Mommypotamus http://www.mommypotamus.com Sat, 25 Oct 2014 03:59:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 How to Render Tallow (Step-By-Step Guide)http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-render-tallow/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-render-tallow/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:35:20 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=28650 How to Render Tallow (Step-By-Step Guide)



If you’ve ever cracked open the 1885 edition . . . Of The White House Cookbook, you may have noticed a peculiar list of kitchen “must haves” that includes an ash bucket, step ladder and coal shovel, plus a collection of cake recipes with no baking times or temperatures. This may seem like an oversight at [&hellip

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How to Render Tallow (Step-By-Step Guide)

If you’ve ever cracked open the 1885 edition . . .

Of The White House Cookbook, you may have noticed a peculiar list of kitchen “must haves” that includes an ash bucket, step ladder and coal shovel, plus a collection of cake recipes with no baking times or temperatures. This may seem like an oversight at first, but when you take your kids on a tour of President Andrew Jackson’s 200 year old plantation, it will click. 

Somewhere between the custom upholstered horse hair couch and bound volumes of newspapers collected over decades . . .

And the perfectly preserved dining room and kitchen – complete with door to the root cellar under the prep table – it will click. Things have changed. 

These days, most of us don’t prepare dinner for fifteen in a cast-iron cauldron over an open fire, but we are blessed if we get to taste a bit of history every day.

Rediscovering foods that have nourished countless generations has been one of my greatest joys. I love whipping up batters in my grandmothers bowls, laying out my mom’s wedding linens for special guests, and sitting down to a meal that could have been made today, a hundred years ago, or even two hundred.

It’s truly magical, especially when the cooking techniques are almost as charming and rustic as my great-great-grandmothers. (But let’s be realistic here, I am not giving up my oven!)

In this post I want to share with you a simple technique for rendering tallow, a healthy fat that is finally making a comeback in the kitchen.

What is tallow?

Tallow is rendered beef fat. Before unhealthy vegetable oils took over our kitchens, tallow was often used for frying because it’s remarkably stable at high temperatures. In addition, it contains several components that are thought to be beneficial, such as . . .

Conjugated linoelic acid (CLA) – Studies suggest that CLA may assist with fat loss, help regulate the immune system, and promote heart health. (source 1, source 2)

Vitamin K2 – This is the elusive “X Factor” studied by Weston A. Price, DDS. It is thought to promote bone health, heart health and optimal brain function.

Omega 3 fatty acids – According to the Mayo Clinic, studies suggest the omega 3 fatty acids may benefit the heart, cognitive function, and joint function among many other things. You can read their full analysis here.

A note on sourcing

Before you run out to your local butcher shop to buy what they have on hand, consider this: According to this study, the CLA content of grass-fed cows is 300-500% higher than what is found in cows fed 50% silage and 50% grain. Another analysis found that tallow obtained from grass-fed beef had four times more omega 3 fatty acids than grain fed.

Also, antibiotics and other unwanted substances given to conventionally-raised cows are likely to be stored in their fat. For this reason,  I recommend obtaining beef suet from pastured sources.

How To Use Tallow

How To Render Tallow

Note: For instructions on how to make tallow in a crock pot instead of the oven, follow the instructions in this tutorial on rendering lard. Just use beef suet instead.

Ingredients

Pasture-raised beef fat

Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Oven safe-pot with colander or veggie steamer

Step 1: Cut or grind the fat into small pieces

Trim away any pieces of meat or blood as you go. When I first started making tallow I was very fastidious about cutting away every tiny bit that had color. There’s not really any need to do that – just get the big stuff.

Step 2: Place fat in a pot with colander (or a pot with a veggie steamer inside)

Step 3: Place pot in an oven heated to 220F

Over time, the tallow will melt and drip down to the bottom of the pot, while the bits that are not fat will stay on top of the colander. Mash/stir occasionally to keep the suet from burning. The process is complete when all that is left on top is connective tissue that won’t melt. It can take several hours depending on how much you are rendering.

Step 4: Strain

Remove the colander and strain the liquid fat that has dripped into the bottom of the pot through cheesecloth or an unbleached coffee filter. Transfer the tallow to a jar for storage. Pure tallow can be stored at room temperature for about a month, or in the fridge for several months. It can also be stored in the freezer for over a year.

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My Favorite Non-Toxic Mattresshttp://www.mommypotamus.com/favorite-non-toxic-mattress/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/favorite-non-toxic-mattress/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:16:03 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=30101 My Favorite Non-Toxic Mattress



Finding My Credit Card In The Nut Butter Jar? Funny.  Hearing a child shout “What’s the PASSWORD?!?” while trying to unclog a paper filled toilet? Also funny. Babysomnia? NOT FUNNY. As all moms know, there comes a point where the dream of flowers and chocolates is tossed aside for a comfy pillow and – if our spouse [&hellip

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My Favorite Non-Toxic Mattress

Finding My Credit Card In The Nut Butter Jar? Funny. 

Hearing a child shout “What’s the PASSWORD?!?” while trying to unclog a paper filled toilet? Also funny.

Babysomnia? NOT FUNNY. As all moms know, there comes a point where the dream of flowers and chocolates is tossed aside for a comfy pillow and – if our spouse can make it happen – the gift of two hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Okay, one hour.

Maybe even thirty minutes. Romance isn’t dead, folks.

If you are nodding your head right now, this post is for you. A few months ago, I asked you on Facebook what three things you needed more of in your life. For many of you, at least one of the answers was sleep. (For some of you, it was all three!) In this post I’m going to review intelliBED, which is the mattress I bought early this past summer. More importantly, though, I’m going to talk about the science of sleep and why this decision ended up being more important than I realized.

The Art Of Getting The Sleep You Need

So let’s start with the basics: How many hours of sleep do you get most nights? Eight? Seven? Less?

If your answer was less than eight, consider this: In one study conducted by The University of Pennsylvania, researchers divided sleepers into three groups: those who got eight, six, and four hour of sleep. Not surprisingly, the eight hour group did well on cognitive tests. The four hour group? They scored like a company of blindfolded archers trying to hit a pea while the sky rained down angry ferrets.

But we’re not here to talk about them. We want to talk about the six hour group, which reported that they were tired but had adapted to the loss of sleep. In their assessment, their performance had not been affected. But objectively, by the end of the two week experiment they demonstrated impaired cognition that was equal to being drunk. (source) Put another way, incremental sleep loss had rendered them no more functional than an individual who had been awake for 24 hours straight. (source)

So getting enough sleep is obviously important. But it’s not just about getting sleep – it’s about getting deep, healing of sleep.

What is healing sleep? As you can see in the graph above, there are four stages of the sleep cycle: REM (which is the stage we dream in), Stage 2 (light sleep that produces fast brain waves), and Stage 3 and 4 sleep, also known as Delta sleep.

Delta sleep, which is characterized by high-amplitude, low-frequency delta waves, is when your body does most of its healing work: releasing human growth hormone, repairing tissue, stimulating the production of new cells, etc. This time of rejuvenation is associated with improved memory, decreased depression, and improved immune, nervous and digestive system function.

How My Favorite Mattress Is Different

Back when I wrote about my ideal mattress criteria, I was mostly looking for a non-toxic solution. When I finally found one I wanted to try, I called the company, intelliBED, to ask some questions. What I learned during that conversation is that there is much more to restorative sleep than I’d realized.

When we sleep on a bed that creates pressure on our hips, back, and shoulders, we have to move frequently to redistribute our weight. If we don’t, areas under pressure lose circulation and tissue gets damaged. According to the Mayo Clinic,”Bedsores — also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers — are injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin.”

Obviously, our bodies do whatever it takes to prevent this damage from happening. Since our bodies don’t typically move around while remaining in Stage 3 and 4 sleep, we have to come up out of deep, restorative sleep back into lighter sleep to shift our weight.  These “micro-arousals”  may inhibit or stop the release of human growth hormone during deep sleep. (source)

IntelliBED uses a patented gel-matrix that reduces pressure on our hips and shoulders, thus in many cases extending the time we can stay comfortably in deep, healing sleep. Using a medical grade pressure mapping system, they recently recorded what happened when the same person laid down on four types of mattress. Anything over blue signifies enough pressure to cause an individual to need to move within five minutes.

The bottom line:

If you frequently shift your weight while you sleep, you may not be getting enough of the deepest, most restorative levels of sleep your body needs. IntelliBED uses a gel matrix called isoflex(r) that is used in hospitals to cushion severe wound care patients. IntelliBED is the only company that has obtained a license to use this gel in commercial products, and that’s what makes them different.

Here’s a demonstration of how the gel works:

And here’s an overview of the bed from Dr. Robert Troell, a Stanford educated surgeon who is also board-certified in sleep medicine.

So I set out to find a non-toxic mattress but ended up with a super-comfy bed that has improved my quality of sleep. Does that mean I settled for something with questionable materials? Nope.

Truly Non-Toxic Materials

Federal regulations require that all companies use some kind of fire blocker in their mattresses. As I wrote about here, the flame retardants typically used are toxic, but manufacturers say that’s okay because they remain tightly sealed in couches and beds.

Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. 

Flame retardants have been detected in the blood of remote Arctic polar bears, human breast milk, and even in the bark of trees ranging from Tasmania to Indonesia. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Blood levels of certain widely used flame retardants doubled in adults every two to five years between 1970 and 2004.” (source)

These same flame retardants are currently associated with lowered IQ, developmental problems, cancer, reproductive problems and thyroid dysfunction. Children are especially vulnerable to their effects, yet they are the ones who spend 12-16 hours a day with their faces near the surface of the mattress. Babies born in the U.S. today have the highest recorded blood serum levels of fire retardants in the world.

Babypotamus decided to demonstrate my point about babies sleeping with their faces smooshed against the mattress by taking a nap during my photo shoot.

Obviously we don’t want THAT stuff in a non-toxic mattress, but to meet federal regulations some kind of fire blocker has to be added. For me, one of the first things that stood out about intelliBED is that they use silica, which in my opinion is one of the safest options available. Most companies use boric acid because it’s cheaper, but research on its safety is controversial at best.

When it comes to mattress toxicity, fire retardents are not the only issue, but I was so impressed by how intelliBED handled this detail that I wanted to learn more. What I discovered is that they’ve really done their homework when it comes to materials, and I’m happy to be their customer. More detailed information about what materials are used in their mattresses can be found in the video interview at the bottom of this post.

Cost & Durability

I spent a comparable amount to the intelliBED ten years ago when, as newlyweds, Daddypotamus and I invested in a top-of-the-line memory foam mattress. And yes, we got ten years out of that bed, but I didn’t get my money’s worth for that entire decade. No way. If I had known what I was doing, I would have replaced that mattress five years after purchase. That’s when it really started to feel different. The memory foam felt like a different mattress with each successive pregnancy.

I was pregnant with Katie two years after purchase. Micah came along three years later. And baby Levi appeared three years after that. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy with Levi, I was experiencing so much pressure on my hips that I began waking up with bruises on my hips! I had to make a conscious effort to wake up and turn more often. It didn’t feel like “space age polymer” by then, I can assure you.

Since the goal is deep, restorative sleep, it would be good to know how long a mattress will last in its ideal condition, and then divide the cost of the mattress by the number of years and/or months of optimal condition to determine the cost of a really good sleep. At somewhere in the ballpark of $3,600, my queen-sized memory foam really cost me $720 a year. And that includes all the noxious fumes I had to breathe during that time. That’s a pretty big cost for such a significant downside.

Our king-sized intelliBED 30 Deluxe, while it runs about $3,500 for the mattress, is warrantied to last in optimal sleeping condition for an unheard of 30 years! That’s $116 per year for optimal, non-toxic sleep experience. We’ve already covered the cost of this year by what we’ve saved in chiropractic visits.

The Downside of My intelliBED

There is ONE way in which my old memory foam mattress was better than my current intelliBED. My intelliBED mattress moves a little more when I get in and out of bed. I have to move carefully in order not to wake this little guy . . .

. . . but I feel so much more comfortable with the material used in this mattress, and the cushioning and support we’re getting is so much better that the trade-off is worth it to me.

Watch The Interview

IntelliBED co-founder Sean Clark and I recently chatted all about sleep wellness, and though the replay video was initially lost due to a YouTube glitch, they were eventually able to recover it. Thanks, YouTube!

In this interview we go into more detail about the materials used in intelliBED’s mattresses, and I also share some tips I’ve found helpful for getting better sleep at night.

How To Save 10% On Your IntelliBED Order

IntelliBED has a 60 day, risk-free trial, so if you’re interested in trying them you can have a bed delivered to your door, worry-free. If you decide it’s not for you they will pay to have it shipped back to them. When you order, make sure to use the coupon code MOMMYPOTAMUS  to save 10% on your entire order.

Also, if a mattress isn’t in your budget right now and you still have a bed that offers good support, intelliBED sells a topper with their gel matrix that you can lay over your current bed. Just fyi.

Question? Leave a comment below!

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Chocolate Peppermint Superfood Smoothiehttp://www.mommypotamus.com/chocolate-peppermint-superfood-smoothie/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/chocolate-peppermint-superfood-smoothie/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:01:48 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=30538 Chocolate Peppermint Superfood Smoothie



  Okay, An Arctic Wind Probably WON’T . . . Tousle your hair playfully and send goosebumps up your spine after one sip, but if you loved York Peppermint Patties growing up I’ve got just the thing for you. Cool, refreshing, and delightfully free of questionable additives like PGPR and fake flavorings, this chocolate peppermint superfood smoothie [&hellip

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Chocolate Peppermint Superfood Smoothie

 

Okay, An Arctic Wind Probably WON’T . . .

Tousle your hair playfully and send goosebumps up your spine after one sip, but if you loved York Peppermint Patties growing up I’ve got just the thing for you.

Cool, refreshing, and delightfully free of questionable additives like PGPR and fake flavorings, this chocolate peppermint superfood smoothie is a nutrient-dense way to fuel your day.

What Are Superfoods?

As I wrote in Superfood Smoothies, “Deep in the Amazon rainforest, guarded by tribes of tamarin, capuchin and flying monkeys, grows the acai fruit. More commonly known as the ‘beauty berry,’ acai has been revered for generations for its health promoting properties.

In another corner of the earth, which is also known as my barn, sits a nest full of golden-yolked eggs. What do these two things have in common? Why, they’re both superfoods of course!

Though marketers would like us to believe that this special category of foods only grows in distant, exotic lands, the truth is that nutrient-dense foods can be found just about anywhere. Superfoods, as we call them, are simply foods that contain high concentrations of nutrients that are needed for optimal health.”

In this recipe, you’ll find superfood ingredients that are both plant and animal-based. Let’s take a look at some of them . . .

Egg Yolks

Egg yolks are sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Multivitamin.” They contain vitamins A, E, D, B, K, and E as well as omega-3 fatty acids, choline and all nine essential amino acids. I personally feel comfortable consuming them raw as long as they come from healthy, pastured chickens, but you can boil them before adding them if you prefer. For more information on the safety of raw eggs, I recommend this article from Lauren Geertsen, NTP.

Gelatin

Gelatin is rich in amino acids such as glycine, which assists with detoxification and promotes good sleep. It also contains proline, which along with glycine supports collagen production. In addition, it’s also a good source of protein – about 6 grams per tablespoon. Like eggs and milk, the quality of the source is important, which is why I recommend buying gelatin obtained from grass-fed cows.

Another consideration is the “clump factor.” Regular gelatin tends to clump together when added to smoothies, but the cooked form – known as hydrolysate – does not. Great Lakes Gelatin produces hydrolysate gelatin from pastured cows that remains smooth even when stirred into cold liquids.

Coconut Milk / Coconut Oil

According to the BBC’s website, Good Food, “Coconuts contain significant amounts of fat, but unlike other nuts, they provide fat that is mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) in particular, one called lauric acid.

Lauric acid is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral and antibacterial that destroys a wide variety of disease causing organisms. It is therefore now thought that consumption of coconut milk may help protect the body from infections and viruses.”

Coconut milk also contains bone building phosphorous and soothing magnesium, making it one of my favorite kitchen ingredients. I’ve included a tutorial for making it in the appendix.

Cacao Powder

Rich in iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and sulphur, cacao powder also contains antioxidants such as theobromine, which is thought to increase focus and alertness.

Optional Add-Ins

To boost the nutrient-value of your smoothie, try adding maca powder, dessicated liver powder, probiotics or fermented cod liver oil.

In citrus or berry-based smoothies I often add a natural form of Vitamin C, like acerola powder.

Chocolate Peppermint Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 banana (preferably frozen)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (how to make coconut milk from coconut cream)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin hydrolysate
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter
  • 2-4 egg yolks (optional)
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter (optional)
  • Additional milk/coconut milk/almond milk, kefir, water or ice cubes as needed.

Instructions

Add banana, avocado, milk, 1 tablespoon honey/maple syrup, cacao, vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, ice and gelatin to blender. If desired, add optional egg yolks, almond butter, and additional supplements/add-ins. Turn blender on, remove cap from the blender lid, and pour in additional liquid/ice if needed. When the smoothie reaches your preferred consistency, add coconut oil/butter through the hole in a slow, steady stream. Taste, add additional 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and/or sweetener if desired, and serve.

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5 Maca Energy Bar Recipeshttp://www.mommypotamus.com/maca-energy-bar-recipe/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/maca-energy-bar-recipe/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 14:53:43 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=29192 5 Maca Energy Bar Recipes



I See You There . . . Clutching that coffee mug for dear life. The expression on your face tells me that: A) Your little one decided to wake you up at 3am to inform you that she’d changed her favorite color from green to purple B) Your other little one decided to give you [&hellip

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5 Maca Energy Bar Recipes

I See You There . . .

Clutching that coffee mug for dear life. The expression on your face tells me that:

A) Your little one decided to wake you up at 3am to inform you that she’d changed her favorite color from green to purple

B) Your other little one decided to give you a makeover when you fell asleep sitting up – hello chunky bangs!

C) You just found out what happened to the remote and now you wish there was a way to tether it to the coffee table

D) All of the above

As a mama of three, I get it. Sometimes just getting through the day feels like trying to complete an Ironman Triathlon while singing the alphabet backwards . . . underwater. I’m no stranger to a cup o’ joe or tea when needed, but personally I’ve found that too much turns me into a gremlin.

Even worse, it’s tough on my adrenals, which I’m trying to take better care of. That’s why in addition to making sure I get plenty of sleep – which I’ll be talking more about soon – I try to focus on energy boosting alternatives to caffeine during the day. “Alternatives?” you say. “There are ALTERNATIVES?”

Yes, yes there are. Meet my friend maca, superfood of the Andes mountains.

What Is Maca?

Sometimes called Peruvian Ginseng, maca is a radish-like root that grows at 11,000+ feet in the Andes mountains of Peru and Bolivia. Legend has it that Incan warriors used to consume maca before battle to increase endurance, and research suggests there may be wisdom to this tradition.

Maca is an adaptogen, which means that it helps the body adapt to stress and increases stamina. Unlike caffeine, which which is a stimulant, adaptogens have “a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.” (1) Essentially, what this means is that when things get out of whack, maca helps nourish the body and nudge it back toward balance.

How does it do this? Though maca doesn’t contain any hormones, it is rich in several amino acids that serve as building blocks for key hormones. It is also high in minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc, certain vitamins such as B1, B2 and C, and it also contains iodine and several essential fatty acids. (A quick note on iodine: Though it is vital for thyroid health, many experts say that it should always be consumed with selenium. Brazil nuts, fish such as tuna/salmon/sardines, shellfish such as shrimp/scallops/oysters, crimini mushrooms, lamb, chicken and beef are all considered  good sources of selenium. I think some of these sources – such as beef and lamb – might have a wide variation of selenium content based on the diet of the livestock.)

It is thought that by nourishing our endocrine system, maca may help boost energy levels, elevate mood, support neurotransmitter production, and increase fertility/libido. (2)

Is Maca Safe For Breastfeeding Women & Children?

According to Web MD, in Peru “maca has been a staple in the diet of men, women, children, infants, pregnant and lactating women, elderly, and the infirm. Only two crops grow in the higher elevations in Peru: potatoes and maca.”

Yep, that’s right. Just like my favorite multi-vitamin, liver, maca is a FOOD. In Peru, it is given to children because it is believed to support cognitive performance and build strong bones. (3) It is also traditionally consumed to support fertility.

Chris Kilham, who teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts and serves on the Medical Advisory Board of the Dr. Oz show, says that the average person living in the Andes eats about a half pound per day. (4) Drugs.com notes “no safety concerns despite widespread use.” (5)

However, some suppliers of maca  – especially those in the U.S. – say not to consume while pregnant/breastfeeding, while companies that sell in other countries recommend it for pregnancy and breastfeeding. (6) Why is that? It’s hard to say for sure, but some people believe that because of a lack of double blind studies, companies are exercising caution.

So is it safe for pregnancy, breastfeeding and use with children or not? Unfortunately, there is not a definitive answer. I suggest that you discuss any supplements/superfoods you take or plan to take with a healthcare provider.

What Kind Of Maca Is Best?

Most maca powders on the market today are raw, which I personally avoid. Just like with other members of the cruciferous family, raw maca contains certain compounds (glucosinolates) that may suppress thyroid function. Cooking reduces and/or deactivates glucosinolates, which is why Peruvians have traditionally consumed it roasted, boiled, dried and ground into a flour for baking, or made into tea.

Gelatinized maca is cooked, which is why I use it exclusively. It comes in different colors (cream, red and black), which have different properties. In general, red is favored by women, black is favored by men, and cream is used by everyone.

Where Can I Find Maca?

Gelatinized maca is not widely available, but you can find all three varieties at The Maca Team’s shop. This small, family-run company has taken great care to source potent, fair-trade maca from a small organic farming co-operative in Junin, Peru. I also love that they pay attention to important details that can dramatically affect potency, like how the roots are grown, processed, and stored.

I’d like to thank The Maca Team for sponsoring this post, and for making it possible to experiment with the following energy bar recipes. My personal favorite is the Lemon-Lime while Daddypotamus can’t get enough of the Apple Cinnamon.

Now, let’s take a look at those recipes!

The Maca Energy Bar (5 Ways)

Coconut Cream

Apple Cinnamon

Gingerbread

Lemon Lime

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Directions

Each recipe makes about 4 bars. The amount of maca in each bar is approximately 3/4 – 1.5 teaspoons, depending on if you use one tablespoon or two in the recipe.

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until the mixture is finely chopped. When you think it might be ready, remove the lid and pick up a piece to roll in the palm of your hands. If it sticks together it’s ready to form into bars. If it’s crumbly, it either needs to blend a little more or it needs a little moisture. If it is very dry, turn the food processor on and pour a teaspoon of water through the opening in the top. Continue adding water as needed until the mixture sticks together. I’ve found that somewhere between 1 teaspoon and 2 tablespoons is usually enough.

When the mixture is ready, press it onto wax or parchment paper and form into bars. Wrap each bar individually and store in the freezer until needed.

This post has been sponsored by The Maca Team. Thank you for supporting the companies that I believe in, as it helps me to continue developing recipes and researching topics to share with you.

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How to Make a Terrariumhttp://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-terrarium/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-terrarium/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 22:41:11 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=26470 How to Make a Terrarium



Ah, Homeschooling . . . The only job where you can sit at the kitchen table, nurse the baby, and supervise breakfast while getting credit for teaching home economics. Sure, there are downsides, like when your four year-old corrects your latin and the baby tries to eat the lesson plan, but you’ve got a good thing [&hellip

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How to Make a Terrarium

Ah, Homeschooling . . .

The only job where you can sit at the kitchen table, nurse the baby, and supervise breakfast while getting credit for teaching home economics. Sure, there are downsides, like when your four year-old corrects your latin and the baby tries to eat the lesson plan, but you’ve got a good thing going and you know it.

For example, how else can you justify a creative whim as a class project? You get a beautiful, fresh arrangement to inspire you as the fall/winter landscape fades to brown, and the kids learn about botany, geology, and ecology.

Spoiler alert: If you homeschool and want to give this a try, I’ve included seven ways you can make this project educational for your little ones. You’re welcome

5 Things Children Can Learn from Building a Terrarium

  • The life cycle of plants – More on that here.
  • Geology- Discuss desert landscapes and the different layers of the earth. (You can find some lesson plan ideas that might tie in here. Also, although this discussion on soil layers is not specifically geared toward deserts, it’s a good place to start.
  • Botany – Identify one of your succulent plants: where it grows, how it’s adapted to low-water environments, whether or not it has any medicinal or culinary properties, etc.
  • Interaction systems – “In the real world eco-systems can grow to become tremendously complex systems of interactions where many types of plants, animals and insects contribute in their own ways. While you probably can’t build a complex eco-system in a small terrarium you can display and discuss the importance of how your plants interact together to create a whole unit.The best example of this is the sharing of, and competing for the resources of water, sunlight, and nutrients. This is particularly noticeable if you use different types of plants. Some plants will send out extensive root systems in an attempt to monopolize nutrients in the soil while other plants will shoot tall and have large leaf systems that can potentially block sunlight from reaching lower plants. Some plants will grow extremely fast in a race to get all the resources before other plants have a chance to take root. These factors are only a small part of the interaction that happens in even the smallest of eco-systems but they are a good way to begin the thought process for how plant and animal systems interact in complex ways,” writes Will, aka The Terrarium Man.
  • Environmental Responsibility – “Your children will also learn about caring for the earth and for living things. Stress to them that the terrarium is like the earth in miniature and that if they care for it properly, it will thrive. If they ignore it, pollute it, or introduce harmful substances, the terrarium will no longer be healthy. The plants will die and any animals they have placed in it will die as well. They will learn valuable lessons about responsibility in general, and about responsibility for the only earth we have.” (source)
  • Ecology – Ask what your kids think would happen if you poured toxic chemicals into the bowl. Talk about how our environment is being polluted, then discuss mycoremediation, which uses mushrooms to heal toxic environments. Yes, I really said that. Mushrooms have the ability to clean soil affected by oil spills, industrial waste and pesticides at the molecular level. (source)

What Kind Of Terrarium Is Best?

There are two basic types of terrarium containers: open and closed. Open terrariums are best for succulents, cacti and many houseplants. Closed terrariums are better for moss, ferns, and other plants that love humidity.

Though closed terrariums are amazing for a class on ecosystems – you can discuss photosynthesis, respiration, and the water cycle, oh my! – they’re also exceptionally vulnerable to mold/rot problems. We decided to go with the easy, open terrarium. Plus, moss can sometimes be difficult to come by, while just about any hardware store with a nursery will have succulents in stock.

When choosing your container, keep in mind that succulents do best in dry conditions with good air flow. Wide, open containers are ideal.  Small openings trap more heat and moisture, so terrariums made with those types of containers should be kept further away from windows that receive intense afternoon heat.

Unfortunately I didn’t come across that info until Katie and I had already fallen in love with the balloon lanterns you see in the photos. So yeah, maybe make a more strategic choice than we did, even though I have seen at least one company that sells a succulent terrarium similar to ours. I’ll let you know how ours are doing in a few months.

How to Make a Terrarium

Equipment Needed

  • Glass container with an opening
  • Pebbles
  • Pantyhose or sphagnum moss (optional)
  • Succulent-friendly potting soil (details in step 4)
  • Succulent plants

Step 1: Wash And Dry Your Container

This helps good bacteria present in the soil get well established.

Step 2: Add A Layer Of Pebbles

About one inch is good, but if you want to layer for added effect go for it. The potami and I added a layer of small stones with pebbles on top.

Step 3: Add Pantyhose or Sphagnum Moss

Though this step is not absolutely necessary, we chose to lay a few swaths of pantyhose on top of the pebbles. The pantyhose will prevent our potting soil from settling into the rock layer over time. Sphagnum moss will also work, but we didn’t have any on hand.

(P.S.  I don’t wear pantyhose. I keep it on hand for making wool dryer balls, pinky swear.)

Step 4: Add Soil

Succulents don’t do well in overly-moist soil, so look for a non-compact potting mix that drains quickly. You can buy organic cactus and succulent-friendly potting mix here, or you can mix up your own with these instructions.

Add a minimum of two inches of soil to your terrarium, or more as needed. For example, if your succulents have 4 inch roots, add 4-5 inches.

Step 5: Add Your Succulents

The plants should not be touching each other or the glass. My helpers probably added a few more than we needed, but that means I get to teach them about pruning now so it works out.

How To Care For Your Succulent Terrarium

Make sure it gets 4-5 hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day.

Water every 2-3 weeks. Each plant should get about 1-2 teaspoons of water, delivered with a medicine dropper or this technique. I know, you want to do more because you are nurturing like that. Unless they begin to look withered, it’s probably best not to.

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Natural Remedies For Growing Painshttp://www.mommypotamus.com/natural-remedies-growing-pains/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/natural-remedies-growing-pains/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 16:54:32 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=29724 Natural Remedies For Growing Pains



Are achy legs waking your child up at night? If the problem disappears like a bad dream in the morning, it could be growing pains. About 25-40% of children will suffer from growing pains at one point or another, usually between the ages of three and twelve. (source) And obviously parents suffer, too, because, um, sleep deprivation! So what [&hellip

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Natural Remedies For Growing Pains

Are achy legs waking your child up at night?

If the problem disappears like a bad dream in the morning, it could be growing pains. About 25-40% of children will suffer from growing pains at one point or another, usually between the ages of three and twelve. (source) And obviously parents suffer, too, because, um, sleep deprivation!

So what are growing pains, exactly? According to Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani, growing pains are leg cramps/aches that occur “most often in the late afternoon or at night, and often wake the child from sleep.” (source) Unlike other leg problems, they are not connected with any swelling, redness, tenderness, fever, limping, rash, loss of appetite, weakness or fatigue,” and ironically they are not typically associated with periods of rapid bone growth. (source)

What Causes Growing Pains?

Though several studies have been conducted, no one has actually been able to pinpoint the cause of growing pains. My guess is that there probably isn’t a single cause any more than there is one cause behind sore throats. In the case of sore throats, it could be too much cheering at at football game, or a viral/bacterial infection,  irritated mucous membranes due to dry air, or something else.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the possible causes of growing pains along with natural remedies that studies have found helpful. Spoiler alert: If your grandma recommended cod liver oil and bone broth for everything, she was on to something!

Natural Remedies For Growing Pains

Vitamin D

In a recent study, researchers found that only 6% of children who suffered from growing pains had adequate levels of vitamin D. (source) A subsequent study examined this relationship by supplementing thirty-three children affected by growing pains with vitamin D for three months. In eight children the pain resolved completely, while others experienced a significant reduction in symptoms. (source)

One theory behind why vitamin D might help is that inadequate vitamin D leads to low bone density, which places ” abnormal pressure on sensory nerves of the bone.” (source)

I am not an expert on this, but I think growing pains are probably most often related to nutritional deficiencies. Though it is not quite the same, I used to experience severe restless leg syndrome due to nutritional deficiencies. Nighttime is often when the body chooses to “build,” so it makes sense that it’s scrounging around for building materials at night – if it doesn’t find what it needs easily it will sometimes “steal” from other areas. For me, this was what caused the discomfort.

How much vitamin D should children receive? Opinions vary, but I loosely follow the Vitamin D Council’s recommendations. You can find them here. The reason I don’t follow them strictly is that I prefer to obtain vitamin D through wise sun exposure (when possible) and whole food sources rather than isolated supplements. Fermented cod liver oil is probably the highest source of vitamin D in my family’s diet, followed by lard, which has up to 1,100 IU per tablespoon.

Bone Broth

In one 1944 study (yes, 1944!), supplementing bone meal along with vitamins A and D was able to produce a “complete remission of symptoms” in all 112 children participating in the study.  (source 1, source 2)

Both vitamins A and D improve the body’s ability to absorb the minerals needed to build healthy bones, so it makes sense that they be taken alongside mineral rich foods. Bone broth is similar to bone meal in that it contains highly bioavailable forms of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and other minerals, but in my opinion it’s much easier to work into our diet.

If my child were experiencing growing pains, I’d make up lots of bone broth and serve it in a steaming mug every morning for breakfast, plus make sure he/she eats high quality fats (coconut oil, butter, lard) and takes fermented cod liver oil (a good source of vitamin D and A0 to maximize absorption. If you’re new to bone broth, here’s a quick video tutorial for making it easily in a crock pot.

Warm Bath With Epsom/Ancient Minerals

This is really two remedies in one. Since some studies show that growing pains occur following intense physical activity, some researchers have suggested that muscle soreness is the cause. It seems strange to me that the muscle soreness would spontaneously resolve the next morning as is suggested, but since there does often seem to be a physical activity related component I think relaxing the muscles is a great idea. (source)

A warm, soothing epsom salt bath will both relax the muscles and improve magnesium status. Since most of us are magnesium deficient anyway, this remedy is a win-win in my book. (source 1source 2)

Chiropractic Care

Buckle up, because we’re going to take a hard left turn now and discuss a totally different possible cause of growing pains: vertebral subluxations. (In non-geek speak, the need for a chiropractic adjustment.)

In a 2010 study, “two toddlers (a 2¾-yr-old girl and 3½-yr-old boy) were taken to the chiropractor with growing pains of several months duration. Medical care had thus far recommended offering Tylenol. In the chiropractic examination, spinal dysfunction (or vertebral subluxations) were detected in the lumbosacral spine of both children and chiropractic adjustments were made to help improve nerve function and spinal motion. After their first chiropractic adjustment, both mothers stated that their child did not wake at night with growing pains, and after completing a trial of care, both children’s initial complaints fully resolved.

It is important to remember the relationship that exists between the spine, pelvis and legs. These areas of the body are like a chain; nerve, joint or muscle dysfunction in any part of this chain can affect the other parts, and the nerves that extend from the lumbosacral region of the spine transmit signals between the legs and the brain. Any interruption to these signals can impair proper functioning of the body. Both children in the study above were found to have dysfunction in this lumbosacral region.” (source)

Massage

Though it doesn’t necessarily address the root cause of growing pains, massage can be a wonderful comfort measure. I found it helpful for my restless leg syndrome, which is somewhat similar, after I gave up tranquilizers and began searching for a natural solution. (I did eventually find one that worked for me, which I wrote about here.)

Vitamin B6

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, growing pains may sometimes be a result of vitamin B6 deficiency. (source) Foods that are naturally high in B6 are tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach and banana.

Some of my favorite B6 rich foods are blackened salmon with pineapple salsa (pictured above), bacon-liver pate and superfood chili.

Other Dietary Changes

Some moms have reported that their children’s growing pains resolved when the removed problematic ingredients from their diet. For one child it was aspartame, for another it was gluten. Though I don’t know of any studies that are directly related to either of these substances, it makes sense to me that food sensitivities could play a role if they cause significant inflammation.

When To See A Doctor

According to the Mayo Clinic, you should consult “your child’s doctor if you’re concerned about your child’s leg pain or the pain is:

  • Persistent
  • Still present in the morning
  • Severe enough to interfere with your child’s normal activities
  • Located in the joints
  • Associated with an injury
  • Accompanied by other signs or symptoms, such as swelling, redness, tenderness, fever, limping, rash, loss of appetite, weakness or fatigue” (source)

What natural remedies for growing pains have you tried? How did they work for you?

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Sugar Cookie Body Scrub Recipehttp://www.mommypotamus.com/sugar-cookie-scrub/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/sugar-cookie-scrub/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:57:28 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=29984 Sugar Cookie Body Scrub Recipe



Is Dull, Dry Skin Rubbing You The Wrong Way? Then you’re going to love everything about this sugar cookie body scrub recipe: The ease of making it, the aroma of warm vanilla in a steamy shower, and of course the smooth, polished skin. Unlike pricey mass-produced goop, this scrub will nourish your body {and soul} with [&hellip

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Sugar Cookie Body Scrub Recipe

Is Dull, Dry Skin Rubbing You The Wrong Way?

Then you’re going to love everything about this sugar cookie body scrub recipe: The ease of making it, the aroma of warm vanilla in a steamy shower, and of course the smooth, polished skin.

Unlike pricey mass-produced goop, this scrub will nourish your body {and soul} with natural ingredients. It makes a great gift as well, so make a double batch and reward yourself for your thoughtfulness by taking some time in the bathroom ALONE (if you’re a mother you know what I mean!).

About The Ingredients

Sugar

Sugar contains naturally occurring glycolic acid, which dissolves old, dead skin and makes exfoliating that much easier. Though I prefer unrefined sucanat for baking, more refined types of sugar work better for exfoliation. Turbinado will work, but it is more coarse than refined cane sugar. For the best texture, I prefer a mix of the two. These are staples I keep in my pantry just for making decadent scrubs.

Sea Salt

Salt – especially unrefined salt with its 60+ trace minerals – is a powerful rejuvenator of tired, dry skin. Not only does it stimulate cell growth, assist with detoxification and improve circulation, it also helps skin absorb and retain moisture.

Olive Oil

Though there are other oils that can be used – jojoba, almond, and avocado for example – I typically use olive oil because I have it on hand. Olive oil is rich in vitamin E, which is thought to have anti-aging properties, and it’s long been used to nourish and protect skin.

Castile Soap

Though there is a certain charm to 100% oil-based scrubs, adding castile soap leaves skin feeling soft, moisturized and supple without an excessive “oily” feeling. Since I typically need to get dressed and go immediately, I prefer the lighter finish.

Molasses

This rich humectant locks moisture in while infusing skin with manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium and other nutrients.

Sugar Cookie Body Scrub Recipe

This recipe was adapted from this one from Gina-Marie of So, Let’s Hang Out.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar*
  • 1/4 cup sea salt**
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unscented castile soap
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

* I know it’s crazy to find this on Mommypotamus. See the section on “Sugar” above for why I use it in this recipe. If you prefer you can use turbinado, but the scrub will be more coarse.

** If desired, you can substitute more cane sugar. However, keep in mind that because salt and sugar absorb moisture differently, you’ll need to add a few extra tablespoons to get the same texture.

Instructions

Add sugar and salt to a bowl and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, gently mix the castile soap, vanilla, and almond extract if you’re using it. Add the castile soap mixture and olive oil to the sugar/salt mixture and combine thoroughly.

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What’s More Important: Food Or Sleep?http://www.mommypotamus.com/whats-important-food-sleep/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/whats-important-food-sleep/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 16:46:22 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=29675 What’s More Important: Food Or Sleep?



On your right is a piping hot breakfast . . . Full of your early morning favorites and a cup of coffee, and on your left there’s a snooze button with 120 minutes on the clock. You can have the breakfast or the sleep, but you can’t have both. What do you do? WAIT – [&hellip

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What’s More Important: Food Or Sleep?

On your right is a piping hot breakfast . . .

Full of your early morning favorites and a cup of coffee, and on your left there’s a snooze button with 120 minutes on the clock. You can have the breakfast or the sleep, but you can’t have both. What do you do?

WAIT – Before you decide, consider this: When researchers from Hospital University of Pennsylvania’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory deprived subjects of two hours of sleep for two weeks straight, they demonstrated impaired cognition that was equal to being drunk. (source) Even worse, the participants had no idea.

They admitted they were tired, but claimed to have adjusted to the lack of sleep. “Even 14 days into the study, they said sleepiness was not affecting them. In fact, their performance had tanked.” (source)

As a mom who co-sleeps with a baby starfish ninja I was not thrilled to read about this study. I mean, I’m a MOM. Sleep deprivation is part of the job description, at least temporarily. However, if I’m being honest my sleep debt has always been about more than the baby – it’s about my “to do” list. You know the list I’m talking about. Maybe it’s on paper, maybe it’s not, but either way you need an extra hour in your day to get it done . . . or do you?

The Productivity Myth

“We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity,” writes Tony Schwarz of the Harvard Business Review. “In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity.”

Unfortunately this myth doesn’t just cost us our productivity. The side effects of try to squeeze in one more hour of productivity – and the resulting chronic sleep deprivation  – are more tangible than that. Poor sleep is associated with an increased rate of:

  • autoimmune disorders
  • heart disease
  • depression, mood disorders
  • weight gain
  • hormonal problems
  • impaired immune function

(source 1, source 2, source 3)

Also, according to Dr. Rapoport, director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program, “A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids.”

“Kids don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do,” he told Health.com. “Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive.”

Want To Thrive? Sleep Is The Secret Ingredient

Studies show that sleep makes us smarter, more creative, stronger, happier, more productive, and it even keeps us looking younger. I wouldn’t say it’s more important than food, even though it’s possible to live longer without food than sleep. But it’s every bit as important as food when it comes to experiencing vibrant health. (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5, source 6, source 7)

We know that, and yet most of us are sleep deprived – why is that? I’ve done quite a bit of research on this as I work to heal my tired adrenals, and I’ve found that there are several reasons. I’m going to discuss all of them in the coming months, but the one I want to mention today is the type of mattress we sleep on.

You see, three months ago I got a new bed. Yes, me, the person that researched and wrote an entire post about how to buy a non-toxic mattress, then couldn’t find one that was both comfortable and made with non-toxic materials. (At least not one that was affordable.)

So anyway, I got this bed, but because I am a natural skeptic I insisted on keeping my old, expensive one while we tested it out. The company has a 60 day money-back guarantee, and they pay for return shipping, so I figured I had nothing to lose.

You guys, it has been a game changer, and that old bed is GONE for good. I’ve had the bed for a few months, but a few weeks ago I implemented some changes that helped me fall asleep easier. Now that I can do that, I’m going to bed earlier and logging some of the best sleep of my life – how is that even possible with a baby sleeping beside me?

Since so many of you have emailed and commented specifically about this subject recently (Is this the official season to shop for mattresses or something?), I called the company and asked the founder to give you guys a deal on one. He agreed, and we’ll be announcing more at a sleep webinar on Monday, October 6th at 1pm EST. Details below!

Free Mommypotamus Sleep Webinar

If you’ve thought about buying a non-toxic mattress and wondered if it is worth it and/or affordable, you’ll definitely want to register.

Topics Covered:

  • My personal story of sleeping on a toxic mattress
  • Tips I’ve found helpful for getting deeper, more restorative sleep
  • An interview with Intellibed’s founder about their non-toxic bed that supports proper alignment like a “hard” bed but cushions better than a comfy foam mattress.

The live webinar will be held on Monday, October 6th at 1pm EST.

The number of available spots is limited, so register early. Click here to save your spot.

Also, feel free to forward this to your friends if you think they’d be interested.

Sign Up Here → Free Better Sleep Webinar

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Bacon and Egg Breakfast Cupshttp://www.mommypotamus.com/bacon-egg-breakfast-cups/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/bacon-egg-breakfast-cups/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 17:43:50 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=29862 Bacon and Egg Breakfast Cups



“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh” . . . said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”  ― [&hellip

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Bacon and Egg Breakfast Cups

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh” . . .

said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”  ― A.A. Milne

I don’t know about you, but I can’t say breakfast is always exciting in my house. Sure, there are pancake Saturdays, strawberry streusel muffin Wednesdays, and sweet marrow custard Fridays, but there are also olive Thursdays. Yes, olive Thursdays, because the sun is up and I’m out of ideas.

Until now. Recently I came across these bacon, egg and toast cups and was inspired to whip up a grain-free version. I was a little hesitant because in other versions I’d seen it was difficult to tell if the bacon was fully cooked, but they turned out amazing and the bacon was most definitely cooked through. The best part? They’re ridiculously easy to make.

If you have opinionated eaters in your house, you’ll love that each cup is customizable – each person can add whatever filling they prefer. I love cherry tomatoes, cheese and spinach, while the potami prefer salami, mushroom and cheese. (You’ll find more filling ideas in the recipe below.)

Also, I love that they’re portable. Because although it may be a great sensory experience, grabbing a fistful of scrambled eggs on our way out the door is not this mama’s idea of a great start to the morning.

Thursday mornings have been saved, and very possibly a few “breakfast for dinner” weeknights as well. I hope your family loves them as much as ours.

Bacon and Egg Breakfast Cups

Ingredients

  • one 80z package of organic bacon
  • 3 eggs
  • coconut oil (for greasing the muffin pan)
  • Your choice of filling (see options below)

Filling ideas: Mushrooms, diced onion, diced tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, salami, pepperoni, jalapenos, garlic, spinach, herbs, cheese, crab meat, lobster, salsa

Equipment

Muffin pan (preferably stainless steel)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Grease 6 muffin tins, then using a strip of bacon line the walls of a muffin cup. Then cut one piece of bacon into thirds and use what you need to line the bottom as well. I usually put one full-width slice on the bottom, plus one I’ve cut in half . . .

Continue the process until you run out of bacon. You should have 4 to 6 cups total.

4. Whisk eggs together in a medium bowl and distribute evenly between cups.

5. Add in filling ingredients. You want the cups to be about 80% full. In this batch I added cheese, cherry tomatoes, spinach, garlic, mushrooms and fresh thyme. Place pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

6. After you’ve removed the bacon egg cups from the oven, use a butter knife to gently separate the bacon shell from the muffin tin. Lift the bacon egg cups out, season with salt and pepper, garnish with herbs if desired, and serve.

Note: When I’ve made these the bacon is always fully cooked by 25-30 minutes. However, because it was baked rather than pan seared it is lighter in color than we’re used to. If you prefer the pan-seared look, you can heat a skillet on high and roll the outside of the bacon cups in the skillet.

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Elderberry Syrup Recipe (VIDEO)http://www.mommypotamus.com/elderberry-syrup-recipe/ http://www.mommypotamus.com/elderberry-syrup-recipe/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:05:34 +0000 http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=29713 Elderberry Syrup Recipe (VIDEO)



Hippocrates Is Said To Have Called It . . . His “medicine chest,” and for thousands of years it’s been revered in folk medicine for its healing properties. (source) Now studies are starting to confirm what tradition has long held: elderberries are a delicious and effective way to support immune function during cold and flu [&hellip

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Elderberry Syrup Recipe (VIDEO)

Hippocrates Is Said To Have Called It . . .

His “medicine chest,” and for thousands of years it’s been revered in folk medicine for its healing properties. (source) Now studies are starting to confirm what tradition has long held: elderberries are a delicious and effective way to support immune function during cold and flu season.

Unlike fire cider, which boosts immune performance through an infusion of pungent and spicy herbs, this elderberry syrup recipe uses a sweet and simple decoction of berries and honey. If I had to choose, I’d go with the fire cider, but as you’ll notice in the video below, my littles ones attack this stuff like ravenous wolves. Fortunately, we don’t have to choose – both are in our fridge right now!

Elderberry Syrup Benefits

Immune Support

Elderberries also contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has anti-oxidant and immune boosting properties. (source) They’re also a good source of vitamin C, betacarotene, vitamin B6, and iron. (source)

Reduce Cold & Flu Symptoms

In this study, researchers found that flu patients who received elderberry syrup recovered about four days sooner than those who received a placebo.

In another study that had similar results, it was concluded that there were two reasons for the more rapid recovery. First, patients taking elderberry had higher anti-haemagglutination titers, meaning their immune performed better. Second, they found that elderberry inhibits neuraminidase, an enzyme that the virus uses to infect cells. (source)

Nasal/Sinus Congestion Relief

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.”

How Much Should I Take?

Though they are valued for therapeutic purposes, elderberries are a food. They’re used to make pie, jelly and wine, so there isn’t a specific “dosage” for them any more than there is one for dark cherries.

However, here are some guidelines that have been traditionally followed: To support immune function throughout cold and flu season children are usually given ½ – 1 teaspoon per day, while adults usually take about 1½ teaspoons – 1 tablespoon. During illness, the frequency of administration increases to every 2-3 hours until the symptoms resolve.

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Makes about 2½ cups

Note: Because this recipe contains honey, it should not be used in children under one.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried or 1 cup fresh elderberries (find them here)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Instructions

1. Add water, elderberries and ginger/cinnamon (if you’re using them) to a pot and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. This should take around 45 minutes.

3. Strain to remove berries. Allow liquid to cool to room temperature, then stir in honey.

4. Transfer elderberry syrup to a jar and store in the fridge.

Shelf life: In my house, a batch lasts an entire winter season.

Don’t Want To Make Your Own?

You can find pre-made elderberry syrup online here.

Middle photo credit: Mark Robinson

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