Natural Remedies for Feet

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Do you have achy and sore feet all the time? How about extremely dry feet? Or athlete’s foot? I know I have had all of these problems at one time or another. My feet tend to get very dry in the winter months if I don’t take care of them properly. Over the past few years, I’ve come up with some natural remedies for my feet that work great! And the best part is, each of the following remedies only require two ingredients to make.

First up is a foot scrub, then a foot soak, followed by a massage oil. You can do each of these three remedies one after the other for maximum relief and relaxation!

This foot scrub consists of just two ingredients; honey and brown sugar. Regular sugar could be used as well, although I found that the smaller granules in brown sugar are more efficient in scrubbing away dry skin. Honey is a great natural moisturizer.

Brown Sugar Honey Scrub:

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

Mix ingredients together into a bowl until thoroughly combined. Massage into feet for several minutes. This recipe makes enough for 2-3 uses, or you can use the rest on other dry areas, like elbows and knees.

This foot soak is great for achy and sore feet. The key ingredients are epsom salt (a source of magnesium oil), and peppermint essential oil.

Most of us have a magnesium deficiency, and stress can actually lower your magnesium levels even further. Epsom salt helps restore magnesium to the body. Epsom salt also has a lot of other benefits to the body, like flushing out toxins, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain to name a few.

Peppermint oil is a natural pain reliever and is great for sore muscles. It also gives a cooling effect which is soothing to sore feet.

Invigorating Foot Soak:

1/2 cup epsom salt

2 drops peppermint essential oil (remember not to use peppermint oil if nursing)

First, run your feet under really cold water for about a minute (this helps reduce any inflammation in your feet). Next, fill your tub with hot water (only as hot as comfortable) and add all of the ingredients. Soak feet for about five minutes. Dry feet and massage Coconut Calming Oil into feet.

The base of the following massage oil is coconut oil. What’s not to love about coconut oil? The uses and benefits of it seem endless! Some of the benefits include pain reliever and anti-inflammatory, which makes it a great oil to massage into achy feet.

Lavender essential oil is wonderful to use for relaxation. I just love the calm and relaxed feeling I get from using it!

Coconut Calming Oil:

2 teaspoons coconut oil

1 drop lavender essential oil

Mix ingredients together and massage into feet. To prevent oil from coming off, put a pair of thick socks on afterwards.

This last remedy is for anyone struggling with athlete’s foot. I had athlete’s foot a few years ago, and this remedy completely cleared it up. I noticed an improvement after only a few days!

This solution has coconut oil and tea tree oil in it, both of which are natural antibacterial and anti-fungal ingredients. The coconut oil also adds moisture, and helps heal feet that are becoming sore and cracked from athlete’s foot.

Athlete’s Foot Solution:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4-6 drops tea tree essential oil

Mix the ingredients together in a small jar (one with a lid for storing). Rub into affected areas of feet 1-3 times a day.

I hope that these remedies help bring healing to your feet, and I would love to hear what natural remedies you have found to be effective!

 

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A Healthier Pantry Part 3

This is the last post of a 3 part article series on simple switches to make in your pantry to move towards a healthier kitchen. I’ve briefly explained why these alternatives are healthier, but research for yourself why these options are so much better. Remember, take your time on all of these, and replace items over the course of several weeks if you need to. So here we go! Here are the last 5 switches to make in your pantry.

#1. Corn Starch

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Cornstarch is highly processed, contains harsh chemicals, and most likely has GMOs. You could switch to a non-GMO organic cornstarch, but it still goes through a lot of processing methods. A great alternative is arrowroot powder. It can be used like cornstarch, as a thickening agent in recipes. The method for extracting arrowroot powder is much different than cornstarch and it is processed a lot less.

#2. Shortening

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Shortening is a processed, bad fat that can cause health problems. It’s full of harmful ingredients, artificial flavors and colors, and preservatives. Instead, stick with healthy fats that are full of nutrients. Butter (yes, butter is a good fat, as long as it’s organic and from pastured cows) or organic coconut oil would both be good substitutions.

If you really don’t want to give up shortening with cooking, you could switch to Nutiva Organic Shortening Original, which is non-GMO and made with a blend of red palm and coconut oils. Do not buy organic vegetable shortening, as it is bad for you regardless of it being organic.

#3. Peanut Butter

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Most peanut butter from the store has been highly processed – heated to extremely high temperatures, which change the chemical make-up of the peanut and actually cause it to become rancid. And, just as with so many other foods, peanut butter is likely to contain GMOs.

Your absolute healthiest option would be to make your own peanut butter! Don’t be intimidated, it’s actually very simple. Just be sure to buy some organic peanuts, and check out a recipe online. Stick to a simple one that calls for just peanuts and salt to start off.

If you don’t have the time or desire to make your own, just be sure to look for a few things with your peanut butter. Make sure it’s organic, non-GMO, made without hydrogenated oils, and that organic peanuts (and salt if you like), are the only ingredient. Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butter would be a great choice!

#4. Canned Vegetables

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You may be wondering how a vegetable can be unhealthy, but there are healthier ways to eat vegetables than from a can! Can’s are often lined with BPA, which is harmful to our bodies. Sometimes canned foods also contain sodium and other unhealthy preservatives. The best option would be fresh or frozen organic vegetables. Frozen vegetables can have just as many nutrients as fresh, because they are usually frozen right after they are harvested.

#5. Seasonings

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Believe it or not, those seasoning packets contain more than just a blend of herbs and spices. They have other harmful additives and preservatives mixed in too! Seasonings are extremely easy to make yourself, and I’ll bet you already have the necessary spices and herbs right in your cabinet. Just look up a recipe online for whatever seasoning mix you need. I like to make certain ones (like taco seasoning) in large amounts and store them in mason jars. And of course, choosing organic herbs and spices to make your seasonings would be best.

I hope these three articles have helped you take a few steps further on your journey to a healthier kitchen. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ways you’ve made changes in your pantry too!

A Healthier Pantry Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part article series on some simple switches you can start making towards a healthier kitchen pantry. Changing your diet can be overwhelming, but these 3 articles are a great place to begin. Don’t dump everything out at once (unless you can afford to), instead just replace your foods with healthier ones as you run out! Here are the next five items you can add to your list of foods to replace.

#1. Coffee and Tea

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Start switching over to organic brands as you run out of coffee and tea. And better yet, switch to organic fair trade coffee and tea to support small organic farms! My current favorite coffee is Equal Exchange Fair Trade Organic Coffee. Equal Exchange also has several kinds of organic tea available as well. I am just getting more into drinking tea lately, as coffee has always been my hot beverage of choice. I’ve currently been hooked on Earth Mama Angel Baby Milkmaid Tea and Peaceful Mama Tea.

#2. Spices

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Start switching your spices over to an organic brand. Organic spices don’t contain dangerous chemicals and pesticides, unlike non-organic spices. I buy organic spices in bulk when I can to save money, or buy the Simply Organic or Frontier brands.

When choosing salt, check the label to ensure the only ingredient is salt. Also, salt that is bright white has most likely been refined – that is not the natural color of salt. Do a little research before selecting a brand. A trusted brand of salt that often choose, is called Redmond Real Salt.

#3. Brown Sugar

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Brown Sugar, like regular sugar, has been refined and has lost any nutritional value due to being extremely processed. Brown sugar is typically made from sugar beets, which most likely contain GMOs. So overall it’s just not good stuff!

Rapidura and Sucanat are good substitutes to brown sugar. Maple syrup (see #10) could be used in certain recipes, but be sure to look up conversions. Sometimes though, you have a recipe and you just want to use some good old brown sugar. So there are two options for a solution.

The first option is to buy an organic, non-GMO brown sugar. Two brands that make this are, Wholesome Sweeteners and Woodstock. Wholesome Sweeteners can be purchased online through Vitacost (Vitacost also has their own brand of organic non-GMO brown sugar).

The second option would be to make your own using organic cane sugar and organic molasses. Try Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Blackstrap Molasses. Simply add molasses one teaspoon at a time to however much sugar the recipe calls for, and mix until the taste and color are how you prefer!

 

#4. Chocolate

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Switch out your chocolate bars, chocolate chips, baking cocoa, and hot cocoa for organic and non-GMO. Just as for anything else, read labels and be sure to read the list of ingredients! To list a few brands, try Alter Eco, NOW Foods Healthy Foods, and Ah!laska. Though not an organic brand, Enjoy Life is non-GMO, has a simple list of ingredients, and is dairy, nut, and soy free for those with allergies. Also, while they do not have the non-GMO label, Equal Exchange also offers some great organic chocolate products.

#5. Syrup

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If you’ve been buying regular pancake syrup instead of real maple syrup, just take a look at the list of ingredients! You’ll find a list of harmful ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, and preservatives to list a few. Switch to real maple syrup (where maple syrup is the only ingredient). If you want to take it one step further, choose a Grade B maple syrup. Grade B is stronger in flavor and richer in nutritional value than Grade A. Try NOW Foods Real Food Organic Maple Syrup Grade B.

Check out part 3 of this article next week for my last set of five healthy switches you can make in your pantry. What healthy switches have you made to your pantry?

A Healthier Pantry Part 1

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when you want to make healthy changes. Switching from an unhealthy diet, to a natural, organic, real food diet, can seem overwhelming. You may not want to completely throw away all of the items in your pantry, so instead, I encourage you to replace items in your pantry little by little. When we started this journey three years ago, we couldn’t afford to just trash everything and start over, so I replaced items after we finished the products that we already had (unless I felt it was truly necessary).

This pantry series is meant to be simple for those who are just starting out on this real food journey. So to prevent this post from being overwhelming, I’m sticking to giving you basic options to switch to. I’ll get more in depth on certain topics like flour, pasta, sugar, etc. in later posts, since you could take many of these food items a step or two further.

I’ve broken this article into 3 parts. You can make these changes in any order that you desire, but I think it’s important to know the reasoning of why these switches are healthier alternatives. Each part of this article will break down 5 different pantry items that you can switch for a healthier pantry. So lets get started!

#1. Flour

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First, switch to an organic, non-GMO brand of flour. One of our favorite brands is Arrowhead Mills.

The first healthy switch would be to buy whole-wheat flour. Regular wheat flour (which is white flour) has been refined, which means it’s been extremely processed, as opposed to whole-wheat flour, which has been minimally processed and contains all of the grain.

While whole-wheat is a very healthy switch, I personally had trouble switching over from white flour at first. To make the transition easier, start by putting ¼ whole-wheat flour and ¾ white flour for recipes. Then switch to ½ of each and so on. I personally like the taste of ½ of each, as does my husband, and occasionally bake with this blended mixture. Another favorite flour of ours is spelt flour, which I enjoy for baking bread.

And to take it one step further, the absolute healthiest flour is from sprouted grains. Sprouted grains are packed with more vitamins and minerals than whole grains, and are much easier for the body to digest. But I’ll talk more on the world of flour in a later post. J

#2. Sugar

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There are several natural sweeteners you could use to replace sugar. I’ll start with what I think is the easiest switch, since you don’t have to adjust the measurements for recipes. Sucanat or Rapidura is a great start towards a healthier pantry. I had some confusion on the difference between these two, but after researching, I have come to realize that they are one in the same. They are both whole cane sugar.

Whole cane sugar is different than cane sugar in the way that it’s processed. Unlike other sugars, it is unrefined and unbleached. It has a higher nutritional value because it is minimally processed – just squeezed, dried, and ground.

Honey (local honey) and maple syrup (see part 2 of this article) are also great replacements for sugar. Be sure to look up conversions for these, since it won’t be an even switch for measurements in recipes.

#3. Oil

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This is a tough one, because many of the available oils are extremely harmful to our health. Most contain GMOs, are highly processed, and have negative effects on our bodies. I decided to get rid of our vegetable and canola immediately after learning just how unhealthy they are.

One of the best oils to use is coconut oil. Coconut oil is a ‘good for you’ fat, and is beneficial to our health. When choosing a brand, it’s important to look for a few things. Make sure it’s organic and is non-GMO. Also choose a virgin coconut oil that is unrefined. The brand we currently use is Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.

Also, do a quick search, and you will see that there are tons of other healthy uses for coconut oil!

Extra-virgin olive oil is another alternative, but use caution with this. It is healthiest when consumed raw (such as in salad dressings), or when cooking at a low temperature. It should also be cold-pressed and unfiltered (should be cloudy in appearance if unfiltered). Many olive oil labels are faulty, because there are no labeling regulations for olive oil. Be sure to take time to research before choosing a brand.

Avacado oil, red palm oil, and seasame oil are also healthy oils to try! I have yet to try these, because I’m so impressed with coconut oil.

#4. Pasta

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Just like with flour, start transitioning to whole-wheat pasta by slowly mixing white and whole-wheat together. If you still aren’t crazy about whole-wheat, try using Einkorn pasta (or flour too!). Einkorn is loaded with more nutrients than regular wheat, but the flavor is so much lighter than whole-wheat. Because Einkorn has never been hybridized, it’s known to be good for those who have difficulty digesting gluten. We sometimes use Jovial Organic Einkorn Pasta and love the flavor!

#5. Baking Powder

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Most of the baking powder found in grocery stores contains aluminum, and consumption of aluminum has been linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease. There are two options for a healthier alternative. The first option would be to buy aluminum free baking powder. Since most baking powder contains cornstarch, (which most likely contain GMOs) the second and best option would be to make your own. You can quickly make your own by mixing up 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder, and ¼ cup of cream of tartar.

I hope these five switches help make your transition to a real food diet a little smoother. Check out part 2 next week, for five more simple pantry switches!