• June 18, 2014

    DIY: All Purpose Cleaner

    Last week I wrote about clean eating, so today I want to start a little discussion about clean cleaning.

    If you use store bought cleaners in your home, you are familiar with how sparkly and shiny they can make your home.  You are also familiar with the strong smells, headaches, expense, and danger associated with those chemicals.  I have never been able to clean my bathroom without both the fan running and the window open.  My kitchen is more open, so I have less trouble there, but then I wonder about the safety of eating food that touches my counters since I just wiped them down with chemical cleaners that tell me right on the label you shouldn’t ingest them.

    I’m thinking this might be a problem.

    So… I started doing some research.  It seems like there are a million and one ways to naturally clean your home.  Everyone has a different opinion and preference, but there are definitely some common ingredients that we can all agree on.  After taking it all in and talking with some good friends, I’ve come up with an all purpose cleaner that I feel good about using on my countertops.

    For this “recipe” you will need a glass spray bottle.  I include Essential Oils in my cleaner and these oils may have the ability to break down plastics and become toxic.

    Ingredients:

    • Water
    • Vinegar
    • Lemon Oil
    • Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Oil
    • On Guard Oil Blend

    Instructions:

    Fill your glass spray bottle half way with vinegar and the rest of the way with water.  Add 2-3 drops of each oil.  Shake well and get cleaning!

     

    I use vinegar as part of the base for my cleaner because vinegar is acetic (in fact, there is a more acetic cleaning grade vinegar on the market if you care to get that instead of the regular vinegar).  The acid in vinegar polishes metals, dissolves soap scum, kills mildew and mold, and removes some stains.  These properties make it very attractive for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens.

    Water is used to help cut the other ingredients.  It doesn’t necessarily help the cleaning process, but it does help the overall smell and usability of the cleaner.

    I love lemon to clean with for a few reasons:  1. It smells great!  Lemon is a natural mood lifter.  2. It is antiseptic, anti-fungal, and antiviral oil.  Lemon will kill tons of common household germs and gunk.  3. It works wonders on removing sticky stuff!

    Melaleuca oil is an even stronger antiseptic.  It will also kill bacteria, fungus, viruses, and other infectious germs.  Melaleuca has been used throughout history as a medical tool to help heal wounds and cuts… I use it whenever I get a blemish.

    On Guard is a special blend of oils that doTERRA makes and markets as a germ killing, health giving miracle mix.  And it is.  With orange, clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary, this blend of oils is magical.  This is shown to kill bacteria, mold, and viruses.  It also stimulates your immune system, protecting you from the very things you’re cleaning up!

    The first time I used this combination to clean my home, I noticed that I felt better when the cleaning was done.  My mood was good and my home smelled really nice.  I love the feeling of clean without the smell of fake pine and citrus.  Totally makes sense why chemical cleaners are lemon scented, though, right?

    As with anything you do, please be cautious when trying new oils and mixtures.  Essential oils are highly concentrated and may cause negative reactions if left on your skin or ingested.  For the most part, you’ll probably be fine, but do a little tester first to be sure.  And if you know you are sensitive to, say, cinnamon, maybe find something with similar properties to replace it.  The same caution goes for your pets.  This mixture should be diluted enough for most pets, but again, be mindful of how it may effect them.  I recommend checking out this website if you have questions about pet safety.

    And there you have it!  A simple, green, healthy way to save money and keep your home clean and germ free!

    *grin*

  • June 11, 2014

    Clean Eating

    IMG_6501

    Settle in, everyone, it’s story time!

    So, about this time last year, I went in to my doctor to be tested for food allergies.  At the same time, I decided to try cutting out dairy from my diet to see if there might be an intolerance that was causing stomach aches and other digestive issues.

    Turns out, there aren’t any allergies, though the Celiac Disease is legitimate.  And the lack of dairy in my diet helped some, but not enough that we felt it was a true intolerance at the time.   However, I recently watched this and now I think maybe I do have an intolerance to milk because cheese and yogurt is ok, but milk and ice cream are hit-or-miss… so… yeah.

    *sigh*

    While I was actively keeping the dairy out, we adhered to a strict Paleo diet.  And that was pretty difficult.  So, when we reintroduced dairy, we maintained Paleo leanings, but with cheese and occasional milk or cream.

    As time went on, we started seriously considering what we should be eating and what, specifically, was important to us.  What should we have more of?  Less?  And why?  The more we thought and processed and researched, the more we realized the importance of healthful, well rounded diets.  We also realized the importance of keeping additives and chemicals out of our bodies as much as possible.

    The term “clean eating” came up more than once, but was surprisingly difficult to research.  Everyone, it seems, has a different idea of what constitutes clean eating and what isn’t.  So, like all those before us, we decided to make things up as we go and see what works.  To my husband and me, it means the following:

    1. We eat as much fresh, straight-from-nature food as possible.  This means cutting out a lot of processed foods and looking at food labels when we do get something in a box or jar.  Our basic rule of thumb is to look for ingredients that, if we wanted to, we could find in the grocery store and make the product ourselves.
    2. We eat as much non-gmo and organic food as possible.  These foods can be expensive, though, so I usually follow the dirty dozen/clean fifteen rules.
    3. Two non-meat dinners a week.  And since we usually eat leftovers for lunches, that makes two non-meat lunches too! This is mostly a financial choice, but the opportunity for more fruit and vegetables in our diet is a big reason too.
    4. No artificial colors or flavors and we’re careful of chemical ingredients and preservatives.  That means no: high fructose corn syrup, other artificial sweeteners (including stevia and dextrose), maltodextrin, MSG, and any meat cured with nitrates/nitrites.
    5. When buying oils, I try to find options that say ‘expeller pressed’ on the label and avoid anything ‘hydrogenated’. Olive and coconut are our oils of choice and we stay away from canola and vegetable oils.

    IMG_6511

    Not only have these changes helped my husband and me feel better, it has also contributed to weight loss for my husband.  I’m already small, so maintaining weight where it’s at is more important to me than shedding pounds.  But, really, if you’re looking to lose weight, just eat real food!  It takes fewer calories from natural foods to feel full than calories from processed foods.  You see, processed foods tend to have zero water and fiber, but tons of sugar and salt, so the food is effectively tricking your brain into thinking that you need more food before you’ll feel full and you keep eating.  That’s how they sell so much… think about it.  Processed food isn’t nutrition, its marketing.

    Eating this way also promotes good mental health, increased energy, and reduces the risk of chronic disease.  It regulates blood sugar levels naturally, so you have less risk of spikes and dips like what is experienced when eating processed carbs and sweets.

    So many good reasons to eat clean, healthy, natural foods!

    If you are thinking of making a similar lifestyle change, a word of caution:  this can be really hard at first.  There is a lot of planning and research that goes in to each meal.  There is definitely a learning curve with new ways to cook and shop and… pretty much everything.  Be ready for this.  And be ready to slip up and make mistakes sometimes.  I promise you, it’s ok.  One step, one meal, at a time.  Even small, gradual changes can make a difference in how you feel every day!

    Good luck, friends!

  • June 4, 2014

    Cowboy Burgers

    IMG_6573

    Howdy, ya’ll!  Its summer time and that means its grillin’ time!

    I love when its grillin’ time.

    The other day I went to the store to get these burgers a friend had made that were delicious.  They told me it was a pre-made burger in the fresh meat section, so I had to take a look.  After inquiring at the store about ingredients and seeing the price per burger, I figured I could make the same thing for a lot less and use better, more healthful ingredients without any chemicals.

    So I did.

    The store called it a cowboy burger and I can’t really think of a better name for it.  Better Then Store-bought Cowboy Burgers, maybe?  I don’t know… is the name really even an issue?  I mean, can you plagiarize a meat product?

    *ponders*

    Well, whatever you call it, it’s delicious!

    Cowboy Burgers

    By Erin Published: June 4, 2014

    • Yield: 4 or 5

    Howdy, ya’ll!  Its summer time and that means its grillin’ time! I love when its grillin’ time. The other day I went to …

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. IMG_6521Gather Ingredients
    2. IMG_6530Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Get your hands in there and make sure it's really well mixed.
    3. IMG_6533Measure out 1/4 cup (rounded) of the mixture at a time and shape into tightly packed burger patties.
    4. IMG_6551Grill the burger patties until no longer pink in the center.
    5. IMG_6568Serve hot and enjoy with your favorite burger fixin's.

    Pro Tips:

    1.   Chop up the bacon and mushrooms pretty small.  If they are too big, you may have trouble getting the burger patty to stay stuck together.

    2.  Let the burger patties chill in the fridge for an hour or so before cooking.  I suspect this will also help them stay stuck together.

    3.  Or mix an egg up with the other ingredients too.  I’ve heard that helps bind meat together for cooking as well.

    4.  Be sure to cook your burgers all of the way through… ground hamburger is pretty highly processed and isn’t safe to eat uncooked.  I know a lot of people prefer their meat a little (or a lot) pink… but it isn’t worth getting sick over!

    5.  Invest in a burger masher if you plan to make this (or other burgers) on a regular basis.  These little gadgets are not expensive and really help make burgers uniform and stay well packed.

    6.  Omit the cheese to make this recipe Paleo.  It will still be delicious!

     

    Happy Grilling!