Is It Time To Revive “Survival Gardens?”

By Sara Tipton

It is difficult to visualize what our world’s future might look like given the twists and turns of a pandemic. While many are sitting in their homes fearful of what the future may hold, it isn’t difficult to see into my future. I’m planting a garden this year, pandemic or not.

But the pandemic does add another layer to gardening and having one could alleviate some of the fears of a food crisis. We’ve all probably experienced the empty shelves at our local stores. I know I did (the vegetables and organic meats were still available. People wiped out the rice, potatoes, flour, sugar, and junk food though. More importantly, some believe these initial empty store shelves are only the beginning and if this is a long-lasting crisis we could see more breakdowns in stores and social unrest as a result of stores not meeting the demands of the population. I don’t want to imagine just how fearful people will get, so I have dried and frozen vegetables stocked up along with my husband’s supply of wild game from hunting. And we planted our garden starts already.

The panicked buyers that are emptying shelves have not yet realized there is another, more sustainable option that will provide more food security than hoarding food each time they make a run to the store. They can be in control of their own food supply. You don’t have to worry if you understand how to have a sustainable food supply.

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Most Americans firmly believe its impossible to be self-sufficient, and those values are all but permanently engrained into their minds from a young age. Even people who know that organic agriculture is just as productive as industrial agriculture often think you need to have acres and acres of land to grow all of your own food. But that simply is not true.  According to the Small Footprint Family, applying certain techniques and principles can get you set on the lifetime journey of potentially being able to grow all your food on as little as a quarter of an acre!  Even people in most suburbs could give this a try!

In the past, during troubled times, gardening has always become a fallback to ensure a population could care for themselves. In fact, during World War II, victory gardens became very popular.

Wartime brings real shortages in virtually every area of the economy, especially in the area of foodstuffs.  Rationing becomes the norm rather than the exception, and it is difficult for people to scrape out a bare subsistence.  During WWII, the Victory garden was recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a pamphlet published in 1943.  The gardens were recommended to have the following vegetables planted:

Spinach, Chard or Kale for greens; Cabbage; Lettuce; Tomatoes; Soy Beans; Snap Beans; Lima Beans; Peas; Asparagus; Carrots; Beets; Turnips; Parsnips; Onions; Strawberries; Raspberries; Radishes; Peppers; Onions; Pole Beans.

That’s quite a list, but it is not comprehensive and many preppers suggest these 25 seeds to start their survival gardens for added nutrition. The point to be made is that if you are able to grow food, then do it during the warm months.  Potatoes can be grown inside of old tires, and there are plenty of books and resources out there that will tell you how to perform micro gardening. This is a type of gardening that allows you to maximize the minimal space and arable land that you may have.

Sustainable food production is going to be a vital skill in a long-term emergency

Understanding what to grow, how to do it, and when to grow will put you at a greater advantage for when that time comes. Starting our garden indoors is mandatory due to the short growing season here.  In fact, I let the kids help me plant the seeds when they closed the school and we’ve been watching them grow ever since!  This is a powerful learning opportunity too, especially if you are locked down and practicing social distancing.  Teach your children why we water, and how to water, and you can even lookup images online of the growth stages of certain seeds and vegetables.

HELPFUL HINT: Let your children each choose a few seeds (make sure they will actually grow well in your area) to plant.  I did this, and my son is very interested in watching his cucumbers grow.  He checks them every morning and tells them goodnight before bed.  It’s actually an endearing process to watch, plus he’s learning more about being self-sustainable!

Getting Started

Put thought into how much produce your family will need for the year. This is a great article to start researching. As well, take these eight things into consideration once you’ve decided to start your garden:

  1. A survival garden should incorporate dependable and easy to grow vegetables that produce more than one harvest or bears more than one fruit per plant.
  2. The vegetable varieties should be types that the family will eat.  It’s not worth the trouble of growing this food if your family will not eat it.
  3. Grow vegetables that have high amounts of nutrition and vitamins, as well as finding varieties that possess medicinal properties.  According to medical experts, green vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Lima beans, peas, asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and carrots are some of the most nutritious vegetables in the world.
  4. Find varieties that grow naturally in your area.  Environments where plants grow naturally mean that less time and effort will be needed in raising them.
  5. The need for excessive fertilizing to produce decent-sized produce is a waste of precious resources.  There are exceptions to this rule of course; such as if the fertilizer used will help the plant produce many fruits or vegetables.
  6. If space is limited, plants that take up as little space as possible, but produce abundantly will make for a good investment.  Furthermore, finding gardening techniques such as the Three Sisters also makes good use of space.
  7. Find vegetables that can do well for storage.  Vegetables such as potatoes, onions, and root crops like beets and carrots that store well can be used when the weather is too cold to grow.
  8. Varieties that serve more than one purpose is also an efficient use of space and resources.  Varieties such as root crops or broccoli leaves are varieties where the greens can be fed to livestock.  In addition, some survivalists agree that yellow dent corn has a multi-purpose use of making grain and feeding livestock.  But this crop requires a large amount of land, resources such as fertilizer, and energy to grow this plant to fruition.

When we started our garden, we used these 25 seeds to get started:

All it’s going to take is one or two summers for you to really know what your soil will be able to grow effectively. For example, I love broccoli and we’ve tried it twice, but honestly, I refuse to use pesticides and the natural solutions I’ve found haven’t been able to eliminate the worms we get.  We have chosen to avoid growing broccoli outside because of this.  But if I do want some, I could always plant some indoors to enjoy!

Other things to consider are encouraging edible weeds to grow. This is difficult for some, as they want to rid their gardens of the ugly plants. But there are some weeds that have lots of nutrition and medicinal properties. For example, dandelions and mullein naturally grow in some areas, and it is easy enough to learn how to use them both for medicinal purposes.

Try these other backyard strategies to achieve food freedom.


Article source: Ready Nutrition

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5 Outstanding and Delicious Ways to Dress Up Ramen Noodles

By Sara Tipton

Ramen noodles are a quintessential preparedness pantry staple, and boy, are they cheap! One of the reasons they are a favorite choice among preppers is because they are considered one of the easiest “just add water” meals to make. Plus, they are great for on-the-go meals or foods to add for your vehicle preparedness supplies. Here’s a fast way to make noodles on the go!

Crunch up the package of noodles, then open one end and dump the noodles into a wide-mouth thermos. Sprinkle the seasoning packet on top. Add boiling or hot water and cap the thermos for 5 minutes – no longer, or they will turn into mush. Viola – perfect noodles! – The Prepper’s Cookbook

But, we all know that while they fill you up, they are not necessarily packed with bounds of nutrition. In an article on the subject,

Though instant ramen noodles provide iron, B vitamins and manganese, they lack fiber, protein and other crucial vitamins and minerals. Additionally, their MSG, TBHQ and high sodium contents may negatively affect health, such as by increasing your risk of heart disease, stomach cancer and metabolic syndrome.

Keeping this in mind, you may not want to eat Ramen every single day, but once in a while will not hurt.

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Food fatigue can become a real problem during long-lasting emergencies, so it’s important to use what you have and change things up every now and then. Aside from adding Ramen to your favorite broth, here are a few other tasty ways to dress them up.

Parmesan Garlic Noodle

This is one of the simplest recipes we found and it looks delicious.

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 3 packets Ramen noodles (seasonings discarded)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  1. Boil noodles according to package instructions. Save about 1 c. of cooking water to loosen sauce later, if needed.
  2. Drain noodles and toss with oil so they don’t stick.
  3. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add noodles and toss with butter. Stir in Parmesan. Pour in about 1/2 c. reserved noodle water to create a sauce. Gradually stir in more water if the sauce is too thick.
  4. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Recipe Source

Saucy Thai Noodles

This recipe is similar to one at my favorite local Thai restaurant.

  • 2 packages of Ramen, prepared (seasonings discarded)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (peanut, vegetable or canola)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic , minced
  • 2 Thai chilies , seeded, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion , sliced
  • 1 cup chicken meat, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 green onions , cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 cup Thai or Thai Holy Basil leaves (sub regular basil, Note 3)
  • Optional: Add some sprouts on top for added nutrition.

SAUCE

  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  1. Prepare noodles per packet directions.
  2. Mix sauce in a small bowl.
  3. Heat oil in wok or large heavy based skillet over high heat.
  4. Add garlic and chili and cook for 10 seconds. Don’t inhale – the chili will make you cough!
  5. Add onion, cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add chicken and fish sauce, and fry until cooked, around 2 minutes.
  7. Add green onion, noodles and sauce and cook for 1 minute until the sauce reduces and coats the noodles.
  8. Remove from heat and immediately add basil, toss until just wilted, then serve immediately.

Recipe Source

Garlic Sesame Noodles

This is one of my favorites from my college days and I recently found a similar recipe online. What can I say? I’m a stickler for the classics.

  • 1 package Ramen
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce (I use the low sodium version)
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/8 cup peas
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
  1. Cook the Ramen noodles without the seasoning packet as directed on package. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Cook the garlic, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the soy sauce, brown sugar, and sriracha until combined.
  5. Toss the noodles with the sauce.
  6. Garnish with green onions if desired.

Breakfast Ramen

Would you believe you can make breakfast Ramen?

  • 2 ramen packs (seasoning packets discarded)
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2-in pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. shredded sharp Cheddar
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Boil noodles according to package instructions. Save 1/4 c. of cooking water to loosen sauce later, if needed. Drain noodles, toss with oil so they don’t stick.
  2. Heat medium skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon pieces until brown and crisp.
  3. Add the noodles to the skillet and coat with bacon and bacon fat. Turn off the heat.
  4. Beat eggs with fork. Mix in cheese.
  5. Pour egg-cheese mixture to skillet and toss with bacon and noodles.
  6. Divide between bowls. Garnish with scallions, fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of hot sauce, if desired.

Hot and Dry Noodles

I adapted the ingredients of this recipe with items I had in my kitchen. Here is the original recipe.

  • 1 packet of Ramen, spice packet discarded
  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil

Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons Tahini
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 5 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoons hot water

Garnish with green onion chopped, coriander leaves

  1. Cook the noodles in boiling water for 4-5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well, toss into a large chilled mixing bowl and mix through the sesame oil. Set aside until completely cool.
  2. Put the sesame paste and 1 tbsp sesame oil into a small bowl. Mix with a fork or chopsticks until combined. Add both soy sauces and mix until combined. Stir in the five spice and the warm water, one tablespoon at a time. Set aside.
  3. Mix the garlic and water. Set aside.
  4. To serve, reheat the noodles in boiling water for about 10 seconds. Drain well and divide into two serving bowls. Drop a couple of tablespoons of the sauce onto the noodles and mix well to coat each strand. Garnish with pickled radish, green onion and coriander leaves. Add the garlic water. Add a little salt too, if you like. Mix again and enjoy!

Help our community by sharing your favorite way to eat Ramen. Leave your favorite Ramen recipe in the comments below.

Some recipes shared from The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Lifesaving Meals


Article source: Ready Nutrition

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How To Make An Echinacea Tincture

By Sara Tipton

Echinacea has been touted throughout history as an aid to the immune system during cold and flu season. Now with the globe experiencing a pandemic, it may help support the immune system and reduce the chances of catching a cold.

Researchers are the University of Connecticut found that taking echinacea BEFORE a person gets sick cuts the chances of catching a cold by 58%, and if you do get sick, echinacea can reduce the average duration of sickness by almost a day and a half.

Echinacea, also known as the coneflower, is not only great tasting in teas, it is a pretty easy medicinal herb to grow in your own home and comes packed full of beneficial substances to help the body.  It is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family known as Asteraceae.

Echinacea is one of the most popular garden ornamentals with its showy purple flowers that attract all kinds of butterflies and bees.

In fact, the entire plant from the roots, seeds, and fresh flowers are all medicinal and can be made into a flavorful immune-stimulating tea or tincture. –Ready Nutrition

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There are other reasons why echinacea is a wonderful medicinal herb! Read more about it here:

Echinacea tinctures are an incredible way to get the benefits of this herb too. You can also purchase some dried echinacea herb by clicking here. We always suggest organic if you can afford it and some of the reasons are outlined here.

HOW TO MAKE AN ECHINACEA TINCTURE

The most simple way to make an echinacea tincture is to use the folk herbalist method.  You can do this by starting with a clean mason jar. Fill the jar about halfway with dried echinacea.  If you have fresh plant material, fill the jar 2/3 of the way full. (This is when it comes in handy to have some echinacea growing in your yard!)

Once you’ve added the herb to a mason jar, simply cover it with alcohol. Add a neutral spirit with around 40% alcohol (80 proof). Vodka or brandy is a good choice, but really any alcohol will work. Fill the jar to within a half-inch of the top of the jar, making sure that you completely submerge all the herbal material. Put a lid on the jar and give it a quick shake.  Store the jar in a cool dark place for at least a month, shaking anytime you remember.

After 1 to 3 months of infusing the echinacea, it’s time to filter the echinacea tincture.  Use a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth to filter the herbal material from the alcohol.  You should be left with a dark amber-colored liquid with a strong earthy smell. This liquid is your medicinal tincture!

Dosage Information

Most herbalists recommend taking a dropper full, which is 25 to 30 drops of a tincture, three times per day. When sick or experiencing acute symptoms, the full dosage can be administered every 1 to 2 hours. For adults and older children, herbalists tend to suggest an echinacea tincture dosage as follows:

50 to 100 pounds: 2 droppers full
100 to 150 pounds: 3 droppers full
150 to 200 pounds: 4 droppers full
200 to 250 pounds: 5 droppers full

Because tinctures can be bitter tasting, follow some of these ideas to help the natural medicine go down.

If you choose to not make your own tincture, you could always purchase one. Again, we will always suggest organic products, especially if you are going to ingest them.

Ready Nutrition™ Lomatium Root Organic Herbal Tincture Immune System Support for Cold & Flu Season (60 mL)

*This article is intended for informational purposes only.  It is not meant to treat, cure, or diagnose any health or medical condition or ailment.  Please call a medical professional to know what’s right for you.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on March 21st, 2020

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Tips For Getting Through A Quarantine With Children

By Sara Tipton

Children add a whole other layer to the quarantine process during a pandemic.  Here are some “survival” tips to help you weather the storm with your kids while they are not attending school or sports because of pandemic closures.

The first thing you’ll want to consider is their education. If you homeschool, this won’t be a problem, and your kids will stay on track.  Those who do not should consider doing some school work with your children at home.  You can email their teachers and ask what they are working on or what they might need help with. If you can’t get a hold of a teacher, ask your kids! Talk about what they’ve been working on and figure out where they are.

Structure is important! Make sure they wake up, brush their teeth, eat their breakfast, and get ready like they would if they were going to school.  My kids each have an alarm clock that goes off at 6:20 am on school days. (These are actually incredible.  They wake up to birds chirping and waves crashing on the beach instead of a screech or ear-piercing alarm. They also have a “sunrise simulator” to awaken them gently when it’s still dark. I highly recommend these alarms for kids and they are only $20!) Once they’ve gotten ready, have some printable worksheets ready for them to start their day doing math.

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This website has several FREE printable worksheets for your kids to do while stuck at home. You can sort the worksheets by grade level too, which is very helpful!  I have already had both of my kids complete two math worksheets from this website and write a fictional story about frogs. Later, they will do a research paper on frogs.  Let them use the internet to look for fun facts to add to their reports. Help them out if you need to.

Involve your kids in creating a daily plan. Everybody’s more invested in something they have a hand in creating it. Ask your child, “How do you want to spend your day?” Both of mine said they wanted to go to school, so they wanted to do schoolwork and practice their sports.

If your kids are in sports, play with them outside. Help them practice. Even if they don’t do sports, they should be exercising. I am fortunate enough to coach gymnastics at the same gym where my daughter takes cheerleading, so I know her weaknesses in the sport. Take the time to help kids perfect skills or work on things until the gym opens up again. I got out a yoga mat and have been spotting my daughter on her standing backhand springs and playing baseball outside in the snow with my son. I also make sure both kids stretch every day and my daughter is pushing herself to maintain her flexibility. Exercising is key and will help them stay healthy if they do happen to cross paths with the virus.

Plan meals at the same time you normally do. If you let kids help you make dinner, let them still help. Have them do all of the chores they normally do. Don’t dramatically alter your daily life.

As the day comes to a close, make sure they shower or bath at the same time they normally would and go to bed at their normal time. My kids go to bed at 7:30 pm, read until 8 pm, and then turn the lights out. Keeping them on this schedule will make it much easier when they do finally go back to school.

Remember to limit screen time and not let children overdo it with TV and tablets. You can keep them busy by coming up with crafts they can do on their own or outdoor activities they can do in your yard. Mine are still building snowmen, and have started a whole snow family complete with cats, dogs, and ducks. We also purchased some vegetable seeds and are focused on our starts for this year’s garden. As you complete activities, such as planting seeds, explain how planting works and why we do it.

You also need to make sure they stay healthy!  This is important when you are in the midst of a pandemic. Kids are not getting major symptoms or getting sick and dying from the coronavirus. They are recovering, but that doesn’t mean you want your kids to get it.  Along with exercising, you should be feeding your kids healthy meals and snacks.

Our grocery store was sold out of TV dinners and frozen meals (I never buy those anyway); however, there were a lot of fresh organic oranges available, and I bought two bags. (The picture to the right is of the bowl of oranges I put out for the kids. The vegetable starts they helped me plant are in the background under the window.) The oranges are readily available for the kids to eat whenever they’d like, giving them a dose of vitamin C each time they eat one. Healthy eating is very important right now!

Take this opportunity to teach them about handwashing and sanitation. Try letting them help make homemade disinfecting wipes to help you clean the house!

Kids don’t understand why they have to clean properly, but now is the time to help them figure it out!  Calmly explain that you don’t want them to get sick from germs. Keeping kids in mind, we wrote a great article on explaining the importance of hand sanitation.

Most importantly, don’t panic because it will likely scare your children.  Life will be a lot harder if they are panicked like the majority of people are right now. Children are susceptible to our emotions and if you are worried or anxious your children are likely to pick up on it.  If everyone remains calm and the energy in your home is serene, life will be a lot easier. (Panicking and stress raise cortisol levels as well. Cortisol will impact your immune system in a bad way, and now is not the time you want your immune system to take the hit.) Show the kids your supplies and let them help you organize them.  This will help calm your nerves and is a way to show your children that everything is alright and you have prepared for this situation in advance.

What are you doing with your children to get through school closures and home quarantine? Let us know in the comments!

Article source: Ready Nutrition

Image: Pixabay

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The Superfood Broccoli and Two Great Recipes The Whole Family Will Love!

By Sara Tipton

Broccoli can be considered a superfood because of its nutritional content.  While it’s a polarizing vegetable because not everyone likes it, there are a few ways you can make it more tasty to get the nutritional benefits of this amazing food!

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT

Broccoli is considered one of the most nutritious vegetables because it is packed with numerous vitamins and minerals to help fight disease, build strong bones, and lower cholesterol. It is also low in carbohydrates, making it keto-friendly.  There are only 3.5 grams of digestible carbohydrates in a cup (91 grams) of broccoli. This superfood only has 31 calories per cup, is loaded with fiber and antioxidants and contains vitamin C to aid in iron absorption. In fact, a 1/2-cup (45-gram) serving of raw broccoli provides almost 70% of the daily value of vitamin C.

While broccoli doesn’t provide as much calcium as a glass of milk, it is a great source of calcium to help control blood pressure and build strong bones, especially for those who have a dairy allergy. Eating broccoli,  as well as other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, several times per week will have you reaping the benefits of this nutritional superfood.

Broccoli isn’t extremely high in protein, but it does contain some. Broccoli is relatively high in protein for a vegetable, however. Protein makes up 29% of its dry weight, compared to most vegetables. Proteins are the building blocks of your body, necessary for both growth and maintenance. Broccoli also contains a lot of water, and because of its high water content, 1 cup (91 grams) of broccoli only provides 3 grams of protein.

Broccoli can also be prepared in numerous ways to enhance or hide the flavor – whichever you prefer!

Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 heads with stems of broccoli (shredded or chopped)
  • 1 cup of organic soy-free mayonnaise
  • 16 ounces of bacon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Chop or shred the broccoli. Use a food processor, after peeling the skin off the stems and removing any black or bad spots. Cut all 16 ounces of bacon into pieces and cook it.  Drain the bacon grease and put the bacon on a paper towel to get crunchy. Once it’s cool and the paper towel has soaked up most of the grease, toss it in with your shredded or chopped broccoli. In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar together. Once it’s combined, pour it over the broccoli and bacon and stir to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

This is a perfect dairy-free recipe (for those who don’t know, my daughter has a severe reaction to the milk protein in dairy) for someone who can have eggs, but not any milk products.  I make this broccoli salad almost every Sunday and keep it in the refrigerator.  It only lasts a few days because the kids and my husband love it, but it’s a perfect nutritious snack that beats those sugar-filled granola bars!

Broccoli can be lightly steamed, too, and some sources say this is the most nutritious was to consume this superfood!

Steamed Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli, 4 heads, florets only
  • Olive oil
  • A drizzle of balsamic syrup
  • Goat cheese or feta crumbles
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup Chopped red onion
  • salt and pepper

To steam the broccoli, remove the florets from the stems and cut them into chunks. Put water in your steamer pot and let it boil. Put the broccoli in the steamer with a lid on top. Cook for 3-4 minutes at the most to keep the broccoli a little crunchy. Drain the water and flavor your broccoli! Add the onions, feta crumbles or goat cheese crumbles, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic syrup and the minced garlic.  Toss it around and salt and pepper to taste!

This is a wonderful way to get the kids excited about broccoli, and it’s really good without the cheeses too for those who can’t eat them.  The bite of the raw red onion against the fresh broccoli is a wonderful combination, in my opinion.

Broccoli is great for you and really packs a nutritional punch! If you’re looking for some ways to change up the way you eat vegetables, give these recipes a try even if you don’t like broccoli.  These can be changed and manipulated to your exact taste buds, so keep that in mind too!


Article source: Ready Nutrition

Image: Pixabay

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How To Create Homemade Hand Sanitizer

By Sara Tipton

Taking a few extra precautions this flu season may be just what the doctor ordered. Let’s face it, teaching proper handwashing protocols aren’t exactly on our kid’s priority list. That’s why hand sanitizers have become every mom’s dream when it comes to keeping their children’s hands clean.

What’s great about homemade hand sanitizers is you can get creative with scents using your favorite essential oils. One ingredient you will not want to change up is using 90 percent isopropyl alcohol. The reason why this type of sanitizer is preferred is that alcohol rub sanitizers containing at least 70% alcohol (mainly ethyl alcohol) is an excellent antimicrobial and kills 99.9% of the bacteria on hands 30 seconds after application and 99.99% to 99.999% in one minute. As well, it has the ability to denature proteins. The only viruses they do not kill some common germs such as salmonella, e. Coli, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and norovirus.

While alcohol-free hand sanitizers may not be as effective as preventing the spread of viruses we understand that children’s ages can factor into which hand sanitizer you use. For an alcohol-free sanitizer, click here.

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Essential Oils Have Wonderful Medicinal Properties

Essential oils are considered mankind’s first medicine and it has been used throughout history for relieving symptoms of ailments and complementary treatments. Using essential oils for medicinal purposes dates back to 4500 B.C. when ancient Egyptians discovered that oils and aromatics could be used for illness. Let’s not forget those 4 thieves who discovered a simple combination of herbal oils when the Black Plague was wreaking havoc throughout Europe.

Chinese medicine also centers on herbal concoctions and essential oils and this medicine is finally gaining attention in the Western world. While many of the benefits of essential oils have not yet been clinically tested, there is the feedback that suggests that these oils may be beneficial to our health when used properly.

  • Antibacterial – Due to the increase of antibacterial resistant illnesses, many are turning to essential oils such as basil, cassia, cinnamon, clove, cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon, marjoram, melaleuca, myrrh, orange, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, and thyme.
  • Antiviral – Oils that have been studied to help control viral infections include: basil, cassia, cinnamon, eucalyptus, frankincense, lemon, lemongrass, marjoram, Melaleuca, myrrh, oregano, and thyme.
  • Antimicrobial – Having some oils that have antimicrobial action will also help fight germs. Herbs such as lavender, Melaleuca, geranium, lemon, eucalyptus, Ravensara, rosemary, cinnamon, thyme.

Here are some of our favorite essential oil scent combinations.

Germ-Fighting: If you have heard of the 4 thieves oil, then you know it has germ-fighting potential. You’ll love this scent combination of 5 drops each of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary.

Calming and Preventative: This is one of my favorites and it always calms me when I put it on. All you need is 10 drops of lavender oil, 5 drops of lemon oil.

Clean and Simple: If you like the classics, you will love this scent combo. All you need is 5 drops lemon oil, 5 drops grapefruit oil and 5 drops of thyme oil.

Once you make your own hand sanitizer, you will see how cost-effective it is and feel relieved with the simplicity of the ingredients.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-ounce plastic spray bottle
  • aloe vera
  • 90 percent isopropyl alcohol
  • 15 drops of your favorite essential oil

That’s it! Can you believe it?

How To Make Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

  • 16 ounces of isopropyl alcohol
  • 1 tablespoon pure aloe vera
  • 15 drops essential oils (see our favorite combinations below)

Combine all ingredients in a 2-ounce plastic spray bottle and shake well to combine. Adjust scent by adding more essential oil

What I love about this homemade hand sanitizer is that it smells great, fights off germs and bacteria and the aloe conditions the your hands so the sanitizer doesn’t dry the skin. Try it today and see!

What’s your favorite essential oil that you use?

Article source: Ready Nutrition

Image: Pixabay

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Amping Up Your Immune System with Fermented Garlic and Honey Elixir

By Sara Tipton

If you’re interested in the health-boosting properties of fermented food but not sure where to start, we have the easiest starter recipe! Fermented honey is one of the easiest ferments to make and has great medicinal properties.

Because of the natural fermentation process, your body gets natural energy and an incredible immune boost from fermented foods – especially garlic and honey. But how, exactly, do honey and garlic undergo fermentation? Simply put, there are naturally occurring bacteria present on garlic that will convert sugars into lactic acid. This acid is a natural preservative and begins the Lacto-fermentation process. Lacto-fermentation also increases and preserves the beneficial vitamin and enzyme levels, and digestibility of fermented food.

Why it’s Good for You

  • For centuries, garlic has been used to heal diseases and minor ailments. Allicin, the active ingredient in garlic helps digestive and respiratory issues, immune issues, and joint-related diseases.
  • Both garlic and honey have strong medicinal properties, so it makes sense to use it as an immune booster or if you feel a cold or flu coming on.

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Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium and other antioxidants such as allicin. The allicin makes garlic an effective antibiotic! In fact, the antibiotic activity in garlic is also helped by the diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, and ajoene (a substance created when allicin and diallyl disulfide combine).  Preparations of fresh garlic are effective against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.  The juice of the herb diluted to a very small degree inhibits bacterial growth. Allicin is unstable, so it quickly converts to other sulfur-containing compounds which are widely thought to give garlic its medicinal properties.

Honey also fights against bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus. The latter is the most common bacteria found in the human nasal passages and nose. Also, honey should be as raw as possible, and the darker the better.  Dark honey contains more antioxidants, and it is more effective in fighting microorganisms and bacteria.

It is highly effective as a cough suppressant and as a demulcent. That latter term means something that coats the throat and the linings of the trachea and mouth to soothe the surfaces…a principle for which cough drops and lozenges have a primary function/goal.  Buckwheat honey surpasses dextromethorphan (the primary cough suppressant found in Robitussin, for example) in terms of cough suppressant action.

Fermented Garlic and Honey Elixir

A fermented garlic and honey elixir could help boost the immune system and fight off nasty colds or the flu while helping to prevent a bacterial infection. To make one:

What you’ll need

  • Sterilized canning jar and lid
  • Garlic – Whatever size jar you use, you’ll want to fill it about ¾ full of peeled garlic.
  • Raw honey

How to Make it

  • Fill canning jar ¾ full with peeled garlic.
  • Cover with raw honey.
  • Cover it loosely with a lid to let the gasses escape, and put it in a dark place.
  • Bubbles will begin to appear in a few days. This is a good sign because the fermentation process is beginning. Every few days turn the jar upside down to ensure all garlic pieces are coated with honey.
  • The juice from the garlic will create just enough liquid for fermentation to happen. Here’s a tip: For this ferment, you don’t need an airtight container as gasses will continually build up. You will want to allow those gases to escape to avoid a large build-up of pressure. Cover loosely!
  • The fermentation process should be completed in 4 weeks. According to the writers at Grow Forage Cook, the honey garlic will ferment for about a month, but you can really eat it at any time. The flavor will continue to develop over time, the garlic will mellow, and the honey will become much runnier. It will store well in a cool place for many months, if not longer.

How to Use It

  • You can eat the garlic on a cracker or piece of bread or add the honey to warm lemon water. It’s quite versatile, so play around with it.
  • You can also add it to your favorite immune-boosting tea. I love adding it to Ready Nutrition™ Immune Support Loose Tea Blend for Cold and Flu Season.  This tea packs a punch when it comes to an immune system boost and the flavor is incredible!
  • You can eat as much of the honey and garlic as you want. However, if you prefer to enjoy the things you love in moderation, as I do, about 1 – 2 garlic cloves per day are perfect (or 1 tsp of honey the garlic is soaked in). Sometimes more an be added if you partake in the second cup of tea.  The honey liquid is also good mixed in with sparkling water. On warmer days that I don’t carry tea around with me, my go-to beverage is carbonated water, so it’s easy to drop a small amount in a can or a bottle.

Article source: Ready Nutrition

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Why You Should Reduce Your Kids’ Sugar Intake & How To Do It!

By Sara Tipton

The evidence is mounting that sugars, especially added sugars in processed foods, are affecting our children’s overall health and longevity. Unfortunately, the massive sugar intake begins when children are young, but there are ways to reduce the amount of sugar our kids consume while still allowing them to enjoy great tasting foods.

Researchers have pondered for quite some time whether sugar itself harming health or if it’s the weight gain that comes from consuming sugary drinks and foods mainly what contributes to illness over the long term.  And it looks like the answer is both.  Extra weight increased risks for chronic diseases and diabetes, while itself does do at least some damage to internal organs when it is being broken down by the body. Excessive sugar can damage the liver and lead to kidney failure.

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The Liver – The liver processes fructose and stores it in the form of fat on the body. The organ uses one type of sugar, called fructose, to make fat. Too much sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (highly processed sugar) causes a fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease. Some studies have shown that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you’re not overweight.

The Kidneys – Sugar is not a problem for the kidneys unless the blood sugar level gets too high. This commonly occurs in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Once the blood sugar level gets higher than 180 mg/dl, the kidneys start to spill sugar into the urine. The higher the blood sugar, the more sugar comes out in the urine. If your kidneys are normal, this usually isn’t a problem, but if you have diabetes, too much sugar can cause kidney damage.

Additionally, researchers say that sugar can, both directly and indirectly, cause type 2 diabetes. Not all studies prove that sugar causes diabetes, however, the conclusion has always been the same: the association is strong. It may directly increase risk because of the impact fructose has on your liver, including promoting fatty liver, inflammation and localized insulin resistance (91415). These effects may trigger abnormal insulin production in your pancreas and increase your risk of type 2 diabetes (14, 16). Eating large amounts of sugar can also indirectly raise diabetes risk by contributing to weight gain and increased body fat — which are separate risk factors for developing diabetes (17).

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In the new study, which was financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal Obesity, scientists removed foods with added sugar from a group of children’s diets and replaced them with other types of carbohydrates so that the subjects’ weight and overall calorie intake remained roughly the same. After only 10 days, the children showed dramatic improvements, despite losing little or no weight.

Also read: Breaking Sugar Addiction!

The findings add to the argument that all calories are not created equal, and they suggest that those from sugar are especially likely to contribute to Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, which are on the rise in children, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Benioff Children’s Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco.

These should be reasons alone to limit the amount of sugar we feed to our children.  But how do we do that?

Limit Sodas and Juices – The majority of juices on the market have TONS of added sugar and aren’t great for adults, let alone children.  These should be limited or even removed completely from your child’s diet.  An excellent substitute for soda and juice is sparkling water. Let your kid choose which flavor they like and cease the purchasing of juices and sodas.  Just make sure there are no artificial sweeteners added. The only ingredients should be carbonated water and “natural flavors” when looking for sparkling water. Kids cannot drink what you don’t buy.  Ultimately, you have all the control over what drinks are brought into your home. This is the sparkling water my kids absolutely love!

Cook More Veggies – Make your dinners with more vegetables than you currently do. When I say vegetables, I mean whole foods that you’ve washed and prepared after getting them from the produce section of the grocery store; not canned sweet corn, which is genetically modified to be riddled with excessive sugar to improve the flavor. Just start cooking an entire side dish that’s made completely with vegetables.

Prepare Snacks – For the time-crunched parents out there, this one will be tough. But for me, my children’s health is worth it! Don’t buy Cheetos or granola bars for kids to have as a snack, instead, make them. Here’s a great guide to help you:

If you just don’t have time to make snacks, buy fruit your kids can easily eat.  Teach them how to eat a pomegranate.  Show them how to peel an orange.  Have them grab a handful of grapes or an apple from the fridge. Bananas are also a great option for a quick snack.

Cook at Home – eating out less will automatically make your kids healthier because you can control the ingredients. Restaurants often add a lot of sugar to boost the flavor profile of their food. But you will find that cooking at home with healthy fats will give you great results.  Plus, the experimentation is incredibly fun!

The bottom line is that we have a problem in the U.S. with not just obesity, or the diseases that come with it. All of those things that are becoming epidemics are largely related to the food we consume on a daily basis.  The “Standard American Diet” or SAD is truly such. But we can all do little things to improve our health and the health of our kids from the inside out!

Focus on healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil and nuts, and avoid heavily processed oils such as soybean or vegetable oil. Eat fruits and veggies fresh from the produce section as opposed to packed in cans or plastic containers.

It’s often difficult to get kids to eat healthier, especially when you are trying to get them to cut back on their sugar intake. However, it can be done. It’s not fun at first, but keep it up, and put your foot down. Buy that spaghetti squash and pass on the cereal. They may be upset at first, but they will eventually eat what you prepare and happily! For example, my kids don’t know any child in either of their classes that have tried a zucchini. I consider it a win that my kids ask for zucchini noodles for dinner.

How Sugar Keeps You Trapped in a Cycle of Addiction

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Article source: Ready Nutrition

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Why Decluttering Is Good For Our Mental Health

By Sara Tipton

As Americans, we have a lot of clutter.  I know I used to!  But decluttering has many benefits, including those that positively impact our mental health.

As a society, we are busier and more stressed-out than ever.  This makes it easy to see why the Kon Mari method of decluttering and minimalism trends are so popular right now. And to be fair, they aren’t popular with everyone. Some people just always have a lot of stuff and will always have a lot of stuff. Have you ever been in a house that is so filled with stuff it makes you anxious? I have. And that feeling prompted me to get rid of more than two truckloads of stuff in 2019, and change my habits for good!

But by making changes to eliminate unnecessary clutter, it made me feel lighter.  Not like I weighed less, but I was less stressed out.  And there’s scientific evidence to show that clutter can cause stress while those who declutter get an improvement in their mental health.

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Is Minimalism the True Secret to Happiness?

In an article by Right As Rain, Brenna Renn, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and acting assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington discussed the phenomenal effect decluttering has on our mental well-being.  “I do think that we are hardwired as humans to look for patterns in our environment and to find comfort in predictable patterns and occurrences,” Renn says. “That may be the underpinning of where this interest in decluttering is coming from. If we can make our home environments these predictable environments, it might support our mental health.”

Ready Nutrition touched on this very subject previously too:

Your Environment is Key To Your Happiness: Finding the Balance You Need to Simplify Your Home

Environmental wellness is living a lifestyle that is respectful of our surroundings and reflects our desired mental state. It encourages us to live in harmony with the Earth by taking action to protect it and promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment. This can all be started by adopting a more minimalist lifestyle. But don’t worry if you can’t live with only 30 or 45 items, start slow, and you’ll be surprised what you can live without.

Living with less does two very powerful things for us as human beings. It reduces our consumerism and therefore reduces our waste and the destruction we do to the Earth and it saves us money. It also helps us get control of our personal environment and live more simply and intentionally.

And all of that has net positive benefits for our mental health. Because clutter can be distracting, as Renn explains, clearing it out may help us focus better. Take, for example, a messy cubicle or a home office that’s 10 feet from a pile of dishes and laundry that needs folding and it’s no wonder you’re having trouble getting anything done. “I think about clutter as visual static,” says Renn. “When you’re in between radio stations, the static can be very distracting.” That’s why once it’s removed, a sense of focus returns to what used to be chaotic static.

The clutter can be distracting, too, and clearing it can help you unwind and de-stress. “If it’s the case where you want to lie down and read or watch a movie or listen to music but your living room is cluttered, it’s going to be hard to immerse yourself in that activity. You’ll be pulled to that stack of clutter or the boxes you haven’t unpacked,” says Renn.

People who have a lot of stress or anxiety issues could also benefit from a more tidy home with free space. “People with anxiety are already hypervigilant to any sort of stress response. Their stress alarm is already dialed up. Anything like clutter or anything disruptive in their environment could be one more thing that tips the scales for them,” she says.  Renn added that decluttering is not a cure for anxiety disorders, but is simply one action, in addition to seeking medical care, that may help ease troublesome symptoms.

It’s also important to remember that clutter is subjective. For some, a stack of mail on the counter doesn’t really count as a mess, whereas others can feel stressed out when a single item on the bookshelf is out of place.  Keep YOUR personal ideas of clutter and what it is to you in mind when you begin the process of simplifying your life. Don’t try to make your home look exactly like the one you see on Pinterest.  Try to make it neat and tidy to YOUR standards, not someone else’s.  The goal here is to improve your environment, not get stressed out because you can’t meet the standards of a staged home.

If you’d like to try decluttering, you should start small. Don’t just throw everything out.  Go room by room, and spend a whole day thinking about if you should or want to keep certain things. This is all about peace of mind, and if getting rid of some your stuff stresses you out, don’t try it!  Do what’s right for you.  Let’s face it: decluttering isn’t for everyone. We are all different and one-size-fits-all trends don’t cut it for all people.

This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on January 8th, 2020

Image: Pixabay

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Health Benefits of Rosemary & How To Grow Rosemary in Winter

By Sara Tipton

Rosemary is a delightful herb for cooking that also contains many important health benefits.  As one of my favorite herbs to flavor food, having rosemary around is essential! But living in a very cold wintry climate often makes growing it difficult, but it can be done, and is well worth your effort!

About Rosemary

Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean. It is used as a culinary condiment to flavor food, to make perfumes and other cosmetic items, and it is often used for its potential health benefits. Rosemary is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, along with many other herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender. It is a perennial plant, meaning it’ll live for more than two years.

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Rosemary is typically prepared as a whole dried herb or a dried powdered extract, while teas and liquid extracts are made from fresh or dried leaves. The herb has also been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.

Nutritional Information

While rosemary does taste good, it also offers some nutritional benefits as well.  It is also a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6.

But, if taken in very high doses, rosemary can cause vomiting, coma, and pulmonary edema.  While extremely rare, it would take a massive amount of the herb to cause any kind of side effects, but it is important to be aware of this.

Possible Health Benefits

Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. It is also thought to improve digestion, enhance memory, and protect against brain damage. Rosemary can also help protect against brain aging and adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents.

How To Prepare an Herb Garden in Winter

Growing Rosemary Indoors, Year-Round

Keeping your rosemary alive indoors over the winter can be tricky, but it also can be done! Unlike the aloe vera plant, rosemary will not thrive under neglect. If you live in a warmer climate, think USDA plant hardiness zones 7-10, you may think it’s easy to keep a rosemary plant alive, and you’d be correct. However, I’m firmly in zone 5, and temperatures can dip to the negative 20s for several days in January and February. Single-digit temperatures are far from uncommon where I live, so I had a few things to learn. But this advice will help those who want to keep a rosemary plant indoors during the winter too!

Rosemary is a native Mediterranean plant, hailing from a region of dry, well-drained soil and hot, sunny temps. Rather than pulling moisture from the soil, it often gets it from the humidity in the air. Knowing this tidbit should help to understand the best way to get a rosemary plant to thrive!

Tip#1 – Choose a pot that fits the plant and increase the size as your herb grows.

Tip #2 – Make sure the pot has a drainage hole and a drainage pan, and use well-drained potting soil. I like to mix organic cactus soil mix with worm castings. Tenth Acre Farms agrees with this, as it appears she uses the same soil in a zone 6 climate.

Tip #3 – In addition to growing your plant in a pot with a drainage hole, you should also add a layer of gravel or small rocks to the drainage pan, so that the pot actually sits on top of the rocks, rather than in the pan. You don’t want the soil to have any contact with the drainage pan, and that is too wet for rosemary.  Remember: rosemary likes moist air and dry roots.

Tip #4 – Put your rosemary near your sunniest window!  This herb loves the sunshine and needs as much as it can get, especially during the winter!

Tip#5 – While your rosemary is indoors, water the soil every two weeks (if the soil is dry), but ALWAYS keep water in the drainage pan with the rocks in it. Because the plant likes to absorb moisture from the air, it will enjoy the water as it evaporates from the pan.

Tip #6 – Fill a spray bottle with water and mist the foliage once or twice a week. This will help mimic the Mediterranean environment rosemary thrives in!

Tenth Acre Farms had an additional tip that is worth sharing! She suggests using a bag if your plant is struggling to thrive indoors where the air is often much drier. You can actually cover the foliage with a plastic bag for a time to hold in more moisture and to reduce the shock of the transition from outdoors to indoors.

These tips should help get your rosemary plant growing and keep you supplied with nutritious and delicious herbs over the winter!  Best of luck, herb lovers!

Do you have a piece of advice to help rosemary lovers? If so, share it with Ready Nutrition readers in the comment section!


This article was sourced from Ready Nutrition.

Image credit: Pixabay

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