Easy to Make Meals Using 5 Common Staples

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During this time, when the world is a bit different with each new day, food supplies are interesting. I’ve never in my lifetime experienced a shortage of food or toilet paper scarcity. For the moment, it is our reality.

In my corner of Missouri, as in most parts of the world, paper goods, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer fly off grocery store shelves, as soon as a delivery arrives. As we marvel over how golden toilet paper is, other supplies continue to dwindle as well. Eggs, meat, dairy products, bread, canned goods, dry goods and convenience foods such as mac and cheese are not impossible to find, but they are limited.

Going to the market each day, to see what is available, is a bit of an adventure. I squealed today when I found a solitary jar of my sugar free peanut butter. As a plant based person, I’m not eating differently than I was before all this started. I just get creative as I prepare meals. I realize others may be experiencing a temporary form of plant based eating that is new to them and I want to help.

Here are easy to make meals using 5 common staples. I’m sharing more than 20 recipes, prepared with simple, nutritious foods such as dried goods (rice, beans and lentils), canned goods, pasta, herbs and spices and my favorite, fresh produce.

Easy to Make Meals Using 5 Common Staples title meme

Dried Beans Lentils and Rice

These staples have a long shelf life, making them ideal pantry ingredients. In my area, dried goods are not plentiful, however, they do arrive daily in small amounts. Pick up packages of your favorite beans including pinto, navy, black, kidney and chick peas. Dried green, brown or red lentils are so versatile too. And while you are shopping, pick up long grain brown rice as well.

Beans and Lentils

Beans are easily prepared in the instant pot, slow cooker or on the stove top. Try this simple recipe for classic pinto beans. Cover 2 cups of pinto beans with water and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in a slow cooker. Add 6 cups of water, 1 chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Cook on low 8 hours. Or combine all ingredients in a soup pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for an hour on the stove top.

Combine several varieties of dried beans and add cajun spices for a delicious spicy meal. Use cooked beans to create homemade hummus, refried beans or combine with rice for a satisfying meatless meal.

Navy Beans, Brown Rice & Kale

Curried Chickpeas 

Black Bean Hummus

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Stew

Dried lentils cook quickly in the instant pot or on the stove pot. Use in curry dishes, shepherd’s pie or combine with rice for a quick and nutritious meal that is high in protein.

Lentils & Brown Rice

Madras Curried Lentils

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Rice

I prep brown rice in the instant pot (2 cups dried brown rice plus 3 cups of DIY veggie broth) and store it in the fridge. Cooked brown rice is excellent combined with stir fried veggies, beans or lentils and as a base for curries.

Dirty Rice

Pineapple Fried Rice

Stuffed Peppers

Curried Chickpeas
Easy to make meals using 5 common staples – curried chickpeas

Canned Goods

So many simple, nutrition packed meals come together in minutes using canned goods. I keep a variety of beans, vegetables and fruits such as peas, non GMO corn, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green beans and pineapple chunks on hand.

Combine several cans of beans, diced tomatoes and spices for an instant chili. Create a salsa full of chopped veggies, canned black beans and non GMO corn. Make classic hummus from canned chickpeas and serve with crackers or an assortment of veggies. Or simply combine two or more cans of vegetables…such as lima beans and non GMO corn…to make a succotash. Serve with baked potatoes for a hearty meal.

Quick Bean Chili

Aloo Mater

Sweet & Savory Curry

Easy Classic Hummus

Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Easy to Make Meals Using 5 Common Staples
Easy to make meals using 5 common staples – bean chili

Pasta

Pasta is another versatile, easy to use to staple. Because of a gluten sensitivity, I choose gluten free varieties, available in most grocery stores. I keep gluten free macaroni and spaghetti on hand. Stock up on your favorite kinds of pasta.

Create a simple meat free meal of pasta and marinara sauce. (Check out this post, for DIY Marinara Sauce and Pesto.) For another quick meal combine cooked pasta with canned tomatoes. Heat through on the stove and season with a bit of oregano and basil. If you happen to grow your own basil, make a yummy pesto sauce to serve over spaghetti. (See link to post above.) Toss together cooked macaroni and raw or cooked veggies for an instant pasta salad. Or add pasta to soups.

Goulash

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Easy to Make Meals Using 5 Common Staples vegetable noodle soup
Easy to make meals using 5 staples – vegetable noodle soup

Herbs and Spices

These common herbs and spices add flavor to meals and nutritional value. Keep on hand onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, dill, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, cumin, chili powder, ground red pepper, ground ginger, madras curry and curry powder.

I love preparing oven roasted potatoes, two different ways. For a kick of flavor, season cubed potatoes with paprika, sea salt, onion powder and garlic powder. For a savory blend, use rosemary, thyme and dill. A bowl of seasoned roasted potatoes with a big salad or steamed veggies makes a wonderfully comforting meal.

Experiment with seasonings. Add dried herbs to soups, sauces and stir fries. Additionally, those dried herbs make health boosting teas. Steep 2 teaspoons of thyme in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes, for a tea that boosts the immune system and helps fight viral infections in the body.

Easy to Make Meals Using 5 Common Staples
Easy to make meals using 5 common staples – seasoned roasted potatoes

Fresh Produce

Other than potatoes, fresh produce remains in stock in my local grocery stores. This is good news because there are so many easy meals to make using this staple.

One of my favorite meals is a chopped veggie salad loaded with a dozen or more vegetables. Chop any combo of vegetables and combine with chopped dark leafy greens.

Think beyond salads though.

Another simple meal is the veggie bowl. Combine raw or cooked vegetables together in a big bowl and enjoy. Use onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black beans, lettuce and tomatoes for a Mexican bowl. Or switch it up with Brussels sprouts, asparagus, sweet potatoes and quinoa. Any combination of vegetables is acceptable!

Stir fries are another great way to combine fresh vegetables in creative ways. Start with a base of onions, garlic, carrots and celery and add in whatever you have on hand. Use that same base, add in more fresh veggies and canned peas, green beans and tomatoes plus eight cups of water or veggie broth and you have a delicious soup. Save all those vegetable scraps as you prep food for DIY Vegetable Broth.

Fruit makes an excellent meal as well. Combine fresh and frozen fruit with two bananas and a small amount of filtered water for a breakfast smoothie. Drizzle a mixture of berries with raw honey for a mid afternoon snack. Or toss chopped apples, oranges or berries in with a vegetable salad.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Dairy Free Potato Soup

Orange Avocado Green Olive Salad

Three Healthy Salad Dressings

Easy to Make Meals Using 5 Common Staples soup
Easy to make meals using 5 common staples -veggie bowl

Easy to Make Meals Using 5 Common Staples

It is disconcerting to walk into a grocery store and see empty shelves. It’s an experience that is new to most of us. The current situation requires adaptability and a positive mindset.

I hope these suggestions and recipes encourage you to create nutritious meals from staples that are available or that you already have on hand. If you are not plant based, meat such as chicken can be added to many of the recipes.

I promise you though, these meals are not only easy to prepare, they are nutritionally dense and satisfying. You will not go hungry and you may even discover that you enjoy this different way of eating.

If you have questions, ask in the comments section below. I’m here to walk alongside you, virtually. We truly are in this situation together. And together, we will overcome. Together we will emerge stronger than before.

Fresh Cara Cara Oranges

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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

Strawberry Banana Bread

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This strawberry banana bread is the perfect treat for anyone, whether you are vegan and gluten free, or not. I appreciate the wholesome goodness in this luscious and delicious loaf. As a bonus, it is sweetened with pure maple syrup and a couple of tablespoons of coconut sugar.

Check out this easy to prepare recipe, from Anthony William, and let me know if you enjoyed it!

Strawberry Banana Bread title meme

 

Benefits of Strawberries

I’ve added different fruits to banana bread, from wild blueberries to apples to raisins, however I’ve never included strawberries before.

Strawberries are a natural to pair with bananas. These berries are an excellent source of vitamins A, B-complex, C and E, manganese, iron, zinc and potassium.

Strawberries supply important antioxidants and plant compounds that benefit heart health and control blood sugar levels. And they are rich in phenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties that help people suffering from autoimmune disorders.

Plus, strawberries boost the immune system and support eye health.

Curious about the health benefits of bananas? Read more about them here.

Strawberry Banana Bread strawberries
Health boosting strawberries.

Strawberry Banana Bread Recipe

This quick bread comes from Anthony William. I’m always excited to try one of his recipes, as I know he’s carefully tested it and avoids additives and foods on my “no” list.

Strawberry Banana Bread

Easy to prepare quick bread featuring the goodness of bananas and strawberries.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Strawberry Banana Bread
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 cups mashed)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plant based milk
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten free oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 2 strawberries, thinly sliced, 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 and plant based milk. Mix well.
  • In another bowl, combine oat flour, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk until lump free. Add banana mixture and fold in gently until batter is uniformly combined. Add chopped strawberries stirring just to incorporate.
  • Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 45 - 55 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes. Then lift loaf from pan by parchment paper and cool completely on wire rack. Makes 8 slices.

 

Strawberry Banana Bread mashed bananas
Mashing bananas
Strawberry Banana Bread dry mixture
Dry mixture
Strawberry Banana Bread chopped berries
Adding chopped strawberries

Enjoying Strawberry Banana Bread

I admit, I didn’t wait for the bread to cool completely. After brewing a cup of herbal tea, I cut a couple of slices of slightly warm strawberry banana bread.

I love this bread! The strawberries add a hint of tartness, complementing the sweetness of bananas. For a breakfast treat, after school or work snack or for afternoon tea, strawberry banana bread is perfect.

Check out this blueberry banana bread too!

Do you have a favorite banana bread recipe? Share it below in the comments.

Strawberry Banana Bread with Tea
Strawberry Banana Bread with Tea

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Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young

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Perhaps because of my age I am more aware of brain health than ever before. All brains change with age. That’s inevitable. And as our brains change, cognitive decline is common. It’s so common, in fact, that losing brain function is the number one fear among older adults.

Fortunately, we don’t have to just sit around and wait for cognitive function to decline. Here are the best tips to keep your brain young and healthy.

Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young title meme

Nutritious Diet

A nutrient dense diet is not just good for the body, it is good for the brain as well. The brain is an energy intensive organ, using about 20% of the body’s calories. Those who eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, unsaturated fats and plant based proteins such as legumes are less likely to develop dementia.

Omega-3 fatty acids help build and repair brain cells. And foods high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

Additionally, reducing blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels and blood pressure contributes to heart health, which in turn benefits the brain.

The following foods are the best for supporting brain health:

Fruits – apples, apricots, berries of all kinds, coconuts, dates, grapes, mangoes, melons, papayas, pomegranates

Vegetables – Atlantic sea vegetables, celery juice, leafy greens, potatoes, radishes, sprouts/microgreens

Herbs – cat’s claw, cilantro, ginger, licorice root

Omega-3 fatty acids – salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds and hemp seeds or oil

If you are experiencing brain fog avoid: tobacco, alcohol, dairy products, eggs, wheat and MSG.

Mixed Berries for Brain Health
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young – Berries

Move the Body to Benefit the Brain

Regularly moving the body boosts brain health. Studies show that frequent exercise increases the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen rich blood to the region of the brain responsible for thought. Exercise also creates new nerve cells and increases the connection between cells.

A well oxygenated brain is more adaptive and operates more efficiently. Combined with a nutritious diet, exercise helps to lower blood pressure and high cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels, which reduces mental stress while supporting the heart and the brain.

Suggestions for moving your body:

  • walking, hiking, jogging, biking, aerobic exercise, low impact sports
  • dance, zumba, stretching, yoga
  • swimming, water aerobics
  • gardening
  • muscle training twice a week
  • playing with grandchildren
  • walking the dog, as long as your pet cannot overpower you and pull you off balance
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young – Walking

Mental Stimulation

Doctors find that stimulating the brain creates fresh connections between nerve cells and helps the brain generate new cells. The brain ends up with a reserve that protects against future cell loss.

This is the fun part of keeping the brain young. Any mentally stimulating activity boosts new connections. Try these activities regularly:

  • read, especially in new genres or subject areas
  • take a class, learn a language, cook different foods
  • work puzzles, play games, solve word or math problems
  • enjoy hobbies and learn new ones, especially those that require thought and dexterity such as painting, drawing, sewing and crafts
  • have fun, play, create, make up songs, write poems or stories
  • my favorite – try new experiences, do a familiar task in a fresh way, drive a different way to the store, listen to an unfamiliar genre of music, learn about technology
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young Painting
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young – Learn Something New

Emotional Wellbeing

Anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation and exhaustion contribute to cognitive function. When those conditions become chronic the risk for cognitive decline increases. Good mental health and getting enough rest, lowering anxiety and managing stress help maintain a healthy, youthful brain.

For chronic conditions, seek medical help. To support and maintain emotional wellbeing, try these:

  • meditate/pray
  • journal
  • get enough sleep, at least seven hours per night
  • nap during the day, if needed
  • do what makes you happy
  • find joy in life
  • practice gratitude
  • live in the now rather than regretting the past or worrying about the future
  • talk to a trusted friend or family member about minor fears, anxiety or depression
  • express emotions in healthy ways
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young Rest
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young – Getting Enough Sleep

Social Interaction

Strong connections to family, friends and pets lower the risks of dementia and increase life expectancy. Isolation can have a negative impact on some people and especially on older adults.

Positive emotional bonds contribute to a more active lifestyle, better eating habits and greater emotional health. And caring for pets and loving on them helps to reduce stress, lowers blood pressure (unless you have naughty pets!) and increases social interactions.

Try these suggestions:

  • volunteer at schools, shelters, hospitals, charities
  • spend time with family, friends and pets
  • expand your circle of acquaintances and meet new people
  • join a club, attend church, take lessons in a classroom setting
  • go on group outings such as field trips, nature walks, museum tours
  • encourage grandchildren to teach the latest technology or slang
  • attend group activities such as dances, yoga sessions, bird watching, quilting
  • offer your wisdom and teach a class
  • mentor one on one with youth or young adults
  • travel with a group
Connection for a Younger Brain
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young – Connection

Aging Well

There are many benefits from aging well, aging gracefully. One of those benefits is a mind that remains sharp. Awareness and putting these tips into practice gives the brain a much better chance of aging gracefully as well and remaining agile and healthy.

And trust me, it’s not too early to put these health practices in place. A healthier body equals a healthier mind equals a higher quality of life.

What tips will you adopt?

Having fun contributes to a healthy mind
Best Tips to Keep Your Brain Young – Have Fun

 

Check out Lumosity, the brain training app that improves memory, increases focus and helps you feel sharper.

Order these brain boosters below:

 


 

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Easy Vegetable Noodle Soup

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As we enter cold and flu season, I love having an arsenal of health boosting soups that I can prepare quickly and easily. Nothing soothes a scratchy throat or comforts an achy body quite like a bowl of steaming hot soup. That old standby, chicken noodle soup, is no longer a suitable choice for me. However, I wondered if I could find a plant based option.

I did.

This easy vegetable noodle soup is nourishing and soothing. And, using an instant pot, it’s ready in under 30 minutes.

Easy Vegetable Noodle Soup Title Meme

Plant Based and Gluten Free

This recipe is adapted from one in Vegan Pressure Cooking. I changed the seasonings and used gluten free Pad Thai noodles made from brown rice. You can use sobo noodles or regular Pad Thai noodles, if you are not gluten sensitive.

This hearty soup is full of veggies and made using my DIY vegetable broth, which I absolutely love. You can substitute store bought vegetable broth if desired.

Easy Vegetable Noodle Soup

This hearty soup is packed with veggies and gluten free noodles for a healthy alternative to chicken and noodle soup.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vegetable noodle soup, vegetable soup
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups green beans, fresh or frozen, cut into pieces may substitute organic canned green beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1 cup dried brown or green lentils
  • 4 ounces noodles, pad Thai or sobo
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Instructions

  • In uncovered pressure cooker, saute onions, garlic, carrots, green beans and celery for 3 minutes. Add seasonings and stir and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Add lentils, noodles, vegetable broth and water to pressure cooker. Lock on lid. Cook for 8 minutes. Use a quick release. Remove lid.
  • Test noodles and lentils. If not quite done, simmer in uncovered pressure cooker until done, adding more water if necessary. If using canned green beans, add at this time. Remove bay leaf and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Easy Vegetable Noodle Soup

This wonderfully fragrant soup cooked in minutes. And the added brown rice pad Thai noodles created a meal that’s perfect for a chilly evening or comforting when combating the sniffles.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can prepare the easy vegetable noodle soup on the stove top. Saute veggies then combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring soup to a boil, then lower heat. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Add the noodles during the last five minutes of cooking time.

This soup inspires me to see if gluten free ramen noodles exist. If so, watch for an easy and healthy ramen soup you can make yourself.

It’s soup season! I’m so glad.

Do you have a favorite soup?

Easy Vegetable Noodle Soup Ready to Eat
Easy Vegetable Noodle Soup, ready to eat.

 

Try these nourishing plant based soups as well:

Easy Soups for Cold Days

This pressure cooker is available on Amazon:

And I used these Pad Thai noodles. Amazon sells them in packages of six.


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Quick Bean Chili

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I love soups, stews and chilis any time of year. However, during fall, as the nights grow longer and the temperatures cooler, I could live on them. Soups are not only comforting, they are full of flavor and healthy nutrients.

This quick bean chili comes together in minutes. It’s perfect for those evenings when the day has been full and busy. Having recipes available that can provide a hot meal in a few minutes lessens the likelihood of grabbing fast food on the way home.

Quick Bean Chili title meme

Quick Bean Chili Recipe

This recipe comes together quickly due to using canned goods, instead of dried beans. I chose to use great northern beans, however any canned beans works. This is a moderately spicy chili. Adjust the heat level by adding or reducing the cayenne pepper. Use a small vegetable chopper to make quick work of prepping veggies.

This recipe was adapted from one in Vegan Pressure Cooking.

And here is the recipe for making your own vegetable broth, from scraps! I use this wonderful broth in so many recipes. And it is so easy to make.

Quick Bean Chili
Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes

Quick Bean Chili

This fast and easy to prepare chili relies on canned beans and fresh veggies.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bean Chili, Quick
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 2 large green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 small can green chilies, mild or medium
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (add more or less, as desired)
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can non GMO corn
  • 2 cans great northern beans (or beans of choice)
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • In uncovered pressure cooker, heat coconut oil on medium heat. I use the meat setting. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Saute for 3 minutes, until veggies soften.
  • Add bell peppers. Cook for another minute.
  • Add green chilies, spices, canned tomatoes, canned beans, canned corn, tomato paste, broth and water.
  • Cover and lock on lid. Bring to pressure and cook for 8 minutes. Allow natural release.
  • Remove lid, stir and add sea salt. Makes 6 - 8 servings.

Meal in Minutes

I love using the pressure cooker for healthy meals. In minutes this quick bean chili was ready. And it was oh…so…good! The blend of beans, fresh veggies and seasonings was perfect.

The chili offered even more flavor the next day. And it thickened up to more of a chunky chili consistency.

I’m always looking for a great soup, stew or chili recipe, plant based of course! If you have a favorite recipe, please provide a link in the comments below. I’ll be doing a plant based soup, stew and chili roundup in the near future. I’d love to include yours.

Quick Bean Chili
Quick Bean Chili, ready in under 20 minutes.

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Seven Herbal Teas to Nourish Skin

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You know how much I enjoy my daily cups of hot tea, even in summer. What a joy it has been to learn that these herbal teas support my health in a variety of crucial ways. The more I discover, the more often I think, when someone mentions an ailment…there’s an herb for that!

Healthy, glowing skin begins within. All the lotions and moisturizers in the world can’t overcome a poor diet or supply the vital nutrients the body needs to keep the skin vibrant and youthful.

These seven herbal teas to nourish skin provide healing, boost the immune system and revitalize skin cells, all while contributing to important hydration for the body.

Seven Herbal Teas to Nourish Skin

Seven Herbal Teas that Nourish Skin

In addition to your skin care routine, try adding one to three cups of herbal tea daily, to revitalize and nourish the skin.

Hibiscus

This rich herbal tea is high in vitamin C and a great source of vitamins A, B1 and B2 plus zinc and iron. Hibiscus contains natural alpha hydroxy acids and omega-3 fatty acids that smoothe the skin and keep it looking youthful. Add two to three teaspoons of dried hibiscus to a cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten with raw honey.

Chamomile

This well known stress reducer contains anti-inflammatory properties that protect the skin from sun damage. Add three teaspoons of dried chamomile, or one teabag, to a cup of very hot water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten with raw honey if desired.

Chamomile Tea
Chamomile, one of seven herbal teas that nourish skin.

Dandelion

Antioxidants in dandelion flowers, combined with immune boosting properties, enhance the appearance of the skin while neutralizing free radicals. In addition, dandelion aids digestion and the absorption of nutrients, which contributes to the health of skin as well. Add a handful of fresh dandelion blossoms to a large cup of very hot water. Or use a dandelion tea bag. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Sweeten with raw honey if desired.

Jasmine

This fragrant flower contains antiviral and antibacterial properties that support the immune system and nourish skin. Jasmine balances hormones, reduces oil production on the skin and helps to heal skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Brew a cup of jasmine tea by combining three teaspoons of fresh or dried flowers with a cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten with raw honey if necessary.

Green Tea

This soothing tea reduces inflammation throughout the body, including the skin. Green tea protects against harmful UV radiation. And it contains a powerful antioxidant called ECGC that fights free radicals and prevents the formation of wrinkles. In addition, this tea revives dying skin cells and promotes the growth of healthy new ones. Add a green tea bag to a cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for five minutes. Sweeten with raw honey if desired.

Green Tea with Jasmine
I love this tea from Twinings that combines two of the seven herbal teas that nourish skin…green tea and jasmine.

Ginger

Aromatic and spicy ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, plus it aids digestion. Ginger also strengthens the immune system. All of these supportive health boosters contribute to clear, vibrant skin. Peel a small piece of fresh ginger and slice or mince it. Pour boiling water over the ginger, cover and steep for 15 minutes. Sweeten with raw honey if desired.

Peppermint

This herb from the mint family balances hormones, with calms skin and helps to keep it clear and healthy. It also reduces sebum, an oily secretion, on the skin. Peppermint’s antioxidants prevent oxidative damage that ages the skin, and help to renew skin cells. Add two teaspoons of fresh or dried peppermint, or one tea bag, to a cup of very hot water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Sweeten with raw honey if desired.

Ginger Tea
Aromatic ginger tea supports the body while promoting healthy skin.

Which of These Teas Will You Try?

These seven herbal teas that nourish skin are readily available through your favorite grocery story, in tea bag form. Or check your local health food store or grocer for dried loose leaves to create your own tea blends. Additionally, peppermint and chamomile are easy to grow in a backyard garden or container. I even have a jasmine plant flourishing in a container on my front deck. And wild dandelions dot most yards during spring and summer.

Or for convenience, click links below to order your favorite herbal teas from Amazon.

Simply adding one to three cups of tea to your diet, daily, can radically improve health and wellness. As a wonderful bonus, that health radiates from clear skin as a vibrant glow.

Which herbal tea will you try first?

Seven Herbal Teas that Nourish Skin Mint
A favorite among the seven herbal that nourish skin…peppermint.

Pick up your herbal teas for healthier skin, below:

 



 

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7 Fun Health Tips to Try This Week

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With all the serious emphasis placed on health, mine included, it felt like time to write up a fun post. Daily I appreciate the miraculous way that the body functions. And I am deeply grateful for the role that healthy, highly nutritious foods play to support that body. I continue to learn and grow in the area of health and wellness.

For today’s post, I chose to feature a collection of tips that can boost health in minutes a day, and spark fun too.

Here are 7 fun health tips to try this week.

7 Fun Health Tips Title Meme

A Week of Health Tips to Try

An easy way to incorporate these tips, without feeling overwhelm or obligation, is to add one activity to each day of the week. None of the 7 fun health tips to try take more than a few minutes and yet the rewards are great.

And of course, feel free to change up these suggestions! Do three of the tips in one day. Stretch on Wednesday instead of Sunday. Make up your own fun list. These activities are meant to inspire and encourage and raise awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle…at any age.

7 Fun Health Tips Stretch

Sunday – Stretch

We can learn much from watching cats! When they wake up, they stretch. Gentle stretches stimulate the muscles, increasing blood flow and easing tightness. Stretches are a great way to wake up the body. And regularly stretching keeps muscles limber and reduces the risk of injury.

Before getting out of bed, spend five minutes stretching arms and legs. Stretch…hold…release the muscles. Be very gentle.

7 Fun Health Tips Try Something New

Monday – Try Something New

Learning something new, whether it’s a language or a musical instrument or a hobby, boosts the brain by creating fresh pathways. American researchers coined the phrase “neurobics” for tasks that activate the brain’s biochemical pathways and create new ones that help to strengthen or preserve existing circuits.

Spend a few minutes learning something new. Download a language app and practice for five minutes a day. Learn a new game. Paint with your non-dominant hand. Drive to work a different way. Mixing things up fires up the brain and that helps to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

7 Fun Health Tips Berries

Tuesday – Eat Berries

On this day, replace a dessert or even a meal with a big bowl of berries. Include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. These superfoods contain nutrients called anthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants. And blueberries are high in resveratrol, the antioxidant compound found in grapes. Resveratrol helps to protect against heart disease, cancer and the effects of aging.

Grab a bowl of berries and savor them. Resist the urge to cover them in sugar or toss them over a scoop of ice cream. Appreciate the natural flavor of the juicy berries and the role they play in keeping the body healthy.

7 Fun Health Tips Walk

Wednesday – Walk Outside

On this day, head outdoors. Walk in a park, through the woods, across a field or around the track at a school. Just get outside and walk for 15 to 30 minutes.

We know that walking tones the body, burns calories, strengthens muscles, helps to maintain a healthy weight and gets the heart pumping. In addition, walking outdoors also reduces negative thoughts, clears the mind and boosts self confidence.

7 Fun Health Tips Read

Thursday – Read

Among the 7 fun health tips to try, this one may come as a surprise. It’s a delightful one, I hope! Studies have shown that reading for just 6 to 10 minutes can reduce stress. Losing yourself in a book lowers the stress hormone cortisol by 67%.

Grab a favorite book, or one you’ve never read before, and find a place to relax for a few minutes while you read. The mental distraction frees the mind from anxiety and thoughts that keep circling around. Bonus health tip: brew a cup of herbal tea to sip on while you enjoy your book.

7 Fun Health Tips Breathe Deeply

Friday – Breathe Deeply

Pausing to take long deep breaths improves circulation, reduces stress, calms the mind and body and lowers high blood pressure.

During the day, be aware of stress or feeling overwhelmed. Pause and take three deep breaths, breathing in through the nose for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of four and slowly releasing the breath through the mouth. Deep breathing can be practiced anywhere, at anytime…while at the office, sitting in traffic or during a bathroom break.

7 Fun Health Tips Laughter

Saturday – Belly Laugh

Talk about a fun health tip! Laughter truly does the body good. It increases blood flow by 20%, relaxing and expanding the lining of blood vessels. That increase of oxygen rich blood is good for heart health. Laughter also lifts mood and boosts the immune system. Feel a cold coming on? Laugh as your first line of defense.

Spend a few minutes on this day working up to a good belly laugh. Watch YouTube funnies. Recall a favorite scene from a comedy and watch the entire movie when you can. Read jokes from a book. Watch kids or pets play. Energetically open up the chest and stomach areas (the heart and solar plexus chakras) and allow genuine laughter to flow. You’ll feel better and so will those around you. Laughter is contagious.

Use these activities as a launching pad and create more fun health tips to enjoy. I promise you, the more you look for ways to bring health and wellness into your life, the more ideas will show up.

I’d love to hear about the 7 fun health tips you come up with!

 

Check out these fun health finds:

 


 

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Horsetail Herb

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This plant with the funny name, Horsetail Herb, is new to me. However its impressive list of nutrients earns it the nickname, “the repairing plant”. Take a look at the healing benefits of this little known but health boosting herb.

Horsetail Herb Title Meme

What is Horsetail Herb?

Horsetail is a perennial herb. There are 15 different species of this plant although common horsetail is used most often medicinally.

The herb grows in rich, damp soil throughout temperate climates in the Northern Hemisphere, including the US, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The stems and leaves provide the health benefits. In the spring, horsetail herb puts up a brown stem that resembles asparagus. Cones filled with spores form atop the stems. As the plant dries, silica crystals form in stems and leaves, creating a feathery tail effect.

Horsetail Herb Bundles

Horsetail Herb Nutrients

Horsetail contains a long list of nutrients and beneficial compounds, including:

  •  vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E & K
  •  folate
  •  potassium
  •  sodium
  •  calcium
  •  magnesium
  •  iron
  •  zinc
  •  copper
  •  phenolic compounds
  •  silica
  •  kynurenic acid
  •  styrylpyrones
  •  chlorophyll

Pretty impressive, right? This is a plant I wanted to know more about, especially since it repairs and restores the body.

Horsetail Herb

Health Benefits of Horsetail Herb

This potent herb provides the following healing benefits:

Aids Hair Growth

Horsetail is rich in silica, an important mineral that supports hair growth. Studies suggest that hair strands with a higher silica content have a lower fall out rate and appear healthier and brighter. Horsetail is one of the best sources of silica and improves nail and skin health as well.

Improves Brittle Nails

Horsetail may be used topically or taken internally to improve brittle nails. Again, it’s the high silica content in the herb that boosts nail, hair and skin health.

Natural Diuretic

The herb is a natural diuretic that helps with edema, puffiness caused by excess water stored in the body. Horsetail improves edema without the side effects affecting liver or kidney function or causing an electrolyte imbalance.

Soothes Joint Inflammation

Horsetail is an ancient remedy for joint disease, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The powerful herb soothes and calms inflammation and eases degenerative joint disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The compound kynurenic acid is responsible for the anti-inflammatory, antioxidative and pain relieving properties. These abilities place horsetail herb in a super group of plants including peppermint, nettle and birch leaf, all high in kynurenic acid.

Helps to Heal Wounds and Burns

The silica in horsetail is key to the formation of collagen, a key skin building block that is essential for strength and elasticity. Studies show that horsetail helps wounds and burns to heal while easing associated pain.

Antimicrobial Properties

Horsetail Herb stops the growth and kills microbes such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. It is also effective against staph infections and candida.

Dried Horsetal Herb

Using Horsetail Herb

Horsetail may be purchased as a dried herb, tea, capsules or tinctures. Also available are creams and lotions that contain horsetail herb and hair and nail products for topical use.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the benefits of horsetail herb…and my favorite…is by brewing tea.

Pour one cup of boiling water over 3 teaspoons of fresh or dried horsetail. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Sweeten with raw honey if desired.

Use a strong horsetail herb tea as a rinse after shampooing, to strengthen hair. Tea may also be used to bathe wounds and burns.

Cautions

Be careful foraging for this plant. Although it commonly grows near water, there is a variety known as marsh horsetail that is poisonous.

Mild side effects from the herb include upset stomach, diarrhea and increased urination. Taking too much horsetail herb can cause kidney pain, low back pain, heart palpitations, nausea and vomiting so don’t take more than the recommended dosage or drink more than one cup of tea a day.

Check with your doctor about taking horsetail if you are pregnant, nursing a baby or have low potassium levels. Horsetail may lower blood sugar and potassium levels. Also check with the doctor if you are taking medications for diabetes or water retention or if you are taking lithium, as horsetail may interact with these drugs.

Horsetail Herb Teal

 

Pick up dried horsetail HERE or purchase capsules HERE.

Navy Beans, Brown Rice & Kale

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When I have the itch to try a new recipe, on a hot and muggy day, I turn to my pressure pot. Not only is my meal ready in minutes, the kitchen stays cool. I thumbed through one of my vegan pressure cooker books for inspiration. The one that caught my interest, Navy Beans, Brown Rice & Kale, was easily adapted to meet my dietary needs. I also had most of the ingredients on hand.

Navy Beans Brown Rice & Kale Title Meme

Navy Beans, Brown Rice & Kale

I chose this recipe because I love the combination of beans and rice. Throw in some greens…kale in this case…and some onion, garlic and seasonings and it’s the perfect quick meal for me.

After an afternoon busy with real estate, it was a joy to come home and prepare a fast and nutritious meal in the pressure cooker.

Navy Beans, Brown Rice & Kale

This delicious recipe comes together quickly in the pressure cooker.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Navy Beans Brown Rice Kale

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried navy beans
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chopped kale, loosely packed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • Rinse and drain navy beans
  • In uncovered pressure cooker, heat coconut oil. I set the pressure cooker to the "fish" setting to saute. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes, until onion softens. Cancel setting,
  • Add navy beans, brown rice, kale, bay leaf, thyme and vegetable broth. Stir and cover. Cook for 25. Allow for a natural release.
  • Carefully remove lid. Discard bay leaf. Add lemon juice and sea salt. Makes four servings.
  • *Collard greens or spinach may be substituted for kale, if desired. Water may be substituted for vegetable broth.
Navy Bean Brown Rice & Kale
The start of something good. Remove stems from kale and tear leaves into bite sized pieces.
Onions in Pressure Cooker
Onions and garlic in pressure cooker.

The Start of Something Good

As I tidied up the kitchen, the tantalizing aroma of dinner cooking filled the room. If the navy beans, brown rice & kale tasted as good as it smelled, I’d count this recipe a success.

I didn’t have to wait long to find out! Twenty five minutes later, the timer went off. I allowed the steam to release naturally, which means I didn’t turn the knob on top of the pressure cooker to manually release the steam. Instead, I let it seep out, which took another 10 minutes or so.

At last I carefully lifted the lid. After removing the bay leaf, I added freshly squeezed lemon juice and a teaspoon of sea salt.

Into the pressure cooker
Into the pressure pot.

Navy Beans, Brown Rice & Kale Taste Test

After ladling up a bowl of this quick and hearty meal, and taking a photo of course, I sampled a spoonful.

This easy to prepare meal was SO GOOD! The flavors of the beans, rice and kale blended perfectly. And the thyme and bay leaf added just the right amount of seasoning.

I carried my steaming bowl into the living room and savored my meal, sitting in my favorite chair. I’ll definitely be making this recipe often. As summer gives way to the cooler temps of fall, navy beans, brown rice & kale will go into my meal rotation, to be enjoyed often.

Navy Beans Brown Rice & Kale

Check out this pressure cooker recipe as well:

Lentils & Brown Rice

Order one of these plant based pressure pot cookbooks!

 

Health Benefits of Fennel

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In past years, I’ve enjoyed creating tea blends using dried fennel seeds. This year, for the first time, I’m growing fennel in my garden. The bulbs and seeds are far from harvest ready. However, the frilly green fronds, reminiscent of dill, inspired me to create another first this evening…fennel leaf tea.

Like most herbs, the health benefits of fennel are many and the plant has been used since ancient times.

Health Benefits of Fennel

What is Fennel?

Fennel, a member of the carrot and celery family, originated in the Mediterranean region. It’s now grown around the world. This ancient herb produces a white bulb. From the bulb long green stalks appear. And on those stalks grow feathery green leaves that resemble dill.

The entire plant is edible…bulb, stalks, leaves and even the seeds that appear after flowering. Fennel is aromatic, smelling a bit like anise, while the flavor is distinctly licorice-like.

The herb is rich in bioflavonoids and antioxidants and high in fiber. Other nutrients include vitamins A, C and K, potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin and copper.

While it’s a popular vegetable for culinary purposes, fennel is valuable for its healing properties as well.

Health Benefits of Fennel Plant

Health Benefits of Fennel

The health benefits of fennel include:

Aids Digestion

Fennel supports a healthy digestive system. The fiber prevents constipation and cleanses toxins and debris from the large intestine. Chewing the seeds after a meal eliminates bad breath and stimulates the secretion of digestive juices. Fennel relieves acid reflux, gas, cramping and bloating and balances pH levels within the stomach.

Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

High fiber foods such as fennel reduce cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The herb’s vitamin C protects the cardio system as well.

Eases Menopausal Symptoms

Early trials, giving post menopausal women fennel, found that symptoms such as sleeping issues, night sweats, flushing and hot flashes were relieved.

Improves Eye Health

Fennel’s antioxidants help to reduce inflammation, leading to improved vision. Fennel also appears to slow the progression of macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss in the elderly.

Fresh Fennel Leaves
Fresh fennel leaves from my garden.

Helps to Prevent Cancer

The herb’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. Fennel contains an oil called anethole which acts as a natural remedy against breast cancer cells.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Another one of the health benefits of fennel is the ability to lower blood pressure. The herb’s high potassium levels and low sodium combine to lower systolic blood pressure, helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Maintains Healthy Bones

Because of its high calcium content, fennel strengthens and maintains healthy bones. The plant’s magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K all contribute toward bone health as well.

Improves Skin

Fennel’s vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It works to reduce free radicals that can damage skin cells, leading to premature aging. Vitamin C is necessary in the formation of collagen, another vital component for youthful skin.

Fennel Leaf Tea

Enjoying Fennel

Fennel can be enjoyed many ways. Sliced, the bulb adds crunch and sweetness to salads. Or the slices add flavor to stir fries and sautéed vegetables.

The stalks can replace celery in recipes while the tender fennel leaves are great added to salads or steamed with other veggies. Use the leaves to create pesto or to top baked potatoes. Steep the seeds or leaves in hot water for 15 minutes, to create a soothing and healing tea.

Using herbs for tea is one of my favorite health practices. I often enjoy a delicious blend of lemon balm, fennel seeds and thyme tea. This evening I decided to try something different.

I snipped several fennel fronds from my plants in the garden and prepared a fresh fennel tea. After adding hot water to a cup containing the leaves, I covered it and let the tea steep for 15 minutes.

The resulting tea had a delicate, subtle licorice flavor combined with the earthiness of a green tea. I enjoyed it very much.

Herbs contain such amazing properties. I’m grateful for the health benefits of fennel…and the other medicinal plants in my garden.

Freshly Brewed Fennel Tea

Order dried fennel seeds by clicking photo below.

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