Recipe + Spiced Apple Cider With A Frisky Twist

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Autumn has absolutely taken over my heart. I love when the season turns cooler, crisp, and calmer. Newly chilly fall mornings are my favorite. I love how the sun seems to wait just a little longer to begin the day. The still and quiet of the early morning hangs in the balance just a little longer. In the evening, sleepy heads turn in a little earlier, seeking the warm glow of those that we love.

As we all try to get cozy, I’m reminded that spiced apple cider is one of my favorite fall recipes. I love to share it with my loved ones when the days grow shorter and the air gets cooler. What I love most about making homemade apple cider is that it is surprisingly easy. Especially this recipe since it is made in a slow cooker.

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Spiced Apple Cider

You will need:

  • 10 apples- I like to use a verity like Fuji, Pink Lady, Gala, and Granny Smith for a complex flavor
  • An orange
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cinnamon sticks or 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • Nutmeg- I used fresh nutmeg but if you use pre-ground it is equal to about 1 ½ teaspoons
  • 5 whole allspice
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cup of honey- you can also use 1 cup of sugar or Sugavita.
  • Cheesecloth

First, you will want to gather your spices in a cheesecloth and tie the bundle up nice and tight. Or, if you would rather, you can skip the cheesecloth and toss the spices in the slow cooker as they are.

Next, quarter the apples. No need to seed or peel them. Then, zest the orange and cut in half. Add the apples, orange halves, and zest, honey or sugar, and vanilla extract into the slow cooker. Then, fill with enough water to cover everything. Toss in your spices. Set on high.

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After about two hours, take a large spoon or potato masher and mash the apples. They will be really soft by now. Discard the orange. Allow the mash to simmer for another hour or so.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Then strain through cheese cloth. You can do this a few times depending on how much pulp you want in your drink.

The cider can be added back into the slow cooker to keep and serve warm. Or, you can chill and serve it cold.

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If you’re feeling a little frisky…. Try mixing champagne with the chilled apple cider for an apple cider mimosa. I love to serve this on Holiday mornings when it’s just the girls in the kitchen.

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Cheater Spiced Apple Cider

Maybe you find Autumn tugging at your heart strings but you don’t have the time to make homemade apple cider. Here is a fast and easy cheater recipe for you.

 

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Apple juice

Start making a simple syrup by combining the sugar, water, and cinnamon. Bring to a very slight boil and reduce heat. Let simmer until it has reduced by about half. Allow to cool and pour into an airtight container like a glass jar.

Mix 8-10 ounces of apple juice with 1 tablespoon of the spiced simple syrup. Again you can drink this warmed or chilled.

Enjoy!

 

 

Zero-Waste Tips and Starter Kit

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If you follow me on social media, then you noticed that my family and I started getting serious about our zero-waste lifestyle. I spent months planning, strategizing, and thinking of ways that we could live while creating less waste. At first it seemed pretty daunting, especially with a 9-month old. Like most things in life, the anticipation was much worse than reality.

To  ease your transition, I thought that I would share some tips along with what I call “my starter kit”.

So here are the first strategies that we implemented:

  1. We dedicated to the 5 R’s by Bea Johnson who pioneered the zero-waste movement. the-5-rs-of-waste-management
  2. I canceled my prime membership. GASP! I did this because the membership enabled my need for instant gratification. I found myself ordering one thing from Amazon every few days. That resulted in a lot of packaging from shipping those items. I also saved $99 a year. If you spend $49 then your shipping is free–as long as you can live with standard shipping, that is. Once a month, at most, I place an Amazon order. I spend all month adding things to my shopping cart. This way I have time to really think about those items before I buy them. I also have time to look for those items second-hand. Amazon offers the option to purchase things used, so I try to use that whenever possible. By purchasing used items, I can contact the seller and ask for all paper packaging. I can also ask for items to be grouped together in as few packages as possible.
  3. If it is a natural non-protein material, then compost it. I was used to recycling paper, but one rule of zero-waste is to recycle as a last resort. Be careful of wax paper or coated paper. It does not compost and not all facilities can recycle them. Check here to see what your area can recycle. I have two composts. One outside that is for rot only. That one is the larger compost. The second is my kitchen composter (DIY post coming soon) that is for kitchen scraps that I don’t plan to save for making broth. The kitchen composter is full of worms!compostComposter.png
  4. We started fighting junk mail. It’s not easy, but start a file of junk mail offers that come to your home. After the first month, start calling these companies and ask to be removed from the list. Here is a great resource to help with this. While you are at it, if you have not signed up for paperless statements yet then go ahead and do that. Eliminate as much paper from the mailbox as possible. You can cut out the plastic window from the sender and compost the original envelope. Reuse the return envelopes that come with any bills.
  5. I found local sources for food and items besides the store. Now I love Whole Food’s, but it isn’t the most sustainable place to get what you need. I found local farms, farmer’s markets, and even facebook groups that make, sell and trade things. From elderberry syrup and soap to mama cloth and jewelry. I found someone who could make these locally while supporting small businesses. elderberry
  6. Buying in bulk. Find out if there are stores in your area that allow you to buy your dry goods- rice, beans, coffee etc. in bulk. I use either canvas bags  or glass jars. The store can pre-weigh the jars so that you are not charged extra. We buy our toilet paper in bulk from a restaurant supply store so that it is wrapped in paper. Liquid Castille soap is another bulk purchase. We use it to make dish soap, shampoo, and hand soap. Also, stop paying for your Costco membership. If you do need to shop at Costco then buy a gift card, they will let you in the store without paying for a monthly membership. Keep in mind though that most areas cannot recycle plastic cards so reload the same one. farmers-market
  7. You only need four things to clean your entire home. Vinegar, baking soda, water, peroxide, and sometimes essential oils. Buy these in bulk too so that you get more product and less packaging. Look here for DIY recipes.
  8. We make our own as much as possible. You can DIY make-up, shampoo, broth, sauces, seasoning mixes, nut butter and milk, etc. Pinterest is full of tutorials and recipes. I’ll share my favorites soon.easy-slow-cooker-bone-broth
  9. Reusable and compostable instead of disposable. I simply thought to myself, “What did people do before this was invented?” Try using cloth diapers and wipes, old rags and cloth napkins, handkerchiefs, glass jars for to-go cups, glass or stainless steel food storage containers or again, jars.cloth
  10. Ask the manager first. When I do need to buy something from the store like meat from the meat counter, I ask to speak with the manager first. That way the employees won’t fuss if you ask them to fill your half gallon mason jar with ground beef or chicken breast. Just tell them, “I spoke with (manager’s name) and s/he said it was ok.”

My Starter Kit

I thought about options of how to acquire what I needed to start our waste-free life. At the same time, I wanted to minimize my carbon footprint while maximizing our budget. I already had some items on this list, but what I did need I decided to order from Amazon all at once. See #2 above.

Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Deluxe Reusable Grocery Bag with Bottle Sleeves - Natural (3 Pack) Reusable Grocery Bags. Don’t get stuck bringing home hundreds of plastic bags a year. Simply bring your own.

Ball Wide Mouth Half Gallon 64 Oz Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 6 Glass Jars. These are half gallon jars so that I could put a good amount of food in them. I already had quart size all the way down to half pint size. Buy what you need.

Augbunny 100% Cotton 10- by 12-Inch Muslin Bags with Drawstring, 12-Pack Canvas Bags. These are great for buying bulk dry goods such as rice or beans. You can also make your own from old sheets or pillow cases.

Reusable Produce Bags (Set Of 3) - Organic Cotton Mesh - Large Size for Grocery Shopping and Fruit and Veggie Storage - With Convenient Muslin Carry Bag Mesh Produce Bags. You may or may not need these, but they do come in handy.

LinenTablecloth 17-Inch Polyester Napkins (1-Dozen) White Cloth Napkins. These are polyester–I’d much rather have cotton, but I was able to find these used so that was a plus.

The Organic Handkerchiefs Company Set of Organic Cotton Handkerchiefs, Medium Handkerchiefs. I bought 2 dozen so that I would have enough to put around the house in the same places you would have a tissue box.

Drinking Straws, X-Chef Stainless Steel Beverage Straws 7.9 inch for Juice Milk Yeti Tumbler Soda Water,Reusable,PreBend,With Cleaning BrushesReusable Straws. You can either buy stainless steel or glass, or go strawless.

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps - Castille Soap Baby Mild Unscented, 1 Gallon  Bulk Liquid Castille Soap. Buying more means less packaging per product. We use this to make so many things.

Full Circle Neat Nut Walnut Shell Scouring Pads, Non-Scratch, Set of 3 Natural Scouring pads. This does come with a small amount of coated paper packaging but the pads themselves are made from walnut shells and can be composted.

Caldrea Dishwashing Brush Natural Dish Brush. All but the small amount of metal on this brush can be composted when you are done with it.

Mega Pack - 120 Count Dishwasher Detergent Pacs, Fresh Scent by General Quality Brands  Sustainable dishwasher detergent. This isn’t necessary for everyone. If you can, hand wash everything but if you can’t, these are shipped and stored in the same box. No plastic.

Love My® /Mama/Girl/Maiden/Antibacterial Bamboo fiber/ Menstrual Pads/ Reusable/ Panty Liners - 6pcs pack-(Large size)  Mama Cloth. If you don’t want to make your own or can’t find them locally, then these are a good option. Also, a menstrual cup could work for you.

Lola Eco Clean Bamboo and Tampico Bottle Brush Bottle Brush. If you have a baby, I recommend using glass bottles and a natural bottle brush that can be composted when you are done using it.

Lipper International 887 Bamboo Plate Rack/Pot Lid Holder Drying Rack. This can be used for all dishes but we use it most for drying baby bottles.

Do you do anything to reduce your waste? Do you have any tips to share? Leave me a comment, and let me know.

Recipe + Ready to Try Bone Broth?

“It’s the new coffee.”

Have you heard of this bone broth thing? Well if you haven’t then I’m going to enlighten you on how awesome this new (old) trend can be.

Bone broth is considered to be both a food and a medicine. What?! Yes. It’s known to heal the skin, gut, GI tract, aid in digestion or help you beat that cold your whole family has caught and passed along for the past few weeks. Because broth is an extract of connective tissue, it is great for joints, bones, lungs, muscles and blood. Why? Because it’s made up of the same stuff we are, and it’s like hitting the refresh button. Because it is an extract of connective tissue, it is great for joints, bones, lungs, muscles and blood. Why? Because it’s made up of the same stuff we are, and it’s like hitting the refresh button.

Who can benefit from drinking broth? Everyone. Here is what this magic medicine can do:

  • Heals the gut lining
  • Supports healthy digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Strengthens bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and aids arthritis

Are you ready for the recipe? Let’s get started.

What you need:
• 2-3 rotisserie chicken carcasses; include any leftover skin or meat. I also use any bones I can find, about 2 lbs of bones will be a good amount.
• 1 or 2 medium onions, roughly chopped. Leave the skin on.
• 1 head of garlic
• 2 celery ribs roughly chopped
• 2 carrots roughly chopped
• A few bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary
• 2 teaspoons peppercorns
• 2 teaspoons natural salt
• 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar; one tablespoon for each carcass
• Enough water to immerse ingredients

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What to do:

• Add everything to an 8-quart crockpot. Cook on low for 12 or more hours.

• While still warm, remove larger solids then strain in a mesh strainer to remove any small bones and solids.

• Refrigerate until solidified, then scrape the hardened fat from the top. I save the fat which is also called tallow. I use it as tallow butter or cooking fat.

• Keep broth in the refrigerator for up to one week. Otherwise, store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

If your slow cooker is smaller, you can cut the recipe in half.

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Journey + Mama & Baby

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Little did I know that I was pregnant the last time I visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was too early for pregnancy symptoms, and although we were trying, I never would have guessed that I was carrying my child in this picture. To become a mother, was something that I remember praying for, crying for, and preparing my body for.

Two years before we decided to start our family, Charles and I knew we wanted to bring our little one into a healthy home. Not only that but, as with all parents, we also wanted to raise the healthiest child possible. I knew that the health of my baby would start before conception. I needed to create the healthiest environment possible to grow my little baby.

We removed as many toxins from our home as possible, and began to focus on eating real, whole foods, and living a natural lifestyle. After two years of trail and error, I finally found out that I was expecting in May of 2015. I strongly credit a healthy lifestyle and whole foods diet to my successful pregnancy. I highly recommend The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care if anyone is trying to conceive.