September 29, 2013

Where There Is Mastitis, There Is Usually a Diaper

Mastitis.  It's never a good thing.
Unfortunately I had it sneak up on me recently with no physical warning that I can see.  I say physical because I did have a mental meltdown and was glad to find out that there was a reason for it as my norm is fairly stable.
So while in the midst of a mental haze a friend of mine helped walk me thru treatment of mastitis.  Jessica, at Simply Healthy Home,  is my pregnancy and baby question go-to person as she loves babies and all the drama that goes with them.   She is well-studied while being kind and caring.
You see, I don't get sick often, or have issues like this, and when I do, I tend to mentally shut down.  I just want to curl into a fetal position and wish for death.  It's been 15 years since I have had to personally deal with mastitis, and the last time I gave in to a round of antibiotics.
In the midst of fever, chills, and a slightly altered mental status this time, I  reached for herbal tinctures.
Tincturing is one of my favorite herbal preparations as alcohol helps to activate many herbal properties and it is also a great way of preserving your herbs for years.   I've studied them enough to know what I need and what is best for me so.  Know what you are using and why.

But then you have the issues of the localized pain and inflammation.
Mastitis hurts.  It is not a happy place.
So for localized pain and swelling Jessica recommended a poultice of lobelia and mullein.
The basics of a poultice are pretty simple and straight-forward.
Herbs come into direct contact with the affected area.
My herbs are dried and need to be activated.  Then you have the whole issue of wet herbs on the skin.
I've seen, and probably recommended, using a cloth to hold the herbs, and then covering the area with a piece of plastic wrap or bag to contain the mess.
Ha!  You are still going to end up soaked.
So in my fevered haze, I happened to walk past a stack of diapers that I had been planning on dropping off at the church nursery.  They were size 1 and size 2.  Way too small for my 30 pound toddler.
And yes, I did use primarily cloth diapers, but it is handy to have a few disposables for going out and around.

And then I had a thought.  Diapers are meant to contain wet, and are about the size I need.... hmmmm.

So I hydrated my herbs.  To do this I added the dry herbs to a bowl, and heated water in my kettle.  I poured some over the herbs.  Not a bunch, because I don't want a tea (it's the same premise) but I want soggy herbs.

I let them sit for about 5-10 minutes to hydrate and cool a bit (I also don't want to put boiling hot water on my skin).
Then I filled the diaper channel, checked the temperature to make sure it was appropriate, and placed it over the affected area using a nursing bra contain and make application easier.
I let it stay in place for at least 30 minutes or until it starts getting on my nerves, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter.
When you are ready, remove the diaper and rinse/wash any herbs from the area.
I wasn't soaked and the pain and redness were eased (sorry, no photos of this).

You can also use a diaper for poultices for other things as well, but I don't know that it would go over so well with my other kids or husband.  If you have a stash of them around it is a handy mode of transport, but I don't know that I'd buy them just for that purpose?
So I hope you never need to treat mastitis but if you ever do consider herbs in a diaper...  after all, it's better than what is normally there.

September 23, 2013

Feels Like Summer Smoothie-FP

Fall is in the air here, and I have felt somewhat overwhelmed by the onslaught of pumpkin drinks and dishes in the last few weeks.
So while there is still a little green left on the trees, I'm going to pretend it is still summer and enjoy the tastes that come along with it. 
I initially saw this recipe done as a frozen bar-like treat, but I like smoothies and personally don't care to bite into something cold and frozen (that's just one of my own, many personal issues).
It is also a Fuel Pull/FP on the Trim, Healthy Mama plan and I like to use it as a mid-day snack.  The yogurt adds some protein and you can get some veggies, fruits and more vitamins and minerals than you can probably think of with this.
I also use my Blendtec but most blenders should be able to handle this one pretty well.

Feels Like Summer Smoothie-FP

  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 2 limes, quartered (peel, pith, seeds and all)
  • 1 cup of fat-free plain yogurt or greek yogurt
  • 2-3 cups of water and ice
  • handful of lemon-basil leaves (this was what was handy for me to pick, but fresh mint leaves are also a great choice)
  • generous pinch of Redmond RealSalt
  • Stevia to taste
Process on the 'whole juice' setting of the Blendtec or for a few minutes until smooth in your blender.

September 14, 2013

Almond Milk.... It's Really That Simple?

Back in the day, before I knew better, I made soy milk from soy beans for my first child.  I figured it had to be healthier since it was homemade and I would soak, cook, and strain it regularly in a process that took hours.
This kind of soured me (milk humor) on making any milks, but when I got my Blendtec it came with a recipe book that made a healthy almond milk sound all too easy.
I even asked a friend about it (her blog is great, check it out!) to see if it was really that simple or if I was being deceived.
It turns out, making your own almond milk is incredibly easy.  I do use a Blendtec, but I imagine any blender would do a pretty good job.

I start with raw almonds.  You could use organic as that would be the best option, but go with the best that you can afford.
For non-organic, the price per quart is about $0.56.  Or $1.12 for 2 quarts, the size you'd buy at most stores.  This is much cheaper than what you would pay in the store for the same product and without all the fillers and funky ingredients.
Organic would be about twice that price, based upon your local almond prices.

I use 1/2 cup of nuts to make 2 quarts of almond milk.  This is actually more thinned out than my recipe calls for but is more Trim, Healthy Mama approved (or Fuel Pull).  If I am making almond milk for the kids, I will use 1/2-1 cup of almonds to make 1 quart of almond milk.  They get more fat that way, but I don't miss or need it.

To start,  you need to soak the almonds a few hours, or overnight.  I usually forget at night and will start them in the morning so that I can make the almond milk in the evening.
Just use some filtered/drinking water to completely cover the nuts.
I use a quart-sized glass jar, but any is fine.

After a few hours, strain the nuts and pour out that water.

Now add fresh, filtered water to the blender.   My Blendtec holds 96oz, but I usually just fill it with a quart/32 oz of filtered water then add my nuts.  (I add an extra quart later on, you'll see!)

Process the nuts on the Whole Juice setting, or for a few minutes on high with a traditional blender.

When you are done, strain the milk.  I use a coffee filter, but you can use cheesecloth or a tea towel.  I realize that a white coffee filter is not ideal, but you use what you have sometimes.
Now add a touch of stevia or vanilla, if you like.  I don't as I prefer extracts to be cooked and find that the flavor is fine without the stevia, but you might feel differently.  I also dilute at this time to the consistency I want.  Again, for my kids, I don't generally dilute, but for me, I'm shooting for 1/4 cup almonds to 1 quart of water.
I prefer to store it in a sealed 2 quart glass jar.
The milk should be stored in the refrigerator and used in the next 3-5 days.

Now here's the cool part.  You can use all the left over almonds residue as almond meal (flour).
I just dry it in the oven and it works well.  I heat the oven to 200 degrees and spread the wet and mush almond goo out on parchment paper (I'm out right now and used aluminum foil).  I'm finding it takes about 2-3 hours depending on the quantity.  It is done when it is dried all the way thru.  You might have a substance like bricks, but I just crumble it up and make sure that it is all dry.
You can put this into your Twister jar of the Blendtec, a food processor, or even your coffee mill (not used for coffee, but for grains/herbs) to make it a fine meal.
Store it in an airtight jar or ziplock bag in the fridge and use for your Muffin in a mug recipes with some flax.

This post is shared at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwens Nest as  part of Trim, Healthy Tuesday.

September 7, 2013

First-First Aid

For those of you who might not know me in real life, I have spent the last 25 years of my life as a nurse with the last 22 as an RN (before retiring with this baby) in ICU.
I am not a first responder and am thankful for those people who have been called in that way.
I will say that being a nurse skews how you see injury.  Yeah, you might look up when the baby falls for the first time and it makes a 'thump', but after quickly assessing that there is no spurting blood or brain material to note of, and that he quickly calms down and is happy, you move on.
In fact by the time my older kids were 4, they knew my spurting blood and bits of brain were necessary for my involvement and they just got over a lot of those scrapes and falls on their own.
They also knew that they had immediate access to BooBoo Salve and that it was what I'd probably smear on them anyhow (if they were lucky.  Worse complaints might get you a tincture or even Plague  Formula).

I will say that after years and years, I still use BooBoo salve more than anything for most things..... bruises, scratches, cuts, insect bites and mild burns.  It is my main go-to for pretty much everything and it is incredibly effective.  It is one of the most effective healers I've ever seen.

But.  The other day I was cooking, salmon patties actually, and didn't use my great, seasoned cast iron skillet like always, but had a pan I'd just washed sitting out.  Now those of you who know about hot oil and a just washed, still kind of wet pan, just skip to the next paragraph as you can see what is coming.  The water in the pan kept popping and exploding and I kept getting hit by hot cooking oil.  I can deal with some, but then there was a huge splash of oil right to my neck.  I'm usually pretty stoic, but this made me scream.

My daughter came running and the first thing she grabbed wasn't the BooBoo Salve (I think she was grossed out that I had been using the jar closest to us on the dog) and she grabbed the Redmond FirstAid Clay.
I was thinking this is so not going to do anything that the salve wouldn't do better.  The salve doesn't have much of a pain reliever, but it will cool because it is an oil and heal, but the moment I smeared some on I had instant relief.  This clay took away the pain right away.

You see, this is a ready to use hydrated clay in a tube.
I let the clay dry on my neck as this was a superficial burn, no matter how badly it hurt.  A deeper or larger burn would require covering and keeping it moist for best results.
But when dried and washed away a bit later, my neck was clear and had no evidence of a burn.

I will say that what impressed me the most was that the pain and sting from the burn was gone the instant the clay was applied.  Now even BooBoo salve doesn't do that.  And if nothing else, I appreciate something that will take away the pain so I can get on with life.

And then there are the mosquitoes.  This year has been so wet and I have an allergy to the bites and swell up badly and they stay swollen for days.
Today I attempted to go outside and was swarmed.  I looked down to see 7 or 8 actively biting me so went inside.  I smeared on the BooBoo Salve and they still itched.  So I figured I'd give the Redmond FirstAid Clay a try.  Again, I wasn't expecting much, but clay is a drawing material so in theory, I figured it should?
Initially I tried a thin layer but it didn't do anything, but after smearing on a thick layer of the paste, the sting of the bites was gone.  I left it on until it dried, and then some.  I haven't actually needed to repeat and the initial swelling that lasts for days isn't there anymore it would seem.  I also put some on baby Chase and he had the same results as well.

Clay, like in the Redmond Bath Salts+, is a historically known healer with many therapeutic values.
This handy tube is going in my purse (and I'm not big on carrying a whole lot with me in my bag) as this is my new go-to for first aid.
The tube says it is good for burns, cuts, abrasions, bites, bruises, rashes, blisters and more.
The key is to apply a generously thick layer and cover with cheese cloth or plastic wrap to keep it from drying out if desired.

This tube has just moved its way up to the top of the pack for my main First Aid choices.

I have been asked about just using Bentonite Clay in place of this product as it is less expensive.
Those of you who know me, realize that I am pretty frugal, and while I do keep bentonite clay in the house, I believe that the minerals specific to the Redmond Clay give it an edge over a generic product.  Think of the mineral and mud baths or hot springs around the world  specific to different areas.  They all offer their own unique, God-given assortment of minerals and health benefits derived from each specifically as well.

Redmond has some info on their website to answer questions about the mineral content here.
That is just my opinion though and you are free to do your own comparisons. 

I will also add that Redmond did supply with with my first tube of this product but the opinion is my own and I've not been paid to say any of this.  I just like to tell people when I find a good thing. ~kimi

September 5, 2013

Morning Sunshine!-FP

You know I love smoothies, both green and pink, but some times I'll admit that I have a hard time making myself just have one.
You see, I'm not a natural veggie or fruit eater.
Many people know me as the person who is always on them about getting in those vegetables, but in truth, it is mainly because I know I need to hear those words myself.  It's easy to focus so much on protein and grains and treats, but vegetables really should be the core to most eating plans in my opinion.  They are what make you feel full and have so much nutrition.
But making sure I get them daily is many times a struggle.

So I'll admit that I've been in a veggie funk lately.  Nothing seems good, everything tastes the same or I've eaten it a million times.
Smoothies even seem kind of old and tired.

And then I saw a new Trim, Healthy Mama drink on the facebook page.  I started to read the directions and they were soooo long and seemed to have so many steps......
Sorry, but this just isn't my style.
I need quick and to the point.

But the drink did inspire me.
Why not take a drink idea and make a smoothie?
Lemons?  No need to peel and cut and slice.  Cut it in half and throw it in is how it do it.  The seeds and peel and pith all have their value and that's part of why I have a Blendtec.
I will add that my Ninja handled whole citrus quite well too.

I also opened up my copy of the Green Smoothie Girl's book with a bunch of recipes and inspiration.
Inspiration is always a good thing, but I really just wanted simple with a little sour and a little bitter and a touch of sweet to take the edge off.

So often smoothie means greens or berries to people, but this one is a lovely, zingy gold.  Like a cup of sunshine.
I kept it Fuel Pull-FP but it might hint at Energizing-E due to the grapefruit, but 1/2 of a grapefruit makes an S-helper so I translate 1/4 as within parameters.  I also left out any protein as I wanted to make a large container to sip on for several hours and to have pre- and post- workout for electrolyte and mineral replacement.  Feel free to use it with or as a meal with the added protein.
I've also been craving bitter and sour lately, and my husband who loves smoothies, thought this was a little too sour for his tastes.  Adjust the seasonings for yours.

Morning Sunshine-FP

1/2 lemon, cut in half
1/4 grapefruit, cut in a few pieces (I do NOT peel my citrus or remove seeds before using as there is a lot of nutrition present, but feel free to do so if you like!)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
generous dash of Redmond RealSalt
1/2-1 tsp coconut oil
Dash of NuNaturals Pure, or a comparable stevia
1 quart filtered water
1 cup ice

Combine all in your Blendtec, or other high powered blender, and mix on Whole Juice setting or until liquified.

This smoothie is the perfect base for customizing.  Add in berries or other fruits and veggies as you have them around.
My favorite is to add in a handful of blueberries, but while you'd think yellow+blue = green, this makes a nice rosy-pink drink.

This post is shared at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen's Nest for Trim, Healthy Tuesday.  Check her out for more great THM links!

September 3, 2013

Swedish-ish Meatballs-S

Sometimes I do stupid things and it works out.  Other times it doesn't.  And then there are those times where you aren't really sure if it is good or bad and you have to repeat to see what the verdict actually is.

Last week I made meatballs.  I say Swedish-ish as I am not Swedish, and outside of ikea and H&M, know little to nothing about the actual place.  These aren't authentic in any way.  In fact, they are more of a translation of a Paula Deen meatloaf recipe.  
And may I add that I am glad that despite sanitizing their programing of Paula Deen, the Food Network has kept her recipes handy on their website.  My opinion is that very little in life is really done for moral reasons on the level that Paula was attacked, and usually has to do with money more often than not.  But that isn't the point so let's get back to meatballs.

I've been using oats as a binder in meatloaf for years, thanks to Paula, and now that I'm a Trim, Healthy Mama I've been incorporating it as a binder in many items.  They work very well and fit the plan.  These are ground first as you want the uniformity and more of a flour consistency.  For meatloaf, I don't bother and leave them whole.  I do use an organic, old-fashioned version and they do quite nicely.

These meatballs are pretty much a base of ground meat, eggs, ground oats and minced onion.  I customize them depending on what I want to pair them with.  For Swedish meatballs I also add some Worcestershire Sauce and some freshly grated nutmeg.
I add in any spices and seasonings with the oats.

I have these in my Blendtec Wildside jar.  It perfectly grinds the oats with a few pulses.
I add the chopped onion and then the eggs and meat (don't worry, the full recipe with dirctions is below).

This is the oddity here in how I mixed them.  Normally you put it all in a bowl and mush it with your hands.  But I decided that I would try using the Blendtec.
Actually, I was lazy and didn't feel like having to get raw meat on my hands if Ididn't have to.

I'm not sure it turned out so well?  The meat closer to the blade kind of turned into mush and the rest didn't really move down and integrate.  I had the feeling that if I had continued pulsing, I might have ended up with meat soup.  It was actually kind of gross and I kept hearing the phrase 'pink slime' in my head.
But I perservered and dumped it all into a bowl and continued mixing it by hand.  Then I put it in the fridge to chill and make it easier to shape.
The thing is that when I went to shape it, the consistency was really nice.  It wasn't just ground meat, but it wasn't puree of meat either.  It was nicely uniform and molded well.
I did use wet hands and formed the balls about 1 inch in diameter.  You can make them bigger, but I like to feel like I can eat a lot, so I make them smaller and eat more.

Swedish Meatballs-S

2 pounds of ground meat, beef, pork, or whatever you have on hand
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 eggs
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Add dry oats, salt, pepper and nutmeg to Blendtec and pulse 1-2 times.
Add onion, eggs, Worcestershire sauce and meat.  Pulse quickly to incorporate meat, but don't overblend.
When about half of the mixture appears like a thick puree', place it all into a bowl and mix by hand.
Let chill for a bit, if desired and then form into 1 inch diameter meatballs.  This makes about 60.

I like to make them small so I can eat more.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes and serve right away with a rich version of cauliflower mash and Good Gravy, or put them in a labelled freezer bag for up to 6 months in the deep freeze.

This recipes is shared with Trim, Healthy Tuesday link up sponsored by Stacy Makes Cents.