Baked Onion Rings

Onion rings are my guilty pleasure. Especially with big, sweet vidalia onions and a delicious beer batter crunch. This baked recipe from Vegetarian Time is delicious!! I’ve also swapped out the plain bread crumbs for panko bread crumbs, absolutely delicious! Also try adding some seasoning. I really love red pepper flakes and cumin. Play around and enjoy these onion rings almost guilt free! The following images and text are courtesy of Vegetarian Times. Enjoy! 

Baked Onion Rings

Baked Onion Rings

Serves 4

Nutritional Information

Per Serving (6 onion rings):

  • Calories: 321
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Total Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: <1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 60 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 650 mg
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Sugar: 15 g
Crunchy on the outside, tender and sweet on the inside, these battered and baked onion rings have a fraction of the calories of their deep-fried cousins.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt, divided
  • ¾ cup tonic water
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 medium sweet onions, cut into ½-inch-thick slices

1. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Whisk together flour and 1/2 tsp. salt in bowl. Whisk in tonic water, adding more, if necessary, to make pancake-like batter.

2. Combine breadcrumbs, oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt in shallow bowl.

3. Separate onions into rings. Dip each onion ring into batter, shaking off excess, then dip into breadcrumbs, coating completely. Place on prepared baking sheet, then place baking sheet in freezer 20 minutes to set batter on rings.

4. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bake onion rings 7 to 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown on bottoms. Flip, and bake 7 to 10 minutes more, or until golden. Season with salt, if desired.

It’s All About the Hormone Balance

Thank you Wellness Mama for another wonderful article! With the hectic, stressful lives we lead it is hard to find a balance. All the anxiety, lack of sleep, poor diet and lack of exercise can cause severe hormonal imbalances. This can dramatically affect our weight and can impede any efforts of losing weight. Check this article out for some interesting insights. The following text and images are courtesy of Wellness Mama. Enjoy! 

It’s All About the Hormone Balance


Its All About the Hormone Balance Its All About the Hormone Balance

It seems that the more we know, the more we don’t know. New research is constantly emerging on a variety of health topics but there is a common underlying theme.

What factor contributes to weight gain during pregnancy? Hormone balance.

What causes weight fluctuations, bloating and other health symptoms throughout the course of a month? Hormones.

What causes men to naturally put on muscle more easily or lose weight more quickly? Hormones.

What is a huge contributing factor of growth in children? Hormones.

What controls ovulation, reproduction, pregnancy, etc? Hormones

Yes, when it comes to losing weight or improving health, what do we focus on? Calories… or micronutrients… or diets.

It’s all about the hormones:

I’ve heard so many cases lately of people who have improved diet, started exercising, etc but are still not losing weight or improving health markers. After talking to many of these people, it seems that the factor they all have in common is an underlying problem with hormone balance.

I’ve written about Leptin and thyroid hormones before, and these are just a small piece in the complicated hormone system in the body. In a given day or month, a woman’s body will have fluctuations in hormones like estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, lutenizing hormone, prolactin, oxytocin, leptin, ghrelin, thyroid hormones, melatonin, serotonin and others.

Certainly, diet affects hormones to some degree, but other factors can have a tremendous impact as well, especially:

  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Exercise
  • Exposure to toxins
  • pregnancy or nursing

Though there is no single symptom that is a definitive sign of a hormone imbalance, factors that often indicate a hormone problem include:

  • sleep troubles
  • persistent weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • being hot or cold often
  • digestive problems
  • cravings
  • low libido
  • fatigue
  • depression or anxiety
  • mood swings
  • headaches
  • hair loss

What to Do About It?

For those with hormone problems, there are some important dietary and lifestyle factors that can help nourish the body so it can recover. For these people, things like dieting, extreme exercise or stress will only make the problem worse and it is more important to carefully support the body’s hormone system.

This is best accomplished by first improving factors like sleep and stress as well as nourishing (rather than depriving) the body.

As I said before: “Statistically, many people use hormonal contraceptives to help “balance hormones” or prevent acne, etc. The problem is that this is just treating the symptoms and not addressing the root cause. The body naturally moves toward balance so if hormones are out of whack, it is not from a contraceptive deficiency, but rather that the body is not producing the natural hormones optimally.”

Get Some Sleep!

While you are sleeping, your body is extremely active removing toxins, recharging the mind, and creating hormones. Skimping on sleep, even for one night, can have a tremendous impact on hormones and even one night of missed or shortened sleep can create the hormone levels of a pre-diabetic (source).

I shared some tips in a previous post for optimizing sleep:

A daily (and nightly) routine can make a big difference in how easily you fall and stay asleep. You’ll have to experiment to find out what works best for you but here are some helpful suggestions:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time, even on weekends to keep your hormone cycle regular.
  • Eat a high protein/high fat snack a few hours before bed (7pm or earlier) or consume a lot at dinner.
  • Avoid caffeine after 1 pm.
  • Install F.lux  (it is free) on all computers and devices to reduce blue light and help you sleep better (it is also easier on the eyes!)
  • Drink enough water during the day and stop drinking about 2 hours before bed so you don’t have to wake up to use the bathroom.
  • Take a soothing salt bath about an hour before bed with some relaxing music or a great book.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day (even if you aren’t trying to get your vitamin D). The exposure to the wide-spectrum light during the day boosts serotonin levels, which will help improve melatonin levels at night
  • Avoid artificial light as much as possible after the sun goes down.
  • Pray, meditate or find a way to reduce stress.
  • Give yourself a massage before bed to release stress and help relax (Personally, I love this for home-massage)
  • Stretch before bed to relax muscles.

This post has some additional tips for getting great sleep.

Eat Some Fat:

Fats, especially saturated fats, are vital for hormone health as the body uses fats as building blocks for hormones. As this article explains:

“When these important saturated fatty acids are not readily available, certain growth factors in the cells and organs will not be properly aligned. This is because the various receptors, such as G-protein receptors, need to be coupled with lipids in order to provide localization of function.

The messages that are sent from the outside of the cell to the inner part of the cell control many functions including those activated by, for example, adrenaline in the primitive mammalian fight/flight reactions. When the adrenal gland produces adrenaline and the adrenaline (beta-adrenergic) receptor communicates with the G-protein and its signal cascade, the parts of the body are alerted to the need for action; the heart beats faster, the blood flow to the gut decreases while the blood flow to the muscles increases and the production of glucose is stimulated.

The G-proteins come in different forms; the alpha subunit is covalently linked to myristic acid and the function of this subunit is important for turning on and off the binding to an enzyme called adenylate cyclase and thus the amplification of important hormone signals.

When researchers looked at the fatty acid composition of the phospholipids in the T-cells (white blood cells), from both young and old donors, they found that a loss of saturated fatty acids in the lymphocytes was responsible for age-related declines in white blood cell function. They found that they could correct cellular deficiencies in palmitic acid and myristic acid by adding these saturated fatty acids.”

Coconut Oil is amazing for hormone health. It provides the necessary building blocks for hormone production, can assist weight loss, reduce inflammation, and even has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

If you really need hormone help, aim to consume 1/4 cup of added coconut oil a day. My favorite way is to blend into coffee or tea. This is the highest quality one I’ve found.

Helpful Supplements:

“In a perfect world, we would be rising and sleeping with the sun, getting Vitamin D from the sun and Magnesium from the ocean while relaxing and exercising in great balance each day in a stress-free world. Since I doubt that describes any of us currently, supplements can fill in the gaps. I’ve talked about the basic supplements that I take before, but there are some specific ones that are helpful for hormone support.

  • Maca– A tuber in the radish family that has a history of boosting hormone production and libido. Many women notice less PMS, increased fertility, and improved skin while men notice increased sperm production, libido and better sleep. Maca is also high in minerals and essential fatty acids, making it great for hormones.  It is available in powder form (least expensive option) or in capsules. Maca should be discontinued during pregnancy. The effects of Maca are somewhat cumulative, so the best results are seen after 3-5 weeks of taking Maca regularly.
  • Magnesium– Magnesium supports hundreds of reactions in the body and often contributes to better sleep (which is great for hormones!). There are several effective forms of Magnesium: In powder form with a product like Natural Calm so that you can vary your dose and work up slowly,  ionic liquid form  can be added to food and drinks and dose can be worked up slowly,or  transdermal form by using Magnesium oil applied to skin. This is often the most effective option for those with damaged digestive tract or severe deficiency. Magnesium often greatly helps both PMS symptoms and menstrual cramping.
  • Vitamin D– A pre-hormone is supportive of hormone function. Best obtained from the sun if possible, or from a D3 supplement or Fermented Cod Liver Oil (what I do in the winter). Make sure not to get too much, and optimally, get Serum Vitamin D levels checked to minitor levels.
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil– Provides many of the necessary building blocks for hormone production including Vitamins A, D, and K. It also is a great source of Omega-3s and beneficial fats.
  • Gelatin is a great source of calcium, magnesium and phosphate. It supports hormone production and digestive health and helps sooth inflammation, especially in joints. We use Great Lakes Kosher as I was able to verify with the company that it is sourced from grass-fed, humanely raised cows, and as such is higher in nutrients.
  • Vitex/Chaste Tree Berry– Nourishes the pituitary gland and helps lengthen the luteal phase. It lowers prolactin and raises progesterone. For some women, this alone will improve symptoms.
  • Natural Progesterone Cream– PMS and menstrual troubles are often linked to specific hormone imbalances. Especially for those with short cycles or short second phase of their cycle (ovulation through start of menses), progesterone can be the issue. I’ve seen people add only natural progesterone cream and see symptoms greatly reduce. If you do use progesterone cream, do you own research, make sure you have a good brand that is soy-free and only use for the second half of your cycle (ovulation through menses).
  • Red Raspberry Leaf A well know fertility herb that is also helpful in reducing PMS and cramping. It has a high nutrient profile and is especially high in calcium and is a uterine tonic. It is available in capsule form, but makes an excellent hot or cold tea.

NOTE: Make sure to check with your doctor or health care professional before taking any new supplements, especially if you are on medications or contraceptives.

Diatomaceous Earth for your Family, Home, and Homestead

Eating dirt to detox? Interesting topic. Thoughts? The following images and text are courtesy of The Prairie Homestead and the article can be found here.

 

Diatomaceous Earth for your Family, Home, and Homestead

January 15, 2014 By 

how to use diatomaceous earth

Hello, Prairie Homestead readers! My name’s Danielle – but you can call me Dandy. I’m so honored and happy to be here with you today, but I’m afraid I have something to confess straight away: it’s a habit of mine here lately, a dirty one.

The truth is – I eat dirt. Every day.

Yep.

But don’t write me off just yet – let me explain.

I don’t eat just any dirt. It’s a special type, found in certain deposits around the world, and you might even have a bag of it in your laundry room or shed.

What dirt would that be? Why, diatomaceous earth, that’s what! If you’ve been following Jill orhave read her books, you know she’s a fan of diatomaceous earth. My family is, too.

Let me ask you – do you want an effortless way to detox your body? Do you know someone who would like to lower their blood pressure? Would you like to have natural parasite protection for your pets and livestock? Well, read on; I’d love to talk more about this precious powder, and share with you many of the ways it can be used to help improve your health, your home, and of course, your homestead.

Let’s get started!

What Exactly is Diatomaceous Earth?

I thought you’d never ask!

Diatomaceous earth technically comes from the cell walls of fossilized single-cell diatoms – essentially, it’s a fossil, ground into a very fine powder. There are two general types of diatomaceous earth: food grade and industrial grade. While industrial grade is toxic to humans and pets, food grade diatomaceous earth is non-toxic and very beneficial on multiple levels, and is the type I’ll be discussing with you here today.

Diatomaceous earth exhibits some interesting properties:

  • When viewed through a microscope, it looks like a hollow cylinder, with holes throughout the side.
  • It carries a strong negative charge. If you’ll recall your science lessons, you’ll remember that negatively charged ions are attracted to positively charged ions.
  • Therefore, when taken internally, the diatomaceous earth attracts and absorbs positively-charged pathogens into its cylinder – it absorbs the things we want to stay away from, likeviruses, pathogenic fungi and bacteria, heavy metals, prescription drug residues, pesticides, parasites, radiation, and the like – and sweeps them out of our bodies.
  • Diatomaceous earth is also very hard. On a scale of “hardness”, if diamonds were a 9, diatomaceous earth would be a 7. This helps us too – as this powder makes its way through our digestive tract, it gently “scrubs” the packed-on residue we have there and sweeps it out of our bodies. Nice, diatoms!
  • Also, because of this quality, it is very sharp. Organisms such as parasites, lurking in our intestines, are sliced up and killed, and swept away when we empty our bowels, and weare left unharmed.
  • The last quality I’ll mention is also powerful: food grade diatomaceous earth is 84% silica, and contains some 20 trace minerals. Did you know life can’t exist without silica? It is essential for the building of healthy bones and teeth, skin, hair, and nails. As our mineral resources are getting depleted, our food is containing less and less silica. Do yourself a favor and add this divine diatom to your diet.

How Do I Take Diatomaceous Earth?

(Some of the following links are affiliate links)

I’ll start with a public service announcement: YOU MUST ONLY BUY AND USE FOOD GRADE DIATOMACEOUS EARTH. Sorry to yell, but the distinction is very important. Fortunately, it is easily found both locally and online.

Where to buy food grade diatomaceous earth.

Now that I’ve made that clear, I’ll give the instructions: to take diatomaceous earth, all you have to do is mix a spoonful into some water or other liquid, and drink. Follow with another cup of water. (Diatomaceous earth can make you thirsty – make sure and drink plenty of water while using this supplement.) It’s that easy! You can also add it to smoothies – it’s totally undetected that way.

Dosage: If you are just beginning your diatomaceous earth journey, start with a teaspoon mixed in liquid, as I’ve detailed above, once a day. Slowly increase to twice a day, and then slowly increase the amount taken, up to a heaping tablespoon, and up to three times a day.

Please hear me: slowly. Diatomaceous earth is a way to detox your body, and if you start with too much, your body will get rid of toxins too quickly and leave you feeling under the weather. Yes, it really does work that well! If you start experiencing light headaches, you’ll know you took it a little fast. But don’t stop altogether, just do yourself a favor and take it slowly – no need to rush.

Pregnant and nursing mamas, you’re in the clear – diatomaceous earth can be safely taken during either stage. Just be sure to drink plenty of water. It is also fine for children to take in smaller doses. My children get their DE in their smoothies.

How does it taste? Well, if you want to know the truth, you’ll feel like you just licked a mud puddle. Ha! Not that you’ve ever done that, but it just tastes… like dirt. Sometimes it is hard for me to get down, but I am so motivated by the positive changes it’s brought to my body!

Would you like to know my favorite way to take it? I mix a spoonful with about six ounces of coconut water and add 1/2 a teaspoon of honey. Mmmm, it’s delicious! The honey is optional; it tastes great without it as well. You could also try taking it with fresh vegetable juice, whatever works for you.

What can diatomaceous earth do for your body, home, and homestead? Find out more.

What Can Diatomaceous Earth Do for Your Body?

  • Since it sweeps out foreign matter, you will begin to notice better nutrient absorption and less fatigue.
  • Studies show that DE can help your body lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. Believe it or not, some users report a 40-60 point drop in blood pressure points after only a month of use.
  • The beauty mineral: the silica in DE helps hair and nails grow faster. Since I’ve started taking it, my nails have turned from flimsy to hard as a rock. My hair, which partially fell out earlier this year due to a difficult surgery recovery, has begun filling in nicely. I have read many, many testimonies of people who have reported that it reversed their baldness. The silica also helps reduce wrinkles, age spots, and acne, and it also strengthens teeth and bones, tendons, and joints.
  • Metal detoxification: since DE sweeps heavy metals out of the body, this is helpful especially to those with heavy metal poisoning or mercury fillings, which leach mercury constantly into the body. Aluminum is also swept out, lowering the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Helps repair and maintain lung function, acts as a cough decreasing agent
  • Helps prevent kidney stones, osteoporosis,
  • Decreases vertigo, tinnitus, and insomnia
  • Regulates bowel movements, lessens gastrointestinal inflammation, cleans out the colon, treats both diarrhea and constipation. It is a great choice for families on the GAPS diet!
  • Treats head lice and fleas (make sure you don’t inhale the powder)

Diatomaceous Earth for Furry Friends

It’s true – your pets and livestock will reap the benefits as well.

  • Sprinkle a little DE on your pets’ food daily for the same benefits you receive. This is a great de-wormer!
  • Carefully sprinkle onto your pets’ and livestock’s coats – making sure none is inhaled – for protection from lice, ticks and fleas.
  • Sprinkle in the kitty litter box and pet beds for extra odor and flea protection.
  • Sprinkle in your barn, stalls, nesting areas, and coops for pest protection.
  • Decreased mastitis and increased milk production in livestock with internal use. Causes healthier coat and hooves.
  • Better and stronger eggs produced by hens who have it sprinkled in their feed.
  • For dosage instructions and more benefits, visit this page.

Diatomaceous Earth for the Home and Homestead

Homemade Diatomaceous Earth Toothpaste

You can use DE around your home in the following ways:

  • Sprinkle around windows and entrances to protect from ants, spiders, and even scorpions. (The DE scrapes their exoskeleton and dries it out, leaving them dead.)
  • Sprinkle a ring around your garden plants for protection from garden pests. (Do realize, though, that DE kills beneficial insects as well. Avoid applying onto flowers. – Does not harm worms or beneficial soil microorganisms.
  • DE will destroy ant colonies, even fire ant colonies. Sprinkle around and in the hole.
  • DE can be used to treat a bedbug infestation.
  • Sprinkle DE in your garbage bins for odor and pest protection.
  • Got a compost heap? Apply DE to keep odors and pests away.
  • Add to manure heaps to keep flies and larvae down.
  • Add to bulk grains to keep pests and moisture out.
  • You can use DE to make your own homemade toothpaste! I have a recipe coming to my blog soon.
  • You can add DE to your homemade “DE”odorant – I am also working on a recipe for this.
  • You can sprinkle DE in your toilet for a little extra scrubbing power – it won’t harm porcelain.

FYI: if the area where you applied the DE gets wet, such as in the garden, please reapply.

As you can see, there are so many uses! I hope I’ve intrigued you today about my friend, diatomaceous earth. I believe no family, home, or homestead should be without it. It’s worth a shot, don’t you think?

What can diatomaceous earth do for your body, home, and homestead? Find out more.

Where to buy food grade diatomaceous earth.

Do you use diatomaceous earth already? Let us know in the comments!

Peace, Love, and Diatoms,

Dandy

IMG_1238

Danielle is first and foremost a daughter of the Most High God. She is married to her best friend, and they have four children. She is a recovering procrastinator, a real foodie, and an unapologetic dreamer. And yes, she eats dirt daily. You can find Danielle blogging about life, love, simplicity, and her affinity for bacon at http://lovelovething.com– Don’t forget to join the discussion on Facebook too.

References:

  1. http://diatomaceousearthsource.org/
  2. http://www.earthworkshealth.com/How-Diatomaceous-Earth-Works.php
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_earth
  4. http://www.naturalnews.com/039326_diatomaceous_earth_detox_mercury.html
  5. http://www.naturalnews.com/033367_silica_diatomaceous_earth.html

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are for educational and entertainment purposes only. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Home Made Organic Deodorant

Deodorant can be a VERY controversial topic when it comes to personal hygiene. This is something that cannot be skimped on. Even the most organic, all-natural individuals will opt for the store bought brands with aluminium for fear of body odor. But there are recipes that work! Recipes that are organic and natural and work! 

Something to note when switching to an all natural, organic deodorant such as the recipe below: There is a learning curve. The body needs roughly 1-2 weeks to fully adjust to the new deodorant. During this time some odor may be experienced. This is merely built up toxins leaving the sweat glands. I suggest switching over during the winter months. 

The following images and text are courtesy of We Support Organic. The article on organic deodorant can be found by following the link below. 

How to Make Long Lasting Organic Deodorant

Image: wellnessmama.com

Below is my favorite deodorant recipe. It is AMAZING!!! My husband can ride his bike 70 miles in the blazing summer and still no BO! I also love that it’s a great alternative for my girls who are just reaching the age of needing deodorant. It’s easy to use and you can add essential oils for a “pretty smell”, if you want.

Deodorant Recipe

Ingredients:

6-8 Tbsp Coconut oil (solid state)
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (arrowroot is preferred)

Directions:

Combine equal portions of baking soda & arrowroot powder.

Slowly add coconut oil and work it in with a spoon or hand blender until it maintains a firm but pliable texture. It should be about the same texture as commercial deodorant, solid but able to be applied easily. If it is too wet, add further arrowroot powder/cornstarch to thicken.

You can either scoop this recipe into your old deodorant dispensers or place in a small container with lid and apply with fingers with each use. Makes about 1 cup. This recipe lasts about 3 months for two people with regular daily use.

Source: Heal Thyself

Natural Ways to Clean Indoor Air

With winter approaching, our homes are beginning to get stuffy and dry as the heat turns on and the indoor pollution increases. There are a few ways to counteract this including the use of humidifiers and air purifiers. Here are a few natural ways to help keep the indoor air clean this winter. The following text and images are courtesy of Wellness Mama. See the full article here

3 Natural Ways to Clean Indoor Air

3 Natural Ways to Clean Indoor Air 3 Natural Ways to Clean Indoor Air

Turns out that indoor air can often contain more toxins and chemicals than outdoor air. Everything from mattresses to pots/pans to kids PJs can contain harmful chemicals in indoor air.

It’s best to reduce chemical exposure in any way possible, but in today’s world, it is practically impossible to completely avoid harmful chemicals.  For the remaining chemicals in indoor air, there are some natural ways to help reduce your family’s exposure.

I’ve mentioned houseplants before and they are a great option for improving indoor air (read my full list of recommended plants here). We have about eight indoor plants and I’m hoping to add more soon. For those who don’t want the upkeep of indoor plants or can’t have them due to pets/kids/etc, there are some other natural options.

Besides indoor plants, these are my top three natural air cleaners (and I use all three):

Beeswax Candles

Regular paraffin candles are petroleum derived and can release chemicals like benzene,  toluene, soot and other chemicals into the air. These types of candles do more harm than good for indoor air quality and should be avoided.

Pure Beeswax Candles on the other hand burn with almost no smoke or scent and clean the air by releasing negative ions into the air. These negative ions can bind with toxins and help remove them from the air.

Beeswax candles are often especially helpful for those with asthma or allergies and they are effective at removing common allergens like dust and dander from the air. Beeswax candles also burn more slowly than paraffin candles so they last much longer.

I personally only use beeswax candles in our house. We buy them by the case and our favorites are:

Salt Lamps

Salt lamps are another natural way to clean indoor air. They are made from himalayan salt crystals and just like the beeswax candles, they release negative ions in to the air to help clean it. They are also a beautiful light source. The only downside…. my kids like to lick them!

“The Himalayan Natural Crystal Salt Lamp also works as an air purifier. When lit, the lamp emits negative ions that fight against positively charged particles that cause you to feel stuffy and sluggish. The lit salt crystal clears the air naturally of allergens like smoke, pet dander, pollens, and other air pollutants. It dilutes odors so that you can breathe easier. People with asthma often find it helpful in reducing their symptoms. You can keep the lamp lit for as long as you like to maintain this purifying effect.” (from this description)

We don’t do night lights in our kids rooms, but if we did or if we need a light source at night for reading, we use salt lamps. The natural orange glow doesn’t disrupt sleep hormones like fluorescent or blue lights do and I find it very relaxing.

We have an 8-inch salt lamp that we use regularly (it is also the most cost effective for its size, as the bigger lamps can get very pricey).

Bamboo Charcoal

Another natural air cleaning option I recently discovered is bamboo charcoal. I’ve talked about one of my unusual uses for charcoal before and we use a charcoal block water filter to remove toxins from our water.

Charcoal can have the same toxin-removing effect on the air. We use bamboo charcoal in burlap bags in our house. They work wonders for odor removal and removing toxins from the air:

“Moso air purifying bags, made of linen and filled with bamboo charcoal, absorb unpleasant odors and dehumidify the air. The porous structure of the high density bamboo charcoal helps remove bacteria, harmful pollutants and allergens from the air and absorbs moisture, preventing mold and mildew by trapping the impurities inside each pore. The Moso air purifying bag has been scientifically proven to reduce the  amount of formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, and chloroform gases emitted from everyday items such as paint, carpeting, furniture, air fresheners, chemical cleaners, rubber, and plastics. Toxin free, the bags are safe to use around pets and children. The bamboo charcoal rejuvenates when the bags are placed in sunlight once a month. You can reuse the bags for two years, after which the charcoal can be poured into the soil around plants to fertilize and help retain moisture. (source)

I’ve found that these are also great for removing odors from cars or from the bathroom (especially if you have recently potty-trained boys who don’t always have perfect aim!).

We use these Mosu bags in every room of our house.

DIY Salve for Cracked Heels

Thanks Wellness Mama for this great recipe for foot cream! I’ll be making this for my mother for Christmas. The following images and text are courtesy of Wellness Mama. Enjoy!

DIY Salve for Cracked Heels DIY Salve for Cracked Heels

I had a reader email to ask about natural remedies for cracked heels. Cracked heels can cause problems that range from minor discomfort to pain and bleeding. My husband and I met walking across the country and cracked heels were pretty common.

Cracked heels can be the result of several things:

  • the way a person walks
  • poor circulation
  • a skin problem like eczema or psoriasis
  • fungal infection
  • nutritional deficiencies

Finding the Cause:

Since cracked heels can have a variety of causes, it is important to find the root of the problem. Often, I’ve seen cracked heels improve with dietary changes. Deficiencies of zinc, magnesium and omega-3 can contribute to cracked heels, and fat soluble vitamins and gelatin are also important.

Skin related problems and fungal infections can often be helped with regular detoxifying foot soaks and a homemade healing salve.

Personally, we take fermented cod liver oil daily and make it a point to consume wild-caught fish to maintain Omega-3 levels. Since zinc is important for men’s health, my husband also takes a zinc supplement regularly.

As a general rule, I suggest trying any remedy for at least a few weeks to see if it is working. For best results, try external and internal approaches at the same time.

Internal Remedies for Cracked Heels:

  • Consuming enough Zinc, Magnesium and Omega-3s in food or supplement form
  • Consuming Gelatin and Vitamin C which increase skin elasticity and may help reduce cracking
  • Optimizing fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin D (found in Fermented Cod Liver oil, supplements or from sun exposure) and Vitamin K (found in grass-fed butter or supplements). Consuming foods like bone broth and organ meats is also helpful.
  • Drinking enough water and consuming trace minerals

External Remedies for Cracked Heels:

Cracked Heel Foot Salve Recipe:

Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pour 2 tablespoons of boiling water in to the magnesium flakes in a small container and stir until it dissolves. This will create a thick liquid. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a quart size mason jar inside a small pan with 1 inch of water, combine the coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter and turn on medium heat.
  3. When melted, remove the jar from the pan and let the mixture cool until room temp and slightly opaque. At this point, put in to a medium bowl or into a blender.
  4. If in a bowl, use a hand blender or immersion blender on medium speed and start blending the oil mixture.
  5. Slowly (starting with a drop at a time) add the dissolved magnesium mixture to the oil mixture while continuing blending until all of the magnesium mix is added and it is well-mixed.
  6. Add the oregano and peppermint essential oils if using and whip until combined.
  7. Put in the fridge for 15 minutes and re-blend to get body butter consistency.
  8. Store in fridge for a cooling lotion (best consistency) or at room temp for up to two months.
  9. Use on cracked heels at night. Apply a thick coat and wear socks until the salve absorbs.
Notes
Do not use Oregano or Peppermint Essential Oils on children or while pregnant. As with any medical condition, check with a doctor if things don’t improve or if you have any specific concerns.

For best results, exfoliate feet with dry skin using the pumice or Ped Egg, then do a detoxifying foot soak, let dry and apply the salve. Repeat as needed until problem resolves.

Secrets Of The Extremely Fit

Take a look at this for some pretty helpful ideas on bettering your lifestyle and improving your health! Some of these seem obvious, but are you actually incorporating them into your lifestyle? This is written for men in mind, but this applies to you as well ladies! Enjoy! 

The following text and pictures are courtesy of Huffpost Healthy Living. See the article in its entirety here

Secrets Of The Extremely Fit

fitness secrets
By Andrew Heffernan, C.S.C.S. for Men’s Health

There’s no way around it: To gain muscle and lose flab, you have to pay the iron price. And sweat buckets. And rethink your grocery list. But the ultimate cost (in time, especially) depends on what you know. In our never-ending quest to help you get in the best shape of your life, we tapped the country’s top fitness minds and combed through cutting-edge research to find the 25 most effective ways to reveal the stronger, leaner person inside you. In short, we’re about to fast-track your fitness.

More From Men’s Health:
The Men’s Health Workout Center
The Fitness Rules Winners Follow
20 Ways to Stick to Your Workout

1. Rethink Your Nutrient Intake
The traditional food pyramid — which the White House unveiled as a plate-shaped pie chart in 2011 — is heavy on refined carbs and light on protein and fats. So it doesn’t meet the nutritional needs of active men who want to build muscle and burn fat, saysMen’s Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S. That’s why he created the “food tower” — it provides the ideal balance of muscle-building foods and flab-defying nutrients. Use it as the basis for your daily diet.

2. Load Up On Green Energy
green vegetables“When athletes start eating more vegetables, they don’t fatigue as easily,” says Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., cofounder of Cressey Performance in Massachusetts. “It’s common to see them setting personal records in the weight room within a few weeks.” His favorite trick: Throw a handful of spinach into a blender and combine with 2 cups almond milk, some frozen berries, rolled oats, chia seeds or flaxseeds, and a scoop of protein powder. You won’t even taste the greens.

3. Get More Vitamin D
A dearth of D can lead to impaired athletic performance, according to a recent review published in the journal Nutrients. Other research shows that men with higher levels of vitamin D tend to have stronger muscles than those with low levels. Odds are that you fall into the latter group; in fact, no less than 77 percent of people in the United States are deficient in vitamin D, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Your goal: 600 IU a day.

4. Spread Out Your Protein
This much is obvious from the food tower: To build muscle, you need more protein. But men who divide their daily protein among six smaller meals instead of three larger ones build muscle faster, say scientists at Skidmore College. “Try to eat 100 grams [more than half of your recommended intake] by lunch,” says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness in California. Three eggs for breakfast, a midmorning shake, and grilled chicken and Greek yogurt for lunch will do the trick.

5. Find Your Whey 
whey protein shakeDifferent types of protein work better at different times. In the morning, go with whey, which can help control cravings all day, report scientists in the Journal of Nutrition. “Whey is also best pre-workout because it digests quickly,” says Nick Tumminello, C.P.T., owner of Performance University. Postworkout, use casein, which burns slowly to provide a steady stream of protein. Forty grams before bed can also boost overnight muscle growth by 23 percent, say Dutch researchers.

6. Work Your Entire Body, Every Time
When it comes to building strength, how often you work a muscle is just as important as how hard you work it, according to research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. “You need about 10 to 15 sets per muscle group per week to see results,” Tumminello says. Shoot for three total-body workouts a week; during each one, complete 3 to 5 sets per muscle group.

7. Lift Something Weird
Most of the objects you lift in everyday life — shopping bags, overstuffed suitcases, toddlers — aren’t as conveniently sized as dumbbells and barbells. To build strength that translates beyond the gym, incorporate sandbags, kettlebells, fat-grip barbells, and other odd-shaped training tools into your workouts, says Anthony DiLuglio, founder of artofstrength.com. Can’t find such oddities in your gym? Wrap towels around a chinup bar to make it tougher to grip.

8. Master The Pullup
pullup“The pullup targets more muscles than any other upper-body exercise,” says MMA strength coach Chad Waterbury, M.S. And because it’s typically done with body weight, it’s also an indicator of relative strength (how strong you are for your height and weight). “The benchmark is 15 in a row,” Waterbury says. If you can’t do that many, work your way up. “Do 1 set of max pullups each morning and evening for three days; take the fourth day off,” he says. “Repeat the sequence until you hit 15 reps.”

9. Move More Weight (Right Now)

  • Bend the Bar: When you bench-press, try to bend the ends of the bar away from you as you press it up. “You’ll fire more muscles in your upper back, creating a more stable platform on the bench,” says Wil Fleming, C.S.C.S., owner of Force Fitness and Performance.
  • Spread the Floor: As you squat, press outward against the floor with your feet (but don’t actually move them). “You’ll feel your glutes activate, which will boost your power,” says Fleming.

10. Train Your Core The Right Way
Ditch crunches and situps. “Moves like those create motion around your spine — precisely what your core is designed to resist,” says Waterbury To build a chiseled,functional six-pack, do anti-rotation exercises like the single-arm wall push. Assume a pushup position facing a wall with your hands 2 feet from the baseboard. Place your right hand on the wall and push for a slow 3-count. Repeat with your left hand. Do 10 reps per side. Too easy? Do a pushup between reps.

Head over to Men’s Health for the full list.

Scarlett Johansson’s Superhero Bod

I’m not one to believe in one hit wonders, especially when it comes to a workout plan, but this move does make a big difference. Doing it alone won’t be very effective, but adding it to your workout will show some incredible results. The following article and pictures are courtesy of Self. 

Get Scarlett Johansson’s Superhero Bod in One Move

ScarJo Superhero

Scarlett Johansson rocks that magic combo of curves, confidence and fitness that somehow inspires a we-can’t-help-it obsession in us all. I mean, girl is gorgeous. As femme fatale Black Widow in The Avengers — which is in the running for an MTV Movie Award this weekend! — she looks so damn comfortable in that skintight body suit (not to mention this to-die-for burgundy gown), she got us jonesing get a bodacious superhero body, too.

To the rescue: L.A.-based trainers Bobby and Alicia Strom, who worked with Johansson while she was prepping for the role. “She really puts 100% into getting ready for whatever role she needs to play,” says Bobby. “When she was going to be in The Avengers, she wanted to be more athletic and toned.”

So, what’s the first thing you learn in Action Star 101? You need to get a core hovering in that “rock solid” zone. “She was being shot around in a harness, doing kicks and jumps,” says Bobby. “She [needed] to be strong enough not to get hurt doing stunts.”

The trainer had Johansson strengthening her core with a tough super move that combines the Inchworm with knee tucks. Check out this totally homemade but insanely awesome how-to video featuring Alicia Strom (who’s sporting super-chic Victoria’s Secret VSX Sport Line, btw). Once we nail this move like Scarlett did — watch out world, cat suit here we come!

Inchworm with Knee Tuck

See video here.

Standing straight up, bend to touch your toes, keeping knees straight. Crawling out with your hands, keeping your knees stiff, so that you’re stretching glutes and hamstrings. Walk your hands out to a plank position. Do a knee tuck by crossing your right knee toward your left shoulder. Do one knee tuck with each leg, then walk your hands back slowly, stand up and stretch toward the sky. Do the entire move 10 times for some fat-blasting results!

8 Foods Experts Won’t Eat

The following article is courtesy of Eat Local Grown. See article here. While we know these foods aren’t the best for us, some of the reasons may surprise you. Eat right and stay healthy! 

8 FOODS EVEN THE EXPERTS WON’T EAT

Author

We asked them a simple question: “What foods do you avoid? Experts from different areas of specialty explain why they won’t eat these eight foods. Food scientists are shedding light on items loaded with toxins and chemicals. The experts offer some simple swaps for a cleaner diet and supersized health.

Food scientists are shedding light on items loaded with toxins and chemicals–and simple swaps for a cleaner diet and supersized health. Experts from different areas of specialty explain why they won’t eat these eight foods.

Clean eating means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing. Often they’re organic, and rarely (if ever) should they contain additives. But in some cases, the methods of today’s food producers are neither clean nor sustainable. The result is damage to our health, the environment, or both. So we decided to take a fresh look at food through the eyes of the people who spend their lives uncovering what’s safe–or not–to eat. ” Their answers don’t necessarily make up a “banned foods” list. But reaching for the suggested alternatives might bring you better health–and peace of mind.

1. The Endocrinologist Won’t Eat: Canned Tomatoes

Fredrick Vom Saal, is an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A.

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi. Exposure to BPA Causes Permanent Damage In OffSpring

2. The Farmer Won’t Eat: Corn-Fed Beef

Joel Salatin is co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming.The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.

3. The Toxicologist Won’t Eat: Microwave Popcorn

Olga Naidenko, is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group.

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize–and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop organic kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix. Make it organic and use coconut oil. If You’re Still Eating Microwave Popcorn, You’re Not Fully Grasping The Health Consequences

4. The Farm Director Won’t Eat: Nonorganic Potatoes

Jeffrey Moyer is the chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes–the nation’s most popular vegetable–they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh. Budget tip: Organic potatoes are only $1 to $2 a pound, slightly more expensive than conventional spuds.

5. The Fisheries Expert Won’t Eat: Farmed Salmon

Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, published a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon. Farmed Fish vs. Wild Fish: How Healthy
Is The Fish At Your Favorite Grocery?

6. The Cancer Researcher Won’t Drink: Milk Produced With Artificial Hormones

Rick North is project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society.

The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. “There’s not 100 percent proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

The solution: Buy raw milk or check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products. Why Do Humans Still Drink Milk?

7. The Biotech Specialist Who Won’t Eat Conventional Soy: GMO Unfermented Soy

Michael Harris is biotech specialist who has directed several projects within the biotech sector including those forgenetically engineered food. He has been a consultant, manager and director for companies such as Xenon Pharmaceuticals and Genon Corporation.

The problem: Genetically engineered food is a cause of great concern due to the manipulation of DNA and genetic code including transfers from one species to another. Fermented Soy Is The Only Soy Food Fit for Human Consumption and since almost 90% of soy in the world is genetically modified, if you are not ensuring sources are organic, long-term health problems are inevitable, especially since soy has been found to affect hormonal balance and even cause cancer.

The solution: Check labels to ensure soy is Non-GMO or organic and never consume unfermented sources. If possible contact the company to find out exactly where the Non-GMO soy was obtained.

8. The Organic-Foods Expert Won’t Eat: Conventional Apples

Mark Kastel, a former executive for agribusiness, is codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods.

The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.

The solution:Buy organic apples or apples from a farmer that you trust!