Norwegian Krumkake Christmas Cookies with Cardamom Oil (Whew! Say that 5 times fast!)

Baking, Cardamom, Cookies, Norwegian, Uncategorized

Krumkake (pronounced “croom kaga”) is a delicious delicate and crumbly cookie that Scandinavians make at Christmas time.  Being 100% Norwegian myself, I am always looking for ways to learn about my ancestry and our traditions.  Speaking of which – I recently did a family tree through Ancestry.com.  Everything was going great…until I got out to about 300 AD, where it claimed that I was related to the Norwegian “gods,” Thor and Odin.  Wait, what??  I decided that was a good stopping point.  I mean…what could have been beyond the Norse gods in my tree?  The tooth fairy – maybe Santa Claus?

Ever since I was a child, mom would talk about the krumkake that her mom used to make them make, along with lefse, riskrem (rice pudding), spritz cookies and boller.  Out of all of those tasty treats, my mom only made boller.  I always wished she’d make krumkake, but she didn’t have the iron for it.  Krumkake was something I’ve only had at my aunt Judy’s house, and that changes now.  I’ve decided to make this a new family tradition for us now that I have my own krumkake iron!

The smell of boller (or as we called them, “Norwegian buns” or “mom’s buns” *snicker* was one of my all time favorite scents.  The scent of cardamom and sweet dough would fill the house and make it so warm and inviting.  Krumkake is not always made with cardamom, but I added it to my Christmas Krumkake recipe to give it that special nostalgic flavor I love so much.

FYI – I am not a pro – and to be completely honest with you, this was my first time making krumkake.  They should have been a little darker. Better luck next time, right?  But they did taste awesome.

To make krumkake, you first need a special iron.  What makes it special is the traditional rosemaling design on the iron plates.  You have 2 options when looking for an iron.  You could get the old fashioned iron, which you place over a hot stove and have to flip halfway through cooking.  Or, you could opt for the electronic Krumkake Express iron like I have below.  I found mine on Amazon for $50.

Once you have the batter mixed, you will place a tablespoon onto the middle of the iron and press the lid down so that it spreads the batter out to form a full cookie.  Follow the lights on the iron – red means wait, green means it’s done – no surprise.

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The below photo shows what it will look like before you gently pull it off the iron with a butter knife or a long, skinny spatula.  I put a little too much batter in this one, so it spread out over the edges.

Immediately after you remove the cookie from the iron, you have to roll it onto the cone to make the cone shape as in the photo below.  Let it sit for 10 seconds until it cools slightly.  During this time you could put some more batter on the iron to get your next cookie started.

Gently remove the cone and allow the cookie to cool completely on a wire rack.  This is important.  If you lie the cookie on parchment paper, the bottom will retain moisture and make it chewy.  You want it completely dry and crumbly.

If you make your krumkake a little darker than the one above, it will have a better chance of being delicate and crumbly.  See below.

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Perfect!

 

CHRISTMAS KRUMKAKE

1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 drops 100% pure cardamom essential oil (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom)
6 Tbs. water
Krumkake Iron

Heat your Krumkake iron (I used setting 3 on the electronic iron).  Beat butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Add flour, vanilla, and water and mix until blended.  Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes before using.  Bake the cookies according to iron instructions.  Roll the warm cookies around the stick that comes with the iron.  Let cool on wire rack COMPLETELY.  I cannot stress this enough.  Even the slightest bit of moisture will ruin the crumbliness you are looking for.  Garnish with powdered sugar.   (* If you are going to fill them with whipped cream or any other filling, you will want to do it immediately before serving.  Do not fill them ahead of time or they will get soggy, and no one likes a soggy krumkake.)

Enjoy!

Low Fat Spiced Cassia & Cardamom Glazed Pecans

essential oils, gluten-free, homemade

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Merry Christmas!

I have been wanting to do this blog for months now, and finally had some spare time.  (I know…spare time?  What is that?!)

Every Christmas, I see recipes for spiced pecans on Pinterest, and have been dying to make my own with ESSENTIAL OILS!  Weee!!!  They make wonderful flavoring agents to baked goods, in lieu of dried spices from the grocery store.  While the heat of the oven will bake off any of the health properties of the oils, the flavor will remain! 

PLEASE NOTE:  do not just use any ol’ essential oils that you find at the store.  Most oils purchased at stores are not pure and are not labeled as consumable.  Please be sure the oils you are using are from a reputable source, are labeled as consumable, and are 100% pure.  If you need some direction, please leave me your email in a comment below.
I have chosen to spice my pecans with cassia, cardamom and cinnamon.  I chose these 3 because they are perfect for the Fall/Winter holidays because they are so warm and comforting.

Cassia is one of my favorite scents to diffuse in my home when I want to make it home-y and inviting (along with cardamom and wild orange!).  Cassia smells like cinnamon, but softer and sweeter.

Cardamom is another one of my favorites.  It is used in many Scandinavian baked goods.  I grew up eating boller (or “mom’s Norwegian buns,” as we called them) *snicker* which contains this spice.  So, every time I smell cardamom, it reminds me of mom’s buns *snicker snicker*.   We’d eat them as a snack with butter and strawberry jam.  Sooooo gooood.  (I will be doing a boller blog as soon as I find more of that spare time lying around!)

Cinnamon was the final spice chosen for this tasty treat.  I could have left it out, because those other 2 spices are delicious enough on their own.  If you leave any of them out, make sure you double one of the other oils.  You want to make sure you have enough flavor.  And 2 total drops of oil doesn’t quite give the pecans enough spiciness!  (Also, if you don’t have essential oils, you could always substitute the oils with powdered spices.  I would use 1/2 tsp of each spice)

 

 

The recipe below is very easy.  If you don’t have Ziploc bags, just use 2 large mixing bowls.  If you use any different spices, be sure to comment below and let me know how they turn out –  I’d love to hear of different combos!  I have seen some recipes out there with cayenne, cumin, sriracha sauce or turmeric on their spiced nuts, but I am not a fan of super spicy things.  Cinnamon, cardamom and cassia are spicy enough!

No need to diffuse any essential oils in your home while baking these nuts.  The aroma from the nuts will fill your home and make you grab a glass of eggnog, pop in a DVD of “Elf” or “A Christmas Story” and get cozy!

 

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Gift box them and give them to a friend!

 

When the nuts are finally baked and cooled, you can put them in holiday-themed tins or mason jars and make cute and budget-friendly Christmas gifts.   You can go one step further and decorate the jars with ribbon and a fancy nametag.  Add that personal touch!  I love crafty things, but have no time to decorate, so I re-use gift boxes/tins that I’ve collected over the years.  Spiced nuts make great teacher gifts!  Put out a bowl of these nuts at a Christmas party or toss them on top of your salad.  Even kids will gobble them up!

 


Cassia Cardamom Glazed Pecans

2 egg whites
2 Tbs melted butter (can be omitted)
1/2 Tbs vanilla extract
1/2 Tbs water
1 lb pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar (I used brown)
1 drop cassia essential oil
1 drop cardamom essential oil
1 drop cinnamon essential oil
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 250°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a gallon sized freezer bag, mix together the egg whites, melted butter, vanilla extract, essential oils and water.

In a second gallon sized freezer bag, mix together the sugar and salt.

Add pecans to the bag with the egg white mixture. Seal the bag and shake around the pecans until they are evenly coated.

Transfer the coated pecans to the bag with the sugar mixture. Seal the bag and shake around until the pecans are evenly coated with the sugar mixture.

Spread the pecans on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely.


 

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Blessings,
Karen

Lemon Water Tonic – A Miracle? Seems that way!

antioxidant, cancer, clean, essential oils, healing, health, holistic, immunity, natural living, natural medicine, non-gmo, nutrition, organic, remedy, tonic, Uncategorized, wellness

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Good morning!

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 2 years later, and I can’t even remember the last time I got sick.  It’s built up my immune system a ton.)

I also now take digestive enzymes with every meal, to help my stomach break down the food.  And I take very good quality supplements from a company I represent.  I know that everything I’ve said have played their own part in my current wellness vs. 6 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:

Goodness in the Lemon

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).

Goodness in the Honey

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.

Goodness in the Apple Cider Vinegar

(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!

Goodness in the Baking Soda

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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MY LEMON WATER TONIC RECIPE

  • 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)

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!

Blessings,

Karen

Homemade Ooh La La Lip Balm!-

crunchy, diy, do-it-yourself, gluten-free, homemade, lip salve, natural living, non-gmo, organic, salve, smooth lips

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Hello!

So, I was running out of lip balm, and wanted to start making my own.  So, while I was making a batch of whipped body butter, I put together the PERFECT luxurious recipe (in my honest opinion), but there is one caveat…you have to make my Whipped Body Butter recipe first, and take some of the melted ingredients from that to make your lip balm at the same time.

But, it’s okay because BOOM! – You get TWO great products for the price/time of ONE!  (Sorry, I don’t know how much of each ingredient you would use if you made the lip balm by itself.  I would guess you could just take a teaspoonful or less of each oil/butter and 1/2 tsp of beeswax and melt them together, but I haven’t tested that yet.)

SOOTHING LIP BALM RECIPE:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup 100% organic African shea butter (find HERE)

1/2 cup 100% pure mango butter (find on Amazon)

1/2 cup organic or cold-pressed coconut oil (find at grocery store health food store)

1/2 cup organic almond oil (find HERE), organic jojoba oil (find HERE), organic shea oil (find HERE) or organic calendula oil (find HERE)

1Tablespoon of all natural-pure beeswax pellets (find on Amazon)

Essential Oils of your choice (lavender, frankincense, peppermint, spearmint, helichrysum, chamomile, etc.)

STEP 1:

Open my Whipped Body Butter Recipe HERE, and follow the first few steps so that your butters/oils are melting together in a double boiler.   Then come back here to finish this.

STEP 2:

Once all of the butters/oils have melted in your double boiler, use a ladle to scoop out about 2 Tbs of the melted mixture and place it in a small glass bowl, over a pot of water on LOW heat (or you can use a 2nd double boiler, if you have one.  I just use a glass batter bowl over a large pot of water).

STEP 3:

Add in just under a Tablespoon of pure/natural beeswax pellets and stir.

STEP 4:

Once all pellets have melted into the mixture, take the bowl out of the pot of water and let it cool in the fridge for 10 minutes or so.

Add a few drops of any essential oils of your choice (I used peppermint and a drop of Roman Chamomile, but lavender, helichrysum, frankincense or spearmint would also be good).  Stir the essential oils in well, and scoop it all into a tight-closed, small container.  (I had little containers on hand, but you can always purchase empty lip balm tubes from www.aromatools.com if you prefer a chapstick.  You get 12 for $3.00.

STEP 5:

Place in the fridge to harden up again and VOILA!! You are done!!!

DON’T FORGET!! to go back to the Whipped Body Butter recipe and finish it off so that you have some soothing body butter in addition to your soothing lip balm!

Also, if you are looking for 100% pure essential oils that are therapeutic-grade, please contact me at karekorn@gmail.com

Enjoy!!

UPDATE! DIY Natural Baby Shampoo – Forget J&J’s!

baby, clean, crunchy, diy, do-it-yourself, holistic, natural living, shampoo

UPDATE!  It has been about 2 years since I bought a bottle of the Botanic Gold (mentioned in this blog).  It still has not run out.   We’ve used it consistently for everything from foaming hand soap, to cleaning up cat puke, to all-purpose cleaner and more.   It has saved my family some pretty good coin over the past 2 years!  Just wanted to share because this stuff is freaking awesome!!! (6 /7/17)

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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 “the remaining ingredients that are essential to blend the product together and maintain effectiveness,” as is 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 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?   Does a product with pretty packaging, and the word “Natural” printed on it makes it actually good?  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 vigilant “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 called Botanic Gold, 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!)

There are actually over 200 uses for this Botanic Gold all-natural soap.  I pick mine up at Amazon.  It is super concentrated, so it will last a very long time.  While it may be $99 for a gallon, one part soap mixed with 10 parts water usually can replace all of your cleaning and skin care products…for possibly a year or more.  (No, I am not paid by Botanic Gold to say this – this soap just excites me that much).  (UPDATE:  I’m still on my first bottle and it’s 2 years later!)

It looks like this:

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The ingredients in this soap are:

Purified water, fatty acids, folic acid, organic alcohol (derived from sugarcane), minerals and enzymes derived from edible and seed bearing plants.

THAT’S IT!  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

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 a slew of health benefits.  While certain oils would be added for their cleansing properties, others can aid in relaxation/sleep, calming, skin irritations, etc.

Not all essential oils are created equal, and some brands are so impure that you cannot even be put it on your skin! What is the point of that?!  The oils I use are highly-regarded in the essential oils world, and I trust them completely due to their rigorous testing, 3rd party testing for purity.

Please comment below for more info on the specific essential oils that I use in all of my recipes or with questions. 

Blessings!
Karen

Turmeric Tea with Cinnamon, Ginger and Clove – Delicious!

Uncategorized
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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.

I am sure you have seen recipes all over Facebook and Pinterest, but if you haven’t, not to worry.  Below, I have put together some excerpts from an article on Authority Nutrition‘s website on the many benefits of turmeric:

1.  Turmeric Contains Bioactive Compounds With Powerful Medicinal Properties

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color.  It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.  Recently, science has started to back up what the Indians have known for a long time.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.  However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high… it’s around 3%, by weight.

Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day.  It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.  Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, then you need to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin.

Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream.  It helps to consume black pepper with it (which is used in the recipe at the end of this blog) which contains piperine… a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000%!!!!

Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it may be a good idea to take it with a fatty meal.

2. Curcumin is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound

While it sounds bad, nflammation is actually incredibly important.  It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage.  Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us.

Although acute (short-term) inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it is chronic (long-term) and inappropriately deployed against the body’s own tissues.

It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions.

It turns out that curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory, it is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs.

The key takeaway here is that curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammation at the molecular level.  In several studies, its potency has compared favorably to anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs… except without the side effects.

Bottom Line:  Chronic inflammation is known to be a contributor to many common Western diseases.  Curcumin can inhibit many molecules known to play major roles in inflammation.

3. Turmeric Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body

Curcumin happens to be a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure.  And curcumin also boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.

4. Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Brain Diseases

Back in the day, it was believed that neurons weren’t able to divide and multiply after early childhood.  However, it is now known that this does happen.
The neurons are capable of forming new connections, but in certain areas of the brain, they can also multiply and increase in number.

Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone.  This includes depression and Alzheimer’s disease.  There is a possibility that it could help improve memory and make you smarter.

Bottom Line: Curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.

5. Curcumin Leads to Various Improvements That Should Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world.  It turns out that heart disease is incredibly complicated and there are various things that contribute to it.  Curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process.  It also reduces inflammation and oxidation, which are also important in heart disease.

Bottom Line: Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant.

6. Turmeric Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.  There are many different forms of cancer, but they do have several commonalities, some of which appear to be affected by curcumin supplementation.

Researchers have been studying curcumin as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment.  It can affect cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level.

Studies have shown that it can reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis (spread of cancer), as well as contributing to the death of cancerous cells.

Multiple studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancerous cells in the laboratory and inhibit the growth of tumours in test animals.  Whether high-dose curcumin (preferably with an absorption enhancer like pepper) can help treat cancer in humans has yet to be tested properly.

However, there is some evidence that it may help prevent cancer from occurring in the first place, especially cancers of the digestive system (like colorectal cancer).

In one study in 44 men with lesions in the colon that sometimes turn cancerous, 4 grams of curcumin per day for 30 days reduced the number of lesions by 40%!

Bottom Line: Curcumin leads to several changes on the molecular level that may help prevent and perhaps even treat cancer.

7. Curcumin May be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia.  Unfortunately, no good treatment is available for Alzheimer’s yet.  Therefore, preventing it from showing up in the first place is of utmost importance.

There may be good news on the horizon, because curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier.

One key feature of Alzheimer’s disease is a buildup of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques. Studies show that curcumin can help clear these plaques.
Whether curcumin can really slow down or even reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease needs to be studied properly.

Bottom Line: Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to lead to various improvements in the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplementation

Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries.  There are several different types, but most involve some sort of inflammation in the joints.

Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it could help with arthritis.  Several studies show this to be true.

In a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug.  Many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis and noted improvements in various symptoms.

Bottom Line: Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by joint inflammation. Many studies show that curcumin can help treat symptoms of arthritis and is in some cases more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs.

9. Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits Against Depression

Curcumin has shown some promise in treating depression.  In a controlled trial, 60 patients were randomized into three groups.  One group took prozac, another group took a gram of curcumin and the third group took both prozac and curcumin.  After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to prozac.  The group that took both prozac and curcumin fared best.

According to this (small) study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.  Depression is also linked to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and a shrinking hippocampus, a brain area with a role in learning and memory.  There is also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.

Bottom Line: A study in 60 depressed patients showed that curcumin was as effective as prozac in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

10. Curcumin May Help Delay Aging

Given that oxidation and inflammation are believed to play a role in ageing, curcumin may have effects that go way beyond just prevention of disease.

Now for some tasty, and mega-healthy, turmeric tea!!!

Gather your ingredients.

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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!  My choices would be myrrh, clove or cinnamon bark.  But only a drop or two.)

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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If you need some direction in choosing essential oils that are pure and effective, please leave me your e-mail address below.  Happy to help!

To your health!

My Hyper-Thyroid Story

crunchy, Graves Disease, health, homeopath, hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, nutrition, thyroid, wellness

 

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

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 growing around my thyroid.  It sounds a lot worse than it is!  The goiter was benign, thank God, but the symptoms of Grave’s Disease were rough on me as an already self-conscious teenager.

The symptoms of this disease caused me to constantly be nervous, shaky, sweaty, lose hair, have large pupils, feel sick if I hadn’t eaten, and look anorexic due to the inability to gain weight.  I also had a lump growing on my lower neck called a goiter – sounds just delightful, doesn’t it?

I couldn’t sleep on my stomach because my pillow would push against my tender goiter, so I started sleeping with a stuffed bear.  I’d put the bear under my chest to lift my neck up from the pillow to relieve the pressure on my goiter.  I could eat an entire pizza myself, every day of the week, or eat 2 pints of Hagen Daaz ice cream in one sitting, and not gain an ounce (that may sound like a good thing, but it wasn’t!  Kids at school asked me if I were anorexic, and it was hurtful).  A friend once approached me in the hallway at school, and asked if I were sick because I had a lump on my neck.  After that day, I always tried covering it up with my hair so that no one would see it.

After a year or so on antithyroid medications, my doctor scheduled me to have the radioactive iodine treatment (“RAI”) at the Nuclear Medicine department of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital to fix my problem once and for all.  This treatment is serious business – the doctor dons protective gloves and drops a radioactive iodine pill down your throat, and you aren’t allowed to touch it.  You are then instructed not to sit by anyone who is pregnant for 3 days after treatment (!?!).  You are to also flush your toilet 3 times each time you go, and eat with paper plates and plastic forks and dispose of them each time.  They don’t want any of your bodily fluids touching someone else.  Scary!  If the radioactivity in my body could harm someone else by sitting next to them, what is it doing to my body on the inside!?

The radioiodine treatment is meant to stop the thyroid from overproducing thyroid hormones.  While I shudder to think what the radioactivity may have done to my insides, I am thankful that my thyroid has not given me any trouble since that treatment.  I am basically cured, but I still have to get yearly blood tests to make sure it doesn’t return.

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, pointing your direction right to my lump.  (Said lump is depicted in the photo at the top of this page).


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 problems can occur for a variety of reasons and with a variety of symptoms.

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)

 

If you notice that you are having any of these symptoms, please make an appointment with an 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