The Cold Buster

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It’s no secret that I had the worst cold known to mankind over the past few weeks. I whined about it on every social media outlet available, and nobody saw me for almost a week because when I left the house I felt like I was going to die (ask my husband about the 2 meltdowns I had at the grocery store when I tried to go out).

Because I’m pregnant and stubborn, I flatly refused to take any over the counter medications. While I did eventually have to go to the doctor (frown face) and get on antibiotics for bronchitis (double frown face), this drink did a great job of loosening my congestion and clearing my sinuses. I concocted this magical drink with all the antiviral gusto I could manage, so it’s not for the faint of heart!

You’ll need:

3/4 in chunk of ginger, peeled and cut into slivers (helps stimulate circulation and ease congestion)

1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife (strong antibacterial and antiviral)

Juice and pulp of 1/2 a lemon (cuts through mucus, boosts vitamin C, soothes the throat)

1-2 T raw honey (antibacterial and antiviral, soothes the throat)

As much cayenne pepper as you can stand! (breaks up mucus and stimulates circulation)

Steep the ginger, garlic, and lemon juice/pulp in freshly boiled water for about 10 minutes, until cooled to drinking temperature. If desired, fish out ginger and garlic pieces (I leave them in to keep getting medicinal benefits). Stir in raw honey and cayenne pepper. Drink up!

I drank this every 2 hours or so and it definitely helped!

This post is part of Tasty Traditions, Natural Living Monday, and Natural Living Link-up!

Surviving the First Trimester- Naturally

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I was a pathetic mess my entire first trimester.

I’m serious. It was embarrassing. I wish I could say that I was one of those women who just brought along a trash bag and towel wherever she went and barfed when necessary and just powered through life, but it just wasn’t true. The nausea and vomiting was so bad that many days I never got dressed and didn’t leave the house. I am so, so thankful that I have a job that I can do from the comfort of my home 90% of the time. I seriously don’t know how I would have managed a 9-5 office job. It was completely the grace of the Lord that I got through alive.

All that to say, many women have it much more difficult than I do. I was never hospitalized, I was able to stay off of anti-nausea medicine (though it was offered to me many times), and I was still able to work. But almost every women who experiences pregnancy has some degree of nausea and vomiting, though it’s different for everyone. And we all have different things that make our nausea better! Today, I want to share the things that helped me make it through- regardless of how pathetic I was.

-Eat a complex carb before you lift your head from the pillow. My go-to was Trader Joe’s Rosemary & Raisin Crackers- filled with flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and lots of other fun super grains for my little girl. I must’ve eaten through 20 boxes during my first trimester. When I say “before you lift your head”, I am not kidding. I would grab the box, spin over onto my belly, and eat half a box of crackers before even thinking about getting out of bed. Not the cutest thing I’ve ever done, but it would sit heavily enough in my stomach to get me downstairs, let me go to the bathroom, and fix something for breakfast without spiraling into an all-day mess of nausea.

-Eat OFTEN. As in, I ate every 1.5-2 hours MAX. Keeping something in my tummy was the only way I could avoid feeling gross. It didn’t necessarily matter what it was, as long as I got it down. It was my ‘preventative measure’.

-Figure out what herbs work for you. For me, ginger made me even more sick, so I had to avoid anything with ginger in it, including virtually every anti-nausea tea on the market. However, peppermint worked wonders for me, as did chamomile. I would keep a small box of altoids in my purse and suck on one or two whenever I started to feel gross. Breathing in a chamomile steam inhalation (or simply making chamomile tea and sipping it) was also really effective.

-Stay hydrated. Lemon is another anti nausea aid that many people find helpful- I was pretty much constantly sipping ice water with a heaping amount of lemon juice in it, and it really did make me feel better- and staying hydrated is key to keeping yourself well.

-Try alternative medicine. I see a Chinese Herbalist and received acupuncture treatments throughout my first trimester that I really feel helped keep my sickness manageable. Check with your insurance to see if they cover alternative medicine- mine covers 75%! You might be surprised. Aromatherapy, focusing on ginger, lemon, or peppermint essential oils, can also be helpful- either applied in a carrier oil or used in a diffuser, or even in bath water.

-Up your magnesium levels. Some lovely mamas online suggested using magnesium oil topically twice a day, and I think this also contributed to my survival. you can also add magnesium oil, or a ton of epsom salts, into bathwater and have yourself a nice soak. I honestly don’t know all the science behind this one, but I can say that it worked for me, and for many other mamas as well!

-Don’t force yourself to eat what isn’t appealing to you. You will barf. It will suck.

-Take your prenatals and don’t stress. Your baby is very tiny and requires very little at this stage- do your best and your prenatals will cover you. But- DO your BEST too! Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat donuts all day. Your baby is a beautiful responsibility- take the best care of him or her that you can!

-Don’t be afraid to ask of help. I remember calling my mom and asking her to come over and clean my toilet for me one morning, and while it was very humbling, it was worth it. Especially if you have other children, give yourself grace. Accept a meal from a friend, an offer to babysit, take an extra nap while your kids sleep.

-Recognize when you need medical attention. Some people truly need anti-nausea medication to get through the first trimester. Others suffer from a debilitating condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which requires a lot of monitoring, and often medication, to control. If you can’t keep anything down and you can tell that something is wrong, take care of yourself. Your body, and your baby, will thank you.

Have any of these tips worked for you? What else helped you survive your first trimester queasies?

BEAUTY WEEK: Skinny Dip Coffee Scrub

I’m doing something a little special with the blog this week!  I’ve been really into making my own bath and beauty products and treatments lately, and I want to share them all with you, so get excited! It’s the very first FEED DIY BEAUTY WEEK!

The great part about this is that all of these things make spectacular Christmas gifts if you’re a bit behind in your shopping 🙂

The first thing I want to share is one of the first things I ever whipped up in my own kitchen- the Skinny Dip Coffee Scrub.  It’s an anti-cellulite and skin smoothing wonder that I absolutely adore, especially during the cold months!  Be careful, though, it’s pretty messy- this is a good one to use in the shower so that it’s easy to wash out.  It would definitely make coffee in your bathtub soooo you should avoid that if possible.

Ingredients:

Fresh coffee grounds (used is fine! I use the grounds from that morning’s coffee)

Olive oil or other oil of your choice

Cinnamon

Ginger

Cayenne Pepper

Lemon Juice (optional)

 Take a few tablespoons of coffee grounds and place them in a small Tupperware container (don’t use anything breakable in case it slips in the shower).  Add in three or four shakes each of the spices- I like to go heavy on the cinnamon because it smells so nice.  Add in enough olive oil to make a liquid scrub, but not too much- maybe a few tablespoons.  If you’d like your scrub more soupy, though, by all means add more!  It is yours, after all.

If you’d like to add in lemon juice, do so right before use.  Lemon juice has a great skin-brightening effect that is a nice addition to this scrub.  Overall, you are not only getting rid of all that rough dry wintery skin, but increasing circulation and detoxification from the spices!  Your legs should feel smooth, silky, and warm when you are done.

This scrub can be used over your whole body, but be easy on sensitive parts, as the coffee grounds can sometimes be harsh! Also, if you plan on shaving your legs during the same shower, do so AFTER using the scrub.  If you shave first, you will positively burn your legs because of the lemon and cayenne.  Ok, you wont burn them, but it won’t feel nice at all!

Once you rinse, pat dry with a towel and you’re done!  You shouldn’t even need a moisturizer because of that silky smooth olive oil.  Enjoy!

The ‘Bunny Spice’ Smoothie

Are you in the full-on winter blues yet? I am. One of the really cool things I’ve learned about creation and food is how the Lord really has equipped us to take care of ourselves by eating seasonal foods. It’s no coincidence that things like citrus, pumpkins, and carrots all come into season in late fall, and are full of the Vitamin C and Beta Carotene we need to support our immune systems through the winter!

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This smoothie is one that I adapted from a great book, Raw Food Real World- though they use fresh almond milk instead of yogurt. Either way, it’s a great one for the fall and winter, when we should be consuming as many ‘orange’ foods as possible- boosting our immune systems and restoring the vitamins that we often lose without the abundance of fresh produce that summer provides. Play around with this recipe until you find what suits your tastes- some people prefer to highlight the sweetness of the carrot, others the spice of the ginger. Make it yours!

1 cup fresh carrot juice (or from a health food brand, like Knudsen’s)

Fresh juice from a 1-inch ginger knob, or 2 teaspoons powdered ginger

1 banana

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg

1 6-oz container vanilla yogurt

OPTIONAL: ice

Combine everything in a blender and serve! Some people prefer this one thickened up with some ice- I can take it or leave it. I like to sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice on top as a finishing touch. Using fresh juices in this one really makes a difference, so pull out that juicer if you have it- but store-bought juices are a fine substitution as well. Enjoy, little bunnies!

Help Me! Detox

One of the most important tools of a health regimen is the knowledge and time to detoxify. I do think that this is important in all aspects of life, but doing a cleanse for your body is something that can’t be approached lightly or without planning. I’ve found some great resources and have been through detoxes a few times now, and I want to share my experiences with you today!

These days, we are completely bombarded with toxins and things that don’t belong in our bodies- from the food we eat to pollution in the air to what we use to clean our homes, its virtually inescapable. Especially during the holidays, its so attractive to try to ‘get away from it all’- well, with a cleanse, you can give your body the break that it has been craving.

While you can go into virtually any store and buy a boxed ‘detox’ or ‘cleanse’ these days, I am a firm believer that the most effective way to cleanse and rebuild your body is by carefully choosing food and placing exercise over a controlled amount of time. My detoxes usually consist of juicing whole fruits and vegetables for one or two meals per day and eating freshly prepared meals for the rest of the day- avoiding dense carbs (breads and pastas), dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and meat. It seems like a lot, but it is amazing how quickly the body adjusts and heals itself in just 3-5 days. It resets the digestive system, cleanses the lymph system and clears mucous membranes, increases energy, and boosts the immune system.

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If you are new to juicing, be sure to read up on how to juice certain fruits and vegetables, and what tastes good together. For example- anything with grapefruit will be very sour! For just starting out, stick with a mostly vegetable based mix, with a fruit or two to your taste. One of my favorites is Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Spinach, Apple, and Orange. If you don’t have a juicer, you can buy frozen fruits and puree them in a blender or food processor, and throw some spinach in there for good measure (don’t worry, you can’t taste it). As for your other food, stay simple, but remember: spices are a great tool, as many spices have great health benefits. Try to avoid salting food if possible.

This is what a typical day looks like for me during cleanse:

On Rising: Hot water with lemon and a pinch of cayenne (I do this daily- alkalizes the body, stimulates digestion, and aids in detoxification, among other benefits)

Breakfast: Fresh juice, sometimes mixed into a smoothie. Juice what you can, then add in whole things that are hard or unnecessary to juice to a blender- bananas, berries, avocadoes, spinach. I also add in supplemental whole foods- whole raw oats, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, and powdered cinnamon and ginger. Puree it all together and you have yourself a powershouse!

Exercise: yoga, swimming, pilates, or light running (helps continue cleansing)

Immediately after workout: homemade protein ball for muscle recovery (or, sub banana and natural nut butter- avoid commercial protein bars)

Lunch: Another juice smoothie, or a green salad with fresh vegetables and oil/vinegar dressing, or a homemade vegetable soup

Dinner: Roasted or steamed veggies, fruit salad, vegetable soup, quinoa with veggies, homemade chickpea curry with quinoa, brown rice with spices

Evening: Detox Bath

Before bed: Caffeine-free tea, such as lavender, chamomile, or senna leaf

Throughout the day, I make sure to drink lots of water and several cups of herbal tea. There are special detoxification blends of tea that can further your process. Some people like to use a gentle laxative tea before bed each night to help with cleansing the digestive system the next day. Traditional Medicinals makes a readily available Senna Leaf tea that doesn’t taste terrible and gets the job done- they also have a good Everyday Detox blend.

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My favorite part of the day is bathtime! I have a beautiful, ancient clawfoot tub that I put to good work in this apartment. Here’s my recipe for the best detox bath, swish it all around and stay in as long as possible:

2 cups Epsom salts

At least 1 cup baking soda (more if you want!)

10 drops tea tree oil

5 drops lavender oil

A teaspoon of powdered ginger

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When exiting the tub, be slow and careful- the detox bath can (and does) make you a wee bit lightheaded if you get out too fast. But, that’s how you know its working!

Another thing I like to add in daily are some quick but effective yoga poses. The best and easiest for detoxification are seated spinal twists– sitting on the floor, turn your head over your shoulder and continue to twist your body as far as comfortable, using the opposite hand to the knee to further the stretch. This causes a sort of ‘wring-out’ effect on the major organs- much like you wring out a dishrag- and allows for fresh blood flow. I also like to end my days with a simple, relaxing inversion– lay on the floor, hips to the wall with legs going up the wall, so that your body makes a 90 degree angle. Stay as long as comfortable and enjoy the relaxing effect!

Repeat this, or a personal variation, each day for 3-7 days. Don’t be surprised if, for the first few days, you feel some ill effects– sluggishness, headaches, a touch of nausea, indecisive bowels. This is very normal, and will be heightened depending on how drastic a change the cleanse is from your everyday diet. Cleanses draw out and remove toxins from our bodies- toxins that will make us feel icky until they are gone. By day 3 you will start feeling much, much better! But, remember that even if you can only cleanse for one day, your body will still be healthier than it was if you weren’t cleansing at all!

My Signature Quick Curry Recipe

There is nothing more satisfying, to me, than a piping hot bowl of curry on a winter (or, let’s face it, summer) night. This recipe has been perfected over the last few years, is easily adaptable, and kicks that sluggish winter digestive system into gear with lots of spices and fiber. Very easily doubles and triples for company, and can even be made in the slow-cooker.

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By the way, I didn’t leave out the curry powder. Traditionally, curry is a blend of regional spices- whatever a certain town had a lot of or favored, that’s what went in. This is my favorite blend. I have been known to add in some sweet cinnamon a time or two, but beware- it definitely changes the flavor to a more fall/winteresque stew. Still delicious, though. Come up with your own signature curry spice blend!

2 cans organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained

1 medium-sized white onion, diced small

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced (or 1 can organic stewed tomatoes)

2 T olive oil

1 T crushed red pepper

2 T cumin

1 T turmeric

1 T ginger

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground red pepper

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in the bottom of a large sauce pot. Once the oil begins to shimmer, sauté the onions until barely translucent, then top with crushed red pepper to toast and make fragrant. Once the onions are nice and soft, add the garlic until just browned- be careful not to burn it. NOTE: It is important to cook the onions before the garlic; not at the same time, so as not to burn the garlic. This will ruin your curry, and nobody likes that!

As soon as the garlic is cooked and fragrant, stir in the tomatoes. You’ll be ready to do this because you’ll be scared that everything is burning and that there isn’t enough liquid- the tomatoes solve that problem! Stir them in and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck bits off the bottom. Now, pour in the rest of the spices and thoroughly combine. Let this tomato-onion-garlic-spice mixture simmer for a bit, maybe 5 or ten minutes.

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When you are ready, stir in the garbanzo beans. Let this simmer and soak up flavor for as long as you like, then serve it up nice and hot. At our house, we make homemade whole wheat na’an bread (or get storebought na’an or pita in a pinch) and eat the curry with our hands- way more fun and less dishes to clean up!