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Blueberry-Hazelnut Muffins - Gluten-free, Sugar-Free

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on October 22, 2012
1 comment

Blueberry-Hazelnut Muffins - Gluten-free, Sugar-Free


One of the biggest issues for us this past year has been following a totally gluten-free, sugar-free, yeast-free, soy-free eating plan. This was needed due to a very serious yeast overgrowth issue in our family. It's been a life-changing difficult path, but we've learned a lot and we are thankful we've learned to eat a more healthy diet. I was very excited when I found the cookbook from which this recipe was taken (see below). Finding ANY bread, cake or muffin that has no yeast, no sugar or no gluten is impossible. Or I thought it was until I found this cookbook.

¾ cup hazelnut flour
¾ cup almond flour
½ cup Stevia Extract in the Raw or ¼ cup New Roots Stevia Sugar
1/3 cup almonds or hazelnuts, chopped
1 TBSP baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 eggs
½ cup unsweetened soy milk (or other milk)
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp liquid stevia
½ to 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 muffin cups with paper or foil liners, then lightly mist them with spray oil (or omit the liners and generously mist the muffin cups with spray oil).

In a medium bowl, combine the hazelnut flour, almond flour, stevia extract, almonds, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until well mixed. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and liquid stevia together until thoroughly blended. Add the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon for 1 to 2 minutes to make a smooth, sticky batter (see page 27). Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly among them; the muffin cups should be just about full.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate and bake for 20 more minutes, until golden brown and firm and springy when pressed in the center.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack.

Taken from “The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking”, by Peter Reinhart & Denene Wallace

Let me know if you try these!

Thanks for listening!


Fragrance oils versus essential oils - which is better?

By Healthy Planet Blog Aromatherapy at Home
on June 15, 2012
1 comment

Are essential oils better than fragrance oils? And why?


What is an essential oil versus a fragrance oil – why does it matter?

My first introduction into using fragrance oils commercially was back when we were making candles. I love fragrance! And I absolutely loved smelling my candles. Then along came essential oils. The first batch I purchased smelled (I thought at the time) pretty awful – I mean compared to my spiced apple and antique lilac! I purchased them because I had learned that essential oils have medicinal value that can’t be denied. I’ve learned since then that essential oils smell so much better once you’ve gotten off the “fragrance oil addiction wagon”. There is a difference. Other than the fact one causes me to have headaches and the other helps me relax, heals wounds, and helps me have a good night’s sleep.

So, why is there a debate about which is better than the other? Synthetic fragrances used to be cheaper. Not necessarily the case anymore as many of the “synthetic” fragrances also contain essential oils and the price of many essential oils has gone up drastically. Synthetic fragrances always smell consistent – at least from one brand or supplier to the next. Essential oils can vary from batch to batch depending on something as varying as the weather at the time they were grown, not to mention the differences in how they are distilled. Although I read somewhere that there are anywhere from 2000 to 5000 raw fragrance components used to formula fragrance oils.

So what's with the phthalates?

Then there are the phthalates. I won’t go into details here – just google it and someday I will blog about it, but in our opinion phthalates are to be avoided. Have we always done that? Well, no. We had to learn better. To my delight, it is now possible to source fragrance oils that still smell good and ARE phthalate free. They still give me a headache though. I can use them in our soaps without problems – and I don’t say that just so you’ll think our using fragrance oils in our soaps is okay. It’s actually the other way around. I had pretty much ditched our fragrance oils and they were locked up in a closed cabinet in a closed bedroom until I could figure out how to dispose of them, but upon request from a customer made a batch of lilac soap. It smelled heavenly, I could even use it on my face and it didn’t cause my eyes to water or my head to ache. We’ve since tried different fragrances in our soaps to see if we have the same results. Bottom line though, the essential oils, although expensive, serve many purposes and do not cause my immune system to go into high alert because something foreign is coming into my air space. And again though, saying that, our magnolia soap is one of my most favorite soaps to use, especially if I want to relax and soak for a long period of time. I realize the health benefits aren’t there, but aromatherapy isn’t always about aroma-THERAPY. So, even I'm conflicted about it and you'll be hard pressed to find anyone more passionate than I am about essential oils and their benefits.

So which is better? 

That is your choice. You do have the right to know, however, which one is being used in the product you are purchasing. Many more people are coming to us with fragrance sensitivities – many more! You will see products on the store shelves that say they are full of “lavender”, when in fact they are full of synthetic chemicals. Even natural isolates are being used in many of the “natural” or “organic” products on the shelves. These are cheaper and again, more consistent in their fragrance and easier for the large commercial companies to use. Believe me – they could NOT sell you their lavender cleaning sprays and laundry wash if they were using pure aromatherapy grade (for lack of a better term) of lavender essential oil. There are many ways you can be fooled and fragrance companies do not have to disclose their ingredients as they are allowed to claim intellectual knowledge and seriously, the list would be too long to put on a label anyway. And would you even know what those names were? It’s an individual choice and I don’t like that people are demonized because they may like fragrance oils and choose to use them. I personally have been criticized and my credibility questioned as a clinical aromatherapist because we choose to use some fragrance oils in our soaps. It hurt and still does, but it seems everyone is conflicted on this subject. Essential oil use in soaps is an entirely different discussion as not all essential oils will come through the soap making process - what a colossal waste of a good essential oil if it doesn't, just to be able to say you use ONLY essential oils in your soaps.

The bottom line – educate yourself. 

If you have sensitivities to a particular brand of lavender, don’t throw out ALL lavenders as being bad – the real deal lavender essential oil  may be just what you need to calm your sensitivities! Lavenders are the most adulterated and there are many different varieties with varying properties from relaxing to stimulating. Know what plants DO produce “essential” oils and from what part of the plant. You won’t find a strawberry essential oil – you might now find a “natural” strawberry fragrance made from what they call nature identical – made in the lab or even extracted from the plant itself. If it is an essential oil, it will have a country of origin, it will have a botanical name and chemotype – and MOST IMPORTANTLY – it will have the natural synergy from the true plant. Once you learn how essential oils really smell, you WILL know when you are smelling a synthetic fragrance oil – or even a nature identical – just not the same. When I compare the true lavender essential oil that we use in our products versus the lavender fragrance oil we once used in our candles (and thought at the time that it was SO NICE), it is amazing to me that I ever thought that! Now, I just wrinkle my nose when I smell the false lavender. You may find just as I did that essential oils are something you can breathe in deeply, but if you take an opened bottle of synthetic fragrance oil, you simply can’t do that. Or if you do, it’s not enjoyable.

An expert's opinion:

And finally, I decided rather than just trying to explain it myself, I'm attaching a link to the very BEST explanation of what defines an essential oil. This is from someone who can easily be said to be the foremost authority on all things pertaining to essential oils. Take a moment to peruse his blogs. You will get hooked on essential oils.

Oh! And did I mention that essential oils are natural - truly natural - so they are not a threat to our environment.

Thanks for listening!


Baking soda to fight the flu!?

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on December 29, 2009
1 comment

Baking Soda - is it good for many things?

Updated October 11, 2011:  While taking one of our 3-day a week walks with a friend of mine, she mentioned that someone with a natural health education had recommended taking baking soda with water every day. I countered this with the comment that I had heard and studied that in my natural health classes, but I also remember being told in nursing school that it wasn't a good idea, but couldn't remember why but there were cautions with using it internally. After that conversation, I remembered I had written a blog about this a couple of years ago - which follows below. In the meantime, I also decided to look at the box of baking soda itself where it lists cautions and "Warnings" as follows:

1. Ask a doctor before use if you have a sodium restricted diet.
2. Ask a doctor or pharmacist before use if you are taking a prescription drug. Antacids may interact with certain prescription drugs.
3. Do not administer to children under age 5 (all in bold letters.)
4. Stomach warning: To avoid serious injury, do not take until powder is completely dissolved. It is very important not to take this product when overly full from food or drink (again all in bold letters.) Consult a doctor if severe stomach pain occurs after taking this product.

While reading this I remember why I thought that this might not be a good idea to use daily in spite of what I learned in natural health classes and/or what I learned in nursing classes. Always understand WHY you are taking anything before taking it and that includes over-the-counter or pharmaceutical drugs. Are you using it to alkalinize your stomach contents to avoid indigestion or are you using it to alkalinize your blood (balance the pH of your body)? Well, if it's to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach - is that really what you need or want to do? As we get older, actually our stomach has less acid and we need it to digest the food that we eat, which is why I do not advocate TUMS or other such products. I do highly advocate probiotics, yogurt and chewable papaya extract tablets (that taste good too!) Even to use to alkalinize or balance the pH of your body, should we be recommending that people do this daily? I'm not convinced yet, but would really love some feedback from those who have tried this and/or advocate it - or not advocate it.

Original article from 2009:

Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me for advice on how to either “get rid of” the flu or what to do to enhance their immune system to prevent the flu, or how to keep their environment clean to keep the flu from walking in their door. All very good questions, and I love receiving them because I do think I have a lot of good answers for all of those questions. Many of the answers we will be writing more about in the next few weeks as soon as Christmas orders slow down a little, not that I’m complaining for goodness sakes! Thank you one and all for choosing to give Wingsets’ products for Christmas this year! Take a look at our newly reformulated (as of Oct 2011) Breathe Easy, Immune Enhancer and Cold & Flu #2 essential oil blends. I'll be writing more about each of those separately, as well as our Cold & Flu blends.

I did run across an article today about using baking soda, which is simply 100% sodium bicarbonate. I have sitting beside me a large box of the Arm & Hammer because we use it in our bath salts and body powders. It’s an amazing product and has many uses, but one that is largely ignored by the medical community is that it can be used to alkalinize the body. What this means is that it can balance the pH of your blood, which is important for a good strong immune system and general health and well-being. Here is a link to Dr. Mercola’s article about this product and how to use it: Overlooked 150 Year Old Household Cleaner a Remedy for Swine Flu?

Let me repeat here a caution that he mentions about aluminum being present in this Arm & Hammer product. "Many believe that Arm and Hammer Baking Soda as it is contaminated with aluminum even though the company that makes it claims it does not. We have been able to confirm that there are aluminum free baking sodas like Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda. If you have any information on this please add it to the comment section below.

That being said – we will be changing over to Bob’s Red Mill baking soda. We can still use the Arm & Hammer for cleaning. I just wouldn’t want to take the chance of consuming it or sitting in a bath tub full of it if there is even a remote chance it contains aluminum.

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