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Organic Toddler Food: Tips to Keep Your Tiny Ones Healthy

Have you ever wondered what is healthy for you to feed your toddlers (ages from about 1-4 years)? I’ve been in the same boat.  I hate to think about what I fed my first two children in their young life.  They were fed plenty of chicken nuggets, Spaghetti-O’s, tons of Campbell’s soup and Goldfish….uorganic toddler foodgh… that’s enough to make me want to cry!   Thankfully I have learned so much since those years, and now that I have a third toddler running around I am happy to say that she has never had those kinds of foods in our home. When you’re not at home this can be a challenge, but nothing a little prepping can’t fix!

What I think is important for all of us human beings, from infancy until well…death, is to always eat WHOLE foods.  What does that mean?   That means to eat food in its purest form, foods that contain 1 ingredient, foods that you can pick straight from the garden.   The more you can steer clear of processed foods (yes, even organic processed foods) the better your health and longevity will be and it will benefit the future of our toddlers and their future children.

Here is a good guide line for feeding yourself, your family and of course our active toddlers:

Always buy organic when possible.  I recently wrote a blog explaining which foods are most important to buy organic.  Buying organic helps us reduce the pesticides and chemicals that are used in farming. We definitely want to keep as much of that away from our toddlers.   For the produce that you can’t buy organic, just make sure you soak/wash them before you eat them.  I usually fill the sink up with water and pour 1 cup of vinegar in the water and let my veggies and fruits soak about 10 minutes, after that I drain water and let them dry on kitchen towel then put them away.

To mention once again, I must stress that staying away from processed foods is going to be key. There are so many chemicals, dyes, additives and preservatives and not to mention GMO’s in those foods… none of which our bodies can handle especially our babies and toddlers.   I very much cringe when I see moms feeding their toddlers Cheez It’s and Cheerio’s – there are better options available for all of those finger foods that toddlers love so much.

Here are some good options for organic toddler foods:

These are just a few options of organic toddler food that you can buy. These are processed, but much better than the conventional brands, and all are free of GMO’s – they’re great for being on the run and having something on hand to keep them occupied and well-fed.

Bottom line: feed your children whole foods whether they are toddlers or teens.  They are going to be healthier, get sick a little less and be less prone to allergies and food sensitivities.   If I could recommend any book to you about eating a whole foods diet, I would recommend Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.  It’s all about preparing whole foods and properly prepared meals for your whole family!

What organic toddler foods do your tiny ones like? Any tips I missed for feeding your toddlers organic foods?

Organic Pistachios: 7 Health Benefits & Tips

We always hear about the health benefits of other organic nuts like almonds, walnuts etc…but we rarely ever hear about organic pistachios.  I have good news folks.  Organic pistachios have some awesome health benefits!   The pistachio nut are the dry fruits from trees called the Genus: Pistacia.  These trees are mostly found in the warm dry indigenous areas of Western Asia, but are also grown in the Mediterranean regions and the United States too.  In ancient times the pistachio has been revered to as a symbol of health and wellness. How awesome is that?  I’m already starting to like this nut a little more than I did before ;)

organic-pistachios

Photo Courtesy of Savannah Lewis

7 Health Benefits of Organic Pistachios

1. Rich Source of Energy

100 g of nuts contain 557 calories. In addition, they are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and an excellent source of antioxidants. Organic pistachios contain phytochemicals and other strong antioxidants such as carotenes, vitamin E and selenium, which help with tissue-damaging free radicals. In addition to thiamine and vitamin B6, organic pistachios contain other B vitamins that your body needs for strong metabolism and energy production.

2. Digestive Aid

Organic pistachios help with digestive problems like IBS, heartburn, high fiber organic pistachios provide you with prebiotic benefits, helping you maintain good gut flora (beneficial bacteria) in our stomach, which also boost our immune system.

3. Minerals

Organic pistachios are an excellent source of minerals.  Our body cannot make minerals so it’s important that we ingest them.  They are an awesome source of copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. 100 g of nuts provide 144% of the daily recommended levels of copper. Copper is an essential trace mineral that is required in neuro-transmission, metabolism, as well as red blood cell synthesis.

4. Reverse Hair loss

Organic pistachios contain a good amount biotin.  Many people who are experiencing hair loss also are deficient in biotin.  If this happens to be your case, try some organic pistachios for starters… it’s worth a try right?

5. Healthy Brain

Because organic pistachios have a high quantity of vitamin B6, this helps in increasing the hemoglobin count in the blood. This oxygen rich blood is then supplied to the brain making it even more active.

6. Heart Healthy

They are heart healthy. Organic pistachios improve your general health by decreasing cholesterol levels and increasing ones monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

7. Weight Management

If you like to snack on nuts, you can help control your weight by limiting your portions. The fiber content of the nuts may make them more filling, helping you to eat fewer calories later on in the day. A study published in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition” in June 2010 found that participants who consumed 240 calories worth of pistachios for 12 weeks lowered their body mass indexes and triglyceride levels more than those who consumed 220 calories worth of pretzels. Also, UCLA researchers did a study of overweight adults who were able to lose the equivalent of 10–12 pounds over three months by cutting 500 calories and adding an afternoon 3-ounce in-shell pistachio snack.

Tips for How to Store Organic Pistachios

Raw, unshelled pistachios can be placed in a cool dry place for few months. However, shelled kernels should be placed inside an airtight container and kept inside the refrigerator in order to prevent them turning rancid.  Storing them in the freezer can help you keep them much longer.

I think those are some wonderful reason to start eating some organic pistachios don’t you?  Eat them as a snack, throw them in a salad.  I bet they would make a delicious nut butter if you throw some in your blender or food processor… hmm the ideas!!  If you can’t find good organic pistachios nearby, buy organic pistachios online.   Buying organic will ensure that your pistachios are pesticide and GMO free!!

Do you love organic pistachios?  What kind of recipes do you use them in?  What fun ways do you eat them?

Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffles: A Recipe for Yum

I bet you didn’t know that National Cherry Pie Day is coming up on February 20th.  Cherries are a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids which have anti-cancer benefits.  They are also rich in melatonin which can help the body’s sleep patterns.  Cherries can even slow down the body’s aging process, with the flavonoids isoqueritrin and queritrin, antioxidants that work to eliminate byproducts of oxidative stress and slow down the aging process.  Add cherries to your diet easily with organic cherry juice, organic cherry butter or organic dried cherries.

I love how there are days dedicated to sweets, but the whole pie thing just isn’t for me.  I don’t make pies…well that’s a lie I’ve made a few chicken pot pies in the past, but now that my family is mostly gluten free I just don’t do the pie thing anymore.  Do I miss it…eh sure, but I like being healthy better.

So how am I going to celebrate this awesome day?  Well I’ll tell you… instead of cherry pie, I made organic cherry chocolate truffles!   That are pretty darn yummy too.  My kids LOVE when I have to make treats for my blogs because they know they get a special treat when they come home from school…and this one is one of their favorites.   I make these kind of truffles all the time.  There are so many ways to make them, today instead of raisins I replaced them with dried organic cherries!   Getting excited yet?

Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffle Recipe

Directions:

In a food processor or a blender add the nuts (1st 3 ingredients) and process or blend until finely ground. In this picture…I let it go too long and it started to turn in to butter…don’t be alarmed if this happens to you, it will still turn out perfectly fine…that’s just what I get for tending to my toddler ;)

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-step-1

Next throw in all the other ingredients and process or blend until well combined, it should form a nice dough and easily come off the sides of the blender or processor.

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-step-2

Now roll into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  I got 15 tablespoon sized balls, but you can make them smaller to get 30.  After you have rolled them, you can add an extra touch and roll them in anything of your choice.  You can chop up dried organic cherries and nuts and roll them in it, or you can do just nuts.  I rolled mine in unsweetened coconut flakes and raw cacao nibs (I like the crunch of the nibs).   If you want to get really fancy you could even dunk them in melted chocolate…oh the possibilities!!!

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Place them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to harden slightly and your done!   Store these in a air tight container in fridge and they will keep for about a week.  Store in freezer for longer storage!

organic-cherry-chocolate-truffles-recipe-final-product

Additional Notes for Organic Cherry Chocolate Truffles:

  • Use any combination of nuts
  • Instead of Stevia, try a little raw honey or maple syrup (you might have to add a tablespoon or two more of raw cacao powder)
  • Instead of organic cherries you can use organic cranberries (that’s what I usually use) or any other dried fruits
  • Don’t like cacao powder or are allergic? Try carob instead
  • Is your dough too dry?  Don’t worry add a little splash of water until you get the right consistency.

What is your favorite organic cherry pie recipe?   I would love to know if anyone else knows of any good recipes for gluten free pie crusts? Please share in the comments!

 

Organic Dark Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

Chocolate.  I cannot think of a better gift or treat than chocolate for Valentine’s Day (or any day for that matter!).   Especially organic dark chocolate.  That is my personal favorite and not only because it tastes delicious, but because organic dark chocolate is loaded with tons of health benefits too!

5 Benefits of Eating Organic Dark Chocolate

organic dark chocolate

Photo by John Loo

  1. If it say’s cacao (70% or higher is the best) in the ingredients then you know you are getting the purest form of chocolate.  Cacao is a superfood which contains the highest amount in beneficial antioxidants. Those antioxidants help our body fight free radicals, free radicals cause oxidative stress in our body and speeds up the aging process.
  2. Cacao encourages production of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin which soothes depression, anxiety and irritability… (no wonder!)
  3. Dark chocolate helps to lower blood pressure which lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  4. Don’t be alarmed of the high fat content of organic dark chocolate. Organic dark chocolate contains the good fats (oleic acid, which also promotes healthy heart and a good heart disease preventative).
  5. The last one I will list is why organic dark chocolate is popular for Valentine’s Day:  organic dark chocolate contains many chemical compounds that have positive effects on your mood.  Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating organic dark chocolate will make you feel happier!

There are many more benefits of organic dark chocolate and cacao, but maybe I will save that for a later post.  I want to get to the fun stuff now.  Organic dark chocolate recipes!   Here are my two favorite recipes that I make on almost a weekly basis at home.

Basic 3 Ingredient Organic Dark Chocolate:

Directions:

  1. In a double boiler melt coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. When fully melted take pan off burner and add in the cacao powder and sweetener and stir until smooth.
  3. Poor into pan lined with parchment paper, chocolate molds or even a glass plate and stick them in the fridge to harden. Once hardened remove from plate or mold and store in fridge or freezer.

Basic Organic Dark Chocolate Recipe #2

Directions: same as the above recipe

Optional Add In’s

Add the following in during the 2nd step:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite extract (Vanilla, peppermint, almond etc.)
  • Chopped organic nuts (my favorite is almonds and pecans)
  • Dried fruits like; raisins or Goji berries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Fresh fruit (I’ve made ones with pomegranate seeds which turned out delicious)
  • Sprinkle a little sea salt on top before you put them in refrigerator

Some Final Notes:

  • I have made both these recipes by just using liquid stevia and also powdered stevia.  I would start small and add to your liking.
  • These recipes can be made in the microwave, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Basic recipe #2 can be stored at room temperature for about a week.  I still store mine in the refrigerator and in the freezer for longer storage.  I like my chocolate cold.
  • To make chocolate chips drop little rounds on to parchment paper

Here is an excellent list of organic dark chocolates that will be perfect for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day!

Natural Dental Health: Tips & Recipes

I have been interested in natural dental health for awhile and practicing it in my own family for over a year, and I’m natural-dental-health-homemade-toothpastehappy to say it’s been working wonders!  When I began my healthy lifestyle and took out all the chemicals in my household that meant that toothpaste had to go too!  No more fluoride toothpaste in my house!  I also started researching for a good homemade toothpaste recipe and after trying a few different ones I came up with this one, which was finally kid-approved!

Natural Dental Health: Homemade Natural Toothpaste- Fluoride Free

  • 6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 6 Tablespoons Baking Soda
  • 10-20 drops of essential oils (peppermint or spearmint) or you can also use peppermint extract also.
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon of stevia (start small and add to your liking)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (optional)

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together and store in clean glass baby jars or a small mason jar.  Dip your tooth brush in and brush away!

If you would rather not make your own here are a few good options I can recommend:

There are many variations of the above recipe, but my kids like this one the best. There are also some very wonderful tooth powder recipes if you like powder better, I would recommend this recipe.

What other stuff can you do for natural dental health?  Well there are many things you can do to help improve the health of your teeth. The most important thing that most people don’t even think of is our diet.  Most of us know that sugar is bad.  But did you know that what you eat and nourish our body with can actually heal your cavities naturally, painlessly and at no cost!  Yes, it’s true. If you want to know more pick up the book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, DDS.  He was an amazing dentist back in the 30′s, and he traveled around the world to different countries in the search of healthy people. He found that the primitive peoples who ate their indigenous foods were in the best health and their teeth reflected their health.  Other primitive regions who were introduced to modernized foods (sugar, white flour, refined oils etc.) were not as lucky and he found dental cavities and poor health, crooked teeth etc.  It’s a very good lesson that what we eat has a direct link to our health, not just our teeth, but our whole body.   If you or your kids are dealing with cavities and don’t want to be drilled, always try the natural way first, I promise you if you are consistent with it you will have remarkable results!  Find more good tips on how to heal your cavities naturally.

4 Additional Tips & Tricks for Natural Dental Health:

  1. Oil Pulling:  Oil pulling is an excellent way to pull toxins out of the mouth and leaves your teeth feeling fresh and clean as can be.
  2. Activated Charcoal is another good way to pull out toxins from your mouth and teeth. An added bonus is that it naturally whitens teeth.  It can get a little messy though, so make sure you brush over your sink.  I would do this a couple times a week.
  3. Floss, we all know the benefits of flossing so keep at it, helps those gums stay strong!
  4. A Hydrogen Peroxide rinse.  After I bush I like to swish for a few minutes with equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water. This will keep bacteria at bay and also has the added benefit of whiting teeth!

Did you find this helpful?  What tips do you have for natural dental care? 

Try These 5 Healthy Green Smoothie Recipes

Every morning I drink a big green smoothie.  It starts my day with lots of nutrition and I tend to stay on track when I start my day that way.  Made right, green smoothies are great for kids and adults alike. You may need to start slowly on the greens, especially for kids, but once your taste buds get used to the green veggies, you can add more and more and more.

The basics of green smoothies are simple:green smoothie

1 – Choose a dark leafy green vegetable.  It’s best to vary your choice from day to day so you can maximize the benefits.  Choose from spinach, curly kale, lacinato kale, chard, collard greens, various lettuces and if you’re adventurous, dandelion greens.

2 – Choose a liquid base.  You can use coconut water, almond milk, hemp milk, or another dairy alternative.  Even just plain water works fine.

3 – Add some fruit.  I like frozen bananas but frozen blueberries, strawberries or other berries are a good addition.  You can also use tropical fruits like mango and pineapple.

4 – Add boosters.  These are things like hemp protein, flax, chia, maca, spirulina, bee pollen, goji berries and cacao powder.

 

If you have a powerful blender like a VitaMix or Blendtec, you can pile all of your ingredients in and everything will blend to a super smooth consistency.  With a regular blender, you’ll need to chop your fruits and veggies smaller and probably blend a little bit longer to make sure you don’t have chunks.

Here are some of my favorite green smoothie recipes.  I like my smoothies to be icy cold but if you don’t, you can omit the ice cubes in the recipes and just add a little water instead:

Chocolate Malt Green Smoothie

I call this a ‘chocolate malt’ because maca has a malty flavor and blended with cacao powder, you can barely tell there’s anything green in there!

2 cups collard greens
1 cup coconut water
1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 tablespoon cacao powder
1 tablespoon soaked chia
4-6 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together until you have a thick, rich, delicious smoothie.

Pina Colada Smoothie

Let pineapple and coconut transport you to the islands

2 cups spinach
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 cups frozen pineapple
2 tablespoons coconut flakes
3-4 ice cubes

Blend all except for the coconut flakes until smooth, then add the coconut flakes and blend again for another few seconds to incorporate.

 

PB&J Smoothie

A smoothie that tastes like pb&j? Yes, please!

2 cups spinach
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 cup frozen red grapes
¼ cup frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana
3 tablespoons almond butter
3-4 ice cubes

Blend all until smooth and enjoy.

 

Superfood Green Smoothie

With lots of added superfoods, this is a supercharged way to start your day.

2 cups lacinato kale
1 frozen banana
1 cup coconut water
1 tablespoon bee pollen
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon raw maca powder
1 tablespoon hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon spirulina
4-6 ice cubes

Blend, drink, and be prepared for a high energy day.

 

Peachy Green Smoothie

This one is a bit more adventurous, as chard has a slightly stronger taste than other greens.  You can also try using dandelion greens in place of the chard.

2 cups of rainbow or green chard leaves
½ cup frozen mango
¾ cup frozen peaches
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
4-6 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.

Do you have any favorite green smoothie recipes?  Share in the comments below!

24 Kids Lunch Ideas with Organic Foods

I don’t know about you, but making kids’ lunches everyday can get VERY repetitive and boring.  I know in my house, I kids-lunch-ideastend to always steer to the same things, which is usually a gluten free sandwich, carrots and celery, apples, soaked almonds, roasted plantains, and a very small treat.  I did this for 2 months straight.  My kids were positively bored of eating the same thing… I noticed that more food was coming back home in the lunch boxes rather than being eaten at school.  That’s when I knew I needed to start getting more creative in coming up with my kids lunch ideas. So of course that led me to one place… yep, PINTEREST!!  I wasn’t disappointed either. I got so many ideas that now I am stocked with ideas for making my kids’ lunches more fun, and I am going to share them with you!

Now my kids have a fun lunchbox called a PlanetBox.  It’s kind of bento style and made of stainless steel and comes with stainless steel containers and a nice carrying case that you can put an ice pack in and a thermos.  I just love it, and my kids are in their second school year using it.  As a mom I think it’s very important for us to gravitate towards more economical ways of packing your kids’ lunches. Before investing in the Planet box, my husband and I would buy new lunch boxes every year, and go through a TON of sandwich bags, snack bags etc.  Those things do add up, not only in our budget but in our landfills too.

Back to the lunches, I’ll break these kids lunch ideas it into sections: main, sides, and treats to make it easy.  Just remember one of the best ways to get the MOST out of your children’s food is to do your best to make it organic. This will help you feel good that their food will have fewer pesticides, no GMO’s and adequate nutrients!

Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Main Dishes

  1. Yogurt – A container of organic, high fat, low sugar yogurt, you can even add raw honey or stevia to sweeten naturally.  For sides you can pack granola, and or bars to sprinkle or dip along with pretzels, strawberries and grapes or any fruit.
  2. Bacon and Eggs – This is one of my kids’ favorite. Bacon slices, hard boiled eggs, sliced avocado.
  3. Pancakes/Waffle sandwiches – When I make my daughter gluten free pancakes in the morning I double the batch and use them for lunch too. I make the kids sandwiches out of pancakes instead of bread. They love it and you can do so much.  Blueberry pancakes make a yummy PB&J sandwich!  You can also make a yummy savory sandwich, adding bacon/sausage and eggs!
  4. “Sushi” – This is a fun one.  Take your nitrate free sliced meats, and roll up whatever you want in them (cheese, sliced veggies, cream cheese, sprouts etc) and slice them in 1 inch sections and they look like “sushi”.  Another fun one is to use organic soft shell tortillas and roll up nut butters and jelly.
  5. Salad – My daughter requests salads once in awhile.  I like to add chunked up meat or tuna for some protein and the veggies I know she will eat.  I always give her a little container of organic ranch dressing so she can add it herself.
  6. Leftovers – This is a wonderful idea, and I do this often. My kids’ favorite leftovers to take in their lunch are: meatloaf, meatballs, tacos, homemade pizzas. The sky’s the limit!
  7. Soup – If your kids have one of those soup thermoses then soup is a very nourishing lunch, especially if it’s homemade. You can also find good organic soups online if you don’t have time to make soup.
  8. Sandwiches – They come in all shapes sizes. Make them fun! Cut them in different shapes, this is especially fun for the younger ones. There are many yummy gluten free bread options too. Try using different breads: bagels, sliced, rolls, and even lettuce!
  9. Jerky – For a main dish may sound silly, but it’s another favorite of my kids. We make our Jerky homemade but there are also some good organic jerky options available online as well.

Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Sides:

  1. Fresh Fruit – apples, oranges, kiwi, pineapple slices, melons, berries, etc.
  2. Fresh Vegetables – cucumber, carrots, peppers, celery, snap peas, etc.
  3. Crackers – rice, wheat, multi grain, etc.
  4. Granola bars or you can make at home using this organic granola recipe.
  5. Nuts
  6. Dried fruits
  7. Chipspotato and corn.
  8. Pretzels

Kids Lunch Ideas: Organic Treats & Beverages:

  1. Sweet treats – I only add one very small sweet treat to my kids’ lunches. I like to make these gluten free cookies, but make them half the size for my kids’ lunches. I would much rather have them get full on the “good stuff” rather than the sweets.  Here are some fun store bought options:
  2. Hugga Bear cookies
  3. Annie’s cookies
  4. Dark chocolate bars (a square or two will do)
  5. Newman’s Own Cookies
  6. Laughing Giraffe treats
  7. Beverages – My kids have a thermos and they always get spring water, and they do not complain about it.  They know the importance of drinking water.  I’m a NO JUICE momma, so I strongly suggest you buy your kids a thermos and give them good ol’ water too.  Sugar even in organic juices is hard on their little systems and they can actually be dehydrating for them. Water is best!

I could go on and on, but I think I will stop here. I hope this helps give you some new ideas about your kids’ lunches and how to make them a bit healthier and fun. Remember, mix and match, get creative, adjust what you need to fit your personal lifestyle and the sky’s the limit!   What is your kids’ favorite homemade lunch?  What are some kids lunch ideas you’ve come up with?

20 Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

Awhile back I wrote about the many benefits of apple cider vinegar.  Today I’m going to give you a list of actual ways to use this wonderful stuff! Just remember the most important thing is that your apple cider vinegar is raw, organic and unfiltered and unpasteurized, this will assure you are getting the best quality. Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is my go-to brand.

apple_cider_vinegar

Photo credit: WebMD

Cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar

1. Clean Counters and Surfaces

Use undiluted apple cider vinegar, right from the bottle, on counter-tops and other surfaces in your kitchen. This will disinfect them and leave them smelling super fresh and apple scented.

2. All-purpose Cleaner

Add 1/2 c apple cider vinegar to 1 c of water to a 16oz spray bottle. This is great for cleaning countertops, windows and even mirrors.

3. Floor Cleaner

1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle will clean your kitchen floors. Spray on hard surfaces and wipe off with a rag or mop.

4. Produce Bath

To clean your produce of all those chemicals fill up your sink with water and pour about 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. Add your produce and let sit 5-10 minutes. This is clean your produce and rid them of nasty pesticides.

5. Dishwasher

Pour a little in your dishwasher. This helps remove soap scum and will make your dishwasher last longer. It also has a nice smell when you open it up. Kind of a faint apple scent.

6. Wooden Furniture

Dusting your wood furniture, all you need to do is make a 50 x 50 mix of water and apple cider vinegar and add it to a mist bottle. Any wooden furniture you polish with this mixture will look great!

7. No Chemicals Drain-O

Use an apple cider vinegar, baking soda and salt mix to clean and deodorize partially blocked drains. Mix 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl and pour down the drain. Next, pour in 1/2 a cup of vinegar. The apple cider vinegar and baking soda will react with each other giving off harmless carbon dioxide gas. After 2-3 hours flush with water.

8. Fruit Fly Killer

I don’t know about you, but I dread when those pesky fruit flies make their appearance during the summertime, always hovering over the fruit in our house. Using apple cider vinegar is by far my favorite remedy (and most effective one I have tried) to get rid of them. Put half a cup of apple cider vinegar in a glass jar. Place Saran Wrap over the top of a jar and put a rubber band/tape around it to make it tight. Take a toothpick and poke several holes in the saran wrap. Place in the area you’re having the problem.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Beauty & Personal use

9. Tummy Help

Prevent and aid in healthy digestion. Take 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water (add a little stevia or honey to taste) and drink 15-30 minutes before meals.  You can also do this after eating if you forgot to take it before ;)

10. Bye-Bye Bad Breath

Due to its wonderful acidic properties, apple cider vinegar makes a wonderful remedy for bad breath or halitosis. Simply add 1/2 tablespoon of ACV into a cup of water and gargle the mixture in your mouth for 10 seconds at a time until the cup is empty.

11. Yeast Be-Gone

Apple cider vinegar is a very effective in treating yeast infections. Add 1 and a half cups of ACV into a bathtub filled with warm water, and then soak in it for about 20 minutes. This should be done once a day for the first 3 days of the infection.

12. Freshen Mouth

Gargle with apple cider vinegar in the mornings. The vinegar helps remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums. Brush as usual after you gargle.

13. Shampoo/De-tangler

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a rinse for your hair after shampooing, helps to detangle and will boost your hair’s body and shine. Fill an old bottle with 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a cup of cold water. Pour the solution through your hair after shampooing several times a week for better results.  I also put 1 tablespoon of ACV into a small spray bottle of water to use as a natural detangled.

14. Soothes Sunburns

Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath, and soak for 10 minutes to eliminate discomfort from sunburn. You can also apply directly to lightly sunburned skin using a cotton ball using part ACV part water.

15. Toner

For a natural skin toner which helps acne and firming up the skin. Mix equal parts of ACV and water and store in the refrigerator. After shower use a cotton ball and apply like you would any facial toner.   Don’t be alarmed that vinegar smell disappears quickly… If you want you can add a few drops of essential oil to the toner to give it a better smell.  Just stay away from citrus oils on the skin.

16. Relaxing Bath

Have sore or aching muscles?  Soothe in a relaxing bath by mixing 1-2 cups of ACV in your bathwater.  Add some peppermint or lavender oil for a nice pleasant scent. I like to take a bath after snowboarding or playing softball. Really helps soothes the muscles and very relaxing too!

Apple Cider Vinegar and a Healthier You

17. Combat Sore Throat

Feel a sore throat coming on. Gargle apple cider vinegar right when you feel that little tickle sneaking up.  I would do this 3x a day until symptoms disappear.

18. No More Warts

Apple cider vinegar is also a natural way to remove warts. For warts, soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, then fasten the cotton ball over the wart with a Band-Aid overnight. The skin may swell some as it reacts with the solution. However, the wart will fall off. Once it falls off, the treatment should be continued for a few more days, to make sure the wart doesn’t return.

19. Weight loss

Helps aid in weight loss. Apple Cider Vinegar helps to break down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them. For this reason, many diets include ACV in the regimen. For daily weight management, add about 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to 16 ounces of water. This concoction can be sipped throughout the day. My husband lost around 10 pounds in a 6 month period by adding this to his daily routine. He started out with 1 tsp and worked himself up to 2 tsp.

20. Lower Blood Pressure

Some studies suggest that the acetic acid in Apple Cider Vinegar may help lower blood pressure. ACV may help increase production of the blood vessel relaxing compound nitric oxide. It may also help inhibit enzymes that cause the blood vessels to constrict. For blood pressure lowering effects, take 2-6 TBSP a day in water is the usual recommendation.

* Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted when using internally or topically to the skin (especially with individuals and children with sensitive skin).

How do you incorporate apple cider vinegar into your daily routine?  Please share any of your favorite ACV uses!

3 Healthy Dessert Recipes You Can Make At Home

Yes! You CAN have dessert!!  Despite whichever weight loss or healthy living resolutions you’ve made for yourself this New Years, you should never feel as though you’re depriving yourself. Sometimes that feeling alone can lead to unwanted binge eating or giving up on a healthy diet altogether.  It’s time to get out of that mind set and realize that it is OKAY to have a little dessert, especially if it’s healthy dessert! A healthy dessert is not going to make you feel depressed after eating it, or make your kids bounce off the wall.  Been there, done that.  It’s time to start avoiding the cookie and candy aisles, and take making healthy desserts into your own hands.  When you make your own healthy desserts you know exactly what ingredients are in them.  And knowing what’s in your desserts is such a better feeling than eating highly processed sweets like high fructose corn syrups, enriched flours and trans fats!

The healthy desserts I am going to list for you are some that I have come up with on my own and some recipes that I love from various websites.  All of which I or my family has personally loved.  I also like to keep sugar out of my house. I mostly use Stevia, Raw local honey and Maple syrup, as sweeteners in our home.

You can modify all of these healthy dessert recipes to meet you and your family’s needs.  We are gluten free in my home so I always swap my recipes with an organic gluten free flour, so please feel free to change things up and make it your own!

Healthy Dessert Recipes

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

healthy-desserts-quinoa-cookies

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients except the last two with mixer until blended then stir in coconut and chocolate chips. Drop by tbsp. on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake 20 min. Cool completely before storing!

When I made them they tasted like macaroons and my kids loved them for breakfast!

2 Ingredient Ice-cream

healthy-desserts-2-ingredients-ice-cream

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium frozen bananas (peeled, break into chunks)
  • 1/4 cup of nut butter

Take your frozen bananas and throw them in your Vitamix, blender or food processor.  Scoop in the nut butter of your choice, I’ve used peanut butter and almond butter and they both tasted great!   If you have a Vita-Mix, it takes less than a minute to make, just remember to press the mixture down with your tamper.  And that’s all it takes!   My kids beg me for this “ice-cream” and I just love it.  Sometimes I throw in some cacao powder for a chocolate version.

Double Chocolate “Cupcakes”

healthy-desserts-double-chocolate-cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used homemade coconut milk for this recipe)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted (ghee is also wonderful with these)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (I used 2 tablespoons raw honey and 1/4 tsp stevia)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients then add in wet ingredients, mix well. Add in a few dark chocolate chips or carbo chips if desired. Pour into a greased cupcake pan (or use liners) and fill 2/3′s full (will make about 7 regular cupcakes) then in the oven at 350 for around 20 minutes. Top with frosting for cupcakes or my kids had them with coconut oil and almond butter for breakfast.

My favorite healthy dessert recipe links:

  1. Chocolate Covered Katie – I just adore her site. I have made countless recipes from her and they all have been wonderful.  The recipes are vegan, but you can make them fit your needs.  Trust me you will LOVE them!
  2. Healthy Homemade Chocolate – This is my go-to chocolate recipe. I changed mine up a bit. I use stevia as my sweetener, but my kids prefer the honey. I also use raw cacao powder for some that extra super food boost.
  3. Nourishing Traditions “Macaroons“- Have you read the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (one of my hero’s)? If you haven’t you are missing out.  This recipe is wonderful, love that I can have macaroons, without that overly sweet taste.
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip Kefir Ice-Cream – Who ever thought of a probiotic ice cream?!  I’m all for an ice cream rich in natural whole food ingredients and one that is going to be easy on the tummy!
  5. Glazed Chocolate Donut Holes – Hands down these are my kids absolute favorite right now. They are so happy that mom found a healthy donut for them!
  6. Almond Joy Chocolate Chunk Cookies – I wrote this blog a while back, but this is still a family favorite!

I hope now you feel better knowing that you can still have dessert, just with a little touch of healthy, can’t go wrong with that!   What are your favorite healthy desserts?

January Specials at shopOrganic

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, including some products that are great for the upcoming holiday season. Be sure to head up to shopOrganic.com’s Sale section to see all of the January specials at shopOrganic.

january specials at shoporganic

January Specials at shopOrganic

Amy’s Kitchen
NEW Candy Bars 10% Off

Amy’s has really hit the mark with their new candy bars.  Their simple names: Crispy, Crunchy, Chewy and Creamy do not do justice to what’s inside the wrapper.  Crispy has rice crisps with almonds wrapped in caramel and chocolate – it is reminiscent of a 100 Grand bar.   The Crunchy is English toffee with almonds wrapped in chocolate – think Heath Bar.  Creamy is soft nougat with caramel and chocolate – think Milky Way.  Chewy is caramel and pecans covered in chocolate – honestly I can’t think of a bar that its like, this one is in a class of its own.  Click HERE to try this January special now.

Andalou
Select 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 January special now.

Choice Organic Tea
All varieties 10% Off

These organic and fair trade teas will warm you up on a chilly Fall day.  Choice Organics commitment to fair trade practices will make you feel as warm inside as their tea will.  Click HERE to try this November special today.

Color Garden
All varieties 10% Off

We’re very excited about this brand new product – a food coloring made with only natural ingredients like beet, carrot and red cabbage.  Great for making cake and cupcake frosting without chemical food dyes.  Try them all HERE.

Explore Asian
All varieties 10% Off
Explore Asian’s unusual pastas are made from black beand, mung beans and soybeans.  With high protein and low carbs, its a healthy pasta alternative that cooks up al dente every time.  Click HERE to try them now.

Equal Exchange
Organic Baking Cocoa & Hot Cocoa Mix 10% Off
Warm up your winter nights with organic, fair trade hot cocoa from Equal Exchange; a perfectly sweetened treat.  Or enhance your baked goods with their organic fair trade baking cocoa.  Either way you’re supporting fair wages for the small scale cocoa growers of the CONACADO cooperative.  Try them HERE.

From The Fields
Organic Granola, Muesli & Cereal 10% Off

Made with simple ingredients, slow roasted to perfection, From The Fields’ products are a great way to start the day.  With no added oil and no wheat, they are available in small sizes as well as bulk sizes, try some today.   Click HERE to try them all.

Gimme Seaweed Snacks
All varieties 10% Off
These crunchy, healthy and tasty sea vegetable snacks satisfy that need for a crunchy snack with minimal calories and great seaweed nutrition.  Try them in single serve and larger sizes.  Try them all HERE.

Giovanni Facial Cleansing Towelettes
All varieties 10% Off
Treat yourself to a facial on the go. Giovanni’s refreshing facial cleansing towelettes cleanse, tone and hydrate in one refreshing step.   Ultra soft to comfortably remove makeup. Won’t clog pores or leave an oily residue.  Try them all HERE.

Good Boy Organics
BOPS & Organicasaurus Cheese Puffs 10% Off
BOPS (Baked Organic Potato Snacks) are the first line of certified organic baked potato chips on the market.  In classic flavors like sour cream and onion, bbq, and cheddar cheese, they make a great alternative for conventional chips.  They also have an organic version of a cheese puff called Organicasaurus; they’re shaped like little dinosaurs so they’re really kid friendly and fun. Try them all HERE.

Koyo Foods
Ramen Noodles 10% Off  
Made with organic heirloom wheat noodles, these isn’t your typical ramen.  The base for a healthy meal, these are great on their own or with added vegetables and protein.   Click HERE to try them now.

One Degree Organics
Organic Sprouted Grain Cereals 10% Off
Using only organic foods grown using natural veganic methods, One Degree is able to track all of their extraordinary grains all the way back to the field for true transparency. By sprouting the grains, One Degree’s products are more digestible and higher in nutrients. Try them all HERE.

Organic India
Organic Tulsi Tea 10% off 
In India, the herb Tulsi, also called holy basil, has been widely known for its health promoting and medicinal value for thousands of years. Commonly called sacred or holy basil, it is a principal herb of Ayurveda, the ancient traditional holistic health system of India. Holy basil is known as “The Incomparable One”, “The Mother Medicine of Nature”, and “The Queen of Herbs”.  Try them all HERE!


Take advantage of these great sale items and more throughout January at shopOrganic.

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