How we are protecting against the flu

The flu is raging around the country. Even those who are pro flu shot admit that the flu shot is not effective this year. So what is our family doing to protect ourselves as best we can?

The first thing we are doing is elderberry, every day to help build our immunity. We got some in gummy form to send to our daughter at college, so it is easy to take, no messing with a spoon and a syrup in her dorm room. We also sent oscillococcinum to use if she does contract  the flu. It is a homeopathic alternative to Tamiflu, which can have terrible side effects. In conjunction with elderberry, it helps shorten the length of the flu.

We are also staying home more, not being out in the public when we can help it. When we do need to go out, we wipe down shopping carts and use hand sanitizer after interacting with others, using card readers etc.

Along with getting back on track taking our Vitamin D3 and K2, I also wanted to add something else as an immunity booster. Then I remembered honey & garlic, and lemon, ginger, & honey.

I often will eat a clove or two of raw garlic if I feel a cold coming on. It works, but is definitely not pleasant. Infusing garlic in honey helps mellow flavor of the garlic, and the honey has natural germ fighting and immune boosting properties of it’s own.

So at the store, I purchased organic lemons, ginger root, and garlic, and some raw (not pasteurized) honey. For both of these mixtures together, I used about a pint of honey.

My first step was getting the garlic ready. For my 8 ounce jar I used 3 heads of garlic.

I separated the cloves, and removed the papery skins. Rolling  the cloves vigorously, while rolled up in a silicone pot holder really speeds this process  up.

Once the cloves were ready,  I simply placed them in my jar and covered them with honey. I will let this sit on my counter for a few days, and then refrigerate them, where they will last for several months easily.

The process for the other infusion is very similar. I started by peeling a couple of knobs of ginger. It is really simple to do by just scraping a spoon against the thin skin. Then I thinly sliced the ginger.

Using a mandolin, I thinly sliced 2 lemons. When placing them in the jar, I alternated between the lemons and ginger.

Once the pint jar was nearly filled, I added the honey.

I will take both of these simply by eating a small spoonful once a day. You could add them to hot water or a tea, but I don’t want to destroy any of the benefits of the honey by heating it too much. If you feel illness coming on, you take it multiple times during the day.

I hope this helps give you another tool to help your family stay healthy during this terrible cold and flu season

 

 

 

 

MYO Body Wash

In my ongoing quest to make our lives healthier, I have switched our family away from mainstream soaps and body washes. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the ingredient in soaps, detergents, and even toothpastes that causes them to foam.

Check out this info from Kitchen Stewardship (where Katie references an article from Natural News) :

Sodium lauryl sulfate did not start off as a detergent that was meant for use in consumer products. It was initially sold as an industrial strength detergent primarily used for heavy duty cleaners and degreasers. It is now found in products which are in close and frequent contact with human skin. The reason it is used in so many products today is that consumers have come to expect abundant lather in products that are supposed to cleanse in some way. It is one of the most largely manufactured chemicals in the United States since many companies use it as a cheap lathering agent.

The other reasons listed for sodium lauryl sulfate’s transgressions include:

  1. irritates and dries out skin
  2. allows toxins to penetrate
  3. is toxic
  4. erodes eyes, gums, and hair follicles (yep, gum disease from toothpaste and hair loss from shampoo…makes sense, right?)

So, because of these concerns, we have switched to natural body washes, and I make our own toothpaste. But I haven’t been really happy with the alternatives- the natural body washes were more expensive, even with buying them through our natural foods co-op. Plus they didn’t smell as fragrant, and of course, didn’t have the great lather we were used to. So I began thinking of alternatives.

I looked up how to make your own body wash, and it is pretty common sense: grate a bar of soap in some hot water, mix and pour into your bottle.

I have not dived into soap making yet, because to be honest, the lye part of the process scares me, so I used 2 soaps: a piece of Zum Bar soap I got from our local grocery store. (They sell in bulk in the natural section, or you can purchase regular bars). I love that they are a a local company, and their soaps are so fragrant, I actually associate the smell with health food stores)

Katie also had a bar of lavender goats milk soap she hadn’t used yet that a homeschooling friend made. She makes a wonderful variety of soaps, we even gave them as Christmas gifts last year. Her company is called Red Shed Soap company. I used this to make Katie’s body wash.

According to the recipe, for 3 ounces of soap, (grated) **you can add 1 cup of hot water. I think you can add more than that, as ours gelled up to a really thick consistency. I am happy to be saving some money, at least half off of what I was paying for body wash. And I know we are using less because of the better foaming.  Plus, I dilute it by 90 percent and use it in a foaming pump for a hand soap, so that saves even more! (Make sure you use hot water so the soap dissolves well, or it may clog your pump)

Over all I am really pleased with the ease of the process and the results. Really fragrant, body wash with great lathering at a much cheaper price. You will definitely notice a difference even in the way your skin feels. My husband said it first you might think it feels dry, but we all agree now that it just feels DIFFERENT, not dry.

Let me know if you give it a try!

** Remember the old Salad Shooter? I will never be without one in my kitchen. I use it to grate cheese (straight into freezer bags, and freeze), and I use it to grate the soap for this recipe too.

Processed Foods

Over the past few years, our family has been eating fewer processed foods, preferring to eat things that are made from scratch with natural ingredients. Pardon the pun, but it is a process, and one that I think should be taken slowly.

The slow approach is best for a couple of reasons. Even though I have a very “all or nothing” personality, I do acknowledge that when changes are made over a period of time, you are more likely to stick with those changes, and it will be easier to get others on board as well. Everything in moderation!

As you make slow changes, you can learn about WHY you are choosing  to do things like replace soda with tea or kombucha,  eat organic apples instead of ones sprayed with pesticides, and the benefits it will have on your health. It is really important that you research from multiple sources,  and understand for yourself, instead of just taking someone else recommendation.

Lastly, it just makes financial sense to change slowly. Sadly, in America, it is much cheaper to eat  chemically processed junk food, than to eat a real nourishing diet.

I will not promise you  that if you make these changes, you will instantly feel like a million bucks, or you will lose a ton of weight. But I can share with you, that when I slip up, and I have even small amounts of certain foods (non dairy whipped topping or  eat a cupcake with shortening based frosting, or meat that has fillers) my body within minutes reacts and I get a headache and don’t feel well.  So I know that even the small changes we have made are positive ones, and my body is taking notice.

To help those of you who may be interested in moving your family away from processed foods, I offer you the following 14 step plan by Lisa Leake. I saw her article in the Miami Herald posted on Facebook, and there are some wonderful baby steps you can take each week to remove processed foods from your families diet.You can read the entire article HERE

You should also check out Lisa’s blog, 100 Days of Real Food.  It is a wonderful source of real, nourishing food recipes and ideas. There is also information about  100 days of real food on a budget.

For now, here are the 14 weekly steps. I would love to hear from you if your family is going to give it a try, so please leave me a comment below.

 

– Week 1 (this week): Eat two fruits and/or vegetables with every single meal.

– Week 2: Only drink beverages without refined or artificial sweeteners.

– Week 3: Eat meat that’s been locally raised and limit consumption to
3 4 servings throughout the week.

– Week 4: Avoid both fast food and deep-fried foods.

– Week 5: Try two new whole foods you’ve never had before.

– Week 6: Avoid low-fat, lite and nonfat food products.

– Week 7: All grains consumed must be 100-percent whole grain.

– Week 8: Stop eating when you feel full.

– Week 9: Avoid foods with refined or artificial sweeteners.

– Week 10: Avoid foods with refined or hydrogenated oils.

– Week 11: Eat at least one locally grown or raised food at each meal.

– Week 12: Avoid all sweeteners even if they are natural.

– Week 13: Avoid foods with artificial additives and colors.

– Week 14: No foods out of a package with more than 5 ingredients.

New eCourse at GNOWFGLINS

I LOVE the GNOWFGLINS site! It is packed full of information and resources that I turn to often as we continue to add more healthy food to our family’s diet. And I am super excited that a brand new eCourse has been added to site today, Fundamentals 2.  If you are not familiar with the site, monthly memberships start as low as $8 a month, and with that membership, you can take any or all of the current 5 traditional foods classes. You have access to videos, downloads, and forums to ask questions, it is a WEALTH of information!

Be sure to check out the link above for more info on the newest class, and then have some fun looking around the site, or maybe signing up for a free webinar.

****Please note: GNOWFGLINS logo used with permission, the only affiliation I have with GNOWFGLINS is that I am a very happy eCourse member  :)****

Happy Peanut Butter Day!

I read on a friend’s Facebook status this morning that it is Peanut Butter day, and so it seemed like a good time to try making peanut butter in the Ninja.

I added (2) 6.5 oz cans of peanuts, a few raw almonds,  2 tbs coconut oil, and 4 tbs raw local honey and let the Ninja do its magic.

But, I really should have used the smaller food processor bowl, as the peanuts on the bottom got blended well, but I was having to scrape the sides constantly.

So I transferred the mixture over, added a bit more coconut oil, and processed it some more. And this is the end result:

I am not a true fan of peanut butter, but this is pretty good stuff. I think it may even be worthy of the strawberry jam my cousin sent for Christmas, 🙂

Now go enjoy some peanut butter (high fructose corn syrup free of course, 🙂

 

Real Food on a tight budget?

Stephanie at Keeper of the  Home posted an EXCELLENT resource that proves that eating real, nourishing food can be done frugally as well. She provides a shopping list of what she would buy if she only had a $250/month food budget, as well as a menu plan of how she would use those items. A great read for those who are new to nourishing food, and veterans alike.

Check it out HERE

Real Food Challenge:GMOs ?

As part of the Real Food Challenge at Nourished Kitchen, today she took a break to discuss GMOs.

What is a GMO you may ask? According to Wikipedia,  Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods derived from genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering.

Doesn’t sound too appetizing to me. Some examples of GMOs are soy, corn, and canola.From the email: Canola, soy, corn and growing number of other crops have been genetically engineered, and, for this reason it’s critical to purchase your food from organic sources and avoid processed foods – many of which contain GMO-deriviative ingredients.

From the email:  Alfalfa is a crop primarily fed to beef and dairy cattle.  It relies on open pollination by bees.  Alfalfa, like many other crops including soy and corn, has been genetically engineered to withstand heavy application of herbicide.  This Roundup Ready Alfalfa was originally approved by the USDA without adequate time to judge its environmental impact or the effects on farmers not wishing to grow GE alfalfa and organic consumers.  A lawsuit was filed by alfalfa growers and activist groups, and the result was that the USDA had to take a closer look at the genetically engineered crop.

I don’t know about any of you, but I don’t want to consume anything that has been fed RoundUp. 🙂

Real Food Challenge Day #1

So I am hoping to learn a lot from the 28 Day Real Food Challenge at Nourished Kitchen. If you are even slightly interested in moving your family to a whole food diet, you should really sign up, there is so much to learn and it is great for beginners like me. My goal is to make at least 5 changes to our diet in the next month, because even little steps help, right?
Day #1Goal  Clean out your pantry of any processed unhealthy foods. These include:

  • Vegetable Oils: Soybean, Cottonseed, Canola, Corn
  • Sugar: White Sugar, Brown Sugar, Turbinado, Agave Nectar (including “raw”), Sugar in the raw  (This surprised me, I thought agave nectar was a good thing)
  • Stevia: white stevia powder, stevia liquid (This did too, white stevia is overly processed)
  • Margarine
  • Shortening (excluding palm shortening)
  • White flour: all-purpose flour, unbleached all-purpose flour, white rice flour,
  • Cornstarch
  • Soy foods: soy sauce, soy flour, soy milk, soy lecithin, isoflavone-enriched foods and supplements
  • Dried Pastas and Noodles (I’m in trouble now)
  • Iodized Salt
  • Refined Sea Salt
  • Meat & Dairy Replacements: TVP, veggie burgers, vegan cheeses, sour creams, rice and nut milks, vegan sausages  (Sour cream? Really?)
  • Processed cheeses
  • Skim and Low-fat Dairy: cheese, milk, yogurts etc.
  • Boxed cereals, crackers and cookies

Ok, so like I said, I am of the baby step mentality.  (I know, so unlike me, LOL) I will get back on the wagon when it comes to using whole wheat flour, and investigate an economical source of green stevia, and plan on growing my own stevia plants this summer.

AWESOME food dehydrator

At Keeper of the Home, Stephanie is giving away a wonderful food dehydrator and I wanted all my friends to have a chance to win it as well.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, I don’t dehydrate that much, but you can do so much more with it, including make yogurt, granola, and use it for your bread rising.

Head on over to Keeper of the Home to learn more about it, and for chance to enter to win.

Bananas- who knew?

My friend Margie forwarded me this great email all about bananas. I love tips like these, and asked her permission to post it here. Thanks Margie!

After reading this, you’ll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes.

But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.


Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia : High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.


Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn:
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight
and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips.. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady..

Ulcers:The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a “cooling” fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance.. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, “A banana a day keeps the doctor away!”