Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Apple Cider Vinegar Cold Remedy

natural-cold-remedyWell I’m sick. Boo! I almost never get sick, and here I am sick as a dog for the fourth time since Luke was born (4 months ago). Now before you say my immune system is probably down due to lack of sleep I have to say that God blessed me with one of those fabled, magical, unicorn babies who has slept through the night since birth! I figure He decided to throw me a bone after all I went through. I digress.

I guess its probably just one of the joys of the postpartum phase where my body is unrecognizable and nothing works the way it used to, including my immune system.

Since I’m breastfeeding I was leary to take any over the counter medications lest I negatively affect my milk supply. So I got to thinking and googling and came up with this super awesome get-better-soon-elixer.

organic-raw-acv-apple-cider-vinegarHere’s what you need:

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Raw unfiltered organic

Honey (preferably organic, raw and local),

and a shot glass.

Raw unfiltered ACV is known to have dozens of health benefits not least of which is its ability to act as a natural expectorant by thinning mucus and draining the lymphatic system. You have to use the raw unfiltered kind, pasteurized ACV does not work as well. I found the Bragg brand at Target and you can also get it on Amazon (click on the image).

The honey not only serves to coat and soothe your sore throat, but raw local honey has wonderful anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, and works naturally to strengthen the immune system. I buy a big jar of it at the local farmer’s market, but I was fresh out when I took the picture (hence the store-bought variety shown).

To make the Elixer:

Simply pour half a shot (1 TBSP) of honey and half a shot of ACV and microwave for about 8 seconds. Stir and the shoot it down the gullet. I find its better to just chug it back rather than sip it because the ACV is a bit strong on the nostrils. The honey makes it go down smooth, and warming it up makes you feel all soft and cozy inside. I promise you will feel better after trying this! Do it 2-3 times a day and you’ll be back at it in no time.

A spoon full of HONEY makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way. :)

spoon-full-of-sugar

Now I’ve got to stop writing and go back to bed. Hope this works for you!

eat-healthy

4 Easy Ways to Shop Wiser and Eat Healthier

Each year millions of people make (and break) the New Year’s resolution to get healthier. It can be hard to keep when the supermarkets are lined with so many harmful products, and even so-called health foods are full of yucky ingredients. Here are some easy tips to help you buy wiser, and keep your family healthy.

1) Read the Ingredients

Knowing what’s in your food is an important step to buying better. Lots of ingredients hide behind different names, and some harmless ingredients may sound bad if you don’t know what their fancy-schmancy name is. It doesn’t take long to do a quick google search while you’re in the store, so do your research. Here are a few examples of non-harmful ingredients that sound scary:

  • Sodium Bicarbonate = Baking Soda
  • Mixed Tocopherols = Vitamin E
  • Cyanocobalamin – Vitamin B12
  • Ascorbic acid = Vitamin C

And here are some harmful ingredients that you may not know are bad for you:

  • Caramel Coloring = A dangerous carcinogen known in the state of California to cause cancer.
  • BHT = AKA Butylated Hydroxytoluene. Also a carcinogen derived from petroleum, and can be found in jet fuel. It is found in many breakfast cereals, even “healthy” ones like Great Grains.
  • Blue #2 = An artificial coloring found to cause brain and breast cancer in rats.
  • Paraben = Found to disrupt the natural hormones in our bodies.

2) If It Has More Than 5 Ingredients Don’t Buy It!

Within reason. 7 or 8 works too but the main point is to be aware of all the unneeded additives in your foods. You’d be shocked to find that pickles have 16 ingredients, and Ketchup has 21! Many companies have now come out with natural versions of their products with just a few simple, natural ingredients. Here are examples of some products I like:

3) Buy Fresh or Frozen NOT Canned Foods

Canned goods are infamous for being lined with toxic BPA. Bisphenol-A is found in many plastics, and has been found to cause hormone disruption. It can lead to all sorts of health problems not the least of which is infertility. Avoid it like the plague. Whenever possible buy fresh fruits and vegetables. But if you’re like me, fresh foods often go bad before you can eat them and if you’re buying organic throwing away spoiled produce can get really pricey!

frozen vegetablesI often buy fresh organic vegetables, chop them up and store them in freezer bags. This not only saves them from going bad, but it also gives me ready to go veggies to throw into soups, pasta dishes and more. You can also find lots of great organic frozen veggies in the freezer section at most supermarkets now. Looks for things like peas, corn, and beans that you would normally only buy in cans.

Many companies are also now canning their foods in glass or BPA free plastic jars. I know that Dole sells fruit this way. And Costco’s Kirkland brand sells glass jars of fruit in packs of 4.

dole-fruitphoto-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Know the Dirty Dozen

Buying organic can get really expensive so you may have to pick and choose which items you can afford to buy. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has put out a list of the top 12 most highly pesticide contaminated produce items. If you can, try to always buy organic version of these items, and if you can’t afford or can’t find organic, then skip them altogether.

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

A Holistic Pregnancy Nutrition Plan

DSC_0177Well its October now which means the air is beginning to cool off, Christmas decorations are up in the department stores, and this tiny little thing called my DUE DATE is just around the corner! Sometimes its hard to believe that I’ve made it this far, but my son will be born in just a few short weeks! I’m so excited!

I’ve talked to you all a little bit about how I’ve stayed healthy during this pregnancy but I thought a refresher was in order, so I’m going to outline for you exactly what I’ve been doing these last 36 or so weeks including my diet and supplemental routine.

My Pregnancy Nutrition

brita-bottle-homemakerchic.comWater- Staying hydrated in pregnancy is a major necessity. Your body is producing a huge amount of extra blood and fluid to support the baby and the placenta, so you need to compensate for it. Early in this pregnancy I purchased a 22oz. Brita filtered water bottle. Its BPA free and uses a charcoal filter system. Do yourself a favor and spring for the hard-sided version with the straw. The squeeze bottle that they sell is cheaper, but trust me- its SO much easier to drink out of the straw (especially in labor!). This bottle has been awesome! I drink about a gallon a day which sounds like a lot but its really easy when you just keep filling up your bottle a little at a time. Plus, I can get fresh filtered water from and sink or water fountain. Not only am I helping the environment by not using hundreds of plastic bottles that will just end up in a landfill, but I’ve also saved a TON of money by not having to purchase bottled water (which is really nothing special- check out the Penn & Teller episode calling Bull-sh*t on the whole thing!) Be sure to keep extra filters on hand. The instructions say to change the filter every 2 months but I’ve found that I drink so much water that I need to change it more like every month. TIP: You can tell it needs to be changed when it starts to get too hard to suck the water out.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables- The best way to ensure that your growing baby is getting all the nutrients he needs is to consume a diet rich in vitamin and mineral content. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is so good for you and your baby.

green-smoothie-homemakerchic.comEvery morning I enjoy a yummy green smoothie with 6-7 frozen strawberries, a handful of frozen peaches or pineapple, 1 ripe banana, 3 handfuls of fresh organic spinach, 1/2 cup of carrot juice, and 1 cup of orange juice. Just blend everything together and enjoy. You can’t taste the spinach at all, and this smoothie is a great source of vitamins A, C, E, K, iron, fiber, beta carotene, antioxidants, folic acid, potassium and more! Its a great way to start your day. You could easily switch up the fruits by adding raspberries, blueberries (this will make your smoothie a sort of brown color, but it still tastes delicious!) You could swap the spinach for kale, although the kale does have a stronger flavor. The only thing I wouldn’t skip on is the ripe banana. It really makes the smoothie creamy and sweet. Also do not add yogurt or milk to the smoothie. The calcium will work against the wonderful properties of the vitamin C and iron that you and your baby desperately need right now. We’ll talk about calcium below.

chicken-vegetable-pasta-homemakerchic.comAnother way I incorporate vegetables is by adding them into easy lunch and dinner recipes. We love having pasta primavera. I will chop up carrots, celery stalks, onion, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, peas, corn, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, kale or whatever else I have on hand. I do equal parts vegetables and pasta (usually about 3 cups of each for my husband and I, plus left-overs). You can also add some grilled chicken for extra protein and iron. Saute’ everything with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix in with the vegetable pasta you can find in most super markets. I like the Barilla brand. It has a full serving of hidden vegetables in every serving of pasta. You could also make this dish with quinoa or brown rice for a gluten free alternative. I do both often. Add a little half and half and parmesan cheese and you’re good to go! The juices from the vegetables create an amazing sauce. The best part is that if you make extra, it is delicious cold the next day!

broccoli-soup-homemakerchic.comVegetable soups are also a great way to get in those much needed veggies. Its SOO easy! And this time of year is a great time for homemade soup. I make soup at least once a week. Just pick a vegetable, potato, broccoli, butternut squash, pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, cauliflower, doesn’t matter. The sky is the limit. For a medium sized pot of soup (about 4 bowls) you’ll want the equivalent of about 3-4 cups of veggies. All you have to do is either roast or boil your chosen veggie (it depends on the veggie, i.e. broccoli can easily be boiled while pumpkins would need to be halved and roasted for about an hour). Toss the cooked veggie in a pot. Add a couple quarts of chicken stock, some milk, cream or half & half (if you want), some butter, salt and pepper. Then blitz it all up with an immersion blender. Obviously you can vary this by adding herbs, spices, and other veggies. But you get the basic idea. Its so stupidly easy to do and there are so many ways to make it interesting. Try it!!

My Pregnancy Supplements

Okay so I take a lot of supplements, and you certainly don’t have to take everything that I recommend but let me explain WHY I’ve chosen to take so many. The way I see it, if it can help me have an easier labor and a healthier baby, why not? So after a TON of research I’ve made the personal choice to just try it, and if it doesn’t help then I won’t do it next time.

- Morning – 

super-supplementalMulti-vitamin- In lieu of a prenatal I take Nature’s Sunshine Super Supplemental. It is a 100% food based source of dozens of vitamins, minerals and nutrients including Folic Acid, Iron, and Calcium which are all needed in pregnancy. The serving size is 4 tablets per day, which is what I take when I’m not pregnant. But I only take 1 per day while pregnant. The reason is that the 4 tablet dose has a high vitamin A content (16,000iu) which is not recommended in pregnancy. One tablet has a very safe dosage. (Read this article for more information about vitamin A, aka beta carotene in pregnancy). Also I only take this as an insurance policy in case I have an off day where I’m not getting most of my vitamins from food. I usually get everything that the baby and I need from my diet, so this is just a little extra.  If you’re eating a lot of processed foods, and not consuming a well-balanced diet, you may consider taking 2 tablets a day. Nature’s Sunshine also offers a pre-natal vitamin that has a lower dose of vitamin A (about the same as 1 tablet), which I probably would have taken if I’d known it existed before now.

perfect-ironIron – My super supplemental does include a small amount of iron, but the huge demand on our bodies for iron in pregnancy requires more. Because of the large amount of blood we are producing many women become anemic in pregnancy. To combat this I take 2 tablets of Sundown Natural’s Perfect Iron. This is Iron Carbonyl which is easier on the stomach than Iron Ferrous Fumarate. Now, Vitamin C helps the body to better assimilate the iron into the system while calcium blocks assimilation. Because of this I take my iron in the morning with my Green smoothie which has a TON of vitamin C, and this is also why I do not add yogurt or dairy to my smoothie. Wait about 2 hours to consume calcium after taking your iron.

pro-biotics-for-pregnancyPro-biotics- Taking pro-biotics in pregnancy is very important for two really good reasons. I really hope you do not skip taking this supplement. You’ll want to take a refrigerated pro-biotic which can be found at and health-food or vitamin store. The live cultures in the stuff you find on the shelf will die by the time you get to the end of the bottle. Getting a refrigerated supplement will ensure you’re really getting the benefits down to the last tablet. I take 2 Solgar Advanced Acidophilus Plus, one in the morning and one in the evening.

Reason 1) During pregnancy our digestive system really takes a hit. The body begins putting priority on making a baby, and our poor tummies end up way down the list of priority body systems. Digestion slows, and the result is heartburn, indigestion, constipation and nausea. The healthy bacteria in pro-biotics will maintain a good flora in your gut and really help keep things going in there!

Reason 2) When your baby is born, his immune system foundation is directly related to the strength of yours. Studies show that mothers who increase their probiotic intake during pregnancy reduce their child’s risk of allergies by as much as 50%, specifically in eczema, asthma and atopic dermatitis. A healthier baby sounds good to me!!

- Evening -

DHA:EPA for pregnancyOmega 3/ DHA+EPA / Fish Oil – You have probably heard that DHA is very important in pregnancy. This is because DHA helps build your baby’s brain, nervous system, and eyes. But let’s not forget about EPA, which is another source of Omega 3 that is equally beneficial. Both of these valuable nutrients have been shown to prevent allergies in infants. Fish oil also has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for aching and swollen joints in pregnancy. I take one combination capsule from Vitamin Shoppe with 300mg EPA and 200mg DHA. I got them BOGO in the store with a coupon. I like to store the bottle in the freezer and take them in the evening because I was finding myself burping up a fishy taste and that is just no bueno for me. Freezing the capsule ensures that it doesn’t release the fish oil until it is down in your belly, and taking it in the evening just helps it to get digested before you wake up, so no fishy breath.

Pro-biotic- We already discussed why it is important to take, but you want to take it twice a day. In the morning, and the in the evening. This keeps your digestive system on track while you sleep and maintains the healthy flora all day and night.

calciumCalcium/Vitamin D- Calcium and Vitamin D are also important during pregnancy to help your baby’s little bones develop. All of these vitamins are included in the super supplemental but I began taking an additional supplement at night because I was having horrible leg cramps. Like, so bad that I actually twisted my ankle because it seized up so badly. My midwife suggested adding this to my daily cocktail of tablets, and its amazing how it worked! I haven’t had a single leg cramp since I added this to my supplemental routine. I take one chewable Caltrate tablet before bed. If you’re having this issue I highly recommend you try it! 

RLTRaspberry Leaf- You can read all about why raspberry leaf is amazing in pregnancy in this post. I’m a big fan of the stuff and many women have sworn by its ability to help with a more efficient labor. I was drinking the tea daily in my first and second trimesters, but toward the end you really want to up the dosage and I just couldn’t drink enough. So I started taking the capsules, which is really easy. I take 6 400mg capsules from Nature’s Way a day. I’m a weirdo and can take all the tablets in one swallow, but I’ve heard other women complain about the size. So maybe try taking them one at a time if its an issue for you. If you’d rather drink the tea, check out the post and all the information about where to find it and how much to drink is there for you.

5-w-pregnancy supplement5W- This is an herbal birth preparation combination that includes: Black cohosh root, Squaw vine herb, Dong quai root, Butcher’s broom root, Red raspberry leaves. I got mine from Nature’s Sunshine, the same company that sells the multi-vitamin. It helps by toning the smooth muscles of the uterus to promote more effective contractions during labor. During the last five weeks of pregnancy, take 2 capsules three times daily with a meal. I will be starting this herb at 37 weeks (which is just a few days away) simply for the reason that I cannot deliver at my birthing center until I reach 37 weeks and I didn’t want to take anything that could get my labor started before that time. But I know people who have started at 35 weeks and had no issues whatsoever. I just wanted to be extra cautious because of my history.

So all in all I’m up to 2 pro-biotics, 1 fish oil, 2 iron, 1 multi-vitamin, 6 RLT, 6 5-W, 1 Calcium, and a partridge in a pear tree. That’s 19 tablets a day! lol. It may seem extreme but hopefully this explanation has given you insight into all the amazing benefits all these wonderful supplements have, and how much they can really help you and your baby have the healthiest, and easiest labor possible.

How to make Homemade Natural Organic Deodorant

aluminum-free-deodorant-recipe-homemakerchic.com

On my quest to live a more natural holistic lifestyle I’ve had to look at the many products I put on my skin everyday. When you begin reading the labels on everyday use items, it is shocking how many toxins we’re exposing ourselves to. One of those items is deodorant. Most deodorants and anti-perspirants contain aluminum, parabens and propylene glycol. There are growing links between the chemicals found in such products and chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. So what’s the solution? Make your own deodorant that doesn’t have the junk! Its super easy to do, and lucky for you, I’ve already done the legwork to create a recipe that REALLY works!

Today I want to share with you my tried and true homemade deodorant recipe. I tried many recipes, and with all of them I ended up smelling “crunchy” by the end of the day. My mother made sure to let me know when one of my deodorant creations was NOT working, and I unfortunately had many smelly days. I’m not one of those girls who smells like flowers naturally, and I’m guessing neither are you. I may be a borderline dirty hippy, but I’d rather not smell like a dirty hippy. I worked on a lot of different combinations, I tried other people’s recipes, looked at the ingredients on some of the natural store brands, and finally came up with my own perfect recipe that is seriously awesome! Like so awesome that it stood up to my husband playing 3 hours of tennis in Florida… in August… in over 90 degree weather! This stuff is the truth.

Now here’s my tiny caveat: Because I’m pregnant and my skin is all weird and super sensitive it caused some irritation for me, but I’ve had other people use it and no one else has had any issues. Even one of my friends who has very sensitive skin used it and had no problems. So I’m pretty sure my irritation is pregnancy related. I will say that it only bothered me when I had just shaved my underarms, but I’m even less interested in having hairy pits, than I am in having smelly ones. Do let me know if you have any issues with this recipe as I’m always eager to improve, but I have a good feeling that it will work great for you!

So here’s what you need:

homemade-deodorant-recipe-ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Organic GMO free Corn Starch (You can find this at any natural food store)
  • 3 Tbsp Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Powdered Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Beeswax beads
  • 20-30 drops Vanilla Essential Oil (or other scent, optional)
  • Small jar or empty deodorant tube stick

Here’s what you do:

how-to-make-homemade-deodorantIn a double boiler, melt the beeswax beads. If you’re allergic to beeswax I think you could easily leave this part out as I don’t think its essential to the deodorant working. Its mostly for texture and to keep the stuff on your pits. Its also REALLY helpful if you plan to use an empty deodorant container, because it will keep it solid in the tube and will apply more easily. If you’re using the jar, I think you could also skip the wax, but again, I think it helps keep the stuff on your underarms all day.

Once the beeswax is melted, add your coconut oil, and vanilla oil. You can really use any scent you like but I think the vanilla is soft and sweet and goes well with the coconut. Some people like to use tea tree oil in their recipes for its anti-fungal properties, but I found the scent to be much too strong. If you like it then by all means use it! I think it would only help. Other nice choices would be lavender oil, patchouli oil, eucalyptus oil, or ylang ylang.

Once your oils are blended add in the powdered sugar. The purpose of the powdered sugar is that when the sugar combines with your natural body sweat it creates a sort of osmotic substance that then becomes a natural antiperspirant! How about that! And it really works too. Dissolve the sugar using a small whisk.

non-toxic-deodorant-recipeKeep the mixture over the heat and begin stirring in the baking soda, and corn starch, sprinkling it in slowly. It will start to thicken up a LOT. Just make sure everything is well incorporated.

DIY-homemade-natural-deodorantNow you can pour the mix into either the jar or the deodorant stick. Allow it to set up at room temperature for a couple hours. Don’t put it in the fridge or it might crack. It will be solid pretty quickly if your house is relatively cool. If you don’t have a jar you can also use an empty deodorant stick, or you can buy new ones from SKS. They have lots of different options to choose from and they’re dirt cheap! Not having one of those fantastic tubes on hand, I just poured my deodorant into a small mason jar. With the jar you just have to spread about half a fingertip amount of the deodorant on your underarms. Its a little firm so you will want to soften it between your fingers before applying. If you want it to be softer, you could always leave out the beeswax.

aluminum-free-deodorant-recipe

And that, my friends, is it! I really hope you enjoy making your own deodorant.

Raspberry Leaf Tea for Pregnancy

cup-of-teaSince my last post I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the Raspberry Leaf Tea that I drink, so I wanted to take a minute to talk about this awesome herb, how it works, and where to get it.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor or midwife. Just a girl who’s done a lot of research. Don’t ever take my word for anything. Always speak with your birth practitioner before starting on any pregnancy herbs. That being said I personally do (or would do) all the things I am recommending to you in this blog.

WHAT IS IT?

Raspberry leaf tea (RLT) is a tea that comes from the leaf of the garden red raspberry plant. This is not to be confused with the actual berry. The use of Red Raspberry Leaves dates back to ancient Greeks and Romans and has a rich history of being used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Some of the illnesses that they used RRL to treat include: the flu, gum disease, rubella, upset stomach, hangover, diarrhea, fevers, vomiting, menstrual problems, inflammation, etc. The most popular use of Red Raspberry leaves is for pregnancy.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

The main reason this tea is used in pregnancy is because it is a Uterine Tonic. This means it works to tone the smooth muscles of the uterus to prepare for labor and delivery. When used during pregnancy many women will experience Braxton Hicks contractions (myself included). This harmless flexing of the uterus is like aerobics for your baby maker. The tea encourages the uterus to exercise as it begins to prepare itself for real contractions when the time comes.

It has also been known to help prevent future miscarriage. It won’t help if you’re already having a miscarriage, but consumed prior to pregnancy it can help guard against one. If you know my story, you know this was a big plus for me!

Sorry but it will not likely induce labor. If it could then you would not see miserable women, 3 weeks past their due date, drinking castor oil (yuck!), and doing jumping jacks trying to get labor started.

If you find the Braxton Hicks to be too uncomfortable, then take a couple days off of the tea and start again. But if you can get through them you will soooo glad you did when you have super efficient contractions during childbirth, and an easier and quicker labor.

In addition to its awesome toning properties it also has a ton of other nutrients.

Beneficial Vitamins and Minerals Found in Red Raspberry Leaf:

-Rich concentrations of vitamin C

-Vitamin E

-Easily assimilated calcium and iron

-Manganese and magnesium

-Vitamin A

-Vitamin B complex

-Many minerals including phosphorous and potassium

HOW TO DRINK IT

I highly recommend Starwest Botanicals Loose Leaf Tea.

Raspberry Leaf-homemakerchic.com

Its about $12 for a 1 lb bag on Amazon, and that will seriously last you for a year or more. I’ve been drinking at least one cup a day for the last 6 months and I haven’t even gotten through a quarter of the bag. You could always buy the tea bags if you want, but at around $5 for a box of 16 bags, I really can’t justify the cost, when its so dirt cheap to buy it in bulk. I found a lovely glass container to pour the loose tea in and set on my counter top. I like being able to see the tea leaves, but in all honesty you’re probably better off getting an opaque container that doesn’t let any light in. This will keep the tea fresh longer.

tea-strainer-homemakerchic.com

Next you’ll need a good quality tea strainer. I like the scissor kind. Its just so easy to use. It has a little spring and you just squeeze it open. To make the tea just put a few pinches of tea in your strainer, drop it in a cup of hot water, and let it steep for 5-10 minutes. I like mine with honey. The tea tastes nothing like raspberry, in case you were wondering. It has a light simple tea flavor. Very pleasant. You could also totally make this into an iced tea, and add fruit juice to flavor it if you like.

HOW MUCH TO DRINK?

The recommendation for pregnancy is 1 cup per day per trimester. So 1 cup during the 1st trimester, 2 cups daily during the second trimester, and 3 cups a day (or more) during the third trimester.

WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE TEA?

raspberry-leaf-capsules-homemakerchic.comAlternatively you can try the capsules if you don’t like tea. The dosage on these is a bit more nebulous. I feel confident recommending 2 capsules a day in the 1st trimester, 4 a day in the second trimester, and up to 6 a day in the third trimester. I’m not a doctor or a midwife, so you should research it for yourself just to be sure. But I would personally take these doses if for some reason I didn’t want to drink the tea, but I do love the tea! Plus, it really helped to wean me off my daily cup of coffee. The brand that I have in my cabinet in case I don’t have time to sit and drink my daily cup is Dr. Christopher’s Formula Red Raspberry Leaf Capsules 100ct. This is a great natural brand for herbs and a good price too.

DRINK IT BEFORE YOU CONCEIVE

If you are thinking about starting a family I highly recommend you start now with drinking one cup of tea a day. The benefits are just as great for women who are not yet pregnant. Having a nice toned uterus before pregnancy is a great way to prepare yourself for when the time comes. It also has the added benefit of helping with period cramps, and regulating your cycle.

DRINK IT AFTER THE BABY IS BORN

Drinking RLT after you give birth has been known to dramatically shorten recovery time, and help the uterus to whip itself back into pre-pregnancy shape.

THE STRONG BREW

Finally, and I will definitely be updating you on how this works. There’s one more thing you can do with RLT. When you go into labor, brew yourself a big glass of super strong tea. We’re talking like an ounce of loose tea to about 20 ounces of water, and let steep for a few hours if possible to really get the strongest blend possible. Then chug that bad boy down when labor starts. Theoretically you could probably down a big handful of the capsules, but I have no idea how many you would need.

I have read thousands of testimonies of women and midwives who swear by this. Supposedly it is supposed to make labor super efficient, easy, and quick. Many women even say their birth was virtually pain-free! I don’t know about you, but given that I am having my baby naturally at a birthing center, pain-free sounds pretty dang good to me. If it doesn’t work well then oh well. I will DEFINITELY keep you posted on my experience when my son is born in October.

::UPDATE::: You can read my birth story here!

Hope this helps you ladies! Happy, healthy pregnancy to you all. :)

How I Cured My Infertility Naturally

How-I-Cured-My-Infertility-Naturally-HomemakerChic.comMany of you know about my struggle with infertility. After inexplicably losing 5 babies (including twin girls), and undergoing months of testing, the doctors were able to find no medical reason for why this was happening. The only answer I got was that it might be some sort of autoimmune issue, but no tests gave any answer as to what kind. We finally gave up on trying to have a baby for awhile and dove head first into the adoption process. We believe that God has called us to do this at some point in our lives. But God had another plan…

Still puzzled by why this was happening to me, I began researching recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). I knew I didn’t want to be pregnant while we were focusing on adoption, but I wanted to be healthy and whole, so I started looking into natural ways to improve my situation. Among other things, I found that BPA was linked to RPL. So I began taking steps to eradicate this harmful chemical from my life. But I wanted more.

Enter providence. Through a series of divine interactions, I ended up working with a Christian naturopath named Cheryl who gave me the ALCAT test. ALCAT is a food sensitivity test that measures inflammatory reactions in your blood when it is exposed to various foods and chemicals. It turned out that I was intolerant to several foods that I had no idea about (lobster, avocado, basil, broccoli, white potato, button mushroom, and splenda aka sucralose.) Cheryl taught me that health begins in our guts. I learned that all the antibiotics I had taken several years ago when I had chronic tonsillitis, and the birth control pills I had taken for years, had likely torn up the lining of my stomach. I learned that consuming harmful chemicals can make it more difficult for your body to absorb necessary nutrients (and more importantly for my babies to get the nutrients THEY needed!). I learned that eating the wrong foods can cause inflammation in MANY places in the body, possibly including my reproductive organs. I learned that food is medicine, and that by eating wholesome healthful foods I could begin to heal my body from the inside out.

In addition to removing my food intolerances and BPA, I also began living the Real Food lifestyle. I cut out processed foods, and anything with ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. I began taking probiotics to help fortify my gut, super vitamins to amplify my immune system, and drinking raspberry leaf tea daily to tone my uterus. I began eating whole, organic, and locally farmed foods. I limited the amount of meat I was eating to once a week, and exchanged hormone laced, GMO corn-fed beef for organic grass fed beef. I cut out coffee. I began exercising. And I began drinking a LOT of water. 75 ounces a day! I’m not saying it was easy to change all of this. In fact, one time I was at the supermarket almost in tears because I felt like everything I was used to buying was off limits. I texted Cheryl saying, “Grocery shopping is too hard, I think I’ll just buy wine and go home.” She laughed hysterically and then gently encouraged me to press on. It was very difficult at first, but I was committed to doing this right.

And after just 6 weeks of this new lifestyle I found myself pregnant…. again.

18-weeks-pregnant-homemakerchic.com

As the weeks passed I could tell this pregnancy was different. For one thing, I experienced zero spotting. Every single other pregnancy started out with spotting. Secondly, I had morning sickness which I had never had before. After I passed the 10 week mark (the farthest any of my babies had ever survived) I began to seriously wonder if this was actually going to be the one. Week by week this baby has carried on. We’ve gotten to see our sweet little monkey on an ultrasound, actually looking like a baby! This is a completely new experience for us since normally we get terrible news when we have ultrasounds. Systematically during this pregnancy I have eliminated one unnatural thing after another. GMO foods, chewing gum, listerine, face wash, moisturizers, deodorant, and the list goes on. I’ve replaced MANY things with coconut oil. More on that later. I’m still taking vitamins, probiotics and drinking the raspberry leaf tea daily.

So now, at 18 weeks pregnant, I am finally believing that God is giving us this baby… this boy. My son. baby-boy-16-weeks-ultrasound-homemakerchic.com

There’s one other aspect to this process that I want to share with you. In addition to getting my body on track, God began to put my soul on track. He taught me that He is good if He gives me a child, and He is good if I lose 20 more pregnancies. This was a fact that was very hard for me to understand in the midst of my losses. I wondered many times why a good God would let this happen to me over and over again. He taught me that these children were all His before they were mine, and that He was just as brokenhearted over my suffering as I was. I realized that in all of my suffering I forgot the fact that my 5 little sweeties never had to experience loss, suffering, heartache, or rejection. They had the amazing privilege of going straight to Heaven! He is holding them in His hands. Hands that are infinitely more perfect than mine. How could I ever be sad about that? I learned that while God had not yet answered my prayers to heal my body, He kept His promise in the bible that He would heal my broken heart (He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3).

Losing-a-pregnancyAnd finally God asked me the question that I had been so afraid to answer for so many years… “Do you trust Me?” I thought I had trusted Him, but the truth was, I never had. I finally surrendered my fertility and my life to the God of the universe, knowing and believing that He knows my desires, and wouldn’t place this deep urge to be a mother inside me and never fulfill it. When we stepped forward to adopt, I was certain that this was how God was going to fulfill that desire in me (and we still hope to continue with that in the near future) but I can now see how He was molding me and shaping me to become a whole person, inside and out, so that I could become the best mother possible for my children.

If you’ve been through loss, I sincerely encourage you to consider crying out to God and ask him to make you whole. He loves you, and He knows your hurts more than anyone else. Trusting Him has been a journey, but my life has never been so peaceful or fruitful.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

What’s the beef on Grass fed?

Watching documentaries like Farmageddon, Food Matters, and the Truth about Monsanto has really got me thinking about what exactly is going into the food that is going into me and my family.

So you’re going to be seeing a lot of information on this topic in the coming months here on Homemaker Chic. Today let’s talk about grass fed beef. I’ve heard lots of hype about grass fed beef and how much better it is for us than traditional beef. Here’s why…

  • It’s about the feed

As a ruminant, a cow’s digestive system is made to digest grasses.Grains like corn that are high in starch and other high energy cheap feeds can rapidly fatten cattle, but can also damage their digestive system. The time and intensity of this feeding must be limited to avoid killing the cows or causing severe illness…

  • Which leads to antibiotic use for cows

Antibiotics become necessary because an unnatural diet makes cows prone to disease. Low doses of antibiotics combined with hormones are also used as a short cut to promote excessive growth. While some grainfed cattle may not be given antibiotics, most are.

  • Growing COWch Potatoes

Inactivity fattens cows and humans alike. Confining large herds to small spaces creates the perfect environment for diseases to spread. Just add more antibiotics!

  • Growing cows like fast food

A fatter cow in half the time means cheap meat for your plate. Just ignore the quality of it and everyone’s happy.

  • Grassfed beef is part of a healthy diet

When cows roam the pasture and graze, their intake of healthy omega 3 fats in grass increases their body composition of omega 3 fats. Other healthy fats increase like CLA (which has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer), while total fat reduces. Grassfed cow meat has higher concentrations of vitamins like E and beta carotene, as well as minerals.

grassfed-beef

13 Banned Foods Still Allowed In The U.S.

photo-by-lauren-welter

photo credit: Lauren Welter

By Cristina Goyanes, Shape

You think the FDA has your back? Sure, they recently proposed two new regulations to up food safety measures, specifically how food processors and farmers can work better to keep their fresh products free of dangerous bacteria (remember that killer cantaloupe outbreak from 2011?). But while it may seem like the government is out to protect us from bad–even fatal–food-borne illnesses, which cause some 3,000 deaths a year, they don’t completely have our best interest–or health–in mind.

“For numerous suspicious and disturbing reasons, the U.S. has allowed foods that are banned in many other developed countries into our food supply,” says nutritionist Mira Calton who, together with her husband Jayson Calton, Ph.D., wrote the new book Rich Food, Poor Food due out in February.

During a six-year expedition that took them to 100 countries on seven continents, the Caltons studied more than 150 ingredients and put together a comprehensive list of the top 13 problematic products that are forbidden by governments, outside the United States, due to their detrimental effects on human health.

“If you see any of the following ingredients listed on the nutrition label, don’t buy the product,” Calton warns. “Leaving these banned bad boys on the shelves will speak volumes to grocery stores and food manufactures about what informed consumers simply won’t tolerate.”

Ingredients: Coloring agents (blue 1, blue 2, yellow 5, and yellow 6)

  • Found In: Cake, candy, macaroni and cheese, medicines, sport drinks, soda, pet food, and cheese
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: We eat with our eyes. “Recent studies have shown that when food manufacturers left foods in their natural, often beige-like color instead of coloring them with these chemical agents, individuals thought they tasted bland and ate less, even when the recipe wasn’t altered,” Calton says. This may explain why the use of artificial dyes–the most popular being red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6–has increased five-fold since 1955.
  • Health Hazards: Back in the day, food coloring came from natural sources, such as saffron and turmeric. “Today most artificial colors are made from coal tar, which is also used to seal-coat products to preserve and protect the shine of industrial floors,” Carlton says. “It also appears in head lice shampoos to kill off the small bugs.”

Ingredient: Olestra (a.k.a. Olean)

  • Found In: Fat-free potato chips
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: Procter & Gamble Co. took a quarter century and spent a half a billion dollars to create “light” chips that are supposedly better for you, Calton says. They may need another half a billion bucks to figure out how to deal with the embarrassing bathroom side effects (including oily anal leakage) that comes with consuming these products.
  • Health Hazards: “This fat substitute appears to cause a dramatic depletion of fat-soluble vitamins and carotenoids, robbing us of the vital micro-nutrients,” Calton says, adding that many countries, including the U.K. and Canada, have banned it.

Ingredient: Brominated vegetable oil (a.k.a. BVO)

  • Found In: Sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: BVO acts as an emulsifier, preventing the flavoring from separating and floating to the surface of beverages, Calton says.
  • Health Hazards: “Because it competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, elevated levels of the stuff may lead to thyroid issues, such as hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, and cancer,” Calton says. That’s not all. BVO’s main ingredient, bromine, is a poisonous chemical that is considered both corrosive and toxic. It’s been linked to major organ system damage, birth defects, growth problems, schizophrenia, and hearing loss, which explains why it’s been nixed in more than 100 countries.

Ingredient: Potassium bromate (a.k.a. brominated flour)

  • Found In: Rolls, wraps, flatbread, bread crumbs, and bagel chips
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: This flour-bulking agent helps strengthen dough, reducing the amount of time needed for baking, which results in lowered costs, Calton explains.
  • Health Hazards: Made with the same toxic chemical found in BVO (bromine), this additive has been associated with kidney and nervous system disorders as well as gastrointestinal discomfort. “While the FDA has not banned the use of bromated flour, they do urge bakers to voluntarily leave it out,” Calton says.

Ingredient: Azodicarbonamide

  • Found In: Breads, frozen dinners, boxed pasta mixes, and packaged baked goods
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: While most countries wait a week for flour to naturally whiten, the American food processors prefer to use this chemical to bleach the flour ASAP.
  • Health Hazards: It’s not enough to just ban this product in Singapore. You can get up to 15 years in prison and be penalized nearly half a million dollars in fines for using this chemical that’s been linked to asthma and is primarily used in foamed plastics, like yoga mats and sneaker soles.

Ingredients: BHA and BHT

  • Found In: Cereal, nut mixes, gum, butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, and beer
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: “Made from petroleum [yummy!], these waxy solids act as preservatives to prevent food from becoming rancid and developing objectionable odors,” Calton says. A better solution may be natural rosemary and sage. In a 2006 study, some organic herbs and spices proved to be efficient at preventing oxidative decay in meat, which ultimately could improve the shelf-life of these products.
  • Health Hazards: California is the only state that recognizes the U.S. National Institute of Health’s report that BHA may be a human carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent.

Ingredients: Synthetic hormones (rBGH and rBST)

  • Found In: Milk and dairy products
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: Gotta keep moo-ving things along. Dairy farmers inject cows with genetically engineered cow growth hormones to boost milk production by about 10 percent, according to Calton.
  • Health Hazards: “Cows treated with these synthetic hormones often become lame, infertile, and suffer from inflamed and infected udders,” Calton says. Humans who consume these cows byproducts are in no better shape, she adds: “The milk is supercharged with IGF-1 (insulin growth factor -1), which has been linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancers.”

Ingredient: Arsenic

  • Found In: Poultry
  • Why The U.S. Allows It: Big brother FDA permits arsenic in chicken feed to promote growth, improve efficiency in feeding the birds, and boost pigmentation. “The arsenic affects the blood vessels in chickens and turkeys, causing them to appear pinker and, therefore, fresher,” Calton says.
  • Health Hazards: The European Union has outlawed the use of arsenic since 1999, Calton says, and the Environmental Protection Agency classifies inorganic arsenic as a “human carcinogen.” Take matters into your own hands by sticking to organic birds only.

This article was written by Cristina Goyanes and published in Shape on January 15, 2013.

Photo by Lauren Welter

10 Steps to Remove BPA from Your Body in Less Than a Week

Many of you know about my struggle with recurrent miscarriage. Though we are so excited about the prospect of growing our family through adoption, I’m still concerned that something is wrong in my body and the doctors just can’t seem to figure it out. This year I’m taking my health into my own hands and instead of looking to the medical profession who up to this point have completely failed me, I’m looking inside my own body for the answers. This year I’m seeking to get my body back to to a whole, healthy, and healed place. One way I’m doing this is by eliminating BPA from my diet. You can also learn about the Real Food diet and how to cut out processed foods by reading this post.

What is BPA you ask? Bisphenol a (BPA) is a synthetic estrogen used to harden polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resin. Yes, you read that right. SYNTHETIC ESTROGEN. An estimated 6 billion pounds of BPA are produced globally annually, generating about $6 billion in sales. It is fabricated into thousands of products made of hard, clear polycarbonate plastics and tough epoxy resins, including safety equipment, eyeglasses, computer and cell phone casings, water and beverage bottles, DENTAL FILLINGS, and epoxy paint and coatings. Despite research that has proven this chemical to be hazardous it is still approved for use in a shocking amount of products. What’s so bad about it? Trace BPA exposure has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy. The most disgusting fact of all is that the highest levels of BPA have been found in baby bottles, and liquid infant formula. Seriously.  (Source: EWG)

When I first started researching this and found out that women who have recurrent miscarriages are found to have much higher traces of BPA in their systems I was horrified. I’ve been systematically poisoning myself and I didn’t even know it. When I was pregnant I probably ate 2 cans of Campbell’s soup and drank tons of bottled water. I also have fillings in my mouth that are composed of 50% BPA. There’s nothing I can do about that now (hopefully most of the harmful chemical has dissipated and been flushed out by my body by now). I use so many plastics and canned goods and never could have imagined in my wildest dreams that it could be contributing to my miscarriages. So its OUT WITH BPA.

There is some good news folks. BPA has a VERY short half-life. That means it can be flushed out of your system in less than 24 hours. Just a few days of going BPA free can get you completely back to normal, you just have to be vigilant. Here’s how to do it.

BPA is Everywhere.

It’s in everything we touch, everything we eat, everything we buy: it’s hidden in grocery store receipts and beauty products, in coffee cups and soda cans, in the very food and water we need to live. So, what’s the big deal? We’ve survived so far. Or… have we? Cancer and autoimmune disease rates continue to rise steadily. In 2009, EWG tests found estrogen-disrupting  levels of BPA in 9 of 10 umbilical cord blood samples. We all have BPA in our bodies. There’s nothing we can do about it. Right?

You can Remove BPA from Your Body.

And you can do it in less than a week. BPA is metabolized by the body very quickly. A recent study found that participants were able to reduce the levels of BPA in their body by 65% in three days just by avoiding packaged foods¹. By eliminating additional hidden sources of BPA in your environment you can increase that number, as well as reducing many other toxic chemicals that are found in plastics like phthalates, and polyethylene. Here’s how.

1. Just Say No to BPA-loaded Receipts

Did you know that some receipts contain 250 to 1,000 times the amount of BPA typically found in a can of food?²  If that isn’t scary enough, BPA transfers readily from the receipt to skin and cannot be washed off. Different types of receipts contain varying levels of BPA. If you aren’t sure whether or not a merchant uses BPA in their receipts, either ask directly or let them know early in the transaction that you will not need your receipt. Gas station receipts are particularly notorious for containing huge amounts of BPA.

2. Avoid Packaged Food

True, you might have to give up potato chips. But, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. So, what will you possibly eat? There are many safe options available to replace the packaged staples in your kitchen. You can buy fresh bread from the bakery in paper, milk in glass bottles, bring a glass container for cheese and meat from the deli, buy cereal in bulk, get beans and grains from the bulk bin in your own cloth or paper bag. Forgo the packaged salad greens for unpackaged – use cloth or paper bags in the produce aisle.

3. Switch to a Safe BPA-free Water Bottle

You know that funny taste that your plastic water bottle gets when you leave it in the sun? That’s the taste of chemicals leaching into your water. Doesn’t sound very refreshing, does it? There are many safe stainless steel and glass alternatives to plastic bottles. My favorites are those made with 100% safe glass, with stainless steel or silicone in place of a plastic top. Three great options are from VesselBottles UP and Bkr. If you choose a stainless steel option, make sure to get one that is not lined with plastic. Kleen Kanteen is a safe choice. While you’re at it, skip the water cooler for fill-ups. Those big plastic jugs are loaded with BPA too. Tap is safer.

4. Store Food in Glass

Did you know that even “safe” plastics can leach toxic chemicals³ once they are washed in a dishwasher or scrubbed with detergent and a sponge? Why take the chance? Ditch those plastic tubs in place of safe all-glass alternatives. For on the go or smaller items, forgo plastic wrap and plastic sandwich bags in place of small glass containers, wax paper bags, or parchment paper.

5. Avoid Canned Foods

92% of all canned food is lined with BPA coating. Look for alternatives in glass jars (most will have BPA lined lids but overall contamination is much less) or stick to these safe BPA-free brands: Eden Foods (except tomatoes), Wild Planet tuna, Vital Choice tuna, Native Forest  and Native Factor canned goods.

6. Give up Soda

Believe it or not, even aluminum soda cans are lined with BPA. If you can’t give up soda, you can always buy a brand that comes in a glass bottle.

7. Eat at Home

Most  food  in restaurants originates from highly packaged sources or is stored in plastic. As a result, almost all restaurant food is loaded with BPA. Eating at home and bringing your lunch to work more often will help reduce the BPA in your body.

plastic-free coffee

8. Make your Own Coffee

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a local coffee shop that brews in glass, a cup of  to-go coffee comes in contact with BPA during each stage of the brewing process. From the plastic bag the beans are stored in, to the hot plastic coffee maker it’s brewed in, the thermos it’s kept hot in, and the plastic – lined cup it’s served in.

For a BPA- free brew, buy beans from bulk, store in glass, and drip brew with paper filters, a stainless steel  Coava filter and Chemex glass carafe, or stainless steel french press. Pour into a ceramic cup and, voila! BPA-free coffee to go.

9. Buy Personal-care Products in Glass, Paper or Metal.

BPA, phthalates, and other toxic chemicals can leach into beauty products from a plastic container and absorb into your skin. Work to eventually phase out these items by replacing them with safe-packaged alternatives as they run out. If you are on a budget, most beauty products can be made from simple ingredients.

 10. Replace Plastic Items with Safer Alternatives

Because BPA, phthalates and other plasticizers are not chemically bound to the plastics they’re added to, they are continuously released into our air and transferred to our skin when touched. Begin to replace plastic items in your household as you are able. Children are especially vulnerable to plastic chemical exposure. Gradually replace children’s toys and tableware with safer, non-plastic options. Even choosing natural fibers over synthetic clothing (did you know spandex is made of plastic?) can reduce the amount of plastic chemicals stored in your body.

Of course, we can never completely eliminate plastic from our lives

But, the more plastic we avoid, the less BPA in our bodies. Have I eliminated synthetic clothing? Um, no. And I do eat a bag of chips now and then. Although it can be done in 3 days, gradual changes will result in a slow and steady reduction of BPA too. It’s all about knowing how BPA gets into our bodies and cultivating an awareness of plastic so we can consider opportunities to avoid it. It’s about empowering ourselves with the knowledge to make healthy choices.