Saturday, February 27, 2010

Delicious and Nutritious: Smoothies

One of the biggest challenges of being a mom is getting nutritious, whole foods into our children.  It is especially hard to get them to eat a variety of healthy foods when they are small and don't have all their teeth yet.  I introduced smoothies to my daughter a little before her first birthday and it was a hit!  For the last year we have been sharing a smoothie for breakfast almost every morning.  She learned to drink from a straw very quickly and will drink quite a bit! 

Here is how I make our smoothies:

Start with a whole, peeled orange and blend it up with either yogurt, kefir, raw milk, hibiscus or other herbal tea, or fresh juice of your choice (I don't recommend juice unless it is fresh juiced from organic, whole foods because of the sugar content and pasteurization of commercial juices).

Once this mixture is smooth add any or all of the following:
  • organic frozen berries or fruit (I use blueberries, strawberries, peaches, cranberries and pineapple)
  • fresh organic spinach or other green (spinach is mild and doesn't really change the flavor)
  • banana or other fresh fruit
  • green powder (we like Garden of Life's Perfect Food Berry)
  • ground flax seeds
  • spirulina, beet powder, olive leaf complex, zinc lozenge or other healthy supplement
  • for a treat you can also add cocoa powder, cinnamon, or vanilla extract
Your smoothie will be loaded with fiber and vitamins!  It tastes great and will help you get more fruit and veggies into everyone's diet.  When my daughter is sick I love to add supplements to our smoothie that she would not take alone.  Recently she had a runny nose that she just could not shake and we tried olive leaf complex.  Within 2 days of introducing it into her smoothies and mixing it with her water she was completely better.  Try to use organic ingredients when possible to reduce your exposure to toxins and to get more nutritional bang for your buck.  If your budget limits your organic choices try to stick with organic for the most contaminated fruits and veggies.  A helpful list is located here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Make at Home: Refreshing Mouthwash

I have been making my own personal care products for the last few months and have had mixed results.  Occasionally something will turn out better than what I have been buying.  There have also been times I have had to throw my concoction out and start over, or repurpose it (for example sticky lotion can become shaving cream).  I mixed up this mouthwash yesterday and am so happy with it!  It really left my mouth minty fresh with a slightly herbal taste.  It is made of simple ingredients and you can tweak it to fit your individual preference.  Here is what I combined in a glass jar:
  • water
  • baking soda (aluminum free if possible)
  • aloe gel
  • vegetable glycerin
  • peppermint oil
  • clove oil
  • lemon oil
  • tea tree oil
I did not measure the ingredients, but this is roughly organized by largest quantity to smallest.  Once combined, shake well and try it!  I had to tweak mine a few times to get that strong peppermint flavor I was looking for.  Make sure to use organic or high quality oils that can be used internally (not labeled external use only).  I found my peppermint oil and baking soda in the baking isle of my grocery store and the rest I have purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs or Whole Foods.  It is so fun to make your own products, especially when they really work well!  I would love to hear what adjustments you have made to make this recipe work for you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Putting God First in Our Traditions

The holidays are behind us now and unfortunately that is a relief to many of us.  The stress and hassles that come with Christmas are really a shame.  One major source of stress is deciding on, buying and wrapping gifts, not to mention mailing or delivering them to each person on your list and trying not to leave anyone out.  In years past I have felt the joy of Christmas diminished because of the pressure to find something thoughtful for each person on my list without going way over budget. 

Well, two years ago my husband and I tried something radically different!  We decided that since it was Jesus' birthday we should give Him something He would like!  So we decided to take the money we had saved throughout the year to buy Christmas gifts with and instead give it to a ministry who would use it to help the poor and show them Jesus.  We believe it is God's heart to love and care for those in need and most importantly introduce them to Jesus.  So we wrote a letter to all of our friends and family letting them know what we were doing.  We asked that they partner with us and send any money they would have used to purchase gifts for us to the ministry we choose or one of their choosing.  That year we selected a ministry that was drilling wells in Africa and this past year we selected Iris Ministries who also ministers in Africa to orphans.  It was so very rewarding to send a check to these ministries who are saving lives and saving souls.  We so appreciated everyone who partnered with us. 

On a much less eternal note, it really made my Christmas less stressful.  Although I did not miss receiving gifts at all, I did miss the fun of giving (at least giving to the people who are easy to buy for like my mom, sister, girl friends, etc!).  We did not go over budget and were able to spend more time together, less at the mall or in traffic.  I don't think we will do this every year but once in a while it is a great way to honor God and have less on your to do list!  How do you keep God first in your celebrations?  I would love to hear your ideas!