Care for yourself

In today’s busy world we sometimes don’t realize we have to take care of ourselves.  We forget to stop and smell the roses.  I have written on this subject a few times and I wanted to remind everyone again how important it is to not let yourself be ran down.  Sometimes we have to just sit back and say no to someone or walk away from someone that likes to leach all your energy.  As I sit here looking out at the foggy morning enjoying the beauty around me I am taking time to breathe.  It has been a busy few weeks and I realize I have helped everyone else, taken care of others and not taken time for myself lately.  

Find some peace today even if that peace is hiding out in a lawn chair, walking around a store you haven’t been in, walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator or just sitting in your favorite comfy chair.  Or take time to have that extra botanical hair washing at your local salon because those are awesome!

I cherish my weekly yoga class, where I can be with like minded people wanting just a little me time.  Find your peaceful spot.

Breathe, smell the roses and don’t let another minute pass you by without taking at least a few moments for yourself.

Bright Blessings,

Ruby DragonLily 

Living Happy

When I started this blog it was about my journey to living a more natural, chemical free life.  Mainly I write about food and how to stay healthy by eating the best foods.  As things change in my life I sit here and think about other ways of staying healthy and happy.  Stress is something most people battle on a daily or weekly basis and along with that comes health issues.  I have talked about getting outside and enjoying nature, taking time for yourself and just smiling for no reason because that alone makes us healthier.  What about a lifestyle change?  Changing your profession?  Changing your atmosphere?   Is this all do able in today’s busy world?

I say yes it is!

As my full time job came to an end I had a decision to make.  Get another full time job or not.  For years my husband and I knew that eventually, some day, we wanted to open up our own business.  We did without what some call necessities but we called luxuries in order to put things in place for this dream.  When everyone else had dish or cable we watched regular tv.  When the world flipped their lids over smart phones we didn’t see the need and kept our flip phones for years.  As people were changing in their cars every couple years for new ones, we did not.  Do you see the pattern here? We in essence for lack of a better term, didn’t care about keeping up with the Joneses.  We had our own agenda of paying off our home within 7 years, being off grid and not have utility bills and setting ourselves up to basically be happy.  We have achieved this, we paid our home off in 6 ½ years and have a full solar system (and yes we live normal lives such as my husband games online with this ps4) and now has come time for that decision……stay working full time or embark on a journey of something new.  

I chose to embark on a journey of something new.  I have started my own home based business and am taking classes to be a personal trainer with classes in nutrition.  I don’t have any desire to do that muscle bound gym thing but I do have a desire to teach people how to be healthy and happy and make their life their own.  With yoga and tai chi in my weekly routines I feel better and am healthier and happier so why not spread that love to others.  Will I make what I use to make, no! That’s okay though, I don’t have a need for what I use to make.  Life shouldn’t be about money and objects.  Life should be about doing what makes you happy.  In today’s crazy world of opinions that apparently run to every side of the spectrum you should be able to slow down, observe and find yourself.  If someone tells you that it is crazy then maybe you just look at them and say, that’s the point!

Bright Blessings

Ruby DragonLily

Staying healthy in our crazy world

   In a world of crazy it is hard sometimes to remember to care for ourselves.  We come down with colds, flu, or worse cancer.  A cancer diagnosis is something no one wants to get and is life changing.   There are so many types these days and so many treatments how does one determine what to do?  When do we look past normal cold and flu symptoms or daily stress and tiredness symptoms and get checked for something worse?  I think this is when it will pay off to know your body.  To know your body one needs to slow down, eat healthy and turn off things such as excess stress.

    We need to remember our lives are what we want and not what anyone else wants.  We need to take control of our paths.  Life isn’t about keeping up with the neighbors, social media or instant gratification or material things.  Life is about family, friends, health and happiness.  Standing up for what you believe in and living the life you want is key.  

    Instead of waiting for the inevitable sickness try to look forward to changing aspects of your life.  Eat fruit everyday, eat veggies everyday and have a balanced lifestyle.  Even with that there is always the chance something will sneak up on you and in the end you are battling for your life.  When this happens stress levels go up and your immunity goes down.  Everyone wants to help but they all have their own idea of what you need.  Only you can make the decision on your next move.  Do your research and decide what works for you.  Make your intentions known and stick to your values.

    Some things to remember though if you are struck with a bad diagnosis of any kind.  Fruits, veggies and herbs do work well with modern treatments to help get you through.  Pineapple should be a first and foremost go to. An organic pineapple can boost the immune system, help with swelling, bloating among a list of other great things.  Pineapple has nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including potassium, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, beta carotene,  thiamin, B6, and folate, as well as soluble and insoluble fiber, and bromelain.  Bromelain is a great anti-inflammatory.  Pineapple has been shown in research to fight colds, flus, improve digestion, help respiratory and heart conditions and not only prevent cancer but help cure it as well.  So, why not put a little fresh organic pineapple in your life when they are in season.  But this little gem isn’t the only one we need in our lives.  Berries, oranges, lemons, apples, bananas and all fruits are gems that our bodies need.  With them we can fight infections, detoxify our livers, control our diabetes, and live happier because we will be healthier.  Veggies are also a great thing that will bring a wealth of nutrients, potassium and just what our body needs.  To incorporate veggies into your meals start easy and do raw or lightly cooked when you can.  And herbs are are nature’s gift to our health and happiness.  Ginger root steeped in hot water with some honey added will help keep colds and flus away and lessen the symptoms when we get them.  Elderberries is like taking a nice vitamin boost shot each day.  Make it into a nice syrup/juice and take a spoonful a day.  Comfrey is great made into a poultice to help with skin abrasions.  

I guess what I am trying to share with this writing today is don’t discount what mother nature has to offer.  When you know someone going through an illness take them organic fruit, veggies and herbs instead of cupcakes, cookies and processed chemical concoctions that are listed as food but isn’t really food.  Provide them with fresh organic produce that can help them fight what they are going through.  Research does prove these things work and overall they are cheaper than processed stuff.  I say that because once you start a lifestyle of fresh foods you will find you aren’t as hungry, you don’t eat as much and you put out less for medicines.  I haven’t bought a cough syrup or expectorant in over 5 years because I know what ginger, honey and elderberries can do for me.  Organic is key to keep the chemicals out of your life.  

Bright Blessings

Ruby DragonLily 

Spring Food Transitioning

   Although it is technically still winter time the weather has been beautiful! The heavier food we tend  to eat over the winter hasn’t been fulfilling hunger.  As I was walking around the market this week deciding what foods we would have this week I decided to jump in and buy some yummy foods that typically we’d eat later in the year.  The avocados looked great and were very firm and on sale for 44 cents each, bought 2.  The cucumbers were firm, huge and on sale, bought 1.  I picked up spinach, dieken, and red peppers.  A staple at our house is jalepeno bread.  This week we will be eating lighter yet still hardy.                               

For lunch I placed shredded a little cheese onto the bread and popped it into the oven just long enough to heat up the bread and not quite melt the cheese.  While it was heating up I chopped up an avocado and thinly sliced about 8 slices of cucumber.  I took the bread out of the oven and placed on it the cucumber and avocado. Piled high with flavor and the bread making it filling these little sandwiches were a hit with my husband.  The cucumber and avocado meshed together well and then the jalepeno bread added a spice to it all that really sealed the flavors together.    

    Now I’ll take some chicken out of the freezer and cook it with lots of herbs such as garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  The chicken will be shredded and placed in a bowl in the fridge.  I’ll boil some quinoa and place it in the fridge for the week also.  Throughout the week I’ll chop of the veggies and add chicken and quinoa and toast some jalepeno bread with butter and garlic and we’ll eat light yet fulfilling as we transition into the spring weather.  I’ll do a variation some days and build sandwiches with the chicken and veggies.  
         For some this may seem like too light of food.  Meal sizes have continued to grow in size and that isn’t really necessary.  If you put real food in your body then your body doesn’t need as much food.  It actually isn’t  expensive to eat healthy because one you cut out the processed foods and what I like to call fake food because it is mainly just a chemical mix your body requires less food.  One you start cutting out sugars and junk you will  no longer enjoy eating it.  
    My suggestion is always try eating different for a month but also start out slow.  Your body will detox the first couple weeks you change and then you need a couple weeks to see how you like the newly introduced foods.  Pick a couple things and replace them each month and over time you’ll realize you no longer crave or like those processed foods and junk foods you were buying.  Once this happens you will find you are eating less and eating more natrually, the way we are meant to eat.  My husband is a good example.  He use to eat cookies like they were a staple for every meal, I called him the cookie monster.  I now make only from scratch cookies and I not only use less sugar than the recipe calls for I also substitute some with honey.  If the recipe calls for a cup of sugar I’d do 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 honey.  Now that he has been eating these he no  longer likes store bought cookies.  He says they taste horrible and all he taste is sugar and weirdness! He actually ate lots of store bought cookies and desserts the last time we visited family and after that weekend he wasn’t feeling well (belly ache) and ended up puking.  I contribute that to all the fake cookies and sugar he ate that weekend.  I did not eat them  and other than that we ate the same things.  So that reminds us that our bodies are meant to eat healthier than we do.

Nature is there to care of us as we should care of it.  

Bright Blessings
Ruby DragonLily

Sunshine Healing

Well all is good on this beautifully sunny day.  After taking extra elderberry syrup and drinking several cups a day of ginger root and honey hot tea I am feeling great.  This morning there was still a bit of the blahs but that cleared right up when I went outside and enjoyed some sunshine. Although it was only 37 degrees and I had to bundle up it was worth it.

As most people know we get vitamin D from the sun.  That helps all kinds of things from our liver, kidneys to our bones.  Sunshine also helps with SAD syndrome, which is lack of sunshine and causes depression.  SAD syndrome affects many Alaskans but people all over can suffer from this. Especially in today’s world of technology where we sit inside on our devices.

For me sunshine is a revitalizing, energy giving resource!  I find that when I have a headache, neck stress, the blahs or just plain sick if I get out in the sunshine I start feeling better.

Try this next time you have an illness or headache.  If it is too cold to go outside find a sunny window to sit in.  Try taking a book and reading a book or go for a walk.  Not only will nature itself inspire you the sunshine will heal you.

The less chemical medicines we put in our bodies and the more natural remedies we follow the healthier we will be.  Natural remedies can be as simple as being in nature or sitting in the sun.

What do you have to lose?

Bright Blessings,

Ruby DragonLily  

Home Remedies

In today’s world of pharmacies you can get a drug for anything.  Physical or mental you have a wide choice.  If you go back before the wide world of pharmacies people used herbs, vegetables and fruits to make salves, tinctures and syrups to heal themselves and keep them healthy.     Throughout the past 100 years we changed from following the natural life to a life of following pharmaceuticals and new technology.  Is this a bad thing?  Are we living longer but have worse diseases and illnesses now?  How do we mix modern practices with the old ways?  These are all questions that I try to answer within my own life.  To me it matters because I want to go into old age healthy without medicines and hit the 100 year old mark with my husband as if it was a breeze.  I know these are lofty goals but for us it is one we are striving for.

So how do we balance these life choices in today’s world? I have done lots of research on things such as cancer, heart disease, parkinson’s, etc and one thing is clear in all of them, healthy habits are good along with variety.  The research all points to eating organic fruits and vegetables and cutting out the sugars and chemicals in our life.  Now what does this really mean…  It isn’t saying you can’t eat a cookie but maybe you should make those cookies homemade and replace your sugar with honey and cut the amount in half.  Trust me, once you make them this way for a while you won’t go back to super sweet cookies.  You will find you taste all the ingredients together instead of just having a bite of sugar.  Muffins are easy to change up too, Instead of white sugar again use honey.  Honey is more natural and your system can break it down better than regular sugar.  Honey also has healing properties that will help boost your immune system versus sugar which will just bog you down.  You will get more energy from a honey treat than a sugary treat and the energy will last longer. Plus an added bonus your belly will slim down because sugar settles in the belly but honey will not.  

Back to home remedies though.  When you do come down sick with a common cold or flu why run to the doctor?  Your body will eventually become immune to the chemical laden medications they prescribe so why not attack it naturally?  Making simple Elderberry syrup will boost the immune system, coat the throat, and get you out of bed without the chemical side effects.  A hot tea of ginger root and honey will give you some energy and cut the couch.  Homemade cough drops with honey and slippery elm makes a good on the go remedy.  These are all things that I keep on hand, especially during cold and flu season.  Skipping to other ailments, to help keep hemorrhoids at bay add some devils claw powder to a hot bath a few times a week.  It is a natural anti-inflammatory and works great.  I have a family member that has severe hemorrhoids but hasn’t had a flare up in 5 years, ever since I gave them this tip.  To help aid in joint pain from things such as arthritis add capsaicin oil to a lotion and it will help tame the pain with no side effects.  And I could go on and on with simple homemade remedies that anyone can do from their kitchen.

Afterall all the drug companies based their chemical formulas after mother nature.  Why not skip the middleman and go directly to mother nature!

Now that being said there is something to say about some modern technology in the medical  field.  The degenerative arthritis in my feet can not be fixed but having my big toes fused stopped the pain and swelling and extra bone growth and of course I needed a good specialty surgeon for that. I will say I don’t regret it at all.  Remember though sometimes it is just about getting a diagnosis and then fixing it yourself.  When my heel hurt I went to my dr and had xrays taken.  Due to my arthritis bone spurs were forming up the back of my heel.  The dr offered the chemical drug cortisone shots but I declined.  Instead I came home and started soaking my feet in a blend of hot water (I just bought a foot bath spa for $25), apple cider vinegar and peppermint oil.  At first I did this each day until the water in the spa cooled off.  Now I do it once a week.  My feet overall feel better but the best part is the bone spur pain is gone.  The reason why is because Apple Cider Vinegar will pull extra calcium out of the body when applied to that part of the body.  By soaking my feet it is pulling out the excess calcium that the bone spurs are made of, which in my case is caused by the arthritis.  Why put my body through the chemical drugs if I don’t have to.  This puts me closer to our goal of living to a healthy 100 years old.

    So as I sit here on my couch with a winter cold, sore throat and body aches I am sipping my hot tea made of ginger root and honey and I have take a swig of elderberry syrup.  For lunch I have waiting for me a homemade pot of corn and potato chowder that I made out of fresh organic ingredients and added extra garlic too.  Oh I forgot to mention how garlic is more potent than antibiotics.  During the winter time I cook with it in almost every dish! Let me add too I haven’t had this kind of cold in years but due to a few life stresses and the cold wind here that will fly you to the next state my body finally said enough is enough.  So I am taking a day to recoup.  The good thing is while the average person will be sick for a week I will only have it for a day or two.  With my natural ways my body heals quicker and gets over these things faster than ever before.  Partly because I don’t have the unnatural chemicals in my body.  See although those chemical medicines are helping your symptoms they are causing other fights within your body.

As always I say do your research and make your own decisions.  Remember in today’s internet world don’t just take a bloggers word for it.  Instead get reputable information from sources such as James A Dukes A Green Pharmacy or Judith Griffins book Mother Nature’s Herbal or other sources like these were the authors have been doctors and/or studied the world.

Stay warm this winter! Spring is on it’s way!

Bright Blessings

Ruby DragonLily

Quiche

Quiche basically is a baked egg dish.  Growing up my mom always made it for breakfast for the holidays.  She’d make several to feed the many of us that bombarded her house!  We knew we’d either be eating Quiche or cinnamon rolls so either way it was a win win for us.  My mom’s cinnamon rolls we’ll talk about another day though. Those things are so good they don’t last long as they are coming out of the oven!

Quiche is the topic of the day today.  It is cold out and a nice hearty meal is key to start the day with.  Quiche is good and is mainly eggs but in this house the family prefers something with their eggs.  When you raise chickens and have fresh eggs they are delicious but it does get old eating them daily by themselves.  Today’s recipe is Quiche casserole.

I start by finely chopping crackers for my crust.  I used a multi-grain cracker with chia seeds only because I had them on hand.  For your crust you can use any type of cracker just make sure it is crumbed finely. I use my food processor but if you don’t have one then place the crackers in a ziplock, cover it with a rag and take something such as a hammer and beat away 🙂  Or you can use a coffee mug and roll is over the crackers like a mortar and pestle.  

Once your crackers are crumbed place them in the bottom of a baking dish (I use my cast iron skillet but any baking dish will do).  You may need to either oil the bottom of your pan or add melted butter to your crumb depending on your dish.  You want the crumbs deep enough to cover the bottom of your pan or a smidge deeper.  In a bowl add your eggs, I use about 6 eggs for a pan that is about the size of a regular skillet.  Add to those 6 eggs some milk, cream or half and half which ever you have will work.  Add about ⅛ cup of milk, give or take, I eyeball it!  Now take a fork or whisk and beat the eggs and milk together until the yolks are fully beat and mixed in. Pour your eggs over the crumbs in the pan.  Cut up an onion, large potato and a zucchini into small chunks and add it to the top of the eggs. Finely chop about 6 cloves of garlic and if you want some heat to it cut up a jalapeno or serrano pepper and add these to the top.  Now add your cheese! I use a Romano cheese that I grate myself but you can use whatever cheese is to your liking.  A tip though, buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself will give you a better flavor cheese than buying already shredded cheese.  I completely cover the top with cheese.

You are now ready to bake your dish.  Bake it at 350 for about 45 minutes but everyone’s ovens are different so adjust as needed.  For an added taste I shake on some red pepper at the end, it looks pretty and gives it a finished flavor.

You can adjust this recipe to your liking.  Add different spices, add more or less of anything, change up the potatoes or zucchini.  The beauty of quiche is that egg goes with almost anything.

Start your own family traditions by adding this to your menu box.  Now that the holidays are pretty much over with you can start the new year with new recipe ideas! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Bright Blessings

Ruby DragonLily 

Sausage and Eggs; grab and go

In this busy time we need a hearty breakfast but want to also grab and go.  With a little ahead of time preparation you can feed the masses at their convience.  Sausage and eggs is a good source of protien and will give you an energy boost to start your day while feeling full.  These are called Scotch eggs, an egg covered with ground sausage and baked or fried.   

I start mine by boiling my eggs.  The qty is up to you, for most 1 egg per person per breakfast is probably enough since these are feeling.  These are easily heated up another day so make plenty.  The eggs boil time is dependent on how hard you like your yoke.  We like ours more solid so I boil by eggs, timing after the water starts boiling, for about 10 minutes.  If you like your yoke more runny then back off the time you boil them, 5 minutes is a good target time.  

While the eggs are boiling you can get the rest of the assembly line ready.  Add any spices you want to the sausage and mix it up well.  I add some red pepper and thyme to mine.  Now separate the ground sausage into balls a little bigger than a golf ball, then flatten them out.  This will speed things up once the eggs are ready.  Now for the assembly line of bowls. One for flour, one for eggs and one for crumbs.  You will need about one beat egg for about every 2 balls you make, this is to coat for crumbs so you want to beat the eggs well.  As for crumbs I use graham crackers that I process in my food processor but you can use anything from crackers, bread crumbs to a store bought crumb.  For me I processed graham crackers finely in the food processor and keep them stored in an air tight jar until needed.  If you use bread crumbs make sure you chop them or process them finely so they coat better.  

Now your eggs are boiled, cooled and peeled.  Place an egg into the sausage and work the sausage around it, now this is where I also place a little piece of mozzarella in the sausage.  You could add any cheese if you want just make sure you don’t add too much or it will ooze out and just burn.  Work the sausage around the egg and once completly covered coat it with the flour, then the egg and then the crumbs.  Place the ball into a frying pan with about 1/4 inch oil and move the ball around some so each side cooks evenly.  You can also bake them.  I do a combination so I have the crunch of it being fried but then by throwing them into the oven I don’t have to babysit them as much.  I fry them until they are golden brown and then place them in the oven.  I also cut in to one just to ensure the sausage is done.  

Now bite into them and enjoy! Make a huge batch and let the family heat them  back up as they want, this takes the daily work out of breakfast and still gives them something hardy to start the day with.

Happy Holidays and Bright Blessings,

Ruby DragonLily

Cast Iron Lasagna, simply made

Lasagna can be a time consuming dish to make.  There are a few ways to cut down on the prep time and by keeping some prime ingreidents on hand you can whip it up in a pinch.  My husband loves homemade lasagna and on a cold night it is a good go too.  The cooking time helps warm the kitchen and the food helps warm the soul.  

I buy regular lasagna noodles and in order to soften them some before placing them in the lasagna I start a frying pan of water on the stove.  Bring it to a boil and place in just enough noodles at once so you don’t layer them, you’ll cook them as needed while you are layering your lasagna.  They only  need to cook for a minute, the goal is to start the softening process which will finish up as they bake within the lasgna. 

In a large bowl add a large container of ricotta cheese, a small container of sour cream and 4 to 5 eggs.  Mix this really well with a fork and then add your spices.  I use about a tablespoon of oregano and about a tablesoon of black pepper but add the spices you like.  I then finely cut up about 5 large cloves of garlic and add it and again mix well.  Now add a couple cans of tomato paste to the mixture.  

I set out either my large deep cast iron pan or my cast iron dutch over depending on how much I want to make.  A tip though is to use the dutch oven no matter what because if you overfill the large pan it will bubble over and yes that is experince talking.  I open a can of fire roasted muir glen tomatoes, unless it is summer time then I stick a bunch of fresh tomatoes in my food processor, pour a can of them in the bottom of the cast iron and build from there. I do this to help the bottom layer of noodle from burning.  Place a few noodles in the boiling water give them a minute and then put them in the cast iron while you add a few more noodles to the water and then pour your mixture over the top of the noodles.  At this point I usually open a second can of fire roasted tomatoes and pour half on top and then add more noodles, more mixture and repeat for how every many layers you want.  Typically I do 3 layers of noodles and then any extra of the mixture I pour over the top or if there is a lot left I freeze it for use in something else.  One addition I do if I have it on hand is add mozzarella to each layer.  It is a nice cheesy touch.

Put the lid on your dutch oven and let it cook on the stove top on a medium heat for 30 minutes or so.  If they noodles aren’t yet soft enough just let them cook longer.  I usually do 30 minutes and then turn the heat off for about half an hour. If you start to smell it burning turn off your heat and keep it covered because the great thing about cast iron is how it holds it heat and your food will continue to cook but more gently.

You may have realized by now there is no meat in this recipe.  I put meat in if I have it on hand.  Last night I had a little ground beef and a little ground pork so before hand I cooked about a 1/4 to   1/2 pound of each and added it in to my mixture.

You can make a small batch or a large batch but in my opinion a large batch is better.  If you are going to do the work make enough to freeze for later.

Good Luck and enjoy! Stay warm on these cold winter days!

Happy Holidays and Bright Blessings, 

Ruby DragonLily  

Cooking ahead

I have talked about this before but I thought with the holidays in full swing I’d touch on it again.  In our busy lives we want to rely on quick and easy, instant gratification and knowing everything all the time.  Social media and the internet has driven us this way.  The one thing I challenge you to not give up is your health.  One quick way to stay healthy is with your eating habits.  Now, I’m not saying let’s all eat salads.  What I am saying is eat less fast food and heat it up foods and out of the can foods and eat more from scratch foods.  We all have time for that if we prioritize.  It’s okay to give up watching an extra 30 minutes of TV and facebook time.  Most items you can make from scratch almost as easy and quick as the instant, canned and frozen foods you buy.  

The real trick though is planning ahead.  Take a day and make several meals and then freeze them in portion sizes.  This way you can set something out to thaw while at work, heat it up when you get home and have a from scratch meal that you made.  This includes pizzas, enchiladas, meats, breads, pastas and just about anything else you can imagine.  I use the ziploc vacuum sealer which makes it even easier because you just have to drop the package in boiling water to heat up the food.  Talk about a no mess meal!

Stay healthy this holiday season by eating your own cooking.  Happy Holidays to all, stay safe, warm and do what makes you happy!
Bright Blessings,

Ruby DragonLily