Balanced Wellness

Make Your Own Healthy Fruit Punch This Summer

Make Your Own Healthy Fruit Punch This Summer

Summer is filled with fun festivals and carnivals, birthday parties and BBQs, which unfortunately is filled with sugary drinks and processed foods, leaving you bloated, depleted & still hungry. While it's OK to indulge once in a while, after weeks of over-indulging on these zero nutritious foods, you will start to feel it in your body & notice it in your mood.  

I have just the recipe for you to quench your thirst in a natural and refreshing kind of way with a Home-Made Fruit Punch.

The One Ingredient You Need To Heal Your Gut & Your Skin

The One Ingredient You Need To Heal Your Gut & Your Skin

We are all racing against the clock here, whether you are battling wrinkles, acne or general aging of the body, we want to stay looking youthful and vibrant every day. We try all kinds of chemicals to treat our acne & smooth our wrinkles, but let me tell you that it all starts from the INSIDE, inside your gut to be exact. 

Shakshusha - a simple & satisfying breakfast dish at last

Breakfast is often my most perplexing meal of the day. Still half-asleep I roll out of bed at 6AM sharp to a house full of screams of “MAMA!” Oliver is a morning person unlike the rest of the household. Even our dog, Ralphie, won’t stroll into the kitchen before 9AM.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It breaks my heart when I hear people say they DON’T EAT BREAKFAST! Breakfast sets the tone of the rest of the day and for me, cereal just doesn’t cut it, a yogurt is not enough. I need my breakfast to be fulfilling & delicious. I’m a big fan of preparing my breakfast the night before and putting it in the oven in the morning giving me time to doquick yoga routine (if the boys are cooperating that day). But there are only so many things you can make ahead and sometimes a freshly cooked breakfast is what your body needs. I came across this Israili recipe and it looked so intimidating and time-consuming, I didn’t even give it a try. However, it kept popping up in my facebook feed from cooking groups and pinterest and emails and I just thought it was a sign. This recipe was stalking me, it was BEGGING me to try it and how glad I did. It is SUPER simple, SUPER delicious, SUPER filling and SUPER customizable.

This is a basic, simple shakshuka recipe, not spicy and kid friendly. For variety, different ingredients can be added to the tomato base—jalapenos, green chilies, parsley, red pepper flakes, or anything else that sounds tasty to you. I sprinkled my shakshusha with nutritional yeast and served it with a side of Horseradish Leek Sauerkraut (not pictured here, but did I tell you my latest fascination with Farmhouse Culture’s variety of Sauerkraut? OMG, they are just so delicious! I eat it for breakfast, lunch & dinner). Use your imagination!

Serves: 4 (2 adults + 2 kids)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Himalayan Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 eggs (depending on how many people you are feeding that day)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped dill or parsley for garnish
  • 1/2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • a spoon full of sauerkraut. Get fancy with flavors like Smoked Jalapeno, Spicy Wakame Ginger Kimchi or my favorite Horseradish Leek.
  • side of lox

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add chopped onion to a deep, large skillet or sauté pan with grapeseed oil, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Sprinkle some turmeric and the onions become this beautiful golden color and are infused with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.
  • Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.
  • Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended. Add spices, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka (be careful with the cayenne... it is extremely spicy!).
  • Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook "over easy" style on top of the tomato sauce.
  • COVER THE PAN! Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes on LOW, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn't reduce too much, which can lead to burning.

Scoop onto plates divided, garnish with some fresh dill or parsley, nutritional yeast, side of lox and some sauerkraut and you’ve got yourself a winning breakfast that will keep you full all the way until lunch.

What's your favorite breakfast dish?

Honey & Dill Salmon

salmon
salmon

I absolutely LOVE salmon. I crave it! And if I could eat it every day, I totally would. It is so versatile too; you can have it for breakfast as lox on toast, for lunch on a salad or for dinner as a main dish. You can make it once and eat throughout the day or week. It's just simply amazing and the best thing it is SOOO simply to make.

And did we talk about salmon's benefits?

It is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12) but it is their content of omega-3 fatty acids that receives the most attention. And in case you forgot what omega-3's are, they are these are essential oils (EPA and DHA) that contribute to healthy brain function ,the heart and the joints.

Now, there is always a lot of debate regarding whether to buy farmed or wild. To tell you the truth my opinion has been swayed towards wild for a while, because of all the bad rep farmed fish has gotten. But then I dug deeper into this and found out that buying farmed fish may not be so bad, because responsible farmers  set high standards for their farmed salmon; and I think it tastes milder, but it is recommended to vary your options between wild and farmed.

So here is the recipe for this amazing salmon:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs salmon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or more! I love garlic for its taste and health benefits)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill leaves (or you can use dried dill weed)
  • Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together honey, garlic, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper
  • Place salmon onto prepared baking sheet and fold up all 4 sides of the foil. Spoon the honey mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the salmon, covering completely and sealing the packet closed.
  • Place into oven and bake until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

Garnish with some more fresh dill and prepare for an orgasm in your mouth!

Spinach Quinoa Feta Cakes & Cucumber Dill Yogurt Sauce

In my attempt to try and omit meat from our diets without the husband noticing, I made these and he had NO idea :) SCORE! Even my meat-loving 3 year old picky eater was saying "I want some more of these 'meat' cakes" haha

spinach cakes
spinach cakes

I'm always curious as to which foods are better eaten raw and which are better consumed cooked and for the longest time I thought spinach is best eaten raw, but did you know that it's actually better absorbed by the body COOKED? Cooking it actually increases its health benefits! Just like tomatoes!

Spinach has MANY health benefits, but my 3 favorites are:

1) Skin care - can relieve dry itchy skin if consumed on a regular bases. Need to get me a juicer. My birthday is coming up. Anyone? :)

2) Keeps you regular - its high fiber content, as well as water helps promote a healthy digestive tract. Yes, everybody poops!

So, here is a very delicious, nutritious & simple recipe to incorporate more spinach into your diet:

Ingredients:

Spinach Cakes

  • 1 medium onion (I like the sweet onions) finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves,  finely chopped
  • 6 oz chopped baby spinach
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups of cooked quinoa
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • himalayan salt & pepper to taste

Cucumber Dill Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup of plain TOTAL aka FULL FAT! Greek yogurt (FAGE is my FAVE!)
  • 1 medium size finely chopped cucumber
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tsps of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsps of fresh chopped dill
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

1. Cook your quinoa according to directions. Usually, it's bring to boil, then reduce and simmer until a ring forms around it, drain and cool

2. Sautee onion for 2 minutes, add garlic until softened and fragrant. Mmmm, love this smell!

3. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl

4. Add the eggs, cooked quinoa, dill, feta, lemon zest, salt & pepper. Mix well. Add bread crumbs and let the mixture sit for a bit to absorb the moisture

5. Form round patties in your hand and line them up on a cutting board so they are all ready to be cooked.

6. Heat you skillet on medium-high heat and place the patties, in batches ( I did about 4-5 patties per round)

7. Grill them until they are browned about 4-5 minutes per side.

8. Serve with the yogurt sauce

Yogurt Sauce Directions:

1. Whisk together the yogurt, scallions, lemon juice, dill and cucumbers in a small bowl, season with salt & pepper and refrigerate to allow the flavors to mend. If you don't have time for this step, no worries, it's good as is :)

Enjoy!

Avocado Brownies

With my new sweet tooth, I needed to make some healthier desserts and these avocado brownies are just perfect! And talk about the chocolate goodness! Especially DARK chocolate.

Avocado Brownies
Avocado Brownies

Health Benefits of eating and baking with dark chocolate.

  • Heart health - can help lower blood pressure by improving blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots.
  • Brain Health - increases blood flow to the brain as well as the heart, improving your cognitive function
  • Makes you happy :) - Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you're falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.
  • Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells.
  • Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel. That means that dark chocolate, unlike most other sweets, lowers your risk of getting cavities. And yes you still have to brush your teeth! (with natural Xylitol toothpaste of course)
  • Cough suppressant - Theobromine is also a mild stimulant, though not as strong as caffeine. It can, however, help to suppress coughs.
  • Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes.

Health benefits of baking with avocados:

  • It's a great way to reduce fat in your desserts: A 3.5-ounce serving of butter has a whopping 81 grams of fat compared to 14 grams in the same serving of avocado.
  • By substituting avocado for butter, you'll be eliminating saturated fat from your desserts and replacing it with healthy fats.
  • Avocados not only have a ton of vitamins, but they also may reduce cholesterol and fight heart disease.

So, here is the recipe for these amazing brownies and NO, they do not TASTE like avocados once finished

Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe avocados, mashed as well as you can (about 1 1/8 cups)
  • 8 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose organic flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk mashed avocado and melt chocolate. Whisk in sugar until combined, then add in eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Add in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, mixing with a large spoon until JUST combined - do not over mix. Stir in avocado oil until it's well distributed and batter is somewhat smooth, then spread batter in pan. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until middle is set. Remove and let cool completely, then frost and top with grated chocolate if desired.

Enjoy!

Kefir Cranberry & Apricot Cake

Dried fruits are nutritious, yummy and convenient, but look for dried fruits that have been dehydrated naturally and contain no sugar.  Dried fruits also contains more fiber than the same-sized serving of their fresh counterparts. And as we all know fiber helps keep your digestive system running smoothly. Dried apricots, for example, contain 6.5 grams per cup, while fresh apricots contain just 3.1 grams.

For this recipe, I used dried apricots and cranberries for the topping, however you can use anything you like: dried cherries, blueberries, mango, fig, plum, pear etc.

This recipe also calls for kefir, which is a great way to add some pro-biotic into your diet.

Cakes generally are not associated with health, however I'm a strong believer in the "spoil yourself once in a while instead of overindulging later". Plus, there is always a way to modify a dessert recipe for guilt free indulgence. For example, there are ways to substitute for the butter, like apple sauce or even an avocado. Also, there are many ways to substitute your flour: almond flour is my favorite.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of kefir (I used a flavored Wildberry kind, but you can use whatever flavor or plain kefir)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups of brown sugar
  • 1 stick of melted organic pasture-raised butter (substitute apple sauce or even avocado here)
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil
  •  1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Zest of an orange
  • 2 cups of all purpose or cake flour (you can substitute for almond flour if you are brave and verse in your conversions)
  • ½ cup of dried cranberries
  • ½ cups of dried apricots (diced)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a medium bowl, combine kefir and baking soda. Set aside
  • In a large bowl, mix eggs and sugar on high for 2 minutes, add butter (apple sauce or avocado), olive oil, vanilla, orange zest and mix well.
  • Add the kefir mixture. Mix to combine
  • Add flour. Mix well, making sure there are no clumps
  • Fold in the dried fruit
  • Pour into a beautiful cake mold pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean

Enjoy!

The 3 Grains You Need To Start Eating Now!

I know we’ve all heard about the basic grains like brown rice, oatmeal, wheat flour, but there other more exciting grains out there that pack more fiber and protein than your average grain. Warning – your taste buds will be challenged!

Let’s first talk about AMARANTH! I first heard about it on the Dr. Oz show, so decided to try it out for myself. It’s very different from anything I’ve ever tasted with a sweet, peppery flavor and a nice crunchy texture. It’s gluten free like many of the other grains and works well in baked goods or as a side.

  • Protein Punch: Amaranth contains 28 gram of high quality protein per cup! And what is protein? Pretty much a hand in every critical function of your body. The protein contained in amaranth is also complete containing a complete set of amino acids. Even though we only need a certain amount of protein in our bodies each day (46 grams for women & 56 grams for men), there are also other factors to consider. For example: after a work-out, you need the extra protein to help the body rebuild the muscles and sustain an optimal recovery

  • Calcium Galore: Amaranth packs almost 300 milligrams of calcium/cup compares with white rice of 52 milligrams

  • Lysine: An amino acid that helps your body absorb calcium, process protein, and convert fatty acids to energy. The body can't make its own lysine and so must obtain it from foods, such as amaranth.

  • Magnesium: Contains 519 grams of magnesium, while white rice only contains 46 grams. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure

  • Iron: Contains 15 milligrams of iron

  • Fiber: Contains 18 grams of fiber, which aids in digestion and contributes to lower cholesterol

  • Disease prevention: The oils, high in linolenic acid, in amaranth have been shown to help prevent and treat those with hypertension and heart disease. Regular consumption of amaranth can reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

  • Grey Hair Prevention: This was a shocker to me as I’m sure it is to you, but apparently amaranth shows promise in prevention of premature greying of the hair.

Buckwheat is actually not even a grain, but a fruit seed related to rhubarb, but since it’s mostly confused with being a grain and it is super nutritious, I decided to include it. Buckwheat (Гречка in Russian) brings back a lot of childhood memories for me, because buckwheat is very widely used in Russia and its cooking.

  • Amino Acids: Contains all of the 8 amino acids which are essential to our health.

  • Disease Prevention: Buckwheat has a rich supply of flavonoids, which protect us against disease like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

  • Disease Management: Buckwheat is beneficial for managing diabetes, because it lowers glucose levels.

  • Fiber: High in insoluble fiber, which can help you avoid gallstones

  • Weight Loss Management: Buckwheat fills you up faster and suppresses your appetite, a great tool for weight loss.

  • High Levels of Potassium: Potassium helps to maintain the water and acid balance in blood and tissue cells.

  • High Levels of Zinc: Zinc helps to bolster the immune system

Bottom line is incorporating buckwheat in your diet can help you stay fit, lively, and healthy.

Quinoa (pronounced KIN-WA)  is probably my favorite grain of all, not only due to its high nutritious content, but because it is so versatile. You can use it as a side to dinner, in salads, soups, breakfast, you name it! You can really get creative here!

  • Protein Power House: Packs 9 grams of protein/cup compared with a 6 gram for the egg.

  • Amino Acids: Contains all of the 8 amino acids making it a “complete” protein.

  • Fiber Heaven: Rich in fiber, it’s digested slowly and has a low glycemic index, which produces a gradual rise in blood glucose/sugar levels.

  • Gluten Free: There has been a debate whether a gluten-free diet is actually healthier for an average person, but it definitely is necessary for people with digestive disorders, like celiac disease.

  • Bone Builder: A fabulous non-dairy source of calcium, which builds and maintains bones and teeth, helps regulate the contraction of the heart, and facilitates nerve and muscle function. One cup contains 30 milligrams of calcium.

  • Brain Power: Great source of iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power. Quinoa’s vitamin B content can help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize mood.

These 3 grains will surely give you something new to play with in the kitchen, so go ahead and experiment :)

Healing Spices & Herbs to Add Your Daily Life

Spices do not only add flavor to your dishes, they are extremely healthy for you and may even help protect against certain chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Polyphenols are the main compounds found in all these spices. You might of heard that wine, tea and certain fruits & vegetables also have an abundance of polyphenols.

My favorite aspect of using spices is it reduces your urge to use less healthier options like SALT and SUGAR while cooking.

Check out these awesome spices to add into your foods today!

  • Cinnamon is one of the biggest antioxidant power spices. These antioxidants have been linked to lower inflammation, as well as reductions in blood glucose concentrations in people with diabetes.
    • Add a teaspoon to either your oatmeal, yogurt, coffee, hot coco, baked sweet potatoes etc. Be creative!
  • Chili Peppers contain a compound known as capsaicin, providing numerous of health benefits. It speeds up your metabolism, promotes sweating to get rid of an infection, improves blood circulation, helps you spice up your sex life etc. Check out my previous post Spice It Up on this spice in detail.
    • Add it to make chili, soups, burgers, stews, salsa and even breakfast dishes like an omelet or a frittata.
  • Turmeric is rich in curcuminoids, which are known for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It's a natural liver detoxifyer, a natural treatment for arthritis, and turmeric is currently under investigation that it may have cured Alzheimer's disease. Also, according to a study, published in Planta Medica, taking turmeric in combination with black pepper, which contains piperine, improves turmeric absorbability throughout the entire body. They added 20mg of piperine to 2000mg Turmeric, and it increased the bioavailability of Turmeric 154 percent!
    • Sprinkle some turmeric to a yogurt, an egg salad, to water while boiling rice, add to chicken and seafood casseroles.
  • Garlic is known for its antioxidant protection. It has been used as a remedy for coughs, colds and flus. Garlic lowers fever by promoting sweating which eliminates toxins from the body. 
    • There are numerous ways to incorporate garlic into your diet, but the best way is in its raw form.
    • Garlic goes well with potatoes, chicken, lamb and really just about anything. We use garlic on EVERYTHING in this house!
  • Oregano is a nutrient-dense spice making it an excellent source of fiber. Diets high in fiber have been shown to lower high cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Oregano is also an excellent source of vitamin K, a very good source of manganese, iron, and calcium as well as a good source of vitamin E and tryptophan.
    • Sprinkle on just about anything you make: pasta, scrambled eggs, salad dressings, pizzas, marinara sauce, soups etc.
  • Basil contain flavanoids, which protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage. Basil is also a good source of magnesium, which promotes cardiovascular health.
    • Add basil leaves on salads of on top of a lasagna.
  • Rosemary is part of the Mint plant family and has a ton of antioxidant properties. Rosemary can stimulate the immune system, increase circulation and improve digestion.
    • Add dried crushed rosemary to mashed potatoes and vegetable omelets.
    • Add fresh rosemary to omelets and frittatas.
    • This herb also goes really well with chicken and lamb dishes.
    • Another fun thing to do with rosemary is puree the leaves and mix with olive oil to use for dipping sauce for bread
  • Parsley contains more vitamin C than most citrus plants, almost three times more than in your average orange! It's also known for its high iron levels and can help fight anemia and balance hormonal levels. It settles the stomach and improves the appetite. The high content of vitamin C is not only useful on its own, but also assists the absorption of iron.
    • Add chopped flat leaf parsley to meatballs and meat loaf or sprinkle on an omelette
  • Ginger is well known for its digestion properties, upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea. Ginger also provides a safe and effective relief of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds, which help alleviate the pain of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Also, in a new study, ginger was found to kill tumor cells in ovarian cancer patients. Overall, ginger can promote healthy immune system, by letting you "sweat it out" during colds and flus.
    • Grate fresh ginger into quick bread batters and vinaigrette.
    • Add chopped ginger to stir-fries. Sprinkle ground ginger on cooked carrots.

But be sure you use the the herbs and spices at their peak to get the most out of them, because the active compounds degrade with time. Check BEST BY label, store in air-tight container away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight.

Tuna & Spinach Salad

This is one of the easiest and healthiest salads to put together as an addition to any meal. Spinach is high in Vitamins C & E, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits. Spinach is an excellent source of other antioxidant nutrients beta-carotene, and manganese — as well as a very good source of the antioxidant zinc and a good source of the antioxidant selenium.

Tuna is an excellent source of high quality protein, are rich in a variety of important nutrients including the minerals selenium, magnesium, and potassium; the B vitamins niacin, B1 and B6; and perhaps most important, the beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of baby spinach
  • 5 oz of pouched tuna
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic (or more if you are a garlic lover like myself)
  • sea salt & pepper to taste. I go easy on the salt, because of most of the time the canned tuna is already salted enough
  • 1 tomato diced (I used the kumato, the purple kind)

Ingredients:

  1. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste in a small sauce pan and heat until warm.
  2. Drizzle over spinach leaves and top with tuna and tomatoes and serve

This warming salad is making me hungry just writing about it. Go make some!

Natural Sore Throat Remedies

We all suffer from sore throats once in a while, especially now with the change from cold to warm to hot, we are all bound to pick up a virus from someone. I personally hate all medications, including dayquil, lozenges and anything else that just MASKS the problem. Instead, I'm all about NATURAL home-made remedies for all illness. My whole family picked up some kind of a cold and we all have sore throats, so here is something I've tried and want to share my secret with the rest of the world:

1) Cayenne Pepper - I'm a huge spice fan in general and will shortly write about my love and the benefits of spices. Gargle warm water with a bit of cayenne pepper mixed in. It's very spicy, so don't over do it, but you should feel a tingle in the back of the throat. I even swallowed a small amount in each gargle to insure it went further down.

2) Apple Cider Vinegar - I can talk about vinegar and its miraculous benefits/uses ALL day, so I wasn't surprised when I ran across this method. Here is what you will need: 2 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. Honey, lemon juice and a little hot water to dilute. Gargle and you will FEEL the difference instantly!

3) Oregano Oil - has antifungal and antiviral properties helping to relieve a sore throat. Ideal for gargling with and applied topically onto the feet with another oil. Be careful, this is a HOT oil, it will burn unless you mix it in with another oil and use VERY little, it is POTENT!!! Directions: Apply one to three drops on the tongue, close your mouth and allow your saliva to wash it back towards your throat. You will feel a choking/burning sensation for about 10 to 20 seconds which will soon subside. Repeat as needed throughout the day.

4) Chill Pepper (or Cayenne) & Apple Cider Vinegar  - an interesting and potent combination. Directions: Dilute a glass of hot water, 1 shot glass ACV, 2 tbsp. honey, squeeze some lemon juice, & 1/2 tsp cayenne. Gargle and viola!

5) Garlic - I'm a big of this herb as you all know and eat a few cloves as I feel a sickness coming on, but this is interesting, because for a sore throat you can make garlic TEA! Here is how you make it: Crush 2-3 cloves of garlic (depending on how bold you are feeling, because raw garlic STINGS), in hot boiling water along with pieces of ginger, 1/2 tbsp of cayenne pepper, tea bag (preferably a chamomile or lemon) & honey. Let it steep, strain the pieces & drink warm.

Give these a try and feel better :)

Kale with Lemon & Garlic

kale-lemon-garlic.jpg

You couldn't get any healthier than these 3 ingredients, especially if you saute it in coconut oil. This healthy recipe is sure to have you craving for more! TIP: Lemon juice helps increase absorption of iron in greens, like kale, so if you can splash a little bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice on ALL your greens from now on, AWESOME!

Ingredients

  • 2 large handfuls kale
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • a little olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (or more if you are a huge garlic fan, like myself!)
  • a little lemon zest juice of half a lemon

Directions

  • Wash the greens and set them aside. Bring a pan of water to a boil, salt it lightly, and cook the greens for no longer than a minute or two. They must retain their crispness and vigor. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, warm the coconut oil in a shallow pan, peel and crush the garlic, and add it to the pan with coconut oil. Add a little grated lemon zest (a couple of teaspoons should suffice), then, squeeze in the lemon juice.
  • Lower in the greens and toss them gently in the hot, lemony garlic oil. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Quinoa Salad with Beans, Avocado & Lime-Cumin Dressing

This is one of my favorite and easiest salads to prepare. Not to mention powerhouse of nutritious ingredients. Quinoa is high in protein, includes all nine essential amino acids, which makes it a great choice for vegans.

Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, folate, and phosphorus, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, chopped into chunks
  • handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
  • small handful cilantro, diced
  • 1 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Warm the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add the rinsed quinoa and toast for about 2-3 minutes until it starts smelling nutty and lovely. Add water, stir once, cover, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare all other ingredients. Prepare the dressing by combining the lime juice, oil, cumin, and salt. Whisk it aggressively. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  3. When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from heat and fluff with a fork. Add black beans and toss to warm them through.
  4. Let the quinoa cool for about five minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients, including the dressing, and mix. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with tortilla chips and a refreshing, cold beer.

Vinegar - My New Obsession

I can't get enough of how multi-purposeful this completely natural product is. Vinegar is basically a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. There all kinds of vinegar: white (the most basic), apple cider, balsamic, wine, sherry etc.

Besides its many uses in the kitchen for pickling, making sushi rice and flavoring, vinegar has known to have many medicinal uses as well, which are my most favorite:

  • Soothing for sunburns
  • Diabetes management - have been shown by a number of medical trials to reduce the glycemic index of carbohydrate food for people with and without diabetes
  • Weight management - multiple trials indicate that taking vinegar with food increases satiety (the feeling of fullness) and, so, reduces the amount of food consumed
  • Jellyfish sting - deactivates the venom. But it's also recommended to place the sting into HOT water
  • Natural deodorant - cheaper version of a stick
  • Conditioner - I have personally tried this on my own hair and LOVED how it detangled my hair
  • Great digestion supplement - A little extra acid helps get things moving again. 1/2 tsp with a glass of water on an empty stomach before food or whenever you feel the symptoms
  • Fabulous face toner helping to eliminate & prevent acne

Since, vinegar is a great antibacterial agent, it naturally disinfects all surfaces, hard to remove stains (especially if combined with baking soda). Here are a few of ways to use vinegar around the house:

  • Clean out your coffee maker or tea pot - pour 2 c. white vinegar and 1 c. water into the coffee maker and run a full brew cycle. Remove and replace the filter and run 2 cycles of just water
  • Disinfect cutting boards, especially the garlic/onion smells
  • Clean and disinfect pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, etc.
  • Clean sponges by soaking them overnight
  • Natural de-greaser
  • Naturally clean your fruits and vegetables by soaking them in 1 part vinegar and 1 part water
  • Laundry - add a cup instead of the fabric softener
  • Wood floors - I add it into my steamer!
  • Disinfects toys, books etc.
  • Removes stains from mattresses

There are unlimited ways to using vinegar inside the home instead of a chemical solution. So, next time you are reaching for the bottle of clorox, ask yourself, do I really need to be inhaling these fumes or can I use vinegar to disinfect my entire house without the smell of bleach or any other harsh chemicals?