26 February 2013

Secret to a Great Smoothie

I was never very fond of smoothies, at least not the ones that were commercially available at smoothie bars or in restaurants. I tried my hand at them at home, but I wasn't crazy about them either. They just tasted like fruit, ice and water, not very appealing really... Then one day, I found the secret ingredient that changed my opinion of smoothies forever...bananas. Not just any ol' run of the counter top, room temperature banana, but a frozen banana that will turn mere fruit into creamy, frosty, deliciousness...

So, I was hooked on smoothies. I began to fill my freezer with bananas to make them with. But the bananas didn't keep very well in the freezer. After a week or so, they would start to turn brown and take on a bitter aftertaste. I was only able to freeze about a weeks worth of bananas at a time. But my busy life often distracted me from the banana freezing schedule and I would open the freezer with anticipation, only to be disappointed when I discovered we were out of frozen bananas... sigh...

So I figured out by trial and error the best way to get quantities of bananas in the freezer with very little fuss and virtually no waste from bananas that went brown and bitter. I purchase organic bananas in quantity, 6 or more large bunches at a time and let them ripen out on the counter. For optimal sweetness, you want your bananas to ripen thoroughly. I let mine get very speckled, just one step shy of a banana bread banana, but not to the point of being squishy. If they are too soft they will be difficult to get into the bags to freeze.
** This is an important part of the process...always peel your bananas before you freeze them!** A friend of mine took my suggestion and froze some bananas for smoothies for the kids one summer. A few days later I got a call from her asking me what the trick was for getting the peels off the frozen bananas so she could use them... I said, peeling them before they went in the freezer was the trick... she didn't think that was funny.   Once the bananas are ripe, set aside a few minutes to process them and get them into the freezer all at once. I like to have all the items necessary for the process close at hand, so that the peeled bananas are not exposed to the air for very long. I have found that using a Seal-a-Meal vacuum sealer is the optimal way to package bananas for the freezer. The thick plastic Seal-a-Meal bags help protect the fruit and the vacuum sealing eliminates browning due to oxidization. Depending on the size of the banana I break them into 2 or 3 pieces, (usually 2, that way I know that 2 pieces equals 1 banana when it is smoothie making time). I put 6-8 bananas in a bag, depending on the size of the bananas and pack them in tightly.

I date the bags so that I know which bananas to use first, since when I am about half way through my supply of bananas, I get more and start the ripening process,so there could be bananas from different dates in the freezer at one time. I make the bag large enough to accommodate 6-8 bananas tightly packed , leaving 2-3 inches of extra bag to be used when sealing the bag. ** I always reuse my Seal-a-Meal bags, since they are kind of expensive. I use them 2 or three times for bananas, washing and drying them carefully each time I empty a bag. The bag will hold less bananas per use, since you have to cut the bag open and then leave a few inches for sealing the next time it is used. When after they are too small for storing bananas, I use them for other things like leftovers, etc.**   
The open edge of the bag goes into the channel of the Seal-a-Meal. The bag needs to be smooth so that there are no wrinkles that could cause it not to seal properly.

 Lock down the handle on the right side and press the seal button. The vacuum will evacuate the air. Once all the air is removed from the bag and it is drawn up tight against the bananas, the heat strip will come on and heat seal the bag. At this point there should be no room between bananas and the whole bag should feel solid, with no wiggle room. When the bag is opened for use, I cut as close as possible to the strip where it was heat sealed, so the bag can be used again. Once opened I put the Seal-a-Meal bag inside a gallon sized freezer Ziploc-style bag, with the top folded over and all the air pressed out of the bags to prevent undue exposure to the air.

Place the bananas in the freezer, being sure to put the most recent bags on the bottom. So that the oldest bananas get used first.

If you don't have a Seal-a-Meal, you can store bananas in freezer bags.I use quart sized bags, put the bananas in tightly, seal all but an inch of the zip seal and then press out as much air as possible, and then quickly press the last inch of zip seal closed with a finger while keeping the air out with my other hand.. Then I put two of the quart sized bags in a recycled Gallon Ziploc-style bag, to give them a second layer of protection.

I know that sounds like a lot of trouble, but it really takes far less time to do than it does to talk about it! The really nice thing is that when properly sealed, the bananas will last for months in the freezer and be just as sweet and nice as the day they were put in the freezer!

Now on to the good part... here are a few of my recipes for some simple, yet delicious smoothies!

This recipe is a summertime favorite. I freeze fruits that come out of our garden all summer so that I can pick and choose which fruits to go in it. This is great for making popsicles as well.

                       Whatever You've Got Fruit Smoothie

Makes a blender full which will serve 3-4 or will serve two and make a couple of trays of popsicles
2 bananas
1 handful frozen strawberries2 handfuls frozen mangoes or peaches
1 handful frozen or fresh blueberries, blackberries or cherries
enough fruit juice to make smoothie the desired consisitency 1 1/2- 2 cups. I use unsweetened pineapple juice or 100% fruit juice,(cranberry, cherry berry, pomegranate).

In blender put bananas, and mangoes and enough juice to blend, (start with 1/2 cup), once that is pretty well blended, add the rest of the fruit. Pour the juice through the hole in the lid and pulse to get the blender to chew through the fruit chunks. Continue to add juice until the blender has blended the berries into the bananas and mango and the blender is churning the mixture without any trouble. How much liquid you add is up to you, make it as thick or as thin as you desire. This is a great kid pleaser. The nice thing is that it is a great way to get more fruit into their diet with no complaint.

                       Almond Milk Shake

This serves one, but can be doubled and will still easily fit in the blender
1 large frozen banana or 1 1/2 bananas if small
1 large Medjool date, pitted and soaked in small amount of almond milk, (just enough to cover it)
1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.
Optional:  dash of cinnamon.

Place the bananas, almond milk soaked date(plus soaking liquid), and 1/2 cup of almond milk in the blender. Blend until all the pieces of banana and date are blended into a thick shake, at this point add optional ingredients if desired. Add more almond milk if you desire a smoothie that isn't quite so thick.
It thick and sweet and in my opinion tastes better than a milk shake. It is virtually guilt free, since it is made with fruit and unsweetened almond milk, so there is no dairy, or sweetener in it.

The next smoothie is my mid afternoon pick-me up. It has raw cacao which helps with leveling of blood sugar and is a good source of magnesium, as well as PEA the  "feel good" neurotransmitter, Tryptophan and Serotonin. Raw cacao is beneficial to the cardiovascular system, antioxidants in the raw cacao have been clinically proven to literally dissolve plaque built up in the arteries which helps in reversing heart disease and causes naturally lower blood pressure.  I also add Maca, the Peruvian "superfood", which increases energy, endurance and stamina and has 27 trace minerals including Selenium. It is instrumental in helping the body to regulate hormonal processes. It can be used to treat hormonal dysfunctions caused by menopause in women and andropause in men. It really helps to reduce my hot flashes, but I am careful to have this mid-afternoon, since it has a stimulating effect and can interfere with sleep if consumed too late. All that said, it is yummy and chocolaty, with a slightly nutty flavor. And like the other almond shake is raw, vegan, and pretty much guilt free.

                         Healthy, Raw, Chocolate Almond Shake

Blender will accommodate ingredients to serve two so this can easily be doubled
1-1 1/2 bananas
3/4 to 1 cup almond milk ( more or less to obtain desired thickness)
1 rounded tsp. organic raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp. organic Maca
Optional: splash of Monin Hazelnut  flavoring syrup
Place 3/4 cup almond milk in blender, add other all ingredients and blend until smooth. Add  more almond milk to obtain desired thickness.

Blog Hops This post is linked to:
Homestead Barn Hop #100 
HomeAcre Hop#8 
Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop#97
Farmgirl BlogFest #22
Clever Chicks Blog Hop #23
Sustainable Suburbia
Country Homemaker Blog Hop #56
Hearthfelt Hopes Blog Hop#1
Frugally Sustainable Blog Hop#66 

20 February 2013

Making "Raw" Sauerkraut

My family is of European blood, (my maiden name was Wilson...), so sauerkraut was a staple in the larder and on the table when I was growing up. My grandmother grew cabbage, huge headed Dutch Flat cabbages, to make sauerkraut in the fall. It was a messy, somewhat stinky process, but I loved being part of the process and seeing the jars of kraut lined up on the shelves, alongside the green beans, pickled beets and chow chow. My grandmother didn't like caraway so we didn't have that in the kraut, and it had a mighty strong, tart flavor, to the uninitiated, but it was one of my childhood comfort foods, alongside Spaatzle and pickled beets.

Today, I do hot water bath can some sauerkraut, for my emergency pantry, but I have found that there is a more nutritious, flavorful variety of kraut that can be made for every day consumption. Raw sauerkraut is good for the "gut", it provides a balanced amount of flora to the intestines. It is a great source of pro-biotic bacteria, but unlike yogurt is not a dairy product, and doesn't have to be refrigerated. Being a vegan, I don't eat dairy, so I need another source of pro-biotic bacteria, sauerkraut fits the bill nicely.

                                           Making Raw Sauerkraut 

Equipment needed:

Food processor
1/2 gallon mason jar
Sharp knife
Measuring spoons
Wooden mallot
4 oz. mason jelly jar

4+ pounds cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 apples, peeled and grated
4 tsp unrefined salt
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

Save 2 large cabbage leaves from head.
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl except for the 2 cabbage leaves.
2. Pound or massage for 15 minutes or until there is plenty of juice.
3. Pack a 64 oz mason jar 3/4 full.
4. Cover with cabbage leaves and weigh down.
5. Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 days.
If vegetables get slimy or turn brown, throw them out. If any white yeast develops on top, scrape
it off; it is not harmful, but tastes unpleasant.

Combine the shredded cabbage, apple, carrot, salt and caraway seed in a large bowl.

With a large, long handled, wooden mallot, (I got mine at a Latin grocery store, it is a chocloate stirrer), or a heavy potato masher, pound the ingredients to break the cabbage down and release the juices. You should pound the cabbage mixture vigorously, scraping and moving the cabbage around to make sure that you get to all the cabbage equally. Close to the end of the process take both hands and squeeze the cabbage mixture to expel juices that may be left in the cabbage.
My husband volunteered to do the mashing for me

You will know when you are done mashing when you place the palm of your hand down firmly on the cabbage mixture and the liquid flows over the top of your hand.

Once the cabbage is ready, take cabbage mixture by the handful and put it in the 1/2 gallon jar. Pack it in tightly with your fist. Continue to do this until the jar is 3/4 full of packed cabbage mix.

When Jar is 3/4 full pour in some of the juice from the bowl to stand 1 inch above the packed cabbage.

 At this point it is time to take the reserved outer leaves of the cabbage and position them on top of the packed cabbage in the jar. Press them down firmly to force out any air that may be trapped between the leaves and the packed cabbage and to cause the juices to flow over the top of the cabbage leaves until they are covered.

Take small 4 oz. mason jar and place it in the mouth of the 1/2 gallon jar. If you don't have a 4 oz. jelly jar then another jar will do, but you must be very careful to choose a jar that will fit loosely into the 1/2 gallon jar, leaving room on the sides so that the smaller jar does not become stuck in the neck of the 1/2 gallon jar. It also must not stick up above the top of the jar or this lid might not fit on when you go to screw it on. If you can't find a jar that will fit, a sealed ziploc sandwich bag full of small glass marbles will do the trick as well. Press down to force liquid up the sides of the smaller jar, but not over the top.

Place lids on the jar and tighten. Put the jar a plastic container, (I used a plastic shoe box sized storage container, but a recycled salad container or even a mixing bowl will serve),  to keep the juice from getting on the counter should it bubble out during the fermentation process.
This photo shows two jars of Kraut. The recipe only makes one jar of Kraut, but I doubled the recipe for my own use so this photo shows two jars.

Leave the sauerkraut to ferment undisturbed for 5 -10 days. I usually go the full 10 days to allow ample time for the cabbage to completely ferment and the flavor to develop.

I refrigerate after the fermentation process, just to be sure the kraut doesn't go bad, but if the kraut is kept covered with juice and something  heavy is sitting on it to keep kraut submerged, then it could be left out, unrefrigerated. As was done in days gone by. Let your own sensibilities help you to choose whether or not you refrigerate the sauerkraut when it is done. Spoilage would be indicated by browning, foaming and a foul smell.

Most of the time I just eat the sauerkraut as a side dish to my meals, but it is great to top a tossed vegetable salad, or on a Reuben sandwich. This is a definite keeper for anyone on a vegan or raw diet, since it is both a probiotic and a raw food.  If you try this recipe, stop back by and comment and tell me what you think of it and what recipes you used it in. I would be delighted to hear from you!

Blog Hops This is Linked to:
Clever Chicks Blog Hop#22
Homestead Barn Hop #99
HomeAcre Hop#7 
Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #97 
Farmgirl Blog Fest #21
Sustainable Suburbia.net Sustainable-Living-Blogs
The Country Homemaker Hop #55
The Busy Bee's 5th Thursday Blog Hop
Clever Chick Blog Hop # 23
Homestead Barn Hop #100 
Hearthfelt Hopes #1

13 February 2013

Check out the Tabs

Across the top of the blog, under the banner is a selection of tabs that take you to pages of information that are not on the regular blog. I have done this so that I could have ongoing conversations an particular subjects. There is much information in these tabs that never appears on the regular blog page, so be sure to check them out as well!
                                                 Keep It Simple

This is where I share my thoughts on home schooling, homesteading, my personal philosophy and what we do to try to live a simple life.

                                         The Fruit of the Matter 

Is a collection of tutorials on preparing fruit, with recipes and tips for handling fruit.

                                       Our Costa Rican Adventure

Is a collection of stories of our days spent on a mountain farm in Costa Rica. There is also a link to my husband's Costa Rican travel blog, where he talk about our experiences in traveling around Costa Rica.

                              My Other Blog: Art of a Letter

Art of a Letter
This is a short explanation and a link to my mail art and letter writing blog. Come for a visit!

I will be adding more pages in the near future: a tab for recipes, where I will share my family's favorite recipes, as well as an index of the recipes that I have in blog posts. I will be creating a tab for information on herbs and herbal remedies, and one that holds a list of my favorite books, my reviews on books I have in my library and links to information on homesteading, gardening, homeschooling, herbal medicine and more. I will post an announcement as I get these tabs up on the blog so you won't miss any of the fun!

11 February 2013

Herbal Salve

Fall is normally the time when I make my tinctures and salves for the year. This year things were very hectic during the fall due my husband's heavy work schedule, so I had more on my plate at home due to his absence. I was rejoicing about how well we had done to keep everything current and under control, when I started coming down sick in early December. It was then that I realized I hadn't gotten my tinctures or salves done... Sigh... So I had to try to fight off a respiratory infection without my front line herbal remedies. So after a month of being sick, I finally felt well enough to get started on what I neglected to get done in the fall. The tinctures are a week away from being ready to bottle and today I finally got around to finishing and potting up my healing salve. This salve is a life saver. I use it for everything, scrapes, rashes, cuts, stings, bites, bruises...it helps with them all! I make a years supply at one time and then don't think about it again until fall rolls around.

It sure feels good to see my stack of jars full of herbal goodness. It is similar to the feeling I get when I look in the pantry after the harvest canning spree, and see all those jars of food lined up on my shelves. It is a feeling of accomplishment, but also, I feel safer just knowing that I have done what I can to be ready to meet my family's needs.

 I have been chewing through the pile of tutorials I have had in the que for some time, once I have caught up with what I planned to post in 2012, I will do a tutorial on making salves. Salves are fun to make and are very helpful to have in your medicine cabinet and bug out bag. I will be looking forward to sharing that with you soon. I would love to hear what herbal remedies you depend on, so please feel free to leave a comment telling what you do to keep your family well!

07 February 2013

Growing Food in the Winter

Most years, we grow in our garden for three seasons and the take the coldest months off. But since we have been eating vegan and juicing regularly, we have gone to gardening all four seasons. Organic produce is expensive anytime, but is particularly so in the winter when everything is imported from warmer climes. So we have cut our grocery costs substantially by growing our own leafy greens ad root crops.

We live in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Our winters are mild in comparison to those who live in the north, but even in the north, with a little inexpensive shelter, some produce may be grown to keep fresh stuff on the table and to help with grocery bills. Even here in the south, our temperatures get down into the teens at times during the winter, so we have to chose what we grow in the winter months carefully.
There are may heirloom and open pollinated varieties of vegetables that can be grow in the winter. At the moment, I have these growing in my garden: Blue Scotch Kale, Mixed Wild Kale, Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach, Tatsoi, Bok Choi, Turnips, Lollo Rosso, Black Seeded Simpson and Cos Romaine Lettuces, Escarole, Russia Red Mustard, Bright Lights Swiss Chard,Jersey Wakefield Cabbage and Fava Beans. All but the lettuces are just planted out in the garden. The lettuces are under a green house tunnel to give them a little extra protection and solar heat. All of these vegetables will withstand cold temps., frost and intermittent freezes, as a matter of fact the kale is sweeter with a frost or two under its belt!. A few nights ago, it was 19 degrees over night with a heavy frost in the early hours. The plants were all covered with frost, and were frozen solid. When I went to pick some kale for my morning green drink, and the kale I snipped shattered in my hand since it was frozen. But when the sun came up and the temps. rose above freezing the plants were all fine. Some of the older leaves on the turnips and swiss chard looked a little wilted, but that was the worst of it.

Kale is frozen solid and frosted over, but is sweeter after a frost or two

This bed has Blue Scotch kale, Wild Mix kale, Tatsoi Oriental greens,and  Bloomsdale spinach

A bed of Jersey Wakefield Cabbages are almost ready to be made into sauerkraut

a greenhouse tunnel made from PVC pipe and 6 mil plastic gives Lollo Rosso, Cos Romaine and Black seeded Simpson lettuces some protection from the harshest weather and raises the temp enough to insure good growth.

It is possible to grow winter crops out of doors even if you don't have room for a garden in your yard, or if you live in an apartment and have no ground at all. Many winter veggies will grow quite happily in containers on sunny porch, deck, balcony or tucked up against a south or west facing foundation wall. They are easy to grow, have no pests in the winter and require only a minimal amount of care. Lettuce and other greens have shallow roots can be grown in flower boxes, or even re purposed rain gutters. Deeper rooted plants like  as well as beets, carrots, turnips, cabbage and brussel sprouts will grow beautifully in two gallon buckets with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. I like to plant cabbages and pansies together in oak tubs as a practical, eatable yard ornament.

Beyond growing winter vegetable outside, there are a wide variety of nutritious, tasty, easy ways to grow food on your kitchen counter. Many bean and vegetable seeds can be sprouted in jars and consumed in salads and on sandwiches, as well as added to things like sushi, fresh spring rolls and as topping for tacos. I keep a steady supply going of clover, radish, broccoli, mung and lentil sprouts; which add interest, taste and texture to many of the foods we eat every day. Sprouts are a powerhouse of nutrition, take less than a square foot of counter space, and very little effort to grow.

Left: Mixed salad sprouts with anasazi, garbanzo and mung beans, Middle: mung beans Right: clover seed

Each item that you grow at home is an item that doesn't have to be bought at a premium at the grocery store. For example, yesterday I went out to the garden and picked a basketful of curly kale, I pinched a handful of parsley, harvested two turnips and cut the a third of the greens tops off a few of my fall planted onions. I used the parsley and onion tops in tabbouleh for noshing on this week, I made a dressed kale, turnip and grapefruit salad for lunch, and for dinner I used the last of my sweet potatoes, turnip greens and the rest of the turnip root that wasn't used in the lunch salad, to make a delicious plate of lightly steamed turnips and greens topped with sweet potato hummus and pistachios.

Kale, Turnip and Grapefruit Salad with Miso Dressing and Steamed Turnip greens with Sweet Potato Hummus

 If I had gone to the store rather than the garden to get my produce, I would have paid $1.50 for a bunch of parsley, 99 cents for a bundle of green onions, $3.99 for a bundle of commercially grown kale, at least 3.99 for the turnips, and another $2-3 for the turnip greens, (which are sold separately from the turnips), $2.50 for sprouts to top the tabbouleh. By picking a few things out of my garden and building meals around them I saved my grocery budget more than $15.97 for one day's meals,   ( I didn't price out the sweet potatoes, since I have no idea what they sell for so the savings was more than what I calculated). If I had quoted the price for organic produce, the savings would have been higher. If I go one step further than that and guesstimate that I use on the conservative side, $10 a day from my garden, then in a month I would have saved $300 dollars by growing my own produce this winter. Actually, the savings would be higher, since we juice at least six bunches of greens, (a mixture of kale, spinach, oriental veggies, and chard or beet tops), every week in addition to our regular meals.

It is well worth the time and effort in dollars and cents to grow your own produce, even in the winter. But the biggest reason for doing so is that you have the freshest, purest,most nutritious and the tastiest food possible to feed those who gather around your table.

                              Kale, Turnip and Grapefruit Salad
                                          with Miso Dressing
For Salad
1 bunch Curly Kale, washed well and spun dry
2 medium sized turnips
1 ruby red grapefruit, section and reserve juice, (be sure to squeeze all the juice out of the membranes after sectioning)
1/2 red onion
1 handful of Craisins
pinch of nigella seed or black sesame seed
For Dressing
Reserved Grapefruit juice
Enough  Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar to bring grapefruit juice up to 1/3 cup
1/3 extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
2 Tbsp. uma plum vinegar (or substitute with balsamic vinegar)
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. hemp seed ( if you don't have it on hand it is OK without it, the dressing will just not be quite as creamy)
1 Tbsp. white miso (or barley miso if you prefer it to be richer)
1-2 cloves garlic, (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 Tbsp. honey or agave

Place all ingredients in personal rocket blender, (or in regular blender if you don't have a personal blender), blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust oil/acid balance, by adding a little more oil or more acid depending on what you think it needs. Only1/3 cup of this dressing is needed to for kale salad, but it keep a very long time in the fridge and can be used on regular salads or just kept on hand for the kale salad if you end up making it more than once. This salad dressing or a variation there of, is what we normally use on our dinner salads. It is full flavored, with a nice tang. You won't need to use much since it has a lot of flavor and sticks well to greens, so the dressing doesn't end up in the bottom of the bowl.

Cut the kale into thin strips. Slice the red onion thinly and toss with kale to distribute. With a latex gloved hand, gently "massage" 1/4 to 1/3 cup of dressing little at a time into kale and onions, to distribute the dressing. Only add enough to coat the leaves. Thinly slice the turnip, with a mandolin, ( if you don't have a mandolin then shave thin slices off with a vegetable peeler). Add turnip slices and grapefruit sections and toss gently with tongs to distribute. Sprinkle the top of the salad with Craisins and nigella or black sesame seed, (nigella seed can be found in an Indian grocer and it well worth looking for, the oniony peppery flavor really adds a lot to salads. If you can't find the nigella, the black sesame will do...or if you can't find either, the salad will still be good without it). Serve chilled.

 *Elliot Coleman, a four season, sustainable ag farmer, lives in Maine. He and his wife grow fresh produce for sale to restaurants in the dead of winter in Maine. He has written several very good books on the subject of four season gardening, at least one of which focuses on growing food in the winter. If you are interested in hearing more about how he does it, check out his website http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/.

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre
Blog Hops that this post is linked to: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/ , http://frugallysustainable.com/
h,http://thismindbeinyou.blogspot.com/ , http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com, http://deborahjeansdandelionhouse.blogspot.com/2013/02/farmgirl-friday-blog-hop-95.html, 

03 February 2013

Beating the Winter Blues

By the time February rolls around I have had about enough of dreary, cold weather. I am solar powered, so  cloudy skies and the low sun angle leave me feeling a bit lethargic. Some ways I have found to beat the winter blues are to boost my metabolism and keep excess pounds from creeping on in the months when I am less physically active. Every morning drink I what I call my winter tonic. The tonic detoxes and helps to boost metabolism, which aids the body with its morning cleansing cycle. I prepare it first thing in the morning and after my breakfast green drink and bowl of fruit, I sip on it over the course of the morning to give me a lift,  and to carry me over until lunch.
The winter tonic is comprised of fresh lemon juice, beet root powder, cayenne powder, honey and water. Lemon juice is full of immune boosting vitamin C, is anti-viral and anti-bacterial, and aids in weight maintenance since it is a digestive aid and liver cleanser.The beet root powder provides a wide range of nutrients but most significantly Betaine which helps the liver process fat, preventing the accumulation of fatty tissue in the liver. Beet root also reduces Triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in the blood, and so helps lower blood pressure. Beet root is high in magnesium, which aids the body in utilizing calcium and is necessary for bone production. The magnesium in beet root will help reduce bone loss due to menopause. Cayenne pepper is a powerful anti-inflammatory, helps stimulate circulation and neutralize acidity in the body, which helps to prevent cancer, (*cancer cells can not grow in an alkaline environment, so alkalizing the blood is a way to help keep cancer at bay). It also aids in digestion, relieves indigestion and heartburn, and detoxes the blood. Honey has powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antiseptic properties and has a low glycemic index, so it provides an boost of energy without playing havoc with blood sugar.
Since the winter tonic has just a few ingredients, and can be prepared in my personal blender and consumed right out of the blender container, there is very little clean up, so its preparation does not add significantly to my morning schedule. The personal blender container also has a lid so I can safely transport it if I am leaving the house.
                                                          Winter Blues Tonic

1-2 lemons (depending on size), squeezed
1 tsp. organic beet root powder
1 Tbsp. honey (raw if you can get it)
1/8 tsp., cayenne, *I do need to warn you though, that it is spicy and may take a little time to get used to the zing of the cayenne, but it grows on you and you build a tolerance to the heat. If the level of cayenne in the recipe is too much for you in the beginning, start with less and build up to the 1/8 tsp.
10 oz. of purified water

Put all ingredients in personal rocket blender or regular blender if you don't have a personal sized blender, and blend until honey is dissolved and other ingredients are well blended, (just a few seconds unless the honey is crystallized). Enjoy!

Another way that I beat the winter blues is to do my best to stay well. As a preventative measure, I use a blend of 4 essential oils, called 4X  , by Secrets of Eden, (Young Living makes a product called Thieves, which is great, but as much as I use it is out of my price range). I use it daily, especially when I am going to be out in public, to battle against bacteria and virus' that abound in the winter. Four drops on tongue will do it and chase it with a little water if needed. I have been doing this for so long that I just knock it back and swallow and I am off, but I wouldn't recommend that for a new user...

I don't like to use anti-bacterial soap or hand sanitizer due to unhealthy chemicals that are in them, so I use a natural alternative, essential oil of lemon. Since lemon oil is antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic, it work very well as a hand sanitizer, just a drop couple of drops on your hands, rub them together and you're good to go. I usually put my hands to my face and breathe deeply to get the most of that wonderful brightening scent, and to deposit lemon oil particles in my nose to fight airborne germs. I also have a diffuser that fits in my cigarette lighter in the car,  I drop lemon oil on the pad in the diffuser to fill the car with bacteria fighting essence as a second line of defense against sickness. Lemon oil has the added benefit of being antidepressant in nature, so it also helps to battle the winter blues.  If you decide to purchase essential oil of lemon, you can most likely find it at your local health food store. Please, where citrus essential oils are concerned, always purchase organic, since the skin of regular citrus is heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides.
I hope that this will help you all to win the battle with the winter blues. I would love to hear what you do to keep the blues away and stay well in the winter. Leave me a comment  and tell us all about it or come and visit A View From the Cottage on Facebook  and post something there! Hope to see you soon!

Blog Hops that this post is linked to: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/ , http://frugallysustainable.com/
h,http://thismindbeinyou.blogspot.com/ , http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com, ,http://hibiscushouse1.blogspot.com,

** If you suffer from heartburn, kidney or gall bladder problems or have a citrus allergy consult your doctor before using these remedies or drinking lemon juice. To protect your teeth enamel, wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth after chewing, drinking or rinsing with lemon juice. Rubbing lemon juice or oil and drinking lemon juice is not suitable for children under the age of 10. Lemons are effective home remedies for a variety of health concerns but in the case of serious illness always consult your doctor first.**
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02 February 2013

Find Me On Facebook

I am not really much on the whole social media thing, but I do want to connect with people who are interested in reading about homesteading, sustainable living, natural medicine, gardening, cooking, prepping and more. I have really come to enjoy blogging and I would like to be able to interact with you and hear what you are doing to have a more sustainable and simple life. I thought Facebook might be a good way to do it! So here is the Cottages Facebook URL https://www.facebook.com/HeartsEaseCottageView, come visit me there. If you would like to see what is up at the Cottage on a regular basis, LIKE A View From the Cottage so that we can get to know each other better!
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