Winter

The Magic of Chocolate

English: Dark chocolate. Español: Chocolate negro.

English: Dark chocolate. Español: Chocolate negro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you remember the very first time you tasted chocolate?  Real chocolate, the kind that is dark with contrasting sweet and bitter flavors?  I do.  It was a bit of a shock after experiencing only sweet milk chocolate up until that point in my life, yet, once I got past that initial surprise, it was obvious I had found a new love.   I love to watch a person’s face when they take that first bite of a particular chocolate, before they know what to expect.  Their expression screwing up in delight as complex bitter, creamy chocolate melts on the tongue briefly but fully overwhelming the senses.

Yummy!

Chocolate is delicious but not everyone likes it.  This is hard for me to believe, how could someone not like chocolate?  Apparently it is true though.  Once of my dear friends suffers from this affliction and I find myself feeling strange when we decide to share a dessert because I would of course order something, anything with chocolate.  So I usually let her choose which confection to indulge in.  Another friend confessed to an aversion for chocolate just the other day and a woman we were with said, “Are we on the same planet at the same time?”

High in antioxidants and containing mood enhancing alkaloids, dark chocolate has wonderful health benefits.   Once, to my great delight, I was even told to eat more chocolate.    While I lay on her table waiting for her to ‘release my inner dragons’ my acupuncturist explained, “You really need to eat more chocolate, dark chocolate to support your Heart meridian.”  Thrill filled me as I realized I now had a reason to have more of my favorite thing.

Cocoa beans

Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate ~

  • High in protective antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals like magnesium, copper and potassium.
  • Heart healthy effects such as lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels while relaxing arteries and enabling blood to flow smoothly.
  • Improves blood flow to brain, heart and eyes.
  • May decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease and increase cognitive function.
  • Increases cellular insulin sensitivity thereby decreasing risk of type 2 diabetes.

Because chocolate is so delicious with the capability of being strong in its effect, it should not be approached lightly.  Strive to eat about one ounce per day for optimal effect, I know it is hard…  Chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao).  Theobroma means “food of the gods,” and that, in my opinion is what chocolate is.

Recipes ~

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies From Mama Rosemary

Homemade Peppermint Patties and Honey-Butter Finger Bites From The Nerdy Farm Wife

Lavender Chocolate Truffles From Herbal Musings

Hot Dandelion Cocoa From Mountain Rose Herbs

Sources ~

Aviva Romm’s Top 10 Superfood Picks For Women

Chocolate And Your Health: The Basics

10 Health Benefits of Chocolate

Health Benefits Of Chocolate Growing

Benefits Of Chocolate: Study Finds Eating Cocoa Daily May Improve Cognitive impairment

Heart And Vascular Health & Prevention

Shared On: Time For A Party!

 
 
Categories: Food Is Your Best Medicine, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Rose And Chocolate Play Dough For Valentine’s Day

Who doesn’t love roses and chocolate on Valentine’s Day?

Valentine Play Dough

Here is a fun, crafty way to share these two Valentine Day favorites with the kids in your life.

 

Rose Play Dough

rose play dough

Colored with beet powder and bedecked with silver glitter!

Ingredients ~

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of water (can substitute rose tea or rose-water if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • about a 1/4 cup dried rose petals crushed a bit
  • about a 1/4 cup beet powder or powdered roses
  • 5 to 10 drops of rose geranium essential oil (how many drops depends on your nose!)

Instructions ~ Combine dry ingredients in a sauce pan.  Add the water and oil.  Stir together and heat slowly over low heat.  Stir almost constantly until the play dough sets up.  Let it cool to warm before playing, play dough right off the stove is hot.

Chocolate Play Dough

chocolate play dough

Ingredients ~

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of water (can substitute rose tea or rose-water if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, add more if needed
  • 2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 5 to 6 drops any combination of cocoa absolute and sweet orange essential oils, if desired.
  • Splash of vanilla extract

Instructions ~  Follow the instructions above for making rose play dough.

Double, triple or quadruple these recipes if making play dough for a large group.

 

Fun Ways To Use Valentine’s Day Play Dough ~

  • Make little “treats” for your child to hand out at school.  Wrap a small ball (or make into little hearts) of each kind of play dough in a plastic bag, tie with a lovely ribbon and add a little heart-felt note to complete the Valentine.  Makes a wonderful substitute for the sugary candy treats normally handed out this time of year.
  • Take a nice big batch of each play dough into your child’s school or to a playdate and let the kids enjoy.  Supply baby rose buds, cinnamon sticks, glitter and heart cookie cutters to enhance play.
  • Give a batch to your little one on Valentine’s Day, makes a great present.

More please….

Valentine’s Day Crafts:

Play Dough Recipes and Crafts:

Happily Shared On:  The Kid’s Co-op, Share It Saturday, Kid’s Get Crafty

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Herbal Gift Ideas, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Parenting, Play Dough, Playing With Herbs, Roses, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Natural Living Monday ~ Stop And Smell The Roses

I admit it, I have roses on my mind.  It is almost Valentine’s Day!  I adore roses, fresh or dried.  I delight in making tea with rose petals and hips; crafting with sweet little baby buds of rose; and making body care products with anything rose ~ rose water, rose petals and rose essential oil.  With all this rosiness on my mind I wanted to start this week’s wonderful blog hop with a little informative herbal tidbit about roses.  Of course Summer is a wonderful time to collect and use fresh rose petals yet even during the cold of Winter we can enjoy the bounty of roses by using dried petals and fruits (hips).  Roses are helpful for supporting immunity and lung health.  They bring a ray of happiness to folks feeling sad in the during gloomy months of late Winter.  Plus they are great for crafting with especially with kids who really love the little dried baby rose buds.

Rosa rugosa

Rose Petals and Hips

Rosa spp.

Roses, in their beauty, open the heart and speak of love.  Yet they offer so much more than meets the eye.  The petals are edible and are lovely added to salads, desserts and even made into rose butter.  They also make a tasty tea (use fresh or dried) that I have found to be quite popular with children.  All that deliciousness brings with it immune enhancing properties as well as soothing coolness for the urinary system, nervous system and heart.  The petals ease cold/flu symptoms and lung congestion increasing lung strength and vitality.  Roses are also helpful in cases of PMS and fullness in the pelvis.  Emotionally roses sooth broken hearts and aggravated nervous systems.  Rose hips, the fruit of a rose, are very high in Vitamin C.  They make a tasty sweet sour addition to teas and foods helping to prevent infections.  I love to soak the hips in apple juice until they are soft and use them as jam on my kids’ PB & J.

Roses are often heavily sprayed so be sure to use organic roses.

More please….

Valentine’s Day Crafts:

Using Roses With Kids:

Find this and more information about other amazing herbs in my Materia Medica section.

 

And now….

 

Welcome to Natural Living Monday where we share all our natural living tips, tricks, and fun ideas.

Thank you for joining us on Natural Living Monday!  I am excited to see the great things you have been doing to live a more natural, whole, holistic life.

Your Hosts:

Amanda from Natural Living Mamma

Katie from Nourishing Simplicity

Angela from Mama Rosemary.

Last weeks most popular posts were:

Real Food on a Tight Budget by Sweet Basil ‘n Spice

9 Ways to Waste Less and Save More by A Proverbs 31 Wife

9 Ways to Waste Less and Save More by A Proverbs 31 Wife

Five Sneaky Ways to Get More Coconut Oil by Slightly Steady

Congratulations on being featured! These amazing posts (and a few others) will be tweeted, shared on my Facebook page and pinned on my Pinterest boards!

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From this week forward the list is in random order!

Here are the rules: Your blog article must fit these categories: sustainable living, homesteading, DIY, herbs, home-made body and skin care, real food (no processed ingredients, Weston A. Price Foundation guidelines are a good place to start to define “real food”), and all things “natural“.

Link back to this week’s blog hop post so that everyone can see the other amazing posts. It is just basic common courtesy.

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Categories: Herbal Medicines, Natural Living Monday Blog Hop, Roses, Valentine's Day | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Simplest Air Cleansing Humdifier

Here is one of my favorite ways to add moisture to the air in my home while also cleansing the air.  It is crazy, silly simple and I set this up any time the air just feels to dry (like it does right this second here in Colorado) or when some one in my family seems on the edge of getting sick.

Dried lavender perfect for steaming.

Make a herbal steam for your home…

Equipment ~

  • Big Pot
  • Lots of Water
  • Aromatic Herbs

Instructions ~

Fill the pot with water set it on the stove and bring it to a steamy simmer.  Then add your herbs.  If you have a nice big pot and plan to simmer for a while use a nice big handful of herbs to insure you get a nice amount of essential oils into the air.   That’s it!  Within minutes your house will fill with a lovely fragrant smell while moisture circulates easing dryness.   Be sure to choose herbs rich in essential oils such as rosemary, thyme, lavender, mint, lemon balm, basil, sage,  cinnamon, and cloves.  The simmering water releases the essential oils from the herbs into the air and the essential oils being anti-viral and anti-bacterial in-turn clean the air.  Plus your house will smell great.  If we are home, I let this simmer all day long adding water and even more herbs as the day goes on.  To insure safety keep an eye on your pot to be sure it doesn’t boil dry.

My daughter recently had a slumber party and before her guests arrived I set up a pot on the stove with the simple additions of cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Every person who entered our home commented on how great it smelled!

Categories: Cinnamon and Spices, Essential Oils, Herbal Tips And Tricks, Lavender, Natural Family Care, Peppermint, Practices For Intentional Living, Winter | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Cinnamon ‘n’ Spice Ornaments Herb Style

Cinnamon Ornaments

Here is our second round of cinnamon ‘n’ spice ornaments!  We had so much fun coming up with ways to decorate using botanicals.  Check out my other post Cinnamon ‘n’ Spice Ornaments Craft Style for full instruction on how to make this aromatically stimulating craft.  Trust me these are easy, stimulate a lot of imagination in kids and smell amazing!  You won’t be disappointed.

We found that using herbs to decorate worked best in two different ways:

  • First, if you want to press the botanical into the ornament while it is wet, like with cloves or rose buds, it is best to leave the ornament in the cookie cutter while you and placing the botanical.  Otherwise the dough kinda of falls apart and then you have to start all over again.
  • Second, you can simply glue the herb to the ornament once it is dry.  This worked best for star anise, lavender blossoms and hawthorn berries.  A hot glue is the best choice for attaching large pieces while you can use school glue for small things like lavender blossoms.

Carving

My little one tried her hand at carving a shape.  It was a good experiment.

Unfortunately, it did hold together as well as the ornaments we cut out with cookie cutter.

Anise star heart

For this one we pressed cloves around the edge and then let the ornament dry before hot gluing a lovely star anise in the center.

Rose bud star

I love little baby rose buds, don’t you?

These all had little stems that we pressed into the dough.

Lavender Heart

This was super easy.  Once the ornament was dry we covered the top with a thin layer of white glue and pressed lavender blossoms all around the top.  I think this would be lovely done with something like anise seeds too.

Herbie gingerbread person

Decorated by my sweetie with hawthorn berries and cloves.

Kids love to decorate gingerbread people!

Herbie gingerbread person

Another creation.  This one has a bit of star anise for a smile.

The two gingerbread people are “married” according to their little creator.

Christmas Tree

 

Christmas tree complete with a shining star on top!

We love crafting for the holidays!  Do you enjoy making things with your kids?  I would love to hear about it!

Happy Holidays!

Categories: Aromatherapy For Kids, Cinnamon and Spices, Essential Oils, Herbal Crafts And Projects, Herbal Gift Ideas, Herbs For Kids and Mamas, Parenting, Playing With Herbs, Winter Holidays | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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