Hot Cocoa

I just love hot cocoa with my little one on a snowy day. Our Michigan winter has been full of cold and snowy days this year.

Hot Cocoa Recipe – 

1 1/4 cup of milk

1/2 tablespoon quality cocoa

2 tablespoons of sugar

Stir over medium heat until completely combined – enjoy!

Top with whip cream & cinnamon if desired.

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Thanks for stopping!

– Jessica

Choosing a Healthier Lifestyle! Not sure where to Start?

Around 2007 my family started totally digging into our food, water, and household products. Whether you’ve been feeling blah, dealing with health issues, or just want to live a healthier lifestyle, here are a few ideas….just a few!

Let’s start with WATER! Only the most important thing we need in our body! As an adult we are supposed to drink at least half of our weight in ounces of water, even more if you have a high activity level. An adult who weighs 150 lbs should drink approximately 75 ounces of water each day. If possible, drinking filtered water that is free of fluoride and other harmful chemicals is your best choice. If the water has gone through Reverse Osmosis filtration it is likely free from most substances. Ingesting fluoride can make one feel lethargic and is toxic to your body (Fluoride Action Network, 2012).

READ those labels! But what are you looking for?!? I have several main ingredients that I run from.

Staying clear of soda, juice that is not 100% juice or raw juice, and non-organic milk. Most soda has High Fructose Corn Syrup, a high amount of sugar, and is extremely acidic. Your body does not flourish in an acidic environment, resulting in diseases & illnesses. If one constantly consumes acidic drinks and food, their body is working overtime to get back to the correct pH level resulting in a lower immune system. When the body is busy fighting the unknown they are putting in their mouths, the body has less time to fight the stuff that matters – flu, cancer, diabetes, ect.!

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) found in many pre-packaged foods such as chips, soups, dressings, and extremely flavorful foods. This is a flavor enhancer that makes you want to keep eating! Doritos are one that I remember making me feel awful and so tired afterwards but I kept wanting to eat them. Other names for MSG are; yeast extract, autolyzed yeast extract, torula yeast, hydrolyzed & texturized vegetable protein, and several others (Elephant, 2013).

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) found in cereals, juices, syrups, sodas, bread, dressings, crackers, canned goods, and baked goods. This highly processed, man-made sweetener sneaks into food that you would not even think of it being in. (Mercola, N.D.)

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener found in diet sodas. This may be one of the most harmful artificial sweeteners. (Mercola, 2013). Sadly, there are so many undiscolsed labeling tactics just like with MSG that I am unaware of how many different names there are. Look for cane sugar, stevia (I happen to like stevia, I know this upsets some stomachs though), or xylitol in candies.

Milk drinkers are highly recommended to choose a milk that is from a local organic farmer or at least an organic choice at your grocery store. Cows who are fed an organic (mainly grass) diet, treated humanely, and not pumped with antibiotics or hormones produce healthier products; milk, cheese, and meat. I believe one of the obesity epidemics is from eating meat & dairy products from unhealthy animals. If an animal is given growth hormones that will transfer to you. Not everyone who drinks non-organic milk will be heavy but that milk surely isn’t doing them any good. If you’re looking for a milk alternative, we are loving Flax Milk! Almond Milk is a great choice as well, look for the Non-GMO project verified label! =)

Artificial flavors & colors are a big one to stay away from. Do you or your children act as if they cannot control themselves? Have they eaten candy or a processed food with any dyes such as; Red 40 or Yellow 5, or another artificial ingredient (artificial flavors)? Artificial = fake, so why put something fake into your body? Your body will not recognize this substance therefore does not know how to process it. I believe that many kiddos are mis-diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, or another learning disability because of the junk that is being put into their little bodies. If they are fed what their bodies NEEDED, then they may have a bit more self control.

Gluten Free. I know, I know not everyone loves to ditch the bread BUT if you are living with a bloated gassy belly, brain fog, skin issues, can’t lose weight, or just feel lethargic then give up gluten! Gluten is a protein found in wheat that our bodies have a tough time digesting and there so many really good gluten free options are available. Did you know french fries are gluten free? Awesome, right?!?

  • Instead of bread go with rice crackers, corn tortillas, or gluten free bread (usually in the freezer section). I’ve been making my kiddo homemade lunchables with rice crackers, meat, and cheese – YUM!
  • Instead of noodles go with rice or corn noodles (preferably non-gmo), rice (organic or Mahatma Basmati),  or potatoes
  • Many gluten free cereal & granola bars options

Try to make the bulk of your diet come from foods in their raw form (fruits, veggies, & nuts), choosing organic when possible or a local farm, getting enough non-city water, and staying clear of highly processed foods is a great place to start. Remember to start small though, don’t incorporate many changes at once. If you’re in a state with Meijer, they have a great selection of Meijer Organic or Meijer Naturals. Aldi’s has also started carrying organic & gluten free options. If not, shop around and see what you can find. I totally understand the expense of eating organic so do what you can and what fits with your budget. Google meals that go a little further or freeze easily. One of my FAVORITE chefs is Lacey over at A Sweet Pea Chef – she is amazing and I have loved every recipe that I have made of hers!

Exercise is HUGE – get up & get moving! So many have sit down jobs and I am grateful that my desk at my day job moves up and down with the push of a button! Adding a few short walks/runs into your day, just 15 minutes each will help your blood flow and release those happy endorphin’s! I recently came across Daily Burn and love their choices! Whether you are looking for some seriously intense workouts or just something to get your body moving, they have it! They also have a FREE trial!

Now, onto household products! Paying attention to ingredients doesn’t end with food, we make sure our cleaning products, bath products, and even our beauty products.

Cleaning products – plant based, biodegradable ingredients. Wondering how your products rate on the EWG, look here – Live Healthy.  A few brands we love are; Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Method, Earth Friendly, and Dr. Bronner’s.

Bath products – stay clear from sodium lauryl sulfate (any sulfates actually), parabens, and artificial colors & fragrances. We really love products from EO (Everyone) Bath Products – they are Non-GMO, cruelty free, and scented with pure essential oils. Deodorant has been a struggle to find a good one, so many natural deodorants just do not work but recently we came across Schmidt’s Deodorant and holy moly this stuff is AMAZING!! If you have sensitive skin they offer a few different options, the Lime & Bergamot is so refreshing and works like a charm. One downfall is that it discolors my shirts in the armpits a bit but I’ll totally take that over aluminum anyday!

Air fresheners – STAY AWAY FROM PLUG INS!! If you want a nice smelling home aim for an oil diffuser with pure essential oils (I love Edens Garden), natural air spray such a Mrs. Meyers, or a beeswax candle that uses pure essential oils.

 

I know this was ALOT of info to soak in but even choosing just one area to focus is a great start! It’s taken us years to get where we are so keep researching and loving your body enough to give it the right fuel.

Thanks for stopping and cheers to healthy living! XO

-Jessica

Happiness

References

http://fluoridealert.org/articles/50-reasons/

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/04/sneaky-names-for-msg-check-your-labels/

http://www.mercola.com/Downloads/bonus/danger-of-corn-syrup/report.aspx

Shortbread Cookies

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Shortbread cookies are one of my favorites & sometimes I add a few chocolate chips to change it up a bit!

3/4 cup real butter (softened)

1 3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

chocolate chips (optional)

 

Directions – 

Cream butter & sugar together until fully combined. Add vanilaa

Slowly add flour.

Stir in chocolate chips or split the batch – 1/2 with chocolate & 1/2 without!

Bake for 10-13 at 350 degrees depending on altitude.

Thanks for stopping!

Jessica

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Adapted from Betty Crockers Christmas Cookbook

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently I started following a gluten free diet, not a strict one but the main bulk of my diet is gluten free. And for someone who bakes often, I was on the hunt for a flour substitute. While at Costco I found a gluten free flour mix called, Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend by Namaste Foods. This was about $9 for 5 lb. so it isn’t the cheapest but it works and I don’t use it for all of my baking.

GF Flour

This is one of my favorite cookie recipes that I found on another blog – http://www.asweetpeachef.com/ that was adapted from Alton Brown. I have made these both with regular flour and this GF flour.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter

2  1/4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup + 1/8 cup of sugar

1  1/4 cups brown sugar

1 egg (room temperature)

1 egg yolk (room temperature)

2 tblsp milk

1  1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Melt butter in saucepan over low/medium heat. Mix together flour, salt, & baking soda in a medium bowl, set aside.

In large mixing bowl pour in melted butter and add sugars, cream together on medium speed. Add egg, egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of milk, and vanilla. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until completely combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Cover dough and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees – time & temperature may vary depending on oven and altitude.

Scoop dough using a cookie scoop or tablespoon onto sheet. Make sure the cookie sheets are not warm, especially when making sugar cookies so they keep their shape. Using parchment paper helps keep the cookie sheets clean & makes the cookies not stick.

Once oven has reached the temperature, bake cookies for 11 minutes. Adjust time as needed – if you like a doughier cookie or a crispier cookie =)

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Enjoy!

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DIY Vanilla Bean Carpet Freshener

Have you ever wondered just how many toxins are in the carpet freshener that you find at the stores? The smell may be lovely but you’re doing more harm than good, especially if you have children or pets that have consistent contact with the carpet.

A simple at home solution: Vanilla Bean Carpet Freshener

  • Fill up a mason jar with Borax – found in the laundry aisle
  • Add one vanilla bean
  • Add a few drops of organic vanilla extract
  • Shake – the longer it sits the more powerful it smells
  • Sprinkle sparingly onto carpet, let sit a few minutes then vacuum.

Borax is a natural odor fighter and can be used for many cleaning tasks around the house.

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*Substitute with different essential oils to your liking!

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Are You Suffering From Arthritis?

An estimated 50 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. (CDC, 2013). Arthritis is the inflammation in one or more of your joints causing stiffness, aches, & pain. The most common types are rheumatoid arthritis & osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto immune disorder where the body attacks the lining of the joint capsule resulting in swelling and inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis can have an early onset, with joint damage within the first two years. (Arthritis Foundation, 2008). Osteoarthritis is mainly caused by wear and tear on the joints. Extensive damage results in loss of joint cartilage leaving the bones to grind against one another. The knee joints are a common area to become affected. (Mayo Clinic, 2013).

Symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Redness
  • Loss of motion

Risk Factors:

  • Family history – some types of arthritis are hereditary. My Mother & Grandmother both have osteoarthritis.
  • Age – Risk increases with age, typically over 50.
  • Your sex – Women are more prone then men.
  • Previous joint injury – Sports injury or over use of joints, previous accident, or previous broken bones.
  • Obesity – Extra weight puts pressure on the joints increasing aches & pains.

Foods that help reduce inflammation:

  • Fruits – pineapple, cherries, blueberries, apples, strawberries
  • Nuts
  • Green tea
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric, ginger, thyme
  • Fish
  • Chocolate with at least 70% cocoa

Herbs that help reduce pain & swelling:

  • Turmeric
  • Cats Claw
  • Boswellia
  • Aloe Vera
  • Ginger

Exercising lightly with low impact movements will help keep your body flexible, reduce pain, and keep bones strong. Stretching is one of the best exercises for people suffering from arthritis. Aerobics & walking help strengthen the muscles, increase your heart rate, and release endorphins to make you feel happy!

 

Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to treat or cure a medical condition. I am not a doctor, please consult your personal physician before starting, stopping, or changing your routine. All content provided is for informational purposes only.

Resources:

http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/arthritis.htm

http://www.arthritis.org/files/images/newsroom/media-kits/Rheumatoid_Arthritis_Fact_Sheet.pdf

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/herbs-arthritis-pain#6

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/arthritis/DS01122

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/treating-rheumatoid-arthritis#1

All Natural Puppy Chow

I’ve never made this before this weekend, it is so simple and great for parties!

9 cups of rice chex (I prefer to use organic or an all natural rice chex that doesn’t contain GMO ingredients or BHT)

3/4 cup all natural chocolate chips

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter

1/4 cup real butter

1 tsp real vanilla

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar made with cane sugar

In large saucepan mix chocolate chips, peanut butter, & butter until smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir in cereal. Carefully pour into a 2 gallon resealable bag. Add powdered sugar and shake. Spread onto wax paper to cool. Tada! It’s ready to eat. Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Thanks for stopping! I hope you enjoy!

 

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