Smart sunglasses. We all know the sun's UV rays increase our risk of skin cancer, but the potential damage UV rays can do to our eyes is less publicized. Short-term excessive exposure to UV radiation can cause what is essentially sunburn to the eyes, according to the American Optometric Association, which includes short-term discomfort, light sensitivity and redness. Long-term exposure can lead to increased chance of developing cataracts or macular degeneration, as well as retinal damage. Choose sunglasses that block out 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. Tens is an independent sunglasses company that makes sunglasses that protect the eyes from 100 percent of harmful rays, yet retains color quality. These filtering sunglasses work especially well for those with vision problems, especially degenerative eye diseases that affect light perception such as cone or rod dystrophy, as they help retain sharpness of vision while also protecting eyes. Order them at tenslife.com
The right sunscreen. While we're on the subject of UV rays, we may as well talk about sunscreen. Of course we all know that the sun's rays can increase our risk of skin cancer, but did you know many types of sunscreen contain worrisome ingredients such as oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, and retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A linked to skin damage that may speed development of skin cancer? Any sunscreen you buy should use the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates that more than half of sunscreens on the American market would not meet European health requirements. If in doubt, check your sunscreen with the EWG. Derma-E and Honest Company both make good, easy-to-find options.
Bug banisher. Mosquitoes and ticks are more than irritating--they also spread disease. But many of us aren't thrilled with slathering ourselves with the chemical DEET, which is used in most common bug repellents, so how to keep bugs at bay? Try a natural repellent such as Badger's Anti-Bug Shake & Spray, made with citronella, rosemary and wintergreen. Other good options include burning citronella candles or torches, or making your own mosquito traps. Find the low-cost instructions here.
A sweeter treat. We all know summer is the perfect time for ice cream. If you or someone in your family suffers from lactose intolerance, though, that indulgence often must be denied. Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss changes all that. Lactose intolerant or not, every kid and adult will swoon over this delicious, coconut-based ice cream. Their ingredients are responsibly sourced, organic and free of dairy, soy and gluten. They are also (and most importantly) absolutely delicious. On top of that, they use sustainable practices in their manufacturing facility and headquarters. Basically, they're impossible not to love!
Cool drinks. Another summer craving is for cool and refreshing drinks. Unfortunately, most prepackaged drinks on the market contain lots of sugar, along with dyes and other synthetic additives. Instead, opt for a refreshing drink that can actually enhance your health. Rishi offers a wonderful Paradise Punch tea made up of organic pineapple, sarsaparilla root, mango, hibiscus, lemon verbena, orange peel, lemon peel and lime oil. It makes a sweet and refreshing iced tea.
Stellar summer skin care. One of my favorite products for summer skin care is witch hazel. All natural witch hazel is a great toner and it's the perfect way to refresh summer skin. It also acts as a good mosquito repellent, on its own or combined with essential oils such as peppermint or tea tree, and a great treatment to relieve itchy bug bites. T.N. Dickinson's is an easy-to-find brand free of artificial fragrances and dyes.
Are you cheery calendula, wise sage or romantic rosemary? Take our fun personality quiz below to find out!
A few months ago Bob’s Red Mill sent us a package of Almond Meal to try. Since last November, I’ve been trying to drastically limit/eliminate my consumption of refined grains and white sugar. While it’s difficult to be at absolute zero on these items and lead a normal life, getting close to zero has been easier than I anticipated. That said, my husband has a sweet tooth and I want my kid to be able to have chocolate chip cookies once in a while. (Oh, and yes, I too like chocolate chip cookies!)
The back of the flour bag had this wonderful-sounding recipe, and I had all the ingredients in my house (including dark chocolate chips in the freezer). I gave it a try and oh-my-gosh these cookies are amazing! No. 1 cookie priority: They are incredibly delicious. Like, didn’t last in the house for more than 24 hours delicious (maybe a little too delicious?).
Along with the incredible taste factor, though, these cookies are in the not-that-bad-for-you realm with no flour, coconut oil instead of vegetable oil or butter (not that I would ever dis butter) and pure maple syrup as the sweetener (and 1/4 cup rather than the whole cup many recipes call for). I don’t think I had the optional almond extract, which was totally fine. They do include a bit of sugar in the dark chocolate chips, but you could even go with cacao nibs and I think this recipe would be fabulous. The almond meal gives the cookies a crumbly and delicate texture, and they taste buttery and rich even without actual butter. And that combination of dark chocolate and salt is the way to my heart.
So if you are looking for a sweet treat that tastes completely indulgent yet is not too bad from a health aspect (I didn’t even go into the nutritional benefits of the almond meal—3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving, plus a dose of healthy fats), I cannot encourage you enough to try these cookies.
One thing to keep in mind: At $11 a bag, almond meal is expensive—waaay more expensive than flour. But I justify the expense by considering that I rarely make home-baked goods, so when I’m going to splurge, I say go big.
• 3 cups almond meal
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 cup coconut oil
• 1/4 cup maple syrup
• 1 whole egg
• 2 egg whites
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
• 1 cup dark chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds*
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine almond meal, baking soda and sea salt and set aside.
3. Mix coconut oil and maple syrup in a mixer or by hand until creamy but not fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Add whole egg, egg whites and extracts (if using) and mix for 2 additional minutes
4. Slowly add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix briefly. Add chocolate chips and toasted almonds and mix until well combined.
5. Place large rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, about 1-inch apart. Flatten slightly, to approximately 1-inch thickness. Bake until set and golden, about 15 minutes. Makes 25 to 30 cookies.
*To toast almonds, simply add sliced almonds to a hot, dry pan and saute, stirring regularly until slightly browned and fragrant.
Here at Mother Earth Living, we’re no stranger to amazing natural skin-care products. We’re in the very lucky position to have many wonderful companies regularly send samples our way—so much that it’s hard to ever share all of our favorites in the magazine.
Here are three products currently on my bathroom shelves (or at my office desk) that have become must-haves for my skin.
Iwilla Remedy My Skin Glows Nourishing Cream
This rich, healing cream is light enough for me to use on my face daily, yet also powerful enough to combat skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and rashes. It’s good for cuts and scrapes, too. This smooth and supple cream is made with a blend of health oils (sweet almond, aloe vera, neem seed and vitamin E) in a shea butter and beeswax base. It also includes skin-healing herbs and soothing essential oils: calendula, bergamot, Roman chamomile and frankincense/myrrh. Every Iwilla products is handmade in Brooklyn. The company is owned by two women dedicated to helping educate people about the power of pure herbal products. They offer private consultations, as well as answering any and all product questions within 24 hours. Learn more.
Everclen Eye Cream
As the parent of a high energy 2-year-old, sometimes I don’t get enough sleep. This means waking up with dark circles under my eyes (they say dark circles aren't caused by lack of sleep, but it certainly seems that way to me!). Our friends at Everclen sent over a sample of their eye cream a few weeks ago, and it’s a morning lifesaver. It’s amazing what a great job it does of alleviating the look of dark circles—a few tiny dabs and a few minutes, and they’re gone! With aloe juice, lavender, green tea extract, and grapeseed and jojoba oils, it’s soothing and firming. After seeing what an amazing job it did, I looked up the ingredients on the EWG’s Skin Deep database—most eye creams that work well are filled with potentially hazardous ingredients such as parabens and petroleum byproducts. This eye cream contains none of the typical skin-care nasties such as parabens, phthalates, petroleum, dyes, SLS and fragrance—not a claim most undereye creams can make. Only a couple of the ingredients looked questionable: dimethicone and phenoxyethanol. Both of these ingredients rank on the low side of the moderate concern level for the EWG (a 3 and a 4 on the 10-point scale), and I asked Everclen about it. Both are used in miniscule amounts to help prevent the product from getting moldy on the shelf. What's more, all of Everclen’s skin-care products have been tested in both clinical trials and by focus groups of women with sensitive skin--in both settings, the products proved safe and non-irritating for sensitive skin. Learn more.
Wild Carrot Herbals Soulshine Rosehip & Raspberry Seed Ambrosial Serum
If you are looking for luxurious natural skin care, this is it. Over the past few years, Wild Carrot Herbals has become one of my absolute favorite personal-care companies. This incredibly rich facial oil is made to maintain plumpness in the skin and to protect and encourage cell regeneration. With rosehip seed oil, organic olive oil infused with elder blossom flowers, vitamin E oil and the essential oils of Turkish rose otto, blood orange and Australian sandalwood, this serum is designed to protect skin from the elements and help it actually regenerate and look younger. It is an absolutely lovely, indulgent product, and it only requires a few tiny drops with each use. I love it. Learn more.
If you want to help support an amazing program this fall, all you have to do is buy your omega-3 supplements from Nordic Naturals. Through the end of the year, Nordic Natural is supporting the nonprofit Paws for Veterans (watch a video about the program), which pairs combat-wounded military veterans suffering from neurological and physical disabilities with task-trained medical service dogs, saved from shelters where they would otherwise have faced euthanasia.
This program is saving lives: 22 veteran suicides are reported daily and 1.2 million dogs are euthanized every year in the U.S. With every purchase of a single Nordic Naturals featured product (this includes all sizes of Baby’s DHA, Children’s DHA, Complete Omega, Nordic Berries, Omega-3, Ultimate Omega, Pet Cod Liver Oil and Omega-3 Pet), Nordic will donate a one-year supply of omega-3s to a veteran and service dog in the Paws for Veterans program. Nordic Naturals plans to donate a total of $30,000 to Paws for Veterans, to help fund a new training facility.
The dogs help remind veterans to take medications, physically interrupt panic attacks, help retrieve medication, phone, water or other family members, help owners wake from nightmares and more. Nordic Naturals offers a superior product, made from 100 percent wild-caught, sustainably managed fisheries. Now buying your supplements from them means helping veterans and shelter dogs, too. Learn more about this life-saving program.
Most of us are familiar with the delicate flavor of herbal iced teas and the soothing, warming properties of hot herbal teas—but have you ever incorporated tea into your cooking? This had never occurred to me until one of our partners—Teatulia, a socially conscientious organic tea company—started telling me about the recipe development they do. I found the concept fascinating. For example, one of their recipes involves tucking chamomile tea bags into the water with cooking quinoa to flavor the cooked product. They used chamomile tea for a breakfast quinoa, topped with walnuts, honey or dried fruit. I make quinoa all the time and this idea has the wheels spinning on the myriad ways I could incorporate this technique. I also love the recipe for tea-smoked chicken, which was submitted by one of Teatulia’s Facebook friends.
Teatulia offered to share one of their recipes with us. I selected this recipe for traditional Chinese marbled tea eggs—a simple but impressive dish for upcoming holiday parties.
You can find many more recipes for cooking with tea.
Photo courtesy Teatulia
7 Fun Ways to Cook with Tea
1. Hard-boil eggs in using your usual technique.
2. Steep strong Teatulia black tea and add star anise and soy sauce to taste.
3. Carefully roll eggs on counter, gently cracking them all over, but keeping shells on.
4. Place eggs in tea mixture and refrigerate overnight.
5. Gently peel eggs to reveal a spectacular cracked marble appearance.
6. Slice eggs in half lengthwise and put the yolks in a bowl.
7. Mash them with other ingredients to your liking and refill the halved whites for a more elegant deviled egg.
Do you use cast-iron pans? I love my cast-iron pans. They’re naturally nonstick, they add a delicious flavor to foods, and they’re totally chemical-free. Cast iron’s heaviness also helps keep temperatures even and thus cooks foods more evenly. Anyone who loves cast-iron knows you never want to let soap touch your seasoned pans. That means scrubbing them out with water after you’re done cooking. This task is made MUCH easier with a stainless-steel chainmail scrubber. It makes scraping food off of my cast-iron incredibly easy. I use this product daily and strongly recommend getting one if you cook on cast-iron regularly.
You can buy two stainless-steel scrubbers and a cast-iron cookbook from CM Scrubber.