Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Skin and Tonic

Essential oils have been used in beauty rituals way back in “ancient times” and are still found in many skincare products…for everything from dry skin to the signs of aging…especially as  alternatives to skincare products that contain processed ingredients, harsh chemicals, and lots of other ingredients that any normal person has trouble pronouncing, much less know what they are.

Not only that, it has been proven, both in food and the cosmetic industry, that the closer a product is to the way God actually made it, the better that product will improve you.

Some essential oils contain antioxidants and antibacterial properties that have been shown to actually be good for your skin.

Potential benefits of essential oils in the health and appearance of your skin may include…

  • enhancing your skin’s UV resistance
  • helping your body absorb antioxidants
  • stimulating your immune system

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The Best Essential Oils for Skincare

The best essential oils for skincare are…

  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rose Hip
  • Tea Tree

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Korean Skincare

Let’s look at ways to add the benefits of these essential oils as part of your skincare regimens…more specifically the Korean 12-step beauty routine…

Korean skincare../even though time-consung in its ten-step regimen, has become trendy even among non-Korean because we all have admired the healthy, beautiful, and seemingly ageless skin.

So I thought that it would be fun to share some DIY and OTBC (over-the-beauty-counter) treats that use essential oils as one of their key ingredients.

 

 

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Morning Regimen

1: Wash with water…The first step in Korean skincare is to simply wash your face with water…no cleanser, just water to remove any “junk” that has settled on your face during the night and help hydrate your skin.

2. Apply toner. Okay, let’s dwell on toner for a bit and see why we need it and how to make your own.

 

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Why Use Toner?

There are several reasons to use toner, even though most of are content to skip this step and only use a cleanser and a moisturizer…or at least I am…

But there are actually several reasons to start using toner…

  • balances the skin’s pH
  • helps your skin to absorb the products that you will be applying to your face next
  • keeps your skin from becoming dry and dehydrated
  • keeps skin feeling clean and looking radiant
  • provides moisture
  • tightens pores

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Types of Toner

There are three different types of toners…

  • Fresheners and bracers
  • Skin Tonics

1. Fresheners and Bracers…Fresheners and bracers contain no alcohol…simply water and humectants—such as glycerin. They are the most gentle of toner types.

Fresheners and bracers contain humectants, such as glycerin, that help prevent moisture from evaporating off the top layers of your skin…and can be used on dry, sensitive and normal skin.

One example of a humectant is rosewater toner….so let’s find out how to make your own.

2. Skin Tonics…Skin tonics contain up to 20% alcohol in addition to the water and humectants found in fresheners and bracers…meaning that they are not as gentle to your skin. The alcohol acts as a drying agent in the tonic.

Skin tonics are suitable for use on normal, combination, and oily skin.

3. Astringents…Astringents contain a high proportion of alcohol (20-60%) in addition to antiseptic ingredients, water, and a humectant…meaning that these are the strongest form of toner out there.

Astringents are mean to be applied to specific areas of the face, not all over the face. Not only that, using an astringents too often can actually make your face oilier instead of remove oil from the skin.

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Ingredients

Herbs…Chamomile is often used in making homemade skin toners because it is so mild, but other herbs may also be used…for example…

  • Dry skin…ederflower, linden flowers, and marigold
  • Normal skin…fennel, lemon balm, parsley, and rosemary.
  • Oily skin…fennel, lemon balm, parsley, rosemary, peppermint and sage

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Szteps to Using Toner

Boil milk or water to a boil.. Pour over the chamomile. Steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar, witch hazel or glycerin,  if using. Let the liquid cool, Strain the toner into a sterilized bottle. Shake the bottle to combine the ingredients.  Refrigerate…will keep in your fridge for up to five days. Apply to skin with cotton balls after you wash your face, but before using moisturizer. Do not rinse.  Apply moisturizer.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Aromatherapy…The Which

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Aromatherapy…The Why

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Aromatherapy…The What

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

We are all familiar with chamomile tea, having been read The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 

Chamomile has been used for centuries for its fragrance, relaxing properties and flavor profile. In the next several posts, we will be looking at how chamomile can be used in…

  • aromatherapy
  • beverages
  •  cosmetics and skincare
  • household care, such as by repelling insects
  • orally
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chamomile…The Why

She knew about its health because she loved to read and had learned that chamomile tea had been used way before the book Peter Rabbit was written…for thousands of years before…mainly to treat anxiety and digestive problems—such as upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea.

So let’s take a look at why she was so smart…and why we all would also be smart if we started drinking chamomile tea more often.

 

 

 

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Cancer

The antioxidants found in chamomile tea serve as an anti-inflamatory and reduce the risk of several types of cancer….particularly the following…

  • breast
  • cancer of the digestive tract
  • skin cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • thyroid cancer
  • uterine cancer

 

 

 

 

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Controlling Your Blood Sugar Level

Drinking chamomile tea daily with meals for at least eight weeks has been shown to lower blood sugar levels significantly….prevent blood sugar spikes…and prevent damage to the pancreas, the organ that is responsible for producing insulin, the hormone responsible for removing sugar from your blood.

 

 

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Digestive Health

Chamomile tea has been shown to reduce the acidity in your stomach and is soothing to the stomach.

Because chamomile tea is both an antispasmodic and an anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile tea relaxes the muscles that line your stomach and intestines and helps keep your digestive system healthy…meaning that you are less likely to get or improve problems related to digestion—such as diarrhea, stomach ulcers, nausea, heartburn, IBS, and gas,

 

 

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Heart

Chamomile tea contains high levels of flavones, a class of antioxidants that is important for lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels…both of which are important for lowering your risk of getting heart disease.

Drinking chamomile tea with meals can greatly improve your total cholesterol, triglyceride and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

 

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Skin

When used topically as a wash, lotion, bath agent, or compress, chamomile can speed the healing of certain  skin conditions…such as eczema, minor burns, rashes,  and sunburn.

 

 

 

 

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Sleep

Drinking chamomile tea right before you go to bedtime can help you fall asleep more easily, improve the “quality” of your sleep, and keep you from waking up during the night for at least two reasons…

First of all…as we probably all can figure out from reading Beatrix’s Potter book…is the fact that chamomile has a mildly sedating and muscle-relaxing effect…just what you need when fears of Mr. McGregor or the Big Bad Wolf or life in general keep you awake at night.

Next, chamomile contains certain antioxidants…including apigenin…that are affect your ability to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

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Other Health Issues 

Other health issues that chamomile tea have supposedly had an effect on include…

  • allergies
  • anxiety and restlessness
  • asthma
  • back aches
  • common cold
  • depression
  • morning sickness
  • osteoporosis
  • PMS
  • sore muscles and tight joints
  • sore throats

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chamomile…The What

Chamomile is an herb that comes from the daisy-like flowers of the Asteraceae plant family….a family of plants which also includes sunflowers, Echinacea and marigolds.

 

 

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Types of Chamomile

There are actually nine different types of chamomile, including…

But of these different types, only two types of chamomile are commonly used— German chamomile and Roman chamomile.

 

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German Chamomile

German chamomile is an annual plant typically found in Eastern Europe where the herb grow as widely as bluebonnets grow here in Texas.

German chamomile grows to be about three feet high and are harvested by machines two or three times over the growing season.

The German chamomile flowers have a strong, herbal and sometimes pungent scent and a sweeter taste than Roman chamomile when used in making herbal tea.

 

 

 

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Roman Chamomile

Roman chamomile, however, is s perennial plant typically found in Egypt where the flowers are gathered either by hand or with a tool called a chamomile rake. Roman chamomile flowers stay in bloom for several months and are picked every seven to ten days. Roman chamomile flowers have a sweeter, almost fruity scent…and more of a bitter taste when used in teas.

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What’s Next?

Chamomile has been used in ancient medicine as far back as ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome….

And still has medical benefits today….as evident in the fact that chamomile is included  in prescribede drugs in 26 countries.

So let’s take a look at why we should all start drinking chamomile tea…and then other uses for chamomile…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Herbal Tea…The What

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Overnight Oats

I am so not a morning person. I barely wake up until I have had about two entire pots of coffee…so being able to simply have breakfast ready ahead of time is idea for both me and my kids.

The perfect overnight oats is a sweet combination of your favorite fruit…(in this case===raspberries), nuts…(totally optional, but in this case, we’re using almonds)…sweetener—such as honey…and perhaps some extras such as  chia seeds, and obviously oats.

This is a nutritious, delicious, and filling breakfast that is a great way to start to your day.

Now for the recipe…(which, like smoothie “recipes,” doesn’t even really seem like a recipe because it’s so easy and pretty much common sense.

And also like smoothies, there is an endless combination of flavors that you could have…based on which fruit you choose, which flavor yogurt you choose, and so forth…

 

 

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Ingredients

  • Almonds…sliced, slivered, or chopped…1Tbsp
  • Chia Seeds, optional…2tsp
  • Honey, maple syrup,  or any other type of sweetener…which is totally a matter of personal preference)
  • Milk…1C milk…(once again, for hints on which kind of milk, check out this previous post…Visions of Veganism—Milk)
  • Oats…½C
  • Raspberries…1/2C fresh or frozen
  • Yogurt…1/4C plain Greek yogurt

 

 

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Instructions

Stir together milk, oats, yogurt, honey, chia seeds and pinch of salt until combined.

Pour into a pint-sized jar or resealable container.

Mix thoroughly.

Seal the lids onto the jars..

Refrigerate anywhere from six hours days.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Waffles

Now that we’ve learned how to make the perfect pancakes, let’s move on to making the pancake’s kissing cousin…the waffle…

You might think to yourself, we just learned how to make the perfect pancake batter…can’t I simply use the same recipe to now make waffles…

 

 

Actually…

No!!!

 

Waffle batter and pancake batter may seem very similar….you really can’t use your pancake recipe and expect great waffles.

 

 

 

Why? 

Pancake recipes are created to make flat things without a crispy exterior…

 

 

 

But before we learn HOW to make the perfect waffles, let’s talk about what the perfect waffles would be like.

The perfect waffles are buttery, sweet, and thick…with a perfectly crisp extterior……with a light and fluffy interior…and  topped with the perfect amount of butter, syrup, and whatever else you wanna put on them.

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The Ingredients

  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2gsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2C buttermilk
  • 1/4C butter
  • 1tsp vanilla or 1Tbsp amaretto
  • 1/3C vegetable oil
  • 1/2C cornstarch
  • 1-1/2C flour
  • 3/4C sugar

 

 

 

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The Waffle Iron

If yuu’re gonna make good waffles, you really should have a good waffle iron, such as this KitchenAid Waffle Baker 

So go ahead and buy one that cooks waffles evenly if your waffle iron has become crabby and temperamental.

If you are shopping for a waffle iron, things to consider include…

  • cool-touch handles...waffle irons with plastic handle heat up less than models with chrome or stainless-steel handles
  • fllip style…using a waffle iton that you can flip pver after pouring in the batter will allow the batter to spread out evenly and also make sure that the waffle cooks evenly on both sides.
  • size…think about how much space you have to store the waffle maker when you aren’t using it.
  • temperature control...adjustable thermostats allow you to control the cooking temperature so that you can make both soft, light-colored waffles…as well as crispy, dark-colored waffles.

Now that you have bought…or found…your waffle iron it is important to read…or have read…the instruction manual because different waffle makers will cook differently.

 

 

 

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Preheat Your Waffle Iron

Preheating your waffle iron before adding any batter to the waffle iron is very important for two reasons….prevents soggy waffles…and makes the batter turn crispy as soon as it hits the surface.

 

 

 

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The “Dry” Ingredients

Place flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, Whisk to combine. Set aside.

(Yes…I do realize that sugar is a dry ingredient, but add it later…you will soon see why.

 

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The $ggs

First separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. This will give them a crispier exterior….as well as make the interior of the waffle more fluffy. and light, instead of heavy and dense.

Now add your sugar,

Whip your egg whites to the soft-peak stage., meaning until stiff peaks form….you should be able to lift the beaters straight out of the egg whites and invert the beaters, and find that the egg white stand up on their own.

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The “Wet” Ingredients

Whisk together your egg yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla In a medium-sized mixing bowl.

 

The Buttermilk…If you do not have buttermilk in your fridge…and are too lazy to go to Walmart of somewhere and go get some, combine a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar with  to a cup of milk.

Some people recommend that you use a combination of buttermilk and regular milk because this makes your batter even thinner…personally I like the extra buttermilk flavor.

 

 

 

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Batter Up

At this point, you should have three bowls of “stuff”===your dry ingredients, your wet ingredients, and your beaten egg whites.

So now let’s combine all three of these mixtures so that we can get on with out waffle making.

 

 

When stirring together your ingredients, it important that you never overmix your batter.

You want your batter to be smooth enough that it flows freely through the dimples of the waffle plate..yet not over-mixed to the point where the flour turns into gluten… making your pancakes chewier, instead of fluffy.

So at this stage, a gentle hand and patience and very important..

 

 

Anyway…how do we do this?

  1. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula and a gentle motion.
  2. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Now scoop the beaten egg whites into the batter, just until combined. It is important that you do this very gently..
  4. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter….being careful not to deflate them..
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Cooking the Pancakes

Scoop 1/2C batter into the center of your waffle iron,

Close the lid.

Let cook until the indicator light or beeping mechanism does its thing. Do not lift the lid too soon.  Lifting the lid too soon could mean that half of your waffle ends up on the top of the waffle iron…while the other stays on the bottom..

Remove hot waffles from the waffle iron.  

The that waffle that you make is probably not going to turn out perfectly. If so, you may need to adjust the amount of batter or color control settings until you get the results you

Respray the waffle pan after each waffle.

Continue cooking waffles until all batter is used,.

 

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Keeping Your Waffles Warm

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Place the cooked waffles directly on the oven rack while finishing cooking the rest of the waffles.

Not only will this keep the waffles warm as you are cooking, but doing this will also make your waffles crispier by allowing the steam to escape and will allow everyone to eat at the same time instead of staggeredly, as each individual waffle finishes cooking.

Just make sure the waffles do not burn…five minutes is about the maximum amount of time they can sray in your oven without burning.

And do not stack the waffles…otherwise, they will turn moist and limp.

 

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Storing

Place any leftover pancakes in a freezer bag once they cool down. Place wax paper between multiple waffles. Squeeze as much air from the bag as possible.

 

 

 

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Reheating

Set out however many waffles you need on the counter for ten minutes…while you preheat the oven to 300 degrees .

 

Clean your waffle iron shortly after each use. This will make cleaning the waffle iron so much easier than if you wait and clean it much later after 

Use a plastic or rubber utensil to remove waffles from the waffle iron. Using a metal fork or knife could eventually damage the sufaces of your waffle iron.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making Marvelous Muesli

So now that we know what muesli is…how do we make our own…and what do we do with it once we have it made?!
Making your own muesli is super easy and takes only about five minutes to go…a perfect combination of nuts, seeds, and oats that is perfectly healthy and perfectly filling.

 

 

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The Math

Making your own muesli is also more of a mathematical formula…than a method that must be mastered….a matter or proportions and personal preference…
Typically you will want to use about…
  • 4 cups grains
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts/seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit

Start with a ratio of four parts grain + one part nuts/seeds + one part dried fruit.

Keep in mind that the more fruit you add, the sweeter it will be. The more nuts you throw in, the more expensive your grocery bill. Remember, also, that the grains will become soft when combined with milk or yogurt. Muesli with extra nuts will be overly crunchy; muesli with lots of fruit will be very chewy.

 

 

 

 

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The Grains

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Nuts/Seeds…1 cup

 

Nuts and seeds—such as…
  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • chia seeds
  • coconut flakes
  • hazelnuts
  • macadamias
  • peanuts
  • pecans
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • pistachios
  • poppy seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • sliced almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • unsweetened coconut flakes.
  • walnuts

will give your muesli a delicious crunch,,,not to mention te fact that nuts and seeds will make your muesli even healthier because they contain omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Choose any nut, seed, combination that you like…or omit them altogether if you’re allergic to them or simply don’t like them.

 

Before mixing your ingredients together, also take the time to toast your nuts in the same way that you do your grain. This will not only give the nuts a little extra crunch, but also make them more flavorful.

Don’t add oil or any other liquid to the pan when toasting your grains and nuts. Toasting the nuts release their oils, so anything added will make your muesli taste a little greasy.

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The Fruit…1C

 

The third ingredientw that you will want to add to your muesli—now that you have stirred together your grains and nuts/seeds, is/are fruit(2)…Dried fruit will add both sweetness and chewiness to your muesli.

This can be any fruit that you like…as long as it’s dried and not fresh. Adding fresh fruit will make your muesli too soft and cause it turn bad much more quickly.

There are no set-in-stone rules as far as what fruits to add…simply choose whatever fruits that you and your family like.

A few ideas as far as what fruits you could add…as long as they are dried or dehydrated…are…

  • apple chips
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • cherries
  • cranberries
  • currants
  • dates.
  • figs
  • mango
  • papaya
  • raisins
  • strawberries

Here are a few things to remember…as far as adding fruit to your muesli…

  • Add only enough d  to make your granola taaste seweter…but nout so much that your granola is too sweedt.
  • Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Chop up your dried fruit into bite-sized pieces before adding to your muesli.
  • Do not add any additional sugar to your muesli. You shouldn’t need it…and as we already know…it’s not good for you.
  • Experiment until you find the “perfect” recipe.Avoid dried fruit that contains added sugar.
  • Make sure that any dried fruit that you use does not contain dded sugar.
  • Save fresh fruit for when you actually get ready to eat your muesli.

 

 

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 The Spices

If you would like your muesli to have even more of a taste that your family will enjoy, feel free to add spices.  Spice (that are often used to make your muesli more flavorful include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and ginger,

Store a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves, or a vnanilla bean with your muesli to infuse different flavors.

 

 

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Stirring Your Muesli

Now that you have put all of your “stuff” into a container, put the lid on the container and shake until everything is combined.

 

 

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Storing Your Muesli

Store the muesli in an airtight glass jar or plastic container. Your muesli will stay good for  up to two months as long as it stays dry.

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Serving Your Muesli

 

The easiest way to enjoy your muesli is to add milk or stir it into some yogurt.  Waiting for about ten minutes to half an hour before eating it will soften up the grains a little.

You could also soak your muesli in milk overnight….at a 1:1 ratio. To make overnight oats, combine 2/3C muesli wotj 23C milk in a small lidded container. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy cold in the morning.

A third option is to heating your muesli in the microwave before serving.

 

Soaking or cooking your muesli will break down the oats, making them easier to chew and digest…and making the muesli more nutritious becsuse the nutrients—such as the fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants. vitamins, protein, omega 3 and minerals found in muesli—are more easily absorbed by your body.