Kitchen Staples for Healing Naturally

Healing is on my mind today as I sit here, stuck on the couch with a throat that burns and a cough that makes my head feel like it’s going to explode. At least the persistent sinus headache is gone. Everything has moved to my chest. Yeah me!

So what’s a girl to do but take a few homeschool teacher in-service days? My littles are playing outside and getting extra dirty in the morning and vegging on cartoons in the afternoon (thank you Diego and Netflix!). My older two are still doing all the schooling that they can do independently without mamma’s help. We are eating simply…cereal and juice, PB & J and fresh fruit, easy no-brainer dinners. One of my dear friends even brought me an already-made pasta bake and some fruit and veggies that we will eat tonight. Love those moments of provision that the Holy Spirit facilitates in our lives! Small, yes…but huge where it counts!

As I’m making concoctions for myself to desperately make this go away and avoid a trip to the doctor that will end in antibiotics, I thought I would share with you some of the awesome natural remedies that I have found over the years that have been essential for us when the yucky’s hit.

The kitchen is my best friend when it comes to healing us. Everyone has heard of chicken noodle soup as a go-to for healing food. But did you know it’s not a myth? I’m not talking canned soup here. The real deal made with homemade chicken stock from bones. That gelatin is magical stuff. Sauteed garlic and onions adds another layer of immune boosting properties. Too tired to make homemade chicken noodle soup? Try making ramen noodles with your own homemade chix broth instead of water. Tastes the same if you season with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder without the damaging MSG of the packets. My kids LOVE this and it is usually a cheap lunch staple in the winter time for our family.

Another kitchen staple we use often in healing is honey usually added to tea. Any tea is good (the heat is what kills germs on your throat and loosens phlegm) so don’t worry if you don’t have those fancy herbal ones. Although I have quite a fondness for Wellness Throat Care and Celestial Seasonings Echinacea Wellness teas! Throw a touch of lemon juice and some honey (both act as antibacterial agents to kill germs and the lemon juice helps cut through mucus) and you have yourself a soothing cup of meds that are gentle on the throat and uplifting to the tired soul.

You can also use honey as a wonderful basis for homemade cough/throat syrups. (Don’t forget – not on infants under one years old!) Kids love the taste of honey and it makes whatever other ingredients you are adding more palatable for them. Most everyone has honey on hand and even if you are still going to give your kids over-the-counter meds, this works well when their throat is still achy and they want something between doses. From the kitchen means no side effects!

My favorite that the kids love is a ginger honey cough/sore throat syrup that tastes good and I don’t have to force anyone to take it. Just grate a piece of ginger and squeeze the juice from pulp into a bowl. Add a touch of lemon juice and some honey and stir. I take mine and put it back into the honey bear and label for fridge. If you have raw honey it’s even better because of the enzyme action in the honey not being heated. Notice I didn’t give amounts. That’s because this recipe is very forgiving. You will get about a teaspoon to tablespoon of gingerish liquid from the pulp. Honey is about 1/2 to 1 cup and lemon juice around same as ginger liquid. I never measure. I use what I have on hand (sometimes that’s more or less honey) and mix. It doesn’t have to be precise.

You can also try this tumeric honey recipe (just as the video says or combine with recipe above) for a more potent syrup. The spiciness of the tumeric (an anti-inflammatory) will most likely make this a more adult-friendly recipe. I must say, though, this has helped my throat the most. It may be spicy at first but soothes it for much longer than my throat drops did. Combine these with the simple power of a salt-water gargle in warm water a few times a day to help kill nasty throat bugs.  I do the salt water gargle first followed by the honey-turmeric and then wait at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything to let them do their job in killing bacteria.

And don’t neglect the power of Vitamin C. Most people get their 100% dose of Vitamin C per day via their foods and juices or vitamin supplements. But when your body is worn down and trying to heal from outside attacks of a virus, extra Vitamin C can really help your body repair itself faster. I keep Vitamin C throat drops on hand for my littles. These are better for sore throats than menthol drops because they don’t sting little throats and give a small extra dose of Vitamin C to little bodies. I use the Airborne for myself which is a mega boost with zinc and herbs to boot.

I also try to get extra Vitamin C naturally in our smoothies. We do smoothies at least twice a week. I take whatever fruit is looking a bit wilty and chuck it in the blender with some frozen fruit (usually blueberries or strawberries) and greens (when I have them – spinach is our favorite), some milk or yogurt (plain, full fat), vanilla, and a 1/3 cup of sugar (not to worry, that covers 8 people). My kids LOVE these and I feel it is a great way to add fruits and veggies to their otherwise picky diets!

My fave is a winter Orange Julius smoothie. Throw in a bunch of oranges (4-6), heavy cream, yogurt, vanilla, a couple of raw eggs, 1/3 cup suger (or honey) and a teaspoon of Vitamin C powder (we keep this on hand to use all winter long – and use calcium ascorbate as it allows you to absorb the vitamin C better). Tastes JUST like the malls except extra healthy for you!!!

My last tip…soak the toothbrushes in Hydrogen Peroxide (change morning and night) to kill germs during the length of this sickness. This is also good for anyone who is struggling with gingivitis.  When the cold/flu passes, throw away and buy new brushes.

Now, if I can just learn to make these:

Honey Cough Drop Lollipops @ The Pistachio Project

Or these:

Horehound Lozenges @ Frugally Sustainable

My next winter projects!!!

Red, White, and Blueberry Waffles {and other Fourth of July Pinterest Stuff}

Don’t you just love the festive color combinations of this creative breakfast my hubby came up with? Okay, maybe the breakfast isn’t that creative…we actually have this quite a bit at our house…but my husband is totally proud of his creative name for it.  Although I must say, it is the best waffle recipe we’ve ever had. Adam has tweaked it over the years to get it just right. No crunchy, overfluffed Belgian Waffles for us. We wanted something old-fashioned, classic in flavor. Slightly crisp but just the right softness when our homemade syrup is poured over top! {See Recipes Below!}

And here is a lovely shot of the one beautiful hibiscus that bloomed in our yard. I didn’t even know we were growing hibiscus! (I’ve always wanted them!) So imagine my surprise as Delilah swooped into the bathroom and showed me her treasure find. I laughed as I remembered my post from yesterday and then turned it over to show her how these flowers first inspired making fairy doll skirts out of flowers. Gorgeous! I see a girlie summer project going on. That is, if we can get the flowers to bloom before being plucked forever out of existence.

My day is pretty mellow today. I’m deciding NOT to clean the house (against all my mom instincts). Who really is going to notice my dirty floor? Besides, little kids running in and out all night with smoke powder on their fingers and feet…who am I kidding? I’d just have to re-do tomorrow! So today is a lazy day. Kids are heading out swimming and I get to sit here and right this post. Later this afternoon we will be watching Independence Day (a no-brainer!) and staying cool in the air-conditioning. Then it’s brats and dogs and smores and yumminess mingled with explosives and lots of little kids. Good combo, right?

One fun project we’re going to try tonight is glow-in-the-dark bubbles. Saw this on Jolanthe’s Homeschool Creations Blog last week and fell in love with the idea! Hopefully I’ll have some fun pictures to show you tomorrow.

Glowing bubbles courtesy of Homeschool Creations.

Speaking of Pinterest, thought I’d throw out some of the fun Fourth things to try. Check out my Fourth of July Pinterest Board. Killer stuff here! I only listed a few so, please, go see for yourself…there’s MUCH, MUCH more!

{ 1 } Sparkler Shield

{ 2 } Fourth of July Punch

{ 3 } Tin Can Windsocks

{ 4 } Cup Cake Liner Bug Protectors

{ 5 } Independence Day Paper Plate Hats

And now, for the waffle recipe (adapted from James McNair Cookbook). We double this recipe for our family of 8 as well as doubling the syrup recipe.

Butter Rich Waffles

  • Melted butter for greasing
  • 2 Eggs, room temp, separated
  • 1 1/2 Cups Milk, room temp
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Stick Butter (1/2 cup), melted
  1. Preheat waffle iron.  Grease grids with melted butter.
  2. Beat egg whites to form stiff (but not dry) peaks. Set aside.
  3. Combine egg yolks, milk, baking powder, flour, and melted butter till smooth.
  4. Fold in egg whites.

Homemade Syrup (cheap and easy!)

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water

~ Boil 10 minutes, turn to low and stir in:

  • 1 pad butter
  • splash of vanilla

Have a wonderful, safe, and happy Fourth everybody!!!

~ Cookie Comfort ~

How do you bake cookies while simoultaneously holding a whining infant who may have RSV and has been clinging to you desperately all week day?

One hip…baby. Other hand…cookie scoop. Wasn’t this such a clever invention? I used to see it as a needless tool (my hubby wanted it) that I avoided just on principle. But, I’ll admit, today it has greatly come in handy.

We should be dosing up on meds and trying to clear out this sickness pervading our house. I should be packing the last little bits of our house. But there is something ultra comforting about home baked chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the afternoon! I mean, seriously, look at all that sweet, warm, fresh gooey goodness!

I’ve adapted our recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The only change being that I use all butter. No shortening or margarine in this house! And Adam has taught me to add the flour slowly at the end testing for that just-right-consistency. That has made all the difference in cooking the perfect cookie!

I cook mine at 350 degrees for exactly 9 minutes. No more, no less. Always pull even if you don’t think they look done! Everyone’s oven is different so that part may take some experimenting.

Scratch Real-Butter Ultra-Comfort Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter (slightly softened)

~ Mix with beater.

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp real Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs

~ Mix again with beater.

  • 1 3/4 Cups – 2 1/2 Cups Flour 

~ Mix in 1 3/4 Cups flour with beater. Slowly add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more at a time till dough is still sticky but can be squished together in hand and keep shape.

  • 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

~ Stir in chocolate chips.

Cook, eat and enjoy!

And, by the way, the other cool secret about this recipe? You can use it for any type of cookie! Making peanut butter cookies? Add peanut butter and adjust flour accordingly. Making oatmeal cookies? Add a handful of oats and adjust the flour accordingly. As long as the dough has that same consistency then you’re good to go! This helped me in memorizing just on recipe and ditching the rest. Ultra simple for this overly busy mom!

Orange Clove Winter Stove Top Potpourri

 

winter potpourri

One of my favorite smells in the world is that classic cinnamon spice aroma that permeates the winter season. Most of us modern day Americans run to the store and purchase our Fabreeze or Glade cinnamon plug-ins. Some of us might even splurge on more pricey Scentsy warmers. But my favorite classic is the simple orange clove stove top winter potpourri.

This works especially well in a synergistic no-waste seasonal way as part of your kitchen clean-up. Winter is the traditional time for citrus to be in season and on sale. With a 4 pound bag of oranges at $1.49 a bag, who isn’t going to eat as many as will drip down their chin? So you are in your kitchen cutting up oranges for the kids lunch. What to do with the orange peels?

There is always the classic churn them in your disposal method. A wonderful natural cleaner for your disposal and sink pipes. But a better, more wintery way, is to simmer them on the stove top with some water, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. (Stock up on them when they are half price in after Christmas sales…trust me, they will still be good when the next Christmas comes around!)

Ohhhh…the aroma! Just do as I say, not as I do. Use a bigger pot. There is nothing worse then your husband coming to you wanting to know what that burning smell is only to find your water simmered out and your cinnamon sticks are burning! Big pot + lots of water = lots of yummy smelling, house warming goodness! Enjoy.

101 Ways to Use PUMPKIN in Kid Friendly Dishes

Okay…maybe not 101, but a lot! 🙂

Canned pumpkin finally showed up at our store a couple of weeks ago and at 99 cents a can I stocked up! I’ve been doing a lot of on-the-fly cooking lately and have enjoyed experimenting with this nutritious staple. It’s a super easy way to get the kids to eat a nutrient dense super food!

Here have been our favorite ways to enjoy it.

Pumpkin Spice Latte’s.

Remember that recipe I shared? Well, I modified it a bit for our taste and my kids gave it a yummy thumbs up! (Yes, I’m a bad mommy. I do give my kids coffee every once in a while and they love it.) Stir together 4 cups coffee, 3 cups milk, 4 Tbsp pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, 1/4 cup sugar till heated through. Ultra yummy if you then top it with fresh whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon!

Pumpkin Muffins/Bread

Need I say more? A given that we will be doing this a lot! The key to super light and yummy muffins…use buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream for most or all of the liquids in your favorite recipe.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Make bread pudding with your favorite bread pudding recipe. Add in 1/2 can pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice to the liquids. Pour over stale bread and cook for 45 minutes at 350. Make some yummy caramel sauce to pour over the top (whisk a little cream, brown sugar, butter and vanilla together over low heat) and you have an instant fall dessert or, as in our case, a yummy dinner side dish!

Pumpkin Yogurt

This one I did on a whim. I was getting the kids yogurt for breakfast and realized I was out of jam. I looked down at the pumpkin I had already opened to use for my lattes. Hmmm….I wondered. And guess what? Mixing pumpkin, a bit of sweetener (honey, sugar, maple syrup…your pick) and cinnamon into plain yogurt completely hit the spot. My kids loved it. I’m thinking of trying this same thing with apple butter. Seasonal yogurt. Who knew?

Pumpkin Smoothies

If pumpkin yogurt works, why not throw it in a smoothie? I have this yummy oatmeal apple smoothie I do so I just threw in some pumpkin with it and, voila, instant yumminess. What goes into my smoothies? Well, it is never the same thing twice. Just depends on what I have on hand. Usually I throw in plain yogurt, raw honey, fruit (apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, bananas, blueberries, pineapple…whatever I have on hand), and sometimes greens (spinach or swiss chard).

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

This is super yummy and is a way to get veggies into a simple, no-brainer for lunch. And the best part, for my kids at least, you can’t even taste the pumpkin! Easy recipe. Make mac n chz how you normally do (for me that usually includes 1 16 oz box noodles, whole milk, real butter, and colby or cheddar cheese…a few handfuls will do), stir in 1/2 can pumpkin and some parmesan cheese, add a bit of garlic powder, salt and pepper and you have creamy, instant success!

Happy Smiling Kids full of fortified goodness…

Take the $5 Challenge


This showed up in my email today:

I want to eat healthy, local food but I have no time, not much money and no clue how to pull it off. What can I do?” – pretty much everyone

Yes..yes…have heard this SO many times, often from my own mouth. I’ve done A LOT in the past year to actually make this a reality for our family. It isn’t easy. It takes time and thought and research and experimenting. It takes baby steps and small changes. But it can be done.

Things I do to put real (unprocessed), whole, nutritious (preferably local) food on our table:

  • Cook from scratch. Refuse to by boxed despite the temptation. Yes, there may be some questionable meals in the beginning experimenting stages but it does get better! 😉 My biscuits are now bomb.com (as my hubby would affectionately say!).
  • Make my own bread. This is still touch and go for me. With the amount of work on my plate this one sometimes falls by the wayside.
  • Cook a whole chicken and then turn the bones into broth. This has saved us the most amount of money. A $6 chicken can feed our family 2-3 meals and I get about 8-10 cans (baggies) of broth out out of the deal…an extra $6-10 savings.
  • Use in season vegetables from a local farmer. We sourced one who is selling us produce for $1 per pound. Beat that supermarket!
  • Grow a garden. This one seems like a no-brainer but if you want to actually grow one and NOT waste money check out this book: Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 an Acre.
  • Learn to can. Put up food in it’s season while it is the most inexpensive. Sometimes this is as simple as chopping and freezing. Or it can be elaborate as making wonderful preserves or marinara’s.
  • Buy in bulk. No, not the warehouse clubs. I’m talking take that tax refund check, run it down to your local CSA or meat farmer and buy a share when the bulk money is there. Pre-order CSA veggies to be delivered weekly. Bring home 1/2 a cow and freeze it. Order a side of pig and have bacon, chops, ribs for the whole year!
  • Learn to waste nothing. Chopping veggies? Onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and herb ends can go into a freezer baggie and be used when preparing stock. Other veggie/fruit waste can be turned back into rich soil through compost. (Who wants to buy compost?) Fat from your pig you ordered can be turned into lard and put up for the year for delicious biscuits, pie crusts, cookies and for popping popcorn. Kids don’t like bread heels? Chuck them in the freezer until you have enough to make bread pudding or dry them on the counter top and turn into bread crumbs. I even came across a lady who turned her extra chicken feet into stock!!!
  • Source Raw Milk. Still working on this one. But when we do…oh man. That same money spent on not-so-nutritious pasteurized milk can be used on super nutrient dense milk that can also be used to make cream, butter, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese, and cream cheese. This is the largest percentage of where our grocery dollar disappears to so I am excited to try and shave in this particular area.
  • Learn to hunt. This is a new skill my husband will be taking up this fall. Permits are usually low cost and this is a self-sufficiency skill that is a lost art. Possible deer meat for a year? Maybe a turkey? This is meat you can take to the bank.
  • Eat your local weeds. Did you know purslane is a wonderful addition to salads? And it is probably growing right now in your front yard. What about dandelion omelletes? Chicory root coffee? Have fun experimenting and exploring your own back yard. Read: The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants
So I decided to take on this $5 Challenge! What is the $5 Challenge you say? Glad you asked. Most fast food value meals are $5 or under. We will be attempting to feed a dinner meal at under $5 a person using only local, real food to show that it can be done for the average family! As Slow Food USA says:
Together, we’re sending a message to our nation’s leaders that too many people live in communities where it’s harder to buy fruit than Froot Loops.”
I will be hosting a dinner party at my house on Saturday, September 17. All (in my local area) friends and family can come and partake. Please R.S.V.P. in comments or via facebook or email by September 10th. I will email you with the time and details. We will be watching the movie Food, Inc. while eating the delicious fare that my chef hubby and I will cook up. I hope much fruitful discussion can take place afterwards. Dessert and coffee will be included. I will be typing up a sheet with a break down of our dinner food costs on the front and local sources of food on the back for all who are interested and will be back here to blog about our yummy meal and discussion highlights within that next week.
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE!”
And for all those who aren’t in my local area, please visit the $5 Challenge site and sign up to host your own dinner party!

Homemade Baby Food

It’s that time again. Little guy is getting bigger and his appetite is increasing. Time to start  putting aside some baby food.

Sure, I could go to the store and pick up some food. Seems pretty cheap in a jar. Seems to be nutritionally sound…just some fruits and veggies, water, and ascorbic acid. They even carry the organic stuff so why not?

I’ve done both ways, to be honest. And, yes, it’s easy and convenient to go to the store. But it’s also easy and OH SO MUCH CHEAPER and nutritionally fresh to do it yourself at home. The easiest way…work it into what you’re already doing in the kitchen.

Making supper for the family? Throw on a pot of extra veggies for the baby.

Doing dishes at lunch? Simmer down some fruit for the baby.

Passing out bananas at breakfast? Mash down a half for the baby.

Easy as pie.

  • Cook your veggies or fruit how you would normally. (They say steam is the best but I don’t have a steamer so boil, simmer or roast it is.)
  • Season with just a touch of salt or cinnamon…not too much. (They say no seasoning…baby doesn’t know anyway. But you DO want him to like it right? Have you ever tasted green beans without salt? Yuck. Just no butter or fats yet.)
  • Strain.
  • Puree in a blender or food processor with just a touch of the cooking liquid. Really pureed for 6-9 months. Still a bit chunky for 9-12 months.
  • Cool for about 15 minutes.
  • Freeze in ice cube trays.
  • Store in labeled freezer bag.
  • Thaw in fridge or reheat in microwave.
I also add a bit of baby cereal to my recipes after it has cooled. This adds that little extra carbohydrate and saves me from having to feed him two things.
And for you newbies out there…
Here is a fabulous site called Nurture Baby with everything you’ll ever need to know.
Homemade Green Beans for Baby ~ 
  • 1 16oz bag frozen green beans = $.87
  • Makes 7-14 portions = .12 cents for 7 portions
Store-bought Baby Green Beans ~
  • .59 per jar = $4.13 for 7 portions
Now just think of the savings when you upgrade to the number 3 jars!