Category Archives: Natural Remedies

It’s Flu Season! How to Make Homemade Herbal Cough Drops

Hello Lovelies,

It has been some time!  I very much missed writing, but after all of the holiday chaos, we now have all had the flu.  One by one we were attacked by sickness.  We battled the dreadful flu by using herbal medicine and herbal remedies.  One of the ways we dealt with the annoying and never ending cough is with homemade cough drops.  These drops are so yummy and super easy easy to make.  They contain natural properties that quickly suppress the urge to cough and soothe inflammation in the throat.  Combined with other remedies, the bulk of the flu only lasted about 3 days for each of us.   Don’t get me wrong, we have residual symptoms still, but the heart of it didn’t last long.

You Will Need:

  • 1 tbs Peppermint Leaf
  • 1 tbs Chamomile
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tbs Ginger Root
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 3/4 cup Raw Honey
  • 1/2 tsp Tapioca flour or Cornstarch

You can use teabags if you don’t want to spend additional money by buying loose leaf.  Just simply break them open.  The ginger root you can substitute with ground ginger, just be sure to use a little less as it can be very potent.  In my opinion, using grocery store, cheap honey isn’t a big deal because this mixture will be cooked and heated.  Any good properties in the honey will be killed during the cooking process.  So why waste the money?

Combine the peppermint leaf, chamomile, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl with 3/4 boiling water.  Steep for 10-20 minutes making it a medicinal infusion versus what one would consider a light tea.

img_1374Strain and pour the infusion into a small pot.  Add 3/4 cup of raw local honey and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Do not stop stirring or the mixture will burn.  This is not yummy.  I used a laser thermometer but you can certainly use a candy thermometer.  Basically, you are caramelizing the honey and making it into candy.  Bring this mixture up to 300 degrees while stirring the entire time.  A whisk works perfectly.  As the temperature increases, the mixture will thicken and get darker. Once the mixture reaches 300 degrees, pull it off the heat and let cool for a few minutes stirring occasionally.  It will resemble warm caramel.  As it cools it will resemble warm taffy.

Lay out a piece of parchment paper and drop dollops of the mixture and let cool slightly.  You still want them pliable as you want to roll them into balls.  In a plastic container, add 1/2 tsp of Tapioca flour or Cornstarch and roll the cough drops in the flour to avoid sticking.  This will also keep moisture away from the drops.  As they cool, they harden.  Store in an air tight container and use as needed.

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They taste like a strong caramel and really strong honey.  They will keep as long as stored in a cool dry place completely sealed.  You can experiment with different herbs, but this recipe for my family works the best and it was what I had on hand.  We try to be as natural as possible staying away from processed sugars and synthetic chemicals.  Especially when you are fighting an invader in your body, why would you add something that is practically the same thing back in?

 

Each ingredient serves a purpose.  Ginger is very warming to the body and great if you have chills while peppermint has a numbing effect.  It helps with that aching body feeling and can really help break up mucus and phlegm. Chamomile boosts the immune system while relaxing the body from all of the work it is doing to heal itself.

Time to Make:  About 30 minutes 

What are you doing to combat the flu?

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A Powerhouse, Nutrient Rich Carrot Soup

Hello Lovelies,

With Fall in full swing and temperatures dropping fast, we have embarked upon…Soup Season! Yummy, delicious, warming, thick, creamy, good for the soul soups.  I had numerous carrots in the fridge that needed to be used and I already have plenty of canned chunky carrots.  I canned 11 lbs last year and truly do not need anymore.  With all of the homemade broth we make, carrots are still a staple on our grocery list.  Even with all of the planning in the world, somehow we always end up with something leftover, something missed, or something forgotten. Seeming there was a good bunch of carrots left and I was getting the itch for some soup, what better way to use them up than putting the two together.  I did can this recipe for use throughout the winter season and got about 5 pints and 1 half pint plus our dinner.  This recipe is absolutely delicious!

You will need:

  • A bunch of washed carrots with skins on, chopped in chunks
  • Water
  • A small bunch of celery
  • A few garlic gloves minced
  • 1 Large diced onion
  • Butter
  • Chicken bouillion
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Stick blender or regular blender

Wash the carrots thoroughly and keep the skins on.  In the skin there are an enormous amount of good vitamins and medicinal properties, so we don’t want to throw that way. Dice the carrots into chunks. This soup simmers for about 30-40 minutes so thicker chunks are perfectly fine as you will puree them later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large pot, combine carrots and water as well as the rest of your ingredients.  Spices and herbs are purely on personal taste and I rarely use measurements.  Be sure to taste as you go and remember that the taste will change as the soup simmers.  Flavors will develop and mingle creating a very nice rich, slightly spicy flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

The herbs and spices within this soup were chosen on purpose.  Fall and Winter seasons come with nasty colds and the dreaded flu.  By using certain herbs and spices, you can create a powerhouse soup that has many health benefits further aiding your symptoms.

  • Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and powerful anti-oxidant.
  • Red pepper flakes are full of capsaicin and have strong analgesic, and pain-relieving qualities and is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Garlic can combat the common cold and boosts the immune system.  It is very rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese.
  • Ginger is very good for helping with nausea, reducing muscle pain and soreness, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Carrot is full of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, vitamin B8, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese.
  • Rosemary can aid in bad breath, stimulates blood flow, anti-inflammatory, and is slightly diuretic.

Much of this information is available online and is much more in depth.  I’m not a healthcare professional, but in our homestead we do use foods for their benefit. Always, as with anything, do your own research.

After your soup has simmered, let it cool.  It was still warm to the touch when it was pureed because we use a stick blender.  If you are using a glass blender, please let it cool down completely.  Blending hot food can pop the top of the blender and you will get a nice carrot facial.  Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Some add milk or cream, but it truly isn’t needed because this soup is very creamy on its own.  Milk or any dairy causes phlegm and mucus and defeats the purpose of this soup.  If you choose to can this soup, process at for 20 minutes for pints with a pressure canner.

Total Cost: A bag of carrots $.99 plus pantry staples for a small batch.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!!

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How to Make a Chaste Berry Tincture

Hello Lovelies,

DISCLAIMER:  I have a few male readers, so if you are male, this post isn’t for you.  Sorry guys 😉

Often times women have female issues, whether it be balancing, or even some support.   In researching, I have found the amazing Chaste Berry.  It is said to be great for PMS, PMDD, PCOS, and numerous other ailments and symptoms.  Chase Berry goes by a few names, but one common name is Vitex, which is popular among those trying to conceive.  I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional, so please do some research before trying. In my case, I bought the Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine which you can find on Amazon. It is a fantastic book and very informative!

Per the American Family Physician website at www.aafp.org,  Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus), or monk’s pepper, is the fruit of the chaste tree. It is native to western Asia and southwestern Europe, and is now common in the southeastern United States.  It has been used for more than 2,500 years to treat a variety of conditions. In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, it was used for many gynecologic conditions.

With our homesteading venture, we have made many changes to how we live and heal ourselves.  People often tackle a few changes but are those changes really worth the trouble if you only change a few things?  It is like exercising everyday expecting big results and not changing your diet.  It is counter intuitive. Recently, we have made the decision to add Herbalism to our skill set.  An act of producing your own medicine for common ailments such as colds, flu, burns, and wounds to name a few.

Out of all of the ways to use Chaste Berry, I chose to make a tincture.  An herbal extract of the berry.  Chaste Berry tinctures do not work overnight.  They must be taken over a period of time.  A tincture is an alcoholic infusion which extracts medicinal properties of plants, herbs, roots, berries, and flowers, basically the entire plant. Any part of that plant can be used and may be used for different uses.

Here is what you will need:

  • Glass pint jar with a lid
  • Whole Organic Dried Chaste Berry
  • 90 or 100 Proof Vodka (some use Brandy)

With a mortar and pestal, grind the berries coarsely to expose as much surface area as you can.  This makes sure that all of the goodness of the berry is extracted. Fill the jar half way with the berries and fill the jar up with Vodka.  As it sits, you may have to top off with more Vodka because the berries will reconstitute and absorb the alcohol.

 

Shake well and store in a cool, dark place upside down. Let sit for 2-3 weeks, then strain the berries.  Put the berries in a food processor and puree them.  This ensures that you are getting every possible property out of the berry.  Add back in your jar and let sit for another 2-3 weeks.  Then strain and compost the berries.  For my own purposes, I use 1 tbs twice a day in the morning and at night.

Herbs, berries, and roots can be found at the Bulk Herb Store or any natural health store.  I am not sponsored in any way, this is where I got a lot of the herbs and berries that we use. In natural food stores, I found they were kept over by the bulk spice section and not within the supplement section.

Total Cost:  Estimated $6.25

For the books I have purchased and the many methods of herbal extraction please visit the Herbalism Page.

7 Easy Steps to Make Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

Fermenting food is a lost art, but gaining momentum recently.  It is one of the original ways of preserving food.  Yet most do not realize that we already eat some fermented foods.  Coffee, olives, and soy sauce to name a few.

Vegetables though, are fantastic when they are fermented.  Why? The nutrition within that vegetable is kept, enhanced, and preserved by the fermentation process.  It allows some of the nutrients to become digestible when they would not be raw.

Natural bacteria produces vitamins and enzymes that are very beneficial for digestion and a variety of other things.  But I am not a doctor or a fermentation expert, so I cannot tell you all it can do, but I can tell you this…PROBIOTICS! The best natural bacteria ever. It is found in supplements and more commonly within yogurt, but eating naturally fermented and or cultured foods, gives the highest level of probiotics and is more beneficial than store bought remedies because of the natural process. Everything is better homemade!

Basic fermentation is nothing more than a brine of filtered water and salt.  We know that salt draws out moisture, but it also aids in the development of lactic acid, the main component of fermentation. One of the easiest foods to get started with is sauerkraut.  It is tangy, vinegary, cabbage goodness that you can put on hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches like hot reubens, or eat on the side.  In my opinion, the homemade version tastes nothing like the stuff in a jar.

Making sauerkraut is ridiculously easy!  Trust me!  It takes less than 10 minutes to start and 4 weeks to finish.  What is easier than that? This recipe is tailored for a quart jar.  A rule of thumb is for every 5lbs of vegetable, you would use 3 tablespoons of salt.  So adjust it according to the vessel you are using.

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Step 1: Take a head of cabbage, any will do, and shred it into bite size pieces.

Step 2: Take 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt and sprinkle over the shredded cabbage.

Step 3: Smoosh, squeeze, squish the cabbage and the salt together. This releases a lot of the natural water within the cabbage itself creating its own brine.

Step 4:  When the cabbage is wilted enough (not smooshed so much that it looks like overcooked cabbage) transfer into a quart glass mason jar.

 

 
Step 5:  With the back of a wooden spoon, pack in the cabbage as tightly as you can! Keep pushing!  Pack it some more.  As you pack the cabbage you are eliminating air bubbles and pushing out all of the water still left within the cabbage.



Step 6: Get a sandwich size ziplock bag and fill a quarter of it with water.  Zip it tight and push into the opening of the mason jar pushing it down over the cabbage.  You should have enough brine on top of the cabbage to completely submerge the cabbage.  Push the baggie into the brine creating a barrier.  This will keep the cabbage submerged so oxygen cannot get in causing it to spoil. Oxygen is the enemy in some fermented foods, sauerkraut is anaerobic.  Meaning without oxygen.

Step 7: Leave the cabbage out of the sun and in dark corner somewhere. As it ferments, more water will be released possibly overflowing your jar, so be sure to check on it frequently.  The process takes about 4 weeks, but if you like the flavor stronger, you can ferment it longer.  Taste as you go and as it ferments because you may like it at 2 weeks.  Some like it at over a month or two.  The longer it sits, the stronger it will be.

After a few days you will start to see bubbles forming and rising to the top of the jar.   The bubbles are releasing carbon dioxide. This is completely normal and proof that it is working.  When the mixture starts getting a little cloudy,  this is what is called lactic acid. It is the main component in this type of fermentation.

Note: Watch out for any mold on the surface as that is caused from oxygen.  Scoop it off and rinse the baggy, and reposition over the cabbage. If a little mold is on top and you can’t get it all, do not worry. It is safe, just mix in the sauerkraut as once it is below the surface it cannot live.  It will die from lack of oxygen.  Too much mold, throw the batch away and start again. This means you didn’t completely submerge the cabbage and mold developed or you went too long before checking it.

Total Cost: $.89 for a head of cabbage.

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DIY Worm Spray Home Remedy For Your Garden

Hello Lovelies,

Worms, pets, gnats, you name it, are quite bothersome and most annoying in a home garden.  After all, it takes effort and planning to garden and is not an easy feat to get rid of what ails it. Pests come and go and there is every chemical on the market to get rid of them.  What is hard to comprehend, is why put a chemical on your garden when if you are like me, your garden is organic and made with homemade compost.  It defeats the purpose.

Most recently, it was discovered that cabbage worms have made their beds among the baby brussel sprout plants.  Here is how to make your own inexpensive “Worm Spray”.

You will need:

  • Small plastic spray bottle (what is shown is travel size)
  • Fish Oil Capsules
  • A pin to pierce the capsules
  • Garlic Water/Juice
  • Water

20170427_084609Take an empty spray bottle and fill 3/4 with water.

With a teaspoon, measure two teaspoons of juice or water from your minced garlic jar. To make a homemade version if you don’t buy jarred garlic, mince a clove of garlic and add water letting it infuse in the fridge for a few days.  That garlic acts as a deterant for the butterfly so they don’t land on the leaves to lay eggs.  Pierce a few fish oil capsules and empty in the bottle. I would highly recommend wearing gloves for this because the fish oil smell lingers on the skin. Yuk! Two liberal applications emptied the spray bottle so there is no waste depending on the size of the area you are spraying.  I had just four plants.

Shake and spray!  It is that easy.  It smelled like fish, but was very effective.  It took about two applications within a week avoiding watering the leaves, but rather let the water run near the stem to not wash off the mixture.  It has been about two weeks and the plants show no signs of new eggs or new worms.  I’m not sure if this remedy will work on all plants.  But for brussel sprouts it worked like a charm.  Cabbage worms seem to love really green veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts.  Best part is most people already have the ingredients in their home making it a very affordable option.

Total cost for this little project was .50 for the travel size spray bottle.

Happy Thursday!

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