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8 Benefits of Honey and What to Look For

If everything is honey, and I am what I eat, I must be made of honey…and life is very sweet!     –Winnie the Pooh

It’s no secret that I love honey. I have always had a sweet tooth, and honey helped me tremendously when transitioning to clean eating, and away from refined sugar. Research now indicates that switching out your sugar for honey can actually result in numerous health benefits. Maybe that silly old bear was on to something.

Not Just Any Honey…

So, like with anything that we buy in our modern society, we have to be mindful about the type of honey that we buy, It’s not enough to buy the cheapest or the first honey you see in a store and congratulate yourself for making a healthy choice. Unfortunately even honey is not safe from big industry and the dilution of good quality to make more quantity. So what do you need to look for when buying honey?

  • Raw. Raw honey is pure, unpasteurized and unfiltered, and contains full nutrient benefit, unlike it’s processed competitors.
  • Local. Raw local honey can boost immunity and relieve allergies by allowing you to consume the very pollen that often triggers allergies, thus gradually desensitizing you to the allergy-inducing offenders. How cool is that?
  • Pure. Of course you want to make sure that the honey you buy is just that – honey. Check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any added flavors, chemicals, sugar…you get the gist. It should be honey. Pure, local, raw honey.
  • Farmers. While you may be able to find some good quality raw local honey in the grocery stores, it’s always a good idea to buy from your local farmers markets, and ask the farmers questions about their bees and their honey. This not only ensures that you get the purest and freshest honey, but at the same time you’re supporting the farmers in their mission to provide good quality, nutrient-rich foods for the consumers.

Benefits of Honey

So we all know honey is delicious. It’s sweet, it’s smooth, it’s beautiful, and it usually comes in a variety of flavors depending on the bees’ nectar source. And when you taste raw, local honey…it’s indescribable. So if that’s not reason enough to ditch the sugar, here are some of the many benefits of this heavenly sweetener:

  1. Can improve allergy symptoms and boost immunity.
  2. Contains powerful antioxidants polyphenols.
  3. Weight loss management. Studies actually show that, not only can switching from refined sugar to honey promote weight loss, but honey may actually contain an appetite suppressing quality which can lead to weight loss and obesity prevention.
  4. Improves scalp and hair. Honey can improve dermatitis when used on the scalp, and can be used as a conditioner for the hair.
  5. Moisturizes and smoothes skin, making for an excellent natural ingredient in skin care.
  6. Can boost energy.
  7. Helps relieve cold/flu symptoms. Honey contains properties that help soothe and relieve mouth and throat irritation. It’s one of the simplest and most effective remedies for sore throats and coughs.
  8. Antibacterial and antifungal. Honey contains antiseptic properties which make it ideal for treating wounds, and historically it has been used in fighting infections.

So honey is awesome. But before you go out and buy a vat of it like some people might do (not naming any names here), please note that as with any sweetener honey should be consumed in moderation. It is actually 53 percent fructose, which means that despite it’s many health benefits, consuming too much can be detrimental to your body. Best to use it medicinally, as a treat, and a sweetener for your tea; but when needed carbs or an energy boost opt for fresh fruits and veggies instead!

 

Our Top Ten List of All-Natural Self Care Products You Will Want to Buy!

Our journey to a toxic- and chemical-free life is just that – a journey. We do the best we can, but in our modern environment and society it can be challenging. We have found a wonderful network of online bloggers and resources, and of people in the Philadelphia area that share our wellness philosophy, and that makes it much easier. Similar to nutrition and healthy eating, living a chemical-free lifestyle is easier when you have others to talk to about it and to share information and experiences with. I encourage you, as the readers, to comment or reach out to us at any point with your ideas, challenges, and anecdotal experiences too!

As part of our journey, I have gotten into making my own products for most things: skincare, toothpaste, sunscreen, bug spray, healing salves, etc., but honestly it gets to be a lot of work, and a lot of time! I can’t always keep up, and sometimes just don’t want to. It’s those times that I rely on store-bought products that I trust. And for me to trust them, they have to be pretty clean and pure, with ingredients that I know and understand. That said, I always encourage you to do your own research and find which products work best for you and your family! Here are some of our favorites:

Our Top Ten List of All-Natural Self Care Products You Will Want to Buy!

  1. Morocco Method Shampoo – This shampoo is like nothing you’ve ever tried before. Made of completely all-natural ingredients, with a base of clay (yes clay), your hair will be so much healthier and happier you will wonder what you’ve been doing all these years! I seriously could not believe how shiny my hair was from using it. And as someone who has had to wash her hair every single day for 30 years, I have been thrilled to now only need to wash my hair 2-3 times a week! Note, as with any all-natural shampoo method, there is a detox period that your hair will go through. This is a good thing, but can be frustrating while going through it. Please be sure to read the information on the website before trying the shampoo, especially if you’re new to the world of all-natural haircare!
  2. Earthpaste – We love this toothpaste. Another product made from clay (and essential oils), this toothpaste remineralizes, cleans and whitens, naturally.
  3. Branch Basics – Ok, so this isn’t exactly self-care, but cleaners can be a form of caring for yourself, right? We love Branch Basics products and their commitment to safe, all-natural ingredients. I’ve had my battles with all-natural cleaners and after years of frustration I was so happy to stumble upon these. They work amazing, smell amazing, and are sooooo clean. Unfortunately they are currently creating a new formula so you can’t buy from them at the moment, but when their new products come out in the fall I definitely recommend you try them!
  4. Coconut Oil – Skin care, hair care, oral hygiene and health, you name it. Here are some ways that we like to use this super product in our house!
  5. Dry Brush – Have you tried dry brushing yet? There are numerous health benefits to dry brushing, such as exfoliation, energy boosting, promoting lymphatic flow and health. In addition, it feels really good! I love this particular brush because it’s long enough to reach your back, but you can also remove the brush for other spots. Ahhhhhhh.
  6. Boo Boo Salve – This has been a life saver in our house. Our kids are constantly getting scrapes, cuts, you name it, and this works every time. It contains all natural ingredients like beeswax and essential oils, and doesn’t not sting, irritate, or contains anything I don’t approve of. We buy ours from the Herbiary, a local store with amazing natural herbs and oils – check them out!
  7. Dr Bronners – Dr Bronners castille soap is our go-to for use as a body wash and a shampoo. It can also be used as a hand soap or a shaving gel, and many people use it as a household cleaner as well!
  8. Boar Bristle Brush – This is a new discovery for me and my haircare regimen. Boar bristle brushing actually helps to distribute the scalps oils more evenly creating healthier and more beautiful and happy hair. It is also very gentle on the hair itself, resulting in less damage and breaking. I definitely encourage this paired with an all-natural shampoo for best results, and the very best haircare.
  9. Lacrosse Ball – This is a self-care item that everyone should have. It’s inexpensive and can do wonders for tight muscles and knots. Because of its hardness and density, it makes a great tool for massaging and relieving pain and tension.
  10. Epsom Salts – Epsom salts have numerous benefits. Use them for detox baths as an excuse to relax while ridding your body of unwanted toxins, or use them in a hot foot bath to soothe sore feet and to…yes, relax. Ahhhhh.


These are some of my very favorite all-natural self-care products, and I’m always experimenting with others. What are your favorite all-natural self-care products?

 

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

My 3 Essential Essential Oils

Essential oils are, well, essential in our house. As many of you probably already know, we try to eliminate  as many toxins and chemicals as possible from our house. Our cleaners are non-toxic and all-natural, often made up of vinegar and essential oils, and essential oil diffusers in our home smelling good while promoting healthy immune systems too. Essential oils are used in our homemade personal care products, such as shampoos, hair pomade, bug repellants, sunscreen, body butters and lotion bars. With regard to medications, we try to avoid using traditional medications as much as possible, opting instead for homeopathic remedies when possible. We find that when faced with minor illnesses, injuries, skin conditions, etc., natural remedies are able to help and heal almost anything! Additionally we use oils for issues related to sleep, digestion, regulation, and mood.

It is important to note a few important elements to look for when purchasing essential oils. Not all essential oils are created equal, and the quality of your essential oils cannot only impact its effectiveness, but can in some cases be detrimental to your health. When purchasing essential oils you want to look for oils that have or are:

  • botanical name, and country of origin, and often a chemotype (i.e. Ocimum basilcum is a basil chemotype)
  • distillation or expiration date
  • organic practices and grown in their natural environment
  • not too inexpensive (in this case you usually pay for what you get)

We use Young Living essential oils because we love their Seed to Seal guarantee, the fact that they open up their farms to anyone to come visit and see the process, the integrity of their product and their beliefs, the fact that they donate to relief funds and have their own foundation, and because of their wide variety of blends and products.

Carrier Oils

In addition, when using essential oils topically you want to make sure you choose a good carrier oil to mix with the essential oils. Dilution with the carrier oils can actually increase the effectiveness of the essential oil by increasing the area of absorption and reducing chances of sensitivity. Carrier oils that we use include:

My 3 Essential Essential Oils

In our house, because of our constantly varied needs as a family of four, we always try to keep our essential oils on hand: when we travel, when we’re home, in various rooms, etc. We rotate through about a dozen favorites that seem to work for everything that comes our way. However, just like with anything, we have our staples, our go-tos, our oils that never steer us wrong! Here are my 3 Essential Essential Oils:

  1. Lavender. Even the word “lavender” immediately conjures relaxing images and aromatic therapy in my mind. I love the scent and will often diffuse this oil to calm my monkey mind, to relax my worries, and sometimes just for no reason at all. This is also my go-to for adding a gentle fragrance to my homemade personal care products such as body butters and shampoos. Another reason I love lavender so much is because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. We use it to help heal bug bites and stings, and even minor cuts or burns. Lavender oil is also my go-to with the kids, as I will often add a few drops to their baths, or rub onto their bellies or wrists to help them feel calm and relaxed.
  2. Peppermint. Peppermint is another scent that I love, and will often use in the diffuser or in candles that I make due to its invigorating and clean scent. But even more than that, we love to use peppermint oil to help relieve headaches, sunburns, and even sore muscles. Peppermint also helps soothe digestive issues. We use it in teas, and sometimes even rub it on our bellies or wrists to quiet discomfort.
  3. Tea Tree Oil. Tea tree oil has been proven effective in numerous ways, from healing fungus to healing wounds to promoting healthy hair and scalp. It is antimicrobial, anti fungal, and antibacterial, making it a powerful healer and cleaner. We use tea tree oil in many of our cleaners, on minor skin cuts and bug bites, on athletes foot, in our shampoos, on rashes or warts, and in insect repellents.

As I said these are just three of my favorite essential oils that we use daily in our house, and later I will be posting about many more! What are your essential essential oils?

 

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

10 Health Benefits of Drinking Water (And How to Know if You’re Drinking Enough)

10 Health Benefits of Drinking Water (And How to Know if You’re Drinking Enough)

Drink more water. This is one of our most repeated, most basic, and most necessary pieces of advice for our clients. We have helped our clients cure and improve everything from debilitating headaches to metabolic functioning simply by increasing their water intake. Endurance athletes have noted feeling and performing better, others have reported increased mood. Water is critical to our survival, our health, and our ability to carry out basic functions.

So how much water do we need? This can depend on a number of personal and environmental factors. It can also depend on diet. A Paleo diet typically includes a lot of water-rich foods, for example. Most of us have heard the “eight by eight” rule: drink eight eight ounce glasses of water a day. This rule is actually not backed by scientific evidence, but it is easy to remember. We have a somewhat different approach, and recommend that our clients drink half their body weight in ounces of water daily. Regardless of level of activity, diet, or other factors, we find this to be a good, healthy rule of thumb for everyone, and also easy to remember! Also, drink plain water. No, drinking 100 ounces of Diet Coke a day is not equivalent to 100 ounces of water.

How do you know if you’re not getting enough water? Our bodies are very clever. They let us know when something is amiss; the problem is we don’t always listen or pay attention. When in doubt, drink more. Pay attention to how your body is feeling. Are you thirsty? Is your urine a deep yellow? Is your mouth dry? These are all signs that you need more water. Below are 10 more common symptoms of mild dehydration.

10 Symptoms of Inadequate Water Intake

1) Lethargy
2) Constipation
3) Dry skin/lips
4) Weakness
5) Headaches
6) Low blood pressure, resulting in dizziness
7) Decreased mental acuity
8) Mood changes
9) Difficulty losing weight
10) Muscle cramps

10 Health Benefits of Drinking Water

And now, the health benefits. We’ve discussed what inadequate water intake can do to our bodies and how it can effect us cognitively, emotionally and physically, but what can a healthy intake of water do to our bodies (and therefore our quality of life)? LOTS!

1) Increased Energy and endurance
2) Aids digestion and maintains regularity
3) Keeps skin hydrated and healthy
4) Promotes healthy immune system functioning
5) Relieves and prevents headaches
6) Removes waste and toxins from the body
7) Helps with focus and concentration
8) Promotes healthy mood
9) Aids weight loss by improving metabolic functioning
10) Keeps joints lubricated and prevents muscle cramps

So now that you have the information, it’s just a matter of filling up that water bottle or glass and drinking it down. If you’re not accustomed to drinking large amounts of water you may not like the taste. It’s okay, you will get used to it. Feel free to add a little lemon, lime, or even cucumber slices to dress it up a bit! I personally love water, but for those who don’t, just remember that your body needs it. Better to drink an extra few glasses now than feel awful, or worse yet, pay medical bills, later. When you pick up that glass remember these 10 Health Benefits to Drinking Water and enjoy doing something good – no, great! – for your body.

10 Healing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar (plus a recipe to relieve inflammation!)

10 Healing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar (plus a recipe to relieve inflammation!)

Today, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a household staple for many, and is used for much more than making delicious recipes. Its anti-bacterial properties make it a perfect all natural cleaning product, while it’s anti-fungal properties make it a simple cure for fungus, warts, and other annoying and unsightly skin problems. Additionally ACV is becoming more and more well known for its proven benefits related to acid reflux, high blood pressure, and inflammation, weight loss and digestion. In our house, we use ACV daily to help improve digestion and maintain overall health, by either incorporating it into our recipes or drinking it with water, as a tonic, each morning.

What kind should I use? 

In order to get the most bebenefit from ACV, make sure you use:

– raw
– organic
-unfiltered
– unpasteurized

Here are 10 Healing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV):

  1.  As a Probiotic. ACV contains probiotics and a type of acid that promotes the growth of probiotics. These properties can help with constipation, diarrhea, and indigestion. Mix 1T with water and drink once a day.
  2. An Aid to Weight Loss. Studies have found that consuming apple cider vinegar can promote weight loss. ACV reduces sugar cravings and improves detoxification, and may even reduce body fat.
  3. To Kill Fungus. Much like coconut oil, ACV is an amazing anti-fungal and you’ll notice the effects almost instantly. To kill skin or toenail fungus, rub ACV on the area of fungus twice daily.
  4. To Heal Poison Ivy and Other Rashes. ACV can help reduce swelling and inflammation, and help the body detox. These properties will help poison ivy and other rashes heal more quickly. To relieve itching, mix 3 teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of water and mix to form a paste. Apply this paste to the infected area to relieve irritation. Alternatively you can dip a cotton ball or q-tip into a small amount of ACV and apply directly to infected area a few times a day as needed.
  5. Healthy Hair. ACV can used as a natural conditioner, or as a rinse to dry out overly oily hair. Try this for the conditioner: 1T ACV mixed with 1 cup water, poured onto hair after shampooing, 3 times a week. To help combat oiliness: Mix 1 part ACV with 1 part water and pour over hair once a week.
  6. As a Natural Alternative to Deodorant. ACV is anti-bacterial, and can therefore kill yeast and other bad bacteria in the armpit, while also neutralizing odor. Just rubbing a little into your armpit each day can be beneficial.
  7. To Kill Warts. Apply ACV topically and cover with a bandaid once a day until wart is gone. Be careful not to over apply, as this may lead to an acid burn.
  8. To Cure a Cold or Sore Throat. Due to its vitamin and probiotic content, ACV is an ideal remedy to cure a cold and sore throat. Try 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in one glass of water 3 times daily to cure a cold. For acute laryngitis or strep throat, gargle 1 tsp ACV in 1/2 cup of water 3 times an hour.
  9. To Help Acid Reflux Symptoms. Many have touted the benefits of ACV in combatting symptoms of acid reflux, by breaking down fats, balancing pH levels, and improving digestion. Try 2T in 8oz water before meals.
  10. To Heal Inflammation. Sinusitis, joint pain, tendinitis, etc. can be helped by ACV. Try a tonic of 2T in 8oz water once daily.

To find out more about ACV, see this post by our friends at Cooking Detective!

Plus, here is a recipe that we use to help prevent and heal inflammation. This is a great alternative when the taste of the tonic is not so appealing!

Recipe to Relieve Inflammation:
1/2 organic lemon
2 in piece of ginger root
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
Raw honey, to taste

Chop lemon and ginger and add to teapot full of water. Boil tea and remove from burner. Pour tea, strained, into mug and add 1 tsp ACV per cup of tea. Add honey top taste, for added benefit and to help the taste!

I’d love to hear which of the healing uses of apple cider vinegar you’ve tried, and any others that work for you!

 


 

Affiliate Notice
This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Lemon-Ginger Tea

photo-2

Ginger, Lemon, Honey and Cinnamon make for a powerful combination as
they each have respective medicinal properties and are also delicious! We try to incorporate any combination of these in our meals and drinks throughout the day, everyday. And during cold/flu season I am never too far from my raw, local honey, cinnamon, and ginger. Partly because I love the flavor, and partly because I feel better, almost instantly. This combination can cut coughs, help relieve inflammation, and soothe upset tummies, all things that we get a lot of in our house! One of my favorite ways to enjoy these together is making them into a tea. I’m a believer that almost anything good for you can be made into a tea. Except kale. That would be gross.

Let me take another moment to emphasize the benefits of this tea, because that’s how much I love it. It’s so simple, and so magical. (Slight exaggeration). This tea can not only help with nausea, cold, and flu while boosting the immune system, but it has the added benefits of soothing and relaxing, aiding digestion, and nourishing adrenals. It is also great for skin, hair and nails! And did I mention delicious? Yes, I did. It’s worth repeating. We make this daily in our house and even serve it – upon request – to our 2-year old. It got the name “bunny juice” after it was a hit at our Easter Egg Hunt!

Lemon-Ginger Tea

  • 2in piece organic ginger root
  • 1/2 organic lemon
  • Raw, local honey, to taste
  • Cinnamon, to taste

Fill teapot with 32-40oz water. Dice up your lemon and ginger, as much as will fit in your tea basket. If you don’t have a tea basket (or tend to keep breaking them like I do), you can throw the lemon and ginger pieces directly into the water.
Place tea basket (if using one) in pot of water and heat to boiling. Remove from heat. Let steep 10min
or so. Prepare mug by pouring honey (depending on size of mug and your
preference you may want a teaspoon to a tablespoon) and cinnamon (to
taste). Mix honey and cinnamon with spoon. Pour tea over mixture and
stir. Enjoy!

 

Homemade Bone Broth…really?

Bone Broth

Homemade Bone Broth…really?

Let me tell you about my latest endeavor. Making my own bone broth. I’ve read about the health benefits and have been curious, but I don’t do well with bones. As a child my parents never gave me meat on a bone. Seriously. It was always boneless meat. Even when we went to KFC (I’m from the south – don’t judge) they would make sure I got boneless chicken. So the idea of using chicken bones or a whole chicken to make something didn’t really appeal to me. Besides, my beloved Whole Foods sells bone broth, so there.

Then my husband got sick. Flu sick. And he never takes a day off. He had to work while feeling awful, which made me feel awful. And do you know what is great for colds/flus? Bone broth. So what better time to suck it up and face my aversion to bones? So I did.

Here’s the thing. Homemade bone broth has tremendous health benefits. It literally heals the lining of your gut. It aids in nutrient digestion, helps your body fight infection, and even contains glucosamine, which reduces inflammation and joint pain. Additionally it contains calcium and magnesium to help bones repair. What about store bought broth? Well, the stuff in stores typically contains MSG or other chemicals, and even if it doesn’t, the nutritional value doesn’t even compare to homemade. While you can use it in cooking, it lacks many of the health boosting benefits. Also, it’s ridiculously yummy, it’s cheaper to make your own, and it’s EASY. Take it from me, the bone hater.

Here’s how I make it:

Ingredients:

-Whole raw chicken, insides removed.

-2 celery stalks, cut in quarters

-2 large carrots, cut in quarters

-1 head of garlic, cut in half

-1 onion, peeled and cut in quarters

-1 bunch of parsley

-water

What to do:

Throw everything in crockpot. Fill pot with water, up to within 1 inch of top of pot. Cook on low 7-8 hours. Take chicken out and remove meat (if you don’t know how, there are awesome videos on YouTube. It’s very easy!). Save meat for later (maybe a chicken and veggie soup!). Put bones back in pot and cook on low for 12 or more hours. Strain broth through sieve or coffee filter. Can freeze to use in future recipes or use right away, if, for example, your husband is sick!

Enjoy making and using homemade bone broth, and let me know your experiences!