our own natural hormones, estrogen being the main culprit.
  • Two studies have found that adults with the highest levels of BPA in their bodies seem to have a higher incidence of heart problems
  • Women with higher levels of BPA are more likely to have fertility issues.  Studies show higher risk of miscarriages as well.

*Please remember although this list of possible BPA risks is frightening, keep in mind that nothing has been established. The concern about BPA risks stems primarily from studies in animals – more studies need to be done. I don’t know about you, but as a mom I would rather be safe, and use products that are BPA free, than sorry.

What can you do to stay BPA Free?

  • If you are planning a family, to get ready for the baby and a healthy pregnancy, go through your house and toss out anything that contains BPA’s, this will help limit you and baby’s exposure to the chemical.
  • Start using glass water bottles instead of plastic.
  • Limit and or avoid canned foods (Eden Foods claims to use an alternative to BPA)
  • If a mother is unable to breastfeed her child use glass baby bottles or switch to polypropylene bottles that are labeled “5″ on the bottom.
  • Can your own vegetables and fruits in glass mason jars.
  • Look at the bottoms of plastic containers, if you see a 1 or a 7 it is most likely BPA, avoid those.
  • Read your plastic products (toys, bottles, food containers etc) make sure it reads, “BPA free” on the package.
  • Ask your cashier to throw away your receipt.
  • If you wear contacts make sure they are made from BPA free ingredients.
  • When grocery shopping buy whole foods instead of canned foods.
  • Buy BPA Free Toothbrushes.

I hope these tips will help ease your mind and give you steps towards living a life with less BPA. What have you done to limit use of BPA’s?

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.

organic-teething-biscuit-for-babies (300x200)

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.

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