Amazing Benefits of Cinnamon, Banana Candy and Other Things You’ll Love

Isn’t summer great? It gives us all time to slow down and enjoy life. One way I love to enjoy life is to learn new things. I’m an avid reader of novels, articles and blog posts. I love to share what I’ve learned.

In this post, I’m sharing five articles with interesting tidbits. You’ll learn all sorts of ways to use Blackcurrants, some special tomatoes you should grow, how to make dried bananas candy, the benefits of cinnamon, and how to make a tasty, healthier fudge with coconut oil.


Seven Ways to Use Blackcurrants


Kris from Growing Wild Roots shares Seven Ways to Use Blackcurrants. In North America, blackcurrants are not commonly used but are very popular in the UK.

Learn some typical and unexpected ways to use this fruit. The blackcurrant ice cream looks marvelous, but you should really try the Blackcurrant cordial. It is simple to make.

And, the Blackcurrant tea looks like the perfect way to enjoy some quiet time with a good tea. Learn how to make Blackcurrant tea.

How to Make Blackcurrant Tea

 


Five Tomatoes You Should Grow


Are you a rookie tomato plant grower? You Should Grow has some proven tips to make your tomato growing season even more productive. Tomatoes are easy to grow, but the trick is to pick out the right varieties to grow.

Laura from You Should Grow and her husband should know which varieties are best to grow because they are experienced tomato growers. Every year, they grow more than 100 varieties and raise thousands of tomato plants.

They picked some favorites for the beginner gardener who wants something different but doesn’t have the time or space to try out thousands of varieties.

How to Select Tomato Varieties

 


How to Make Dried Banana Candy


Have you ever tried making candy out of bananas? This one is so simple and delivers a great tasting snack.

Thanks to Healthy Green Savvy for this recipe. When you take the water out of fruit, something magical happens. These are not banana “chips” that you find in some trail mixes with additives. This recipe for dried bananas candy is chewy and intensely sweet (without sweeteners).

You’ll need a dehydrator or you can try to use your oven on a low setting. Learn how to make bananas candy.

How to Make Bananas Candy

 


14 Amazing Benefits of Cinnamon


Thyme to Embrace Herbs shares 14 benefits of cinnamon. Did you know that cinnamon may help with easing muscle spasms, treating vomiting, combating colds, and helping with weight loss? Learn all the benefits of cinnamon.

And, as with all good things, you can have too much! Get the facts.

14 Amazing Benefits of Cinnamon

 


How to Make Coconut Oil Fudge


You’ll want to try this recipe for Coconut Oil Fudge from the Whole Natural Life. If you’re looking for a dairy-free, healthier fudge recipe, this one’s for you especially if you’re a coconut lover too!

Not a fan of coconut but still want the coconut health benefits? Try using refined coconut oil instead of virgin coconut oil. Go ahead and make a double batch of this fudge because it keeps well in the freezer.

 

 

How to Make Coconut Oil Fudge

 


Enjoy your magical summer!

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”
—Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty

Killer Ice Cream, Genius Food Prep & More Goodness

Killer Ice cream, genius food prep, and more goodness

It’s summer. My favorite season. Life just seems simpler and less rushed. And, even though it’s really hot and the mosquitoes are biting, I still love summer’s freedom.

This probably comes from my childhood when we were free to spend the entire summer day out with friends–all we needed was a bike, swimsuit, and towel. And, even though I no longer get around on a bike and I have a job that requires at least 8 hours of my summer day, I always feel freer in the summer.

So, speaking of freedom, I’ve got five ways that will help you enjoy this summer, and feel freer.


#1 Killer Ice Cream


You’ve got to try this Cinnamon Coconut Ice Cream by Whole Natural Life. It’s simple to make. Only takes 4 ingredients: coconut milk, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Since it’s made without sugar and dairy, it’s a lot healthier than your typical ice cream. Get the recipe for Cinnamon Coconut Ice Cream.

Cinnamon Coconut Ice Cream

You’ll want to make a larger batch than the recipe calls for or risk being disappointed when this disappears before you’ve had seconds! It’s perfect on its own or with baked apple or maybe even apple pie. Always pairs well with pumpkin pie, so you can have a little summer during winter.


#2 Genius Food Prep Trick – Chicken Still Frozen? Try this!


Oops! You forgot to thaw the chicken…again! Instead of running to the grocery store for the Plan B dinner or doing take-out, try this approach to roast a whole frozen chicken.

How to Roast a Frozen Chicken

A Modern Homestead outlines each step (it’s pretty simple) and provides a great recipe for roasted (frozen) chicken with potatoes, carrots, onions, and of course garlic!

And, remember, save some leftovers to enjoy cold on your summer picnic.


#3 Genius Food Prep Tip – How to Meal Prep Like a Boss


To be honest, I had never heard of Meal Prep until I discovered Pinterest a few years ago. I was always one of those people who started planning dinner pretty close to dinner time. Of course, this means a lot of trips to the grocery store at the last minute. It also means more night’s punting by going out to dinner or doing take-out.

6 Tips to Meal Prep like a Boss

But, I found this post with 6 tips about how to meal prep like a boss. It’s smart and will free up a lot of time, so you can enjoy more of your summer. You start by taking an hour or two to plan. Small Bites Wellness lays out the plan and gives you loads of ideas for every type of planner.

Very smart.


#4 How to Make Almond Milk


Since summer time is a bit slower, you’ve got time to make your own almond milk. I promise you that once you’ve made your own milk, you’ll have a hard time going back to your store-bought version. I switched to homemade because I wanted to avoid some of the thickeners like carrageenan that I’ve heard may cause gut inflammation.

At first, I thought it was too time-consuming, but now I can get it made in just five minutes and it’s perfectly spiced with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and turmeric.

Try A Modern Homestead’s recipe for Almond Milk. You’ll be happy you did.


#5 More Goodness to  Share – How to Make Turmeric Capsules


How to Make Turmeric Capsules

You need to keep your healthy summer look as long as possible, right? You might want to try Turmeric. After all, The Not So Perfect Housewife describes it as the coconut oil of supplements.

Turmeric helps reduce pain and boosts the immune system. Learn how to make Turmeric capsules using organic Turmeric and a secret ingredient that releases Turmeric’s goodness.


Please share these tips with your friends to help them make the most of the summer!

Five Things You Don’t Want to Hear About Tap Water

Five Things You Don't Want to Hear About Tap Water

You probably don’t want to hear about any issues with your tap water. After all, aren’t regulations in place to ensure you have the cleanest drinking water? You would know if there were issues, right? The annual water quality report from your city looks just fine, but could there be a problem?

The answer may surprise you. And, although you may not want to hear it, you’ll be grateful to learn the truth about your tap water.


Tap Water Contaminants – It’s a Long List


If you think about it, your water department has a big job. Hundreds of contaminants end up in your water supply including:

  • Agriculture pesticides & fertilizers
  • Industrial pollutants
  • Urban runoff chemicals
    • Car emissions
    • Road surfaces
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Personal Care Products
    • Flame Retardants
  • Water treatment chemicals & their byproducts

It’s an overwhelming list especially since well-respected research has linked many of these contaminants to cancer, liver, kidney and nervous system problems.

So, it’s important to understand some of the shortcomings in the system that provides your drinking water.


Five Things You’d Rather not Hear about Tap Water


1. EPA Standards aren’t Stringent Enough


Did you know that the EPA sets two levels for water departments?

You are probably wondering how this works.

The EPA sets two measures; one standard is enforceable while the other is not.

  • The unenforceable standard is the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG). The EPA sets the MCLG at a level where they expect no adverse health effects
  • The enforceable standard is simply called the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) – this is often set higher than the goal

Think of the MCLG as considering your health and the MCL as considering your health and the costs of removing contaminants.

As a result, your tap water may have unhealthy levels of contaminants (exceeding MCLG), but still be meeting the enforceable standards (meeting MCL).

It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it?

Your water is not meeting the EPA experts’ standards for good health because the EPA also factored in the cost of meeting those safety levels.

To get an understanding of how this works, consider arsenic standards.

The EPA classifies arsenic as a known human carcinogen. Its MCLG is 0.00 meaning that to avoid any adverse health effects, water should not contain any arsenic. However, arsenic’s MCL or enforceable level is 0.01 which allows water supplies to contain arsenic and meet standards.

You’re probably not on board with drinking arsenic–didn’t think so.


2. The EPA doesn’t Regulate ALL Pollutants (Not Even Close)


The EPA does not regulate all pollutants. In fact, a 2009 study detected 316 contaminants and a whopping 202 of those contaminants had no safety standards. About 132 million people in the US had unregulated pollutants in their tap water according to the study.

Admit it. You’d rather have safety standards for more contaminants.

You’d like to think that the EPA has selected the most dangerous contaminants to regulate, but there’s a constant stream of new chemicals being developed and an understaffed/underfunded agency trying to keep up.

Only 1/3 of the study’s contaminants were regulated. Does that seem like enough to you?


3. Your Water Department isn’t Perfect


It’s possible that your water department is failing on certain regulatory standards.

People make mistakes. Processes fail. Equipment malfunctions. When these mistakes occur, they can negatively affect many people.

For example, from 2004-2009, the Environmental Working Group reports that water departments serving 53 million people failed to meet the goal for Trihalomethanes, a likely carcinogen, according to the EPA.

That’s a lot of imperfection.


4. Bad Stuff Can Happen Between the Water Plant and your Sink


Your water can pick up contaminants between the water plant and your house, so even if you’re convinced that your water department is doing a perfect job, your tap water may be contaminated by the pipes that lead to your house or the pipes inside your place. This is precisely what happened in Flint MI and many other cities as well. The water was contaminated by lead water pipes.

Five Things You Don't Want to Hear About Tap Water

You may think that lead pipes are a thing of the past. It’s true that lead water pipes are no longer used today, but many older lead pipes are still in service. And during a repair or change in water chemistry, these pipes can leach lead into tap water.

And, it’s not just lead that could be a problem. Other contaminants can end up in your drinking water as well.

So, as your tap water travels from your water treatment plant into your house, it can pick up contaminants along the way causing unsafe levels of lead and other contaminants.


5. Fluoride Levels May Exceed Healthy Levels


Tap water contains fluoride which can cause adverse health effects. A 2006 study of Fluoride in Drinking Water sponsored by the EPA recommended lowering the MCLG due to concerns about increased bone fracture rates and enamel fluorosis in children 0-8 years old. The committee unanimously recommended that the EPA set fluoride levels lower due to strong health concerns.

The committee also recommended further study about fluoride’s impact on thyroid and brain functioning.

Unfortunately, the MCL and MCLG are still set at 4 mg/L, an unsafe level according to the committee. For a full copy of the report, click here.

Seems hard to believe, right?

A huge study conducted by experts says that the fluoride goal is too high. And, ten years later, the goal still hasn’t been reset?


So What’s Next?


Now that you’ve learned about the EPA’s two standards, the burgeoning number of new, unregulated chemicals, the fallibility of your water department, the possibility of unsafe water pipe infrastructure, and the potential of having more fluoride in your water than is healthy, what’s next?

Well, you probably want to know how to get drinking water that you can trust.

You’ve got a couple of choices. First, if you don’t have a clue which type of water filter might work best for you, then try our Water Filter Selector App. It’s embedded in this great post called “How to Know if You’re Buying the Best Water Filter”. Read a few paragraphs, answer a few questions, then you’ll immediately know which type of filter and which brands we recommend.

Or, you can just shop at Pure Living Space. We have a selection of the best water filters. All the recommended water filters are fully tested by a third-party laboratory, so you’ll feel confident about your drinking water again.

 

Five Easy Ways to Live Healthier without Sacrificing What You Love

Live healthier with these 5 easy ways for the whole family.

By Kim Studdard

A lifestyle change can be hard if you are doing it alone. This includes healthy eating and taking care of your body. Many of our food habits are formed at childhood, and it can be difficult to break bad habits of your significant other and children, even if they see you working toward becoming a better you.

You don’t have to force them into a healthy lifestyle, and you certainly don’t have to make a lot of changes all in one day.

Here are some easy and quick tips that can help you and your family ease into a healthier lifestyle, and enjoy the benefits of becoming healthier people.

Five Easy Ways to Live Healthier, without the Sacrifice


1. Cut Or Add One Thing Every Week


The easiest way to start or break a habit is to do it slowly. So, make a chart of every bad habit that you want to break, or good habit you want to take on, and implement a new one every week.

It could be something simple, such as drinking more water, or cutting out late night snacking. Whatever it is, make a plan as a family to stick to this goal for the week. If you accomplish it, add something else to your list. If not, take another week to try to make it stick.

Not only will this help you focus on a new goal, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment when you realize you are sticking to it. It’s a great motivational tool, and can help you push forward even on the weeks that you would rather go back to old habits.


2. Make It Fun


Almost everyone loves to play some type of game. When you are trying to live a more wholesome life, turning your habits into a game can be a real lifesaver. Learn to garden and harvest your own fruits and vegetables. Take a bike ride with your family and see who can pedal the fastest. Pretend you are on an episode of chopped, and the best healthy dish wins a small prize (like choosing the next family outing).

Live Healthier

Photo Credit: HazelthePikachu https://www.flickr.com/photos/80435089@N08/7719006794

When you make having a healthier lifestyle fun, you are more likely to pursue it. When your family is having fun, they are more likely to keep up with you. Being healthy doesn’t mean the end of fun, it just opens up more possibilities.


3. Try It At Least Two Ways


Humans are versatile. We can adapt to just about any situation and thrive. The same goes for fruits and vegetables. Just because you don’t like broccoli fixed one way, doesn’t mean you don’t like broccoli. Try roasting it, steaming it with other vegetables, or even eat it raw with a homemade dressing.

There are so many ways to prepare your fruits and vegetables. You just have to find what works for you and your family, and what tastes delicious.

But, don’t say no to a fruit or vegetable that you haven’t tried in two different ways. You never know, something you say you don’t like may become your favorite thing.


4. Make It Homemade


There may be a time where on your healthy journey, you crave something. It could be chocolate cake, or pizza, or maybe even just chips and hummus. While these items aren’t terrible for you in moderation, they can wreak havoc on your lifestyle if constantly consumed.

Instead of going out every time you or a family member has a craving, try making what you want at home. You can find healthier pizza recipes online, and you can certainly add more vegetables to a pizza you make yourself.

Healthy Homemade Pizza

Photo Credit: Katrin Gilger https://www.flickr.com/photos/diekatrin/7163727885

Craving sweets? Try making homemade apple pie, with more apple filling than crust. Not only will you satisfy your craving, but you will also keep your body happy and healthy. Plus, you could make this a family activity, which in return is much better than pigging out at a buffet.


5. Declutter Your Life


Another way to transition into a healthier lifestyle is to cleanse other areas of your life. Sure, healthy eating and exercising are important. But so is taking care of your mind and home. You can’t expect to live a full happy life if you are constantly putting nasty chemicals in your body. Stop habits like smoking, try to limit drinking and learn to make your own home and beauty products.

Get your kids and spouse on the wagon too. Let them pick a recipe, and learn to make it one weekend. There are quite a few recipes for homemade natural cleaners, body products, and even mocktails (for those who are trying to give up alcohol). Relying on these products over conventional products can help you and your family cut out other bad habits that you didn’t know existed, and in return, your bodies will thank you.

Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Following these tips can help you implement change in your home, without sacrificing the things you love.


About the Author – Kim Studdard


Kim is a 22-year-old spouse and mother of one. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her family and three pets. She enjoys reading, writing, and mindlessly surfing Pinterest. Her number one priority is her daughter, and when she isn’t working full-time or freelancing, she enjoys going on mother-daughter dates. You can find her at Entrepremomer.

The Best Seven Kitchen Plastic Alternatives for a Better Life

Kitchen Plastic Alternatives | The average American throws away about 185 pounds of plastic each year. That’s a staggering number. And, even more staggering, almost every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in some shape or form. Plastic chemicals are absorbed by your body. Over 90% of Americans test positive for BPA, a plastic chemical. Start by reducing plastic in your kitchen. It might be easier than you think. Try one or two of these kitchen plastic alternatives.

According to EcoWatch statistics, the average American throws away about 185 pounds of plastic each year. That’s a staggering number. And, even more staggering, almost every piece of plastic ever produced still exists in some shape or form. Just in terms of plastic bags alone, about 500 billion are used worldwide which equates to one million bags per minute.

To make matters worse, your body absorbs plastic chemicals. Over 90% of Americans test positive for BPA, a plastic chemical. Some of these chemicals are powerful endocrine disruptors.

So, what can you do? Start by reducing plastic in your kitchen. It might be easier than you think. Try one or two of these kitchen plastic alternatives.

The Best Kitchen Plastic Alternatives


1. The Best Way to Replace Plastic Wrap & Baggies


Finding a replacement for plastic wrap and plastic baggies may seem impossible. But, there really is a way to replace this type of plastic in your kitchen. You’ve probably tried covering a bowl by putting a plate on top or maybe you’ve placed a melon face down on a dish to try to keep it fresh.

Well, you can stop the balancing work.

Try Bee’s Wrap. It’s the perfect way to cover bowls and wrap cheeses, produce, sandwiches and nuts. Really anything. It’s made of organic cotton and bee’s wax.

And, it lasts. Up to one year. Wash it in cool water with mild soap.

Watch this short demo. The wraps are so versatile. The warmth of your hands molds the beeswax to whatever you are wrapping.

Bee’s Wraps come in different sizes – big enough for your favorite loaf of french bread, the perfect size to cover a bowl or the sandwich size.

Bee's Wrap Sandwich Wrap - All Natural WrapBee's Wrap Baguette Wrap - All Natural Wrap

The healthiest way to store food that you might have wrapped in plastic.


2. Ditch Plastic Storage Containers – Glass is Best


If you’re still using plastic storage containers, take a look at your collection. Chances are your stash is a jumble of sizes, some without lids, and some permanently stained by tomato sauce. Yours are probably scratched and some probably sport an oily residue.

Not exactly appetizing, or safe.

So, what do you use instead? Throw those plastic containers in the recycling bin and opt for glass storage containers. You’ll wonder why you ever used plastic.

Glass containers are easier to clean (say goodbye to residue and scratches) and it’s easier to see what’s inside (no more surprises). Storing food in glass and not plastic is much healthier for you and the environment.

Plus, if you microwave food, it’s always safer to microwave in a glass covered with a towel than using plastic. When you heat plastic, it can cause toxins to leach into your food.

Finally, look how neat and tidy these will look in your cabinet. They stack really well.

Use Glass Containers Instead of Plastic for Kitchen Storage


3. Opt for Stainless or Glass Water Bottles Rather than Plastic


Those plastic water bottles sure seemed convenient and smart when you bought them. Now, not so much. You’ve got great options to replace the plastic by either using glass or stainless bottles.

Here’s the one that we like at Pure Living Space. It’s insulated (bet your plastic bottle can’t claim that) and won’t freeze or burn your fingers because it’s double-walled.

It’s also safe. Thinksport water bottles undergo rigorous chemical and biologic testing to insure they do not contain toxic chemicals.

ThinkSport Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle

These bottles have the advantage of lasting forever unlike plastic which should really be discarded once it gets scratched.


4. Plastic Cups, Plates & Plastic Ware – You’ve Got Good Alternatives


You may think that large parties or picnics mean that you must opt for plastic. But, you’ve got other options. You can buy inexpensive plates, glasses, and silverware that can be used for years. After a few uses, your glass and silverware will have paid for itself.

Not only is this cost-effective, it keeps plastic out of the landfill, reduces pollution from plastic production and your guests will appreciate having “real” plates and glasses.

While you’re at it, you might want to also consider buying cloth cocktail napkins too. While these don’t contribute to plastic waste, it will complete your eco-friendly and healthy approach.


5. Banish Plastic Cooking Utensils


So many better options exist for cooking utensils than plastic that it is incredible that manufacturers started making plastic utensils in the first place.

What to use instead of plastic?

Wood spoons and spatulas work great and you won’t have to worry about plastic toxins leaching into your food. Stainless whisks, ladles, serving spoons, and spatulas are perfect and clean up easily. Plus, neither wood or metal will melt if it gets too hot.

Toss your plastic cooking utensils into the recycling bin for better health.


6. Opt for Wood or Glass Cutting Boards, Not Plastic


Wood cutting boards are great options to replace plastic. Think about how gnarly your plastic cutting boards look after a few months of slicing and dicing.

What you may not know is when plastic gets scored, it can release toxins into your food.

Wood holds up much better and is healthier. You can easily sanitize your wood boards by rubbing the surface with a lemon slice. You may also like to use glass cutting boards because you can pop them in the dishwasher.

Opt for Wood Cutting Boards rather than Plastic

Photo Credit: Friedr Dick https://www.flickr.com/photos/dinnerseries/17407215582/in/faves-141143735@N06/


7. What to do about Plastic Grocery Store Produce Bags – You’ve Got Options


Every trip to the grocery store ends up with using a plastic produce bag for each item. It’s easy to pick up 5-10 at each visit–that’s a lot of plastic waste over time. You may have tried not using the bags, but having produce grouped together in a bag just makes things easier.

So, what are your options?

Try these reusable produce bags that will change your life. You can see through the bags, so there’s no mystery about the contents. And, they have a convenient drawstring. The fabric is machine washable and durable. Plus, the fabric has been tested to make sure that it is free of harmful chemicals (no lead, heavy metals, BPA, or phthalates).

You can store your produce in these bags, and they store easily in your larger reusable grocery bags.

Reusable Produce Bags - Save over 1000 plastic bags


What’s your Favorite Kitchen Plastic Alternative?


Please share your favorite kitchen plastic alternative. Which are you already doing or plan to do?