DIY Green and Organic Cleaners

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With a range of cleaning products out there, finding a good product within the budget could prove a challenge. Besides, most conventional cleaning products are riddled with carcinogens, neurotoxins, and many other harmful chemicals that can cause a myriad of health problems including allergies, respiratory conditions, migraines, and even cancer.

Good news, though. With a little resourcefulness, you can make your own cleaning products from things you might readily have in your home. And the common ingredient for these DIY cleaning products is, none other than: baking soda.

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Air Freshener. Fill a spray bottle with warm water. Add a teaspoon of baking soda, several drops of essential oil of your choice, and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Then spray away. This DIY room deodorizer will help neutralize strong odors and is safe for you, your family and your pets.

Wall Eraser. Put a half cup of warm water into a spray bottle. Add a half teaspoon of borax, a teaspoon on baking soda, and a few drops of grapefruit essential oil. Spray on the vandalized wall and rub gently to scrub off the crayons, pen and marker inks from the walls

Dishwasher Soap – Mix a cup of baking soda with a half cup of citric acid, a cup of borax, and a half cup of kosher salt. You can use One tablespoon of this mixture to clean a load of dishes.

Laundry Detergent – Fill a bucket with six cups of water. Grate one third of one bar of natural soap and bring the water and soap mixture to a boil. Add a small portion of baking soda and borax into the mix. Pour four cups of hot water into the bucket and mix again. Then, add one more gallon of water, stir for a minute or two then allow it to sit for 24 hours. For every load of laundry, you’ll only need a half cup of this mixture!

Toilet Bowl Cleaner – Sprinkle the inside of the bowl with baking soda, add 10 drops of tea tree oil for some antibacterial punch, and pour on some white vinegar. The mixture will fizz. Then, carefully scrub the toilet with a brush, and then flush!

Of course, these days, green, organic cleaning products can be found in organic shops and select groceries. You can try and find these organic options for cleaning your home while protecting your family from the health dangers of harmful chemicals found in conventional cleaning products.

Super Grains 101: Need to Know Bits – Part 2

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Millet is another popular cereal crop, widely cultivated in Asia and Africa for fodder and animal food. There are several varieties of millet, which have been in fact in grown in East Asia for 10,000 years. It can grow in infertile soil and is quite resistant from drought. Raw, it is 73% carbohydrates, 4% fat and 11% protein. But raw millet is not edible

To cook, a 1:2 of raw millet and water or broth ratio needs to be simmered at low heat for about 15 minutes until the grains absorb most of the water. Cooked, a cup contains 14% carbohydrates, 9% dietary fiber, 3% fat, 12% protein, 10% calories and is a good source of protein, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, niacin, folic acid, and vitamin B6- nutrients that are known to help in reducing muscle and nerve pain. One study from Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada also reports that millet has high antioxidant activity and is currently under study for its possible benefits in controlling diabetes and inflammation.

 

Wild Rice, also called water oats is actually different from the rice popular in Asian countries. This plant grows only in slow-flowing streams and in the shallow water small banks in some parts of North America and China. When cooked, wild rice grains have a nutty flavor and a distinctly chewy texture. One cup of raw wild rice contains 47% protein, 29% calories, 40% carbohydrates, 3% fat, and 40% dietary fiber. It is also a good source of a range of essential nutrients including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, potassium, niacin, folate, riboflavin, and lysine among many others. Wild rice does not have gluten or sodium and is very rich in antioxidants. Wild rice can also help boost the immune system, improve heart heath, digestive processes, and bone strength.

To cook, wild rice needs to be rinsed and strained. And because the grains absorb water slowly, it takes long to cook. For every cup of wild rice, add 4 cups of water or stock with half a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. When the water has boiled, lower the heat to cook the grains at a simmer for about 45-50 minutes until most of the grains have burst open, then drain any remaining liquid.

 

Teff is a super tiny grain with a long list of health benefits. It is native to Ethiopia and Eritrea, domesticated between 8000 and 5000 BC. A cup of teff grains contains 51% protein, 62% dietary fiber, 47% carbohydrate, 7% fat, and 35% calories. And because it is gluten free, it does not pose any danger to people with celiac disease, wheat allergy or non-gluten sensitivity. In fact, teff a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and amino acids especially to those wanting to lose weight.

Unlike most grains teff has a significant amount of calcium and vitamin C and therefore promotes bone strength among many other health benefits. For women, teff can also prove beneficial as it has been known to reduce the severity of menstrual discomforts.

 

Sorghum is another healthful cereal grain packed with high levels of protein, unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In fact, it has more antioxidants the pomegranates. The nutrient value of sorghum is similar to that of raw oats. Like the other super grains, there are many varieties of sorghum which uses could vary. Some varieties are grown for human consumption while others are grown for the production on alcoholic drinks, animal fodder, and biofuels. And as some other varieties are gluten free, these make good alternatives to wheat.

 

Triticale is actually a hybrid of rye and wheat, first bread in Scotland and Sweden in the late 19th century. It is a high-protein cereal and is a rich source of minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and iron. It also rich in folate, thiamin and vitamin E. And although it is primarily cultivated for animal consumption, it has become a popular health food and is often present in breakfast cereals. It is known to aid in controlling diabetes, boosting healing, enhancing energy levels and boosting metabolic rate, and ensuring a healthy pregnancy. However, like its parent grains, Triticale contain gluten which is not suitable for people with gluten-related disorders such as celiac disease.

Super Grains 101: Need to Know Bits – Part 1

There’s a wide variety of grains that not many people even realize is out there. One may not even realize that a staple grain in his country may not be as popular in some parts of the world. Some grains can grow abundantly in varied climes while others are native to some regions. But all the same, these grains are edible and fuels a great portion of a person’s energy and nutritional needs. What makes these grains super is that these grains have high fiber content and are rich in vitamins and minerals. In this two-part feature, will give you a roundup of 10 of the most popular and nutritious grains out here.

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Rice is the most widely consumed food crop in the world, especially in Asia. This crop may have originated and first domesticated in China some thousands of years ago and spread from East Asia to the Southeast and South Asia, then was introduced to Europe via Western Asia, eventually reaching the Americas. Today, there are many varieties of rice and are typically classified as long-, medium-, and short-grained.

To cook, rice is typically rinsed to wash of excess starch and may be soaked to decrease cooking time and improve texture. It is either boiled or steamed and absorbs water during cooking and depending on the variety, the ratio of rice to water vary. Culinary preferences and method for cooking rice also differ from region to region. The nutrition value of rice also varies depending on the strain, which ranges from white, brown, red to black, with the latter pigments offering more nutritional benefits. Red and black varieties have been found to reduce plaque buildup inside the arteries, lowering the risks of atherosclerosis.

 

Oat, otherwise known as common oat is another popular cereal for human consumption and livestock feed. Best grown in temperate regions, this crop may have been initially endemic to the Fertile Crescent of the near East and may have been domesticated beyond the region during the Bronze Age Europe.

Oats are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids. These grains are best known for their cholesterol lowering effects due to their high fiber content. A cup of oats contains 66% dietary fiber, 34% carbohydrate, 17% fat, 53% protein and 30% calories. A study conducted at Tufts university suggests that antioxidant compounds unique to oats, known as avenanthramides, help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

Wheat is another popular cereal grain cultivated worldwide. It is believed to have originated from the Levant region of the Near East. Like rice, there are many variants of wheat, which nutrition value also vary. Common wheat or bread wheat is the most common variant. It is primarily used for baking bread products and making pasta though it is also used in the manufacture of whiskey and beer Barley bran and other plant parts are also used as livestock feed.

There have been a lot of controversies surrounding this popular grain due to its gluten content. Gluten is a mixture of proteins responsible for making dough rise and stay elastic. Gluten has a high protein content but is very low in fat, therefore, it is also added to other foods to increase protein content. However, some people are allergic to gluten or high sensitivity to gluten which could prove dangerous.  Yet for those who can tolerate it, whole-grain wheat can be a rich source of manganese, phosphorus, iron, niacin, thiamin and many other vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibers. Every cup of whole-grain wheat contains 33% protein, 3% fat, 20% calories, 29% carbohydrate and 59% dietary fiber.

 

Barley is another major cereal grain grown worldwide due to its adaptability. In temperate climates, it is cultivated as a summer crop and as a winter crop in tropical areas. It is among the first domesticated crops in Eurasia as early as 13,000 years ago. Like wheat, it is used to make bread, beer and some hard alcoholic beverages. It is also used in soups and stews and as animal fodder.

Of all the whole grains, barley has the most fiber. Hulled barley has 127% dietary fiber while raw pearled barley contains 125%. Dietary fiber helps improve blood sugar regulation and lower total and LDL cholesterol, which can lower the risks for cardiovascular diseases. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proposes that barley’s fiber has numerous beneficial effects on cholesterol. Barley also provides insoluble fibers that feed the friendly bacteria in the gut and improve digestion and immunity. It’s also a good source of minerals like selenium, manganese, phosphorus, and copper as well as vitamins such as Thiamin, Niacin, and Folate. To cook, hulled barley needs to be soaked for several hours, pearled barley need not soaked, but is not as nutritious as the former. One cup of barley needs to be cooked for 45 minutes in 3 parts water or stock.

 

Rye is closely related to wheat and barley. It grows wild in central and eastern Turkey and neighboring regions and is cultivated primarily in Eastern, Central, Northern Europe, North and South America, Oceania, and Northern China. And like its cousins, it is also used to make flour, beer, distilled liquor and livestock feed.

Rye contains 28% calories, 39% carbohydrate, 99% dietary fiber, 7% fat, and 50% protein. It is also rich in minerals including manganese, phosphorus, zinc and other essential minerals as well as vitamins such as zinc, thiamin, folate and many others. A study published in Nutrition Journal 2014 edition confirmed that whole-grain rye bread can help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels compared to white-wheat bread.  And if you are looking to lose weight, eating rye can help you feel fuller, thus you are likely to eat less when you make rye bread a part of your diet. Only, that is if you are not have gluten-related disorders such as wheat allergy, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity among others.

How to Shift from an Unhealthy to a Healthy Lifestyle

We know what’s good for us and what’s not, most of the time. Yet, self-control is often quite elusive as we can always make excuses. So how can one keep focus in his decision to live a holistic lifestyle and maintain a healthy diet as there are too many distractions? Sheer determination and lots of work.

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Make No Excuses. When there’s a will there’s a way, as the saying goes. If you have all intentions to live a healthy lifestyle, make no excuses.

Choose Wisely. Options are limitless and you just have to choose which product, diet, exercise and routine best suites your needs in order for you to ultimately achieve you goal.

Build Foundations. You can decide on what to include and exclude in your diet and create meal plans. You can even make your own organic garden or create your own organic sauces, condiments and preserves, if time and space permits. You can also make exercise a part of your routine. Walking, jogging, swimming, or even cleaning are exercises!

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Reap the Rewards. The difficulties, if any, will be heavily felt at first but as things fall into a routine, the journey will get smoother. There may be bumps along the way, but it’ll be worth it. Lastly, make sure to get a good night’s sleep to give your body time to recuperate.