Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Five Favorites {The Somehow Staying Healthy Edition}

It seems like everyone has had several awful run-ins with illness this winter!  And the stuff going around seems ugly and long and I feel so sorry for all those who have been dealing with it and I've been praying for you.  I know it's exhausting and so very hard to deal with when these ugly things make their way through each little person.

The last two years we've had lots of sickness during the winter.  It seemed like we'd get a brief two or three week respite before the next bug hit us.  So this year I decided to try my hand at doing a better job at being a bit more proactive and preventing the germs from taking hold.  And...I think...maybe...it's worked.  We haven't gotten sick since last November and that was just a minor cold.  David is right now finally struggling with a little cold but besides that, we have been so blessed.  Who knows, maybe it's just luck or grace but I fully intend on continuing the following regimen next year because if it is this, then it is SO worth it.  

1.
Wellness Mama's Elderberry Syrup


I started making this a few months ago when everyone started posting about flu trials.  The ingredients are simple:  elderberries, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and raw honey - all great at helping your body battle sickness.  Mine turns out a more liquidy than syrup but I don't think I cook the berries down long enough.  It's still fine.  For a while I was having us all take a straight shot at bedtime but Michael didn't care for the strong taste (to me, it tastes like very very strong grape juice).  Instead, I decided to put a few tablespoons into a purple smoothie every 1-2 mornings during breakfast.

I bought the elderberries on Amazon here.  I'll be able to make about six jars with that amount so it was definitely worth it.  You can buy elderberry syrup at the store but it's pricey and goes quickly when you're doling it out to so many.

2.
Purple Smoothies

So rainbowy!

That brings me to our purple smoothies.  I was going to call them green smoothies but it would be a lie.  The blueberries make them a much more appealing purple.  I don't measure anything but in a pitcher I combine:
frozen blueberries and strawberries that we picked over the summer (about a cup each?)
 chia seeds 1-2 tablespoons
1-2 bananas
spinach - about 2 cups
elderberry syrup - about 2-3 tablespoons
 water enough to make it blendable and drinkable

Sometimes I'll throw in other crunchy healthy things if I happen to have them and think about it:  coconut oil, soaked goji berries, even dried nettle that I saved from our yard!
    Blend away and then portion out to all of us.  The kids love them and they're so full of vitamin C and iron and all sorts of good things that they must be playing a role in helping us out this winter.

3.
Trader Joe's Chewable Oranges and C


Every few days I've been having the boys take some extra vitamin C in this form.  They taste good and are chewable.  If we've been around someone who's been sick or after being out, I sometimes have them take an extra.  I have some gross non-coated pills from the drugstore (belch.  Don't buy the non coated pills!) that I've been gagging over but using the same way myself.  

4.

A friend of mine sells Doterra essential oils and after trying some of her samples and learning how susceptible David seems to be to colds and especially cough and croupy stuff, I ordered the Breathe blend.  It's pricey but it lasts a long time since you're only using a drop or two at a time.  When you realize that some of these preventative or healing measures are a lot cheaper than a trip to the doctor and they work, it certainly puts it in perspective!  It works nicely rubbed on the chest or feet when dealing with a cough or congestion but I especially love to put a few drops in the humidifier.  The peppermint and eucalyptus permeate the whole room and make it so much easier for him to breathe and sleep (which, in turn, lets us sleep and stay well!) and he heals quicker.

They have another blend called On Guard which is for immunity support.  I have a sample of that from another source and may invest in some of that next year as well.

5.
In equal parts - Handwashing, Prudent Plan Making, and Homemade Stocks

I've also been more careful this year about washing hands when we get home from places and avoiding places where I know there are sick kids.  I've learned my lesson once too many times that as much as I may want to go to that get together or get out of the house and take my (our) chances hanging with another family that has or has recently had something, that few hours of social time is just not worth the days or weeks of illness and sleepless nights that follow.  It's usually for me that I want to get out and that isn't fair to one of my little ones who will inevitably end up suffering for a week because Mama wanted to see her friends.  Thank God for email and phones :)  I've also had a goal this year of using more homemade stocks from our beef and turkey bones and we have been.  So full of good nourishment and I feel like that has played a role in keeping us well, too.

It sure will be wonderful when we can all breathe fresh air a whole lot more, won't it?  It's getting all the way up to FORTY-FOUR DEGREES today and I actually see the icicles melting!  Must must must bring us all out for walk today...

What are your tried and true tips or lessons in keeping or getting well?  I'd love to hear them!
And if you'd like me to add your family to my prayers for healing, please let me know.


Linking up with Christy in lieu of Haley for Five Favorites!





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26 comments:

  1. I love Elderberry syrup! I actually just took a class on small fruits for my area and turns out I can grow both Elderberries and Aronia berries (which are supposed to be even better than Elderberries) in my area! I have big plans for this spring.

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  2. Cod liver oil and vitamin D seem to make a difference for us.

    And, I need to get better at the prudent plan making. On Friday we went to a Valentine's Party with the Knights of Colubmbus. It was fun..they had te adults in one room and the kids all in another with bounce houses and things. It was fun ,but a bunch of kids bouncing around in close quarters is a sure-fire way of coming down with something and now my two oldest are sick and I'm just waitng for it to strike eveyrone else.

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    1. Here's hoping it misses the rest of the family! I've heard a lot about cod liver oil but have never delved in!

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  3. Wow, you've inspired me to incorporate more smoothies into our lives. Before this pregnancy, I was drinking them so often but now, a glass full of cold liquid sounds so unappetizing. Give me something warm and baked and cheesy :) I wonder if you guys are healthy because you homeschool too? I know we are exposed to so many germs from work, school, and home daycare. I'm hoping my kids will just get all their immunities while they are young and will be healthy adults?!?!

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    1. Warm, baked, and cheesy sounds good, too :) I used to think homeschooling would help but the last few years proved me wrong and many of the people I know hit hard with bugs were also homeschoolers! I used to tell myself that line about the building immunities thing but I'm not thinking it works that way for a lot of the sicknesses, unfortunately, since they change from year to year.

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  4. Oh my goodness, I could have written this post! Same experience for us. We were sick so frequently last year and, as a result, I was one miserable mama. Fevers every three weeks took their toll on our family. It scarred me so badly that this year I went all out with homemade stocks every week, homemade elderberry syrup, extra vitamin D and C, completely revamping our diet (more veggies and fruit, NO processed food) and avoiding places I knew would be super germy (and sadly, friends who were always sick). Thanks be to God, only one mild cold so far this winter.
    This is my first visit to your blog, and I'm so glad I found it. We're about to begin our homeschool adventure with my son in the fall and I'm eager to learn how everyone else makes it happen!

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    1. So good to know that maybe it isn't just luck! And welcome! I'm glad you're here!

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  5. I wanted to make that elderberry syrup for a year now and haven't been able to find elderberries for sale up here in Canada in any health food stores. Do you think Amazon would ship them across the border? I'll have to check. For some reason I feel as if my one daughter keeps catching random colds yet I've been keeping up with all their vitamins and such. I wonder if maybe when they go through growth spurts their immunity isn't as great? That essential oil also looks awesome!

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    1. I bought a mix of dried elderberries and spices from an Etsy shop. Many of them ship out of the US, so you might try there. It was everything you need except the honey. Just search etsy for elderberries.

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  6. These are all great ideas! It is such a blessing to have a healthful year (and I know how hard to have a year full of illness). May I ask how you then make the smoothies: can a stick blender handle that in the pitcher or do you have to transfer to a conventional blender? And I totally agree about purple beating green in the appetizing department, by far.

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    1. Yep, I just use the immersion blender and it works way better than the cheap blender I got rid of long ago. I sometimes have to wait for the fruit to thaw a bit because it's rock hard but I much prefer using this because it's so small and multipurpose!

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  7. Thankfully, we too, have been pretty healthy again this year. We were really blessed last year too. I think b/c I had a newborn last year I was really wary of going places with any other kids esp ones I heard were sick:) Although it makes for some lonely, long days with out adult, face to face interaction- it is worth it! We do green smoothies ever morning too and Vit. C tablets and I always have been a stickler for washing hands as soon as we walk in the door. Maybe I'll try some elderberry next year too!

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  8. Awesome post! I was always that kid who got sick a lot - and unfortunately I still am as a 20-something. My mom and I have been discussing elderberry syrup and green smoothies so I may add those to my vitamin C and see if they work for almost-grown-ups as well.
    Happy to hear you and your boys have been staying well this winter!
    ~Willow

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  9. Whenever I say "natural" remedy anything, I get so many eye-rolls from the listeners, but really, our bodies are amazing little machines that will work to fight off many ailments if we just give them a little help. Your list is great! I'm a big fan of essential oils too. My chiropractor suggested that I rub my kids neck (base of head and down along the sides to help drain swollen lymph nodes) with eucalyptus oil mixed in jojoba or olive oil to help soothe colds/coughs/fevers. Works every time!

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  10. I have to check out what elderberry plants/bushes look like. I may have some growing in my yard. You just might have a free supply for next year. If it is working keep doing it.

    Grandma in Chicago

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  11. We had a horribly sick winter last year too! We started eating a much more natural diet last spring and also started drinking kefir in November. According to a lot of sources, anywhere from 60-80% of your immune system is in your gut. Kefir (unlike yogurt) will actually colonize healthy bacteria as well as kill bad bacteria in your gut. I think it's made all the difference in the world for us! We've had a very healthy winter, despite being exposed to all kinds of nastiness.

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    1. You know, I've NEVER had kefir but I hear talk of it all the time! I wonder if drinking raw milk like we do provides a lot of the same benefits? Maybe?

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  12. So glad you've been able to keep your family healthy this winter! Way to go mama!!!

    Also, thanks for the doTerra recommendation! I've been looking into getting some for our family!

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  13. We've been using that same recipe from wellness mama for a year or so, it works so well! Also look up a recipe for thieves oil, we buy the oils separately (vitacost) then mix our own. Apply to the lower back with a carrier oil as that is where bacteria likes to harbor. It's been so great to us! Great post and ideas Mary :)

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  14. I made my own elderberry syrup this year, too, and mine if very runny as well. I bought a kit on Esty that had everything except the honey. I'm sure not as inexpensive as individual ingredients but easy and it tastes good! I've been adding vitamin D to my own vitamins, as well as C. And I have a little bottle of thieves oil in my purse and use it on my hands when I go into a public place. I'm sure you can find a recipe if you have all of the essential oils. You can also make your own vapor rub with those oils you are breathing. It's nice to rub a little across the chest and shoulders before bed.

    I need to do more broth. Thanks for the reminder. I just cooked down a chicken yesterday. Today I need to make it tasty!

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  15. This great! I've been meaning to buy elderberry syrup (or elderberries, I guess) - definitely going to have to give it a try. Also, check out Fire Cider - good for respiratory health, and you can mix it with tea (or liquor, if that's your thing. It is mine. : ) ) Maybe a little bracing for the kids, I haven't tried it on mine.

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  16. Great Post! This is my first time to your blog... but I'd like to try the syrup!

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  17. I just checked to see what elderberry bushes look like and that is what I have in my yard. I know some of them got damaged over the years but I think there are still some. I needed to check because I wasn't sure about who told me they were elderberry bushes and how reliable the source was. It is way back and I don't use any sprays so you may have a ready source. Maybe I will go into the elderberry business!
    Grandma in Chicago

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  18. I had not heard of elderberry syrup before!! My husband and I like fruit and veggie smoothies but we ran out of berries we froze last summer (they lasted a good long time, but I guess we loved them too much...) so we haven't had them in a while!

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