Saturday, November 12, 2011

Does Having a Cold Mean Sinus Problems to You?

Well, then do I have some wonderful news for you!  

Picture of an actual Netti Pot.
For many years I have heard people talk about the Neti Pot.  What's a neti pot?  Wikipedia describes a neti pot as a device that is used for irrigating the nasal passages.  They are used to flush out the nasal cavities by using gravity to draw the flow of saline.

I have always been intrigued about the neti pot and when I get a cold it usually goes into my sinuses.

So, months ago my father-in-law gave me a sinus rinse bottle.  It looks like this...

And since I have taught the kids to share so well (ha ha) my youngest has shared his wonderful little cold with me.  When I woke up the first morning with that head congested, sore throat, I am getting a cold feeling, for some reason the first thought that came into my head was the neti pot in the cubbard.  So, that is where I headed.

It came with little packets of sinus rinse.  The sinus rinse packets have 2 ingredients...
1.  Sodium chloride-common table salt
2.  Sodium bicarbonate-baking soda

You pour the package into the squeeze bottle and fill with bottled or filtered water to the fill line.  Shake well.  Stand over a sink with mouth open and gently squeeze the bottle into one nostril.  It is a weird feeling, that I can best describe as you think you are drowning, but once you learn to calm down and breath through your mouth you are fine.  You squeeze the bottle continuously until you use between 1/4-1/2 of the filled bottle.  The liquid comes out the opposite nostril you are squeezing the liquid into.  Then you blow your nose.  And repeat with the other nostril. 

I am NOT going to post pictures of this. Lol.  But I will tell you that it was amazing what came out when I did blow my nose (no more details than that lol).  And I felt amazing!!  The directions say to do this 2 times per day.  I did it 2 times per day when I felt really bad and now I am just doing it first thing when I wake in the morning.

I still have a tiny bit of a scratchy throat.  But hey I can handle that!!  At least I am not getting worse and I do not have the head congested sinus pressure that I usually get with a cold. 

So, in summary....I AM SOLD on this!!  I suggest buying the squeeze bottle type, is so easy to use.  Keep it in your bathroom so you are prepared when a cold/sinus problem hits.  

Plus keep pushing foods high in vitamin C in this weather!

Let me know what you think!

Note:  After using this for a few consecutive days, I did notice my nose was dried out and would bleed a little when I would blow my nose.  So, if you seem to have a sensitivity, every day use is not recommended.  Try every other day or every 2 days.

New note!!!!!  ONLY use filtered or RO water!!!!!!!  NEVER use tap water!!!  Please read this article.  People have died from using tap water in their neti pot!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Making My Own Vanilla

This is something I have wanted to try for a long time.  The time is finally here.  I just opened my last bottle of Pure Vanilla from Mexico.  I admit, I panicked a little.  Whatever you decide to do after reading this, just promise me one thing....YOU WILL NOT BUY IMITATION VANILLA!  Whether you make your own, buy your own, BUY Pure Vanilla, not imitation.  The imitation leaves a bitter aftertaste, is made from sapwood and coal extracts...yuck.  Stay with the pure, better for us stuff.  :-)  (Since this is a great opportunity, I will also add...try to stay away from artificial coloring and flavoring all together....bad bad is in so much stuff we eat.)

Ok, so do you have 5 minutes?  Let's make some homemade vanilla!

Picture of my new vanilla beans.


When deciding what vanilla bean to buy, there are 2 that stand out to me as the best...
1.  The Mexican Vanilla Bean-has a smooth, strong, rich fragrance and flavor.  But buy from a reputable supplier.  Some suppliers add coumarin which can damage your liver and kidneys.   
2.  Madagascar or Madagascar-bourbon vanilla bean-has a smooth, rich sweet flavor and are the thinnest of the vanilla beans.   

I bought 2 vanilla beans from Whole Foods and paid $11.99.  Then I went on and found out that I can buy 16 Madagascar-bourbon beans for $14.50 and 54 beans for $26.50.  Ouch!!!  Live and learn.

What you need....
3 vanilla beans (split in half lengthwise)
Vodka 80 proof or higher (buy the cheap stuff)
Glass bottle that closes tightly (recyle here and save money)

Split 3 beans lengthwise with a sharp knife on a cutting board, but stop 1 inch from each end so that bean stays together but the centers are split.  

Place in a glass bottle with a tight fitting lid.  Fill with 8 ounces of vodka.  Place in a cool, dark place for at least 6-8 weeks (mine will steep for 1 year, as I don't need any right now).  Shake at least once per week.

Mark your bottle with the date you are making your vanilla...cause....drum roll....for 1 year forward, when you run out just add more vodka.  Your beans will flavor your vodka for 1 year.  Pretty cool huh'?

At the end of the 2 months, it is ready to use.  Leave beans in the bottle.  And remember vanilla is a forever food.  It will not spoil.  Just make sure to store in a dark pantry.

Note:  -You will need 3 vanilla beans per 8 oz of vodka.
-Do not add pure vanilla to hot liquids, the alcohol will evaporate and so will some of the vanilla flavor.
-If you make homemade ice cream with vanilla beans, wash the split bean thoroughly after cooking the ice cream mixture.  Place the cleaned bean in a bowl and cover the bean with either 1-2 cups of granulate cane sugar (not beet!) or 1-2 cups of powdered sugar.  Cover with tight fitting lid and let it rest for 2 weeks.  Use this vanilla sugar in your recipes for an amazing flavor.  1 tbsp of vanilla sugar is equal to 1/4 tsp pure vanilla.  Recycle!!  :-)
-If you want a bolder flavor use spiced run or brandy instead of the vodka.
-Once your vanilla is finished you can pour it into cute bottles and give as Christmas presents with ribbon or bows or from the beginning give as a gift but put a note on the bottle that says "do not open for 2 months."
-I read from another blog that she has had her bottle going for 14 years, she just leaves the beans in there, adding 3 new beans every year and a cup of brandy.  She said its tastes fantastic. 

Happy vanilla making and money saving!  :-)  I will post more after my vanilla beans arrive and I make my first batch. :-)

**Changes/Updates:  I would highly recommend using Organic vodka.  With all of the gmo corn, organic is a smarter choice.

I thought I would show you some recent pictures.  The vanilla extract is beautiful.

The 2 on the left I started brewing November 2011.  The 2 on the right I just started.   Cool, huh'?

Simply beautiful.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Do You Eat Oats, Rice or Beans? You have to read this!!

 How to make you own "quick cooking oats" that will be ready in a snap in the morning.  :-)

This is what oats look like after soaking over night.


Rinse well with cool water.

Tap strainer to remove water and place oats in saucepan.

Add milk and cook over medium heat.

Our favs.  (We no longer drink this type of milk.  ;-) )  
And I recommend raw unrefined honey bought locally.

If you eat oats, rice, quinoa, couscous, dried beans or any other grain, this post is a MUST READ!

When I learned what I am getting ready to share with you, my life and my health was changed forever.

What oats look like in their natural state.

I have been buying organic thick cut oats for a while now and love them.  "Nourishing traditions" recommends not buying rolled or cracked (steel cut) oats from bulk bins as they may be rancid.  But to buy them in packages or, better yet to grind the oats coarsely yourself in a grain grinder or roll your own, if you want (I would love to do this one day!).  I have been buying mine from the bulk section at Whole Foods and fortunately, have had no problems.  You can also buy Bob's Red Mill in the clear bag at Meijer, Bob's is not organic but it is still good.

For as long as I can remember I was told to not buy steel cut oats or quick cooking oats, due to their lack of vitamins and nutrients from the way they are over processed.  I never thought to question this, but after a reader contacted me about this, I did some research and I stand corrected....steel cut oats actually contain more fiber than rolled oats!  So, eat away at the cracked or steel cut oats!  Just make sure you soak them.  And cracked or steel cut oats do take longer to cook due to the fact that they are minimally processed (oh how I love that....less processing = healthier for me and my family, in my opinion).  When you research this topic it looks more like splitting hairs, but I'm going to choose the path less processed.  :-) 

As far as the quick cooking oats that I was brought up with, Quaker brand for example, I do not see any nutritional difference when I research this topic, just an even thinner cut oat.  Having not soaked the Quaker brand, I am not sure of what type of consistency we are talking about after they are soaked and then cooked.  So, if any of you soak and cook the "quick cooking" type, let me know how the texture turns out.  As for me, I will continue eating my thick cut rolled oats and once they are gone, I am switching to steel cut.  :-)  (Thank you Sarah!  :-) )

I only store my oats in the freezer, in a glass jar, if they are organic the have to go in the freezer for a few days, even if they are not organic, they will last even longer if they are stored in the freezer or refrigerator.

The night before you want to eat your oatmeal do the following.....
1.  Measure the amount of oats you want, place in a glass bowl with a lid.
2.  Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with clean water (filtered or R.O. if you can) and pour water over the oats in the glass bowl.  Keep track of how many cups of water you are pouring over the oats.
3.  For each cup of water you pour over the oats also place 2 tbsp of any kind of yogurt in the bowl with the oats. Stir well.
4.  Let sit overnight covered on counter top.  Do not place in refrigerator.  
5.  In the morning, place the oats in a strainer with small holes (small enough that your oats do not fall through the holes) and with your sink water sprayer, spray the crap out of your oats.  I usually do small batches, like 1/4-1/2 cup at a time, spray/rinse with water, place those in a stainless steel sauce pan, add more oats to the strainer spray/rinse with cool water, place in sauce pan, continuing until all oats have been sprayed with cool water.
6.  With all your sprayed oats in your stainless steel saucepan, pour milk (REAL milk or rice milk in our house) into the sauce pan and cook.  It will not take long at all, since the oats have soaked overnight, they are already "quick cooking oats" for you.  :-)
7.  Cook over medium heat until almost all of the milk is absorbed, stirring frequently.
8.  Place oats in a bowl, drizzle with organic honey or raw honey (heated in a small saucepan) until thin, pour a little more milk over the oats in your bowl and add any fresh fruit you would like.
9.  Voila!  You are done and getting ready to sink your teeth in to the best tasting oats you have ever eaten.
10.  And watch out, you might not even feel hungry for lunch, these oats stick to your ribs like nothing I have ever eaten.  Enjoy!

For the science part.  Oats are in rich in Vitamin B and calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.  Oats/grains have an outer coating called phytates and oats contain more phytates than almost any other grain.  This outer coating prevents our body from absorbing all the wonderful vitamins and nutrients that oats have in them.  If we ate a ton of unsoaked oats our bodies could suffer from mineral loss, allergies and irritation of the intestinal tract.  When we soak our oats in the yogurt and water mixture, the phytic acid (phytates) are broken down.  And our bodies are given the wonderful opportunity to absorb excellent vitamins and nutrients from our oats.  Secret:  When our bodies are lacking vitamins and nutrients, we crave foods, sometimes foods that are bad for us....imagine having a body that is happy....a body that is filled with healthy vitamins and nutrients....what would you feel like, what would your skin look like, what would your body look like??  This is a step towards a healthier you.  :-)

Rice, Quinoa and Couscous 
Your rice, quinoa and couscous need soaked too.  Except here we use organic apple cider vinegar (available at Meijer).

The outer coating on the rice, quinoa and couscous need to be broken down just like the oats.  This allows for better absorption of the nutrients and vitamins that are in the wonderful foods rice, quinoa and couscous.

The night before you want to eat your rice, quinoa or couscous do the following.....

1. Measure the amount of rice, quinoa or couscous you want, place in a glass bowl with a lid.
2. Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with clean water (filtered or R.O. if you can) and pour water over the rice, quinoa or couscous in the glass bowl. Keep track of how many cups of water you are pouring over the rice, quinoa or couscous.
3. For each cup of water you pour over the rice, quinoa or couscous also place 1 tbsp of organic apple cider vinegar in the bowl with the rice, quinoa or couscous. Stir well.
4. Let sit overnight covered on counter top. Do not place in refrigerator.
5. Before dinner (or whatever meal you want to eat this) place the rice, quinoa or couscous in a strainer with small holes (small enough that your rice, quinoa or couscous do not fall through the holes) and with your sink water sprayer, spray the crap out of your rice, quinoa or couscous.
6.  Cook as you like.  We love our stainless steel steamer.  It makes the best rice, quinoa and couscous.  Remember you will need to add a little less water, since the rice, quinoa or couscous was soaked in water overnight and has retained some water. 

Note:  Quinoa rocks!!  It is a grain with protein in it.  Even my picky family LOVES quinoa.  And Meijer sells it.  :-)

Your beans need soaked too. Except here we use organic apple cider vinegar (available at Meijer).  Plus, we all know the canned beans have bpa, so we need to try to cook with dried beans.

The outer coating on the beans need to be broken down just like the oats. This allows for better absorption of the nutrients and vitamins that are in the wonderful food of beans.

The night before you want to eat your beans, do the following.....
1. Measure the amount of beans you want, place in a glass bowl with a lid.
2. Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with clean water (filtered or R.O. if you can) and pour water over the beans in the glass bowl. Keep track of how many cups of water you are pouring over the beans.

3. For each cup of water you pour over the beans also place 1 tbsp of organic apple cider vinegar in the beans. Stir well.
4. Let sit overnight covered on counter top. Do not place in refrigerator.
5. Before dinner (or whatever meal you want to eat this) place the beans in a strainer with small holes (small enough that your beans do not fall through the holes) and with your sink water sprayer, spray the crap out of your beans.
6. Now you boil the heck out of your beans in clean water.  Can take up to 2 hours.  Follow directions on your package of dry beans or check out my other blog post about cooking beans.

Happy cooking!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Basic Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream (eggs)

Ok, so seriously, our love for ice cream continues to grow.  I am having a blast experimenting with different flavor combinations and I am LOVING the fact that everything is made with organic dairy products.  That makes me one verry happy mommy.

So, here is a third, basic ice cream recipe.  A chocolate without eggs is in the works.  :-)

Basic Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream
2 cups organic whipping cream
2 cups organic vitamin d milk
3/4 cup sugar
4 oz egg substitute
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup baking cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a large glass batter bowl with a whisk, it will take some time for the cocoa to incorporate, be patient.  Let set in refrigerator over night.  Make sure canister is frozen and ready to make ice cream. 

The next day...remove ice cream liquid from refrigerator, beat with an electric beater.  Place canister on deni motor base, place paddle in canister, cover with clear vue dome, turn on deni and pour chocolate ice cream mixture into rotating canister.  Set a timer, my recipes usually take 26-32 minutes. 

Transfer ice cream to a glass pyrex bowl and place in freezer (do not use a metal spoon to remove ice cream).

Let set overnight or for 4-6 hours.  Enjoy!!

Basic Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Well, I have had plenty of time to play with my new love, my new deni ice cream maker, and ohhhhh am I in love!!  So are the kids and hubby.  We now have ice cream every night after dinner.....if...........the kids eat their vegetables.  Works great as a reward for eating what their bodies need.  :-)

I do not like my ice cream to be so over the top creamy that it gags me when I eat, so this has become my go to for ice cream.  Then I just tweak it to make other flavors.  Those recipes will come under a different post.


(If the print friendly does not work, you can either copy and paste this recipe into Word or copy the http address and paste it into the printer friendly web page that opens and print from there.  Sorry, I working on this problem currently.  :-) )

When using a deni ice cream maker, remember your liquids cannot total more than 4 cups.

Basic Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups organic whipping cream
2 cups organic vitamin d milk
3/4 cup sugar (make from sugar cane not sugar beets)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (not imitation)

Combine all ingredients in a large glass batter bowl, whisk until sugar feels incorporated into the liquid.  Place in refrigerator overnight.  Make sure your canister is in the freezer, so your ice cream canister will be ready to make the ice cream tomorrow.  (My canister lives in my freezer, that way it is always ready.  :-) )  The canister needs at least 8 hours to freeze before making ice cream.

Ok, so it's the next day.  Take your ice cream canister out of the freezer.  Shake it.  If you do not hear any liquid, you are good to go.  If you can hear liquid sloshing around, back into the freezer your canister goes.  Place your canister on the motor base, place stir paddle inside canister, then cover with the clear cue lid.  Take you ice cream liquid out of the refrigerator, whisk again.  Turn ice cream maker on, and pour ice cream liquid into canister while the canister is turning.  Cover with top and set your timer.  Mine usually takes 26-32 minutes. 

You can eat the ice cream now or let it sit in the freezer overnight.  We prefer the over night method.  Ta Da!!  You are done!  Enjoy!