In this five part series for Non-GMO Month, we’ll take a look at common food items that likely contain GMO’s and we’ll be offering non-GMO alternatives. Avoiding GMO’s is quite easy once you know what to look for so we’ll be sharing with you some tips on how to keep your diet GMO free.
Do you ever wonder if there are GMO’s lurking in your favorite snack foods? If you do, you’re not alone, and if you’re not eating organic snack foods, there probably are GMO’s in your snacks. Since GMO’s aren’t labeled in the US, how can you tell? Here are some tips:
3 Tips for Avoiding GMO’s in Snack Foods
1 – The easiest way to make sure you are avoiding GMO’s is to buy organic. This goes for snack foods and any foods that you’re buying. Any product that has the USDA Organic logo on it is by definition non-GMO.
2 – Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label on packages. Even if a product isn’t certified organic, it can be non-gmo. To be certain, look for this third party verification.
3 – Avoid risky ingredients. Most supermarket snack foods contain corn, soy and canola – ingredients that are very likely to be genetically modified. Some ingredients will be obvious, like corn flour, corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, soy flour, soy lecithin, soy protein isolate, soy isoflavone, canola oil, cottonseed oil. Some ingredients are sneaky in that they don’t list what their made from. These sneaky ingredients can be GMO if the product isn’t organic: amino acids, aspartame, ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, vitamin c, citric acid, sodium citrate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrin, molasses, sucrose, textured vegetable protein (tvp), xanthan gum, vitamins, and yeast.
Avoiding GMO ingredients is easy when you know you have organic alternatives. The chart above gives you great suggestions for replacements. For just about any snack food you can think of, there’s an organic or non-gmo version, you just have to know what to look for!
Are there any snack foods you just love but don’t know how to find a non-gmo version of? Let us know and we’ll direct you to it!
Each month shopOrganic offers a different selection of sale items so that you can save a little money on the path of making better choices. These specials also give you an opportunity to try some new products that you might have overlooked before. We’ve highlighted some of these great products below. Be sure to head up to shopOrganic.com’s Sale section to see all of the October specials at shopOrganic.
All products 10% Off
Andalou Naturals is the first body care company to obtain Non-GMO Verified certification. Andalou infuses the best of nature and knowledge into mindful and effective products that are good for people and the planet. Their products are made with fruit stem cells which renews skin at the cellular level, blending nature and knowledge for visible results. Click HERE to try this October special now.
Cherryvale Farms Organic Mixes
Select varieties 10% Off
Cherryvale makes baking healthy breads and muffins quick and easy. They make great lunchbox additions, easy breakfasts and outstanding sides or desserts. Made with organic ingredients, just add a few simple ingredients and you’ve got fresh baked goods to make your house smell wonderful and your tummies happy. Click HERE to try this October special now.
Edward & Sons
Organic Breadcrumbs 10% Off
Just in time for the holiday season, we have Edward & Sons line of organic breadcrumbs on sale for you. Great for breading chicken, fish or tofu, for adding to meatloaf, stuffing and casseroles. Click HERE to try this October special now.
Eco-Sizes 10% Off
Buying cereal in bulk can save lots of money – save even more on Envirokidz Eco-Pak Organic Cereals this month at shopOrganic. Available in kid-friendly varieties like Peanut Butter Panda Puffs, Cocoa Koala Crisp and Gorrilla Munch. Click HERE to try this October special.
Everyone Soap For Kids & Organic Deodorant 10% Off
For frugal families, EO’s Everyone Soap for Kids is a great deal. A 3 in 1 product, you can use it for shampoo, body wash and bubble bath. Available in kid-friendly scents like tropical, citrus and lavender. EO’s Organic Deodorant Sprays are an effective way to stay smelling fresh all day long; available in three cool scents. Click HERE to try this October special today.
Canned Organic Vegetable Puree 10% Off
With the holidays just around the corner, its a great time to stock up on canned pumpkin, sweet potato and butternut squash. Great in casseroles, soups, stews and desserts. Click HERE to try them all.
Organic Rice Cakes, Pasta & Sauce Meals & Whole Grain Rice Entrees 10% Off
A perfect low-cal afternoon snack, Lundberg’s organic rice cakes are great to have on hand, especially with their new flavors like Hempalicious, Sweet Chili, and Kettlecorn. Their new products, Pasta & Sauce meals and the Whole Grain Rice Entrees are flying off the shelves. They make it really easy to prepare some home cooked food without the hassle. Click HERE to try them all.
Newman’s Own Organics
Hermit Cookies, Dog Treats, Mints & Cookie-O’s 10% Off
We’ve got a whole variety of Newman’s products on sale this month, from their famous Newman O’s cookies to the delicately spiced and sweetened Hermit cookies, to dog treats to their 4-packs of mints, you can’t go wrong with Newman’s. Click HERE to check out this October special.
Select varieties of Organic Jarred Vegetables 10% Off
Imported from Poland and made with simple old world ingredients, Othentic’s jarred vegetable salads and pickles will leave your taste buds tickled with great flavors. The pickled baby beets are so tender and sweet, the spicy vegetable salad is tangy with a kick, the dill pickles have just the right amount of sour and crunch; try them all! Click HERE to try them now.
Organic Snack Bars 10% Off
Made with great organic ingredients, these bars taste like real food because they are! Vegan, Kosher, Gluten Free and Non-GMO with intense flavors, they’re really satisfying. Click HERE to try this October special now.
Organic Snack Bars 10% Off
Simple Squares are organic, whole food snack bars made from simple, delicious ingredients. They are great for a variety of diets – they’re raw, gluten free, kosher and paleo. Click HERE to try them now.
Organic Fruit & Veggie Snacks 10% Off
Like fruit leather but better with veggies! Veggie Go’s make a great lunch box addition, a perfect snack to keep in a purse or in your drawer at work. Click HERE to try them now.
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
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:
- Organic gelatin contains half of the 18 essential amino acids, needed for survival with one of the most important amino acid called glycine.
- It improves digestion by naturally binding to water and helps food move through the digestive tract more easily.
- 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!
- Check this out: some experts suggest adding gelatin to the diet to help alleviate a number of allergies.
- It can help tighten up loose skin and reduce wrinkles when taken internally. Some say it helps with cellulite.
- 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.
- Organic gelatin can help speed to heal wounds more quickly.
- 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.
- Organic gelatin is a great detoxifier, helps liver remove toxins from our body.
- 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?
I’ll admit it, I’ve got a sweet tooth. I ditched refined sugars many years ago and have since turned to various natural and organic sweeteners to satisfy that craving.
Most of us know that white sugar has no real nutritional value. But more importantly, because white sugar is so refined, it can rob your body of essential nutrients as it is digested. That’s why, as a general rule, it’s better to eat less-processed foods – they are typically more nutritionally complete and do not rob your body of essential nutrients as they’re digested. Some even contribute to your overall health by providing added nutrients.
So, next time you want to create something that’s naturally sweet and good for you too, reach for one of these alternative organic sweeteners. While some are better than others, you can be sure that organic sweeteners are going to be better than regular sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Experiment and enjoy the new taste sensations you can create, knowing you’re contributing to your health.
11 Favorite Organic Sweeteners
Here is an alphabetical listing of the various natural and organic sweeteners available along with their benefits and how to use them. You might find a few organic sweeteners you’ve never heard of or ones you’re interested in trying!
Agave nectar comes from the agave plant, which grows naturally in the desert southwest and is found abundantly in Mexico. The plant itself is a succulent that looks a bit like a pineapple. The nectar of this plant is obtained by pressing the leaves of the agave plant. Agave nectar, or syrup, is about 50% sweeter than table sugar but has a low glycemic index. It has come under a lot of scrutiny lately because it is highly processed, and while it technically has a low glycemic index, the reason for that is the primary sugar in agave is fructose, not glucose. Fructose can be damaging to your liver and heart. The liver processes fructose into triglycerides, or blood fats, which increase the risk of heart disease as well as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It also increases LDL cholesterol, promotes the buildup of fat around organs, increases blood pressure, makes tissues insulin-resistant (a precursor to diabetes), and increases the production of free radicals. As a liquid sweetener, agave can be useful in certain recipes, however this is one of the organic sweeteners to use caution with. While we should all try to consume less sweeteners in general, try to consume this one as little as possible.
Barley malt is unique in this list of organic sweeteners in that is made from sprouted barley. It’s a thick brown syrup that has a taste similar to molasses. It can be used as a substitute for molasses or other organic sweeteners. It’s about half as sweet as table sugar, so you’ll need to adjust amounts to taste. It can be combined with maple syrup in recipes to yield a sweeter result. It contains complex carbohydrates as well as minerals and protein.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is made from brown rice and has a slightly butterscotch flavor. It’s about half as sweet as table sugar and can be used in recipes like other sweeteners. It can be combined with honey or maple syrup to yield a sweeter result.
Date sugar is made from dates and comes in a granulated form. Date sugar is a course, brown granule that can be used instead of table sugar. However, date sugar burns easily, so use caution in recipes where high temperatures or long cooking time (stove top or oven) come into the picture. Date sugar contains complex carbohydrates and is fairly high in folic acid.
Honey is made by bees, which extract nectar from flowers. The color of honey depends on the plants from which the bees extract nectar – the color can be a light golden color to a rich dark golden brown. It is about 20-60% sweeter than table sugar, so you should adjust your measurements accordingly. Honey contains complex carbohydrates and some proponents believe that consuming honey from your local area may help reduce seasonal allergies, if those allergies are related to local plant pollen.
Maple sugar is the granulated product made from maple syrup, which comes from the sap of maple trees. Maple sugar is a coarse light brown sugar that has roughly the same sweetness as table sugar. It contains complex carbohydrates as well as calcium and potassium. It can be used in recipes as an equal replacement for sugar.
Maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees and is a rich, deep golden brown color. It is about as sweet as table sugar and less sweet than honey. It can be used in recipes where sugar is called for and can be combined with other less sweet sweeteners (brown rice syrup, barley malt) for a combined flavor that’s both pleasing and unique. Like maple sugar, it contains complex carbohydrates, calcium and potassium. Maple syrup comes in different grades. Grade A Amber is a light syrup with a mild flavor often used for making maple candy. Grade A Medium Amber has a slightly stronger maple flavor and is most often used as table syrup. Grade A Dark Amber has a stronger maple flavor and a darker color. Grade B, sometimes called cooking syrup, has the strongest maple flavor and some caramel flavor. It is sometimes used as table syrup for it’s distinct (and strong) maple flavor and also works well in cooking. With maple flavor, a B will get you A+ results!
Sucunat (a registered trademarked name) is made from dehydrated fresh cane juice. The process leaves more nutritional components in the product and it contains calcium, potassium and a small amount of iron. It has a taste similar to sugar and molasses. It comes in both syrup and granulated form and can be used in recipes calling for sugar of all kinds.
Stevia comes from a South American plant by the same name and is related to the Marigold family. The leaves can be used, but the most common form found on the market today is a fine white powder that looks similar to aspartame or artificial sweeteners. The powder is 250-300 times sweeter than sugar, so small amounts will provide significant sweetness. Stevia has no glycemic value and does not contain carbohydrates, glucose or any form of sugar. Thus, it is safe for diabetics and has no side effects that artificial sweeteners (and aspartame) can have. Stevia has been used for thousands of years by the ancient people of South America and it is widely used in Japan to sweeten soft drinks, ready-made beverages and tea. It can be difficult to use in baking because it does not caramelize or melt like sugar does and it does not make baked goods crispy or gooey. If you want to use it for baking, look for stevia recipes or experiment, but don’t use it as straight substitute for sugar in baking. It’s great in non-baked products that require sweetening. Interestingly, it also has properties that help prevent cavities, so you can get your sweets and help your teeth all at once. One of my favorite ways to use flavored stevia is in beverages – try some rootbeer, cola, or vanilla creme stevia in some club soda and you’ve got a refreshing ‘soda’.
Turbinado sugar is made from the cane plant, as is white table sugar. Turbinado sugar is slightly less processed than table sugar and through a tumbling process has about 2/3 of the molasses removed from it. This yields a light brown sugar that has the same sweetness as table sugar but is slightly less refined. It contains some complex carbohydrates has a slightly better nutritional profile than refined white table sugar. Of the organic sweeteners in the list it is the most easily substituted sweetener for recipes.
Xylitol, a sweetener made from birch trees, does not require insulin in order to be metabolized so it is a great sugar alternative for diabetics. It doesn’t cause any increase in blood sugar levels or serum insulin response. Xylitol has other benefits as well. It is great for your teeth and gums. Xylitol creates 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. It is also beneficial for sinus health; the antibacterial properties in the xylitol are beneficial for sinus infections. (*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. )
What are your favorite organic sweeteners and how do you like to use them? Let us know in the comments!
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 BRING 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
There you have it your very own, flu fighting 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!
*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)
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!
shopOrganic co-founder ponders the question of why organic matters during Organic Harvest Month
In just the past few weeks, I’ve had some remarkable conversations with people when they find out I am one of the co-founders of shopOrganic.com; the topic of ‘Why Organic’ keeps coming up. In one conversation, three women and two men spontaneously started asking questions about whether we offered specific products. Thankfully, my product knowledge (we have over 4,000 products) was strong enough that I was able to answer almost all of their questions – but what it showed me is how many people, who are well-informed on the benefits of organic and non-GMO foods, are still looking for a trusted source for organic products. My takeaway was that we have a lot of upside potential to make shopOrganic better known! In another conversation just last night, I was at a social function for women in leadership in the community (thank you Quarles & Brady for that wonderful event) and when I stood to introduce myself and mentioned shopOrganic.com, there was a fairly loud outburst of chatter – mostly “I need to write that down” and “what was the URL again?” – and my conversations throughout the evening focused around food (my favorite topic) and how clean food is so important to health. “Why Organic” came up again and again as we talked about healthy, clean food choices.
If that’s all I had to report, it would be a short story. But there’s more. In the first event, one woman later told me she was a breast cancer survivor and though she’d always eaten a nutritionally sound diet, she hadn’t really ‘put much stock in organic.’ After her diagnosis, she told me, she got really serious about looking at what she was putting in and on her body. Her answer to ‘Why Organic’, was that organic food, organic body care and non-toxic cleaning products were the only sane way to approach her post-diagnosis life. I’m happy to report she is 100% healthy and cancer-free now, and she is a strong advocate for organic products. It was affirming to hear from her perspective why organic was so vital to the health of our bodies and our planet.
At the event last night, one woman sat down with me and told me how she’d been tired, stressed from work and running ragged for months. She’d been putting on weight gradually (stress weight) and that things just weren’t going smoothly. She had decided about three weeks ago to clean up her diet. She stopped eating a lot of processed foods and moved to cooking more and using organic and non-GMO ingredients – from fresh fruits and vegetables (always important) to organic grains, nuts, dried fruits, juices and more. She said she felt better in three weeks than she’d felt in years and was astounded at how much more energy she had. Her answer to ‘Why Organic’ was connected to her increased energy after eating a much cleaner diet. She clearly came to understand the connection between the things she eats and the way she feels. While that can be said of conventional ‘junk’ food versus a nutritious diet, she took it one step further and also made the connection between chemicals (additives or residual) in conventional foods, even those deemed health, and her own health. She’s convinced that organic food is the most healthful approach and she’s begun incorporating organic food into her diet. She, of course, was thrilled to find out about shopOrganic.com.
These heart-felt conversations made me understand that more and more people are making the connection between their health and the health of the planet. It sometimes is slow going, a one-by-one process, but ultimately that’s how things change. I was heartened to hear these stories and wanted to share them with you. This month is organic month and to celebrate, I’d love to hear your story.
With superfoods being all the rage, let’s take a closer look at organic goji berries. Often praised as the next fountain of youth, organic goji berries look like a shriveled red raisin. They are both tangy and sweet with a raisin-like texture.
Organic goji berries are also known as wolfberries. They come from a shrub that is native to China but grows in many parts of the world. In Asia, goji berries have a reputation for extending life and are eating for many health reasons. They have been associated with health benefits for diabetes, high blood pressure and age-related eye problems.
Filled with powerful antioxidants, organic goji berries join the list of other berries like acai, blueberry, cranberry and strawberry that have very high antioxidant levels. The body uses antioxidants to combat damage from free radicals that can injure cells and damage DNA, creating abnormal cells. Antioxidants can combat the destruction that free radicals cause.
High in Vitamin A and other carotenoids, organic goji berries can protect or even improve your vision. They also contain the synergistic antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which are beneficial for eye health.
Organic goji berries are a great source of protein and minerals, containing 19 amino acids (including all 8 essential amino acids) as well as zinc, iron, copper, calcium, selenium and phosphorus.
Known as an adapotgen, organic goji berries help strengthen the body wherever it needs it. They support the adrenal glands and endocrine glands, helping to keep stress feelings under control.
With all of those health benefits, you may be rushing to order some immediately, but what do you do with them once you have them? Organic goji berries can be eaten dried like raisins in trail mixes, added to smoothies or desserts. They can also be cooked into baked goods or used in herbal teas. Make sure to buy organic goji berries and not conventional, as the sulfites used on conventional dried fruits can be harmful to your health.
Organic goji berries recipes
Easy Organic Energy Bars
1 cup organic walnuts
1 cup organic almonds
1 cup organic pumpkin seeds
6-8 organic medjool dates
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
1 Tbsp organic coconut flour
½ cup organic maple syrup
½ cup organic cacao nibs
1 cup organic goji berries
Preheat oven to 350F. Process in a food processor the walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds.. Add the dates and pulse a few times to combine but leave some texture. Place the mixture in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to combine ingredients. Spread mixure into an 8×8 baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, cut into squares and serve or store. These freeze well for handy snacks.
Super Immunity Tea
Bring water to a boil then turn heat to low and add the ginger, cloves, orange peels and lemon. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain into tea cup and stir in honey and goji berries. Enjoy.
Superfood Trail Mix
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and store in an airtight container.
Start by adding the liquid to your blender, then add the fruit, then the spinach. Blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy. If you do not have a high-speed blender, soak the goji berries for 10 minutes before adding them to your blender.
I don’t know about you, but up until a few years ago all I really knew about aloe vera was that it was excellent for soothing sunburns. I had no idea that it was packed with so many other powerful benefits. Some people might even tell you that aloe vera is right up there with garlic when it comes to medicinal healing!
The aloe vera plant is a cactus like plant and is part of the Lily family (Liliaceae) which is the same family that garlic belongs too. When an aloe leaf is broken open it secretes a clear gel-like substance.
Aloe vera has both internal and external uses for our body and it contains over 200 active elements including: minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, polysaccharides, amino acids, enzymes and fatty-acids. It’s been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
24 Amazing Health Benefits of Aloe Vera:
1. Aloe vera is an alkaline forming food. Disease cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. Eating this helps alkalinize the body.
2. Anti-microbial, Germicidal, Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-viral, Disinfectant and Anti-biotic. WOW, if that doesn’t pack a punch on external and internal infections I don’t know what else can!
3. Reduces high blood pressure natural, by treating the cause and not just the symptoms.
4. Speeds up recovery in injuries.
5. Excellent for colon health, it can stop colon cancer in its tracks.
6. Helps treat and prevent Candida infections and other fungal infections
7. Can stop the growth of cancerous tumors
8. Helps slow the aging process
9. Can help lessen visibility of stretch marks
10. Helps aid in digestion (can aid in healing ulcers, also some say it can be a good laxative while others say it helps with regularity)
11. Helps support normal muscle and joint functions
12. Because of the fatty-acids it helps increase absorption of other supplements when taking with aloe vera gel or juice.
13. Great for dental health, can help heal periodontal disease and sooth sore gums
14. Boosts circulation in the body like numb hands and feet
15. It is a natural food preservative
16. Increases blood flow to the brain
17. Prevents kidney stones
18. Helps balance electrolytes which are important for physical endurance and sports, so get rid of that Gatorade and get some aloe!
19. Accelerates healing in wounds, burns and helps soothes arthritis pain
20. Protects body against oxidative stress (free radicals)
21. Very hydrating for our skin, which why it makes it excellent for skin repair and sun damage
22. Aloe vera contains 2 hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins which help stimulate the growth of cells which makes aloe a wonderful choice for healing acne.
23. Lower high cholesterol
24. Can be packed in wounds to help kill the bacteria and protect wounds from infection.
I hope now you will not just think of aloe vera as your topical choice for treating sunburns but as a whole body healer!
Some Notes About Aloe Vera:
- If you have never used aloe vera as a supplement or internally it’s best to start small then gradually increase over time.
- Remember aloe vera is incredibly medicinal plant, usually less is more when taken internally. It may cause adverse interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medications. Always consult your health care advisor with any questions you might have.
Where can you buy Aloe Vera?
Actually you might be able to find it right at your local grocery store. I was surprised to find some aloe leaves in our local grocery market (and it wasn’t even a health food store) If you buy your aloe leaves. Filet your leaves carefully and scoop out the gel.
You can find a wide variety of organic aloe vera gels and juices online.
If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between a jam, jelly, fruit spread, marmalade, conserve, preserve and fruit butter, this guide should make it as clear as jelly.
Jam: A soft, smooth puree of crushed or chopped fruit cooked down with sugar. Jam must contain at least 55 percent sugar and 45 percent fruit.
Jelly: Clear and jelled, this is just the fruit juice and sugar with a jelling agent. Jelly has no seeds or chunks of fruit. Jelly must contain at least 65 percent water soluble solids (sugar) and must be made with fruit juices or concentrates.
Preserve: Chopped or whole fruits cooked with sugar in a way that allows a syrupy base to hold suspended fruit chunks within it. must contain at least 55 percent sugar and 45 percent fruit.
Conserve: A more thickly stewed preserve, often made with more than one fruit.
Fruit Spread: This is like a jam but instead of sugar, alternative sweeteners or fruit juice concentrates are used.
Fruit Butter: A spread of slowly cooked fruit puree with a smooth, soft consistency.
Marmalade: A fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water.
B – Best Brands of Organic Jam, Jelly & Fruit Spread
Bionaturae Organic Fruit Spread: These organic fruit spreads are produced using hand-harvested heirloom varieties of fruit from select regions of Italy. The term “heirloom” describes a variety of fruit, flower or vegetable that has been grown in a certain region for centuries without any hybridization. The flavor of Italian heirloom fruit is sweet, intense and true. It speaks to the pride of the farmers who produce the fruits, and cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world.
Cadia Organic Preserves: Made with fresh organic fruits at the peak of ripeness, these organic preserves are great on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, muffins, scones or in yogurt.
Colorado Mountain Jam: These organic jams are made with fruit from organic orchards in Colorado. A small family operation, their organic jam is award-winning and has intense flavor in unique varieties.
Crofter’s Organic Fruit Spread: These organic fruit spreads come in kid-friendly flavors and adult varieties as well. From the classing grape and strawbery to more exotic blood orange and pomegranate, Crofter’s offers a great taste at a great value. Try their ‘Just Fruit’ varieties for organic jam without any added sugar.
Eden Organic Fruit Butter: Slowly simmered, Eden’s organic apple butter and organic cherry butter bring the flavor of a home cooked apple pie and cherry pie to an easy to use spread. Great on toast, on muffins, crackers or right from the spoon.
Mediterranean Organic Preserves: Hand made in small batches on a 4th generation Italian family farm, and grown under the Mediterranean sun, these organic preserves are artisan crafted and are packed with fruit.
C – Cooking with Organic Jam, Jelly & Fruit Spread
Aside from the usual PB&J, there’s a whole lot you can do with organic jam, jelly and fruit spread, from sweet desserts to savory dinners, to delicious breakfasts. Here are a few recipes using organic jam that you can try:
Jam Thumbprint Cookies
A sweet treat that kids and adults alike will love.
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 large egg
3 ¼ cups organic all-purpose flour
¾ cup organic jam (any flavor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg, and beat until thoroughly combined. With mixer on low, add flour, and mix just until incorporated. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons each). Place on baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart. Moisten thumb with water, and gently press the center of each ball, making an indentation about 1/2 inch wide and inch deep. Heat jam on the stove until liquefied and spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Savory Apricot Mustard Sauce
This works really well as a sauce for grilled chicken or pork
½ cup apricot preserves
2 Tbsp organic spicy brown mustard
1 ½ tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp grated ginger
Mix together and use as a dipping sauce or as a marinated for chicken, fish, or pork.
These are a great low fat alternative to jelly donuts
¼ cup organic jam, preserve or fruit spread
1 ½ cups organic all-purpose flour
½ cup organic whole wheat flour
½ cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup organic sunflower/safflower oil
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
organic powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 400° F. Grease the bottoms of 12 standard muffin cups. Whisk the jam in a small bowl until smooth and set it aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, oil, egg, and vanilla extract until blended. Stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients just until the batter is blended. Fill the muffin cups halfway with batter and use a spoon to make a shallow well in the center of each. Fill each well with a rounded teaspoon of jam and then cover the jam with more batter. Bake the muffins for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean (there may be jam on it). Let the muffins cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing them. Dust the tops with powdered sugar. Makes 1 dozen.
What is ghee? Ghee is a staple ingredient in Indian cooking. You might have also heard it called butter oil or clarified butter. Many people with dairy or butter sensitivities often can still have ghee because in the cooking process (which I’ll show you below) the milk solids are removed (lactose and protein, which people can be sensitive and allergic too).
I started making ghee in my own home a few months ago when my youngest daughter (23 months) started developing a little rot on her teeth. When I took her to see our integrative dentist he wasn’t worried about her teeth in the slightest, but gave me some really good tips to help repair her teeth. One of the books in his office was Weston A. Price’s book titled, “Nutritional and Physical Degeneration”. In his book butter oil (ghee) is a key ingredient to re-enameling teeth because it contains certain fats and activating substances that help bond the nutrients in the body to the bones. Ghee also has anti-carcinogen effects that help protect against tooth decay. Who would have known, right?! It’s been two months of eating ghee and my daughter’s teeth are slowly on the mend. Not only that, ghee is delicious and I cannot imagine eating “Regular” butter ever again.
Here are a Few Other Added Benefits of Ghee:
- Ghee has a very high smoke point which makes it excellent for cooking, stir-fries and also frying.
- It’s excellent on anything you would use on or with regular butter, spread on your toast (how my daughter likes it) in all your baking recipes.
- It has a long shelf life. No need to refrigerate it. You can keep it in your pantry for up to 3-6 months…. but I can’t imagine how… the longest I have mine on my counter is 2 weeks!
- It’s excellent to take with your daily vitamins. Take 1/4-1/2 tsp along with your vitamins to help maximum absorption!
How to make Ghee (clarified butter or butter oil):
Start by using the best butter. I like to use 1lb Kerrygold unsalted butter because it comes from grass-fed pasture raised cows. You can also use organic unsalted butter too.
Unwrap the butter and place in a glass bowl or sauce pan on your stove at medium heat. Bring to a very slow boil (this will take several minutes, so be patient).
Once it starts to boil you will notice a white foam start to form. This is the milk solids that you will be getting rid of.
Now use a slotted spoon and skim off as much foam as you can. Don’t worry if you can’t get it all, because you will strain the rest off later. After you scoop out as much foam as you can, let simmer for 5-10 minutes to completely separate the milk solids from the butter oil. You can tell when this happens when the butter starts to become clearer and you can see the bottom of the pan. Sometimes you might see some milk solids start to turn brown, don’t worry. Again that will all be separated.
Use a fine mesh strainer and slowly poor into a wide mouth mason jar you can also use a funnel in your mason jar. This step will separate the rest of the milk solids from the butter oil. And that’s it. There you have it. Your very own, healthy, yummy, homemade Ghee! Enjoy!
Oh- I forgot to add that you can also buy Ghee if you aren’t inclined to make it yourself. Click here to see my favorite and trusted brand!
Have you ever heard of Ghee? I hope after today’s tutorial that you will pick up a jar or be inspired to make some at home! Tell me how yours turned out!