Recipe Friday: Peace and Joy Essential Oil Diffuser Blend

Pretty much every day, and certainly every evening, I put essential oils in my diffuser. My daytime diffuser sits in our kitchen, which is an open space to the dining area. I spend a lot of time around there, so I like to enhance my moods and physical health with the benefits of essential oils

The essential oils, and their benefits, in my daytime favorite, which I name Peace and Joy are as follows. Benefits and other information are listed for use in diffusing (inhaling), topical application, and ingestion.

  • Lemon: cleaning, lymph drainage, cleanses the body, antibacterial, antitumoral, antiseptic, improves microcirculation, immune stimulant (increases white blood cells), improves memory; use for circulatory problems, arteriosclerosis, obesity, parasites, urinary tract infections, varicose veins, anxiety, hypertension, digestive problems; acne; use with local honey to treat/sooth a sore throat; drink in water to promote weight loss; detox for gallbladder and lymphatic system (drink in water)
    • Other info:
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • citrus family
      • Caution: avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight within 24 hours
      • Made from the peel
  • Sweet orange: eases stress and anxiety (when used as aromatherapy); Improves digestion and helps to relieve constipation; Nourishes dry, irritated and acne-prone skin when mixed with a carrier oil and applied as a cream; Promotes a feeling of happiness and warmth when used in aromatherapy; Helps to eliminate toxins from the body; Helps in stimulating lymphatic action to promote balance in water processes and detoxification of the body; antimicrobial properties; may prevent the proliferation of E. coli bacteria; Natural remedy for high blood pressure; anti-inflammatory; Reduces anxiety and boosts mood; Natural anti-depressant; mild tranquilizer
    • Comes from Citrus sinensis, the oranges you are used to eating. It is derived from the fruit, especially the rind.
  • Grapefruit: supports metabolism, cellulite reduction, antitumoral, metabolic stimulant, antiseptic, detoxifying, diuretic, fat-dissolving, cleansing for kidneys, lymphatic and vascular system, antidepressant. Rich in limonene, which has been studied for its ability to combat tumor growth. Used for Alzheimer’s, fluid retention, depression, obesity, liver disorders, anxiety
    • Other info:
      • Mix with coconut oil and rub on areas of cellulite, or take a few drops internally with water
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • citrus family
      • Caution: avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight w/in 24 hours
  • Frankincense: reduces inflammation, destroys cancer, spiritual awareness; boosts immune system, treats autoimmune disorders, fights infections, improves anxiety ,heals skin (acne, scars), balances hormone levels, regulates estrogen production, eases digestion (helps produce bowel movements), beneficial in reducing symptoms of leaky gut syndrome, sleep aid, antiviral; contains sesquiterpenes which stimulate the limbic system of the brain (the center of memory and emotions) and the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands. (The hypothalamus is the master gland of the body, producing many vital hormones including thyroid and growth hormone.)
    • Other info:
      • Breathe it for immune, colon, lungs
      • Apply to neck and feet to boost immune system
      • sometimes referred to as olibanum
      • topically, inhale, diffuse, or ingest
      • This is a potent oil: if you ingest, dilute it first, and do not ingest large quantities.
      • Mix 6 drops to one ounce of carrier oil and apply to the skin to fight
      • sagging, wrinkling (helps tighten skin)
      • Helps speed digestion, like digestive enzymes (modulates the gut)
      • Add a few drops to a cloth and inhale for respiratory assistance (good for asthma or allergies); or an oil diffuser.
      • Inhaling also helps relieve muscle aches, stress, and negative emotions.
  • Rosemary: thickens hair, improves brain function and memory; good for Alzheimer’s, soothes aches and pains, balances androgen and estrogen, liver detox and gall bladder function (benefits bile flow, reduces plasma liver enzymes), lowers cortisol (lowers stress), protects the liver, anti-tumoral, antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, enhances mental clarity & concentration, relieves throat & lung infections
    • Other info:
      • an evergreen oil
      • from labiatae family
      • part of the “four thieves” formula
      • add a drop to shampoo for healthy hair
      • dilute to apply topically, directly inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • Cautions: do not use on children under 4 years of age; avoid using on persons with high blood pressure
  • Peppermint: digestion, aids in absorption, cools heat in the digestive lining; focus, energy booster, fever reducer, relieves headaches and body/muscle aches. Anti-inflammatory, antitumoral, antiparasitic (worms), antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, gallbladder/digestive stimulant, pain-relieving, curbs appetite, helps with irritable bowel system; improves focus, improves breathing (bronchitis, pneumonia, allergies); relieves headaches (2 drops peppermint + 2 drops lavender, rub on forehead)
    • Other info:
      • Can rub right on the stomach to relieve symptoms; also rub on bug bites for a few days to relieve itch
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • inhale 5-10 x/day to curb appetite
      • do not apply to infants younger than 18 mo
  • Eucalyptus: good for respiratory issues like bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies; insect repellent (helps block malaria), expectorant, mucolytic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-aging; respiratory/sinus infections, decongestant, rheumatism/arthritis
    • Other info:
      • can use the leaves to cover wounds, to disinfect
      • a spray of 2% eucalyptus oil will kill 70% of airborne staph bacteria
      • topical, inhale, diffuse, ingest
      • myrtle family

Just think of all the health benefits we get from essential oils!

To make Peace and Joy Blend:

Ingredients:

  • 3 drops lemon essential oil
  • 4 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 5 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 3 drops Frankincense essential oil
  • 3 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil OR eucalyptus essential oil

Directions:

Fill diffuser to manufacturer’s instructions with tap water (mine holds 2 oz, or ¼ cup).

Drop essential oils into the water. (Amounts are really up to you.)

Replace diffuser lid.

Turn diffuser on.

Recipe Friday: Leftover Turkey or Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

Serves: 5

Yield: 1.5 qt baking dish
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min

I pulled our leftover Christmas turkey from the freezer this week. It was more than enough for one meal. I served it with mashed potatoes and gravy (chicken bone broth, thickened with some cornstarch), and we had more leftovers. I didn’t want anything (again) that smacked of Christmas or Thanksgiving, so I browsed the Internet for ideas, and came up with this alteration.
I made this with leftover turkey, but any kind of cooked meat would do: chicken, canned chicken, beef, venison, buffalo, pork, etc.
The measurements for all the ingredients are just suggestions; but this amount fit easily into a 1.5-quart baking dish.
If you want to stretch this, you can add corn, peas, and/or green beans to the top of the pie before you put on the mashed potatoes.
As for the mashed potatoes: we like potatoes in this house, so 3 cups was just right. If you like potatoes even more than we do, pile ’em on!
I used a sour cream and chives mixture to add to the mashed potatoes. Any kind of cheese would be a nice substitute (I’m thinking cream cheese…yum).
As we ate it, I thought that perhaps mushrooms would be a good addition in the sauté. Also, I have another Shepherd’s Pie recipe for beef, and it includes a dash of ground clove. I had my doubts about that, but after tasting it, I now add a bit of clove to many of my beef dishes.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons     butter

1                            medium onion, peeled and chopped

3                            stalks celery, with leaves, chopped

2                            medium carrots, sliced

1 teaspoon          minced garlic

2 1/2 cups           leftover meat, such as turkey, chicken, or pork; cut to bite-size pieces

                              salt, to taste

                              black pepper, to taste

1/4 teaspoon       dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon       dried basil

2 cups                  gravy, more or less to appearance, texture, and taste

3 cups                  mashed potatoes, more or less to taste

1/4 cup                 sour cream

                              corn, green beans, peas; optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, celery and carrots, cooking until onions are translucent.


Gently heat mashed potatoes until stir-able, and stir in the sour cream.
Add turkey, seasonings, and garlic, cook 2 minutes.
Add gravy, cooking until heated through. Transfer to a 1.5-quart baking dish.


Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the meat mixture
If your meat mixture is pretty runny, leave the dish uncovered as it bakes. If it’s dry, cover it.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Recipe Friday: Beef Stew in the Instant Pot

This recipe takes a bit longer than the dump-set-and-forget-it types, as it takes some babysitting. I cook the meat, then add the potatoes and carrots and cook again. Total time is about 2 1/2 hours. A quicker way to cook it is to add all the ingredients and then bring to pressure for 18 minutes. I did that the first time, from a recipe I found; but the potatoes and carrots were too soft and mushy for me.
Any kind of red meat would go nicely in this stew.
A nice alternative to the cornstarch slurry is to add instant mashed potato flakes, a little at a time, until the desired thickness.

This is good with a crunchy, chewy bread, or biscuits.

Servings: 4 – 6
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 2.5 hours, includes coming to pressure and natural pressure release

Ingredients:

2 pounds beef stew meat (or venison or whatever kind)

2 medium-large onions, diced

2 generous stalks celery, diced, include leaves

a few shakes each of spices: paprika, celery seed, basil, cayenne, minced garlic, parsley

1 cup strong, hot coffee; mix 1 tablespoon salt into it to dissolve

1 cup water

4 or 5 medium potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

7 medium-large carrots, cut into bite-size pieces

4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water or broth to make a slurry

Directions: Use Sauté mode to brown meat and onion. When mostly cooked, stir in celery. Cook maybe 10 minutes more, then add spices and stir well. Cook another 5 minutes.
Add a small amount of the coffee/salt, and scrape to stir up the fond.
Pour the rest of the coffee, and the extra cup of water, into the pot. Stir.
Put on the lid, set to Seal. Set Meat/Stew mode to 10 minutes.
Since it was hot from the sautéing, the pot took about 10 minutes to come to pressure.
Natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then release pressure.
Press Cancel.
Remove lid carefully.
Add the potatoes and carrots, stir.
Replace the lid and seal.
Set Meat/Stew mode to 8 minutes.
When the 10 minutes is finished, allow 10 minutes for natural pressure release, then release pressure and remove the lid.
Press Cancel, then press Sauté.
Stir in cornstarch slurry and stir thoroughly. Allow to simmer and thicken.
Serve.

Recipe Friday: Shrimp Alfredo with Asparagus

My husband got a deal on a two-pound bag of frozen shrimp, so I started looking for ideas for a meal. I found an easy alfredo recipe and the rest came together.

This is a really filling meal: shrimp is, itself, filling, then there’s the cream cheese and all the butter. The pictures look like skimpy servings, but it was really all we could do to eat it, with a side salad.

Filling as it is, this is a pretty healthy meal. Butter (even though it gets a bad rap in too many cooking and health articles) is one of the best types of cooking oils you can find, especially if you use the expensive, organic kind.

I used an eclectic mix of pasta: some spinach, some gluten-free (rice), and some semolina (regular kind). They were all spaghetti noodles. You could go fancy and use linguini pasta.

The alfredo sauce is so simple, just four ingredients. If it’s too thick, go ahead and add more milk – either while you’re cooking the sauce, or after you mix it into the pasta, shrimp, and asparagus.

Steamed broccoli florets would be a nice swap for the roasted asparagus.

This recipe makes four servings, give or take, depending on everyone’s appetite. A side salad and some garlic bread would go great with it.

Shrimp Alfredo with Asparagus

Servings: 4

Time: 45 minutes from start to serve

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh asparagus, washed clean, dry ends cut off

6 ounces dry spaghetti or linguine noodles (3 or 4 servings)

1 pound shrimp, pre-cooked or raw, but peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup milk

Extra olive oil and extra 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

Cut the asparagus into bite-size pieces. Oil a baking pan, and spread the asparagus in it. Drizzle with more oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a hot oven (375°), stirring once, 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly roasted.

Boil pasta according to package directions.

In a small saucepan, gently heat the cream cheese and butter. Whisk together until melted and creamy. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, then the milk. Stir and heat until smooth. Turn off the heat.

In a medium-size frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Drain the shrimp, and sauté in the butter. When shrimp are 1 minute away from being done, stir in 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Cook and stir one minute, then remove from heat.

Drain the pasta, return to low heat. Pour in the cooked shrimp and garlic, along with all the cooking liquid and butter. Stir.

Add the roasted asparagus; stir.

Add the alfredo sauce. Stir well. Add more milk, if needed.

Serve in small portions.

Recipe Friday: Tea

Because ’tis the season, we have viruses and bugs and germs and cold etc., I am reposting this from a year ago:

RecipeFridayTea

Oh, how comforting is a cup of tea! Tea is one of my favorite things to do each day. I was introduced to hot tea by an English woman when I was in high school. She served it to me with 4 lumps of sugar and some cream. So delicious as all those sugars and carbs zipped straight to the pleasure centers of my brain! I was hooked on it as warm, comforting, and satisfying. I have since learned to curb my sweet tooth propensity and look more toward healthy options. I was doing well to make herbal teas with a bit of natural organic honey added until my friend was visiting and I noticed she didn’t put any honey in hers. “Oh,” I thought, “I guess tea doesn’t HAVE TO have sweetener in it at all!” This was a revelation to me. Well, we’re all still learning.

Of course, “a cuppa tea” in casual conversation may refer to a number of hot drinks: infusions, decoctions, herbal teas, green/black/oolong tea, etc. To get that out of the way, I first offer a glossary:

“Tea” technically refers to Camellia sinensis, the leaves of which may be made into  white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong, dark tea, and black tea, depending on how the leaves are processed.

“Herbal tea,” or tisane, refers to using the roots, leaves, seeds, bark, or flowers of plants to make a hot drink (stems don’t generally have much medicinal value).

Preparation of plant parts may be divided into

  • Infusion: herbs macerated and steeped in water
    • Quick infusion = 5 minutes in hot water: good for small amounts of herbs. These herbs do well in a quick infusion:
      • Chamomile
      • Sage
      • Peppermint
      • Thyme
      • Tulsi
      • Rosemary
      • Lemon verbena
    • Nourishing herbal infusions are steeped for longer periods, good for pulling out nutrients. Pour hot water over the herb, cover, and let sit for 8 hours or overnight. Some herbs good for nourishing herbal infusions:
      • Linden
      • Hawthorn
      • Plantain
      • Violet
      • Stinging nettle (the most famous nourishing herbal infusion)
      • Mullein
      • Oats
      • Red clover
    • Cold infusion: herbs are infused in cold water for 4 to 8 hours, often placed in a sunny window, can also be placed in the refrigerator
  • Decoction: simmering plant parts for a length of time (20 – 60 minutes)
  • Any of these may be gently re-warmed before you drink.

Cautions:

  • Always know your tea source. Choose organic brands. You do not want to drink teas made from chemically-laden plants.
  • Do not use aluminum pots or pans for preparing tea.
  • Avoid plastics.
  • Drink tea in moderation. Too much of anything is not healthy.
  • Some people are allergic to some plants. Avoid teas made from known allergens (although, some people are able to overcome allergies by ingesting small amounts at a time).

I use the term, “tea” to refer to hot drinks I make from plant parts.

I prefer loose tea, as it is easier to buy and store in bulk. I use mason / glass jars of varying sizes. It is best to store herbs in a cool, dark place. Label your herbs with the name(s) and date. I say name(s) because sometimes I mix herbs together in a big jar to avoid having to mix them every time I want to use them. Tea bags, however, are a convenient and clean way to make tea.

While I buy most of my herbs for teas, I grow a few. Each summer I grow peppermint in a pot; at the end of summer, I dry the leaves, crush, and store them. (I also grow stevia in the summer, and dry and grind the leaves to use as a sweetener.) We have four linden trees in our yard. I discovered them shortly after we moved into the house, and I was following my nose to the source of the rich, flowery scent. I was delighted to find that the flowers and leaves of the linden were not just for show, but were also medicinal. When it came time to prune the branches, we hung them in the garden shed until they dried, then I stripped the leaves and flowers, and stored them in a gallon glass jar.

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To make tea:

  • Use filtered water. Your water should be as pure as possible.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then let it cool only slightly.
  • Pour the hot water over the herbs into a cup or teapot. (How much herb? Whatever tickles your fancy at the time. Herbal teas are food, and it would be well nigh impossible to overdose. That said: Please drink responsibly.)
  • Cover the cup or teapot to contain the nutritive oils.
  • A hot pad underneath and a tea cozy atop will help keep everything at the right temperature.
  • After steeping, press the herbs to extract all the benefits you can from the plant parts.
  • Some teas lend themselves to mixing with other teas. Nettle, for instance, while extremely nutritious, tastes pretty “green.” Adding a bit of peppermint or lemon in with the nettle improves the experience.
  • Most people like to add a bit of sweetener to their tea. Honey is the favored choice, and it’s a good one (if you use natural, raw, organic honey) because you add more nutrition (and some say it’s a good way to prevent against seasonal allergies). Please don’t ruin your tea with off-the-shelf sugar. Sugar is like an anti-nutrient, and it grabs all your immune system’s attention for the duration of the digestion and processing of it out of your system. There are other, preferable, sweeteners available, like maple syrup, sucanat, and stevia. (See my post, https://maggietiggles.wordpress.com/2019/10/11/recipe-friday-treat-time-chocolate-mug-cake/ , for a discussion of sweeteners.)

Enjoy drinking your tea. Tea is soothing and nourishing: let it be so.

My favorite go-to tea is a mix of peppermint and stinging nettle. Stinging nettle is a fabulous source of magnesium (along with other nutrients), and many health-conscious writers advocate drinking it daily. [Rosalee de la Foret (at https://learningherbs.com/ and https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/ ) claims that stinging nettle remains an unsung champion for improving health in many powerful ways. She advocates drinking a nettle infusion daily for general health, as it contains an amazing amount of nutrients that can support your energy level as well as the health of your bones, hair, and teeth.] Peppermint is great for the digestive system. We have our main meal at noon, and I usually have my peppermint/nettle tea afterward. Peppermint is best steeped quickly, and nettle is best steeped in a long infusion. I compromise both. I prepare my peppermint tea bag and my scoopful of nettle in a cup with simmering water, cover it with a small saucer, then put my tea cozy over the whole thing. I let it steep for about 20 minutes (sometimes much longer, if I forget about it).

Another tea I use often is a mixture of elderberry, hawthorn berry, mullein, peppermint, calendula, and stinging nettle. This is a good tea for hot/moist colds, but also good for boosting your immune system. Elderberry prevents viruses from replicating; hawthorn provides Vitamin C; peppermint is antimicrobial and antiviral; mullein protects mucous membranes from inflammation, thereby decreasing mucous secretions; calendula is antimicrobial and assists the lymphatic system; elderberry, hawthorn berry, and peppermint are immune-boosting. I either add the herb mixture to simmering water and continue to simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes; or prepare it as I do the peppermint and nettle.

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SO MANY herbs make well into teas (I have most of these at home). I culled the Internet for information, and found most of it at Dr Josh Axe’s site, draxe.com :

  • Green teas are made from leaves that have not been fermented, so they have higher levels of antioxidants.
  • Milk thistle: detoxifying, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes liver and gallbladder health, good for digestion, soothes mucous membranes throughout the body, increases breast milk production
  • Burdock root: cleanses the blood (detoxifier), lymphatic system strengthener, skin healer, natural diuretic
  • Chamomile: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, promotes tranquility, resolves digestive issues, treats insomnia, relieves mild pain
  • Jasmine green tea: just inhaling the beguiling fragrance is good for my soul. Jasmine improves mood, overcomes stress, and balances hormones.
  • Dandelion leaves: enhances heart health, boosts weight loss, supports liver function (besides making tea, dandelion leaves are a powerhouse of nutrition and are good for consuming, either fresh in a salad, chopped into a pesto, or sautéed with onions)
  • Dandelion root (quite tasty when the root is roasted): promotes good digestion, liver-healthy, benefits cholesterol, good antioxidant, antimicrobial
  • Yarrow: reduces inflammation (especially in the digestive tract), sedative to relieve anxiety or insomnia, stimulates blood flow, helpful for high blood pressure and asthma
  • Turmeric: powerful anti-inflammatory, relieves joint pain, enhances immune function, regulates blood sugar, helps manage cholesterol levels (drinking turmeric tea with pepper, honey, lemon, ghee, or coconut milk can enhance its properties)
  • Barley: cleanses the kidneys, treats kidney stones, flushes out toxins, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidants to safeguard the body against cell damage, stomach pain relief, reduces sleep disturbances, reduces constipation
  • Red clover: benefits for menopause, bone and heart health, balances hormones
  • Moringa: anti-inflammatory; treats thyroid disorders, kidney stones, bacterial, fungal, viral and parasitic infections; high in protein, Vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and Vitamin C; antioxidant; balances hormones; helps improve digestive health; boosts liver function, helps detoxify the body; protects and nourishes the skin; mood stabilizer; protects brain health
  • Licorice root: adaptogenic herb (helps balance, restore and protect the body, helps you respond to any influence or stressor, normalizing your physiological functions), leaky gut remedy, anti-inflammatory, enhances the effects of other herbs to be more beneficial, helps with heartburn and acid reflux, helps with adrenal fatigue, boosts immunity, effective expectorant and soothing demulcent (helps with colds)
  • Matcha green tea: may help prevent cancer, promotes weight loss, speeds up muscle recovery in athletes, high in disease-fighting chatechins (a group of antioxidants), boosts energy, aids in reducing damage from UVB radiation
  • Hibiscus flower: tart, very high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, lowers blood pressure, supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides, natural antidepressant
  • Ginger: soothes the stomach, enhances immunity, protects brain health, eases pain, increases weight loss, promotes blood sugar control
  • Echinacea: eases pain, functions as a laxative to help loosen the bowels, anti-inflammatory (especially helpful for rheumatoid arthritis), relieves upper respiratory issues, immune-boosting (helps relieve the flu, asthma, common cold, croup, strep throat, whooping cough), fights infection
  • Yerba mate: promotes energy, mental alertness, fights cancer and inflammatory diseases, high antioxidant count, anti-inflammatory, stimulates the immune system, kills colon cancer cells, contains a host of beneficial vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting compounds, reduces cholesterol levels, promotes weight loss
  • Linden: potent sedative, calming, relieves high blood pressure, soothes digestion

Recipe Friday: Yogurt So Easy

There are many health benefits of yogurt, such as boosting immunity, reducing yeast infections, and lowering the risk of colon cancer.

When you make yogurt, you will get thousands of times the benefits of nutrition if you use raw milk. This recipe is specifically for raw milk – it does not boil the milk, which would thereby destroy many of its nutrients and benefits. Be sure your raw milk comes from an impeccably clean facility with organic, pasture-raised cows.

Raw Milk Benefits:

“Raw milk is an incredibly complex whole food, complete with digestive enzymes and its own antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic mechanisms conveniently built into a neat package. It is chock-full of both fat and water-soluble vitamins, a wide range of minerals and trace elements, all eight essential amino acids, more than 60 enzymes, and CLA—an omega-6 fatty acid with impressive effects on everything from insulin resistance to cancer to cardiovascular disease. Raw milk is delicious medicine.” – from https://www.drdeborahmd.com/health-benefits-raw-milk

More information about the health benefits of raw milk can be found in a search of “weston a price raw milk.” This one is an easy read: http://www.realmilk.com/brochures/real-milk-brochure/

Another interesting and informative article can be found by Dr. Josh Axe, here: https://draxe.com/nutrition/raw-milk-benefits/ . Benefits include reducing allergies, improving skin health, and preventing nutrient deficiencies.

The addition of gelatin guarantees thick yogurt, and contributes nutrition. Be sure to only use pure, organic gelatin, as other types may be mixed with other ingredients, or may come from chemically-raised beef. Gelatin is another nutrition powerhouse. It’s great for gut health, it has collagen, and helps your body build strong discs, ligaments, tendons, skin, nails, and hair. It helps to strengthen joints and prevent against the development of injuries, or helps to heal them faster.

You can let the yogurt culture 8 – 24 hours. The longer it cultures, the tangier it gets. 20 hours was too tangy for me. I’ll try 12 hours next time.

I buy my yogurt starter in a box that has little packets; one packet per quart. You can also buy yogurt starter in bulk; read the instructions for amount to add.

 

My recipe cultures the yogurt right in the jar. You can also pour everything into the Instant Pot insert: this would be helpful if you’re making it by the half gallon or gallon. If you use the insert, you will need a good-fitting lid for it when it goes into the ‘fridge.

This recipe uses an Instant Pot. If you don’t plan to use an Instant Pot, you can culture your yogurt in any type of setting where the temperature is kept at a fairly consistent 110° – 115°. Temperatures above 125° – 130° will kill the beneficial bacteria. If you have an oven with a heat-producing light bulb, or a gas pilot light, that is an option. I’ve also seen folks use a chest-type cooler: heat the inside of the cooler by putting in a pan of hot water (with a lid on it). Make sure the water is below 115°, then put in the yogurt and close the lid. Check the temp every once in a while to keep it warm. I’ve also heard of wrapping the yogurt in a towel and a heating pad, or putting it on a heating pad (but you’d have to check the temp of the heating pad).

Raw Milk Yogurt

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 8 – 24 hours to culture; 24 hours in the ‘fridge

Yield: 1 quart yogurt

Ingredients:

1 quart raw milk

1 packet yogurt starter

2 teaspoons powdered beef gelatin

Directions:

Pour a small amount (maybe 1/4 – 1/2 cup) of the raw milk into a 2-qt saucepan.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk in the pan. Let it soften 1-2 minutes.
Over medium heat, warm the milk to just under simmering. Take the pan off the heat. Whisk the gelatin in.
Pour the rest of the raw milk into the saucepan. Whisk.
Sprinkle the yogurt starter over the milk. Whisk.
Pour the milk into a 1-quart glass jar.
Put the jar of milk into the Instant Pot insert. (Do not put the lid on the jar.)
Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn to seal.
Press the yogurt function. If yours allows, adjust to show Normal.
Set how much time you want, from 8 to 24 hours (the longer the culturing time, the tangier your yogurt will be).
Once the Instant Pot recognizes the setting, it will revert to 0 for time, and count up to the time you set.
If you like, you can take the lid off any time to check on it or take it out. The Pot does not seal because it never goes above the low temperature needed to culture the yogurt.
When your yogurt is finished culturing, remove it from the Instant Pot, and turn the Instant Pot off. Put the lid on the jar, and put the jar in the refrigerator. Leave it there for 24 hours.
Now it’s ready.

Recipe Friday: Chocolate Teff Balls

(wheat-free, gluten-free, egg-free)
Early in my post-allergy life, I found a recipe that called for 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, and one egg. Pretty simple, and probably delicious; however, I can’t have cane sugar or eggs, and, I wanted CHOCOLATE! These are my indulgence.

These yummy little balls can be made with or without the teff – they are SO good, either way. Without the teff, they have a texture and consistency of snowball cookies (aka Russian Tea Cakes, which has been a point of contention in my family ever since I grew up). With the teff, they are moist and chewy. The photo shows with teff.

Teff info:

Teff is a delicious grain. It adds some chewiness and a little crunch to the cookie, as well as helping to hold it together. [Side note: To cook teff as a tasty porridge, mix 1 part teff to 3 parts water in a saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; stir well when done. Mix with a little fruit and sweetener (if desired) of your choice.]

Teff is gluten-free, and is a good source of copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, and selenium ( 1 , 5 ). Additionally, it’s an excellent source of protein, with all the essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein in your body.

Teff is known as an ancient grain, as it has been grown in Ethiopia for thousands of years. It is relatively new to American markets. It can be purchased as a grain (it is the world’s tiniest grain!), or as a flour. This recipe uses the whole grain.

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 10 min

Yield: 15 – 20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy; use the natural kind – peanuts and salt ONLY
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I use sucanat)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer, mixed with 1 tbs warm water (OR a real egg, if you can tolerate them)
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (I use raw cacao powder)
  • 1/4 cup dry teff, simmered for 15 minutes with 1/2 cup water, and cooled enough to handle (teff is optional)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

If using the teff, cook it first.

Mix together the peanut butter, sugar, egg replacer, and cacao.

If you’re adding the teff, this is when. Mix really well.

Roll into balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Place sheet in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes.

Makes 15-20 cookies, depending on size; it will make more, if you add the teff.

Another way to use this recipe:

For moist, chewy brownies, cook 1/2 cup teff in 1-1/4 cup water for 15 minutes, and add that to the peanut butter/ cocoa mixture. Pour into a greased or oiled 8″ round or square pan, and bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

Recipe Friday: Kathy’s Sandwich Bread

This is my new favorite bread recipe. It slices beautifully, is flexible when sliced, and it’s pretty tasty. It’s good for sandwiches or toast – whatever you use bread for. Since I rarely eat bread, I slice the whole loaf, put squares of baking/parchment paper in-between the slices; then put the loaf into a zip lock freezer bag to freeze. I can take out as many slices as I need at a time, and they don’t take long to thaw.

I’ve discussed soaking grains previously. This is a traditional method of preparing grains that our ancestors knew all about. How did we lose such important information??? Grains have a protective enzyme that benefits them while they’re growing, but are non-beneficial to us when we eat them. Effects of these enzymes on us include making the grain hard to digest, inability to absorb all the nutrients available in the grain, and gas and bloating.
Soaking neutralizes the enzymes, thereby opening up all the nutrients for us to absorb, and we digest them more easily.
When you soak grains, use a small amount of some type of acid such as apple cider vinegar, yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir. When I soak rice (or quinoa), I add a splash of vinegar to the water the day before I plan to serve it. Understand, we eat a traditional Midwest “dinner” at noon. Grains should soak 8 hours or overnight; so, if you plan on an evening supper, get your grains soaking that morning. For the rice, I soak overnight, then drain and rinse it before adding the amount of cooking water needed.
Likewise, when I make my biscuits, I mix the flour, oils, and liquid the night before, making sure to add some kefir to the liquid.
For oatmeal (or any other “breakfast grain”) I use yogurt or kefir. It adds a delicious richness.

Remember to use high-quality, organic flours. Processed white flour is not good for you.

I did post my bread recipe previously (it’s in the Biscuit post as a bonus, and if you want even more to read about the health benefits of soaking your grains, you can read it there.). But I changed it up just a bit and am really pleased with the results.

This recipe makes two loaves.

Time: 10 min the night before + overnight soaking + 10 min mixing + 2 hours combined rising time + 30 – 35 min baking

Ingredients:

The first day:

  • 4 tablespoons flaxseed
  • 4 tablespoons chia seed
  • 6 cups flour * (I used 4 cups einkorn and 2 cups spelt flour)
  • 2 tablespoons egg replacer (this can be omitted, but it helps with texture)
  • 1/4 cup kefir, or other fermented liquid
  • 1 3/4 cups dairy or non-dairy milk *
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil*

The second day:

  • 1 tablespoon (heaping) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sucanat or honey*
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

The first day:
In a coffee grinder, or other similar device, grind the flax and chia seeds until well ground, 10 – 20 seconds.
Add all the first-day ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix well enough that all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it sit 8 hours or overnight at room temperature.


The second day:
proof the active dry yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon sucanat.
Add the salt to the dough, mix in.
Stir in proofed yeast. It is easier (and less messy) to let the mixer do the initial mixing, with a dough hook, even though you may have to babysit it with a spatula for a while.
After the dough comes together, turn out onto a countertop (with all the oils in the dough, it didn’t stick, so I didn’t need to dust with flour).
Knead until smooth and dough doesn’t crack or come apart (10 – 15 minutes).
Return dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm oven until double (about 1 hour, depending on your yeast).
Turn dough out and punch down. Cover with a damp towel and let rest 10 minutes.
Shape into 2 loaves and place into loaf pans.
Let rise in a warm oven until almost double (about 1 hour).
Bake in a 375° oven 30-35 minutes. Loaves should sound hollow when thumped (internal temp of 200°).
Turn out to let cool 15 – 20 minutes, then package.


* Pretty much any combination of your allowable flours / oils / sweeteners / milk will work with this recipe.

 

Herbs and Essential Oils 2020 Super Bundle Offer

Early on in my health issues journey, I started researching (online) natural health (aka functional health or functional nutrition). I investigated essential oils, herbs, and eating properly. Why this route, instead of pharmaceuticals? Because God gave us what we need, and I needed to learn from people who understood that. After all, steroid use was primarily what got me into my health issues in the first place (well, that and the fact that I had been such a poor steward of the original health God gave me). I no longer wanted chemicals and medicines: these are the widely-used tools that, to me, represent what people have been messing up, mostly to make money.

I learned a lot in that first year. One of the most beneficial tools I found was the Herbs and Essential Oils Bundle that I purchased. Mind you, this was the only purchase I made in my pursuit of health knowledge: all the other information I gathered was free.

But the Bundle that I purchased was such a great deal; and I have to say it was one of the most helpful, useful, and valuable purchases I’ve ever made.

Lisa at Ultimate Bundles is offering this great deal again, and I highly recommend it. For a very low price, you can get amazing information, courses, and links to even more great stuff.

Check out the offer at this link: https://ultimatebundles.com/sale/heosb2020-main/.

Food Matters TV Free Screening

From a Natural Living Family (Dr Eric Zelinski) e-newsletter:

Have you heard? Food Matters TV just launched their biggest F-R-E-E screening of the year and you can get a front row seat by going HERE. If you could unlock the secrets to good health, natural healing, and longevity would you?  Our friend & colleague James Colquhoun and founder of Food Matters is hosting a global screening event the and our Natural Living Family community is invited! The great news is, it’s live today! –> Go HERE to begin watching From now until Monday, November 23, you’ll get unlimited access to the Food Matters library of films, including Food Matters, Hungry for Change, and Transcendence Seasons 1 & 2. You’ll be joining 64 leading health & wellbeing experts in this free screening event to discover:

  • Which foods to eat and which to avoid for optimal gut health and vitality.
  • How to boost your immunity to fight off disease and viruses.
  • Anti-aging secrets to looking and feeling more younger.
  • How to use the power of your mind to create more abundance and vitality!
  • Plus, so much more!

If you have tried to transform your life or health somehow, but find yourself getting stuck or reverting to old habits, then join this free screening event to discover a new perspective on health, gain the confidence and clarity to build the life of your dreams, and unleash a radiance you’ve never experienced before. We hope you enjoy this global screening event. It might just be the transformative information you need to turn 2020 around. –> Join the movement HERE!