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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

If you’re one of the two other people in the world beside myself that don’t care for smoothies, this recipe is for you.

I’ve just never found smoothies appealing.  The thick, gloppy texture…the unsatisfying lack of anything to chew…the “drink your calories” mentality…I’ve never understood how anyone can just have a smoothie for breakfast and nothing else, or been satisfied with one as a snack.  Beyond that, they’re not exactly toddler-friendly.  Either my almost two-year old gives himself a stroke attempting to suck it through a straw or spills it everywhere: no thanks.

Gelatin, on the other hand, is something my kids have never once turned down, no matter what is in it.  Considering it’s an ingredient often added to smoothies anyway, these gummies are a more palatable–not to mention cleaner–way for my family to enjoy it. (more…)

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Like many other personal/health products, healthy toothpaste is more difficult to replace its toxic counterparts than food.  Deciding to ditch the toxic fluoride-bomb regular toothpaste is great, but then the dizzying array of alternatives is enough to make your head explode.

First off, many of the “natural” toothpastes still contain undesirable ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, glycerin (which coats the teeth and is very difficult to remove, preventing remineralization), and more.  Not to mention that these alternative commercial toothpastes tend to be very pricey.

There are probably hundreds (or more) of recipes on the internet and other media for homemade toothpastes, but it can be very difficult to find one without baking soda.  For people with sensitive teeth, baking soda is simply too abrasive and causes pain.  The first time I made my own toothpaste, which of course contained baking soda, I had to stop using it after three days because my teeth hurt so much.  I have also since heard stories of people who never experienced pain or sensitivity while brushing with baking soda, but later discovered that their enamel had become very worn.

The relatively rare recipes for homemade toothpaste without baking soda often contain castile soap, which I have no interest in putting in my mouth.  And since I want a toothpaste my whole family can use and my preschooler still regularly swallows his toothpaste, soap is definitely out.  Other homemade alternatives include plain coconut oil (which becomes thin and very runny in the mouth; still not a good choice for a child), plain water, and dry brushing.  I’ve tried plain water and dry brushing both and my teeth simply don’t feel clean.

Returning to commercial alternatives, the problem is that even if you find a good tooth soap, powder, etc. to buy, you still have to fork over the cash for it!   After hearing about Redmond’s Earthpaste, made from bentonite clay, I was very intrigued and have since seen only positive reviews of it.  However, there is no way I’m paying $8 for an itty bitty tube of toothpaste (or $7.46 on Amazon).  Just…no.  So, I made my own!

Redmond’s doesn’t post an actual ingredient list, but the link above describes it as clay, essential oils, Redmond’s RealSalt (unrefined sea salt), and xylitol.  For the clay, Redmond’s Clay or any other sodium bentonite powder will do.  I actually used this kind, but it’s more expensive per ounce than Redmond’s.  The essential oils and RealSalt were items I already had on hand, and I deliberated for a bit on the xylitol.  Xylitol is touted as a “natural” sweetener with inherent cavity fighting abilities; however, I have heard negative things about it as well.  In the end, I wasn’t willing to spend the money on it ($15 for 2.5 pounds on Amazon).  So I replaced it with coconut oil, which has antibacterial properties of its own, and is an ingredient already found in my kitchen.  I was going to add a few drops of stevia for sweetness but forgot, and I think it really doesn’t need it anyway.  But that’s certainly an option.

I didn’t have much spare time when I made my toothpaste and I didn’t bother measuring anything, so take the following measurements with a grain of (Real)salt.  I just slopped everything together in the jar and stirred it with a butter knife.  And I love it!  The clay is a much gentler abrasive than baking soda and has not caused any sensitivity for me yet.  My teeth feel noticeably cleaner even hours later than with any other toothpaste I’ve tried.  The texture does take a little bit of getting used to, as it’s very different from the foamy clouds produced by most commercial toothpastes.  The clay can feel a bit drying as well, so I suggest a thorough rinsing and drink of water afterwards.  Also, the saltiness will be more pronounced if you use it the same day you make it.  Letting it sit overnight seems to improve the flavor.  Finally, my son wrinkled up his nose a bit when he first tried it, but he used it without complaint, and that’s all I ask for!  The following recipe will make about 1/3 to 1/2 cup.   You can easily increase the proportions to make more at a time.

And without further ado…

Homemade Earthpaste

  • 1/4 cup bentonite clay
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (mine was very soft but not liquid at the time, but it probably doesn’t really matter)
  • 1/4 teaspoon RealSalt or other unrefined sea salt
  • 6 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil
  • Water

Find a small, sturdy glass jar with an air-tight lid.  Add all ingredients except the water.  Mix in water (preferably filtered) one tablespoon at a time until a thick paste has formed–it won’t take much.   Brush!

Doesn’t look too pretty, but who cares? It just gets spit into the sink anyway.

ETA: I usually just use mint extract for flavoring now in lieu of the essential oils, and often add stevia extract to make it more palatable.  Our dental visits have confirmed that it works – no cavities for us!

(**Shared at Simple Lives Thursday, Green Living & Giveaways, and Freaky Friday**)

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Turmeric Here, There…Everywhere

Image by Carlos LorenzoTurmeric has been getting a lot of attention lately for its many health benefits.  It’s a potent medicine, but we’re often not told how to use it.  If you prefer whole foods to supplements, you don’t have to limit yourself to curry every day.  Turmeric is certainly an ingredient in curry, but is actually pretty mild-flavored on its own (although if used in large quantities, it can generate a slightly bitter aftertaste). 

Here are a few ideas on how to include turmeric in various recipes:

  • Sprinkle on fried, scrambled, etc. eggs and add to egg salads. 
  • Add to any tomato-based dish or condiment — chili, salsa, ketchup, gumbo, tomato soup, meatloaf, pizza sauce, etc.
  • Add to any cheese-based dish or any dish/condiment that looks orange/brown — cheese or winter squash soups, nachos, savory pumpkin anything, macaroni and cheese (gives homemade mac and cheese that store-bought neon-orange look without all the nasty ingredients!), homemade or store-bought mustard, homemade bread, sweet and sour dishes, etc.
  • Add to hot dog and pork dishes.
  • Add to homemade salad dressings (especially French or Russian).
  • Add to any savory dish containing coconut milk, since they already play so well to begin with and it can cut the milk’s sweetness a little bit.
  • Add to tuna or salmon salads.

Really, you can use turmeric just about anywhere except dessert!  I add it to soups so often that my son’s blue soup spoon has turned permanently green on the business end.  Rather than adding one large amount to one dish and risking that bitter aftertaste, add turmeric in small quantities to as many dishes as possible, and reap its benefits!

What are your favorite ways to eat turmeric?

(**Shared at Sunday School and Monday Mania**)

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As multibillion dollar antidepressant sales indicate, depression is a very common problem for the entire world.  As society has become more accepting of mental illness, more and more people admit to experiencing depression, and the numbers of afflicted are constantly rising.

It’s hardly surprising; modern culture pretty much guarantees that only a very lucky few can be happy.  We are raised to play the work-spend-debt game until we have become slaves to our debt, chained to jobs we hate, and loaded down by feelings of inadequacy for not having enough of, or the right kind of, things.  Advertising and the media bludgeon us daily with images of things most of us can never have or hope to be; our friends and family pressure us in various ways, both consciously and subsconciously, well-meaning and maliciously; and we learn to bury what we really want and really feel.  If we do realize what our dreams are and they are different from society’s expectations, we are often ridiculed and discouraged from achieving them.  So it’s par for the course to end up feeling our lives are hollow, pointless and unsatisfying.
My experiences with treating depression

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My son doesn’t get sick very often.  More than once since his birth, however, I’ve snatched swiftly and guiltily for the infant Tylenol.  But aside from trying to avoid drugs and chemicals in general, I’ve seen more and more internet and magazine articles saying not to treat a fever with conventional medicines unless absolutely necessary.

I had the chance to practice what I preach this weekend.  My husband, son and I went to a variety of places last Saturday; we got food from a farmer’s market vendor, visited the grocery store, and made a trip to the unholiest of unholy places: Walmart.  It’s a mystery which of them produced the misery of Sunday and Monday morning.  In any case, Dante was put to sleep in his crib on Saturday night in fine fettle, nothing out of the ordinary.

By 7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, he was boiling with a fever that reached 102.9 degrees orally.  Listless and appetite-free, he gazed up with glazed eyes from the couch, which he laid upon most of the day.  He did consent to drink some liquids, and I gave him some watered down juice, water, and “chicken juice” (homemade chicken stock with sea salt and a small pressed garlic clove).  He also swallowed down an extra-large dose of fermented cod liver oil drizzled with raw honey.  I made a tea with allspice, ginger, peppermint, and cinnamon to encourage sweating (which cools the body down and helps reduce fever), but I stupidly just called it “tea” instead of “juice” and he refused to try it.  Lastly, I dosed him with colloidal silver according to the package directions.

The fever broke about 9:30 p.m. or so.  However, he did vomit upon waking the next morning at 6:00 a.m. on Monday.  Right about 8:30 a.m., though, he just suddenly…snapped out of it.  He started fidgeting a little on the couch, and I asked him if he wanted to go play.  He ran right over to his toys, and from then on it was like nothing had ever happened.  His appetite returned immediately, his eyes were clear, and he was perfectly fine.

Had I dosed him with Tylenol as soon as I discovered the fever on Sunday morning, I’m quite confident the fever would have taken longer to break and simply prolonged his illness.  If the fever had gotten much higher, I would have called the doctor; but I knew what would happen if I did: they would say a lot of meaningless things that translate to, “we’re not really sure what’s wrong with him,” and throw some antibiotics at the problem.  How do I know?  Because that’s exactly what happened the last few times I took him for an illness-related office visit.  I wanted to avoid that if possible, and I’m glad I didn’t leap for the phone.

Not to insult anyone’s intelligence, but in our ridiculously litigious society, it’s necessary to say that you should not take this as medical advice and yadda yadda yadda.  I think it’s pretty clear I’m not a medical professional–just a mom trying to do the best she can, naturally, for her child.

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I’ve had a gum-chewing habit since childhood and while I chew much less of it now than I did in the past, I don’t like the thought of chewing on a big wad of sugar or aspartame all the time.  Homemade gum appears to be too complicated and possibly expensive, and I don’t have time to add another lengthy homemade item to my routine right now, so a quick spray it is. 

First, I bought a pack of two travel size spray bottles, the smallest I could find.  I wasn’t willing to invest in a stainless steel bottle, but that would really be a better option.  I’m not sure how many ounces the bottle actually holds, but I’d guess about 2 oz.  Anyway, I got this pack at my grocery store for $1.99–I used the pink bottle on the right for this:


Homemade Breath Freshening Spray

  • 10 to 15 drops peppermint essential oil (or lemon, lime, orange – just make sure it’s an edible oil)
  • 8 drops liquid stevia
  • 3 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional – acts as a natural preservative)
  • Water to fill bottle

Place all in the bottle using a small funnel if necessary and shake well to combine.  That’s all!
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If you chew gum because you simply need something to chew on, this obviously isn’t going to help you.  But if you just want the occasional breath freshening, this works very well!

(**Shared at this week’s Monday Mania**)

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I have a confession to make. *deep, trembling sigh*  I…have tonsil stones.  Like kidney stones…but from my tonsils.

Like a [gross, smelly] rolling stone

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