In this blog post we’ll be discussing some natural sleep solutions for those of us who either have trouble getting to sleep, or don’t get enough sleep. I think it’s safe to say that many of us take sleep for granted. Or we think it’s a waste of time. I know plenty of people who say they can run on five hours of sleep just fine. Well, that’s what they may think, but in reality they are actually sabotaging their health. See sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health.
When we are sleeping our body does amazing things like:
- Our heart rate and blood pressure fall by about 10%. People who sleep seven to eight hours a night have the lowest rates of heart disease.
- Sleep releases growth hormones, which boost muscle mass and repair cells and tissues (every tissue in the body is renewed faster during sleep then during anytime when you are awake).
- Sleeping helps our immune system kick into gear to help fight and recover from illnesses more quickly
So, how do we go about getting enough sleep? Here are a few natural sleep solutions you can try:
1. Don’t eat anything about 2 hours before bedtime. Remember our bodies need to rest, repair and heal at night. If we eat before bed our body will be digesting as we sleep and the repair and healing will be on the back burner.
2. Like above, refrain from drinking a lot of liquids before bedtime to reduce trips to the bathroom. Also it helps to avoid caffeine after 2-3pm.
3. Stay away from processed foods. Eating a properly prepared, nutritious whole foods diet, will increase optimal health and in turn help regulate sleep.
4. Turn off all the lights when you sleep, this includes phones, alarm clocks, TVs, etc. Even street lights can affect our sleep. Invest in some black out curtains, or hang some blankets up. This will be very important for someone who works nights and sleeps during the day.
5. Try to get to sleep before 10pm. Not just be in bed by 10pm, try to be asleep by 10pm. Adjust your sleeping schedule so you can get 7.5-8hr of sleep a night.
6. Sleep with the temperature below 70 degrees. Our body temperature naturally drops right before we fall asleep. If it’s too warm in the house or bed, it will be more difficult to remain asleep. Try to avoid heating blankets also.
7. Find a relaxing routine that you can get into every night. Whether it be reading a book, taking a relaxing bath (maybe with some lavender essential oil), listening to some relaxing music. Do whatever you can to help you to relax. I actually like to put a few drops of lavender oil on a cloth and stick it in my children’s pillow cases at night. They love the smell and I think it helps wonderfully.
8. Try some herbal natural sleep solutions. Valerian Root is an all natural herbal supplement that has been known calm the nervous system and can help with relief of occasional sleeplessness. It is one of the ingredients in an herbal blend called Sleep Better, that also contains other sleep-promoting herbs. Chamomile Tea is another wonderful herb known for its soothing and calming properties. Try sipping a small cup an hour or two before bed.
9. Do you stay awake due to stress or repetitive thoughts? Give flower essences a try. Bach Rescue Remedy makes a Rescue Sleep flower essence blend that eases stress and calms repetitive thoughts, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
I hope some of these natural sleep tips were helpful to you. What is your favorite natural sleep solution for getting a good night’s rest?
We all know that certain aromas will invoke particular feelings. Like the warm comforting smell of fresh baked cookies making you feel good, scent is a powerful way to affect mood. Using essential oils to affect your mood – whether for relaxation, energizing or other effects – is highly effective and simple to do.
Our olfactory system contains 50 million smell receptors in the nasal cavity and is part of the brain’s limbic system, also known as the “emotional brain”. Smelling a certain scent can create a powerful response almost instantly. Because essential oils evaporate quickly, their molecules are easily inhaled. The inhalation of the naturally occurring synergistic chemicals in essential oils provide triggers to our brain which effect our emotional state.
There are certain essential oils that I go to more frequently than others – for mood elevation, for relaxation, or for focus. Below I’ve listed some of my favorites along with how to use them:
Seven Essential Oils For Improved Mood & More
1 – Bergamot – a very calming essential oil, it can be applied topically, inhaled directly or used in a diffuser. With a sweet citrus scent, Bergamot is helpful for both depression and anxiety, producing calming and uplifting feelings. Note: This oil is sensitive to direct sunlight. If you apply it to your skin, wait 24 hours before exposing that skin to sunlight.
2 – Chamomile - this deep, rich, herbaceous scent is helpful for dispelling anger and irritability, clearing the mind and bringing stability to emotions. Diffuse it or inhale it directly from the bottle. It can be used topically for inflamed skin, to ease arthritis, headaches, sprains and muscle aches.
3 – Geranium – this sweet, fresh, flowery scent helps relieve tension and stress. Can be used topically to relieve acne and oily skin.
4 – Lavender- possibly the most popular essential oil, Lavender can both relax and uplift, depending on what you need at the time. Beneficial for anxiety, depression, irritability, panic attacks and reducing stress. It is relaxing yet keeps you alert at the same time. Lavender can also be used topically for cuts, burns, bug bits and stings.
5 – Sweet Orange - this sweet citrusy essential oil is a powerful anti-depressant. Add a few drops to a a spray bottle with water, shake and spray a room to instantly freshen and brighten the room. This essential oil is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory which makes it a good for swollen gums – just add a couple of drops to warm salt water and swish in the mouth for relief.
6 – Rosemary – invigorating, stimulating and refreshing, this essential oil is beneficial for memory and concentration. Got a big exam or presentation coming up? Use Rosemary while you study or prepare then use it again the day of your event and your sense memory will kick in and give you an extra boost. Also great for staying alert during long drives. Used topically, Rosemary is good for respiratory issues, arthritis and improving circulation.
7 – Clary Sage – this essential oil helps ease fear and anxiety, as well as grief, exhaustion and burnout. During menopause, clary sage can help reduce hot flashes, night sweats, palpitations, irritability, as well as headaches and dizziness. Use topically for PMS symptoms and cramps.
Because essential oils are very potent in their pure form, most essential oils should be blended with a carrier oil, like almond, sesame or jojoba oil, before using topically. For inhaling, essential oils can be sniffed directly from the bottle or you can place a few drops on a tissue or cloth. For help with relaxation and sleep, you can place a few drops on your pillowcase. To diffuse a scent throughout a room, you can use an aromatherapy diffuser or add a few drops to a water spray bottle and spritz whenever you need it.
Essential oils can be blended together in a synergistic way to create even more powerful combinations. I highly recommend the book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-Toxic and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health Beauty a Safe Home Environment for more an in depth resource guide to creating your own blends.
Since essential oils are very powerful, be sure to check for any contraindications before using them, especially if you are pregnant. Also, make sure to use pure essential oils, not synthetic. Buying organic essential oils is the best choice so that you know you’re getting a quality pure essential oil and not a synthetic chemical compound.
How do you like to use essential oils?
Do you have a special mom in your life and want to honor her with a great Mother’s Day gift? I hope so! Today I’m going to help you out a bit, with an easy guide on what kind of organic mother’s day gifts to give to that special organic momma in your life.
Mother’s Day Gifts For the Gardener Momma
Do you have a mom in your life who has that special green thumb and loves to garden? Maybe a mom who has expressed wanting to start a small herb garden? Here’s an idea for this momma:
Botanical Interests Seeds – Pick her out some seeds, and make a little garden basket with some gardening gloves, a couple small gardening tools and to be cute you could add in a few of these Gardentime pasta products.
Mother’s Day Gifts For the Mom with a Sweet Tooth
Do you a special mom in your life who loves sweets? Get her some organic sweet treats to satisfy that craving in a healthier way:
Wholesome Chow – These baking products are a great idea for the gluten free baker. Or you can even try your hand at baking and bake her up a fabulous cake and give her a package of the same product for her to make on her own.
Sedona Chocolates - These raw, organic dark chocolates are a special treat. Any mom is going to love you with these goodies. Trust me!
Sweet Tooth Gift Basket – A special collection of organic sweets and treats.
Torie & Howard Organic Candies – Hard candies for a sophisticated palate.
Mother’s Day Gifts For the New Momma
We all probably know a special someone in our life who is expecting a little one, or maybe they are a brand new momma. Here are some wonderful products for an expecting mom, a brand new mom or even a veteran momma having her 4th baby!
Earth Mama Angel Baby Products – I’m a mom who makes all my own baby products, but when I’m not in the mood to make a product then I go straight to Earth Mama Products. I absolutely love them and highly recommend them. My favorite product by far is the Bottom Balm.
Baby Sunscreen – Summer is just around the corner, any mom will appreciate their baby having little added protection from the sun, and without all those horrible chemicals.
Diapers – If your special mom is doing disposable diapers for her baby, here is a wonderful natural option!
Baby food – This would be a fun gift. Pick out a few baby food items and throw in a few baby spoons for a sweet little baby basket.
Mother’s Day Gifts For the Foodie Mom
Here are some awesome options for the food loving mom in your life:
Gourmet Oil & Vinegar Gift Set – Organic olive oil paired with delicate organic golden balsamic vinegar and bold balsamic vinegar.
Salts – Does your foodie mom love to cook? You can’t go wrong with these salts. Not only are they perfect for cooking but these salts contain a ton of essential minerals that our bodies need!
Mother’s Day Gifts For the Coffee Mom
Here are some wonderful organic options for that “I need my Coffee momma” in your life.
And Finally, Mother’s Day Gifts For the Mom That Needs a Break!
Yep, moms have some of the toughest jobs out there. They work 24/7 and don’t complain about it. Even though they might not admit to it… well they might… moms all need a little break some times for themselves. Here are some great options to help mom, take some time for herself and just relax and breathe!
Dr. Bronner’s Soaps – She will be sure to love these soaps. There are so many beautiful scents that you just can’t go wrong.
I hope this helps you decide on what to get the organic mom in your life. What special things have you done for your mom for past Mother’s Days?
Almonds by far are the most used nut in my home. I use organic almonds for everything from making milk and butter, tasty snacks and even savory meals too. I just love the versatility of almonds. Not only that, but raw organic almonds are jam packed with health benefits. Now… if we could just get everyone to SOAK their almonds. By soaking nuts we can unlock even more health benefits that nuts hold. Almonds have an acid and an enzyme inhibitor in their brown skin that actual protects itself against sunlight and moisture. So without removing that inhibitor it actually makes it more difficult for us to digest and we don’t absorb the nutrients well. By soaking the almonds we can shed off its skin which releases the enzymes so that we can then digest them much easier and absorb all of their nutrients.
Here are a few health benefits of soaking organic almonds:
- Easy to digest- After soaking you will notice the texture is a little different, they are easier to eat and is easier for children to eat them as well. Because they are easier to chew this will help with digestion and us being able to absorb the nutrients.
- 1 ounce of organic almonds (about 20 to 25 almonds) can contain as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk. Also, almonds are a great source of magnesium and phosphorous, which are important minerals for building strong bones.
- Almonds are wonderful for brain health they contain two vital brain nutrients, riboflavin and L-carnitine, which have been shown to increase brain activity, resulting in new neural pathways and a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Almonds have two very important fatty acids, both linoleic and linolenic acids. Those fatty acids help to reduce inflammation all around the body, which unfortunately most of us suffer from. The fatty acids also help to reduce the levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol), and they promote healthy skin and hair! All in all, almonds pack a powerful, healthy punch.
Almonds contain folic acid, which helps reduce the incidence of birth defects in newborn babies. It also stimulates healthy cell growth and tissue formation.
How to Soak Organic Almonds (for optimal nutrient benefits):
- 2 -4 cups of organic almonds
- Sea salt
In a large glass bowl add your almonds, sprinkle a little sea salt then poor filtered or purified water over almonds so they are completely covered. Leave them to soak overnight or up to 10 hours. Drain them well then store in jars or storage containers and store in the fridge for up to a week. Also if you have a dehydrator you can dry them on low heat or (nut seed setting) until slightly crispy and store them. Use them like you would any recipes or just for a perfect snack!
What’s your favorite way to prepare and/or eat almonds?
I myself am a stay a home mom, but I am student right now, so from that aspect I know how precious time can be, especially when you’re in a crunch. It’s during these times that it’s nice to have some healthy, organic baby foods that are convenient for moms and dads to give their baby. Today I’m going to give you a list of some of the best organic baby food choices for those days that you are on the go and need something quick, organic and guilt free to feed your baby!
NurturMe- NurturMe (or NurturMeals) are the first and only certified-organic, gluten-free dried fruit and veggie meals created for children 6 months to 4 years. NurturMeal organic baby foods bring together nutrient-packed super-foods such as green kale, quinoa, squash and banana (and so many more varieties) to develop young taste buds with creative and delicious combos. These are rich in nutrition and super versatile. Try them on their own or mixed into other foods for extra nutrition. Simply mix it up, and mix it in!
Healthy Times products are made from organically grown ingredients, no preservatives or artificial additives. Healthy Times is the only exclusive organic baby foods company providing mothers with products that are USDA certified organic, certified kosher by OU, and addresses baby’s allergies by offering wheat free, dairy free, soy free products for sensitive babies. They have a wide array of products from jarred baby foods, teething biscuits, cookies and cereals and they even make baby care products.
Ella’s Kitchen – These were one of my toddlers favorites! I still get them for her from time to time. Ella’s Kitchen’s products are USDA certified organic baby foods and are extremely handy for moms and dads. They are great for the little ones. Is your child sensitive to a food? No problem. On the packaging of Ella’s Kitchen products, they state clearly if it’s vegetarian, gluten free and lactose free.
Are you a working parent or just a busy on-the-go parent? If so, what healthy organic baby foods have been helpful for you?
Spring is finally here; have you been loving spring in your area so far? I’m in the Northwest and it’s been pretty beautiful. I made the first of my organic recipes for springtime the other day and it was so much fun. My toddler and I went out in our little back yard and we picked a whole bunch of dandelion! Yes, the weed dandelion is edible and highly nutritious. It can be somewhat bitter but the first pick of dandelion in spring is the tastiest. It has the texture of spinach with a taste more like kale.
I feel like I can hear some of you already saying “Is she actually going to eat that?!” The answer is YES! Dandelion is one of the Earth’s superfoods and it’s one of the most nutrient dense greens we can eat. Learn more about Dandelion here.
After the first flowers bloom (or you mow your yard) is when the leaves start tasting bitter, at least that’s what I’ve found. I took advantage of the first pick and we got a couple good bowls filled. When we got inside I had no idea what I wanted to make, it was almost dinnertime and my kids were wanting eggs. That’s when I figured I just throw a quick egg bake together with the dandelion, and they loved it! The whole thing was devoured in less than 10 minutes. I guess it helps that bacon was in it… bacon makes EVERYTHING taste better
Organic Recipes for Spring: Dandelion, Bacon & Egg Bake
- 2 cups chopped fresh picked dandelion (can’t get anymore organic than that!)
- 8 eggs (organic, pasture raised, free range is best)
- 1lb of uncured organic bacon
- 1T Fat (I used organic ghee for this recipe, but coconut oil would be fine too)
- sea salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease 8×11 inch baking dish, here I used a 9″ pie plate and greased generously with ghee.
Throw all the ingredients together and whisk well. I actually like to cheat and use my blender (it’s quick and easy and works perfectly). Bake until firm in center. This took me about 30-35 minutes in my oven. Some people do like it softer so if that’s you, start checking for your preferred firmness around 25min.
Serve right away. I ate my serving on top of dandelion greens and thinly sliced onions. My kids…well they ate theirs with organic ketchup.
*This is just a very basic recipe, feel free to throw any other veggies in there or even some cheese!
Think you are brave enough to try some dandelion out? You just might be pleasantly surprised!
Here are some other great Organic Recipes for Spring:
Dr. Oz’s Green Drink (one of my favorite smoothies, and perfect ingredients for spring)
What are your favorite organic recipes for Springtime?
Hulled barley has been around for a long time, however, we don’t hear about it much these days. Dr. Oz recently published an article on the benefits of hulled barley and so we thought we’d dig a bit deeper and list all of the health benefits we could find for this amazing superfood!
10 Important Health Benefits of Hulled Barley
- Hulled barley is high in beta glucan, which helps lower cholesterol levels.
- It’s a good source of selenium (shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer).
- It contains niacin (the B vitamin that protects against cardiovascular risk factors).
- Provides lignans (a phytonutrient thought to protect against breast cancer).
- Hulled barley has the most fiber of any whole grain, and so it helps protect against cancer as it can help speed food through your digest track.
- It can help prevent heart disease.
- It includes healthy doses of iron, protein, and calcium.
- Barley can help prevent gallstones.
- Can help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Many studies have shown barley being linked to protection against diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity and premature death.
How to Curb Your Hunger with Hulled Barley
What if I told you that eating hulled barley is not only very beneficial to your health, but it can also help reduce an insatiable appetite? Hulled barley is actually an all-natural appetite suppressant. The fiber in hulled barley expands in your stomach making you feel fuller for longer. So include it in your meals day-to-day and start curbing your hunger for high-calorie foods.
Hulled Barley Recipes
There are so many different ways you can incorporate hulled barley into your diet and every meal (soups, salads, breakfast, etc.). It can be made into a breakfast porridge like oatmeal, or used in the place of rice or other grains. It can be used in hot dishes as well as cold salads. Here a are a few recipes you can try:
Do you incorporate hulled barley into your diet? If so, what is your favorite way to do so?
Now that we are about a week into April, I thought it was fitting to bring to you some fun facts, health benefits and recipes for organic pecans! Why? Because April is National Pecan Month! Now, let’s look into why this slightly sweet, delicious nut is so wonderful!
- Pecans are a Native American tree nut which is actually a member of the Hickory family.
- Pecans were an important food for the Indian tribes of the Southern United States before Europeans settled.
- George Washington was known to frequently carry a stash of pecans in his pocket, and Thomas Jefferson dedicated part of his time to help cultivate them.
- The US produces about 80% of the world’s pecan supply.
Organic Pecans Health Benefits and why you should eat them:
1. They’re packed with 19 vitamins and minerals in just one serving (1 ounce=19 halves).
2. 1 serving contains 60% Manganese which is a naturally occurring mineral in our bodies and is a powerful antioxidant which seeks out and destroys the free radicals in our body.
3. Organic pecans have no cholesterol in them.
4. Eating just a handful a day may help protect the nervous system against neurological diseases.
5. Pecans are the highest ranked nut for antioxidant content.
6. Pecans are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of phenolic antioxidants. Regular addition of pecan nuts in the diet helps to decrease total as well as LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” levels in the blood.
7. Organic pecans are a good source of protein with about 3g per serving.
8. One serving provides 10% in your daily fiber intake.
9. They help regulate your body’s metabolism.
10. The nuts are very rich sources of several important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates.
11. These nuts are a good source of vitamin A, which helps vision and bone growth.
Get organic pecans in your diet:
- Eat a handful a day.
- Lightly toast them and throw them on a salad.
- Chop them up on sprinkle them on your favorite ice cream.
- Crush or grind them to make a yummy crust for your favorite protein (meat, poultry, fish, etc.).
- Soak and dehydrate them which makes them easier to digest.
- Blend them in a high power blender to make pecan butter or buy it here.
One of my favorite recipes is Chocolate Pecan Brownie Bites (or bars):
- 1 cup Organic Pecans
- 2 cups dates
- 2-4 tablespoons raw cacao powder (depending how chocolatey you want it)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (I always use the non alcohol kind)
- A pinch or two of salt.
- 1 ounce of a dark chocolate bard chopped.
Throw all the ingredients in your food processor expect for the 1 ounce of dark chocolate and process until it blogs up into a big crumbly dough. I like to test it for stickiness: grab a piece of the dough to see if when you press it together it sticks nicely. If it’s still too crumbly sometimes I just add a table spoon of coconut oil or a few more dates. When it’s sticky enough to your liking you have a few different options: you can lay out some parchment paper on pan and scoop out by tablespoons and roll into balls, or you can form the whole dough into a flat rectangle shape. When done forming your shape you can add some of the chopped dark chocolate to the top or your balls or sprinkle over your rectangle form and press into the dough. Now chill in your refrigerator for a couple hours until firm and chewy, after chilled you can cut the dough you formed in to a big rectangle, into bars and store in the freezer for a quick snack.
More great Pecan recipes:
Sweet Crispy Pecans (personal favorite)
Grain Free Granola (feel free to use ALL pecans for the nut ingredient)
Hope you enjoy your next handful of pecans now. How do you incorporate pecans into your diet?
There are two ways to dye Easter eggs naturally; either boil raw eggs in the naturally colored water, or soak hard boiled eggs in the colored water overnight. The first way is faster if you’re only using one or two colors but if you want to use a lot of different colors, its easier to make the colored soaking water and use smaller bowls to soak the hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator overnight.
To make the natural dyes, choose a natural ingredient from the list below. The quantity that you use will determine how dark the color is. Add distilled water and either cream of tartar or white vinegar to a non-aluminum pot. Use 1 TBSP cream of tartar or vinegar per cup of water. If you’re using raw eggs, boil them in the colored water like you normally would to cook hard boiled eggs. You can then either remove the eggs or if you want them darker you can continue to soak them in the refrigerator.
If you’re using hard boiled eggs, you can make batches of different colors, then use smaller bowls to soak the eggs overnight in the refrigerator. If the eggs don’t come out as dark as you want the first time, you can make a darker colored soak water and let the eggs soak a second time.
Natural dyes are made with just a handful of ingredients. You’ll need water, the natural material for coloring, and a mordant to help the colors penetrate the eggshell. The mordant can be cream of tartar or white vinegar.
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs Instructions:
- Place the eggs in a single layer in a pan. Add water until the eggs are covered.
- Add vinegar or cream of tartar.
- Add the natural dye materials. Use more dye material for more eggs or for a more intense color.
- Bring water to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- If you are happy with the color, remove the eggs from the liquid.
- For more intensely colored eggs, remove the eggs from the liquid. Strain the dye through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Cover the eggs with the filtered dye and let them soak in the refrigerator overnight.
Here’s a list of some herbs and spices you can use and the colors they yield:
Hibiscus flowers – Reddish blue/lavender
Turmeric root powder – Deep gold
Curry powder – Pale orange
Chili powder – Reddish brown
Paprika – Orange
Dill seed – Golden brown
Beet Juice – Pink
Coffee – Brown
Cranberry Juice – Pink
Red Cabbage Leaves – Blue
Onion Skins – Red or Yellow depending on the type of onion
Orange Peels – Pale Orange
Grape Juice – Lavender
Spinach Leaves – Green
Pomegranate Juice – Red
Find many of these natural dye materials HERE.
What are your favorite Easter traditions? Share with us in the comments below.
Spring is officially here. I love this time of year, when all things become new again. It the perfect time to start your Spring Cleaning. It’s always a refreshing feeling when we can clean our homes and make it feel fresh and new! For those of you who dread doing anything with the word CLEAN in it, I’ll try to help you make it as painless as possible. This year instead of cleaning the traditional way with chemical-laden cleaning products that do more damage to our environment and bodies than good, let’s switch out those products with more organic or natural cleaning products that are environmentally safe!
To make the switch to all natural cleaning products easy, I’m going to name well-known conventional product brand names and list natural cleaning product alternatives. Here we go!
Natural Cleaning Products for the Kitchen
Instead of these dishwasher detergents: Cascade, Finish or Ajax,
try Ecover Zero-Natural Automatic Dishwashing Powder or Tablets.
Instead of those Pledge or Clorox surface wipes,
try GreenShield Organics- Biodegradable Fresh Sent Surface.
Natural Cleaning Products for Laundry
Instead of Shout and Spray n’ Wash for stain removers,
try Ecover Stain Remover.
Instead of Woolite for delicates,
try Ecover Delicate Wash.
Natural Cleaning Products for the Bathroom
Instead of KaBoom Tub and tile cleaner
try Naturally Clean-Tub and Tile Spray Cleaner.
Instead of Soft Scrub,
try Ecover-Cream Scrub.
Natural Cleaning Products for the Home
Now that you know there are natural cleaning products for all those traditional conventional products, I hope you start going through your cabinets and start swappin’ out the bad with the good! Trust me you will feel so much better making the switch! Which are your favorite natural cleaning products?
Learn more about how to make the switch to Green Cleaning.