Create Success in the Classroom – Essential Oils for Back to School

essential oils for back to school

Create success in the classroom with these essential oils for back to school.

It’s that time of year again back to school and fall routine. Personally I love the summer schedule, the lazy days, warm summer sunshine and the freedom of being able to just play. Go anywhere at anytime and not have to worry about ‘the schedule’.

For some kids back to school can be quite challenging. They have a hard time sitting for longer periods of time, focusing on what’s going on or simply becoming overwhelmed by all the action and energies that are going on in the classroom. This can make things uncomfortable and definitely not fun for a child who feels this way.

child-830988_1920 pixabayI have always felt that children are uniquely different and that they each have their skills and talents and learn in different ways. No one child will learn the exact same way as another, which is why our school systems have changed in so many ways over the years. I still feel the system has a ways to go to reach all children, but it’s great to see some progress and specialty programs that can meet more children’s learning styles and needs.

That being said I think a majority of schools still teach to the average child, which is a small percentage of children in the class, while the rest fall above or below the line for various reasons. Little Johnny can’t focus so he misses out or gets in trouble a lot because he’s always fidgeting and moving. It’s not that he doesn’t want to, his body just needs a little support in doing so – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In comes essential oils, an easy, simple and effective way to help support children (and adults too) at school and in their daily lives.

Keys to Success at School

essential oils for back to schoolIn order for children to have success at school they need to have a strong foundation which consists of these 5 elements

  • Good diet, nutrition and exercise
  • Proper rest (so they have enough energy for the day’s activities)
  • Boosted (strong) immunity
  • Emotional support
  • Mental clarity and focus

These key elements prep a child (and adult – we need this stuff too) to be able to function at their optimal level throughout the day. If even one of these is out of whack, it can affect their ability to focus, process or manage themselves emotionally.

How Essential Oils Can Help at School

Essential oils are great tools to add to a child’s wellness routine to not only assist and support them in these elements but to maintain a healthy balance. There are a number of oils that can support these. Here’s a quick overview of some of these oils to get you started.

Focus & Concentration

essential oils for back to schoolWe all know how hard it is to get things done and done well when we can’t focus! Try these when you can’t focus or need to.

In Tune – is a focus blend that helps enhance and sustain focus. This works wonders with my son who often needs support in this area. Roll this oil on the back of the neck or the bottoms of the feet. I have been using the InTune blend quite a bit this week myself, as I have been having trouble getting myself focused after my relaxed summer vacation! And it has been working like a charm. I feel like I’m on fire and have accomplished so much this week.

Rosemary – helps maintain concentration and supports memory. Apply topically under nose and across forehead.

Immunity Boost

essential oils for back to schoolOnGuard – this blend is my top go to when boosting immunity. It supports healthy immune function, respiratory and circulation, support’s body’s natural antioxidant and is energizing and uplifting. You can diffuse it, add it to a spray bottle with water for a natural hand sanitizer or spray on your counters to clean and sanitize surfaces.

Ginger – commonly known for it’s aid in reducing nausea, ginger also has strong antioxidant properties, inhibiting the growth of bacteria and stimulates blood circulation (which means more oxygen is getting to your tissues to help remove toxins and viruses).

Calm & Balance

We all know how difficult it can be when we are riled up, anxious, overwhelmed or upset. Who can concentrate, focus or even function when our bodies are in that state? Essential oils can cross the blood brain barrier and therefore act quickly in providing the needed support; supporting the child in moving back into balance quickly and easily. Feeling better in their bodies and able to manage what is happening around them and do what they need to do, whether it be at home or school.

Balance – is one of my favorite blends which we use frequently at our house. This blend calms and balances emotions, reduces stress and anxiety. It also has a lovely scent which I could sniff all day!

Frankincense – is known as the King of Oils, is a grounding oil and supports emotional balance.

Healthy Digestion

digestzen-15mlStarting with a healthy breakfast in the morning is only part of the equation. Ensuring our bodies are digesting properly and absorbing the nutrients we need is key. This is why using essential oils to support digestion can be of great benefit.

Lemon – we start with a glass of lemon water in the mornings – 1-2 drops of lemon essential oil mixed in a glass of water, which flushes the system, hydrates the body, boosts immunity as well as improving digestion. The advantage of using the essential oil over fresh lemon is it does not cause deterioration of the enamel on our teeth or damage the gums.

DigestZen – is a wonderful companion to aid in the digestion of food, soothe occasional upset stomachs, and reduce uncomfortable gas and bloating. When my daughter has a sore tummy we apply this topically on her stomach and she feels more comfortable within minutes. 

Restful Night’s Sleep

essential oils for back to schoolWe all know a good night’s sleep is key for anyone to function well during the day. Lack of quality sleep can affect mood, focus, concentration, memory, weakened immunity and overall health. Diffusing calming oils overnight can help balance and process days events as well as support a restful night’s sleep.

Breathe/ Easy Air – is a wonderful one for sleep as it supports the respiratory system and opens up the airways therefore allowing more oxygen to enter the body and creating a more restful sleep. Often can reduce or eliminate snoring as well.

Lavender – a common one used for sleep as it promotes calming and relaxation. One thing to note with lavender is for some children and highly sensitive people lavender can have the opposite effect and instead of calming it can energize. Experiment with this one to gauge what the effects are and perhaps choose a citrus oil instead.

The beauty of essential oils is that there’s not just one oil with the support you’re looking for. Many of the oils share similar properties, so if the one you choose to try first doesn’t work for you, then there is another one to try!

Give some of these combinations a try and let me know how it worked out, either with yourself or the kids.

Interested in what other oils could support focus, immunity, sleep, etc.? Would you like to give some a try? For the month of September I am offering Back to School Essential Oil Kits to support these different elements. Check them out here.

essential oils for back to school

And this month Enter to Win Back to School Essential Oils until September 30th.

DIY Mother’s Day Gifts with Essential Oils

diy essential oil gifts

Pamper Mom this Mother’s Day with these easy DIY Essential Oil gifts. These gifts will not only relax and pamper her but she’ll appreciate the love that was put into them when they were made specially by you.

Mother’s Day is another holiday where we can go a little crazy with the spending and the gifts (average spending in Canada is about $100) because we want to show Mom how much we love and appreciate her. Of course as we Mom’s deserve it! We do a lot and we work hard. But if you’re looking for a loving gift for Mom that shows you appreciate her and that’s easy and affordable then try one of these DIY Essential Oil gifts that she’s sure to love!

Not only are these gifts a great way to pamper Mom and tell her that you love her, the essential oils in them provide many benefits that will support her physical and emotional health, naturally.

DIY Essential Oil Gifts for Mom

Gardener Hand Soap

If Mom loves to putz in the garden then this is the perfect gift for her. This easy-to-make Gardener’s Hand Soap exfoliates, cleanses, and moisturizes all in one use! Clary Sage is an oil that has relaxing and soothing properties that help with rejuvenation and calming of the skin. While Melaleuca known for its purifying qualities, is also good for cleansing the skin and promoting healthy immune function.

diy essential oil gifts

Lavender Myrrh Cuticle Cream

A homemade cuticle cream is a great way to bring moisture and health back to your nails. Add a little extra to your gift for Mom and help her apply it with a mini hand massage! This cream can also be used on your hands, lips, or anywhere you have dry spots. If you choose Lavender to add in be ready for calming and relaxing benefits, if you choose Myrrh it’s soothing to the skin and promotes emotional balance and well being.

diy essential oil gifts

Essential Oil Body Wash

Help Mom wake up her senses in the morning or calm them down at night with a scented body wash. Using essential oils can provide valuable nourishment to your skin, if it contains the right ingredients. For an energizing body wash choose oils such as Peppermint, Grapefruit or Lime. For a calming body wash choose Lavender, Bergamot or Roman Chamomile.

diy essential oil gifts

Ginger Lime Brown Sugar Scrub

Mom can exfoliate and soften her skin with this easy to make body scrub. The Ginger essential oil creates a balanced, grounded and feeling of empowerment, as well as supporting healthy joint function. While Lime purifies the skin and positively effects mood.

diy essential oil gifts

Strawberry Lime Sugar Scrub

If Mom likes to smell like dessert than this is the body scrub for her. Super easy to make and with all the uplifting benefits of Lime essential oil.

diy essential oil gifts

Essential Neck Wrap

Help Mom relax and soothe sore muscles with this easy to make neck wrap. When used with essential oils, they can provide additional relief and benefits. Incredibly easy and affordable, just add in your favorite essential oil.

diy essential oil gifts

Fizzy Bath Bombs

Bath bombs are a fun gift as they add excitement to your senses and a little entertain as you watch it fizz as it dissolves in the water. Add your favorite essential oil to invigorate – like Wild Orange and Spearmint or relax like my favorite Lavender, Cedarwood or Frankincense.

diy essential oil gifts

Lavender Bath Salts

These bath salts may be the easiest of our do it yourself gifts for Mom. Simply take 2 cups of Epsom salts and add 10-15 drops of Lavender essential oil – mixing them together in a glass jar or bowl. If you want to get fancy add some dried lavender pieces (I’ve seen them at the Bulk Barn) for a little added color. Store in an airtight container, wrap a bow around it and give it to Mom! Have her add it to her bath to soothe the skin and relaxation.

diy essential oil gifts

Lime & Mint Foot Soak

This easy to make foot soak will energize, uplift and refresh. Let Mom soak her feet and take it easy for a bit. Maybe even bring her a nice glass of wine or coffee to sip while she soaks.

diy essential oil gifts

Orange Creamsicle Lip Balm

No list of pampering for Mom would be complete without a moisturizing lip balm. A common must have this natural lip balm is full of health benefits and yummy flavor! The fresh, sweet scent of Wild Orange is energizing and provides immune support.

diy essential oil gifts

No matter what gift you choose to make for Mom this Mother’s Day, she’ll definitely know that you love and appreciate her! Whether you make one or two I’d recommend you make enough for yourself to either join in with her or enjoy yourself later, might as well. I know for myself that I love the scents of essential oils and when I’m working with one of my favorites I can’t get enough! Plus it’s a great excuse to go take some me time later – can’t waste what I’ve made. May you enjoy your day as a Mother or spending time with yours in some way. Happy Mother’s Day!

Interested in learning more about essential oils or have a question? Drop me a line I’d love to chat with you.


Ginger Tea

IMG_4420Years ago when I was seeing an acupuncturist, she gave me a recipe for ginger tea. At the time I was experiencing some nausea and she said that ginger tea was a great remedy. Little did I know just how beneficial ginger tea was! Not only does it combat nausea and vomiting, it has a meerad of other health benefits that are fantastic!

Ginger itself is high in vitamin C, magnesium and many other minerals. Which makes it great for battling colds and flu. I was surprised that ginger would have such a high vitamin C content myself, maybe because it is brown, who knows, but it’s definitely beneficial!

Other benefits include reduced inflammation, menstrual discomfort, and stress. Increases blood circulation, fertility, improves digestion and strengthens immunity. It also is a really yummy tea that is great to enjoy on a cold winter day. The flavors and smells are delightful, and for me, I like a drink that has an extra little kick, as it can get quite spicy the longer it sits. During the fall and winter months, I often have a cup of ginger tea on the go.

The tea itself is easy to make. Simply boil 4 cups of water in a medium size pot. Peel and slice a 2-3 inch piece of ginger. Once the water is boiling put the ginger pieces in the pot, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. That’s it! It’ll keep in the fridge for a good week and once you run out it is easy to make some more!

honeyMy kids find it a bit spicy, as it does have a bit of a kick, and the longer it sits the more spicy it gets. But I enjoy it with a teaspoon of honey (also with many health benefits) to sweeten it up. It also is a great tea to use when making a hot tottie, (honey, cinnamon, rum and tea), tastes really good.

Quick, simple, easy and probably something you have in your house on a fairly regular basis.

Ginger Tea

4 c. water

2-3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Peel and slice ginger, when water comes to a boil place ginger pieces in pot and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 cups

Gingerbread Delights

IMG_4387You know I love flavors and that I tend to go a little crazy when I find one I love! Making everything possible out of it. Like pumpkin, I love pumpkin (and actually this fall inherited a lot of pumpkin) so was making muffins, pies, ice cream, etc. Experimenting with all different kinds of recipes.

My recent obsession is gingerbread. Always fabulous this time of year and something I really enjoy. I love ginger in general and am often making fresh ginger tea and drinking it daily. (Ginger also has a lot of health benefits, like aiding with colds and flu, as well as prevent and eliminating nausea).

IMG_4334But I had never really thought you could do much more with gingerbread than cookies. I had tunnel vision and could not see out of the box. Cookies are the only thing right? Then last month I discovered a recipe for gingerbread waffles. Of course I knew right away that we had to try it. They were fabulous! and everyone gobbled them up. Which got me to thinking there must be other variations of gingerbread something out there. So I started looking – I had so far, cookies, waffles… what about muffins? Gingerbread muffins would surely be delicious.

IMG_0750I did a quick Google search and a number of recipes popped up. I looked at a few, picked the one I liked the best and whipped them up yesterday! Ok I tried to whip them up, I had a bit of a baking travesty. I checked on my ingredients and thought I had everything I needed but as I went along I first discovered I was almost out of barley malt, then ginger, both I had just enough. Phew! Nope, didn’t have enough Earth Balance – shoot! So I mixed it all together and set it aside until after I could run to the store.

Once I had my final ingredient, I finished mixing them up and put them in the oven to bake. I was curious and of course so were the kids (they always want muffins!) They poofed up beautifully and smelled delicious. That lovely gingerbread smell wafting through the house afterschool…Yum!

They were finally done, and after waiting a few minutes for them to cool, we dove in. They were delicious, super moist with just a subtle gingerbread taste, not too overpowering. Now I prefer a little more of a gingerbread flavoring kick, so I am going to play with the spices in this recipe a little to amp up the flavor. Once I do that, I’ll report back to you 🙂 But since I have 36 muffins at the moment to enjoy I won’t be experimenting with that one for a little bit.

You can easily half the recipe if you want to, 36 muffins is a lot, or you can bake them all and freeze them for later (if you remember they are in the freezer, personally I often forget that they are there and end up baking new ones anyway).

I also think these muffins would be fabulous with some kind of icing, which I am also going to experiment with and get back to you. For some reason I am thinking a nice cream cheese option would work…

Now that you are drooling, anticipating that warm moist gingerbread muffin in your mouth, here is the recipe. Completely sugar free and dairy free, it will be a hit at your house too!

Gingerbread Muffins

3 eggsIMG_4385

1 c. barley malt

1 c. coconut sugar

3 1/2 c. flour

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. ginger

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 c. hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Lightly grease muffin tins with Earth Balance. Spoon batter into muffin tin about 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 36 muffinsIMG_4392

What is your favorite gingerbread recipe?

All Things Pumpkin

IMG_2217In the month of October there seems to be a lot of pumpkin about. From Thanksgiving feasts that include delicious pies and cheesecakes to Fall festivals and trips to the pumpkin patch, even right up until Halloween when we are carving pumpkins for the kids and all our trick or treaters.

I love pumpkins. I not only love the taste, but I love the bright orange color they are, the unique shapes and sizes and all the different things that you can do with pumpkin, from eating and recipes to decorating and crafts.

I do have to say that I tend to lean towards the pumpkin food items the most, as I really do enjoy those. And lately I have been finding all kinds of pumpkin delights that I have tried or am about to try such as pumpkin pancakes, muffins, latte, fudge, cheesecake, ice cream and of course pie. I even discovered a recipe for a Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, which though I have to make a few dietary adjustments I can’t wait to get it into my oven and more importantly in my tummy!IMG_2173

The pumpkin pancakes I discovered a few years ago when I bought Halloween pancake molds that came with the recipe (those are so fun!). The pumpkin spice latte is a slow cooker recipe I discovered last year and made for the first time last week for my open house. The fudge I have yet to try but believe me I am all over this and it won’t be long! And I have always loved pumpkin muffins, though I have been dappling in some new recipes. I always enjoy variation and who knows you might be missing out on something even better if you don’t at least try it!

I am not sure what it is I love about pumpkin dishes so much, but I am sure that it also has to do with the allure and smell of all those delicious spices that go in it; like ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Mmmm… just the thought of it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

pumpkin-spice-latte-white-chocolateMy greatest (and most fun) pumpkin discovery this Fall was actually not a food item. Which is ok, I was just super surprised at whoever came up with this as it is so simple, yet so ingenious. It is Pumpkin Play Doh! I thought this was fabulous! My kids loves playdoh and what a fun way to tie in a theme, those spices we love and play and create at the same time.

I found the recipe on another blog While He Was Napping. She makes her playdoh on the stove top which I am sure works well, but I have my own playdoh recipe I decided to use and adjust instead (as it is just a mix everything together, I like to avoid extra pots and pans). All I needed to do was add my pumpkin pie spice and color it orange. Presto! Pumpkin Playdoh.

IMG_2305The twins loved it! Thought it was the most fabulous thing ever, yeah it was playdoh but it was new and it was pumpkin! Even Matthew and his friend smelled it and said it smelled really good. Plus I played it up a little, got out the Halloween cookie cutters for them to use and sat down and played with them for a while. Chloe loved making pumpkin hair for the Fuzzy Cuts Barber Shop we have. Luke just rolled it and created as he usually does. Fun was had by all.

I’m wondering now what other ‘flavours’ of playdoh I can make, perhaps mint or chocolate. It could be done, I’ll have to experiment… In the meantime enjoy the pumpkin…

Pumpkin Playdoh

Mix together in a medium bowl:

2 c. flour

4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 c. salt

2-3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (amount depends on how strong you would like the scent)

Add in:

1 1/2 c. boiling water

2 tbsp. oil

Mix together. Knead well. Add in orange food coloring. Knead again until well mixed. Store in ziploc bags.

*For ordinary playdoh simply omit the pumpkin pie spice and add whatever color of food coloring you want. Batch is fairly large – so can easily be divided to make a few different colors.

 

Natural Remedies for Colds and Flu

 

natural remedies

One of the things that I have decided to do in our house is reduce the amount of over the counter and unnatural remedies for colds and flu. The more I read about some of these remedies and what’s in them, the more I feel that there are better more natural ways to combat the flu season and naturally boost our immune systems.

I have become more conscious of what we put in our bodies and what it does to us. Some of these over the counter remedies, though they may provide relief actually suppress our immune systems and it then takes us longer to return to health. In my journey to find more natural ways to heal our bodies and even prevent us from getting sick I have discovered a number of natural remedies and preventions that work.

Oscillococcinum – I believe in prevention first and foremost so one of the things I do before about 6-8 weeks prior to flu season is give the kids and I a homeopathic protocol using oscillococcinum or ‘flu buster’. This was suggested by our homeopathic doctor; we take half a tube (1/4 tube for the little ones under 6) once a week for six weeks. This helps the body’s immune system to ‘boost up’ and prepares it for the cold/ flu season that is coming.  As a result we usually don’t get colds/ flu at all and if we do it is a very mild and short case. And if we do get it, then we take a whole tube to kick it out!

Ginger tea – drinking ginger tea on a regular basis is also a great form of prevention but works well if you do get a cold/ flu. It is easy to make using fresh ginger root and water. As soon as I start to feel a cold coming on I make a batch of tea right away. Ginger tea is also great for nausea.

Honey and cinnamon – are great combinations for a number of diseases and ailments. Different proportions target different ailments. For colds it is 1 tbsp. honey to 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon

Homeopathic remedies – the great thing about homeopathic remedies is that they work with your body to help boost your immune system as well as heal the ailment. It not only relieves your symptoms but helps your body to move through it faster. There are a number of homeopathic remedies to aid colds and flu. Oscillococcinum, as mentionned above, is great for prevention as well as when you have it. Aconite is great when you first start feeling the cold coming on, take it right away, as well as other homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic remedies work best when you can match your symptoms to the remedy so it is best to either consult with your homeopathic doctor or have a book on remedies for self diagnosis. The great thing about homeopathy is if you choose the wrong remedy it will not cause you any harm, it simply won’t help you get better and you’ll have to try a different homeopathic remedy.

Rum, honey, cinnamon, lemon in hot tea – this is an amazing remedy. Recently I had a cold that just would not go away and continued to get worse and worse each day instead of better. All I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head, but my aunt who was visiting at the time suggested and made this remedy for me. It cleared my head like that! and though I still had a bit of a cough, I felt like I could function and enjoy life again 🙂 You can use any kind of hot tea that you like and then add the rest into the drink.

Vitamin C, D, & B12 – boost these vitamins during cold and flu season. They all help boost your body’s immune system and vitamin B12 helps you to cope with stress.

Sleep – sleep is one of the best healers and immune boosters. Get adequate sleep on a regular basis for prevention but when you feel your cold coming on make sure you get to bed early and get lots of rest.

No Sugar – sugar weakens the immune system very quickly, so if you have sugar in your diet, avoiding and eliminating it when you are sick will help strengthen your immune system and recover faster.

Garlic Lemon and Honey Syrup – this remedy comes from a book called A Kids Book of Herbs, is very easy to make and kicks your cold super fast!

Eat more of these foods – ginger, garlic, onions, licorice root, honey – these all strengthen the immune system and support healing.

A lot of these remedies you can use apply on a regular basis in your diet/ day to help prevent the colds and flu from even coming on, but they all work great if you or your family do get sick. I believe too that one remedy will work better for one person than another so to find the one that works best for you. I also believe that anything we do to help our body naturally boost our immune systems is not only going to be better for us in the long run but will also help prevent us from getting as sick or sick at all in the future. Many of these remedies too are ones that kids will easily take without fuss, and is easy to incorporate into their diets and routines.

Do you have a favorite natural remedy that works? Comment and share below.

 

Chocolate Additions

In my last post, I shared the basic recipe for making raw organic chocolate. Very easy to do, it is a healthy and delicious way to enjoy chocolate without the guilt!

Now here is the fun part! Once you have the basic chocolate made you can add all kinds of things to your chocolates that not only make them delicious, but also add vitamins and nutrients that are good for you! You can ‘soup up’ your chocolates and no one will even know what’s in there.

I make peppermint Christmas trees and add E3 Live to them, which is a form of algae, very high in protein and minerals. It darkens your chocolates but does not alter the taste, no one would ever know it’s in there. And Matthew loves them and as a result asks me to make them all the time!

chocolate additionsMatthew even helps me make chocolates; as it is very easy for kids to do. He loves to experiment so we have made a variety of kinds of chocolate. We make our base chocolate, which is a combination of cacao butter, cacao powder, vanilla bean and sweetener of choice, (see my previous posts for the basics on how to make it and natural sweeteners), then we add different ingredients depending on the kind of chocolate and flavor we want. We make peanut butter cups, caramel cups, orange ginger and peppermint; and this is only what we have done so far – there are many ingredients that can be added to your chocolates to achieve the flavors that you want.

When adding ingredients to chocolate this can be done in a few ways – mix it in, usually with essential oils or powders, you can pour the ingredients on top of the chocolate, after you have poured it onto a cookie sheet, for instance with nuts and seeds, berries, coconut or you can make/ use a filling. The ingredients you add depend on what type of chocolate you want and personal preferences. Here are some ingredients to try.

Nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, cashews.

Goji berries

Seeds such as hemp seeds, sesame, sunflower or pumpkin.

Berries such as goji, incan or mulberry.

High quality essential oils such as peppermint, orange, wintergreen, etc. to flavor your chocolate. Use only a few drops and use the highest quality oils you can – they are better for you and could alter your chocolate if they are not.

Spices, in a powdered form as it mixes in best, such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, allspice.

Algae such as E3 Live, Spirulena or Chlorella. All are very high in protein, minerals and a variety of vitamins.

You can create combinations using ingredients that are high in vitamin C like coconut nectar and spirulena, or a high content of magnesium and calcium using ingredients such as mesquite and carob powder with any algae.

Some people even add medicinal mushrooms to their chocolates, which might sound distasteful, but the neat thing is is you can’t taste it, so would have no idea that it is in there if no one told you. We have recently discovered banana flakes as an addition to our chocolate making. They are quite yummy on their own and are delicious in chocolate.

The amounts you add will depend on the size of your batch of chocolate, how strong a taste you want and also depends on the herb/ spice that is being added (some are stronger than others). A good rule of thumb is to start with half a teaspoon, taste it, and then decide if you want to add more. The great thing about making your own chocolate is that there is lots of taste testing to get it just the way you want it!

Once you have what you want you can set your chocolates in a number of ways. I buy silicon ice cube trays in a various shapes and fill those up to set. (tip – you don’t have to fill these all the way up as your chocolates can be quite thick if you do, but you want to fill them up enough so they are not too thin and break when you pop them out of the molds). There are lots of shapes to choose from; squares to hearts and around the holidays stores usually carry fun shapes related to that holiday. I have snowmen, trees and Halloween pumpkins. You can also use any of the candy molds that stores like Michael’s sell, this is where I found the mold to make peanut butter cups, they also have a variety of themes and shapes.

Of course you do not have to set your chocolate in shapes, you can just pour it onto a cookie sheet, let it set, then break it into pieces. You can also make clusters simply by mixing everything together and then dropping them by the teaspoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

For chocolates with fillings, make or find your filling (I use unsweetened peanut butter for my peanut butter cups and make the caramel filling using dates, vanilla, mesquite and lucuma powder), pour some chocolate let it set for a few minutes til firm, then drop or spread the filling over the chocolate, then add more chocolate on top and let set completely.

There are lots of things you can add when making chocolate. Many different flavors and combinations, depending on what you want and what you like. It is also fun to experiment with different combinations, flavors and shapes and it is easy to get the kids involved – they’ll love it. So get in there and try stuff out, worse case scenario is it does not turn out the way you want it and you might have to eat it yourself!