I Love Sugar

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As my daughter’s first birthday approaches, I have been realizing how much sugar our culture consumes for holidays, birthdays, and everyday life. (I’m also realizing how much sugar I consume.) Birthday parties are usually full of cake, candy, ice cream, and other sweets. The amount of sugar most of us consume, should actually make us sick. But our bodies have become somewhat adjusted to the unhealthy amount of sugar we eat.

My daughter has never actually tasted sugar at this point in her life, outside of the natural sugars that are in fruit. We feed her lots of bone broth, grass-fed meats, wild caught salmon, organic fruits and veggies, dried fruit, pastured eggs, and homemade yogurt. We will soon be introducing grains, but only ones that have been prepared properly (organic, non-gmo, and soaked or sprouted grains).

I recently began preparing muffins with icing for her birthday party, and followed some wholesome recipes that only used natural sweeteners (no actual sugar). My husband and I strongly disliked the first batch of icing I made. There wasn’t anything to sweeten it besides a banana. Our daughter on the other hand, enjoyed it a lot! At first we wondered how she enjoyed something we so strongly disliked (and we aren’t picky eaters). Then it dawned on me, she hasn’t been exposed to sugar and wasn’t used to the amount of sweetness that we’ve become so used to with foods. It was probably just the right amount of sweet for her. Needless to say, we realized that if we didn’t enjoy it, most likely not many guests at her party would either. So I attempted another icing recipe using maple syrup to sweeten it. This one was truly delicious!

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Our family is really striving to cut back on our sugar consumption, and find recipes that use only natural sweeteners (in small amounts) when we do get a craving for something sweet. God calls us to take care of our bodies, and God has placed my husband and I in charge of nourishing our baby girl’s little body. I don’t want to fill her body with toxic, unhealthy foods. We have to teach her by example.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

While organic cane sugar is better than non-organic bleached sugar, it’s still not good for you. So we are starting a new sort of journey with our food, and trying to find ways to eliminate sugar and use mostly natural sweeteners (in limited amounts). If you’re unsure of what sweeteners are natural, check out this great post by Food Renegade. Natural sweeteners are better than the white stuff, but should still be used in moderation.

I look forward to sharing some recipes with all of you as I discover sweet treats to make using natural sweeteners. For starters, let me share this delicious maple buttercream recipe with you! I’m also making these yummy gummy snacks for party favors.

I would love to hear from you! What yummy dessert or snack recipes do you make that use natural sweeteners?

The Beauty of Baby-Wearing

Yesterday was my birthday and my husband made it such a special day for me. First, he surprised me by taking the day off of work, then he took me to get coffee, have a picnic lunch, and then for a walk while he took pictures of me baby wearing our daughter. The pictures were the highlight of my day, because it’s something I’ve been wanting for awhile. Baby-wearing has been a huge part of motherhood for me, and one of my favorite parts of being a mommy (what mom doesn’t love baby snuggles?).

You can read about my journey of having a baby with colic by clicking here. Baby-wearing helped me through that challenging time. I would wrap up my daughter in my Moby wrap for several hours every day those first six months. At eleven months, I still baby wear at some point each day, and it still works wonderfully at calming her down when she’s upset or putting her to sleep when she’s tired.

When I became a mom for the first time, I dealt with a lot of doubt in myself. Doubt that I was doing anything right (especially the long nights that I couldn’t seem to do anything to help my baby girl stop crying). I received a ton of advice (which I’m so thankful for) and tried so many different things those first few months. I was told to schedule her nursing times, while others told me not schedule. I was told to let her cry or to never let her cry, to hold her all the time or that she shouldn’t be held all the time. I was told not to spoil her. I tried this and that, but in the end, I took the advice of others that matched what my maternal instincts were telling me (I believe God gives maternal instincts to every mom).

My instincts were to keep my baby close to me. My sweet baby girl had just spent nine months in a wonderful, warm world, where she was always beside me. She didn’t know anything besides being with mommy, and after she was born she was clearly happiest when she was with mommy. Why would I try to teach independence to a baby? Why would it harm her to be close to me? I read bits of different books that advised me to have her sleep in her own room, never in my arms. These books went against every instinct that I felt. My daughter’s cries were the only way she could communicate with me.

Some books suggested that once she was fed and had a clean diaper, it was alright to leave her cry herself to sleep because her needs had been met. Do baby’s not have emotional needs too? Of course they do! My baby girl just entered a new, cold, bright world which was probably so scary compared to my snuggly, dark, warm womb.

By following my maternal instincts, I used to feel guilty, sheepishly telling others that yes, I nurse her to sleep, or yes, I pick her up every time she cries. I was told (and still am told) that I’m too attached to my baby. At a certain point, I stopped caring what others thought, and I’m glad I did. I stopped feeling like I was too attached to my own baby just because I was following my instincts.

We live in a culture that tries to get babies to fit into our schedules, instead of embracing the beauty of motherhood and enjoying the sweet and fleeting moments with our babies. I once heard a comment from a frustrated mother, ‘I still have to rock her to sleep.’ How incredibly sad this mother’s perspective was. I cherish nursing and rocking my baby girl to sleep each night. I love our late night nursing sessions and I love holding her in my arms and having her close to me. I love that I can rescue her from tears by picking her up each time she’s afraid, upset, or just needing mommy. She won’t always need me in this way. In fact, she’s already showing so many signs of independence.

I have no regrets for answering my baby girl’s cries and always keeping her close to me. I hope this post encourages other new mom’s to do the same. Don’t ignore your baby’s cries or try to make your baby fit into your schedule. Embrace this beautiful experience. Some day you’ll look back and long to do it all again.

Here are a few of the pictures that my husband took of my daughter and I.

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“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” -Isaiah 49:15

 

Delicious Yogurt Dressing

I started making my own salad dressing 2-3 years ago when I discovered how unhealthy store bought dressings are. Even organic salad dressing! I’m big on knowing what ingredients I’m feeding my family, and store bought dressings are full of so many questionable ingredients.

You could skip the dressing and use a little lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or avocado instead. But if you’re like me, you might still crave a creamy dressing to drizzle over your salad. Salad dressing is one of the easiest things you can make homemade. I encourage you to start looking up some recipes!

I’m going to share one of my favorite recipes for salad dressing. This dressing goes so fast in our house. It’s so delicious (we use it as a dip too), and we don’t feel guilty about using too much dressing. Why? Because it’s made from homemade yogurt! In case you missed my post on how to make your own yogurt, click here.

As I was trying to come up with an alternative to ranch dressing, I ended up with this delicious dressing. Although it does resemble ranch a little, it’s got a delicious taste all of it’s own. You can easily whip this dressing up in a matter of minutes. You’re going to love it!

Delicious Yogurt Dressing

1 1/2 cups of yogurt (if you have really thick yogurt, sub 1/4 cup of yogurt for milk)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!

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See how simple that was? I love using this jar for our homemade dressing. It’s easy to pour the dressing from, and it comes with several salad dressing recipes on the jar!

Eczema & Psoriasis Cream

Do you suffer from eczema or psoriasis? My husband and I each get flare ups of eczema, and I occasionally get a flare up of psoriasis as well. If you don’t know what either of these are, think dry skin times three. Or times four or five… or six. It can be pretty miserable! I’ve struggled with psoriasis over the years and have not found anything that has proved to provide great relief or healing.

While I like to approach everything with a natural, homemade remedy, I was skeptical of finding anything that would really work for us. After researching ingredients and remedies, I decided to wing it and whip up a batch of cream that we could use on our itchy skin. After using it once, we felt instant relief. After applying the cream for several days, our patches of eczema and psoriasis actually began clearing up.

Today I’m in the kitchen, rushing to make a double batch since we just ran out! While this cream is wonderful for eczema or psoriasis, it would work well for anyone with dry skin. You’ve just really got to try this!

Eczema & Psoriasis Cream:

-1/2 cup coconut oil

-1/2 cup Shea butter

-2 teaspoons honey

-1 teaspoon jojoba oil

-4 drops tea tree oil

In a double boiler, melt down the coconut oil, Shea butter, and honey. Once melted, remove from heat and add in jojoba oil and tea tree oil. Allow to cool until it slightly thickens (the refrigerator speeds up this process), then, use a hand mixer to whip up the ingredients on a low setting. Allow it to thicken a little more, then mix again. Repeat this until the mixture is creamy or resembles lotion. This recipe fills an 8 ounce jar.

Now you’re all set to tackle that dry skin!

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Living With Less

When my husband and I moved a few months ago, I began to realize how much we had accumulated over the past three and a half years. I also realized how much of our stuff we really don’t need. We had boxes full of odds and ends that I didn’t want to part with, yet it sat collecting dust, just in case one day we came up with some great use for it. I had clothes in my closet that I just couldn’t bring myself to part with, even though certain items had been there for years and only gotten worn a handful of times.

I began to question why we felt the need to hold on to so many things. I started to really reflect on what God’s Word teaches about materialism and apply His Word to our ‘stuff’.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:19-21

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Luke 12:33-34

When I read these passages, it really put things into perspective for me. Letting these Scriptures soak in, made it easy to begin to part ways with the things that we really don’t need.

It’s important to decipher what items are just taking up space and what items might actually be beneficial to keep (we try to reuse and re-purpose everything we can). I find it more challenging to get rid of household items than clothes. But even still, I’m continuously trying to go through things and decide what we really need. I’m big on sentimental items and have had to learn to weigh out what’s actually of great sentimental value or not. Creating small memory boxes has helped me keep some of my most sentimental treasures safely stored away

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At one time, women had their everyday dress and their Sunday dress, and this was plenty. Once the dress was thoroughly worn out, only then was it replaced. I can’t recall many times where I waited until a piece of clothing was actually ‘worn-out’ before getting rid of it.

In my mind, I liked to open up my closet and see a nice selection to choose from. But in reality, I would end up continuously choosing the same articles of clothing (about 1/3 of what was actually in my closet), while the rest of the clothing just hung there day after day.

While the idea of a big selection seems nice, it can also be overwhelming to have too many choices. How many times have you weeded through all of your clothes saying ‘I have nothing to wear!’ I’ve said this plenty of times, and I’m realizing how selfish and silly it sounds. There are some people who aren’t able to choose from a large selection of what they’d like to wear each day.

I’m tired of the American mentality that we always need more. As a Christian, I need to look at everything with a Christ-like mentality before looking at my surrounding culture. Our culture says it’s silly to only own the bare minimum of what we need.

I’ve recently been really inspired by capsule wardrobes, where you basically have just a few solid colored shirts, maybe 2-3 sweaters, a jacket, a coat, 2-3 pairs of pants, 1-2 skirts, and a dress or 2. Everything can be mix and match! You end up with a wide variety of outfits from just a few articles of clothing. This is a drastic change and obviously isn’t for everyone, and I’m not even completely there either. But it is what I’m moving towards the more I pray and really think about what I value in life (my relationship with the Lord, serving my family, and then serving others).

As I began giving things away from our closet as well as the rest of our household items, I realized how freeing it is to simplify our possessions. The hardest part is physically putting items into that donation box. Once it’s sealed up it becomes a lot easier to get rid of. I quickly forget what I put in the boxes since the items haven’t been getting used anyway.

I’m not suggesting that we deprive ourselves either, but that we find a balance, and be willing to part with certain items that someone else could get use out of. But before jumping up and tossing items into a box, pray and go through God’s Word. Get the right perspective on why you’re simplifying your possessions.

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“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” -1 John 2:17

I’d love to hear the ways that you’re simplifying your home. 🙂

 

 

The Food We’ve Been Given

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
 -Genesis 1:29

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At the end of every month, I make a menu plan for the next month. I used to always plan our meals around what my husband and I desired to eat, instead of planning our meals around the foods that are in season. There was a time years ago, when we wouldn’t have had access to the variety of foods and produce that we have access to today during each season. But just because we have access to certain produce all year long, doesn’t mean it’s cheap or fresh! I’m sure you’ve noticed, when certain produce isn’t in season, the price at the market goes up and the quality of that fruit or vegetable goes down. So why not eat foods that are actually in season, fresh, and local (and save a chunk of money)!

I highly recommend the book, ‘Simply in Season.’ This is the book that changed the way I began cooking and menu planning. We now enjoy meals that are rich with fresh, in-season produce. We’ve also started saving a lot of money on our monthly groceries!

So what produce can you get each season? The following list is by no means complete. And there are some foods that can be found locally in more than just one season. This list is to just give you a general idea of the different varieties of produce that you can cook with in each season.

Spring:

  • Green Onions
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • New potatoes
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Wild Greens

Summer:

  • Asparagus
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Green Beans
  • Melon
  • Peaches
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Summer Squash
  • Tomatoes

Fall:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collards
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Kale
  • Pears
  • Pumpkin
  • Swiss Chard
  • Winter Squash

Winter:

  • Apples (able to be kept in cold storage)
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Winter Squash (butternut, acorn, etc.)

You might be wondering what kind of meals you can make with the produce that’s available in the winter. Here’s an example of what one week of our meals looks like:

Sunday: Roast a chicken with potatoes and carrots (make bone broth overnight).

Monday: Chicken soup (use leftover chicken and homemade bone broth from Sunday) with potatoes, leeks, and carrots. (I had enough to freeze for another meal!) Serve with homemade bread and homemade applesauce.

Tuesday: Sweet potato quesadillas (Filling: sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and seasonings. Sometimes I’ll add chicken if we still have some leftover from Sunday.)

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner (Apple spice oat waffles with bacon and eggs)

Thursday: Bean potato soup (with homemade bone broth from Sunday). Serve with roasted veggies (Whatever we have extra of… sweet potato, carrot, squash, etc.)

Friday: Leftover Bean potato soup (and I still had enough to freeze for another meal!)

Saturday: Butternut squash shepherd’s pie. Serve with applesauce.

I hope that gives you an idea of how cooking in the winter can be delicious and easy. Especially when you double recipes for the freezer. I do freeze some produce in the summer (canning is another great way to preserve summer produce), so we can still make a meal that calls for bell peppers, green beans, etc., without paying a high price for those foods.

We are learning to be grateful for the foods God has placed before us in each season. It’s also fun to have seasonal favorites with certain meals. Then they become even more of a treat!

Do you cook your meals based off of the produce that’s in season? What are some of your favorite winter meals?

Homemade Yogurt

We go through quite a lot of yogurt in our house. We use yogurt as a substitute for sour cream, dips, and dressings. We love eating it with granola or fruit or mixing it into our smoothies!

Thankfully yogurt has a lot of health benefits. Yogurt is full of probiotics, which are ‘good bacteria.’ Our bodies need this good bacteria to keep our digestive systems healthy.

Good quality, organic yogurt from pastured cows can get quite expensive. We were paying around $7 per quart. If you go through yogurt as fast as we do, it can get pricey. Thankfully, I’ve learned to make our own and only spend about $2 per quart. That’s a big savings! Homemade yogurt is delicious and easy to make – and a lot of fun too!

The supplies you will need:

  • Pot for heating the milk
  • 1 quart mason jar (But I recommend making more than 1 quart at a time!)
  • 1/4 cup of yogurt from pastured cows (MUST have live cultures!) per quart
  • Thermometer
  • Raw milk or whole milk
  • Whisk
  • Cooler

Making yogurt is so simple. First you measure out the amount you want to make. Today I just made a quart from the leftover milk we had. So I measured out my 4 cups of milk and poured it into the pot.

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Next you’ll turn the heat on medium-high and whisk the milk constantly, until the temperature reaches 175 degrees F°.

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Let the temperature cool until it reaches 110 degrees F°. At this time you’ll add the proper amount of yogurt (again make sure the yogurt you use has live cultures in it). Very gently whisk the yogurt into the milk.

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Pour into your jar/jars.

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Last, fill a cooler with hot water from your sink (I turn mine as hot as it will get and have found that this is the perfect temperature for keeping the yogurt at 110 degrees F°. Close your cooler and let sit for 8-10 hours until it has thickened into yogurt! The longer you let it sit, the thicker it will become.

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Place the yogurt in the refrigerator. And you now you have some delicious, homemade yogurt! Once you try out this recipe and see how easy this is, you’ll probably want to double or even triple this recipe the next time around! 🙂

Homemade Yogurt:

4 cups of raw milk or whole milk

1/4 cup of yogurt (must have live cultures in it)

Heat milk in a pot over medium-high heat to 175 degrees F°. Whisk milk constantly. Once it reaches 175 degrees F°, turn heat source off. Once the milk has cooled down to 110 degrees, add 1/4 cup of yogurt. Gently whisk this into the milk. Pour into a 1 quart mason jar. Fill a small cooler up with hot tap water (temperature should be around 110 degrees) and place the jar in the cooler. Seal the cooler and let sit for 8-10 hours. The longer you let it sit, the thicker your yogurt will be. Immediately refrigerate the yogurt once it’s thickened.

Then enjoy a delicious bowl of homemade yogurt!

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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?