Category Archives: DIY

Rose Hip Seed Oil: Benefits

This natural oil helps fight fine lines and wrinkles while moisturizing. I use it daily using a roll-on applicator. No before and after pictures here, but I believe it’s doing the job. Rose hip seed oil “contains transretinoic acid, a derivative of vitamin A that is also known as tretinoin.” according to Livestrong.com.

rose hip oil Rosehip Seed oil also fights signs of aging with antioxidants. It also helps the skin heal and prevents scaring.

When it comes to choosing between the latest and greatest skin reviving serum being pushed at the mall for $300, or a five dollar bottle of rose hip seed oil, guess where my money is going… to Amazon!

While I was reading up on Rose Hip Oil for this post, I came across this recipe for a natural toner. So I’m off to find some rose water and try this out.

Rose Water & Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

What you need:

  • Pure, undiluted rose water, like Cortas
  • Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, like Bragg’s ACV

Use 3 parts rose water to 1 part ACV. Enjoy!

My Last Cup of Milk

I don’t know when it happened. It may have been a few months ago, or maybe it’s even been a couple years. Obviously the impact hasn’t been that life changing for me. I’m talking about the last cup of milk that I drank. This is surprising considering that only a few years before, when I was pregnant and breast feeding, I was drinking up to two gallons each week, just me. It slowly tapered off. First I drank less as the kids drank more. Then I tried buying organic milk for awhile. Since that is quadruple the cost, we drank even less. Then the pediatrician suggested we try cutting out dairy when my youngest son was diagnosed with asthma. He said it in a kind of shruggy-far-out-suggestion-long-shot type of way it seemed to me. Kind of like… “You could try moving to Zimbabwe for a year and see if that helps”. That’s how it sounded when he said: “You could try cutting dairy out of your diet.” It sounded outlandish and impossible and unpromising. So we just cut back on milk a little more. My kids drink water with meals. It’s been this way for a while. I have coffee with breakfast, wine with dinner, smoothies for breakfast or lunch, and lots and lots of water.

Gallons of Milk
Courtesy of www.bluewaikiki.com

Basically, the only time milk has been getting used in our home the last year or so is to add to breakfast cereal and coffee, pancake mix and French toast. So when I bought a carton of Almond milk a couple weeks ago and poured it in my kid’s cereal, they didn’t say a word. I mentioned it after breakfast and there was no riot. They all tried drinking a glass of the new found stuff. 2 kids liked, one kid didn’t, but that’s the one that didn’t like milk anyway. I won’t guzzle it like I used to guzzle milk, but it’s a pretty good flavor. I get the original unsweetened kind. Unfortunately 2 of the 3 almond milk labels I’ve read had quite a few ingredients that looked preservative-y. I haven’t gone so far as to memorize all the ingredients I’m supposed to stay away from these days. But the “Silk” brand seems to be the healthiest I’ve found so far.

Apparently it’s not hard to make the stuff at home. Here is a recipe:

Rich and Creamy Homemade Almond Milk from The Nourishing Gourmet

2 cups of almonds
Water to cover
salt, optional
4 cups of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
Sweetener of choice, optional

1) Place almonds in a bowl and cover with warm water. Add a few dashes of salt, optional. (Soaking nuts and seeds in salted water is a traditional practice). Soak at room temperature for about 8 hours. Drain the almonds and rinse well.
2) Place the almonds with 4 cups of water in a blender. If you have a smaller sized blender like me, you may need to do this in two batches. Blend for about 1 minutes, or until the almonds are crushed well. Strain using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, squeeze well to remove all of the milk.
3) Add sweetener of choice (such as stevia, honey, or maple syrup) to taste (optional) and vanilla (optional). Keep refrigerated and shake before using.

Tips:
You can cut the almonds in half for less rich almond milk (cheaper too).
You can also make a variety of baked goods from the nut grounds leftover. Look at Elana’s nut crackers for an example.

So, why no more milk? Reading up on the subject, one begins to see this is hot topic. People become passionate about it. I’m just trying to make healthier choices for my family, a little more each day. Here is what I’ve found:

According to the Harvard Medical School “When most people in the United States think of calcium, they immediately think of milk. But should this be so? Milk is actually only one of many sources of calcium—dark leafy green vegetables and some types of legumes are among the other sources—and there are some important reasons why milk may not be the best source for everyone.”

These reasons include:
lactose intolerance
high cholesterol
-saturated fat
-possible increase in risk of ovarian cancer. “Women with high intakes of lactose—equivalent to that found in 3 cups of milk per day—had a modestly higher risk of ovarian cancer, compared to women with the lowest lactose intakes”. This is possibly due to modern industrial milk production practices.
-Probable increased risk of of prostate cancer

Further reading on this subject revealed more about dairy industry practices. Most milk is produced on large dairy farms which are more like factories. Cows are given hormones to boost production, impregnated to boost production, fed antibiotics for this like mastitis. 55% of the antibiotics in the U.S. are fed to livestock. The average dairy cow produces 120 pounds of waste each day. That’s a lot of yucky stuff soaking into the water supply- nitrogen, methane.

It’s even been suggested that cow’s milk may increase your risk of osteoporosis! “Here’s how it happens. Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body pH which in turn triggers a biological correction. You see, calcium is an excellent acid neutralizer and the biggest storage of calcium in the body is – you guessed it… in the bones. So the very same calcium that our bones need to stay strong is utilized to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones, it leaves the body via the urine, so that the surprising net result after this is an actual calcium deficit.” According to Vivien Goldschmidt at saveourbones.com . Perhaps this is why the rate of osteoporosis is much lower or non-existent in countries that do not consume much in the way of dairy products.

Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C., states that:

“The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.”

Other good sources of Calcium include dark leafy greens like kale, collards, dried beans and legumes as well as broccoli. This makes sense of course. Cows don’t drink milk to get calcium for all of their strong bones. They eat greens.

Harvard’s updated “Healthy Plate” may be used instead of the USDA’s food pyramid. Dairy is very limited on it. It seems the Dairy Council was not consulted on this.

Healthy Plate

Further reading:
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2011/12/15/the-dairy-myth-milk-does-a-body-good/

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/calcium-and-milk/

Milk Letter

Asthma and Milk

Face Wash DIY

I’ve been using honey to wash my face in the mornings for about 4 weeks now. I can’t use it in the evenings because it doesn’t do much for removing make-up. But it’s great for your skin. I let it soak in for a few minutes before rinsing it off in the shower. My face is clearer than it’s been with my regular face wash. I’m managing without my prescription acne medicine. I’ve been on this for the past couple years.

Earlier this week I made a face wash that I could use at night.

Face Wash Recipe:

3 Tbs Honey
½ cup vegetable glycerine
2 Tbs liquid castile soap. ( I used almond flavor)

I love how it smells (and tastes). I’ve used it for two nights now and my face feels very clean and fresh after washing. Both mornings, I’ve woken up with tiny white heads. I’ll keep trying this for a couple more weeks to see if my skin calms down and likes it. I always break out a little more when switching to something new. It’s not bad, so I’ll give it more time. Also, after the first night I used it, I also applied my new home made moisturizer which I should not have done. Patience is key when switching out all of my personal care products. If I can do one at a time, then I’ll know what the culprit is if I start to have unwanted reactions. I’ll have to hold off a little longer on using my new moisturizer. It’s hard because I’m excited to see how it works.

The moisturizer recipe:

4 Tbs Pure Aloe Vera
1 tsp vegetable Glycerin
6 drops Jojoba oil
¼ cup sweet Almond oil

I cut this recipe in half because it’s an experiment. Also, it’s a little greasy, probably because I added way more than 6 drops of Jojoba oil. I didn’t have a dropper, so I poured it.

How to Sprout Lentils

Sprout your own sprouts!

These are so yummy and delicious. You won’t believe how easy it is to do. Mung Bean Sprouts

When I’d seen “sprouts” on a deli sandwich or sold at the grocery store, I think they’ve always been alfalfa sprouts. I never liked these much. But sprouts are super healthy, packed with way more vitamins and nutrients than just eating the thing un-sprouted…like lentil soup, whole wheat grain vs. sprouted wheat, etc.

Healthy enzyme, proteins, fiber, vitamin and essential fatty acid content increase dramatically during the sprouting process which takes a couple days on your counter top. Get a super boost of vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E.
As I type this, I’m enjoying a small bowl of mung bean sprouts with Italian dressing. It’s a fantastic healthy snack. Ready to learn how?

Red Lentil Sprouts1. Begin with a mason jar and the outer ring of the lid so the top can stay open.
2. Fill jar up less than 25% with your little red lentils, or whatever your grain/bean of choice is. They will nearly triple in size.
3. Fill the entire jar with water.  Cut out a square of cheesecloth and cover the top of the jar, screwing the lid ring over it to hold it in place. (Don’t put an airtight lid on.)
4. Allow beans to soak for 12 hours, (overnight) then…
5. Drain water & rinse thoroughly!  When rinsing, fill the jar, swirl water around beans vigorously and several times before draining. Drain thoroughly. Do all this with the cheesecloth still covering the top so water drains out and beans stay in.
6. Leave drained bean on the counter out of direct sunlight and repeat rinsing process 2-3 times daily.
7. When sprouts are desired length, spread them on a paper towel to dry, then refrigerate in airtight container.

Tah Dah!!

When you’re done, you can eat them plain, add them to a salad or use them however your would use unsprouted lentils. You’ll just get way more good, healthy stuff this time.

Read more here

Vegetable Garden- Seed Catalog

I just got 10 new packets of seeds in the mail. It’s more exciting than it sounds. There is so much potential in those little envelopes, unknown flavors or healthy veggies that I’ve never tasted. There is such a deep sense of accomplishment and reward plucking home grown veggies from my garden and tasting how much more flavorful, fresh and vitamin packed these home grown varieties are compared with what can be purchased at the store.Planting Seeds

I first started growing vegetables 11 years ago. I started with seeds and they almost all died. I didn’t know anything about what I was doing. So for my next attempt, I bought the seedlings and that worked out fairly well. Apparently you have to pay attention to things like when certain vegetables can grow and where in the world, what kind of soil they do well in, etc.

Now that I have more experience under my belt, I’ve started growing more veggies from seed. Part of the reason it’s so exciting is because I’m not just getting the hybrid packets from my local big box store. I pour over the seed catalog from my favorite heirloom seed company. There are dozens and dozens of varieties to choose from all with helpful descriptions about flavor, yield, the history of the particular kind of tomato or bean or melon. They come from all over the world. These seeds are alive and have a history all their own. I think this year I’ll make an attempt at saving my own. You can do that with these seeds. You’re not allowed to save many seeds these days. Large corporations are suing farmers for saving their seeds after they’ve been contaminated by their GMO products. The world is going crazy. I’ll try to stay sane in my little backyard garden and grow what I can to eat.

Have you ever tasted the difference between a home grown cucumber or tomato compared to the grocery store? I just didn’t think I liked them until I grew my own. After that, I was hooked.

For my veggie patch, I use something called the “Square Foot Gardening” method. I have four 4×8 raised beds with special square foot garden soil. This consists of one third each of peat moss, vermiculite & compost. There is no dirt in it. The soil is nutrient rich, light and airy and it retains moisture well. Weeds are a snap to pull out and there aren’t any besides what blows in from other parts of the yard. There are no rows, just 1 foot squares with vegetables packed in. A guy named Mel Bartholomew, a retired engineer, developed a different way of growing veggies which requires less seeds, less weeding and more vegetables in a smaller area. It works great for me. I’m excited to get started on this year’s planting.

I buy my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company at rareseeds.com.

Honey Face Wash

I looked up home-made cleansers on Pinterest and found a link to a blog which linked to another blog called “Crunchy Betty”. There was a challenge given to wash your face with honey. Only honey. Silly. I tried it. I like it. I think my skin might like it too. We’ll go with it for a few weeks.Honey Face Wash
Instead of using my store bought face wash and toner, I’m opting for honey and treating my acne with tea tree oil.
I love honey anyway. I could do without the smell of tea tree oil though. I’m hoping my acne goes away with the reduction in harmful chemicals in my home and in my beauty routine.

Recipe: Use 1 tsp+ of raw, unfiltered honey. Rub all over face and leave on for 5-10 minutes for maximum benefit. Rinse with water.