Beauty Care: Face Wash, Sleepy Rollers, Sun Block and Tummy Tuck!

(Tummy tuck? What? Go on, please!)

Dear adorable,

The husband and I came home to Seattle for a brief visit, and I kicked off the #seattleoiltribe happenings with a huge beauty make & take! We made four different items, using the Base lotion in some of them, and we did a lot of Zyto scans. And mostly, we visited, we laughed hysterically until we snorted (true story!) and we loved being with friends we hadn’t seen for months and years!!!

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I flew out to Seattle with the two babies, and Gary followed a few days later. I met many wonderful friends on the flight from Virginia to Washington state, and they made my trip a peaceful and painless experience.

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When I was planning my trip, I ordered essential oils, containers and ingredients for the make & take items from Virginia, and had them shipped straight to my mom’s house in Seattle. This was perfect! The first event in Seattle was on a Saturday.

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We opened the doors early for Zyto scans and assessments. Using galvanic skin response, the same technology as a polygraph test, the hand scan takes about three minutes and measures 74 biomarkers in your body, seeing what is out of range. This tool does not diagnose or treat disease. Neither do I!

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Before class began, we made a huge batch of the Base lotion. I mean, it was a bathtub-size bowl that my mom uses to make chocolate chip cookies at Christmastime. I used over seven pounds of shea butter in one sitting – and we blew through virtually the entire monstrous bowl of lotion over the course of the class. It was INSANE! I loved every minute of it!!

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I live-streamed the event on Periscope (find me there, Andrea Huehnerhoff. You can watch my classes live, too!).

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We made individual Zyto rollers for everyone, based on their Zyto scans – this is one of my favorite things to do. Immediate solutions!!

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We made Sleep Rollers for rolling on your feet just before bed; Silky Foaming Face Wash for refreshing your skin.

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Sun Block for both sunny AND cloudy days, because Seattle has the highest rate of melanomas in the United States!

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And the insanely popular Tummy Tuck Lotion for those areas of skin that yearn to be tight again. We ran out of THIS before class even ended, and I’m making more already! The Sun Block and Tummy Tuck both use The Base lotion (recipe included in the PDF below), which was created by Ashley Grosch on her blog, The Oil Tribe. She is a master crafter when it comes to homemade beauty supplies.

And there are so many other things we can make!

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A gift basket for my littlest sister Karissa!

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A gift bag for a treasured friend …

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So many oils! I went a little crazy hehehaha

Download all five recipes here
(Sleepy Roller, The Base, Tummy Tuck, Sun Block)

Tummy Tuck Lotion
I use this as a part of my post-partum tummy tightening protocol! 

2 ounces base lotion
5 drops Geranium
5 drops Lavender
5 drops Grapefruit
5 drops Elemi
Where to buy containers, ingredients, and effective essential oils

Place base lotion in a 2-ounce container.
Add essential oils and gently combine using a chopstick or another small implement.
Keep tightly sealed in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

Download all five recipes here

I look forward to seeing you at one of our events … online, or in person – in Seattle, or in Virginia – or anywhere else in the world!!!!!

Blessings,

Andrea

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Camille’s Borning: A True Story

Dear wise,

I almost called the midwives that morning to tell them this was The Weekend. I had talked it over with Gary, and said if we could choose, what would be the best time for baby to come? He was in a Navy school and wouldn’t be able to take paternal leave until the middle of the month, and she was due on the 8th; he said Friday the 5th, or some time that weekend. It was the morning of Thursday, June 4th.

Three years ago Jakob had been born at home, with the same nurturing midwives that were attending this second birth. I had had a full 24 hours of gentle pre-labor before the midwives came to Jakob’s birth, and then I had true and actual labor all through the night until his birthday happened at half-past 6 on a Thursday morning.

Now it was another Thursday morning, and I was planning for a birth. If the baby comes today, I don’t want there to be dirty dishes, I thought, as I scrubbed the kitchen spotless. I’ll need food. I made two loaves of paleo almond spongebread, four batches of paleo carrot muffins, a mountain of bacon-wrapped pecan-stuffed dates. It seemed like now I was feeling something, an awakening in my belly, but it was hard to tell because couldn’t I just be imagining it, from wanting it so hard?

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I was teaching yoga that evening; every Thursday, I taught a power yoga class at 5:00PM. My students infused me with love and inspiration – how long will you teach before baby comes? they asked me, joyful for my joy. Until the very last minute! I promised hopefully. I wanted to squeeze in every class I could.

Jakob was going to stay with Auntie Cass while I taught yoga. I packed him toys … and then clothes, and extra undies, and some money, and when I dropped him off I buckled his car seat into her car and told her, just in case, what if he stays here with you tonight…? I wondered if it could really be True!

I was signing students in for class. The owner of the studio, a gracious and humble yoga practitioner, helped me with the details. If you need me to teach class today, she reminded me, I came by just in case! I chuckled and said Nah, it’s fine. And then I thought, should I ask her to teach, and just go home now? But that seemed such a waste, I was already here; and anyway, I wasn’t really having a baby yet, actually. I kept poking my stomach – is it getting hard? Is that a contraction, or did I just flex a muscle by accident? Vagueness!

The class was incredible. The students were on fire. A mother and daughter were there, visiting from out of town. They decided to take a yoga class on their vacation, and bought clothes for it that morning. Everyone was excited about my belly and the promise of joy! I was moving between the students, assisting their poses, watching them blossom and unfurl. Then, yes, definitely. That was a contraction. I used the lightest touch to guide fingertips in Virabhadrasana II, and as I stepped away from the student’s space, yes, another one. Wow. I kept moving, talking. With a firm grip, I guided a student into her most expansive Trikonasana and she expanded more when I moved away, owning her pose, and I began to sweat because whoa, I can still speak, but breathe. 

They all settled down for savasana. I gave them final adjustments as they slipped into a deep, conscious rest, recovering from the poses. For the first time as a teacher, I rolled up my mat and put it away during savasana; I put my blocks back on the shelf. I sat down to wait, and then slowly recalled them to wakefulness. Smiling and congratulating me, they all said We can’t wait to hear when you have the baby!!! I said, I take a picture of every class in my mind, and I wonder, is this the last class before baby comes? I’m taking a picture of you now!

The next teacher was already in the lobby, getting ready to check her students in. I had heard her come in. I walked from the studio into the lobby and, pulling the door closed immediately behind me I said, “My water just broke.” And the split second I said that, it did. June leaped from the desk. Oh my word! What can I do! I asked for a yoga blanket, and she brought me one. I draped it around myself and sat down, getting my phone out. I could feel Life now, wrapping easily around my abdomen and then gently squeezing, squeezing. I think I’ll call the midwife.

The students were excited, thrilled, everybody anxious to help. June said, What can I do? What shall I do for you? I went downstairs to the entry and sat on a chair, I didn’t think I could stand. I called the midwife and told her I felt fine to drive home, they didn’t seem very strong, I don’t really know, I don’t think there’s a big hurry or anything. I called Gary at work. He immediately headed home. There’s no big rush, I reassured him. There’s a big rush for me! he said. Later, the visiting mother and daughter recalled this moment as the highlight of their trip.

I got in the car to drive home, June offering to take me if I needed. I felt fine, and they weren’t so strong I couldn’t drive. I called Mom, and she was pleased. I hung up and then, Strong. It’s only a fifteen minute drive, but the lights were so long. Then they seemed awfully close, the contractions. I started noting the time each contraction started. By the time I got home – golly, three minutes, maybe four minutes apart, was that even possible?

Gary was getting the house ready, pulling out my birth supplies. The diffuser was sighing softly with essential oils. I took a shower. I kneeled down when I got out, to ride the contraction over, and then I pulled a shirt on. I was sitting on the toilet, gosh it was comfortable there. The midwife came in the house, and I knew she was near me but my eyes were closed so quiet inside, so peaceful in here. I made a sound because that seemed like what she would be expecting. She padded softly away and I heard her murmuring with Gary. “Beautiful … just fine … ”

I came out to the living room to visit. She was setting her things up, unloading her bag. I felt a little guilty. I hoped I wasn’t unnecessarily alerting everyone, maybe over-dramatizing my contractions. I would just feel so badly if she had to pack it all up and go home and come back later! Let’s listen to heart tones, she suggested. Whenever you feel ready. I reclined on the couch and she was listening. The other midwife arrived, and they smiled and approved of the heart tones. Baby was positioned just right!

I was sitting on the floor. My eyes had closed again, better to stay in here. It seemed so bright outside. Can somebody turn out this light? It snapped off. I should have babies more often! I could live like this! I think the midwife apprentice came. I think I was rocking maybe, and groaning through some of the contractions, or making heavy kind of dramatic-sounding sighs.

Can I sit on the toilet? They said yes. Gosh, it just feels so good to sit there. No pressure on the tailbone or anything. I was going through each contraction sort of curiously. I want to move through these, it’s a nice rest in between, just feeling the squeeze and the tautness.

Gary, I said in a tiny voice, and he was there. I had to speak just right, so small so I wouldn’t use any muscles by accident. In between surges of strength in my belly, I said, Could you put … Jakob’s little stool … by the bed … and lay a towel on it? It took so long to speak, but I couldn’t explain myself or open my eyes, because of using Energy. Then I moved out and kneeled on the stool, draping across the bed, and that felt so much better although comfortable didn’t exactly fit, but there I was, and Gary sat in front of me and I could hold his arms so I didn’t slide off.

Did I hear you push? said the midwife. She must be crazy, because I have no idea, really. It seems like I only just got home, and we must have hours and hours to go, maybe another day, so probably not yet. She’s coming in the room. Yes, the head is right there, she said, and like what? I’m not thinking lots of thoughts, just feeling, and just breathing as far down as I can like Pranayama, yoga here, in the bedroom, in the dark, with my eyes closed, making whatever sounds feel the best, and pulling on Gary’s arms, and I open my eyes just one second to see his face and then it’s better to close them again but he’s smiling at me, and she says behind me, Breathe down, breathe down, then push, we want to slow this down, and she had essential oils in a spray bottle because I had asked her to, and in between my teeth grinding together I say to her, Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it, so I can follow her words exactly with my eyes closed and not have to think up if I want to breathe or not, then, push, and head, and shoulders and the whole baby is here and I flop back onto towels because our floor is hardwood, and I pick baby up. Baby is in my arms.

I close my eyes, and lean my head back. The best and purest kind of exhaustion flows through me as I fold naked, slippery Baby in my arms. Two rivers of emotion rush side by side as I feel utter contentment and joy and Finished. The other river is sorrow and grief because some of my dearest friends had this moment stolen from them by Fate and the memories of the little souls are imprinted on me forever.

Then I look at Gary, who has such a face of love and joy. I don’t remember seeing the midwives but they were there. Somebody had a flashlight. I wanted to see if our baby was a boy or a girl, and when I pulled the towel back they shined the light and she was Camille.

I stood up with help and held my baby. She was still tied to me with the umbilical cord. She was born and not born at the same time, she was in two worlds. The blanket of the bed was pulled back and some absorbent pads laid there, and I crawled in so relieved to rest, so happy. So happy. The midwife helped me pull off my t-shirt and then Camille nursed, she knew her job. More contractions, the placenta, and then more contractions but softer now, because the uterus has to get small again and wait for the next baby.

The midwives went about their tasks – the mysterious and magical things that happen when a new soul emerges from the waters and welcomes us to care for it. They went over their notes in the living room while Gary and I rested on the bed. It was 9:30 – it had only been two hours. And I ate, I ate so much! The muffins, the bacon, nectarines, I drank water, I feasted! It wasn’t yet midnight when they tucked us in. Gary had sent a message to Cassandra, and Jakob was spending the night there and he was already asleep and Cassandra said he had so much fun playing and watching a movie. Baby curled up on my chest, unwashed, the vernix drying on her skin, and the three of us slept until morning.

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August Whole30 giveaway + a really fabulous smoothie recipe!

Do Whole30 with me this August!!!
Giveaways included … read on!!!!!!!!!

Dear healthy pack,

I LOVED doing a Whole30 challenge during my pregnancy, so much so that I want to do another one now that baby #2 is here! (Did I mention? I had a baby last month. Second home birth, and it ROCKED. More to come on that.)

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We just passed our 6-week post-partum mark, and we’ve been eating [mostly] Paleo since the birth, but now that I am ably cooking, shopping and *sigh* housecleaning again, it’s time to get down and dirty and really serious about post-partum recovery [aka losing the baby weight]. As you all know, I worked hard on developing my body after the first baby was born, and I am ready to do it again!

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What is Whole30, you ask suspiciously? You know me, we just eat Real Food all the time, so I am not a fan of diets. Whole30 isn’t a diet, it’s more of a month-long cleanse. Read more about it on their website. A cleanse of habitual behavior, snack urges, food dependencies and inflammation. You can take it longer – to a Whole60 or Whole90 and beyond – if you want to continue seeing your physical successes. Then, you transition gently off into a Real Food lifestyle. This is not hard. In fact, it’s mad fun. And the results are mad good. The food is delicious, too. Sorry, no starvation, if you’re the self-flagellating ascetic type. [And yes, there are vegan and vegetarian options for Whole30!]

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Do Whole30 with me this August2015!  A few friends and I were planning to start Whole30 on August 1, and I thought – why not have you guys join in, too?! I could really use the support, and it’s fun to do something crazy like this TOGETHER! I wanted to make it even more interesting, so I threw a few giveaways into the mix. Everybody who does Whole30 this August with me will be entered into a drawing for a bottle of SliqueEssence, a dietary blend of herbal extracts and essential oils. Everybody who shares the challenge with three people (tag them on Facebook or Instagram or share this blog post) is entered into a drawing for NingXia Red samples, a blend of fruit purees and essential oils that is high in antioxidants and very detoxifying! And I have a few other giveaways, hitherto unmentioned, that I’ll be sharing!

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Ways to join the pack

My Facebook page  |  Find me on Facebook and we can throw ideas around, I’ll post giveaways, and of course – FOOD.

The Facebook event  |  Join the Facebook event for recipes, before and after pictures, tips from old pros at Whole30 and commiseration in case it DOES seem hard and, who knows, maybe more giveaways. I have a few cookbooks that you might be interested in!!

Follow my Instagram feed  |  There’s just so much delicious food in this world, it should be shared. Recipes and giveaways and the occasional cute picture of a kitten or a baby. @farmandhearth

See me on Periscope  |  Find me on Periscope (Andrea Huehnerhoff) for fast recipe ideas and encouragement!  Fun and short videos are available for 24 hours only, so download the app to your phone today!

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Get a few books, if you want – there are loads of recipes on the Internet (Pinterest is your friend here!), but I do wish I had the Whole30 book the first time I did it – some of the non-recipe practical advice and encouragement would have been GREAT.

The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom|  Great, fabulous, well-written and of course loaded with full-color pictures. So much good practical advice; so much.

Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle|  Not EVERY recipe in here is Whole30, but a lot of them are; and ALL of them are part of the Real Food lifestyle. Plus, there is a whole first half loaded down with solid information on the body, inflammation, and meal-planning.

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways|  More Whole30 goodness so you don’t, you know, starve for the 30 days.

Inspiralized: Turn Vegetables into Healthy, Creative, Satisfying Meals|  I love, love this book for inspiralation [lol] and ideas, and recipes. Pasta? Sure. Take a zucchini and spiralize that bad boy.

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Are you in?

It’s time.

I can’t wait to see you join me on Whole30! Now, here’s that smoothie recipe!!

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Coco-Almond Dream
An absolutely splendid smoothie. The best I’ve had all year. They just keep getting BETTER!!

Printable PDF

2 frozen bananas, chopped
2 cups whole raw milk or nut milk
1/3 cup almond butter
2 large spoonfuls of creamy plain yoghurt
1/4 cup or less of aloe juice
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons chia seeds
A sprinkle of Himalayan salt
Dash of cinnamon
Splash of almond extract

Place all ingredients in blender, in order listed. Slowly increase to high and blend for about one minute, or until fully homogenized. Serve, sprinkled with more coconut or cinnamon if you like!

Toodles,

Mrs H

I’ll be drinking an ounce of NingXia Red with 2 – 4 drops of SliqueEssence every day during my Whole30 – they are not necessary to the program, I am choosing to add them in! If you want to start out your Whole30 with these, you can order them here as a retail customer. Or, if you prefer, purchase the Premium Starter Kit for $160 (it’s on sale for $150 until August 13th, 2015), and add NingXia Red and SliqueEssence on to your order as a wholesale customer! Use 4321 as your PIN and I’ll be able to personally handle your customer service. Your kit counts as your membership card, so once you have it, you can buy anything at wholesale. The kit is valued at around $300, so it’s a sweet deal! It includes 11 of the top essential oils and blends at therapeutic [superstrong] quality, a few samples of NingXia Red, a diffuser, a bunch of mini sample packets of oils and blends, a pack of dram bottles and a few other odds and ends!  

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Clean-Eating Paleo Baking Powder: no sodium aluminum sulfate required

Dear leavened,

I was happily stirring up a triple batch of banana bread a few days ago when I was dismayed to realize we were out of baking powder! Fortunately, I had the ingredients on hand to whisk together a batch of homemade baking powder. It’s an easy recipe to remember, and it took me just a few extra moments to stir up enough to fill my baking powder container.

Of course, the banana bread came out perfectly; and if you’ve already downloaded the recipe for yourself, you know how good it is!

I was baking cookies with a friend once when she revealed she had no baking powder. “Isn’t baking soda basically the same thing?” she asked, surprised that I wasn’t accepting the brightly colored box of Arm & Hammer.

In a sense, yes; baking soda and powder are both chemical leavening agents that build puffy, gassy bubbles in dough much faster than fast-acting yeast or sour starters do.  Hence, things like banana bread, Irish soda bread and baking powder biscuits usually fall under the category of ‘Quick Breads’.

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Terms and Conditions 

Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate, or alkali), is used in recipes with acidic ingredients it can interact with, like vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, non-Dutch processed cocoa, molasses, honey, and so on.  Baking soda is instant-acting and batters made with this leavener should always be baked immediately after mixing, with minimum stirring involved.

Baking Powder is a mixture of baking soda, an acid salt, and usually a starch to absorb moisture so that the soda doesn’t react with the dry ingredients until the wet components are added.  The acid salt can be cream of tartar. This acid salt takes the place of adding lemon juice, buttermilk or another acidic liquid to your batter; magically, the acid can be wetted by whatever liquids you add to your batter, and activate the baking soda! The cookies my friend and I were making in the story above would not have been sufficiently leavened without baking powder, because there was no acid in the cookie ingredients to activate the bubbling of the baking soda. The third ingredient, a starch, which is technically optional, can be organic cornstarch – or arrowroot powder, if you are minimizing grain ingredients in your diet. If you leave the starch out entirely, you will have to use your baking powder right away, or within a few days or weeks! This is one way Paleo baking powder is different from regular baking powder!

Double-Acting Baking Powder is what you would buy in the grocery store, as packaged single-acting baking powder is generally only sold for commercial baking.  As the name indicates, double-acting baking powder leavens twice (hence the double-acting).  When the batter is initially mixed, there is an immediate acidic reaction from the cream of tartar, with the wet ingredients of the batter and the baking soda, and carbon dioxide gas is produced.  The second reaction comes from a second acid that doesn’t activate until the temperatures are elevated (that is to say, the batter goes into the oven), and the gas cells expand and cause the batter to rise. The second acid is usually calcium acid phosphate or sodium aluminum sulfate, two ingredients that many health-conscious consumers are now choosing to avoid due to possible neurological issues associated with aluminum.

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Homemade Baking Powder is not double-acting – if you use homemade baking powder in a recipe I would recommend baking the batter right away and not delaying (so make sure you preheat the oven when you start mixing your ingredients!). Homemade baking powder is used in the same ratio as store-bought. If your recipe is for a batter that sits in the fridge overnight or which specifically calls for double-acting baking powder, know that the homemade one will probably not produce the desired effect; that second, heat-activating acid would need to be present.

How long do these last in my cupboard?  
Baking Soda can sit in the cupboard, sealed, for an indefinite length of time.  If you are worried that it is too old and you want to test the effectiveness before mixing it into your ingredients, mix 1/4 teaspoon of soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar.  It should bubble up immediately just like in science class.

Baking Powder should only sit in the cupboard for about six months; the components to homemade baking powder, however (soda, cream of tartar, arrowroot/cornstarch), can sit separately in the cupboard indefinitely so you can keep those handy and simply mix up small batches at a time. To test if baking powder is still active, mix 1 teaspoon powder with 1/2 cup hot water; it should bubble up with carbon dioxide immediately.

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How much baking powder do I use in a recipe? 
If you are creating your own recipe, a good rule of thumb is 1 to 2 teaspoons baking powder to 1 cup of flour.  Too much baking powder, and the gas bubbles will expand too quickly and cause the batter to collapse in baking.  Too little baking powder, and there won’t be enough gas bubbles and the batter will be dense and tough.

Download Baking Powder Recipe

[Paleo] Aluminum-Free Single-Acting Baking Powder for Storage

If you bought this at the grocery store, it would cost twice as much as regular baking powder. Crazy, huh? Use this baking powder teaspoon for teaspoon to replace store-bought baking powder. The ratio is one part baking soda, two parts cream of tartar and one part starch. 

Sodium bicarbonate: 1/4 cup baking soda
Acid Salt: 1/2 cup cream of tartar
Starch: 1/4 cup arrowroot powder or 1/4 cup organic cornstarch

Whisk ingredients together, pressing through a mesh sieve if baking soda has clumps. Store in an airtight container for less than six months.

Immediate-Use Starch-Free Baking Powder

The ratio for baking powder is two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda. This baking powder is meant to be used immediately – do not store it! Since there is no starch, you only need 3/4 teaspoon total to replace 1 teaspoon in a recipe calling for standard baking powder. 

To replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder in a recipe, without any additional starches:
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Remember, your baked goods must go in the oven immediately after you mix them, as the carbon dioxide bubbling will have begun the second liquids contacted the acid!

Download Baking Powder Recipe

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Happy Baking!

Mrs H

Mom’s Internationally-Acclaimed Banana Bread: more famous than any other

Dear hungries,

This morning I had a mountain of black bananas, which the husband has been eyeing hopefully while whispering banana bread under his breath, hoping it sinks into my subconscious. I pulled out my splattered and ragged banana bread recipe, passed down from my mom, given to her by a college friend’s mom and used until well-worn before any of us precious little angels were born.

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This banana bread is simple, and classic.

It has everything a purist loaf of banana bread needs – sweet, overripe bananas, no additional mix-ins. A moist and tender crumb, and a sweet, slightly sticky top that cracks and splits right down the middle, in tender perfection. Cut a slice and melt on some butter – the world stops turning as you drift into a heavenly banana dream. And naturally, when stirring up the batter you can add all the walnuts and chocolate chips you like – a little banana bread blasphemy is always wickedly fun.

This recipe has been emailed, copied, and written down so many times by so many people, my mom spends half her time on the computer sending it out. It’s about time it was posted online for all of you to enjoy!!

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Download the Best Banana Bread recipe here

Best Banana Bread

You can add chocolate chips, walnuts, dried fruit or even coconut flakes to mix up the flavors and textures!  I tend to go the purist route and not mix in anything – I always plan to do it next time! 

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine in bowl:
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Blend in:
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder

Add:
½ cup Canola oil

Mix well, pour into greased pan.  Bake 45-60 minutes. Serve hot, with butter!

Banana Muffins: spray paper liners in a muffin tin. Scoop in ¼ to 1/3 cup batter in each cup; makes 12.
Mini Loaf Pans: spray mini loaf pans before using; makes three.
Hawaiian French Toast: use slices of banana loaf instead of regular bread when preparing French toast.
Elvis Style Hawaiian French Toast: spread two slices of banana bread with peanut butter; spread one slice with jam, and make a sandwich. Dip into egg and milk for French toast, and cook as French toast.

Alternative Ingredients
Replace 1 cup sugar with ½ cup honey
Replace Canola oil with melted coconut oil

Download the Best Banana Bread recipe here

 Enjoy your banana bread, and please share with me your ideas for mix-ins!

Mrs H

Summer Make & Take Recipes – including sunscreen and bath diffusers!

Dear tribe,

Periodically, we host a “make & take” for our tribe [our community of family members connected by a love of healing and encouraging each other in everything from drinking bone broth to loading the dishwasher], where oilers, new and experienced alike, gather together and combine knowledge, skills and ingredients to make a menu of essential oil-infused items. There is usually a theme, such as Pregnancy and Childbirth or Home Cleaning Closet, and it is always an educational and lively experience with lots of food and good company!

Sometimes we get a little TOO lively, but we always make it home safely at the end of the day.

This recipe folder is from my summer-themed event and includes an allergy roller, bath diffusers, sunscreen and a new variation of that beloved summer body lotion – as well as The Base!

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Download the Summer Make & Take recipe file here
Find resource links for all the ingredients and tools used in the recipes

Detoxifying Bath Diffusers
from the Summer Make & Take

Customize your bath diffuser based on your need! A few variations are suggested below. These also make great foot-soak bombs! 

Makes 12 bath diffusers

3 cups baking soda
1 to 1-½ cups filtered water
6 drops each of preferred essential oils (see below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups with foil liners.

  1. Measure the baking soda into a bowl, and slowly whisk in water to make a thick paste. Divide evenly into cupcake liners.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes; alternatively, let them air-dry overnight. Once they are finished baking, remove paper-lined discs from the pan and set on a cooling rack.
  3. Once they are cooled, distribute essential oils drops across the top. Remove from paper liners and store in an airtight glass container.
  4. To use: set a disc on the floor of the shower out of the shower’s spray, or drop one in the tub.

Allergy Soother: 6 drops each of lavender, peppermint and lemon
Morning Refresher: 6 drops each of Citrus Fresh and grapefruit
Weight Loss Trio: 6 drops each of peppermint, lemon and grapefruit
Sleep Aid: 6 drops each Peace & Calming, lavender and cedarwood
The following are recommended for shower diffusing only
Respiratory Relief: 6 drops each of R.C. and lavender
Virus Purge: 6 drops each of Thieves and lemon
Sore Muscles and Congestion Relief: 6 drops Panaway and copaiba

Download the Summer Make & Take recipe file here
Find resource links for all the ingredients and tools used in the recipes

Watch the video! That’s right, even at nine months pregnant I’m something of a movie star. Watch me prepare everything from the recipe file in 25 minutes.

If you’re using your starter kit (see the P.S. at the end of the blog) and you aren’t familiar with how to use the wonderful oils that come in the kit, here’s another graphic made by a friend of mine to help you get started. Use this to customize your bath diffusers or lotions based on your individual needs.

To better living without chemicals!

Mrs H

P.S. As always, if you haven’t gotten started on your own journey of healing with essential oils, I would love to welcome you to the oil tribe and get you connected to your own starter kit. Follow the link here and use PIN 4321 so I can provide customer care for you, and we’ll begin something great together! Connecting you to a sponsor is Young Living’s way of ensuring everybody gets their kit with information and individualized oil love, so if you want, we’ll connect to talk about what you really need to get out of your oils. 

It brings me to tears to see the revolutionary changes these oils are bringing about in people’s lives around me, especially in my own family. I enjoy every moment of learning with them. Come to the tribe! We’re ready for you. 

Ordering Details: I began by ordering the Premium Starter Kit – it includes a wholesale membership to all of Young Living’s products, so you can purchase anything else at a discount immediately by clicking “view more products”. 

UnGranola Porridge: grain-free, dairy-free, Whole30 kind of

Dear -free advocates and hungry breakfasters,

While I like to think we eat a clean, real-food diet, doing the Whole30 challenge has revealed to me where I am lacking in that area – highlighting bad habits I’ve developed, areas I’ve gotten lazy. And while I love everything on the Whole30, sometimes I just want to eat a breakfast that isn’t made out of eggs!

Well hello, UnGranola.

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Whole30, in short, means no dairy, no grains, no pseudo-grains like quinoa seeds or buckwheat, no sugars including maple syrup or honey or stevia except for fruit sugars, no legumes (peanuts, beans, soy), and no psychologically-enhanced grain-free Paleo baked indulgences like coconut flour pancakes and muffins. What I do eat are a lot of eggs, mountains of green vegetables, free-range and grass-fed meat from local farmers, fruits, nuts … potatoes, root vegetables, seaweed, seafood, coffee, Choffy, tea and lots of other good stuff. It takes creativity and energy to put together meals without dropping back into habits that are long-established, and there is basically Nothing At All in the grocery store that is pre-made that fulfills the Whole30 requirements, so if one is tired and doesn’t feel like cooking but is also hungry, one is out of luck. (You’d be surprised how much stuff has pea protein in it, am I right?)

Benefits for this pregnant lady on Whole30 (under midwife supervision) include: on Day 23 today, this is the longest stretch I’ve gone without throwing up since I got pregnant. I love me some good food, but I hate seeing it twice! As of about Day 5, my life-interruptingly uncomfortable hiccups and overwhelming chest-pressure ceased entirely, enabling me to do things like breathe during the day, and sleep laying down, instead of propped up over four hundred pillows. And my legs – it’s like the excess baby weight is already trimming itself down despite the fact that I am consuming more calories now than I ever did before, because my clothes fit more easily (but the belly still grows!).

So back to eating a breakfast with no eggs. We eat a lot of fried, scrambled, poached, and boiled eggs in general, because we like them. Yet sometimes I just want something else in the morning, like a hot bowl of porridge with fruit on top. I don’t know if this strays in to “non-Whole30 approved psychological destruction” of the program, but at any rate it keeps me happy on the program and I still feel refreshed, nutritionally fulfilled, and experience none of the negative side effects that my previous (carbohydrate-enhanced) meals were apparently giving me.

I also wanted something Relatively Fast – I don’t always feel like/want to spend forty hours in the kitchen making a meal, so I wanted to make a mixture that could be chucked on the stove, oatmeal-style, and cooked up in just a few minutes. I wanted something the little kids would eat. I wanted something with nutrition, variety, flavor and spices. I wanted something that goes in a bowl and I eat, earthy peasant-style, with a too-large spoon. This satisfies all the requirements, and still meets the standard of no grain, dairy, legumes blah blah.

Enter UnGranola.

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Peaches ‘n cream, anyone?

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This porridge fulfills the desire for texture, warmth, a little sweetness if you desire (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t). And while I like the popular Paleo nut-butter porridges and make those from time to time, they ultimately are something I can only have few and far between because the very nutty smoothness of them gets underwhelming after a while. Download the recipe PDF for UnGranola Porridge at the bottom of this post!

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The ingredients can vary widely based on your taste, or what you have available in your pantry. Spices can be mixed up to suit your personal preference, too – I love using cinnamon, cloves, fresh nutmeg and a little vanilla powder – because on Whole30 you can’t use vanilla extract, there are too many illegal ingredients! Plus, using powder keeps my mixture nice and dry.  I order it from Beanilla and use it for all sorts of things in the kitchen!

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Everything goes in the blender or food processor to mix – you have to be careful that you don’t churn it into a paste-like nut butter, though! I think a food processor is the best option, but I don’t have one so the Vitamix is my go-to. The new, wide-based Vitamix would be perfect for this! Sometimes I use the dry cup, but it doesn’t make much difference really.

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Once everything is ground together, as coarse or as fine as you prefer, you have a handy mix to keep in the fridge! I keep it refrigerated because I don’t want the nut oils to go rancid – our house gets pretty warm in the spring and summer. A dark, cool pantry might be just fine, but the fridge is a nice, safe bet.

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To prepare your delicious morning bowl of UnGranola, you take a scoop of the mixture and add a liquid to it. This can be whatever you like! Coconut cream and water, coconut milk, fresh almond milk, goat milk or cow’s milk if you drink dairy.

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The almond milk, if you’re on Whole30, will probably be homemade, because there will be carageenan and other 30-illegal ingredients in most packaged almond milk.

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Then, you have the option of adding a sweetener if you choose! For a banana-blend UnGranola, mash in a sliced fresh banana, or slice in a frozen one and let it cook down while you stir and mash. The little kids seem to particularly like this version, and it makes a very pleasingly thick, gently-sweet porridge.

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For Blueberries ‘n Cream, you can add blueberries or use them instead of bananas. Add them fresh or frozen close to the end of cooking, and gently stir in! It’s a good thing summer is coming because I’m almost out of frozen blueberries – we pick at least a hundred pounds a year and wash, freeze on pans and then store in gallon bags. After serving the bowls, I like to add a little extra spice to the top – some cinnamon and fresh nutmeg will enhance these berries!

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For Peaches ‘n Cream, I popped open a jar of peaches from our summer harvest. You could use fresh or frozen peaches, too! I mashed them in with a fork while the mixture was cooking.

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Serve the granola with more fruit, spices and milk if you like. A swirl of jam or jelly, some dried fruit, or a rich dollop of butter, ghee or coconut cream. The sky is the limit!

Download the recipe PDF here! 

UnGranola Porridge

Measurements will vary; these are all approximate! You can increase one ingredient in favor of another, if you prefer. A nut-free version is distinctly smaller but still possible. 

UnGranola Mix
Makes approximately 3 – 4 cups of mix, or 6 – 8 servings (1/2 cup dry mix per serving)
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw, dried pumpkin seeds (or other gourd)
1 cup flaked or shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup raw pecans
3/4 cup shelled, raw sunflower seeds
1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 – 1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 – 1/2 cup hempseed
1/4 – 1/2 cup chia seed
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
Vanilla powder to taste (optional)
Ground cinnamon and cloves to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
Ground pink Himlayan salt

Liquids:
Coconut cream and water, coconut milk, almond milk or another nut milk, a dairy milk if you prefer

Sweeteners (optional): 
1 banana or another fruit, or maple syrup, honey, stevia or another sweetener of your choice

Making the mix
Pour all of the UnGranola Mix ingredients into a blender or food processor. If using the Vitamix, turn to speed 8 and stop every 30 seconds to scrape container with spatula; press down gently with the tamper while mixing, being careful not to over-blend into a paste.

Scrape mix into a glass container for storage; cap and store in the refrigerator.

To serve UnGranola Porridge: 
Scoop 1/2 cup of mix and place in a small saucepan. Add up to 3/4 cup of the liquid of your choice, more if you like your porridge thinner. Stir briskly with a fork over medium heat, whisking in a banana if you choose and mashing it fully or choosing another variation or sweetener. Heat for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, or until mixture is hot and thick to your liking. Serve with additional fruit, spices or milk if desired.

Tips: If there are any coarse pieces of pumpkin seed or coconut, longer cooking will soften them. If you made your porridge too thin, whisk in a little coconut flour to bulk it up.

Variations: 
Blueberries ‘n Cream: Stir in fresh or frozen blueberries towards the end of cooking. Grate fresh nutmeg on top before serving.

Peaches ‘n Cream: Stir in fresh, canned or frozen peaches, dicing or mashing in to your preference. Sprinkle with cinnamon and pour in cream to serve.

Pumpkin Spice: Add allspice to the spice mixture, and increase the amounts.

Gingerbread Wonderland: Add ground ginger and additional nutmeg to the pumpkin spice version; serve with hot applesauce.

PB&J: Swirl in a dollop of peanut butter, almond butter or another nut butter, and add a spoonful of jam or jelly just before serving.

Hot Butter: Top with a slab of butter or ghee, and a sprinkle of salt.

Download the recipe PDF here!

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I hope you’ll keep me posted on any fun variations you and your family come up with – I am also always on the lookout for new and interesting ingredients to throw in the mix, so let me know what you find!!

Blessings,

Mrs H

See it first on Instagram
Face to face on the book

Summer Body Lotion: detoxing and flushing hibernation fat!

I’m not a doctor or medical professional. This product and any statements made herein are not intended to be used to diagnose or treat any medical illness or symptom. The information is for educational purposes and as a guideline for personal use; it should not replace medical counseling with a health professional.

Dear emerging, blinking hibernators,

Miraculously, spring has arrived. It’s still snowing here in parts of Virginia, but we’ve had a few tantalizingly balmy days to assure us that summer is soon to follow!

I’ve become fascinated by essential oils, after using them to heal a cavity, obtain a week of full nights’ deep sleep for the first time in 7-1/2 months of pregnancy, soothe the husband’s aching muscles after a 50k, detoxify our little boy from free-radicals (as much as one can) after an emergency CT scan, and just using the darn things to make my house smell good! To tell you the truth, I was kind of sick of hearing about essential oils from everybody on my Facebook feed – but when these issues cropped up for me, and a wise aromatherapist friend stepped in with essential oils, I sighed begrudgingly and took the plunge.

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Now there is no going back for me! I’m wholeheartedly sold, in love. That’s the power of experiencing my own healing at the hands of plants, in my own life. It’s how I got hooked on eating organic and local, for instance! And on that note, let’s not ignore the other aspects of a healthy lifestyle – spending time away from the screens, outside, in the fresh air, eating well, living as purely as possible … and essential oils help bridge necessary gaps in our nutrition, healing and detoxifying regimens!!

So, about those bonus layers of fat we want to release. A friend of mine, after working hard to gain a trim body after three children, was frustrated by a layer of belly fat that persisted. Nothing wrong with that, it’s a sign of loving, hard work dedicating her body to bearing beautiful babies – but she just wanted to get rid of it. She started massaging coconut oil and grapefruit essential oil into her belly, and do I need to say the rest? She finally achieved her goal.

Knowing that in a few months I’ll be flushing out loads of extra baby fat from this pregnancy, I created what I call the Summer Body lotion! You can make your own Summer Body lotion with essential oils and coconut oil, or make it into a massage oil with another carrier oil if you’re allergic to palm oils. Following, I’ve provided the recipe for you to download.

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20150324_151827It looks a lot like frosting, but be ye not deceived!

Download recipe and fact sheet for Summer Body Lotion

Summer Body Lotion

Solid Organic Coconut Oil, expeller-pressed or virgin*
Grapefruit Essential Oil
Tangerine Essential Oil
Lemon Essential Oil
Gentle Baby Young Living Essential Oil Blend
Peppermint Essential Oil**

Scoop the solid coconut oil into a bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Do not melt the coconut oil. Add essential oils, approximately one drop per ounce of carrier oil; it’s up to you if you want to go stronger! Beat with an electric mixer or the whisk attachment of the stand mixer until oil is fluffy and whipped, and essential oils are thoroughly homogenized into the oil. If using a liquid oil to replace coconut oil, or using fractionated coconut oil, whisk or blend thoroughly before transferring to container. Scoop into jars and cap; store in a cool, dark place. Slather on belly, or any other troublesome areas, daily or twice daily. Avoid applying to areas that will be exposed to sun or UV light in the next 24 hours.

*Expeller-pressed coconut oil will have no coconut scent. Use virgin if you want that extra coconutty aroma! If you are allergic to palm oils, use a liquid oil instead, in the same ratio. Olive oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, tamanu oil or a combination would be excellent.

**I leave peppermint out of mine, since these days I am always either pregnant (peppermint, as a digestive aid, can induce labor), or breastfeeding (peppermint, as an agent to dry mucus membranes, can potentially dry up milk supply). It’s optional to add!

Download recipe and fact sheet for Summer Body Lotion

Most importantly, remember to take before and after pictures – I know, taking before pictures is not very fun, but it’s really awesome to compare them with the after pictures!! Some people start seeing changes as quickly as three days of dedicated use in, so be prepared for exciting results!! Be sure to let me know how this lotion worked for YOU!!!!

Blessings,

Mrs H
Instagram that stuff! #farmandhearth

“I don’t have these essential oils yet!” 

Don’t worry!! If you don’t have your own stash of essential oils yet, or you’re building that collection up gradually like I was, I can help you buy a [heavily discounted] kit loaded with 11 of the most commonly used (and some of the most expensive!!!!) essential oils, along with other goodies like a [normally quite expensive] diffuser and some cool samples. Save some bucks and get some pure, organic oils! Leave a comment, contact me at andrea (.) globetrotter (@) gmail (.) com or click through this link!

Homemade Refried Beans (and pressure canning them!)

Dear refritos,

It must have been at least five years ago when my friend, foodmaster and chicken boss Miz Carmen and I spent a rainy, wind-lashed day cooking a monster batch of beans a la charra, a recipe gleaned from a now-out-of-print cookbook she owns from a now-out-of-business Mexican restaurant. She photocopied the page for me, because those beans became an instant hit at our house! She froze most of hers, and I pressure-canned mine. A freshly opened jar of these delicious beans has saved many a dinner for me, between multiple moves (military and otherwise!), and the arrival of our first child!

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I’m anticipating baby #2, so it seems like a good time to stock up on canned soups and beans in the home pantry – aka fast, real food. Canning beans at home is not only a great way to save money – dried beans cost significantly less than canned ones, even when they’re on sale! – but it saves on waste, too. The jars are reusable (and the lids, if you use these), so you can refill them with beans again and again. You don’t have to agitate about excessive BPA or BPS in metal cans, or try to navigate the harrowing lists of nasty ingredients most canned recipes have.

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Leave the bacon out if you’re opting for a vegetarian version!

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If you’ve never canned beans, Jill over at The Prairie Homestead has a gorgeous beginning tutorial, as well as a guide for pressure canning! You cannot, ever, ever can beans in a water-bath canner, ever, ever, no matter what you heard from your neighbor or read on Snopes. You can read this fact in any of the Ball canning books, any pressure-canning books, or take my word for it – I’m an internationally certified acidified foods processor, and took a beastly course on microorganisms in the jar to get there. Beans are very low-acid, and in order to kill the microorganisms that can live in a low-acid environment the contents must be heated to far beyond the boiling point, and only a pressure canner can do that.

I did not create this recipe – I’ve just loved it for many years! The cookbook is no longer in print sadly, and the restaurant that inspired it is no longer operational. In our home, we’ve created a number of variations, as is irresistible to do with beans as delicious and simple as these! Be sure to use fresh, high-quality spices for a truly outstanding experience – I obtain mine from MarketSpice or Penzeys, and grind the cumin seeds fresh. The quality of your ingredients will make a difference in the finished product!

Download recipe PDF (and bonus Frijoles Refritos recipe!)

Beans a la Charra

The original recipe comes from a cookbook published by a now-defunct Mexican restaurant in the Seattle area. I can’t find any copies of the book now, and all I have left are photocopies provided kindly by my friend at Domestic Endeavors! Also called “cowboy beans” for their rough-n-tender campfire feel, these beans make the perfect addition to any meal. Pour a jar over a pan of organic, salted chips, and scatter with shredded cheese before popping in the oven to warm. Serve in burritos, enchiladas, alongside rice, or add to a pan of cooked, sliced potatoes to make “cowboy potatoes”, one of my favorites growing up. Puree the entire mixture to serve as soup (do not puree before canning)! All pressure canning is incurred at your own risk. Be sure to follow safety procedures carefully.

3 cups dried pinto beans
3 quarts water
6 slices (about 8 ounces) uncooked bacon, coarsely chopped
½ cup diced onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, chopped (some like it hot: keep the seeds, or add more jalapeno!)
1 tablespoon chile powder or 2 tablespoons fresh taco seasoning
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt

In a stockpot, soak the beans overnight in the water (to cover), optionally adding a tablespoon or two of whey, lemon juice or vinegar to aid in later digestion of the beans. The next day, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the chile powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute more. Add 1 cup of the soaking water from the beans while stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen all the brown bits adhered to the pan. Add the beans and remaining water, and bring to a rapid boil. Skim foam; decrease the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 1-1/2 hour to 2 hours, or until the beans are soft. If you are planning to can them, you can undercook the beans until they are still a little crunchy; they’ll cook the rest of the way in the pressure canner. If you cook them fully, some the beans will disintegrate somewhat which is delicious and perfectly heavenly in its own right. When the beans are cooked through, add the salt, and cook 1 to 2 more minutes.

Pressure canning: For sea level, process pints at 10 pounds pressure, for 75 minutes. Adjust pressure for altitude. Remove finished jars and let cool, undisturbed. DO NOT press on lids yet. 12 – 24 hours after canning, remove rings and check seals. If any lids pop or shift, remove to refrigeration and use within 2 days. Wash all jars in warm, soapy water to remove residue from the canner.

If serving: Keep warm until ready to serve, or cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Download recipe PDF (and bonus recipe!)

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The jars will have residue from the beans on them – be sure to let them sit, undisturbed, overnight or for 24 hours before checking seals! Wash all jars and rings thoroughly in warm, soapy water, and leave the rings off. Rings breed potential mold if any moisture or food particles linger, and we don’t want that! Plus, if you enter a jar in the county fair, it will be automatically disqualified if there is still a ring on it, and where would your blue ribbon be then?

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Pressure-canning tip

Waiting for the pressure to dissipate and the pressure-valve to drop can be a long, boring wait, especially when you’re anxious to re-load the canner with a new batch of jars!

When the canner is about to finish the designated time for canning … Fill a large container or sink with cold water (ice is not necessary). After shutting off the heat and letting the pressure drop to about five pounds (this takes just a few minutes), carefully remove the canner and set in the cold-water bath. It’ll try to float, so keep a hand on it! In a very few minutes, the pressure will drop completely and the pressure-valve will pop down. You can then remove the lid and extract your jars, setting them aside to cool overnight. I learned this handy trick from somebody who saw it on America’s Test Kitchen – if you know the original episode, let me know!

Recommended Tools

23-Quart Pressure Canner
This is the pressure canner I recommend – Presto makes a wonderful, fail-safe product! No mistakes, mishaps or misfires with this canner. I own three of them, and with their heavy, reinforced bottom I use them without the lid for everything from cooking down huge batches of ketchup and applesauce to water-bath canning. You can double-stack pints for canning and pressure canning, they are that deep! Replacement parts can be ordered on Amazon and from Presto’s website. Their customer service has always been friendly and prompt! Note that a small pressure cooker WILL NOT work for pressure canning, EVEN if it comes with a small canning rack!! A pressure cooker is NOT made for canning, and is too small to maintain even heat throughout the substrate (contents of the jar), thus proving UNSAFE for home pressure canning. USE ONLY A DESIGNATED PRESSURE CANNER! 

Oakton EcoTestr pH 2 Waterproof pH Tester, 0.0 to 14.0 pH Range
This is not necessary for pressure canning – but it’s great if you’re food-nerdy, or if you want to can tomatoes which may or may not be acidic enough for waterbath. If you want to test the acidity of, say, a batch of tomatoes, pH test strips are not recommended – there is too much margin for error! This bench tester was recommended to me by a lab technician as one of the best handheld options, unless you want to jump up to the $500 versions! When testing the acidity of something chunky, like tomato sauce or a finished jar of pickles, note that you must blend the contents thoroughly and test a sample of the blended contents. So, if you are planning to process whole tomatoes and you want to check the acidity first, you must blend a representative sample of the tomatoes for testing. Follow the instructions on the tester carefully, and plan ahead – calibrating base for your first use can take time!

General Hydroponics Ph 7.0 Calibration Solution – 8 Ounces, 1 bottle
You’ll also need some standard reference solution. This one will do the trick!

Update – IMPORTANT!!!!

Chevys Fresh Mex Cookbook
Miz Carmen has found The Cookbook on Amazon!! It’s only twelve buckeroos and full of deliciousness. I need MY OWN COPY now!!!!!!!

See more of my recommended products in my Amazon aStorewe could talk cookbooks ALL DAY!!!!

Happily canning and eating,

Mrs H

Start a Home Yoga Practice Today (with progress pictures! I am NOT naturally flexible!)

Dear Healthy,

After I posted the story and photos of my radical journey to health with the help of yoga, I received many e-mails from my beloved readers. Many were inspired to get a grip on their body and start a healthy practice of nurturing and physical fitness immediately – but where to begin?

Find a studio … My first and strongest recommendation is always find a wonderful studio close to home you can connect with – the community and support you will gain from this circle of trusted fellow practitioners cannot be underestimated! Also it is rare, but I am more and more frequently seeing studios that offer childcare for one or all classes.

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What if the studio can’t happen? For a military parent far from family babysitters, or somebody on a restricted budget with enough funds to visit the studio maybe once a week or once a month, or for some of my intrepid readers who live in fairly remote areas and have no studios within reasonable driving distance – what then? Just between us: If you are shy about practicing around other people or self-conscious about your weight and that is the only thing keeping you home, please do make an effort to go visit a studio anyway! Bring a friend who feels as inept as you, if that helps! We all start clumsy, awkward and confused, and we all “get it” when somebody walks in feeling the same way, and we’re all there to support you as you blossom into a confident practitioner. And there are a lot of fit people in yoga, yes, but that is going to be you, next – you can’t begin this healthy lifestyle for long without seeing some physical changes! 

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As a teacher who hears this excuse on an almost daily basis, this has got to be my favorite yoga meme of all time! If that fear, which can be paralyzing, had kept me from my first yoga class – then I would STILL be inflexible!

Backbend Progress: It doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens. The first picture is how my back-bend looked about 1.5 years in to practice in April 2011 – foolishly, I was too embarrassed to take progress pictures earlier, or you could have seen me standing straight up, staring at the ceiling!
Backbend April 2011

Backbend February 2012: There are periods of practice where change seems to leap forward exponentially! One year later, my back bend had advanced dramatically. This took continuous practice, not wishful thinking or natural flexibility. (For what it’s worth, I had also lost some extra pounds during this year. In the second photo, I am 20 weeks pregnant!)

Backbend Feb 2012

Crow Pose Progress: In March 2011, this was where my Crow Pose was. A few months later, I had wobbled on to my head without knees on elbows.

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Crow Progress April 2014, waiting at the pier for my husband’s Navy carrier to dock (OpLove photo by Sami Roy Photography).  I now find it very easy to slide gracefully up into a steady headstand, and easily come back down in to crow or, from headstand, shoot my legs back into chaturanga.

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Even in heeled boots, on a painful pebbly surface, and those exhaustingly tight size too-tiny jeans!

Just waiting at the gate for my plane to board!

Just waiting at the gate for my plane to board! I didn’t know it here, but I was already pregnant with #2.

Bird of Paradise, 2011: This is about how far I could get in Bird of Paradise, a gorgeous pose that I couldn’t believe the people around me were actually doing. Sometimes I could hop my one foot up off the floor a little! I kept working at it.

Set 3 Pics by Amanda mid to late Feb (9)

Bird of Paradise, August 2014: To work on my fluidity and sequencing as a teacher, I started recording my own practice on the cellphone camera. I had been practicing without a mirror for so long I had no idea what my Bird of Paradise looked like, and I was shocked when I saw what had happened to the pose over the years of work! Years of work, not days of magical potions – it took a lot of effort for me to get this far, and I still have so far to go.

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Upward Facing Bow Progress, Spring 2011: I loved this pose, sometimes called Wheel (it’s not really Wheel – in wheel, you actually roll! Yeah, that’s cray, too.).

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May 2012: My upward facing bow had undergone some serious work by the time professional Matt Palalay took this photo in my 38th week of pregnancy. In the winter of 2013 it reached a new level when I achieved smooth and unassisted drop-backs and recovery (entering the pose from a standing position, and returning to standing immediately). I had a really cool video of that on my cellphone, but the phone was stolen and I cannot share it with you now!

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All of my poses have worlds of expansion and improvement yet to go, but I hope you are encouraged by seeing how I started out – clueless, inflexible and as unsteady as a drunken sailor on leave!

Start your practice today with the home practice!

I practice daily at home, and supplement that practice by taking group classes at my local studio. At home, I sometimes practice my own routines, testing out new playlists, new sequences, trying on new poses. And sometimes – and this seems to be more true during pregnancy – I just want to follow the words of an experienced teacher and not have to think! That is when yoga classes online come in handy.

Online yoga classes – where to find them? To start your home practice immediately, there are a number of options! You can find some of my favorite DVDs (see the list at the end of the post), or subscribe to YogaGlo or another online yoga studio for a minimal cost. I love YogaGlo for their simple layout, the way you can track and save your favorite classes or set a weekly practice goal, and all the master yoga teachers they have on their roster – Tiffany Cruikshank, Dice Iida-Klein, AmyIppoliti and many other names that are well-known in the yoga, sports, therapy and Instagram worlds.

Or, you can find some favorite videos on YouTube! There are a lot of yoga classes available on YouTube, and some of them are insanely annoying while others are delightful treasures. Here are a few of my favorites.

Prenatal Yoga with Lara Dutta


You don’t have to be pregnant to practice prenatal yoga, and in fact, if you are just a beginner, they are perfect for you: the poses are fluid and languid, and the pace will be even and usually more slow than a normal class. I find it very pleasant at the end that she doesn’t take you out of savasana – you can stay as long as you like as the movie fades out! Lara Dutta is an Indian actress and supermodel, and the Miss Universe of 2000. She and her teacher Tonia Clark put together this sequence for prenatal practice, which they made into a DVD for all pregnancy practitioners at home. Here, they wear very elegant designer clothes and have glasses of berry-infused water close at hand, as they discuss the advantages and reasons for practicing during prenatal yoga. If you are pregnant, I strongly recommend watching the video before embarking in a prenatal practice, especially if you don’t currently practice yoga.

Yoga Routine with Lara Dutta

This is a non-prenatal routine! You’ll notice that I prefer dubbed classes, where the teacher is not narrating the class while doing the classes. Sometimes the mic rubbing on t-shirt or hair, wind breezing by, panting and gasping all get a little annoying. I also get bothered by fuzzy audio and garbled music in the background – when you watch a video over and over and over (and I recommend doing the same favorite class over and over again as it will grow natural for you, and you’ll improve, just like with a dance), you really start to notice every annoying quirk!

Ashtanga Primary Series for Beginners 

This class is led by a man, and also dubbed with a crisp, clean audio. There’s no extraneous chatter, and I like that he uses the blocks. Achievable and challenging, this is a a great class, and at one hour it is the longest on my playlist.

Soothing Background Music


If you have your own routine or you’re following one from a book or magazine, this two-and-a-half-hour set of background music is a nice set to have streaming while you go through poses. It’s geared towards more of a relaxing, soothing class.

Best of luck on your yoga journey, and if you know of any great yoga videos or have one of your own, please share it in the comments so we can all benefit!

Mrs H
Facely yours
Not your Gram’s Insta

Yoga DVDs as promised

You can find so many great DVDs on Amazon or at the bookstore, and I usually check them out from the library first or watch the teacher on YouTube to see if I enjoy their style. These are my favorites!

Candlelight Yoga: Excellent for beginners, and I enjoy doing this class in the morning to wake up. There’s a reason Sarah Ivanhoe has gone on to become a master yoga teacher, and well-known in the community.

Prenatal Yoga with Lara Dutta: You are now familiar with Lara, and this is her DVD.

Journey into Power: Power Vinyasa Yoga, Level 1: Appropriate for beginners and advanced students; there is a Level 2 DVD as well, but to be honest, you could spend a lifetime on this one and still have years to go.