Ketchup

Ketchup

Ketchup is a staple condiment in my household and while we have tried to cut back knowing the sugars and artificial flavors in commercial condiments, it still seems to creep back at every egg breakfast or BBQ we serve or attend. Since cutting ketchup out of the picture just doesn’t seem to be an option, I thought I would try to make our own. I played around with a few recipes I came across online and tried to balance the ingredients until I came up with something that, if I didn’t tell my husband I switched the ketchup, he wouldn’t know!  I kid you not when I say that this recipe tastes VERY similar to the store bought ketchup we were using.

Homemade Ketchup

Ingredients:

– 7oz tomato paste (homemade or store bought- only ingredient should be tomatoes)
– 1/2 cup water
– 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
– 2 tbsp raw honey
– 1/2 tsp sea salt
– 1/4 tsp onion granules
– 1/8 tsp all spice
– 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Directions:

1. Whisk together all ingredients, BUT the water, into a mixing bowl.
2. Slowly add the water until you reach a desired consistency.
3. Keep refrigerated and enjoy!
If you were working with a very smooth/watery paste to begin with, you may need to simmer the ketchup on the stove top to remove excess water from the paste. If you are not gluten intolerant, a 1/4tsp of flour should also do the trick if you are looking for an even thicker ketchup.

bathsalts

bathsaltsI don’t know about you, but I don’t live in a remote area with easy access to natural hot springs or the sea… I wish!  These ‘baths’ found in nature contain mineral salts and have been used as healing and relaxation mechanisms for centuries. Each mineral salt found in nature possesses specific health properties. The recipe I have included in this post contains high levels of Magnesium, a mineral that many of us are deficient in today. Magnesium plays an important role in over 350 biochemical reactions in our bodies. When deficient, these reactions will occur very inefficiently, or maybe not at all. Over the last half a century, our magnesium levels have dropped significantly. Our soil is now depleted of many minerals and nutrients that were once in abundance years ago.

Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D., naturopathic doctor, and author of The Magnesium Miracle notes:
“The real miracle is that that modern man gets by as well as he does with so little of this essential nutrient. A hundred years ago — before we depleted our soil with greedy agricultural practices — the average person received at least 500 mg of magnesium a day, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Without supplementation, in 2009, even on a pure organic diet, you’re looking at only 150 mg at best. Those on a pure McDonald’s diet may be lucky to get 50 mg. And we may need between 600 and 900 mg… per day!”

So with all that, you might be wondering how taking a bath at home can help? Well, according to Naturopath Dr. Hazel Parcells, hot water draws toxins to your skin’s surface, and while the water in your tub cools, it pulls the toxins out from the skin. The bath salts aid in this extraction while also relaxing your muscles. The added Lavender Oil will soothe and calm you while promoting growth of new skin cells. Not sure you believe this all? Just try it! I promise you it’s worth it.

No-Brainer Bath Salts

What you will need

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, measure out the salts and mix them together well. Slowly add the drops of essential oils and continue to stir, making sure to break up any clumps.
  2. Place your new Bath Salts in an airtight container (preferably glass). Store in a cool, dark place. Essential Oils will slowly lose their medicinal qualities when if kept in a warm location and exposed to sunlight.
  3. To use, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of mixture into your bath. Relax, and soak for 30 minutes.
photodeckpicflower

photodeckpicflower

If you peaked into my pantry or various cabinets in my kitchen you would see dozens of mason jars, in all different sizes. There is something about drinking out of a mason jar that makes me feel connected to the great outdoors, even if I am living in the middle of a city. By simply taking a mason jar, some ground coffee [to look like soil] and fresh cut flowers from the garden, you can create a beautiful flower vase that not only looks great, but smells great too! The coffee grounds [whether dry or just brewed] will naturally deodorize the room in addition to the beautiful scent that will be given off by the flowers you have selected.

Air Freshening Flower Vase

You will need:

– a mason jar of any size
– fresh cut flowers (to freshen the air)
– ground coffee (to look like soil and to freshen the air)
– small sandwich bag or flower tubes to increase the life of your flowers
– elastic band

Directions:

Flower directions1. Cut flowers from your garden or buy some from a local farm/nursery
2. Cut the corner of a sandwich bag and fill with water. Secure the bag to the stems with an elastic band. You can also purchase flower tubes online or at a local flower shop to reuse each time.
3. Place the flowers in a mason jar and fill in with coffee grounds. If you are a coffee drinker, you can save your grounds after each brew in a mason jar and reuse them for this project! Or check out this great post about 10 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds!
4. Enjoy a beautifully scented room!

ice cream

icecreamvanilla

Who doesn’t love ice cream on a hot summers day?! I sure haven’t met many people! I checked out 5 top ice cream suppliers, and there are an average of 15 ingredients in 1 pint! Now that’s pretty interesting to me since it’s called 1.Ice 2.Cream; frozen cream. Ice cream is so easy to make and any flavor goes! The vanilla recipe below calls for just 4 base ingredients!!! As for an ice cream maker, I suggest the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence  2-Quart Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet and Ice Cream Maker. It creates half a gallon per batch and it is so easy to use!

Ingredients:

– 1 1/2 cups whole milk
– 1/2 cups cane sugar OR 1/4C of maple syrup
– 3 cups heavy cream
– 1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine all ingredients. You can also use a food processor for this step. Keep machine on for about 2 minutes.
2. Pour mixture into the freezer bowl and turn the machine on until the mix thickens (20-25mins). The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture to it. If you would like a firmer texture, leave it in the ice cream machine for longer.
3. Transfer the ice cream to an air tight container and place in the freezer for upwards to 2 hours. Remove and enjoy!
You can serve the ice cream immediately, however it may melt quickly. Note that each time you remove it from the freezer, you will have to let sit for a few minutes in order to soften. Homemade ice cream is firmer than store bought ice cream because you are not adding in preservatives and other stabilizers to keep it soft. That being said there are a few strategies that can help. 1. If this is for adults only, you can add a tbsp of alcohol such as vodka as it does not freeze. 2. You can sub more cream into your recipe by doing 4 cups cream and only 1/2 milk, or all cream for that matter as fat does not freeze as firm. 3. You will have better results by using the Maple Syrup instead of the cane sugar. 

With this basic vanilla recipe, you can really make whatever ice cream you would like! Add 1 1/2 cups of pureed organic strawberries for some strawberry ice cream or a cup of organic peanut butter and 1/2 cup of organic cocoa powder for your own version of Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream! Just be sure to never put more than 7.5 cups of ingredients in this machine for any one batch.

 

lemonadebanner

lemonadebanner
I have to bet that most of you have either stood at your very own Lemonade Stand as a child, or have helped your child(ren) on their first business venture! Lemonade is so easy to make and has been a summer favorite for decades. Below you will find a recipe that will yield a half gallon of All-Natural Simple and Sweet Lemonade made with no preservatives or processed sugars!

What you Need

  • 7 cups of Filtered Water
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed Lemon juice from Organic Lemons (approx. 6-8 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup of Raw Honey OR 1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/8 tsp of Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp of Cayenne Pepper (optional for a spiced lemonade)
  • a small Citrus Juicer [I have this one]

Directions

1. Juice you lemons and mix with water
2. Add honey and salt
3. Stir and chill
4. Enjoy!

 

 

LemonadeSmall

salsa copy

salsa copyOne of my favorite summer snacks is chips and salsa. It’s an easy appetizer when guests are over, a satisfying mid-afternoon snack and a great addition to any BBQ. This recipe yields an amazing fresh summer salsa that beats out any store bought brand.  It is easy to make, and easy to eat!

How to make the Perfect Summer Salsa

Ingredients

3 cups tomatoes – diced
½ cup green pepper – chopped
½ cup red pepper – chopped
½ cup red onion – chopped
¼ cup jalepenos (seeded and chopped)
¼ cup hot red pepper chopped or 1/8 cup cayenne pepper (Optional for heat)

2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
¼ cup cilantro chopped (or dried)

Directions

1. Dice and chop all vegetables and fresh herbs to your preferred size.
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients; adding the red wine vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice last. The more you stir, the juicier the salsa you will produce.
3. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator before serving.

berrypunch

berrypunch

This slushie is a perfect drink for a hot summers day, especially when berries are in season where you live! It can also be used as a mixer with alcohol for a [healthier] mixed drink option!

Ingredients:

– 2 cups of mixed berries [your choice! My favorite is mixing blueberries and blackberries when they are in season]
– 1 cup water or coconut water
– 2 tbsp lemon juice [half a lemon]
– a handful of ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Mix the berries and [coconut] water in a blender.
    2. Add fresh squeezed lemon juice. Continue to blend.
    3. Add a few ice cubes and blend until mixture turns into a “slushie”.
    4. Enjoy!
vegetables

organic-vs-natural
While more and more people are taking an interest in choosing healthier options, food labeling has become a source of confusion.  In order to keep up with a fairly recent consumer demand of Real Food, many companies are marketing their products as “all-natural”, when it simply isn’t the case. There is a big difference between food that is certified organic and food product that is labeled natural.

So What do They Mean?

Organic: Foods that have been Certified Organic meet U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations and government standards which oversee the way in which the food has been grown, harvested and processed. These strict guidelines ensure that the foods are grown without the use of toxic synthetic pesticides and herbicides, genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. Read more here. 

Natural: There are no rules or regulations to label a food product as Natural. The product could contain processed ingredients, additives and preservatives, or it could contain none of these.

So why choose Organic?
With organic farming, the farmer is responsible for nurturing the soils in order to produce crops of high nutritional density. When you eat Organic Food, you are eating food that does not contain the harmful additives that are used in conventional food production. Organic foods also contains higher levels of antioxidants, which are commonly known to help protect your cells against free-radicals, which in turn help you stay healthy and fight off disease.  The difference eating organically can make on one’s life is drastic. Research is showing that children put on organic diets have dramatically reduced pesticide levels in their bodies. Certain pesticides have been identified as potential carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and have been associated with learning and developmental delays in children.

When to choose Organic?
In my perfect world, all food would be organic, or at the very least more accessible. Unfortunately this is just not the case. With the current food system, conventional food factories are making huge profits, while small organic farms are struggling to stay afloat. If you are not able to eat 100% organic, there are definitely certain produce to ensure making the investment. Each year, the nonprofit advocacy organization, Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of the twelve most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables on the market, called the Dirty Dozen.

Eating foods that have been farmed sustainably can definitely get costly if your food budget was based on purchasing food product and conventional produce. My suggestion is to do the best you can. At first, focus on purchasing the Dirty Dozen items organically, and source local when possible! Keep following the blog for tips and tricks on how to eat real food on a real budget.

Protect Skin From Chlorine1

Protect Skin From Chlorine

While I would much rather swim in a natural lake or the sea for that matter, I rarely turn down the opportunity to jump in a pool, especially on a hot summer day! Even though most pools are overloaded with chlorine and chemicals, I love to swim and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. That being said, I am very aware of the dangers associated with chlorine absorption and ensure to minimize my exposure each time I swim in chlorinated water.

I am also looking to begin Mommy & Me swim classes with my son in a few months and I will be following the steps below for my son before and after each class.

Why Chlorine?
Chlorine is applied to water in swimming pools to reduce bacteria buildup and to protect swimmers. DBPs, Disinfection byproducts, are formed when the chlorine found in a pool reacts with organic matter such as your skin and hair. These byproducts can have even worse ramifications that the chlorine itself.

Studies have shown a variety of health risks associated with chlorinated pools. Chlorine DBPs can cause weakening of your immune system, disruptions to your central nervous system and damaging effects to your cardiovascular system. These byproducts have also been connected with unhealthy functioning of your renal system, harmful impacts to your respiratory system, increased bladder cancer and more.
New research is also showing that children who swim in chlorinated water regularly have a higher chance of developing asthma and/or allergies.

While there are many things that I have and work to eliminate from my life, such as processed foods and refined sugars, I still have to be realistic and live in modern society. So, knowing that I will end up in a chlorinated pool at least a handful of times each summer, here are some great tips to help protect yourself from Chlorine DBPs.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

  1. Rinse Before and After: Dry skin and hair are more absorbent than wet. Rinse with non-chlorinated water prior to swimming to lessen the amount of the element that can be absorbed. Rinse off when you are done to remove the chlorinated water left on your skin.
  2. Coconut Oil Protection: Apply a thin layer of oil to your skin (and hair) before swimming. This layer will provide a barrier between the chlorine and your skin, decreasing your exposure and the amount of chlorine that will be absorbed. I use this.
  3. Swim Cap: Wear a bathing cap to completely block the chlorinated waters access to your hair and scalp.
  4. After Swim Soak: To ease potential itchiness and exposure after you are done swimming, sit in a warm bath. For adults, an after bath herbal soak will boost your natural defenses. Learn how to make your own Herbal Bath Bags here.

 

 

herbalbathbags

herbalbathbags

You have probably heard of the health benefits of drinking herbal teas, but did you know the many benefits of soaking in an herbal ‘tea’ bath? In a warm bath, your pores open and allow your body to absorb the water that you bathe in. This fact alone makes a bath a great opportunity to infuse your body with the amazing properties found in herbs and essential oils.

The great thing about herbal bath bags is that you can customize them to fit your needs. You can create a bag that moisturizes your skin, eases muscle aches, exfoliates, soothes nerves or even calms your body. Here is a basic recipe which is great when making these as gifts, but feel free to experiment using the example ingredients below!

Herbal Bath Bag

Makes 1 Bath Bag
– Organic Fine Cotton or Muslin drawstring bag/ Or two 7″x7″ Cheesecloth Squares
– 1/2 cup of fine-ground oats
– 6 tbsp of dried green tea leaves
– 6 tbsp of dried rosemary
– 1 tbsp of dried rose petals
– 20 drops of lavender essential oil
– 10 drops of chamomile essential oil

Directions

  1. Place all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix well. Slowly add drops of essential oils, mixing after every 10 drops.
  2. Spoon mixture into the drawstring bag.
  3. Store bath bag in an air tight container, in a dark and cool place for at least 12 hours.
  4. To use, hang the bath bag from the tap and allow the hot water to run through it as you fill your bath. You can then allow the bag to float in the bath. Soak for 20-30 minutes.
  5. These bags can be reused multiple times. As with tea, the bath won’t be as ‘strong’ the second, third or fourth time you use the bag.

Want to experiment?
Here are a few ideas of ingredients you can use! A good rule of thumb is to keep your Herbal Bath Bag at around 1 1/2 cups of dry ingredients to 20 drops of essential oils.

Dry Ingredients:

  • Fine-Ground Oats: ease itchy skin
  • Green-Tea: soothes skin
  • Dried Rosemary: acts as a toner
  • Chopped Orange Rind: speeds detoxification
  • Chopped Lemon Rind: relieves headaches, removes dead skin
  • Powdered Dried Ginger: eases sore throats and colds
  • Dried Lavender: promotes new skin growth; calming
  • Powdered Arrowroot: cooling, and eases the stomach
  • Rose Petals: moisturizes, calming

Essential Oils:

  • Lavender Essential Oil: promotes new skin growth, calming
  • Rose Essential Oil: moisturizes, calming
  • Spearmint Essential Oil: itch relief
  • Peppermint Essential Oil: decreases congestion
  • Frankincense Essential Oil: smooths wrinkles
  • Orange Essential Oil: speeds detoxification
  • Ylang Ylang Essential Oi: balances hormones
  • **lavender and tea tree oil are the only essential oils that do not have to be diluted in a carrier oil before application. With that said, ensure that you mix the oils well with the dry ingredients and do not simply drop the oils directly in your bath.**