28
Feb

The Benefits of Grass Fed and Pastured Animal Products

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

The Benefits of Grass Fed and Pastured Animal Products

There is an old saying that “you are what you eat”. We hear it often and maybe it has begin to become a bit watered down (by overuse) but really it is quite a truthful statement. Nutritionists like to repeat this quote over and over again to get across to people that food choices are directly linked to our health and to our quality of life. The food that we eat and all of the nutrients contained therein are what provide the building blocks for new cell growth. Cells die off daily and are replaced with new cells. Our bodies are always replenishing and regenerating and that process cannot happen efficiently without the best building materials. Empty calories or substandard food will only ensure that our foundation for health and wellness is weak.

The same applies to the animals that we consume. Many factory farm operations feed their animals foods designed to fatten them up quickly with empty calories so that they can be slaughtered at ever increasing rates. Their goal is not to turn out a healthy animal…just a fat and meaty one. They are fed genetically modified crops that are heavily sprayed with pesticides and often they are fed foods that not appropriate for their digestive systems. Cows for instance are meant to eat grass and roughage but in factory farms they are forced to eat grains such as corn. The sugars in corn increase the fat content unnaturally and they cause illness and disease. Some cows have even been given candy when corn prices are too high! Chickens are shut away indoors and kept from the greens they love so much. We have also heard horror stories for years that diseased animals who die in factory farms are recycled as food for the remaining ones.

If you are what you eat, then what do we hope to become by eating animal products that come from factory farms?

pastured products tweet

This is a scary thought and it is one that paved the way for the rebirth of the grass fed and pastured foods movement. Many consumers are no longer comfortable eating factory farmed meat and eggs. Instead they are seeking out beef from cows who are allowed to graze freely and eat the healthy food that they were intended to eat. These same folks also buy farm fresh eggs from farms where the chickens are cage free and allowed to roam and eat grass, seeds, bugs, fruit, and other foods more natural to them.

People who want grassfed and pastured products aren’t being snobs or prescribing to some kind of elitism. We hear all the time that paleo (which centers around wild, grassfed, pastured foods) is elitist. But is it really being snobbish and elitist if you want to consume healthy animals?? No.

Grassfed meat is lean and has a fat content that more closely resembles chicken or wild game. This actually helps to improve your cholesterol levels instead of raise them. While it is low in the bad fats associated with high cholesterol, it is very high in the good fats, the omega-3 fatty acids. All of the nutrition from the pastures they graze translates into lean cuts of meat and delicious milk that are nutritionally superior and much healthier for your family.

Pastured eggs are said to have about 20 times more omega-3 fatty acids than their factory farmed counterparts. The moment you crack open a pastured egg you can tell from the dark orange yolk that you are eating something rich and full of nutrition. They also taste infinitely better than conventional store bought eggs. Once you try them you will be hard pressed to ever go without again.

We truly are what we eat and if we choose to eat animal products then would be wise to choose the healthiest and most nutritious animals… grass fed and pastured.

How to Find GrassFed, Pastured Foods:

Check out what you have locally available. The web site Eat Wild should be your first stop. It will tell you all the places in your area where you can get these products. Within seconds of checking my own locale I was linked to sources for chickens, eggs, rabbit, duck, cows, pigs, milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, etc. All come from grassfed, pastured, or wild animals.

If you cannot find much locally there are places to buy online such as US Wellness Meats.

To your health!

26
Feb

Sckoon Menstrual Cup Review

by Tiffany in Natural Product Reviews

Sckoon Menstrual Cup Review

Attn: Giveaway at the bottom of this post!

Tampons and menstrual pads are the go-to products for most women. They are what you see sold in traditional stores and what you see advertised in TV commercials and magazine ads. They are far from the only options women have though. Hopefully by now you have also heard of some of the alternatives…cloth pads, natural tampons (sponges), and of course menstrual cups.

Let’s start off by saying that this product was not my first rodeo with menstrual cups. I have been using them for years. I have tried several different brands and have been happy with all them. Last month though was my first time using the Sckoon cup brand. Before that I used to purchase their cloth diapers and baby clothes…though that was some time ago.

A menstrual cup does what a tampon or pad does but rather than absorb the flow it collects it. It IS a cup. If you are not squeamish about inserting a tampon then you should not be squeamish about inserting a cup. It is basically the exact same thing. The only difference is that you pull a tampon out with a string and toss it in the toilet. With a cup you pull it out, empty it into the toilet, and then wash it for re-use. I guess it is slightly more complicated then a pad or tampon but once you get the hang of it, it is no big deal.

I like menstrual cups more than I ever liked tampons. For whatever reason I could always feel tampons, even though they say you shouldn’t. With a cup…I truly cannot feel it. Tampon applicators are also really slippery, which meant many times I had problems with insertion and had to use toilet paper to kind of dry it off and try again. With one brand of menstrual cup I have had some launch failures for the same reason, slippery-ness. With the Sckoon cup there are neato grooves on the bottom (of their otherwise silky smooth and comfortable cup) that give you something to grip and hence no issues with that. See them below…

menstrual cup

While on the subject of how it compares to other cups let me also use this same photo to show you how it has that little stem sticking out of the bottom of the cup. The other brands have that too but instead of a solid stem that tapers off they have a little hollow tube. That tube collects menstrual flow and has to be washed out…this is not an issue with the Sckoon. This may seem like a small detail but I really like it.

I also love that the Sckoon cups come in COLORS!!! My other cup is clear and it has started to look dingy over time. I am not willing to use anything harsher than soap and water to clean it because I want it to last. These colored cups solve that issue because they will stay pretty and not get discolored. I have blue obviously but they also come in other colors.

As with other cups it comes in two sizes. Size 1 is for people who have never given birth vaginally. Size 2 is for those of us who have given birth vaginally. It is made from FDA approved soft medical-grade silicon, so it’s safe, reusable, environmentally friendly.

If you need a crash course in how to use a menstrual cup it is really very easy… Take the cup in hand and fold it using your fingers. Insert pushing up and backwards (towards your back). Your vaginal muscles will grip it and keep it in place and it will open once it is up there too. When you are ready to take it out simply bear down a little bit and the bottom part will come out. Grip it and pull it out carefully so you don’t spill. Dump the contents, wash it with soap and water, and re-insert.

Inserting a menstrual cup

The only time when this becomes a bit tricky is when you are using a public bathroom. I simply dump it out and reinsert it and then remember to wash it as soon as I get home. I also use toilet paper from the bathroom stall to clean my hands off so I don’t leave a public bathroom stall with blood all over them. No need to freak anyone out. I don’t imagine that it is any harder than inserting a tampon in a public place.

After using it through two menstrual cycles I will be reaching for my Sckoon cup before my “other” cup now. It gets an A++ in my book!

Social Media Links: Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Google+

The company is generously allowing me to giveaway one of their cups! I have a size 2 cup in blue. Just like the one in my photos. To enter to win in fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a free menstrual cup to facilitate this review and it was done in affiliation with the Green Moms Media.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

32 Comments on Sckoon Menstrual Cup Review

24
Feb

Why We Have to Start Gardening in the City… RIGHT NOW

by Tiffany in Gardening

Start Gardening in the City NowMany people who start gardening in the city do so for a very good reason. They want good food. They want the crispiest, juiciest, cucumbers they can get their hands on and the ripest and most flavorful tomatoes.  They want foods grown locally, on a small scale, and without chemical fertilizers or herbicides. They want farm fresh, even though they don’t live on a farm. Is this unreasonable or just plain smart?

Most of our food comes from farms in rural areas and it is shipped across great distances to stores nationwide. Many people see no reason to take issue with this but increasingly others do see problems with this food system. Is it healthy? Will it feed the whole world? No actually. This food system has serious issues. It is wasteful, unsustainable, and unhealthy. To grow foods in the mass quantities needed to feed huge populations all over the country lots of space, energy, and chemicals must be used and abused. Throughout the country people still go hungry. Unhealthy processed foods become cheaper and more readily available and thus health problems abound, especially in urban areas. Urban residents become less likely to know how to cook healthy meals with fresh ingredients. They are more likely to know how to cook boxed mac and cheese.

So what needs to change? City dwellers need to learn that food is intimately connected to health, environment, economy, and community. The single best way to do this is to start growing food in the city. When we grow food in the city we establish local sources for healthy food, a local food economy, and a community that works for it own interests and the planet’s and not against them. Our cities need some nourishment…they need some gardens!

The facts are that more people are moving into cities…not rural areas. The United Nations has predicted that by 2030, two-thirds of us will be living in cities AND we will need 60% more food. The answer is not to transport more food or increase the scale of factory farms and huge agribusiness monocrops. We need to start growing food in those cities. How do we do that?

On a large scale, as a community we need to support:

Rooftop gardens on city buildings and parking structures
Community gardens
Teaching gardens
Aquaponics and  hydroponics businesses and operations
Farmer’s markets
Restaurants who use local foods
Schoolyard gardens
Community cooking classes
Wind and solar energy
Anaerobic digestion facilities
Legislation that supports local gardening
Legislation that supports the keeping of farm animals
Legislation that enables us to turn abandoned spaces into green spaces
Programs to provide a work force and skills training for those green spaces (unemployed,  homeless, etc)
Legislation to provide tax incentives for businesses and residents who garden

City Gardenscape

On a smaller and more personal scale we need to:

Garden in containers, on balconies, and window sills
Use front and backyard spaces for gardening and growing food
Compost
Collect rainwater
Install solar panels if we can
Grow food using vertical food systems
Grow food using small scale aquaponics and hydroponics systems
Grow flowers and other non-food vegetation for wildlife and pollinators
Raise animals for food (like chickens or rabbits)
Keep bees

Whether we are in the burbs or in the city we NEED to grow food. We also need to teach our children to do the same. We need to think globally and act locally….changing our cityscapes one home and garden space at a time. The concrete jungle has got to go…our cities need to go green pronto and the first step is to own up to your own part in the equation and then help others do the same. Let’s turn our cities into places so leafy and green they resemble jungles okay? Let’s plant the seeds of a greener future.

21
Feb

Natural Carpet Cleaner Recipe

by Tiffany in Green Cleaning

I actually hate carpet. It is a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty stuff…dirt, dust, mold, allergens, etc. We live in a rental though so we are kind of stuck with what we have. To help keep our home clean and healthy we have some rules about carpet care such as removing shoes when we enter the home, vacuuming often, and reporting or cleaning up spills immediately. We also clean the carpet thoroughly every couple of months. We use a carpet cleaner that you can buy at any home improvement or big box store and we make the cleaning soap ourselves so that we can avoid toxic chemicals.

Natural Carpet Cleaner Recipe

Here are two easy to make carpet cleaner recipes that are natural and safe for the family…

Natural Carpet Cleaner Recipe

6 qts HOT HOT water
4 teaspoons Dr. Bronner’s castille soap
25-30 drops of essential oil (peppermint, lavender, or tea tree)
30-50 drops GSE (grapefruit seed extract)
1-2 scoops Oxyclean (optional)

This will clean carpets and make them smell wonderful too!

SoapNuts Carpet Cleaner

Simmer a cup of soap nuts in about 4 cups of water, mash the nuts by hand to release the saponins. Drain the liquid using a cheese cloth and pour the liquid concentrate into a glass mason jar. Put a few tablespoons inside your carpet cleaner and voila!

Enjoy!

19
Feb

The Health Benefits of Eating Gelatin

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

The Health Benefits of Eating Gelatin

When you think of gelatin you probably think of jello in all its crazy colors and think…tasty but not very good for me. Or maybe you think of Julia Child’s famous aspic recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking…mmmm meat flavored jello. Yeah, no thanks.

So it may surprise you to know that gelatin has health benefits that you should not overlook. Bone broth is all the rage right? Well gelatin should be too. In fact it is found in homemade bone broths, in small amounts. We just need more of it. What is gelatin? It is derived from collagen obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones of animals. It may sound kind of gross but it packs a punch.

Some of the major health benefits derived from eating gelatin are as follows:

Metabolism & Weight Loss: Gelatin contains arginine and Glycine and they both help support the body’s metabolism. They help us to build muscle (which means we are burning more calories) and they help us convert glucose to energy rather than fat. By eating gelatin you can make gains within a strength training program (and get stronger) and also lose weight if that is your goal.

Joint Conditions: Gelatin is a product which might be able to help people suffering from stiff or sore joints, especially before the condition worsens. Since it has a lot of amino acids it acts as an important component in the prevention of degenerating cartilage. If your parents or grandparents suffered from joint pain or arthritis than you need to take preventative measures.

Skin Health: Beauty products that have collagen in them are in high demand. Collagen helps to plump our skin up, make it more firm, and make it look and feel more youthful. These products are largely useless though because collagen is too large to be absorbed by the skin. We can however get benefits from dietary collagen…aka gelatin. Many people report that their skin looks and feels more youthful and healthy immediately after introducing more high quality gelatin into their diet. It is also supposed to help with loose skin and wrinkles.

Strong Hair & Nails: Keratin is the key structural component of our hair and nails. Gelatin is also a source of this important protein and it can vastly improve the appearance of your hair and nails as well as improve their strength. In short, gelatin is a powerful beauty tool.

Digestion: Gelatin can help with digestion by giving the foods we consume a smooth passage through our digestive tract.

Cellulite: Of course this cannot be proven but gelatin is gaining traction as a way to combat cellulite nonetheless. It makes sense because collagen helps to plump and firm our skin. If it can help with wrinkles than why not those unsightly skin dimples?

So now that you know why you need gelatin how do you get more of it the diet…short of aspic and jello? Easy. This site has some supplements. Also you can try adding high quality gelatin to:

Smoothies
Warm cereals – oatmeal, cream of wheat
Soups and stews
Gravy
Yogurt

I recommend Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin. It is much higher quality than the cheapy stuff you find at most local grocery stores. You want gelatin from pastured cows not from factory farmed, sickly animals.

To your health!