Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Crock Of....

My Bella, courtesy of Target! 


My crock pot is full of vegetables! Yum. So here is the scoop: I use broth in nearly everything. For example, who doesn't like broth in their green beans? Mashed potatoes? Carrots? Barley soup? Broth just makes things taste better. For years I purchased the organic brands of broths at a hefty $2-$4 a pop, and then I began reading about  making my own broth. Guys, it is easy peasy; especially vegetable broth. Another day I will tackle chicken and/or turkey broth, but for now, I will get you on your way to making the simplest broth there is - homemade vegetable broth.

I use lots of fresh vegetables. If you don't it is past time you started. The benefits of eating local, fresh foods are limitless. Our local produce stand offers a wonderful, seasonal variety of fresh produce and even butter and grass fed cow meat from late Spring through late Fall. Also, buying local costs us less than shopping at the grocery store! Okay, enough of my "eat seasonal, eat local" soapbox! You get the picture.

So, we eat lots of fresh veggies. Meal planning has made me a much more organized cook. Currently, I have enough chopped onion, multi-colored peppers, carrots, radishes, jalapenos, and cucumbers to feed our family for a week. Each Sunday or Monday I spend about 20 minutes prepping lots of fresh veggies in various glass containers for our meals that week. I used to throw away all of the parts I chopped off; you know, the ends of the onions and peppers, the peelings of the carrots and radishes...not anymore! I store them in a bag in my freezer until I have enough for broth! Personally, I get such a special joy out of this endeavor - I am making my family a nutritious kitchen staple pretty much for free!

The details:
Save your vegetable ends, peelings, etc. until you have a gallon bag filled. Pour them into your crock pot. Filll it up with water. Add some garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer on low setting for 12-24 hours. Allow to cool. Strain out veggies (what is left of them) and pour your broth into jars (I reuse glass jars). You can store this broth for a week in your fridge or freeze it (be sure to leave room for expansion in your jars if you freeze them).

That is all. Simple. Frugal. Voila!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mass Production

A couple of my new mommy friends have shared their milk production issues with me. Not sure how I (new mommy of a 3 month old) became the all-things-natural-baby-natural-mommy expert, but I am trying to fill the role adeptly. Among a plethora of texts and (while everyone's baby is napping) phone calls from four different mommy friends, I have figured out a couple things about milk supply.

  1. Water makes milk. Not sure about the science behind this; however, every mommy I have spoken to sees a difference when they up their water (not juice, milk, gatorade, etc.) intake. My suggestion: drink your weight in ounces of water daily. Example: I weigh 186 lbs so I drink 186 oz of water daily.
  2. Oatmeal is a nursing mom's breakfast friend. Just trust me. Five days a week.
  3. Fenugreek makes you smell like a bottle of Aunt Jemima's maple syrup, and your milk runneth over!
  4. Red Raspberry Leaf tea is great for pregnancy and beyond!
  5. Mother's Milk Tea is great to drink with your morning oatmeal.
  6. Pumping is not a good indication of your milk production. Your baby is the most efficient at removing milk; a pump can only remove milk using suction whilst your baby uses suction and compression. So, DON'T STRESS IF YOU CAN'T PUMP A WHOLE LOT OF MILK EACH TIME!
  7. Lactation cookies don't work on husbands; as awesome as that would be (come on, I know I am not the only one who wishes the husband could keep your nursling for more than the 1-3 hours in between a feeding).
There you have it, all of my tricks and knowledge about increasing/maintaining milk supply. Now I will share a couple of my favorite lactation cookie recipes (I have tried 5 different recipes, these worked the best). Starred ingredients are considered helpful fo milk supply. 

Pumpkin Spice Lactation Cookies

Ingredients:
*1/4 cup steel cut oats
  1 cup water
  3/4 cup butter
  1 cup organic brown sugar, packed

 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  1 egg
  1 tsp. pure vanilla
  2.5 cups unbleached flour
*1 tsp. baking soda
  1 tsp. salt
  1 T cinnamon
  1 T pumpkin pie spice
*4 T brewer’s yeast (omit if you don’t want lactation cookies)
*3 T chia seeds
*3 T ground flax seed

After about 10 minutes in the oven!
In a small pot, bring oats and water to a boil. Reduce to simmer until soft. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Blend butter and sugar. Add egg, vanilla, and pumpkin, beating until smooth. In a separate bowl, blend together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, brewer’s yeast, chia seeds, and ground flax seed. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, fold in steel cut oats.
Spoon cookie dough onto greased cookie sheets and bake 15-18 minutes. Cookies are done when the tops are slightly browned. 

Flourless Lactation Cookies

 Ingredients:
 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
*1 cup real peanut/cashew butter –  (blend peanuts,/cashews in food processor) 
 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
*1 T grade B Maple syrup 
2 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
*3 T Brewer’s yeast
*1 cup flax seed meal 
*3 1/2 cups steel cut oats
*2 t baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or toffee, butterscotch etc.)
*1 cup almond slivers


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until thoroughly mixed. Add eggs and beat mixture. Stir in vanilla and maple syrup. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Scoop cookies onto cookie sheet. Press flat on cookie sheet before baking. They are kind of sticky and a little hard to shape but it is worth it in the end. Bake 15-18 minutes. The cookies should be chewy and soft, not crunchy. 

Let me know if you try any of these, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Also, if you omit the Brewer's yeast they are just tasty cookies!




        

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

And the winner is.........

a Rafflecopter giveaway


CONGRATULATIONS! Please respond to my email for your shipping information within 24 hours! Thanks to all who participated. I hope you will continue reading.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Double Dose of Whipped Cream

If you have dry skin or a sweet tooth, this post is for you (trying to vary my audience)! Alright, this is my last post before the giveaway, so go and get your entry in today! I will be announcing the winner at some point on Tuesday. Now, let's get busy learning about whipped cream.

As I mentioned in previous posts, all of my posts until the giveaway is over are dedicated to some of the various ways we use coconut oil in our home. One of my favorite ways to use coconut oil is as a moisturizer. It is an oil, but it soaks into the skin so nicely. Also, even if you choose not to add any fragrance, a good coconut oil will leave a light coconut smell on your skin. It doesn't get any better than that! Well, actually, it does! Coconut oil can be whipped into a beautiful and decadent body butter with just the tiniest bit of work. Here is how I do it:


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
That is all! No, I am not kidding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here is how to whip it up:
Get out your blender (or if you have a kitchen aid mixer you can use it) and blend on the "whipped" setting for about seven minutes, Scoop out your delightful concoction and store in a glass jar. Now you have body butter that is as natural and simple as it can get! 

Once you have made this body butter, you may want to try a couple of these (or your own) variations.
Chocolate Lover's
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 3-4 drops vanilla essential oil
  • 2-3 drops Cacao Absolute (Chocolate Essential Oil)
  • 1/2 tsp. corn starch (helps the coconut oil absorb into your skin)
Add any essential oil, a couple of my favorites are:
  • 5 drops grapefruit 
  • 3 drops vanilla and 2 drops lavender 
  • 5 drops vanilla
  • 2 drops clove, 2 drops vanilla, 2 drops cinnamon
I hope you enjoy mixing up your body butter as much as I do! They make wonderful gifts, too!

Now, for my friends with a sweet tooth - how about homemade coconut oil/milk whipped cream? Talk about decadent.....I eat this stuff by the spoonful! By the way, this is a gluten free, dairy free, vegan recipe, so all can indulge!



Ingredients:

  • Coconut cream from 1 can of (organic) coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil (I add this because of the health benefits of coconut oil, I consume at least 3 Tablespoons of coconut oil daily)
Optional:
  • 1/2 teaspoon stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the coconut cream off the top (save the coconut water to drink instead of gatorade - it is loaded with electrolytes) Toss all ingredients in your mixer and mix until whipped peaks begin to form! Try not to eat it all before your black bean brownies are done! Ha, another day my friends, another day!





Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Pits

As promised, I will continue to share ways that I use coconut oil until the giveaway is over on Monday. So let's talk about our pits! Yes, those (hopefully not) smelly crevices under each arm. Mine are currently on year two without conventional deodorant. Let me explain.

Conventional deodorant contains a long list of nasty chemicals

  •  Aluminum Chlorohydrate
  • Aluminum Zirconium 
  • Tetrachlorohydrex Gly
  •  Parabens [methyl, ethyl, propyl, benzyl, buytl]
  • Tricoslan
  • Silica
  • Steareth
  • Artificial Colors
You can read more about each of these chemicals and exactly which brands have which chemicals here. You may be surprised when you find your favorite "natural".deodorant on the list of offenders. 

Since many of these chemicals are known carcinogens, I figure I better steer clear of them, My solution is a very simple, and once again, frugal homemade alternative. 

Ingredients:
  • Baking Soda
  • Cornstarch or arrowroot powder 
  • Coconut Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil (or other essential oil - lavender and tea tree oil are used most often due to their antibacterial properties)

Mix equal parts Baking Soda and cornstarch/arrowroot powder in your chosen container (I use an upcycled glass jelly jar) and shake well. Melt coconut oil and mix into you powder. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil. The consistency you want is a paste, not runny. After it sits a couple days it may become more solid if your home is cold. That is fine too. Use a small (pea sized) amount under each arm daily.

This concoction has served me well for nearly three years! I even can get away with not using any for a day or two if I am staying home and not working real hard. Can you say that about your deodorant?
Here is a little extra reading for those of you who want more details:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

About My Pearly Whites

If you haven't noticed, we are in the middle of a giveaway! If you have not entered, go do it. Now.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, coconut oil has many different uses. In our home, it can be found in the bathroom, kitchen, nursery, medicine cabinet, coffee cup, and my purse. Until the giveaway is over, each post will be dedicated to one of the various ways I use coconut oil. 

So....about my pearly whites. Nearly a year ago I came across some articles that indicated glycerin is not so great for teeth. As I continued to read, I also learned that glycerin was even in my "healthy", "natural" toothpaste. Why avoid glycerin? Well, apparently, our teeth re-mineralize each night while we sleep. Awesome  Kudos. Great job, teeth! All is well and good until glycerin coats your teeth. Glycerin's coating does serve a well meaning purpose: plaque prevention. Slippery teeth make it a challenge for plaque to  adhere to. Here's the downside: glycerin coats our teeth so well that it takes twenty plus brushes without a glycerin based paste for all of the coating to finally brush away! Personally, I don't want anything that difficult to remove in my mouth. 

So here is my solution - homemade toothpaste. Simple. Easy. Frugal. Here is my recipe.

Ingredients:                                       
  • Baking Soda 
  • Coconut Oil                                                       
  • Peroxide
  • Oil of you choice

Mix equal parts baking soda and coconut oil (I usually do 3 Tbsp each, which lasts a long time for me). Soften (not liquefy) the coconut oil in the microwave for about 10 secs. Then add 1/4 Tbsp peroxide to the coconut oil and blend for 15 seconds in baby bullet (blender or food processor will work too).  Add the baking soda and blend until there is a pasty consistency. Finally, add 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil (peppermint orange works great for this, I do 15 peppermint and 10 orange, vanilla mint is nice, and so is clove). I store mine in a glass jar by the sink and apply it to my toothbrush with a finger.
*note: some people add a sweetener to their paste (e.g. stevia, xylitol); I have found I do not need it, but if you want to, it cannot not hurt.

Voila! Now you made your very own, glycerin free, toothpaste! 

And then there is oil pulling.....
Yes. Oil. Pulling. Healthy, kind of gross, ayurvedic, ancient, interesting, and weird all rolled into a quasi-mouthwash. How's that for a tongue twister? I oil pull nearly every day. What is it? Simply put, it is using an oil as mouthwash for ten to twenty minutes daily. Many eastern cultures have done this for centuries with very little other oral healthcare. Some of the benefits of oil pulling include: whiter teeth, less plaque build-up, reduced tooth sensitivity, toxin elimination, and thyroid support.

Right now, I oil pull with coconut oil; in the past, I have used sesame and olive oil as well. Sesame oil is the most traditionally used oil for oil pulling, however, it is very costly and has a strong flavor that made it quite challenging to keep in my mouth for twenty minutes. Since we keep lots of coconut oil around and I enjoy the taste, I use it. 

Alright, step by step.
  1. Get a heaping spoonful of coconut oil (if using a liquid oil use two spoonfuls)
  2. Put it in your mouth.
  3. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
  4. Swish.
  5. Swish.
  6. Swish.
  7. Oh, and don't try to give your significant other instructions on how to finish dinner while holding the oil in your mouth (or you might laugh and spew it all over the place).
  8. When your timer goes off, spit out your oil and brush your teeth.
It really is that simple.

Here's some reading you may choose to peruse on behalf of your pearly whites.

Monday, April 1, 2013

As Promised - A Giveaway!





I am crazy excited about this - I get to host a giveaway! So, what, exactly, am I giving away? Read on, my friends: you could win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!


Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.
Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Okay, so now you know what I am giving away....but why? Well, first of all, let me just say, I LOVE COCONUT OIL. Before contacting this company for a free sample to review, I was purchasing organic, refined coconut at my local grocery store. It was just under ten dollars for 14.5 ounces. I was fairly pleased with it...until I realized what refining does to the oil. The nutrients in refined coconut oils are significantly depreciated compared to unrefined coconut oil. Read up on refined/unrefined coconut oils and more about the various benefits of using coconut oil here.

As for me, I use coconut oil in so many different ways. Here are a few: oil pulling, diaper cream, homemade lotion, conditioner, as a sweetener, cooking oil, toothpaste, deodorant, and more! So how does Tropical Traditions (TT) Coconut oil compare to my old refined version?

Here are the primary differences I noted.

  1. TT coconut oil has a very mild coconut flavor; the refined oil tasted gross.
  2. TT coconut oil lasted longer on my skin when used as a moisturizer.
  3. TT coconut comes in organic, unrefined, and refined varieties.
  4. TT coconut oil goes on special often and can be purchased BOGO.

I was very pleased with my sample and purchased 2 more quarts during their recent BOGO sale. I also purchased their Coconut Cream concentrate which has been delicious as a creamer in  my coffee and tea. If you would like to try their product, go ahead and enter my giveaway below!

Make sure you sign up for the Tropical Traditions newsletter - this is the only MANDATORY entry in order to win a free sample of their coconut oil.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.