October 30, 2014

The Most Incredible Hot Chocolate Drink Ever Made Recipe

Last day (12/24) to enter RenMama’s $25 Amazon Christmas Giveaway!

We’re visiting family for Christmas, and my mom greeted me this morning with the MOST INCREDIBLE Hot Chocolate drink I’ve ever had.  I savored every drop, and couldn’t wait to share it with you!  This is a drop-everything and dash to the grocery store kind of recipe, even on Christmas Eve!  :)   (Please note that nowhere do I say this is healthy.  But it’s Christmas. :)  )

Without further ado, may I present:

The Most Incredible Hot Chocolate Drink Ever Made Recipe
original recipe made in the crockpot
Serves 7-8

Ingredients
2 cups heavy whipping cream
14 oz sweetened condensed milk (link to make-your-own healthy version)
pinch salt
2 c semi-seet chocolate chips
1/2 c cocoa
6 c milk
2 tsp vanilla

Instructions
Add heavy whipping cream, condensed milk, chocolate chips, salt, and cocoa in a pot on the stove on low.  Carefully melt (you don’t want to scorch it!).
When well-incorporated, add 6 c milk and bring to drinking temperature, being careful not to boil the milk.
Add vanilla.
Serve and enjoy!

Need stocking stuffer ideas?  Non-candy Stocking Stuffers!  


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257
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Non-Candy Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Do the brightly colored bags of candies call to you when you walk through the store, looking for stocking stuffers?  I have to admit, they call to me!  Even though I know their ingredients, and I don’t want my children eating them, years of buying (and consuming!) them don’t fade easily.  To help us all leave those bags on the shelf, I’ve compiled some suggestions for candy-free stocking stuffers!   Don’t see one of your ideas?  Add it in the comments!

Craft Supplies!   My kids LOVE to do crafts.  New crayons, watercolors, markers, glitter, glue sticks are just the start!

Slinkies can provide hours of entertainment, particularly if you have stairs around your house.  I found one for only $1 at the Target Dollar spot.

If you have a little princess in your life, new hair bows are always a hit!

For slightly older kids, Legos are ever-popular.   I found the smaller sets in the Target stocking stuffer area (next to all those aforementioned candy bags!)

Light-Up Bouncy Ball!  My kiddos are younger, and a light-up bouncy ball will keep them entertained for a while!

New underwear with characters like Angry Birds, Cars, Hello Kitty, or whomever your kid’s favorite character is!

Kid flashlights!

Magnets or stickers!  (Magnets for older ones – my little dropped a set of refrigerator magnets on my computer yesterday – ahh!)

My kids LOVE little craft projects!  I can often get a fabulous deal on little projects at Joann’s with the coupons that come in the mail.  (Sign up here if you don’t currently receive them.)

Fruit leathers are great little snacks to tuck into a stocking.

Fruit!   Apples, oranges, tangerines

My dad always stuck lottery tickets in our stockings.  I think I won $20… once?

Merissa found cute little musical instruments at the thrift store!

One of my favorite tips comes from my friend Makenzie.  She puts tickets in her kids’ stockings for things like staying up 15 minutes later, ice cream date with mom, movie with dad, etc.

Those suggestions ought to get you started!  What do you do for your kids’ stockings?


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257

Is Sucralose Hiding in Your Hot Chocolate? + Recipe!

 

Hot chocolate is one of my favorite wintry treats.  Not that it’s very wintry here in Texas – we’ve had t-shirt weather days lately!  Nonetheless, I love hot chocolate and Christmas provides the perfect opportunity for indulgence.

We’re staying with a family who has a Keurig, and I was excited about the possibilities.  Insert a cup, push a button, and a hot drink appears, ready to go!   My sweet hubby made a Walmart run for hot chocolate K-cups for his pregnant wife, (because the baby needed hot chocolate, you know <G>)  I cooked up a cup, and it tasted good overall, but I kept tasting this strange aftertaste.

“Surely not.  Surely there wouldn’t be artificial sweeteners in the hot chocolate.”

Sure enough.  A quick read of the ingredient label revealed that it was sweetened with sucralose.  So sad.  It’s not limited to the K-cups version, either.  Even the regular Swiss Miss hot chocoate- the old standby at my house – is sweetened with sucralose.

Thankfully all is not lost.  It’s super easy to mix up your own hot chocolate mix (not to mention cheaper!)  If you want to pick up a ready-made mix, the Ghiradelli store-bought version, as well as the Trader Joe’s version, is also sucralose-free.

Why Avoid Sucralose?

While toted as a ‘natural’ sweetener, there is nothing natural about sucralose (Splenda).  Cane sugar is used in the initial manufacturing process, but it’s long gone by the time sucralose is finished.  Instead, you’re left with chlorine atoms bound together with dextrose and maltodextrin.  Our bodies don’t know what to do with this chemical, and while some of it is excreted, the rest (40%, according to the Japanese Food Sanitation Council) accumulates in our kidneys, liver, and intestines.

Researchers at Duke University studying rats determined that Splenda actually contributes to obesity, destroys “good” intestinal bacteria, and can prevent prescription drugs from being absorbed.

So, let’s skip the sucralose and just enjoy a little real sugar in moderate amounts.

Favorite Hot Cocoa Recipe (slightly modified from Hershey’s)
(Six servings)

1/2 c organic cane sugar (or your choice of sweetener)
1/4c Hershey’s Cocoa
dash salt
1/3 c hot water
4 c raw milk
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in saucepan; stir in water.
2. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; boil and stir 2 minutes.
3. Stir in milk and heat.  Do not boil.
4. Remove from heat; add vanilla.

 


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257
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Back From Brazil!

Hello!

It’s been rather quiet around here for the last few months.  We spent an amazing and challenging 10 weeks in Brazil and just returned home a few days ago!   We were privileged to spend time with a couple of different Amazonian Indian tribes and hold a month of training for leaders in a smaller town.   We also had a few days off to play in a Brazilian river (that did not have anacondas, crocodiles, or piranhas), and to feed some small monkeys!

I thought you might enjoy a few pictures from our adventures!

Schoolkids from a Terena tribe

My husband (on right) with a friend & a Terena chief

D sharing with the schoolkids

A house in the Terena's where we stayed

 

Toucan!

We’re happy to be back and I’m looking forward to having time to post for you again!  Coming up: a 2 ingredient recipe for cough syrup, essential oils for winter health, “Green Friday” sales, Amazon deals for you, and a couple of new series!


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257

High-Yield Gardening Strategy

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Whitney Farms. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Have you started your garden this year? I wish I could say the beautiful garden pictured above was in my backyard, but there’s no way. My poor garden is currently bare – things are crazy right now because we’re getting ready to move, so planting hasn’t been on the priority list.
BUT, I would love to have a high-yield garden like the one above. This picture is from Organic Gardening. They’re serious when they say high-yield too – they harvested nearly 1/2 a ton of produce from a 15×20 plot.
Keys to growing a high yield garden
Keys to growing a high yield garden, according to Organic Gardening, include building up your soil. You can do this by building raised beds, to give the roots plenty of room to grow. Carefully mixing your organic soil, and including organic plant food is important so your plants will have all of the nutrients they need to grow. If your plants have good nutrients, that means they will provide good nutrients for our bodies too! (Too many of our foods are grown in poor, worn out soil these days, so their nutritional quality is lacking.) I would choose only organic plant food, like from Whitney Farms®, that will help make up for any deficiencies in the soil.
Make sure to use soil and plant food with organic ingredients to keep our food free from chemicals! Conventional plant foods can carry all sorts of chemicals, while organic plant food has easily accessible, chemical-free nutrients.
Your local Ag Extension can also help you plan for the ideal soil for your area.
Maximize your space by paying attention to how your seeds are planted. If you plant in a triangle, you can get approx 10 to 14% more plants in each bed!
Planting vertically will also greatly help increase your yield. I grew green beans along our fence, and they took up much less space than if they’d just spread out throughout the bed.
Planting different plant combinations also saves space.

Consider the classic Native American combination, the “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash. Sturdy cornstalks support the pole beans, while squash grows freely on the ground below, shading out competing weeds. This combination works because the crops are compatible. – Organic Gardening

Succession planting is a very strategic way to produce more crops in a small space. For example, plant a winter lettuce, then your first crop of corn. Then you can plant more greens or another plant, all in the same space! I like to plant the first round of a crop I really like, wait a couple of weeks, and then plant again. That yields a longer harvesting season!
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If you’d like to try Whitney Farms organic plant food, they’re offering Renaissance Mama readers a $3 printable coupon!
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This is a sponsored post on behalf of Whitney Farms. All opinions are mine.

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Join us at Frugally Sustainable!


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257

Kashi Making Progress On Eliminating GMO’s

I am excited to report that Kashi is making progress on eliminating GMO’s from their products.   Seven of their products are now verified non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project:

  • Autumn Wheat
  • Cinnamon Harvest
  • Island Vanilla
  • Strawberry Fields
  • 7 Whole Grain Flakes
  • 7 Whole Grain Puffs
  • 7 Whole Grain Pilaf

Kashi has had some backlash lately for claiming to be healthy, yet including GMO’s in their foods, so this is a GREAT step!

Several of their products are also certified organic: Autumn Wheat, Cinnamon Harvest, Island Vanilla, and Strawberry Fields.

You can read more on Kashi’s website.  You can also find some nice deals on Kashi on Amazon right now!   35% off Kashi Products on Amazon!


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Join us for a live essential oils class in Kansas City, Dallas, or Houston! Contact us to find a class near you!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257

Memorizing a Deck of Cards? Super Foods That Make it Possible!

Did you catch the Dr. Oz show where the guest, Dave Farrow, memorized a deck of cards?  He’s featured in the Guiness Book of World Records for memorizing 59 DECKS of cards.  That’s mind-boggling!

He attributes his success to the food that he eats!   I’m encouraged that he eats simple foods that would be easy to incorporate into our diets.

His #1 food is Beets.  Beets have been shown to lower blood pressure and increase the flow to the brain.  Beets can be delicious to juice along with an apple and a couple of carrots.   You could also chop up beets finely, toss them with coconut oil and seasonings, and bake them in the oven.  They come out nice and delicious!  Add some sweet potatoes to the mix for extra yum and health factor!  (Eclectic Institute also offers freeze-dried Beet Juice in a capsule if you’d rather go that route.)

#2 on the memory champion’s list is Cashews.  Many people with memory problems are low in thiamine; cashew are a great source for it!

$3 is Avocados.  Eating avocados has been shown to reduce the hardening of the arteries.  Hardening of the arteries has been correlated to decreased brain function.  Avocados are a great source of Vit K, good fats, Vit E, and folate.  Dave Farrow recommended starting with 2 per week to introduce them to your diet.  He eats them daily now.  Guacomole is a favorite way to eat avocados.  Dave suggested using avocado in place of mayo in tuna or chicken salad.  Yum!

Dr. Oz also recommended Bacopa Extract.  Bacopa extract is an herbal remedy from India that has been shown to dramatically increase brain function and concentration in studies.  Have you ever tried it?   Do any of you watch much Dr. Oz?

What’s your favorite thing to eat to boost your memory?


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257

Yogurt Success! {Cultures for Health Review and Giveaway!!}

I FINALLY made yogurt!!!  Well, yogurt that I like anyway.  I’ve made plenty of yogurt, but 99% of the time, it came out runny.  Really runny.  And I like my yogurt thick.

A friend had an extra gallon of raw milk that was going to go bad before they could drink it, so I volunteered to turn it into yogurt.  This was the perfect opportunity to try out my direct-set yogurt cultures from Cultures for Health, and I am thrilled at the results!

I used the Healthy Home Economist’s method for making yogurt with raw milk.  She heats the milk to a max temperature of 115 F, just enough to help the cultures set.  Then she adds the culture, mixes it up, and places the jars in the microwave, wrapped in a towel for 24 hours.  The microwave is turned off, just in case you wondered.  I followed her directions, using Culture for Health’s cultures, and voila, thick yogurt!

I’ve tried various other methods in the past including heating it on the stove for hours on end (and checking the temperature every 5 min and then readjusting the heat on a gas stove…it was annoying!), the crockpot, and wrapping it in a towel and sticking it in an ice chest.  Using these direct-set cultures made yogurt-making a slam dunk for me.  It took only a few minutes to make, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I also like that Cultures for Health offers both a traditional yogurt flavor and a mild flavor.  I’m not a huge fan of the plain yogurt taste, so the mild flavor was right up my alley.

Cultures for Health is so awesome that one of you will win THREE of your own direct-set yogurt cultures!!   You get to choose your own 3 varieties!   Enter the giveaway by signing up for their email newsletter!  This giveaway will close next Thursday, March 15th at 11:59pm CST, so get your entries in!

Disclosure: Cultures for Health sent me the cultures to review, but all opinions are solely mine. 


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257

Try This SuperDrink!

In some ways, I feel like I’ve been holding out on you.  I’ve written about a variety of topics since the inception of this blog, yet I’ve neglected writing on one topic that is very near and dear to my heart.  Mostly because I wanted to do the topic justice, since it’s one I’m especially passionate about.

Ready?

Let’s talk about raw milk.  Yes, you can laugh.  That was a lot of build up to talk about… milk.

Your first thought about raw milk may have been the same as mine when I first learned about it.  ”Isn’t drinking raw milk dangerous?  There was a reason pasteurization was invented…”

You’re half right.  Pasteurization came into use for raw products when industry developed.   When products are mass-produced, packaged, shipped, and consumed miles from their origin, pasteurization is a necessary thing.   It definitely saves lives.

Yet when milk can be consumed locally, the health benefits of raw milk far outweigh that of drinking pasteurized milk.     In a conversation with “my” farmer this week, he shared that they haven’t had a single person get sick from their milk in the 50 years they’ve been milking cows.

It’s actually much more likely that one would get sick from drinking pasteurized milk.  Raw milk has built in anti-microbial properties that actually help keep pathogens from growing in the milk.  Pasteurization destroys those, so any pathogens that get into the milk after pasteurization can grow unhindered.

Health Benefits

1. Digestion. Our bodies weren’t designed to digest pasteurized milk and pasteurization is directly linked to the rise in lactose intolerance.  Many people who are lactose intolerant can drink raw cow’s milk without any trouble.

2. Immune Support.  Pasteurization destroys all the bacteria in the milk – including good probiotics that our body needs to be healthy.

3. Good Fats.  Raw milk is FULL of good fats.  These fats are actually good for us, and absolutely essential for our bodies to function properly.  Heart disease comes from trans fats and other bad fats, NOT from the good fats found in raw milk.

4. Free of junk!  Raw milk is free of antiobiotics, hormones, and GMO’s!

5. Healing.  Raw milk can actually be healing to our bodies.  The Mayo clinic used to administer what they called the “Raw Milk Cure“, obtaining favorable results against cancer, weight loss, kidney disease, allergies, skin problems, urinary tract problems, prostate problems and chronic fatigue.    If you’d like a recent story, this mom cured her Lyme disease by drinking only raw milk.

Two More Reasons

Two more reasons to drink raw milk – the picture at the top of this post is a cow I call  Bessie.  She’s a Brown Swiss dairy cow, and our milk comes from her.  I love knowing that.  She and the other Brown Swiss cows have been producing milk on this particular farm for over 50 years.  She lives outside in a huge pasture, and wanders around being a cow with all her cow friends.

Along with all the health benefits, raw milk tastes AWESOME.  It is rich, creamy, and so delicious.

Where To Find Raw Milk

Hopefully, you live in a state where it’s legal to drink raw milk.  If you don’t, come visit me and we’ll get you some to try.     RealMilk.com has a listing of dairy farms, both cow and goat milk, where you can get milk.


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* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257

Choosing Your Butter Wisely

photo credit: word of wisdom

Butter has gotten a bad rap in recent years. I used to cringe when my toddler would want to eat butter all by itself. Recently, I caught myself happily handing it over to my littlest “butter-demander”. Why?  I look at butter in a whole new light.

Butter can be good for you!  It’s a source of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and it contains important trace minerals like magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium and iodine.

What about the fat?

Fat, despite what we’ve been taught through the years, is actually very necessary for our bodies.  Good fats are essential to developing a healthy brain.  You want to eat the right kind of fat, of course, and if you choose butter wisely, it counts!   Read more about Taking the Fear Out of Eating Fat from the Weston A Price foundation.

Margarine is actually full of unhealthy fats, and margarine-eaters have twice the rate of heart disease as butter-eaters!  (Nutrition Week, March ’91)

Choosing a brand of butter at the store, as with most products these days, can be a challenging experience. We definitely aren’t lacking in choices, yet how does one even start in finding a healthy brand?

In my opinion, the easiest way to choose a healthy butter in the store is to choose one with the fewest ingredients. Some brands will have an ingredient list over 15 items long! Some have a refreshingly simple ingredient list: sweet cream, salt. Ahh.

You also want to choose butter that is hormone, steroid, and antibiotic free.   The Organic Consumers Association has a list of the brands that are hormone-free, like Brown Cow.

Even better would be to choose organic butter from grass-fed cows.  Better still would be fresh butter, made from fresh raw cream!  If we have our own cow someday, I will definitely be whipping up my own butter!


Want to learn more or get stated using essential oils? Learn more or join today!
Join us for a live essential oils class in Kansas City, Dallas, or Houston! Contact us to find a class near you!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please read our testimonial disclosure under our Disclosure tab. I am an independent distributor for Young Living. #1325257
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