All Natural Snacks and Drinks

The newest New Hope Blogger Box had some great options for gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, health-minded people. Whether you are Paleo or a prefer a house of carbs (like I do), there’s something here to suit your snacking needs.

Oats are one of those things that cause confusion in the gluten-free world. There are two issues to consider: 1.Oats do not have gluten in them, but they do have a protein that is similar to gluten and it can cause problems for those who are both gluten-intolerant or celiac. 2. Oats are mostly processed on the same equipment as wheat and therefore there is a high likelihood of cross-contamination unless they are certified gluten-free. This makes granola off limits for many, especially those that follow a grain-free Paleo diet, or at least it did until now. The #NewHopeBloggerBox had this delicious sample in it from Grandy Oats, and it really is a fantastic substitute for oat-based granola. I’ve happily never had a problem with oats so I eat granola pretty much everyday, and this one tastes just like any other I’ve munched on lately.

If you are gluten-free and soy-free, finding a protein bar is nearly impossible. These Hi-Health bars are both, and some are vegan as well, using pea protein, while other flavors contain hormone-free whey. I probably should have used something other than a soy candle to prop up the bar since they are soy-free, but hey, it was handy.

Turmeric is all the rage these days, and with very good reason. It helps with inflammation, has adaptogenic properties, and is probably the most rigorously tested herb out there. Gaia makes taking your Turmeric easy and enjoyable with this golden milk powder. Just add it to warmed milk or milk alternative, and reap the benefits.

The literature with Gaia’s golden milk encourages the drinker to add one of their tinctures to the golden milk for extra health benefits. They suggest Ginger for digestive support, or Holy Basil for easing stress. Raw and Root puts extra herbal support right into their golden milk powder, with Ashwagandha, Gotu Kola, and others. (Gaia’s actually has Ashwagandha in it too. Turmeric has reigned supreme for some time now, but I think Ashwagandha’s star is rising if this box of samples is any indication.)

This is the second time Jackson’s Honest has been part of the New Hope Blogger Box so my kids were eager to dig into this bag. They have a heartbreaking story behind their mission based brand that has directly resulted in clean, organic, simple ingredient lists. This chip has only three ingredients: Organic Yellow Corn, Organic Coconut Oil, and Salt, and that’s clearly all a chip needs because these are delicious. Love to Jackson’s family.

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Speaking of clean ingredients, have you looked at your mayo jar lately? Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo is clean, soy-free, non-gmo, and made with cage free eggs. Real food.

Cascadian Farms has a new flavor of granola and it tastes like a lemon blueberry muffin. I’ve never had lemony granola before and was skeptical, but it actually really works. This granola is not made with certified gluten-free oats though, so if you are following a gluten-free diet then this won’t work for you. I tried it because I’ve been systematically working to get over my gluten-intolerance so I figured a little cross-contamination wouldn’t cause me harm, and it hasn’t.

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Have a great holiday weekend! Do something special and try something new.

New Supplements for Self Love

Happy Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s falls on ‘Wellness Wednesday’ this year, so this is a great day to think about showing yourself some love. The #NewHopeBloggerBox happens to be full of supplements this time around that can definitely improve your health and beauty, and even your breath! Valentine’s isn’t supposed to be only about self-love after all. So let’s start there~

At first I thought this package from Lively Up Your Breath was gum, but it is actually a capsule full of liquid that you break open in your mouth, then chew or discard the capsule. (I discarded mine.) It has powerful ingredients such as peppermint oil and menthol crystals, as well as chlorophyll to provide both instant and long-lasting results. They are free of refined sugar, artificial colors and flavors, gluten, aspartame, and no preservatives.

Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, but great skin never hurts. Neocell’s Super Ceramindes helps hydrate the skin from the inside out, which is helpful any season but especially in winter.

This is where self-love is important because if you are unhappy with the quality of your skin, especially when it comes to aging, there are different supplements out there that can offer help. Neocell also makes great collagen powders and supplements that I swear have kept my skin from getting the grey cast it always has by this time of year. I’ve been drinking a glass of the powder mixed in water first thing in the morning for a couple of months and it has helped my skin look alive in the dead of winter. It’s really just a matter of figuring out what works best for you, and no one is going to give you permission to take care of yourself, you just have to commit to doing it. (Trust me, I know it isn’t easy.)

That goes for weight issues too. If you have a problem with sugar cravings, you are certainly not alone, and you don’t have to fight them alone. Redd Remedies’ Crave Stop uses the herb Gymnema Sylvestra and the mineral Chromium along with other ingredients to help balance the blood sugar peaks and dips which helps control cravings.

CBD oil has been getting a lot of press lately for, well, just about everything. It seems to have an endless list of benefits from fighting inflammation, to balancing hormones, to reducing anxiety and much more. This one from CV Sciences is made with non-GMO ingredients, is gluten-free, and vegetarian.

Whether you are the type of person who has problems falling asleep or if you are the type that wakes up in the middle of the night to stare at the ceiling for hours on end, Utzy Naturals’ Utzzz’s Stay Asleep Natural Sleep Aid can help. This formula has great ingredients such as Ashwagandha, Chamomile, GABA, Calcium and Magnesium, and more, plus it does not have gluten, yeast, nor artificial colors or flavors. I’ve taken this already for a couple of nights in a row and it really has helped me fall asleep, and stay asleep through the night instead of waking up at 2:30 for one to two hours. I don’t feel any kind of residue upon waking like I have in the past with some other natural sleep aids, and in fact have awoken fairly bright and ready for the day. Well, ready for the walk to the coffeemaker anyway.

In the “Welcome to the Modern World” category, Source Naturals stays at the cutting age with their Screen Time Stamina, helping us collectively adapt to the age of technology. This may be a modern formula, but it’s chock full of time-tested traditional adaptogens, and plenty of other herbs, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to support brain and eye function as well as stamina. Gutenberg would be proud.

Speaking of adaptogens, Oregon’s Wild Harvest Ashwagandha is organic and is simply the herb in a vegetarian capsule with no fillers. Ashwagandha is a classic adaptogenic herb that is best known for increasing stamina by balancing energy levels, which includes helping with sleep. (It is in both Utzy’s sleep formula and in the Screen Time Stamina above.) Adaptogens are popular right now and it’s not surprising considering they help our bodies, minds, and emotions manage stress and adrenal fatigue, and are known to have a very low likelihood to causing harm.

Another herb with adaptogenic qualities is Turmeric, and it is also anti-inflammatory with high anti-oxident activity. Natural Factors has paired Turmeric with L-glutamine for a post-workout recovery powder. These two ingredients are also highly helpful for the digestive system and I’m excited to try it as part of my quest to completely heal my food intolerances.

May your heart be full and healthy on this Valentine’s day and every day. XOXOXO

 

Natural Support in a Classroom Setting

My friend suggested I write about what, if anything, a teacher could do in his or her classroom to help students learn. There are definitely things one can do in a classroom, but what exactly can be done has a lot to do with who and where you are teaching. This friend of mine is actually in her home country of South Africa right now but we lived in Prague together as English teachers many moons ago, so that got me thinking about the differences in cultural classrooms and also the differences in ages being taught. We taught adults in Prague but we both have experience with kids too, both as teachers and parents.

DB4A47C5-BB47-4296-ACC9-D268FC499839[1]One thing just about anyone can do is to bring in fresh plants. This is something parents or students themselves can actually take the initiative on to freshen up the air in a classroom and depending on the plant, actually have added benefits. There are certain plants that cleanse the space of specific toxins, and the fragrance of herbs and flowers can actually benefit the moods and brain functioning of people. One year when my two kids were still in elementary school, I gave their classroom teachers each a pot of Rosemary before the state testing began, thinking the teachers would already know that Rosemary is great for brains, benefiting focus, clarity, and memory.  The teachers were surprised to hear that Rosemary was traditionally used in such a way and I’m not really sure if they believed me or not, but the plants stayed in my boys’ classrooms for the rest of that year.

If you travel from classroom to classroom, then plants might not be practical. Luckily, essential oils are portable and can be used in a couple of different ways. Diffusing essential oils in the classroom can help promote positive mental and emotional health. There are different options when it comes to diffusing, including plug-in ones, light bulbA59AF0A5-9A2C-4D76-B61A-3D62814D9DC0[1] rings, ceramic discs, and candle fueled ceramics. Orange or Bergamot essential oils would be good uplifting choices for returning to school after a long break. When it might be necessary to keep a class calm, Lavender is the obvious choice. When taking a big test, nothing beats Rosemary essential oil for clarity, focus, and memory help. When going through a study guide, if you have any essential oil scenting the room, it will help to have that same scent in the room during the actual test. (Just as at home studying can be amplified with essential oils and then the brain triggered during the assessment with the same scent.) It’s important to switch up the essential oils if used in this way, so assigning certain subjects with certain essential oils can help the brain function best. Also, doing blends might be the best option of all so the scents will be truly unique to a certain class and its specific material, so that way students won’t automatically think of the pythagorean theorem every time they smell Cedarwood for the rest of their lives, or whatever scent has been married to whatever subject. It’s truly something to consider! The role scent plays in memory cannot be overstated, due to the construction of the brain, so making use of it is wise, but being thoughtful about it is kind.

Besides diffusing essential oils, making sprays can be another way to scent the room, and also to combat germs. Thieves oil is the classic germ buster, but many essential oils have anti-bacterial properties, and some are even anti-viral. Thyme is especially good for cold and flu time of year, and besides being antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral, it is antifungal too. You can use the spray you make not only as an air freshener, but also to wipe down desks and tabletops. You can also use sprays made from distilled water and essential oils as a body spray to help keep yourself or your student healthy. Just diffusing the essential oils into the air will help keep down the germs, and almost all the essential oils have some antiseptic properties so you can’t really choose badly in that respect. While more essential oils are antibacterial than antiviral, the following have both antibacterial and antiviral properties: Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon Eucalyptus, Garlic, Lavender, Onion, Oregano, Tea Tree, and Thyme. (Reference: Valerie Ann Wormwood’s The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.)

For more about what students and parents of students can do to combat anxiety and increase their study power, click the links, and here are two more posts on immune boosters for winter.

Although winter is an especially good time for bringing plants and essential oils into the classroom, students and teachers can benefit year round from a bit of nature in their shared space. Instead of gifting teachers apples, a potted plant or a bottle of essential oils might be the healthier option for all. Wishing you all the best in health and happiness~ do what it takes. You are worth it.

 

 

How to Make an Herbal Oil Part 2

Herbal oils are one thing that are not easy to find ready-made. They are instead extremely easy to make though, and once you have an oil ready, it can be made into massage or body oil, an all natural perfume, balm, salve, or butter. You can even just use it straight as a healing moisturizer and it makes a lovely gift. (Valentine’s day is just around the corner!) Adding some rose buds or petals back into a bottle of rose oil makes for an extra special gift presentation. If you missed the beginning of the process, you will find it here. This method is called the cold method and is very similar to making an herbal tincture.

How to Make an Herbal Tincture Part 2

This is the second video on how to make an herbal tincture. The first one showed the beginning of the process, and the one below shows the end. This is so easy to do yourself and I find the herbal tinctures I make myself to be much more potent and certainly fresher of course. You can also blend herbs together in the beginning of the process to make your own unique, custom blend, or blend your tinctures after they have been made. (Herbal extracts using only one herb at a time are called simples.) A tincture made with alcohol, kept out of heat and light, will be potent for about four to five years, while ones made with vegetable glycerine will keep for one to two years. The video below shows how easy it is to make your own medicine.

Thank You and Addressing the Survey

Just a quick note to say thank you to those of you who took the survey in my last post. The answers are anonymous so I can’t address you personally if you took it (because I don’t know who took it), which means I have to do it here. Two things come up in the survey that I wanted to talk to right away. The first is that someone mentioned learning more about growing and drying herbs. I’m not much of a grower myself with barely a raised bed of edibles each summer, but herbs are notoriously easy to grow. Of course, that depends on if you are growing what is native to your area or if you are trying to grow jungle plants in Alaska, but assuming you are growing somewhat native plants, most herbs are hearty, not too picky about soil, and are a good pick for kids because they generally don’t disappoint. As for drying, if you are in a hurry you can use a food dehydrator if you happen to have one, or your oven on it’s lowest setting (under 185 degrees) with the door cracked open. Those two techniques can dry herbs in a day. All you really need though is some sort of slatted drying rack, a cooling rack from your oven would do if the herbs don’t fall through, and a dry room with good ventilation. You want the herbs to not touch as much as possible, and flipping them over once a day or so is also a good idea. You can also tie small bundles together and hang them to dry which is space saver and less work once they are hanging. Either way will take from a few days to over a week, depending on what you are drying and the conditions of the room. You can dry herbs in the sun if you are just looking for a quick 1-2 day dry but still intend to use the plant as ‘fresh’. Hope that helps, but if not there are plenty of websites that go into detail about drying herbs so you aren’t alone and definitely can find what you need.

To those that indicated they would most like to learn about a particular disease and what would help it, I highly recommend starting with the book, Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch CNC. It’s a great resource as a starting place. It does not go too deeply into herbs, but it does give sound herbal recommendations after each disease/condition. An old edition was given to every employee when hired at the health food store I worked at over 20 years ago, and we kept the new editions behind the checkout counter to hand over to customers for when they came in looking for natural help for whatever ailed them. It’s a great resource and I’ve held onto mine all these years despite the fact the cover is gone and the pages are starting to fall out. Here’s a brief video to see what the book looks like:

Also KP Khalsa has some online videos about herbs for specific diseases/conditions so you might want to look into those as well. I love that people are taking their health into their own hands. We hear a lot about self-care lately and that means something different to everyone, but when we apply that notion to our health it means really addressing the imbalances that inevitably occur so they do not go into a disease condition. Sometimes this means getting a diagnosis from a doctor, other times it might mean just thinking about long term conditions, or parts of our bodies that seem most susceptible to disharmony, and then changing daily habits or supplementing accordingly. Be an authority on yourself. You’ll be your own best advocate and it’s the surest way to your best health possible.

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