Sunday, September 28, 2014

Feel Me Better Soup- For Anything That Ails You

Aside from a stomach bug, the third thing I do when some one says they don't feel good is make a pot
Feel Me Better Soup
of soup. The first two are of course to administer the appropriate essential oils for the specific area of immune boosting and wellness, and a glass of water to ensure hydration. Chicken soup has become iconic 'sick food'- and with good reason. When many in my generation think chicken soup they think that one particular red and white can(or a generic of it- hehe) that is an over-salted, artificially-colored yellow liquid with miniscule pieces of pink "meat" and overly soggy chopped up spaghetti. Unfortunately this version does little but warm the throat and offer calories for some one having trouble getting enough. The chicken noodle soup of generations past, however, are the stuff chock full of nutrients. Back before convenience and and chemical processing replaced wholesome ingredients, and people knew their bodies could heal by natural means instead of running to the doctor for an RX at the first sign of illness chicken soup was made for healing. The traditional Matzo Ball Soup has affectionately earned the nickname "Jewish Penicillin" for the same reason: The flavorful, wholesome ingredients give the body important nutrients for aiding the body with healing. 
   My children learned from a very young age that when they felt sick, I'd be making them this special soup. About the time she was 2, my oldest was feeling ill one day and asked if I would make her, "Feel me better soup." I was confused and asked her to describe to me what she meant. As soon as she did I laughed and immediately made her some homemade chicken soup, and the name stuck. Now when some one feels lousy or is even pretending to feel lousy, the first thing they do is ask for "Some 'ssential oils and Feel Me Better Soup." How can I say no to that?!
   How do you make this magic soup? I thought you'd never ask. ;-)
Ingredients:
  • 1 Tablespoon oil/fat of your choice
  • 1 organic, free-range chicken breast or thigh
  • 1/2 organic onion, peeled
  • 7 large cloves of organic garlic(YES, SEVEN!)
  • 1 large organic carrot
  • 3 Tablespoons Bragg's apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups all natural chicken bone broth
  • 1 cup egg noodles(optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
   Warm oil/fat in an 8-cup (or larger) pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, and lay carefully in the oil to cook. Allow chicken to cook thoroughly, turning sides only once. 
While the chicken is cooking, finely grate the onion and carrot,  and crush the garlic. When the
chicken has cooked through, without turning the heat off remove the chicken and set it aside. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic to the pot and allow it to simmer, stirring regularly and scraping any browning from the chicken of the bottom of the pot(flavor and all that jazz) for 2-3 minutes until the carrot is cooked through. 
Pour in the chicken stock, and allow the pot to come to a boil. While you wait, chop the meat into teeny-tiny pieces(the goal is to make them really small and sore throat-friendly). If you're using noodles as well, put them in a ziploc bag, wrap it in a towel, and beat on that thing. Okay, just do what you need to do to crush up the noodles. Again, sore throat-friendly. Remember that they're going to soak up some of the liquid and swell substantially, so even if they look tiny, they'll be way bigger in the soup. 
   When the stock comes to a boil, add the chicken, pasta, and apple cider vinegar. Boil for 7-10 minutes, until the noodles are cooked. Enjoy! Makes about 4 servings of soup. This soup retains its heat VERY well, so consider that before digging in. 
Why these ingredients? Chicken is protein that the body needs to heal. All natural(homemade) chicken bone broth contains vital nutrients like minerals, collagen, and healthy fats that aid in growth, healing, and soothing inflammation, as well as encouraging a more deep, restorative sleep that we NEED to heal. Onionsgarlic, and carrots are all jam-packed with naturally-occurring, easily-absorbed nutrients to benefit us every day, but especially when illness or injury is affecting us. 
Bragg's organic apple cider vinegar has long been revered as a cure-all because of it's naturally powerful health benefits, and it adds a delicious flavor to the soup so adding loads of salt for taste is not necessary. 
 So next time you or some one in your family is feeling low, make yourself a pot of Feel Me Better Soup, or some wholesome, nutrient-rich pot of deliciousness and help your body heal itself, chemical-free. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Quick and Dirty on Essential Rewards

So you did it! You took the plunge and joined Young Living. I did it for the awesome discount- how about you? Can you REALLY beat better health, no chemicals, AND 24% off retail?! Eventually your starter kit(You went premium, right? $150 for $300 value- 11 oils, a
$116.45 retail value = COMPLETELY FREE
With 88.5 Essential Rewards Points
premium diffuser, and a whole bunch of samples and information on using them
) will run out, and you without a doubt will find yourself needing more. If you’re like me, you’re looking for the least expensive route to do that. Does this surprise you? I was serious when I said I joined for the discount.  What I found was Essential Rewards.
   Essential Rewards is Young Living’s optional monthly auto-ship program. *gasp!* I thought this was a no-commitment thing! Luckily Young Living’s monthly order program is super simple, SUPER flexible, and you get amazing rewards and further discounts just for using it to get your EO needs met so even though there is no commitment you’re going to WANT to opt-in. Young Living has a page with the ER FAQ’s(Link here), but here’s the quick and dirty of how it breaks down:
Low minimum order. The minimum order is 50 PV(product value). That usual  equals $50, but sometimes there is a small discrepancy depending on the product you’re ordering.
Same date every month. You get to choose the date you would like your ER to process, and that day every month your order will be processed. No surprises. Ever.
Flexibility. You can order whatever you want. Up until midnight on the day your order is set to process you can change your order any way you like to make it exactly what you need. No commitment to certain products or anything. Also, Young Living has a ‘grace month.’ That means once a year you can call Customer Care and let them know you need to take that month off from having and ER order and that’s a-okay, no penalization whatsoever. 
Preferential treatment. Any time Young Living is running low on a product they look at their ER orders and fill them first, even if they're days or weeks in advance. You're committed to them and they're committed to you. 
Monthly promotions. Every month Young Living has promotions for their ER enrollees. These are completely free products that are added to your order each month just for spending a certain amount(levels are usually around $150, $250, and $300) on your ER order. Full bottles of oils, supplements, and accessories just for buying what you need anyway.
Discounted flat rate shipping! My second favorite thing about ER. Young Living has really reasonable shipping through FedEx on all their orders, but for Essential Rewards order you are charged a flat $6.98(in the continental USA, $12.50 for HI and AK) and that’s IT! That’s a full $1.00 less than the minimum shipping for any other order.
Essential Rewards Points! My favorite thing about ER! With every order you get what are called ER points. This is a percentage(10% of your first six months of ER, 15% for the second six months, and 20% forever after that) of your ER order given back to you to spend “dollar-for-dollar” on Young Living products. For example, once you have 23.5 ER points you can call up Customer Care and order a bottle of lavender for absolutely nothing but the shipping.

Need to stop getting a monthly order indefinitely? No penalty! All it means is that if you ever re-start Essential Rewards, your ER percentage starts over at the beginning. 

That’s it! Yes, it’s a commitment, but with great perks(inexpensive flat rate shipping, free product promos, and points with every order for MORE free products!) that make it worth it. Yes, it might be too much for some families- I really get it! But it’s also worth it if there’s any way your family can swing it. 

Care to follow my daily updates on holistic, healthy family life and every day essential oil use? See a Facebook page a fellow "crunchy" mama and myself manage called Essential Familes

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Green Laundry Room

I do about 12 loads of laundry a week. That's almost two loads a day, or an all-day marathon when we run out of socks, underwear, or towels. Let's be honest, it's usually the latter. With six people in our family, one of whom is in cloth diapers, two others who have night accidents at least once a week, and we have almost entirely replaced our disposable paper and other disposable products with cloth/reusable ones-We make a lot of laundry. For a long time, I was a die-hard powdered Tide user. It cleaned everything- including our cloth diapers- perfectly, and I was firmly of the belief, "Don't fix what's not broken." Then Tide had to up and change things on me. Their most recent formula that is "more concentrated with more stain-fighting power" was a disaster that gave those of us with sensitive skin rashes, and gave the baby straight-up burns in his delicate diaper region no matter how many times I rinsed the diapers. Okay, now it's broken.
After trying many different detergents, natural and otherwise. NOTHING rinsed clean enough to not leave build-up on our diapers, etc, AND not irritate our skin. Finally I started searching for homemade detergent recipes. I'd tried a homemade detergent years ago in 2008- one I purchased from a small business. It was fantastic. The maker had such huge success after only six months she had an opportunity for a buy-out and she took it. Unfortunately, they buyers clearly started using lesser quality ingredients, because the quality of the detergent immediately tanked. Boo.
Lots of Pinning and trial and error later, I came up with an awesome solution: A liquid detergent that is both strong enough for my filthy kids who run and play and stain clothes with furvor, AND get the baby's diapers perfectly clean without build-up or burns.
Here's our magic formula:

Ingredients:


  • 1/4 cup Super Washing Soda
  • 1/4 cup Baking Soda(or Borax)
  • 1/2 cup Castile Soap
  • Boiling water
  • 10-20 drops Essential oils for extra deodorizing power(optional)
  • Gallon-size container
Directions:
Boil a tea kettle or small pot of water. Put the Baking Soda(or Borax) into the receptacle, then pour in the boiling water while stirring. Add the Super Washing Soda and continue to stir until both powders are dissolved. Stop stirring and add the Castile Soap. Top off the gallon with hot-hot water from the tap, and add any essential oils you've chosen. I like to use deodorizing or sanitizing EOs with a pleasant smell that work well with whatever Castile Soap I've chosen. My favorites are Melaleuca(Tea Tree Oil), Lemongrass, and a Young Living blend called Purification. Use 1/2 cup solution per load of laundry. For a natural fabric softener or additional deodorizing, add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle(NEVER the wash- vinegar and Castile Soap don't get along). PRESTO-CHANGE-O! Clean laundry, no rashes or burns, and for pennies!
Separated Laundry Detergent
If you go several days without using the laundry soap solution, it will begin to separate into liquid and gelatinous layers. Just close it up and shake-shake-shake. The gel-like layer will break apart into chunks in the liquid layer and once in the washer will dissolve into the water. 

I have messy kids. Dirty kids. I swear, they love to be filthy. Dirt-throwing fights are a fave around here. Okay, really they're sand fights now that we live in Virginia. Still gross. So I deal with a lot of stained laundry. Super easy, inexpensive, chemical-free stain-remover using ingredients you very likely have in your cupboards:



//BONUS! All-Natural Stain Remover!\\
Ingredients:
  • Peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Peri Bottle
Directions:
Mix equal parts of all three ingredients in the Peri Bottle(CVS, Walgreens, Amazon- they all have 'em). Shake it up. Use it. Yep. That easy.  
To use it, shake the bottle(it will separate between uses, but that has no bearing on its effectiveness), squirt it on the stain and let it sit for an hour or longer(overnight works well for tough stains) before putting it in the wash. If it's an old or particularly tough or set-in stain, after the solution has set on the stain, add a couple drops of dish soap and scrub the fabric together over the stain so the soap and remaining baking soda work up a lather. Seriously, I removed a week-old stain of dark chocolate melted into a light blue shirt with this method. There's nothing it can't do. Not that I've found yet, anyway. 





Care to follow my daily updates on holistic, healthy family life and every day essential oil use? See a Facebook page a fellow "crunchy" mama and myself manage called Essential Familes

Monday, September 1, 2014

All-Natural, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Lattes

I love fall. LOVE! Sweaters with jeans and boots, the smell of fallen leaves, and mugs of warm, flavorful liquid, these are a few of my favorite things. Ordinarily I would begin replacing my usual venti iced Americano weekly treat with a venti pumpkin spice quad latte. It's a delicious, nostalgic smell and flavor, and it's hot beverage in a cup that gives me the pep I need to run this crazy house with eight occupants. WIN! Fortunately, The Food Babe recently did a great, factual, investigative piece on exactly what is in that latte I love to treat myself with. While I KNOW there's unwanted junk in these lattes, I usually turn a blind eye in the name of enjoying the seasonal treat. After seeing just what that junk is there's no way I can do that anymore. I'll take my coffee WITHOUT a side of pure carcinogen, thank you!
   But-but-but, what about my lattes?! I decided to try and make my own, and after tonight's run-through both my husband and I have to agree I NAILED IT! So of course I'm going to share the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup(roughly 4 shots) brewed espresso
  • 1/4 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk of your choice(we chose unsweetened Almond milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon dolce Turbinado syrup *recipe below
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons organic pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 coffee mugs
Directions:
While espresso is brewing, put pumpkin, milk, and spice in a small pot. Over high heat, whisk steadily until texture is frothy and smooth, and mixture is hot to touch(2-3 minutes). Put 1 tablespoon cinnamon dolce syrup and half of the espresso(about 2 shots worth) in each mug, then put half the milk and pumpkin mixture in each mug. Enjoy! 

*A year ago my husband and I decided that coffee creamer was a source of serious toxins we needed to excise from our diets. We looked into doing milk and syrups, but the syrups were just as chemical-laden, if not more so, than creamers themselves. After some research along with trial and error, we came up with a recipe we use alongside almond milk(or any other milk) that we LOVE for a little sweetness in our coffee that is a dead-ringer for Starbucks' cinnamon dolce syrup:
  • 1-1/2 cups Turbinado(unprocessed cane sugar)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 organic cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tablespoon natural vanilla extract
Put everything except vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking occasionally. When it boils, reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for ten minutes. When time is up, remove from heat and add vanilla extract.