Category Archives: Health & Wellness

peppermint post

Top Uses and Benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil

By | Essential Oils, Health & Wellness | No Comments

The following is a guest post from Heather Koenig of Essential Oils Living! She shares her top uses and benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil.

Peppermint is one of the more commonly known essential oils. For those of us who love it, we can’t get enough of it — especially in and around the holidays. The smell of peppermint can lead us to memories of holiday baking, pulling that candy cane off the tree, or quite simply, enjoying the cheer of the holiday season.

When we smell peppermint, we know the holidays are just around the corner. Peppermint essential oils, however, can play a role in our homes all throughout the year. It’s an all-natural product that is hardly restricted to simply a holiday treat or after-dinner breath freshener.

Peppermint essential oils can be added to cleaning supplies, they can be effective bug repellents, and they can even give you that much-needed afternoon pick-me-up. So without further ado, here are a number of ideas for how you can use peppermint at home all throughout the year.


Some Household Uses

We hate the feeling of seeing those creepy crawlies in our homes (spiders, flies, and other undesirable creatures). Well, with peppermint oils, you can show them they aren’t welcome in your home. These oils are a safe naturally-derived alternative to commercial bug and spider repellents, and are often just as effective.

How does it work? Simply put 1-3 drops of the oil on a cotton ball and hide it around the house where these unwelcome guests may lurk. Then, quite simply, you wait.

Looking for a green alternative cleaning option with multiple uses around your house? Use this recipe as a powerful and great-smelling multi-purpose cleaner:

  • ½ cup distilled vinegar

  • ½ cup water

  • 12-24 drops of peppermint oil

Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Well, here’s a natural alternative you can use to keep your body and mind energized all throughout the day. Try diffusing just a few drops (2-5) of peppermint oil in your ionic diffuser and enjoy the change in atmosphere. It just might give you that energy boost you need to get through even your most stressful and exhaustive days.


Some Health Uses

Kick the ticks with peppermint. If you find a tick on your body, apply some peppermint oil to a cotton ball and then “share it” with the tick. Not only will it stop burrowing, but you’ll be able to release him from your skin.

Furthermore, consider these tips for a healthy, more stress-free lifestyle:

  • Find some relief for joint pain by using peppermint oil to soothe and restore.

  • Curb your appetite. The aromatic effects of peppermint can make you feel fuller more quickly.

  • Calm painful tension headaches with just a few drops of peppermint oil applied topically.

After a long day’s work, a tough workout, or just a long shopping session, find restoration in the power of using a few drops of peppermint oil in your bath. Pair it with epsom salts and it is sure to give you the pick-me-up you need!


Food and Beverage Uses

Just because it’s an “oil” doesn’t mean you can’t consume it. You can enhance a variety of your beverages with peppermint oil. That’s right, you can add a kick to your teas, coffees, hot cocoas, and even cocktails!

Both milk and dark chocolate can be refreshed with a few drops of peppermint oil. Surely you’ve tried a mint chocolate! Get creative in the kitchen this holiday season and see what recipes you can improve with a little touch of peppermint!

Peppermint icing…mmm. Add a couple of drops to a homemade frosting recipe. That, in itself, should be enough to heighten your senses!

Please visit Heather’s site to learn more!

You can also purchase Essential Oils via my site and have them shipped right to your home!

A teacher and natural health guru, Heather Koenig has a passion for all things natural. In addition to living a natural lifestyle herself, Heather loves sharing her expertise with others on her website Essential Oils Living (

A teacher and natural health guru, Heather Koenig has a passion
for all things natural. In addition to living a natural lifestyle herself,
Heather loves sharing her expertise with others on her website
Essential Oils Living (

Tips for aHealthy Winter!

Tips for a Healthy Winter

By | Health & Wellness | No Comments

My Facebook news feed is FULL of posts revealing sickness, flu, colds, bronchitis, etc. It seems like everyone is sick. Because of that I feel compelled to share what we do to support our immune systems at our house.

Now, this doesn’t mean we never get sick, but honestly it is rare and when we do it is much more mild and shorter-lived than in the past. I don’t have a magic bullett or one-product tip. Rather, I think it’s several things working together. This is what has worked for us:

Here’s what we do at our house:

1. Elderberry syrup.

This stuff is our “magic juice”. We take a little every day in a fun little shot glass with a squirt of fermented cod liver oil. Yum. (it’s actually not that bad). We typically only take this during the late fall, winter and early spring. You can purchase this pre-made in healthfood stores, but it’s MUCH more economical to make your own. I keep it in a mason jar in the fridge. Elderberry Syrup Recipe.

*When sick and feeling like we are coming down with something, we take it several times throughout the day – sometimes even every couple of hours.

2. Juice Plus.

Adults do the capsules, kids do the gummies. It bridges that gap between the whole food fruits/veggies we SHOULD be eating and what we actually are. It’s dehydrated whole fruits/veggies which are pesticide/chemical-free and non-GMO. I’ve noticed more energy and faster-growing hair/nails since taking this. We all know the antioxidants and vitamins from whole fruits and veggies are SO important to our immune and overall health. (We double or triple our Juice Plus when sick – and since it’s just fruits and veggies, we can’t overdose!)  Learn more here.

One of my favorite Doctors, Dr. William Sears, talks about Keeping Kids Healthy (kids age 4 and over eat Juice Plus FREE with a sponsoring adult):


3. Fermented Cod Liver Oil

We mostly just use this during the winter when we aren’t outside getting natural Vitamin D from the sun. The great thing is that fermented cod liver oil is a food source of Vitamin D and Vitamin A. Here’s how I get my kids to take it.

4. Avoiding sugar and processed food.

Sugar and junk food (including processed foods) makes it harder for our bodies to do what they are supposed to do. Those extra chemicals, food dyes, processed foods and sugars also suppress our immune system. We aim to eat whole, Real Food whenever possible. We also avoid GMO foods, fake oils, artificial colorings and flavorings, and choose organic whenever it’s available as an option.

Have you ever noticed how many people get sick between Halloween and Christmas? I have a hunch (that’s probably well-supported) that sugar may be a major culprit for this. So much sugar-ladened foods and candy are consumed during this time, and it can only be weakening our immune systems.

Pre-Party Post

5. Reducing Stress.

Often this gets overlooked, but stress can cause a lot of issues and imbalances in our bodies. One way we reduce stress at our house is to exercise. You know that “high” you get after a good workout? It makes you feel great! Plus, when you are taking care of yourself in this way you feel better about your appearance. It’s not about being super thin, but rather caring for yourself in a more holistic way.

Another tip to reduce stress and provide self-care for yourself would be to choose at least one enjoyable activity daily. Maybe it’s a quite walk in the woods, a cup of tea and a good book or a bubble bath. Whatever it is, don’t forget to take care of this part of yourself, too. This is one of the things I want to focus on in the upcoming year.

6. Essential Oils.

I’m just discovering this option. I know, I’m a little behind the times. But I think there are some great options in the world of essential oils for prevention, treatment and aromatherapy to stay healthy and empower your immune system to fight things off effectively.

I’d love to hear your tips for boosting immune health especially over the winter months.


How do you stay healthy over the winter months?



Disclaimer: This is not medical advice nor should you take it as such. I am simply sharing what has worked well for our family!


Emile Noel Walnut Oil: Non-GMO Month Review and Giveaway!

By | Health & Wellness, Special Deals & Giveaways | 6 Comments


I’ll be honest with you all. I had NEVER tried Walnut Oil before now.

Have you?

So, when I was able to do a walnut oil review for Emile Noël Artisan Oils I did what I do when I’m not familiar with something – I googled it.

I found all sorts of recipes and other suggestions as simple as drizzling over pasta along with salt, pepper and fresh parmesan.

And so I tried it that way – drizzled over Costco tortellini (don’t judge) with some salt, pepper and parmesan. Ooooh, yummy.

And then I tried it in a homemade salad dressing instead of olive oil. Wow! I loved the creamy, nutty flavor it added.

Prior to trying walnut oil for the first time, I had never heard of Emile Noël artisan oils. But, I’m a new fan. It’s a family-run oil mill founded in 1920 in the south of France.


Here is why I am a new fan of Emile Noël artisan oils:

♦ they were the first oil millers in France to press organically-farmed seeds

♦ they have ONLY ever produced and marketed organic and non-GMO products – and organic foods have higher levels of Vitamin C and E, essential fatty acids, magnesium and more! *They have also gone on to become Non-GMO Project verified. Learn more about that here.

♦ they operate an organic-sesame supply chain in the north-east of Africa (fair trade)

♦ their oils are first cold-pressed virgin oils – this retains the value of their fatty acids and their vitamins



A Variety of Oils

Emile Noël offers over 20 organic virgin vegetable oils, including blended ones:

Fair trade sesame oil

Fair trade toasted sesame oil

Sunflower oil

Hi olieic refined sunflower oil spray

Pumpkin seed oil

Fair trade hazelnut oil

Walnut oil

Macadamia nut oil

Sweet almond oil

Olive Oils – 2 types


To help celebrate non-GMO month, they are offering one lucky reader a FREE bottle of one of their oils.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Heidi's Story

Real Food Testimonies: Heidi’s story

By | Health & Wellness, Real Food Testimonies | No Comments

Today I am welcoming Heidi from The Blessed Nest as she shares her “Real Food Testimony”…

Growing up, I ate mostly down home good Midwestern foods. Meat and and potatoes, lasagnas, and casseroles, etc., but we always had a fruit or veggie with every meal. They were all cooked from scratch with love. We weren’t allowed too much sugar or pop and had more non-processed foods than not…so my eating habits were pretty good but not perfect.


When I got to college, I tried to apply what I thought were healthy eating choices when perusing the cafeteria. That ended up meaning lots of salads loaded with creamy dressings followed by frozen yogurt with multiple cereal toppings. (Who wouldn’t have frozen yogurt every night if you had a machine in your house?) Well, I gained more than the Freshman 15, but never worried about it.


The summers of my Freshman and Sophomore years of college, I worked at a camp where I continued to play hard outside but also load up on the dorm-like food, often including 2 or 3 pieces of fresh baked bread after each meal. My weight topped out at about 30 pounds higher than it is now.

My junior year of college, I started running serious distances and trained for a marathon. I lost some weight, but the hunger that running fuels, plus knowing I was burning so many calories, led me to keep eating more than I needed and whatever was convenient to eat quickly.



After college, I moved to Colorado (a state which boasts one of the leanest and healthiest populations in the country), and joined a gym. I started reading more about nutrition and added weights to my exercise routine. I cut down on the massive amounts of carbs I had been consuming and started to find more creative and healthy ways of eating. I had more energy than I had in a long time and eventually lost more weight, which brought me down to my set adult weight, a full 30 lbs less than the most I weighed in college.

I fell in love, got married and luckily my new husband had some better food habits than me. He incorporated a lot of lean meats, veggies (which I had mostly hated growing up) and less processed foods. Over time, we decided that low-fat wasn’t as important as eating real food, stopped buying anything with aspartame or food dyes and looked for products with less ingredients and ones we could read. We shopped more locally (at farmer’s markets) and started to incorporate the concept of viewing food as fuel for health instead of just as something to eat because we “like it” or not eating so “we don’t gain weight.”

We’re still on our journey, but I think we’ll always be fairly moderate when it comes to our choices. I’m not opposed to some processed foods here and there but I want to train my kids to see food as fuel as well as continue to change more and more over to that mindset for myself. Exercise continues to be very important to me, but I know that health is a combination of the food you eat and the work-outs you do, not just one or the other (let alone all the other factors like toxin exposure, stress reduction, etc).

I think it’s important to do an occasional detox/fast/whole foods cleanse when I’m seeing my eating patterns getting worse. I’m about to deliver our fourth baby, but a few weeks after delivery I’m planning a 3 week whole foods cleanse (similar to Whole30 but with a few more allowances).

Food is something that is tied to many important things in life and I always want to enjoy it, but do so responsibly, knowing my body will exhibit the choices I make. My son recently said, “I don’t think I’ll like heaven if there’s not food there.”

I feel you, buddy…but the good news is there probably is, and all our options will be good ones.


Heidi is an Adult Nurse Practitioner that works part time improving outcomes for hospitalized adult patients. There’s nothing she loves more than Jesus, her husband, and four kids (5, 4, 2, and newborn). Her hobbies are staying fit, being creative, and blogging at The Blessed Nest with a chai tea latte in hand.





Heirloom tomatoes

What’s So Special About Heirloom Tomatoes?

By | Gardening & Sustainable Living, Health & Wellness | No Comments

Have you planted any Heirloom Tomatoes in your garden this year? A few years ago when I worked for Earthkeeper Farm, I was introduced to their BEAUTY and their FLAVOR! If you have never tried them, you are missing out…

If your experience with tomatoes is limited to the pale, mealy and mostly tasteless varieties found on the shelves of the grocery store, it’s time to experience organic heirloom tomatoes. Also known as heritage tomatoes, these diverse fruits come in a range of colors, sizes, shapes and flavors that make “regular” tomatoes (literally) pale in comparison.

What are Organic Heirloom Tomatoes?

Let’s start with what they are not. Unlike most modern commercially sold varieties, heirloom tomatoes are NOT hybridized in a lab, genetically modified or sterile. Instead, heirloom tomatoes:

  • Come from seeds that have been passed down through generations
  • Grow from strains that have been grown for at least 50 years
  • Are openly, naturally pollinated
  • Are stable
  • Are able to reproduce themselves
  • Have a known history that includes either their region of origin, knowledge of who has grown the tomatoes in the past, or qualities that make them stand out

Most strains come from seeds that accompanied immigrants to North America during the great waves of European immigration during the early decades of the 20th century, though some come from Central or South America. Either way, most seeds have been passed down through families — and between home gardeners — for generations; some date back to 300 years.

Heirloom plants are able to retain their specific characteristics through time as they are self-pollinating; after just a few generations growing in a limited locale, they become genetically similar. Even when tomatoes naturally outcross with other plants, the seeds produce similar plants to the parents, limiting natural hybridization. Heirlooms are the result of early cultivars that grew in the same area for generations and didn’t outcross often.

As a result, the heirloom tomato seeds of today come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, colors and flavors and are incredibly stable when planted in the home garden. To illustrate the incredible diversity of heirlooms, a few varieties include:

  • Brandywine, a large, fluted, pink-red tomato that’s been dated to 1885
  • Abraham Lincoln, a mid-sized, red variety that dates to 1920
  • Ruby Gold, a sweet-tasting pink, orange and yellow tomato from 1921
  • Chocolate Stripes, a large, dark, red-brown tomato with green stripes and a sweet flavor
  • Cherokee Lime, a tangy-sweet tomato with a bright green exterior and a rosy interior
  • Climbing Triple L, a meaty, large tomato with a mild flavor; plants grow up to 18 feet high
  • Northern Lights, a small tomato from Mexico with yellow-orange skin and flesh that’s prized by chefs
  • Pusza Kolosz, a huge, 2-pound red-orange tomato from Romania with sweet, almost seedless flesh

The sheer variety of heirloom tomatoes, along with their amazing flavor, makes it easy to understand their growing popularity. But these diverse plants also provide a number of benefits, to human health, to the environment — and to your palette.

Health Benefits of Organic Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes provide a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, especially when compared to commercially grown tomatoes, which are bred for size, color and hardiness, rather than flavor or nutritional content. Studies indicate that these low-calorie fruits deliver phytochemicals that offer cardio- and chemo-protective effects. In addition, choosing organic, non-GMO heirloom tomatoes means that you’re not exposing yourself to harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and other potential toxins.

Vitamins and Minerals

Heirloom tomatoes contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals. A single, medium-sized heirloom provides 40% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, an anti-oxidant that boosts the immune system, aids in adrenal gland function and helps lower stress levels. Heirlooms contain B vitamins, including folate, niacin, riboflavin and thiamine, which are necessary for red blood cell production and help the body convert fuel into energy. Tomatoes also contain vitamin A, an antioxidant, and vitamin K, which helps regulate blood clotting and promote bone density, protecting against osteoporosis.

Heirlooms also contain essential minerals, such as potassium, which helps reduce blood pressure and promotes heart health. One 100-gram heirloom tomato contains about 237 mg of potassium. Other minerals in tomatoes include manganese, calcium and iron.


Whenever your body converts food into fuel, is exposed to UV rays, or comes in contact with pollutants in the environment, it produces free radicals, or groups of atoms that are missing an electron. Free radicals attempt to “steal” an electron from healthy cells, causing cell damage and exacerbating the effects of aging. Antioxidants reduce this damage by neutralizing free radicals; heirloom tomatoes contain potent antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene.

Lycopene is a type of pigment known as a cartenoid; this potent pigment gives red, orange and yellow heirlooms their brilliant color. Studies indicate that lycopene’s antioxidant effects provides protection against a number of cancers, including stomach, skin, prostate, pancreatic, oral cavity, lung, endometrial, colorectal, cervical, breast and bladder cancers. Another cartenoid found in heirlooms, zea-xanthin, has been found to protect against macular diseases and protect against UV rays.

Environmental Benefits of Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirlooms provide a number of environmental benefits, as well. Because there are so many strains — more than 10,000, according to some estimates — these plants promote biodiversity. Heirlooms are open pollinated, or naturally pollinated by bees, birds and butterflies, rather than hybridized in a lab. Commercial hybridization results in sterile plants that require large inputs of water and chemicals to remain healthy. In contrast, heirlooms require watering only about once a week or when dry.

In addition, commercially produced supermarket tomatoes are picked when green, so they stay firm while they’re being trucked across the country — creating CO2 emissions — then gassed with CO2 to make their skins turn red so they look “ripe” on the grocery store shelf.

Flavor Benefits of Heirloom Tomatoes

In contrast, heirlooms are picked at the peak of ripeness in order to highlight their amazing flavor profiles. In fact, these fruits are prized specifically for their range of rich flavors, from sweet to tangy, mild to bold, smoky to salty. No matter which flavor you prefer, you’ll find an heirloom seed that provides it.

Love a sweet flavor? Try Amana Orange, a 2-pound, fluted variety with orange skin. Need a mild taste that’s perfect for salads or slicing? Try Brandywine, a variety from the 1800s. Dreaming of an intense, slightly salty flavor? Then Black Krim, with its purple-brown fruits, may be right for you. Need a sweet, fruity taste to add flair to your salad? Tiny Flamme, with its little orange tomatoes, delivers.

Once you’ve experienced the depth and range of flavors that heirlooms can provide, you’ll find it difficult — if not impossible — to go back to the tasteless alternatives offered at the grocery store.

 If you’ve planted or eaten Heirloom Tomatoes in the past, which are your favorites???