A Warm Drink on a Cold Day

warm capuccino-saidaonlineThere’s nothing like coming in on a cold day and enjoying a nice warm drink. Cuddling up on the couch, your hands surrounding the mug for warmth as the steam floats up and you inhale the beautiful scent of coffee, hot chocolate, tea or hot apple cider, to name a few.

It doesn’t matter what you have been doing, if you’ve been enjoying some time outside doing outdoor activities, toboganning, skating, skiing or even just shoveling the walk, there is something about that warm beverage that offers you comfort like nothing else.

My kids love cuddling up on the couch with their drinks and maybe some cookies or other treat and watching a movie, tucked up under blankets. Nice and cozy and relaxing.

warm-drinksOf course when we decided to eliminate sugar at our house we could no longer default to the hot chocolate mix we bought at the store (and we used to buy the big can, you know that one that is super tall and would last for months). I know in the good old days hot chocolate was simply milk heated with cocoa mixed into it, but it had been a long time since I’d done that. In fact I remember one time when I was little and my aunt was looking after us, she did just that, and my sisters and I looked at her like she had 3 heads and asked her what the heck she was doing. In the end she ended up making the instant stuff but I know now what I missed out on.

I really like the milk heated version as I find it to be richer and creamier, even though it does take a little bit more time and work to do so. What I do now for the kids is actually a little fancier than that (something I discovered in my Raw Chocolate Making class), but it is soooo yummy and also very good for you.

Now I use a mix of almond milk, cacao powder (considered a superfood and high in minerals such protein, zinc, and iron), natural sweetener of choice and depending on the day some added spices. It’s actually quite easy to do and tastes delicious! I also like that I can make it different every time depending on what I am feeling like that day.

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

4 c. almond milk (or your choice of dairy free milk)HBC-DJ12-hot-chocolate-shrstock-48722137

3-4 tbsp. cacao powder

3-4 tbsp. natural sweetener (I usually use pure maple syrup, but you can use honey, stevia, etc.) *amount of sweetener depends on sweetener used and personal preference

spices – sprinkle of to taste cinnamon and cayenne, or lucuma powder and mesquite powder

Place all ingredients into blender. Turn on low, then turn up to high, blend well. Pour mixture into pot. Heat on medium to desired temperature. Pour into mugs and serve.

Serves 4

What other delectable hot drink recipes do you enjoy?

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.

 

How to Take Time for Yourself (even with the kids at home this Summer)

Summer is a busy time with the kids at home, activities and outings, camping, hiking, vacations and road trips. You are going from one place to the next getting in as much as you can in our short season. (Well I do, I like to pack it all in in about 8 weeks as I know we only have so much time to do all the things we love. And you have to take advantage of the warm and sunny days cause you never know when the rain is going to come and sock you in for a few days and the temperature drops)

The problem is still taking time for yourself with all this increased activity and time with the kids at home. We all know how important it is for Mom (or Dad) to take time for ourselves. A happy parent equals a happy family. We are better able to manage our day, handle challenges and stress and just enjoy life more!

So here are some tips and things that I do so that I get ‘my time’ throughout the day and am still present and ready for my children.

Get up half an hour early, before the kids do and do something for yourself. You might argue that you need your sleep but trust me this is worth it. Do whatever feeds your spirit, whether it be a quiet cup of coffee or tea, meditate, yoga, stretching, something that you enjoy and puts you in a peaceful, calm and happy mind state.

Have quiet time after lunch My little ones still nap so I get a 2 hour window in the afternoon to do what I want; but with my older son home from school that changes. I know you’re saying my kids don’t nap at all! What we have done is set up quiet time after lunch for 30 minutes. All the children go to their rooms at the same time and do a quiet activity such as reading, drawing, etc. The babies still nap so they go to sleep but this works well with Matthew; and I will continue to do it once the babies no longer nap. Then you have time to yourself to do something for you, without the kids, and is a nice break for everyone during the day.

Make a cup of tea, coffee, lemonade, etc. You notice that the kids are playing nicely, take that 5 or 10 minutes and sit down and enjoy your favorite drink. I often find that having just those few minutes is a great way to recharge.

Breathe I am sure you have heard this one before, a few deep breaths can do a world of wonders and I mean in through the nose and out through the mouth, filling up and expanding the stomach. You don’t need a block of time to do this, you can do it on the spot, kids or not for just a few minutes.

Set up some scheduled breaks Whether it be a playdate or you hire a babysitter, this provides the opportunity to take a break and do what you would like for a bit. Whether it be to go for coffee with a friend or by yourself, a massage, a little shopping. You can even take advantage of registering your child(ren) in a day camp program. This will not only provide a break for you but some variety for the kids.

I have found the key is purposely scheduling some time for you, while making sure that the kids are occupied and safe. If I do not schedule time during my day I find I get to the end of the day and am just exhausted. Once you have the time it is easy to find things to do! and  even short breaks can make a world of difference.

The important thing is to do things that truly feed your spirit and rejuvenate you, don’t use that time to do housework or prepare dinner! Things like going outside, even if just in the backyard if you can’t leave the house, go for a walk, a massage, coffee, read or even an uninterrupted phone conversation with a friend! You know what feeds you best, do it and everyone will be better off for it.