Grill-tastic! A New Twist on Barbecue Foods

Grill-tastic! A New Twist on Barbecue Foods

Everybody loves a summer barbecue, but why not try something different this year? Instead of the standard burgers, hot dogs and steaks, use your grill to cook up something fun and unusual.

Mushrooms

The king of grilling mushrooms is the Portobello, those large and chewy mushrooms whose caps can be used in place of hamburgers. However, all mushrooms can be grilled if done right. For extra flavor, you can marinate them overnight or just baste them during cooking. Place smaller mushrooms in a grilling basket to give them that smoky taste. Mushroom-kabobs are a perennial favorite, and are best when similar mushrooms are placed onto the same skewer. Mushrooms also pair well with other grilled vegetables, whether skewered or seasoned and wrapped in foil.

Oysters and Clams

These delicious shellfish are best when cooked over medium-high heat. It should take about eight minutes for the first one to open, which is the time to remove them all from the grill. Instead of butter or hot sauce, try a nice chipotle vinaigrette for a change of taste.

Grilled Fruit

Peach halves are a southern grilling classic, but they are not the only fruits great for the grill. Pineapple is great cut into quarters, basted with a mixture of lime juice, honey and black pepper, and then grilled with the core intact. The grilled pineapple can complement chicken or fish.

Try placing your favorite berries and a little sugar into some foil and grilling for 5-10 minutes. Use them to top your favorite ice cream for a cool summer treat. Grilled bananas are easy and delicious. Slice them with peels still on and grill them open-side down for 2 minutes. Flip them, and once cooked, add a crumble of marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate for a banana – s’more treat everyone will love.

With imagination you can your barbecue grill into an all-purpose kitchen. Add that smoky goodness to other unusual items, such as pizza, French bread or even romaine lettuce. Your family and friends will rave over your wonderful cookouts.

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

37 Weird Things to Grill – A New Take On Summer BBQ Foods; Krrb Blog; accessed June 20, 2015

How to Grill Mushrooms and Other Vegetables; Food Reference; accessed June 20, 2015
Mellissa Valliant; Bizarre BBQ: Unusual Foods to Throw on the Grill; HellaWella; accessed June 20, 2015

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Filed under Food (Benefits, Cooking and Nutrition), Recipes

What in the World is Cat’s Claw?

What in the World is Cat's Claw?

While researching herbs and supplements, have you ever come across something and asked yourself, “what in the world is that?” This series of articles will give you insight about some of the lesser-known herbs currently available on the market. From there, you can decide whether it’s a natural remedy worthy of further exploration.

Today, it’s all about Cat’s Claw!

Cat’s Claw is a vine commonly known as Una de Gato, which was a traditional part of medicine in Peru. More recently,  the vine has it come to the attention of Western medicine. This is largely due to oxindole alkaloids found in the bark and roots of Cats Claw, which may stimulate the immune system.

History

Cat’s claw is a woody vine that grows unfettered in the rainforests of South and Central America. It has a long history of uses for a variety of medical ailments, dating all the way back to the Inca civilization.  In Peru, it was often used for digestive complaints and to treat wounds, as well as other diseases such as arthritis. Since the 1970s, studies and research have been carried out by scientists in Germany, Austria, England and other countries, to find out more about the healing properties of Cat’s Claw.

Uses

The most common use of cat’s claw is to treat the pain from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as a variety of digestive issues including diverticulitis, gastritis, colitis, hemorrhoids, ulcers, and diarrhea. In several clinical studies, oral ingestion of cat’s claw supplement reduced pain and stiffness for arthritis sufferers.

In addition to these uses, medicine made from cat’s claw may be effective in treating viral infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic wounds, asthma, hay fever, gonorrhea and chronic pain. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of cat’s claw for these additional ailments.

How does it work? Experts believe that the essence of cat’s claw can help stimulate the immune system, aiding with healing and fighting off infection. It also acts as an antioxidant, removing free radicals from the body. The extract of the plant can be freeze dried and taken as an oral supplement.

Caution

While cat’s claw is generally safe, it should be avoided by certain people. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, not enough research has been done about how this supplement may affect your baby. Because cat’s claw stimulates the immune system, it should not be taken by people with lupus, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune disorders, as it may cause unpredictable effects. It should also be avoided if you have a bleeding disorder, low blood pressure or leukemia. Because it may slow blood clotting, avoid cat’s claw if you have a surgical procedure scheduled within two weeks.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Cat’s Claw Products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Cat’s Claw; National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health; Accessed May 19, 2015

Cat’s Claw; University of Maryland Medical Center; Accessed May 19, 2015

Cat’s Claw; WebMD; Accessed May 19, 2015

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Filed under Herbs and Supplements

Four Fantastic Edible Mushrooms For You to Enjoy!

Four Fantastic Edible Mushrooms For You to Enjoy

Mushrooms often have a bad reputation; the mere fact that they are a fungi is enough to make some people reject them. Despite the numerous beneficial nutrients found in mushrooms, such as vitamin D and iron, they still seem to be an overlooked food. Before you reject this delicious and nutritious fungi, take a closer look at four mushrooms and how you can incorporate them into your diet.

Chanterelle

An easy place to start is the chanterelle mushroom. Where some mushrooms look like they stepped out of a science fiction film, the chanterelle is typically a beautiful golden color that adds a brightness to every plate! They have a delicate texture is far from off-putting. These floral looking mushrooms have a subtle sweetness and a hint of pepper flavor that makes them pair very well with eggs and lighter foods.

Portobello

The grand portobello can be found in most supermarkets and pair well with beef, vegetables, and taste wonderful when marinated and grilled. Their texture can sometimes be rubbery when not prepared properly (remember not to overcook them). Pairing this hearty mushroom with something fresh and crunchy, stuffing the large mushrooms or including them in a sauce can usually distract picky eaters.

Button

The button mushroom is extremely prevalent, but often dismissed because of the subtle earthiness of its flavor. They have a spongy texture that makes them perfect for stuffing with ground meat, cheeses, and a variety of other ingredients. They can also be included into stews and chowders when chopped finely or thinly sliced in a salad.

Morel
A not-so-common mushroom that is extremely flavorful is the morel mushroom. One of the reasons people shy away from this mushroom is because it is not exactly pleasant to look at. It is dark and with folds that resemble something taken from the deep sea. That is why this delightfully savory mushroom is best cut small, sauteed and included in a gravy, soup, or as a sort of garnish to savory dishes.

Mushrooms have incredible fantastic culinary potential. The next time you’re needing a change in your diet, give these, or any of the other wonderful varieties, a try!

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Nehring, Margaret; 5 Health Benefits of Mushrooms; Best Health Mag; accessed March 24, 2014

Taste Editors; Every Type of Mushroom You Need to Know About; Huffington Post; accessed March 24, 2014

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Filed under Food (Benefits, Cooking and Nutrition)

A Runner’s Guide to Blister Prevention

A Runner's Guide to Blister Prevention

One of the oldest and time-tested methods of weight loss, fitness maintenance and natural mood-boosting is running. But, one of the hazards of running is getting blisters.

If you are a novice runner here are some common sense, but often overlooked, tips, which will help you avoid the downtime from your training schedule for your blisters to heal.

Make sure that you have shoes and socks that fit properly. Socks that are too loose move more when you run. This added friction makes blisters far more likely. Ensuring that your running shoes fit correctly is crucial to blister prevention.

Try on running shoes with the type of socks that you plan to wear running. You may want to wear two pairs of socks for added protection. Socks that wick away moisture, such as nylon or a wool blend, decrease the friction that causes blisters to form. Doubling up on socks can help prevent yourself from enduring another blister. Adding another layer absorbs some of the friction that would be transferred to your skin. So rather than every step causing your sock to rub against your skin, it rubs against the other pair of socks instead.

Lastly, try pouring powders into your socks before you put them on, in order to create a friction-free surface between your sock and foot. There are many blister-shield powders designed for this purpose.

Runners have long had to deal with blisters as part of their sport. Hopefully these tips will help you reduce or even eliminate blisters from interrupting your focus and dedication to your fitness routine.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Sports and Fitness Products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

Reference

Golde, Katie; The Runner’s Guide to Preventing Blisters; Runner’s World; accessed April 4, 2014

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Filed under Fitness, Nutrition and Weight Loss

How to Get Perfectly Shaped Brows

How to Get Perfectly Shaped Brows

If you’re on a budget or pressed for time, it’s easy to shape your eyebrows yourself at home. All you need are the right tools and a bit of preparation.

First, determine the proper shape for your brows. The inner edge should align with the bridge of your nose on each side with the peak aligning with the iris of your eye and the outer point 45 degrees from the outer corner of your eye.

As you visualize the shape, fill it in with a good eyebrow pencil and comb hair upward with an eyebrow brush. The idea is to draw in the ideal brow shape, and by using a sharp pair of tweezers, to remove any hairs that fall outside that shape. The best tweezers have a slanted, sharp edge that make it easy to grab tiny hairs without pinching the skin. Avoid tweezing above the brow.

You want your brows to have a symmetrical look, but keep in mind that they don’t have to be exactly identical. Trying to go for a mirror image can lead to over-plucking, which is to be avoided. You might be tempted to use a magnifying makeup mirror, but the best strategy is to pluck your brows in front of a regular mirror with plenty of light.

If you think tweezing is painful, try plucking after your shower. This allows the hair to come out more easily since the hot water naturally opens your pores. You can also try a numbing gel that’s formulated for the face or take an ibuprofen about 30 minutes before tweezing. After tweezing, an over-the-counter cortisone cream, or an aloe vera gel, can reduce redness and swelling, if needed.

With these simple steps and a bit of practice, you can achieve the amazing brows you’ve been striving for right in your own bathroom.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Cosmetics! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Cardellino, Carly; 10 Tricks to Pluck Perfect Eyebrows; Shape; accessed March 21, 2015

Hebert, Emily; Beauty How-To: Eyebrow Shaping; Elle; Accessed March 21, 2015

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Israeli Couscous with Raisins and Kale

Israeli Couscous with Raisins and Kale
Photo and Recipe from Sara Hohn of the Homemade Levity Blog

Israeli Couscous with Raisins and Kale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, combine 2 ½ cups water, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and couscous. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 12 minutes or until most of the water is gone. Remove from heat and keep covered to sit another 5 minutes.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic, chili flakes, onion and raisins and cook about 3 minutes or until onions are soft. Stir in kale and cook another 5-7 minutes or until kale is bright green and wilted. Turn off heat. Stir in salt, pine nuts and lemon juice.
  3. Add the couscous into the kale mixture and stir gently to combine. Add freshly ground pepper to taste.

Israeli Couscous with Raisins and Kale
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Israeli (pearled) couscous
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. chili flakes
  • 1 cup yellow onion
  • ¾ c golden raisins
  • 4 cup lacinto kale, sliced in 1-inch ribbons
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot, combine 2 ½ cups water, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and couscous. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 12 minutes or until most of the water is gone. Remove from heat and keep covered to sit another 5 minutes.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic, chili flakes, onion and raisins and cook about 3 minutes or until onions are soft. Stir in kale and cook another 5-7 minutes or until kale is bright green and wilted. Turn off heat. Stir in salt, pine nuts and lemon juice.
  3. Add the couscous into the kale mixture and stir gently to combine. Add freshly ground pepper to taste.

iHerb sells thousands of natural food items, everything from stevia to gluten free flours to much more!  Click here to take a look at our product offerings.  If  you’re new to iHerb, you can use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

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Avoiding Food Poisoning

Avoiding Food Poisoning

While food poisoning is usually not dangerous, its symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting, can be quite unpleasant. But by taking some simple steps, you can reduce the chances of getting food poisoning at home.

Hot Foods Hot, Cold Foods Cold

Temperature is key to preventing food poisoning. Make sure to cook meats to a safe internal temperature as recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration. When serving food, keep hot foods hot and cold foods refrigerated; room temperature is when most bacteria begins to grow. By storing food at correct temperature and leaving it out no longer than two hours, you and your guests should be safe from food poisoning.

Wash Hands and Utensils

To avoid transference of foodborne illness, wash your hands regularly with hot water and soap before and during food preparation. If you’re preparing raw meat, be sure to use separate cutting boards and knives, and wash them thoroughly before using them for any other foods. Also keep your work surfaces clean to avoid cross contamination of raw meat. Remember to wash raw fruits and vegetables completely before consuming them.

Look for Quality and Freshness

Purchase foods, especially meat, seafood, eggs and dairy, from reputable sources. Always check the expiration dates on foods before preparing them, and discard any items that have expired. If something seems off — with a strange color or smell, return it to the store or discard it; never prepare food, especially meat or seafood, which has a strong smell or is grayish in color.

In general, healthy food preparation techniques can help avoid most food-borne illnesses, providing that you keep these three rules in mind. But, if you have consumed something that made you sick, let others who might have eaten the same dish know about your symptoms. In addition, make sure that you don’t become dehydrated and seek medical care if you cannot keep down liquids for more than one day.

Looking for vitamins, herbal supplements and other alternatives to help you keep a healthy balance in your life? Check out the thousands of products we sell at iHerb.com. Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get you up to $10 off your first order.

References

Preventing Food Poisoning; National Library of Medicine; Accessed March 21, 2015

Robinson, Jennifer, MD; Food Poisoning Prevention; Web MD; Accessed March 21, 2015

Taub-Dix, Bonnie; Safe at the Plate: How to Avoid Food Poisoning; US News and World Report; Accessed March 21, 2015

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Filed under General Health, Nausea, Digestion and Stomach Issues

Do It Yourself Citrus Fresh Deodorant

Do It Yourself Citrus Fresh Deodorant

Many people are hesitant to use commercial deodorant because they often contain a variety of chemicals, including aluminum, propylene glycol and parabens. However, there are a few ways to get citrusy-fresh underarms without additives. Here are a few options.

Citrus Deodorant Spray

Just a spritz of this simple, two-ingredient mixture can keep you smelling fresh.

What you will need

  • spray bottle, sterilized
  • 30 drops citrus essential oil 
  • 3 oz. alcohol

Instructions

  1. Use an empty spray bottle and fill it with high-proof alcohol such as vodka, Everclear or even rubbing alcohol.
  2. Add 10 drops of citrus essential oil for every 1 ounce of alcohol; if you have a 3 oz. bottle, use 30 drops of essential oil.
  3. Shake well before spraying.
  4. The alcohol in this spray will kill the bacteria that cause unpleasant odors while the essential oils will condition skin and leave you smelling delicious.

Citrus Deodorant Stick

If you prefer a solid, stick-style deodorant similar to many kinds sold in stores, this is a great recipe for you to get citrus freshness without the additives.

What you will need

Instructions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together.
  2. While warm, pour into a jar that can be tightly covered or use an empty deodorant stick container.
  3. This mixture will absorb sweat and prevent body odor; and will also moisturize and soften delicate underarm skin at the same time.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Deodorants! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Editors; 5 Deodorant Alternatives; Mother Nature Network; Accessed April 17, 2015

Jabs, Matt; Simple and Effective Homemade Deodorant; DIY Natural; Accessed April 17, 2015

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Filed under Beauty and Personal Care, Do It Yourself

Five Handy Uses for Castile Soap

Five Handy Uses for Castile Soap

Castile soap is often praised for its cleaning benefits and ease of use. It’s a simple, earth-friendly soap made of olive oil that contains all the health benefits of this oil. Whether it’s cleaning your floors or making a gentle shampoo for a baby, castile soap has many versatile uses.

Household Cleaner

An all-purpose household cleaner is one of the best cleaners to have in the home. It prevents stains and eliminates the chance for germs to harbor in nooks and crannies. Castile soap is a popular solution for household cleaners when combined with essential oils. The high solid fats from olive oil in the soap allow easy absorption of essential oils such as tea tree for cleaning. It’s also gentle on the skin and cleaning with it won’t require the use of gloves.

There are many recipes for this use; here’s one we liked: 2 cups water; 1 tsp. liquid castile soap; 3 drops essential oil.

Laundry Detergent

Allergies are a real concern for many people in the home. A gentle laundry detergent is often the solution that reduces a baby’s rash or an allergic reaction in adults. Castile soap makes an excellent homemade laundry detergent. The sudsing action and deep cleansing agents in castile soap keeps clothes clean without the addition of additives. Combine 14 ounces of castile soap with 1 cup washing soda and 1 cup borax to make a homemade solution.

Floor Cleaner

A Castile floor cleaner is both inexpensive and eco-friendly. Carpets and non-hardwood floors can easily be cleaned as part of a multi-surface solution. Diluted castile soap in hot water can be mopped on vinyl or tile floor using a microfiber cloth. One quarter cup of soap per 5 cups of water is a good ratio for this mixture.

Clean Your Vegetables

Vegetables and fruit often contain trace amounts of pesticides and veggies grown in the garden may have bugs or dirt left over from the soil. For a do it yourself vegetable cleaner, simply mix 1 Tablespoon of castile liquid soap in 2 cups of water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle near the kitchen sink. Before using, shake the bottle. Spray on the surface of your produce, rinse and then dry.

Shampoo

Castile soap can be used as a solution for shampoo that can be used for pets and humans alike. Castile shampoo contains no additives, such as lauryl sulfate, which can be hard on the scalp. Excessive shampooing with these chemicals may lead to hair loss. Castile is a gentler option that may help those with itchy skin. A simple preparation for a dry scalp shampoo includes 6 oz. castile soap; 5 drops tea tree oil and 1/2 tsp. jajoba oil.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Castile Soap!  New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Lohrie, Jackie; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Hair Loss; Livestrong; accessed April 30, 2015

Colameo, Lindsay; Would You Use the Same Thing to Clean Your Teeth and Your Yoga Mat? Allure; accessed April 30, 2015

12 Great Ways to Use Castile Soap; Care2; accessed June 15, 2015

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Filed under Healthy Home and Garden

Pets Can Contribute to a Child’s Overall Health

Pets Can Contribute to a Child's Overall Health

Often, if parents think of getting a pet for their children, they groan at the increased responsibility it will add to their already busy lives. What they may not be aware of is the growing body of research into the many benefits for children when they are raised with pets. What’s come out of these studies is an increased awareness of physical, social and emotional benefits of growing up with pets for kids.

Scientists looking into the topic are discovering that living with pets can increase immune function in children leading to fewer allergies and risks of asthma. They’re finding that kids and dogs are natural playmates outdoors, getting more healthy exercise because dogs need to be walked, which can easily turn into running and chasing balls. Researchers found that kids raised with pets have less stress and anxiety, greater self-esteem and confidence and stronger social bonds — not only with their pets but within their families and among friends as well.

Kid’s emotional intelligence gets a good boost with animal friendships too. Children learn how to take care of a creature dependent on them. By filling the dog’s water or food dish, they’re learning to nurture, to actively care for something else. Through these simple actions, kids see their importance in the whole scheme of things. In fact, this is one way that boys can learn how to nurture, an important step to their future role as fathers.

Kids learn to read their pet’s nonverbal communications, which increases their emotional intelligence. Not surprisingly, these skills increase a child’s ability to get along with other kids as well.

They also grow stronger in cognitive skills. New research by veterinarians found that for third graders, reading fluency increased by 30 percent when kids read to therapy dogs. Their reading speeds also increased by up to 30 words per minute. The vets reported that kids simply felt comfortable reading to a dog because the dog wasn’t grading them or judging them, which made reading more fun.

It would seem, based on a growing body of research, that the benefits of kids growing up with pets are substantial.

Click here to check out iHerb’s selection of Children’s Health Products! New to iHerb? Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get up to $10 off your first order.

References

Strickland, Bill; Benefits of Pets; Parents; accessed May 14, 2015

Daniels, Denise; Ten Emotional Intelligence Lessons Taught by Pets; American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; accessed May 14, 2015
Foti, Silvia; The Positive Effects of Pet Ownership for Kids; Everyday Health; accessed May 14, 2015

Paddock, Catharine, Ph.D; Dogs Help Kids Improve Reading Fluency; Medical News Today; accessed May 15, 2015

Vartan, Starre; Kids Who Grow up with Dogs and Cats are More Emotionally Intelligent and Compassionate; Mother Nature Network; accessed May 14, 2015

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Filed under Children's and Teen Health