Are you thinking about taking collagen? It seems everybody’s doing it. From making bone broth to making natural gut-friendly gummies to stirring the supplement form of hydrolyzed collagen into tea and smoothies…collagen has a prime spot on the natural health trend train as of now, and for good reason. We need it, and when convenience cooking had a stronghold, the collagen sources from our food supply went out with it.
Thankfully, our uses for collagen make a little more sense now than they did a few short decades ago.
Ma’am, are you okay? Do you need an antihistamine?
Collagen supplementation is commonly used to support the structure of the skin and as part of a regimen to rebuild the intestinal membranes to decrease permeability. The folks who advise on leaky gut all seem to recommend collagen. Turns out, collagen serves a crucial structural role in the human body. It hangs out between cells and is found pretty much everywhere – in skin, bones, membranes, tendons, ligaments and more.
Dietary collagen shows promise as a bone loss prevention therapy – so far, it has successfully decreased bone loss in menopause-induced rodents. Additionally, it has improved osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) in humans. Collagen intake has been shown to increase the density of collagen fibrils in the dermal layer of pig skin, and similar results were shown with an increase in collagen in the skin of rats after a dietary collagen regimen.
Human tissues are structurally similar enough to that of rats and pigs that I’m paying attention.
So for healthy tissues and forever young skin, we want to to ingest as much collagen as possible, right?
No, not even close.
So, how much to take? I stir 2 tbsp into my morning tea and my afternoon tea. That gives me 22g of collagen protein, 11g each time. (I don’t know what your protein needs are – you may need to adjust.) In addition, I get collagen from bone broth and from slow-cooking bone-in meats.
I could stop there, but why not make sure my body can use it?
Now, it’s true that if we’re supplementing collagen, we’re ingesting the whole form, but we still digest it, which breaks it down into building blocks. So, our cells need to use those building blocks to put it back together into the collagen that strengthens our tissues. With a little research, I found something to help it along.
Enter Vitamin C
Vitamin C is required for your body to synthesize collagen using available amino acids, and studies have shown increased collagen density with the addition of vitamin C. With collagen intake through a powder supplement, bone broth or gelatin, we should have everything our cells are looking for to build it, but vitamin C is essential to this process.
Here’s another source of information on the collagen and vitamin C connection, just for fun.
So, how to get enough Vitamin C for collagen production?
There are plenty of food sources of vitamin C, but I supplement to make sure I get it every day. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist, dove into the food-derived vitamin C vs. ascorbic acid issue in this article. That was enough for me switch to a whole food source. For now, I get these ones but they’re pricey. Once I get my hands on a capsule filler and mg scale, I plan to make my own using rosehips and acerola herb powders.
How long until we notice results?
There are so many factors that go into skin appearance and collagen production – diet, environment, age, genetics, etc. I noticed a big difference in about a month, especially around my eyes. Your mileage may vary.
Show of hands, but don’t raise ’em to high if we’re in the early stages of this experiment. How many of us tried either a store-bought natural deodorant or a natural deodorant recipe as a first step in the healthier living transition?
And let me guess, after day two, we were feeling as free as her?
The first few natural deodorant recipes I tried left me smelling like a high school wrestling room by mid-afternoon. The absolute worst one I tried was a DIY natural deodorant that had bentonite clay in the recipe. Generally, bentonite clay is good stuff but not a great deodorant ingredient. It seemed to draw all the funk to the surface, putting all the nasty nose notes on display.
Tune in to the next post to learn about a better armpit use for bentonite clay! You’re itching to know, aren’t you?
After my many fails, I asked my essential oil enthusiast friend Kendra what she uses. She too said she tried several natural deodorant recipes with not-so-fresh results, and finally found this one that works.
As a bonus, you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen right now, so you can mix some up whenever you feel like it!
Because your personal hygiene is more a favor to me than it is to you, I’m sharing the recipe. You know, for my own personal benefit.
Just kidding, it’s for you.
An asterisk (*) denotes an affiliate link. That means I will receive a small commission from a purchase made through a link on this site, at no additional cost to you. Opinions here are mine and purchasing decisions are yours to make!
Natural Deodorant Recipe
4 T coconut oil
4 T cornstarch
1 T Baking Soda
12 drops essential oils (see below)
Mom’s essential oil deodorant blend
5 drops tea tree*
5 drops lavender* or clary sage*
2 drops geranium*
Dad’s essential oil deodorant blend
5 drops tea tree
5 drops vetiver*
5 drops orange*
I keep this in a glass jelly jar in the bathroom. I started out applying with a craft popsicle stick but I eventually ditched it. Plain old fingies get the job done.
If you’re a first-time natural deodorant user, you may have heard about one- or two-week transition period that happens as your pits unload all of the junk that has been lodged in your pores by antiperspirant use. Well, I have something that worked for me-I had no transition period and I didn’t experience any of the irritation that some people report with baking soda deodorants. You’ll have to pop back on Thursday to see what that is.
Did I just declare an unofficial armpit week here?
I’m the weirdo who brings a container to Christmas dinner to scavenge the ham bone. I used to get the side-eye, but now the ones who know me will pack it away for me before cleaning the roasting pan.
Why do I get all excited about the part of holiday dinners that goes into the trash?
One word: Minestra. Synonymous with legit comfort food.
Traditional minestra is a zuppa, which doesn’t exactly mean soup, like certain Americanized “Italian” food chains would like you to believe. It loosely translates as “dippable,” meaning you eat it with your utensil in one hand and bread in the other to mop up all the goodness. Growing up, we used to call eggs over easy with toast “inzuppe e mange” (zoop eh mahnj) which means “dip and eat.”
Old world minestra is more of a saucy stew of greens, beans and bits of ham, but I’m ruining it adapting it as a soup because I like it that way, and I like to stock my freezer with these types of things. Cut back on the liquid if you’re a purist.
Let’s make some.
Slow Cooker Ham Bone Minestra
bone of a ham shoulder roast, with some meat still on
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 c cannelini beans, soaked
1c pinto beans, soaked
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
water to cover
4 giant handfuls greens (kale or escarole), chopped
grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano
small pasta, like ditalini or campanelle (If you find either of these shapes gluten free, let me know!)
pinch of nutmeg
Set aside the grated cheese and greens. Combine all other ingredients into a slow cooker, ham bone first. Cook on high until it begins to bubble, then switch to low for 5-6 hours until what’s left of the ham is falling off of the bone.
Remove the ham bone onto a plate.
Remove and shred the meat, and return the meat to the pot. Add the greens. Once the greens are soft but still green, it’s ready! Serve with plenty of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Regginao and your favorite Italian bread or cornbread.
Freeze the rest and pull them out when you’re having a bad day.
Is it just me or is the world drowning in negativity right now? The 2016 election seemed to bring about this collective depression, and personally, I want out.
Truth be told, I’m not thrilled with the election results. I wouldn’t have been thrilled if the runner-up had been chosen. My favorite candidates were knocked out months ago, so I already went through a bout of extreme election disappointment. Fortunately, it doesn’t last forever. For now, I’ll offer up a few ways to calm the sting.
It’s alright, you can have a little mourning period. It’s healthy to feel those feelings so they can run their course. Be sad, be mad, stomp, say bad words. Then, you will feel freer to accept it and move on.
Some natural health advocates claim that repressed emotions are stored in the organs. Though I don’t know enough about that, I do know that stress hormones exist and they have to go through the regular detoxification-elimination channels, just like everything else. So sure, in a material sense, it’s probably a good idea to let it all out, just in case the alternative is some form of stress-hormone buildup.
Take a social media break
I don’t know about yours, but my feed is sharing nothing but gloom and doom. Step away, and don’t look back until the world is onto something else and you can go back to your regularly scheduled news sensations that switch gears every twelve minutes.
Focus on NOW
Feelings can range from disbelief to disappointment to panic. We can’t face our everyday challenges if we can’t focus, so for now, there is only now. Right now.
Today, in this very moment, you are reading some non-essential stuff written by a regular person. That tells me you have a roof over your head, a few minutes here and there to burn, and your necessities are covered with enough left over to put toward internet access. You’re fine. Right now, you’re fine. Keep reminding yourself that everything is fine, until you get your bearings. Once you get your bearings, you can decide what actions you want to take.
Focus on the past breeds regret, and focus on the future breeds worry. You don’t need either of those things. Let’s focus on getting our meters back to zero.
Get behind a cause
If you’re facing election disappointment, it’s likely because you have some views that either will not be supported or that will be downright opposed. The great thing about this country is that you haven’t completely forked over your voice and influence.
Volunteer, start attending your town hall meetings, join a service project, organize grassroots campaigns for the changes you want to see. Joining forces with like-minded individuals toward a goal empowers us and makes us feel like we’re getting somewhere.
Bernie Sanders reminded us over and over that throughout history, big change always happened from the bottom up, and if you look at the most notable events in history, he’s right. (Oops, did I just reveal my candidate of choice?)
In the grand scheme of things, four years is a blip in time. We’ll have many chances to get a set of candidates that align with our values, and plenty of down-ballot elections will happen in between. An unfavorable election result might feel like a silencing, but it’s not.
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By now, everyone has heard that gut bacteria play a major role in our overall health. Intestinal bacteria play a major role in the body’s immunity by digesting pathogens themselves or stimulating the body’s immune response. Specific gut microbes have been associated with obesity, and the entire microbiome has been shown to change its profile in response to weight loss in obese individuals. Numerous studies have also pointed to a link between the intestinal bacteria profile and mental health.
So, how do we get more of these beneficial bacteria into our digestive tracts?
We could take probiotic capsules, but it’s much easier to remember your probiotics if they’re in the form of something delicious.
I’ve talked about making yogurt before, which is fun and so, so yummy. The thing is, I cut out dairy for a number of reasons, so I’m missing out on even the friendly lactobacillus that loves to hang out in fermented milk projects.
I’ve heard you can ferment coconut milk, and it’s on my list to try one day. Until then, I’ll stick with what I know, and I know you can ferment veggies. And I know the result is delicious and crave-able and phenomenal.
Giardinera is hands-down my favorite method of pickling vegetables. It’s a late-summer pickle, representing the last of the harvest in a crunchy confetti.
Here’s how to do it.
First, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Turn it off, and dunk everything that will be touching the vegetables into the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Include any mason jars, lids (except plastic), tongs, spoons, etc. you may be using. Allow everything to dry on a towel and cool.
Next comes the veggie prep. Some people like large pieces, but I like to dice everything about the same size. The key to this recipe is color. The prettier, the better, in my opinion.
Is your chopping arm ready?
- 1 head of cauliflower (stems, too!)
- 1 green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 sweet or spicy yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1-3 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed
- 3-4 carrots, peeled
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 5-10 peppercorns
- pickling or canning salt – 1tbsp per lb of vegetables
Chop all of your veggies to about the same size and add to a large mixing bowl. Toss them around until well-mixed, adding salt a little at a time. You’ll notice almost immediately that the salt begins to draw the water out of the vegetables.
Drop a few peppercorns into each jar. Scoop the salted vegetable mixture into the jars, including any liquid at the bottom of the bowl. You’ll want the jars to be as full as possible. Using your hand or a wooden spoon, smash the vegetables down, and repeat in a second jar. After 15 minutes or so, you’ll be able to smash the vegetables down even further, enabling you to fit more vegetables into the jar. Keep filling, distributing and smashing down until the jars are filled relatively evenly, packed full, and have about an inch of headroom at the top.
By now, a brine will be filling up the airspace from the vegetable liquid and salt. In a little while, vegetables should be completely submerged (a few floaters is okay). The tricky part is getting the vegetables to stay under the brine. People have used ceramic pie weights, a food-grade bag filled with saltwater, a smaller mason jar, or a layer of olive oil to keep the vegetables down. Air should be able to escape to release pressure from fermentation gas release, but air should not flow in. Use a paper towel or coffee filter and a rubber band to cover the jars.
I have Kraut Kaps, which are lids fitted with an air lock that allows air out but not in. They fit on top of wide-mouth mason jars.
These are nice but not at all necessary. I like them because I tend to obsessively check for floating veggies and mess with the weight. With these, I don’t worry about it so I don’t fiddle with the jars as much.
Depending on the temperature of your fermenting place, these should be ready in 3-5 days. You’ll know because they’ll take on a sauerkraut or pickle smell. If you taste too early, they’ll taste like raw veggies in saltwater.
Check for molds, browning, pink splotches, or off-putting smells before tasting. If you’re not sure, grab a grandma who grew up fermenting from the garden. She’ll be able to tell. There’s always a risk of contamination in home-fermented foods, so use caution! I use my eyes and nose as a guide, but your best bet is to find someone experienced to help you along until you get the hang of it.
What if I told you that simply being grateful is a research-backed way to exercise better, sleep more restfully, boost your energy, explode optimism, get more done, and summon unicorn fairies?
I haven’t found a study confirming unicorns, but research has well-established the idea that being grateful can enhance many areas of life – work, relationships, mind, body, the whole nine. Brain imaging has been able to demonstrate real changes in the neural pathways that govern positive and negative feelings.
Hard to believe, but there are piles of studies that have shown dramatic improvements in overall well-being from a quick gratitude habit. How dramatic? When researchers assigned one group to record their gratitudes for the day, and another group to record their hassles for the day, they found that “participants in the grateful condition felt more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, energetic, attentive, excited, determined and strong than those in the hassle condition.”
Who wouldn’t want a boost in all of those areas?
If the scientists have convinced us that we should focus on being grateful, is it enough to decide to just be grateful?
Not exactly. If we’re not naturally in the top range of the thankfully-inclined, we’ll forget. And that’s why gratitude journaling is so popular these days. People grab a blank book and make it a point to sit down and write out their gratitudes every day.
Some people can do it, but I lasted four days.
On Day One, I wrote easy ones, the ones that end up on page one of most people’s gratitude journals.
I’m thankful for my husband.
I’m thankful for my kids.
I’m thankful for a home.
After a few days of Captain Obvious statements, I stopped. What I wrote felt too general to make a difference in my mindset. I knew I wanted to continue, so I wrote up prompts to get myself really thinking about the little things I should be grateful for.
Prompts were just what I needed to push through blank-page intimidation and broad sweeping statements. Having something there to get the ball rolling completely transformed the gratitude journaling exercise.
To maximize the benefit, I made sure prompts started broad and easy, but still made me look at things differently. Then, I narrowed to the little things – the things that would get me to notice and appreciate all the good around, and there’s plenty of it.
If you’re not in the gratitude habit already, I encourage you to try it! For me, there’s a noticeable difference in the way I look at everything. Instead of being bummed that I have to go to the doctor for annoying issue, my brain instead tells me that I’m so fortunate that I get to be treated for all issues, large and small. Instead of being annoyed that the dishwasher leaked, I found myself happy that we have a genius handyman who will get everything tip-top in no time.
I’m convinced. Want to see what being grateful does for you?