Category Archives: locally grown food
Spring is here, the flowers are in bloom, and it’s a beautiful sight, except for those who suffer from allergies. Allergens such as pollen can cause all sorts of symptoms for allergy sufferers, such as itchy eyes, congestion, and sneezing. Many people take prescribed or over-the-counter medicines that help allergy symptoms, but some of these medicines can cause side effects that are worse than the original problem. For a more natural solution to ease mild, spring-time allergy suffering, here is a list of 10 home remedies that may be helpful:
- It’s hard enough to avoid allergens outdoors, so try not to bring them into your home, too. Keeping windows and doors shut during allergy season can help keep pollen out of your house. Eliminate any cross breeze by shutting off fans that circulate air in and out of the house. Indoor air purifiers/HEPA filters are a great added step to keep your house as allergen-free as possible.
- While being outdoors it is difficult to avoid allergens, so one great step is to wear eye protection. Wearing sunglasses (with side shields) or goggles while outside will keep pollen and other allergens from landing in your eyes and causing swelling or itching.
- Taking a steaming-hot shower has two major benefits for allergy sufferers: First, the steam soothes sinuses and clears nasal passages. The second benefit is that the shower washes away pollen and allergens from the skin and hair, preventing the spread of contaminants into your home.
- Peppermint tea has essential oils that act as an anti-inflammatory, decongestant, and mild antibacterial. A nice warm mug of peppermint tea can help alleviate irritated nasal passages and a sore throat.
- For those who don’t want to take a shower every time they feel congested, a steam bowl is a simpler way to get similar results. Fill a large bowl with steaming water (add eucalyptus oil for added relief), place a towel over your head, and take deep breathes of the eucalyptus steam.
- Another way to clear your nasal passages is to use a saline nasal rinse. There are many different methods of delivering the solution into your nasal cavity, but the basic concept is to flush out the congestion and keep the passages dry.
- For those who can handle spicy foods, wasabi and horseradish are great for clearing your sinuses. Allyl isothiocyanate is the ingredient in these two foods that activates your sinus and tear ducts to promote mucus flow. Also foods like walnuts, flaxseed, and cold-water fish, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, are great for fighting inflammation when eaten regularly.
- There are a variety of herbs and supplements which have been studied for allergy relief, such as spirulina, goldenseal, and eyebright. The plant extract butterbur has had strong results with reducing airway inflammation, as well as bromelain, which is an enzyme found in pineapple. The stinging nettle is a plant with natural antihistamines, which can be extracted, consumed through tea, or absorbed a variety of other ways.
- Consuming locally produced honey on a regular basis is thought to build up your body’s immunity to local pollens. When bees transfer pollen from your region into honey and you eat it frequently, it can slowly inoculate you against regional pollens.
- Since you spend a third of your life in bed sleeping, it is important to protect yourself from allergens in your bedroom. Dust mites are microscopic pests that live in warm, humid environments and feed on discarded human skin cells, therefore your mattress and pillow are an ideal location for them to live and thrive in. The excrement and buildup of dead dust mites can be the cause of allergic sensitivity. To protect yourself from being exposed to dust mites and bed bugs, consider purchasing OMI’s certified-organic cotton Bed-Bug and Dust-Mite Pillow and Mattress Barrier Covers. The tight micron weave prevents these pests from invading your mattress and multiplying, giving you peace of mind and a healthier night’s sleep. Here is a link to view more information about our barrier covers:
Since Phil the groundhog saw his shadow this year on Groundhog Day, I am pulling out a favorite dish to celebrate this extra-long winter. Found on Pinch of Yum is a recipe with a twist on the traditional broccoli and chicken casserole, with extra protein from bacon and quinoa!
CREAMY CHICKEN QUINOA AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE
Author: Pinch of Yum
- 2 cups reduced sodium organic chicken broth
- 1 cup organic milk
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- ½ cup flour
- 2 cups water, divided
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- ¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 teaspoons seasoning (like Emeril’s Essence)
- ¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese (any kind will work)
- 3 cups fresh organic broccoli florets
1.Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously grease a 9×13 baking dish (seriously, be generous because it really really sticks to the sides). Bring the chicken broth and ½ cup milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other ½ cup milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms.
2.Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, quinoa, and bacon and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and lay the chicken breast strips over the top of the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the seasoning. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
3.Broccoli: While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute until it turns bright green and then run under cold water. Set aside.
4.Bake: Remove the casserole from the oven, check the mixture by stirring it around in the pan, and if needed, cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked, add the broccoli and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir it up easily in the pan. Top with the cheese and bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or just long enough to melt the cheese.
You will know the quinoa is done when it is soft and looks as if it has popped open, with the germ of the kernel visible as a little spiral. If you want the chicken to get that browned exterior, leave the foil off for part of the cooking time, but be aware that the quinoa does take a lot longer to cook without the foil.
For the full recipe and many other delicious recipes check out Pinch of Yums website here.
With the weather getting cooler and the food getting warmer, soup is the first thing I start to crave. Favorites like chicken soup and tomato soup are always great, but this fall I wanted to try something new. There are so many great ingredients that you can throw together to make a delicious-tasting (and healthy) soup! These great recipes are sure to broaden your soup horizon.
From Top Left to Right:
Summer weather is finally here, and with the days staying lighter longer it gives us more time for fun activities. Planning those activities can feel daunting at times, however here are some ideas that will help you create great summer memories while being eco-friendly.
- Take a Hike
Connect with nature by taking a walk in local park or nature trail. Take time to check out the trees, wildflowers and birds. Allow the kids to get exercise while enjoying the beauty of nature.
Biking is a great exercise, and can be really enjoyable, especially in the evening after dinner. Work off that meal you ate while peddling along with your family and friends.
Search for hidden treasures at street fairs, or find great locally grown produce to incorporate into your menus for the week.
- Plant a Garden
Work on making a small garden for some fresh homegrown treats. Gardens come in all sizes from window box gardens to large producing gardens. Find an area for your garden and plant some of your favorite produce.
- Host a Potluck Dinner
Invite friends over for an evening of fun. Potlucks allow guests to bring a dish, so this cuts back on energy used for cooking. Pick a theme for the dinner, such as Italian, finger foods, etc. The themes will keep your dinner options varied and allow for some creative cooking.
- Cool Off
Escape the summer heat by visiting a local lake or community pool.
Find a local organization such as a local food banks or animal shelter, and offer some help. These organizations are always in need of a few extra hands.
Just because you can’t get a whole week off this summer does not mean you can’t take a mini vacation. Plan a weekend trip to an area within driving distance and enjoy being away from home. You don’t have to stay at an expensive hotel, but you can camp in a campground by a lake or river. Just give yourself time to relax and “unplug.”
Whatever you decide to do this summer, remember to have fun, make some great memories, and as always, think about what you can do to keep your summer eco-friendly.
Staying cool in the summer months is hard to do sometimes, especially when trying to stay hydrated. Rather than reaching for those sugary drinks or just plain old water, here are a few recipes to spice up your drinking options in a healthy way!
Nectarine and Thyme Sun-Brewed Iced Tea
What you will need:
Large beverage dispenser or pitcher
Organic loose leaf tea or 6 black tea bags, more or less depending on how strong you like your tea
1 gallon water
4 organic nectarines, sliced
5 medium sprigs fresh organic thyme
Put the water, tea bags, and thyme in the beverage dispenser and place in direct sunlight for 3 hours. Add nectarines and ice for a cold, refreshing drink.
Fruit and Herbal-Infused Water
One of the best things about infused water is that you can take just about any form of fruit, and herbs from your garden or local farmers market and give your water a boost in flavor.
Feeling simple? Drop a few raspberries and a sprig of rosemary in a glass of iced water.
Feeling adventurous? Toss mint, strawberries, lemons, limes, cucumbers, and raspberries in a pitcher of iced water for your next outdoor BBQ.
My personal favorite is orange water! Just slice up an orange and place it in a mason jar full iced water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the flavors of the orange with your water, and ta-da! A delicious cold, not-so-boring beverage!
Another great way to add a bit of color and flavor to iced beverages is to take an ice-cube tray, fill it with water (I have even seen them filled with tea!!!), and add some organic blueberries, lemons, or mint sprigs!
What’s great about these recipes is that they are not just “two cups of this or that.” You can experiment with different fruits and flavors to get your own unique delicious drink!
When the springtime hits, I like to take on a challenge by doing a raw foods cleanse. With social gatherings and weddings surrounding me these days, I have shortened my usual 6 week cleanse to 3 weeks. I like to think of it as spring cleaning for my body. I thought it would be fun to share a delicious and easy raw food recipe.
If you aren’t into doing a full-on raw cleanse, this hearty, delicious green smoothie is a great way to supercharge your body with a bountiful amount of delicious nutrients. This wonderful recipe for one of my favorite green smoothies is from one of my favorite raw-food blogs: rawmazing.com
Good Morning Green Drink
2 cups organic spinach
1 1/2 cups organic grapes
2 organic carrots
1/2 organic cucumber
1/2″ piece of ginger
1 stalk organic celery
1/2 to 1 cups water
Combine all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix. Start with 1/2 cup water and add more to desired thickness. Blend until smooth.
I also like to add some raw protein powder and instead of water, add some coconut water for added flavor. The best part about these smoothies is that you can easily change the ingredients to best suit what you prefer!
When the sun is shining and the signs of spring are all around enjoy the day outside with Mother Nature. Pick your favorite local area such as a park, river or lake and enjoy the day with your friends and family. Here are some ideas of Earth-friendly activities that you can enjoy on Earth Day:
Pack a delicious lunch of locally grown food and keep it natural by using biodegradable or reusable tableware.
After your lunch spend an hour picking up trash around your favorite area to keep it clean and enjoyable for all.
Enjoy a leisurely walk or hike to explore the wildlife. Bring along a field guide so you can learn about the different plants, tree and animals in the area.
Discuss ways you can lessen your impact on Earth and make a list of resolutions that you would like to incorporate into your everyday routine, such as recycling, energy use, volunteering, cleaning up litter, shopping locally, buying organic, and more. For a list of possible green resolutions see our previous blog, “Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Green Year’s Resolutions.”
However you spend your Earth Day, be sure to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of Earth.