Red and Honey https://redandhoney.com Simple wellness in a frantic world. Fri, 21 Jun 2019 20:27:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Homemade Lemonade Sweetened with Honey (Paleo, Keto-Friendly) https://redandhoney.com/homemade-honey-sweetened-lemonade/ https://redandhoney.com/homemade-honey-sweetened-lemonade/#comments Fri, 21 Jun 2019 10:00:42 +0000 http://redandhoney.com/?p=3814 Nutritional info geeking-out ahead. Just want the homemade lemonade recipe? Use the button above to skip to the recipe card. I have a sweet tooth just as much as the next person, but I also know that too much refined sugar makes my body feel like a geriatric patient. I avoid it in my everyday […]

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small jar of homemade lemonade with lemons in background

Nutritional info geeking-out ahead. Just want the homemade lemonade recipe? Use the button above to skip to the recipe card.

I have a sweet tooth just as much as the next person, but I also know that too much refined sugar makes my body feel like a geriatric patient. I avoid it in my everyday diet, but I don’t freak out at the occasional indulgence.

That being said – homemade lemonade is not an occasional indulgence kind of thing – it’s a twice-weekly-in-the-summer kind of thing! It’s perfectly delicious: the perfect mixture of sweet and tart, and excellent as a break from plain water while still hydrating.

When I started switching over to a real, whole foods diet without so much refined junk, I needed to come up with a homemade lemonade recipe that uses whole food ingredients but still tastes amazing. This Homemade Lemonade recipe sweetened with honey accomplishes exactly that!

To be honest, homemade lemonade is ridiculously easy. Classic lemonade is just water + lemon juice + sweetener. Most recipes floating around the web use white sugar, and plenty of it, but I’m really a fan of natural sweeteners wherever possible.

Why Should I Avoid Refined Sugar in my Homemade Lemonade?

The goal of digestion is to break down food into smaller molecules that can be used by various systems in the body (source), so the simpler the molecules in our sugars, the easier it will be for our gut to digest them.

A quick science lesson: sugar is either a monosaccharide (simple molecules like glucose or fructose – like honey), a disaccharide (two simple sugar molecules that are fused together – like cane sugar), or a polysaccharide – like starches). (Source)

My recipe uses honey instead of white sugar for three reasons:

1) Honey is a monosaccharide – it’s comprised of simple glucose and fructose molecules (source), and is thus easier on our digestion.

2) Honey is a natural “sweet and healthy food” (according to this medical study) that also contains vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and other nutrients that benefit the body.

3) In addition to these beneficial components, some research has discovered that honey actually feeds the good bacteria in our guts (otherwise known as a prebiotic), thus helping to balance the microbiome! (Source)

Is Refined Sugar Really That Bad?

Sugar is a hotly-debated topic in the medical and health world. Unfortunately, it’s not often without bias. This study‘s goal was to summarize the current research.

It admits that “consumption of added sugars has been implicated in increased risk of a variety of chronic diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as well as cognitive decline and even some cancers” (it links out to multiple other studies dissecting these claims) but then goes on to conclude that “based on high quality evidence… singling out added sugars… appears inconsistent with modern, high quality evidence and is very unlikely to yield health benefits.”

However, if you read to the bottom, you’ll note this little gem tucked into the standard Conflicts of Interest statement: “J.M. Rippe’s research laboratory has received unrestricted grants and J.M. Rippe has received consulting fees from ConAgra Foods, Kraft Foods, the Florida Department of Citrus, PepsiCo International, The Coca Cola Company, the Corn Refiners Association, Weight Watchers International and various publishers.”

You can draw your own conclusions, but I’ll take the word of the dozens of studies linking refined sugar to disease over a single “meh, we’re not convinced it’s bad” argument literally paid for by the processed food and diet industry.

My bottom line? The odd bit of added sugar in your diet won’t kill you, obviously. It probably won’t even have noticeable long-term effects. However, according to the multiple medical studies linked here, excessive sugar consumption can be deadly.

Thus, I diligently avoid it whenever possible and reasonable.

honey stick on white surface with honey drips and jar of honey

What Kind of Honey Should I Use?

There is actually quite a significant variation in taste of different kinds of honey, and it largely depends on the types of flowers the bees have used to collect nectar.

Most people agree that clover honey is the most mild, followed by wildflower honey, and a few more rare types like orange blossom, and more.

Another simple way to determine whether a honey will have a strong “honeyish” taste is the color: typically the lighter the honey, the milder the taste.

For homemade honey-sweetened lemonade, the milder tasting honey will produce the best results and let the lemon flavor shine through.

Note: I’m normally all about avoiding refined sugar, however in times where I’ve only had a strong-tasting honey on hand, I’ve used a bit less and topped it up with a tablespoon of organic white sugar to help prevent the honey flavor from being overwhelming. It’s a better option than a store-bought lemonade with huge amounts of refined sugar, plus artificial flavors and even artificial colors. If I do decide to do this it’s only for a special occasion, and not for every day.

That being said – that was before I kept stevia on hand, and these days I’d probably just use a bit less honey but add a bit of stevia to top it up.

Bottom line? Homemade with natural sweeteners is better than store-bought any way it comes!

Can I Substitute a Different Sweetener in Homemade Lemonade?

Homemade lemonade tastes great with stevia (a natural sugar substitute that doesn’t raise blood sugar) in place of the honey, and the Keto-friendly sweetener blend that I have on hand works well too (erythritol + monk fruit), but I’d definitely recommend adding a powdered or granulated sweetener to water that was heated first in order to fully dissolve it.

Granulated sweetener blend: erythritol + monk fruit

Liquid stevia drops

Sweeteners I Wouldn’t Recommend:

Personally, I would not bother trying maple syrup or coconut palm sugar. Both flavors can be quite strong (coconut palm sugar is similar to brown sugar) and they would probably totally overpower the more delicate flavor of the lemon. I haven’t tried those because I hate wasting good ingredients, although you’re welcome to try and report back.

They’re great choices as natural sweeteners in other things, though, like my Salted Caramel Sauce made with coconut palm sugar, and my Grain-Free Maple-Glazed Gingerbread Bundt Cake.

And of course, I do not recommend any of the unhealthy sweeteners that I absolutely never use for any purpose, such as agave, sucralose, splenda, and other artificial sweeteners.

How Long Does Homemade Lemonade Keep in the Fridge?

I’d estimate it would taste great for up to a week, but I’ve never had the chance to really test that because it always disappears the same day I make it! For our family of six I always make a double batch at minimum.

How to Make Honey-Sweetened Lemonade, Step-by-Step with Photos

Step 1: Slice your lemons in half, and juice them thoroughly. This can be accomplished with whatever juicing tool you own.

hands juicing a lemon with a manual juicer

The juicing can even be done by hand if necessary. Squeeze as much juice out of those babies as you can!

hands juicing a lemon by squeezing into a jar

Step 2: Add lemon juice to your pitcher or jar.

pouring lemon juice into a quart jar

Step 3: Measure honey into a small pot or microwavable glass measuring cup, and heat until it’s a thin, pourable liquid.

You can either add the water to your pot of honey (if heating on the stovetop) and stir that combo into the lemon juice, or you can add the warmed honey and water into the lemon juice directly, one after the other.

I’ve done it both ways, and both are fine. Just be sure to stir right away so that the honey doesn’t clump before it’s mixed.

(Although – if I must give an edge to one method, I think the honey mixes easier if you combine it with the water first, then add that to the lemon juice. I have this method in the recipe card below, but wanted to also note that it’s flexible.)

pouring melted honey into a quart jar to make lemonade

Step 4: Once all of the ingredients are combined stir well with a whisk. Chill in the fridge and serve.

pouring water into a quart jar to make lemonade

Pro Tip for Hot Summer Days:

Use half of the water called for in the recipe to make a stronger, more concentrated lemonade, then serve over a full glass of ice. This results in a nicely chilled drink that doesn’t get too diluted when the ice melts. Perfect for those super hot summer days!

small jar of homemade lemonade with lemons in background
Print

Homemade Honey-Sweetened Lemonade

This homemade honey-sweetened lemonade is super quick to make, easy, and free from artifical or refined sweeteners. The perfect treat for a hot summer day!
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Prep Time 4 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 117kcal
Author Beth Ricci

Equipment

  • Hand juicer

Ingredients

  • 8 cups Water
  • 6 Lemons juiced
  • ½ cup Honey (use stevia or other erythritol/monk fruit blend to make it keto)
  • Ice optional

Instructions

  • Warm water on stovetop and add honey
  • Once honey is dissolved in warm water, remove from heat
  • Add juice from 6 lemons (use a strainer when pouring to keep out seeds)
  • Pour into pitcher and chill
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

I like my lemonade somewhat on the tart side. Feel free to adjust the amount of honey/sweetener to taste! Also, try some variations on this honey-sweetened lemonade with some fun add-ins, like frozen raspberries, mint leaves, or lime juice.
Method variation: this recipe instructs you to warm the water on the stovetop and stir the honey into that, but you can also try warming the honey and mixing that in with the lemon juice directly, along with the water. I find that the honey + warm water mixing method works best.
Cook’s pro tip for serving on a super hot day: use half the water called for in the recipe to make a concentrated version, then serve over a full glass of ice. When the ice melts the lemonade won’t taste too watery, and the drink stays nice and chilled.

Nutrition

Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 163mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 0.5% | Vitamin C: 69.6% | Calcium: 4% | Iron: 4.3%

Sources

  1. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/how-digestion-works
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disaccharide
  3. “Honey for nutrition and health: a review.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Dec;27(6):677-89. Bogdanov S, Jurendic T, Sieber R, Gallmann P.
  4. Rossano, Rocco et al. “What are the proteolytic enzymes of honey and what they do tell us? A fingerprint analysis by 2-D zymography of unifloral honeys.” PloS one vol. 7,11 (): e49164. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049164
  5. “Effect of Honey in Improving the Microbial Balance” https://academic.oup.com/fqs/article/1/2/107/3860141
  6. Rippe, James M, and Theodore J Angelopoulos. “Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding.” Nutrients vol. 8,11 697. 4 Nov. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8110697

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Best Gift Ideas for Dads (for Health-Conscious Men) https://redandhoney.com/best-gift-ideas-dads/ https://redandhoney.com/best-gift-ideas-dads/#comments Tue, 11 Jun 2019 06:00:00 +0000 http://redandhoney.com/?p=10346 Why are men so darn difficult to buy gifts for? I know it must not be universally true – no stereotype ever is – but holy cannoli, guys. Out of all the people I buy gifts for, my husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law, and brother are all among the most challenging! Finding the best gift ideas for […]

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little girl kissing her dad's cheek with a greeting card and gift

Why are men so darn difficult to buy gifts for? I know it must not be universally true – no stereotype ever is – but holy cannoli, guys. Out of all the people I buy gifts for, my husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law, and brother are all among the most challenging! Finding the best gift ideas for dads can be elusive.

At this point in my life I think I’ve finally arrived at a place where I have a few home runs under my belt in the gift-giving department, plus a few more ideas tucked away that I feel super confident about. I actually realized recently that – dare I say – I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out gift ideas for the men in my life, especially my dear husband. (And it “only” took 16 years of marriage to get there.)

In many ways, Chris is a typical guy, and in many ways he’s not. (What’s a “typical guy”, anyway?? I don’t think that’s actually definable!) The one defining feature about him is that he’s a pretty intentional person.

He’s health-conscious in a holistic sense: he cares deeply about his family life, his relationships, his work and passions, and his physical health.

Side note: a guy who cares about his health is so darn sexy, right?! I’m sure it’s some biological instinct for desiring a partner with longevity, etc. 😉

My list of best gift ideas for dads is inspired by my husband, who considers himself fairly health-conscious (though he’d certainly be the first to tell you that he’s a work in progress), and alternative-minded. The gift suggestions are not all specifically health-related items, but they’re all in categories that I know Chris (and many like him) would enjoy, such as:

  • Healthy lifestyle hacks
  • Healthy diet treats
  • Minimalist, clutter-free
  • High-quality for longevity
  • Experiences instead of stuff

Best Gift Ideas for Dads: It’s Not Really About the Kids 😉

Thus far in my motherhood, I’ve done the heavy lifting when it comes to gifts for Chris on Father’s Day, his birthday, and Christmas.

When you have young kids, keeping track of holidays and leading the charge on celebrations is just par for the course. No 5-year-old is going out to the mall (unless you or Dad drives them) to buy you a gift with their own money (unless they earned it from you).

Maybe when they’re much older they’ll clean the house, cook for us, and serve us iced coffee as we chill in the hammock out back.

One can dream, right?

Obviously, many of us in the trenches of parenthood with young children don’t exactly have a ton of free time to spend on elaborate and crafty DIY Pinterest ideas. We’re also often exhausted from life with small children. And, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want a flood of clutter in your house every time a holiday comes and goes.

Therefore, when it comes to making Father’s Day or other holidays special for my dear honey (yes, the “honey” of Red & Honey), the irreplaceable father of my children, my criteria is simple: it must be something he’ll actually appreciate, and it cannot be gimmicky or clutter-bait.

The Best Gift Ideas for Dads Can be Practical, Meaningful, or Indulgent (Depending on His Personality Type)

Black socks might be a classic Dad-gift joke, but in my growing up years, practical gifts were the most appreciated. I think there’s a definite place for the practical gifts that a person would really love to have, but hasn’t bought for themselves.

In addition – for all of the adorable kid crafts, new BBQ utensils, tools, and homemade cards in the world, it’s still a nice idea to treat him to something indulgent, especially during these little years, with kids too young to do a lot.

Of course, the practical and indulgent should always circle back to making sure the gift is meaningful. That can look really different depending personality types, so consider that too.

For example: Chris is an ESTJ on the MBTI personality typing system, and a Type 1 enneagram. In other words: he’s super Type-A, driven, and practical. He appreciates practical gifts but only if they don’t lead to him adding to his to-do list, since he drives himself hard, and appreciates “permission” to let loose and chill sometimes.

He also appreciates gifts that combine practicality with indulgence – like a top-of-the-line tool that he’s been eyeing, but can’t justify spending the money on, or a new high-quality leather wallet. He also would deeply appreciate the gift of time where he can go and catch a movie or spend a few hours at a coffeeshop without feeling guilty about his lack of productivity.

To pull off the perfect gift, consider these suggestions that are perfect for the intentional, health-conscious guy. With a little bit of thoughtfulness, you can make sure he feels loved, appreciated, and celebrated!

On to the List!

Now that I’ve given you an excellent example of my superb overthinking skills (kidding – mostly, ha!) I want to share my list of super-duper best gift ideas for dads.

No two dads are the same, but I’m pretty confident this list will have something for everyone! Happy celebrating! <3

Best Gift Ideas for Dads: 30+ Health-Conscious Gifts He’ll Love

1. Old-Fashioned Wet Shaving Kit

Something like this one with a safety razor, or if he’s adventurous: this one with a straight blade. (Don’t forget to include some shaving cream with ingredients you trust, like this brand, or this one.)

If you’d like to make your own, this recipe for DIY Body Wash would work, or if you’d like something a little thicker, you could try this Homemade Shaving Soap.

2. Appointment for a Wet Shave Experience

There are some trendy places in my city that cater to this type of experience. Google “wet shave” + your nearest city to see what’s nearby. (Shh! My honey is getting this as part of his Father’s Day gift this year.)

3. Air Fryer

Anyone who loves the taste of deep-fried foods without wanting to use a ton of expensive oil (healthy oils aren’t cheap, y’all) will love an air fryer. It leaves a crispy finish that’s to die for on homemade fries, a roast chicken, or anything else you want to try. We use avocado oil (this brand, but we buy ours at Costco) the most in our house because of its high smoke point (important for avoiding free radicals.)

We have this air fryer and love it – it can even fit a whole chicken in there for the to-die-for golden, crispy skin after I cook my whole chickens in the instant pot. (P.S. How to Cook a a Frozen Whole Chicken in the Instant Pot.)

4. Quality Item for his Wardrobe

This is one of those items that can heavily depend on the person. My husband totally loves it when I surprise him with some new golf shirts or t-shirts, or a new sweater, but he cares more about looking decent, and not about being trendy or fashionable. At the same time, he always puts his clothing needs behind the kids’ and mine.

Something like this shirt would go over super well here. Even better if I order it in two or three different colors.

5. Quality Footwear

Exact same deal as above, only with good-quality footwear. My husband is super hard on his shoes, but won’t complain until there are literally inch-wide holes in them. You decide what he’d most appreciate: sandals? loafers? a fancy new hiking boot for hours of family activities?

Chris has worn out a pair of these every few years like clockwork since we both started wearing them in 2006, and he LOVES them.

6. Healthy BBQ Sauce or Seasonings

I have my eye on this sauce that’s sweetened with stevia, or these, which are Keto, Paleo, and Whole30-approved.

I also highly recommend these delicious seasoning salts from Real Salt. (Use my code REDHONEY for 15% off your entire order!)

7. Blue-Light Blocker Glasses

For years now, Chris has experienced sleep difficulties (both falling asleep, and staying asleep). There are many factors at play for him, and we’ve tried lots of things over the years, but this is one that we haven’t yet tried that I want to!

These dorky-looking glasses filter out the blue, artificial light when you wear them in the evening hours. According to Harvard Health, artificial blue light can seriously mess with melatonin production and circadian rhythms. Avoiding it in the evening can directly help you sleep better!

8. Sleep Better Kit

I mentioned that we’ve tried a lot of things to help Chris get more quality sleep at night. If your guy struggles with the same thing, a thoughtful little basket with some sleep-related items could be deeply appreciated. Make sure to include a note about how much he deserves his rest.

Things you might include: this eye mask (it’s Chris’s favorite), ear plugs, a box of night-time tea (this one with valerian is potent!), a white noise machine (note: if you have a way to play them in your bedroom, you can find free white noise channels on YouTube), and maybe even an organic pillow or blackout curtains. (See my DIY tutorial for No-Sew Light-Blocking Curtains here.)

9. Time for Self-Care

This one’s obvious, and bonus: it can be the cheapest option on the list if you’re on a tight budget!

There are many ways to do this, but one idea is to have the kids help you make a coupon book for 10 hours of “Me Time” that Dad can use however he wishes: going out for coffee, sitting in bed on a Saturday afternoon solo with an iced coffee and a good book, or going to the movie theatre to decompress.

P.S. If you are on a tight budget, check out this great list of fun and frugal ideas for Dads from Simply Rebekah.

10. Quality Alcoholic Beverages

Chris has recently developed a great appreciation for a good gin and tonic, but a bottle of high-quality gin isn’t cheap. This is an easy win as a gift for him!

If your guy is more into wine than liquor, try asking your local retailer for a bottle of organic wine in order to avoid added sugars and additives.

For beer, try a new local beer from a micro-brewery, or a gluten-free variety if he avoids gluten.

11. Special Glasses for Favourite Drink

A gin and tonic is typically served in a certain type of glass called a highball. I’m considering a set like this for him, or perhaps these.

12. Fitness Tracker

If your guy is super in to details and maximizing his efforts, a fitness tracker can help with that. Chris has a FitBit that he likes, but there are a few other brands out there as well. (He got this one, and bought a leather strap to customize it.)

13. Restaurant Gift Card

As a food-lover, one of Chris’s favorite things to do is go out to eat, but our normal budget (we just recently got out of debt, so our budget has been strict for a long time!) really only allows for maybe a quick stop at Five Guys for the family on an errand-running day.

A slow meal at a sit-down restaurant (where the food is better in both quality and taste) feels like a total indulgence to him, so he’d love this.

14. Audible Subscription

I’ve been trying to get this husband of mine into reading for – oh, 19 years now(!!) – and we finally found the trick. He has fallen HARD for audio books, much to my shock and delight, so now we have an Audible subscription worked in to our monthly budget. He loves listening to audio books in the car, especially since we moved out to the country and are further from the city.

If you’re new to Audible, you can get a free trial with one free book!

15. Stainless Steel or Glass Water Bottle

This brand, this brand, this brand, and this brand are all ones that I’ve seen get consistently excellent reviews both on amazon and around the web. As someone who owns a knock-off version of one of these, and is disappointed with it, I now think the price tag is actually worth it.

16. Magazine Subscription

There are magazines out there on literally every topic. Okay maybe not literally, but just about. Being a pilot and aviation-lover, Chris subscribes to a couple of aviation-related magazines and has enjoyed them for years.

17. Movie Theatre Gift Card

For obvious reasons, any movie-lover will enjoy this gift, but it also doubles as “me time” to treat the Dad who constantly puts others before himself. This is one of Chris’s all-time fave ways to treat himself.

18. Healthy Treat Gift Basket

This would be super fun to put together, especially for a guy who loves his treats, but is making an effort to get healthier.

These are Chris’s fave candy (they’re Keto-friendly), and these peanut butter cups are incredible. You could also put together some homemade treats, too, like my own peanut butter cup recipe (SO GOOD), or these chocolate coconut macaroons. I’m sure these chocolate-covered ice cream bon bons would be a hit, and well worth the effort.

If salty snacks are more his thing (or for the non-discriminators who love both, like us), these avocado oil potato chips are the bomb dot com. Don’t rely on them for the majority of the nutrients in your diet, but

19. Appointment for a Massage

This one scores major points in all three of my criteria: it’s practical (there are study-backed legit health benefits!), it’s indulgent, and it’s meaningful.

20. Home Massage Tools

Home body work tools can be a great way to unwind after a long day. Or after any day, really. 🙂 We’d love to try a foam roller, a hand massager (this one has crazy amazing reviews on amazon), or a Shiatsu massage pillow like this.

21. Yeti Mug

This brand has plenty of raving fans, but I hadn’t tried them myself until recently when I was given a Yeti mug. I love it for my afternoon cup of tea because it’s insulated, so it stays warmer way longer than a regular mug. Perfect for those who like to nurse their warm beverage over the course of an hour or two, and are constantly having to reheat it.

22. Organic, Fair-Trade Coffee

A good cup of quality coffee is the highlight of many people’s day, and if your guy is health conscious and concerned about humanitarian issues, then a bag of organic, fair-trade beans is an easy win.

Fair-trade and organic coffee is (thankfully) becoming super easy to find – most grocery stores carry at least one option, as does amazon. Chris and I both love this brand as a repeat favorite, but we also love trying new ones from smaller companies too – like this small-batch artisanal coffee company called Who’s Your Coffee? recently started by my friend Mindy and her husband.

23. A Coffee-Maker Upgrade

If he appreciates a higher quality coffee, then he’ll probably also enjoy the subtle differences in taste from a variety of coffee makers. We’ve used and loved a Chemex (it needs special filters that you can get on amazon, but FYI you can also buy an organic hemp cloth filter that’s reusable, and works like a charm!)

Another super popular option among coffee lovers is the French Press (if you think a glass one would get broken in your house – like it did in mine – then consider a stainless steel version (insulated – bonus!), or this gorgeous ceramic one which comes in some great colors.

If your guy wears his coffee snob label proudly, then definitely also consider the Aeropress. From the makers of Chemex, it presses the coffee (like a French press) but it’s micro-filtered to avoid the typical French press “sludge” and bitterness. It’s on our wishlist!

24. Google Home or Alexa

Chris enjoys geeking out with fun tech toys, and home automations are right up there. He hard-core loves his google home mini, and he has a bunch of WeMo products around the house like smart light switches, etc.

Other super popular options include the Amazon Echo (voice commands and music) and Amazon Dot (just voice commands) with Alexa.

25. Collagen

One of the simplest, no-brainer superfood supplements to consume is collagen, and the health benefits are wide-ranging. It dissolves in hot or cold drinks (we take our daily scoop in our morning coffee) and is tasteless and odorless. Plus – it has 11 grams of protein per scoop, which means it’s pretty much the most badass protein powder out there.

There are a couple of brands that I trust, but this company has the best price without sacrificing quality – by a long shot. (Use my code REDHONEY10 to get an extra 10% off.)

26. A Set of Hand Weights

If your guy works out at home (because hello – not many young parents find the time to hit the gym a few times a week – amiright?!) then a set of basic hand weights makes a great addition to his routine. A kettlebell is a great choice too.

27. Himalayan Salt Lamp

Salt lamps have surged in popularity recently. There are some purported health benefits that are legit, but some claims are probably overstated. Either way – they’re an excellent source of soft, red/orange light in the evening when you’re trying to avoid artificial light, and they have a super cozy vibe.

28. Organic, Non-Toxic Skincare

Like a lot of guys, Chris is pretty low-maintenance when it comes to skincare. Nonetheless – he appreciates having quality for the things he does use. This charcoal/salt face scrub looks great and I bet he’d enjoy using it in the shower, and this body wash has an excellent rating in the Skin Deep Database (or find my DIY body wash tutorial here).

An unscented body oil to moisturize is also a good option. I love my Wilder oils (my review of the argan oil here). Make sure you also cover his shavings needs. (Some good options linked above in the shaving kit suggestion.)

29. Sodastream

A perennial favorite around here since I scored with this gift five years ago. He loves making sparkling water at home for pennies with our Sodastream – it was a great investment. Check out the different Sodastream models here.

30. Sonos Speaker

If your guy enjoys high-quality sound at home for music, TV, and movies, then a Sonos speaker is the perfect gift. It’s bluetooth enabled, and we seriously love using the app on our phone to play and control music any time we want. We use Apple Music, but it works with Spotify too. We have two speakers, and eventually he wants one in every room!

Side note: Chris was an audio-visual professional before becoming a pilot, and he totally geeks out at the sound quality on Sonos, so it must be good.

What are your suggestions for the best gift ideas for dads? Share in the comments below!

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Why I Stopped Using Coconut Oil as a Skin Moisturizer https://redandhoney.com/why-i-stopped-using-coconut-oil-as-a-skin-moisturizer/ https://redandhoney.com/why-i-stopped-using-coconut-oil-as-a-skin-moisturizer/#comments Thu, 16 May 2019 14:00:00 +0000 http://redandhoney.com/?p=5395 I spent years wondering why the supposedly-awesome coconut oil for skin wasn’t cutting it for the dry skin on my face. It was SO frustrating! This discovery totally rocked my world, and I’m still using it daily, 5+ years later. Huge thanks to Wilder Supply Co. who asked me to try some of their skin […]

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I spent years wondering why the supposedly-awesome coconut oil for skin wasn’t cutting it for the dry skin on my face. It was SO frustrating! This discovery totally rocked my world, and I’m still using it daily, 5+ years later.

Huge thanks to Wilder Supply Co. who asked me to try some of their skin care products and originally sponsored this post. (All sponsored partnerships on this site are 100% my own thoughts, and I only publish work for products/companies I’ve personally tried and love.)

bottle of liquid coconut oil with hand taking dropper-full, next to a stack of coconut shells

Written by: Beth Ricci

Every winter without fail, I get terribly dry skin on my face. The day after the we turn on the furnace for the first time in the fall, it starts. My face – especially in my T-zone – gets itchy, dry, and flaky. After my shower, it feels tight and awful, like that feeling you get when wearing a face mask that has dried and is ready to wash off. I do not appreciate this facet of my undeniably otherwise-flawless beauty. 😉 Not cool, face, not cool at all.

So what’s a natural living, crunchy mama to do?

[Enter, stage left, hero character]

Does Coconut Oil for Skin Actually Work?

Coconut oil is the darling of the natural living crunchy community. Every real food blogger worth their (unrefined sea) salt will tell you that there are literally hundreds of ways to use the stuff, from making delicious baked goods, homemade toothpaste, or eye makeup remover, to lubricating your you-know-what and using it as a massage oil in the bedroom.

Ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Remember how Windex is the cure-all? Same idea, less hilarious and more natural.

It’s commonly claimed that using coconut oil for skin is the Awesomest! Moisturizer! Ever! too. For years I kept some in a little sealed container in my bathroom, carried it in my purse, and even packed it for trips, just so I could swipe a little out with my finger to help moisturize my dry skin. It worked… sorta, but not great. I also tried jojoba oil for a while (holy expensive, batman). It was better, but still not awesome.

The Ideal Moisturizer for Your Skin, According to Research

According to this recent study on moisturizing products for dry skin, the ideal moisturizer will have the following attributes:

  1. Reduce and prevent further TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss)

  2. Restore lipid barrier, i.e., duplicating and enhancing the skin’s moisturizing retention mechanisms

  3. Hypoallergenic, non-sensitizing, fragrance free, non-comedogenic

  4. Absorbed immediately, providing immediate hydration

  5. Cosmetically acceptable

  6. Affordable.

How I First Learned About Coconut Oil Alternatives

My life was forever changed when an email landed in my inbox from Hannah at Wilder Supply Co. (Update September 2016: Wilder was formerly called Taproot Farms. Same great company, different name.)

(Seriously though – if any face moisturizer could be called life-changing, it’s this one.)

Wilder Supply Co. is a family-owned business located on an off-grid homestead in Chickaloon, Alaska. They offer a variety of products including lip balm, face/body oils, shea butter, perfume, and goat milk soap (made from fresh goat milk from the family homestead).

[annnd… now cue the dramatic music] 

She wanted me to review some skin care products from their shop. I was all like, OK, sure, sounds fun. I was tired of using coconut oil for skin and being disappointed. Little did I know that my face moisturizing routine as I knew it was about to be forever changed.

I tried a few different products: a peach lip balm which works beautifully, and a sandalwood goat milk handcrafted soap – smells incredible, feels totally luxurious in the shower. I LOVE the silky smooth feel of it.

collage of soap, lip balm, and shea butter products against a well-lit background on a grey surface

Then… I tried the Moroccan Argan Oil.

Backstory: when Hannah asked me what I’d like to try from their shop, I mentioned that the argan oil looked interesting (I had never heard of it before) because I had suffered from dry, itchy skin on my face for so long, and my current coconut oil for skin routine was not really cutting it.

This was followed by a discussion of the various oils and some brilliant explanations from her which pretty much explained everything as to why the other oils hadn’t worked for me. Here’s what I learned from her, and from my own rabbit hole of research that blew my mind:

Bottle with cosmetic oil argan nuts. Jar with argan oil and handmade soap on the wooden background

What Does the Scientific Research Show About Argan Oil and Coconut Oil?

Well, first of all – the body of research on plant oils for therapeutic skin purposes is fairly small. Unfortunately, the laws in the United States on what skincare and cosmetic companies are allowed to include in their products are extremely loose. The U.S. only bans 11 ingredients, which is in stark contrast to the 1,328 chemicals banned by law in the European Union (28 countries). Canada’s laws are similarly strict to the E.U. with hundreds of ingredients banned.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the E.U. also requires safety assessments on all products prior to being sold, whereas the U.S. does not. They point out that “the hazard-based, precautionary approach of the E.U. acknowledges that chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects simply don’t belong in cosmetics – regardless of the concentration of the chemical being used.”

What does this all mean? It means that the biggest cosmetic brands (the ones who could afford to fund studies) have little need to do so, and wouldn’t want to anyway, because the results on their products wouldn’t be good.

Here’s What we DO Know, Based on What’s Available:

  •  According to this 2013 study on jojoba in dermatology, jojoba oil isn’t actually an oil. It’s a wax ester that is very similar to the skin’s natural sebum. So, while it feels really nice on the skin (and worked better than coconut oil for me), it can’t soak in to the layers of the epidermis and moisturize as effectively as an oil like argan. 
  • Coconut oil for skin is a very light moisturizer that sinks in quickly, which appeals to a lot of people because it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling on the skin. It works well for some, but not those with very dry skin. This 2019 study found that coconut oil was effective as an emollient (softening skin) but that it was not found to leave an effective barrier to seal in moisture (aka “occlusive” – for the “most occlusive” example, think of petroleum jelly leaving a thick layer on skin). Dry skin needs something more occlusive than coconut oil, but less so than petroleum jelly (not a product I recommend, for the record).
  • According to Table 1 in this study, coconut oil is not considered an effective occlusive (protective barrier), emollient (softens rough skin), or humectant (draws moisture). That same study points out that it does have excellent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so if you don’t have very dry skin or acne-prone skin (see comedogenic note below), it may be a great choice for you. (It’s also worth noting that other studies do refer to occlusive and emollient effects of coconut oil, and I’m sure there’s truth to that, however other plant-based oils seem to be referenced as more effective in this regard.)
  • According to this comedogenic chart, argan oil is non-comedogenic with a rating of 0, so it won’t clog your pores.
  • Conversely, coconut oil is listed with a rating of 4 (which means it can easily clog pores). That doesn’t bother many people, but if you have a tendency to get clogged pores (blackheads, acne breakouts, etc), coconut oil may exacerbate that problem.
  • It is worth noting that the concept of comedogenicity requires more research before we can draw too many conclusions. Still – anecdotally, many people report that coconut oil just doesn’t leave their skin feeling hydrated (like me), or it leads to acne breakouts (hence the comedogenicity discussion).
  • To sum up my own experience – while jojoba oil provided a protective layer without sinking in well, and coconut oil sinks in but doesn’t leave much of a protective layer, argan oil does both (see research below), making it more effective overall.
  • In this 2014 study involving 60 women, the researchers concluded that argan oil improved skin hydration by restoring barrier function (keeping irritants, microbes, and allergens out) AND maintaining the water-holding capability (keeping moisture in).
  • A follow-up study in 2015 by the some of the same researchers concluded that argan oil has an effective anti-aging effect by significantly improving skin elasticity.

So while coconut oil might work well for people who have skin in the middle of the spectrum (generally non-problematic skin), it doesn’t usually work great for those of us who tend to have dry or oily skin issues.

Lavender argan oil bottle on wooden surface with nicely blurred backgroundMy Personal Experience with Argan Oil

As soon as I got the package in the mail, I started using the argan oil every morning, especially after a shower (I don’t shower every day – it helps to avoid drying the skin too much)

I dab a few drops on my driest areas (right between my eyebrows, forehead, around the base of my nose) and massage it in. It literally only takes a few drops, and my skin drinks it up thirstily.

It is especially effective if I give my face a quick, gentle exfoliation first. In the shower, I just gently scrub my face with a washcloth and it works great. I don’t feel a need to buy special products, or to be particularly harsh with scrubbing. It’s also most effective when applied to damp skin because your pores are more open.

Since using the argan oil, I have noticed an absolute 100% improvement in the way the skin on my face feels on a daily basis. That tight, dry feeling is gone!

As far as I can tell, the results are long-lasting too, because on the days I don’t shower, I sometimes don’t even use the oil because my skin is still happily moisturized from the day before.

It’s incredibly effective (this is about as close to defining something as a miracle product as I’ve ever gotten) and it’s frugal too, considering how little of it you need at a time. At the risk of overstating my case, to be honest, I am utterly blown away and thrilled with this product. Truly.

Now, not only does it work well and not cost me an arm and a leg (side note: yes, the price seems high at first glance compared to drugstore junk, but my first bottle lasted me almost four years!!), but consider these amazing factors as well:

Interesting Facts About the Origins and Production of Argan Oil:

  • Argan oil is one of the rarest, most highly-valued oils in the world (source). It is a plant-based oil that comes from the Argan tree, which is exclusive to Morocco. It is called the “tree of life” there, and it has been used by locals for centuries.
  • Every part of the plant is utilized: “Getting oil from the fruit of the argan tree involves drying it, extracting the nuts, cracking them to reveal the kernels, and pressing them to release the oil. The byproduct of pressing is a thick argan paste, which is sold locally for cosmetic products. Nothing else is wasted, as the outer pulp provides food for village animals, while the shells are burned for fuel.” (source)
  • The process of extraction and selling this oil is done in a sustainable fashion. Almost all Argan oil is distributed by local co-operatives of women in Morocco (source). To this day, the most efficient method of extraction is hand-pressing the kernels, which provides valuable jobs to women in the country.

What are the Health Benefits of Argan Oil?

  • Argan oil has incredible health benefits. According to this study, it’s rich in fatty acids and Vitamin E, which are both traits held in high regard in the beauty industry. The industry often adds synthetic versions of these things to products to be able to market them as anti-aging and healing, but of course, the natural (non-synthetic) version is far superior.
  • According to the same study, “daily topical application of argan oil has also been shown to improve skin elasticity and skin hydration by restoring the barrier function and maintaining the water-holding capacity. Additionally, topical applications onto skin provide a softening and relaxing effect on the skin.”
  • This study discusses multiple amazing health benefits of argan oil beyond skin moisturizing, including UV protection, and even cancer prevention (yes, really!)

The Bottom Line?

I first wrote this post in 2013, and it has been viewed nearly four million times since. There has been some pushback to criticism of our beloved coconut oil (of which I’m still a huge fan – I use it all the time for cooking, and a few other things!) but overall, I have heard from a ton of others who were relieved to know that they weren’t the only ones struggling with coconut oil for skin as a moisturizer!

I still use and love my argan oil to this day – I get mine from the same company: Wilder Supply Co. (<– get a special R&H discount through that link). I trust their quality.

They’re a small family business that prides itself on offering natural, affordable products of exceptional quality. They also value sustainability and top-notch service, which pretty well makes them my ideal company.

What do you use to moisturize your skin? Have you tried argan oil?

Sources:

  1. Sethi, A., Kaur, T., Malhotra, S. K., & Gambhir, M. L. (2016). Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian journal of dermatology61(3), 279–287. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.182427
  2. Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Ghassemi M.R, Kazerouni A, Rafeie E, Jamshydian N. (2013). “Jojoba in Dermatology: A Succinct Review”. G Ital Dermatol Venereol , 9(1): 5–14. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.06.012
  3. Varma, S. R., Sivaprakasam, T. O., Arumugam, I., Dilip, N., Raghuraman, M., Pavan, K. B., Paramesh, R. (2018). In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 9(1), 5–14. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2017.06.012
  4. Chularojanamontri, L., Tuchinda, P., Kulthanan, K., & Pongparit, K. (2014). Moisturizers for Acne: What are their Constituents?. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology7(5), 36–44.
  5. Draelos Z.D, DiNardo J.C. (2006). A Re-Evaluation of the Comedogenicity Concept. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 54(3):507-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2005.11.1058 
  6. Boucetta, K.Q, Charrouf, Z, Derouiche, A, Rahali, Y, and Bensouda, Y. (2014). Skin Hydration in Postmenopausal Women: Argan Oil Benefit with Oral and/or Topical Use. Menopause Review 13(5): 280–288. doi: 10.5114/pm.2014.46470
  7. Boucetta, K.Q, Charrouf, Z, Aguenaou, H, Derouiche, A, and Bensouda Y. (2015). The Effect of Dietary and/or Cosmetic Argan Oil on Postmenopausal Skin Elasticity. Clinical Interventions in Aging 10:339-49. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S71684
  8. Lin, T. K., Zhong, L., & Santiago, J. L. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International journal of molecular sciences19(1), 70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
  9. Villareal, M. O., Kume, S., Bourhim, T., Bakhtaoui, F. Z., Kashiwagi, K., Han, J., … Isoda, H. (2013). Activation of MITF by Argan Oil Leads to the Inhibition of the Tyrosinase and Dopachrome Tautomerase Expressions in B16 Murine Melanoma Cells. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM2013, 340107. doi:10.1155/2013/340107

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Sausage and Spinach Frittata Recipe (Keto, Gluten-Free) https://redandhoney.com/sausage-spinach-frittata-recipe-keto/ https://redandhoney.com/sausage-spinach-frittata-recipe-keto/#respond Fri, 03 May 2019 15:10:43 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=63064 Oh hey! If you haven’t yet been introduced to my friend frittata, allow me the pleasure. Frittata is the coolest kid on the breakfast block. It is crazy easy to make (no crust to fuss with, like its cousin, quiche), fairly quick to make, and tastes FANCY. This sausage spinach frittata is an ideal way […]

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Overhead image of sausage spinach frittata slice on a plate with white napkin and wooden background.

Oh hey! If you haven’t yet been introduced to my friend frittata, allow me the pleasure. Frittata is the coolest kid on the breakfast block. It is crazy easy to make (no crust to fuss with, like its cousin, quiche), fairly quick to make, and tastes FANCY.

This sausage spinach frittata is an ideal way to start a day, with veggies and protein instead of the standard sweet or carb-fest. Oh, and it’s perfectly portable if you bake it in muffin cups, and reheats beautifully! (This is where I drop the metaphorical mic, y’all.)

I mean, if you have other demands on your breakfast food beyond that, I think you need a reality check.

This sausage spinach frittata recipe can serve as both a fancy brunch for company (it’s so pretty baked in a pie plate and served in slices) AND as everyday breakfast fare for a hungry family. I’ve used it for both multiple times because we’re all obsessed with it – the kids have declared it a fave (yes, even with tons of spinach!), so it has happily become a staple in my meal plan.

Sausage Spinach Frittata: Nutrient-Dense and Frugal

This recipe is naturally low carb, and fits in a Keto diet perfectly, which is great because Chris jumped in to Keto back in February and is loving it. (Correction – he was loving it until he had an emergency appendectomy a few weeks ago, and then woke up to Chex cereal, skim milk, and a gluten-free/sugar-filled muffin as his hospital breakfast. Gross. He’s going back to Keto this week.)

I love that eggs are the superstar of this recipe – they are such a fabulous source of protein that’s both nutrient-dense and frugal, which are two adjectives that don’t often go together in the real-food world.

It’s kind of crazy when I tally it all up, but since our family of six eats eggs almost every day of the week, plus we use them a fair bit in cooking and baking (especially coconut flour recipes), we probably go through 20-30 dozen per month. The quality of our eggs matters to me, as I wrote about in this post about the misleading nature of the “cage-free” labels on eggs in the grocery store.

However, we’re actually hoping to add some backyard chickens to our family (probably next summer, as my first step is to figure out what the heck I need to prep first!) to have our own source of free-range, happy chicken eggs. I can’t wait! All the Sausage Spinach Frittata we want – mmm!

Image of sausage spinach frittata slice on a plate with white napkin and wooden background.

Substitutions and Modifications

This Sausage Spinach Frittata is a fairly forgiving recipe, and you can play with modifications to suit your own tastes. I’m sure bacon instead of ground sausage would be lovely, as would other types of veggies like peppers, mushrooms, or even asparagus or broccoli. I use parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the powder) and the flavor combo is seriously amazing, but you could probably swap another cheese, no problem. A sharp cheddar would be delightful.

If you’re dairy-free, you can easily leave out the cheese and try coconut milk instead. If you do, please let me know how it turns out.

Close-up image of sausage spinach frittata slice on a plate with white napkin and wooden background.

If you love Keto Frittata recipes, and want another great frugal and nutrient-dense recipe starring eggs, be sure to check out my recipe for Hearty Breakfast Soup – a version of egg-drop soup that we’ve been making for years at our house. It’s delicious!

Sausage Spinach Frittata (Keto, Gluten-Free)

This Sausage Spinach Frittata recipe is the perfect crowd-pleasing breakfast for both the every day rush, and a fancy brunch. It’s packed with nutrition and works great as a grab-n-go meal too!

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil (or coconut oil)
  • 4 shallots (minced)
  • 1 cup spinach (I typically use frozen spinach and it works great)
  • 2 cups ground sausage (I make my own and freeze in small sandwich baggies, but you can also use store-bought)
  • 16 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream (aka 35%, or whipping cream)
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, divided into 2 portions (I use "petals" but shreds would work too)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Grease baking dish with avocado oil or coconut oil, and set aside. 

  2. Heat a frying pan on medium-low with the oil. Add minced shallots and sauté for a few minutes until translucent. 

  3. Add ground sausage. If your sausage is uncooked, fry it until cooked through, then add spinach. (If sausage is pre-cooked, add spinach at the same time.) Sauté mixture until everything is cooked and well-combined.

  4. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add coriander, parsley, salt, heavy cream, and half of the cheese. Stir well.

  5. Add spoonfuls of sausage mixture to eggs while continuously stirring to temper the mixture. (I.e. don’t add it all at once or you may end up with chunks of cooked egg from the heat of the just-cooked sausage/spinach.)

  6. Once everything is combined well, pour into baking dish(es) and sprinkle remaining parmesan on top. 

  7. Bake at 350F. Muffin cups take approximately 10 minutes, and a glass pie plate takes approximately 20. The top should be golden brown, and a knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Enjoy!

Recommended bakeware: 2 glass pie plates (I use this one), or 1 glass pie plate + 12 muffins, or 2 dozen muffins.

I use silicone muffin cups and they work beautifully – both for a pre-portioned breakfast serving, or to take as an excellent breakfast on the go. These are the silicone muffin cups I use and LOVE!

Pairing suggestions: this recipe would be lovely alongside a Butter Chai Latté and a fruit salad!

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Sweet And Sour Lentils (Gluten-Free, Naturally-Sweetened) https://redandhoney.com/sweet-sour-lentils-recipe/ https://redandhoney.com/sweet-sour-lentils-recipe/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2019 10:00:39 +0000 http://redandhoney.com/?p=2863 Give your grocery budget a break with this delicious sweet and sour lentils recipe. Lentils are packed with nutrients like fibre, iron, and folate! I am often asked about my favourite frugal recipes. Listen, I like food. No, wait – I LOVE food. Healthy and frugal are great, but if a recipe doesn’t have that […]

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Give your grocery budget a break with this delicious sweet and sour lentils recipe. Lentils are packed with nutrients like fibre, iron, and folate!

I am often asked about my favourite frugal recipes. Listen, I like food. No, wait – I LOVE food. Healthy and frugal are great, but if a recipe doesn’t have that je ne said quoi factor that makes you go mmmmm, then it’s a hard pass from me.

Often “beans and rice” is the frugal-eating poster child, but I think beans must be getting awfully tired of holding up such lofty ideals. Time for a new legume to step in and help shoulder some of that load.

I know that my strict Paleo friends won’t go for this sweet and sour lentils recipe because they don’t eat legumes. While I lean that direction (Paleo) in my ideals, I simply cannot afford to cut out legumes and grains from our diet at this time. With a tight budget, we need to eat some legumes and rice, and sometimes potatoes. Our family is also gluten-free for a variety of health concerns (everything from eczema to confirmed celiac), so we don’t have a simple, inexpensive, gluten bread option for filling those hollow legs that my kids all seem to have.

So. With all of that disclaimer and such out of the way, you should know that this is one of my new favourites. I made it up on a whim the other day when I decided to try something new from our usual curried lentil shepherd’s pie.

It turned out perfectly! Great flavour, easy to make, and frugal! So satisfying. What more could you ask? Every time I’ve made it since it’s been a hit.

Are Lentils Good For You?

On the whole, I’d say yes (with a disclaimer, which we’ll talk about below). Although they may not pass the test for a strict Paleo adherent, there’s actually debate even within the Paleo world itself. Chris Kresser is one of the leading Paleo voices today, and he wrote this in an article discussing legumes:

Some people—particularly those not previously familiar with my work—were surprised to hear me tell Dr. Oz that I think eating a few servings of legumes a week is fine as long you tolerate them well. This directly contradicts Paleo dogma on legumes, which holds that we should strictly avoid them because 1) they aren’t part of our ancestral diet, and 2) they contain toxic anti-nutrients like lectin and phytic acid.

The article goes on to conclude that while legumes perhaps aren’t as bad as some may think, they’re also not the most nutrient-dense food ever (not everything has to be grass-fed liver and bone broth, obviously, but it’s worth stating). Hence, it’s probably not ideal to eat them every single day due to the amount of lectins, which may increase inflammation in the body, and lead to leaky gut.

(Also, if you already struggle with leaky gut issues, then it’s probably best to avoid them while you heal, and focus strictly on the most nutrient-dense diet you can do. This is where a healing diet like strict Paleo, GAPS, AIP, or Keto can come in.)

Once a week or so is our personal sweet spot that I feel comfortable with. We include recipes like this Sweet and Sour Lentils one mostly for frugality’s sake (gotta afford that grass-fed and pastured meat somehow, right?) but thankfully, they also include some great nutrients, like fibre, folate, manganese, and iron – all of which are important to optimal health. Lentils are also a good source of protein.

Food-based sources of nutrients are almost always superior to a bottle of supplements, and lentils pack a decent punch in that department! And bonus: this recipe cooks the lentils in bone broth, which bumps up the nutrient-density nicely.

Sweet and Sour Lentils: To Soak or Not to Soak?

Here’s the thing: if you’re in a big rush to get dinner on the table, then unsoaked lentils are better than takeout, and they’ll actually cook up just fine unlike many of their legume counterparts (don’t try that with kidney beans, oy). However… if you are able to plan ahead, then it’s best to soak lentils for 12-18 hours ahead of your cook time. This allows the phytic acid to break down, which leads to less gas and indigestion (now you have it in your head, dontcha: “beans, beans, the magical fruit…”) which is a never a bad thing. It also helps them to be broken down more easily once they hit your digestive system so that you get even more of the nutritional benefits they offer.

Just measure your lentils into a bowl, cover with water (leave an extra inch or two because they’ll expand) and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and leave on the counter. When they’re done soaking, proceed with the recipe.

P.S. If you loved these Sweet and Sour Lentils and you’re looking for more legumes recipes to try, check out these recipes here on the blog:

Curried Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Chili Cheese Lentils (my personal fave!)
Lentil and Chickpea Flatbread
Instant Pot Hummus
Instant Pot Chana Masala (Indian Spiced Chickpeas)

Bon appetit!

Sweet & Sour Lentils Recipe

Give your grocery budget a break with this delicious sweet and sour lentils recipe packed with flavor and comfort!

  • 5 cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Lentils (Green or Brown)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 2 Onions (Large)
  • 1/4 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar (Can substitute apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1 tsp Summer Savory (This herb isn't easy to find in all areas. Try subbing oregano instead if necessary.)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (If you are GF, beware that some brands contain barley (gluten))
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic (Finely diced)
  1. Place broth, lentils, and bay leaves in a large pot and simmer on medium-high until broth is mostly gone and lentils are fully cooked. (15-20 minutes.)

  2. While the lentils are cooking, dice the onions and sauté them in the butter until onions are translucent.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the lentil pot, along with the onions and butter.

  4. Stir together and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes.

  5. Serve with your favorite sides. My suggestions: rice or spaghetti squash + roasted veggies or a green salad. 

Find my Homemade Bone Broth Tutorial here.

 

Originally published in 2012. Post updated in 2019.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Cups (Paleo Option, Naturally-Sweetened) https://redandhoney.com/homemade-peanut-butter-cups-no-refined-sugars/ https://redandhoney.com/homemade-peanut-butter-cups-no-refined-sugars/#comments Mon, 18 Feb 2019 08:00:19 +0000 http://redandhoney.com/?p=3450 Homemade peanut butter cups made with simple, whole ingredients are the reason why I know that goodness still exists in the world. This recipe is perfection. Can we all just agree that peanut butter and chocolate are the ultimate OTP? (That’s a bit of young-people slang for you. For the record, I’m 35 and am […]

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Homemade peanut butter cups made with simple, whole ingredients are the reason why I know that goodness still exists in the world. This recipe is perfection.

Can we all just agree that peanut butter and chocolate are the ultimate OTP? (That’s a bit of young-people slang for you. For the record, I’m 35 and am only 35% sure I used it correctly.)

Speaking of my very limited knowledge of pop culture – there are oh-so-many things I loved about the TV series “Parks & Rec”, not least of which was Donna and Tom’s annual Treat Yo’ Self day. They would spend an entire day devoted to indulging themselves with all sorts of lavish luxuries and treats.

The characters took it to a ridiculous (hilarious) level, and I’m not saying I want to emulate the fine details, but the over-arching message of indulgence is the same: if you practice moderation and restriction 99% of the time, it’s totally okay (heck, even encouraged!) to indulge once in a while.

Why? Because you’re awesome, and you deserve to treat yourself with the best and most natural ingredients that won’t wreck your healthy lifestyle, but are also indulgently delicious.

Now that we’ve established that… I’ll just add one teeny-tiny little detail. My definition of “treat” has shifted over the years. No longer do I eye a Reese’s peanut butter cup and salivate. (They taste chalky, weird, and artificial to me.)

Instead, I look at things like this homemade peanut butter cups recipe and mmmm, I can almost taste them. My mouth starts watering and I can practically taste the perfect honey and peanut buttery flavour mingled with the real dark chocolate melting in my mouth. *happy sigh*

Real ingredients I can pronounce (and find in my kitchen) combined into mouthwatering combos like this: now that’s the definition of treat yo’ self.

I don’t believe that being healthy should equal being miserable, and if it does for you, then my friend – you’re doing it wrong. (And you need to make these PB cups immediately – that’ll fix it.)

By the way – yes I did make some of these babies and then hide them in the freezer to eat after my kids are sleeping. I let them eat one each first because I’m gunning for mom-of-the-year. It’s looking dubious but hey, worth a shot eh? Homemade peanut butter cups are highly effective bribery. 😉

P.S. If you don’t like chocolate and peanut butter together, I’ll obviously question the life choices that led you to this point, however you might want to try my No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Macaroons stat so that you can treat yo’ self too.

A note for Paleo friends: there’s great debate in the Paleo world about whether or not peanuts are allowable on a Paleo diet, but this article from Mark Sisson dives deep into the facts and concludes that a moderate amount of peanuts is probably perfectly fine. Of course, you can always stick with all almond butter in the recipe if you prefer.

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (Paleo Option, Naturally-Sweetened)

These homemade peanut butter cups recipe is perfect for treating yourself to something decadent with real, whole food ingredients that compromise neither health nor indulgence!

for the chocolate part

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon butter*

for the peanut butter filling

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter*
  1. Melt and stir all chocolate ingredients together over low heat.
  2. In a separate pot, mix and stir all peanut butter filling ingredients together over low heat.
  3. Prepare a muffin tin with muffin papers. I used mini muffin papers. (It made just over a dozen).
  4. Pour some chocolate into each cup – less than half full.
  5. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  6. Spoon some peanut butter mixture on top of each frozen chocolate cup. Smooth it down to get into the cracks of the muffin paper so that it looks pretty. If you care about that sorta thing.
  7. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  8. Pour more chocolate on top of each cup to finish off.
  9. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  10. 10. Once they are nice and firm, go ahead and store them in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer. They’ll stay fresh longer than it’ll take you to eat them! Enjoy!

To make these Paleo, just use coconut oil instead of butter, and all almond butter instead of peanut butter.

 

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2018 In Review + 2019 Intentions https://redandhoney.com/2018-review-2019-intentions/ https://redandhoney.com/2018-review-2019-intentions/#comments Mon, 21 Jan 2019 23:09:05 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=62672 Happy (belated) 2019, friends! (Let’s pretend like it’s a totally normal thing to publish a new year’s post on January 21, ‘kay?) If you’ve been hanging out around here for a while then you may have noticed two things in 2018. First – I barely published any new blog posts. And second – 2018 was […]

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Happy (belated) 2019, friends!

(Let’s pretend like it’s a totally normal thing to publish a new year’s post on January 21, ‘kay?)

If you’ve been hanging out around here for a while then you may have noticed two things in 2018. First – I barely published any new blog posts. And second – 2018 was kind of a gong show at my house. (Unshockingly, the two are related.)

There are big things on the horizon for 2019. I want to share all the fun details with you (big dreaming convos make me giddy), but first, a little reflection on what I learned in 2018. (Um, a lot.)

Follow me on a quick jaunt down memory lane, will you? The fitting prequel to 2018 was in October 2017 when I gave birth to our fourth child. It was a failed homebirth and a crazy-long 47 hours of labour, both of which really threw me for a loop. (Everett’s birth story Part One and Part Two here.)

We also pulled our oldest kid (9 years old at the time) out of public school because (longer version here) it was not the right place for him. That happened in December, when Everett was 2 months old.

By the time 2018 rolled around, though, I was mentally psyching myself up to get back into working and writing consistently again. I hadn’t done much writing in 2017 either, to be honest, due to a Celiac Disease diagnosis, followed by severe pregnancy anemia. Nonetheless – I felt hopeful that if I was patient, I would eventually settle into a good rhythm – four kids, one a newborn, one homeschooling with neurological differences, two in public school, a home-based business, and me. What could go wrong? Ha.

One Sunday afternoon in January (a year ago exactly to the day I’m typing this), we went skating as a family. I was helping to support one of my kiddos in staying upright when all of a sudden my legs went straight out from under me. A random kid had fallen and slid on the ice right into the back of my legs. I went down like a rock, landed on both wrists outstretched on the ice.  

My carefully constructed house of cards (that “good rhythm” I was optimistically aiming for) came tumbling down. I was carried off the ice while trying not to outright sob – both from the pain, and from the “this can’t be happening, I have a 3-month-old baby” panic that was swirling. When we reached the hospital it hit me that I make a living via typing on a laptop, and a fresh wave of panic set in.

(Why did I force myself to smile?! Yikes.)

I was in full-on meltdown mode at first, I’ll be honest. However after two solid months of being basically useless to anyone I realized that I was actually still earning a full-time income thanks to the years of work I’ve put in to this blog. With so much gratitude – I’ve been earning passive income through my archives for years, and I continue to do so.

One day after I got my arms back (literally the next day), our household got hit with the worst flu I’ve had since I was 17 years old. I was terribly sick in bed for a straight week, and exhausted for two more. Days after feeling back to 100% from the flu I came down with a raging case of mastitis, which was evidently the cherry on top?

We trepidatiously tiptoed through summer and enjoyed the sunshine thoroughly. I still hadn’t found that rhythm with working and writing, and instead essentially ignored the fact that I was still a business owner. 

Honestly – I think I’d been on the edge of burnout for years, and breaking my arms gave me the excuse I needed to just play hooky for a really long time.

I continued to earn a full-time income by maintaining the essentials on the blog’s social media, and publishing every few months or so. I joked that I was worth a LOT of money hourly since I was barely working but still earning thousands of dollars a month, but deep down I was feeling an anxious pit in my stomach every time I thought about how I was going to move forward with my blogging career (that I love) and my mothering and homeschooling role (which I also love).

My blog continued earning passive income, however it was stagnant. I didn’t have the passion, drive, or energy for it that I once did. I saw next to no new growth in traffic, subscribers, or followers, and I struggled with a total lack of motivation and inspiration.

I even seriously considered walking away altogether, but every time I thought about doing so I felt deeply sad. I took that as a sign that it wasn’t the right move.

Since we don’t believe in doing things the easy way, we decided to also homeschool the other two kids starting in fall of 2018, which means all four kids are home with me now.

Once we made the decision to be all in with homeschooling, I decided to give myself the fall as an adjustment period, and just take everything easy. I continued to barely work, while still feeling mostly overwhelmed with the idea of how to thrive in both roles.

In mid-October I went to step over the baby gate into the den where Everett was playing, and my foot got caught. I lost my balance and fell to the ground with my foot caught on the gate then slamming to the ground. Three hours at urgent care, an X-ray and an air cast later, I came home with a minor fracture in a weight-bearing bone in my big toe. Thankfully I was only in the air cast for two weeks.

After three broken bones in 2018 I figured surely that had to be it. Nevertheless – you know what they say about those who assume. 😉

In early December, 14-month-old Everett was practicing his walking in our den with a sibling when he stumbled and fell down. Obviously he had done exactly that dozens of times before but this time it was immediately followed by a terrible wailing. Long story short: he broke his leg with what they call a “toddler’s fracture”. He healed amazingly quickly, though, and was in a cast for just one week!

I broke both arms plus my right foot. Everett broke his left leg. Perhaps we can move on now that we’ve covered all four limbs?

So. Here we are, at the beginning of 2019. I’m hoping for lots of things this year, not the least of which is NO broken bones.

Now, with all of that heaviness behind us, I want to take a little bit of a different approach and do a fun review of 2018, list-style. Here we go!

Awesome Stuff in 2018

Earned – a full-time income from my blog, despite taking much of the year “off”. I estimate that I worked maybe a few hours a week, on average.

Grew – in resilience. I also grew a pretty killer vegetable garden for the first time, and impressed the heck outta myself.

Learned – that blogging & online entrepreneuring is the BEST career ever, and that a blog/website can chug along on survival mode for a really long time and still earn a lot of money. I’m always amazed by this.

Became – a stronger version of myself – both physically and mentally.

Decided – to homeschool all of our kids starting in fall of 2018.  

Started – exercising regularly for the first time in my entire life. I did a Spar challenge with Chris and our good friends Ryan and Steph (I won $63! Yessss!), which gave way to a brand new personal challenge for 2019 – check that out here.

Received – a TON of help from some incredible people when my arms were broken. When I mentioned my accident in my neighbourhood Buy Nothing group, I had people I had literally never met before bringing dinner to my doorstep. Neighbour-friends came over to fold my laundry, play with my kids, and did weekly Costco runs for me. I could never possibly repay them, but I’ll work on paying it forward.

Reflected – on which big changes I needed to make to my business to have it be more authentic to me, as well as more successful on a business level.

Changed – I decided to let go of all contributing writers and just publish my own writing. I felt like it was important for me to reconnect with my audience personally, and get back to my roots of writing and sharing from my own life. I don’t regret this decision at all, despite the fact that my skating accident was within weeks of the last contributor post, resulting in large week/month-long gaps between publishing new content here.

Implemented – a killer new system for household chores + kids. It involves zones, rotations, checklists… and it’s working AMAZINGLY well. Love it.

Accomplished – crushing our $12K credit card debt. Now moved on to a few other debts, and planning to be debt-free in 2019!

Stayed – consistent with a new budgeting habit, which was an incredibly life-changing addition to our lives. 

Published – not a lot, but some really great stuff. In case you missed it:

What Didn’t Work in 2018

Well, obviously, being sidelined so much with health issues was a real drag on accomplishing much, but 2018 actually allowed me the space to reflect on some big picture stuff. I think that my lack of progress forward (in business, mainly) goes deeper than broken bones and sickness.

I’m a 4w5 (enneagram) and an INFP (Myers-Briggs) and I’m very prone to over-dramatizing my inner thought world, while neglecting to take action in the real world, on a practical level. I’m not a Type A personality, that’s for sure. 

The healthiest state for someone with my personality is to adopt the habits and tendencies of a type 1 in order to balance out the dreamer tendencies. (Side note – Chris just so happens to be a 1, whom I learn from daily. And conversely – his weaknesses are my strengths. It took a good 14-15 years but we’ve finally learned the humility of learning from one another instead of being annoyed at our differences.)

What does a healthy Type 1 look like? Well-organized, efficient, focused, high-achieving, and conscientious.

Some of these traits are things I’ve developed over the years on my own as I’ve intuitively known that working on these areas ultimately feels super satisfying.

However, for 2019, I feel like a new chapter is starting with a lot of major transitions behind me. More below on what I want this new chapter to look like. 

What I Wish I’d Done More of

Writing. There were excellent reasons galore for why I didn’t, but I missed being in my element. Writing makes me feel alive, and I very much hope that plenty more of it will happen in 2019.

What I Wish I’d Done Less of

Scrolling Facebook. I have FB friends I care about plus specific groups I find immensely helpful – and yet – the endless nature of a FB newsfeed started to drive me NUTS in the worst way. The iphone’s new “Screen Time” app shocked me into action when it revealed the embarrassing stats on how much time I was truly spending on my phone, with much of that time being social media. I have lots of excuses (legit helpful stuff happens in some of my FB groups, I did a lot of sitting and nursing a baby in 2018, it’s so easy to keep in touch with far-away friends…) but it ultimately boils down to this: continuing that level of social media consumption will prevent me from reaching my Big Goals in 2019, so it had to change.

I created a new FB account with zero friends and only the handful of groups that I use most. I turned off all group notifications, and I made that account the moderator of the Red & Honey Facebook page, which I need for my business. I had Chris change the password of my regular FB account, and logged out. For the first week I would find myself tapping that icon or going to facebook dot com without even thinking about it. When I came to my fresh, new, “lonely” account and it gave me a little jolt to see the same day-old post from one of my carefully curated groups – I realized just how automatic “checking FB” had become. My brain wasn’t even thinking about it. Scary.

Surprisingly, I don’t miss it. I get Chris to log me in whenever I want, but I log out immediately after so I can’t just mindlessly check in. I have some fine-tuning to do, but I think this new situation will be very good indeed.

Word of the Year for 2019

With all that being said, you might be able to guess my word of the year for 2019. There were lots of great candidates, but the one that really stood out to me the instant I heard it is FOCUS.

I wear a lot of hats (wife, mom, homeschooler, business owner, writer, neighbour, friend…) and at times that can be totally overwhelming.

My intention for 2019 is to conscientiously and methodically assess the nitty-gritty required for my Big Goals, and stay laser-focused on moving toward them. I’m learning to go slow and steady, as opposed to a huge burst of energy followed by dropping off into daydreaming and distraction.

I intend – in all areas of my life – to FOCUS on the small steps that will move me toward my important Big Goals.

Big Audacious Goals for 2019

BUSINESS

  • Publish 20x (5x per quarter)
  • Grow my email list (I have never put much energy in this part of my business which was totally dumb on my part. Fixing that once and for all in 2019.)
  • Go through two short business e-courses I’ve purchased, and put them into action.
  • SEO audit (Scheduled for May 2019. The implementation will likely take months.)
  • Have my first $10K month in gross revenue. (This is a vulnerable one to put out there. Inevitably there are those reading who thinks that’s a crazy-big amount of money, but there are also those reading who know how limitless blogging can be, and would have expected me to be earning far more than this already. Personally, I feel that my business is way under-earning for its potential, partially due to my lack of focus.)

PERSONAL

  • 250 workouts (follow my progress on instagram).
  • Dump sugar & deal with my candida.
  • Tackle organizing my digital photos. There are over 24,000 photos on my phone alone. *shudder*
  • Declutter a few more areas of my home (this has been ongoing for several years, and I’ve made great progress. I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo’s advice.)
  • Crush $10K in line of credit debt (it’s already down to $8800 and it’s only January 21!), then work on paying off the van + saving for a few ‘wants’.

HOME

  • Continue to solidify the good habits we’ve been cultivating with the kids + chores. (Finally found a system that works really well.)
  • Continue to find our groove in homeschooling.
  • Love and embrace the home we’re in, while also making big decisions about whether or not to move to a bigger house with a big property out of the ‘burbs.
  • Grow another vegetable garden, and learn more about flower gardening.

Top Ten Posts Viewed in 2018

Unsurprisingly, these are all from the pre-2018 archives. Nonetheless, they’re worth noting. These are the all-time fan faves here at R&H:

  1. Why I Stopped Using Coconut Oil as a Skin Moisturizer (over 3.4 million people have read this post since I first published it!)
  2. How I Had My Shortest Labor Ever – Thanks to This Natural Technique
  3. The Ultimate Strep Throat Remedy (If You’re Brave Enough)
  4. 40+ Legitimate Ways to Earn Money as a Stay-at-Home Mom
  5. How I Use Mind Mapping to Help Declutter My Brain
  6. Your Search for the Perfect Chili Recipe is Officially Over
  7. Too Good to be True? An Honest Review of Norwex Cleaning Supplies
  8. 100 Healthy Snack Ideas (Real Food-Style!)
  9. How I Healed My Infected Finger Without Antibiotics
  10. How to Stay Clean Without Showering Every Day

And that’s all I have! Whew, that was a doozy of a post, but I think I was long overdue for a good verbal spillage.

I hope your 2019 is going amazingly well. I’d love to hear from you below – what did you learn from 2018? What are your intentions in 2019?

xoxo, Beth

 

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100+ Free Printables for Home & Health (Calendars, Habit Trackers, Wall Art and more!) https://redandhoney.com/free-printables-home-health-list/ https://redandhoney.com/free-printables-home-health-list/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2019 08:00:24 +0000 http://redandhoney.com/?p=4287 I have big-puffy-heart love for all things digital. Technology enriches our lives in so many ways. (Like earning me an income. Thanks, internet!) Nonetheless – sometimes a girl just needs some real paper, fun pens, and a highlighter or two. It would be difficult to underestimate the importance that pretty notebooks and multi-coloured gel pens […]

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I have big-puffy-heart love for all things digital. Technology enriches our lives in so many ways. (Like earning me an income. Thanks, internet!)

Nonetheless – sometimes a girl just needs some real paper, fun pens, and a highlighter or two. It would be difficult to underestimate the importance that pretty notebooks and multi-coloured gel pens made on my youth, and when free printables became “a thing” on the internet my paper-loving self was alllll over it.

And now – even in 2019 – I still find myself googling for “free printable ___” every so often. Because sometimes paper just hits the spot in a way that digital can’t, ya know?

I wrote this post back in 2014 and finally collected everything into one spot for reference, which I (and thousands of others) have enjoyed since then.

Now, this post is updated with fresh links for 2019 and beyond. New calendars, a new section on health + wellness, and all of the old, broken links are gone and replaced with even better ones.

This post is one mega collection of awesome free printables that you’ll love. But it should come with a warning label: there is some amazing eye candy and organizational goodness just ahead. I’d advise a cup of tea and a comfy spot to sit while browsing the awesomeness contained in this post.

I finally threw out approximately one bajillion scraps of paper stuffed in various places around my house with random notes to myself about cool printables I found.

Also: let the record show that this post took me eleventy hundred years to finish. My eyes are glazed over and my dreams contain the soundtrack of printer noises. All because I love you guys.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

100+ Free Printables for Health & Home

Free Printables: Planning + Calendars

1. Action Items and Brain Download List sheets | Lara Casey (love that “download” sheet for your mind – to clear the clutter and make space for creativity.)

2. 2019 Monthly Calendar printables | Short Stop Designs

3. Simplified Life Binder Printable Library from Emily Ley

4. Free Printable (and Customizable) 2019 Desktop Calendar | It’s Always Autumn

5. Round up of various free printable daily planners, menu planners, etc. | Design Finch

6. Free Goal-Setting Workbook | Living Well, Spending Less

7. 2019 Editable Printable Calendar | Sarah Titus (this one is editable on the computer before you print it so you can type in things that you already know or that will occur regularly).

8. 2019 Printable Calendars | Botanical Paperworks (five different options!)

9. 2019 3D calendar | A Piece of Rainbow (how unique is this?!)

10. Printable Birthday Calendar | U Create Crafts

11. Simple but Sweet 2019 Calendar | Landeelu

12. Creative To-Do Calendar Mashup | Idillized

13. The Harmonized House Personalized Family Planner Printable Pack | World Label

14. 2019 Perpetual Calendar | Lemon Thistle (four styles to choose from!)

15. Colouring-in 2019 Calendar | Scrappy Stinky Inky Mess
In French & In Spanish

16. Printable Daily Planners | Canva (60+ free templates when you sign up)

17. Menu Planning Perfection | Design Finch

18. 2019 Free Printable Nature Calendar | Sarah Finch

19. Beautiful Floral 2019 Calendar | A Piece of Rainbow

20. 2019 Printable Calendar Templates | Paper Trail Design (six designs!)

21. 46 Abstract Design Calendar Templates | Oh So Lovely Blog

22. 2019 Perpetual Calendar | Skip To My Lou

23. Free Goal Setting Worksheets | Skip To My Lou

24. Printable Weekly Planner | Skip To My Lou

Free Printables: Coloring

25. Coloring.ws | This site has hundreds of coloring pages organized by categories and sub-categories.

26. Famous Works of Art Coloring Pages | Coloring.ws (this is from the site linked just above, but I wanted to link it directly because it’s a gem for fine art study for kids.)

27. DLTK Kids | This one is a companion site to the one above. It lists coloring pages in dozens of categories, including every holiday you can think of.

28. Crayola Coloring Pages | Crayola.com (lots of categories)

29. Coloring Pages of Licensed Characters | Coloring Info

30. Coloring Pages | Coloring-page.com (the one above is .org, and it features licensed characters, whereas this one features regular pages in categories like nature and transportation.)

31. Educational Coloring Pages | ECP (Another huge, categorized assortment)

32. Bible Coloring Page | Coloringpages.net (hundreds of Bible-themed pages)

33. Disney Coloring Pages | Disney

34. Quirky Coloring Pages | Don’t Eat the Paste (more advanced designs for older kids – lots of mandalas, etc.)

35.1000 Coloring Pages | The Coloring Barn (some absolutely gorgeous coloring pages here, but watch out for the odd stuff mixed in. Ie… don’t click on the one that tells you how to get rid of toenail fungus… etc. I’m including this site because the actual coloring pages are beautiful, but just beware of the spammy stuff.)

36. Best Coloring Pages (this site is a little annoying to navigate, but it’s good to have on hand in case you are searching for something specific, like a picture of a hibiscus for a certain unit of nature study in homeschooling, etc.)

37. Relaxing Flower Power Coloring Sheet for Big Kids (or Grown-Ups) | Dover Publications

38. All Aboard! Train Coloring Sheet Customizable with Child’s Name Before Printing | Frecklebox (this is the coolest!)

39. Free Coloring Page Round Up for Adults or Older Kids | The Spruce Crafts

40. Free Adult Coloring Pages | Art Is Fun

41. 1,500+ Free Adult Coloring pages | Just Color

42.  Fisher Price Coloring Pages | Fisher Price

Free Printables: Cleaning + Organizing

43. Cleaning Checklist you Can Customize – One Year on One Page | Simply Rebekah

44. Printable Quick Cleaning Cards | Hey Donna

45. Weekly Menu Plan & Weekly Cleaning Checklist | My Humble Kitchen

46. Customizable Organizing Labels | Tater Tots and Jello

47. 21 Days to Make or Break a Habit | Sweet Paper Trail (I love this idea SO much!)

48. Organized Home Management Binder | Sweet Paper Trail

49. DIY Toddler Command Center with Printable “Daily” Sheets | My Sister’s Suitcase (So cute!)

50. Party Planning Printables | A Pair of Pears

51.Toy Bin Labels | Mom’s Daily Adventures

52. Phone Directory | The Organized Home

53. Blog Planner | A Virtual Woman

54.5 Ways to Get More Organized: Free Printables | Infarrantly Creative

55. Rose Tag Frames | Sweetly Scrapped Art

56. Vintage-Inspired Organizing Labels | Sweetly Scrapped Art

57. Notes for the Babysitter | Darling Doodle Design

58. Chevron Labels | World Labels

59. Paint Can Labels | The Creativity Exchange (this is actually a really smart idea – who doesn’t have a bunch of half-used cans of paint kicking around that you’ve forgotten exact details about?)

60. Monthly Budget Planning Sheet | SissyPrint

61. Outside the Box Chore Printable for Kids | Simply Rebekah

62. Homekeeping Free Printables | Clean Mama

63. Free Printable Label Templates | World Lables (There are hundreds of templates to choose from, just make sure to scroll down to download and you can print them at home)

64. Color Coordinated Packing Labels | Girl Creative Designs

65. Bill Tracker | Clean & Scentsible

Free Printables: In the Kitchen

66. Kitchen Measurement Conversion Printable | Turning It Home

67. Mason Jar Labels | Limeshot

68. Recipe Cards | Volume 25

69. Printable Jam Labels | Packagery (these are just darling. love them.)

70. Potluck Printable Cards | A Well-Crafted Party (these are a great idea for identifying ingredients/possible allergens, etc. so that everyone can enjoy the potluck with you.)

71. Kitchen Pantry Organizing Labels | World Label

72. Spice & Pantry Chalkboard Labels | World Label

73. Freezer Storage Labels | Mom it Forward

74. Chalkboard Kitchen Art Prints (Set of Four) | The Shabby Creek Cottage

75. Printable Spice Labels | Landeelu

76. Recipe Binder | Abby Lawson

77. But First, Coffee Print | Chicfetti

78. Retro Style Kitchen Binder | A Cultivated Nest

79. Freezer Organization Printable | Polished Habitat

80. Recipe Binder | The Gracious Wife

Free Printables: Kid Games + Activities

81. DIY Campfire Story Printable Shadow Puppets | Handmade Charlotte

82. Adorable Printable Space Character Figures | Picklebums

83. Activity Pad | Papa Jan’s (Preschool activities, dot-to-dots, mazes, word puzzles, color by numbers, etc.)

84. Printable Play Masks | Sing a Story

85. Road Trip Scavenger Hunt Sheet | Turning It Home

86. Zoo Scavenger Hunt for Kids | The Greenbacks Gal (we have a family zoo pass, and I LOVE this idea!)

87. Babysitter in a Bag | The Dating Divas (this is awesome. I love the idea of leaving new and special activities for the babysitter, and the printable cards are something my kids would absolutely love.)

88. Papercraft alphabet | Digit Prop

89. Mr Printables | A huge resource of dozens of coloring sheets and craft/activity sheets. I love the Balancing Circus Toy cutouts, the Lunch Box Notes, Animal Finger Puppets, and the Rainbows & Rain Game (like snakes and ladders, only with rainbows and rain that you cut out and pop up 3D. So cute!)

90. Themed Word Searches | TipJunkie

91. Pond-Themed Preschool Activity Pack | Confessions of a Homeschooler

92. The Shapelys Memory Game | And We Play

93. DIY Geometric Fridge Magnets | And We Play

94. Dry-Erase Coloring Mats | And We Play (this is brilliant!)

95. Fairy-Tale Dress-Up Paper Dolls | TipJunkie (an amazing tip: print these on magnetic paper to play with them on the fridge!)

96. Trucks Pattern Card Pack | The Measured Mom

97. The Ultimate Printable Paper Doll Collection | Cool Mom Picks (I’m swooning over some of these. Adorable.)

98. Free Mermaid Party Printables | Living Well, Spending Less

99. Free Field Guides | Playful Learning

100. Hundreds of Free Learning Resources | Playful Learning

101. Coloring, Tic Tac Toe, Dots and Boxes Printables | Look, a Lemur! (Nine different themes and cute art!)

102. 52 Weeks of Free Kid Printables | The Trip Clip

103. 153 Connect the Dots Pages for Kids | The Spruce Crafts (Easy-Hard and skip counting)

104. 20 Printable Busy Bags | Coffee Cups and Crayons

105. Kids Travel Journal | Fab Fatale

Free Printables: Art

106. Valentine’s Day art quote | Our Daily Obsessions

107. Printable quote by Winston Churchill | Sugar Tot Designs

108. Watercolor Art Print with Adventure Quotation | Shabby Creek Cottage

109. Summertime (and the Livin’ is Easy) art printable | Shabby Creek Cottage

110. 73 Journal/Scrapbooking Cards | Miss Tiina Digital Art

111.128+ Journal/Scrapbooking Cards | Miss Tiina Digital Art

112. New York Public Library Digital Gallery | via Thrifty Decor Chick (I’m linking to her blog post about it so that you can be inspired before diving into the actual collection. This is an absolute goldmine.)

113. Floral with Quotes Art | On Sutton Place

114. Vintage Printable (This site. You guys – GO TO IT NOW. Hundreds of out-of-copyright or public domain images. Mostly beautiful vintage naturalist or scientific illustration.)

115. Dozens of beautiful art prints | Feed Your Soul Free Art Project (another drool-worthy site. I’m so inspired by these images.)

116. Daisy Botanical Vintage Art Print | The Graphics Fairy (click around the site for more!)

117. WPA Posters | Library of Congress (lots of free images here)

118. Summer Subway Art | Eighteen 25 (and they have tons more free printables, categorized here.)

119. Chesterton Rainbow Quotation Art | Simple as That

120. Frameable Mason Jar Photos | Redfly Creations

121. Hundreds of Beautiful Art Prints | Chicfetti

122. Mid-Century Illustration Art Printable | Little Gold Pixel (a round up of her art and freebies here)

123. Make and Tell Wall Art | Make and Tell (just click “older posts” to see more free prints)

124. Wild and Free Print | Oh So Lovely

125. Plant Lady | Oh So Lovely

Free Printables: Health and Wellness

126. Planning to Get Fit | Design Finch

127. Fitness Planner | Sarah Titus

128. Goal Tracker | Daisy Cottage Designs

129. Wellness Journal | Sunny Day Family

130. Self Care Printable | Page Flutter

131. AIP Food List | Unbound Wellness

132. “I am… ” Affirmations Worksheet | Bloom Daily Planners

133. Labels For Identifying Common Food Allergies And Dietary Restrictions | Glitter and Spice

134. Potluck Pal Allergy Alert | Eclectic Affinity

So much free awesomeness! Which one’s your favorite?

This post was last updated in 2019. If you find a broken link, feel free to leave a comment to let me know. Thanks for reading! xoxo.

Two images, the first a laptop on a desk with a woman's hand typing. The second a jar of colored pens. Text overlay says, "100+ Fantastic Free Printables: Calendars; Habit Trackers & More".

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6 Ways to Promote Healthy Gut Bacteria in Pregnancy and Newborns https://redandhoney.com/healthy-gut-bacteria-pregnancy-newborns/ https://redandhoney.com/healthy-gut-bacteria-pregnancy-newborns/#comments Sat, 24 Nov 2018 08:00:24 +0000 http://redandhoney.com/?p=7349 Gut bacteria is the foundation of a lifetime of good health. Here are six tips for healthy gut bacteria in pregnancy and newborns. Written by contributor Erin Long When your baby is conceived she has a totally unique genetic make up, a mashup of you and your husband’s DNA. You can’t control whose eye color […]

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Gut bacteria is the foundation of a lifetime of good health. Here are six tips for healthy gut bacteria in pregnancy and newborns.

Pregnant woman portrait in nature

Written by contributor Erin Long


When your baby is conceived she has a totally unique genetic make up, a mashup of you and your husband’s DNA.

You can’t control whose eye color she will have, if she’ll be high-strung like you or relaxed like your husband, or, God forbid, she gets your father-in-law’s sense of humor.

There is one thing your precious baby receives from you, as mom, from conception that you can control: her gut bacteria.

Super exciting, huh?

You decide the quality of her gut flora, which is foundational for a life of health. When you have healthy gut bacteria you give high quality nutrients to your developing baby through your red blood cells and providing a thriving place to grow. As she passes through the birth canal she’ll be covered in your gut bacteria, which will colonize her gut. She’ll continue to get doses as she contacts your skin and breastfeeds.

So, how do you promote healthy gut bacteria in pregnancy and your for your newborn ? Here’s 6 ways you can ensure you pass on the best gut flora you can.

1. Build up your healthy gut bacteria before conceiving

While this is not the time for a full, intense detox (detoxes take away energy your body needs to conceive) you should remove as many toxins from your diet and environment as you can. Use non-toxic cleaners and eat a whole foods diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics, with as much organic as possible. This helps the body to detoxify at a rate that supports your ability to get pregnant while creating a healthy environment for your little one.

newborn baby in a blanket

2. Consider taking a probiotic supplement if you’re having difficulty conceiving

Many fertility issues stem from an unhealthy gut so if you’re having difficulty conceiving, creating a healthy gut flora, thus also balancing hormones, is vitally important.

3. During pregnancy, eat a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics, and consider taking a supplement

So you already filled your gut with healthy bacteria and now a baby is thriving on all the awesome nutrients you’re passing onto her through the foods you’re eating. Great! Keep it up. In-utero exposure to probiotics is linked to a healthy immune system and helps prevent allergies, among other health benefits.

4. Relax and minimize stress

A study done on mice found that babies born to stressed mothers had more bacteria associated with difficulty dealing with stress and less of the most foundational types of bacteria. So, in spite of all the stressors that come along with pregnancy, keep your cool. It just might make it easier for your baby to keep hers.

Of course, we can’t always just choose to not encounter stressful things, which is where healthy stress management comes into play. Check out this post for some healthy stress management tips that can help!

5. Breastfeed

Prebiotic-rich breast milk promotes the growth of good bacteria and hinders that of bad bacteria, selecting the bacteria necessary for optimal health. Waiting to introduce solids also gives your baby’s gut a chance to develop without outside interference.

Check out these helpful posts here at R&H:

mom and baby just after birth

6. Lots of skin-on-skin time

Gut bacteria is also passed on by skin contact, yet another reason why it’s so important in the first moments of a baby’s life.

But what if your baby is born C-section or is receives antibiotics in utero or shortly after birth?

There isn’t sufficient research done on the best way to treat a newborn not exposed to her mother’s gut bacteria for me to make any clear suggestions but I can speak from personal experience.

My daughter was born by emergency C-section and I was GBS positive, thus got a round of antibiotics, when my son was born VBAC five weeks early — neither of my births were ideal for passing on good gut bacteria (I’ve learned a lot since my kids were born and would definitely do things differently now). To give them the best chance at a healthy gut I:

  • breastfed both my kids over a year and if I were to do it over I would give them a very small amount of infant probiotics as well.
  • my kids take a daily probiotic, eat whole and probiotic-rich foods
  • we avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary
  • look at rebuilding their gut health as a long-term process and I’m constantly learning how to help that happen

We all want to give our kids the best chance at life possible and in many ways that starts with their gut health. Their bodies face many challenges as they adapt to life outside the womb and strive to become strong and healthy.

As mothers we can do our best to provide them with a thriving gut flora that can sustain them throughout life.

Sources:
  1. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24586-pregnant-mothers-stress-affects-babys-gut-and-brain.html#.U3JcVa1dU7
  2. http://natural-fertility-info.com/fertility-health-probiotics-prebiotics.html
  3. http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/02/11/birth_feeding_choices_affect_a_babys_gut_bacteria_study.html
  4. http://tummycalm.com/building-a-healthy-gut-for-baby.html
  5. http://experiencelife.com/article/fertility/

 

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The Budgeting System That (Truly) Changed My Life https://redandhoney.com/budgeting-system-changed-my-life/ https://redandhoney.com/budgeting-system-changed-my-life/#comments Wed, 17 Oct 2018 02:03:38 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=62363 Our old budgeting system involved staying broke and feeling hopeless, but not anymore. I have never felt so empowered with my finances. Here’s what I did. I say this without a shred of hyperbole: last fall two things happened that changed everything. One: I had another baby, and two: I fell seriously hard in love […]

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Our old budgeting system involved staying broke and feeling hopeless, but not anymore. I have never felt so empowered with my finances. Here’s what I did.

I say this without a shred of hyperbole: last fall two things happened that changed everything. One: I had another baby, and two: I fell seriously hard in love with budgeting. 

And yeah, you bet your bottom dollar (money pun for the win) that I’m ranking those on the same level of impact in my life. Except that honestly? The budgeting might just be an even bigger deal. I mean – I had three babies before this one. Been there, done that. (Kidding! Sorta.)

Our Budgeting Story

Anyone who has known me a long time knows that I’m not the numbers person. Until last fall, budgeting and I were not pals. We weren’t even living on the same planet. Math and I? Not friends. No, no, nopety-nope, nuh-uh. It was a hard pass to all things math-ish, probably stemming from a traumatizing high school math experience. I don’t wanna talk about it. (Cue eye twitching.) 

Chris (the honey of ‘red+honey’) had been “in charge” of our finances ever since we signed up for a joint chequing account when we were engaged in 2002. 

And then things changed.

But first: some backstory. We got married at 19 and 20 years old, so basically two starry-eyed kids got hitched and started pretending to be grown-ups. A lot of people told us (straight to our faces, and behind our backs) that getting married so young was stupid and we’d inevitably divorce down the road. (Or some other variation of this lovely happy-engagement sentiment.)

While the road wasn’t without its bumps and bruises, we celebrated our 15th anniversary this year and our marriage is at its best ever. (So, so satisfying to prove so many people wrong just by being happy.)

However, getting together so young meant that there were lots of ways in which we had to grow up together. Learning to handle finances was one of them.

Of course, we both brought our family of origin’s baggage along, with our experiences being fairly opposite. And there was stress in the mix, too, as there often is with finances. We were both newlyweds and college students. (I did three more years to complete my B.A. degree.) As you can imagine: we weren’t exactly rolling in it.

Eventually I graduated and got a job (two, actually: a full-time office job, and a part-time evening/weekend job). Chris was working in a full-time salaried position as well. Our salaries were entry-level but we had few responsibilities, a cheap apartment, and suddenly we had money to spend without feeling much consequence at all. 

We would eat out frequently, make “medium-sized” purchases without much thought, and even buy the occasional bigger item, like furniture, without planning ahead. If we didn’t have the cash in our bank account, we sometimes borrowed it through a line of credit, credit card, or interest-free store financing program. It was fine though, because we had few responsibilities and could pay it off without too much effort.

We didn’t go too crazy and rack up thousands of dollars in debt (that came later when we had less income than expenses) but we also didn’t start saving up for the future. (Helloooo, early-twenties Beth & Chris: mortgages and kids are expensive!)

Most young people are floundering a bit as they gain that real-world experience of handling finances, so I give our young newlywed-selves a bit of grace. However – if I could go back and tell myself any one thing at that age, it would be this: get YNAB!!

Yup, seriously, YNAB (aka You Need a Budget.) YNAB, the budgeting software. The beautiful, fabulous, life-changing budgeting software. That’s what I’d say if I suddenly acquired the ability to time travel. (Oh modern-day self, you are a nerdy delight.)

(Side note: can’t stop laughing that the words “budgeting” + “software” are what’s lighting me up right now. I mean of all the unlikely love stories, this is it.)

Eventually, we had a baby, then another, and soon after a third. During this time Chris was going through his pilot training and had reached the level of flight instructor. His training had cost us somewhere around 80K, but the job paid far below the poverty level.

We spent years in debt, being super broke, and feeling hopeless. Thankfully, YNAB helped us to break that cycle.

(And yes, as a side note: we’re making significantly more more money now, but the larger salaries wasn’t what did it. The credit honestly belongs to YNAB, and the actual income level mattered a lot less than I thought it would. We stayed stuck in that debt-laden, constantly feeling broke cycle for two YEARS after making more money. This entire story really does hinge on how YNAB changed everything for us, which I’ll explain more below.)

Technically, YNAB is a budgeting software. But really – it’s more than that. It’s a method, a mindset, and my BFF. 

And in the last year, it has quite literally changed my life.

How We Found YNAB

We first signed up for YNAB back in January of 2017. I got the free trial, poked around a bit, and promptly lost interest. I didn’t take the time to really learn the method and the philosophy driving it, so I faded fast, just like every other budgeting tool and method we had tried in the past. (Mint, EveryDollar, cash budgeting, the envelope system, an Excel spreadsheet…)

Then I hit my breaking point.

A year ago, our chequing account was in overdraft yet again, and I felt the bills and unplanned expenses closing in from all sides with payday still a week away. This was a common scenario. I didn’t know which expenses were coming up. It felt like things were constantly requiring money, and it caused a perpetual state of low-grade panic.

Despite now being at a point in our lives where we’re earning quite a good combined income, our debt from years of being low-income or unemployed weighed heavily on our day-to-day, and to be honest – our financial strategy was mostly, well… not strategic. (Avoidance and denial were more like it.)

Every time I thought about finances, I started noticing the anxiety manifesting itself in me in physical symptoms – like a tight feeling in my chest, inability to get a deep breath, headaches and stomach aches, an extremely short fuse with my kids at the smallest annoyances, a twitch in my right eye, and a jittery feeling that I couldn’t shake.

Chris had done what he could, and had done well over the years at keeping us out of too much trouble. He kept track loosely (mentally), but he didn’t have a good system, nor was he actually tracking every transaction. He kept things going in survival mode, but his job can be quite stressful and demanding and he didn’t have the mental energy to invest beyond that. 

We were constantly bouncing between payday and overdraft, often having overdue bills accidentally, and forever paying for random expenses without knowing if we could actually afford them now, or if we should wait… or if we should be making the purchase at all.

A month later, about a week after giving birth to our fourth child, I pulled open the YNAB website with the kind of newfound determination that can only come from being at rock bottom. (Plus the stubborn tenacity of a fired up redhead, ha!)

Thankfully, I suddenly had a bunch of time in a rocking chair (nursing a newborn in the fall of 2017) to study the Four Rules, scour the YNAB help documents (like – literally read them all word-for-word), and watch a bunch of YNAB seminar videos on YouTube. (There’s a fantastic one on budgeting while you’re broke that helped a ton.)

Suddenly, everything made sense. 

I got super fired up, and have been faithfully tracking and keeping up with my budgeting ever since. At first I logged in nearly every day, but now I will typically log in and update things around twice weekly, and it works beautifully for me. 

What I’m saying is – you’ll have to pry YNAB out of my cold, dead fingers before I give it up. It has changed my life, reduced my money anxiety to practically nothing, and allowed us to take control in a brand new way.

Oh, and we went from being in overdraft most of the time to paying off over $8K of debt so far in 2018 – without changing our income. We were also able to pay for several large expenses (a $1200 car repair bill, fixing our dirt/weed mess of a backyard for around $1500, and $800 on new tires for the van) this year without going further into debt.

The YNAB Philosophy

YNAB is built on four foundational rules. They’re simple but powerful, and they were a total lightbulb moment for me (when I finally took the time to understand them).

Most budgeting tools are tracking tools – to track how good you are (or aren’t) at staying “on budget”. YNAB is a whole different thing altogether. The tracking is only useful insofar as it helps you to be strategic, flexible, and in complete control on a daily basis. 

I have never felt so empowered with my finances, and that’s an incomparably good feeling.

So, like I said – understanding the unique YNAB method is absolutely key. Here’s a breakdown of the four foundational rules, along with how they’ve impacted us in particular.

Rule #1: Give every dollar a job

This was a huge shift for us. And I’ll just note: this refers specifically to assigning jobs to dollars AFTER THEY ARRIVE IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, not assigning jobs to future, hypothetical dollars BEFORE they arrive. This is critical!

Yes, you may know that you’re getting a paycheque next Thursday… but if the money isn’t actually in your account yet, you can’t use it.

Our previous attempts at budgeting were more about writing all of our monthly expenses into a spreadsheet and making sure that the total wasn’t more than our monthly income. This is a totally different thing. 

This was always disastrous because: a) we were forever missing/forgetting our True Expenses (see Rule #2), and b) the timing was always off with when bills would come out. We didn’t know when we could do a big grocery shopping, and when was best for buying somebody new shoes… we were always making educated guesses about when we could do these things based on what was in our account at any given moment, without having a 100% firm handle on what was coming up. Inevitably, we’d go get groceries and buy somebody new underwear, and before we knew it – oops – the car payment would come out and our account would be overdrawn. 

Now, I wait until money arrives in our bank account, and I give each dollar a job in YNAB (which bills are coming up? Which true expenses are in the pipeline? Etc.) 

Now, it’s as easy as taking a look at the budget in order to decide whether or not there’s money available for any particular need/want at any particular moment. And if there isn’t, and I want to spend anyway? Well, that’s what Rule #3 is for.

I learned that there’s no point in simply writing down your monthly expenses if you aren’t actively managing your dollars as they come in. Game changer.

Rule #2: Embrace your true expenses

True expenses are the things you spend money on that don’t come along each month on the same day like clockwork. It’s anything from haircuts and holiday spending to quarterly utility bills and car maintenance expenses.

Missing this concept left a huge, gaping hole in our previous budgeting attempts. We honestly tried to write everything down into the spreadsheet – every last utility, every need for clothing, and groceries, and haircuts. 

But seriously – it’s really hard to catch and categorize absolutely everything that’s not a monthly bill until you’ve been carefully tracking your spending for a solid 12+ months.

We knew that there were expenses that would come up but that were not in the budget, like batteries, a new broom, birthday gifts for a friend, ten dollars on coffee because we have a random couple of hours kid-free, ziploc bags from the dollar store, underwear, a subscription that gets billed annually, and suddenly my kid has a pen pal and when-did-postage-stamps-get-so-freaking-expensive?! 

I could go on. 

However, despite knowing these sorts of things are always lurking around the corner, we still struggled to predict and plan for them. They always stressed me out. 

And that, my friends, is exactly where Rule #2 comes in. Within YNAB, you create categories for both “actual” (fixed) expenses as well as “true” (irregular) expenses. Then, you can assign dollars to any category you want, letting it accumulate until you need it. 

There are forever going to be these random purchases that will wreck your budget if you don’t get serious about tracking your actual spending and embracing YOUR true expenses. (Key word: your.)

I spent probably the first six months adjusting the categories in our budget and now, at nearly a year on, I finally feel like I have a very accurate representation of our spending. I have a category for anything our bank statement throws my way, and I think I’ve struggled to categorize less than five transactions over the last 8 months. 

Because I finally have our true expenses nailed down, I find it very easy to assign jobs to the dollars as they arrive. I know that I try to keep around $40 or $50 in our “Household Items” category all of the time, so that it’s so problem when things come up like the BBQ needing a refill on propane, or buying a mini broom and dustpan from the dollar store to keep in the laundry room (to sweep up the rocks and dirt that shake out of kid laundry every day, because KIDS, man.)

I know to put a little bit in the “Chris Meals Out” fund so that when he inevitably has to grab lunch on the go during a weekday (his job is fast-paced and sometimes he’s running around the city for meetings), it’s no problem.

And so on.

Embracing your true expenses = never feeling caught off-guard. It’s absolutely critical for peace of mind.

Rule #3: Roll with the punches

While the first two rules were revolutionary, rule #3 is where the magic is, for me.

For my entire adult life, a budget was more or less a static thing. It was a thing that lived in a spreadsheet. It was a set list of boundaries that we attempted to stay within, inevitably failing miserably enough that we started ignoring it again… and then revisiting months later when we felt guilty enough about our spending to try again. Wash, rinse, repeat. 

Rule three tells us that a budget is a LIVING THING. It’s not a static list of expenses contrasted with your paycheque (with the goal being that the latter’s bottom line is larger than the former’s) that lives in a spreadsheet, it’s a flexible, movable, adaptable thing that shifts this way and that, and lives to serve you. Instead of being something that lives distantly off in a spreadsheet somewhere, my budget is now a thing that I check in with several times a week, tweaking and shifting things around in all the time.

In YNAB, when you assign jobs to your dollars as they come in (as per Rule #1), the money sits in that category until it’s needed, and YNAB keeps track of it from month to month. We now know to ignore our bank account balance when asking if we can afford something – YNAB has the real answer, and Rule #2 helps to make sure that it’s an accurate one.

But what happens when you want to spend money on, say – a spontaneous date night – and there are zero dollars assigned to the “Date Night” category? Or when one of your little humans comes to you and declares that all of their socks have holes, but you just emptied out your clothing fund in order to buy shoes for someone?

You ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES. Ah, flexibility – it’s a glorious thing. Maybe I feel such a kinship with this particular rule because my number 1 strength (out of 34) on the Strengths Finder test is adaptability. I can adapt like a total boss, which makes this rule my personal favourite. 😉

The beautifully freeing thing about YNAB is that it’s just so easy to shift things around at will. You have $50 set aside in your “Family Eating Out” fund but no plans to eat out before the next payday… and your kid needs new hole-free socks? A couple of clicks, and boom – the money is now assigned to your clothing fund, and you’re good to go. Want to borrow $6 from your household toiletries fund to buy a fancy coffee on a bad day? DO IT. You’re the boss. You know both what you’re taking from, and what you’re giving to, and it’s all within your control.

I shift money around like an Italian mob boss every single time I update my budget, and it’s so, SO much better than trying to cram our lives into some immovable lines in a spreadsheet.

Rule #4: Age your money

The last rule in the method is to help you break the cycle of living paycheque to paycheque. Your goal here is to be using money that’s at least 30 days old. You do this by saving up a month’s worth of expenses to get ahead, instead of barely covering things as they come up.

This rule is something we’re still working on. We’re still paying off debt, so I have a hard time with letting money accumulate in my account just to age it. Instead, I like to throw every spare dollar I can at our debt payments because I’m super motivated to get rid of those as quickly as possible. As we get closer to our financial goals, I’m getting more and more excited about this next step.

The Life-Changing Power of a Budgeting System

Our old way of handling money was just to spend as little as possible 99% of the time until we exploded from the stress, gave our conscience the middle finger, and blew $5, $40, or even $100 on something frivolous or unnecessary. (And most importantly, unplanned and un-budgeted.)

Our old way involved staying broke, never getting ahead, frequently finding our account overdrawn, and feeling hopeless. 

For years, there was a broken-record, repeating voice in our heads that chanted the message that spending is bad and blind self-sacrifice is good. The result wasn’t pretty: we felt guilty and/or stressed out ALL THE TIME.

All of that… now gone.

And replaced with feelings of complete confidence, peace, and excitement as we see real progress toward our goals.

If you’re in a similar place of stress and burnout when it comes to managing your money that I was, I implore you to check out YNAB. You can sign up for a free trial right here, and take the first step to changing your life like I did.

And hey – if you’re lucky enough to not be in that stressful place, but you know you could do better when it comes to managing your money, then give YNAB a try. Maybe you’re not flat broke, but you wish you could do better at reaching those financial goals that you’re dreaming about. YNAB enables you to take control no matter what season you’re in.

I really wanted to get down to the nitty-gritty and share details and tips for how I set up my YNAB account – what my categories are, exactly what I do every time I log in, import vs. manual, etc, but this post was already super long, so I’m writing a follow-up!

What questions do you have for me about budgeting? About YNAB itself? About our spending habits? Ask away – I’m a (more or less) open book. 🙂

Which budgeting system do you use? Do you find money stuff to be stressful?


Full disclosure: I wasn’t paid to write this post – I’ve been dying to share all of this with you guys for months now. I did, however, spend months (wrong email address, then wrong person who was on leave, etc. etc.) tracking down the affiliate program and beg them to let me join. (True story.) As such, the links in this post are my affiliate links, and I’m obviously a YNAB groupie. 😉

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The Stress-Free Approach to Baby-Led Weaning https://redandhoney.com/easy-baby-led-weaning/ https://redandhoney.com/easy-baby-led-weaning/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2018 14:44:17 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=62345 After four kids, I finally discovered a happy balance for a beautiful and easy baby-led weaning experience. Here’s how we do it! Baby-led weaning (BLW) is the feeding method of offering your baby soft finger foods straight from the family table as they transition to solids. Can BLW include purees? When I was first introduced […]

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After four kids, I finally discovered a happy balance for a beautiful and easy baby-led weaning experience. Here’s how we do it!

Baby-led weaning doesn't need to be so stressful! Take a relaxed, combined approach and do what works!

Baby-led weaning (BLW) is the feeding method of offering your baby soft finger foods straight from the family table as they transition to solids. Can BLW include purees? When I was first introduced to BLW I would have said no. (Ahh, the eternal optimism of youth. Ha.)

But listen, friends – I’ve embraced pragmatism in my old age, and it’s a beautiful thing. I’m pretty firmly now in camp “do what works” (in many areas of my life!) and this has been absolutely wonderful as we’ve introduced solids to Everett, our fourth baby.

This has been our most peaceful and easy-going transition to solids out of all four of my kiddos, and it’s all thanks to a great balance between soft-cooked table food, and high-quality, 100% natural, simple purees like Beech-Nut® Naturals™.

For so long I felt like introducing solids was yet another thing to figure out when it comes to a real food diet. The baby-led weaning purists snub their noses at purees while the homemade baby food crowd spends hours cooking picture-perfect blends of nutrient-dense foods in smooth, tiny portions. Which method works? Which is the most authentically healthy for your adorable baby?

The beautiful freeing bottom line is this: both can be healthy, along with a range of options in between – including some beautiful and natural pre-made options like Beech-Nut Naturals that are inspired by homemade (but without the hours of work on your part!)

Baby-led weaning doesn't need to be so stressful! Take a relaxed, combined approach and do what works!

Baby-led weaning doesn't need to be so stressful! Take a relaxed, combined approach and do what works! Natural purees complement baby-led weaning beautifully in our family.

With four kids, homeschooling, a busy household, and a small business to run, my personal philosophy on introducing solids is this: I feed my baby real, whole foods in whatever form is most convenient for my busy life.

Over the years, I’ve hung out on both ends of the spectrum. I’ve spent hours in the kitchen making different purees and freezing in ice cube trays, I’ve tried exclusive baby-led feeding without using purees whatsoever. In the end, I’m realizing that somewhere in the middle is what truly works for our family.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret? Easy baby-led weaning is definitely my favorite approach to transitioning my babies to solids. Most of the time, it’s just easier. I prefer to exert as little energy as possible in the things that don’t matter so that I can pour myself into what counts, and baby-led weaning fits the bill most of the time (when compared to making homemade baby food purees). I love so many things about it.

But let’s talk about real life for a second.

Truth be told, our family values can get a little labour intensive sometimes. My homemade, whole foods friends know what I’m talking about – have you seen that internet meme that asks “why does cooking take like six hours and eating like three seconds and washing dishes like seven days and seven nights?”

Valid question.

Add in a baby who suddenly finds a newfound love for food (definitely my kid), and you’ve got even more work on your hands. Allowing your little darling to self-feed is a recipe for gigantic mess several times a day. Shirt bibs and washcloths are helpful but ultimately we’re still averaging two baths a day around here.

Baby-led weaning doesn't need to be so stressful! Take a relaxed, combined approach and do what works! Natural purees complement baby-led weaning beautifully in our family.

And strict BLW is not always convenient – like when you have a meal that’s not baby-friendly and you find yourself in the role of short order cook for your 10-month-old. Or when you’re out of the house and don’t have your usual set-up and it suddenly feels way complicated.

So what’s a busy mama to do to honour the family’s healthy food values and not go crazy? I love baby-led weaning for its simplicity and – brutal honesty here – total lack of laborious busywork. But sometimes, flexibility is key.

I happen to think there’s a pretty convincing case for the side benefits of baby-led weaning (autonomy, yay! exposure to textures, yay!)… but the real key to feeding your baby real, healthy food is to focus less on the preparation and more on the ingredients themselves.

Avoid additives and preservatives and fillers and sugar, of course. Focus on nutrient-dense fruit and vegetables, meat and eggs, and healthy fats. Sound familiar? (Yes, that’s basically how we eat too.)

In the months before they turn a year old my babies dive face-first into piles of chili, chunks of soft chicken, slices of juicy fresh fruit, chunks of avocado, scrambled eggs, steamed carrots with maple syrup, and baked potato swimming in butter. They do double time on bananas with half in each fist, and inhale peas and blueberries like a high-powered vacuum cleaner. They get epic smoothie mustaches and slurp back my homemade blended veggie soup like a boss.

Here’s the thing, though, that many baby-led weaning enthusiasts miss in their zeal: a real food diet happily embraces a wide variety of tastes, textures, and combinations, including pureed and blended food.

Y’all, it took me four babies to fully realize it, but hear me on this: easy baby-led weaning is not an either/or situation! It’s a both/and. This is SO FREEING. There are so many awesome benefits to a baby-led weaning approach, but in our house those benefits are only really felt when we take a non-dogmatic approach to the whole thing.

If I may point out: in your enthusiasm in offering soft, mashable solids (like steamed carrot spears or avocado chunks) , you’ll also notice that some of your table foods are pureed ones (like smoothies and blended soups). That’s just a natural way of eating – for adults! Some foods are soft and mushy and melt in your mouth (perfect for babies to gain experience with chewing!), while some are pureed and smooth (perfect for babies learning to swallow, and for getting more actual food down the hatch while they’re still figuring it all out!)

Everett’s first taste of something other than breastmilk was a spoonful of smoothie that he opened wide for, and thoroughly enjoyed.

And that, my friends, is how we approach the solid food transition in our household. We offer soft and mashable table foods for gradual experimentation starting after six months (we generally wait until the first tooth appears, and the pincer grasp has developed), and we use natural, real food blends and purees to help fill their tummies with all of the awesome nutrients they need as their nutritional requirements grow and change.

Essentially, we offer whatever table foods they can handle at each meal, and then add in some purees as desired. If we’re having something baby can’t safely try, we might grab a jar of blended veggies or fruit. This blended (pun intended) approach totally works for us. It gets healthy food into tummies and it helps keep my sanity (maybe?) intact.

Baby-led weaning doesn't need to be so stressful! Take a relaxed, combined approach and do what works! Natural purees complement baby-led weaning beautifully in our family.

Baby-led weaning doesn't need to be so stressful! Take a relaxed, combined approach and do what works! Natural purees complement baby-led weaning beautifully in our family.

I keep some natural puree blends on hand that I buy at a store because we’ve decided that baby-led weaning works best in our house if we use healthy pureed foods in combination with soft table foods, and DIY’ing them isn’t a high priority when I have excellent options available to me that are inspired by homemade, like Beech-Nut Naturals.

I love that Beech-Nut recognizes hard-working families who want to provide real food for their babies, and wants to make things just a little easier for them.

I’m 100% a believer that busy parents cooking homemade food (a lifestyle that – let’s face it – can be pretty time-intensive) for their families should take the healthy time-saving options when they can get them. This is true in so many areas of my life.

Jars of natural purees like Beech-Nut Naturals are real food for babies™, and they’ve come in super handy over the last few months as Everett dove headfirst into the world of solids.

A jar, a spoon, and a bib in the diaper bag have been essentials over the last few months, and I am infinitely grateful for a stress-free approach that embraces flexibility and real life. And, most of all, I’m grateful for the ability to feed my baby real food!


Disclosure: this is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Beech-Nut Naturals. The writing and opinions are 100% all mine. R&H partners solely with companies that align with the mission of R&H to promote natural health and wellness. 

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How to Start a Successful Backyard Compost https://redandhoney.com/successful-backyard-compost/ https://redandhoney.com/successful-backyard-compost/#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2018 10:00:51 +0000 http://redandhoney.com/?p=3313 Want to start your own backyard compost for your own amazing, nutrient-rich soil? No problem! This post shares some of our best hints and tips to get your backyard compost bin started, and thriving! Coffee filters, egg shells, banana peels, cardboard! Dryer lint, apple cores, dog hair, tea bags! Grimy bits and peels and scraps… […]

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Want to start your own backyard compost for your own amazing, nutrient-rich soil? No problem! This post shares some of our best hints and tips to get your backyard compost bin started, and thriving!

Want to start your own backyard compost for your own amazing, nutrient-rich soil? No problem! This post shares some of our best hints and tips to get your backyard compost bin started, and thriving!Coffee filters, egg shells, banana peels, cardboard!

Dryer lint, apple cores, dog hair, tea bags! Grimy bits and peels and scraps…

Garbage, right? Nope! Not at all! These grubby morsels are actually the building blocks of a beautiful and successful backyard compost.

Much of the waste found in the home, particularly in the kitchen, holds a wealth of nourishment for our gardens and, in turn, our families! It’s likely that 50% (or more!) of your household ‘garbage’ can be redirected towards a much more nourishing and fruitful end.

With the rising costs of food – especially organic food – one of the ways that we can feed our families better is to grow our own vegetable garden. And, one of the easiest ways to make your veggies thrive is to use your own homemade compost!

First, a bit of a disclaimer: There is a wealth of information, ideas, and opinions on composting. Soak it up! Read and research and experiment and discover what works for your household. Until then, use this post as a summary and starting point as you dig into your own home ecosystem.

Backyard Compost: The Basics

What Is It?

A balanced and thriving compost system is much more than a pile of rotting produce. Instead, it’s a living micro-system filled with teeny living organisms, busily breaking down all that ‘garbage’ into easily accessible minerals and nutrients for your plants to take back up and prepare for your food use.

A well-composted garden is going to grow more vigorously while producing food with much higher levels of nutrients for your family. (While continuing to foster in your kids a love for gardening and growing your own organic food, too!)

Want to start your own backyard compost for your own amazing, nutrient-rich soil? No problem! This post shares some of our best hints and tips to get your backyard compost bin started, and thriving!

What Do You Need?

  • Dry and wet matter (green/brown organic waste)
  • Oxygen (the little microbes need to breathe, otherwise things get stinky)
  • Moisture (from water you add, as well as natural humidity of the material)
  • Heat (from the sun, as well as the energy of the decomposition)
  • Space (in the home and yard)

Backyard Compost: Setting It Up

The Inside Setup

First, choose an interior container and location. Much of your composting material originates in the home. Choose a location near your main food prep area to encourage regular use.

In our home, we have a simple bucket with a lid. It’s kept under the kitchen sink, next to the trash can. Some families with a smaller volume of organic waste keep their container on the counter. 

Old clay crocks or pots are often an aesthetically pleasing option. Be sure that your container can be easily transported to your exterior site and rinsed out to avoid odours.

Right now, I just fill a bowl with my scraps during meal prep, and have a kid dump it outside as needed. In the future, I’d love to treat myself to something like this beauty for my countertop:

What do you put into it?

All plant and simple-paper waste, including:

  • vegetable/fruit peels
  • eggshells
  • coffee grounds
  • wet paper towel
  • hair & lint
  • newspaper
  • yard waste
  • and more

The ideal compost pile will include a mix of greens (wet) and browns (dry).

  • Green/wet are things like: food scraps, coffee grounds, and fresh grass clippings.
  • Brown/dry are things like: dry leaves, sawdust, newspaper, and wood chips or dead branches.

Browns provide carbon, along with some bulk which helps circulate oxygen, while the greens provide nitrogen, and most of the nutrients that will end up in the soil.

A good mix of both green and brown is essential for the best performing decomposition system. Without it, your pile may take longer to break down, it may get stinky, or it may not be as nutrient-rich. (Although it will still decompose eventually.)

In general terms, a higher amount of browns (carbon) is required than greens (nitrogen). Gardening and composting sources will debate the fine points of the ideal ratio of these elements, but for beginners: aim for a 4:1 ratio of browns to greens (ie. four parts of brown for every one part of green).

Want to start your own backyard compost for your own amazing, nutrient-rich soil? No problem! This post shares some of our best hints and tips to get your backyard compost bin started, and thriving!

What should you NOT put into it?

  • Avoid putting pet waste into your compost, unless it’s cow, horse, chicken, or rabbit. Dog and cat (omnivores) poop is not good for your compost as it can carry bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.
  • Avoid putting meat and fat (with a possible exception for fish bones) into your compost as it will attract animals, and smell terrible.
  • Avoid coffee filters and tea bags unless you know that they’re made from natural materials that will break down. (Coffee grounds and loose tea leaves are a-ok though!)
  • Avoid adding produce stickers. As much as possible, try to get into the habit of removing these from your produce before consuming it. They don’t decompose.
  • And lastly, avoid putting anything into your compost pile that contains synthetic materials like plastic, glossy coated papers, pressure treated wood, and paint.

See more explanation on these from this article over at Small Footprint Family. She lists a few things that I personally still add to my compost, like onion peels and citrus peels (due to their acidity), but overall the things she lists are important to avoid for a thriving and successful backyard compost!

The Outside Setup

First, choose an exterior dumping and decomposing site. The primary work of composting occurs outside of your home when the microorganisms present in your local ecosystem interact with (ie. eating and breaking down) the products you provide.

While there are several models of composters you can purchase, you can also opt to save the cash and use something around your yard! 

Your home composting system (HCS) can be as simple as tying four old wooden pallets together, or making a circular ‘cage’ out of large mesh wire, or adding some vents to an old garbage can, or even just designating a certain corner of the garden.

Here are a few options to purchase, if you go that route: there’s the rolling drum style, like this metal one, which is totally #compostgoals, and there are many in a lower price range like this plastic, stationary one, which is the style that we currently have. It works just fine!

We scored ours for free from a neighbour who was getting rid of it. Lucky us!

Points to remember when choosing your exterior site:
  • Ease of access. Keep it convenient enough to use; even during inclement weather or busy days when you might feel it’s easier to just ‘trash’ it.
  • Also, be sure you can get to it with a wheelbarrow if you want to add a load of grass or leaves, or if you’re ready to shovel it out for garden application.
  • Give it some sunshine and air. While that damp spot behind the garage might be out of sight, it’s not going to give you as much zesty decomposition.

This is the site of your chosen bin. Set it up and you’re ready!

Backyard Compost: Start Your Pile Well

You have your indoor bin ready, your outdoor container prepped – now we begin!

You can most certainly begin by just dumping the egg shells and fruit peels from breakfast, but if you want to give your compost pile a keen head start, you can create a few intentional layers first.

The simplest approach is to start off with layers of dry and wet (ie. brown and green). Find as many bags of dry/brown materials  and as many bags of green materials (green grass, manure, peels, your indoor bucket contents) and layer them in with each layer about 4 inches deep, soaking each layer with water before adding the next one.

Note: Nature is far more forgiving then we give her credit for, so work with what you have and retain the principle: green and brown make composting go ‘round!

And don’t be scared to ask the neighbours for their old leaves or grass—they’ll be surprisingly thankful! Just avoid materials which have had chemicals applied as they could harm the living system of decomposition.

Want to start your own backyard compost for your own amazing, nutrient-rich soil? No problem! This post shares some of our best hints and tips to get your backyard compost bin started, and thriving!

One of the best kick-off meals you can give your backyard compost pile is a good dose of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium (NPK).

While there are some great commercial brands out there, mixing some good ol’ blackstrap molasses into a liter of warm water and pouring it deep into the center of your pile works great! For those who are a bit more adventuresome in their composting, human urine (particularly of males) provides the perfect ratio of NPK…just don’t tell the neighbours! 😉

Backyard Compost: How to Maintain Your Pile

Finally, you’re in maintenance mode! 

As your indoor bucket fills, dump it on until it looks like a layer, then add some dry materials. If the season is particularly dry, add some water on occasion.

Once a week (give or take), use a garden fork to do some lifting or turning to add some air for  those busy microbes. Depending on the amount of materials, the weather, and the health of your local microbes, you could have beautifully balanced compost within eight weeks!

Here’s a good example of a compost fork that will work perfectly, and is available on amazon with free prime shipping.

Note: Depending on space, begin a second pile once the first is about four feet square. By the time the second pile is filled, the first will be ready to apply to your garden!

So there you have it: a summary and start for you own personal composting adventure!

Try it out and see what happens! In the end, you’ll have less waste, a richer garden, and greater bounty on the table (not to mention some great science lessons for the kids!)

Do you have a backyard compost at your house?

Original article written by Dea Daniels of @i_am_village. Edited and updated by Red & Honey

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Everett’s 47-hour Labour & Birth Story (Part Two) https://redandhoney.com/long-labour-birth-story-part-two/ https://redandhoney.com/long-labour-birth-story-part-two/#comments Thu, 17 May 2018 15:04:20 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=49659 Our fourth baby arrived 12 days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a medical emergency! This is the conclusion to our crazy long labour birth story. You can read Part One of our story here, if you haven’t already. Here is Part Two: We were on hour 33 of labour, and my birth team was […]

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Our fourth baby arrived 12 days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a medical emergency! This is the conclusion to our crazy long labour birth story.

You can read Part One of our story here, if you haven’t already. Here is Part Two:

We were on hour 33 of labour, and my birth team was undoubtedly exhausted. I was physically weary but I barely noticed. I was ferociously tunnel-visioned on my goal.

With every hour that went by, I zeroed in on the triumphant moment when baby would start to crown and I could finally push him out into the world. I envisioned it happening in the birth pool there in our bedroom, and imagined everyone’s collective joy and how much sweeter it would be after so many long hours. I could see it clearly in my mind with an intense longing.

Another 2.5 hours went by as I laboured still. The contractions were coming on more frequently and more painfully. They grew more intense, and I laboured in the water. I reached around my gigantic belly to see if I could feel my baby’s head with my finger at all, and I could! Surely this was a good sign!

At 1am, I was elated to hear that I had moved to a 7. Small progress is still progress, and I was overcome with a fire and fury to “get this thing done”.

Operating on sheer adrenaline and a cup of strong bulletproof coffee that my dear husband (lovingly, ha) shoved in my face, I went for my last resort: aggressively climbing the stairs up and down, taking them two at a time, and stopping at every other to do a deep lunge with one foot on the stair above, and the other – two steps down.

Inevitably, with each lunge, I got a long and intense contraction, the kind that you roar and sweat through. I squatted deeply at each step, willing my pelvis to open and my baby to go down, down, down.

My brow was dripping with sweat, my feet were swollen and aching and numb, and I was contracting like crazy, but I was more determined than I’ve ever been before.

This would work. This had to work.

My eyes were closed nearly the entire time as I drew from depths I didn’t even know I had to work this baby out.

The power of adrenaline is all kinds of crazy – I did this for well over an hour without stopping. I climbed and lunged and contracted and yelled and breathed and roared into the lunge as if I could squat that baby out right there on the staircase.

I truly have no idea how my body accomplished this, especially with (later discovered) severe anemia. Prior to labour I was wiped out by walking ten feet, let alone unleashing my inner amazon warrior woman on my stairs in the middle of the night.

Heck, I couldn’t even repeat that again now, not pregnant.

But hell hath no fury like a woman in her 35th hour of labour who just wants to GET THIS BABY OUT NOW.

Finally, I was encouraged to take a break. It was 3am, and I had been in labour for 38 hours so far.

I heaved my weary bones onto my bed and awaited the verdict from my efforts. After all of that…

Nothing. N O T H I N G.

Still at 7cm.

Unbelievable.

Lyanne gently recommended that we make the decision to transfer to the hospital for some help, and I immediately burst into tears from the depths of utter exhaustion and grief.

As I wept, everyone in the room exhaled and it sunk in.

I felt numb as I watched Chris scurry around packing a bag. I listened to the tone of the room change and focus on getting out the door, plans to meet there, who was going in which vehicle… and all of it sounded like a distant clamour as big, hot tears rolled down my face, and I sobbed from exhaustion and sadness.

From that moment on, I didn’t feel in charge anymore. It was happening to me instead.

As soon as the call was made to go, I knew instantly that I would get an epidural. I knew what pitocin contractions were like, and I knew my body had precious little left to give, and I wasn’t interested in killing myself for an unmedicated hospital birth. For what? I thought.

Truth be told – I was also angry. I didn’t want to feel anything anymore. I wanted to check out. This was no longer the triumphant and empowering birth scenario I imagined, and I was done.

My body responded immediately to the situation, and slowed the contractions right down to every 20-30 minutes as we got ready to leave, during the drive over to the hospital, and getting into the hospital room.

I asked for the epidural immediately and received it sitting on the edge of the bed in a dimly lit hospital room. It was just after 5am.

As the epidural took effect I sank back in the hospital bed, exhaled all of my sadness, and gave way to precious sleep. Lyanne started pitocin in my IV. The contractions remained sluggish. They upped the dose.

I dozed on and off for a few hours.

Around 7am, I was awake and talking with my midwife. She checked me for dilation in order to assess how well the pitocin was working. She had already upped the dosage twice in the last hour and a half due to persistently sporadic and sluggish contractions.

I was 7cm. Zero progression in the four hours since I had been checked at home, and I had been at 7cm for at least seven hours by this point.

Lyanne was surprised that there had been no change, even with the pitocin. She gently told me that we’d give the pitocin a few more hours to work, but that eventually we may have to consider a c-section. I said I understood.

A few minutes later I asked if there was a bedpan handy that I could keep beside me in the bed because I was feeling quite nauseous. I remember being handed one, setting it down beside me, and Lyanne standing at my bedside asking me questions about how I was feeling.

Then blackness.

I woke up from a deep, deep sleep to a male voice calling my name. It sounded like I was listening from under water. “Beth! Beth, can you hear me? Can you hear me, Beth?”

My eyelids fluttered slowly and I cracked my eyes open as the voice became louder. There were intense, bright lights blaring in my face and a dozen doctors and nurses surrounding me in a flurry of activity.

The room sounded fuzzy with the combination of medical personnel speaking in urgent voices, the beeping of machines and monitors, and the doctor intently focused in on me, speaking directly to me as if trying to wake me up. (In fact, that’s exactly what he was doing.)

There was an oxygen mask on my face and I had no idea how it got there, and it scared me.

My body felt like a ton of bricks. Then I saw Chris at my side with tears in his eyes and a panic-stricken look on his face, as if he had seen a ghost. Fear crashed over me and I burst into tears.

(I was unconscious in the above photo. It’s the only photo we have during the incident – I believe it is occurring just after the emergency code was called and nurses had arrived, but moments before the doctors rushed in. Naomi stayed in her spot and didn’t move for fear of being kicked out of the room.)

The doctor spoke in a reassuring voice and said “You’re okay.”

My hand went to my belly and I croaked out “baby” as I held my breath in the oxygen mask. The doctor assured me that the baby was fine, and his heart rate back to normal. The tears kept flowing, falling down the sides of my face and dripping onto the pillow, taking my worst fears with them.

Lyanne was on the other side of me. She told me that we had been talking and then all of a sudden my eyes went blank and then rolled back into my head, my arm shook, and I became unresponsive. I appeared to be having a seizure. Then my eyes closed and stayed shut.

She called an emergency code and in an instant – full, bright lights were flipped on and multiple doctors and nurses burst into the previously quiet, sleepy room with a flurry of activity.

My blood pressure plummeted to 55/10, and baby’s heart rate was dropping dangerously low. I was unconscious. They shoved an emergency IV in my hand for extra fluids and a nurse squeezed the bag with all of her strength to force it into my body as quickly as possible. They put an oxygen mask onto my face, and discontinued pitocin in my other IV in order to give me a shot of epinephrine (adrenaline).

In the background, Chris hastily slipped his shoes back onto his feet, afraid they’d be whisking me out to surgery any second to save the baby.

I was unconscious for about four minutes before waking up to the sound of that new voice calling my name.

My blood pressure was responding to the epinephrine and was rising back to normal levels, and baby’s heart rate was back up too. As the chaos died down and everything stabilized again, the room let out a collective exhale and slowly returned to “normal”.

(Why did this happen? The next day, the doctors still had no answers. Extreme low blood pressure is a rare complication of an epidural, but reactions are typically within the first 20-30 minutes. This was two hours later. They found that my hemoglobin was down to 82, so their best guess was maybe a combination of extreme fatigue and severe anemia, but ultimately they had no definitive answers. I received an iron transfusion before going home.)

The next 4-5 hours are a blur to me as I continued to sleep on and off and allow my body to labour with the epidural and pitocin. My midwife’s notes are blank at this point as she had transferred care to the OB on call when I lost consciousness. I believe I was checked for dilation once more, with some progress to around 7.5 or 8cm, which was a little bit of progress… but still not enough.

We were dangerously close to the edge of a c-section, but giving it just a little more time…

A few hours later, the lovely nurse who had been with me for much of my time checked me and as my entire birth team held their breath, expecting the worst, but hoping for the best, she looked at me with a smile and declared that I was at 9.5cm.

All of the emotion of the last several days of labour just flooded out of me and I lost it. I cried from happiness and relief, mostly, but there were so many other tangled up emotions there too.

She said that there was just a bit of a lip remaining and that she could probably stretch that back and get me to 10 easily, so she did.

I was finally… finally ready to push.

Whatever my body lacked in dilating and labouring, it made up for in pushing. Pushing felt so natural and easy to me.

Since they had transferred care to the OB earlier, at the last second they asked me who I wanted to deliver. Caught off guard, I said “um… my husband?” They handed him a pair of gloves quickly!

Chris caught him. He was out in five minutes.

On my chest.

My first words to him were triumphant and a little shocked as I whispered “we did it!!” into his ear.

It was an unbelievably hard labour. It brings up so many big emotions, even seven months later. (This contributor post from the R&H archives made me cry when I read it after Everett’s birth.)

Nonetheless, in that moment nothing mattered but my perfect baby boy on my chest, in my arms, looking into my eyes for the first time.

All love stories have thorns, but the bloom is worth it.

He’s worth it all a million times over.

(All photos above by the amazing Acorn & Oak Birth Photography. <3)

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Everett’s 47-hour Labour & Birth Story (Part One) https://redandhoney.com/everett-long-labour-birth-story-1/ https://redandhoney.com/everett-long-labour-birth-story-1/#comments Wed, 16 May 2018 15:27:32 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=49633 Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story. I love birth stories, but I don’t love mine.   I’m telling it anyway, because I think it matters. How women give birth matters. Not just the “healthy baby in […]

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Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.I love birth stories, but I don’t love mine.  

I’m telling it anyway, because I think it matters. How women give birth matters. Not just the “healthy baby in the end” spiel. Yes, that matters too, and if it were a one-or-the-other choice any sane mother would take a healthy baby over a beautiful birth experience in a heartbeat. Obviously. 

But you know what? It’s not one or the other. Many mothers get to have both. And I wanted both, too. Having a healthy baby doesn’t mean that my disappointment was invalid – it just means that I don’t get to experience the beautiful, natural homebirth I’ve been longing for ever since the day I first cracked an Ina May Gaskin book and hired a doula for my second birth in 2010. I couldn’t give birth at home in each of my first three births for varying reasons, but this time – everything was aligned and ready.

I longed to welcome my baby into the world in an intimate and familiar space. I wanted the focus to be on the metaphysics of the moment, a new life being born onto this earth. I desired for it to be beautiful, primal, and natural, and I desperately wanted my three big kids to be present to witness our clan become a beautifully complete family of six.

Instead, I met my baby in a hospital room with an epidural, a catheter, a blood pressure cuff, an emergency IV shoved hastily into my hand, and a revolving door of medical personnel.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Of course, at the end of the story we got a captivating, brown-eyed baby boy out of the ordeal, who I wouldn’t trade for all of the candlelit, peaceful home waterbirths in the entire cosmos. 

Here’s the story of how we finally met our Everett.

We kept my due date a secret.

My midwife and doula both knew, for obvious reasons, and so did my birth photographer. My mom knew because she lives four hours away, and I had invited her to be at the birth.

Other than that, my answer to “when are you due?” was “in mid-October”. (My due date was September 30.) 

All three of my first babies took a week or more past their mystical “due date” to decide to join us earthside, and it was tortuous. Waiting to finally meet my sweet baby was hard enough, but the anticipation of everyone around me was at a fever pitch by my due date. Each day thereafter invited more and more “have you had that baby yet” inquiries, each one ratcheting my stress levels to epic proportions by the end.

For this, my fourth baby, I finally wised up and kept the exact date to myself. That way, I could just announce his birth when it happened, instead of answering “any signs of labour yet?” and “had that baby yet?” eleventy billion times in the last weeks, until my head exploded.

Side note: had I actually gone into labour before my due date we would *not* have been ready. Honestly, we didn’t even pull out the bin of newborn clothes from the basement until around 39 weeks, and we hadn’t finished gathering all of our home birth supplies until somewhere around 40 weeks. I was 99.9% convinced he’d arrive past the due date. (At the same time, I was super okay with potentially being proven wrong!)

Thanks to that bit of genius decision-making, my waiting game at the end was mostly peaceful.

Now, much as I had tried to set appropriate expectations (ie. don’t expect a baby any time before 41 weeks, lady!) I somehow glossed over the fact that although this was my fourth birth, it was still a separate and unique experience. I expected him to to be born sometime between 41 and 42 weeks, just like baby #3 had been, probably with a similar labour.

To quickly recap previous births:

Baby #1: Obstetrician/hospital/Large city. Induced with cervidil at 41, went into labour overnight and gave birth the next day with an epidural and no further intervention. (They still gave me pitocin to hurry things along because why not? #eyeroll) Baby born with ten minutes of pushing. (Isaac’s birth story here on an old and hilariously embarrassing blog circa 2008 that I’ve never linked to before. *cringe*)

Baby #2: Family doctor/hospital/Small town. Induced with cervidil at 41, but really wanting to avoid pitocin after educating myself. Doula for support. Baby born that night with no medication or intervention. Baby born within 30 seconds of involuntary pushing with a single mega contraction. (Aliza’s birth story here.)

Baby #3: First midwife birth/homebirth in someone else’s home (I lived outside of the midwife’s boundaries for care, so they required me to come to the city for the birth, and hooked me up with a nurse friend of theirs who rented her basement for this purpose.) At 41+3 I had a membrane sweep, which put me into labour. Baby was born the next day after a sluggish labour that required a lot of squats, walking, and stair lunges to avoid labour stalling. Baby born with 30 minutes of pushing. (Canaan’s birth story here.)

So. With all of that under my belt, I figured OF COURSE I’d go past the due date. Obviously. (And indeed, I was right.) 

Back to our story: it was (Canadian) thanksgiving weekend, which is often a Friday-Monday sort of thing. Schools often have PD days on the Friday, and Monday is the stat holiday. My 41-week mark fell on the Saturday of that weekend, and my midwife was off-call for those four days.

Once I had calculated all of this (months earlier), I set my mind on the Tuesday after the long weekend: October 10. I had a midwife appointment that day. I would be ten days over by then, and I figured chances were decent that I wouldn’t spontaneously go into labour before that day.

I was right. Tuesday rolled around and I heaved my huge and exhausted pregnant self to my midwife’s office for an appointment, where I asked for a membrane sweep, and was discouraged to find that – even at ten days past due – I was only at 1cm dilated with zero signs of labour. Lyanne (my midwife) did the sweep anyway to see if we could give things a nudge along, and got me to 2cm. We briefly discussed what happens if I don’t go into labour by 42 weeks, and how risk starts to slightly increase after that. 

She told me not to worry, and that we still had several days before that was a factor. It was Tuesday, and 42 weeks would be on Saturday. 

Based on my three previous births, I wholeheartedly believed that surely after 41ish weeks (remember, I was 10 days past, at this point), my body was “mostly ready” and just needed a little (non-medical) nudge so we could get in under the 42 week wire.

We left the office feeling bummed out that there were no real signs of readiness by this point. We stopped for a smoothie. While sitting in the van waiting for Chris to come back with the smoothies, I started to notice that I was getting mild contractions with some regularity. 

When we pulled into our driveway, I began timing them. It was around 2pm. They were averaging 4-5 minutes apart, but still quite mild and somewhat inconsistent.

I decided to go inside, and use my breast pump to try and encourage stronger contractions, which worked quite well. I bounced on my exercise ball, used the breast pump intermittently, and hugged my kiddos as they came up to my bedroom for hugs. 

They stepped through the doorway with wide eyes and soft touches, stroking my arm or my back as I bounced through contractions and listened to my labour playlist, then scurried back out of the room to go play. 

The house was filled with nervous energy as we all realized that this was really (maybe?!) happening. Wanting to determine 100% if it was The Real Thing or not, I decided to take a warm bath, as most midwives suggest for this purpose. If the contractions continued, I’d assume it was real labour. If they petered out, I’d assume it was not.

I awkwardly lowered my 41+3 pregnant body into a wonderfully warm bath, and exhaled with a happy sigh. The entire third trimester is really uncomfortable for me, having a short torso and a belly that goes way out, swollen ankles, anemia – the whole shebang – so small pleasures like this cannot be understated. 

My mind was abuzz with excitement that this was maybe going to happen after all?!

Sure enough, the contractions continued. 

As I lay enjoying the warm bath, resting, and tuning inward to my body and my baby, I realized that the contractions were still coming. They were every 4-5 minutes consistently for several hours now. Sometimes there would be a larger 8-10 minute pause, and sometimes they came every 2-3. But they continued to come, regardless of what I did or didn’t do.

This was very reminiscent of my labour with baby #3, so we blithely assumed we were in familiar territory with a long labour birth story. We settled in for the long haul. (Little did we know how ridiculously long the haul would be.)

Chris came in to the bathroom and we decided together that we would go ahead and call my mom, doula (Megan), and birth photographer (Naomi). My mom and Naomi, each having 3-4 hour drives ahead of them, said that they’d be on the road shortly. I told my doula to hold off a bit until I felt like I needed the support. 

The evening hour became late as labour continued. It seemed to be a slow progression, which wasn’t all that surprising for me. I continued to focus on a combo of resting, eating and drinking, and staying active and encouraging my uterus to work hard. 

I used the breast pump off and on to try to stimulate oxytocin and kickstart stronger contractions, but whenever I stopped using that, they slowed down. They didn’t stop coming, they just became weak and sluggish.

At the encouragement of my birth team, Chris and I went for a late-night walk around the neighbourhood. I continued walking, swaying, and breathing through contractions every 4-6 minutes. We came home, and I tried to lay down and rest. 

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story. Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

I was so terrified of labour petering out altogether (and ending up in the hospital later on, being induced with pitocin or even needing a c-section) that I could barely sleep, although Chris urged me to try. I made him set the alarm for two hours so that we could reassess and see how it was going. 

I slept, and contractions slowed. 

But they didn’t stop.

I woke up after two hours, my nerves jittery and frustrated. I opted to use the pump a bit more while bouncing on the ball, and listening to my calming birth playlist. (I made three birth playlists with different tempos/vibes: fast [“dilation station”], medium [“keep it steady”], and slow [“worth it”]. Maybe I’m an overachiever, why do you ask? Ha!)

By the time the first morning light came, things were still in much the same state as the night before. It seemed to be following the same pattern as my previous labour: sluggish contractions that required me to continually work for them with bouncing, squatting, and walking. I focused on my goal of seeing my sweet baby’s face for the first time, and persevered.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story. Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story. Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Contractions continued to come every 4-5 minutes, but sometimes as frequently as every 2-3 minutes, then slowing down and coming every 8-10 for a bit. It had been like that pretty much since the start of labour.

That morning (Wednesday, Oct. 11th), we decided that we would head to the health food store for some herbs that are recommended to help induce labour to see if they would speed things up. We also got an appointment with my chiropractor for that afternoon to get an adjustment and acupuncture, just in case things were still slow.

The morning ticked by and our appointment rolled around, and the contractions kept coming. If I stopped squatting, walking, bouncing, and using the breast pump, the contractions slowed… but did not stop. My doula went home for some rest with instructions to call her back whenever necessary.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story. Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

When we got home from the chiropractor, I continued labouring in our bedroom. It was a peaceful and lovely environment that I had carefully and lovingly planned: candles burning, a small pool for me to labour and/or birth in, my playlists that I’d made ahead of time, and some birth affirmations that I’d strung up on the wall. My birth team varied between being at my side, massaging my lower back, or giving me some space.

As lovely as it was, the whole thing was getting monotonous. I was growing tired of the songs on my playlists, the candles were melting down, copious amounts of tea had been consumed, and I was growing weary. 

I had been in labour for over 24 hours.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

Our fourth baby arrived twelve days overdue, after 47 hours of labour and a brief medical emergency! This is his crazy long labour birth story.

By late afternoon contractions started to feel a bit more intense. I laboured in the birth pool and felt like things were intensifying. The contractions felt more painful and I felt increasing pressure from baby’s head. 

After a period of increased intensity with some bigger, more painful contractions, we decided that it was time to call the midwife. She arrived around dinnertime, and once she set up her equipment, she asked if she could check me for dilation.

At 5pm, after 28 hours of labour, I was only at 4.5 or 5cm. 

I felt like someone had sucked the air right out of the room – I could barely process what was going on. Why on earth was this not working?! Didn’t I do everything “right”? Being patient, declining unnecessary interventions, creating a safe and peaceful environment, bouncing and walking…

I know intellectually that birth is unpredictable, and that of course there are no guarantees. But in my mind, in that moment – this was not how it was supposed to go. Overwhelming feelings of failure kept crashing over me.

I also felt guilty about keeping my birth team there for so long, and for calling my mom and photographer to drive all that way so early in a long labour. Not that I would have known, obviously, but I felt bad despite trying not to. This made me feel even worse because I knew that distracting negative emotions can prolong labour. (A terrible cycle!)

We decided to give it a few hours to see how things progressed and so I continued to labour – breathing, walking, and bouncing through contractions, still using the breast pump

And I laboured… and laboured… and laboured… for four more hours.

At 9pm, Lyanne did another check as we waited nervously to find out if there had been any progression.

When she told me that I was still barely at 5cm, I was numb. I stared at the ceiling feeling utterly helpless. Nothing was working, especially not my body, and yet I was determined to keep going. It had been 32 hours of labouring and I was exhausted. Exhausted… but stubborn.

 

We decided to break my water in an effort to help things intensify and speed up. It’s a calculated risk due to the increased risk of infection. It’s recommended to get the baby out within a certain number of hours afterward. Essentially, it places a time limit on you, which I normally would avoid… however by that point in this long labour birth story, we knew I had a ticking clock on just how long I could sustain my energy and stamina anyway.

More labouring, bouncing, squatting, rebozo sifting, in the birth pool, out of the birth pool, on the toilet to encourage muscle relaxation (a trick from my last labour). My birth team kept me supplied with fluids – I drank so. much. bone broth and herbal tea. I choked down a few snacks for energy.

Grueling work for 1.5 hours, then… another check. 

5cm. Again. Again?!

Yes, I had been at 5cm dilation for at least six hours, despite every single concerted effort I had made. I felt completely and utterly desperate.

Everett’s long labour birth story to be continued. Now published! Read Part 2 here.

(All photos above by the amazing Acorn & Oak Birth Photography. <3)

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Cocoa Peppermint Whipped Body Butter https://redandhoney.com/cocoa-peppermint-whipped-body-butter/ https://redandhoney.com/cocoa-peppermint-whipped-body-butter/#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2018 21:54:13 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=49575 This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months. Hi! My name is Lisa and I blog about food from scratch, natural living and a handmade home over at Farmhouse on Boone. I am a long time reader of Beth’s blog, so […]

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This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months.

This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months.

Hi! My name is Lisa and I blog about food from scratch, natural living and a handmade home over at Farmhouse on Boone. I am a long time reader of Beth’s blog, so I’m so happy to be guest posting over here.

I know Beth is committed to sharing recipes and remedies that promote health. That’s why I thought this recipe for All Natural Cocoa Peppermint Whipped Body Butter would be a perfect fit. It’s easy to whip up, and free from the toxic chemicals found in conventional lotions and body butters.

Warmer months are on the horizon. For a Midwest dweller, like myself, I can’t help but let out a little “Hallelujah!” at that. To keep my skin moisturized and healthy, I like to make body butter with four simple ingredients and essential oils. This recipe is especially helpful for the summer months, because the peppermint adds a cooling effect. It’s even great for little ones who complain about being hot.

The coca butter gives this recipe a delicious chocolatey smell. Combined with the peppermint essential oil, it kind of reminds me of a peppermint patty. I must restrain myself from licking the beaters! 😉

This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months.

Cocoa Peppermint Whipped Body Butter

Ingredients

½ cup coconut oil (this is a great price on coconut oil on a brand I often use)
½ cup shea butter (buy it here)
½ cup cocoa butter (buy it here)
½ cup olive oil
15 drops peppermint essential oil

Since the ingredients are all just equal parts, you could easily double and triple this recipe. It is great to make in large batches as gifts, or just to use for your family for the year.

Instructions

Melt all the ingredients in a double boiler. If you don’t actually have one, like me, you can take notes from the super sophisticated setup that I rigged up.

This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months.

Yep. It’s just a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. I do it all the time, to make body butter, lip balm, sunscreen, etc.

This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months.Once the ingredients are melted together, add the peppermint essential oil.

This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months.Next,  pop it into the freezer to let it firm up a bit.

When it has set up, take it out of the freezer and put it in your mixer. (You could also leave it in the bowl and use a hand mixer.)

This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months.Whip it up.

This all natural recipe for cocoa peppermint whipped body butter is nourishing to the skin and cooling for those hot summer months.

Put it in a mason jar, and add a little jute bow if you wish.

The recipe yields one pint. I stored mine in two half pint wide mouth mason jars. This body butter can be stored for up to one year at room temperature.

Enjoy!


If you liked this post, you may also enjoy:

DIY Peppermint Sugar Scrub

6 Natural Exfoliators to Replace Microbeads

DIY Scrub and Lotion for Keratosis Pilaris (“Chicken Skin”)

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7 Healthy Ways to Manage Stress (Before it Makes You Sick) https://redandhoney.com/healthy-stress-management/ https://redandhoney.com/healthy-stress-management/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2018 01:37:04 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=49551 Stress is a powerful force, and if left unmanaged, it can actually cause serious, long-term health concerns. These are the healthy stress management practices that we aim for in our home.  Being an adult means that you can eat ice cream at midnight if you want to (i.e. what my kids plan to do when […]

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Stress is a powerful force, and if left unmanaged, it can actually cause serious, long-term health concerns. These are the healthy stress management practices that we aim for in our home. 

Healthy Stress Management 1Being an adult means that you can eat ice cream at midnight if you want to (i.e. what my kids plan to do when they’re grown up), but it also means a hefty dose of responsibility.

My husband and I are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this May, and in our time together we have weathered a lot of hard seasons. There were years of being very low income, various illnesses, unemployment, high-stress work environments, many moves – including across the country and back, criminal harassment from an unstable landlord, having babies (first three in less than four years), high-needs infants resulting in intense sleep deprivation, and marital struggles.

You know – the usual. 😉

As much as I’d like to insulate myself in a magical cocoon of health, comfortable finances, and happy relationships, I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet. Sometimes the stress of these challenges gets utterly overwhelming.

Thankfully, human beings are wired to adapt and handle stress.

When faced with “danger” (ie. any kind of stress), a part of the brain called the amygdala sends a signal to another part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which immediately takes charge like a drill sergeant, communicating with all parts of the body to fight or flee.

One of the many parts of the body that is activated in this moment is the adrenal glands, which we’ve talked about many times around here. The adrenal glands release epinephrine (more commonly known as adrenaline), which initiates the fight or flight response to keep you safe.

Unfortunately, when stresses occur too frequently, and your brain is in a continual state of “danger mode”, you are at risk for a number of serious health complications.

Long-term, frequent stress can lead to health concerns such as:

  • weight gain
  • unexplained body aches and pains
  • inability to handle everyday life stresses – the tendency to “snap”
  • heart issues
  • mental distress (anxiety, depression, and more)
  • a weakened immune system
  • digestive issues
  • sleep issues
  • cognitive impairment

Sometimes I find myself in a season where the hard things seem to be piling up. I’m sure many of you can relate.

To be honest, I had my husband, Chris, in mind when I thought of writing this in the first place. Stress hits his physical health pretty hard, and since I’d kind of like to keep him around for the long-term, I’m super motivated to help him be proactive about it.

When you’re in a particularly stressful season, it’s extremely important to be mindful of how you are managing that stress, and what kind of self-care measures you’re practicing. Of course, most of the items on this list are excellent choices for regular stress maintenance as well – you don’t have to wait until a crisis hits. (In fact – it’s best that you don’t.)

By keeping regular tabs on your stress levels, and incorporating the healthy stress management practices below, you’ll avoid the downward spiral toward total and complete burnout.

Now, a caveat! If you’re anything like my husband (a Type-A “get ‘er done” sort of person), then think of the things below as your personal to-do list. Think of them as an obligation. Do what it takes to elevate them in priority, because if you don’t – you will eventually pay for it with your health.

Obviously we can’t just avoid stress altogether because life doesn’t work that way, but there are things we can do to support ourselves in the meantime. These things make all the difference in the world as to how our bodies can handle the stress we do face in a world that’s (shocker!) not always perfect.

Healthy Stress Management: 7 Things to Try

1. Breathing and meditation

There are a few different options such as Headspace (a free app that sends a soothing Aussie voice into your ears, telling you to close your eyes, take deep breaths, and release the tension from your body), yoga (check out Yoga with Adrienne for free on YouTube), and Calm, a website with a large variety of stories and meditations.

2. Exercise

Exercise naturally relieves stress by releasing oxytocin into the body and melting away tension, and I’ll tell you right now: this one is my husband’s clear favourite.

A couple of years ago, he came home one day with a “guess what!” face. He found a quality no-frills gym called Fit4Less near our house that is a fraction of the cost of other gyms. He signed up, and has been a happy user ever since.

Despite the fact that I’ve totally taken over our family budgeting in the last few months (for the first time ever) and I’m most definitely not a spender, I find it easy enough to make room in the budget for this.

For such a low price (starts at $4.99 every two weeks, plus a small joining fee), we get a heck of a lot of bang for our buck in terms of stress relief, not to mention the obvious health benefits.

Which, by the way, is great… because running a super tight “budget ship” is very important to our family finance goals right now, and superfluous spending stresses me out! (Sheesh, it’s way too easy to fall into a negative stress cycle, isn’t it?!)

Since this one is his favourite, and since he finds it tough to schedule in while balancing work and home life, I added it to the calendar on his behalf twice a week, set up reminders, and encourage him to go – guilt-free.

3. Therapy

Perhaps you need to learn to create some margin and boundaries in your life, or maybe you need to lighten your emotional backpack by talking through some “stuff” in a  calm, non-judgmental environment.

Seeing a counsellor can honestly be one of the most emotionally refreshing things to do for yourself, and your relationships with your loved ones. It can be for a season, or ongoing – whatever suits you. Counseling is something that I believe everyone can benefit from, so if you haven’t tried it before, I encourage you to consider it.

4. Essential oils

As I learned a number of years ago, essential oils aren’t just about smelling nice. They are highly-concentrated plant compounds with powerful medicinal properties.

There are certain essential oils that have been clinically proven to affect the brain and reduce stress, such as lavender, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, and more.

5. Good nutrition + H2o

This may be an obvious addition to the list, but sadly it’s also an often-neglected one. Binging on junk food when you’re in a season of stress may feel good in the moment, but it sets you up for being chronically sick and tired in the long run. Of course, this is pretty well the opposite of what you want when you’re already stressed out.

6. Supplements

You should speak to your healthcare provider to figure out which supplements are right for you. (I, personally, prefer a functional medicine practitioner or a naturopath for this.) However, there are two supplements in particular that the majority of people are deficient in, which affect how your brain handles stress.

These two supplements are magnesium (depleted by stress, and necessary to a wide variety of body functions) and fish oil (practically everyone would benefit from more omega 3’s).

7. Decluttered environment

Research has shown a direct link between clutter and stress levels, so if your house needs a solid dose of decluttering, it could be contributing to your stress levels. I feel this acutely, and am currently in a major decluttering phase.

I’m definitely an aspiring minimalist, in the sense of owning things thoughtfully, and choosing to step out of the consumer mentality . Every time I declutter a cupboard, a shelf, or a room, it’s like a little bit of the stress that I’m carrying is exhaled, and fades away.

These are the healthy stress management practices that we aim for in our home. What are yours?

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Fit4Less. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Stress is a powerful force, and if left unmanaged, it can actually cause serious, long-term health concerns. These are the healthy stress management practices that we aim for in our home. 

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3 Practical Tips to Help Kids Eat Healthy Foods Without Drama https://redandhoney.com/kids-eat-healthy-without-drama/ https://redandhoney.com/kids-eat-healthy-without-drama/#comments Mon, 26 Feb 2018 19:49:23 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=49536 Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It’s absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen. [Hello readers! I’m super grateful today to share this guest post from Katie Kimball of Kids Cook Real Food, an online cooking class for kids. Her advice for getting kids to eat […]

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Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It’s absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen.

Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It's absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen.

[Hello readers! I’m super grateful today to share this guest post from Katie Kimball of Kids Cook Real Food, an online cooking class for kids. Her advice for getting kids to eat healthy is solid, and her approach closely mirrors my own. It can be done, and without a ton of drama – for real. Read on!]

Kids eat healthy food and vegetables all the time, no problem, right?

I don’t even know if I can get away with that sarcasm for 2 seconds. 😉 Yes, some children love their veggies, and some children never complain at the table. But a lot of us don’t have some children – we have OUR children, the ones who make parenting the job that makes us into better people (because it’s hard work!).

As with all parenting, I feel that peace at the dinner table is a combination of 3 good habits (in the adults):

  1. Being smarter than your kids.
  2. Deciding on guidelines that are doable and also best for the kids.
  3. Being more stubborn than your kids.

When it comes to eating, there are plenty of bad habits we accidentally fall into as parents.

All over the world, moms are telling me they struggle with mealtimes. There are kids leaving the table before they’re finished, avoiding the vegetables or picking them out of the meal, changing their minds about what they like from one day to the next, reacting rudely to foods they don’t like, and some kids have very narrow palates, only tolerating a handful of foods to actually go into their mouths.

But most parents really do want their kids to eat good food, to grow up to be independent and healthy as adults, and to be polite at the table.

The pressure is real!

Healthy Eating for Kids: Mission Possible

What are you to do if you’ve gotten a bad habit like making “kid-food” for the kids, or if you just want your kids to have better eating habits and you don’t know where to start?

Let’s play their game – but we’ll be smarter and more stubborn than them.

My 3 tips for you today are:

  1. Prepare the Space
  2. Lead with Your Ace
  3. Follow Suit

This is a “card game” that we can WIN if we do it right.

1. Prepare the Space – How Snacktime Impacts a Healthy Dinner

Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It's absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen.

My kids love to make their own trail mix as a snack, but you have to be careful – it gets filling!

A good dinner begins at snacktime!

I’ve seen it time and time again with parents who attend my free presentation on bringing peace to mealtimes: appropriate snacking makes a HUGE difference in what their kids will eat at dinner!

I strongly recommend that you create a buffer zone between a snack and the next meal of at least 90 minutes, preferably 2 hours.

That means if your child gets home from school at 4:00p and dinner is usually 5:30p, they don’t get an afternoon snack. It will almost certainly sabotage dinner!

We also recommend no seconds on snacks – snacks are meant to satisfy your hunger pangs, not make you “full” like a meal should. A snack portion must be smaller than a meal by at least half.

That time buffer also needs to happen on the other side of a meal. If a child chooses to eat practically nothing at dinner (I see heads nodding all over – we’ve all experienced this!), they often might wander into the kitchen half an hour or an hour later with puppy-dog eyes and a sorrowful, “I’m hungry…Mom?”

If they are fed, they learn quite quickly that eating dinner is optional – there will always be food coming soon.

Kids are pretty savvy too!

We have to be more savvy and more stubborn. My line in that instance after dinner is, “I’m sorry about that – let’s get ready for bed so you can get to breakfast quicker! Breakfast is going to taste amazing….”

Prepare the space for your kids to be hungry for dinner – have good snack habits!

2. Lead With Your Ace – Serve Vegetables First for Kids!

Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It's absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen.

Once the kids are hungry, you’ve prepared the space for success. So what do you feed them first?

Vegetables, of course!

When the hungry vultures start coming around while I’m finishing up dinner, I’ll put out our requisite bowl of raw veggies and some ranch dip that typically the kids have made themselves (did you know that the vitamins in veggies need a fat to be properly assimilated by the body? Always serve a good dip!).

The kids are allowed to graze on this “appetizer” as much as they want – it’s a great feeling to see veggies going down the hatch! The key is to make sure the vegetables are the only choice available. No grabbing a string cheese from the fridge (that breaks the very-important snacking rule), no snitching a roll from the bread basket (those are for dinner), and no other shenanigans. Be stubborn, mamas!

More tips needed? I’ve got a full hour presentation that I do LIVE for you – check the times HERE to join us for the 7 strategies making a huge difference at dinner tables all over the world! Kids eating salad!!! 

Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It's absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen.

If you’re really working on getting your kids’ tongues to accept veggies, once or twice a week begin dinner with what  call a “starter soup” – that’s going to be the trump card for your game!

3. Follow Suit – Try a Blended Soup

Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It's absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen.

Blended soups are amazing for picky eaters if they’re served in the right way. You see, there aren’t any vegetables to pick out, because they’re all blended up!

The rules on serving a starter soup:

  1. It starts the meal – and there’s nothing else on the table at all.
  2. Announce that this is the first course, and the rest of the meal will follow in about 10 minutes.
  3. Have a very positive attitude.
  4. If they kids beg for other food, just repeat the same exact sentence over and over. They’ll get the picture after somewhere between two and 9,879 times. 😉
  5. Have fun with the soup – we make swirls with sour cream* or pats of butter for eyes and a nose. We sprinkle dill on or grate Parmesan for hair or beards.
  6. Offer straws. This is the magic button that makes the meal just different enough that even some kids who won’t touch soup will have to try slurping their food through the straw! (Snip it shorter so it doesn’t fly out of the bowl all the time.)

* We pipe sour cream onto the soup using a sandwich bag with one tip snipped off – a sort of DIY piping bag that takes about 10 seconds to put together.

Find our favorite blended soups here!

When the rest of the meal is served, at least you know you’ve done your best to get some vegetables in your child first. As I watch my kids eat, I have a hunch that like begets like – the more veggies they eat, the more veggies they eat!

What in the world does that mean?

When we have a lot of vegetables on the table and they eat those first, they’ll tend to go back for more on their own accord (this after many years of being more stubborn than them, lest you think I just lucked out with kids who were born loving kale!). I truly think that the more veggies kids eat, the more used to them they get and the more they like and even crave vegetables. When we serve a lot of grain-based dishes, they just don’t go for seconds on the veggies.

We also get our kids really involved with food, which research shows (and experience confirms) helps them be more likely to try new things.

Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It's absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen.

Want to see and hear more? Join me for a live online event (totally free!) where I go into these tips and add a BUNCH more. Parents say it’s totally “encouraging” and they want to “try everything possible!”

Tips on Healthy Eating for Kids on the News!

If you can’t view the video above, click healthy eating tips for kids to view it on YouTube.

For more help with picky eaters:

Do your kids eat healthy foods without meltdowns or drama? It's absolutely possible!! Here are 3 (almost) foolproof tips to make it happen.

Katie Kimball is a Michigan mom who is passionate about helping kids eat healthy! She has shared her journey to real food and natural living for 9 years at Kitchen Stewardship, a blog that helps families stay healthy without going crazy. Along with her 4 children, she created the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse to help other parents teach their kids to cook, so that they too can get a little break (and raise healthy children who can eat their vegetables). The course serves over 6,000 families from 6 continents and over 10,000 kids are learning to cook!

Find out more about teaching kids to cook HERE, and you can grab a totally free “healthy snacks kids can make” download as a gift from Katie!

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Lemon-Poppyseed Scones Recipe (Gluten-Free) https://redandhoney.com/gluten-free-scones-recipe/ https://redandhoney.com/gluten-free-scones-recipe/#respond Fri, 23 Feb 2018 19:37:03 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=49520 These gluten-free scones will brighten your day right up with their sunshiney lemon burst and their slightly sweet taste. They’re a simple, lightly-sweetened treat, and a crowd-favorite! [Hello friends! Long time, no blog. If you follow me on social media you know that I broke both of my wrists about a month ago. I’m well […]

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These gluten-free scones will brighten your day right up with their sunshiney lemon burst and their slightly sweet taste. They’re a simple, lightly-sweetened treat, and a crowd-favorite!

These gluten-free scones will brighten your day right up with their sunshiney lemon burst and their slightly sweet taste. They're a simple, lightly-sweetened treat, and a crowd-favorite!

[Hello friends! Long time, no blog. If you follow me on social media you know that I broke both of my wrists about a month ago. I’m well on my way to healing, thankfully, but I have a couple of guest posts to share with you over the next few weeks as I sloooowly ease my way back into blogging, all written by people with two working arms. 😉 Today’s post is from Elise at The Frugal Farm Wife. These gluten-free scones look SO delish, and I’m super excited to try her recipe. Yum! Now over to Elise…]

I love making gluten-free scones for the kids.

They’re essentially biscuits, which means they’re easy to make, but with some added flavor, which makes them a treat. On top of that, they’re lightly sweetened, which means nobody asks for jam or honey like they do with biscuits, and we end up taking in less sugar overall.

So I guess you could say they’re a win for everybody!

Gluten-Free Scones: Our Favorite Recipe

This particular gluten-free scones recipe is one of my favorites. You get that little crunch of poppy seeds with the pungent aroma of lemon zest with every bite.

Top it off with a super simple, sweet-tart lemon glaze, and you have perfection that your kids and husband will adore you for.

As a mom of small children, I’m not always out of bed early, but on days when I am, one of my favorite things is doing a little baking – alone, in a quiet house.

These gluten-free scones will brighten your day right up with their sunshiney lemon burst and their slightly sweet taste. They're a simple, lightly-sweetened treat, and a crowd-favorite!These gluten-free scones will brighten your day right up with their sunshiney lemon burst and their slightly sweet taste. They're a simple, lightly-sweetened treat, and a crowd-favorite!These gluten-free scones will brighten your day right up with their sunshiney lemon burst and their slightly sweet taste. They're a simple, lightly-sweetened treat, and a crowd-favorite!It’s cathartic, energizing, and totally worth getting out of bed for. And when the kids wake up to fresh lemon poppyseed scones on the table, they get in a better mood too.

But honestly, what I love most about these scones today is their bright, fresh flavor, counteracting the low, dark clouds and cold on this late winter day. It’s like spring in here with these lemon-poppyseed gluten-free scones, no matter how much the weather won’t cooperate.

These gluten-free scones will brighten your day right up with their sunshiney lemon burst and their slightly sweet taste. They're a simple, lightly-sweetened treat, and a crowd-favorite!

That early morning baking sets the mood for the whole day, and on days like today, setting that sunny mood is important. As they say, food feeds the soul as much as it feeds the body, and good food makes a “just okay” day into great day.

Gluten-Free Lemon-Poppyseed Scones

These lemon-poppyseed gluten-free scones will brighten your day right up with their sunshiney lemon burst and their slightly sweet taste. They’re a simple, lightly-sweetened treat, and a crowd-favorite!

For the Scones

  • 2 cups high-quality gluten-free flour blend
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp guar or xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend includes it already)
  • zest from one organic lemon
  • 6 tbsp cold butter
  • 2 tbsp poppyseeds
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

For the Glaze

  • 3 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350º.

    2. Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl or food processor.

    3. Cut butter into chunks, and add to flour mixture. Pulse food processor or cut together with pastry blender until mixture resembles bread crumbs.

    4. Stir in poppyseeds.

    5. Add beaten egg, milk, and lemon juice, and stir until mixture is well combined and forms a ball of dough.

    6. Turn dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, and pat down into a 3/4 inch thick circle. Score circle with a knife to make wedges, and then cut through.

    7. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

    8. While scones are baking, combine lemon juice and powdered sugar to make the glaze.

    9. Remove scones from oven when they’ve begun to brown and the center is done. You may need to re-cut the wedges which have probably baked back together somewhat.

    10. Pour glaze over scones, brushing it on until everything is evenly coated. Some of your glaze will drip down into the cut seams and soak in a bit. This is good!

    11. Serve while warm, and enjoy!

 

10 Essential Food Staples in My Gluten-Free Kitchen

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Bulletproof Milk Recipe (the magical concoction for preventing kid meltdowns) https://redandhoney.com/bulletproof-milk-recipe/ https://redandhoney.com/bulletproof-milk-recipe/#comments Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:44:54 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=49384 I’ve discovered the secret of happiness. It’s preventing your kids from those wretched late-afternoon blood sugar crashing, sensory-overloading, tummy-rumbling meltdowns. You know the ones I mean. It’s called Bulletproof Milk, and it’s here to save the day. Hey internet! Big news: I found the antidote to the wretched witching hour. It’s this fabulously kid-friendly bulletproof […]

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I’ve discovered the secret of happiness. It’s preventing your kids from those wretched late-afternoon blood sugar crashing, sensory-overloading, tummy-rumbling meltdowns. You know the ones I mean. It’s called Bulletproof Milk, and it’s here to save the day.

Bulletproof Milk is the perfect shot of healthy fats + protein in a warm, cozy liquid that goes down smooth with a hint of sweet. My kids love it!Hey internet! Big news: I found the antidote to the wretched witching hour. It’s this fabulously kid-friendly bulletproof milk recipe, and it’s inspired by my beloved (but no longer daily) bulletproof coffee, and the blogger who first shared the idea. In our house, it’s known simply as “hot milk”, and it’s ridiculously awesome.

You know how kids are often grumpy, hungry, and tired when they get home from school? (Or anytime at all, let’s be honest.) I’ve been giving this magical concoction to my kids as their after-school snack and get this: it not only feels like a treat (they adore it), it also makes them calmer and happier. It’s like a literal chill pill. Ha!

The original Bulletproof coffee is an official thing with a derivative of coconut oil (MCT oil) that you can buy. However, there are now tons of variations on the same idea. I have my own version that I shared here. The basic concept, however you tweak it, essentially upgrades your cup of coffee into a healthy powerhouse of satiety and nutrition. Awesome for adults, but not so much for kids.

Bulletproof Milk: Kid Favorite!

Like the coffee version, Bulletproof Milk is the perfect shot of healthy fats (butter or coconut oil) in a warm, cozy liquid that goes down smooth with a hint of sweet cinnamon (or cocoa) goodness. It balances blood sugar, satiates the “hangries”, and straightens out all the wonky bits from the day. It’s like a hug for your insides, guys. Weird analogy, but just go with it, ok?

The final ingredient takes the whole thing up a notch or twelve: collagen. I’ve been adding collagen to my Bulletproof coffee for the last year or so, and I’m OBSESSED, you guys. I mean, obsessed. So of course it’s in Bulletproof Milk, too. Duh. If you ask me, Hot Milk (what the cool kids call it) has magical powers, and it’s largely thanks to the brilliance of hydrolyzed collagen.

What the heck is hydrolyzed collagen, anyway?

Collagen is a white powdered supplement. It’s the protein found in animal bones connective tissue. Gelatin (yes, you can use it to make homemade jello… it’s pretty cool) is made from cooked collagen. It’s in homemade bone broth, too, and is one of the reasons that bone broth has been traditionally used for generations for general good health, and for supporting the body’s healing from sickness.

So now you’re wondering: if gelatin is cooked collagen and it gels when mixed with hot liquid, how do we get collagen in consumable powder form?

Bulletproof Milk is the perfect shot of healthy fats + protein in a warm, cozy liquid that goes down smooth with a hint of sweet. My kids love it!Hydrolyzed collagen is collagen that’s been bathed in enzymes, breaking it down into the most bioavailable form possible so that the body can get the maximum benefit from it. It’s then powdered and made available to us. Hydrolyzed collagen is tasteless, and mixes into any liquid, hot or cold – water, juice, smoothies, coffee, tea.

Collagen is actually found in the human body in high amounts, and plays a key role in healthy skin, joints, hair, muscles, and the brain. It’s also super helpful for gut health, better sleep, and supporting a healthy metabolism. In other words, we need lots of it, and it’s super amazing stuff.

And one of my favorite parts? It has 10 grams of protein per serving (a small scoop, included in the container) which means you can make a regular smoothie into a protein smoothie without any of the junky protein powders out there! We add it to our bulletproof coffee, and now… our bulletproof milk.

Where do I find hydrolyzed collagen?

In 2017 I bought my first container of collagen from Perfect Supplements. After using it for about a year now, I highly recommend it.

There are other more well-known brands out there, like Vital Proteins, and Great Lakes, however… Perfect Supplements has equally high lab-tested quality while their prices are lower, which makes it a no-brainer. It’s non-GMO, glyphosate-free, hormone-free, and from grass-fed cows.

You can buy it in a big jar (pictured above), or in a box of single-serving packets, which are fabulous for travel (but more expensive). I took some of the packets on vacation last summer, and it was super convenient.

Coupon Code! If you want to order collagen (or anything else on their site), be sure to use my coupon code: REDHONEY10 to get 10% off your order. You can stack the discounts too, to make it even more affordable: they offer 25% off when you buy 3 Perfect Supplements brand products. (So, buy 3 jars of collagen, and you get 25% off, plus my coupon code for an additional 10%! Yay!)

Now, go forth and make a batch of Bulletproof Milk, serve it to your kids, and accept your Mom of the Year award with modesty. (PS. If you don’t have collagen yet, you can totally make it without. It will still be great for you, it just won’t have the protein awesomeness and the other great benefits of collagen.)

Bulletproof Milk

I’ve discovered the secret of happiness. It’s preventing your kids from those wretched late-afternoon blood sugar crashing, sensory-overloading, tummy-rumbling meltdowns. You know the ones I mean. It’s called Bulletproof Milk, and it’s here to save the day.

  • 5 cups milk of choice: nut milk, coconut milk, cow's milk… (We're currently loving store-bought cashew milk, but any milk will do the trick.)
  • 1.5 T butter
  • 1.5 T coconut oil
  • 1-2 T maple syrup
  • 5 scoops hydrolyzed collagen (I sometimes use a bit less if I'm trying to be super frugal.)
  • cocoa powder (optional)
  • cinnamon (optional)
  1. Warm milk in a pot on the stovetop on medium-low.

  2. While milk is heating, add other ingredients to a high-powered blender.

  3. Once milk is thoroughly warmed (be careful to not let it scald on the bottom), add it to the blender, and blend on high for 10 seconds.

  4. Add optional additions as desired, pour into mugs, and enjoy.

  1. For cinnamon hot milk, add a few shakes of cinnamon in your mug and whisk or stir well. 
  2. For cocoa hot milk, add half a teaspoon of cocoa powder in your mug, and whisk or stir well. Note: the cocoa powder doesn’t mix in as well, and you may want to use the blender.
  3. At our house, we pour two mugs of hot milk (for cinnamon), then add the cocoa to the remaining hot milk in the blender for the other three people.
  4. Other add-ins would work too – get creative!

*nutritional information calculated using cashew milk

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Immune-Boosting Herbal Tea Blend https://redandhoney.com/immune-boosting-tea/ https://redandhoney.com/immune-boosting-tea/#comments Wed, 20 Dec 2017 14:45:39 +0000 https://redandhoney.com/?p=49402 This immune-boosting tea blend is quick to whip up when you have the herbs on hand, and tastes great too! It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but… it’s also the time of year when coughs and running noses are just waiting to take up residence in your body. We are surely […]

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This immune-boosting tea blend is quick to whip up when you have the herbs on hand, and tastes great too!

This immune-boosting tea blend is quick to whip up when you have the herbs on hand, and tastes great too!

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but… it’s also the time of year when coughs and running noses are just waiting to take up residence in your body.

We are surely in the midst of cold and flu season. Holidays are a wonderful time of year but, they also tend to be the time of year when you get less rest and eat more sugar. Lack of sleep and sugar both weaken your immune system’s defense.

It is important to start building up your immune system before a cold or flu settles in. My favourite ways to do this is through immune-boosting herbs like echinacea, olive leaf, elderberry, rose hips, and hibiscus. This immune-boosting tea blend is simple, tasty, and effective!

Immune-boosting tinctures and elderberry syrup are usually my first go to when it comes to fighting off colds but sometimes, a hot cup of tea is more soothing, and let’s face it, most tinctures are not very tasty.

Immune-boosting tea is not hard to make. It contains herbs that are full of Vitamin C, which is essential for building up a strong immune system to fight off all the germs floating around. It also has herbs for helping the body to relax, which promotes better rest – something we all need this time of year.

You may be surprised to see that this immune-boosting tea is lacking possibly the most popular herb when it comes to fighting off a cold, echinacea. That is because echinacea is most effective when taken for more than two weeks at the onset of a cold or when you have been exposed to illness. (It also does not taste all that great.)

For this blend, I chose to go with herbs that can be consumed for longer periods of time so that you can benefit from it the entire season.

This immune-boosting tea is a combination of hibiscus, elderberries, olive leaf, rose hips, lemongrass, chamomile, and orange peel. The main flavor is hibiscus, which is common in many fruity tea blends, it has a similar flavor to cranberry juice. Lemongrass and orange peel add a perfect citrus note, while the remaining herbs add just a hint of flavor, blending in to create a soothing drink to warm and nourish the body.

When should I start boosting my immune system?

As soon as you’ve been exposed to illness or feel a tickle in the back of your throat, it’s time to start taking something. The sooner you stop a cold in its track – or better yet, prevent it from starting – the better. If you have this immune-boosting tea on hand then you will be ready when the germs come your way. As is common with a holistic approach to health, be sure to pair it with a variety of other natural remedies and immune-boosting techniques for best results. (Like the suggestions here for beating cold and flu season.)

This immune-boosting tea blend is quick to whip up when you have the herbs on hand, and tastes great too!

Immune-Boosting Tea Herbs

Hibiscus

Hibiscus is not widely popular an immune booster, but it is widely popular in fruity herbal teas blends. It is known all over Mexico as “Agua de Jamaica” or Hibiscus water. It is high in Vitamin C which is essential for boosting and stimulating the immune system.

Olive Leaf

Olive leaf’s antiviral properties give it the ability to prevent the common cold. Unlike other herbs that are known for their immune-boosting properties, olive leaf can be used for an extended period of time. It can be taken indefinitely by adults, however for children it is suggested to not be taken for long periods of time to allow for their immune systems to be strengthened on their own.

Elderberry

Elderberry has long been known as one of the kings of herbs when it comes to cold and flu season. I love to keep homemade syrup on hand from fall on. Studies have shown it to have strong anti-bacterial properties and stimulate the immune system, as well as to be effective in treating strep and various strands of the flu.

Rose Hips

Rose hips are extremely high in Vitamin C, containing more than citrus fruits, making it perfect for boosting the immune system. They also contain Vitamins A, B, and D, and as well as flavonoids. Flavonoids help the body to better assimilate Vitamin C, making rosehips a perfect pairing for elderberries and other herbs that contain Vitamin C.

Chamomile

Chamomile has antibacterial and sedative properties, as well as many other therapeutic effects, such as promoting relaxation.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass is high in Vitamin C, known for strengthening the immune system. It helps to restore the body’s vital systems, allowing it to absorb important nutrients. It like chamomile promotes relaxation.

Orage Peel

Oranges are noted for their high Vitamin C content, the peels, which are less frequently consumed contain almost twice the amount. They are also full of pectin, which feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Immune-Boosting Tea

When coughs and running noses are just waiting to take up residence in your body, start building up your immune system before a cold or flu settles in. This immune-boosting tea blend is simple, tasty, and effective!

  • 1 cup hibiscus flowers (whole)
  • 1/2 cup elderberries
  • 1/4 cup olive leaf (cut)
  • 1/4 cup lemongrass (cut )
  • 1/4 cup chamomile
  • 1/4 cup orange peel (cut)
  1. Add all the herbs to a quart jar. Shake to mix. 

  2. To prepare, add two tablespoons of the tea for every 8 ounces of water to a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

  3. Strain, and drink while still warm. Add raw honey if desired.

Where to buy herbs? My main sources are Mountain Rose Herbs, and The Bulk Herb Store. Amazon sometimes has herbs as well!

 

More Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Don’t simply stop with making this immune-boosting tea, there are several ways to build up your immune system.

  • Make rest a priority.
  • Exercise, even simple ways like a taking a walk or playing in the snow.
  • Eat less sugar.  Sugar depresses the immune system, so keeping your sugar, even unrefined sugar to a low amount is important.
  • Consume more gut healing foods like gelatin. A healthy gut is key to a healthy immune system. This nourishing Thai soup is a great way to heal the gut and a cold at the same time.
  • Make immunity boosting tinctures like this simple version.
  • Enjoy some of these common beverages that have immune-boosting properties.

This immune-boosting tea blend is quick to whip up when you have the herbs on hand, and tastes great too!

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