Kombucha - a Probiotic Tea

What is that crazy drink? You may have seen it in health foods stores and wonder what it is and why should you drink it. There is not a lot of research done on it but it has been drank for over 2000 years. I started drinking it when I found out about the great detoxifying abilities. I does have a unique taste and I find that I like some brands better than others. It can range from a light vinegar taste to light alcohol taste. It started in Eastern Asia the Chinese called it the "Immortal Health Elixer" and the became popular in Germany in 1900's. According to the American Cancer Society, the resulting fermented tea contains acetic acid, a small amount of alcohol and a range of probiotics (beneficial bacteria.)

Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. Although it's sometimes referred to as kombucha mushroom tea. In fact kombucha is not a mushroom, the colony of bacteria and yeast that looks like a flat pancake that floats in it. Depending on the brewing time, the flavor of kombucha varies from slightly sweet and somewhat sour to a potent vinegar flavor.

Fermented foods, such as kombucha, contain probiotics. These beneficial bacteria live inside your digestive tract. According to Harvard Health, over 100 trillion microorganisms reside in a healthy gut. About 500 different varieties of the microflora exist, and most are beneficial. They help to fight off harmful microorganisms and pathogens, aid in digestion, help you absorb certain nutrients and promote a healthy immune function. Probiotics may also relieve symptoms of diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. In addition, they may be helpful in female problems such as yeast infections and urinary tract infections. Health benefits attributed to kombucha tea include stimulating the immune system, preventing cancer, and improving digestion and liver function. However, there's no scientific evidence to support these health claims.

Some health risks have been reported from people making their own kombucha

Source Mayo Clinic

What Does Eating Clean Mean?

What Does Eating Clean Mean?

What is eating clean? Clean eating  is a major movement, spurred by people from all walks of life who want to feel good about what they're putting in their bodies.

There are many people simply looking to remove the chemicals from their diets and bodies, and therefore eat clean. Their focus is not  on losing weight, but on general health. They avoid processed foods of all kinds, choosing foods that are closest to its natural state. An easy way to decide is to think of  where  the food is  made.  If the answer is a factory, it is not on the clean list.

Read More

Baby it is cold outside! So Let's Drink Spanish Hot Chocolate to Warm Up

 

The Spanish are known  for chocolate, since they “discovered” it in the New World 500 years ago. As in centuries past, today the Spanish drink rich hot chocolate for breakfast, so thick that you can stand a churro  in it!   This incredibly rich and flavorful drink is not like the stuff you get out of a package. In fact, once you try the Spanish version of hot chocolate, you might be hooked!

To make it lighter  less chocolate and zero milk was used , while still keeping it creamy and lactose free . This sweet treat  also has health benefits from the  dark chocolate that  provide antioxidants and  anti inflammatory properties.  It’s also been shown to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. So sit and enjoy your warm cup of comfort.

Serves 6

The Skinny Spanish Hot Chocolate

Per 4-ounce cup:

  • 122 cal
  • 9 g fat (4 g sat)
  • 13 g carbs
  • 61 mg sodium
  • 3 g fiber
  • 2.3 g protein

Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup boiling water 4 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa), finely chopped 2 cups unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk  mixed with 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon Stevia or  Agave 1 two-inch orange rind

Preparation

  1. Combine boiling water and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan, stirring until chocolate melts.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium-low heat, stirring with a whisk for 5 minutes or until tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan (do not boil).
  3. Remove orange rind and ladle hot chocolate into six small mugs; serve immediately.

 

or try

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Servings:2

Ingredients

2 cups  milk
4 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red chile powder
3 ounces dark chocolate (up to 73%), chopped finely
1 teaspoon cinnamon ( optional)
Directions:
  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan and when steaming, whisk in the cocoa powder and the salt.
  2. Allow to come to a boil, then immediately remove from heat and whisk in chile powder and dark chocolate until smooth.
  3. Serve hot, garnished  with vanilla ice cream or  spiked with  Kahlua if desired as an adult treat.                                                                  For an extra touch  add
  4. Spicy Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream
  1. 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1/3 cup brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips, crushed In a large bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in the brown sugar until cream becomes light and fluffy (if you don’t have access to fresh, very soft brown sugar, just use regular white sugar to keep the cream from becoming grainy). Mix in the cinnamon and cayenne. Pipe on top of hot cocoa. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and crushed chocolate to garnish.

 

 

The Great Pumpkin Soup

Fall

Fall is here! I love this time of year.

The cool weather means it is time for sweaters and bonfires at night.  It is also a great time to go hiking . Cold weather food also means comfort foods, hot meals to warm you up.  Some people like stews other people like soups. I like them both. A bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich can always make a bad day good. It reminds me of being a kid. My favorite soup that I like to make for my family is a pumpkin soup. I sometimes use butternut squash to change the flavor. It taste delicious either way. This soup is easy to make, it only take 15 minutes to prep and is ready in only 30 min.

Pumpkin Soup

Makes 4 serving   123 calories per serving

1 teaspoon ghee ( clarified butter) or olive oil

1/2 cup cup chopped leeks or onions

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon Braggs Liquid Aminos  or tamari

1 teaspoon cumin   1 teaspoon  ginger     1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon    1 teaspoon  tumeric    1 pinch of masala  (if you have it)

4 cups of pumpkin  peeled and cut into cubes ( about 2 pounds)  can substitute with butternut squash

2 apples sliced and cored

5 cups vegetable stock

1 can  coconut milk

2 Tablespoons  maple syrup  optional

In a large soup pot add oil, onion, pepper, and Braggs Liquid Aminos. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes till onions are translucent.  Add the pumpkin, apple and spices, stirring frequently.   Add vegetable stock, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer till the squash becomes soft. Puree the soup until smooth in a blender or food processor.  Add coconut milk to make creamy. For a sweeter soup my kids like it when I add maple syrup

In a pan roast 1/2 cup of slivered almonds. Cook till slightly brown.  Use as a garnish sprinkle over the top of the soup.  pumpkin seed can also be used.

If you are short on time use the canned pumpkin. You can buy it with or without the spices.

Best Foods to Eat to Reduce Acne

Acne is not just a teen age problem. Many people suffer from acne more later in life.  Acne is an inflammatory  problem. One of the best ways to treat and prevent acne is a nutritious diet that provides all of the vitamins, minerals the body needs and helps detoxify.  The skin is the largest organ and helps the body eliminate toxins. Vitamin A        mothers day NW 011

Vitamin A is an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage that can accelerate skin aging and contribute to acne and other skin conditions. Vitamin A deficiencies increase the risk of poor skin health and the development of acne.

Foods Sources

Carrots, spinach and kale

 

Vitamin C  Vegetables.jpg

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from damage.  It helps regenerate skin cells and is also an effective immune booster.

Food Sources

Bell Peppers, broccoli, strawberries, cauliflower

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to acne and other skin conditions. While most vitamin D is obtained naturally from sun exposure, vitamin D supplements can be helpful, particularly in regions where sunlight is limited, during long, dark winters or to people who are not able to have adequate time outside.

Food Sources

Shrimp, sardines, low fat milk

 

Vitamin E

It is a potent antioxidant that not only protects the skin from foreign toxins, but is believed to help repair skin tissue as well. Maintaining proper vitamin E levels through supplementation can lower the risk of developing acne and contribute to its effective treatment.

Food Sourcesmothers day NW 012

Sunflower Seeds, swiss chard, Almonds, spinach, kale, bell peppers

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B2 is an effective stress reliever. Research shows that stress can actually trigger acne breakouts and make it worse. Vitamin B2 also improves circulation

Food Sources

Spinach, kale

 

Zinc

Protects  the skin from free radical damage, UV radiation and other skin toxins. Zinc supports the immune system, which may play an important role in preventing and treating acne. Studies have found that it can stimulate wound healing and may help prevent acne scarring. Some dermatologists recommend 30mg of zinc per day for acne.

Food Sources

Crimini mushrooms, Spinach, Asparagus

 

Chromium

Chromium is a mineral sometimes used to treat skin infections. It helps to repair damaged skin and may reduce acne scarring. Studies have found that taking as little as 150 micrograms of chromium per day could help to fight acne.

Food Sources

Romaine lettuce, onions, tomatoes

 

Citrus fruits,  when applied topically, they can help to unclog pores and discard dead skin cells. They have demonstrated the ability to improve the symptoms of acne and may even help to reduce acne scarring.

 

 

Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract may help treat acne. It is believed to protect collagen and reduce inflammation. It can also enhance skin cell growth and repair.

 

Turmericfood herbs

Turmeric is a popular and purportedly powerful herbal acne supplement. It has potent anti-inflammatory properties and is also an antioxidant.

 

Cucumbers cleans and refreshes oily skin,  clay will absorb excess oil produced by the skin.

Combine these ingredients together for a facial mask

2 teaspoons plain yogurt

1 tablespoon finely chopped cucumber pulp

2 teaspoons cosmetic clay

2 drops  lavender oil

1 drop juniper oil

Smooth mask on face , relax for 15 minutes. Remove with warm water.

 

You probably noticed a great way to get in all the great foods in one sitting would be a salad.  Some of the foods like kale  and spinach show up in many groups. Eating your fresh vegetables will help your skin  have healthy glow.

 

Jojoba oil makes it easier to remove blackheads. Apply to skin to help soften the oil from the pore

Eating Healthy on a Budget

 

Tips for Stretching Your Food Budget

Eating  healthy does not mean higher cost. I believe you should spend 80 percent of your food budget on whole foods ( fresh produce)  and only 20 percent on processed foods. Most of your grocery shopping should be done on the outer edges of the super market, that is where the perishable and nutrient dense  foods are. The center of the store is non perishable foods .  Unfortunately most Americans currently do the opposite.  Also avoiding the center of the store you will not be as tempted to buy the cookies or chips impulsively since you won't see them.

  1.  Make a menu for the week and then make your grocery list off of the ingredients needed.  Many grocery stores have a marked down area. Check to see what gems you can find there. Sometimes I find bananas just right for banana bread or summer squash that will go great in a salad for that night.
  2. Buy canned foods such as beans and tomatoes when they are on sale and stock up on staples when they are on sale.
  3.  Get back to the basics of cooking – using the bones from a roast chicken to make stock for a pot of soup or   make a  hearty stew  or chili from inexpensive cuts of meat.  Many of your childhood favorites are inexpensive homemade dishes. A great example is shepherd's pie, it will feed the family a nutritious meal and is easy to make also low in cost.
  4. Shop local farmers markets and eat only in season produce.  You may be surprised to find out that by going directly to the source you can get amazingly healthy, locally-grown, organic food for less than you can find at your supermarket. This gives you the best of both worlds: food that is grown near to you, cutting down on its carbon footprint and giving you optimal freshness, as well as grown without chemicals, genetically modified seeds, and other potential toxins.
  5. Buy in bulk when non-perishable items go on sale. Buy by the pound from bins, saving both you and the supplier the cost of expensive packaging. Shop at a discount store like Sam's Club or BJ's .
  6. Grow your own garden. Now is a great time to start planting your Spring garden. Have your kids help, they will find it rewarding eating the fresh produce that they helped grow.

Do you have any thrifty money saving tips to share? I'd love to hear them

Spring Cleaning the pantry and diet

Spring time is here and it is time a great time to to  de-clutter and revitalize your kitchen.  If the goal of getting healthier is a constant, ongoing process at your house, a healthy kitchen makeover may be just what your family needs.  I know that I seem to accumulate 1/2 used bags of items in my pantry and don't find them till they are stale.  So now is a great time to re-organize the kitchen drawers and throw away old food and donate the extras ( the great deal that you could not pass up) that are not past expatriation date to a local food pantry.  

A healthy diet/ life styles begins with having only healthy and nutritious food in your house. So if you have found that you are having a problem sticking to your New Year’s resolution or you just want to eat better, now is a great time to Spring clean your pantry and start off with a fresh start. There are certain staples that you should have in your pantry so that you can make quick/ easy/ healthy meals. Many of the items are inexpensive and can be stocked up on when you find a great buy. Print out a list and start stocking your pantry with healthier meal options.

Step one

Start your pantry makeover by completely emptying it out.   Wash down the shelves and and containers that may have spills. Taking all the food out will not only help you identify the types of food that you have accumulated, but it will also help you eliminate  all the  unhealthy foods and clutter from the pantry. This is also a great time to  reorganize your pantry to make it more  user-friendly. Put items in clear containers.

Step Two

Put back on the shelves only foods that are healthier choices for you and your family.  Put the junk foods on a higher shelf.  Now take inventory of what you have and look at the list below and it is a good list of items to have on hand to stock a healthy pantry.

 

BEANS

Garbanzo beans, kidney beans, white beans, dried beans: great northern beans, Lima, lentil, split pea, black pinto

TOMATOES

Canned whole, crushed, chopped, paste

GARLIC

Fresh and minced

OIL

Olive oil, grape seed oil , Cooking spray

TUNA/SALMON

Canned in water

WHOLE WHEAT PASTA / GLUTEN FREE PASTA

Couscous, barley, quinoa

BROWN RICE

OATMEAL

Old fashioned oatmeal

LOW- SODIUM BROTH

Beef, vegetable, and chicken

DRIED FRUIT

Raisins, apricots, cherries, cranberries, prunes, apples

NUTS

Almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans

Butters: almond, peanut, and any other nut

Flax seed and Chia seeds

COFFEE / TEA

Coffee Beans, ground, instant

Green Tea, ginger, chamomile, mint

ONIONS

Red, yellow onions

Vinegar

Balsamic, white, red wine, rice

Sauces

Tabasco, low sodium soy (tamari)

SPICES AND BAKING INGREDIENTS

Salt and pepper

Dried herbs and spices: ground cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, crushed red pepper, rosemary, thyme leaves, oregano, tarragon, ground cinnamon, ground ginger

Baking Powder, Baking Soda, corn starch

Flour: All-purpose flour, whole wheat, cake, bread

Gluten free alternatives: coconut flour, almond, brown rice four

Chocolate: unsweetened squares, coco powder, semi-sweet chocolate chips

Extracts; vanilla, lemon

Preserves/ sugar: jam, honey, agave nectar, Stevia, confectioner’s, brown sugar

Gelatin: unflavored

Milk: evaporated, powdered

Yeast: dry active

Baking mix, pudding

Basics for your refrigerator

Organic cage free eggs

Milk

Cheese: sharp cheddar, feta, parmesan, mozzarella

Yogurt, Greek yogurt

Margarine low fat- non fat

Tofu

Greens for salad

Seasonal fruits and vegetables

Lemon and limes

Cauliflower, carrots, broccoli

Basics for your freezer

Frozen fruit: berries ( no sugar added)

Frozen vegetables: edamame, broccoli, pepper and onion mix, spinach, peas

Fish

Spring is also a great time to plant your own garden.  Fresh herbs are easy to grow in planters.  Kids love to watch the garden grow and eat their own hard work.

 

Spring Cleaning with Natural Cleaners

The house has been sealed up tightly all winter long. It is time to air out all the built up pollutants and toxins that have accumulated over the winter. Many essential oils have antimicrobial properties, which make them excellent for killing germs that cause the flu, infections and colds. Cleaning can be done without harsh cleaners and it will also leave your house fresh, clean and safe.

They also smell great! I have always associated the smell of cleaners to having a clean house. The the biggest problem most people have with cleaning with natural products ( vinegar) there is no smell. Adding the essential oil will give a fresh smell and naturally clean the house.

Open the windows Open up the windows and let the fresh air circulate through the house for 15 minutes a day. The best time is in the morning and the evening. This will get the stale air out and bring in fresh air.

 

Clean the air with plants

Household plants such as spider plants, aloe vera, philodendron, ficus, English ivy, peace lily, and schefflera are a pleasing way to purify the air. They remove pollutants such as benzene, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, from the air.

Prevent Mold and Mildew Keep the humidity levels low to control mold , mildew, and dust mites. Use the exhaust fan for the bathroom and install a dehumidifier and air conditioner to to help remove the surplus moisture in the air.

Remove Shoes Indoors A great policy for your house: Remove your shoes as soon as you enter the house. This helps prevent outdoor contaminants from coming into the house. A great example; the gas and oil on the ground from the gas station that gets on your shoes as you pump gas.

 

Keep the ants away Plant herbs such as lavender, peppermint and tansy around your house and it will help keep the ants away.

Mix together 1/4 cup dried peppermint leaves, 1/4 cup powdered cayenne, and 1/4 cup borax sprinkle the mixture liberally around the area that the ants are coming into the house.

Repel Ants Peppermint, spearmint and citronella essential oils deter ants. Place the oils on a cotton ball and place in areas that you have seen ants. Renew the cotton ball every two days to keep the scent strong. Repel flies Put out fresh orange and lemon peels mixed with dried cloves. Plant Rue and tansy near door ways. Also flies don't like the smell of lavender, eucalyptus, or cedar. Use one or a combination of these oils to scent a room.

 

Air Fresheners

Use this one when someone in the house is sick. the antimicrobial properties will help fight the germs of the cold or flu 1 teaspoon vodka 20 drops juniper essential oil 20 drops eucalyptus 20 drops lavender essential oils 2 cups water mix all the ingredients in a 16 oz. spray bottle and shake well. Avoid spraying directly onto any surfaces.

 

Lavender and Citrus air Freshener.

A light , refreshing aroma for your spring cleaning

1 teaspoon vodka

15 drops lavender essential oil

10 drops grapefruit essential oil

2 cups water

Mix together in a spray bottle. Shake before each use

The following natural cleaners are non toxic, inexpensive, easy to make, and good for removing dirt, grease and grime.

All- Purpose  spray

1 teaspoon borax

2 cups warm water

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon natural liquid dish detergent

10 drops lavender essential oil

5 drops rosemary essential oils

Combine in a spray bottle and shake well.  Use on counter-tops, walls, and wood. Wipe clean with a rag

 

Glass Cleaner

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon natural liquid dish-washing soap

1 cup warm water

2 drops of lemon essential oil

add to a spray bottle and shake well. Use a lint free rag to wipe  clean

Clean leather furniture

2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 drops lemon essential oil

add all ingredients in a jar and mix. Test on a hidden spot on furniture first to make sure the leather does not discolor. Apply sparingly, rub it in thoroughly , and buff with a soft cloth to remove excess oil

Dishwasher detergent

3 tablespoons baking soda

1 tablespoon borax

2 drops lemon essential oil

mix together and use in your dishwasher

Drain cleaner

1/2 cup baking soda

1/2 cup salt

1/2 cup white vinegar

Pour baking soda, salt, and vinegar into drain. Wait 15 minutes and pour a pot of hot water down the drain

 

Grease  cutting cleanser

1/4 cup baking soda

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent

1 gallon hot water

5 drops lemon essential oils

Mix together in a bucket and use to wash walls and cabinets

Kitchen Floor cleaner

Cuts the grease on the floor and leaves a fresh scent

1/4 cup baking soda

2 tablespoons dish-washing detergent

1/2 cup white vinegar

2 gallons hot water

10 drops eucalyptus essential oil

5 drops orange essential oil

Add to a bucket to was floor. Rinse floor with clean water

Toilet Cleaner

pour 1 cup borax 1/4 cup lemon juice into bowl and let it sit overnight. Scrub bowl in the morning with toilet brush and flush

 

Natural bleaching cleanser

Helps get stains out of porcelain and fiberglass

1/2 cup baking soda

1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap

1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide

Mix ingredients in a small container and scrub area with a sponge. Rinse well

 

Start this spring off with a fresh clean house.  This is also a great time to clean out the kitchen pantry and cabinets full of foods that don't help you stay on a healthy diet.  There is no excuse that you keep foods in your house for your kids or spouse. If it is not healthy throw it out and replace it with a healthier alternative.

Tomorrow I will write about stocking a healthy pantry/ kitchen.