Mommypotamus 2016-06-25T22:26:19Z http://www.mommypotamus.com/feed/atom/ WordPress http://www.mommypotamus.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/cropped-MP-logo-purple-32x32.png Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make Calendula Oil (And 5 Ways To Use It)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=47177 2016-06-25T16:11:05Z 2016-06-25T16:04:21Z Like, the actual flowers. Not very often, but enough to want a t-shirt that says so. Edible flowers are more than just a fun conversation starter, though. The soothing properties of calendula (Calendula officinalis), for example, have a long history of use in both folk medicine and culinary traditions. Gentle enough for babies and yet potent enough to draw […]

Continue Reading...How To Make Calendula Oil (And 5 Ways To Use It)

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calendula-oil-recipe

Like, the actual flowers. Not very often, but enough to want a t-shirt that says so.

Edible flowers are more than just a fun conversation starter, though. The soothing properties of calendula (Calendula officinalis), for example, have a long history of use in both folk medicine and culinary traditions.

Gentle enough for babies and yet potent enough to draw the attention of researchers, calendula is often used as first aid for cuts, scrapes and bug bites, to soothe a sunburn, as a rinse for pinkeye, relief for sore throats, and as a salve for diaper rash.

Calendula petals have traditionally been added to butter, cheese and custards to enhance their golden color. Because its flavor is similar to saffron, it is sometimes used as a substitute.

Unlike rare herbs that tend to be expensive and difficult to find, it’s easy to grow or buy for an affordable price. In fact, right now you can get it for 50% off through Golden Poppy Apothecary when you pick up the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle. Which reminds me . . .

You’re going to love this (June 22-27th only)

HEO_Circle_Logo

If you’ve been around awhile, you know that I don’t mention sales often, but this one is too good to pass up. The Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle is happening right now, and it includes eBooks, eCourses and printables designed to help you:

  • separate fact from fiction on using essential oils
  • confidently prepare salves, syrups, tinctures, and teas
  • properly dilute oils for topical use
  • learn blending principals for aromatic use
  • incorporate essential oils into easy and effective herbal remedies
  • know which herbs are safe for pregnancy, babies and children
  • know when picking up an essential oil whether it’s safe for kids, pregnancy, dogs and cats, plus the maximum dilution recommended for topical application
  • create beauty products, herbal baths, and even gifts for friends and family

Oh, and you’ll ALSO receive a special coupon for 50% off bulk herbs and essential oils from Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary, a full-service apothecary and clinic offering small batch hand-made herbal products to enhance your health and wellbeing. After reading the review posted with their Rocky Mountain Recovery Serum I’m totally ordering some. 🙂

The combined value of everything in the bundle is well over $400, but you can get it all for less than $30. That’s about the same cost as one doctor’s office copay!

I haven’t had a chance to review all of the resources so there may be some that don’t resonate with me, but there are a few I have read/watched and can wholeheartedly recommend:

  • Essential Oils: Separating Truth from Myth by Kristen Smith – I wish I could send this back in time to myself years ago. So much good info I wish I’d known when I was starting out!
  • 101 Essential Oil Blends for Topical & Aromatic Use by Rachel Zupke – So many great suggestions for immune and respiratory support, adrenal support, emotional support blends that help to uplift, motivate, calm, refresh, and balance.
  • 5 Multi-Use Herbs (And What to Do with Them) – This eCourse from Clinical Herbalist & Nutritionist Sarah Josey, owner of Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary, is short, sweet, and super helpful!
  • Safe EO Labels – Set A by Lea Harris – Print the labels out and tape them to your bottles so you always know the max dilution recommended and whether or not the oil is safe for kids, pregnant/nursing mama’s, cats and dogs.
  • Handbook of Home Remedies by Wellness Mama – I love Katie’s well-researched, practical advice.

Also included is my brand new, not-yet-released eBook, The Beginner’s Guide To Adaptogens: Herbs For Energy, Stress Relief & Immune Support. In addition to the info I’ve already shared with you here, it includes a few new herb profiles and recipes.

Click here to find out more and buy the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle

Okay, back to calendula!

What is calendula oil?

Herbal constituents (aka beneficial components) can be extracted using many kinds of mediums: water, alcohol, oil and others. Water based extracts – like this Happy Adrenal Tea – are usually consumed internally, although occasionally they are used externally for issues like skin or eye irritation. Some very concentrated teas are mixed with honey to make long-lasting herbal syrups, like this elderberry version.

Tinctures – like this one for restful sleep and this one for adrenal support – use alcohol or glycerin to extract “hard to get” beneficial compounds such as alkaloids. They’re taken internally and used occasionally for wound care or other skin applications.

Oil extractions – like the calendula oil recipe below and this plantain salve –  are most often used externally. However, calendula oil also makes a delicious, gut-soothing addition to homemade salad dressing – just use it like you would regular olive oil.

Also known as infused oils, herbs extracted using oil can be made in a number of ways. In the tutorial below I’ll share two methods with you. With both methods the goal is the same – mix herbs and oil so that the oil can draw out the helpful properties of the herbs.

Important note: Infused oils are very different from essential oils, which I do not recommend taking internally unless under the care of a qualified healthcare provider. Infused oils use a carrier oil to extract components of the whole plant, while essential oils only extract the light aromatic compounds found in the plant.)

calendula-oil

How do I use calendula oil?

Calendula’s soothing properties make it a favorite for supporting wound healing, nourishing skin and promoting gut health. It is often used as:

  1. First aid for cuts, scrapes, burns, sunburns, bug bites and other minor skin irritations*
  2. Lip balm – Use calendula infused olive oil in place of regular olive oil in this recipe.
  3. Diaper rash – I like to apply the oil – or a salve made from it, which I will be showing you how to make soon – and then sprinkle some bentonite clay over the area. Both calendula oil and clay are considered cloth diaper friendly.
  4. Dry or chapped skin – Calendula is thought to support the integrity of skin, thus allowing it to retain moisture normally
    Face care – Infused calendula oil is the “secret ingredient” behind many beloved face serums.
  5. Salad dressing – Yep, really! Calendula is considered soothing for the skin and the digestive tract. It has a mild flavor similar to saffron. I use it in a basic salad dressing recipe in place of plain olive oil.

*Calendula infused oil works perfectly well for all of these situations, but if you’d like to make the oil easier to transport – say, in your purse – you can make it into a salve. I’ll be showing you how to do that soon!

Safety Considerations

According to the Botanical Safety Handbook, calendula is a Safety Class 1A herb – the safest rating possible. However, older studies report that the internal use of calendula may stimulate menstruation, so it is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Topical use is considered fine.

Also, individuals who are allergic to ragweed may find that they are also sensitive to calendula.

As always, please check with your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy.

 

How To Make Calendula Oil

Ingredients

  • Organic dried calendula flower petals (Right now you can get them from Golden Poppy Apothecary for 50% when you get the Herbs & Oils Super Bundle)
  • Olive oil (Or another oil that you prefer. Almond and avocado are good options, as is jojoba although it is not edible)

Instructions (Slow Method)

This is the traditionally preferred method because it is thought to preserve the delicate constituents found in calendula best. However, sometimes it’s just not practical to wait 4-6 weeks for a batch. For those times, I’ve included a faster method below.

  1. Place calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar. Next, pour in the olive oil – add enough so that the petals are covered by about one inch of oil. My petals usually float when I first add the oil, so I watch the bottom of the jar to make sure I’ve added enough. The reason this is done is that the petals expand as they soak in the liquid, so you add extra to ensure that they stay covered.
  2. Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid and give it a good shake. Place the jar in a paper bag and store near a warm, sunny window. (Some people skip the paper bag, but others believe it helps protect some of the valuable constituents found in calendula from breaking down due to UV light.) Give the jar a good shake when you walk by it every day.
  3. Once the oil has been infusing for 4-6 weeks, strain out the herbs and pour the oil in a clean, glass jar. Store in a cool, dark cabinet until needed.

Instructions (Quick Method)

  1. Place calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar. Next, pour in the olive oil – add enough so that the petals are covered by about one inch of oil. My petals usually float when I first add the oil, so I watch the bottom of the jar to make sure I’ve added enough. The reason this is done is that the petals expand as they soak in the liquid, so you add extra to ensure that they stay covered.
  2. Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid and give it a good shake.
  3. Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of your crockpot and place your jar inside. Add enough water to cover about half the jar and set to the lowest setting for 2-6 hours. I set mine to warm.
  4. Strain out the oil using cheesecloth and pour the oil in a clean, glass jar. Store in a cool, dark cabinet until needed.

Continue Reading...How To Make Calendula Oil (And 5 Ways To Use It)

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Masala Chai Adaptogen Tea]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=45807 2016-06-23T19:30:39Z 2016-06-22T15:22:33Z Have you ever tried to turn your backyard shed into Snow White’s cottage, dressed yourself in your mother’s billowy graduation gown and gone out to gather “medicine,” not having the slightest clue what you were looking for? Yeah, me neither. Okay fine, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. I was seven, so no laughing mmkay? Fast forward to today […]

Continue Reading...Masala Chai Adaptogen Tea

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chai-tea-recipe

Have you ever tried to turn your backyard shed into Snow White’s cottage, dressed yourself in your mother’s billowy graduation gown and gone out to gather “medicine,” not having the slightest clue what you were looking for?

Yeah, me neither. Okay fine, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. I was seven, so no laughing mmkay?

Fast forward to today and those once mysterious herbs are like old friends. I know exactly which ones to reach for in any given situation, and it feels every bit as good as I thought it would. Actually, better.

Take, for example, this chai tea latte. Delicious both hot and served over ice, this recipe is infused with warming spices, black tea and adaptogenic herbs which “increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors.” (Adaptogens: Herbs For Strength, Stamina & Stress Relief, p. 1)

In other words, it’s perfect for people who, um, breathe. I’ll share the recipe soon, but first . . . .

HEO_Circle_Logo

You’re going to love this (June 22-27th only)

If you’ve been around awhile, you know that I don’t mention sales often, but this one is too good to pass up. The Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle is happening right now, and it includes eBooks, eCourses and printables designed to help you:

  • separate fact from fiction on using essential oils
  • confidently prepare salves, syrups, tinctures, and teas
  • properly dilute oils for topical use
  • learn blending principals for aromatic use
  • incorporate essential oils into easy and effective herbal remedies
  • know which herbs are safe for pregnancy, babies and children
  • know when picking up an essential oil whether it’s safe for kids, pregnancy, dogs and cats, plus the maximum dilution recommended for topical application
  • create beauty products, herbal baths, and even gifts for friends and family

Oh, and you’ll ALSO receive a special coupon for 50% off bulk herbs and essential oils from Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary, a full-service apothecary and clinic offering small batch hand-made herbal products to enhance your health and wellbeing. After reading the review posted with their Rocky Mountain Recovery Serum I’m totally ordering some. 🙂

The combined value of everything in the bundle is well over $400, but you can get it all for less than $30. That’s about the same cost as one doctor’s office copay!

I haven’t had a chance to review all of the resources so there may be some that don’t resonate with me, but there are a few I have read/watched and can wholeheartedly recommend:

  • Essential Oils: Separating Truth from Myth by Kristen Smith – I wish I could send this back in time to myself years ago. So much good info I wish I’d known when I was starting out!
  • 101 Essential Oil Blends for Topical & Aromatic Use by Rachel Zupke – So many great suggestions for immune and respiratory support, adrenal support, emotional support blends that help to uplift, motivate, calm, refresh, and balance.
  • 5 Multi-Use Herbs (And What to Do with Them) – This eCourse from Clinical Herbalist & Nutritionist Sarah Josey, owner of Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary, is short, sweet, and super helpful!
  • Safe EO Labels – Set A by Lea Harris – Print the labels out and tape them to your bottles so you always know the max dilution recommended and whether or not the oil is safe for kids, pregnant/nursing mama’s, cats and dogs.
  • Handbook of Home Remedies by Wellness Mama – I love Katie’s well-researched, practical advice.

Also included is my brand new, not-yet-released eBook, The Beginner’s Guide To Adaptogens: Herbs For Energy, Stress Relief & Immune Support. In addition to the info I’ve already shared with you here, it includes a few new herb profiles and recipes.

Click here to find out more and buy the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle

chai-tea-recipe-2

Okay, back to the chai tea!

This blend can be infused with either eleuthero root (which was once the subject of classified Soviet research) or astragalus root, which has been revered for so long it was mentioned in the oldest known herbal text we have record of.

They both have a mild flavor, which makes them a perfect choice for this tea, and are believed to support stamina, energy levels, immune function, memory and cognitive function.

masala-chai-tea-recipe

Psst! Don’t forget!

If you pick up the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle you can purchase everything you need to make this – and anything else you want – for 50% off from Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary.

5.0 from 1 reviews
How To Make Masala Chai Adaptogen Tea Mix
 
Prep time
Total time
 
This mix makes approximately 7 total cups of tea. See the next recipe box for instructions on making a single cup of tea.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon hulled cardamom seeds
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dried ginger root
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dried cinnamon chips (or a cinnamon stick that has been crushed into smaller pieces)
  • 5 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons dried eleuthero root or astragalus root (or a mixture of the two)
Instructions
  1. Mix ingredients together and place them in a clean jar with a lid.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Masala Chai Adaptogen Tea Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
In addition to the mix above, for each individual cup of tea you will also need:
Author:
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups water
  • ¼ to ½ cup milk or coconut milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons loose black tea leaves or 1 bag black tea
  • Sweetener, to taste
Instructions
  1. Add water and 2 tablespoons chai tea mix to a small pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a low simmer and allow to decoct for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and add black tea, then allow to steep for an additional 5-10 minutes.
  4. Stir in hot milk/coconut milk and sweeten to taste.

 

 

Continue Reading...Masala Chai Adaptogen Tea

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[3 Ingredient Coconut Pineapple Popsicles]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=45714 2016-06-23T20:06:34Z 2016-06-16T15:53:13Z Remember when I told you about grown-up ice cream vs. adult ice cream, and the need to label beauty products that are kept in the fridge? (Lotion may look like mayo, but it does NOT taste like it!) Well, you won’t need those tips today. Though they taste like a not-safe-for-kids creamy piña colada, these pineapple […]

Continue Reading...3 Ingredient Coconut Pineapple Popsicles

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pineapple-popsicle-recipeRemember when I told you about grown-up ice cream vs. adult ice cream, and the need to label beauty products that are kept in the fridge? (Lotion may look like mayo, but it does NOT taste like it!)

Well, you won’t need those tips today. Though they taste like a not-safe-for-kids creamy piña colada, these pineapple popsicles don’t contain any rum. They’re totally safe to leave unmarked and unattended in the freezer . . . or maybe not if you want some for yourself.

Like many of my favorite recipes – homemade ketchup, sour gummy snacks, strawberry chia seed jam and garlicky fermented radishes, for example – this recipe only takes five minutes of hands-on time. I hope you love them as much as we do!
coconut-pineapple-popsicles-recipe

5.0 from 3 reviews
Coconut and Pineapple Popsicles
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This recipe makes approximately 27 fluid ounces, or 3⅓ cups liquid. My popsicle molds hold ⅓ cup each, so this batch made 10 popsicles.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 4 cups frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup coconut milk (either homemade or store bought)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (this brand is gluten-free, or you can make your own)
  • Additional honey or maple syrup to taste, optional (We didn't use any because the pineapple was sweet enough)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour mixture in popsicle mold and freeze until solid.

 

Continue Reading...3 Ingredient Coconut Pineapple Popsicles

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make Wool Dryer Balls]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=32694 2016-06-16T16:00:43Z 2016-06-14T15:28:06Z I have, but at my house all she does is steal socks, spill my homemade laundry detergent and dump loose change everywhere. Since she doesn’t actually do laundry, I have to find ways to keep things interesting all by myself. Set up message board for all the socks seeking sole mates? Check! Wash the same load of laundry […]

Continue Reading...How To Make Wool Dryer Balls

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how-to-make-wool-dryer-balls-3

I have, but at my house all she does is steal socks, spill my homemade laundry detergent and dump loose change everywhere. Since she doesn’t actually do laundry, I have to find ways to keep things interesting all by myself.

Set up message board for all the socks seeking sole mates? Check!

Wash the same load of laundry three times because I keep forgetting it in the dryer? Umm, that’s not actually interesting at all. 

Fortunately, I’ve found a way to help my dryer keep up with my washer, thus reducing the time I’m waiting to move a load over: wool dryer balls. In this post I’m going to show you how to make them, but first you’re probably wondering whether they’re really worth the effort. (Spoiler alert: Absolutely!)

Benefits Of Wool Dryer Balls

Saves time and money

Each load is done faster, which reduces your energy costs. Plus unlike dryer sheets and fabric softener, they’re typically good for 1000+ loads of laundry.

Softens and fluffs without toxic chemicals 

As I wrote about here, “when several top laundry products/ air fresheners were tested they were found to contain at least one chemical labeled as toxic or hazardous by federal law, including the active ingredient in paint thinner.” (source)

Interestingly, none of the chemicals were listed on the label, and five of the six products emitted chemicals which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level.”

Dryer balls soften clothes naturally as the felted wool gently rubs against garment fibers, and they fluff by separating clothes that would otherwise clump together.

Reduces static

If over time you notice that they’re not doing this as well, put them in a sock or pantyhose and run them through a wash cycle.

Doesn’t diminish towel absorbency + cloth diaper safe

Commercial fabric softeners coat fibers with a thin layer of chemicals, thus reducing the absorbency and performance of things like towels and cloth diapers. (source) Wool dryer balls soften without chemicals.

How Many Do I Need?

Wool dryer balls work by separating clothes so that warm air circulates better. The more you have the more pronounced the effects – faster drying time, softer clothes, less static cling, and lower energy usage. Some people use just two, while others use up to twelve for large loads. How many you use is really up to you.

I’m Not Feeling Crafty. Can I Buy Them Instead?

Yep. They’re pretty easy to make while watching a movie, but if you’d prefer to order some you can find them here.

make-wool-dryer-balls-tutorial

How To Make Wool Dryer Balls

Makes 2-4 medium-sized dryer balls

Equipment

  • 2 – 3 skeins of 100% wool yarn – I used roving yarn in dark gray, light gray and low tide because roving yarn felts really well. Make sure not to get “superwash” or washable yarn because it won’t felt.
  • large-eyed felting needle or paint key (used to open paint cans – often free at hardware stores)
  • pantyhose

Budget Tip: A local mama told me that she picked up a 100% wool sweater at a thrift store, cut and wadded it up, then wrapped it in wool yarn using the technique below. This approach can be a very affordable way to make a lot of wool dryer balls with just a little yarn.

Instructions

Step 1: Make a small “V” with your index and middle fingers, then wrap yarn around them 10- 15 times. Remove your fingers from the yarn.

homemade-wool-dryer-balls

Step 2: Pinch the middle of the coiled yarn and wrap the center 10-15 times.

how-to-make-dryer-balls-step-2

Then change the direction you’re wrapping in and wrap some more. You should have something that more or less looks like a fuzzy lump of coal. (Unless you chose another color.)

how-to-make-felted-wool-dryer-balls

Step 3: Continue wrapping until yarn forms a ball. Though it may seem more egg-shaped at first it will happen! Keep going until your dryer ball reaches the size you prefer. Mine a little bigger than tennis balls.

how-to-make-wool-dryer-balls-step-3

Step 4: When the ball is about the size you want,  grab the loose end of yarn and weave it into the exterior of the ball using a paint key or felting needle. To do this, slide the key under a few threads, then take the tail and wrap it around the tip of the key a few times before pulling it through. Do that several times so that the tail is woven in well, then trim off any unused yarn. (See pictures below if that sounded confusing)

how-to-make-wool-dryer-balls-step-4

how-to-make-wool-dryer-balls-step-5

Step 5: Place dryer balls in pantyhose, making sure to tie a knot between each one so they have their own separate compartments, then toss them in the washing machine and run through a hot cycle two or three times, preferably with a load of towels or other laundry. Place them in dryer and then remove from pantyhose. Voila, your dryer balls are ready!

how-to-make-wool-dryer-balls-step-6

How To Use Wool Dryer Balls

Simply toss them into the dryer with your wet clothes – that’s it!

Continue Reading...How To Make Wool Dryer Balls

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Strawberry Jello Recipe]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=45530 2016-06-23T18:55:38Z 2016-06-09T15:29:55Z Note from Mommypotamus: If you love jello but not the congealed red #40 and artificial flavorings found in boxed versions, you’re going to love today’s recipe from Kristen of Rethink Simple. It incorporates grass-fed gelatin (which supports youthful skin, healthy digestion and restful sleep) with real ingredients like strawberries and honey. (And psst! We’ve already covered lemon […]

Continue Reading...Strawberry Jello Recipe

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strawberry-jello-recipeNote from Mommypotamus: If you love jello but not the congealed red #40 and artificial flavorings found in boxed versions, you’re going to love today’s recipe from Kristen of Rethink Simple. It incorporates grass-fed gelatin (which supports youthful skin, healthy digestion and restful sleep) with real ingredients like strawberries and honey. (And psst! We’ve already covered lemon and orange creamsicle gelatin recipes – what flavor should we do next? )

Jello.

We’ve all heard of it right? That jiggly, gelatin dessert that kids just seem to love. Maybe it’s the taste, or it’s wiggly ways, but no matter the reason it’s become a summertime staple at many backyard bbqs, potlucks and picnics.

Just last week I brought my son to the park where he saw two young children enjoying some bright red Jello. Curious, he asked me what it was, and naturally he wanted to have some. I knew right away that I wouldn’t be comfortable with the ingredients, but just in case by some miracle it was actually half decent I turned over the box the next time I was at the grocery store.

And this is what I saw:

Store bought STRAWBERRY JELL­O ingredients:

SUGAR, GELATIN, ADIPIC ACID (FOR TARTNESS), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, DISODIUM PHOSPHATE AND SODIUM CITRATE (CONTROL ACIDITY), FUMARIC ACID (FOR TARTNESS), RED 40.

I want to be able to feed my boys the food that they see others eat. I want them to enjoy cookies, cakes and jello with their friends. BUT I want control over the ingredients that these treats are made with. So, a few days later we bought some real food ingredients and made some delicious strawberry gelatin jigglers… with real strawberries. And a few days after that we made another 2 batches 😉

homemade-strawberry-jello-recipe

Strawberry Jello Recipe
 
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs of fresh strawberries
  • 3 tbsp of grass fed gelatin
  • 2 tbsp of raw honey
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • A couple small mint leaves (optional)
Instructions
  1. Wash and destem the strawberries. Cut the strawberries in half and place them in a medium-sized pot. Add water and honey. If you are choosing to add in the mint leaf, do so now, but remove it within the first 5 minutes. The longer it is simmering, the stronger the mint taste will be.
  2. Simmer strawberries on low (covered) for approximately 10­-15 minutes.
  3. Use a regular or immersion hand blender to puree the fruit. Blending the fruit can also be achieved by hand using a masher. Strain the seeds by using cheesecloth or a chinoise strainer.
  4. Measure out the juice.
  5. You need 2 cups of liquid, so if you were only able to strain 1 3⁄4 cups from the strawberries, add 1⁄4 cup of water. Place the 2 cups of juice into the pot.
  6. Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice. Let sit for 1 minute to allow the gelatin to “bloom”.
  7. Using a whisk, stir mixture and let sit for 2 minutes.
  8. Turn on the stove and heat the gelatin/ juice mixture until all gelatin has dissolved and mixture is heated thoroughly.
  9. Pour into a glass dish or mold. I used a 6x8 glass pan.
  10. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Enjoy!

strawberry-jello-recipe-1

 

 

Continue Reading...Strawberry Jello Recipe

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Natural Home Remedies For A UTI]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=17020 2016-06-24T18:07:15Z 2016-06-07T14:42:55Z UTI’s are the worst. Okay, maybe getting pelted by porcupine quills is just as bad, but how many porcupines are really trying to cuddle you? So like I said – the worst. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who thinks so – urinary tract infections are “the second most common type of infection in […]

Continue Reading...Natural Home Remedies For A UTI

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uti-remedies

UTI’s are the worst. Okay, maybe getting pelted by porcupine quills is just as bad, but how many porcupines are really trying to cuddle you? So like I said – the worst.

And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who thinks so – urinary tract infections are “the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for about 8.1 million visits to health care providers each year.” (source) Though I haven’t had one in years, one of my children recently developed symptoms of a UTI.  I wanted to avoid antibiotics if at all possible, so I tried some research-backed home remedies while keeping our pediatrician in the loop.

In this post, I’m going to share the research I found most helpful in choosing a course of action, what we did personally, and what expert resources have to say about the safety of these remedies for pregnant/nursing moms and children.

Before we jump in, though, I just want to say that “Best Boo-Boo Kisser South Of Puckett’s Gas Station” is about as official as things get for me professionally.  I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, and your medical decisions are completely up to you. If you need some convincing on this, read my full disclaimer where I say it over and over again. Also, it’s a good idea to discuss any herbs or home remedies you consider with your healthcare provider, because some herbs can interact with certain medications. Okay, moving on! 

What causes a urinary tract infection?

We all know the symptoms of a UTI – a burning feeling when you urinate and frequent urges to urinate, even when very little comes out. What’s less known is that about 90% of urinary tract infections can be traced back to one bacteria – E. coli. (source 1source 2)

Now, although there is a mutant strain of E. coli that occasionally makes headline news, most types of E. coli are either neutral toward us or beneficial when found in our digestive tract. When they migrate to our urinary tract, however, they can cause problems.

Urinary tract infections – also called bladder infections – happen when E. coli (or another bacteria/virus/yeast/pathogen) move up the urethra (the tube that empties urine out of the body) and into the bladder – and if the infection isn’t addressed properly – into the kidneys.

Are antibiotics always the best option?

Remember when antibiotics and ear infections went together like fries and ketchup? I sure do. These days, though, the American Academy of pediatrics says that most earaches are viral in nature – which means they not treatable by antibiotics – and recommends a “wait and see” approach. (source) And it’s not just that they might not help – inappropriate antibiotic use may actually increase the incidence of future ear infections! (source)

Though urinary tract infections are usually bacterial and treatable by antibiotics, I try to avoid them when possible with my family for two main reasons.

Reason #1: Antibiotics may permanently alter the microbiome

In this New York Times article, bestselling author Michael Pollan explains how our internal microbiome – the estimated one hundred trillion microbes we each carry – affect human health:

for every human cell that is intrinsic to our body, there are about 10 resident microbes — including commensals (generally harmless freeloaders) and mutualists (favor traders) and, in only a tiny number of cases, pathogens.

To the extent that we are bearers of genetic information, more than 99 percent of it is microbial. And it appears increasingly likely that this ‘second genome,’ as it is sometimes called, exerts an influence on our health as great and possibly even greater than the genes we inherit from our parents. But while your inherited genes are more or less fixed, it may be possible to reshape, even cultivate, your second genome.”

Though it was once assumed that our gut flora eventually repopulated and balanced out after a round of antibiotics, Martin Blaser of New York University’s Langone Medical Center now says that our microbiomes may never fully recover from antibiotic use.

That’s a big deal, because as Pollan explains “Disorders in our internal ecosystem — a loss of diversity, say, or a proliferation of the ‘wrong’ kind of microbes — may predispose us to obesity and a whole range of chronic diseases, as well as some infections.”

The loss of our internal microbiome doesn’t just affect us, but future generations as well. When a mom gives birth to her child, her microbiome is passed on as the baby moves through the birth canal. When her microbiome is diminished, the one the child inherits is also diminished.

Want more research-backed home remedies?

No problem, I’ve created a free ebook for you – Kitchen Apothecary: 25+ Natural Remedies Using Ingredients From Your Pantry – as a gift for signing up for my newsletter. You’ll also get updates when I post about safe essential oils for pregnant/breastfeeding mamas, exclusive gifts and coupons (I was able to give away a jar of free coconut oil to anyone who wanted it recently!), plus other goodies.

We’ll get to the recipe soon, but first . . .

You’re going to love this (June 22-27th only)

HEO_Circle_Logo
If you’ve been around awhile, you know that I don’t mention sales often, but this one is too good to pass up. The Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle is happening right now, and it includes eBooks, eCourses and printables designed to help you:

  • separate fact from fiction on using essential oils
  • confidently prepare salves, syrups, tinctures, and teas
  • properly dilute oils for topical use
  • learn blending principals for aromatic use
  • incorporate essential oils into easy and effective herbal remedies
  • know which herbs are safe for pregnancy, babies and children
  • know when picking up an essential oil whether it’s safe for kids, pregnancy, dogs and cats, plus the maximum dilution recommended for topical application
  • create beauty products, herbal baths, and even gifts for friends and family

Oh, and you’ll ALSO receive a special coupon for 50% off bulk herbs and essential oils from Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary, a full-service apothecary and clinic offering small batch hand-made herbal products to enhance your health and wellbeing. After reading the review posted with their Rocky Mountain Recovery Serum I’m totally ordering some. 🙂

The combined value of everything in the bundle is well over $400, but you can get it all for less than $30. That’s about the same cost as one doctor’s office copay!

I haven’t had a chance to review all of the resources so there may be some that don’t resonate with me, but there are a few I have read/watched and can wholeheartedly recommend:

  • Essential Oils: Separating Truth from Myth by Kristen Smith – I wish I could send this back in time to myself years ago. So much good info I wish I’d known when I was starting out!
  • 101 Essential Oil Blends for Topical & Aromatic Use by Rachel Zupke – So many great suggestions for immune and respiratory support, adrenal support, emotional support blends that help to uplift, motivate, calm, refresh, and balance.
  • 5 Multi-Use Herbs (And What to Do with Them) – This eCourse from Clinical Herbalist & Nutritionist Sarah Josey, owner of Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary, is short, sweet, and super helpful!
  • Safe EO Labels – Set A by Lea Harris – Print the labels out and tape them to your bottles so you always know the max dilution recommended and whether or not the oil is safe for kids, pregnant/nursing mama’s, cats and dogs.
  • Handbook of Home Remedies by Wellness Mama – I love Katie’s well-researched, practical advice.

Also included is my brand new, not-yet-released eBook, The Beginner’s Guide To Adaptogens: Herbs For Energy, Stress Relief & Immune Support. In addition to the info I’ve already shared with you here, it includes a few new herb profiles and recipes.

Click here to find out more and buy the Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle

Reason #2: Antibiotics may increase the likelihood of future urinary tract infections and yeast infections

In this New York Times report, antibiotic use is one of the risk factors for developing urinary tract infections. Yep, you read that right! The reason stated is that antibiotics eliminate beneficial bacteria that help to keep E. coli in check. Here’s a more in-depth analysis from Chris Kresser, LAc:

Commonly prescribed antibiotics are Bactrim, Amoxicillin, Ampicilin, and Cipro. These antibiotics are often unnecessary and may cause more problems in the future by destroying the beneficial bacteria that prevents pathogenic bacteria from growing. Long term use of antibiotics can also lead to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like E. coli developing in the gut, and a UTI caused by these bacteria will be even more challenging to eliminate and can cause more serious infections like a bladder or kidney infection.

Furthermore, antibiotics do very little to prevent the infection from happening in the first place. So while drugs may be an easy fix for the short term, in the long run you will continue to be susceptible to UTIs, and these infections may be worse than if you had never taken a course of antibiotics in the first place!” (source)

In addition,  according to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, M.D., “the era of antibiotics gave Candida albicans [the organism that causes yeast infections] a special opportunity. The usual broad-spectrum antibiotics kill a lot of microbes in the body – the bad and the good. But they have no effect on Candida. So, after every course of antibiotics Candida is left without anything to control it, so it grows and thrives.” (source: Gut & Psychology Syndrome, p. 44) (Source that confirms Candida albicans causes yeast infections – WebMD)

In other words, along with bad bacteria, antibiotics kills certain beneficial microbes that keep Candida in check. When its competition is eliminated candida thrives, and according to WebMD this can sometimes cause yeast infections. Fortunately, according to Melanie Christner, NTP, it’s a myth that you can’t use probiotics to rebuild beneficial bacteria during a course of of antibiotics. Though one or two (or even 20) strains won’t replenish all the diverse species that were originally present, it may be wise to replenish what you can. You can read Melanie’s post on probiotic myths here.

That said, if a UTI was not quickly resolving with these methods, I would absolutely go see my doctor to make sure the infection doesn’t move into the kidneys. Because I have the MTHFR gene mutation certain antibiotics are contraindicated for me, so I have a list of ones to request ready just in case.

Fortunately, I’ve used the remedies below and that hasn’t been necessary!

home-remedies-for-uti

Natural Home Remedies For UTI’s

Drink More Water

So this one is not rocket science, but no list of UTI remedies is complete without it. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Drinking lots of fluid can help flush bacteria from your system. Water is best. Most people should try for six to eight, 8-ounce glasses a day.” I would personally shoot for a bit more – do what works for you. (source)

D-Mannose

When E. coli moves into the urinary tract, it grabs onto the bladder wall with sticky “fingers” called fimbria. D-mannose – a naturally occurring sugar that is found in cranberries, blueberries and other fruits – is thought to help dislodge it by coating the fingers and disrupting attachment, thus allowing the bacteria to be flushed out.  Chris Kresser, LAc, calls it “far the most effective supplement for both treatment and prevention of UTIs.” Here’s what else he has to say:

According to Chris Kresser, LAc:

D-mannose, even in large quantities, does not cause any adverse side effects, and cannot be metabolized the way other sugars can, meaning this supplement is safe for diabetics and others who are avoiding sugar for any reason. This treatment is also safe for children and the elderly. Symptom relief can be seen as quickly as the following day, and most symptoms are generally resolved after 48 hours of treatment. Additionally, taking D-mannose during a time where you feel you are most prone to UTIs, such as prior to intercourse or during prolonged antibiotic treatment, can help prevent a UTI from ever developing in the first place. This is especially helpful for those who are prone to chronic UTIs and want to be able to engage in normal life activities without fear of infection. (source)

Unlike antibiotics that harm beneficial bacteria, D-mannose is thought to be a prebiotic, which is a substance that “may help your body by stimulating the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in your digestive system.” (source)

In one study, women who had a history of recurrent urinary tract infections were given either 2 grams of D-mannose, 50 milligrams of Nitrofurantoin (one of the preferred antibiotics for UTI’s), or no treatment. The D-mannose group had the lowest number of recurrent UTI’s (just 15%) compared to the antibiotic group (20%) and the no treatment group, which had a 60% rate of recurrent UTI. (source)

In another study, E. coli was introduced to the urinary tracts of rats and then some were given D-mannose. The rats who were given D-mannose eliminated the E. coli better than controls. (source)

Important note:  According Chris Kresser, “One caveat with D-mannose is that it is only effective with UTIs caused by E. coli infection. While this accounts for about 90% of cases, there are 10% that will not benefit from this treatment. In this case, supplements that help disrupt biofilms can be useful in treating and preventing UTIs.” (You can find a list of those in his article)

I think Chris’ analysis is accurate for most cases, but I had a unique experience with my child. When his symptoms persisted after we began home remedies, I took him to see a doctor. (We were traveling so it wasn’t our regular pediatrician.) After two urinalysis tests and a three day culture all came back negative for bacterial infection, the care provider and I jointly determined – based on his other symptoms – that he most likely had a UTI that was due to a virus or another pathogen not detected on the test. Interestingly, I stopped giving him D-mannose after the initial urinalysis said he didn’t have a bacterial infection and he became more uncomfortable, so I began giving it to him again and he became increasingly more comfortable and recovered without any additional intervention. Though there is not much information on the subject, some research suggests that D-mannose may in some cases provide support with viral illnesses as well. (source)

To Use

In Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide For Treating Health Problems With Natural Remedies, which was written James F. Balch, M.D., Mark Stengler N.M.D, and Robin Young Balch, N.M.D, it is suggested that adults “Take 500 mg four times daily.” It is usually recommended that individuals continue taking it 2-3 days after symptoms resolve.

What about cranberry or blueberry juice?

I’m usually a fan of whole-food based supplements, but it’s typically recommended that individuals with UTI’s avoid sugar. Juice – even unsweetened – contains fructose, and for that reason I personally would opt for D-mannose.

Vitamin C

According to Allen Douma, M.D., of the Chicago Tribune, “vitamin C has been shown to be effective in the prevention and self-care treatment of urinary-tract infections.” (source) When offering advice on preventing urinary tract infections, the Johns Hopkins Medicine health library states that “Large amounts of vitamin C limit the growth of some bacteria by acidifying the urine. Vitamin C supplements have the same effect.”

To Use

In Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide For Treating Health Problems With Natural Remedies, which was written James F. Balch, M.D., Mark Stengler N.M.D, and Robin Young Balch, N.M.D, it is suggested that adults “Take 1,000 mg four to five times daily.”

Note: Most vitamin C – even the stuff that says it is derived from something natural like sago palm – is synthetically produced. Personally, I opt for whole-food vitamin C supplements like acerola cherry powder or dried baobab fruit – you can find my favorites in the Superfoods and Supplements Section of my shopping page.

Uva Ursi

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), also known as bearberry (because bears like eating the fruit), has been used medicinally since the 2nd century. Native Americans used it as a remedy for urinary tract infections. In fact, until the discovery of sulfa drugs and antibiotics, uva ursi was a common treatment for bladder-related infections.

Through modern day scientific research in test tubes and animals, researchers have discovered that uva ursi’s ability to fight infection are due to several chemicals, including arbutin and hydroquinone. The herb also contains tannins that have astringent effects, helping to shrink and tighten mucous membranes in the body. In turn, that helps reduce inflammation and fight infection.

Today, uva ursi is sometimes used to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) and cystitis (bladder inflammation). One preliminary study found that uva ursi, when combined with dandelion root and leaf, helped prevent recurrent UTIs.” (source)

To use

In Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide For Treating Health Problems With Natural Remedies, which was written James F. Balch, M.D., Mark Stengler N.M.D, and Robin Young Balch, N.M.D, it is suggested that adults “Take a standardized extract of 250 mg of arbutin or 5 ml of the tincture form four times daily.” (Arbutin is converted into hydroquinone in the body. Hydroquinone is the component of uva ursi that is thought to be helpful for UTI’s.)

Important notes: 

The University of Maryland Medical Center states that “One of the chemicals in uva ursi, hydroquinone, can damage the liver. You should only take uva ursi for short periods, no longer than 5 days, under a health care provider’s supervision. You should not take a series of doses of uva ursi more than 5 times in 1 year. DO NOT take more than the recommended doses.” Also,  children and “Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people with high blood pressure, should not take uva ursi. People who have Crohn disease, digestive problems, kidney or liver disease, or ulcers should not take uva ursi.” (source)

Also, according to Herb Wisdom, “Because Uva Ursi requires an alkaline urine for its antimicrobial properties to work, those taking Uva Ursi should avoid eating acidic foods like citrus, pineapple, tomato. Prescription drugs such as ammonium chloride, non-prescription products such as vitamin C, herbals such as rose hips, and foods such as cranberry juice may all make the urine more acidic in nature.” (source)

Garlic

“Garlic extract may be an effective weapon against multi-drug resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria associated with urinary tract infections (UTI), according to a recent study published in the Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science,” writes Science Daily.

Though the amount used was not mentioned, there are several garlic extracts sold at health food stores and online that have suggested usage guidelines.

Bromelain

According to John Mersch, MD, FAAP, one remedy that has shown to be safe and possibly effective in children is pineapple. He writes, “This fruit contains a chemical (bromelain) that reportedly possesses anti-inflammatory properties and thus reduces UTI symptoms.” (source)

Just as with cranberry juice, many individuals opt to use the supplement form because it is more concentrated and doesn’t contain sugar. When considering supplements, I wanted to pass along this information I found via C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital regarding the type that has been studied,

Taking bromelain during a UTI may enhance antibiotic effectiveness. The proteolytic enzymes, bromelain (from pineapple) and trypsin may enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics in people with a UTI. In a double-blind trial, people with UTIs received antibiotics plus either bromelain/trypsin in combination (400 mg per day for two days) or a placebo. One hundred percent of those who received the enzymes had a resolution of theirinfection, compared with only 46% of those given the placebo.26 This study used enteric-coated tablets. Enteric-coating prevents stomach acid from partially destroying the bromelain. Most commercially available bromelain products today are not enteric-coated, and it is not known if non-enteric coated preparations would be as effective.” (source)

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Though there is not any research on apple cider vinegar, it has long been used in folk medicine as a remedy for urinary tract infections. Like vitamin C and citrus products, it is thought to acidify the urine, thus inhibiting the growth of certain types of bacteria.

To Use

Dinah-Marie of Cultured Palate recommends 2 or more tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar in 8 oz. of water either every hour (for active symptoms), or 2-3 times a day as symptoms resolve. You can read more about her approach here.

Goldenseal & Echinacea

Though I was not able to find any studies to support their use, Goldenseal and Echinacea are both considered traditional remedies for urinary tract infections. Christopher Hobbs, PhD, LAc, A.H.G, calls these two herbs the “Dynamic Duo” and recommends them for UTI’s. (source)

To Use

You can find Dr. Hobbs recommendations for using them here.

Honorable mention: probiotics

Though there are no studies that support the use of probiotics as a treatment for urinary tract infections, research suggests that probiotics may be helpful in reducing the incidence of recurring infections. (source)

According to Natalie Lamb Dip, NT, CNM, who serves as a technical advisor to Probiotics International Ltd.:

The ability of probiotic interventions in the management of UTIs has long been considered and is now supported by increasing clinical evidence for a growing number of specific strains. There is a close correlation between the loss of the normal genital microbiota, particularly Lactobacillus species, and an increased incidence of UTIs, therefore suggesting that repletion may be beneficial.”

Several probiotic supplements have been specially formulated to include strains that are thought to support urinary tract health. Fem-Dophilus is one of them.

What I didn’t include: baking soda

Baking soda lowers the pH of urine so that it doesn’t burn. Though pain relief is a good thing and possibly appropriate at times, some folks think it’s a better idea to raise pH and kill the pathogenic microbes rather than lower it and ease discomfort.

What if the UTI isn’t due to e. coli?

As I mentioned in the section above on D-mannose, my child continued to have UTI symptoms despite two urinalysis tests and a three day urine culture coming back negative for bacteria. While waiting to see his pediatrician and discuss additional tests, I came across this article from Chris Kresser, LAc which addresses remedies for UTI’s that are not due to E. coli.

I ordered some of the supplements, but thankfully my child’s symptoms resolved the next day so I’m keeping them on hand in case they are needed in the future. They’re considered helpful for more than just UTI’s, and I’m glad I learned about them. I followed up with pedi’s office about my suspicions that the UTI might be viral (which is not common) or due to another pathogen not detected on the test, and it was agreed that was most likely the case.

Lifestyle Changes

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and foods that may irritate your urinary tract (for some people this can be chocolate, for others it might be spicy food)
  • Wear loose clothing and cotton underwear.

When to see a doctor

According to WebMD, “Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own, you won’t need treatment. If you get worse, you and your doctor will decide what to do next.

In adults, home treatment for minor urinary tract infections (UTIs) often resolves the problem. Home treatment includes drinking plenty of water and urinating often, emptying the bladder each time.

Try home treatment for 1 to 2 days if your symptoms are minor.
If your symptoms last longer than 1 to 2 days or are severe, seek medical help.
Watchful waiting is not appropriate if you:

  • Have diabetes or an impaired immune system.
  • Are pregnant
  • Are older than 65.”

They add that you should call a doctor if you: 

  • “Have had UTI symptoms previously and have those symptoms again.
  • Have minor symptoms of a UTI that do not clear up in 1 to 2 days, such as pain or burning when you urinate, foul-smelling urine, or the urge to urinate frequently while passing only small amounts of urine.
  • Notice blood or pus in your urine.
  • Have symptoms of a UTI and you have diabetes.
  • Have been taking antibiotics for a UTI but your symptoms do not improve or they come back (recur) after improving temporarily.

And you should call a doctor IMMEDIATELY if you experience: 

  • “Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Pain in the flank, which is felt just below the rib cage and above the waist on one or both sides of the back, or lower belly pain.”

Do you have any favorite home remedies for UTI symptoms not mentioned above?

Please share it in the comments!

Want more research-backed natural remedies?

No problem, I’ve created a free ebook for you – Kitchen Apothecary: 25+ Natural Remedies Using Ingredients From Your Pantry – as a gift for signing up for my newsletter. You’ll also get updates when I post about safe essential oils for pregnant/breastfeeding mamas, exclusive gifts and coupons (I was able to give away a jar of free coconut oil to anyone who wanted it recently!), plus other goodies.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Coconut Blueberry Bliss Ice Pops]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=45431 2016-06-02T14:57:39Z 2016-06-02T14:57:38Z Note from Mommypotamus: For just a few magical days a year, the potamus orchard is bursting with bright red sour cherries. While I’m out gathering them for cobblers, jams and other goodies, Taesha from The Natural Nurturer has graciously agreed to share a delightful warm weather treat with us. It’s sure to be a hit […]

Continue Reading...Coconut Blueberry Bliss Ice Pops

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blueberry-popsicles-recipeNote from Mommypotamus: For just a few magical days a year, the potamus orchard is bursting with bright red sour cherries. While I’m out gathering them for cobblers, jams and other goodies, Taesha from The Natural Nurturer has graciously agreed to share a delightful warm weather treat with us. It’s sure to be a hit with kids both big and small. Thanks, Taesha!

The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Spring is here and summer isn’t far behind. This means it is officially ice pop season! Like many of you, I am a busy mom who is just trying to feed her family nourishing, yet easy, food. I feel so strongly that “real food in real life” can be done by anyone that I started my blog, The Natural Nurturer. Over there, I focus on making healthy, family-friendly recipes and offering up tidbits of advice for living a healthy balanced life with a family in tow. Today, I’m here on Mommypotamus sharing a simple, delicious and kiddo friendly treat for the hotter weather: Coconut Blueberry Bliss Ice Pops.

When the sun starts blazing and temperatures start rising, we all start craving cool treats. Ice pops are my favorite healthy frozen treat to refresh my little clan during those hotter months. They can be as healthy (or not healthy) as you want them to be, made with just about any ingredient, and tweaked to fit even the pickiest of eaters’ preferences! Plus, ice pops are about as easy peasy as healthy “cooking” gets. Just mix your ingredients and stick in the freezer until they are done!

These Coconut Blueberry Bliss Ice Pops are super creamy and sweet. They remind me of those frozen ice cream bars I used to buy off the ice cream truck in the summer when I was a kid (only these are much healthier). They are made with 3 simple, real food ingredients that might already be kicking around your kitchen and you can whip them together in mere minutes! Give them a few hours to freeze and you have a simple, healthy frozen treat to kick back with this evening while the kids run through the sprinkler.

Looking for more healthy ice pop recipes to keep your family cool this summer? Try my paleo mint chocolate fudge pops or my frozen watermelon popsicles!

blueberry-popsicles

Coconut Blueberry Bliss Ice Pops
 
Makes about 7 ice pops
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 7
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups coconut cream
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, thaw first so that juices are released to naturally sweeten the ice pops)
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup or to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Pulse until the mixture is smooth and all of the ingredients are evenly blended.
  2. Taste for sweetness and add more honey/maple syrup if desired and blend again.
  3. Pour into popsicles molds and insert stick. Freeze for 4-6 hours or until set.

Continue Reading...Coconut Blueberry Bliss Ice Pops

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[DIY Reusable Food Wrap]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=24749 2016-06-22T14:13:16Z 2016-05-31T13:03:42Z Reasons To ♥ Reusable Food Wrap If you’re like me, there’s probably no love lost between you and plastic. Most food-related plastics – including cling wrap and so-called “BPA-free” containers – “can release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen,” concluded a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. (source 1, source 2) Fortunately, there are so many amazing […]

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Homemade Reusable Food Wrap

Reasons To ♥ Reusable Food Wrap

If you’re like me, there’s probably no love lost between you and plastic. Most food-related plastics – including cling wrap and so-called “BPA-free” containers – “can release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen,” concluded a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. (source 1, source 2)

Fortunately, there are so many amazing alternatives available now – these leakproof glass containersLékué silicone lids that stretch to fit a variety of container sizes, and of course Bees Wrap.

Why Bees Wrap is the BEES KNEES

As I wrote in this reviewBees Wrap is an eco-friendly, reusable alternative to plastic wrap that hugs bowls with just the right amount of cling.

It’s perfect for wrapping snacks, fruit, veggies, cheese, bread and even bowls, and the beeswax + sandwich wrap can be sealed by winding a string around an embossed wooden button. (Psst! If you’re grain-free and thinking sandwiches are a thing of the past, check out this real deal sandwich bread recipe.)

So, why make a DIY version?

Bees Wrap is a great investment because it’s long lasting, but it is an investment. This DIY version is much more affordable, especially if you buy in bulk and have a make-and-take party with friends. You can also choose beautiful prints – the reusable wrap pictured is an organic cotton from Monaluna that I got a great deal on. It’s discontinued now, but they have a lot of beautiful fabrics to choose from.

Oh, and if you can sew a button – which is just about the extent of my sewing skills –  you can make reusable wrap into these adorable snack bags. You’ll find a tutorial for them at the bottom of this page.

DIY Reusable Snack Bags

Is reusable food wrap difficult to care for?

Nope. Just wash them in cool water with mild dish soap and allow to air dry.

Now, a few notes:

  • To use, just place over a bowl or container, wrap around food like cheese, or fold into a snack bag. The warmth from your hands will mold the wrap into the desired shape.
  • They can be washed with cold water and a mild soap ( I use castile soap)
  • Since they cannot be washed with hot water they are not recommended for meat
  • Items like cheese, vegetables, fruits, nuts, sandwiches, etc. can be wrapped up. Items that contain a lot of moisture (like jello) should not be placed in snack bags
  • Depending on how frequently they’re used, they can last for up to a year. After that all you need to so is re-wax them in order to keep using them.

DIY Reusable Food Wrap - This alternative to saran wrap keeps food fresh and is made with 100% biodegradable materials.

DIY Reusable Food Wrap

Equipment:

  • beeswax – see below for info on how much you’ll need (where to buy beeswax)
  • powdered pine rosin (this is what gives the wrap it’s “cling” factor) – see below for info on how much you’ll need (this was the best deal I found – it will make A LOT of reusable wrap, so I recommend doing this project with friends or planning to make extra as gifts)
  • jojoba oil – see below for info on how much you’ll need (this is what I used, but I bought it at my local health food store for less that it sells for online)
  • 100% cotton fabric. Needs to be very thin, like a sheet. (I found a good deal on organic cotton fabric from Monaluna)
  • scissors – pinking shears will prevent fraying (where to buy pinking shears)
  • paintbrush (can only be used for this purpose)
  • cheese grater
  • baking sheet (I use this stainless steel one)
  • parchment paper (like this)
  • thread, needle, string and buttons (optional)
  • ruler or tape measure (optional)
  • oven
  • makeshift clothesline – binder clips make fantastic “clothes pins” if you don’t have any on hand

How much beeswax, resin and jojoba do I need?

It really depends on the size and number of sheets you want to make.  I wanted a small, medium, and large assortment, so I cut mine into 8×8, 11×11, and 14×14 inch squares. Here’s how much I used for one sheet of each size:

8×8 Sheet

11×11 Sheet

14×14 Sheet

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 225F

2. Cut your fabric into the sizes you prefer. I wanted to have a small, medium, and large assortment, so I cut mine into 8×8, 11×11, and 14×14 inch squares.

3. Lay parchment paper over the baking sheet, then place your fabric on top. Sprinkle your beeswax/resin/jojoba oil mixture evenly over the top.

4. Place sheet in the oven and bake until the mixture is fully melted. This should take between 5-10 minutes.

5. Using the paintbrush, spread the mixture evenly over the fabric. In order to take this photo I took the sheet out of the oven, but usually I just pull the sheet slightly out of the oven, brush, and then pop it back in to let the mixture even out for another minute or so. Fyi, the mixture will adhere to the paintbrush just like it does with the cloth. I bought an inexpensive brush that I keep just for this purpose.

6. When the mixture is evenly melted, remove the baking sheet from the oven and lift the sheet with tongs. I wave mine in the air to allow it to cool enough to touch (it doesn’t take long it all) then hang it somewhere so that it can “set.” This can be your laundry area if you have clothes pins in there. I just waved mine around until they were mostly cool, then hung them over the back of a chair to cure. Keep in mind that it will feel very tacky at first. That mellows out fairly quickly. The end result will have grip but not be super sticky.

How To Make Reusable Snack Bags 

Step 1: Start with a 14×14 inch piece of reusable food wrap

DIY Reusable Snack Bags - Step 1

Step 2: Fold it into thirds

DIY Reusable Snack Bags - Step 2

Step 3: Fold the top and bottom to create flaps

DIY Reusable Snack Bags - Step 3

Step 4: Unfold the fabric and sew on buttons as shown below

DIY Reusable Snack Bags - Step 4

Step 6: Re-fold into thirds, then fold over the flaps and attach a string to one of the buttons

DIY Reusable Snack Bags - Step 5

To close the snack bag, just wrap the string around both buttons in a figure eight pattern.

DIY Reusable Snack Bags - Step 6

Continue Reading...DIY Reusable Food Wrap

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Essential Oil Dilution Chart and Guidelines]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=45174 2016-06-22T14:13:24Z 2016-05-26T17:38:55Z So, you’ve fallen in love with essential oils for everything from brushing your teeth and making citronella candles to relaxing tense muscles, soothing bug bites, lifting your mood and more? I totally get it. Personally, all I need now is one that washes dishes and I’m pretty much set. Figuring how to use them SAFELY, though . . . […]

Continue Reading...Essential Oil Dilution Chart and Guidelines

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So, you’ve fallen in love with essential oils for everything from brushing your teeth and making citronella candles to relaxing tense musclessoothing bug bites, lifting your mood and more? I totally get it. Personally, all I need now is one that washes dishes and I’m pretty much set.

Figuring how to use them SAFELY, though . . . well, that was a journey for me. When I first started out, I didn’t receive much guidance about how to use them appropriately. That’s why last year I began working toward an aromatherapy certification through Aromahead Institute. Safety is my top priority, so whether it’s this “breathe easy” chest rub, or another natural remedy or beauty recipe, I always consult Essential Oil Safety while creating products for my family and yours.

If you’re not familiar with it, Essential Oil Safety was written by world renowned essential oil expert Robert Tisserand and his co-author, Rodney Young. Considered the most evidence-based resource available, it took 10+ years to write and contains over 4000 citations.

I’ve already shared with you my lists of safe essential oils for children and pregnant/nursing mamas, both of which were compiled based on Tisserand’s and Young’s book. In this post we’ll cover some guidelines I’ve found helpful for determining how much to use for specific situations. Ready to jump in? Alrighty then . . .

Why dilute essential oils?

Though there are times when certain oils can be applied “neat,” or undiluted, in general dilution is recommended for topical use. Diluting is has two primary benefits:

  • It may increase absorption by spreading the oil over a larger surface area
  • It decreases the likelihood of a negative reaction

When is it appropriate to use oils “neat”?

Certain situations that affect small areas, such as a burn, bug bite, or forehead tension may benefit from the occasional use of undiluted oils.

I’ve used a drop of undiluted tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) to soothe a bug bite. Tea tree and lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) are typically considered the safest options for neat application. Some oils – ylang ylang and lemongrass, for example – are very likely to cause a reaction and should never be applied undiluted.

How do I dilute for regular use?

Carrier oils such as avocado, grapeseedsweet almond, hazelnutjojoba, coconut and fractionated coconut oil are ideally suited for diluting to safe topical levels. We’ll cover how many drops of essential oil to add to your carrier oil later in this post.

Diffusion or topical application – which one is better?

It depends on what you want to accomplish. According to Robert Tisserand, inhaling essential oils is a very efficient way to absorb them quickly into the bloodstream.

“Inhaled substances pass down the trachea into the bronchi, and from there into finer and finer bronchioles, ending at the microscopic sac-like alveoli of the lungs, where gaseous exchange with the lungs mainly takes place.

The alveoli are extremely efficient at transporting small molecules, such as essential oil constituents, into the blood.” (Essential Oil Safety, p. 49)

A good rule of thumb for diffusing is 30-60 minutes on, one hour off, then repeat if desired.

Topical application is considered a better choice when you want to directly benefit the skin, or when you prefer for absorption to occur over a longer period of time. (It takes time for essential oils to get through the skin.)

essential-oil-dilution-guidelines-chart

How To Dilute Essential Oils For Topical Application

The dilution guide below is based on information found in Essential Oil Safety along with input from a clinical aromatherapist. Please note that these are guidelines and not rules. The individual needs of a person and the oil being used should also be considered.

Also, just because 1% dilution (1 drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil) is considered appropriate for a situation does not mean that all essential oils can be used at that concentration. For example, clove bud essential oil can be irritating if used over a 0.5% dilution (1 drop in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil). If you don’t have a copy of Essential Oil Safety, you can find the maximum recommended dilution for many popular essential oils here and here.

essential-oil-dilution-chart-final

In general, here are some guidelines I have found helpful when deciding how much to use in a particular situation:

.25% dilution – For children age 3 months to 2 years. Click here for more information on using essential oils on children under two.

1% dilution – For children two through six and individuals who need to take a more gentle path, such as those who are working to heal from serious health concerns or may have compromised immune function. This dilution is also a good rule of thumb for pregnant/nursing women, but in some cases a dilution of up to 2.5% may be appropriate.

1.5% dilution – For children ages six through fifteen. For ease of use, I sometimes round down to a 1% dilution. It’s hard to measure out half a drop!

2.5% dilution – This is typically the dilution recommended for most adults. It is also commonly used for daily body care products and massage oils. For facial skin care, a 1% is better. Because half a drop is hard to measure, I usually round down this dilution to 2%.

3 – 10% dilution – Most often used for support during certain kinds of injuries or acute illness. The dilution ratio depends on the situation, the age of the individual, and the type of oil being used.

25% dilution – Used on rare occasions to soothe muscle cramps/spasms, bruising, etc.

Need a specific dilution not covered here?

This customizable dilution calculator is pure genius.

Want a printable guide that you can refer to later?

No problem, I’ve created one for you as a gift for signing up for my newsletter. You’ll also get updates when I post about natural remedies and other topics, exclusive gifts and coupons (I was able to give away a jar of free coconut oil to anyone who wanted it recently!), plus other goodies.

Also, I’m a member of a Facebook group (not an admin) that you may find helpful – Using Essential Oils Safely. It’s not affiliated with any particular brand, and there are several aromatherapists that volunteer their time to answer questions and share recipes.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Teach Your Kids To Cook! (Free Mini-Class)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=38156 2016-05-27T17:23:10Z 2016-05-23T13:05:45Z Me: Hey guys, you need to go clean your playroom and then you can do whatever you want until Levi wakes up. Micah: We can play with sharp knives !?!!?!?!? Me: . . . . Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of giving my kids knives is a little terrifying. Unless you count “baking” […]

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Me: Hey guys, you need to go clean your playroom and then you can do whatever you want until Levi wakes up.

Micah: We can play with sharp knives !?!!?!?!?

Me: . . . .

Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of giving my kids knives is a little terrifying. Unless you count “baking” a potato in the microwave along with a few other – ummm, skills? – the reality is that I didn’t really learn to cook until after I got married. I can’t pull from personal experience about what helped me learn as a child, so I’ve struggled a lot with trying to figure out where to start and what’s age appropriate.

And yet, MY KIDS REALLY NEED TO LEARN . . . for their own good and my sanity!

That’s why I was so excited when my real-life friend Katie from Kitchen Stewardship gave me behind-the-scenes access into her new class, Kids Cook Real Food. If you don’t already know Katie, she’s a former teacher who totally gets how to break things down for kids (and their parents.)

Why Kids Need To Learn To Cook Real Food

There are so many reasons, really. It can help with:

  • Math (measuring ingredients, tracking cook times, etc.)
  • Developing fine motor skills (cutting bananas, peeling carrots)
  • Teaching responsibility (my personal goal is for my kids to make breakfast at least one morning a week)
  • Building self-confidence

Here are a few of my personal reasons for going through this class with the potami:

  1. I’ve noticed that the they’re more willing to try foods that they’ve helped prepare, so by welcoming them more into the process I’m helping them learn to love real food. Not just a handful of ingredients, but a huge variety that changes with the seasons . . . and their mama’s mood.
  2. I want to send them to college with a good understanding of how to care for themselves, both in solving everyday problems and taking care of their bodies. Teaching them to cook is fundamental to that. 
  3. I can really use the help, provided it’s actually help and not just my toddler rubbing butter in my hair.

That’s why I love this class. It’s practical and doable, and there suggestions for children of all skill levels. With Katie’s help, I can keep my toddler busy with a simple task while I work with the older kids on more advanced techniques. 

How To Get The Free Mini-Class

You guys, this class has me SO PUMPED about getting into the kitchen with my kids. Yes I said pumped. No I am not sure what decade that’s from. But seriously, my family needed this, and my guess is that some of you need it, too.

Right now Katie is giving away a three-part series that covers:

  • Basic Knife Safety and Techniques (Appropriate for ages 2-teen)
  • Challenges & Developmental Readiness
  • The Biggest Mistake Parents Make

 So are you ready to do this?

YES! I WANT TO TEACH MY KIDS KNIFE SKILLS!

Continue Reading...Teach Your Kids To Cook! (Free Mini-Class)

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