Thursday, December 22, 2011

All Purpose Salve

In the beginning of November I started infusing some herbs in olive oil.  I went to Noah's Natural Foods and picked up some calendula, comfrey, lavender and red clover.  All of these herbs are therapeutic to the skin and make a great all-purpose salve.  I would use this on any skin irritation, dry skin and hands, baby's bottoms, growing mama's bellies and eczema.  I mixed them all up and stuffed them into mason jars and then topped until completely covered with olive oil.
here are the herbs all mixed up
and here they are being topped with a high quality olive oil

Fast forward 6 weeks later......I dumped the 2 mason jars full of soaked herbs into a bodum and pressed as much of the olive oil out as I could.  I then scooped a few tbsp. of herb into some cheescloth and rang out the remainder of the oil.
Lastly, I bought 2 tubs of pure cocoa butter and melted them down on the lowest simmer and mixed in about 1.5 cups of the oil mixture.  I also squeezed in 2 vitamin E capsules which acts as a natural perservative.  Gave it a quick stir and poured the liquid into small pots.  Here they are!
A few other great ideas is buying some empty lip balm tubes and filling those up or simply pouring the purely infused oil into little bottles without the cocoa butter and using the oil as is! Simple and thoughtful gifts....

From Our Family to Yours....

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season with all the best health for 2012!  Here are a few pictures of what we have been busy in the kitchen with....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Busy in the Kitchen

Aidan had a PA day today and played lego with a friend all morning.  They were so involved in their Star Wars world, I don't even think they knew I was downstairs!  I had a few quiet hours to myself in the kitchen and got so much done!  Maybe this is an early nesting period..... Here is what I made.....

1. Vegan Macaroons  These were super easy to make and delicious!  I got the recipe from
I think they might just end up being holiday gifts to a few lucky people. Give them a try!

1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup almond milk (can use soy or rice if a nut allergy)
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
I mixed the above together and then added

1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
6 tbsp flour (your choice, next time i am going to try Bob's gluten free blend)
Make into small round balls and bake at 350F for 15minutes.

2. Banana Bread Revisited.  
When I first stared blogging (nearly 2 years ago!), I posted a vegan banana bread that I love making.  I have since altered it slightly by decreasing the oil and omitting the sugar!  Here is the new recipe.....

3 ripe banana, mashed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup oil (I used grapeseed)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups spelt flour (you want the mixture not too runny and not too dry)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking salt
I then add some vegan chocolate chip, about 1/4 cup

Bake for 350F for about 40-50 minutes in a loaf pan or until golden brown on top. The loaf was gone within the hour!

3. I made the Lentil Soup with Root Vegetables really is a big hit!

4. Lastly, I got a few more stitches completed on these sweet leg warmers I am making for Bella with a few more pairs as holiday gifts for some of my favourite little girls!  I've said it before, we all have enough so I like to include homemade gifts!  My friend Jill ( posted this pattern and since I am a crocheter, they were pretty easy to make.
Now I think I need a nap......

Friday, December 2, 2011

Zucchini Bread

I woke up this morning, somehow full of energy and while the kids were still in their slumber (they do sleep til' 8!) I whipped up this delicious zucchini loaf in less than 10 minutes.  This would be a great addition to a holiday brunch or as a dessert.  Enjoy!
Zucchini Loaf 
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 egg
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
  • mix all these ingredients together in a big bowl and then add
1 1/4 cup flour (I used spelt but you could use wheat or a gluten free variety)
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional; I used dairy free chips).

Bake in a loaf pan for about 50 mintues at 350F (will be golden on top)


Friday, November 25, 2011

Flu Busters!

Tis the get sick.
Here are my top five household remedies to help you get through the next few months.....

1. Garlic: Stock up on garlic’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-oxidant properties. It is stocked with nutrients (especially vitamin B6, C, and manganese) and highly beneficial sulfur-containing compounds such as allicin - which are also found in onions and other similar-looking plants. In addition to being an important food that fights those nasty bugs, studies also show it to enhance immune function. .
2. Lemons:  Not only does this citrus fruit give you a good dose of Vitamin C, the vitamin of the season, but it also has antimicrobial effects to help your body get rid of foreign invaders. As with so many “healthy” foods, lemons (and it’s green relative, the lime) have antioxidants to help protect your cells so that they are stronger and more apt to defend. Add lemons (and garlic) to dressings, sauces, tea, and water.
3. Honey: You may have heard that you should be decreasing your sugar intake when you’re sick. It is true: sugar can impede our immune response. But honey is different! You need to get RAW or unpasteurized honey as it contains propolis, a natural antimicrobial (it will attack everything from viruses, bacteria, and fungus).  And the soothing properties? Honey is also anti-inflammatory, which is why you’ll find it in a lot of natural cough and throat syrups and lozenges too. Use it with your hot lemon water, add it to herbal tea, or coat your garlic with it! Remember not to give honey to gives 1 and under and I still stick by an older blog post on my homemade onion and honey cough syrup!  and here is the research on honey's anti-spasmodic properties!  
4. Ginger: It can be added to smoothies, made into tea, add it to stir-fries, and pile it in soups! From a Western-medical standpoint, it’s properties are anti-nausea, digestive, and cardiovascular benefits.  From a Chinese Medical perspective, fresh ginger root is a warming food that stimulates sweating.  Ginger can warm you up from the inside out, and prevent this invasion. You can make your own ginger (simply grate some into a mug) with lemon and honey, and get three powerful foods in one!
5. Green Tea:  Green tea protects our cells with it’s high anti-oxidant value, boosts the immune system with it’s catechin content, and will warm you up when you have the chills. Research shows that it will reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms. If you don’t want to drink it, I still have good news. An interesting study recently found that gargling with green tea tends to help prevent flus. Note: green tea does contain caffeine, but in amounts much less than coffee.

Monday, November 14, 2011

and then he turned six.....

one excited bday boy!

we had a really busy weekend!  2 parties for the newly six year old boy; one for friends and one for family.... there was lots of fun to be had and way too many presents (which is always very kind and generous but also makes me feel rather spoiled in our western culture.....)
This year I made chocolate cupcakes (I cheated and used an organic cake mix) and made the vanilla icing.   The icing was super easy and really yummy and had all relatively good ingredients.
2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
we are currently in a star wars phase (i hear this can last into adulthood....)
here they are all dressed up!
and being eaten up!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Not to Judge.....But...

I was at a birth all day today and at one point the mom-to-be asked for her make-up bag to get her lipbalm.  I expected lip balm and then she pulled out a small tub of vaseline!  In my head I am thinking, YUCK! (and I am really trying not to judge!) but that is petroleum! let me dissect the ingredients.
Mineral Oil: it is produced as a by-product of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil.  It is the left-over liquid and it is inexpensive. It is actually more expensive to dispose of it than to purchase it!  It is often found in baby products (what do some apply to newborn bottoms?  vaseline!) Mineral oil acts as a thin layer on the skin.  It is difficult to absorb and clogs the pores.
Paraffin: is also derived from petroleum and can be found in creams and skin care products (like vaseline) to act as an emolliant but it can also be found in crayons and the coating on fruits and vegetables, keeping them shiny and stopping them from spoiling quicker. 
Microcrystalline Wax:  is produced by de-oiling petroleum, as part of the refining process.  It has tiny particles that make it more flexible (and thus smoother) then parrafin wax and it is used as a binder.

To summarize by-products of crude oil!

Some wonderful alternatives are cocoa butter, shea butter, natural lip balms found at your local health food store (there will be so many to choose from), even straight up olive oil on your lips (or overall skin, even a baby's bottom!) is way way better then vaseline.  You could also, look for healthy alternatives for your baby's bottom, face, and skin in general. 
Here are some examples:
raw cocoa butter (smells like chocolate!)
my all time favorite; Evan Healy's Fair Trade Whipped Shea Butter
 if you must have a vaseline than pick up the un-petroleum jelly made by Alba Botanica

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Fall Harvest

Back in the spring we dug up part of our front lawn and put in a little vegetable garden.  Good friend's of ours grow garlic, 2000 bulbs!  They gave us a whole bunch and we have been storing them for the last few months until they were ready to plant.  This afternoon we cleared out the old garden and made new for the new one that will be ready next summer.  Here is some pictures of the process.....
28 cloves = 28 bulbs (we hope)
buried (tip points up)
 covered and watered (with help!)
I'll be sure to keep you posted next summer!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crafting 101

My brother had his 3rd baby a few weeks back and when thinking of a gift to get this little guy, I came up with nothing.  We all have so much and need so little so I attempt to make presents and give something meaningful.  This past weekend we went to visit our friend's Jill and Jamie, and Jill is always coming up with fabulous ideas. (You can take a peek at her ideas on her blog ) She made a collage for a new baby that was so sweet that I decided to try do something similair for my newest nephew.  It was super easy and fun to do.  I picked up some nice scrapbooking paper from Winners, and got the essential collage supplies from Michael's (a leaf hole puncher, some canvas and mod podge glue).  Here is what I came up with!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

I enjoy having soup but must admit I put all this effort into making a good soup and am usually left somewhat disappointed.  I will eat it but Ewan is never a fan and often opts for a canned option (ouch!).  Then I discovered this mixed vegetable lentil soup and it is delicious!!  Ewan even asked for me to make a second pot (unheard of!).  So I thought I would share it and if you do make it, let me know what you think!

 Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup
 1/8 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
8 cups of water or stock
½ cup almond milk (can be cream or any milk alternative)
¼ cup fresh basil
¼ cup fresh cilantro
2 cups of green lentils (I cooked this first in a separate pot)

  1. Add olive oil, garlic, onion, curry, cumin and cinnamon to a large pot and sautee for a few minutes
  2. Add in celery, carrots, squash and sweet potato and sautee for a few more minutes.
  3. Add 8 cups of water or stock, bring to a boil and then simmer on low for about 45 minutes.
  4. Once vegetables are soft, puree with a hand blender.  Then add in almond milk (or alternative), basil, coriander and lentils.
  5. Blend again. 
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7.  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lice Protection!

Now that the kids are back in school, lice will be prowling the halls once again.  So far we have been fortunate to avoid these little critters.  Apparently lice like clean hair, not sure if this is true or not, but we tend to only wash the kids hair a few times per week.  I also made a lice spray that I quickly shake and spray onto their hair before we walk out the door for school.
This is what I did.  I kept an old toner bottle to re-use.
Added the following essential oils:

Rosemary 10 drops
Tea Tree Oil 10 drops
Lavender 5 drops
Lemon 5 drops
Geranium 5 drops
I topped the bottle with water and am ready to go.  You need to remember that the essential oil and water will separate.  So give the bottle a good shake before each use.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Organic Apple Picking

We went to Avalon Organics ( this past weekend and
picked SO many apples!  It was important that we went to an organic orchard as we did not
want to walk through fields of pesticides, nor did we want to bring them home with us.  All they
did was spray Kaolin Clay once early in the season on their crops and those nasty little pests
kept away! Apples are a low glycemic food, rich in fiber, eliminate bad estrogens, and are rich in
Organic food has fewer hormone-disrupting and cancer-causing pesticides and higher levels of
cancer-fighting nutrients.  As the Harvard School of Public Health recently released their data
stating that by choosing 5 servings of organic fruits and vegetables per day, most people can
lower their volume of pesticides they consume daily by 92%.
Another study out of Harvard shows that even tiny, allowable amounts of a common pesticide
class can have dramatic effects on brain chemistry. Organophosphate insecticides (OP’s) are
among the most widely used pesticides in the U.S. & have long been known to be particularly
toxic for children. This is the first study to examine their effects across a representative
population with average levels of exposure. Finding :: Kids with above-average pesticide


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall is here with Squash Soup

I was craving soup the other day and quickly whipped up this delcious batch of healthy squash soup.  Squash is rich in beta carotene, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, is a good source of fiber, supports the immune system and protects the eyes.
Here is what I did.....
sauteed onions
added cut up squash
puree soup and add freshly grated apple and finished pureeing
season with salt, pepper, cinnamon or fresh ginger.

Monday, September 19, 2011

So What Might You Be Eating?

I gave an informal lecture to a mom's group last week and we discussed food ingredients.  There are a lot more additives put into food, especially into packaged foods.  I compiled a short list of ingredients to try avoid and thought I would share with y'all!

more popularly known as Nutrasweet and Equal. Aspartame is believed to be carcinogenic and accounts for more reports of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined.  Aspartame is also a neurotoxin. Known to erode intelligence and affect short-term memory, the components of this toxic sweetener may lead to a wide variety of ailments including brain tumor, diseases like lymphoma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, emotional disorders like depression and anxiety attacks, dizziness, headaches, nausea, mental confusion, migraines and seizures.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (in Canada called glucose/fructose-read you labels and you will see how often glucose/fructose is in your food!):
As discovered by Princeton researchers HFCS leads to obesity. They discovered that rats which had access to high fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to basic table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. 

Food Dyes: Blue #1 and #2; Red #3, Yellow #6, Tartrazine

may contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ. Animal studies have linked other food colorings to cancer. Banned in Norway, Finland and France. Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission

Check product ingredient lists for beet, carotenes, annatto (a paprika extract)—all are natural colorants.

    is known as an excitotoxin, a substance which overexcites cell

to the point of damage or death. Studies show that regular consumption of MSG may result in adverse side effects which include depression, disorientation, eye damage, fatigue, headaches, and obesity. MSG effects the neurological pathways of the brain and disengaged the "I'm full" function which explains the effects of weight gain.

Sodium nitrite
  is used as a preservative, coloring and flavoring in bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats corned beef, smoked fish and other processed meats. Highly carcinogenic once it enters the human digestive system.  This chemical is used as it turns meats bright red. It's actually a color fixer, and it makes old, dead meats appear fresh and vibrant.

Avoid Microwaved popcorn:  
    the bags are lined with Perfluorooctanoic (PFOA) acid which lines the bags, and when heated the compound is released. It is toxic, carcinogenic and a hormone disruptor.  Here is the post of how to make stove top popcorn.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Summer Holiday and Tomato Sauce.....

It has been a little while since I have been in this space.  It has been busy!!  We went away in mid-August to a farm with our friends in Prince Edward County.  We had such a wonderful time.  There was this amazing garden that we were free to help ourselves to and there were literally hundreds of tomatoes, potatoes to be dug up, brocolli flowers, and squash.  The kids had a great time running into the fields and picking a part of dinner.
 just on the other side of the road is the garden

My good friend's E and R were with us and both are phenomenal cooks.  I learned a lot watching them quickly prepare delcious meals.   I decided to try make a homemade tomato sauce from all the freshly picked tomatos.  I boiled a pot of water and dropped about a dozen tomatoes into the pot for about 30 seconds to help deskin them.  I peeled the skins off and de-seeded them and threw them in a pot.  I had been slow cooking some onions and added these with some fresh garlic and basil and let it stew for about 2 hours.  It was amazing! The picture below is from Ewan's bday dinner.  I brought home some tomatoes and made it again for his family.  What was so amazing was the garlic was from our friend's farm and the basil from our garden.
Here are a few other shots of our trip
dexter in the open field
3 boys and a girl at sandbanks
his furry friend

Can't wait to do it all again next year!  How was your summer holiday?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dr. Oz and Lemons....

Below is a complaint I sent to the Dr. Oz show after watching a segement and discovered an incorrect answer.

My name is Rachel and I am a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I was disappointed to see Dr. Oz claim that lemons are acidic and thus not a useful treatment for sore throats (this was a segment done last week with 2 audience members being quized.) In fact, in nutritional medicine lemon is considered an alkaline food, I understand that the litmus paper will turn red prior to consumption, however when metabolized internally the lemon becomes alkaline. (I am sure your researchers can find ample information on this topic)
Lemon is in fact a traditional throat remedy used by many cultures and when mixed with honey (a natural anti-biotic) can be very soothing to sore throats. I would appreciate a correction to your viewers with proper information on lemon and not simply an answer of lemon is not useful for sore throats as "it is acidic" (besides being incorrect, it does not provide useful information to the average person). In health, Rachel

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fruits of My Labour

After much watering during this hot summer, the tomatoes are turning a beautiful cherry red! Not sure how the cucumbers and peppers are turning out but the tomatoes look divine! Here are some first picks....

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Orange and Red

I went to the Wychwood Barns Organic Market this morning and picked up these beautiful bunches of carrots and beets. A while back I had seen Jamie Oliver make this recipe on tv and it looked easy and delcious. Jamie Oliver is my kind of chef, no measurements, a pinch of salt, a spring of thyme and glug of olive oil. Here is the recipe, sans pork chops, of course!
Here are some pictures of the process.....
fresh from the market
carrots, garlic, fresh orange juice and basil
beets, balsamic and garlic
mixed together!

I really loved the carrots so I think next time I would mix the carrots and beets together and add the orange juice (I used the fresh orange and squeezed) with the garlic and basil (I did not have fresh thyme). Divine!