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 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

Making the Perfect Pancakes

 

 

 

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The Ingredients

  • n2C flour
  • ¼C sugar
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp salt
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1½C milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼C melted butter
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Dry Ingredients

Mix together these dry ingredients.

You can do this with either a whisk or a Mason jar.

You want to go ahead and mix your dry ingredients enough to get rid of any lumps at this stage in order to avoid big lumps….and because later you will need to avoid over-mixing the batter once you add the wet to the dry,

 

 

The Baking Powder…Be sure to check the expiration date on the baking powder canister. If your baking powder is old or expired, your pancakes will not right…and will end up flat, instead of light and fluffy.

If you would like even fluffier pancakes, feel free to double the amount of baking powder.

You might also want to try using only 2tsp of baking powder and then adding 1/2tsp baking soda.

 

The Flour…Spoon your flour into a measuring cup instead of scooping the flour out of the flour canister with a measuring cup, like most of us do…including me.

Scooping the flour causes your measuring cup to be filled with too much flour, often resulting in tough pancakes.

Don’t restrict yourself to only using all-purpose flour…be adventuresome by swapping out half of the flour with another type of flour—such as whole wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, corn, oat, or gluten-free.

 

 

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Mason Jar Method

You can also use a Mason jar to shake your ingredients together.

To do this, layer your wet ingredients first—milk, egg, and oil…and then your dry ingredients—flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a wide-mouth quart-sized jar. Seal the jar tightly . Shake the jar vigorously for at least two minutes…until the ingredients are combined. Once the ingredients are combined, you can either cook pancakes immediately or stick the jar in the fridge for later.

To make your pancakes, simply pour the batter straight from the jar onto your griddle or pan…and cook them…(more on that later)…

 

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Liquid Ingredients

Combine your liquid ingredients.

 

The Butter…Using unsalted butter allows youu to control the taste of your pancakes better..

 

The Buttermilk...Butttermilk is what makes your pancakes tenderest. If you do not want to use milk or buttermilk, use water, coffee, or juice as your liquid base instead…reducing the amount of liquid called for in the original recipe by.one-fourth of the amount.

 

 

 

The Eggs…Bringing your eggs to room temp before mixing into your batter will give you the best results.

To make your pancakes even fluffier, take the time to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. …beat your egg whites  with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form…and finally fold the beaten egg whites into your batter gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.

 

 

 


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Mixing Ingredients Together

You should have already whisked your dry ingredients together before you added in the wet ingredients…so you should be able to combine your wet ingredients and dry ingredients together very easily.

Now gently fold your dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.

Stir until the flour is moist, but there are still a few small clumps of flour.

.Do not over-mix the batter. It’s okay to leave some lumps in the batter.

If you overmix the batter, you will end up with tough and dense pancakes, not fluffy.

At this point, you should add any ingredients that you would like to add to your batter…such as…

  • Banana…one mashed ripe banana
  • Blueberries…1C
  • Cream cheese…3oz finely chopped cream cheese
  • Lemon…1tsp grated lemon peel
  • Orange…1tsp grated orange peel
  • Pecans…1/2C…toast and chop finely
  • Strawberries…1C
  • Walnuts…1/2C…toast and chop finely

 

 

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Resting Your Batter

Now that all of your ingredients have become friends, it’s time to rest your batter. What does it mean to “rest” your batter?

To rest your batter means to simply leave it alone for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. The longer you rest your batter, the better your pancakes will turn out…

Why should you “rest” your batter?

Resting your batter will…

  • dissolve any small lumps
  • give the baking powder enough time to activate
  • give the flour a chance to absorb liquid in the batter

 

 

 

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The Pan

As far as what kind of pan to use when making pancakes, the best option is an electric griddle…

An electric non-stick griddle makes flipping your pancakes much easier.

But if you’d rather cook your pancakes on top of the stove or don’t have an electric griddle, use a large, about 12,” non-stick skillet with sloping slides….preferably cast iron.

Cast iron will give you even heat distribution allow you to brown your pancakes without having to use tons of butter.

 

 

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Heating the Pan

 

Heat your pan or skillet over medium heat until drop of water sizzles..

Heat a little bit of vegetable oil…(for other types of oils to cook with, check this previous post out)…

Avoid using regular butter because the butter will be more likely to burn and make your pancakes turn out funky tasting.

Reduce heat to medium-low.

 

 

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Cooking

Use a 1/4C measuring cup…or pour the batter from the Mason jar depending on which method you used earlier…to shape the batter into medium-sized circles….about 3-1/2″ wide. 

Cook your pancakes for a couple of minutes…until little bubbles appear and the edges start to get firm.

Be sure to avoid squishing the pancakes with your spatula.

Flip. Once you flip the pancake over, don’t press down on it with your spatula. Let the pancake cook naturally so you do not end up with flat, boring pancakes.

Cook your pancakes for a couple of minutes on the other side…until both sides are lightly golden.

Keep pancakes warm while you’finish cooking the rest by covering the pancakes with aluminum foil and then sticking them in an oven that has been preheated to about 200.°

If you find that your pancakes are browning too quickly, turn down the heat down and let the pan cool down for a minute or so before starting the next batch.

If you find that your pancakes are sticking to the pan, add more butter or oil.

Wipe out the pan between batches…especially if you are using butter instead of oil.

Finish cooking any remaining batter.

 

 

 

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Storing

Obviously most of us know what to do with the pancakes once you finish cooking them, but did you know that you can also make them ahead of time…instead of resorting to buying already frozen pancakes from the grocery store…

I was kinda shocked to find pancakes stored by the frozen biscuits and frozen breakfast burritos and frozen waffles…wonder how many preservatives are in all of these products, right?

 

To refrigerate…put the pancakes in an airtight container…will stay fresh for up to 5 days

To freeze…flash freeze them and store in large ziplocs…will stay fresh up to 2 months

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yogurt…The Which

These days there are SO many yogurts to choose from…

 

So how do you know that will give you the most health benefits?

Here are a few things to look for…

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Milk

Nowadays yogurt not only can be made with the typical cow’s milk, but can also be made from one of the following…

  • almond milk
  • coconut milk
  • hemp milk
  • oat milk
  • rice milk
  • soy milk

These yogurts are great for people who are either vegan or lactose-intolerant. For more about different types of milk, check my previous post Visions of Veganism—Milk.

 

Each type of yogurt will have its own texture and taste…so keep trying different options until you find the one type of yogurt that you love the most.

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Sweetener

When choosing a yogurt, another choice that you must make is whether to buy the “light” kind of “the other stuff.”

While “the other stuff” typically contains sugar…the light kind contains the other “other stuff”—more specfically artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet.

I personally can’t stand the aftertaste from these sweeteners, so I always buy the “other stuff” that doesn’t contain “the other stuff.”

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Active Cultures and Probiotics

Choose a yogurt labelled that it contains active cultures. Also check the list of ingredients to see if any specific active cultures are listed.

One of the words closely associated these days with yogurt is jprobiotics.

But what exactly are probiotics?

And why should we give a flying flip if our yogurt contains probiotics or not?

Probiotics are “friendly bacteria” that are naturally present in the digestive system….but also can be found in yogurt because yogurt typically contains live cultures.

Probiotics supposedly can do great things like…

 

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The Which

Here are a few examples of some lower fat choices:

 

Dannon…

  • Activia…165 calories…3 grams fat…23% RDA calcium
  • Activia Light…105 calories…0 grams fat…22.5% RDA calcium
  • Creamy Fruit Blends…170 calories….1.5 grams fat…20% RDA calcium
  • Light & Fit…75 calories…0 grams fat…15% RDA calcium…15% RDA vitamin D

 

Stonyfield Farms

  • 130 calories…1.5 grams fat…25% RDA calcium

 

 

Weight Watchers

  • 100 calories….5 grams fat…30% RDA calcium…30% RDA vitamin D

 

Yoplait

  • Fiber One Non-Fat…120 calories…0 grams fat…15% RDA calcium…11.5% RDA vitamin D
  • Yo Plus…165 calories…2.2 grams fat…23% RDA calcium…15% RDA vitamin D Light…100 calories…0 grams fat…20% RDA calcium…20% RDA vitamin D
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yogurt…The Why

Probiotics found in yogurt also have been shown to be great for your immune system….keeping you from being sick and helping you recover from illneses significantly….by as much as 20%.

Probiotics have also been classified as an anti-inflammatory, meaning that it can help with several health conditions, including viral infections and problems with the digestive system.

If you’re like me, it seems like you almost always have a cold or the sniffles, but yogurt has been shown to improve the incidence, duration and severity of the common cold …(this alone is enough for me to add yogurt to my diet on a regular basis)…

There are three nutrients found in yogurt that positivecly affect your immune system.

These are probiotics, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and vitamin D.

Be sure to look for yogurt that has been “enriched” with vitamin D whenever you’re shopping for yogurt because consuming a higher level of Vitamin D improves your immunity system even more.

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Osteoporosis

 

Yogurt provides two specific nutrients that play a major role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, the weakening of bones most commonly found in the elderlycalcium and vitamin D,.

It has been shown that consuming at least three servings of dairy foods, such as yogurt per day helps preserve bone mass and strength.

Yogurt contains, 400 IU of Vitamin D…an adequate intake of vitamin D for most individuals.

Look for brands of yogurt that are Vitamin D enriched.

Other nutrients found in yogurt that are beneficial for bone health include protein, potassium, and phosphorus.

 

 

 

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Weight Management

Eating yogurt has been shown to help you manage your weight, maintain a good body fat percentage, and encourages you to eat better overall.

Not only that, this protein works along with the calcium found in yogurt to increase levels of appetite-reducing hormones—such as peptide YY and GLP.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yogurt…The What

One delicious way to reap the antioxidant benefits of raspberries is to add them to yogurt.

But first let’s take a look at what yogurt actually is, what the benefits of yogurt are, and other ways that you can incorporate raspberries into your healthier lifestyle without sacrificing the taste of foods that you probably crave as you make this transition—such as chocolate and ice cream.

 

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Say “Yes” to Yogurt

For years, I’ve been saying “yes” to yogurt…I pretty much eat yogurt every single day.

In fact people have been saying “yes” to yogurt for many, many years…in fact, for centuries….since about the yrar 500BC.

Yogurt is made by first heating milk to about 185 °F and then allowing the heated milk to cool to about 113 °F.

Next certain bacteria, called “yogurt cultures” are added to the milk. This ferments the natural sugar found in milk, called lactose…fermentation causes the milk to curdle and create lactic acid….giving yogurt both its flavor and texture.

 

 

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Yogurts of Yore

During the late 1800s...after yogurt was studied and shown to be supposedly responsible for the extremely long lifespans of peasants in Bulgaria, it started to become more popular throughout Europe…(but don’t ask me how they actually enjoyed it becasuse at this time, nobody added flavoring or sweeteners to the yogurt…have you ever tried unflavored and unsweetened yogurt…great for making smoothies perhaps…but definitely not to be eaten straight out of the carton).

In 1919, Isaac Carasso opened the first yogurt manufacturing plant in Barcelona, Spain….calling his business Danone (“little Daniel”) after his son. This brand later expanded to the US under the name Dannon…(as if you couldn’t have figured that out, right?!)

Yogurt was introduced to the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century. The person who was fundamental for starting a yogurt trend was John Harvey Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium…(yeah, the same Kellogg as the cereals that only stock how many shelves at your local grocery store)…

Kellogg treated patients at his sanitarium not only by giving them yogurt to eat, but also using yogurt in enemas…(think I’ll pass on that one)…

It was not until 1933 that people began first flavoring yogurt…by adding fruit jam to their yogurt…(and we should all thank God that somebody had the sense to do this, right?!)

In 1966 Colombo Yogurt started sweetening their yogurt and selling their yogurt with added fruit preserves…first creating what we know as  “fruit on the bottom” style yogurt.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Muesli…The What

Breakfast of Champions?!

Yeah right…

It’s gonna take way more than a bowl or two of cereal to make anyone a “champion”—things such as self-discipline, determination, and experience…

But this is not a motivational blohg…and I am by no means a motivational speaker…

I am simply a wife and mother is who is trying to make better choices and learn as much as she can in order to take care of her type 2 diabetic husband and ADHD/ODD grandson.

So let’s look at how grains can play an important role in breakfast…how breakfast itself can contribute to the self-discipline, determination, and experience that we are all trying to gather during the course of the day ahead.

First of all, let’s look at meusli…later we will look at granola and oatmeal and see how they differ from each other…and look at a few recipes that caan help us make our mornings more perfect.

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Muesli—The Story Behind It

But in this post…I am gonna talk about what meusie ls…and where it originated.

People have realized two things that anyone striving to live a healthier lifestyle eventually learn…

  1. Food is medicine.
  2. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  3. Mornings totally suck.

In fact someone back around the year 1900 realized these facts so much that he created muesli as a way to control the madness.

This someone was a Swiss physician named Maximilian Bircher-Benner as a dietary supplement for his patients. His was already feeding his hospital patient—long-term patients who were chronically ill—s a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables as part of their treatment, but he created

After creating the following recipes, he began prescribing this mixture as if were medicine.

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The Recipe

The original Bircher-Benner recipe consisted of the following ingredients:…

  • Apples…two or three small apples or one large one….the whole apple…including skin, core, and pits
  • Nuts…more specifically 1Tbsp walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts
  • Rolled oats…1Tbsp…that have been soaked in 3Tbsp  water for 12 hours
  • Lemon juice from half a lemon
  • Cream or honey or sweetened condensed milk…1Tbsp
  • Intructions…Mix the cream with the soaked oats and lemon juice. Grate the apple and then stir it into the mixture.

But there are many ways that you can make your morning muesli more exciting—by making things such as bread and cookies….But let’s next learn the difference between muesli and granola…