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Archive for the ‘All Natural Solutions’ Category

Just a quick note to apologize for the lack of posts over the past few days.  We’ve been fighting off sinus infections/colds in our house; we tend to take turns getting sick so it drags out over a few days.  We’ve recovered surprisingly quickly…much faster than we did before switching to whole foods!  Usually my kids would take one to two weeks to get rid of a hacking cough: we did it this time in two days!  Here’s how:

  • Breakfast: Banana (minerals, energy), Homemade Yogurt (probiotics, protein) flavored with Cranberry Jam (anti-infection), Honey-Juice (anti-infection, vitamins, comfort)
  • Morning Snack: Hard-boiled eggs, 2 each for children, 4 each for teens and adults (vitamins), Sliced & Cored Organic Apples (fiber & vitamins), Honey-Juice (anti-infection, vitamins, comfort)
  • Lunch: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with extra fresh, grated Garlic (minerals, vitamins, gelatin, natural antibiotic), Honey-Juice (anti-infection, vitamins, comfort)
  • Afternoon Snack: Grapes and Chips (Granny came to visit so chips became whole foods temporarily 😉 ) Honey-Juice (anti-infection, vitamins, comfort)
  • Dinner: Whole Grain Rotini Pasta (fiber) in Organic Spaghetti Sauce (vitamins) with Ground Turkey (protein) and Steamed Broccoli (vitamins & minerals), Grapefruit Juice (ran out of Honey-Juice!)

So what is this Honey-Juice, you may ask?

——————————————————–

Honey-Juice | A Helping of Hope

Honey-Juice helps to soothe sore throats and fight off colds!  Give 4 oz. (1/2 cup) to children over one year old every one to two hours.  Grapefruit Juice provides vitamin C and has an amazing ability to strip infection and film off the throat.  Honey soothes sore throats and has natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (it also kills infectious amoebas, viruses, and reduces fever).  The added salt makes the liquid electrolytic, so it is more easily absorbed and better hydrates.

    • 1 cup Grapefruit Juice
    • 1 cup Filtered water
    • 1/4 cup Honey
    • 1/4 tsp Real Salt

Mix ingredients in a small pan (avoid nonstick) on medium heat until warm to the touch (do not over heat or allow to boil: high temperatures will kill off enzymes in the honey).  Sip before giving to children to ensure a safe drinking temperature.

——————————————————–

Did we use OTC drugs? Yes, somewhat.  Since I do not have a stocked apothecary (!) I still use Tylenol and Ibuprofen to help reduce fevers and Children’s Mucinex at night to help suppress the coughing (here is a better, all-natural option I need to try).  As a rule of thumb, I avoid drugs unless the fever approaches 102F and/or at night; a good night’s sleep is essential to getting better.  One day I hope to have natural remedies that are as effective as OTC drugs, yet without the artificial sweeteners and synthetic, side-effect inducing ingredients.  Until then, I use them sparingly and prayerfully, relying as much as possible on nutrition and physical rest.

Helping of Hope.  Right Choice: rely on good nutrition and rest to get well.  Medicines deal with symptoms, they do not typically give your body what it needs to function properly.  Supplements are not as well absorbed as vitamins and minerals in food and can be very expensive.  Antibiotics kill your body’s natural ability to fight infection and shut down your digestive system so you can’t get nutrients from your food.  Do as much as you can (with food and rest) as soon as you can to avoid having to take medicines, supplements, and antibiotics or it may take you several weeks to get back to normal.  Bright future: FASTER recovery time, less money spent on OTC remedies, no antibiotic-resistant illnesses, healthier immune system!

I hope this Christmas finds everyone well and not sick. If you find yourself ill, try the Honey-Juice!  It works wonders…

If you liked this…natural remedy? post (!), please share with a sick friend using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

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Check out how we roll..ha, ha, hum. (cough).  Sourdough bread rolls and loaf are rising nicely in our clean oven, "dissected " for you in this post!

Check out how we roll..ha, ha, hum. (cough). Sourdough bread rolls and loaf are rising nicely in our clean oven, “dissected ” for you in this post!

Today’s Mama Mondays post is a series of quick tips to help keep your oven clean, avoid smoke-generating spills, and maintain an even temperature for baking at low-temperatures or for long periods.  This is especially useful if you are baking sourdough bread, drying chives, or roasting tomatoes.

TIP ONE: Clean your oven using all-natural cleaners so you don’t have to worry about toxic fumes getting into your food (or lungs/skin as you clean).  I use baking soda and vinegar.  First, I spray neat white vinegar all over the interior of the COLD oven, then using a spoon I “splash” baking soda over the vinegar droplets to make them fizz.  I allow baked-on residue to soak in vinegar for a while before applying any baking soda.  Excess baking soda makes a mild abrasive that is great at picking up grease and “splatter”.  I use a damp washcloth to help rub the baking soda across the oven’s interior surface.  I wet the washcloth to remove excess baking soda once the oven is clean.  For more tips on cleaning your oven, try Open Eye Health’s natural home cleaning eBook.

TIP TWO: Place a clean Pizza Stone or Baking Tile on the bottom of your oven (or on a rack closest to the heat source).  A Pizza Stone or Baking Tile provides “thermal mass”: it absorbs thermal energy and releases it at a steady rate, reducing oven temperature fluctuations and the negative impact of doing things like opening the oven door to check on your food (although try not to leave the door open any longer than you have to even with a stone/tile).  It also helps to normalize the temperature of the oven so there are fewer hot/cold spots: this promotes even baking especially in older or irregular ovens.

My oven is sparkling thanks to the vinegar and baking soda.  The pizza stone, as you will notice, is not so clean-looking.  I did clean it, but the oil wouldn't come off.  I have noticed that since putting it in the oven damp and using it for thermal mass, all the oil stains have disappeared.  Interesting!

My oven is sparkling thanks to the vinegar and baking soda. The pizza stone, as you will notice, is not so clean-looking. I did clean it, but the oil wouldn’t come off. I have noticed that since putting it in the oven (damp) and using it as a thermal mass, all the oil stains have disappeared. My pizza stone looks brand-new now.  Interesting!

TIP THREE: Create a catching tray.  The easiest way is to place aluminum foil on a rack at the lowest setting.  It is important to create “grooves” so that any liquid spilling over a dish is caught and doesn’t run off the plane of the aluminum foil to the oven’s floor.  Filling the grooves with cheap table salt is the best way to absorb liquid and prevent food from smoking (a great tip I learned from Open Eye Health’s eBook is to sprinkle salt on anything that spills in your oven: this allows you to continue baking without setting off smoke alarms!).  If you are concerned about your aluminum load and avoid using/buying aluminum foil, you can use a stainless steel baking tray with a lip instead.  Make sure the foil/tray doesn’t cover the entire rack (leave a gap around the sides) so that the heat can circulate in the oven properly (keep in mind that adding this catching tray may add to your baking time slightly by reducing the impact of the heat radiating from your oven’s element and therefore increasing your baked good’s reliance on convection-based heat).  A catching tray makes future oven cleaning a snap: just throw out the old salt and replace!

Get in the Groove!  A salted catching tray made of aluminum foil.

Get in the Groove! A salted catching tray made of aluminum foil.

TIP  FOUR: Hydrate!  Gas ovens can be drier than electric; using a catching tray with slightly longer cooking times/more reliance on convection can also make cooking a little drier.  The solution is easy: place a ceramic or glass pan filled with filtered water either directly on the catching tray or on a rack in the setting above the catching tray (depending on how many racks and height settings you have).  If you are baking bread and don’t want it to get soggy from the steam, put a small amount of filtered water in the pan so only as much steam as needed is released; after the water has evaporated, you can remove the pan (when it is empty, using oven gloves) to speed up the cooking time.  Why use filtered water?  When the water has evaporated, the mineral deposits will be left on your dish.  Most of the time this is easy to remove with plain tap water.  However, depending on what minerals are in your water, you may not want to bake them along with your souffles, etc.  🙂  Don’t use a hydrating pan if you are trying to dry or roast something.  To keep roast meat or vegetables moist, use oil or fat and consider using a cover to keep the steam in.

Baking can be a bed of roses...when you use a hydrating pan to combat dryness :-)

Baking can be a bed of roses…when you use a hydrating pan to combat dryness 🙂

Helping of Hope: Right choice.  Cleaning your oven with all natural ingredients and catching spills in advance with a salted catching tray; using thermal mass and a hydration pan to control your baking environment.  Bright future: easy and guilt-free oven cleanup; better results in baking!

If you enjoyed this week’s Mama Mondays post, please share using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

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You’ve won this wonderful all-natural cleaning and personal care package!

CONGRATULATIONS STAR SCOT! You’ve won the NaturOli Soap Nuts Intro Starter Package Giveaway. Star had 30 entries, more than any other contestant. Star: make sure to send me your mailing address (I have already sent you a confirmation email that you can reply to) so I can pass that info on to NaturOli. Thanks to everyone who participated! I hope I can bring another giveaway soon.

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These apples had already turned brown…then pineapple juice removed the oxidization!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  I apologize for the hiatus in posts; I have a bunch of recipes to post this Thursday, research on whole grains for an upcoming Transformation Tuesdays post… and I am getting over a Sinus Migraine thanks to the ever-changing barometric conditions…gotta love Michigan weather…

To break the no-writing streak, I decided to share what would usually be the subject of a Mama-Mondays post.  The subject was an accidental discovery; I hope I’m the first to mention it and receive some major culinary kudos!

In the past I’ve used freshly-squeezed lemon-juice to keep sliced apples from turning brown; they still turn brown albeit much more slowly.  When my kids have snack-duty for school I usually slice organic apples (apples are #1 on the Environmental Work Group’s 2012 Dirty Dozen list) and roll them in diluted lemon juice.  On one such occasion I ran out of lemons and reached in the ‘fridge for what I did have…leftover fresh pineapple juice from my pineapple oatmeal recipe.  The results were amazing!  Leftover apples came back home, after a full day at school, completely white.

This Thanksgiving I forgot to roll the apples for my Apple-Pecan salad in any juice at all.  They turned light brown in thirty minutes.  Not wanting my apples to brown further, I rolled them in pineapple juice and watched in amazement as THE “BROWN” CAME OFF.  The pineapple juice turned a tan color and the apples turned white.  I showed the slices off to my husband (who had sliced them) and stepdaughter!  They were impressed 🙂  I’m guessing the enzymes in the pineapple juice help to break up the oxidized apple enzymes while the pH of the juice denatured the remaining enzymes so they could no longer be oxidized?  (Any chemistry buffs out there?)

To summarize, here are the benefits of using pineapple juice on apple slices:

  • Diluted fresh pineapple juice completely prevents browning.  Completely.
  • Apple slices taste better with a hint of sweet pineapple than with a sour hint of lemon.
  • [DRUMROLL PLEASE] Pineapple juice REMOVES browning AFTER it has occurred.

HOW TO MAKE FRESH PINEAPPLE JUICE:

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut off outer skin of pineapple
  2. Chop pineapple “meat” into small wedges and process in a blender or food processor
  3. Scoop pineapple puree into a glass jar or bowl and allow the pulp to rise to the top (if you don’t have time for this, skip to step 5 by dumping the puree into the coffee filter),
  4. Remove pulp to eat in lieu of apple sauce or to flavor oatmeal; store pulp in a glass salsa/sauce jar.
  5. Filter remaining juice through a coffee filter placed on a sieve or colander into a glass measuring jar or small bowl.
  6. Dilute juice with filtered water 1:1 and store in your ‘fridge to use as needed to keep apples white or soak grains.
  7. Storage option: freeze diluted juice in ice cube trays and empty cubes into a freezer bag or mason jar.  If you don’t use pineapple juice very often, this option means that you don’t have to worry about it spoiling in your ‘fridge and you’ll always have some handy!

Make sure to give fresh pineapple juice a try.  And since you’ll already have pureed pineapple handy, why not skip the cereal box and make some healthy, energy-boosting pineapple oatmeal instead?

If you enjoyed this…um, cooking tip post…please share using one of the many features below.  Thanks!

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Its about that time: whether you are making vanilla essence or aftershave, it is going to take several weeks for the flavor or scent to properly work itself into your homemade Christmas gifts.  Make them now so that they can be used right away.  Here are four gifts sure to please this Christmas:

  • HOMEMADE AFTERSHAVE ($15).  I used this aftershave recipe from Passionate Homemaking (5 TBSP Organic Filtered Apple Cider Vinegar, 3 TBSP Dickinson’s Witch Hazel, 1 TBSP Vegetable Glycerin).  For a manly scent my husband and father loved, I added 5 drops of Lavender essential oil and 10 drops of Patchouli essential oil (it was a weaker craft-store brand…you may want to use a few drops less if you have a high quality oil).  The interesting things about the scent is that it really does change over time.  The recipe says to wait 3-4 days; at that time the aftershave smells great, but you can tell the scents apart.  After a couple months, the scents blend together and smell like something store-bought.  My husband wears the aftershave I made him every day; when the bottle gets down to 50%, he tops it up with unscented aftershave (same ratio as above 5 A.C.V.:3 W.H.:1 V.G.)  I think I made his present for $15, including the bottles.  It has lasted almost a whole year with 3 top-ups.  The scent has got a little weaker each time, but he isn’t a fan of strong-smelling colognes anyway.  If you want to make your gift very versatile (and a bit more expensive), you can create a homemade aftershave gift basket, providing a large, “refill” bottle of unscented aftershave, the scented aftershave, and the essential oil bottles you used.  That way the grateful man receiving your amazing and thoughtful gift can dilute or strengthen the scent to his hearts’ content!
    Check out my pins below:

  • LAVENDER BALM ($15).  I used this aftershave salve recipe from Passionate Homemaking (2 TBSP Coconut oil, 4 TBSP Shea Butter), except that instead of the recommended manly scents I used 5 drops of Lavender Essential oil and put it in a pretty glass container for a female family member with eczema.    Pure Shea Butter is difficult to find: I had to get it at my local health food store.
  • RASPBERRY, CHERRY, and CRANBERRY “WINE” VINEGAR ($2-$5 each).  This sounds so impressive, but if you have been saving your glass bottles and use scraps from frozen or fresh fruits, the only expense is the organic filtered apple cider vinegar.  The vinegars may be used to make vinaigrette.  So far I have used the leftover juice/seeds from frozen raspberries to make Raspberry Vinegar, a few chopped up Michigan cherries to make Cherry Vinegar, and cranberries that were too far gone to be used to make sauce–mildly fermented but not rotten–to make Cranberry “Wine” Vinegar.  There really isn’t a recipe: approximately 10% of the volume is the finely chopped up fruit, the rest is apple cider vinegar.  Store the tightly-sealed “fruit” vinegar bottle in a cool, dark place for at least a month so the fruit flavors will be infused into the vinegar.  The vinegar will preserve or pickle the fruit bits and keep them from spoiling.  You can make a vinaigrette gift basket by making my Sweet Basil Vinaigrette as well as a fruity vinegar and placing both bottles in a basket with a set of dried, organic herbs used in the recipe.
  • VANILLA AND SPEARMINT EXTRACTS ($10-$15 each).  The greatest cost to this is the alcohol.  Vodka is the most versatile medium for drawing out flavors because it can be used on anything (and is cheaper).  However, nothing beats the Bourbon flavor of  whiskey for a homemade Vanilla Extract.  To make a vanilla extract, use 4 vanilla beans per 8 oz. of alcohol; split the beans lengthwise using a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into the alcohol, then place the bean pods in the alcohol.  The larger the overall amount of vanilla beans/alcohol, the better, because it makes “re-flavoring” easier (I used a large olive oil bottle but you could easily add the beans straight to the alcohol container); When you have used half of the extract, top up with alcohol and shake.  Replace old vanilla beans once or twice a year.  For a spearmint extract(milder and sweeter than peppermint), use fresh spearmint leaves from the garden or your grocer: fill up a glass bottle with rinsed & touch-dry leaves, lightly packed, and pour vodka over them until the top leaves are completely immersed.  Extracts need to be stored away in a cool, dark place for 2-3 months (ideally), 6 weeks at a minimum.  Shaking extracts regularly during this waiting period will help to speed up the extraction process.

    I used old spice jars to make Mint Extract. This should taste yummy in hot chocolate or coffee, give a milder flavor to homemade toothpaste, and add a fresh “Christmassy” flavor to tapioca pudding when combined with a little nutmeg.

If you enjoyed this Mama Mondays post, please share using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

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If you enjoyed this SHOP-TIL-YOU-DROP SATURDAY post, please share it with your friends using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

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Give yourself a kick-start to a new all-natural cleaning regimen!
(Shampoo Bar not shown, but included)

As an affiliate of NaturOli, I’m thrilled to announce that my first giveaway is a personal care and cleaning product package sure to give you a HUGE helping of hope as you see how easy it is to switch from expensive and dangerous products to all-natural, frugal ones.

The Giveaway includes one (1) NaturOli Soap Nuts Intro Starter Package, normally sold for $32.50.  You can click on the link for more information, but the package includes the following items that have reviews here on A Helping of Hope:

  • 1-oz Mini-Size of Extreme 18X Soap Nut Liquid Concentrate (Detergent and Cleaner) AND A Soap Nuts Laundry Soap Pre-Treat Stick, both reviewed here.
  • 2-oz Mini-Size of Extreme Hair Soap Nut Shampoo AND a Soap Nut Shampoo Bar, both reviewed here.
  • 4-oz NaturOli Select Soap Nuts, USDA certified organic, reviewed here.
  • A luxurious handmade Soap Nut Cleansing Bar.  This is an amazing and invigorating body cleanser.  It is not as drying as most soaps (even Dr. Bronner’s) and does an excellent job of cleaning dirty skin.  It is definitely **husband approved**; while it smells great, it is definitely not “girly”.

If you want to enter the giveaway (and who wouldn’t since it is free and only takes a couple minutes of your time?!), there are four ways to rack up the points (and your chance of success):

  1. (+10): like my A Helping of Hope page on Facebook
  2. (+5): like NaturOli’s page on Facebook
  3. (+5): follow @ahelpingofhope on Twitter
  4. (+5/day): tweet about the giveaway!

You can enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget/link below OR through my Facebook page under the Giveaways “tab” (picture menu)!  However, with FREE SHIPPING from NaturOli on orders $55+ ending tomorrow, don’t wait to win this amazing starter package.  Make sure to check out the NaturOli store and stock up on all-natural goodies today!  You’ll be glad you did!

Click here to enter the NaturOli Soap Nuts Intro Starter package Giveaway from A Helping of Hope

If you enjoyed this SHOP-TIL-YOU-DROP SATURDAY posts, please share it with all your friends using one of the many options below.  Thanks!

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