Homemade Vita Gummies

When you have picky kids like I do it becomes necessary to come up with creative and sometimes off the wall ways to get nutrients into their reluctant, gaggy little mouths.

This month I got around to trying something new. Raw veggies are one of the hardest things to get in our kids. Especially when they are sick. Which is of course when they need those nutrients most.

Enter the magic of the gelatin based gummy. I’ve blogged before about how fantastic gelatin is for the body, here. The marvelous thing about this is that you can customize it to whatever your children need. Can’t get liquid vitamins into them? Turn them into Gummies. Not sweet enough? Add Stevia or maple syrup.

Our kids have been getting raw veggie juice with whole food based Vit C. They gobble them up like they are delicacies. Haven’t the heart to break the news to them that some of their arch veggie enemies are housed in the nummy Gummies. Some secrets it’s best for a mama to keep to herself.

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The ratio of liquid to gelatin that I use is roughly 4 cups liquid to 2 and 1/2 tablespoons bovine gelatin. Additional gelatin can be added if you want them extra jiggly.

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We recently purchased a small hand juicer. It’s fun for the kids to use. Goes just fast enough to make enough juice for gummy purposes. Is easy to clean and oh so much easier than hauling out our huge electric juicer that is best suited for big jobs. Best of all it was cheap enough that even if it only lasts a couple of years it will have more than paid for itself in productive kid distractions and expedient nutrients for kids.

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Garlic Paste: Easy Peasy Poultice

Step by Step Garlic Paste Poultice

Step by Step Garlic Paste Poultice

We are big fans of Garlic in our family. We cook with it. Supplement with it. And use it medicinally. Garlic is one of the most incredibly potent antibiotics nature makes and also has components in it that boost the immune system in multiple ways. Once a fresh clove of garlic is crushed elements intermingle and create something called allicin. Allicin exhibits incredibly powerful anti bacterial and anti fungal effects. The nutritional industry has figured out ways to stabilize what is, in nature a fragile and limited time availability compound. Once a garlic clove is crushed the clock starts ticking. You only have a guaranteed 15 minutes from the time allicin is activated till the time it begins to fade. Some experts claim it lasts as long as 40 minutes. Immune boosting products that contain stabilized allicin are really fantastic and are an ideal way to get those benefits with no work and no smelly breath involved.

Supplements can be expensive. Especially for a large family on a tight budget. They also require the ability to swallow pills and are typically dosed for adults, not children.  For children, finding a way to get affordable allicin rich garlic compounds into them involves poultices. A while back I did a video tutorial on how to make a garlic poultice. This is the method we used in our family for several years and it works incredibly well. However, it is also wet and a bit on the messy side. This year a friend introduced me to the concept of Garlic Paste. We experimented with it and discovered that for our kids this is a more efficient and effective way of doing garlic poultices. So, without further ado, here is my DIY instructions on how to make:

Garlic Paste Poultice

The quantities in this tutorial should be enough for 2 to 3 pairs of child sized feet or 1 pair of large adult sized feet.

Start with a full head of fresh, raw, organic garlic. Why organic? The point of this is that it is going to be absorbed into the body and blood stream at a rapid rate. Any residual fungicides, pesticides and chemicals that are left on commercially raised garlic will be absorbed along with all the good properties. If it’s a choice between regular ol’ cheapest thing the local store has fresh garlic and none at all, by all means use what you can get. But, ideally, my recommendation will always be organic for this purpose.

Pre-minced garlic purchased at the store in glass containers, even that from the refrigerator section will not work for this purpose. Pre-peeled cloves will also not work nearly as well. Stick with the real deal still safely ensconced in it’s feathery papery layers.

Head of Raw Garlic

Head of Raw Garlic

Loosen all the outer dried layers off of it enough so that you can divide the individual cloves out. Once the cloves are separated lay on a firm surface (I use our granite counter top or a large wooden cutting board) take something solid like the flat bottom of a glass or bottom of a mortar and do a quick “whap” on each of the cloves. The purpose isn’t to crush them but to pop loose the dried individual outer peel enough so that they are easily removed.

Whapped garlic cloves Prior to Peeling

Whapped garlic cloves Prior to Peeling

Once the cloves are peeled they are ready for the next stage!

freshgarliccloves

This next stage you have a variety of options. I personally prefer using a tool we purchased a while back for this purpose. A high quality garlic press. Ours has been going strong for years. If you don’t own a garlic press you can crush the garlic with a fork and finish off the mincing with a knife. It can also be pummeled into small bits in a mortar and pestle.

Mincing the Garlic via a Press

Mincing the Garlic via a Press

This is what a head of garlic looks like after it’s minced. One of the advantages of mincing is that it goes fast and thoroughly mixes all the different parts of each clove together ensuring optimal allicin creation.

Head of Minced Garlic

Head of Minced Garlic

This is where the instructions differ from the water and heat based poultices we did before. Although some properties are drawn out faster and more effectively with the hot water it can be somewhat tricky to make sure the water isn’t too hot. Making it into a paste means that the active properties will be drawn out at a slower rate via the warmth of the skin.

A crucial component of the paste is the base the minced garlic is mixed with. Something too thin will not allow you to maintain that all important “paste like” spreadable consistency. It will also not adequately buffer or protect the skin from the burning elements of the garlic. Part of what makes the paste preferred by us is that it can be worn longer periods of time with reduced chances of irritation and burning over the water poultice method.

The original tutorial I read about this recommended using petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is a no-no in our house mostly because…well, it’s derived from petroleum. So, it was important to me to find an acceptable substitute. Coconut oil is too thin and melts too rapidly in contact with warmth. Same with olive or almond or any of my normal go-to carrier oils. The first couple of batches I used Beeyoutiful’s Body Butter. It worked incredibly well and was the perfect consistency. It’s also rather an expensive base. With a second sickness hitting our house I needed something that would be affordable to use multiple times per day. As I stood in front of our open refrigerator wracking my brain for what I could use it occurred to me. Lard! That lovely tub of white lard. Not the best smelling but relatively cheap, natural and safe.

lard

Ideally you want to use at least 50% ratio of base carrier to minced garlic. For very small children, infants or individuals with extra sensitive skin the ratio can be increased to 2 parts Lard (or carrier base of your choice) to 1 part minced garlic. Once the base and garlic are mixed together it should be a thick, spreadable concoction.

The Mixed Garlic Paste

The Mixed Garlic Paste

Although technically this paste could be used on any part of the body my preferred spot is the feet. The skin is thicker and more protected from burning there while at the same time having a very high concentration of receptors that handles the uptake of the best properties of the garlic extremely well. Make sure the footsies are clean and dry and then slather the paste on. It’s Ok to be generous!

Garlic Paste spread on the foot

Garlic Paste spread on the foot

To top the paste off you can use water proof bandages which are my preference because they are nice and tidy with minimal risk of mess leaking out as the oil warms. Ran out of those before writing up this tutorial though so used my fall-back. Folded paper towels. You want the paper towel to be folded in enough layers to keep the oil from leaking out all over everything as the mixture warms against the feet. I use medical tape to secure it in place.

tapeandpapertowels TapedPoulticePasteThe finished product on my 2 yo Cmans footsies. For the record, he isn’t crying because of the foot paste, he was on his third hour of crying in misery from the on-set of a virus with full body malaise. He felt much improved after the garlic paste treatment and ran around happily for a couple of hours despite still having a low-grade fever!

Some cautionary safety notes:

Please understand that raw garlic potency and “burn factor” can vary a lot from one batch, one harvest, one head and one variety to another. There is no way to know for sure how “hot” a particular batch of paste is going to be. For this reason please DO NOT leave on feet all night as some tutorials recommend. Far too many individuals have been burned this way. Especially do not leave on the feet of children. Check frequently to make sure no initial redness or irritation is starting. My policy is to check every 10 minutes with the paste on our children and more frequently if they start whining or complaining about it. Garlic is powerful. It has literally burned holes into peoples feet. As with all things anything that has properties to be incredibly potent also has the potential to cause harm if not used with common sense, precaution and wisdom.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if it’s “done” or if it’s been left on long enough to do a good job. A rule of thumb that has served us well is to leave it on until you can smell garlic on the breath of the individual receiving the poultice. It’s a sure sign that adequate levels of garlic have been absorbed into the blood stream to do an effective job against whatever you need it to do. As soon as we smell the garlic breath we remove the poultice immediately. And prior to that if any irritation of the feet happens.

Let me know if you try this! Happy and safe poulticing and to all a goodnight!

Sick Baby? Five Things Any Parent Can Do

Sad Squish makes for sad Daddy

Sad Squish makes for sad Daddy

Our wee Squish-boy is sick. Not quite six months old and a respiratory virus of some sort came to call. Over the years we’ve assembled quite the arsenal of products to deal with viral based issues.  Unfortunately, *Most* of them are for bigger people than very young babies. Through some trial and error though we figured out a few things that have helped to make the wee boy comfortable despite the severity of illness.

1) Hydration: Stuffy nosed babies have a difficult time nursing and may not be very interested in swallowing much of anything. With inadequate hydration plus the extra drooling, extra mucous production and the general strain the body is under as the immune system fights the invader hydration needs escalate. Warm sea salt and magnesium baths with just a drop or two of beneficial essential oils can make a world of difference. Not only is the warmth soothing, the steamy air beneficial for inflamed airways while the essential oils work their beneficial magic. Three favorites of mine for sick infants is Lavender Essential OilChamomile Essential Oil and Frankincense Essential oil. All three are anti inflammatory, soothing and calming to the airways. The pores of the skin are able to absorb moisture and it helps to rehydrate, especially via the feet!

The warm steamy air is also fantastic for loosening up stuffy noses enough that they can be gently suctioned or wiped. For babes old enough to understand blowing their nose or ones that require frequent wiping, I suggest keeping their delicate skin slathered in a layer of Miracle to help prevent chaffing. Miracle can also serve as soothing and healing carrier oil/base for essential oils as needed on other parts of the body.

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2) Massage: We have become big fans of massage for our babies and children on a regular basis. But it is especially helpful when they are sick. A light dab of Winter Breeze on their little footsies and gently rubbed in, focusing on helpful pressure point areas is a great thing to do.

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3) Probiotics. Infants have immature immune systems with limited capabilities. Most of the immune system is housed in the gut. Probiotics are one of the most gentle and safe supplements one can give an infant. It works well in addition to breastmilk or formula. I personally use Tummy Tune Up capsules. For 0-3 months 1/4 a capsule worth of the mild and slightly milky tasting powder on the tongue before nursing. 3 to 9 months 1/2 a capsule at a time and 9+ months one full capsule at a time. Another favorite for us to use is Bovine Colostrum. Beeyoutiful’s is sourced from grass-fed cow’s and is freeze dried to maintain optimal nutritional benefits.

SweetSquish

SweetSquish

4) Sleeping Positions: Our babies have not been good sleepers under the best of circumstances. Actually, pretty sure they are in the running for some of the worst baby sleepers out there. But, what good sleeping we do manage to make happen on a normal basis goes straight out the window as soon as snuffles and congestion arrive on the scene. We have found that our babies do much better when sleeping on an incline. When breathing issues are really acute it’s best to have baby skin on skin with mama, sleeping on her chest (especially if she’s lactating!) A recliner, or propped up safely in a bed is safest. Arranged in such a way that if Mama’s arms go limp in sleep baby is still safe from rolling off and getting into a smothering situation or hitting the floor. We have also put a fully swaddled baby on their back on a pillow set at an incline to help with breathing. The swaddling prevents them from rolling over or flipping themselves into a position where they could smother or have restricted air access from the pillow (firm pillows are best for this purpose). We also sleep right next to our sick babies. SIDS is a worry that is never too far from my mind but always rises to the forefront whenever there is sickness that affected their airways. With my Mama spidey senses in full gear I am pretty tuned into their every breath or lack of one sleeping near them.

Room sharing may mean parent(s) get less sleep but it can make for more attuned care to the little ones. Especially if it means getting to them before they are able to work up into a cry when they wake up. Crying = more mucous production and distress so preemptively doing as much care as it is possible to do without them having to cry is ideal. Also, and possibly most importantly there is some research to suggest that babies are triggered and “reminded” to breath by the bio feedback. Hearing the deep, even rhythms of breath from especially the people their little bodies are best attuned to is one of the best regulating things you can give them access to when breathing is at all a struggle.

SquishSleeping

5) Rest: With the 24/7 attentive care that babies need when they are sick, rest is of top priority. Even for Mama’s that have other little ones running around that need care. There is too much at stake with a sick babe for mama to run herself into the ground and get super sick herself (preaching to the choir here as I hack and cough from having succumbed to what the wee man had over a week ago). Rest as much as it is possible to. We all have these lofty parenting goals of what our kids are allowed to do and not do on a normal basis. This is one of those times where it’s Ok to call a truce with the electronics and declare a documentary marathon if it means Mama can snag a nap when baby naps. Rest is that oh so vital and yet oh so undervalued and under prioritized component of healing we so easily overlook. Take shifts with a spouse. Swallow that pride and ask for some help. It’s very worth it.

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Our little Squish is, thankfully on the mend from his first illness. I started this blog post when he first got sick and am just now able to finish it up over a week later. Did I mention how overwhelming life gets when dealing with a sick baby??? Yeah. He has been the youngest I’ve had get this sick and it was scary. Was so thankful for each and every tool we’ve learned over the years and been able to practice with on less severe illnesses in his siblings. Our focus going forward for the rest of this winter is prevention!

Next post will be about our new and improved method of doing garlic poultices around here! Stay tuned.

Rosemary Lemonade: Simple and Delicious

Rosemary Lemonade

Rosemary Lemonade

A favorite beverage in our house is fresh lemonade. The tart sour of fresh lemon juice mixes beautifully with the sharp sweetness of Beeyoutiful’s debittered liquid Stevia. A really nice treat graduates to something bordering on the divine when a sprig of fresh Rosemary is added. Allowing the lemonade to steep with the rosemary for 30 min or more gives it such a unique and delicious flavor! The longer the Rosemary is left in the Lemonade the richer the flavor becomes. Not only does the Rosemary add an amazing flavor you get all of the health benefits that Rosemary brings to the table as an herb as well. 

Want to take it to the next level? Mix 50/50 Black Mango tea with this Rosemary Lemonade and serve over ice. You are officially ready for front porch sitting on a warm spring or summer day. Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Nut Fudge Brownies: The Healthy Version

Chocolate Nut Fudge Brownies

Chocolate Nut Fudge

  • 1 Cup Coconut Cream (Can be purchased here: http://www.tropicaltraditions.com)
  • 2 Large Pastured Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Honey
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Raw Chocolate (Can substitute with whatever cocoa you have on hand if necessary)
  • 2 Tablespoons Vanilla
  • 1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips (Optional!)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans (I personally used Pecans)

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees (300 for convection oven). Grease an 8×8 Pan. I used Spray Olive Oil.

2. In a large bowl measure out all ingredients and mix until combined. My Coconut Cream was very lumpy and because I chose to mix by hand small lumps were still present in the batter. If you wish everything to be fully mixed definitely use a mixer. We personally like the little tiny chunks of the pure coconut cream in the brownies. Added nice moist texture. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 20-25 minutes. Try not to over bake; the top will be slightly crispy and the middle is fudgey and *very* moist.

Allow brownies to cool in pan before attempting to cut. These are incredibly tender and fudge like. Slice into small bars and enjoy!

Fudge Brownies!

First Aid for Colds

We are all familiar with the necessity and just good ol’ common sense of keeping around a First Aid kit in our homes and cars. It isn’t that we plan for accidents or injuries to happen just makes sense to be prepared for that “just incase” possibility. These days our injury oriented first aid kit is stocked with items like Miracle, OwEase, Bee’s Aid and various essential oils. The homeopathic form of Arnica and activated charcoal have also become permanent fixtures.

I’ve been thinking lately that I should keep an illness first aid kit stocked. Not that I am planning on illness but if preparedness with a scraped knee or bee sting is common sense why wouldn’t the same rule apply for colds, sniffles or allergies? If we get sick there are certain items I need and often times don’t have on hand. Some of them are easy to replace and others not so much. Especially for the items that require a lot of effort to find or might be difficult to find at all it is especially important to deliberately keep those items on hand.

So, what would a First Aid Kit for Colds look like in our house? I made a list. Cuz I love lists. Lists are my friend. They help me out a lot in life. You should make friends with lists too if you haven’t already. 😉

  • Raw local Honey. Indefinite shelf life. Can be difficult to locate so always keep a supply on hand.
  • Real from healthy bones and joints from scratch Chicken or bone Broth to the tune of 1/2 a gallon minimum standing by in the freezer. I wrote about how to make bone broth and about some of it’s incredible healing properties here.
  • Jars of rich bone broth

    Jars of rich bone broth

  • Herbal Teas from Traditional Medicinals My personal favorites are the Throat Coat for Kids, Throat Coat for Adults, Breath Easy and Gypsy Cold Care. These Teas are shelf stable for a good long while and are wonderfully soothing and beneficial. Especially for those prone to asthmatic complications of various illnesses.

    Breath Easy

    Breath Easy

  • Fresh Garlic, preferably organic. Whole Heads of garlic last me anywhere from 1 to 3 months depending on the average temp in my kitchen. I re-stock as soon as I’m down to 1 head. Poultices use up garlic pretty fast and for an average cold for 4 people doing poultices several times a day you can easily use up 5 to 6 heads worth. So, when I re-stock that is the amount I shoot for. We also eat a lot of fresh garlic. If I see it starting to sprout or shrivel I make a point of using fresh garlic for the next couple of meals and replenish the supply my next shopping trip. Need to learn how to do a garlic poultice? I made this video a while back and it covers the how-to in all it’s simplicity. 🙂 Just click Garlic Poultice Tutorial
  • Winter Breeze. This is one of the best products ever. It’s a necessity in our house. You know about Vick’s Vapor Rub? This is like that only waaaay better. Better FOR you because it doesn’t have icky petroleum based ingredients and WORKS better due to the high powered ingredients it’s made from. It is super effective and actually helps to kick whatever the problem is much faster because the oils in it are antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti viral not to mention lung and sinus soothing and nasal passage opening. Massaged over chest and back if there is a tight cough, on the soles of feet for pretty much everything and around the nose for sinus pressure and stuffy noses. Child safe and (after testing for sensitivity) safe for use on infants feet.
  • BerryWell. This is a one stop shopping spot for convenient yet incredibly effective cold and allergy superhero. It’s expensive and sometimes goes out of stock but it has a VERY long shelf life so there is no reason to wait till the last minute to get it and risk having to wait a week or more to get it in your hands. It works best the earlier into a situation you take it so having it on the shelf ready to go is by far the best policy. I try to keep 2 to 4 bottles on my back shelf for that *just incase* scenario.
  • Probiotics. I’m fairly flexible on which one, but infusions of broad spectrum good bacterial are crucial for helping the gut get a handle on whatever war is being waged in the body. The vast majority of our immune system is regulated in our yards of GI track so dumping some reinforcements down there when dealing with an illness, even if it isn’t a stomach oriented problem is a good policy.
  • Essential Oils. These multi faceted tools are useful for everything really and First Aid for sicknesses is no exception. Not only can they be used in a myriad of remedies to directly fight the illness and symptoms in the body they can also be used in cleaners around the house to keep the sickness from spreading.

Those comprise my Sickness First Aid Essentials. All of these items are multi faceted. You’ll probably find yourself reaching for various ones for totally different reasons than an illness. The trick in my experience is to keep them on hand because illnesses don’t come with a 1 week advance notice so you can have time to scramble and assemble some last minute troops to fight it with. Wish I had a dollar for every time a desperate Mom called me when I was taking customer service calls with Beeyoutiful begging for a next day shipping option and willing to pay a ridiculous amount to have it shipped fast because her family had been struck down by an illness of some sort and she was out of Berrywell or some other crucial immune boosting supplement.

Doodlebug curled up in her chair on a cold winter day

Doodlebug curled up in her chair on a cold winter day

Be prepared! Get prepared! Go take stock and make sure you have enough resources on hand to fight something from day one.  And while you are checking your families sickness inventory let me know what you consider to be crucial. What is the one thing you never ever want to be without no matter what?

Sinus and Cough Travel Buster Tip

We decided to take a last minute trip to GA this weekend to see my family. The day before we left I had that pre-sickness “ick” feeling all day. Downing immune boosting supplements and of course my trusty Gut Guardian since I’m still faithfully plugging away at the challenge I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. No specific symptoms developed other than a mild sore throat from drainage. A few spritzes of Bee’s Aid and all was well.

Steve woke up the morning of our departure feeling like I had the day before. We discussed staying home since it was obvious both of us were actively fighting off the cold Doodlebug had been so generously sharing with us for a couple of weeks. She of course got it from a friend who generously shared it with her. Such sharing people we all are. Packing extra supplements in our handy travel supplement bag along with our travel case of essential oils and diffuser we decided to go anyway. We were already packed! Plus, without any specific symptoms other than “I think maybe kinda sorta we might be getting sick” it seemed like the lamest of reasons to cancel.

So off we went. As long as we stayed on top of the supplements we all felt pretty good. Kinda tired but we were sleep deprived and traveling. We took care to eat as well as we could traveling and I packed an ice chest from home with an electric skillet to do a bit of hotel room cooking to save us from the necessity of eating out much. The first night in the hotel we noticed we were struggling with stuffy noses. My chest felt a bit tight. An experienced asthmatic (although inhaler free for years now!) I knew to take that as a serious indication that my body was struggling to get on top of this thing. Concerned that I might be on the brink of succumbing despite the  the diffuser running I decided to get creative with the tools we have here in the hotel room.

Step one was to utilize the coffee maker for a much healthier purpose than coffee. I cranked it up with a full pitcher of water.

Hotel Room Coffee Maker with Plain Water

Hotel Room Coffee Maker with Plain Water

Next was a stop by the handy dandy essential oil travel case to select which oils I wanted to use in this particular concoction.

Essential oil padded Travel Case

Essential oil padded Travel Case

My selection was a bit random, but they would all help each other to get the job done.

Essential Oils for sinus pressure and chest tightness

Essential Oils for sinus pressure and chest tightness

Waiting for the water to finish getting nice and hot I sprinkled drops of the oils in varying amounts into the bottom of the hotel provided disposable coffee cup. Once the water was nice and hot I poured it in on top of the prepared essential Oils in the cup. The steamy rich aroma of the blend instantly rose up around me. Ahhhh. Nice! It started working right away.

Pouring hot water over essential oils in cup

Pouring hot water over essential oils in cup

Grabbing a towel and throwing it over my head as the last step I got settled in and breathed in the steam as deep as I could through my nose and deep into my lungs.

Towel Donned and steamy cup of essential oil laced hot water in hand

Towel Donned and steamy cup of essential oil laced hot water in hand

10 Minutes of this “breathing treatment” and all my sinus pressure was gone and the tightness in my chest had loosened. Whew. I’m going to be able to sleep much better tonight. Sometimes the extra moisture in a steam delivery method makes the essential oils more effective. In my experience this is especially true of chest tightness. The moisture helps everything let go and relax faster and more effectively than just the cold mist diffusing of the oils. The cold mist diffuser is helpful, don’t get me wrong, it’s what keeps our noses clear all night long as we sleep but for that immediate fast relief nothing beats a steamy oil treatment.

What is your favorite sickness busting travel trick?