Savory Roasted Marinara Sauce From Scratch

clean, cleanliving, comfort food, cooking with essential oils, delicious, dinner, diy, do-it-yourself, essential oils, health, homemade, natural living, recipe, spice it up

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I have always been afraid of making marinara sauce from scratch – like from ACTUAL tomatoes.  Scary stuff.  I mean, what if I buy all those tomatoes and screw it up??  I’m Norwegian, not Italian – how could I possibly make a good “gravy”!?

While marinara made with a can of crushed tomatoes is delicious, I felt it was time I face my fear and make it from scratch.  And, of course, I also wanted to incorporate my beloved therapeutic-grade essential oils into the recipe to see how it  enhanced the flavor.

The sauce took me a few hours to make, because I took my time (and took photos as I went along), so you will want to plan ahead to make this on a day where you have some free time.  Those of you with small children are thinking, “free time, what the hay-hay is that??”  If you have small children…I am sorry…maybe you should save this recipe for another 12 years and then give it a try!  Seriously though, I think you can pull this off if you start cooking right when the kiddos go down for a nap.  I believe in you.

I will spare you the annoyance of reading each step between each photo.  I used to do that, and now understand how annoying that is!!

Feel free to browse the photos below, which are in the order of each step of the recipe.  Some people feel better if they can see how it is supposed to look along the way.  So, enjoy the beauty of these colorful fresh ingredients!:

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Garlic cloves before peeling.

Garlic cloves after “quick peel” in a jar.  I’ll explain below.

Blending roasted ingredients with basil & parsley

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I did it!  Delicious!  Roasted marinara sauce with broiled asparagus coated in olive oil, salt, onion powder and garlic powder, and unleavened whole wheat “bread” (see recipe at bottom of page) with a little shredded basil on top.

ROASTED MARINARA SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 25 Roma tomatoes, cored
  • 2 sweet vidalia onions, quartered
  • 2 Tbs fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves peeled (see note in the recipe for “Easy Peeling”)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt (preferably Pink Himalayan)
  • 1/4 C sugar or “Date Paste” (See Recipe for “Date Paste” in the Pizza Crust recipe at the bottom of this blog)
  • Small bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cans tomato paste, for thickening
  • 2 drops Oregano essential oil (therapeutic grade only, with “Supplement Facts” on bottle – comment below for my favorite brand)
  • 4 drops Basil essential oil
  • 2 drops Black Pepper essential oil
  • 4-6 pepperoncinis, for a little heat
  • *Optional:  1/4 cup dry red wine, diced carrots

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425F.

Wash and core the tomatoes.  Split them between two 9×13″ baking dishes, or put all of them in a large roasting pan.  The tomatoes can be left whole; they will break down during the roasting process.

“Easy Peeling” of garlic cloves.  Toss a few garlic cloves in an empty, clean, glass jar, screw the lid on, and shake vigorously for a minute.  The peelings should become loose so that you can just peel it off of the clove.  Don’t overload the jar, only a few cloves at a time.  Cut off the hard ends of the garlic cloves.

Arrange the quartered onions and peeled garlic cloves (and diced carrots, if using) around the baking dish with the tomatoes.  Drizzle olive oil over all and then use your hands to toss the tomatoes, garlic and onions to coat everything well with the oil.  Season everything generously with salt.

Roast tomatoes in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or so.  The tomatoes and onions will look wrinkled, roasted, and slightly charred.  For a thicker sauce, cook longer and stir occasionally to keep from burning.

Remove the pan(s) from the oven and set on the counter to cool for 10-15 minutes. You can easily remove the tomato peelings if you want, but I left them on.

Place a large colander inside a large bowl.  Pour the roasted tomato ingredients into the colander.  The bowl underneath the colander will collect all the juice.  You need this juice for later – don’t toss it!

Scoop the roasted tomato ingredients into a blender or food processor.  Add parsley, and most of the basil leaves (save a few to shred and top your final pasta dish as a garnish).  Puree until it reaches your desired consistency.  You may need to do it in separate batches if you have a small food processor.

Put about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or stock pot.  Warm on medium heat, and then toss in the diced shallots.  Cook until they are soft.

Dump the pureed tomatoes, and the reserved juice, into the pot.  Season with additional salt, if needed.  Add the essential oils and any herbs you might want to add to the sauce to flavor it to your liking.  Add the pepperoncinis and cans of tomato paste.  If you are using red wine, add that to the pot as well.  Mix thoroughly.  I had to use a whisk to make sure the thick tomato paste was dispersed throughout the sauce.

Simmer on low, covered, for an hour or longer, so that all the flavors blend well together.  The longer the simmer, the better the flavors will be.  Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn.

Serve immediately as pasta sauce, or on homemade pizza (Click here for the pizza crust recipe that I also used as garlic bread with this meal.  For garlic bread, I just rubbed olive oil all over the dough and sprinkled generously with garlic salt and then baked it).  You will also find the “Date Paste” recipe within the pizza recipe.

Or, you can cool all of it completely and freeze it in containers or Ziploc bags for later use as a quick meal!

Mangia tutti!!

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]

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No-Cheese Pizza – Healthy & Delicious!

Baking, Daniel Fast, diy, do-it-yourself, health, homemade, homemade pizza, natural living, non-gmo, nutrition, organic, pizza, recipe, Uncategorized

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Yes, that’s pizza…without cheese, and it is delicious.  Gasp!!

So, my husband and I had been in a bit of a funk lately.  We were getting so lazy that we’d eat out at restaurants, or fast food places 2-4 times per week.  We were both gaining weight, feeling sluggish, brain fogged and just plain fatigued almost all the time.  We knew we had to do something about it.

We are both Christians, and were feeling God laying on our hearts that we needed to learn the discipline of self-control – something we both never really had much of!  When you allow the Lord to give you strength in one area of indulgence, it is easier to exercise self-control in other areas!  Self-control was never something I cared to practice when it came to food.  I love food!!!  Food is great when eaten in moderation, but it can become a vice and detrimental to your health if you eat the way I have for most of my life.

Due to events over the past year where a lack of self-control caused mine and my husband’s lives to spiral out of control, we finally admitted that it was time for us to learn self-control in all areas of life.

A friend of mine told me about The Daniel Fast that she was doing.  Here is a link to the official website:  The Daniel Fast Website

If you’ve never heard of The Daniel Fast, it’s a 21-day fast where you only eat veggies, fruits, legumes, beans, whole grains, olive oil, etc.  Basically no meats, alcohol, sugar, dairy, processed foods.  Some people say you can eat unleavened bread (with whole wheat flour), but others claim you should not.

The fast is based off of the book of Daniel in the Bible, where Daniel refused to eat the King’s food because it usually contained meat sacrificed to false gods.  He told the King’s men that if they would only give him and his friends vegetables to eat and water to drink, for 21 days, they would find that he and his friends were much healthier, leaner, etc.  Here’s a link to the story:  Daniel’s Story

So, since I already drink only water, and have been drinking fruit smoothies every morning for about 2 years, I figured this wouldn’t be so hard.  I’d buy a ton of produce, nuts, rice and beans each week and I’d be all set.  Little did I know that you should really have some recipes planned out for The Daniel Fast if you are going to stick to it and not become malnourished.  After some Googling (by the way, I heard Webster’s just added “Googling” as a verb in the dictionary….seriously), I found some great recipes!  But the Daniel Fast shouldn’t be done as a diet.  Fasts are about growing closer to the Lord, not weight loss, but it just happens to be a great byproduct of a fast like this!

If you are considering the Daniel Fast, I’d recommend doing it with someone else.  It really helps to have someone who can encourage and support you so that you don’t give up.  My husband and I are loving how it is growing us closer together in our marriage, as we cheer each other on in this fast.  We are enjoying cooking dinner together every evening, versus driving to a fast food place.  It’s like a date night – every night!

So, at the beginning of this fast, I’d have a smoothie for breakfast (loaded with goodies), a fruit and a sweet potato for lunch, and sometimes potatoes and leeks for dinner, or beans and rice.  We were pretty fatigued, and needed a little more substance.  I found a bunch of great tofu recipes (try to eat only organic tofu – the non-organic has been linked to breast cancer – or so I’ve heard).

I also found a good recipe for an unleavened bread (more like a thick cracker) that contains 100% whole wheat flour, olive oil, honey and water – that’s it!  We’ve used it as a garlic bread with our potato leek soup, as garlic bread with our pasta and now as a pizza crust.  Who would have thought only 4 ingredients would make such a great crust!

This pizza turned out delicious, even without cheese, and I know we will be making it again – even when the fast is over.  You can sub some of the herbs with essential oils in the pizza sauce!  Basil essential oil gives the sauce a punch!

So far I’m on Day 18 of The Daniel Fast, and loving it!!  My quiet time/Bible reading in the morning has become more fulfilling, my faith in God stronger, my body healthier, my brain un-fogged, and my *ahem* colon *ahem* cleansed.  Sorry if TMI.  I hate to brag – but I now poop like a champ. 😉

If you aren’t used to eating fresh produce, then you might want to pass on this fast.  But if you’re used to cooking fresh, not frozen, this should be easy for you!  Also if you’re a coffee and/or soda drinker, this will not be easy!!

The pizza recipe I will post below is sort of mix of a few different recipes I have found, but tweaked to my liking.  If you make the pizza and love it, let me know in a comment below.  Or if you used different ingredients and loved it, please let me know so that I can try it too!


PIZZA – THE DANIEL FAST WAY

For the dough:

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup & 1 Tbs quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, separated
1 Tablespoon “date paste” (a lower glycemic food than honey) (recipe below)
3/4 water
garlic salt

Preheat oven to 500 F.  Mix all ingredients, except the garlic salt, in a bowl until combined.  Use a rolling pin on a flour-dusted surface or a pastry mat.  Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet, preferably a metal pizza sheet with holes, or a good baking stone, but a cookie sheet will work.  Bake for 6-7 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Leave the oven at 500 F so you can bake it again with the pizza ingredients this time.

For the Sauce:

1 can of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
1 tsp Italian seasoning (I used Wildtree’s Hearty Spaghetti blend)
2-4 pressed garlic cloves, or more to taste
3-4 drops of Basil essential oil (see comment below in red)
1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan salt
2 drops of Black Pepper Essential Oil (or 1/4 dried black pepper)
1 Tbs of Date Paste (see recipe below – prepare ahead) or sub with honey

Put all ingredients in a small pot and heat on low until all ingredients are combined.  Approx. 20 minutes.  You may need a lid so tomato sauce doesn’t bubble and spray everywhere.

Date Paste:

1 cup pitted medjool dates
1 cup of very hot water

Put the dates in the hot water in a bowl and let sit overnight, or even an hour.  You can massage them a little to soften them.  Then dump the water and the dates into a food processor and blend until it becomes a creamy paste.  This is the basic date paste to use in recipes in lieu of honey or sugar.  Satisfies the sweet tooth!!  (If you are going to use it as a topping for a dessert or sweet potato (tastes just like brown sugar on a sweet potato! YUM!), you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the paste).  It keeps well in the fridge in a tight container for about a week.

The Toppings:

1 bunch fresh basil leaves, washed & shredded
1 red onion, sliced very thin
1 small zucchini, sliced very thin
1 tomato, sliced very thin
1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast (Optional) (give a cheesy flavor to the pizza)

Assembling and Baking the Pizza:

Now that your crust is baked, and cooled a bit, rub 1 Tbs of olive oil all over the crust and generously sprinkle garlic salt all over it.  (FYI – We bake the crust first without any ingredients on top, because if you try to put sauce on a wet slab of dough, it won’t cook through and you’ll have doughy pizza.) 

Spread all of the pizza sauce over the baked crust.  Sprinkle the fresh basil on top of the sauce.  Then put all of your veggies on top.  And last,  sprinkle the nutritional yeast over the top of everything.  Bake for approx. 12-14 minutes or until veggies look cooked.

Remove, cut into squares and enjoy!

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]

The Amazing Lemon, Raw Honey and ACV Tonic!

anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, apple cider vinegar, cancer, clean, cleanliving, empowerment, essential oils, healing, health, holistic, immunity, natural living, natural medicine, non-gmo, nutrition, organic, recipe, remedy, tonic, Uncategorized, wellness

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I have to start out by telling you flat out that this tonic is pretty darn amazing.  I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops because my results after drinking this tonic for about 6 months have been pretty life changing.  In my opinion, it’s a miracle drink – I can say that since I’m not trying to sell it to you. 😉

I’ve had gastric issues for about 6 years now, and nothing ever helped me.  I saw so many doctors and did so many tests to see what was wrong with me – I’ll be paying off those bills for quite a while!  What a waste – the results didn’t tell me anything helpful.

I had a laundry list of symptoms that were unexplained, so I started going to a nutritionist.  I went to her monthly for a couple of years to gently detox my system from heavy metals and other environmental toxins.  She taught me about making healthier food choices, and why whole foods and whole food supplements were important.  I felt somewhat better, but still had many unexplained symptoms.

When I first started making this drink, I only used warm water with a fresh-squeezed lemon, honey and apple cider vinegar.  I drank it every morning before my breakfast for a couple of months.  At first, I wasn’t sure if it was helping my gastric issues.  But since I had read so many wonderful things about lemon water, I knew that if I kept drinking it I would benefit from it eventually.  I learned that raw, unfiltered honey has the most health benefits, so I started using that instead of the cheap-o kind I was using (think plastic bottle in the shape of a bear….horrible).  Then, I read that adding baking soda to lemon water has even more health benefits, even cancer prevention, so I started adding that to my drink.

All I can say is WOW!  I sure noticed some changes.  I no longer had excessive gas after every meal.  I wasn’t bloating as often.  I wasn’t burping as much throughout the day (I would literally burp every couple of minutes).  I also noticed that I didn’t have explosive bouts of diarrhea (sorry, TMI?) after eating ice cream or pizza.  My skin is clearer (but I also use Arbonne’s anti-aging skin care, which has something to do with that!), and I haven’t gotten sick in a while.  (UPDATE:  It’s now 3 years later, and I finally got a sinus infection…BUT!  I’d stopped drinking this for a few weeks prior!  I don’t think it’s a coincidence.)

I also now take digestive enzymes with every meal, to help my stomach break down the food.  And I take exemplary supplements from a company I represent.  I know that everything I’ve said have played their own part in my current wellness vs. 7 years ago.

I always recommend this lemon tonic to anyone who tells me that they have digestive issues.  I will probably drink this tonic for as long as I live.  Even if you don’t have stomach issues, there are so many other health benefits (listed below) that it doesn’t hurt to try it for yourself.  If you are consistent and drink this tonic every single morning before breakfast, you will notice changes eventually.  Still a skeptic?  Google “lemon honey water” and read on!  There are so many great articles by doctors and health and wellness practitioners praising lemon water.

So, you’re probably wondering, “Why lemon, honey, baking soda and apple cider vinegar?  What makes them so special?”  I have gathered some information and compiled it all here:

Lemon Goodness

Lemons are rich in vitamin C, which enhances beauty by rejuvenating the skin from the inside.  It helps in weight loss, and is a very alkaline fruit (once it is in the body – otherwise it is acidic).

Lemons are a great source of polysaccharides, organic acids especially citric acid, lipids, carotenoid, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, bitter limonoids, potassium, bioflavonoids, and vitamin C.  Lemons also include volatile oil (in the peel – where the lemon essential oils come from), limonene, alpha-terpinene, alpha-pinene, citral, coumarins, mucilage, pectins, and bioflavonoids (pith and peel).

Honey Goodness

Honey is a great source of good carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids.  Honey contains small amounts of the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid and vitamin B6.  It also contains vitamin C, and the minerals calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, selenium, chromium and manganese.  The darker the honey, the greater antioxidants.  Honey also contains organic acids such as acetic, butanoic, formic, citric, succinic, lactic, malic, pyroglutamic and gluconic acids, and a number of aromatic acids.

Apple Cider Vinegar Goodness

(This will knock your socks off!)  I use Bragg’s organic ACV, which says “With the Mother” on the front of the bottle.  Seriously…you must use Bragg’s – it is the best.  All others I’ve tasted are disgusting.

“With the Mother” means that it still contains all of the good stuff, unlike other apple cider vinegars that are void of it.  ACV contains pectin, Vitamin C, Vitamins B1, B2 and B6, biotin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, and small amounts of minerals like potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, and iron.  It has a wide range of benefits, such as it:  helps stomach troubles, cures hiccups, soothes a sore throat, could lower cholesterol, prevents indigestion, clears a stuffy nose, aids in weight loss, gets rid of dandruff, clears acne, boosts energy, cuts down on nighttime leg cramps, banishes bad breath, whitens teeth, fades bruises, helps control blood sugar.  Amazing – and it’s only about $8 for a large bottle at the grocery store!

Baking Soda Goodness

Baking Soda isn’t just for baking cookies!  When consumed, it works by immediately kicking stomach acid in the face, which then helps relieve heartburn, indigestion and even ulcer pain.  When consumed in a lemon tonic, it gets your digestive juices flowing, and will help your stomach in digestion.  If that wasn’t enough, it is also known to alkalize the body and help with kidney disease, cancer, athletic performance, skin conditions and can be used in homemade deodorants (RECIPE HERE) and toothpaste (RECIPE HERE).

In Summary, here’s a list of health benefits of this tonic:

  1. Enhances metabolism.
  2. Aids digestion.
  3. Cleanses the intestines, which improves the absorption of nutrients.
  4. Boosts your immune system.
  5. Cleans your urinary tract.
  6. Balances pH levels.
  7. Clears skin.
  8. Promotes healing.
  9. Freshens breath.
  10. Hydrates your lymph system.
  11. Aids in weight loss.
  12. Boosts energy.

I am sure this isn’t even an exhaustive list.  But it is a very good start!  I feel that everyone should drink this daily, and I hope you will give it a try.  If you don’t have all of the ingredients, make sure you at least have water, honey, lemon and ACV.  Those are good enough in themselves for boosting your immune system.

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LEMON WATER TONIC

  • 8 oz. warm water
  • 1 fresh-squeezed lemon
  • 1 tsp raw, Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs raw, unfiltered, organic honey (the darker the better)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (aluminum-free)
  • Essential oils of choice (see note in red below)

First, heat up the water in either a glass or ceramic mug, for 35-40 seconds in the microwave.  Next, stir in the honey until it is dissolved.  Then you can add in the ACV and baking soda.  (**you can toss in some of your favorite essential oils if you’d like!)

The last part is a little tricky.  Before you add the lemon juice to the mixture, be forewarned!   It can get messy if you don’t slooowly add it in.  The baking soda reacts to the acid in the lemon juice and foams up quick!!  I’ve had mine spill out onto my counter a few times.  If you slowly add the lemon juice, but use a spoon to break up the foam as you continue to pour the lemon juice, you should be alright.  I drink it with a stainless steel straw because the acid from the lemon can eat away at your teeth.  If you don’t have one, just sip it, but rinse your mouth with water from the faucet after you finish your drink.

So, if any of you start doing this daily, and notice some changes in your health, please feel free to tell me about it!  🙂  I love success stories!

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]

Blessings

The BEST Completely natural all-purpose cleaner – Can Be Used As A baby Shampoo!

anti-cancer, baby, bath, cancer, clean, cleanliving, crunchy, diy, do-it-yourself, essential oils, health, holistic, home project, homemade, homeopath, homeopathic, immunity, natural living, pure, recipe, shampoo, soap, wellness

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UPDATE!  2 years after purchasing a gallon of Botanic Gold (n/k/a Enviro-One), we finally ran out.   We used it consistently for everything from foaming hand soap, to cleaning up cat puke, to all-purpose cleaner spray and more.   It has saved my family some pretty good coin over the past 2 years!  Just wanted to share because this stuff is awesome!!  It cleans grease and grime in the kitchen better than store-bought cleaners.  I spray it on my stove, counters, cat puke, etc., and within a couple seconds, it wipes off so easily!   It’s our go-to for EVERYTHING.

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Recently on Facebook, I came across an article stating that Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo contained formaldehyde, an ingredient that is not necessary in any of our personal care products.  J&J has since changed their ways, but I am still not convinced that using even their “Naturals Baby Shampooline is the best thing.  The ingredient list is posted below.  Pay particular attention to the bolded ingredient at the bottom:

Water, Decyl Glucoside (Source: Coconut, Palm Kernel, Corn), Cocoglycerides (Source: Coconut, Palm Kernel), Sodium Coco-Sulfate (Source: Coconut, Palm), Coco-Glucoside (Source: Coconut, Palm Kernel), Glyceryl Oleate (Source: Sunflower), Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate (Source: Coconut, Palm, Soybean), Glycerin (Source: Coconut, Palm, Soybean), Xanthan Gum (Source: Soy, Corn), Sodium Benzoate (Source: *), Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose (Source: Plant, Mineral), Citric Acid (Source: *), Sodium Hydroxide (Source: *), Parfum (Source: Plant), * The remaining ingredients are essential to blend the product together and maintain effectiveness.

First, what are these “remaining ingredients that are essential to blend the product together and maintain effectiveness,” as stated in the last sentence?  I would sure like to know – I mean, if they are natural, why not include them on the label?

Second, why does a “natural” shampoo need all of those extra ingredients?  There are cleansers that are all natural, and don’t have a bunch of stuff added to them.  I understand many of their ingredients act as emollients, and help soften/moisturize skin, but they are not necessary.  All-natural oils, such as sweet almond oil, or jojoba oil, are a better substitute for retaining moisture in the skin, and can be added to a homemade shampoo for it’s added benefits.

The main reason I posted that listing is the bolded ingredient Sodium Hydroxide.  Why is Sodium Hydroxide concerning?  Because the New Jersey Department of Health has a “Hazardous Substance Facts Sheet” for this chemical, which is posted in industrial facilities so that workers know how dangerous it is:

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Sure, I know, this fact sheet is for factory workers who are dealing with the concentrated chemical in it’s purest form, but even a tiny amount of a toxic chemical has no place in a baby shampoo.  In my honest opinion.

Here is another clip from that same Fact Sheet:

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Billion dollar product companies like J&J claim that the actual amount of an otherwise toxic chemical is not actually toxic when a minimal amount is used in personal care products.  This may be true, but the question begging to be asked is – why is it used at all when there are more natural options out there?

Why do we blindly accept everything at the grocery store as safe, or even good, for us, just because it has pretty packaging, and the word “Natural” printed on it.  Does this make it actually good for you?  Not necessarily.

We are living in a time where we cannot trust multi-billions dollar corporations to have our children’s best interests at heart.  We are their advocates, nurturers, caretakers, etc., and need to be aware of these things.

By no means am I a “crunchy” person in all aspects of life, but I do try and cut out unnecessary toxins from my personal care, medication and cleaning products.  Every product that I make has a natural base (i.e., apple cider vinegar, or sweet almond oil, etc.) and then I add essential oils to it for its potent health benefits or cleansing properties.

Here is my proposition:  If you have the ability to make your own all-natural personal care and cleaning products for you and your family, then do it.  You will not regret it.

I don’t know about you, but when I make something in my own home, from all-natural ingredients that I choose, I know that my family is getting the best of the best.  Making your own personal products is not complicated, nor does it take up much of your time.  And it saves you money in the long run.

So, back to the lil ones.  Below is a super easy homemade baby shampoo recipe, that can also be used on their hair and body, and on yours too!  The base soap is an all natural botanical soap, made from plant enzymes, called Enviro-One, that can be used for just about everything:  skin care, brushing teeth, household cleaner, baby care, fruit/veggie washing, cleaning your toilet (!) and so much more.  (I love this stuff so much that I should get paid for how much I talk about it online!  (*hint, hint, Enviro-One executives*)

There are actually over 200 uses for Enviro-One all-natural soap.  I pick up mine at their website:  Enviro-One.  It is super concentrated, so it will last a very long time.  It may seem expensive, but when you use one part soap mixed with 10 parts water, and you can usually replace all of your cleaning and skin care products with it, it’s totally worth it in my opinion and experience.  My first gallon lasted me over 2 years.  (I have not been paid by Enviro-One to write this).

Just check out the back of the bottle – those ingredients!  Now that’s natural soap:

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Muuuuch better than the J&J, right?  I love how safe it is, and how much money it will save me.


 

Homemade Baby Shampoo Recipe:

– Plastic shampoo bottle
– Small amount Botanic Gold soap (see bottle for measurements)
1 Tbs of a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil
– (see below for amounts) 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils per ounce of soap mixture (see note in red below)

Combine ingredients together in a plastic shampoo bottle, shake and you’re done.

Essential Oil Options:

Babies 3+ months (2-3 drops oil per ounce soap):  lavender, roman chamomile, frankincense

Babies 6+ months. (3-5 drops oil per ounce soap): tea tree, bergamot, tangerine, sandalwood, geranium, helichrysum, cypress, cedarwood

Children 2+ years (not more than 20 drops per ounce soap):  basil, clary sage, ginger, juniper berry, lemongrass, lime, myrrh, parchouli, ylang ylang.

Essential oils are not only added for their scent, but for the slew of health benefits the provide.  While certain oils would be added for their cleansing properties, others can aid in relaxation/sleep, calming, skin irritations, etc.  If essential oils are added, please be sure not to get the soap in or near your baby’s eyes.

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]

Blessings!
Karen

Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tea

clean, cleanliving, cooking with essential oils, essential oils, health, holistic, homemade, homeopath, homeopathic, immunity, natural living, non-gmo, nutrition, pure, recipe, tonic, turmeric, wellness
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My cup of deliciousness

Turmeric is all the rage these days, and I just had to try out a recipe for cinnamon-turmeric tea I found online.  It.  Was.  Delicious.  My husband even liked it – he said it tasted like Thanksgiving.  With flavors like clove and cinnamon, and it’s pumpkin-y color, you could make this healthy drink for your holiday party.

**Please read this great article on Authority Nutrition‘s website on the many benefits of turmeric.

After reading about the benefits in the article above, now it is time to make your own turmeric tea!  Gather up your ingredients and let’s get started:

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Simmer all spices in water for ten minutes, strain.

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Put 1/3 cup of tea in a mug and add some raw honey (even better, how about some local honey!). Then add in 2/3 cup of milk and stir well.

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CINNAMON-TURMERIC TEA

1-2 tsps turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
3 cloves (I had ground clove, so I used a tea sachet)
A pinch of grated nutmeg
4 peppercorns
1 1/2 to 2 cups of water
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 cup milk of choice

(**Add some pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils for added health benefits!  (See note in red below).  My choices would be myrrh, clove or cinnamon bark.  But only a drop or two into the whole batch.)

Simmer all spices in water for ten minutes, strain.  Put 1/3 tea, 2/3 milk in a teacup.  Add raw honey and milk and stir.  Adjust to taste.

You can save the remainder of your tea mixture in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Just warm up a batch of the mixture each time, and then add the honey and milk.

(**turmeric tends to sink to the bottom.  Be sure to stir/shake well before each use).

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FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]

To your health!

UPDATED – Hyperactive Thyroid, Toxic Multinodular Goiters, and Hyperparathyroid Adenoma

auto-immune, cancer, crunchy, Graves Disease, healing, health, homeopath, hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, nutrition, parathyroid, thyroid, wellness

 

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My goiter from Graves’ Disease (a/k/a Hyperactive thyroid)

**UPDATE 10/11/17:  I went for a physical the other day, at my family doctor’s office, and they sent me for bloodwork.  I’ve been experiencing diabetes symptoms, and it runs in the family, so I wanted to get checked out.  While my blood tests came back mostly normal for diabetes (even though it revealed that I’m pre-diabetes), my doctor was concerned that my calcium level was high.  What the heck could high calcium do!?  Well, I’ll tell you why you should be concerned if your calcium level is ever higher than a 10.

Anything above 10 on your blood work is considered high.  Mine was 10.7 on this current test.  In 2015 it was 11.0 and in 2014 it was 10.8.  I am not sure why my doctor didn’t say anything about my level being high in 2014 or 2015, but I’m grateful that he looked into it further this time.  With the latest symptoms I’ve been experiencing over the past year or so, he decided to send me back to the lab for a PTH test (parathyroid hormone test).

Apparently, if both your calcium and parathyroid levels are high, you more or less have a parathyroid tumor called an “adenoma.”  They are almost always benign (less than 1 in 2500 are cancerous), but this little bugger wreaks havoc on your body.  It basically pulls calcium out of your bones (even your teeth!), and the calcium floats around in your blood stream because you are unable to absorb it.  This causing many frustrating symptoms that make you feel ill just about all of the time.  There is a more scientific explanation at Parathyroid.com, they are experts and only deal with parathyroid diseases.

I’ve had all sorts of symptoms that I’ve never been able explain for about 9 years now.  It’s so frustrating to have your thyroid checked yearly, only to get a normal result – but still know there is something wrong with your body.  Doctors begin to think you’re making up!  After my doctor ordered me to get the parathyroid blood test, I Googled “parathyroid adenoma” symptoms – I have almost all of them.  It also went on to say that there is a quick procedure to remove the tumor (less than 20 mins!), with a small incision on your neck and a quick recovery, as opposed to the old school surgery with an 8″ incision!  (yikes!!)  They say that once the troublemaker tumor is removed, you are cured.  You are basically supposed to feel normal again within hours, days or months (depending on how long you’ve been sick).  I cannot contain my excitement!!  I don’t even remember what normal feels like!!  I’m basically praying I have this tumor, so that I can get it taken out and feel normal! haha!

I got the results of my PTH tests back and my level is 110 pg/mL.  Normal levels are between 15 and 65 pg/mL.  So, it looks like I have the tumor.   I scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist at Northwestern here in Chicago.  I am assuming he will diagnose me with hyperparathyroid adenoma, and when he does, I am scheduling the surgery ASAP.  I am aching (no pun intended) to feel better!

I will update again in November or December, after my appointment with the endocrinologist.


 

(Original blog)

Back in 1996, when I was in high school, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, called Grave’s Disease (a/k/a hyperactive thyroid) and was told I also had toxic multinodular goiters on my thyroid.  The goiter was benign, thank God, but the symptoms of the disease were rough on me as an already self-conscious teenager.

[The thyroid is a small gland in the neck just below the Adam’s apple.  Its primary function is to produce hormones that influence most of the metabolic functions of the body.  Three primary thyroid conditions, of which I will mention later, can occur for a variety of reasons and each carry their own set of annoying symptoms.]

So, at 16, my daily life was filled with nervousness, anxiety, shakiness, excessive sweating, losing hair around the hairline, large eyes and pupils, feeling sick if I hadn’t eaten, and basically looking anorexic due to the inability to gain weight.  I also had a lump growing on my lower neck called a goiter.  Just lovely.

At times it was hard to sleep on my stomach because my pillow would push against my tender goiter.  I started sleeping with a stuffed bear under my chest to lift up my neck.  This would relieve any pressure on my goiter.

There were one “bonus” in having a hyperactive thyroid – I could eat an entire pizza every day of the week, or 2 pints of Hagen Daaz ice cream in one sitting, and not gain an ounce!  Being skinny may sound like a good thing, but it’s not in this case.  And I can’t tell you how many people have asked me “how can I get a hyper-thyroid!?”  Trust me people, you don’t want one!!

One particularly hard part about having this disease as a teen was that kids at school would ask me if I were anorexic.  A friend once approached me in the hallway at school, and asked if I were sick because I had a lump on my neck (goiter).  I didn’t “fill out” the school bathing suit in gym class like the other girls, because I was too skinny.   That was embarrassing, to say the least.

Finally, after a year or so on antithyroid medications – Synthroid and PTU – my doctor scheduled me to have the radioactive iodine treatment (“RAI”) at the Nuclear Medicine department of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital.  This was to try to stop my thyroid from producing too much thyroid hormone.  This treatment is serious business – the doctor dons protective gloves and drops a radioactive iodine pill down your throat.  You aren’t even allowed to touch it.  You are then instructed not to sit by anyone who is pregnant for 3 days after treatment (!?!).  You are to flush the toilet 3 times each time you go, and eat with paper plates and plastic forks.  They don’t want any of your bodily fluids touching someone else.  (And maybe my future children will have 3 heads?)

I wondered, if the radioactivity in my body could harm someone else just by sitting next to them, what radioactive residue could it leave behind that might wreak havoc in my future?  While the future of my health is unknown, I am thankful that my thyroid has currently, and for the past 22 years, not given me any trouble since RAI treatment.  This is actually pretty rare because most people end up turning hypo (underactive) after this treatment, and need to take Synthroid for the rest of their lives.  I am basically cured, hopefully forever, of the overproduction of thyroid hormone in my thyroid.  I still have goiters, and I still get yearly blood tests.  So, it’s not completely out of my life.

My goiter isn’t as noticeable now, but I still get a tad self-conscious when I wear a short necklace, which accentuates my lump.  Sometimes I feel the necklace is like a blinking arrow on the Vegas strip, directing your gaze to my lovely lump!  (Said lump is depicted in the photo at the top of this page).


TYPES OF THYROID DISORDERS

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a where the thyroid is not producing enough of the thyroid hormones, which may lead to a variety of symptoms, such as:  obesity, joint pain, infertility, heart disease, tiredness, depression, lack of concentration, feeling cold, constipation, muscle cramps, weight gain, increased menstrual flow, more frequent periods, itchy skin and thinning hair.  It is most common in women, over 50.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

This is where the body attacks the thyroid tissue.  This results in inflammation and damage to the tissue.  Which then results in reduced amounts of the hormones normally generated by the thyroid.

Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid increases your metabolism, like you wouldn’t believe.  It causes sudden weight loss (I was 96 lbs my senior year in high school), a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nervousness and irritability.  More symptoms include: insomnia, anxiety, irritability, bulging eyes, weakness in arms/legs, shaky hands, frequent bowel movements, weight loss, racing heartbeat, premature grey hair, lighter menstrual flow, less frequent periods.   All of which I experienced as a 16 year old.  Ugh…

Various forms of hyperthyroidism include:

Graves’ disease
Toxic adenomas
Subacute thyroiditis
Goiters/Nodules


 CONVENTIONAL TREATMENTS

Antithyroid Medications
Thyroid Removal
Radioactive Iodine (RAI)
Alternative wellness support (i.e., essential oils, healthy eating, supplements, lemon tonic (see my blog on these), etc.)


ESSENTIAL OILS FOR THYROID

While I am not on any thyroid medications, I do try and support my thyroid with a natural approach.  There are a few essential oils can be a huge help in supporting your endocrine system, especially your thyroid.  Some of which include:  Myrtle, Lemongrass and Frankincense.

Myrtle oil is what they call an “adaptogen” type of oil.  It has been discovered through research that myrtle oil has the ability to support the natural balance of the thyroid hormone – whether under-performing or over-performing.  (see research by Dr. Daniel Penoel).

Rub 1-3 diluted drops of myrtle oil onto your big toe, or on your neck below where the Adam’s apple would sit, once or twice a day. You can also intensify this thyroid support by blending lemongrass or frankincense – they are both the “intensifiers.”

Should you wish to make a rollerball bottle, for easy application, of myrtle and lemongrass, or lemongrass and frankincense, be sure to dilute it as follows:

Add 10 drops of an essential oil to any 5mL roller bottle.  Add 20 drops of an essential oil if you are using a 10mL roller bottle.  Then, you would fill the remainder of the roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil.  This is roughly a 1:10 ratio.  Or see chart below.  The colored drops show how many actual drops of oil to use in the corresponding bottle size, and the gray drop shows the percentages it would represent for each of those colored drops.  I hope it makes sense.  (It confused me at first!)  (See note in red below)

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FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]


If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, please make an appointment with a good Endocrinologist.  They will take the appropriate blood tests to see if you have low or high thyroid hormone levels.

Blessings and good health to you!

Karen

DIY Facial Serum

clean, cleanliving, diy, do-it-yourself, empowerment, essential oils, gifts, gluten-free, health, holistic, homeopath, homeopathic, natural living, organic, pure, recipe, wellness

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Facial serums are an important part of a skin-care regimen, just as much as a good cleanser and moisturizer.  Serum will provide nourishment and soothing to your skin.

If you have acne-prone skin, you would benefit from a light, astringent serum to keep your face moisturized and nourished without clogging pores.  And you will also want to use as a toner, either Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, or organic witchhazel – or both combined (witchhazel-based toner is the best for your skin, as it will not dry it out like an alcohol-based toner would). Toner is always a must in any skin care regimen because it firms, tightens and tones the skin.

If you are 25 or older, I would highly recommend using an anti-aging facial serum.  It’s never too early to start nourishing your skin.  As skin ages, it loses its elasticity and starts to sag.  Without proper moisture and nourishment, you may end up looking like an American bulldog by the time you are 60.  Sorry, it’s truth – and the truth hurts sometimes…

Let’s get started!


FIRST, choose your carrier oil – which is your main ingredient.  It’s also known as a base oil.  Below are a list of very light base oils that will not leave your skin sticky or greasy.  I would try to always get organic or cold-pressed:

Argan oil (for dry, aging, oily, normal, or acne-prone skin)
Jojoba oil (for dry, aging, oily, normal, or acne-prone skin)
Apricot kernel oil (for any skin type, but especially dry, aging skin)
Sweet almond oil (thicker, and takes longer to sink in, but nourishing)
Grapeseed oil (for normal, oily, or acne-prone skin)
Avocado oil (for dry and aging skin)
Hemp seed oil (for any skin type, also very light)
Calendula oil (extremely healing to irritated, sensitive skin)

My favorite base oils are jojoba oil or sweet almond oil.  They are very lightweight and do not clog pores.


SECOND, you will choose an extra oil, for added nourishment (optional, but very beneficial).  Here are some extra oils:

Tamanu oil (good for acne-prone or oily skin, or skin with scars)
Sea buckthorn oil (for all skin types, but especially aging or dry skin)
Rosehip seed oil (regenerating, firming, anti-aging)
Carrot seed oil (super nourishing! – you only need a miniscule amount
Borage oil (high in oleic acids – for most skin types, especially oily & acne-prone skin)
Evening primrose oil (acne, aging, normal skin)
Neem oil (antimicrobial and healing – for acne and oily skin)
Emu oil (emollient, protective and nourishing – for dry or aging skin)


THIRD, choose your favorite essential oils that work best according to your specific skin care needs.  You will only need a few small drops of essential oil as they are super potent.  (See note in red below)

Here are the most-used essential oils in skin care:

Lavender (oily or dry skin)
Peppermint (oily or dry skin)
Chamomile (soothing for sensitive skin)
Rose (for aging, dry and normal skin) (Unless you are the CEO of Microsoft, you may not be able to afford this oil!  My company finally sells it, and it’s pre-diluted so it’s cheaper!  Hallelujah!)
Geranium (for dry, sensitive, aging, and normal skin)
Lemongrass (brightens/tones – for normal or oily skin)
Rosemary (moisturizes oily skin)

FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal.  Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where.  The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity.  They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent.  If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

**[PLEASE NOTE:  According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]


LAST, take the dropper top off of a 1-oz glass bottle and:

1.  Fill your bottle just under 2/3 of the way with your base oil.

2.  Add “extra” oil until the bottle is just about full (If you are using carrot seed oil, only use a few drops)

3.  Add 5-7 drops of essential oil.  (Less if you’re using peppermint!! – and make sure to keep away from eyes).  Put the cap on your bottle and shake well.  You should be able to smell the oils, but it should not be overwhelming.

Apply 2-3 drops to face and neck after cleansing, and before your moisturizer.  If you use toner, use it after the toner.  You will not need a moisturizer after applying the serum – it should give you enough moisture on its own.  Keep your serum out of the sunlight (use a dark colored class bottle, such as amber or cobalt blue).  Give it a little shake each time before you apply the serum, to make sure the oils are well combined.  It should be good for up to 12 months.

This recipe may need tweaking, to accommodate your skin care needs.  We all have different skin types, and an oil that is good for one may not be good for another.  I would suggest by making only a small amount at first.  If it ends up not working for your face, you can always rub it on your body to moisturize before bed, or add it to your whipped body butter (see my recipe HERE).  The mixture will still benefit your skin, and does not need to go to waste.

To learn more about essential oils, or the brand I use, comment below.  I’m happy to help point you in the right direction.

Blessings