Tag Archives | health

Kombucha: A Health Tonic You Can Make at Home

At this point, most Americans have probably heard of kombucha. The beverage has been getting a lot of press in recent years thanks to its numerous health benefits. For some folks who want to enjoy the drink, however, the cost may not be justifiable. While most bottles go for around $3, some of the fancier varieties can get up to around $5 or even $6.

Fortunately, kombucha is something virtually anyone can make at home. But before we get to kombucha homebrewing, let’s cover some of the basics.

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea. It is typically prepared with black or green tea leaves, or with a blend of the two, and a large amount of sugar. Don’t worry, the end product isn’t sugary — the sugar is added to feed a SCOBY, or a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. By the time the batch is finished fermenting, an eight-ounce serving of kombucha will typically have only a few grams of sugar. This is great news for those who are trying to replace sugar-laden energy and sports drinks, which can cause a 1.5% to 3.1% loss of your tooth enamel. By making the switch to kombucha, you can preserve your tooth enamel and keep your oral health in tip-top shape.

Kombucha was reportedly first brewed over 2,000 years ago in China. In the past few years, it has exploded in popularity in the United States, with Nielsen pricing the industry today at roughly half a billion dollars. The effervescent probiotic beverage has enjoyed such broad appeal due to both its taste and health benefits.

What are the health benefits of kombucha?

Drinking kombucha is believed to have a positive effect on digestive health. While there needs to be further study, it is thought that the bacteria present in kombucha serve as probiotics, which can contribute to a healthy microbiome. Of course, kombucha is just one component of a healthy lifestyle. Diet and exercise are key — unfortunately, only one in three children get physical activity every day.

Since it’s a tea, kombucha also contains all the beneficial compounds we associate with unfermented tea. The most notable of these are polyphenols, antioxidants that help combat free radicals in the body.

Does kombucha contain alcohol?

Kombucha contains trace amounts of alcohol. Unless it is specifically labeled as 21+, kombucha has less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. Thanks to tight regulation, any kombucha with an ABV that exceeds 0.5% requires valid identification with purchase. Given that 11% of all alcohol in the United States is consumed by people aged 12 to 20, it is good news that this industry is carefully monitored and regulated.

How do you make kombucha at home?

To make kombucha at home, first brew seven cups of tea. Then mix in half a cup of sugar and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Put in a SCOBY and some starter tea from a past kombucha batch, and wait one to two weeks. Once the batch has fermented, you can either drink it or bottle it in airtight containers for a second fermentation which will add effervescence. This is also the time to add any fruit, juice, or other flavors you want. Give another week for a second fermentation to occur, then enjoy.

Have fun exploring the tasty world of kombucha, and happy brewing!

6 Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy and Safe this Summer

During the summer, your pet may be spending more time outdoors and might even take a few road trips with you. Keep your pooch happy and safe this summer by incorporating these pet and eco-friendly tips into your summer routine. These tips will keep your best friend comfortable and safe during the dog days of summer.

1. Hydration Station:
A simple fact is – a hydrated dog is a happy dog. Keeping Fido hydrated during the summer months is especially important – remember they are wearing a fur coat! Keep several dishes of fresh, clean water throughout your home and outside areas. Also, remember when you are out for the day or traveling, offer your pet fresh water on a continuous basis.

2. Give that Dog a Pool? 
Many dogs love to get wet and a great way to keep them hydrated when you are outside as a family is with a wading pool. Or, better yet, if you live near a natural body of water, why not take your dog with you for a little water fun! Just remember that not all dogs are good swimmers – keep an eye on them at all times.

3. Make it Portable
If your travel plans or daily outings include taking your dog along with you, don’t forget your pet’s essential supplies. There are many great eco-friendly on-the-go dog supplies that making taking your dog with a snap. Don’t forget the collar (with I.D.), leash, biodegradable poop bags, food, water, and feeding dishes.

4. Just Say NO – to Cars
I know it can be tempting to take Fido with you when you just have a few errands to run. However, this is an absolute no-no, especially on summer days. The inside of a car can heat up to deadly temperatures in the matter of a few minutes. Also, studies show that leaving the windows cracked or partially rolled down does nothing to save your pet from the summer heat. It is simply too hot for them!

5. Think of Hot Paws
When taking your dog on summer walks, remember that hot concrete and blacktop do not mix with dog paws.  Especially the paws of dogs that spend the majority of their lives indoors. Instead, choose a grassy route for your walk or wait until the early morning or evening hours to take your best friend on a walk.

6. Keep Them Updated
One of the worst feelings can be losing your pet. Regardless of how careful you are, accidents do happen. Remember to never take your pet outside of your home without their collar and I.D. on. This simple act can be the difference between having your beloved friend returned immediately if lost and never seeing them again. It is definitely worth the few seconds that it takes to snap their collar on before taking them outside.

How do you keep your dog happy and safe during the hot months of summer?

Natural Home Remedies for 3 Common Skin Blemishes

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Sometimes, maintaining healthy skin can seem impossible. If you have acne, that bacteria-fighting scrub from the drugstore might dry out your skin, causing itchy and painful redness. If your skin is too dry, a store bought moisturizer might make your skin appear greasy. Finding the perfect product may never happen.

Luckily, there are natural ways to boost your skin’s appearance. Below, we’ve listed some great at-home remedies that can combat common skin blemishes without hurting your skin’s health. As a bonus, these natural methods can be cheaper than serums and soaps produced commercially, so you won’t waste big bucks if they don’t work for your unique skin.

Here are just a few fuss-free natural remedies for common skin ailments and blemishes:

Fighting Acne Naturally

Acne is incredibly common. In fact, 85% of people have experienced acne in some form throughout their life. However, just because acne is common doesn’t mean you want to have it. Pimples are painful, and deep forms like cystic acne can leave scars.

There are many types of acne that all have different causes and symptoms. However, natural skin hygiene habits can combat most forms of this condition. Try this homemade honey-based face wash from Dr. Axe to combat acne-forming bacteria:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 20 small droplets of melaleuca essential oil
  • 2 capsules live probiotics

Leave this mixture on affected areas for two minutes, then wash away with water. Repeat once daily to kill bacteria and reduced inflammation associated with acne!

Reducing the Appearance of Scars at Home

Like acne, scars come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Though we commonly think of scars as long-healed cuts, scars can also come from burns, surgeries, or tissue that was completely removed.

Scars on the face can be particularly troublesome. Even though in 2016 91% of children were vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella, many older adults have facial scars left from these types of childhood illness. Scars anywhere on the body can appear darker or lighter than the surrounding skin, and keloid scars form bumps.

Scars are signs that your body has done the work of healing an earlier injury. As such, scars don’t need treatment themselves for you to be in good health. Scars are also unlikely to disappear completely. However, if you’d like to minimize the appearance of a scar, you can try the following natural method:

Aloe Moisturizing

Try taking a leaf of an aloe plant and peeling away the dark outer skin. Then, scoop out and apply the light green/clear gel directly to the scar area. Let the gel rest for half an hour, then rinse with cool water. Repeat twice daily.

Natural Cellulite Treatments

It’s been estimated that 80% to 98% of women have cellulite somewhere on their body. Even though it is common, many women and men alike would prefer their cellulite was less noticeable. Cellulite is associated with the body’s fat storage processes, so many consider diet and exercise to be the best treatment.

However, even individuals with a healthy weight can have cellulite. No matter your size, there are a variety of methods for reducing cellulite. Try eating more seaweed or soaking with seaweed in your bathwater. Seaweed is known for balancing hormones and drawing toxins out of the body. Additionally, dry brushing with a natural bristle brush can improve circulation and exfoliate old skin cells, which may reduce dimpling and improve skin’s overall appearance.

No matter what your skin looks like, all-natural methods can help you save a little money and support your overall health. Before trying expensive and artificial serums for skin conditions that may never go away (like stretch marks, scars, and wrinkles), give these natural, homemade solutions a try.

2 Healthy Magnesium-Rich Recipes, Including Cinnamon Plantain Bites!

Magnesium is one of those minerals that people are generally aware of but don’t really know what it is or what it can do for your body. Magnesium is a nutrient that the body requires in order to stay healthy. It plays a critical role in regulating muscle and nerve functions, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and making protein, bone, and DNA.

Oftentimes, people don’t get enough magnesium in their diets. While it takes a while to start noticing the effects of a magnesium deficiency, symptoms can include loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, muscle cramps, and an abnormal heartbeat. Since magnesium is critical for over 300 enzyme processes in the human body, it’s important to get a good dose of the mineral every day. Below are a few healthy recipes rich in magnesium for you to try!

Salmon Salad Bowl

This power veggie bowl features fresh salmon and a raspberry balsamic glaze. It’s rich in flavor and antioxidants, and organic too!

Ingredients:

  • 4-oz organic grilled or baked salmon
  • 3-4 cup organic seasonal greens
  • 1/2 cup organic slices zucchini and squash
  • 1/2 cup organic raspberries
  • 1 tbsp organic balsamic glaze
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon avocado or olive oil
  • dash of organic sea salt
  • dash of organic pepper
  • 2 organic thyme sprigs
  • organic parmesan crumbles
  • organic lemon juice

Luckily, salads are super easy to throw together. After slicing the veggies, sautee in a skillet with oil, salt, and pepper. Once the vegetables and salmon are cooked, begin to build your bowl. Greens first, then veggies, then salmon. Top off with the balsamic glaze, thyme, and the remaining oil. After tossing, throw in some raspberries with a touch of lemon juice and parmesan.

Cinnamon Spice Plantain Bites

These heavy-packed protein bites are full of spices, are grain-free, and require no baking!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut or almond flour
  • 1/2 cup plantain flour or ground plantain chips
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup nut butter of choice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves (ground)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground anise
  • 1/2 tsp butter or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp molasses

Begin by grinding up the plantain chips. Then, after mixing up the dry ingredients, add in nut butter extract, molasses, and honey. After mixing, roll into bite-sized balls. Freeze right away and use coconut or almond flour to roll the bites in after they’re frozen. To maintain freshness, store in fridge or freezer.

31 Simple Eco-Friendly Ways to Celebrate October

31 Simple Eco-Friendly Ways to Celebrate October

Can you believe that October begins tomorrow? October is one of my favorite months – not only does it mark the beginning of fall, but Halloween is right around the corner. I have been making a list of all of the fun, eco-friendly activities that I want to do with Eben and the mister this month. We decorated our home last night and tonight, we will start the month off right by reading our spooky stories by candlelight and since the hurricane shutters are still on – it will be super spooky! I can’t wait! Read on for 30 more eco-friendly ways that we will be spending October – and share your favorite fall family traditions and links in the comments – I would love to hear what you have planned.

I am going to check off each fun thing we do this year!

  1. Read spooky stories by candlelight
  2. Take a fall camping trip
  3. Make organic caramel apples
  4. Make organic pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
  5. Visit the pumpkin patch
  6. Go on a hay ride
  7. Visit a corn maze
  8. Host a Halloween party
  9. Carve an organic pumpkin
  10. Take a fall bicycle ride
  11. Make organic hot apple cider
  12. Visit the farmer’s market
  13. Host a spooky movie night
  14. Take a fall family hike
  15. Make recycled Halloween decorations
  16. Make pumpkin cards to send to the grandparents
  17. Roast organic pumpkin seeds
  18. Visit a local organic farm
  19. Take a night walk to see the Halloween decorations
  20. Watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  21. Make pumpkin milkshakes
  22. Make pumpkin pancakes
  23. Decorate our home for Halloween
  24. Bake organic pumpkin whoopie pies
  25. Donate essential items to our local shelter
  26. Make organic apple cider donuts
  27. Boo a neighbor
  28. Make vegan spiced pumpkin lattes
  29. Visit an apple orchard
  30. Take a family ghosthunting trip
  31. Trick or Treat