Weight Loss Doesn’t Start with Exercise

Weight Loss Exercise

Throughout social media sites and groups I have seen far too many women looking for advice on how to fit exercise in their busy schedule because they have a lot of weight to lose.

Honestly, I cringe every time I read one of these posts from a seemingly well meaning and desperate woman. I commend everyone that recognizes they have weight to lose and that it is affecting their energy levels and daily activity. I am also thankful for each and every person who is ready to start taking control of their weight, health, and happiness.

If this is you and you have some weight to lose to feel better, have more energy, and begin to embrace life again then this is for you. Your weight loss, your neighbors weight loss, your best friend’s weight loss down not start with exercise. Exercise is not the be all end all to dropping weight, finding your long lost energy, and fitting in to clothes you haven’t worn in years. Exercise is the icing on top of the cake of eating cleaner and healthier.

Unless you clean up your eating habits, what I call your healthy eating lifestyle you will not lose the weight needed to reclaim your health. If you rely solely on exercise with may be a little bit of “healthy” food thrown in every now and then, your weight will continue to fluctuate. You will not get off of that yo-yo on weight loss until you first commit to making a change in your food choices.

Plain and simply, your diet heavy in animal proteins, sugar, and gluten is not helping your waistline or internal health. I know it isn’t what you want to hear but it is the truth. No, not even the lean protein you had for dinner last night is going to make a difference in your long term health.

Why? Because unless you make concrete changes to eliminate animal proteins and sugar from your diet the weight will come back when you stop exercising. Exercise comes and goes depending on our season of life. Your food choices do not have to change with the weather. Also, if you have thyroid problems you need to seriously consider eliminating gluten from your diet to begin the road of healing that very important gland.

weight loss freedom

When you are ready to make a change in your health for the better, start with your food choices, not exercise. Exercise needs to come after you adjust to your new eating lifestyle. If you are anything like me, my family, or my vegan friends you will begin to drop weight quickly as soon as you begin living a clean and healthy vegan life. I’m busy, I have seven children, homeschool, and am actively growing this blog. Exercise doesn’t always fit in my schedule, frankly it hardly ever does as of recently. However, I am still maintaining the lowest weight I’ve been at in nearly 7 years because of the lifestyle I live. I am not just preaching to you about weight loss and how reducing animal proteins and sugar in your diets is the healthiest way to live, I live, eat, and breathe this lifestyle everyday.

If you want to lose weight, look at the foods you eat and the sugary drinks you consume first. Exercise can come after the changes in your eating habits. You will lose more weight that you expect from simply changing the way you eat.

15 High Speed Blender Recipes

15 High Speed Blender Recipes

*This post contains affiliate links. Your purchases through my affiliate links help support this website and the time and effort it takes me to research and write to bring you helpful and educational posts so that you can live a healthier life. Thank you.*

There are a few small appliances in my kitchen that I consider absolute necessities; my Vita-mix is at the top of that list. I’ve used and abused my precious blender over the past few years and it is still going as strong as the first day I bought it. I use it so often that it really should have a spot of it’s own on my kitchen counter, but alas I have a pet peeve about cluttered counters so it is relegated to a cabinet between uses.

The uses for a high speed blender such as the Vita-mix are nearly limitless. Not only can you quickly whip up a delicious protein shake for breakfast but you can also enjoy an afternoon smoothie treat or a hot and steaming soup for dinner. A high quality, high speed blender can truly be used at every meal and in between for snacks.

The cost may be prohibitive for some at first glance. However, if you stop to consider how long the less expensive blenders last, how quickly the glass blender breaks or the plastic ones crack, what a hassle they are to clean, and how limited they are in their uses when compared to a high speed blender the cost isn’t such a factor anymore. Cut out a few speciality coffees from your neighborhood coffee shop and you will have enough saved for a new high speed blender in no time!

I love my Vita-Mix so much that I will be adding the dry container to my kitchen arsenal very soon. The dry container is great for grinding grains into flour, chopping nuts, or any other drop chopping need you might have in your kitchen. My countertop chopper just isn’t cutting it anymore with my large family and the volume of chopping I need to do to feed my crew healthy whole foods.

I’ve gathered 15 of my favorite recipes from fellow bloggers that can be easily made in your Vita-mix or other high speed blender. You might remember the ginger and turmeric carrot soup from a few weeks ago, it has been a hit since the day it posted.

carrot soup

Soups
Ginger & Tumeric Carrot Soup from Health Matters. Life Matters.

Drinks & Smoothies
Collection of Smoothies from Eat Better Spend Less
Cucumber Mint Smoothie from Mama Likes to Cook
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (sugar and dairy free) from Intoxicated on Life
Easy Cucumber Lemonade from Mama Likes to Cook
Berrylicious Dairy/Sugar Free Coconut Milkshake from Intoxicated on Life
Homemade Organic Apple Juice from Managing Your Blessings
Homemade Strawberry Guava Juice from Managing Your Blessings
Sugar Free Orange Sorbet from Rhonda Sue

Hummus
Hummus without Tahini from Marriage Motherhood and Missions
Classic Homemade Hummus from Intoxicated on Life
Simple Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from Mama Likes to Cook

Spreads & Dressings
Easy Miso Salad Dressing from Mama Likes to Cook
Butter in a Vitamix from Bless Your Heart and Home
Honey Pecan Butter from A Tipical Day

Fun Outdoor Activities and Healthy Snack Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List

No matter where you live, summer is the season for outdoor fun in the sun. This is the time of year when precious memories are made during family vacations and backyard get-togethers with friends.

Make the most of this summer by creating a summer bucket list. Bucket lists are a great way to make sure you do and see everything you would like to accomplish this summer. Of course summer fun isn’t complete without healthy and delicious snacks. Here is my summer bucket list of fun outdoor activities and the snacks that I plan to accompany each event.

Today I am guest posting over at Ashley Pichea, please join me there to read my complete list of 20 Fun Outdoor Activities and Healthy Snacks to put on your summer bucket list.

Ginger & Tumeric Carrot Soup

carrot soup

 

I have an over abundance of organic carrots right now because I accidentally ordered 50# from Azure Standard last month. My mouth about dropped when our driver unloaded two 25# bags and they both had my name on it. Surely I thought there had been a mistake in their warehouse, nope the mistake rested squarely on my shoulders.

So after pawning off as many carrots as I could earlier this month and taking one entire 25# bag to my mother-in-laws for her horses I still had a large bag of carrots filling up my spare refrigerator. What ever was I going to do with all of those carrots?

Then it dawned on me! Carrot soup.

I knew it was going to have to be extra special carrot soup in order for my family to enjoy it and maybe even request second helpings. So I set to work one afternoon with my vegetable peeler in hand and got to work.

For a family my size, nine of us in total, I peeled five pounds of those beta carotene packed vitamin sticks. Unfortunately, I also clogged our garbage disposal in the meantime with the peels. My husband wasn’t too thrilled about that one. Note to self, do not put peels down the drain, potato, carrot or otherwise. Thankfully, the end result of my peeling was well received by my husband so he has forgiven me for my careless mistake.

After I finished making the soup and we all sat down for dinner I cautiously awaited the final verdict on this new recipe. I think one of my three year old twins summed it up best when she said “nummy soup Mommy” and my two year old son said “more, Mommy, more”.

 

Cure Swimmer’s Ear Naturally

All seven of my children come by swimming naturally, we live in a climate that is warm and sunny over 300 days of the year. My husband and I also put a huge emphasis on learning to swim from a very early age.

We were fortunate to find a swim program that teaches kids to swim as early as 18 months when our oldest boys were very young. Each of our children have gone through these classes as soon as they were old enough. Water safety is of a huge importance in our family.

Needless to say during the warm summer months my family and I are poolside more often then not. However, I have one one that struggles with swimmers ear.

Swimmers Ear

According to the Mayo Clinic, swimmers ear is defined as an infection in the outer ear canal. It is often times brought on by water remaining in the ear canal providing a moist environment perfect for bacterial growth.

If I can avoid antibiotics I will. Swimmers ear is a perfect case for treating the infection naturally without the use of Western medicine. I always closely monitor how my son’s ear is feeling when he mentions his ear is hurting after swimming. If I am unable to treat the swimmers ear at home of course I won’t hesitate to take my son to the doctor but there is a time and place for treating cases such as his at home.

Essential oils are always my go to for treating a wide plethora of conditions. To date I’ve been able to easily treat my son’s swimmers ear with essential oils and homemade ointment.

My favorite essential oil recipe for treating swimmers ear is a mixture of chamomile roman, red thyme, and tea tree oil mixed with ointment. I then place a bit of essential oil and ointment mixture in my son’s affected ear and close with a small bit of cotton ball. My son leaves it in his ear for 1-2 hours and carefully removes the ointment after that time.

1/2 ounce homemade ointment
10 drops chamomile roman
4 drops thyme
4 drops tea tree oil

Mix oils then combine with homemade ointment.

Homemade Natural Ointment

Let me just get this out in the open from the very beginning, I loathe the commercially available vegetable ointment. You know the stuff, it comes in a rectangle container and has been around forever.

*This post may contain affiliate links. These links help support this website, thank you for your support*

Ointment

While the most popular petroleum jelly is made with USP white petrolatum, which according to most sources is safe. There are numerous brands available that are made with petroleum with questionable manufacturing processes. Some sources even caution to stay away from all petroleum sources because it’s carcinogenic affects have not been proven.

Seriously, who would want to slather this on their body? I haven’t purchased petroleum based ointment in years. Instead I opt for this natural recipe free of chemicals and preservatives.

1T bees wax
4T organic extra virgin olive oil

In a double boiler (or small glass bowl placed over a medium sauce pan with a small amount of water) melt the bees wax. When bees wax has melted, add olive oil 1T at a time. Stir constantly until mixed. Cool and store in a heat proof sealed container (small Pyrex bowl is my favorite).

Once cooled you can add your favorite essential oils or use plain as you would normally use the well known vegetable based ointment.

Chewy Puffed Kamut & Millet Bars

 

kamut bars

Commercially produced protein bars are packed with nearly everything but protein. The ones that do have a bit of protein include “fake” protein and not the raw real protein that God intended for our bodies. My children, like most, are attracted to the fancy marketing and labeling of store bought protein bars. Over the years though, they learned to read labels and now understand why we don’t eat those type of protein bars. In a search for a quick and easy snack that my family can grab on the go when hunger strikes I came up with this chewy protein bar recipe that never sticks around long in our house. The beauty of this recipe is that you can add a wide variety mix-ins to suit your preferences.

Directions:

2 cups organic puffed kamut
1 cup puffed millet
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey
1T cocoa powder, optional
pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, optional

Ingredients:
Grease an 8×8 pan. In a medium bowl add kamut and millet. In a small saucepan over medium heat mix honey and peanut butter until warm and fluid. Quickly mix the peanut butter mixture with the cereal. When thoroughly mixed press into the 8×8 pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set, cut into bars when ready. If you would like to add cocoa powder add in the peanut butter mixture and mix as usual. If you would like to have seeds in your bars, add to the cereal and mix with peanut butter mixture as usual.

Vegan Cheese Alternatives

vegan cheese

When you live a vegan lifestyle there a few things that you just have to do without. Well, at least until you come up with or find a recipe to replace the commercially available non-vegan alternative. When my family and I first started eating vegan, cutting out all animal products from our diet, cheese was something we just eliminated. I avoided every recipe I found that called for cheese, found other snack options for my incessantly hungry toddlers, and essentially resolved to the fact that we just wouldn’t enjoy cream sauces or cheese dip platters. The benefit of our health was worth the sacrifice and honestly if I hadn’t of found the vegan cheese alternatives listed below we would still be “cheese less” and just as healthy. Now however, our range of recipes and taste options is just a big larger because of these amazing cheese replacement options.

Here are the three vegan cheese alternatives I use in my home most frequently:

  1. Cashew Cream: Unlike other lists of this kind I am putting my most favorite, delicious, and versatile option first. Honestly, the day I made my first batch of cashew cream time stood still. I was in awe of how delicious something so simple could taste. I use cashew cream anywhere I need a creamy texture or a cheese like spread. You can blend the soaked cashews into just a simple cream and add it to sauces or curries for a cream sauce. Add a hefty spoonful on top of noodles for an alfredo sauce. Or better yet, add some lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and salt for a vegan sour cream. Spread this sour cream on top of baked potato slices and top with cilantro, viola you have a delicious appetizer. Cashew cream is so incredibly simple to make, you will kick yourself for not thinking of it earlier. Simple soak your cashews in filtered water over night (or in HOT water for 1 hour if short on time). Place in a high speed blender or food processor and cover slightly with water. Blend until creamy and smooth. Nothing more and nothing less. You will end up with a cream that is so smooth and delicious! You can thank me later or throw donations my way.
  2. Vegan cheese: If you’ve been a vegan for more than a couple of days surely you have already seen the vegan cheese options in your local grocery or health food store. This option does not act completely like non-vegan cheese but when you need a crumbly cheese alternative these are pretty tasty options. I use vegan cheese in sweet potato enchiladas and any other dish where I want cheese but have to bake the dish. Thankfully, most of the larger bands of vegan cheese are not full of nasty chemicals which you might initially expect. When eaten on occasion, this is a great option not laden with nasty fillers and additives.
  3. Nutritional Yeast: Truth be told before switching to a vegan lifestyle I had never heard of nutritional yeast. Honestly, doesn’t the name sound a bit odd and offensive. Why would anyone want to possibly eat something that sounds so repulsive? Oh but wait until you’ve tried it. You will regret waiting so long to enjoy its amazing flavor. What exactly is nutritional yeast? Well friends, it is simple an inactive yeast. What it lacks in simplicity though it makes up for in taste. It has a nutty cheesy taste and is amazing on popcorn, garlic bread, added to soups, stir-fry veggies,  or on top of pasta. You might find nutritional yeast in your health food store labeled as nutritional yeast flakes or powder or even as savory yeast if you live outside of the United States. Nutritional yeast is also a great source of B12 which is an important vitamin for vegans.

So, whether you are a long-time vegan or are contemplating making the change in your lifestyle cheese taste is not something you have to do without. What are some of your favorite dishes that include vegan cheese options?

Maple Almond Butter

Almond Butter

In my journey towards health and cleaner eating the last thing I expected was to give up peanuts and peanut butter. There are no peanut or tree nut allergies in our family. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were staples in my own childhood as well as for my older children when they were little. So why give up peanuts? They have served us all so well over the years.

The answer is simple, mold that produces a cancer causing toxin known as aflatoxin. Aspergillus and A.parasiticus are 2 strains of mold that produce alfatoxin in warm humid climates and silos. Peanuts are not the only carrier of these molds, soy beans, corn, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and even milk have been shown to carry these mold strains. Peanuts are of particular concern for a few reasons; the first of which is the sheer amount of peanuts and peanut butter that Americans consume everyday. This raises the exposure levels to aflatoxin. Second is the nutritional value of peanuts. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is not favorable in peanuts. There are other nuts and legumes available with a better fatty acid profile which make a better choice when snacking or preparing nut butters. Lastly, we just do no know how much exposure to aflatoxin is safe. 20 parts per billion is the current “safe” level for food inspection purposes, but is this really enough and what does long term exposure at these levels cause if anything? You should also know that “fresh” ground peanut butter from health food stores contain a higher level of aflatoxin than the “junk” food type of peanut butters such as “Jif” and “Skippy”.

So long story short, this is why i switched my family from peanut butter to organic homemade almond butter. Not just any almond butter mind you, this is pure spreadable creamy maple almond butter goodness. With a family of 9, the sheer amount of almond butter that I make every week might cause the demise of my large capacity food processor. She is holding steady for now though, thankfully.

Once you make your own almond butter at home you will never go back! It is simple and not full of the preservatives, salt, and other junk that commercial brans pour into their nut butters.

Almond Butter_3

Maple Almond Butter

Ingredients:
2 cups raw organic almonds
1T organic hemp hearts
1T organic chia seeds
2T organic golden flax seeds
6T organic grade B maple syrup
1tsp organic cinnamon
2T organic light olive oil

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 275F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine all ingredients and stir well.
  • Evenly spread almond mixture on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 25-30min. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  • Place cooled almond mixture in a food processor. Do not use your high powered blender for this, I’ve heard of too many motors burning out after trying to break down just one batch of nut butters.
  • Process until nuts break down into a fine mixture with their own oils. You may have to stop your food processor a few times during this process to scrape down the sides and break up the nut mixture so it blends evenly.
  • Add olive oil and cinnamon. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Almond Butter_2

Essential Oils 101: The Basics

Essential Oils

*This post contains affiliate links. These links help support this page and my family. Thank you for your support.*

The basics of a healthy home include items such as healthy and nutritious foods, safe cleaning supplies, herbs, homeopathy, and aromatherapy with organic essential oils.

Personally, I have been using organic essential oils in my home and with my family for years. I started with just a few of the more popular EOs like lavender and peppermint. Then as I learned more about the benefits of essential oils I began branching out trying new oils and eventually making my own blends. Essential oils are still very misunderstood and many people underestimate or discount their healing and amazing cleaning powers in a healthy home.

The Basic Properties of Essential Oils

“All who know the pure product and use it with understanding come to respect the essential oils. Once cannot but admire their ability to populate effectively not only on the cellular, physical level, but in the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic area of our lives also.” The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood pg. 2

Essential oils are complex bundles or pure perfection gifted to us by nature. An essential oil on average is comprised of over 100 components. The main components include terpenes, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones, phenols, and numerous others yet to be discovered by technology. Because the chief components of essential oils are easily replicated in a chemistry laboratory, there are those that think reconstituted (created in a lab) oils are just as effective as pure essential oils from natural sources. This simply isn’t true. You must make sure that the source of your oils is pure and unaltered. Oils are not simply used for their smell, the healing properties of essential oils can not be copied by man. Pure essential oils contain the same basic building blocks as our own bodies which make them noninvasive, nontoxic, and ideal for healing. Pure essential oils also do not interfere with the heat and electromagnetism of our cells which further contributes to our natural healing processes.

Sources of Origin in Nature

There are over 300 essential oils currently used by aromatherapists and average people like you and I everyday.  The natural source of all essential oils depends on the oil itself. Depending on the plant source the oil may be taken from a flower, tree, shrub, or grass. Additionally, some oils are extracted from the root, stalk, seed, leaf, resin, fruit peel, bean, bark, needles, or twigs of their respective plant source.

Where the plant is grown around the world also has an effect on the concentration and aroma of the oil.

Methods of Extraction

The method of extracting the oil from the plant source depends on the source itself. The most common method is steam distillation. In steam distillation the source material is placed upon a grate in a sealed still. Steam then slowly breaks through the plant material and the material containing the oil rises and cools on a condenser. Oil is lighter (in most cases) than water so when the liquid is collected the oil is siphoned off of the top of the water.

Other methods of extraction include expression, enfleurage, solvent extraction, and maceration. As with everything, new methods are always being developed to extract essential oils.

Methods of Use

There are numerous methods by which to effectively use essential oils. I will detail these methods in a later post in this series but for now the three main methods are body, water, and room. It is VERY important to remember that ingesting essential oils is not typically an effective method of using oils for health benefits. The

Body:

  1. Inhalation;  add oil to a bowl of hot water, cover you face with a towel and lean over the steam a safe distance. Breathe deeply through your nose for at least 1 minute.
  2. Massage oil; mix essential oil with carrier oil. Pour a small amount of oil mixture into your hand and massage as needed.
  3. Perfume; spray on body in a premixed perfume
  4. Tissue/handkerchief; place 1 drop of oil on tissue and inhale when needed.

Water: The water uses for essential oils are extensive. For the brevity of this post I will simply list the methods, I will explain this method of use more in-depth in a future article. Water uses include baths, foot bath, hand bath, sitz bath, shower, sauna, jacuzzi, douche, and bidet.

Room: Again, this method of use is lengthy and will be explained in depth in a later article. Candles, diffusers, light bulbs, humidifiers, room sprays, radiators, water bowls, and wood fires are all methods of diffusing oils in a room. It should be noted that when using this method you will need to leave the room shortly after beginning the selected method of choice to receive the full benefit of the oil if aroma is your main goal. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a situation where the smell of a particular room wears off the longer we are in that room. If you leave and re-enter later the smell will seem new again.

Base Oils

Base oils include nut, seed, or vegetable oils. Base oils are used to dilute the essential oil when applying to the skin. Most essential oils when used neat will burn and irritate the skin. Carrier oils do not decrease the efficacy of the essential oils, they merely provide a vehicle for dilution and easier application directly on the skin.

Alphabetically base oils include: sweet almond oil, apricot oil, avocado oil, borage seed oil, carrot oil (essential oil and case oil), corn oil, evening primrose oil, grapeseed oil, hazelnut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, soya bean oil, sunflower oil, wheatgerm oil.

Essential oils have enormous healing properties. We owe it to ourselves, our families, and our health to explore the full possibilities that these oils contain. Everyday people are discovering that essential oils are providing relief and healing for conditions that western medicine has not been able to  alleviate.

My favorite place to purchase organic essential oils, hydrosols, herbs, teas, and spices is from Mountain Rose Herbs. Their prices are great, shipping is fast, and customer service is second to none.

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin