DIY MOSQUITO REPELLENT ~ SAFER INGREDIENTS

A couple years ago when I was trying to find the right mosquito repellent for my family, I was a little overwhelmed on which ingredients were safe. I decided to do a little research on the topic so I made the right decision. Half of the articles I read warned that DEET was dangerous for children and the other half said it was perfectly safe. In addition to DEET, there are other ingredients being included that can be a concern, such as perfumes, aerosol type ingredients and parabens.

Because of the possibly toxic ingredients, I decided to make my own bug spray for my family. The only drawback to a completely natural mosquito repellent is that it does need to be re-applied about every 20-30 minutes. Thankfully, the kids do not mind because they really do like the scent.

If you do prefer an over-the-counter repellent, I would suggest getting one with a lower percentage of DEET (if you prefer DEET) and to find one that is in a spritz form vs. aerosol, so as to not be inhaling the ingredients as much. Below is my favorite DIY Mosquito/Bug Repellent Spritz for the family.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons witch hazel
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1-2 tablespoons vegetable glycerin (this helps the mixture stick to the skin)

Essential Oils:
5-10 drops citronella
2-3 drops peppermint
2 drops tea tree

Optional (Additional) Essential Oils:
2 drops lavender
2 drops lemongrass
2 drops geranium

Combine the above ingredients and place into a glass spritz/spray bottle. Spritz all over the body. Shake slightly before each use. Repeat every 20-30 minutes, if needed. Do no use on the elderly or infants, especially if they have a sensitivity to essential oils.

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DIY ELDERBERRY COUGH SYRUP

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The weather is finally getting warmer and the flowers are beginning to bloom. It is a welcomed change from the cold winter! However, for many, all the blooming plants and flowers can bring on unwanted allergies. The change in temperature can also bring on springtime colds. For that reason, I thought it was a good time to share a special family recipe, containing elderberry, a powerful antioxidant.

BENEFITS OF ELDERBERRY

Elderberry has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various ailments. As I mentioned, it is known as a powerful antioxidant that can be used to combat allergies, colds and flu.

High in Vitamins A, B and C, it can boost the immune system. Elderberry has been thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties that can speed up recovery of colds and flu. These beautiful dark berries have also been used by Native Americans to calm upset stomach, constipation and gas.

Elderberry can be detoxifying and healing for the body. Thankfully, it is also a wonderful option for cough syrup because of it’s rich, pleasant taste.

DIY ELDERBERRY COUGH SYRUP

I have made my own cough syrup for my son for many years. Many of the store options are full of harmful or unnecessary ingredients. If you are looking to make your own cough syrup, with healthier ingredients, this one is my favorite:

1 T Elderberry Fruit Extract* (I use Simple Truth)

1 tsp Raw Unfiltered Local Honey

1 tsp Pure Grape Juice Or 100% Coconut Water

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Mix well, until honey is completely dissolved. Pour into a 1 oz glass dropper bottle. If you do not have a dropper bottle, then use a sealable glass container. You can store in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

Use about 1/2 tsp at a time (about every 4 hours) for cough (approx. 2 droppers full). I do not recommend using for children under 2 years. Of course consult with your physician concerning any illness, especially if your child has a fever or consistent cough. Do not use for extended periods of time.

*It is important to use an elderberry extract intended for health purposes, such as Simple Truth, as elderberry can be considered poisonous if a strange variety is used or if it is not processed properly.

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HOW BAD IS IT?

imageWe all want our children to have fun and fit in. Many of us feel we have no choice but to pile up the candy in brightly colored Easter baskets every year to our excitedly eager children. As a family we have had to make some tough decisions on candy and I felt it was important to share what I have learned so far about ingredients. Also, I want to offer support to other parents out there that feel overwhelmed with the pressure of pleasing our beautiful children with loads of candy during the holidays.

There are so many candies out there, so I wanted to list a few of the WORST ingredients in order to weed out bad choices. These ingredients can be very harmful for our children, let me explain why. Below are the list of ingredients and the harmful effects they have on our children and ourselves:

Sugar – In moderation, especially in natural fruits and vegetables can be okay in my opinion. But when it is the first ingredient, it is bad. We all know the effect sugar can have on our little ones. Processed foods and candy with high sugar content have little to no nutritional value and can cause hyperactivity, stress on the liver, an imbalance in the body and a ‘sugar crash’. And it’s even worse when there is another type of sugar listed in front of it or behind it, such as corn syrup. This is called ‘stacking’ sugars to help enhance flavor and sweetness, but can wreck havoc on our bodies.

Corn Syrup (aka corn syrup solids) and High Fructose Corn Syrup (aka HFCS) – Corn syrup can be listed under a variety of names, even corn sugar, fructose or maize syrup, so unless it specifically states ‘cane’ sugar, you may be eating corn syrup!
You will never hear me say ‘corn syrup is okay in moderation’. Personally I think avoiding it completely is the safest. Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup break down and respond within our bodies much differently than pure cane sugar and raw honey. Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup have both been linked to weight gain, obesity and other health concerns. In my opinion, it also plays a role in children and autism. We personally have had such a bad experience with corn syrup (both corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup) that we avoid it all costs!

Artificial Color and Dyes – such as Yellow #5 Tartrazine – Tartrazine is used as a colorant because it’s cheaper than the alternative natural colors such as turmeric or beta carotene. It is made from coal tar* and can cause excitability and sometimes allergies in children. Most artificial dyes have been known to cause a reaction of some sort, as listed in this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-gavigan/food-dye_b_3792860.html

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Potassium Sorbate – Potassium sorbate is used in a wide range of foods as a way to prevent molding and separation. However, it can cause trouble when ingested and can even be a skin irritant if used topically!

Dextrose – A processed sugar generally made from corn or wheat. A variety of health issues have been linked to dextrose – diabetes, certain cancers, Alzheimers and heart disease.

Maltodextrin – A highly processed binder generally made from corn, wheat or rice. A variety of health issues have been linked to Maltodextrin such as change in blood pressure, bloating, weight gain, bacteria in your gut and other health risks.

Natural Flavors – David Andrews, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Environmental Work Group states that “Natural and artificial flavors play an interesting role in food. They’re essentially providing the taste and often they’re added to make the food more appealing, or to potentially replace something that’s lost through processing, storage or in some cases even from pasteurizing…”
Sadly, just because it says ‘natural’ does not mean that it is completely natural. It may have come from a naturally occurring food or substance and altered with a chemical to enhance flavor and added back into food.

There are certain candies out there that are much worse than others, *cough* Wonka Fun Dip. Avoid it I beg you! Just be sure to read your labels before you purchase your treats and of course do your research. The ingredients allowed in our foods are not always safe for our loved ones.

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ALTERNATIVES: For alternatives candies try YumEarth Organics or Lake Champlain Chocolates. There are quite a few others out there, it is just finding them that can be challenging. Sometimes making treats with real ingredients at home, as a family, is the best option!

Thanks for following! Thanks for listening! Have a blessed Easter!

*www.dictionary.reference.com – *Coal Tar – a thick, black, viscid liquid formed during the distillation of coal, that upon further distillation yields compounds, as benzene, anthracene, and phenol, from which are derived a large number of dyes, drugs and other synthetic compounds, and that yields a final residuum (coal-tar pitch), which is used chiefly in making pavements.
REFERENCES:
Mamur S, Yüzbaşioğlu D, Unal F, Yilmaz S. Does potassium sorbate induce genotoxic or mutagenic effects in lymphocytes, Toxicol In Vitro. 2010;24:790-4.

www.dictionary.reference.com

http://www.naturalnews.com/032169_tartrazine_food_colors.html

www.peta.org

http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/

www.ewg.org

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/14/health/feat-natural-flavors-explained/

http://chemistry.about.com/od/foodchemistryfaqs/f/carnauba-wax.htm

5 Health Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup

http://www.livestrong.com/article/370945-health-effects-of-yellow-5-food-coloring/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/274155-what-is-dextrose-in-food/
http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/is-maltodextrin-bad-for-me#2

http://www.livestrong.com

http://globalhealingcenter.com

POWER BALLS ~ Bite Size (Natural) Energy Snacks That Kids Love

As some of you know who follow my blog, finding nutritious foods that my son is willing to eat is very challenging. I actually started making these Power Balls (a recipe I got from my sister) for my husband when he went on long bike rides and convinced my son to try a bite. Pretty sure I paid him haha. But his eyes lit up and he asked for two more! Now I keep a steady supply of these in the fridge for my family. They boost energy and are full of wholesome ingredients. Give them a try if you need an easy, nutritious snack, that kids love. Very convenient too because kids can go to the fridge and grab a couple. Also great for camping, hiking and biking!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup Quick Oats
2/3 Unsweetened Toasted Coconut
1/2 Cup Organic Creamy Peanut Butter*
1/2 Cup Organic Ground Flaxseed
1/3 Cup Raw Honey
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla
1/4 Cup Organic Tahini (Optional)
1 Tbsp Organic Chia Seeds (Optional)
1/4 – 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips (Optional)

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If anyone has a nut allergy or if you are not able to bring peanuts to school (like us), you can substitute the peanut butter with sunbutter and/or almond butter or other butters that work for your family. I like to mix sunbutter and almond butter, it tastes great.

I like these Power Balls best with ALL the ingredients but you can remove the ‘optional’ ingredients if you prefer.

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips – I know I showed the chocolate chips in the picture above, but that was just to give you an idea of the ingredients :-). Should be a thick paste consistency. If the mixture is too dry add a little more peanut butter and/or honey. Then stir in chocolate chips. Squish into small/bite size balls and put in a seal-able container. Refrigerate immediately after and keep in fridge. Should last about a week or so.

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Healing Bath Salts – For Kids

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Occasionally, when the kids aren’t feeling well, I put some healing bath salts into their bath. I found that it speeds up recovery, makes them feel better and helps them sleep. Here is my favorite recipe:

1/4 Cup Pure Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Pure Epsom Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Sunflower Oil*
10 Drops Pure Lavender Essential Oil

Mix together in a bowl.

*Add more or less sunflower oil to desired consistency. I like mine pretty dry, that way the tub does not get too slippery for the kids. You can also use grape-seed oil, almond oil or olive oil, depending on your preference.

After you combine all the ingredients, pour into a sealable container, preferably plastic for safety.

Add about 1 tablespoon of bath salt mixture to the bathtub. I do not recommend for children under the age of 1 year. Essential oils can be too strong for infants.

I hope you enjoy this mixture as much as my children and I do!

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