Cupboard Necessities For The Natural-Loving Family


The desire to live a more natural life is an understandable one. We live in a world where something as simple as water is a marketed commodity. Ingredient lists for products are hard to read, with letters and symbols you need a chemistry degree to understand.


Yet somehow, we made it this far. Humanity survived without these things for millennia. Okay, there was the occasional Black Death or bizarre, hysterical dance craze (yes, really), but generally, we did okay. The reason we did okay is because we used what was available to us. Some may sneer at natural health, but those same people are only here because of these remedies. Sometimes, the old wives knew what they were talking about.



In a quest to change the way you do things, you’ll probably look online for inspiration. You’ll find recipes for the whole family you want to try, and then promptly realize you don’t have any of the required things. A good baseline of natural health favorites is a good place to start.


Waxes, Butter and Oils



Any skincare recipe you find online is going to need these. As a good base point:


  • Carrier oils, such as coconut, grapeseed, almond, and avocado. Some are more pore-clogging than others, so get a range across the comedogenic scale. The four mentioned above have ratings from 1-4.
  • Shea butter, and its alternative mango butter if you have a latex allergy. Perfect for soothing angry skin, try to find these unrefined and organic.


Astringents



An astringent is something that makes blood rush to the surface when applied to the skin. These are needed for many skincare recipes, such as acne treatments and those for uneven skin tones like those found if you click here. Witch hazel is the go too for many naturopaths, as well as citrus-based essential oils. If you want to know more about the uses for astringents, for more information.


Cleansing and Exfoliating Agents



  • Borax. There is some debate on the safety of Borax, but the science says it’s safe to use. If you’re still not comfortable, then there are natural alternatives.
  • Bicarbonate of Soda. Safe for skin and home, this pops up in recipes as diverse as floor cleaner and deodorant.
  • White vinegar. Buy in bulk; you’re going to be using this a lot.
  • Washing soda and Castile soap. Cheap alternatives to the likes of washing up liquid and laundry detergent.


And Everything Else



  • Activated charcoal. The WHO recommend this for first aid kits, as it is known to help with mild cases of poisoning. It can also be used to whiten teeth.
  • Arrowroot powder. From thickening recipes to being used a dry shampoo, this cheap talc alternative is a must-have.
  • Essential oils. The basics would be: peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, lemon and tea tree. If you have a particular issue, it’s easy to research which oils you might require.
  • Magnesium flakes. Up to 80% of people have magnesium deficiencies. Get your dose by using flakes as a sore muscle soak, or distil to oil for a deodorant.


Finally, if you buy in bulk, you’re more likely to be able to make savings. One big shop per year can save you as much as 25%!

Acne Solutions from Exposed Skincare

I love companies that offer a money back guarantee if their product is ineffective, which is what Exposed Skincare does!  They will refund the price of their acne solution products (minus shipping costs) in the first 30 days, and keep that guarantee going a full year after ordering if you are not satisfied with your long term results.  
Exposed Skincare products for acne.
Honestly, I only get a few breakouts here and there (usually when trying new facial products or going through a lot of stress), so these 3 preventative products above are perfect for me to keep my pores open and clean.  I seriously cannot live without a microderm scrub.  Using a microderm scrub is so different than using basic scrubs you buy at your retailer that contain walnut shells, etc.  This Exposed Skincare that leaves your face feeling super clean, but your skin is soft and flexible.  I love the size of this scrub as it’s small enough to pack for travel.  The Exposed Moisture Complex is a nice lightweight moisturizer that really compliments the Microderm Scrub.  It’s got a great non-greasy feel, and also comes in the perfect travel size!
The Exposed Skincare Body Wash is perfect if you get breakouts in areas other than just your face, like neck, back, and chest.  It contains salicylic acid to clear clogged pores, Pro-Vitamin B5 to regulate oil production, and Sage extract to detoxify your skin.  It’s also paraben and sulfate free!  I love that it leaves your skin clean without leaving soapy residue.

Exposed Skincare has a complete line of facial washes, serums, masks and treatments aimed at clearing your acne, and keeping it away for good!  Exposed Skincare also offers a great 30 day trial kit, so you can try the products before committing to a large purchase.  This includes Exposed Facial Cleanser, Clearing Tonic, Acne Treatment Serum, and Clear Pore Serum.  This is perfect for your child who’s experiencing their first acne outbreaks, or to have on hand when they do get that first pimple!

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Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from Exposed Skincare.   Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.



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Natural Softness from Bamboo | Cariloha Baby

The word Cariloha comes from two things – “Caribbean” style and Hawaiian “aloha.”  To me, Cariloha means super soft, natural and comfortable fabrics.  If you haven’t owned Cariloha Bamboo clothing, bath towels, or bedding yet, you don’t know what you’re missing!  Their sheets are incredible!

Cariloha baby Products
Cariloha Baby bodysuit, fitted sheet and plush blanket.

Cariloha Bamboo’s beautiful line of baby clothing and bedding makes sure your baby wears and sleeps on the softest natural fabrics.  This high quality selection includes short and long sleeved bodysuits, fitted crib sheets, plush blankets, receiving blankets and swaddle blankets.  Something that really impressed me with the Cariloha Baby sheet and bodysuit is that they come out of the dryer looking great with minimal wrinkling, and if possible, they get softer with each wash!
My first exposure to Cariloha products was during a family cruise.  As we got into port in Falmouth, Jamaica, we visited the Cariloha shop.  When you are in a Cariloha shop, you just want to touch everything because the fabrics feel so good!  I am still amazed at the thought of clothing and bedding being made from a bamboo plant.  Visit the “Bamboo Process” page at Cariloha to understand how their fabric is made, and some interesting facts about bamboo itself!  Did you know that some species of bamboo grows 4 feet in one day?!

You can be assured you are buying a great product from Cariloha Bamboo as they offer a lifetime quality guarantee!  They also offer E-Gift cards which would make an awesome new baby or baby shower gift!


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Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from Cariloha Bamboo.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Gluten and Wheat Free Wraps | BFree Foods

Looking for tasty sandwich wraps that are gluten and wheat free, and don’t taste like cardboard?  BFree Wraps are a delicious alternative to traditional tortillas, and a much healthier option!
BFree Quinoa & Chia Seed Wraps, and BFree Multigrain Wraps.

Finding gluten and wheat free products that taste fresh and flavorful can be difficult.  With BFree you can order online, right from the source, and have items delivered to your doorstep.

I made pork carnitas using the multi-grain BFree wraps as more of a soft taco shell.  There’s so much more flavor in these wraps than a flour tortilla, and they seem to hold up better without tearing or leaking through.  I love that I’m getting loads of extra fiber too!
The Quinoa & Chia Seed wraps work great as pizza crusts!  I just used some pizza sauce from a jar (or homemade) and mozzarella cheese, bake on a cookie sheet at 375 for about 10 minutes, and cut into wedges.  Great low fat after school snack for kids!
BFree has a large variety of gluten/wheat free products, including bagels, rolls, and sandwich loaves.  Visit the BFree online store for product availability, and their “recipe” tab for some great serving ideas.

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Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from BFree. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

NYR – Mother Organic Collection

Is there anything more relaxing during (and after!) pregnancy than a nice warm bath?  Of course, you want to make sure the products you use in the tub are safe for use during pregnancy.  The Mother Organic Collection by Neal Yard Remedies is an awesome array of safe, skin soothing, organic skincare products.
Mother Organic Collection by Neal Yard Remedies.

Mothers Bath Oil is a silky oil that will soothe and hydrate your skin before, during and after pregnancy.  Just add a tablespoon to your bath water.  You won’t even need lotion after your bath – it leaves your skin so hydrated and soft!
Mothers Balm is fantastic for preventing stretch marks, as well as soothing that itch that occurs as skin is stretching.  It’s also fragrance free, with delicious ingredients like coconut, almond, and macadamia oil.  This is also suitable to use after pregnancy to keep that belly skin supple while it shrinks back to pre-pregnancy size.
While of course whole body massages during pregnancy are discouraged, massaging the expanding belly with 100% organic Mothers Balm will feel awesome.  It also helps prevent stretch marks and calms itching.  Perfect for an after pregnancy, up all night with baby massage from daddy!
The Mother Organic Collection by Neal Yard Remedies will make a fantastic baby shower gift for those hard to buy for moms to be!
Make sure you visit Neal Yard Remedies to see their skincare lines, herbal remedies, supplements, cosmetic, hair, and bath & shower products!  They are offering a free bottle of Seaweed & Arnica Foaming Bath with minimum purchase during the month of September!
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Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from NYR/Mother Organic Collection. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Single Origin, Farm to Shelf Foods | The Real Co.

Do you have any idea how many hands your food passes through before you buy it?  Probably more than you think!  The Real Food Co. employs the method of “single origin” food, basically cutting out the middle man and taking the food straight from farm to shelf.  The Real Food Co. products consist of Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Himalayan Pink Rock Salt, and White Basmati Rice.
The Real Co. products.

This is the first time I have tasted Himalayan pink salt, and yes, there is a difference in flavor.  It has a smoother flavor, and is not so “salty” tasting as it has less sodium than regular table salt.  I’ve read that Himalayan pink salt is the purest salt available, the pink tint actually comes from rust (iron), and it has an unlimited shelf life.
I’ve had Basmati rice at a local kebob restaurant, and loved the nutty woodsy flavor, but have never cooked it at home.  This Basmati cooks up so nice and fluffy, and the texture is awesome.  Basmati is gluten free, low in fat, low in sodium, and has no cholesterol.  If you’ve never tried Basmati rice, you really should.  Not all white rice is the same!
Lately I’ve been using raw cane (not processed to the white sugar stage) sugar in my morning oatmeal.  I like the quick melting point of raw cane sugar.  The Real Co.’s Organic Raw Cane sugar has a great texture.  It doesn’t clump together like brown sugar.  What I really like about raw cane sugar is that it melts almost instantly in cold liquids, like iced tea, and it has an ever so slight taste of molasses.
Visit The Real Co.’s website to see how these foods are minimally processed to bring you the best quality, taste and freshness.

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Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from The Real Co. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 

Natural Energy & Thyroid Booster | Vie Aid Health Review

I suffer from an under-active thyroid, and take a daily prescribed medication.  Although I take my meds on a daily basis, there are still times when I feel super rundown and out of energy.  I decided it was time to try something to supplement my medication.  VieAidHealth has a natural approach with their Thyroid Booster.
VieAidHealth Thyroid Booster.

While I did not notice any difference in my weight, I did notice a slight increase in my energy level (similar to when I religiously take my multivitamins), where I have more energy toward the evening when I am normally pretty fatigued.  I’m not sure if it was the power of suggestion, or it really helped, but my skin seemed to be a little healthier looking while taking Thyroid Booster.  Thyroid Booster does contain vitamin B-12, which naturally prevents one type of anemia (and its associated fatigue and lack of energy).  I noticed no ill effects from taking Thyroid Booster, and I would recommend trying it 
As with any over the counter supplement, you should consult your healthcare professional before trying Thyroid Booster.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from Tomoson. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Spike Gourmet Natural Seasoning

Having a cupboard full of spices does you absolutely no good, unless you know how to use them.  I think I have spices that are at least 5-10 years old in mine!  I’m cleaning out those old spices to make room for all these cool spice blends from Spike Gourmet Natural Seasoning.  Each bottle has suggestions on how and what to serve it with or on, taking the guesswork out of spicing up foods!
I love that each bottle of Spike has no added MSG!  Like a lot of people, MSG gives me some strange side effects, like weird dreams and massive thirst.  Spike uses natural ingredients in awesome combinations to create flavors to compliments almost any food you cook.  The first dish I made with Spike was using the Hot ‘n Spicy Magic in chicken soft tacos.  It gives it a really nice kick, which tasted a lot better than prepared taco mix in a packet.  My recipe was simple:  Cube 2 boneless chicken breasts in 1 inch pieces.  Saute in pan with 1 diced onion and 1 diced red bell pepper.  Serve in a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato and grated pepper jack cheese.
The recipe possibilities are endless with Spike Gourmet Natural Seasonings.  
I found this yummy dressing recipe on the Spike website.  I didn’t have flax oil, so I substituted canola oil and it came out great!  It’s a nice light dressing that’s perfect for salads with meat, like grilled chicken salad.

MOTHER EARTH’S ESSENTIAL DRESSING
8 oz. virgin olive oil
4 oz. Baleen’s flax oil
2-3 oz. balsamic vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 Tbsp. SPIKE® ORIGINAL MAGIC!
1 tsp. lemon juice
Dash soy sauce Tarragon, parsley, rosemary to taste *

1. Mix dressing ingredients together in a blender.
2. Keep stored in the refrigerator and use on sandwiches and salads.
I cannot wait until fall hits so I can try some new soup recipes using Spike Gourmet Natural Seasonings.  I think the Vege-Sal Magic would be perfect in vegetable soup, and the 5 Herb Magic would really compliment my minestrone recipe!  With these terrific blends of spices, I see no reason to still be hoarding all those all spice bottles, so out they go!
Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from Giveaway Service website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Reference ID: pm5cfcbafd768519bce51371aae5cac8fb

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G I V E A W A Y ! ! !


Enter to win 2 bottles (our choice) of Spike Gourmet Natural Seasoning using the Rafflecopter form below.  One (1) winner will be chosen after 9/8/15.  Good luck!

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Grass Fed Cheese | Rumiano Fine Natural Cheese

Have you ever heard of grass fed cheese?  Rumiano Fine Natural Cheese uses milk from cows that are fed only grass, not corn and grain.  Grass is more naturally and easily digested in the cows’ stomach.  According to Rumiano, “Studies have shown that there are many health benefits, not only for the cows, but the humans who consume meat and dairy products from these “grass fed” cows as well.”  Wouldn’t you want to eat a cheese that has better health benefits?
Rumiano Natural Garlic Jack Cheese, served with pretzel crackers.

This is my second time around reviewing Rumiano cheeses.  I jumped at the chance to sample these cheeses again because I loved them the first time around!  Rumiano flavored cheese has actual pieces of the spices and foods that flavor them, not just “flavoring.”

I have to say that my favorite is still Pepper Jack.  I love to grate it and sprinkle it over chicken tacos – it gives them just a little more of a kick, and is super creamy when it melts.  Rumiano Original Jack is good with anything, from sandwiches to quesadillas.  It has a great buttery taste, and who doesn’t like the taste of butter, right?  I love the Garlic Jack sprinkled over hot potato soup, gives it such good flavor.
Here’s a yummy way to use Rumiano Family Organic Jalapeno Jack Cheese:  (My version of a spicy quesadilla!)  Slice a chicken breast thinly and saute with minced yellow onions.  When cooked through, arrange on a 8″ tortilla and top with Rumiano Jalapeno Jack Cheese, followed by another tortilla.  Grill over medium heat in fry pan until both sides are crispy and cheese is melted inside.  Top with sliced avocado and a splash of hot sauce.  
Although not yet available in my local store, Rumiano has a nice variety of organic cheeses as well.  These are non-GMO and made with organic ingredients in Northern California.  The organic choices are Chipotle Cheddar, Colby, Fontina, Gouda, Havarti, Medium Cheddar, Mild Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Reduced Fat Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, and Mozzarella.  I can’t wait to try the Gouda and Havarti cheeses!  Think about how many varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches you can make with Rumiano cheeses.

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Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from Tomoson. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Eco Friendly Refillable Laundry Products | MyGreenFills

Wouldn’t it be great to not have lug all those jugs of laundry soap and fabric softener home from the store?  And, how great would it be to just refill the same plastic container over and over instead of throwing them all into landfills?  Now you can feel good about doing laundry with MyGreenFills laundry products by Selestial Soap – no wasting gas/adding air pollution while driving to the store, no disposing of plastic products, no toxic chemicals, plus receive easy to use 100% natural refill packets of laundry products that are delivered right to your door!
MyGreenFills by Selestial Soap.

At about $8.00, MyGreenFills is economical, as well as ecological!  The last name brand detergent I bought in this size was $9.99, so I think the price of MyGreenFills detergent is a little below average.  Automatic delivery of refills can be set up.  You choose the frequency and which product refills you would like to be delivered.

MyGreenFills laundry soap and fabric softener clean an amazing 50 HE loads of laundry.  The laundry soap is 3x concentrated, is a cold water formula, and can be used in standard and HE washing machines.  Both the laundry soap and fabric softener are hypoallergenic, all natural, and non-toxic.  The color safe brightener works great to whiten whites without chlorine, and keeps colors bright without fading.
If you have tough stains, the Enzyme Stain Remover is fantastic!  You just use one of the little itty bitty scoops in a load of laundry and it removes stubborn stains.  This tiny jar also can do up to 50 loads of laundry.
What you will notice with these products is they don’t have all the unnecessary additives, like thickeners, fragrance, or added colors.  It did take me some time to get used to using the more “watery” quality of these products, but they definitely clean as well, or better, than the major brands.  I love the feel of our clothes with MyGreenFills fabric softener.  They are soft, without the kind of “heavy and sticky” feeling you get from other fabric softeners.

The MyGreenFills creed.
I love the “Pay The Jug Forward” concept!  I gave away my jug, which comes with instructions on how the recipient can obtain a free laundry detergent refill!  How cool is that!
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Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above in exchange for review from MyGreenFills/Selestial Soap.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.