Thursday, November 27, 2014

Great Smelling Homes - At What Cost?





Advertisers have done an excellent job of convincing us that it's unacceptable for our friends to smell our food cooking or know that we have a pet.  We're told to remove those smells with their products, convincing anyone who sets foot in our homes that we live in a tropical paradise, on a breezy beach, or in the midst of an orange grove!

What this multi-billion dollar industry doesn't tell us is that their products don't eliminate anything; they just overpower the existing spells with stronger smells, produced by chemicals, many of which are toxic to us (especially our children!) and our pets!

I'm not a chemist, but when I googled 'chemicals in air fresheners', I was inundated with information on the chemicals used in air fresheners and how those chemicals affect us.

I'm going to cite the findings of some government agencies about the dangers of the toxic chemicals that the manufacturers portray through advertising as safe, natural, and necessary for us and our families.  The bottom line, though, is that these products are neither safe or natural, and certainly aren't necessary.  The truth is that every time we spray, plug in, light, or set a solid air freshener on the counter, we're harming ourselves, our children, and our pets by breathing in the chemicals in these products.

 

An even simpler bottom line: 

Don't Use Air Fresheners!

 

At the forefront, are phthalates.   Phthalates have been shown to cause birth defects and reproductive problems, in addition to attributing to allergic symptoms and asthma.  When we use air fresheners containing phthlates, minute particles enter our noses.  If you think that chemicals entering our bodies that way isn't a big deal, think cocaine, and how that affects the body by way of the nose.  Phthlates can also be absorbed through the skin.

For a detailed report, go to National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and learn more about phthlates and which air freshener brands contain the most.*  You can read that report here:  Protect Your Family From the Hidden Hazards in Air Fresheners.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that there are four basic ingredients in air fresheners: formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, p-dichlorobenzene, and aerosol propellants. 

Formaldehyde: According to the National Cancer Institute, Formaldehyde is classified as a known human carcinogen (simply put, it causes cancer!) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.   

Petroleum Distillates: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Petroleum Distillates can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat; dizziness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, and dry cracked skin.

p-Dichlorobenzene: Again, I checked the CDC, which states that this chemical can cause eye irritation, swelling around the eyes, profuse rhinitis (chronic sneezing and a congested or drippy nose), headache, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, cirrhosis, liver and kidney damage in animals, and is a potential carcinogen.

Aerosol Propellants: Studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) from the 1970's stated that Aerosol Propellants are rapidly acting and potent cardiac toxins, calling for further studies.

 

My go-to source for learning about which products contain toxic chemicals is the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  There, you can see which brands are the most toxic and which chemicals are contained in different brands of air fresheners.  

EWG recommends avoiding air fresheners.  For a list of air fresheners by name and which chemicals each contains, go here.

Here are some thoughts on air fresheners from EWG:

33- Do air fresheners destroy odors?

No, they just cover them up. They also contaminate the air, exposing people to a host of undisclosed, untested and potentially toxic substances, including phthalates, synthetic musks and allergens. Identify, clean up or remove odor sources. Open a window! An open box of baking soda can eliminate odors safely. Investigate persistent odors. They might be caused by inadequate ventilation, mold, mildew, pests or vermin.


34- What about scented candles?

Skip these too. Just like air fresheners, scented candles release mixtures of undisclosed fragrance chemicals into the air to cover up other odors. There’s no evidence to indicate that scented candles are any safer than any other type of air freshener.


One thing to note is that Fragrance, which sounds so innocent and harmless, is a term that encompasses many chemicals.  There is nothing natural about the ingredient Fragrance.  I avoid it in all products, using only products that contain Essential Oils, which are extracted from plants and truly are natural.  Make sure that they're pure Essential Oils, and not Fragrance Oils, which are made from chemicals.

A couple of great sources for Essential Oils are:

Young Living

doTERRA



I will be the first to admit that our houses don't always smell the best.  Certain foods can smell pretty darned bad.  On nice days when my kids are reluctant to go outside, I've been known to steam some broccoli or cook some cabbage.  Before long, there are groans and complaints, and before I know it, they're all outside!  Works every time!

What can you do when the air in your home really doesn't smell the best?

        Open a window!

        Simmer some cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and nutmeg in water on the stove.
       (Keep an eye on it, replenishing water as necessary!)

       Place some baking soda in a bowl and add a few drops of an essential oil. 

       Light a Beeswax Candle (without colors or fragrances) with a lead-free wick.

       You could also put baking soda and oils in a mason jar and punch holes in the lid.

       Place a few drops of our Wholesome in your vacuum cleaner bag or container.

       Use one of our Room Sprays, made with essential oils, distilled water, and alcohol.
       (For sale at local shows; coming soon to our online store.)

       Clean your house.  (Yes, I intentionally put this one last!)

There are so many simple, inexpensive ways to deal with undesirable odors if you don't want to smell them.  Choose the simple route instead of harming the health of your family!


                          
 Our Holiday Essential Oil Room Sprays

Candy Cane Joy: Invigorating, uplifting Mint Essential Oils



Home for the Holidays: Homey Essential Oils of Vanilla, Cloves, and Orange




Peaceful Lavender: Pure Lavender to help with relaxation after a stressful day





*I read that Walgreen's pulled some of their air fresheners in response to that report to have them analyzed.  I don't know what, if any, action they took after that, though.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

TPN Whipped Shea Body Butter Ingredients


Several people in our home have sensitive skin, are chemically sensitive, and have skin conditions, such as eczema and rosacea, and are irritated by conventional skin creams.  Plus, the skin is the body's largest organ, and the products we apply to it are absorbed into our bodies.  For those reasons, we carefully chose the most healthy, soothing, gentle ingredients we could find for our Whipped Shea Body Butter

 




Shea Butter

·         Used for centuries in Africa to moisturize  and heal damaged skin
·         Protects, soothes, hydrates, revitalizes, and conditions skin
·         Anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating effects
·         Intensive dry skin moisturizer
·         Rich in Vitamins A, E, and F
·         Mild sunscreen (SPF-6) – Use before and after sun exposure to keep skin moist


Coconut Oil

·         Great general moisturizer for all skin types
·         Recommended for sensitive, inflamed, or irritated skin
·         Provides a protective layer, helping to retain skin’s moisture
·         Prevents dryness and flaking of skin
·         Delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging of aging skin
·         Helps in treating eczema, rosacea, and other skin infections


Apricot Kernel Oil

·         Soothes sensitive and prematurely aged skin


Mango Butter

·         Natural emollient and regenerative activity
·         Softens, soothes, moisturizes, and protects skin


Vitamin E Oil

·         Anti-oxidant
·         Preventing rancidity in body butter


Lavender

·         Skin healing properties
·         Promotes calmness


Spearmint & Peppermint

·         Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and astringent properties








Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Honey Coconut Granola


This granola is so simple and so delicious!  It's completely grain-free, nut-free, and free of refined sugar, and is safe for the GAPS diet.  

The only tricky thing about this recipe is remembering to keep a close eye on it while it's baking because honey burns very easily.  Do not let it overbake at all.  It will be moist when it comes out of the oven, but will harden as it cools.

Enjoy!




2 cups organic unsweetened coconut flakes (we used the fine flakes from Wilderness Family Naturals)
2 cups raw organic pumpkin seeds
2 cups raw organic sunflower seeds
1 cup TPN Local Raw Honey
2 Tbsp organic Vietnamese ground cinnamon (we use Frontier brand)
1 Tbsp TPN Vanilla Extract (available at local shows and markets)
1/4 tsp sea salt



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Oil two baking sheets with sides with TPN Coconut Oil.  We used Pampered Chef Stoneware Large Bar Pans.

In a large bowl, mix together coconut, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.

In a small saucepan, mix together and gently warm the honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and sea salt.

Pour the honey mixture over the coconut and seeds, mixing well until seeds are completely moistened.

Divide mixture between the two prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Honey burns very easily, so you may want to stir it every five minutes at the end, and be sure to keep a close eye on the granola so that it doesn't get too dark.

Remove from oven promptly, and stir frequently while it's cooling to prevent it from sticking to the pan.

Store in an airtight glass container.

Eat as a snack or serve as a cereal with freshly made Coconut Milk.


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Coconut Milk

This coconut milk is so simple to make.  We don't add any flavorings or sweeteners to it.  We use it solely for baking, and it works well and adds a nice subtle coconut flavor to recipes.



3 cups fine flaked coconut
6 cups warm water



Place coconut and water in Vitamix.  Stir and let sit for 30 minutes.

Blend for 3 minutes.

Strain through a fine sieve or a nut bag into a large mason jar.

Cool, cover, and refrigerate.  Shake well before using.


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Friday, September 19, 2014

TPN Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte

One of the best things about fall is undoubtedly pumpkin pie spice!  Even people who don't care for pumpkin usually love the taste of pumpkin pie spice in baked goods and drinks.  Today, we came up with this TPN Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte.  It took a few attempts (which is why my hands are shaking so much that writing this is difficult!), but we agree that this is delicious.





 
4 oz strong brewed organic fair trade coffee
1/2 cup organic plant-based milk (or organic dairy milk)
1 Tbsp Truly Pure & Natural Creamed Raw Honey & Organic Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/8 tsp Truly Pure & Natural Vanilla Extract
Organic pumpkin pie spice



In a small saucepan, warm milk until hot but not boiling.

Transfer to the Vitamix or other blender and carefully blend on high until nice and foamy.  (If using a blender other than the Vitamix, be sure to vent the lid and put a kitchen towel over top of the blender to allow the steam to escape.)

Meanwhile, pour coffee into coffee cup; add Creamed Raw Honey & Organic Pumpkin Pie Spice and Vanilla Extract, and stir until honey melts.

Pour the milk over top, holding a silicone spatula against the rim of the blender to let the milk pour out first.  Remove the spatula to allow the foam to top the coffee.

Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and enjoy.  Happy Three Days until Fall! 


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Friday, August 29, 2014

Introducing: Raw Chocolate Agave!

To say that people love our raw creamed honey is an understatement!  But, there are some people who, for various reasons, cannot or choose not to eat honey.  With those people in mind, we created Raw Chocolate Agave!


We realize that there are those who have doubts about agave, based on various articles that have been written in recent years.  We addressed the reasons that we use, trust, and love organic raw agave nectar in this post:




As much as we like plain agave nectar, we were amazed at just how delicious chocolate agave is!  It only has two organic raw ingredients, and it just doesn't get simpler, richer, or more delicious than this!



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Why We Choose to Use Organic Raw Agave Nectar




Over the past several years, agave nectar has come under scrutiny, in part as the result of an article written by Dr. Mercola, who claimed that it can be even worse than high fructose corn syrup!  We, along with many other people, were shocked when we first read his claims.  We’d been using agave as a natural sweetener for our family, and we suddenly became very concerned.




We started reading and researching, and what we learned is that, like many other products, agave can be produced in different ways.  Some agave is highly processed, using a gamut of chemicals.  It is true that the result is a product that is just as unhealthy as high fructose corn syrup.  We wouldn’t touch a product like that!


The agave nectar that we use is a raw, organic, non-GMO, unrefined, natural sweetener, imported from Mexico.  It is dark in color because it is unfiltered and is the least processed of any agave product.  While standard agave is made at 160 degrees F and takes about 16 hours to produce, the agave we use never gets above 104 degrees and takes 4-5 days to produce.  The entire process is completely natural. Absolutely no chemicals, enzymes, or bacteria are used.  Inulin from the Pina of the Blue Agave plant is simply extrapolated into water by soaking, and then, over a period of days, naturally occurring enzymes contained in the Pina break down the inulin into simple sugar.  The result is a delicious, completely natural, and unadulterated agave nectar!




Read more about the agave nectar that we use:



The Organic Agave Nectar we use is not a purified substance, such as high fructose corn syrup or white sugar. This agave is non-GMO and it is certified organic. 

Agave Nectar is a sweet concentrated syrup made from the Agave plant which thrives in the central semi-arid desert of Mexico. To produce this syrup, first the "pina" or "pineapple-like center" is soaked in purified water. Then natural enzymes, already present in the "pina," are allowed to break down the inulin (complex carbohydrates) into monosaccharides (simple sugars). These sugars are predominantly composed of fructose and glucose. 

The Organic Agave Nectar we use is not heated during processing and it is considered raw. The natural fermentation of the inulin water, because the temperature is kept low, takes 4 to 5 days. Concentration of the nectar occurs solely by the use of a vacuum to remove excess moisture after fermentation. Once a specific concentration of sweetness is reached, the syrup becomes shelf stable at room temperature and does not require refrigeration or any special storage. 

The Organic Agave Nectar we use is dark in color because it has the least amount of processing of any Agave product. Lighter Agave Syrups can be produced by faster processing (which requires temperatures of 160 degrees or more) and heavy filtering. Raw agave, sold by other suppliers, if light in color has been filtered many, many times. Repeated filtering removes flavor and color.

The manufacturing plant in Mexico offered our supplier five different shades of agave to choose from. Each sample had a slightly different taste, with the strongest flavors coming from the darkest agave. The difference in the shades came solely from the number of times the agave was filtered and the fineness of those filters. They chose to purchase only the agave which sees the lowest temperatures and the least amount of filtering.

The Organic Agave Nectar is coming from a new, state-of-the-art plant with very tight quality control. Because our supplier visited the plant, they give their personal guarantee that the agave is raw and not heavily filtered or processed with added enzymes, chemicals or other materials. It is:
  • Completely natural - no chemicals or enzymes are added during processing, only natural fermentation and simple filtration.
  • Completely raw - no heat is used during processing.
  • Great for baking and cooking as well as for raw dishes
  • Does not contain any chemicals, toxins, or preservatives.
  • 75% sweeter than sugar: fructose is 42 percent sweeter to the human brain than granulated sugar, less is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness



If you’re interested in learning more about natural agave production, here is an article that we found very interesting and informative:  



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