Tag Archives: Natural Health

No Poo Shampoo is not for the weak.-UPDATED

I don’t wash my hair. Say what?? Well, I don’t wash my hair with shampoo or conditioner. And I haven’t for 2 months now. It’s quick, it’s effective, it’s super easy, and holy bajolies it is CHEAP. I love it. (Don’t forget to check out the UPDATE at the bottom of the page.)

There may be many of you that have heard of the “No Poo” shampooing. It’s a natural beauty trend that’s been sweeping the blogosphere. It’s for those of us who are trying to get away from chemicals BUT only if the alternatives actually work. And I’m here to tell you, this works better than conventional shampoo and conditioner. Continue reading

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Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Home Fries

Happy Tuesday! In an effort to cut back on our grocery bill, I’m only buying produce for the entire month of April. It seems that it’s really the organic, natural packaged crap that’s expensive, so we’re doing a lot of fruit and veg this month. In that vain, I had no idea what to pair with the salmon I cooked the other night, so I made it up … sweet potato home fries! These babies keep great in the fridge. They’re delicious warm and really yummy cold too.

SweetPotatoHomeFries-Published

Sweet Potato Home Fries (serves: 4, cook time: 30 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup high heat oil
  • sea salt and ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Chop the potatoes, mushrooms, and onion into bite-sized chunks. Mince the garlic on top of the potatoes.
  2. Heat the skillet to medium first, THEN add half the oil. Coat the bottom of your skillet.
  3. Add sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions and spread in an even layer in the skillet. Cook on medium-high heat, uncovered until potatoes are browned and onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the oil, slowly, as needed. Take care not to mess with them too much, flip potatoes once or twice in the entire 10-ish minutes.
  4. When your mix is pretty well cooked, add the mushrooms. These are already soft so they don’t take much cooking. Cook for a few more minutes to heat up the mushrooms.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

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Ashley Life Update: I had a wonderful weekend at a friend’s wedding in Louisiana. Got to hang out with my immediate family (see my sister’s and I above) and a lot of friends I haven’t seen in a long time. And the 13 hour drive there and back wasn’t too bad. We set up a bed in the back of the car and then whoever was driving listened to books on tape. Man those things pass the time!

We also stopped at an epic Country Buffet in Arkansas (the best in the state). I swear I had no idea that America had areas like that. Just VERY southern. That’s why I love road trips, you see cultures you never would have explored otherwise.

AND, another plus, we finally got some communication from Mike’s job. We should be finding out our next stop in the next couple weeks and the options are looking good!

I hope you all had great weekends too! Love and hugs – Ash

 

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet and Salty Popcorn

What do you cook when the entire meal will be appetizers? I knew that most people wouldn’t be hungry for a full meal so I planned out four appetizers instead. They all worked perfectly, except for this one. This took two tries but it was SO worth it. I got the original recipe from Sammie Kennedy. This stuff melts in your mouth. It’s gooey and chewy and crunchy. Salty AND sweet. YUM

I still had the microwave at this point but I was trying to wean myself off it. Turns out popping popcorn on the stove can be kind of tricky. This is where the first attempt failed. When I tried again the next day I was significantly less distracted and followed the instructions below to a tee. And of course it worked.

How to Pop Perfect Popcorn on the stove! – Simple Recipes

SweetSaltyPopcorn-Published

Sweet and Salty Popcorn (servings: 6, cook time: 25 minutes)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups popped kernels
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar (barely increases blood sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Pop the popcorn in an air popper or over the stove.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and coconut sugar. Stir in the vanilla, honey, and cinnamon. Stir frequently. When it reaches a boil, remove from heat.
  3. Pour the liquid mixture over the popped popcorn. Add the salt on top. Mix gently with a wooden or plastic spoon so you don’t crush the kernels.
  4. Lay popcorn out on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until hardened.
  5. Break off the sheet and serve. Enjoy! It will keep a couple of days until the popcorn goes stale.

Ashley Life Update:

Vitamix

 

We went and got the Vitamix last night! I’m so flippin’ excited. My week is insane so I won’t have much time to experiment but I’ll be using it whenever possible and I’m sure you’ll all be hearing about it. Also, we found a fantastic deal on Stainless Steel cookware. 20% off and a rebate for a Cuisinart bowl set. It’s gonna take a little bit of saving to bounce back but I am SO excited to use this stuff. This night was better than Christmas. YAY!

 

Mindful Monday: April Goals

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I still haven’t finished the book. It sits on my dining table, my bedside table, and the couch and every once in a while, I pick it up and read a chapter or two. But it’s not because it’s a slow read, it’s because I’m savoring it. There are very few books that make me feel the way this one does. It calms me but motivates me. It reminds me that my life is about making me happy and nothing else. I know it sounds selfish but a lot of making myself happy means helping other people be happy too. 🙂 I’m talking about the Happiness Project. It’s amazing. Read more about it in my Healthful, Happy, and Loving Project post.

SmileyFace

So, as promised, I will continue my efforts by revising and adding to my March Goals.

First, My Commandments. I read a list of these every morning. It reminds me what to focus on when I start to lose my footing.

  • Just because it’s fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for me.
  • Me is the perfect person for me to be. (< I realized that I don’t actually have a lot of trouble with this one)
  • It’s NOT “doing nothing,” it IS “active relaxation.”
  • Life is play, not an endless stream of work.
  • A true smile and laugh can change a whole conversation.
  • Want what I already have.
  • I don’t have to be good at everything
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and make that moment happier.
  • Be happy when I succeed.

Second, a review of March Goals.

  • Take a 5-minute walk down the block, every morning between shower and work. SLOWLY. (This was amazingly effective. It slowed me down after rushing around all morning like a headless chicken. It helped me be more productive and relaxed during the work day.)
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and try to make that moment happier. 
    (I actually didn’t have too many unhappy moments in 2 weeks but I anticipate that they will happen. So I’m adding it to the commandments.)
  • Choose a day of the week to talk to each parent and sibling. Like I do with Gran. (Did this!)
  • Read this list every day. (Great reminder and totally necessary for this project)
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed. (Something I DEFINITELY need to work on. This is added to the Commandments.)

And finally! My April Goals:

  • Continue the daily, 10-minute walks.
  • Create a folder for design inspiration. I read lots of design magazines and websites. Visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright designs in Chicago this weekend made me realize how much pent-up design energy I have. I want to have a folder on my computer for digital archives and a physical folder for magazine and newspaper articles. I’m hoping this will help me start sketching again too.
  • Learn to cook with the Vitamix: juice, smoothies, soup, and ice cream. I got my tax return so I’m going to buy it today. YAY!!
  • Finish the two health books I’ve been page through for the last 2 months.
  • Eat at least one raw meal per day.
  • Have at least one entirely vegetarian day per week.
  • Read this list every day.

I’ll keep you updated with part of this that are working and parts that aren’t. Did anyone else read this book and love it?

Ashley Life Update:
Mike and I spent this weekend in Oak Park, a suburb just outside Chicago. We were celebrating our 1-year anniversary and seeing a few sites that we hadn’t got to yet. We don’t know where we’ll be moving in June so we want to see as much of Chicago as possible. We stayed at an eccentric yet absolutely lovely Bed and Breakfast. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about opening my own Healthy B&B. To the extent that I’ve designed most of the rooms in my head and know the general rules that I’d like to operate under (ie. huge, comfy beds and soft towels, simple healthy meals, and a gym for sure). Now I just have to figure out where the money will come from. Hah.

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Mike took the NRA intro to guns class I got him for Christmas well I slept off the lingering and oh-so-annoying flu. Then he met me at FLW’s Robie House in Hyde Park. That night was spent out on the town. We don’t like to party much but when we have a free night and a city full of entertainment, we take advantage. Mike treated me to a very chic, very delicious dinner at an underground jazz/prohibition bar and then we went dancing uptown.

Sunday (Easter!) was spent touring the FLW house and studio around the corner from our B&B and visited Trader Joes (man I miss that place!) before the 3 hour drive back to Peoria. We sort of just ignored easter. Much to my chagrin, without any kids or parents around, there wasn’t any good excuse for an Easter egg hunt.

I hope you all had relaxing and family filled holidays! Love and hugs – Ash

 

Fantastic Friday: Best Moment Award!

Best Moment Award

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered –
Savoring the experience of quality time.

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

I won an award! For those of you who don’t know, there are tons of different types of awards floating around the blogosphere. I always secretly wished that I would receive one and voile! The Moment Matters award is given by fellow readers. Thanks to 1DigitalFingerPrint for giving me this one; it is such a huge compliment 🙂

This is a great test for me. I never knew how these awards were given and, to be honest, I was a little sad when I realized that there are probably thousands of bloggers (maybe even tens of thousands) of bloggers who have received this one. But then it dawned on me, who cares??

I am so stoked that a person I very much respect thought me worthy of recognition. Have I come to that point? I guess so. This website has become an arena of self-expression for me. It’s my soap box to shout from when no one in the real world wanted to listen to my babble. Alas, I have found a community of friends and strangers that find value in my thoughts and research.

Writing to you all keeps me on the right track. Your comments keep me motivated. Thanks everyone! And HAPPY EASTER! 🙂

THE WINNERS OF THE BEST MOMENT AWARD ARE:

      Gratitude Journal

Ruth is on day 435. She writes 3 things she’s thankful for EVERY day. She is a huge inspiration to lead a thankful life.
Once A Month For Ladies
This group of women is not afraid to tell it like it is. They explore the deepest depths of being a woman and then put it online so it’s fun for everyone! What’s not to like?
My French Heaven
This chef posts some of the most delicious and indulgent recipes. But what I love most it how he ties it in with his passion for life. Just slow down and cook for a bit 🙂
Jennova Food Blog
This is a blog centered around food science. The author is extremely detailed in her posts but also helps me understand exactly how my body processes certain things. Her posts are a manageable length and I get absolutely wrapped up in them.
Inspire and Indulge
Sometimes I feel that Leah and I are kindred spirits. Her blog documents her adventures in health and life as a young adult. She’s full of spirit and, it seems, always looking on the bright side of life. Her posts inspire me to keep on the right track to health and happiness.

RULES:

  • Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech. This could be written or video recorded.
  • Winners have the privilege of awarding the next awardees! The re-post should include a NEW set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and winners notify them the great news.

RESOURCES:

What makes a good acceptance speech?
  • Gratitude. Thank the people who helped you along the way
  • Humor. Keep us entertained and smiling
  • Inspiration. Make your story touch our lives
Get an idea from the great acceptance speeches, compiled in MomentMatters.com/Speech
Display the award’s badge on your blog/website, downloadable in MomentMatters.com/Award

Don’t forget to celebrate with your followers! Tweet your success with hashtag #MomentMatters. Congratulations, winners!

Thriving Thursday: What’s in Your Microwave?

I’m not sure when or how the thought entered my head. I don’t know if my super health conscience Momma put it there or if it was the stirrings of the health community in general, but it’s time to make a change. A big one. I’m going to throw away our microwave. *GASP!*

Microwave

I did a lot of research for this post. I checked out articles from Harvard Med, GreenMed, New York Times, and Dr. Mercola, among others. People are divided. These very smart, highly informed sets of people can’t agree: are microwaves bad for you or not?

This is how it is now, though. Our current system doesn’t work. People are sick and more people are dying prematurely than ever before. I don’t believe we can implicitly trust the medical model for anything other than emergency care, but then who can we trust? How the heck do you figure out who’s right?

I know this sounds a little wonky but I tend to trust my instinct. If you put your face too close to a microwave, you will absorb small amounts of radiation, this is known. But your food is in there! Your food is being heated up in that box full of radiation. Then you’re gonna eat it! Doesn’t that seem a little backwards? However, I know most people don’t make their judgements based on my own personal judgement so here are the facts as well as I can decipher them (with a few opinions thrown in):

How it Works:

Microwave ovens heat food with oscillating electromagnetic waves. The waves energize the water molecules in your food. The polarized water molecules bounce off each other causing friction. That friction heats up the food. Microwaved water heats much more quickly than conventional methods resulting in shorter cooking times.

This form of cooking heats the food from the inside out. But wait a minute. I mean from the inside of the molecules on the outside of the food. It break and reforms the water molecules on the outside of the food in the heating process. Sometimes the distribution of water molecules is uneven which is why you sometimes get microwaved “hot spots.” Conventional cooking heats differently, from the outside of the molecules in.

Part of the opposition’s argument is that less heating time means higher nutrition retention. In general, I agree, but it’s not the length of the heating with microwave ovens, it’s the type of heating that’s the problem. If these electromagnetic waves can reach the interior of the food molecules, what else are they changing other than just the energy of the water?

Radiation:

When I was little I LOVED to stare into the microwave and watch the food spin around in circles, ever so slowly. Every time an adult caught me they slapped my hand and told me to back away, this crazy stuff called radiation leaked from that thing and you didn’t want it getting into your brain!

Since they were invented, the FDA and other regulatory organizations have closely monitored the manufacturing of microwave ovens. There have been major improvements in the level of radiation emitted from the ovens. This is good. However, radiation doesn’t die, it accumulates. So depending on how frequently you use your oven and how old it is, your kitchen is very likely full of microwave radiation. This is bad. Also, the adults were right, the radiation increases exponentially as you move closer to the source and it’s more easily absorbed by your eyes. Don’t sit and watch that plate spin!

Also, a recent study by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University tested the effects of certain frequencies of radiation on the heart. She concluded that 2.4 GHz of radiation (which is emitted by microwave ovens AND wi-fi routers) changes the heart rate and heart rate variability. Scary.

Nutrients:

As mentioned before, my common sense tells me that if microwaves can break apart and alter water molecules, what are they doing to the very delicate nutrients and minerals in our food? It is now well known that our food has lost a significant percentage of nutrients compared to food produced in the early 20th century. Crappy soil, terrible manufacturing methods, and tons of pesticides definitely play a part in this decline, but how big a role do microwaves play?

  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer.
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating killed 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk .
  • A recent Australian study showed that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria.

While many of these studies were done using older microwaves, the evidence is clear. Microwave ovens ARE NOT a healthy way to heat your food. If you want to retain the precious nutrients still left in modern produce, eat it raw or heat it from the outside in.

* Word to the wise: If you continue to use your microwave, NEVER heat anything in a plastic container. It is undisputed that the toxic chemicals from the plastic heat and leach into your food not only killing nutrients but filling you up with lots of really terrible chemicals.

GAH! What do I do with all this information? I’m just going to cite Dr. Mercola on this one:

“Am I asking you to toss your microwave oven into the nearest dumpster? Not necessarily. It can be a useful tool for cleaning. But if real estate in your kitchen is at a premium, it should probably be the first thing to go.

You really CAN survive sans microwave—people are living quite happily without one, believe it or not. You just have to make a few small lifestyle adjustments, such as:

  • Plan ahead. Take your dinner out of the freezer that morning or the night before so you don’t end up having to scramble to defrost a 5-pound chunk of beef two hours before dinnertime.
  • Make soups and stews in bulk, and then freeze them in gallon-sized freezer bags or other containers. An hour before meal time, just take one out and defrost it in a sink of water until it’s thawed enough to slip into a pot, then reheat it on the stove.
  • A toaster oven makes a GREAT faux-microwave for heating up leftovers! Keep it at a low temperature — like 200-250 degrees F — and gently warm a plate of food over the course of 20-30 minutes. Another great alternative is a convection oven. They can be built in or purchased as a relatively inexpensive and quick safe way to heat foods
  • Prepare your meals in advance so that you always have a good meal available on those days when you’re too busy or too tired to cook.
  • Try eating more organic raw foods. This is the best way to and improve your health over the long run.”

I hope you’re all having fantastic days! Just let me know if you have any questions. Love and hugs – Ash

Sources (articles):
Why Did the Russians Ban An Appliance Found in 90% of American Homes? – Mercola.com
Studies Show Microwaves Drastically Reduce Nutrients in Food – GreenMedInfo.com
The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients In Food – New York Times
Do Microwave Ovens Destroy Nutrients? – Livestrong.com
Microwave Cooking and Nutrition – Harvard Medical School

Sources (studies):
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F A, and Garcia-Viguera C. “Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking”
Kidmose U and Kaack K. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica B 1999:49(2):110-117
Song K and Milner J A. “The influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic,” Journal of Nutrition 2001;131(3S):1054S-57S
Watanabe F, Takenaka S, Abe K, Tamura Y, and Nakano Y. J. Agric. Food Chem. Feb 26 1998;46(4):1433-1436
George D F, Bilek M M, and McKenzie D R. “Non-thermal effects in the microwave induced unfolding of proteins observed by chaperone binding,”
Quan R (et al) “Effects of microwave radiation on anti-infective factors in human milk,” Pediatrics 89(4 part I):667-669

Tasty Tuesday: Honey Yogurt Dip

We had some people over on Saturday. A melting pot of people from all the different areas of our life. We ladies had some fun with makeup (more on that Friday) while the guys watched basketball. Then we all went line dancing! I’m getting pretty good at it by now.

So for the get together at our place, I decided that I would cook appetizers. I settled on 4 relatively simple recipes. When people started arriving and I was only half done cooking, I realized I may have been a bit ambitious. BUT, I did discover this amazing recipe. It took a total of 3 minutes and was one of the tastiest things on the table.

YogurtHoneyDip-Published

Honey Yogurt Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (organic and/or goat is better, raw is best)
  • 2 Tbsp honey (local is best)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)
  • Any fruit that’s in season

Instructions:

  1. Cut up your fruit into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients together and serve!

Also, it snowed here again! About 5 inches in 24 hours. I had the day off and managed to catch the flu so it was the perfect weather to snuggle up on the couch, watch marathon TV, and drink pots of tea. But just to prove how amazing the Midwest is, a random, kindly citizen cleaned off my car! There is no way for me to know who did it so they just did it from the kindness of their heart. Peoria really isn’t so bad 🙂

Snowed In

 

I hope you’re having a happy day. Love and hugs – Ash