shopOrganic

For The Greater Goods (sm)

Healthy Eating In The New Year: 10 Green Foods You Should Be Eating

It’s 2015, Happy New Year! This year why not start things out right with committing to healthy eating. There are many ways to go about this, but today let’s talk about the top ten green foods that you should be eating. Adding a combination of these foods to your diet will benefit your health greatly! Maybe there are a few on this list you never tried. Introducing new foods into your diet is a cornerstone of healthy eating. It ensures that you get a variety of different minerals and vitamins, which bring different nutritional benefits.

10 Healthiest Green Foods You should be Eating

 1. Spinachhealthy eating

“Spinach makes ya strong!” That has been the Popeye tale for most of us, and that’s because this dark leafy green food is rich in iron. 1 cup of uncooked spinach has nearly 2mg of iron and only 15 calories. It is also a good source of fiber and has a small amount of protein. It is loaded with vitamin A, folate (folic acid), vitamin C and some vitamin E. The minerals Potassium, magnesium and calcium in spinach are high. Spinach can be a wonderful substitute for lettuce in salads, and lightly cooked spinach is concentrated in nutrients.

2. Asparagus

Asparagus is spring vegetable and the part we eat is actually the young underground sprouts or shoot. The asparagus tips are actually little flowers. Asparagus spears are often more expensive than other vegetables, because of their short season and the work it takes to harvest them. Asparagus have a good amount of vitamin c, vitamin A, sulfur, folic acid and potassium. It has some iron, calcium, magnesium and iodine and a little zinc as well.

3. Avocados

These are one of my most favorite foods ever. Avocados do contain a lot of fat (about 23 grams in a medium-sized fruit), but it’s the cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated kind that nutrition experts love. Avocados also contain lutein, an antioxidant that protects eye health, and they also have some vitamin c, good amounts of vitamin A and a bit of vitamin E. Avocados are a wonderfully versatile addition to salads, tacos, soups, and on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.

4. Kale

On top of delivering a raft of cancer-fighting antioxidants, kale is one of the vegetable world’s top sources of vitamin A, which promotes eye and skin health and may help strengthen the immune system. It’s a good source of heart-healthy fiber and a 1-cup serving has almost as much vitamin C as an orange.  Kale is also high in the minerals magnesium, potassium and iron and well known for folate (folic acid), which makes this also a wonderful food to eat during all stages of pregnancy including pre and post pregnancy as well (that is true for all leafy greens).

5. Brussel Sprouts

These are one of the cruciferous vegetables recently known for their ability to reduce cancer risk. Even though they are not many people’s favorite vegetable to eat – because of their peculiar taste (which is actual sulfur) and the fact that many people find they are gas producing, they however, are loaded with nutrition – they are high in vitamin A and C, folate (folic acid), and fiber and also fairly high in calcium, sulfur of course, phosphorus and potassium. Now only if we can get our children to eat them that would be an awesome accomplishment on all levels!

6. Kiwi

Had to have a few fruits in here! Research shows kiwifruit is surprisingly nutrient-dense. These fuzzy, little, green fruits provide 230 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C (almost twice that of an orange), more potassium than a banana, and 10 percent of the recommended daily allowances of vitamin E and folate. It’s also a good source of filling fiber. Slice some kiwi into your cereal, yogurt, or salad for a refreshing health boost. My kids like to cut them in half and eat them with a spoon!

7. Green Tea

I know this isn’t something you “eat” but I’m throwing this in there because I think it can be very beneficial to add to your healthy lifestyle and it’s green – it has it in the name! Green tea is an excellent source of catechins, another type of antioxidant. A subgroup of this compound known as EGCG has been studied for its potential role in preventing cancer and heart disease. One study showed that drinking one cup of green tea per day could decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent.

8. Leeks

Leeks owe many of their anti-cancer superpowers to their sulfur compounds. These nutrients have been credited with everything from kicking cancer to boosting immunity. Studies also suggest leeks could help protect the digestive system from stomach and gastric cancers. They are a high fiber food that are related to green onions. They are mainly carbohydrate and fiber. They are also rich in potassium, iron and calcium and high in vitamin c.  They can be stemmed or sautéed with other vegetable or used in soup.

9. Cucumbers

The ‘coolest” of the vegetables, cucumbers are actually used medicinally for burns or irritated tissues. That’s why you always see cucumber slices on eyes, because it helps with stress, bags under eyes and inflammation or irritation. Cucumbers are eaten in their unripe state and usually raw. Interestingly they are not very high in any nutrient, but the seeds are actually the best source of vitamin E. Cucumbers also have some vitamin A and C.

10. Seaweed

Seaweed is gaining popularity, in part because it’s chock-full of minerals. Seaweed is a solid source of iodine (essential for thyroid health), packs a healthy dose of iron, and has unique anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Select a seaweed salad appetizer or sushi rolls made with nori next time you order Japanese food.

Healthy eating can be accomplished in so many different ways. Eating and introducing these green foods is just another simple way to become a healthier you! What green foods do you like best, and what green foods are you curious to try?

6 New Year’s Resolutions for a Green Home

green homeIn the new year, many people will be making all sorts of resolutions like weight loss, quitting a bad habit, or maybe even something like running a marathon. All these resolutions are wonderful, but I think one of the best resolutions you can make is to take steps to create a green home. What does it mean to go green? Simply put, it means implementing certain lifestyle changes designed to help you live in a more eco-friendly way of life. It means becoming more environmentally aware and changing your behavior and lifestyle to reduce the amount of pollution and waste you generate.

We can do so much of that in our own home, and for little to no cost! I will give you six super easy and inexpensive tips to help make yourself a green home this coming New Year.

6 Tips to a Green Home

1. Enroll in online statements and get off junk mail lists

Many utility providers, cable companies, financial institutions, and more offer the option to receive online statements instead of printed statements. You just need to log in to the company’s website and change your preferences, or you can try calling the company’s customer service to do it that way. Reducing the amount of mail you receive reduces your impact on the environment in several ways. First, it reduces the number of trees that are cut down, which means there will be more trees converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. Second, a reduction in the amount of mail also reduces the amount of airplane/ vehicle delivery exhaust. Thirdly, it reduces the need for ink, which most of the time contains toxic chemical ingredients, and which takes a lot of fossil fuels to produce and distribute. Lastly, it reduces the amount of paper that ends up in landfills.

2. Unplug Electronics When Not In Use

Anything that has an LED (light emitting diode) that glows even after you turn it off continues to draw power (that you pay for). Your TV, cell phone charger, and printer are likely culprits. Unplug the offenders from wall sockets and plug them into power strips instead. When you leave a room, flip the strip switch to cut the flow of electricity. Just by doing this simple tip could save you up to $200 a year

3. No Shoes Allowed

Taking your shoes off before you enter your home is one is one of the easiest steps you can take to make your home more green and safe. Why? Well studies have shown that people track in all sorts of harmful toxins from outside the home when they walk into the house without removing their shoes. These toxins persist in the air in the form of dust, which is inhaled and absorbed by our skin as it settles on the floor and furniture. Chemicals stay in the air and on surfaces longer in our homes than they do outdoors, where the sun and rain help break down pesticide residues. This is especially important if you have small children, they spend most of their time on or near the floor, and can breathe in and touch chemical-laden dust or soil tracked in by shoes.  Little kids who are constantly putting their hands and other objects in their mouths can ingest these dangerous particles and toxins, as well.

4. Recycle and Compost

Most cities will pick up and process recyclable material, and several (including San Francisco and Seattle) will also pick up compostable food material and yard waste. But let’s face it: You won’t recycle or compost if you don’t make it easy for yourself. Make sure to have bins for trash and recycling in every room, not just the kitchen! Tons of recyclable material is thrown away in homes offices and bathrooms because the recycling bin is too far away.

Half the trash that homes produce is composed of food scraps. When those go to the dump, they do nothing, but if you have a compost bin at your house, you can use those scraps to make fertilizer for your garden. Most outdoor composters cost between $100 and $600, depending on how large and secure they are. A more inexpensive choice is a DYI compost bin.

5. Wash Fewer but Fuller Loads of Laundry

Whenever you wash just a few clothes or dishes at a time rather than waiting for a full load to accumulate, you’re wasting water, power, and money. On average  most  American families  of four washes around 540 loads of laundry a year, which consumes up to 21,000 gallons of water, and more than 150 loads of dishes, which uses about 1,500 gallons. All that energy is mostly consumed by washers and dishwashers to heat the water — about 90 percent in the clothes washer and 80 percent in the dishwasher. If you have to do short loads of laundry choose short cycles and use cold water. Just by washing two fewer loads of clothes and one less load of dishes a week and save up to 4,500 gallons of water a year!

6. Switch your cleaning products

What is the difference between natural cleaning products and traditional?  The big difference is the active ingredient.  Traditional cleaning products tend to have artificially produced cleaning agents, typically compounds that do not occur in nature.  These tend to be toxic when introduced to nature and don’t break down (biodegrade) in nature very well.  Green cleaning products tend to have naturally occurring compounds, like vinegar or Orange oil, or baking soda; and those that are man-made are biodegradable i.e. they quickly break down into naturally occurring substances that nature can recycle.  As a result Green products are less toxic to the environment.  For just about every traditional cleaning product you use, there is a natural alternative you can use in your green home.  If you’re not sure where to start, try HERE.

Those are just six simple easy and inexpensive tips you can use to make your home more green in 2015!

What steps are you taking to create a green home?

7 Detox Drinks To Combat Holiday Overeating

detoxDetoxing with various beverages is a great way to help give your body the nutrients it’s really craving. Detox drinks can give your digestive system a break from having to break down and digest food.  This is especially helpful after the holiday season when we could use some help after indulging in sweets and treats and foods we don’t usually eat on a regular basis.

The liver is the most important detoxifying organ in the body, with over 300 functions. It only makes sense to drink fruits and vegetables to help it function at its best and give the liver a little break.  Here is a list of detoxifying drink recipes that can be incorporated into any kind detox program you’re following, or you can just enjoy them purely for their health benefits.

7 Detox Drink Recipes

1.  Lemon Cayenne Detox Drink

This drink is excellent because lemons help with numerous things.  They aid in digestion, flush toxins out of liver and kidneys, help suppress appetite, boost immune system, cleans the blood and it also help move radiation from the body.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pour it all together and shake good…or you can blend it all up in your blender.

This would be wonderful to drink right when you wake, before food or coffee, to help get your system ready for good.

2. Beet Kvass

Beets are loaded with nutrients and are an excellent blood tonic.  They promote regularity, aid digestion, alkalize the blood, cleanse the liver and are good for kidney stones and other ailments. This recipe comes right from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I recommend this book to all.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium or 2 large organic beets, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • Filtered water

Directions:

Place beets, whey and salt in a 2 quart glass container. Add filtered water to fill the container. Stir well and cover securely.  Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to the refrigerator.

3. Green Detox Juice

Green juice is very popular now. There are so many options when it comes to green juicing.  Green juice helps aid in weight loss, helps to reduce chances of Alzheimer’s and also helps to reduce blood pressure also helps to prevent colon and liver cancers. Make sure to buy these fruits and vegetables organic.  Especially while you’re doing a detox, you don’t want to be adding pesticides to your body.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium apples
  • 4 Stalks of celery
  • 1 Medium cucumber
  • 6-8 kale leaves or a big handful of spinach
  • a chunk of  ginger (1″ diameter)
  • 1/2 squeezed lemon

Directions:

You can put this through a juicer or if you have a high powered blender (vitamix or blendtec, you can throw them in there)

4. Apple Cinnamon Detox Drink

Did you know both apples and cinnamon raise your metabolism? Apples are extremely rich in important antioxidants and flavanoids, including Vitamins C and B Complex. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Cinnamon has many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, fighting diabetes, and helps relieve arthritis pain.

Ingredients:

  • 2 liter container
  • 1 apple (I like Pink Lady, Honey Crisp or Fugi the best)
  • 1 cinnamon stick.  Don’t use powdered cinnamon, I tried this..and it got very clumpy.
  • Filtered water.

Directions:

Drop apple slices in the bottom of the pitcher (save a few to drop in your glass later) and then the cinnamon stick. Cover with ice about 1/2 way through then with water. Place in the fridge for 1 hour before serving. You can refill the container 2-3 times before it begins to lose flavor.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar Drink

The acids in apple cider vinegar bind to toxins and help the body get rid of them more effectively. It also helps fight against yeast, bacteria, and fungus. It helps breaks up mucus in the body and aids in digestion. It also helps circulation and helps the liver detoxify. This is best to drink with room temperature in the morning.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Add all ingredients together, stir and enjoy

6. Dandelion Tea

Dandelion Tea is shown to be very purifying for the body, and is a great aid in digestion. What dandelion does is raises levels of an enzyme in the body known for its detoxifying functions. These have been known to help the body get rid of carcinogens, or cancer-causing toxins in the body, which is definitely worth making this one of your daily rituals. Most people find that the taste is also pleasant, so the chore is not so bad.  Make as you would any tea.

7. Green Coconut Smoothie

Limes bring a nice dose of detoxifying properties to this smoothie and coconut water is adding incredible amounts of potassium and electrolytes, kale rounds out the nutrients with doses of Vitamin K and A in addition to lutein and an abundance of antioxidants.

Ingredients:

  • 5 kale leaves
  • 4/5  cup freshly squeezed limes
  • 2 freshly squeezed lemons
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 2 handfuls ice (more if desired)
  • Raw honey to taste (I used about 3 Tbsp. – the kids like it with more)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth.  Add more water or ice to obtain desired consistency.

Do you have a favorite drink that helps you detox after the holidays?

Organic Snacks & Hot Drinks for Your Cozy Winter Nights

Do you have fond memories of winter time when you were young? I know I do. One of my most fond memoriorganic snackses was coming inside from playing out in the snow, and my mom would have a huge pot of homemade hot cocoa and buttered toast ready for us. It was the best thing ever and warmed us kids right up. Today I’m going to be sharing some cozy winter time recipes for organic snacks and ideas for your next cozy winter night.

Warm and Cozy Organic Snacks:

Dairy Free Organic Hot Cocoa Recipe

Ingredients:

Tip: To make it Cocoa Mint, add a drop or two of peppermint extract.

Directions:

Combine coconut milk, vanilla, cocoa, and salt in a sauce pan and whisk together until combined. Over low-medium heat warm the milk, whisking continuously, until it starts to bubble gently. Remove from heat and stir in honey

One last tip! Sometimes I like to throw it all in my Vita-Mix for about 1 minute on High after the last step, it combines ingredients really well and kids love the frothy top it makes.

Organic Flavored Popcorn Recipe

I don’t know what it is about popcorn on a cold night but it is one of my favorite organic snacks this time of year.  I like to switch it up sometimes with different seasonings.

Ingredients:

Directions to make Popcorn:

Directions: In a 3-Qt pan, pour in 3 tbsp coconut oil in the pan. Add a couple corn kernels to the pan, cover and heat. When they pop, add remaining popcorn and cover and shake pan over medium heat until popping stops. Add desired seasonings. Makes about 16 cups.

Optional Flavors Popcorn Flavors:

1. Ranch: Melt 4 tablespoons coconut oil or butter with a 1/2 packet of organic ranch seasoning mix; toss with 16 cups hot popcorn and 2 tablespoons chopped chives. Season with salt.

2. Garlic: Melt 4 tablespoons butter/coconut oil with 1 tbsp organic dried basil, 1 tsp organic garlic salt and sprinkled with 1/4 cup organic Parmesan cheese.

3. Brown Butter Cinnamon Sugar

Ingredients:

Directions:

Place butter in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Set pot over medium-low heat and stir constantly as butter melts and foams. After a few minutes, butter will turn golden and brown specks will form. When the foam subsides and the butter begins to smell nutty, remove from the heat. Butter should be deep golden brown but not black or burnt.  Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla (be prepared for butter to foam up quite a bit). While brown butter slightly cools, mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl until well combined.

Slowly drizzle brown butter over popcorn, allowing any black/dark brown sediment at the bottom of the pot to remain behind. Gently stir popcorn until evenly coated. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture over buttered popcorn; stir, and repeat with remaining cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.

Homemade Organic Chai Tea Concentrate Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pour water in to sauce pan over medium-low heat and bring to boil. Add tea bags and steep for 15-20 minutes. Remove tea bags and squeeze remaining liquid into pan.

When it cools slightly stir in honey and vanilla. Store in large mason jar and keep in fridge for up to 7-10 days.  To make use a 1:1 ratio. 1/2 cup chai concentrate to 1/2 c milk.

Chai Tea Latte Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pour chai tea into a small sauce pan on stove and heat on medium low just until warm. Pour milk into your high power blender and blend on high for 2 minutes. This will warm up milk and make if very frothy. Pour warm chai into mug then top with frothy milk.  If you have an espresso machine you can use that as well. Serves about 4.

What are your favorite organic snacks to cozy up to during the winter time? 

Stress Busting Organic Foods for the Holiday Season

The jam-packed parking lots, the shopping and crowds, the back-to-back diet-busting parties. The interminable chats with the in-laws, and even finances take a toll. We understand how easy it is to feel not so wonderful at this most wonderful time of the year.  That’s why I’ve rounded up some healthy organic foods that are perfect for beating those oh so common holiday blues.organic foods

First, What Does Stress do to the Body?

Stress is awful, it weakens your immune system, strains your heart, dampens your sex drive, creates aches and pains, and can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Your body can only work with what you feed it, so if you consume junk (processed foods), you’re going to feel junky in return. Filling and nourishing your body with the right organic foods can help keep your mood bright and the above stressors rolling off your back.

Foods That Add Stress to Body

So which foods should we avoid? The following foods increase stress and anxiety by either stimulating the brain the wrong way or putting the body under stress during the digestion process. Foods to avoid include:

  • Coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and other caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Refined sugars
  • Fried foods
  • Foods high in polyunsaturated fats found in processed foods

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s get down to what foods will help you bust the stress.

Stress Busting Organic Foods

  • Asparagus, yes I know, these skinny little stalks are known to make your urine smell funny. But they are high in folate, which is essential for keeping your cool.
  • Turkey - here’s the reason you feel so relaxed after eating turkey. The acid known as L-tryptophan is releasing serotonin, a chemical that calms your brain. The best turkey to buy is pasture raised turkeys.
  • Blueberries have some of the highest levels of an antioxidants and they’ve been linked to all kinds of positive health outcomes, including sharper cognition. But all berries, including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are super rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in alleviating stress.
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables Greens carry lots of B vitamins, including folate, like asparagus, which is important for easing symptoms of depression, relieving stress, and reducing anxiety. Good choices are kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard.
  • Cashews are an especially good source of zinc. Just 1-ounce serving has 11 percent of your daily allowance. Low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Since our bodies have no way of storing zinc, it’s important to get some every day.
  • Honey - You’ll get an instant kick and energy for the long haul. Plus, research shows that its antioxidant and antibacterial properties may improve your immunity.
  • Chamomile teaProbably the most recommend bedtime soothers around, but in addition to helping sleep it also helps calm the nerves.
  • Fatty Fish like salmon, herring, and tuna, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B6 and B12. These essential nutrients promote healthy brain function and elevate your mood—two important aspects of fighting stress.
  • Almonds & Sunflower Seeds – These easy-to-find crunchy snacks cut stress like a sharp knife. They contain riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and other important vitamins and minerals. Snacking on seeds and nuts throughout the day can prevent stress from building up. To maximize nutrition benefits, opt for raw varieties over salted and roasted.
  • Pumpkin Seeds contain L-tryptophan, which helps with good sleep, lowering depression and combating stress. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin (the feel good hormone) and niacin. Serotonin is also very helpful in helping us to have a good night’s sleep.
  • Dark Chocolate, in particular, is known to lower blood pressure, adding to a feeling of calm. It contains more polyphenols and flavonols—two important types of antioxidants. You can safely allow yourself dark chocolate as a snack once a week, or as a conscious indulgence.

I hope you can incorporate some of these stress boosting organic foods into your diet and even your holiday meals to help you calm those holiday blues!

What are your favorite ways to relieve stress during the holidays?

Beyond Probiotics: Maintain Healthy Digestion During the Holidays

Let’s start with a recap of what probiotics are. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria in probioticsour digestive system.  They help to improve absorption of nutrients and vitamins. Improved absorption means good digestion.  This allows your body to get the most nutritional value from the foods you eat and helps to regulate your digestive system. Sounds good, right? Well, with the holiday season being the dietary minefield that it is we wanted to give you some tips on how to keep your digestion on track this holiday season!

Now that we know what probiotics are, where do we get them?

Probiotic supplements are an excellent choice, they add healthy bacteria to the digestive tract, and actually digest sugars for their own fuel. They are a great antidote when we eat too many sweets, which is perfect for the holiday season. Probiotics are also found in cultured/fermented foods, such as yogurt (good quality) kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and probiotic drinks. Eating and drinking these foods daily will ensure a healthy digestive tract.

What Else Can We do To Help Digestion?

  • One of the primary ingredients to good digestion is water. Many of us are chronically dehydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of filtered water or herbal teas. Adequate hydration can curb excessive food cravings, and help us to not overeat, especially for sweets.
  • Sit down to eat. People tend to eat more and more quickly when they’re standing or walking than they do when they’re sitting. It seems like a fairly simple rule, you may be surprised how effective it can be. Sitting down is also less stress on your body because you are more relaxed and being relaxed helps our digestion work better.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.  Ideally, you should chew your food until it is liquid.  I know sounds gross, right? But your gut will love you. You will be satisfied with less food and you will have better digestion. Your saliva actually has enzymes that facilitate digestion. Also, it is easier to digest small particles than large ones. Most people eat too fast. Not chewing well stresses your digestive system and can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, digestive problems like gas and bloating and promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract which can lead to leaky gut and much worse.
  • Drink warm liquids before meals. Drinking warm water with lemon, Apple Cider Vinegar or broth, tea (peppermint or dandelion are good choices for digestion), or soup before a meal (15-30 minutes before) will prepare the digestive tract for digestion.
  • Add more veggies to your diet. Increasing intake of fruits and vegetables with high water content, especially raw, will help digestion and increase bowel transit time.
  • Avoid ice water as it suppresses circulation to the digestive tract.

I hope these tips help you this holiday season! Do you know any of more tips to help improve digestion? Share below!

Try These Organic Thanksgiving Recipes this Year

organic thanksgivingWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to start planning and preparing for the big feast. In case you’re like me, and still collecting recipes for next week, I thought I’d share a few of a few organic Thanksgiving recipes that I am going to try out this year; all of them made with easy, all-natural ingredients!

These dishes are so tasty your family may not even realize they’re eating healthier. Hope you enjoy them!

Organic Thanksgiving Turkey

To find a good organic, free range turkey. You have three options. Find a local farmer who raises them, this time of year it might be tricky because they will most likely be pre-sold.  Next best option is to find one at your local grocery store. The prices can be high, but it will be an easy choice. The only caution here is that many organic turkeys labeled organic have just been fed organic feed but are not truly free range. Still a better option, but nowhere near the nutrients of truly free range turkeys. Lastly, if the other two options don’t work, just order online. There are quite a few options to buy pastured turkeys online.  This year I will be trying a recipe for slow-roasted turkey with herb butter from Nourished Kitchen.

Organic Thanksgiving Sides

Isn’t everyone’s favorite thing the sides?!  I know they’re mine. Here’s one I’ll be trying:

Basic Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

Ingredients:

Instructions:

1. Cook sweet potatoes until tender. Remove skins and mash. When smooth, beat in butter, milk, salt, and spices. Beat well.

2. Fold in walnuts and turn into buttered baking dish.

3. Top with marshmallows and bake at 350 until marshmallows puff and become golden brown.

 

Organic Thanksgiving Dessertorganic thanksgiving recipe pumpkin bar

Can’t have Thanksgiving without a delicious dessert! Below is a recipe I made last year that turned out fantastic.

Grain – Free Pumpkin Bar Recipe

Adapted from this recipe

Directions for Cake

In a medium sized bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine, I actually took the easy route and threw it all in my Vitamix. Pour into an 8×8 oven safe baking dish (I lined mine with parchment paper for easy removal). Bake about 30 minutes until it’s nice and golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean and it is firm to the touch.

Top your Pumpkin Bars

These are my favorite toppings for these pumpkin bars. I like them all.

Coconut Cream Frosting

Ingredients:

Coconut Cream Frosting Directions:

Place your can of coconut milk in the fridge and leave overnight. Open the milk the next morning, and do not shake. The top of the can should be thick, scoop this out. About halfway through you should reach a point where the cream turns to water. Do not scoop out the water. Whip the vanilla into the cream until well-combined and fluffy. Spread on bars, cut into squares, and enjoy!

Maple Pecan Glaze (pictured above)

  • 3/4 c pecans
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (I used coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Spread on bars when completely cooled.

Head over to our Fabulous Fall Recipes board on Pinterest for more fun Thanksgiving meal ideas.
And more Thanksgiving recipes here:

*It’s easy to make any meal organic. Whether it be gluten-free, vegan, paleo, or traditional, buying organic ingredients will make all the difference.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving meals?

The Best Natural Sweeteners for Diabetics

natural sweetenersWhether you’re diabetic or not, sugar and even some other natural sweeteners are something you should be wary of. Don’t think that just because the package says sugar-free, that it’s good for you. Instead, let that be a red flag. This will give you the opportunity to turn that package around and give the ingredients label a good look. Key words you are looking to avoid are:

  • ACESULFAME POTASSIUM, ACESULFAME K or ACE-K
  • ASPARTAME
  • SACCHARIN
  • SUCRALOSE

All the above are ingredients that must be avoided, not just by diabetics, but for all of us. In the grocery stores you will see them labeled as Equal, Sweet-Low, Splenda and NutraSweet. These artificial sweeteners are used in snack foods, dairy foods, processed fruits, jams and jellies, sugar-free drinks, soda and other carbonated beverages, baked goods, condiments, chewing gum, supplements, and even in infant and children’s medicine. Why are they so bad? Well, long-term exposure to these chemicals has been found to promote memory loss, hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis (MS), dementia, nausea, migraines, sleep problems, vision impairment, depression and anxiety, Parkinson’s disease and brain tumors.

Best Natural Sweeteners For Diabetics

Xylitol

This natural sweetener is an all-natural sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and produced in small amounts by the human body. Xylitol is absorbed slowly and only partially utilized by the body, which means fewer calories. It can be substituted for most common sweeteners without compromising taste or texture. Xylitol has a few benefits too, it helps create a barrier between germs and your gums and has been shown to be beneficial for dental health. It’s why you’ll find a lot of chewing gums using this natural sweetener. Also, in addition of xylitol to saline nasal sprays, has been shown to make them more effective at improving and maintaining upper respiratory health. Xylitol helps prevent the causes of sinus issues and upper respiratory discomfort by stimulating the body’s natural cleansing process to clear away contaminants and irritants in the nasal passages (*Xylitol is highly dangerous for dogs so make sure to keep any xylitol products out of their reach. Even small amounts from candies can be toxic. If your dog eats a product that contains xylitol, it is important to take the dog to a veterinarian immediately.)

Erythritol

Discovered in 1848 and produced from Natural Sugar Cane Juice, which is naturally fermented and crystallized to create natural Erythritol. Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that is found in our bodies, as well as in many fruits, vegetables and even certain fermented foods. It has 95 percent less calories than sugar, although the FDA does label it as having little calories and a glycemic index of zero, Erythriotol makes an ideal sweetener for people with diabetes. So while it sweetens, it does without adding calories or spiking blood sugar the way other sweeteners do. And because it doesn’t ferment in your gut, you can use it without worrying about other unpleasant digestive issues that are often associated with other sugar alcohols.

Stevia

Is my top choice for diabetics for adding a little sweetness to their life. Stevia is a naturally occurring extract from the sweet leaf of a plant that belongs to the sunflower family. It has been used since early times as a sweet source (the leaves are 30- times sweeter than sugar). It grows in South America, and the leaves are similar in shape to the mint family. The great thing about Stevia is that it has virtually no calories, no sugar, and has no affect on blood sugar. Because Stevia is many times sweeter than sugar, it takes very little to make things sweet.

Further reading:

Are you a diabetic or watching your sweeteners? Which natural sweeteners do you like best?

Natural Body Care Tips: Keep Your Skin Hydrated All Winter

natural body careOne of the biggest complaints during winter season is having dry, chapped, itchy, and or sensitive skin. The reason is because in winter, there is cold, dry air and very little humidity. If we are not properly hydrated we lose moisture in our skin which leaves our skin feeling and looking less desirable. Before you decide to relocate to a warmer, more humid climate, take these steps to seal in the moisture and repair your winter skin.

Natural Body Care Tips for Keeping Your Skin Hydrated

Hydrate

The first and most important natural body care tip for hydrated skin is water.  Water is the most common nutritional deficiency in America. We just don’t drink enough water here. Did you know water cannot be stored, it’s being continually distributed and regulated throughout our body. This nakes daily water intake essential for a healthy body and healthy skin.  The rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day (Ex: A person weighing 160 pounds should drink 80 ounces of water each day). If you are one of those people who have a hard time drinking water visit my fruits and herb flavored water recipes and combinations post for tasty, easy ways to drink water.

Rethink Processed Foods

The second natural body care tip for hydrated skin may surprise you – its not about what you’re putting in or on you’re body, its what NOT to!  Foods with refined (overly processed) sugars dehydrate your skin, making it dry and less clear. Combined with the winter elements, loading up on these foods (which are usually high in trans fats, MSG, etc.) will leave you feeling blue this winter season. Though I would love to tell you to cut processed foods out completely (we all get cravings now and then), try to limit your processed foods in your home and replace them with more nutritious, whole food options.

Winter Showering

You might not like this natural body care tip but it does help a great deal.  Even though there is nothing better than taking a long, hot, relaxing bath on a cold winter day, it doesn’t do any favors for our skin. Long hot baths and showers have a drying effect on our skin. To help limit that you can add some bath salts or even sea salt to your bath water and taking shorter and cooler showers. Also applying moisturizer to the skin (coconut oil is my top choice) within 3 minutes of stepping out of the shower or bath will help keep skin hydrated. Avoid using soaps and deodorants with fragrance, or alcohol because they can strip your skin of its natural oils.

Vitamins for Skin

In order for your skin to look great, it has to be healthy. Vitamin B helps to restore collagen (a protein that keeps it firm) in the skin, which is especially important as you age. So load up on Vitamin B rich foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds and protein (bone broth is excellent source of collagen) to keep your skin looking healthy and hydrated! Vitamin E (most abundant nutrient found in the skin) also helps with the formation of collagen, and therefore can reduce wrinkles, scaring and increase hydration. Fish, nuts, avocados, olive oil, and spinach are excellent sources of vitamin E.

Fruit

Fruit, especially water-dense tropical fruit, is a great way to hydrate and protect your skin. Most fruit contains high levels of vitamins A and C, powerful antioxidant that replenishes nutrients in skin, promote collagen production, and help keep your skin supple and firm. Oranges, raspberries, cantaloupe, mangoes, pineapple, strawberries blueberries, watermelon, and grapefruits all contain skin-boosters, and are a tasty treat too.

Natural & Organic Moisturizers

When your skin needs a little extra in those cold, dry months and you reach for a body lotion, make sure you’re using ones with all natural and organic ingredients.  Some conventional lotions contain ingredients that actually dry out your skin.  Some of the better brands to look for are EO’s Everyone Lotion, Andalou Naturals, and Nourish.

I hope these natural body care tips help you to keep your skin hydrated and healthy all winter long. What are your favorite tips and tricks to keep your skin hydrated?

How to Keep Your Family from Getting Sick This Cold & Flu Season

flu seasonIt’s that time of year again, the wonderful holiday season which unfortunately means the dreaded cold and flu season. It’s the time of year when the weather is starting to cool and we are spending more of our time indoors and because of the back-to-back holidays it’s also the time of year when sweets like Halloween candy, Christmas cookies and caramel pumpkin lattes etc. are in full force. Most people don’t know that all those sweets (sugar) really take a toll on our immune systems which makes fighting illness more and more difficult.

With the following tips for boosting your immune system not only will it help protect you and your family against the cold and flu season, you can take control of your health and trim your time spent feeling under the weather during the holidays.

Immune Boosting Tips For Cold & Flu Season:

Eating Healthy

Sounds like a given right? Truth is many of us don’t know what it means to eat healthy. When it comes to boosting our immune system the best thing you can do is ditch the processed foods. Processed foods are packed with all kinds of sugars which impair our immunity. When building your immune system whole foods (foods with 1 ingredient) are going to be your best bet.

Sleep

When it comes to your immunity system, sleep is extremely important. When we are sleeping our immune system really kicks into gear and helps us recover more quickly from illness and much more. Need help on getting a good night’s rest? Visit my sleep solutions post for some tips.

Exercise

While colder weather may trigger an urge to curl up in a blanket with a cup of tea, moving your body and exercise will actually boost its immune function. In a 2006 study, researchers at the University of Washington enrolled 115 women in either a weekly 45-minute stretching session or 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. After 12 months, the exercisers had developed significantly fewer colds than the stretchers did. Don’t let the word exercise intimidate you. A brisk walk with the family for 20-30 minutes will do your body good!

Supplements

I love supplements. Good quality, properly sourced supplements can be very beneficial to our health and to help boost our immune system. Ideally we strive to get all the nutrients we need through an optimal diet, but sometimes we just can’t get all of one nutrient with the food we eat, and need to make up the difference in supplement form. The best supplements that I like to take during flu season are:

  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil – Contains Vitamins A and D, which are both necessary for many aspects of health, Immunity being a big one. While we can get Vitamin D from sunlight, Vitamin A can be harder to consume or absorb and fermented cod liver oil is an excellent source.
  • Probiotics - 70-80% of our immunity resides in our gut which makes probiotics very important for a healthy immune system. Probiotics help populate our gut with all that good bacteria (flora) which will help fighting sickness. Probiotics are especially important to take if you have ever been on antibiotics because while antibiotics can be useful in some cases they also destroy not only the bad bacteria, but the good bacteria as well.
  • ZincIs great for the immune system and can prevent a cold or flu virus from reproducing and can even help relieve respiratory symptoms. Adults should consume 50-75 mg a day when sick in capsule or lozenge. Those who avoid meat could be at risk for deficiency the recommended daily intake (RDI) is 15mg/day.

More Immune Boosting Tips

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is known to boost the immune system. It has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It is high in lauric acid and is thought to dissolve the lipid coating around some viruses and make them more susceptible to attack by the immune system. If sick, aim for 5-6 tablespoons per day in food or melted and stirred into hot tea.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry increases the production non-inflammatory infection-fighting cytokines as much as 10 fold. Elder berries are known to be effective against eight strains of influenza. This suggests that elder be superior to vaccines in preventing flu, because flu vaccines are only effective against known strains of flu, whereas the virus is continually mutating to new strains. I make elderberry syrup all year round but I especially like to make sure I have it one hand from September – April.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Is wonderful at helping the body to alkalize. When our body is alkalized it helps kill bacteria and virus. Yes, it tastes awful, but if you add 1 tablespoon to an 8oz glass of water and add a little raw honey, it’s actually pretty tasty!

More resources for cold/flu season:

How do you plan on keeping your family healthy during this cold and flu season? 

Categories