Friday, December 30, 2011

Nourishing, Calming Oat Straw

Has the holiday rush left you feeling worn out and in need of some rejuvenation?  I have just the herb for you!  Oat Straw is a wonderfully nourishing, calming, and strengthening herb.  Some of its benefits include:

*calms emotions
*support and strengthening of the nervous system
*helps to promote deep and restful sleep
*nourishes the endocrine system
*fights anxiety, depression, and nervous exhaustion
*relieves headache and pain
*improves focus and concentration
*boosts the immune system
*nourishes the heart and circulatory system
*helps with healthy digestion
*helps treat osteoporosis 

Oat Straw is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, vit. A and B vitamins.  Oat Straw can be taken as a tea using 1-3 teaspoons of dried herb infused in 1 cup of water for 15-30 minutes drunk up to 3 times a day, or to pull out the minerals, make your infusion before you go to bed and it will be ready to drink the next day.  (This is the dose for an adult.)  This herb is not a quick fix herb, but needs to be consumed over time.  A few times a week is often what is recommended.

Oat Straw is quite inexpensive and can be purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs.  This is an herb that I always keep on hand and it is regularly consumed by my family.  You can click on the Mountain Rose Herb icon just to the right to purchase.  
photo credit: wikipedia

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Inexpensive Gentle, Cleansing Herbs

We are heading into the new year and I'm sure many of you feel like me right body could use a little boost and helpful cleanse after eating all those yummy holiday goodies.  There are a few gentle herbs that we use regularly in our family to help the body along in it's cleansing process.  These are dandelion leaf or root, burdock root, milk thistle, and garlic.  To read about gentle cleansing and the wonderful benefits of these 4 herbs, you can read this article.  These herbs are inexpensive and easy to integrate into your day to day routine.

We love to eat garlic in so many dishes, whether cooked or raw, this herb packs a powerful punch when it comes to helping your body's overall health.  We like to eat it raw in salad dressing or salsas, and cooked in just about every dish imaginable (if you do cook it, be sure to mince it well, then allow it to sit at least 10 minutes before eating it, as this will allow it's medicinal effects to remain at optimal levels).  If you are not a big fan of garlic, you can consume this herb in capsule form.
 My favorite way to consume milk thistle is in tincture form.  This means that the herb has been soaked in alcohol to pull out it's medicinal benefits.  Ready made tinctures are quick and easy to take and come with instructions on the side of the bottle.  Milk thistle seed can be difficult to make as a tea and it's properties are often extracted better in an alcohol medium.
 Dandelion is taking in three forms in our home.  I will often buy dandelion greens from our local farm or we get them in our coop.  These are very good when sauteed until soft in a bit of olive oil and accompanied by some minced garlic and onion.  I also used dried dandelion leaves in tea form and the root is made into a decoction (this simply means that it is simmered on low for about 45 minutes, then strained).  These teas can be a bit strong, so be sure to season with some honey as you sip on them throughout the day.  The general rule of thumb when making the teas is one teaspoon of herb in 1-2 cups of water.  I recommend one serving per day unless otherwise instructed by a certified herbalist.

Our burdock root is consumed the same way as the dandelion root.  It too is a strong tea, so be sure to season with honey and sip throughout the day.

As with any herb, I recommend rotating use and not taking them all every day.  These 4 herbs are gentle and a wonderful way to start a gentle supportive cleanse.  You can buy these herbs in their dried, capsule, or tincture forms from Mountain Rose Herbs.  Just click my icon to the right and it will take you to their site.  Be sure to check out their amazing giveaway on their blog!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mountain Rose Herb Giveaway

Here is another lovely giveaway from Mountain Rose Herbs!

What is Homeopathy?

Since I have posted a few times about homeopathic remedies, I thought I would take some time to do a post and explain just what homeopathy is all about.

Homeopathy is a form of medicine that was developed in the 19th century.  It's based on the premise that "like treats like" and is taken in pellet or liquid form.  These pellets or liquids have been highly diluted, and are meant to help trigger the body into it's natural healing process.

Homeopathy is a very safe form of medicine and there are remedies that can even be given to infants and children.  Most remedies are very inexpensive and can be kept for long periods of time in a cool, dry place. I keep my remedies stored in a kitchen cabinet.

If you would like to read more about homeopathy, you can do so here:

* The Society of Homeopaths
* The American Institute of Homepathy

Homeopathy : Close view of Calendula Officinalis plant extract and the flower petals in front

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Croup 101 - More Homeopathics

I was so happy that I had a visit already scheduled with a homeopath today.  I was able to get some advice on treating my son's cold/croup.  Here are three remedies she suggested that I try.  Thankfully, he is doing better, but still has that occasional "bark" to his cough.

*Spongia Tosta 30X

*Hepar Sulph Calc. 30X

*ColdCalm - more for fighting just a cold

Monday, December 26, 2011

Croup 101

Christmas Eve I had my first introduction to croup as a mama.  I was hopeful that we would not need to make a trip to the doctor or ER, and so far we have not needed that trip!  Croup can be dangerous, so parents need to be very careful when trying to treat this at home and should call their health care practitioner immediately with any questions or concerns, but here is a list of what was helpful for us.

*Yellow Onion - yes, raw onion was a lifesaver for us and thankfully, I had a big supply on hand.  I used onion in two ways.  First I FINELY chopped up a raw onion (once in the morning and once in the evening) and left in a bowl next to my son.  Second, I made a raw onion poultice.  I finely chopped half an onion, wrapped it in cheesecloth and warmed it in the oven for a minute or two.  I then rubbed a little vaseline on his chest and placed the poultice on his chest for 30-45 minute increments throughout the day.  If his cough sounded barky, I would try to do it more often, but a 2 year old does not sit still that long! =)

*Herbs for kids - I used their echinacea, cherry bark blend, temp assure and horehound blend

*Cough syrup - I made a homemade thyme and honey cough syrup.  You can find multiple variations of recipes on line.

*For fever - my son's temperature reached 101; using herbal remedies, we were able to keep the fever from going any higher and it soon came down.  We used Herbs for Kids Temp Assure, two different homeopathics (aconitum napellus and cell salt #4 Ferrum Phos), and I sponged his head and feet with mixture that I found in one of my favorite children's herbal resources Gentle Healing for Baby and Child.  I used a large cereal bowl of lukewarm water, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and 3 drops of lavender essential oil.  He found this particularly comforting.

*Essential oils - I used a blend recommended for coughs from Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child.  I used this in a warm bath and on a tissue next to us at night as we slept.  These oils were soothing and helped to ease his respiratory discomfort.

*I also did a diluted chamomile tea which helped to relax him and ease his fevers.

Again, use caution when treating croup.  We were able to keep the barky cough to a minimum (especially with the onion) but use caution and speak to your health practitioner if you have any questions or concerns about your child before using herbal treatments.

(Featured on The 21st century Housewife, Time Warp Wife,  The Frugal Tuesday Tip , Real Food Forager, Happy Hour Projects, Real Food Freaks, Fresh Bites Friday , The Hungry, Hungry Hypo, Fitness, Health, and Happiness , Jo's Healthcare Corner)

Friday, December 23, 2011

5 Spice Shortbread Cookies (low in sugar and SO yummy!)

Sugar consumption goes way up during the holidays!  It's hard to resist all those goodies, so I decided to create a shortbread cookie with a little spice and even less sugar.  It came out oh so yummy, and is a holiday cookie that you can enjoy without a sugar high.  This is also an ideal cookie to give your children.

*1 stick of pastured butter, cold
*2 cup of whole grain flour (I used soft wheat)
*1/4 cup sucanat
*1/4 tsp sea salt
*2 tsp cinnamon
*2 tsp ginger
*2 tsp cardamon (optional if you do not have this)
*1/2 tsp anise
*1/2 tsp nutmeg

Cut butter into 5-6 pieces and place in food processor along with all remaining ingredient.  Mix until ingredients form a ball, then stop immediately.  Cut out desired shapes at about 1/4 inch thickness (I used piecrust cutters from William Sonoma) and bake at 275 for about 45 minutes or until lightly browned.  Enjoy!

(Featured on Healthy Home Economist, Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemeaker, My Sweet and Savory, 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven, Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms, I'm an Organizing Junkie, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Rook No. 17, Not Just a Housewife, Permanent Posies, Hope Studios, Crazy for Crust,  Real Food Forager, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, This Chick Cooks, The King's Court IV, Food Corner, Frugal Follies, Delightful Order, Somewhat Simple, Momnivore's Dilemma, Miz Helen's Country Kitchen, Gnowfglins, It's a Keeper, A Little Nosh, Tales from Bloggeritaville, A Glimpse Inside , The Nourishing Gourmet, Whipperberry, Read Food Freaks, Real Food Whole Health, Comfy in the Kitchen, Creation Corner , Finger Prints on the Fridge

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Not the word that comes to mind this time of year, right?  I am learning the benefits of rest and being forced to do so right now as I recover from my miscarriage.  So, I thought I would do a little post about rest, to encourage myself and everyone else that rest is needed and a GOOD thing!

There is a short article you can read HERE that reviews the benefits of rest.  A few of these benefits include:

*increased immunity
*reduced blood pressure
*more energy
*better sleep
*smoother emotions

Our society does little to encourage good old-fashioned rest.  May I encourage you to take some time in the next week to make sure you rest?  The holiday season will be a lot more fun with more energy, better sleep, smoother emotions, and less sickness!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fermenting Part 3

 This post we will discuss making homemade yogurt.  It's a simple process and a great way to have unique fermented cultures, as each different kind of yogurt you make at home will have different healthy bacteria.  I am currently using Bulgarian Yogurt, the cultured being purchased from Cultures for Health. You can click on my link on the right side bar to explore all the various yogurt cultures they sell.  The nice thing about this culture is that it is an heirloom variety and perpetuates from one batch to the next, making it very economical.  I have been using this one for almost 2 years.

The first step is heating your milk to 170 degrees.  I like making big batches, so I heat enough milk to fill a six cup canning jar.
 I like to use organic non-homogenized milk, as I avoid homogenized products due to their health risks (you can read more HERE).  Once the milk has been heated to 170 degrees, I then let it cool to about 100 degrees and add about 1 tsp (or a little more) of my previous yogurt for each cup of milk I use.  You have to wait until your milk cools before you add the yogurt or you will kill the ability of the yogurt to set.
 I then transfer my covered jar to my Excalibur Food Dehydrator, as it is large enough to hold my canning jar and I set it to 105 degrees for 4-5 hours.  If you do purchase a dehydrator, I recommend buying the one with a timer.  Side note: not only is this dehydrator great for making dried foods, but it makes yogurt making a breeze and is great for bread rising or keeping sourdough cultures going in this cool weather.
Here is my milk getting ready to go into the dehydrator.  Homemade yogurt will not be as thick as store bought (though you can thicken it by substituting cream for some of the milk), but it is delicious!  I often eat it plain, with a bit of fruit, or with maple syrup or one of my herbal simple syrups that I posted about earlier this month.

Homemade yogurt is delicious, easy to make, and full of unique cultures that will boost your immunity!  Have fun trying this recipe and be sure to check out all the yummy yogurt cultures at Cultures for Health.

Featured on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lovely Giveaway!

Just a quick interruption to post about this lovely giveaway from Mountain Rose Herbs!

The prize this week is a treat just waiting to happen!
The winner will be able to create either version of the recipe using this collection of organic ingredients. Plus, we’re throwing in a copy of Kami McBride’s book The Herbal Kitchen which is a wonderful resource with over 250 recipes for using herbs to enhance the health benefits and digestibility of your food!
Here’s this week’s big prize…

There are several ways to enter and you can submit up to 5 entries for a chance to win this amazing collection of ingredients!
1. Leave a comment here telling us about your favorite herbal treat for the holidays!
2. Post a link to our Amazing Maca Bar giveaway on your Facebook page and leave a comment here to let us know you’ve posted. Follow us on Facebook here!
3. Tweet about our Amazing Maca Bar giveaway on Twitter using the tag #herbalgiveaway and leave a comment here to let us know that you’ve tweeted. Be sure to follow us on Twitter!
4. Blog about our giveaway with a link back to this post. Then leave a comment here with a link back to your blog post so we can check it out.
5. Sign up for our recipe packed Newsletter and leave a comment to let us know you’re a reader.
You have until Monday, December 26th at 11:59pm PST to enter. We will pick one winner at random on Tuesday, December 27th! We can ship blog prizes to US addresses only.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fermenting Part 2

 For this post, I thought I would share a very easy recipe for sauerkraut, which is an excellent fermented food, once called the poor man's doctor.  For this recipe, you don't need any kind of starter.  Some people do add whey, but because my son is sensitive to whey, I make mine using only salt.


*2 large, heavy heads of organic cabbage
*5 T sea or pink salt (it has to be non-iodized and sea or pink salt work best)
*1 T nori seaweed flakes (optional)
*2 six cup canning jars

Wash off the cabbage.  On a clean surface (you want to keep everything as clean as possible, avoiding touching other things during this process to keep as little as possible other bacteria entering your fermenting jars), roughly chop your cabbage, then place it in a shredder or cuisinart using your shredder blade.  Evenly fill your two jars with the shredded cabbage.  Add 2 1/2 T salt to each jar, or if you are using seaweed, only add 2 T salt to each jar.  Next take a meat pounder or similar kitchen tool and pound the cabbage down until you see juices starting to form.  Once the juices reach the top of the cabbage, you can stop pounding.  You will be surprised how compact it gets!  Make sure the salt and seaweed are well blended.  Cover the jars loosely and  place the jars in a dark cabinent in your kitchen for 3 days.  In this cooler weather, you make have to leave it out a 4th day.  The finished product may fizz a little and should expand in your jar.  It will have a sharp tang, but discard if you taste anything that tastes bad or smells foul.  Enjoy!

For those interested in the added nutritional benefits of seaweed, I highly recommend Seaweed, by Valerie Cooksley.  She discusses all the amazing health benefits of seaweed.  I understand the book is no longer being printed, but you can buy it on amazon.  Just click on my amazon link to the right.  I love this book because of all it's information and she also tells you how much to take, which is quite helpful.

Mountain Rose Herbs carries a number of kinds of seaweed and they are all from Canada or Iceland, which I recommend as you do not want to be buying seaweed from Japan or China since Japan's nuclear accident.  Some of my favorites are nori and dulse flakes and sea lettuce.  You can click on my Mountain Rose Herb link to the right to see more varieties of seaweed.

(Shared at Real Food Wednesdays, The Nourishing Gourmet, A Glimpse Inside , Ani's Favorite Things, A Little Nosh, Gnowfgins , Ms. Helen's Country Cottage, Momnivores Delimma, Somewhat Simple, Delightful Order, Food Renegade, Real Food Whole Health, Jo's Health Corner,  Bacon time with the hunger hypo, Diet Dessert Dogs, KB and White Snake Home

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fermented Foods...Why Ferment?

I am going to do a series of posts over the next few days about the benefits of fermented foods and share some easy ways that you incorporate these beneficial foods into your life and diet.

Why ferment?

What did people do before the modern resources we have today to preserve our foods?  Most cultures preserved their foods through the fermentation process, which not only preserved their foods, but also provided them with the amazing benefits that I have listed below.  Sadly, our modern culture, for the most part,  consumes very few fermented foods, and is suffering from the lack of these beneficial foods in their diet.

Here is a brief summary on the benefits of fermenting along with some great resources for further reading:

*increases the levels of B vitamins in your foods
*aides digestion
*boosts the immune system
*increases omega-3 fatty acids
*increases digestive enzymes
*alters vegetable proteins to resemble meat proteins
*increases the nutritional value of the food by synthesizing vitamins and amino acids
*helps the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon

For further reading:
*Article by Dr. Mercola
*Enroll in Vintage Remedies Holistic Wellness Course - to read more about this, click the link on my website for Vintage Remedies
*Article by Robert Lawrence
*Article by the Herb Companion

I will next be discussing how to make fermented foods.  If this is something that you are interested in, click on the link to the right for Cultures for Health and take a few minutes to start looking around their website and find some fermented foods that appeal to you that you would be interested in trying.  Almost all fermented foods are easy to make and will easily become part of your daily routine.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fun Recipe!

I am going to try this recipe from Cultures for Health for a delicious dip for my family this Christmas Eve.  The recipe is a sun-dried tomato, basil, hazelnut, kefir dip.  I can't wait to use the sundried tomatoes that I made this summer in this dip.
Since I have not been making kefir, I will simply substitute some of my homemade yogurt.  I will be doing a series of posts shortly on the importance of incorporating fermented foods into your diet.  If you are looking to improve or maintain your health, eating fermented foods is key!
I buy all my starters from Cultures for Health.  I have used their kefir, two kinds of yogurts, sourdough bread, and water kefir starters with great success.  I am getting ready to start up their buttermilk culture as well! Take a few minutes to read through their website.  You can do so by clicking on the link to the right.
If you are looking for an easy culture to start with, try their buttermilk.  It is very easy and quick to make.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Two Herbal Books for Children

There are two books that I would like to recommend for treating children with herbs, homeopathy, and essential oils.  I have both of these books and they are my first "go to" for my son.  Between the two of them, they cover just about every childhood problem/illness you could imagine.

I believe that the first treatments we should turn to should be natural remedies and if these don't work, then use medicines that the medical community would recommend.  I have 10 years of  nursing experience to see that we live in the age of antibiotic and medication overuse that are starting to show some very devastating results.  So, try some gentle healing first and these books will be able to help you get started.  You can buy both these books through my amazon store link...just click on the Amazon store link just to the right and it will take you right to amazon - thank you!

Gentle Healing for Baby and Child by Andrea Candee
This book covers both herbal and a few homeopathic treatments in the form of cell salts and Bach Flower Remedies.  I appreciate that she has a guide for dosing children so that you are able to figure out what dose of herb your child needs very easily.  It's hard to find dosing instructions in most herbal books.

Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood
This book covers aromatherapy treatments for children starting as young as infants.  What I found particularly helpful in this book is a chart telling just what oils can be used and what age the child needs to be, a list of oils she recommends having on hand, and very specific dosing instructions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mountain Rose Herb Giveaway

Mountain Rose Herbs is doing a fantastic giveaway!  You can register here.  There is no purchase necessary.  But, if you do have some shopping to do, please click the link just to the right for Mountain Rose Herbs and order through that link, as I am now an affiliate.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crying It Out

I have an excellent article regarding the harm and danger in letting your baby "cry it out".  You can read the article here, from Psychology Today.

I would encourage all new parents and those considering children to read this article.  Having your baby "cry it out" is a modern practice and we are now starting to see it's unfortunate effects.  Here are a few choice paragraphs:

"With neuroscience, we can confirm what our ancestors took for granted---that letting babies cry is a practice that damages children and their relational capacities in many ways for the long term. We know now that letting babies cry is a good way to make a less intelligent, less healthy but more anxious, uncooperative and alienated person who can pass the same or worse traits on to the next generation. 
The discredited behaviorist view sees the baby as an interloper into the life of the parents, an intrusion who must be controlled by various means so the adults can live their lives without too much bother. Perhaps we can excuse this attitude and ignorance because at the time, extended families were being broken up and new parents had to figure out how to deal with babies on their own, an unnatural condition for humanity--we have heretofore raised children in extended families. The parents always shared care with multiple adult relatives...

The fact is that caregivers who habitually respond to the needs of the baby before the baby gets distressed, preventing crying, are more likely to have children who are independent than the opposite(Stein & Newcomb, 1994). Soothing care is best from the outset. Once patterns get established, it's much harder to change them.
We should understand the mother and child as a mutually responsive dyad. They are a symbiotic unit that make each other healthier and happier in mutual responsiveness. This expands to other caregivers too."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Recipe for Relaxation

With my hormones a little haywire yesterday, I needed some PMS relief.  I tried this lovely essential oil recipe about 2 hours before going to bed and felt like a new woman!  This eased my tension, relaxed my body, and soothed the soul!  If you try this, make sure you are using only pure organic oils (I have a few recommended sights on my sidebar) so you obtain their healing benefits and avoid any adverse reactions. If you click on each oil, I have linked them to sites that discuss all their healing's quite amazing!

5 drops lavender
2 drops lemon
2 drops grapefruit
2 drops geranium
1 drop clary sage
3/4 cup dead sea salt (can use epsom salts or honey instead)

Put the essential oils into the salt and stir well.  Start your bath (make sure it's nice and warm) and pour the salt mixture into the running water.  After the salt is poured into the bath, swish the water to make sure the salt is distributed well.  You will be amazed at the beautiful aroma!  Keep your bathroom door shut to enjoy the full benefits of the oils.  Soak for 20-30 minutes.  Some relaxing music and candle light will only enhance your relaxing experience!

Side note - I slept with a drop of lavender and neroli oils on a cotton ball near my bed and had an excellent night's sleep.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lemon Lime Simple Syrup

I posted a few days ago about making herbal simple syrups.  I have tried a few and love them!  This morning I am using my lemon lime simple syrup to make a hot ginger lemon tea for my family.  Here are the proportions I used to make my syrup.  This is a loose recipe and can be easily adapted to meet your particular taste.  If you like a deep lemon/lime flavor, simmer for more than 20 minutes, but keep tasting every 5 minutes as the flavor will deepen quickly.  For a lighter flavor, simmer for 15-20 minutes.

1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sucanat
9 limes
1 large lemon

Cut each lemon and lime in half.  Given each one a good squeeze into your double broiler before placing the fruit in it.  After all the fruit is in the double broiler, add the sucanat and water.  Mix well, pressing the fruit if needed.  The water should just about cover the fruit.  Simmer on medium heat until desired taste produced.

Enjoy!  Hot tea is a wonderful way to use this syrup.  Add your herbs of choice and then flavor with your syrup.  This morning we are enjoying lemon balm, lemon grass, and a pinch of echinacea, along with some powdered ginger in our tea blend.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

FREE Program through Vintage Remedies! 8 Weeks to Real Foods...

Do you want to eat healthier?  Here is a FREE program to help you make that change to real/whole foods! Simply click on the Vintage Remedies icon on the right of my page and this will take you straight to Vintage Remedies.  The program is called 8 Weeks to Real Foods and can be found under the EVENTS tab.  This is great for beginners as well as those who already eat whole foods.

Again, this is FREE!!  So, sign up today and help you and your family make the switch to real and whole foods!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A remedy to try?

I recently read the following on Dr. Mercola's website.  I have not tried this remedy, but plan to if my husband or I start to get sick this winter.  If you try it, just be sure to get a non-aluminum source of baking soda.  Azure Standard carries one, as does Bob's Red Mill.

In today’s modern world of medicine the FDA just will not let companies that sell products make medical claims about them unless they have been tested at great expense, and approved as a drug. But this was not always the case.
In a 1924 booklet published by the Arm & Hammer Soda Company, the company starts off saying, “The proven value of Arm & Hammer Bicarbonate of Soda as a therapeutic agent is further evinced by the following evidence of a prominent physician named Dr. Volney S. Cheney, in a letter to the Church & Dwight Company:
“In 1918 and 1919 while fighting the ‘Flu’ with the U. S. Public Health Service it was brought to my attention that rarely any one who had been thoroughly alkalinized with bicarbonate of soda contracted the disease, and those who did contract it, if alkalinized early, would invariably have mild attacks.
Recommended dosages from the Arm and Hammer Company for colds and influenza back in 1925 were:
  • During the first day take six doses of half teaspoonful of Bicarbonate of Soda in glass of cool water, at about two hour intervals
  • During the second day take four doses of half teaspoonful of Bicarbonate of Soda in glass of cool water, at the same intervals
  • During the third day take two doses of half teaspoonful of Bicarbonate of Soda in glass of cool water morning and evening, and thereafter half teaspoonful in glass of cool water each morning until cold is cured

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Simple and Delicious Herbal Syrups

I found this idea on a blog for making delicious herbal syrups.  I love the creativity that is involved and having the simple syrup base will make even the medicinal syrups tasty!   These are inexpensive to make and perfect for cold and flu season when using herbs like elderberry and echinacea.  Herbs can be bought in bulk inexpensively at Mountain Rose Herbs.

I made a delicious chai syrup yesterday using these proportions:  2 cups water, 2 cups sucanat, 6 crushed cinnamon sticks, 1/3c crushed cardamon pods, 1 T cloves, 1 tsp anise seeds, 1 tsp crushed peppercorns, 1 tsp licorice root, and 1 T dried ginger root.  It tastes amazing!  I plan on buying little jars and giving this away as Christmas presents this year.  This syrup can be used on ice cream, in black tea, on oatmeal, in coffee, on pancakes...and more!  It's tasty, but also a healthful syrup, with all the vast health benefits of all the spices used.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Simple Inexpensive Air Freshener for Your Bathroom

Almost all store bought air fresheners are synthetic scents these days.  Not only is it pricey to have to keep buying these, but these synthetic fragrances are not good for you.  They often either coat the interior of your nose with an oil film or use a nerve deadening agent to mask odors.  They are starting to be linked to potential lung damage and asthma and are especially bad for children.

One alternative is using essential oils.  I often do this for our home.  You can simply take an essential oil of choice and place one drop of it on your bathmat (be sure to do a color fast test on the underside of the rug first - though, I have never had an issue with staining).  Be sure to keep the bathroom door shut as this will keep the scent confined to the bathroom.  For those with children, use a kid friendly oil such as lavender, lemon, grapefruit, or mandarin, and these are inexpensive oils.

It is important that you buy organic oils from a reputable seller, especially when you have children, as adulterated and non-organic oils often contain toxins that can be harmful.  (Organic is very important when it comes to essential oils because they are so concentrated that if they are not organic, the pesticide concentration will be very high in the oil.)

Be sure to rotate your oils, as it is never good to use one oil over a long period of time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


This month Mountain Rose Herbs is having a 20% off sale on elderflower.  This is the perfect time of year to buy it.  Elder flowers have many benefits; two of them being a great fever reducer and immune system builder.
A tea can be made with the flowers, taking 2 teaspoons of flowers and pouring 8 ounces of hot water over them.  Allow this to sit for 15-20 minutes, then sip the tea over the next hour or two.  This tea can be a bit strong, so I recommend adding some raw honey to it.  Dosing varies depending on where you read, but I would recommend 3-4 cups a day for treating an acute symptoms such as a fever (but do not continue this dosing for more than a few days).  For building the immune system, I would drink 1 cup every few days. These doses are for adults.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More on Sleep

It seems as though I hit upon a hot topic with regards to needing a peaceful nights rest!  I thought I would do a follow up post regarding herbal treatments for insomnia.  There are three herbs that I would like to discuss and these can all be bought inexpensively at Mountain Rose Herbs.
It is important to note, though, that if you suffer from insomnia, you should try to identify the underlying cause, such as stress, hormones, lifestyle, or a medical issue, so that you can make the needed changes and find the appropriate herb or oil to help you in the interm.  I do recommend rotating herbs and taking breaks from herbal treatments.  Too much of anything is not a good thing.

Chamomile - this is a standard treatment for insomnia.  You can make an easy brew to drink 45 minutes before bedtime by placing one teaspoon of herb to steep in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes.

Valerian Root - valerian is an herb that many use to treat insomnia.  It's a strong herb and one that I would recommend rotating frequently.  This is brewed differently than your typical tea.  A decoction is made of this root by taking 1 teaspoon and pouring a cup of cold water over it and letting it sit all day.  Drink 45 minutes before bed.

Lemon Balm - this herb is great for helping you to relax, so if stress is contributing to your insomnia, you may want to give this herb a try.  Take one teaspoon of herb and pour 1 cup of hot water over it, letting it sit for 15 minutes.  Drink 45 minutes before bed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Peaceful Night's Rest

It's a busy time of year!  If you feel like you need some help unwinding at night, you can try this simple technique to encourage a peaceful and restful night of sleep.  Take 1 drops of lavender or neroli essential oil and place it on a cotton ball.  Place the cotton ball at the top edge of your pillow (keep away from your eyes) or on the ground next to your bed right before you go to sleep.  The oil will naturally diffuse into the air all night and help you to relax both mentally and physically.

You do want to be careful with your use of essential oils and not use the same oils every night and give yourself a break from using oils.  I recommend trying this a few times a week, rotating oils.   Other oils you can try would be roman chamomile or bergamont.  If you are nursing or pregnant, you should consult your physician before using essential oils.

I personally have used lavender and neroli with much success and have woken up feeling much more rested and relaxed.  You do want to to be sure that you are buying oils from reputable sources.  I can recommend these two:  Floracopeia and Florihana.  You want to be sure that your oils are 100% pure and organic and have not be adulterated in any way, as adulteration could actually cause adverse reactions.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Don't Toss that Turkey Carcass!

One of my favorite things to do after Thanksgiving is make turkey stock.  I usually get about 8 canning jars worth of stock from my 14 pound turkey.  Turkey broth is easy to make.  I just take my turkey carcass, break it into a few pieces, and place it in my stock pot.  I add enough water to cover the carcass and let it simmer for 8-10 hours.  Once the carcass has simmered and the broth is ready, I simply remove the bones and bottle the broth.  Often the water has cooked down and the broth is very concentrated, so I get out my 8 canning jars and evenly fill the jars and then add water until the jar is 3/4 full.  The broth is then ready to place in the freezer.  Be sure that your jars are not too hot before you place them in the freezer or they will crack.  They will also crack if you overfill then, thus the reason I fill them just 3/4 full.
You can use this broth to make delicious soups or use it when you cook up grains such as rice, quinoa, or millet.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Make Pomegranate Juice

It's pomegranate season!  These fruits are beautiful, delicious, and a super food.  You can read more about their health benefits here.  I just bought 25 pounds of organic pomegranates from our local co-op and decided to make pomegranate juice for the first time for Thanksgiving.  It was a bit labor intensive, but very easy and so delicious!  I'm hooked for life!  Here's how I did it...
Wash off your pomegranates.  Fill a large bowl full of water and place it on your kitchen counter.  Put on an apron (the juice can sometime spray and can stain.)  Cut off the crown of the pomegranate and score the outside in 4 sections.  Put the pomegranate in the bowl of water and pull apart.  Keeping it in the bowl and under water will prevent any juice from spraying you.  Once you separate out all the seeds and pulp, place the seeds in a blender or Vitamix and pulse for 10-15 seconds.  Strain the juice to remove seed and any extra pulp and you will be left with delicious juice!
I plan to freeze some of our extra juice to bring out throughout the winter.  I also mixed some in with fresh squeezed orange juice this morning, which was delicious.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cut the Sugar!

It's Thanksgiving...a time for yummy food, right?  Of course!  And this is one of my family's favorite times to indulge, and indulge we do!  I'm not one for cutting back on the holidays, but I do cook with organic ingredients and my one healthy aim is to cut the sugar a bit.  I'm shocked when I look at so many recipes and see the amount of sugar they call for in their recipes.  I find that I can often cut the sugar by at least half and no one even notices.
I made the Caramel Apple Pie that is on the William Sonoma website for us this year.  They called for sugar in the pie crust, sugar in the apples, sugar in the caramel!  That's a LOT of sugar.  So, I have left out the sugar in the crust and the apples and kept the called for amount in the caramel sauce.  On top of that, I use sucanat or rapadura and never use pure white or processed brown sugars, which are devoid of any nutrient value.  I do this because these sugars still retain their mineral content (see more here) and do not cause as significant a spike in the blood sugar levels.  My family enjoys the rich taste that sucanat and rapadura infuse into our foods, so I don't even buy white sugar anymore.
Hope you enjoy this simple holiday tip and have a very happy and yummy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


I have a recommended read for those who are interested in the health benefits of seaweed, which you can find here.  I became interested in seaweed once we stopped using iodized table salt and switched to unprocessed pink salt, which I buy here and here.

It's amazing all the health benefits that can be derived from seaweed.  It's a very inexpensive way to provide trace minerals and many wonderful health benefits for yourself and your family.  Just be sure that the seaweed you buy is from a clean water source.  I personally would avoid buying any from Japan at this time due to the nuclear spill that happened during the earthquake earlier this year.  Be sure to read the section in Valerie's book about how much seaweed to take and what kinds to take before you buy your supply, as you do want to be careful not to eat too much seaweed.

I bought our seaweed from Mountain Rose Herbs and have stored it in a jars in my pantry.  I alternate the types that we use.  If I cannot hide the taste in food, then I put it in capsules for my husband, which is easy to do and a lot cheaper than buying it already encapsulated.  Mountain Rose Herbs sells a capsule machine that is very inexpensive.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Be sure to check out the Recipe for the Month!  I have a fabulous, easy, and healthy cranberry relish that has become a Thanksgiving standard.  After you taste this relish, you will never want to bring another canned relish into your home again!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What to Have on Hand to Boost the Immune System For the Holiday Rush!

Thanksgiving week is almost here, which means for most, travel, visiting with family, and a busy schedule.      There are a few easy supplements you can have on hand for this next week:

*Vitamin D - This is a great support to the immune system and since most are not getting their daily dose of sun this time of year, this is critical to take to keep your immune system healthy.

*Elderberry syrup - This is quick and easy to make (here is the recipe that I use).  This can be taken daily throughout the week.

*Echinacea - At the first hint of feeling sick, start to take some echinacea.  Herbs for Kids carries a great brand for children starting at the age of one and Whole Foods sells all kinds of tinctures (the liquid form I recommend for adults- but not pregnant or breastfeeding women due to the alcohol content) of echinacea that you can choose from.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is Aromatherapy?

Now that I am enrolled to be an aromatherapy practitioner and will be doing posts about Aromatherapy, I thought I would clarify just what aromatherapy is and is not!

Aromatherapy is the medicinal use of PURE essential oils.  Essential oils can be used by a practitioner to heal and help both the physical body and the emotions (which are tied into the health of our physical body).    Essential oils can be used in many different ways including inhalation, dermal (skin) application, massage, and hydrotherapy (placed in water or baths).  The vast number of physical conditions essentials can treat are too numerous to list, but a few popular ones are skin conditions and ulcers, sinus problems, digestive issues, headaches and migraines, muscular problems, and respiratory issues.  Essential oils are also wonderful stress reducers and enhance overall health and wellbeing.  A holistic aromatherapist will treat each client with an individualized blend of essential oils made for their unique needs.

There are so many adulterated and synthetic oils on the market these days that it is very important to distinguish the difference between these and real, organic essential oils.  Adulterated and synthetic oils cannot perform the way that true organic essential oils do, and can actually be harmful to health.  It is very important to make sure you buy your oils from a reputable seller, and buy organic oils if possible, as chemicals can be in concentrated form in essential oils that are not organic.

Over the months to come, I look forward to sharing about essential oils and helping my readers learn how to incorporate them into their lives.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Aromatherapy School...

I am very excited to announce that I am furthering my education by enrolling in the East-West School of Herbal and Aromatic Studies to become a Certified Advanced Aromatherapy Practitioner.  You can read more about aromatherapy and an explanation of what it is here.

Aromatherapy is a powerful healing tool and in some areas of this country is starting to be integrated into the medical arena.  Many countries around the world use aromatherapy as a standard method of care (hoping that will be the case here in the future!).  Aromatherapy can treat all kinds of physical and emotional aliments and is a pleasant form of holistic treatment.  I am looking forward to learning more about it and plan to sit for the board exam offered by NAHA once this degree is completed.

One of my favorite essential oils at this time is lavender.  Lavender has an amazing amount of healing benefits and is used for insomnia, headaches, migraines, anxiety, depression, nervous tension, eczema, muscular aches, colds, infections, flu, whooping cough, bronchitis, increasing blood circulation, killing lice and their nits, burns, sunburn and so much more!  You can read more about its benefits here.

Essential oils, being such powerful tools of healing, need to be used with care and caution.  It is best to consult with an aromatherapist before using essential oils to treat most health issues.

But, don't let that scare you away from them...they can be used in all kinds of massage oils, lotions, air fresheners, homemade perfumes and more, and you will receive health benefits using them in this manner.  Just make sure you are buying your essential oils from a trusted source as adulterated essential oils can actually be harmful to use.  Recipes should also be from reputable sites.  I will be doing many more posts on aromatherapy in the future and will recommend places to buy from and recipes to try.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seafood to Avoid

I found a helpful article on Yahoo about current seafoods to avoid.  Reading about imported shrimp was especially motivating to never place an imported shrimp in my mouth as long as I live!  Here is the article.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Warm Winter Breakfasts

We all love the smell of cobblers and crisps baking, especially in the winter!  One of our favorite breakfasts has become fruit covered with a crisp or cobbler topping.  Since it's winter time and cold and flu season has begun, I have been working hard to cut back on our sugar intake, since sugar only serve to depress the immune system.  So, I have started to make our breakfast cobblers and crisps without the addition of sugar, and do you know, no one has missed it!
Our culture is so used to very sweet tastes that I think a lot of us have lost the appreciate for the natural sweetness that occurs naturally in foods.  I have been enjoying our breakfasts without the sugar and find that the fruits I use make things sweet enough, especially for breakfast time.
Our breakfast tomorrow is a winter fruit cobbler.  Tonight I chopped up apples,  pears, persimmons, and some plums that we received in our co-op this week and placed them in a large pyrex dish.  Then I made a yogurt soaked biscuit recipe and place those on top.  Lastly, I sprinkled the cobbler with cinnamon, powered anise seed, and allspice on top.  This is able to sit out on the counter over night (covered with saran wrap) and can be popped in the oven first thing in the morning at 375 for about 40 minutes.  Before you know it, your family will awaken to the smell of all those delicious fruits baking and you can know that you are giving your family a nutritious start to their day.

Monday, November 7, 2011


It's fall, which means, time for pomegranates!  These beautiful fruits are a powerful superfood.  They are full of vitamin C, potassium, vit. B 6, and polyphenols (help prevent cellular damage in the body).  Some studies show that they may have 2-3 times the antioxidant power of green tea and red wine.

Though delicious, the seeds can be a challenge to harvest for those who have never cut a fresh pomegranate.  I find that the easiest way to obtain the seeds is to cut the fruit in half and then gently break each half into half.  Then submerge in water, and separate the seeds from the pulp.  That way if seeds are broken, you will not get sprayed by the juice, which can stain.  Make sure you wear old clothes or a large apron.

This year I am going to try to buy 25 pounds from my local co-op.  The seeds can be made into juice or simply frozen for later use.  It may be a lot of work, but the nutritional value and delicious taste is worth the effort.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mountain Rose Herbs

I buy most of my herbal products from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They have an amazing supply of organic herbs, tinctures, capsules, essential oils, and so much more.  Herbs can be bought in small quantities or ordered in bulk (a great way to save even more dollars and helpful to do with friends).  The prices are very reasonable and they offer great customer service.  I have always been happy with my products.

Mountain Rose herbs also offers a monthly newsletter full of great information and recipes.  Here is a copy of this months.  I am looking forward to making a few herbal sleep pillows to cozy up to this winter and trying the curried sweet potato soup.  The newsletter is free, so sign up!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Sadly, I suffered a miscarriage and subsequent D&C last week, thus the lack of posting once again.  I thought I would take some time to share some remedies that have physically and emotionally helped me through the recovery process.

*Recovery Tea:  I have been making a daily recovery tea.  It has consisted of these herbs: red raspberry leaf (this I put in daily), alternate days with either nettle or oatstraw, lemon balm (used daily), and cinnamon.  The red raspberry is a uterine tonic and helps to balance hormones - I have been surprised how quickly my post-op bleeding has been tapering down (I actually started drinking this right when I found out I had miscarried).  Nettle and oatstraw are very nourishing, nutrient rich herbs which help with the healing process.  Lemon balm is a nervine; it calms the nervous system and helps balance emotions.  Cinnamon is a circulatory aid and will help the circulate blood to the uterus to encourage the healing process.  I will continue this tea for about 3-4 weeks post-op.

*Vitex:  I have made a simple tea with vitex berries.  I drink a cup daily  Vitex can take about 3 months to really kick in, but it is an excellent hormone balancer, working on the endocrine system to obtain balance.  It does not contain hormones.

*Milk Thistle Tincture:  Milk thistle seed is an amazing herb that can heal and actually help to regenerate nerve tissue.  I have been taking this daily to help protect my liver from all the medications it was exposed to during surgery and to help support it as it is processing all the extra hormones in my system.

*Partridgeberry: I have ordered some of this herb and will start it as soon as it arrives.  It's a great complement to raspberry leaf and can be brewed with my recovery tea.  It also helps to balance the reproductive system.

*Chamomile:  This tea I brewed the first few nights post-op to help me sleep.  I made sure to use loose flower heads and it was a wonderful sleep aid.

*Blood purifying mix:  In a few weeks when I am feeling better, I will be adding a daily does of tea that has yellow dock root, burdock root, and dandelion root.  This combo will continue to help support the liver process and rid my body of extra hormones.  It's also a good blood purifying mix.

*Homeopathics:  I have been using a number of homeopathics including arnica montana (helps reduce soreness and bruising), hypericum perf. (helps with nerve injury), pulsatilla (helps balance emotions), Wise's Pain Tablets #417 (helps with hypersensitivity to pain and emotion), and a number of Bach Flower Remedies to help with emotions and stress; rescue remedy, aspen, hornbeam, olive, and mimulus.  I think the first two remedies really helped control pain as I only needed one ibuprofen follow my surgery.  I was surprised by the lack of discomfort I had.  I started the homeopathic remedies the day before the surgery.

*Noni Lavender Lotion: one of my all time favorite remedies.  I rubbed this on all the sore muscles after surgery including my back, tummy, and neck.  The evening after surgery, I started having tingling in my face, probably from how they positioned my neck while the procedure was done.  I rubbed this lotion on the tingling areas and within a few hours they were gone.

*Rest:  I was blessed to have my mom here for the first 6 days.  I tried to avoid the stairs at all costs and staying off my feet as much as I could.  This has helped so much.  I am also avoiding any heavy lifting, including my toddler for a few weeks.

*Supplements:  I continue to take a blood builder to keep me from becoming anemic; it also includes kelp which helps to balance hormones.  I take cod liver oil and an adrenal supplement.  I have continued my green's mix and colostrum.  I have added wild bee pollen which helps with immunity and balancing the reproductive system.  I also have continued with my liquid B supplement and have added to that a green tea nano supplement.

*Bone Broths:  I have been taking homemade chicken broth or beef broth daily, as these are great sources of nutrients and aid in the healing process.

*Accupuncture:  I will be starting up some accupuncture in a week, which I did before and during my first pregnancy which bore me my wonderful and precious son.

Thank you for your patience as I have not been able to keep up with my posting schedule.  I hope to resume my normal posting schedule in a few weeks.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Herbal Remedies and Supplements I Keep on Hand for my Child

There are a number of great herbal supplements that can be used for children, often in lieu of conventional medicine.  Many can be used for children as young as one.  Here is a list of what I keep on hand for my 22 month old.

Herbs for Kids Products: I have been quite pleased with this organic brand of herbal supplements and have been using them on my son since he was about 14 months old.  I have provided the link to the site that will include use instructions.  Here are a few standards that I like to keep on hand.

*Echinacea - I use this at the first sign of sickness.

*Astragalus - This is great to use for building up the immune system.  If you know you are going to be around a lot of germs, give them a dose the day before, day of, and day after exposure.

*Cherry Bark Blend - Good for dry irritated throats

*Horehound Blend - Good for respiratory and lung support

*Temp Assure - This is a great blend to support the body during a fever (I even used it for my husband once in a pinch).  My personal rule of thumb is not to medicate a fever for a child that is under 100.5.  Fevers are used by your body to kill of germs and only get dangerous if they go too high or for too long.  Our modern day habit of treating low grade fevers with fever reducing medications actually does more harm than good, making it much for difficult for your body to develop immunity against the germ and to kill off the germ, thus increasing the risks for relapse.

*Chamomile Calm - This is a great blend for teething and for days where there has been a lot of excitement (like Christmas or all day at the zoo) and a calming influence is needed at night for sleep.

Quantum Nutrition Labs:  I cannot say enough good things about these supplements.  I have been using this brand for about 4 years and actually had privilege to be seen by Dr. Marshall at his Southern California clinic.  This are extremely high quality supplements and worth the investment.

*D 3 serum - I like to use this a few times a week to build immunity.  We get a lot of sun in SoCal, so I don't feel the need to use it daily for my son, but it's great for times of sickness or winter, when he is not out in the sun as much.

*Vitamin C - I use this daily, especially since my little guy is not eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegies yet.

*Greens Mix - This is a great daily supplement as well; I use it for calcium support.

*Colostrum Powder - I use this when my son starts to show the first signs of illness, is having an eczema breakout, or has been exposed to germs.

*EFA oil blend - This can also be given on a daily basis and is good brain support.