Sunday, October 26, 2014

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree


With Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's time to make pumpkin puree.  Homemade pumpkin puree is much more tasty than the canned variety. 

My method for homemade pumpkin puree is simple: bake whole, scoop, and puree!  Each year, I make lots of pumpkin puree, to be stored in the freezer.  Lots of pumpkin pie clafoutis, pumpkin spice bread, and pumpkin crumble will keep us happy over the winter.

You can use any type of winter squash you like, such as pumpkin, hubbard squash, and butternut squash. My favorite type of pumpkin to use for puree is NOT the sugar pie pumpkin. It is actually a variety of pumpkin called the Long Island Cheese. This pumpkin has vibrant orange flesh and excellent sweet flavor.


Recipe: Homemade Pumpkin Puree


Baking whole pumpkins is the easiest way to cook them. It does take a while, but it is so much easier than trying to cut up a raw pumpkin as they are VERY hard before they are cooked. 
  1. Place the whole pumpkins on your oven rack. I place a cookie sheet underneath just in case of any drips.  
  2. Bake for several hours at 200 degrees F.  A ten pound pumpkin will take about 3 hours to cook.  Larger pumpkins will take closer to 4 hours. A small pie pumpkin should be done in 1-2 hours. 
  3. To test for doneness, wrap your hands with a dish towel and gently squeeze the pumpkins.  Check them on multiple sides (and you may even need to rotate the pumpkins partway through if you cook more than one at a time, like I do). If the pumpkins are soft enough to squeeze a bit, then they are done!
  4. Remove from the oven and place on a cookie sheet or large baking tray (such as a 9X13 glass dish). Carefully use a knife to make a slice down one side of the pumpkin, slicing all the way down to the bottom. This allows the water and heat in the pumpkin to be released.  Let cool for awhile.
  5. Once cool enough to touch, finish cutting the pumpkin in half. This is amazingly easy to do since the pumpkin has already been cooked. Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bits.  
  6. Being careful to not get any of the skin, scoop the soft flesh out with a spoon and place it into a food processor.  Let the food processor whir the flesh to make a beautiful puree. This may take several batches depending on the size of your pumpkin and food processor.
  7. Store the puree in airtight containers.  Keep it in the fridge if it will be used in the next few days. Otherwise, store it in the freezer, where it will last for many months.  
What are your favorite ways to use pumpkin puree?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

During the hot summer months, I craved light foods such as salads and raw veggies. Now that the weather is getting cooler, my tastes are changing and I find myself wanting more comfort foods. These peanut butter cookies fit the bill: they are chewy in the middle, crispy on the edges, and super tasty.


Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes 30-40 cookies

  1. Set your oven racks so that none are in the bottom third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking soda, baking powder, ground nuts, and coconut flour. Whisk or sift well to combine and break up any lumps.
  3. In another bowl (or stand-mixer), beat the softened butter and sucanat together for a couple minutes, until well mixed. (I love using my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer for making cookies as it makes it very easy to add the ingredients while the mixer is running.)
  4. Add the peanut butter to the butter mixture and mix to combine. (I love to use a Measure All cup for measuring peanut butter and other thick ingredients such as honey and sour cream.)
  5. In the meantime, combine the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract in a small bowl. (I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works great for this because the pour spout makes it easy to add these ingredients to the mixer while it is running.) Do NOT mix up the eggs at this point.
  6. Once the butter, sucanat, and peanut butter have become well-mixed, mix in the eggs one-at-a-time.  With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in each egg while the mixer is still running.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well.
  7. While the mixer is running, add the dry ingredients.  Since coconut flour does not contain gluten, there is no worry of over-mixing it!
  8. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with silpats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon. Do NOT flatten the cookies as they will spread plenty while cooking.
  9. Bake the cookies at 325 F for about 15-18 minutes (or a few minutes longer if you are cooking them on stoneware). They are done when the edges get a bit dark and crispy.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
  11. Once cool, store these cookies in an airtight container.  They can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if you won't be eating them all in the next few days.  They are nice and chewy straight from the fridge, and even soft enough to eat straight out of the freezer!  Storing them in the freezer will also remove the pressure of having to eat them all in a week or so, as they will last for months in the freezer.
*I used to avoid consuming peanut butter because of the potential for aflatoxins. However, now that I am consuming a more sustainable, less restrictive diet, I have added small amounts of peanut butter back into my diet. Rather than obsessing over every detail of my diet, I'm finding a place of balance that can be sustained for the long term.  

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    How We Use Nature Study in Our Home School


    While I did include some aspects of nature in our early home schooling experience, it wasn't until I read about Charlotte Mason that I began to intentionally make Nature Study a formal part of our studies. Over the last two years, nature study has become an integral part of our science curriculum.

    "The child who learns his science from a text-book, though he go to Nature for illustrations, and he who gets his information from object lessons, has no chance of forming relations with things as they are, because his kindly obtrusive teacher makes him believe that to know about things is the same as knowing them personally." - Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series
    Nature Study allows my children to focus their hearts and minds on the beautiful cycles that flow through our outdoor world. When they connect with nature, there is serenity, wonder, and joy.


     

    Planning for Nature Study

    To make Nature Study an intentional part of our schooling, I plan and schedule it into our school days. I schedule time for nature study at least twice a month. On days when I plan for us to do Nature Study, I make sure that we have at least 2 hours that will be uninterrupted by other events or projects.

    In addition to our scheduled Nature Study times, I also watch the outdoors for Nature Study opportunities. For instance, since we live in the desert and have infrequent rain, I try to be flexible so that my kids are able to enjoy the rain and mud when they are present, and that we can explore the outdoors afterwards to see the changes that rain brings. I watch for seasonal changes that we can observe together, such as the budding of flowers and the changing of leaves.

    I also keep Nature Study in mind for rough days, when the children are overly argumentative or are bickering incessantly. Nature Study can be a complete mood-changer on those days. It can bring us back to balance and peace.

    Examples of Our Nature Study

    Some days, our Nature Study can be very simple; other days we make it more complex and in-depth. A few ideas from our Nature Studies are the following:
    • grab our nature notebooks and head out to the desert where we can observe and journal about plants, insects, and animals
    • take short field trips to the arroyo (dry creek bed) behind our house, where we can observe the way that water shapes and reshapes the land
    • make leaf rubbings of various leaves
    • capture a bug or critter, which we can observe in a small terrarium for a few hours before setting it free
    • work in the garden, preparing the soil, planting seeds, weeding, watching the plants grow, and reaping the fruits of our labor
    • observe and collect wildflowers
    • capture and raise a caterpillar into a chrysalis and then butterfly
    • birdwatch through our windows, observing the different species and their variety of behaviors
    • use a microscope to study and perhaps draw samples of any of the above
    • use nature observations as a jumping off point for further study with library books

     

    Just Get Outside


    Nature study doesn't have to be formal. In A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola writes, "young children will discover toads, butterflies, beetles, earthworms, robins, thistles, squirrels, mushrooms, berries, and run into thorn bushes on their own, without any prodding from us."

    Making sure that we spend time outside is one of my priorities. While my daughter loves to play outside, I find that my son often requires some gentle nudging to go outside. Once he is outside, however, my son thrives on the experiences of watching birds soar overhead, collecting rocks and leaves, and finding insects.

    I also have to intentionally find time for myself to be outside; I can too easily stay indoors working, writing, and studying, but yet I find that I, too, benefit from spending time outdoors. Even simple things such as reading aloud in the back yard can make a difference in my mood and well-being.

    Resources and Materials that Aid Nature Study


    We can certainly explore nature without any special materials or equipment, and yet I have found the following items to be particularly useful in making Nature Study an intentional part of our home schooling.

    Reference Books
    Materials

    Do you incorporate Nature Study into your lives? What are your favorite resources for Nature Study?

     

    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

     

    Friday, October 3, 2014

    How We've Improved Our Marriage This Year

    My husband and I have been together for over 15 years, and have been married for nearly 12 years.  We have a strong marriage, but things have definitely changed over time as we became parents of one, and then two children. Daily life with young children is so busy that we can go along without putting any real effort or thought into our marriage, and over time that can take a toll on our relationship.

    About 8 months ago, I stumbled across something that has changed my life, my relationships, and my parenting: Energy Profiling. Although I am always open to new information, I wasn't looking for a change when I found Energy Profiling. In hindsight, I can see that finding this information was a true blessing for me and my family.

    What is Energy Profiling?

    Carol Tuttle's Energy Profiling System is a way of understanding people and the way they move through life.  Carol breaks down the world into 4 Types.  These 4 Types are seen throughout nature and the natural world.

    In her book, It's Just My Nature! A Guide to Knowing and Living Your True Nature, Carol wrote,
    "The truth is, at your very core, you express a unique, natural energy that influences how you approach new experiences, relate to people, manage challenges, and move through life in general. The truth is, your life runs better in every way when you understand your inner nature and live true to it, rather than fight against it."


    The Energy Profiling System is much more than just a personality profiling system. A person's Energy Type encompasses:
    • introvert versus extrovert tendencies,
    • how a person relates to the world (emotional versus logical),
    • body language and physical features,
    • the filter through which a person sees the world around them, and
    • where a person fits in the whole cycle of doing/accomplishing things, such as having the ideas (Type 1) , planning how to do something and working out the details (Type 2), getting it done (Type 3), and perfecting how it is done while looking at the big picture (Type 4).

    What are the 4 Energy Types?


    On Carol's Energy Profiling site, she gives the following brief description of each of the 4 Types. To learn more, you can access her FREE Energy Profiling Course here

    "Type 1: The bright, animated person who has a gift for new ideas and possibilities. The natural movement of Type 1 is upward and light. A person with a dominant Type 1 expression is naturally an upward, light, upbeat person.
    Type 2: The soft and calming person who has a gift for gathering details and making plans. The natural movement of Type 2 is fluid and flowing.
    Type 3: The swift and dynamic person who has a gift for moving into action quickly to create practical and lasting results. The natural movement of Type 3 is active and reactive.
    Type 4: The structured and exact person who has a gift for looking at the world through a critical eye and perfecting it. The natural movement of a Type 4 person is constant and precise."

    How Energy Profiling Has Improved Our Marriage

    I initially watched the free 6-part Energy Profiling Course on my own. I was excited about what I learned and immediately wanted to share it with my husband. He was a bit doubtful at first, but that changed once we watched the course videos together. We had (and continue to have) some profoundly insightful conversations as a result of learning about our Energy Types. 

    Learning about our Energy Types has allowed us to come to a new understanding of each other. We understand better why we each do the things we do, and this understanding has helped our relationship in many ways. Some of the changes have been small, just little details, but others have been more meaningful.

    For instance, knowing my husband's Type 4 nature has allowed me to understand and celebrate some of his traits that are often looked at as being "negative" in our society. Being a Type 4, my husband has a natural need for solitude and reflection. Before I understood this, I could easily misunderstand why my husband would often retreat to be alone for some time in the evening. As a Type 4, my husband also has an eye for perfecting things, which could be seen as pessimism, when in reality it is a gift for perfecting.  

    My husband has been able to learn more about why I do the things I do, too.  He used to frequently say that I should slow down and relax.  I have a very hard time sitting still or even getting through a whole movie without feeling the need to get up and do something. It turns out that this is part of my dominant Type 3 nature. As a Type 3, I naturally feel the need to accomplish things, lots of things, every day.  When I fight against this aspect of my nature, I find that I feel tired and lethargic.  

    Type 3's can also be very impulsive, springing into action very quickly and completing tasks.  On the other hand, my Type 4 husband looks at the big picture and the best way to complete a task.  My natural tendency is to push through and move quickly, whereas my husband naturally wants to work more deliberately and carefully.  Understanding this has made it clear why we can sometimes become so frustrated when trying to work together on a project, and now we are able to talk through these things to make the most of both of our gifts.  

    Energy Profiling has allowed us to discuss aspects of ourselves that we may have never even quite understood ourselves. In doing so, our marriage has grown stronger and our family life has improved.

    Did having kids change your relationship? Have you improved your marriage this year? What Energy Type are you?

    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Energy Profiling has been such a fantastic resource for my family that I have signed up as an affiliate for the Energy Profiling System. The initial Energy Profiling Course is free, but if you go on to purchase related products, I will earn a small commission (while your price remains the same). Thanks for supporting this site!

    Saturday, September 27, 2014

    Pumpkin Crumble (gluten-free : nutrient-dense)



    Fall is arriving amid cool mornings and rainy days. We watch as the black-chinned hummingbirds become plump in advance of their southerly migration. The prolific doves, who usually move singularly or in small groups, are gathering in large flocks that swoop overhead.

    We mist ourselves with lemongrass and lavender oils to repel the pesky mosquitoes; the lovely smell of this repellent has come to signal the winding down of the long summer days. The long-ripening winter squash are reaching fruition, and hence my children have garnered two orange globes from a friend's garden. Pie pumpkins have arrived.

    Pumpkin Crumble
    Serves 8
    1. One trick to making a crispy crumble topping is to make sure that the butter stays cold.  Keep the butter in the fridge until just before you are going to use it.
    2. Combine the pumpkin puree with milk, syrup, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk or mix with a hand mixer until well-combined.
    3. In a small bowl, combine the sucanat, 3 Tb coconut flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and spices. Whisk to combine. Mix these dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.
    4. Grease an 8X8 square glass baking dish with a bit of butter.  Pour in the pumpkin mixture.
    5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    6. Chop the cold butter into approximately 1/2-inch cubes.  Place the chopped butter in the fridge to stay cold while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
    7. Combine the remaining crumble topping ingredients in a medium-large bowl and stir to combine.
    8. Add the chopped butter to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until there is a uniform, crumbly consistency. Note: a food processor does not work very well for this recipe, so use a pastry cutter or two knives instead.
    9. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the pumpkin mixture in the baking dish.
    10. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, until the topping has reached a medium brown color.
    11. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
    12. Serve warm or cold. Sweetened whipped cream (recipe follows) or vanilla ice cream are fantastic served alongside pumpkin crumble.
    13. Refrigerate any leftovers. 
     *You can read about why I use white rice flour instead of brown rice flour in this archived post.  

    Sweetened Whipped Cream

    1. Beat the cream and salt together until the mixture starts to get thick and fluffy.  I like to use my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, but you could also use a hand mixer.
    2. Add the vanilla extract, and drizzle in the honey while the mixer is running.  Alternatively, you could drizzle in the honey a little at a time and mix between each honey addition. 
    3. If you're using a stand mixer, use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure you don't have any clumps of honey at the bottom.  I like to beat it until it gets a bit stiff since it will tend to soften up a bit in the fridge over the next few days.
    4. Store the whipped cream in the fridge in an airtight bowl.
    **If your raw honey is very crystallized, place it over a bowl of warm water to make it a bit runny.


     

    What are your favorite ways to use pumpkins?

     

    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    Top 10 Storebought Body and Hair Care Products

    I love to use homemade body and hair care products, but my husband still prefers some storebought products.  And, since there isn't enough time to make everything, there are some products I have never even tried to make (such as soap). These are our favorite storebought body and hair products. I'll talk about my favorite homemade body and hair care products in a future post.

    Skin Care Products

    1. Coconut and Papaya Bar Soap
    I always thought I hated bar soaps. All of them would leave my skin feeling stripped and dry. But then a couple years ago I was given a bar of Coconut and Papaya Soap as a gift, and realized I was wrong.  This soap has a wonderful, light scent, a smooth, foamy lather, and it does not dry out my skin!  Now I use this soap in my every-other-day showers and in the soap dishes by our bathroom sinks.

    2. California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash 
    My husband and son have rather sensitive skin with a tendency to eczema, and in the past they have had skin reactions to soaps and laundry detergents. It took a lot of trial and error to find California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash, which works for everyone in the family with no skin reactions.

    We have been using California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash for over 6 years now. My son's chronic eczema has now been cured through homeopathy, and my husband's eczema has gotten better and better as he continues his homeopathic treatment.  Nonetheless, we still use this soap.

    I use this soap as a gentle facial soap. My husband uses this soap as an all-over bodywash and shampoo. I also add a squirt or two of this soap under running water to make bubbles for my kids' baths, which they use to wash themselves with. This soap is sold at Target for cheaper than it can be found online.
     
    3. Unrefined Coconut Oil
    I love using unrefined coconut oil as a moisturizer. I coconut oil as a daily light facial moisturizer as well as for all over my body after showering. Click here to see my tips for using coconut oil as a moisturizer. My favorite brands of unrefined coconut oil (which I use for body care as well as cooking) are Spectrum and Dr. Bronner's, and the best prices for these are at our local healthfood co-op. 

    4. California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion
    My husband's preferred moisturizer is California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion. He has been using this lotion on his sensitive skin for over 6 years.  We used this lotion on our daughter when she was a newborn (back before we realized that kids don't need baths daily; now they hardly ever need to use lotion at all since they aren't bathing daily). I used this lotion as a facial moisturizer for years, until I started using coconut oil.  I currently use this lotion occasionally at times when I need a lotion that will absorb quickly.

     

    Deodorants

    My husband and I stopped using conventional antiperspirants many years ago, when we learned how unhealthy antiperspirants can be. Through lots of trial and error, we have both found deodorants that work for us.

    5. Alvera Aloe and Almonds Deodorant
    For some reason, my body chemistry has always reacted to scents. Back in high school when I first tried wearing perfume, I was always disappointed that shortly after applying perfume the scent would change to not smelling very good.  I have the same problem with many deodorants.

    But I love Alvera Aloe and Almonds deodorant. I've been using this deodorant for over 5 years. The fragrance is fantastic, and it stays smelling good all day. This is not an antiperspirant (which is good from a health standpoint), so I do still sweat while using this deodorant. But it does make my sweat smell very good.

    6. Bubble and Bee Pit Putty Cream Deodorant
    My husband's favorite deodorant for the last few years has been Pit Putty Cream. He prefers the Spearmint and Tea Tree scent, and I love it's refreshing scent. (Being a short person myself, I do get to have a sniff of this deodorant whenever I hug my husband.) Pit Putty Cream contains arrowroot powder which will absorb small amounts of sweat, so I have used this deodorant occasionally when I needed to prevent sweat rings under my arms with dress shirts. 

     

    Hair Products

    I use homemade shampoo, conditioner, and hairspray (which will be included in my upcoming list of Top 10 Homemade Body and Hair Care Products), but there are a couple of storebought hair care products that I use as well.  

    7. Argan Oil
    Argan oil is renowned for its moisturizing properties. Even though it is an oil, Argan oil is very lightweight and does not leave any greasy sheen. Many people use Argan oil as a facial moisturizer, and it is reputed to be anti-aging.  I'm sticking with coconut oil for my face, but I do like to use Argan oil for my hair.

    I use a very small amount (one or two drops) of Argan oil after my every-other-day shower. I simply rub the oil on my fingertips and then apply it to the ends of my towel-dried hair. Argan oil helps keep my hair shiny, moisturized, and smooth. Argan oil is very pricey, but I use such a small amount that I have used less than half a bottle in 6 months (and that includes the time I accidentally knocked the bottle over and spilled some).
     
    8. Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion 
    This is a very lightweight product that contains essential oils, and it has a watery consistency.  I use it because it reduces frizz and flyaways in my very fine, wavy hair. After applying Argan oil to the ends of my hair, I apply a small amount of Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion all over, and then I scrunch my hair and let it air dry.

    Toothpaste

    In addition to the homemade tooth cleaners I discussed previously, we enjoy using the following two storebought toothpastes. Because my family is hypersensitive, we need to avoid using mint toothpastes as they can interfere with our homeopathic remedies, and that rules out most toothpastes on the market. However, these two options work well for us and are glycerin-free.

    9. Lemon EarthPaste
    Earthpaste is a non-foaming toothpaste based on Redmond Clay (which is rich in more than 60 trace minerals that may aid in tooth remineralization). I had heard of Earthpaste before, but only ever saw flavors such as cinnamon, which I am not fond of. However, I randomly saw lemon-flavored Earthpaste in the children's section of our healthfood co-op a few months ago, and decided to give it a try.  We love it!

    10. Coral Kids Toothpaste
    On days when I would like to have the classic foaming-toothpaste experience, I use Coral Kids Toothpaste.  We used Mint-Flavored Coral White toothpaste back before we started our homeopathic treatment, but with out mint sensitivity that option is currently ruled out.  But now we can use the Coral Kids version instead. It tastes great, and people who want something more "normal" will like it just fine.  This toothpaste also contains minerals such as calcium which may help in tooth remineralization.

    What are your favorite storebought body and haircare products?

    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

    Saturday, September 13, 2014

    3 Essential Homeopathic Remedies For Cold and Flu Season


    As cold and flu season arrives, there are three homeopathic remedies that are crucial to have on-hand. When used properly, these remedies can quickly stop an illness from worsening and, in many cases, completely cure the illness within a short time period. Homeopathic remedies work by stimulating the body to cure the underlying cause of the symptoms, and they do so without side effects.

    These three remedies are useful at the beginning of a cold/flu, when the symptoms are still developing. In my experience, most colds and flus can be completely aborted with the use of one of these remedies if given within the first 24 hours of the illness. Once the illness has progressed past the initial stages, these remedies lose their wide applicability. After the first day or two of the illness, success through homeopathic treatment relies upon choosing a remedy that matches the specific signs and symptoms each ill individual, as discussed below in the section titled, "What About After the First 24-48 Hours?"

    Three Remedies to Have On-Hand

    When choosing which of these three remedies to use for a cold or flu, it is important to match the illness to the remedy based on the characteristics described below.
    • Aconite (Aconitum Napellus) 30c is the remedy to use for an illness that is coming on rapidly with strong symptoms. Often (but not always) this type of illness comes on after exposure to cool winds and/or fright. Sometimes the symptoms will also include fearfulness (such as being scared of death, darkness, animals, etc). When I've had this type of illness, the symptoms seem to become fully developed in about an hour, starting from breathing normally to being completely stuffed up and sneezing in that short amount of time. One or occasionally two-to-three doses of Aconite are all that have been required to make the symptoms completely resolve with no further illness. When used in this way, Aconite is very effective if used in the first 24 hours of the illness. 

    • Ferrum Phos 30c is the remedy of choice for a cold that is not coming on so strongly or quickly as the Aconite-type illness. (If there is fearfulness, though, I always go with the Aconite instead of the Ferrum Phos.) I've used Ferrum Phos successfully for the type of cold that just comes on throughout the day, starting with perhaps some sniffles or a mild sore throat, and slowly progressing over multiple hours. Most commonly, I find that the illness will resolve within 2 to 4 doses of Ferrum Phos, taken every 1-4 hours (depending on the severity of the illness, remedies can be taken more or less frequently). This is another remedy whose beneficial action is most effective if used during the first 24 hours of the illness. 

    • Oscillococcinum (also known as Anas Barbariae) 200c is the remedy to use when the illness has flu-like symptoms, such as body aches, fever, or just a general feeling of being “off” and not quite right. This remedy is sold differently than the others; it comes in a white box that has several small tubes of remedy inside. Although the box says to take one full tube as a dose, that is generally much more remedy than is necessary. We can easily get 5-10 doses from just one tube. Oscillococcinum is also sold in a higher potency than the others as it is usually sold as a 200c (instead of the 30c as with the others). The rule of thumb on 200c potencies is that they need to be used less frequently than 30c's. I use 200c potencies no more than 2-3 times a day, and if there is no obvious improvement within two doses, I stop using the remedy. Oscillococcinum is for use during the first 48 hours of illness only, after which it loses its efficacy.

     

    Proper Dosing

    One of the biggest mistakes that people often make when they first start using homeopathy for acute illnesses is taking remedies too often.  Homeopathic remedies should not be used in a mechanical fashion, such as "take this every 4-6 hours for 7 days". With all homeopathic remedies, the least number of doses is always the best plan.  

    Anytime there is obvious improvement happening, the best policy is to stop taking the remedy and then watch-and-wait.  Taking too much remedy can actually interfere with the curative action of the remedy, or in some cases cause a full relapse. Once the remedy has stimulated the body to cure itself, and the body is showing signs of definite improvement, the remedy should be stopped. No more remedy should be taken unless it is indicated by a regression in symptoms or a plateau (where the symptoms stay the same for several hours).

     

    Antidotes and Handling

    Whenever homeopathic remedies are being used, certain substances should be avoided because they can antidote the remedies.  The following are best avoided while using homeopathic remedies:
    • mint (including mint tea and toothpaste)
    • camphor/menthol (including Vick's VapoRub, Tiger Balm, cough drops, etc)
    • coffee or decaf coffee (tea is fine to consume in moderation)
    • any substance that causes a change in the nervous system (such as alcohol, recreational drugs, etc)
    • over-the-counter and prescription medications (always talk to your doctor before stopping any prescription medication)
    • skin medicines (such as cortisone cream)
    Additionally, homeopathic medicines should be taken with a neutral mouth (no taste or smell of previous food/drink), which usually means at least 10-20 minutes after eating.  No food or drink should be taken within 10-15 minutes after taking each dose of the remedy.

    Care should be taken handle the remedies properly by:
    • not touching the remedy with your hands
    • storing the remedy away from sunlight, strong odors, and heat
    • not opening the remedy in a room with strong smells (such as herbs, cooking smells, etc)

     

    What About After the first 24-48 hours?

    The three remedies listed above work wonderfully in the first 24-48 hours of illness, but after that time homeopathic remedy selection is not quite so simple. Homeopathy can still work wonderfully after the first 24-48 hours of an illness, but the remedy has to be selected to match the very specific symptoms that have developed.

    For instance, some remedies work better for burning heat and high fevers, whereas other remedies work better for low-grade fevers; some remedies work well for illnesses that feel better while lying down, while others work for illnesses where the patient feels best outside. Being able to select the proper remedy at such a time requires a good knowledge-base or at least some very good reference books on-hand. Some of my favorite reference books for relatively quick remedy selection in acute illnesses are:

     Have you tried homeopathic remedies for acute illnesses?


    Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or licensed healthcare professional. I am a homeopathic practitioner whose services are considered complementary and alternative by the state of New Mexico. The uses of homeopathic remedies described herein are provided for educational use only.



    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

    Monday, September 8, 2014

    Hot Fudge Sauce (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

    As a special treat, my husband requested hot fudge sundaes. I was excited to develop this recipe for hot fudge sauce with simple ingredients that I always have on-hand. The results are fantastic: rich, creamy fudge sauce that is perfect on vanilla ice cream. This recipe is so delicious that you'll be licking the spoon and trying to find other things to dip in chocolate. Yup, it's great on strawberries and bananas too!

    Hot Fudge Sauce
    • 1 cup soy-free chocolate chips
    • 4 Tb whole milk, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 3 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 1 Tb sucanat
    • 1/2 tsp organic or homemade vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp celtic sea salt
    1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
    2. Melt over very low heat, whisking frequently. 
    3. Continue to whisk occasionally until the sauce is velvety smooth. 
    4. Drizzle over ice cream or fruit. Enjoy!
    5. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Re-warm gently before serving. Consume within a week.


    Friday, September 5, 2014

    A Homeschooling Desert Walk

    One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the freedom to throw the plan out the window. This morning, we awoke to a cool, moist morning after rains last night. Since we live in the hot, dry desert, a cool and moist morning is a real treat for us at this time of year.






















    Instead of our planned schooling, we went for a walk in the desert. We observed many different wildflowers and the proliferation of plants where a few weeks ago there had been just sand. We descended into the arroyo (dry creek bed) where the moist sand was perfect for the kids to build little castles and volcanoes while I journaled in my nature notebook and drew a few plants. 

    We saw ladybugs mating, which spurred an impromptu discussion of reproduction. My daughter sighted one jackrabbit bounding away while my son played with a little black beetle. Then we collected a few of the numerous flowers, watched cactus wrens hopping and screeching, and returned home sandy but happy.

    Once home, we learned more about ladybugs: life cycle, anatomy, and reproduction. By this time little brother was ready to move on to his usual car play, as big sister and I practiced drawing ladybugs with increasing levels of detail.

    I love homeschool and the freedom to create our own curriculum that goes with the flow of life.

    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Changing Facial Growth by Changing Oral Posture

    The following is a guest post by Brian Hockel, DDS. After I wrote my post about Alternatives to Conventional Braces, Brian contacted me to inform me about an orthodontic method called Orthotropics®. Because Orthotropics® is so relevant to the topic of using orthodontics to encourage facial growth, I asked Brian to write a guest post about it.

    When the facial growth of a child is not keeping up with the genetic potential, both jaws tend to be down and back from their ideal positions in the face. The appearance and the airway function are both affected. This isn't really caused by genetic factors so much as by environmental factors - specifically the posture of the mouth when at rest. Normal mouth posture is: lips together, teeth together in or near light contact, and the tongue firmly against the palate from front to back. When this optimal posture is present, the face will grow forward horizontally, as opposed to downward vertically. What's more, the airway will be more open, the teeth will be straight, and the teeth will have plenty of room! Historically, the problems of too much vertical growth, insufficient room for all 32 teeth (even the wisdom teeth), and the small airways which are prone to sleep apnea are ALL more recent developments. Before the Industrial Revolution, these problems were mainly limited to the aristocratic classes whose food was more refined and cooked. It is also thought that the move away from on-demand breast-feeding and the use of mushy baby food, bottles and pacifiers also contribute to the development of poor oral posture and muscle tone.



    This is where Orthotropics® comes in. The goal of Orthotropics® is both to improve oral posture and function, and to convert adverse vertical growth of the face into optimal horizontal growth. This is good for appearance, good for the jaw joints, and especially good for the airway. John Remmers, MD, the sleep specialist who coined the term, "Obstructive Sleep Apnea" (OSA) said that it is a structural disease, and that if the jaws grew to their proper position in the face we would not have the disease. There's lots of other science to support this.

    Appliances used for Orthotropics® (either the Biobloc or the Adapt-LRG) are very different from pre-formed or custom Functional Orthodontic Appliances. The Functional Appliances attach the lower jaw to the upper in the often misguided hopes that the lower jaw will move forward.This would include all appliances, pre-formed or custom-made, which bring the lower jaw forward by means of connecting together the upper and lower teeth/jaws, allowing a "head-gear," or pulling backward, effect on the upper teeth/jaw. This isn't to say that Functional Appliances appliances won't work to straighten teeth. They can actually do that very well. But the cost of straight teeth using these appliances is often an adverse reciprocal effect of pulling back on the upper jaw and teeth. And the result of such movement can be a risk to the airway - a risk that many doctors refuse to take. Research and experience both show that these appliances risk pulling the upper jaw even further back from its (most likely) already-too-far-back position. This only compounds the original problem, and does not address either the underlying cause of the adverse growth (rest oral posture) nor the resulting structural damage. If the lower jaw comes forward with Functional Appliances, it is a minimal amount, and the upper is sadly pulled back in a way that ultimately limits the potential for forward movement of the lower jaw - even if these appliances would bring it forward. In contrast, Orthotropics® treatment brings both jaws forward when the child fully cooperates.

    Orthotropics® treatment uses the appliances as only a part of the overall treatment regimen. Remember, the goals of Orthotropics® are twofold: modify the skeletal structure AND optimize the oral posture. Accomplishing these goals encompasses much more than simply a discussion of the appliances.

    Orthotropics® is among the most difficult treatment options because it requires serious cooperation on the part of the child. It's also a challenge for the parents. I know, having done it for seven of my eleven kids. For example, the child must wear an appliance that guides his jaw into a correct position, without forcing him or her to do so. It is by voluntary formation of a habit that the child learns to hold the closed-mouth posture. Except for eating, brushing, most sports, and singing, the teeth should stay in contact. Even while speaking, the habit of keeping the teeth together must be formed. So it's not going to ever catch on as the "next greatest thing," especially when the motivation of many practitioners is to minimize necessary doctor time.

    Even still, thanks to the teaching efforts of Dr. Bill Hang (www.facefocused.com), Orthotropics® has not, and hopefully will not, die out. Dr. John Mew of England is the originator of the principles and the practice of Orthotropics®. He and his son Mike teach the technique in London and around the world, and Mike has put together the website www.orthotropics.com. Almost everyone you see in the North American map of practitioners on the website for our North American group, the NAAFO, (www.orthotropics-na.org) was trained by Dr. Hang. The Biobloc is the name of the training appliance developed by Dr. Mew that is used most commonly, but a newer appliance called the Adapt-LGR has recently been introduced by Dr. Hang. There's no magic wire in any of the appliances, and the principles can be applied without having to use only certain appliances. Until the Adapt-LG, however, no appliance beside the Biobloc has fit the requirements.

    Dentists and orthodontists might be misled into thinking that, if they only order the right appliance, they will be able to do Orthotropics®. This would be a huge mistake, as extensive training is required to avoid the many "beginner" mistakes that would follow such an approach. Many doctors have done exactly that over the past forty years that John Mew has taught Orthotropics®.

    Before the ages when Orthotropics® is appropriate, and after the age when it's no longer possible, there are few alternatives to accomplish similar goals. Breathing and Myofunctional Therapy are options that can help. While the British practitioners say, "Eight is too late," most practitioners treat until later than that. By the time a child is ten, eleven or twelve, the ability to cooperate begins to diminish exponentially, and the treatment results are often not rewarding enough to justify the heroic efforts required. If sleep apnea is present beyond this point, surgical interventions may be the only way to optimally position the jaws in the face and eliminate the airway restriction. Given that alternative, the challenges and rewards of Orthotropics® are often the choice of motivated parents and their children.

    Brian Hockel, DDS
    www.hockel.com