Thursday, September 24, 2009

Simple Ways to Add More Fruits and Veggies to Your Diet

Did you know that most people in the United States do not consume the basic daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables? According to the National Health Association, only 10 percent of the population eats the daily USDA Food Guide Pyramid's minimum recommendation of 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day. Eleven percent consume no fruits or vegetables in any given day, 45 percent of adults consume no fruits per day, and 22 percent of adults consume no vegetables per day. Surprised? So was I!

Eating less than the recommended amounts of these food groups can leave you deficient in fiber, vitamins, minerals, important immunity-boosting anti-oxidants, and cancer-protecting phytochemicals. Fruits and veggies fill you up, not out, which is a boon to your waistline, too. Today many nutritionists advise that you even increase the Pyramid's serving recommendations to 3-5 fruits per day and at least 4-8 veggies per day. Don't be a statistic - eat more fruits and veggies - it's easy - they're delicious! Your body will function better and the appearance of your hair, skin, and nails will radiate with improved health.

Not sure how to integrate all those servings into your daily diet? Follow my suggestions below for 12 easy ways to eat more health-promoting produce.

12 Easy Ways to Eat More Produce

1. Freeze small chunks of bananas, strawberries, raspberries, melons, mangos, or peaches in resealable freezer bags and add to fruit smoothies for a refreshing snack or quick breakfast. You can also purchase these fruits (except bananas) in pre-frozen bags at the grocery store.

2. Make vegetable kabobs and cook on the grill.

3. Take a large bag of raw veggies to work everyday for low-calorie finger food. It sure beats hitting the vending machine or doughnut shop for a snack.

4. Make frozen fruit kabobs and serve as a light snack or refreshing dessert.

5. Drink freshly extracted vegetable juice (available at health food store juice bars or make your own at home with your juicer) instead of soda or fruit juice drinks.

6. Keep a colorful fruit salad in your refrigerator at all times for convenient, healthy nibbling.

7. Keep bags of dried fruits in your purse and car.

8. Be adventurous! Try one new fruit or vegetable each week.

9. Experiment with international vegetarian recipes that include lots of flavorful vegetable combinations and use interesting herbs and spices. Curry, Italian/garlic blend, and garam masala powders are a couple of my favorite seasonings.

10. Eat whole fruit for breakfast or double the amount you ordinarily add to your bowl of cereal or porridge. Here's a favorite breakfast of mine: Add a chopped MacIntosh apple to old-fashioned oatmeal while it is cooking, stir in a sprinkling of cinnamon and a dash of sea salt. Toss in a 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. This fills you up and tastes fabulous!

11. Enjoy delicious cold fruit soup or gazpacho as a light lunch or appetizer.

12. Cook a big pot of vegetarian chili or stew accompanied by a chunk of hearty, whole-grain bread.

NOTE: This article was adapted from the book, "How To Feel Fabulous Today", by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing 2001. Ms. Tourles is the author of this and many other holistic personal care books including, "Organic Body Care Recipes", Storey Publishing 2007. The information in this article is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Aromatherapy For Mind, Body & Home - Part III

This blog is the last of a 3-part series on basic uses for essential oils. Today I'm going to give you a chemical-free, bathroom and kitchen cleaning recipe that is easy to make at home. Use this general, all-purpose cleanser for greasy hands and dirty bath and shower stalls, ceramic tiles, sinks, or ovens. It is totally non-toxic, won't clog your drains, and leaves your hands, bathroom, or kitchen smelling fresh. Here it is:

All-Purpose Citrus Cleanser

1 cup plain soap flakes (available from retailers of homemade soap supplies or crafting supplies)
1 cup borax (get the pure, unadulterated mineral powder from Mountain Rose Herbs Co.)
1 cup baking soda
2 teaspoons orange essential oil (sometimes labeled sweet orange ess. oil)

1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flakes, borax, and baking soda. Stir gently.
2. Slowly add the essential oil, one drop at a time, stir ever-so-gently to incorporate. Do not stir rapidly or whip the powder with a whisk or it will cause dust to rise into the air and will make you sneeze. Store in a tightly sealed container.
3. To use, blend a tablespoon or more of the formula in a small bowl with enough water to form a slushy paste-like texture. Use it to wash hands or apply with a sponge to scrub bathroom or kitchen surfaces. Rinse with water.

Yield: 3 cups

NOTE: This article was adapted from the book, "How To Feel Fabulous Today!" by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 2001. The information given is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles and she disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Aromatherapy For Body, Mind & Home - Part 2

Labor Day Weekend Blessings To Everyone!

Already . . . fall is in the air here in coastal Maine. Sunny, breezy, 68 degrees - fabulous! Today we will continue our discussion of essential oils. I'll tell you how to do a "patch test" to check for potential allergic reactions prior to the usage of these oils and I'll describe 11 basic essential oils that you can use for skin and body care, healing of minor ailments, and also to clean and sweeten your home. Enjoy!

Essential Oil Precautions

Essential oils are highly concentrated, natural products and must be used with caution. To test for potential allergic reactions, try this patch test prior to using a new, unfamiliar essential oil on your skin or in your home for fragrancing and/or cleaning purposes.

1. In a small bowl, combine 1 or 2 drops of the essential oil in question and 1 teaspoon of base oil (jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, apricot kernel oil, hazelnut oil, safflower oil, etc.).

2. Apply a dab of the mixture to the underside of your wrist, the inside of your upper arm, behind your ear, or behind your knee. Wait 24 hours.

3. If no irritation develops such as a rash, redness, or itching, after 24 hours, the oil in question is generally safe for you to use. If irritation develops, do not use the oil and find a substitute if possible.

11 Basic Essential Oils

The following essential oils have many uses and should be included in the family medicine and cosmetic cabinets. I highly recommend that you use a few of these oils to replace harsh, environmentally unsound household cleaning products, too.

- Clove Bud (Eugenia aromaticum). A strong antibacterial, analgesic, and antiseptic. It is best known as a remedy for toothaches or as a scent in fall/winter potpourri. Place a single drop on the offending tooth and surrounding gum area for fast, temporary relief of pain - then see your dentist as soon as possible. Do not use this remedy more than 3x in 24 hours as clove essential oil can cause gum irritation. Clove can also be used, like orange and lemon essential oils, in household cleaning formulas.

- Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus). This deeply penetrating, camphorous oil is a must-have if you're suffering from a head cold or respiratory infection. For relief of stuffiness and congested lungs, boil 4 cups of water, then remove from heat. Place pot onto a safe, stable surface. Add 4-6 drops of essential oil, make a tent over your head and pot with a towel, and inhale the healing vapors for 10 minutes. Be sure to close your eyes and avoid touching the hot pot. Keep face approximately 12 - 24 inches away from surface of pot.

- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) or Spike Lavender (Lavandula spica). A mild, multipurpose oil that smells like an old-fashioned floral perfume. Simply inhaling this oil calms the mind, relaxes the body, and soothes the spirit. This antiseptic healing oil should be kept in every kitchen as a burn remedy. Immediately after receiving a burn, immerse the affected area in cold water or cold aloe vera gel, then apply a thin layer of lavender essential oil - undiluted if you wish. It will assist in rapid skin cell regeneration and help keep scarring to a minimum.

- Lemon (Citrus limonum). Has a familiar clean, fresh, invigorating scent. Use in the same applications as orange essential oil, mentioned above - in homemade household cleaning formulas. I'll give you a formula that you can make next week. Lemon essential oil is also beneficial for oily, acneic skin because if its astringent, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Add 10 drops to 1 cup of witch hazel extract, shake well, and use as a toner to remove excess sebum and residue after cleansing your skin. Avoid use if you have sensitive skin and substitute lavender essential or rose geranium essential oil instead.

- Moroccan blue chamomile (Tanacetum annuum). This is a blessing for those suffering from itchy, rashy, dry, or inflamed skin, or roseacea, as well as hives and poison oak or ivy. I like to add 10 drops to a 2-ounce container of skin cream and apply to affected areas as necessary. You may also use this blend as a daily facial moisturizer to keep skin clear, calm, and supple.

- Orange, sweet (Citrus sinensis). This oil is a great degreaser. You can also add 10 drops of essential oil to 8 ounces of witch hazel for an oily skin toner. Shake well before each use. Orange oil makes a great bathroom cleaning additive. Simply add 20 drops of essential oil to 1/2 cup of liquid castille soap and 1 cup of purified water. Use the solution to scrub the tub, sink, and toilet bowl. Makes a great kitchen sink and greasy grill cleaner as well.

- Peppermint (Mentha piperita). One of my favorites! Place a drop on your tongue as a breath freshener, or add a drop to a cup of peppermint tea for prompt indigestion relief. Add a few drops on a cotton ball and place on your car floor mat to keep your car smelling fresh! For an invigorating, stimulating antidandruff shampoo, add 20 drops to 8 ounces of quality natural shampoo; shake well, then shampoo as usual. It will leave your scalp feeling cool and tingly. To awaken a dull brain in mid-afternoon, inhale deeply directly from the essential oil bottle a few times.

- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis verbenon). The verbenon chemotype is a terrific oil (very gentle form of rosemary) to stimulate your mind as well as your circulation. Add 20 drops to 8 ounces of moisturizing shower/bath gel or body lotion, shake well, and apply as usual. This antiseptic oil acts as a skin-cell regenerative and wound healer and opens sinus passages.

- Rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens). Smells like a rose garden - only a bit more sharp. I like to inhale the aroma directly from the bottle when I feel the need for revitalization. The oil has a balancing quality and helps relieve mental stress and fatigue.

- Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). A powerful, yet gentle-on-the-skin antiviral, antifungal, and broad-sepctrum antibacterial. To prevent or heal infection, apply a drop directly to scrapes, scratches, acne pimples, boils, or insect bites. For toenail fungus, apply a drop to affected toe(s) daily until healed. Fungus is stubborn and difficult to eradicate. This treatment may take several months to remedy the problem. Consistent application is key. NOTE: Please do not attempt to treat wounds / infections on your pets with tea tree oil. They - especially cats - can have violent reactions resulting in seizures, acute sickness, and even death. Please check with your vet or an experienced animal aromatherapy practitioner prior to using any essential oils on your pets.

- Thyme (Thumus vulgaris linalol). The linalol chemotype is a powerful - yet gentle to the skin - antiviral, antibiotic, and antiseptic. I recommend keeping the oil around during cold and flu season. Add a few drops to your vaporizer to cleanse and purify the air or purchase a nebulizing diffuser to slowly release the volatile oils into the surrounding atmosphere. Put a few drops onto a damp sponge before wiping down bathroom and kitchen surfaces; it will kill germs.

To help dry and heal pimples, combine 1 drop of thyme essential oil with 1/2 teaspoon of aloe vera juice. Then dab on each pimple with a cotton swab.

DISCLAIMER: The above article was adapted from the book, "How to Feel Fabulous Today!" by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing, 2001. Additional essential oil information and formulations are available from her other book, "Organic Body Care Recipes", Storey Publishing, 2007. The information given is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Stephanie Tourles. Ms. Tourles disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only. Please use common sense when dealing with essential oils - read up on the subject matter and study any applicable precautions.