Smudging Sage for Health

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Smudging is a Native American custom, used for centuries in spiritual practices and purification rituals. I’ve used a smudge stick, or sage stick, for years to clear negative energy from spaces and objects. Recently I discovered that smudging provides health benefits as well.

Sage, an aromatic herb, is typically used for smudging, although cedar and sweetgrass may be substituted. The Latin word for sage, salvia, means “to heal”. Discover the ways that smudging can improve health and create space in your life and home for positive energy to flow.

Smudging Sage for Health

What is Smudging?

Smudging is the process of burning dried herbs, usually white sage, and using the smoke to cleanse the body, a space or an object. Three common types of sage create a smudge or sage stick: white sage, white prairie sage and garden sage. Most smudge sticks available for purchase are made from white sage or a blend of the three.

Sage is a great anti-fungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial herb. Consuming sage heals fungal infections such as athlete’s foot from within the body. It also clears fungus, mold and heavy metals from the intestinal tract.

Plus, sage offers healing properties when burned.

Purifies the Air

A study from 2007 found that burning sage for an hour decreased airborne bacteria by 94%. And the cleansing effect lasted for more than 24 hours. The smoke also repels insects.

Neutralizes Positive Ions

Burning sage releases negative ions capable of neutralizing positive ions that fill a space due to allergens and heavy emotions. Common allergens include pet dander, pollution, dust and mold. A build up of positive ions, not to be mistaken for positive high level energy, also occurs due to anger, stress and tension.

As the sage smoke changes the ions from positive to negative, a sense of clearing fills the room, along with a lightening of mood.

Dispels Negative Energy

Past traumas, bad experiences, abuse, great sorrow and strongly spoken words can linger in a space, creating a heavy negative atmosphere. The accumulation of positive ions can almost be felt. Think of the expression, “The tension was so thick in the room you could cut it with a knife.”

Smudging clears the air, literally. And into that cleared space, fresh higher level energy can flow.

Smudging Sage for Health

Cleanses Items

Items can accumulate negative energy too, just as rooms and houses can. Bathing a vintage piece or a yard sale find in sage smoke neutralizes the energy surrounding them. I am sensitive enough that I can pick up a candlestick at a flea market and tell immediately if there is negative energy clinging to it. I can feel sadness or anger or despair. If the energy is too strong, I won’t buy the item. I don’t want to bring that low level energy into my home.

However, a cocoon of mild negative energy can be dispelled with smudging. I’ll smudge as soon as I get the item home, and then smudge the house, for good measure.

Improves Mood and Soothes Stress

According to a 2014 study, sage is rich in compounds that stimulate certain receptors in the brain. These receptors elevate mood levels, reducing stress and anxiety, and easing depression.

These compounds also help with insomnia. Improved sleep results in increased energy and greater alertness. The compounds also improve brain function and cognitive abilities. Additionally, smudging heightens intuition and raises awareness.

Materials Needed for Smudging

The list is short and simple:

Smudging Sage

To smudge using a stick:

  • Light smudge stick and allow it to smolder. If the stick flames up allow it to die down before using. The stick should have embers and smoke, rather than burn with flames.
  • To smudge yourself, carefully waft the smoke around the body, using your other hand or a feather. Start at the feet and work up to the head and then move back down the body again. You are cleansing the energy around your body.
  • To smudge a space or a room, start in one corner and move slowly around the room, wafting smoke into all corners and closets. Make sure you move smoke over doorways and windows and over furniture in the room. Carry a fire and heat proof bowl or seashell with you, to collect ash.
  • To smudge an item, move smoke over and around the item. Start at the base and move to the top and then back down again.
  • When finished, allow stick to burn out naturally or hold smoldering end under running water, making sure all the embers are out. Allow sage stick to dry thoroughly before storing.

To smudge a room with dried sage leaves:

  • Light a small circle of charcoal, in a fire and heat proof bowl, and allow it to turn ashen.
  • Crumble dried leaves into bowl. Smoke will rise as the leaves smolder.
  • Add more leaves, as needed, allowing sage to smoke for an hour or more.
  • When finished, allow charcoal to turn to ash and cool completely.
  • Do not leave smoking sage unattended.

Smudging Sage for Health

When to Smudge

These are ideal times to smudge with sage:

  • When moving into a new living space
  • Before and after having guests in the home
  • During and after an illness
  • After an argument
  • When a house feels heavy or full of negative energy
  • When unusual things are happening in the home or it appears to be “haunted”
  • After leaving a negative situation…a bad job, an abusive or emotionally draining  relationship or an angry person
  • Before an extended time of prayer and meditation

I smudge at the beginning of a new year, change of seasons, after any negative experience and when I’m staying in an unfamiliar space. I can’t always carry a smudge stick or dried sage. Flying, for example, is not a good time to pack sage in my suitcase. However, when I stay in a vacation cottage or an Airbnb the first thing I do is smudge the entire space. I don’t know who has been there before me. And I don’t know what their state of mind was or what emotions they carried. Clearing the space means I will sleep better and have greater peace of mind.

Beyond being a spiritual practice, smudging sage clears the air, on so many levels. It contributes to health and wellbeing while raising awareness and increasing intuitive abilities.

Feeling out of sorts at home or fighting allergens? Unsure about the history of an antique you just purchased? Grab a smudge stick!

Smudging Sage for Health

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Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

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These vegan snickerdoodle cookies are full of flavor and healthy ingredients. And they make an excellent snack or simple dessert. I so appreciate Anthony William, who creates and offers a steady stream of delicious, easy to follow recipes. The cookies came together quickly, just in time for afternoon tea.

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

This recipe is dairy, refined sugar, gluten and egg free. Walnuts can be left out, for a nut free bread.

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

This easy to prepare cookie recipe is full of flavor and healthy ingredients.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies
Servings: 12 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbs coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder aluminum free
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Coating

  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine sugar and cinnamon for coating and set aside.
  • Combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Add lemon juice, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla and stir well, to form a dough. If mixture is too wet, add more flour.
  • Form dough into walnut sized balls and roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place on parchment paper. Flatten balls of dough with palm of hand or bottom of a glass.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly brown on bottom. 

Notes

Arrowroot starch may be substituted for coconut flour. Gluten free oat flour may be substituted for almond flour.

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

Tea Time

Savoring a couple of warm snickerdoodle cookies, with a steaming cup of hot herbal tea, the treat reminded me of shortbread cookies. Crisp with a softer center, and not too sweet, this cookie provides the perfect excuse to take a break and enjoy the moment.

I like that the recipe makes a small batch of cookies. It can easily be doubled. However, twelve cookies seems just right. I’m not tempted to overdo. Instead, two cookies with tea satisfies my desire for a snack.

Serve these vegan snickerdoodle cookies for an afternoon break, pack into a lunchbox or finish an evening meal with a hint of sweetness. They are perfect.

Vegan Snickerdoodle Cookies

Try out these rustic shortbread cookies as well.

And for a variety of herbal tea blends, check out my Amazon Storefront.

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

8 Plant Based Milks

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As promised, after sharing about how milk can make us feel bad, tonight I offer healthy alternatives to cow’s milk. For baking, for pouring over gluten free oatmeal, for drinking, these plant based milks deliver flavor and nutrients without the hormones, antibiotics and lactose.

And, as a bonus, I’ve included a simple to make DIY almond milk recipe.

8 Plant Based Milks

Almond Milk

This is the most popular plant based milk on the market and the easiest to find. Almond milk is made from almonds and water. It has a light, sweet, subtly nutty flavor and among plant based milks, has the lowest calorie count. Almonds contain healthy fats, important minerals and vitamins, including E. Purchase unsweetened almond milk and check labels for carrageenan. This additive causes an inflammatory response in some people.

Drink almond milk or use in coffee and tea, over cereal or oatmeal, in smoothies and for baking.

Almond milk is incredibly easy to make at home. See the DIY recipe at the end of the post.

Cashew Milk

Similar to almond milk, cashew milk is made from cashews and water. It has a rich, creamy texture and a sweet, slightly nutty taste. Cashews contain healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, including zinc. Purchase unsweetened cashew milk, or make your own at home. Unlike almond milk, it doesn’t even need to be strained after blending,

Use in smoothies, for baking or in coffee and tea.

Coconut Milk

In contrast to full fat coconut milk purchased in a can, and used in many Thai and curry recipes, this coconut milk is a diluted version. It’s made from the flesh of coconuts and water. The milk is very creamy with a sweet, subtle coconut flavor. Coconut milk contains healthy fats, minerals such as calcium and iron, and it’s rich with B vitamins. Look for unsweetened coconut milk.

This milk is great for drinking, using in coffee, tea and smoothies, and for baking.

Hemp Milk

Made from hemp seeds and water, hemp milk contains more protein than the nut milks and contains healthy omega-3s. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor with a very thin watery texture. Many compare the texture to skim milk, and some don’t care for the unique flavor.

Like almond milk, packaged hemp milk can contain carrageenan, so check labels. This product is not as readily available as other milks.

Use in place of skim milk in coffee and tea.

8 Plant Based Milks

Oat Milk

Relatively new to the market, oat milk is higher in calories and carbohydrates than the other plant based milks. It’s made from oats and water and has a mild, sweet flavor. Oat milk contains more protein than nut milks, and fiber along with important minerals and the B vitamins.

Look for unsweetened varieties, to cut down on calories.

Use oat milk in coffee, tea and smoothies, for baking and to top cereal and oatmeal. This newcomer is currently a very popular option in coffee shops.

Rice Milk

This milk, made from milled brown or white rice and water, has been around for a long time. Compared to plant based milks available now, rice milk doesn’t have the nutritional value that they do. However, rice milk is the least allergenic of all the milks. It is also very mild, taste wise, with a thin, watery texture.

Purchase rice milk unsweetened.

Use this milk in smoothies and for baking.

Quinoa Milk

Another newcomer, quinoa milk is made from this small, gluten free grain and water. Quinoa milk is high in protein and contains all nine of the essential amino acids. The milk has a slightly sweet taste with a distinctive quinoa flavor. However, it mixes well with coffee and tea.

This product can be difficult to find in grocery stores and it is more expensive than the other plant based milks.

Soy Milk

I hesitated in adding this milk. It has long been available, being one of the first plant based milk products on the market. Soy milk is made from soy beans (or soy protein isolate) and water and has a creamy texture and a mild flavor. It is high in proteins and can be substituted for cow’s milk in coffee and tea, for baking or for drinking.

The problem with soy milk is that most of the soy grown in the US is genetically modified so that it can be sprayed with the pesticide Round Up. Genetically modified foods, also called GMO foods, can cause inflammation and health issues. And the pesticide used on soy is passed on to those who drink the milk, creating many more health problems.

If using soy milk, look for an unsweetened, non GMO product.

8 Plant Based Milks

DIY Almond Milk

Almond milk can be made easily at home. I say that, and yet I have never made it before, until tonight. I found the process to be super simple.

Making almond milk actually starts a day or two before blending the ingredients, so keep that in mind. Find a strainer and cheesecloth by clicking these links.

DIY Almond Milk
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Almond Milk

Make your own almond milk easily, at home. 
Prep Time15 mins
Chill1 hr
Total Time15 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Author: journeywithhealthyme

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3 cups water bottled or filtered
  • 2 dates pitted
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Cover raw almonds with cool water and soak for 24 - 48 hours. Drain and rinse.
  • Combine almonds, 3 cups of water, dates and vanilla in blender. Pulse 5 or 6 times, to break up almonds.
  • Blend on high speed for two minutes, until mixture becomes white and creamy.
  • Line strainer with cheesecloth and place in a bowl. Pour blended almond mixture into strainer and allow milk to drain through cheesecloth, into bowl. Gently squeeze cheesecloth, to extract all the liquid. Store for up to 2 days in refrigerator.

Notes

Vary amount of water, for thicker or thinner milk. Omit dates and vanilla if desired.

Other than remembering to start the soaking process one to two days beforehand, this recipe was so simple. I found it fascinating, actually, to see almonds transformed into a creamy, frothy drink.

I am not a milk drinker, although I occasionally use it for baking. However, I like trying new things. I sampled my freshly made almond milk, and I liked it. I did include the dates and vanilla, for a slightly sweeter taste. Tomorrow, after my almond milk as chilled overnight, I’ll try a small glassful.

Because it contains no preservatives, make small batches of almond milk and use up within two days. Cost wise, making plant based milks at home is not a savings over purchasing ready made milks at the store. For quality assurance, it can’t be beat. I know exactly what’s in this milk…and what’s not in it. I’m looking forward to baking with my homemade milk or adding a splash to a cup of hot herbal tea.

If you have a favorite plant based milk, or DIY milk recipe, I’d love to see it!

DIY Almond Milk

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Easy Hot Soups for Cold Days

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We’ve experienced days and days of cloudy, cold rainy weather here in the Midwest. Most of the ice and snow trekked north of my town. However, I’ve chosen to stay indoors nonetheless, cozy and snug. When cold days pile up, my favorite go to food is hot soup. I keep a pot of freshly made soup ready to reheat in the fridge. A hot bowl of soup warms me and nourishes me as well.

Enjoy these easy hot soups for cold days.

Easy Hot Sou[s for Cold Days

Homemade Vegetable Soup

This wonderful soup has been my mainstay the past week. Easy to make, this combination of veggies delivers an amazing blend of flavors and tons of health benefits. It’s so adaptable too. I call it my whatever I have on hand soup. This is a great way to use up the last few carrots in the fridge or half a can of peas. I can toss in whatever veggies and canned goods I want, double the recipe, or cut it in half.

Vegetable Soup

This richly flavored plant based soup is a great way to use up leftover veggies.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Author: journeywithhealthyme

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 4 small potatoes peeled & diced
  • 1 can corn non GMO drained
  • 1 can peas non GMO drained
  • 1 can green beans non GMO drained
  • 1 can lima beans non GMO drained
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups organic vegetable stock
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

Instructions

  • In large soup pot, saute onion, garlic, celery and carrots in olive oil, until veggies are softened.
  • Add potatoes, vegetable stock, water, sea salt, black pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
  • Add canned veggies and simmer a few more minutes. Makes 12 servings

Notes

Recipe may be cut in half. Any variety of veggies and canned goods may be used. Additional herbs/spices may be added to suit tastes.

I cook in a big soup pot, like this one, and store the soup in the refrigerator in the same container. This vegetable soup only gets better the next day…and the next…as the flavors continue to blend. Seriously, I can and do eat it every day. This week, when the veggie soup runs out, I create another batch. I vary the ingredients slightly, depending on what I have on hand. I enjoy ladling hot, comforting soup into easy to hold cups, like these classic soup mugs.

Homemade Veggie Soup

Links to More Easy Hot Soups

Here are more of my favorites, all easy to make and just as hearty and nourishing on cold winter days.

Dairy Free Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Black Bean Stew

Carrot Potato Soup

Chunky Red Lentil Stew

I’m always on the watch for a great soup recipe. If you have a favorite, please share in the comments below.

Soup really is Mmmm Mmmm good, especially when it is homemade!

Easy Hot Soups for Cold Days

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Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

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The average American consumes a whopping 600 pounds of dairy products a year. And no wonder. Generations of children grow up, encouraged to drink their milk. We are taught that milk is good for us.

But…is it? Does milk do a body good?

There are signs and symptoms that indicate whether a dairy, or lactose, intolerance exists. Additionally, there is more to be aware of, whether there is an intolerance or not.

Check out these reasons why cow’s milk can be a health concern.

Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

Milk Lactose

Lactose is a type of sugar found in the milk of most mammals. The enzyme lactase functions by breaking down lactose. Children usually fare well with milk, although dairy sensitivities seem to be occurring at earlier ages.

However, by adulthood 70% of the population no longer produces enough lactase to properly digest the lactose in milk. Symptoms of lactose intolerance begin to appear, ranging from mild to severe.

Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

Common Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

Digestive Disorders – Digestive distress is the most common sign that the body is not tolerating milk. Symptoms include stomach pain and bloating, diarrhea, increased gas, indigestion and, more rarely, constipation.

Digestive problems, due to lactose intolerance, are often material for jokes. (Think of the character Leonard, on Big Bang Theory!) However, the discomfort is no laughing matter.

Abdominal pain and bloating occur when the lactose, that cannot be broken down by lactase, ferments in the gut. As it ferments, the lactose produces fatty acids and gases, creating a host of problems. Those fatty acids increase the amount of water in the gut, which can cause diarrhea.

Other Symptoms – While digestive disorders are the most well known signs of lactose intolerance, dairy can contribute to other health issues as well. These include headaches, fatigue, loss of concentration, muscle and joint pain, mouth ulcers, eczema and an increase in mucus production and/or a thickening of mucus, causing congestion.

How do you know if milk is making you feel bad?

Typically milk related symptoms begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after drinking or eating food with dairy in it. As with testing for gluten intolerance, it helps to keep a daily food diary and note when symptoms occur, to see if there is a connection.

Try removing all dairy products from the diet for at least 10 days, and see if health improves while symptoms abate. It can take 10 to 21 days to eliminate cow milk protein from the body and experience changes. Give it some time.

Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

Other Dairy Concerns

The symptoms of lactose intolerance are unpleasant. However, there are greater concerns connected with consuming dairy products.

Cow’s milk contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are necessary to keep the cows lactating. These increase the risk of hormone dependent diseases such as ovarian, uterine, breast, testicular and prostate cancers. Casein, the main protein in milk, actually facilitates the growth of cancer.

In addition to hormones, milk contains pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli, pesticides and antibiotics. The high level of antibiotics in cows contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans. Because cows are fed GMO corn and soy, and gluten, those health busters are passed on to people, in the milk. These in turn create heightened allergic responses to allergens.

The fat in milk is hard on the liver, bogging down its functioning, while putting stress on the pancreas. Those who consume dairy products are more likely to develop Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. That dairy fat feeds inflammation throughout the body, and it is a favorite food source for viruses and bacteria living there. When trying to heal from any major illness or chronic disease, eliminating dairy helps the body to recover.

Cow’s Milk is for Cow Babies

All female mammals, including humans, produce milk for their babies. Each mammal produces a specific milk that is perfectly created for their offspring. It is designed to help the babies grow. Human milk is for human babies. And cow’s milk is for calves, which grow at a more rapid rate than humans.

No other species continues to consume milk past the weaning period, and certainly not from other species, except for humans. It is something to think about, in the quest for better health and well being.

Fortunately, for those who love their dairy products, there are healthy, plant based alternatives.

Watch for my blog post next week, comparing plant based milks that available.

Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

Check out my Amazon Storefront for herbal tea blends to drink.

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Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

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I dearly love my afternoon tea time. Therefore, I’m always excited to find and try a new recipe for a healthy treat that can accompany my hot tea. This easy Vegan Blueberry Banana recipe, adapted slightly from one by Anthony William, is perfect.

This beautiful loaf is free from gluten, refined sugar, eggs and diary products.

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

I used gluten free oat flour combined with arrowroot starch, to help hold the loaf together after it cooled. See this guide about other gluten free flours and starches.

Any unsweetened non-dairy milk is acceptable. I like the combo of almond and coconut. Leave off the walnuts if you are watching fats.

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

Healthy version of a classic favorite, with the added benefits and taste of wild blueberries.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Cooling30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free oat flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • chopped walnuts, for topping optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Mash bananas in a bowl with fork or potato masher. Add maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla extract and almond coconut milk. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine oat flour, arrowroot starch, sea salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add wet ingredients and stir gently, until ingredients form a batter. Add frozen blueberries and fold in very gently, stirring just until mixed in.
  • Pour batter into loaf pan. Top with walnuts, if desired, and bake in oven for 40 minutes. Then turn off oven and leave blueberry banana bread in oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely, on a rack, before slicing.  Serves 4.

Vegan Blueberry Banana BreadUse a potato masher to easily mash up ripe bananas.

Vegan Blueberry Banana BreadReady to bake. I LOVE using parchment paper and line all baking pans and cookie sheets with it. Try this one from If You Care. This parchment baking paper is unbleached, compostable and totally chlorine free.

Vegan Blueberry Banana BreadIsn’t that a gorgeous loaf? It smelled so wonderful as it cooled.

The two main ingredients in the Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread have important health benefits.

Wild Blueberries

These berries contain powerful antioxidants. According to Liver Rescue there’s not just one pigment inside a wild blueberry, there are dozens of pigments. The wild blueberry is to the liver as mother’s milk is to a baby. The pigments in wild blueberries have the ability to penetrate deep into liver cells and cross cell walls and membranes inside the liver, spreading their blue everywhere. Wild blueberries also enhance the intestinal tract, feeding good bacteria there, which benefits the liver greatly.

Bananas

Did you know that the fructose in bananas is the liver’s favorite source of food? It provides quick fuel to the liver and wakes up sleepy cells, increasing their ingenuity and work output. Bananas soothe the lining of the intestinal tract and also calm the nerves attached to the intestinal tract. This fruit is one of the most antibacterial, anti-yeast, antifungal foods available. It’s a great food to combine with other nutrient-rich foods or to take with supplements, because they improve the liver’s ability to absorb nutrients. (from Liver Rescue

Perfect Afternoon Tea

This Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread is great as a breakfast bread or works well as a light after dinner dessert.

I paired a slice with a cup of hot spearmint tea, for the perfect afternoon break. The texture is light and the bread tastes slightly sweet, loaded with bananas and wild blueberries. I topped this first loaf with walnuts. Those can be omitted, if desired.

This recipe definitely goes onto my “make again…often” list. Is tomorrow too soon, to pop another loaf into the oven?

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

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Heal Dry Winter Skin Naturally

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This time of year, with cold temperatures outdoors and hot dry air circulating indoors, many experience dry winter skin. For many years I slathered on additional moisturizing lotions during the winter months, and applied tons of lip balm. And yet I still struggled with skin that was so dry, it itched and burned. The corners of my lips would crack and get painful as well.

Since adopting a plant based lifestyle I learned an important truth about dry winter skin. Healing my skin begins on the inside. All that fancy, expensive lotion did little good in my battle against dryness.

A radical approach, to me at the time, included less moisturizers and more fruits, veggies, water and herbs to combat a yearly reoccuring condition. Check out my lists of healing foods to combat and heal dry winter skin, naturally.

Heal Dry Winter Skin Naturally

Healing Hydration

  • Water – We all know how important drinking an adequate amount of water is, for health in general and for the skin. Eight glasses of water is a good guide, just don’t guzzle it down. The body quickly eliminates excess water. Instead, sip on water throughout the day, allowing it to be absorbed more slowly. Fill a large water bottle, keep it nearby, and have a goal of emptying it by day’s end. Hydrating the body goes a long way in keeping the skin hydrated and supple, which helps to combat dryness and aging.
  • Herbal Teas – These healing drinks count as water as well. See the list below for the best herbs to help ease dry skin. Two drinks to avoid, if dry skin is an issue, are coffee and alcohol. Both dehydrate the body, and the skin, contributing to aging the skin’s appearance.
  • High Water Content Foods – Fruits such as watermelon and veggies such as cucumber have a hydrating effect on the body and therefore the skin. Check out the list of healing foods below. A very common food to avoid, to keep the skin supple, is processed sugar. It negatively affects proteins in the skin, aging it as well.

Heal Dry Winter SkinWater with cucumber makes a very hydrating drink.

Healing Foods

  • Celery – With its incredibly high water content, and vitamins A, C and K, celery, and specifically, celery juice, is so healing and nurturing to the skin. This green elixir is actually healing to the whole body. Don’t overlook what it does to keep the skin clear and vibrant. Drink celery juice every day, and watch what happens.
  • Watermelon – All melons have high levels of water that hydrate the body. They also reduce puffiness around the eyes.
  • Root Vegetables – These veggies, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, are high in vitamin A, which is crucial for healthy skin. Plus they regulate oil production and prevent early aging.
  • Avocado – This superfood is rich with vitamins A, D and E, and good fats that give skin a healthy glow. Used as a mask on the face, avocado penetrates skins cells, helping to renew them.
  • Almonds – This nut contains vitamin E and has powerful antioxidant, anti-aging and even anti-cancer properties that support skin health.
  • Red and Yellow Bell Peppers – These veggies, high in vitamin C, diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Berries – All berries are antioxidant, helping to nourish the skin while preventing signs of premature aging. They counter free radicals, which damage skin cells.
  • Cucumbers – This veggie has a very high water content, hydrating the skin and improving elasticity. Add sliced cucumber to water and sip on it throughout the day.
  • Walnuts, Hemp Seeds & Flaxseed – These are valuable as they provide plant based Omega 3s, which are vital to healthy skin.

Heal Dry Winter Skin Naturally

Healing Herbs

  • Dandelion – This plant is edible, from roots to bright yellow flowers. Dandelion is especially important as it detoxes the liver, and the health of the liver greatly affects the health of skin. When the liver is sluggish, toxins can show up as dry, dull or itchy patches on the surface of the skin. Use dandelion essential oil or brew tea from the leaves. The roots, which are more bitter, make a great substitute for coffee.
  • Burdock – This herb balances the liver and helps to move lymph fluid throughout the lymphatic system, which results in clearer, healthier skin. Drink as a tea or take as a capsule supplement.
  • Calendula – One of my favorite herbs to grow, this plant has bright yellow blooms that fight inflammation in the skin and promote skin cell repair. Use as an essential oil or drink as a tea.
  • Comfrey – A common herb, comfrey contain allantoin, which heals and repairs dry, damaged skin. Use as an essential oil or in tea form.
  • Lavender – Well known for its healing properties, lavender is soothing to the skin and helps to prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Use in tea form or as an essential oil, adding it to skin serums and lotions.
  • Rose – This traditional flower has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiaging properties. It nourishes as it hydrates. Rose water is a gentle alternative to washing the face with soaps.

Heal Dry Winter Skin Naturally

Additional Tips to Combat Dry Winter Skin

  • Use a Cold Water Humidifier – The heated air in homes, during the winter, is very drying, and damaging to skin. Use a cold water humidifier while sleeping, adding a few drops of lavender essential oil.
  • Avoid Hot Water – Don’t wash the face with hot water. Instead, use warm water. And don’t wash the face in the mornings. Doing so strips the skin of natural oils that the body creates overnight. We think of this oil as a nuisance, however it is the best personalized moisturizer for our skin, as we created it. Smooth the natural oil over the face and neck. If you are prone to breakouts, or the thought of not cleansing your face in the morning bothers you, try using a gentle cleanser such as rose water. A microfiber cloth and water gently cleans the face, without using soap.

Heal Dry Winter Skin Naturally

My Results

I stopped using expensive lotions and moisturizers last winter, with a bit of trepidation I admit. Also, I switched to plant based shower soaps, shampoo and conditioner, and chemical free laundry products.

In the evenings before bed I use a Norwex microfiber cloth and warm water to cleanse my face, and apply a homemade skin serum that contains lavender, frankincense and calendula essential oils. Recipe HERE. I use BOOM makeup, with is made with simple, all natural ingredients. Review HERE.

The skin on my arms and legs used to get so dry during the winter months that I’d scratch them until I created painful welts. However, this is the second winter that I haven’t used any lotions on my body.

As a result of staying hydrated, eating foods with high water content and using healing herbs, I don’t need the lotions. My skin is healthy, supple and not a bit dry. For the first time in my adult life, I have not had dry cracks in the corners of my mouth, or chapped lips during the cold winter months.

My skin glows, with a health that begins with a nourished, healthy body. And that feels very good to me.

Heal Dry Winter Skin Naturally

Check out my Amazon Storefront, for herbal teas and other healing products.

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Answering Questions About Celery Juice

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I’m coming up on three years, drinking freshly prepared celery juice. This daily practice is the first I adopted, based on the teachings of the Medical Medium, Anthony William. Drinking celery juice is a global phenomenon. Thousands and thousands of people start their day with a glass of this green elixir.

Why?

Because celery juice delivers amazing health benefits.

Answering Questions About Celery Juice

Answering Questions

These are the questions I get asked the most, about drinking celery juice:

How do you prepare celery juice?

Celery juice can be prepared two ways.

Trim the base off of a bunch of celery, wash, and run through a juicer. Try one of these juicers: centrifugal or masticating .

Or, place cut up celery in a blender, blend on high speed until smooth, strain juice into a glass. I love this blender.

Answering Questions About Celery Juice

Why drink celery juice on an empty stomach?

Drinking this juice first thing, or 30 minutes after a glass of lemon water, allows the healing nutrients to be absorbed quickly. And, celery juice first thing in the morning strengthens the digestion of the foods eaten during the rest of the day. Finally, straight celery juice on an empty stomach deeply heals the digestive system and restores the stomach’s hydrochloric acid.

Can celery juice be prepared the night before?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I get about celery juice. It’s best to drink it fresh, immediately after juicing, so that it doesn’t oxidize. I know is takes a few minutes to prepare in the morning. It is worth the trouble, prepping the celery and then rinsing the juicer after use.

Can I get the same benefits if I eat the celery?

It is much easier to drink 16 ounces of celery juice, rather than eat a whole bunch. Plus the nutrients are delivered quickly to the body, through the juice. Of course, add celery to salads and recipes. It is a very healing food.

What if I don’t like the taste of celery? Can I add other fruits/veggies?

It’s best to drink celery juice plain, to get the most benefits. However, if the taste is a challenge, Anthony suggests adding half an apple to the juice. Gradually decrease the amount of apple, until it’s plain celery juice. Another idea is to start with a very small amount of juice, and gradually increase the ounces until you can drink 16 ounces. I tell people to just do it. The benefits of celery juice are so many, and so powerful, that I’d recommend drinking it, even if you don’t care for the taste. I know people who started out not liking celery juice, however they continued to drink it, day after day. They love the green juice now.

Answering Questions About Celery Juice

Can I drink more than 16 ounces?

Yes! It’s okay to drink up to 32 ounces in the morning. Add another glass of celery juice in the afternoon or evening, if desired. Feel free to create a blended juice in the afternoon, for a health boosting pick me up. Add other fruits and veggies, ginger, cilantro, or other herbs. Have fun creating your own blends. Try this Apple, Ginger Celery Blend.

Does the celery need to be organic?

Organic celery is great, however, regular celery can be used with the same healing results. Make sure that the celery is washed well, using a dishwashing soap such as Seventh Generation.

How Long Should I Drink Celery Juice?

The simple answer to that question is, for the rest of your long and healthy life! This juice will continue to bring healing and restoration to the body. I crave it. As I prepare the juice, my body responds by vibrating at a higher frequency, in anticipation. I know…that’s wild. When I travel, or if I have several packed out days in a row and miss my morning celery juice, I can feel the difference. I don’t like to go very many days without my green elixir.

The Biggest Question

The biggest question I get is,
“So what are the health benefits?”

Which is another way of asking,

“If I’m going to go to the trouble of making celery juice every morning, is it WORTH IT?”

Yes, it is so worth it.

Celery juice delivers these healing benefits to the body:

  • Lowers inflammation
  • Heals the entire digestive system
  • Reduces bloating
  • Supports weight loss
  • Helps to heal eczema and psoriasis
  • Fights infections
  • Heals acne and other skin conditions
  • Prevent UTIs
  • Lowers and prevents high blood pressure
  • Lowers high cholesterol
  • Prevents ulcers
  • Supports liver health

That’s a lot of healing! And it is ongoing, and cumulative.

My Celery Juice Healing Story

I began drinking celery juice, March 2016, hoping to calm the inflammation that was raging throughout my body. By July of the same year, I had read the book, Medical Medium, and switched to a plant based lifestyle.

What a difference celery juice made. It led me to the realization that my body does better when I eat plants only. I have healed, in so many ways

The immediate improvement I experienced, thanks to celery juice, was a healed digestive system. At one time, I kept Tums in my purse, car, and in multiple locations in the house, due to severe acid reflux and indigestion. Plus, I took a variety of over the counter antacids. My whole digestive system was a mess. I suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, gallbladder inflammation, stomach and abdominal pain, and what I called a sensitive gut. Later I discovered that’s a real condition. The nerve ending in my intestines were hyper sensitive, causing me pain when I ate high fiber foods.

All of this has healed, thanks to celery juice

And I feel better overall. My skin is more clear and vibrant. And I no longer take meds for high blood pressure

I will drink celery juice for the rest of my life. When I get up and move into the kitchen, I just fix my juice. I have a routine that works for me, prepping the celery, juicing, and then immediately cleaning the juicer while I sip my green drink. In case you are wondering, I follow celery juice with a fruit or detox smoothie.

What Other Questions Do You Have?

Do you have additional questions about preparing or drinking celery juice, or about its amazing health benefits?

Ask away in the comments. Or visit this website that Anthony William has dedicated just to celery juice: www.celeryjuice.com

Cheers! Here’s to optimal health, vitality and wellbeing, for us all.

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Guide to Gluten Free Flours

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Avoiding gluten doesn’t mean I don’t ever bake or cook with flour. It means I use gluten free flours, and fortunately, there is a wide variety to choose from. They don’t all have the same properties, and most are not interchangeable with wheat flour, one on one. Knowing what flours to use, for which purposes, and how much to use, prevents baking flops and catastrophes. And trust me, I’ve had a few of those.

Check out 8 Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance, to see why some people avoid gluten.

One thing I learned early in my plant based journey is that it’s best to use a combination of gluten free flours, for the best end results.


Below are great gluten free options, and the best ways to use them.

Guide to Gluten Free Flours

Gluten Free Flours

The flours can be divided into three categories: starches, medium density flours and heavy density flours. It’s best to use a combination of the three, and to experiment occasionally to see which blend suits your baking needs the best.

Starches

Arrowroot Flour

Arrowroot flour is a very fine flour that is derived from the arrowroot plant. It is also called arrowroot starch or arrowroot powder. The flour resembles corn or potato starch.

Best used as a thickener, in place of corn starch, it can be substituted 1:1 for other starches. Arrowroot flour is helpful when combined with other gluten free flours as it helps the dough and finished product to hold together.

Use up to 25% of arrowroot flour in a mix of gluten free flours.

Potato Starch

Different from potato flour, this starch adds wonderful moisture to baked goods.

Best used for all types of baked goods.

Use up to 25% of potato starch in a mix of gluten free flours.

Tapioca Flour

Also known as cassava flour, this product is made from the dried roots of the cassava plant. It is also known as tapioca starch, and should be used in combination with other gluten free flours.

Best used for mixing in gluten free flour blends and thickening soups, sauces and fillings.

Tapioca flour can be substituted for corn or potato starch. Use no more than 25% when combining with other gluten free flours.

 

Medium Density Gluten Free Flours

Sorghum Flour

This flour is closest in texture and taste to traditional wheat flour. It is high in antioxidants and in many instances, can be used as a 1:1 substitution for regular flour.

Best used for muffins, breads, pancakes, cookies and cakes.

Swap sorghum flour 1:1 for wheat flour or use up to 50% in gluten free mix.

Quinoa Flour

This grain has a nutty flavor. However, as a flour it can be slightly bitter. Use sparingly in a mixture of other gluten free flours, to add protein.

Best used for biscuits, flatbreads, herbed breads or muffins.

Only use 25%, or less, in a mix of gluten free flours.

Oat Flour

This flour is made by grinding oats. You can grind your own gluten free oats, in a blender or food processor. Otherwise, make sure the package states that this is a gluten free product. Oats are naturally gluten free, however, they are often cultivated and processed with wheat products, leading to cross contamination.

Best used for breads, muffins, cookies, cakes, crusts, fruit crisps and scones.

Use up to 50% of oat flour in a gluten free mix.

Millet Flour

This mild adaptable grain is rich in magnesium and also completely gluten free. Millet flour adds a crumbly texture to breads and muffins.

Best for breads, muffins, cookies, cakes and crusts.

Use up to 25% of millet flour in a gluten free mix.

Bean Flours

Beans can be ground into flour, just as grains can. All are naturally rich in protein and fiber. Available varieties include chickpea, or garbanzo, black bean, white bean, lentil and fava. Bean flours have a robust flavor and can leave an aftertaste, so experiment with these. I use garbanzo flour most often, of the bean flours.

Use bean flours in sweet treats such as pancakes, muffins or zucchini bread.

Up to 25% of a gluten free mix can be comprised of bean flours.

 

Wild Blueberry Scones

Heavy Density Gluten Free Flours

Almond Flour

This product is made from raw, blanched almonds that have been ground to a fine flour. Almond flour, and other nut based flours such as hazelnut, walnut or seed flours, add a punch of protein and a slightly nutty taste to baked goods.

Almond flour is best used for cookies, cakes, muffins, pancakes and crumbles.

Use up to 25% almond flour in a mix of gluten free flours.

Buckwheat Flour

This flour, made from ground buckwheat, is 100% gluten free, and has a rich nutty flavor.

Best used for muffins, cookies, pancakes, waffles and breads.

Use up to 50% of this flour, in a gluten free mix.

Coconut Flour

This very dense flour is created from dried coconut. It is the most fibrous of all gluten free flours, which means it soaks up liquids. Plan to use at least 1/4 cup of extra liquid in recipes, when using coconut flour, or use a different flour. My mother had several failed recipes, before figuring out that coconut flour absorbed too much of the liquids, resulting in a dry and crumbly baked good.

Coconut flour is best used for pancakes, cookies, waffles and crusts.

You can use 1/4 cup of coconut flour, in place of 1 cup of other gluten free flours. You’ll still need to add at least ¼ cup of extra liquids.

Brown Rice Flour

This flour is made from rice that still contains the germ and bran from the rice grain. It is an excellent gluten free flour, suitable for a multitude of uses. White rice flour is available as well. It qualifies as a medium density flour.

Best used for all gluten free baking and cooking, thickener for soups, sauces and fillings.

Use up to 50% in gluten free mixes.

Creating a Gluten Free Flour Blend

When creating a blend of gluten free flours, to bake with, use a mix of starches, medium textured flour and heavy textured flours, for great texture and flavor.

I typically use a blend of oat flour, almond or brown rice flour, and arrowroot or tapioca starch. In a recipe that calls for 2 1/2 cups of flour, I use 1 cup of oat flour, 1 cup of almond or brown rice flour, and 1/2 cup of arrowroot or tapioca starch. Some gluten free bakers use a 2:1 mix of flours to starches. For every cup of flour, they mix in 1/2 cup of starch.


Create this blend of gluten free flours, to have on hand, ready for use:

3 cups sorghum flour

3 cups brown rice flour

1 1/2 cups potato starch

1 1/2 cups arrowroot powder


Combine all ingredients well and store in the fridge. Makes 9 cups.


Or try out Bob’s Red Mill packaged flours. They have a 1:1 gluten free flour blend that can be used in place of wheat flour, without having to mix your own. I’ve used Bob’s several times, with excellent results. This company also packages many of the above mentioned flours individually.

Most grocery stores carry gluten free flours. Natural Grocers carries a large assortment of bulk packaged flours under their own brand, plus the Bob’s Red Mill brand.


Guide to Gluten Free Flours

Creating Healthy Treats

I don’t bake nearly as often as I used to. After eliminating dairy products, eggs, sugar and gluten from my diet, I at first thought baked goods were a thing of the past. Occasionally, however, I prepare a special treat, such as the wild blueberry scones, or wonderful chocolate wacky cupcakes, all prepared without dairy, eggs, refined sugar…I use organic coconut sugar or 100% pure maple syrup…and with gluten free flours.

These goodies are special treats, indeed.

Guide to Gluten Free Flours
Gluten Free Flours that I frequently use.

 

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Premium Bamboo Foot Pads

This post is written in exchange for products from Careness Foot Pads. The genuine and honest opinions expressed are entirely my own.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

When Careness contacted me about trying their Premium Bamboo Foot Pads, I responded with interest. I’ve heard of foot pads, having read comments that scoffed at whether such items benefitted the body, or not. Believers and non-believers weighed in with a variety of opinions.

This is what’s true about me though. I form my own opinions, after giving products of all kinds a try. I’m grateful that I make up my own mind. Where would I be, if I had not begun the then unheard of practice of drinking celery juice almost three years ago? Or what if I had decided food must not have healing properties, since not one of my doctors ever mentioned that possibility to me? I would not be the healthy, vibrant person that I now am.

The Premium Bamboo Foot Pads arrived in the mail, and not only did I try them, several of my family members tried them as well. Below are our results.

Premium Bamboo Foot Pads

What are Bamboo Foot Pads?

Foot pads, also called detox foot pads, cleansing foot pads or foot patches, have been used in Chinese medicine for many, many years as a way to naturally draw out toxins from the body, through the soles of the feet. There are other reported benefits as well, from improved sleep to stress relief to increased energy.

Careness uses all natural ingredients in their bamboo foot pads, including:

  • wood vinegar extract
  • bamboo vinegar extract
  • chitin and chitosan
  • tourmaline
  • vitamin C
  • vegetable fiber
  • minus ion powder
  • dextrin

The pads attach to the bottoms of the feet, which are rich with nerve endings and pores. Other practices, such as reflexology, bring healing to the entire body by focusing on the soles of the feet. The bamboo foot pads are worn while you sleep, drawing out toxins, increasing circulation and stimulating the feet to improve health and well being.

Opening the package. The ingredients are in paper bags, similar to tea bags. They affix to the adhesive sheets.
Premium Bamboo Foot Pads
A foot pad ready to be attached to the bottom of my foot.
Premium Bamboo Foot Pads
Bamboo foot pads attached, in the center of each foot. I’m ready to try these out!

Bamboo Foot Pad Results

For many years I took sleep aids or allergy meds, to put me to sleep at night. Since becoming plant based, I have not had trouble going to sleep. However, I wake up throughout the night, every 1 to 1 1/2 hours, roll over, and usually go back to sleep. Occasionally, I wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty sleeping after that. I use the time to think or meditate and eventually doze again.

After attaching a bamboo foot pad to each foot, I was ready to go to bed, and see what happened. The pads should be worn for eight hours. I admit to feeling very curious!

The soles of my feet felt slightly warm and a bit tingly, pleasantly so. I became drowsy right away and fell asleep quickly. Rather than waking up every hour or so, I slept soundly until 5:00 am. I woke briefly. My feet still felt warm, in a cozy kind of way, making me smile. I felt very relaxed, almost as if I had taken a sleep aid. In a few moments I had slipped back into sleep, and rested well for a couple more hours.

When I woke fully, I felt rested, alert and settled, I think would be the proper word, more grounded. I had a slightly dry mouth. Peeling off the bamboo foot pads, I found them to be brown in color and a bit gooey. Whether this was from detoxing, or simply moisture from my feet interacting with the ingredients, I can’t say. However, I can attest to experiencing an excellent night of rest. I tried the bamboo foot pads the next night, and was rewarded with the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a very long time. I slept straight through the night, without waking at all, until 7:00 am, which is something I have not done for years. The second morning, I did not note a dry mouth.

My family members…Greg, Mom, and my stepdad…all reported a more restful night’s sleep as well. Each also said that the pads changed to dark colors overnight. Greg, who is a very restless sleeper, felt his body relaxed and was more quiet.

Premium Bamboo Foot Pads
The foot pads after being worn for 8 hours, as I slept.
Premium Bamboo Foot Pads

Where Can You Find Bamboo Foot Pads?

Careness Premium Bamboo Foot Pads can be purchased through this Amazon link and includes a 20% off coupon. And, the package comes with a bonus lavender foot mask to try.

I will definitely use these again. With their ease of use and natural ingredients, the foot pads are a great alternative to sleep aids. Plus, I felt energetic after those great sleeps. And oh, what I can accomplish after a wonderful night of rest!

Have you ever tried bamboo foot pads? What was your experience?


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