Homemade Cough Syrup

Homemade cough syrup

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The ups and downs in the temperature this fall can put a strain on the immune system – one day it’s in the 60’s and sunny, and the next, it’s raining and in the 30’s!  Or snowing, in Michigan!  Add to that any stress (or perceived stress)  you are experiencing with travel, family situations, new experiences, work-related issues, or any other uncertain environment, and your immune system is compromised even more.

And so Lindsey’s immune system has recently become compromised.  She just returned from Dallas (yes, we let her go to Dallas – no worries about ebola).  She was at Tony Robbins’ UPW (Unlimited Power Within) weekend, and from Thursday night, when they did the “fire walk,” until Sunday evening, when they covered some really great health information, Lindsey was going non-stop.  She and another 6,000 people were packed into the convention center for some pretty intense personal work and discovery.  If you ever get a chance to go to one of Tony Robbins’ events – take it!  They are amazing!  Check out this video to get a feel for what it’s like:

To make a long story short, Lindsey got a little run down and caught a bit of a cold.  So we’ve been strategizing to make sure she’s getting enough of the right foods and nutrients to allow her immune system to heal her body.  A couple of things we’re doing in addition to food is using essential oils.  I’ve been giving her capsules filled with frankincense, lemon, and lavender essential oils twice a day, and I put together a “cough syrup” with a honey base.  She doesn’t have much of a cough, but the honey is a great base to get the oils in so they can go to work on her congestion and start attacking whatever it is that is causing her to  feel less than 100%.

This cough syrup is something I’ve used for years and it really does help with coughing, sore throat, and overall recovery.  So, I thought I would share it with you in case you need some extra tools in your cold and flu first aid kit this season!

Cough Syrup Ingredients

1/4 cup raw honey

1 drop Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree essential oil)

1 drop clove essential oil

1 drop rosemary oil

2 drops cedarwood oil

3 drops peppermint oil

2 drops frankincense oil

Remember when using essential oils, use therapeutic grade essential oils; that way you can be confident they are made in such a way that preserves the oils’ therapeutic qualities rather than destroys them.

I mix all of the ingredients together and take 1 tsp. as needed.  If this is too strong for you (although I think it can’t possibly be worse than the cough syrup you get at the drug store!), you can dilute it with more honey.

I actually like the taste of it.  You can even add it to a cup of your favorite tea or with a cup of warm water and lemon juice.  If you’re up for an extra zing, try adding some grated ginger!

Remember, the best defense is a good offense (I’ve got college football on my mind – go Michigan State!), so make sure you take care of yourself in the first place.  Get plenty of good quality sleep, eat fresh organic foods, do some sort of movement and exercise, and take time to be good to yourself and have fun!

Oh, and have a Happy Halloween!

Plastic in Your Toothpaste and Soap?

Microbead Toothpaste

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

Being a Foodie Bitch doesn’t just mean watching what you eat (although, obviously, that’s a huge part of it). Our health is changed by stress levels, environmental toxins, sleep patterns… etc. etc. etc.! Every day we are dealing with things that can negatively impact our bodies, and we have to be savvy as to how to live our best possible lives while being bombarded by toxins.

Lately the trending news story on health has been microbeads in toothpaste.

These beads, which are made of plastic, do not disintegrate, and are not biodegradable. More and more dentists are noting that they find these tiny beads stuck up under gums, or in the gum line.

Dentists worry that the embedded plastic will trap bacteria, which can lead to gingivitis, receding gums, or serious periodontal disease.

Crest has noted that the beads are FDA approved (making you wonder why the FDA approves plastic bits in something we put in our mouths and swallow small amount of on a daily basis), and that purpose of the beads is solely for decoration. The beads do not actually polish the teeth – in fact, they have the potential to abrade enamel.

The beads can be found in popular brands like Crest Pro Health and 3D White, and Colgate’s Max Clean and Max Clean Smart Foam.

Luckily, Procter & Gamble (the makers of Crest) have vowed to phase it out of their products by 2016, but it still begs the questions – why was it in there in the first place, and what else is affecting our health without our knowledge?

It’s not the first time microbeads have come under scrutiny. Some companies are phasing them out of their body wash lines, as recent studies have shown that they are a contributor to plastic pollution in the oceans and Great Lakes.

Testing on Lake Michigan (or the Big Lake, or just “the lake,” as we here in Holland call it) showed that on average there was 17,000 bits of these tiny plastic pieces in one  square kilometer of the water.

The small beads also absorb toxins from the water like a sponge. Marine animals ingest these beads in various doses in the food chain. They resemble tiny fish eggs, and therefore are commonly ingested by smaller fish, which go into birds, or bigger fish, which go into us. No studies have yet followed the negative effects this could have on larger animals (including humans), but it’s a fair bet that eating fish who have ingested toxin-soaked plastic may have some repercussions.

So, how do you avoid these hidden traps?

Checking the label for “microbeads” is always a good start.

Read the ingredients. Anything with polyethylene or polypropylene should be avoided. Since you’re there anyway, read the rest of the ingredients and see how many you can pronounce. Maybe it’s time to opt for a different, more natural brand of toothpaste or body wash in general?

And best of all, use natural alternatives. Add a little salt or sugar to your soap for a scrub that will work just as effectively, without clogging up any major water sources. If you want to polish your teeth, hit them with a little baking soda next time you brush.

Be vigilant! Remember that big companies don’t generally have your health in mind. It’s up to you to make sure you are taking care of your body!

Have a safe and healthy weekend!

Skin Care (Food for Your Skin!)

natural skin care products

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

With everything I’ve been researching lately about hormone disruptors and environmental toxins, I’m paying extra attention to what I’m putting on my skin.  After all, the skin is the largest organ of the body and it absorbs what you put on it – from endocrine disruptors to neurotoxins.

Unfortunately, today, harmful chemicals are found in so many places, but one of the last places they need to be is on our skin.  Check out this article from Mind, Body, Green, stating a number of chemicals you should avoid in skin care and beauty products.

Two companies I have found that are absolutely wonderful are Living Libations, and AnnMarie Gianni Skin Care.  Both companies use clean ingredients, wonderful essential oils, and, overall, ingredients I have absolutely no concern about putting on my skin.

Tonight I just got Living Libations’ “Best Skin Ever: Lavish Abundance” body oil.  It not only smells wonderful, but it goes on so smoothly and I know I’m going to love it at night before bed, or after showering.  With a list of ingredients like Seabuckthorn berry oil, Golden Jojoba oil, virgin coconut oil, Tamanu oil, and lavender, vetiver, grapefruit, and palmarosa essential oils, how could you go wrong?

AnnMarie’s Repair Serum is also wonderful for before bed, or if I’ve been out in the sun a bit too long.  The ingredients in these products are just as impressive.  I love the Herbal Facial Oil – it smells wonderful and I’ll put that on my face in the morning after showering.

Check out the products on both sites and give them a try.  AnnMarie has a nice little sample kit you can buy to experiment and see how you like her products – that’s what I did at first.

The skin care and beauty product industry is a huge industry, and the safety of a ton of the ingredients used in this industry are highly questionable and many are downright toxic.  I strongly feel that this is another source of toxins that are wreaking havoc with our health.  It’s time to clean this are of our lives up as well.  Start doing your research and demanding questions about the products you are not only putting in your body, but also on  your body.  Being a Foodie Bitch goes way beyond the food you put in your body – it’s also the “food” you put on your body, and the “food” you feed your heart, your soul, and the planet.

Also, if you get a chance, check out Nature’s Pulchritude’s Blog.  They do a great job of helping you decipher ingredients on skin care and beauty products!

Stay healthy and enjoy the weekend!

Eighth Day Farm and New Holland Brewery Farm to Fork Dinner

Eighth Day Farms

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

It’s that time of year – time to enjoy the harvests of many of your local farms!

Going a step further, many local farmers are starting to team up with local chefs to hold Farm-to-Fork or Farm-to-Table dinners. I love, love, love the idea, and the people who have the passion and take the risk to put them together.

So, a big thanks to our local Eighth Day Farms for hosting a Farm-to-Fork dinner Tuesday July 22, and also to New Holland Brewery for sponsoring it. Check out this link for more information on Eighth Day’s Farm-to-Fork.

What’s really cool about this one is that our local brewery, New Holland Brewery, will be serving up their new brew, “Uncle Bert’s Farm Market Red,” a new ale made of 100% hops, which was inspired by the work that Eighth Day Farm is doing.

Also, Chef Lucas of Public in Zeeland, Tracy Barnett of Ultimate Catering, and Curtis Mulder of Creative Dining, will be using the produce from Eighth Day farm to create a variety of small plates for guests to enjoy.

There will also be dessert from Just Eat a Cookie, coffee from Lemonjellos, and music by Nate Roberts.

What is so fun about events like these is it gives you a chance to connect with, not only the farmers and the chefs, but the community as well. It’s fun to get together with a group of people who also enjoy and appreciate fresh, great-quality food (Eighth Day farm grows their food without synthetic fertilizers or chemicals), prepared in passionate, creative ways. It’s events like these that can not only spark new friendships but also new ideas that can change the community and the world for the better.

My hope is that more Farm-to-Fork or Harvest Dinners will start popping up. They are a great way to showcase the many talents in a community and also illustrate all of the people and steps that are involved in supplying us with our food.

Let’s face it, without the farmers, we have no food – unless all of us want to grow everything we need on our own, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Usually the hosting farm will give some sort of a tour and will educate the guests on how they grow their food and why they insist on maintaining certain standards. This is one of my favorite parts. I love the stories of how and why the farmers got started and I love learning little tidbits about their particular growing philosophy and things they have learned along the way.

So, if you are from West Michigan, reserve your tickets for the dinner on July 22. And if you are not from West Michigan, seek out and support one in your area.

… And if there aren’t any in your area, take a leap of faith and organize one yourself – your community will thank you!