Friday, October 2, 2015

The 10 Best Homemade Kombucha Flavors

Earlier this year, my friend introduced me to homemade kombucha. I have to be honest, at first I told her, 'Not a chance, I'm a wheatgrass girl and kombucha is way to much like vinegar for me.' After she convinced me to try a sip, I was instantly hooked. Homemade tastes nothing like store bought ... duh! After about a week since I had my first sip, she gave me a SCOBY and my homemade kombucha life started! It's only been about 6 months, but I have since given daughters out to about 5 others so they can start making their own. The kombucha family is growing! My mom, who has chronic joint and back pains, is hooked (and has noticed a little improvement).

The 10 Best Homemade Kombucha Flavors

There are so many benefits of kombucha. It really is quite the health elixir!
  • Detoxification
  • Joint Care
  • Boosts Immune System
  • Aids Digestions and Stomach Issues
  • Increases Energy
There are so many ways to make kombucha. I do a continuous brew. My one gallon container makes about 5-6 16-oz bottles a week (in the summer it was 3-4 days because my house was so hot and and kombucha fermented faster). It takes about 15-20 minutes every time I make a batch. Even in the crazy busy months, it is so worth it!

The 10 Best Homemade Kombucha Flavors

During my short time as a kombucha brewer, I have tried so many combinations of fruits and herbs with the change of seasons it's been a great little flavor adventure. With fall now here, I have been completely obsessed with apple cider and chai flavored kombucha. I decided it was high time to share with everyone all the amazing flavors that I have grown to love. Please remember, when doing a continuous brew, you always want to add the flavors to your secondary fermentation so that you don't effect your SCOBY with any of them. If you have ANY questions, please ask. I'm not an expert (yet), but together we can find the answers!

The 10 Best Homemade Kombucha Flavors

The 10 Best Homemade Kombucha Flavors

Honey, Ginger, Lemon (raw honey for a healthier booch)

Lavender and Lemon

Apple, Turmeric, Ginger

Mango and Lime

Berry-Craze! Blackberry, blueberry and strawberry ... oh my!

Blueberry Basil (fresh basil please)

Strawberry, Mint, Lime (fresh mint please)

Chai Spice Blend (dried cinnamon, ginger, coves, nutmeg and cardamon)

Apple Cider (apples and a cinnamon stick)

Purple Grape (tastes like wine!)

I'm not going to give you exact amounts, because it all depends on your flavoring strength preferences. For instance, I'm a ginger fanatic, however, to many, mine is too spicy for them. Play around with them to see what you like best. It also depends on how you secondary. Some people secondary the whole batch together. Some people use 12 oz bottles and others 16 oz. A few things to remember ...
  • If you're using frozen fruit, you generally don't need as much as fresh for the flavor to really permeate your booch. 
  • Dried vs. fresh spices ... Use 1/2 the amount of dried. i.e. 1 tsp of grated ginger = 1/2 tsp of dried ginger 
  • The flavor grows with everyday that it is in secondary fermentation. 
There are tons of places to get your own SCOBY and start brewing. If you buy store bought kombucha, start saving money and start brewing. You won't regret it! Remember, the best things in life are homemade. My friend got hers from Kombucha Kamp. Their directions were super easy to follow and both of our SCOBYs are stronger than ever!

The 10 Best Homemade Kombucha Flavors

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tea Tree Oil and Why You Can't Live Without It

Essential oils, while becoming a little more mainstream are still far from being a typical household remedy and use. Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, is one oil that most people have come in contact with before in some fashion and it is the most studied and researched essential oils with findings and conclusions being published for anyone who is interested to read about.

Tea tree oil is produced from Melaleuca alternifolia, a shrub like tree which is found along streams and in swampy areas in its native land of Australia. Native aboriginals have been using tea tree oil for years. Back in the 1920's, chemist Arthur Penfold found that tea tree oil was an extremely promising plant due to its antiseptic properties and brought his findings to America. Along with the rich history of tea tree oil comes with its rich uses. Tea tree oil is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, kills fungal infections, disinfects wounds and sanitizes and helps fight colds and soothe sore throats. Yes ... all of that (and more) out of one amazing essential oil!

I have been using tea tree oil for a couple years now, but only recently has it been a staple all around my home. I use it in the kitchen, the bathroom, the floors, the garden and most recently directly on the family! I don't know what I would do without this amazing oil in my home.

Make sure you are using 100% certified therapeutic grade essential oils. Oil Fragrances are already mixed with carrier oils and some have fillers and artificial ingredients. I also have used a tea tree oil that was not a fragrance oil but not certified as therapeutic and I did not have the same results. My favorites are from Eden's Garden and Mountain Rose Herbs. Just like anything else, avoid excessive use of any essential or carrier oil.

Tea Tree Oil and its Many Amazing Uses

Mosquito & Bug Repellant

Keeping the bugs away makes my kids happy which makes me happier and in Wisconsin, we have lots of bugs! Here is a recipe that has worked for us and our garden.

Bug Bite Relief

If nothing else, remember this one ... it has changed my children's lives! We live in southern Wisconsin and have a wooded lawn ... mosquito haven! When the kids get a bite, I put tea tree oil directly onto their bite and it not only stops the itching within minutes, but in more cases I never even see the bite! I swear they disappear! This is why tea tree oil is miracle juice in my book!

Lice Prevention

Add to your children's shampoo. About 5% to be effective. Some studies have shown tea tree to kill lice once having them ... something to look into!

Clear Acne

Zap those zits! Mix a pinch of clay powder, such as Redmond Clay, with 1-2 drops of tea tree. Apply the paste to your pimple and let dry (up to overnight), then rinse. Don't overuse though, tea tree can dry out your skin after a lot of use.

Remove Makeup:

No more harsh chemicals around your precious eyes, just mix 1/4 c coconut oil, 10 drops tea tree oil.

Soothe Sores

Tea tree can cleanse and fight infections. Mix with a little coconut oil and apply directly to cleaned cut or sore. Put a bandaid on if needed.

Diaper Rash

Mist diluted tea tree, lavender and chamomile onto those sore bottoms for some easy relief.

Toenail Fungus:

Apply directly. Have I said anti-fungal yet? Yup, clean out those toes and pull out the flip-flops again!

Hand Sanitizer

I am all for clean hands, but the use of mainstream hand sanitizer a million times a day drives me crazy. Not only does it strip away all the good bacteria, but it dries your hand out way too much. Tea tree is naturally antibacterial and witch hazel is softer on your skin than alcohol. Mix 4 oz, aloe vera gel, 2 t witch hazel, 15 drops tea tree, 4 drops of lavender and 4 drops of orange or lemon. Put in a container and it will keep for a month.

Disinfectant Spray

In a spray bottle, mix 10-15 drops of tea tree oil with water (mix tea tree with lemon if you'd like). Spray on doors knobs, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, toys and anywhere else you find germs sitting. Allow to dry.

Bad Breath Be Gone!

There are a lot of tea tree toothpastes on the market or you can make your own. I like adding a tea tree mouthwash to my routine. Gargle 1/2 c water with 1 drop of tea tree (add a drop of peppermint if you like that pepperminty flavor). Swish it around to really get into those small nooks and crannies of your mouth!

Foot Odor Be Gone!

Pour hot water into a basin. Add 15 drops of tea tree oil, 5 drops of rosemary oil and 3 T oil (I like coconut or apricot kernel). Soak for 15-20 minutes daily.

Deodorize Stinky Diaper Pails and Garbage Cans

Mix 1/4 c baking soda with 1/4 t tea tree oil. Mix it around to get out all the lumps and sprinkle a little bit on the bottom of your garbage can to reduce odors and prevent bacteria from growing.

Natural Cleaners

I add tea tree oil to almost every cleaner I make. It smells great and it's antibacterial properties are unmatched in the essential oil world! Here's a few recipes. If you're not big into making your own cleaners (yet), try Branch Basics. I've had wonderful results with their products.

Natural remedies do not work for everyone so consult your physician for any concerns. I am far from a doctor, but essential oils have worked for me and I hope they work for you!


Everyday Roots Book
Good ol Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Garlicky Kale and Avocado Dip

This past Sunday I didn't really feel like making a meal. I just wanted to snack. The problem was, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It was sunny, 75ยบ and a slight breeze ... gorgeous! I had two avocados, but we already had guacamole twice in the past 4 days. Usually never a problem for Paul and I, but I wanted something different.

I had some great garlic bulbs from our CSA so I decided to make Avocado Garlic Cream Sauce, but just make it more of a dip and less of a sauce. I checked on the family, as they were in the back yard enjoying their shenanigans in the hammock and I saw the kale. Perfect! That will make it more of a dip. Since I didn't want to have the oven going for awhile roasting a garlic bulb, I simply cooked it with the kale.

The outcome was amazing. A little too amazing. I ate almost the whole thing, sharing a touch with Paul, and didn't want to eat anything else I made that day because I was too full! Oh well, my taste buds were happy.

Garlicky Kale and Avocado Dip

Garlicky Kale and Avocado Dip

Makes 1 1/2 cup

1 T olive oil
2 avocados
5 stalks of kale
2-3 garlic cloves, depending on your garlic likeness, minced
1/2 t lemon juice
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Remove stems and chop kale into smaller pieces. Heat up olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and cook for a minute until it starts to brown. Add in kale and cook until it is nicely wilted.

Add all ingredients into your food processor and puree until smooth. Serve immediately or cover tightly and put in the refrigerator until ready.

Garlicky Kale and Avocado Dip

Garlicky Kale and Avocado Dip