5 Easy Uses for Argan Oil in Your Beauty Routine

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

What is Argan Oil?

Argan oil is an oil that is extracted from the nuts of the Argan tree, which is found only in Morocco.  It is extracted by hand by removing the kernels of the nut and smashing them between rocks.  It is then cold-pressed into an oil.

The beauty of Argan oil is that one little bottle of this can replace virtually every container in your beauty routine!  It contains essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals needed by your body to replenish your skin and hair.  Even better – no harsh chemicals, no parabens, and no fragrances or colors.

5 Easy Ways to Use Argan Oil

  1. All-Around Moisturizer: Massage some Argan oil into your face, lips, skin, cuticles, etc., for a wonderful hydrated feeling.  Argan oil is a “dry” oil, so it doesn’t feel greasy.
  2. Hair Conditioner: After showering and washing your hair, massage a few drops of Argan oil into your hair while it is still wet.  You don’t have to rinse it out and it will moisturize your locks all day.
  3. Bath Oil: Place a few drops into your bath water to rejuvenate and hydrate your skin.
  4. Skin and Lip Scrub: Mix a few drops of Argan oil with some finely ground sugar to create a fabulous sugar scrub.  Gently massage onto skin and lips in a circular motion, rinse, and enjoy the benefits of beautiful skin.
  5. Heel Healer: Do you suffer from dry, cracked heels in the winter?  No worries anymore – massage a generous amount of Argan oil into your heels before bed, and cover with socks.

Where Can I Find Argan Oil?

Since Argan oil is so highly valued because of the difficult, time-consuming nature of its production, it may be difficult to find in some local areas.  Check with your natural health foods store or buy Afra Green Argan Oil directly through Healthy Planet.


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.

3 Ways Biotin Can Improve Your Health

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Have you heard of Biotin?  While that name might be new to you, you’ve probably heard of it by one of its other names – Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H.  Biotin is part of the complex B-vitamins that aids specifically in balancing your metabolism.  If you’ve felt tired or lethargic for no reason, have had trouble losing weight even when following a strict diet/exercise plan, or have noticed brittle hair and nails, you may suffer from a Biotin deficiency.

Here are three ways that Biotin can improve your overall health:

  1. Metabolism Booster – Having enough Biotin in your system is absolutely essential for metabolizing energy.  Eating more Biotin-rich foods or taking a Biotin supplement can help your body better regulate and boost your metabolism, giving you more energy, helping you lose weight, and get your body at normal functioning metabolic levels.
  2. Blood Sugar Regulator – Another common problem with those suffering from a Biotin deficiency is low blood sugar.  Along with regulating your metabolism, Biotin is also necessary for keeping your blood sugar level at a normal level.  People with diabetes are often prescribed Biotin supplements to help stave off blood sugar drops.
  3. Hair and Nail Strengthener – If you’ve noticed brittle hair, weak nails, or even hair loss, a Biotin supplement could be just what you need.  Biotin can help to stimulate more and stronger hair and nail growth, so those suffering from weak hair and nails should be able to benefit greatly!

If you’re looking for ways to get Biotin into your system through your diet, some foods to make sure you’re getting lots of are carrots, fresh fruits and berries, eggs, cow’s milk, and leafy green vegetables (Swiss chard is especially high in Biotin content).  If you’re looking to take a Biotin supplement, Healthy Planet carries NOW’s Biotin supplements.


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.

10 Great Ways to Use Tea Tree Oil In Your Home

How to use tea tree oil in your home

In the world of homeopathy and aromatherapy, few essential oils are as versatile as tea tree oil.  Tea tree oil, with its healing and medicinal properties, should be in every essential oil kit!  A brief history lesson: tea tree oil is believed to have been used first by Aborigines in Australia, who used the leaves of the Melaleuca tree (which tea tree oil is derived from) to treat colds, coughs, wounds, rashes, etc.

How can you use tea tree oil in your home?  Here are ten of my favorite ways to u tea tree oil:

  1. Air Freshener: Tea tree oil does a fabulous job at removing odors from the air.  Put a few diluted drops into the top of a candle warmer, use it with incense sticks, dilute it in a spray bottle, place a few drops on a cotton ball and place in rooms, etc.  My favorite place to use tea tree oil as an air freshener is in our cloth diaper wet bag!  Just a few drops each time it’s washed helps keep the stinkies at bay!
  2. Coughs/Asthma: Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in a vaporizer or a steam bath and breathe in.  The antimicrobial properties will help fight off any infections and can ease breathing difficulties.
  3. Massage Oil/Dry Skin: With cold weather changes comes dry skin.  Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in with your favorite carrier oil and massage into the skin for a rejuvenating fix!
  4. Mosquito/Flea Bites: While lavender is typically the go-to for relieving itchy bites, tea tree oil can do the same thing.  Simply dab a drop of oil on the bite.
  5. Household Cleaning: If you have ventured into the world of making your own cleaning supplies, it’s super easy to incorporate tea tree oil here!  Dilute a few drops into your mixtures – this will help to kill germs and fight unwanted bacteria.
  6. Laundry: Have some moldy, smelly towels?  No problem!  Use about 15 drops in a full load to help combat the smell.
  7. Rashes/Eczema: For soothing, healing relief from rashes and eczema, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and massage into the skin.
  8. Sunburn:  Once again, lavender is usually the go-to here, but for an extra sunburn-fighting punch, add a few drops of tea tree oil with your lavender/coconut oil mix!
  9. Pest Control: Keep unwanted “friends” out of your home by using a few drops of undiluted tea tree oil at the entry points.  Bugs don’t like the scent and will stay away.  If ants in the kitchen are your problem, wipe your counters and cupboard shelves down with a tea tree oil/water mixture.
  10. Immune Booster: Any time you’re feeling the need to boost your immune system (cold/flu season, start of school, season change, etc.), diffuse tea tree oil in the house.  You can also massage some tea tree oil with a carrier oil into the soles of your feet for good absorption into the bloodstream.

tto-bottleNeed to stock up on tea tree oil now that you know just a few of its amazing benefits?  Since tea tree oil is a pretty standard essential oil to have around, you should be able to find it in any natural health store and possibly even some organic grocery store sections.  Healthy Planet sells Natural Factors Tea Tree Oil, on sale currently for less than $10 a bottle.


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.

Benefits of Cod Liver Oil for Children (And Sneaky Ways to Get Them to Take It)

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Why give my child cod liver oil?

Cod liver oil is one of the best sources of fat soluble Vitamins A, D, and K, which all work to boost your child’s immune systems. These fat soluble vitamins also work with our bodies to help ensure we are absorbing the appropriate nutrients from the foods that we eat – how crucial is that for a small growing body?? Cod liver oil also contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids such as EHA and DHA, which are also crucial for growing bodies. Proper absorption of these fatty acids boosts brain growth, vision, and can support bone/tooth growth.

How do I get my child to take cod liver oil?

It’s not a secret – cod liver oil is not very tasty, and it can be tricky to get children, especially young ones, to willingly swallow it. Thankfully, there are a few ways to sneak it into your child on a daily basis, since they only need a tiny bit to reap the benefits. Now, you can purchase cod liver oil in pills or capsules, but obviously this is only for older children.  For younger ones, you have the options of liquid or a gel.  Here are some ways you can sneak it into their diet:

  • Blend the liquid or gel into a breakfast smoothie.  Sweeter fruits tend to mask the flavor well, as does peanut butter (or heck, even a little chocolate!).
  • Mix the liquid form with a citrus juice, as the tartness helps to hide the bitterness of the oil.
  • Make homemade gummies and mix in the gel or liquid.  Give a child a gummy each day.
  • Mix a serving in with a spoonful of raw honey.
  • And the *only* successful sneaky attempt I’ve had with my toddler – mixing it in with some apple butter and serving over cottage cheese.   I know…. weird, but it worked!!

Where can I buy cod liver oil?

There are plenty of brands out there, but you want to be sure you’re buying the purest that you can.  Do some research about the companies.  Nordic Naturals is a great brand, and you can purchase several different options through Healthy Planet.


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.

5 Reasons to Use Castile Soap

castile soap

What is Castile Soap?

Castile soap is a soap that is made with an olive oil base.  Its use dates back centuries; and it is still the first choice for bath/beauty care among the health-conscious today.  Dr. Bronner’s is the leading retailer of castile soap, and it is a fabulous choice – fair trade, certified organic ingredients, 100% recycled bottles, and it is completely biodegradable and vegetable-based.

5 Reasons to Use Castile Soap

  1. Incredibly versatile and has many uses.  From the kitchen to the laundry room to the powder room, you won’t find something as useful as castile soap!  Just a few of its many uses are: vegetable wash, shampoo, baby soap, puppy shampoo, couch cleaner, laundry detergent, car wash, and so much more!
  2. Healthier alternative than most beauty products.  In its purest form, castile soap is safe to use on infants.  You certainly couldn’t say that about most of the products you purchase on the grocery store shelves!
  3. Made from all-natural ingredients.  Castile soap contains only vegetable-based ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about all of those chemicals that you can’t pronounce!  With Dr. Bronner’s, the ingredients are also fair trade and certified organic, making it the absolute best choice for your home!
  4. Minimal environmental impact.  Because castile soap does not contain synthetic fragrances and other harsh chemicals, there is no concern about its affect on the water supply.  Also, Dr. Bronner’s packages its liquid soaps in 100% recycled plastic bottles – even better!
  5. Castile soap is long-lasting.  Talk about a bang for your buck!  Although at first glance it may seem like castile soap is far more expensive, you must keep in mind that it is a highly concentrated soap.  A little will go a LONG way!  You will want to make sure to dilute according to package directions for almost every use.

Where to Buy Castile Soap

Castile Soap is actually a pretty common thing to find on pharmacy and grocery store shelves, though it is often hiding in the organic sections and/or on the bottom shelves.  You can buy Dr. Bronner’s through Healthy Planet as well.


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.

Why Children Need More Omega-3 DHA

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What is Omega-3 DHA?

Omega-3 is a group of essential fatty acids that are very important for vital functioning of the body.  It is often necessary and recommended for all (including children) to take supplements of Omega-3, as it is difficult to find enough of the fatty acids in a normal healthy diet for the body to use.  DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) is one of the Omega-3 fatty acids that is the hardest to include in one’s diet, since very few foods contain a significant amount of DHA.  DHA is derived from fish oils, with tuna oil having the highest natural concentration of DHA.  While plant-derived forms of Omega-3 acids are available and more easily incorporated into a diet, they are not as efficiently converted by the body as DHA.  At least 30% of brain matter depends on Omega-3 DHA, and the body stores most of its stockpile of DHA in the retina.

What are the benefits for children?

Fun fact: A very large component of human breastmilk is made up of Omega-3 DHA, which newborns rely on for brain, nervous system, and eye development!

Clearly, since Omega-3 DHA is one of the crucial fatty acids fed to newborns from the first moments of life, we can see how important it is to continue to incorporate this essential fatty acids into the diets of our children.  Here are just a few of the benefits that research has shown for children taking Omega-3 DHA:

  • Increased cognitive development – higher intelligence test scores, better hand-eye coordination, longer attention spans, etc.
  • Promotes physical growth and brain development
  • Lower incidences of ADHD, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes
  • Naturally treats depression

Where can I buy Omega-3 DHA?

There are a few things you should be aware of when looking for the perfect Omega-3 DHA supplement for your children (or yourself).

  1. If you are vegan or vegetarian, be aware that most DHA supplements contain fish oil.  You can purchase vegan-friendly options which are derived from algae, which has a high concentration of DHA as well.
  2. Check the ingredients!  Make sure that you’re not buying something that contains a lot of “extras.”
  3. Check for purity of the fish oil!  Carefully read the labels and/or do some research about the company to make sure that you’re getting the highest quality of fish oil that contains little to no mercury if possible.  Good companies should put this on their labels – be wary if you don’t see it!

chewable-dhaYou can find Omega-3 DHA supplements specifically for children at any drug store or health food store. This month, Healthy Planet has the Carlson Chewable DHA for kids on sale for right around $10 per bottle – that’s 20% off the regular price!


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.

5 Ways to Use Almond Oil

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Even if you are new to the world of essential oils, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of almond oil, as it’s one of the most commonly used oils.  It’s an oil that is derived from cold-pressed almonds.  It’s yellowy in color and has that sweet, nutty smell that you’d expect.  There are plenty of uses around your home and in your life for almond oil, but here are our five favorite ways to use it!

Warning: Almond oil is derived from almonds, so those with nut sensitivities or allergies should not use almond oil.

1 – For Beautiful Skin

Rich in Vitamins E and D, there is no shortage of uses for almond oil in your beauty routine, and one of these uses is to keep your skin clean and beautiful!  Despite what you’d think, almond oil is great for any skin type – even oily skin.  It’s a fabulous moisturizer, helps to repair skin, relieves itching or irritation, and can assist in healing cracked or broken skin such as heels, elbows, etc.  It’s great as an under eye “cream”, skin exfoliant (mixed with sugar), anti-wrinkle moisturizer after cleansing, and as a defense against eczema.  It is absorbed by the skin quickly, so it doesn’t leave a greasy residue.

2- For Healthy Hair

Almond oil is also a wonderful moisturizer for your hair!  Massage a few drops into your scalp for a healthy shine.  It helps to make your hair stronger and thicker, and is great for taming flyaways.  It’s also been known to help with hair regrowth.

3- For Medicinal Use

Applied topically, almond oil can work as a muscle relaxer for sore muscles and aches and pains.  As mentioned for its uses for beautiful skin, almond oil also helps with skin repair, so it can be applied to minor burns, scrapes, and other small injuries.  Taken internally, almond oil can also be used to boost immune systems and used as a laxative for poor digestion issues.  Take care not to use almond oil internally for too long at once though, without consulting a medical professional.

4- For Aromatherapy

Almond oil, often mixed with other essential oils, has wonderful calming and cleansing effects when used in aromatherapy.  It has been said that almond oil can relieve pain symptoms and nourish the brain and nervous system.  It’s also wonderful in massage therapy use, as it is non-greasy and has so many wonderful benefits for the skin.

5- For the Kitchen

Since almond oil is a vegetable oil, there are many uses in the kitchen.  It adds a slight nutty flavor to foods, is great for sautéing as it has a very high smoke point, and adds plenty of healthy benefits to whatever you add it to.  With each serving of almond oil added to your food, your body gains Vitamin E, K, omega fatty acids, and phytosterols (which help in lowering cholesterol).  It can be used in cooking, but can also be consumed raw, so add it to smoothies, sprinkle it on popcorn for a healthy butter replacement, and more!

Where to buy almond oil

Almond oil is quite easy to find in any health foods store, and perhaps even in your local grocery store.  Sweet Almond Oil is also available through Healthy Planet for only $3.99!


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.

What Exactly Is Genetically Modified Food?

What Is Genetically Modified Food

The term “GMO” (Genetically Modified Organism) is quite the controversial topic these days, but what exactly does it mean when we’re talking about genetically modified food?

Simply put, genetic modification involves splicing the genes from one organism into another.  For example, splicing genes from an arctic flounder into a tomato plant to make the tomato more resistant to cold temperatures, thus giving it a longer growing season.  However, in nature, these types of modifications would never happen (a cow wouldn’t mate with a pig; a tomato plant wouldn’t cross-pollinate with rice plants; etc.).

The main arguments in favor of these genetic modifications are to gain bigger crop yields and use fewer pesticides.  In theory, these ideas sound great, but unfortunately it’s not that simple.  First of all, the biggest concern is safety.  GMOs haven’t been around that long, and we have no idea of the long-term effects of using and consuming genetically modified foods.  Numerous countries around the world have banned or severely limited the use of GMO ingredients in their food supplies.

In the US, on the other hand, the FDA has approved production of GMOs based on safety studies conducted by the companies that are producing and profiting from the GMOs themselves.    What’s worse is that our country does not require foods containing GMOs to be labeled – so not only do consumers not know what they are buying, they also cannot accurately track how these ingredients may be affecting their overall longterm health.

One big safety concern is the use of herbicides and pesticides on GMO crops.  Although one of the main “bonuses” of using GMOs is the lack of necessity for these chemicals, in practice, conventional farmers can (and do) spray their entire fields with herbicides and pesticides, knowing that the crops will be safe.  In the past, they would’ve had to be more careful and selective, but now, they can use these chemicals liberally and blindly.

So, how can you avoid GMOs in your food?  Buy organic!  Organic agriculture prohibits the use of any GMOs.

Image: tiloo


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.

Why Does Organic Food Cost More?

Why Organic Food Costs More

This is a question that any shopper trying to buy more conscientiously asks themselves when walking through the organic grocery aisle – “why does the organic food always seem to be so much more expensive than the conventional options?”

Although it may not help your pocketbook, knowing the true costs of buying conventional foods will certainly help make it a bit easier to spend a little more money for that “organic” label.

Running an organic farm is far from easy… these hard-working farmers have to maintain detailed records and go through countless inspections to keep their accreditation as an organic farm.  This makes for a lot more time spent on paperwork and more money spent on administrative costs than a conventional farmer would spend.

The way food is grown is also very different.  A conventional farmer will plant their cash crops year after year, getting the highest yield possible over and over.  This is done at the expense of the health of the land, as it contributes to soil erosion and saps nutrients from the soil.  Organic farmers, on the other hand, will rotate their crops, allowing the soil time to rebuild itself, developing healthier, stronger crops.  Though this is much healthier for the land (and the people eating the crops!), it comes at the expense of making less money than a conventional farmer.

In addition, conventional farmers spray their crops with tons of nasty chemical fertilizers and often use sewage sludge as soil additives, because of the cheap costs.  Organic farmers, however, use only compost and animal manure, which are natural additives; though they are far more expensive to ship and use.

Lastly, but most importantly, farm subsidies from the government contribute greatly to the higher cost of organic foods.  Each year, the government sets aside more than $15 billion for farm subsidies, yet only $15 million of this will go to organic farms.  What a gap!  No wonder conventional farms can keep costs so much cheaper than organic farms!

So, the next time you find yourself debating whether or not to spend that extra dollar for the organic brand, remember the organic farmer, working diligently for less money to ensure that their crops are healthier for the consumer.  It’s worth it.

Image: Ayla87


About the Author:

author

Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.