Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How My Skin Tag Disappeared Using Tea Tree Oil

A long time ago I shared with you that after coconut oil made a wart on my leg go away, then I would try it on the skin tag on my neck (it didn't do anything).  I have had a small skin tag on my neck for many, many years.  It was an annoyance, but not severe enough to merit going to the doctor about it.  Recently I had been hearing that there were ways of getting rid of skin tags naturally, so I decided to do a little internet research.

The first method I settled on involved taking a piece of dental floss & tying a tight knot around the skin tag.  The point is to cut off circulation until the tag dies and falls off.  I had my husband do the honors of tying, but I don't think it was as tight as it needed to be because I started to feel pain & so he stopped short of making it as tight as possible.  The knot either slipped or loosened, because after a few days I noticed that the floss was actually half way up the skin tag, not at the base of it like it should be.  I didn't think much about it & after a week or so part of the skin tag did fall off.  However, the rest of it was still there.

It was sensitive to the touch, and I figured it should be disinfected.  Since I had also heard that people use tea tree oil to remove skin tags I decided to use tea tree oil daily, applied with a swab, to keep it disinfected.  I was using a 100% pure tea tree oil I had ordered through Melaleuca years ago.  I didn't expect anything else to happen, but it did.

After about 5 days I noticed that my skin tag was VERY sensitive and bothering me.  This was a Friday.  I also noticed it was a dark red color and when I swabbed it there was blood on the swab.  I applied tea tree oil to a band-aid and covered it.  I was concerned & even called to make an appointment for the next week with the dermatologist to have it removed.  (I didn't realize this was part of the process of the skin tag dying.)

I kept applying a fresh band-aid with tea tree oil morning & night.  On Sunday I noticed that the skin tag looked rather flat.  It looked like a scab.

My skin was also irritated from the band-aids and tea tree oil, so I switched to a tiny band-aid.  That night the skin tag looked completely dry & as I touched it I could see that it was like a dried scab about to fall off. 

 I gave it a little flick with my finger & that's just what it did- completely fell off!

Tea tree oil did it!  This was several months ago & there is no sign of where the skin tag was.  The redness/irritation from the tea tree oil went away within a day.  I decided to post pictures & my story because although I had read that tea tree oil would take care of skin tags I didn't know how it would happen, so hopefully this will help someone else!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Exploring Weight Gain: is fat or sugar to blame?

For many decades now there has been a widely held and accepted belief that over consumption of fat is what leads to weight gain.  Thus the proliferation of low-fat EVERYTHING, everywhere you look.  Yes, even I used to make brownies with applesauce instead of butter!  However, there has always been a counter culture to this, a belief held in the traditional foods community:  good fat does not make you fat, in fact it can make you fit!  This counter culture movement has been gaining more and more followers in recent years (including myself) and the beautiful thing is that scientific studies are now starting to catch up with what we've held to for years:  refined sugars and carbs, not fat, are some of the main culprits in our obesity epidemic.

I was having the "fat doesn't make you fat, sugar does" discussion with someone recently, and so I decided to try to cull some of the information from the internet that back up my argument with some facts.  I wanted to share this with as many people as possible, so I collected these links here for you to study and evaluate yourself.

How Blood Sugar Levels Affect Weight Loss

4 Ways Sugar Makes You Fat

Eat Fat To Lose Weight

Whole Milk and Weight Loss

Good Fat, Bad Fat (video)

I am sure there is more info out there (such as studies that have shown that nonfat milk drinkers weigh more, studies showing people lose weight faster on high fat/low carb diets vs. low fat diets, etc.) but I think that is a good sampling for you, for now!  You could spend a long time researching all of this, but you can begin by shaking out some of the set beliefs about fat you may have accepted because it seemed simple (fat=fat), and to realize that our bodies are much more complex than that!

It seems to me that to eat foods in their "closest to natural" state (closest to how they were created) is what is most healthy.  This is why it makes sense to me that processed sugars, fats (vegetable oils), and other such foods will negatively affect our bodies (we weren't designed to handle them), while "real" food, such as whole fat dairy, eggs, meats, and natural oils/fats can benefit our bodies.

Let me conclude with some personal examples:

Example 1:  I was 19 years old & I began to read books about how physically damaging sugar is.  I decided to completely eliminate ALL processed sugar.  I mean no ketchup (read the label), no bread with sugar in it, NO sugar at all.  I would eat fruits though.  At this time I was about 10 lbs. overweight.  Do you know that when I stopped eating all sugars, but ate as much as I wanted of other foods, that the excess weight just fell of me?  (Granted, at age 19 our metabolisms are a lot easier to motivate, but let me continue.)

Example 2:  About 3 years ago the fitness center at our office conducted a "Fitness Challenge" for several weeks.  At this stage in life I had already started eating a lot of traditional and whole fat, organic foods.  But at the beginning of this challenge I changed two things:  I started exercising regularly AND I started adding several tablespoons of coconut oil to my daily routine.  Do you know that when the challenge ended I ended up being the female who reduced her BMI/body fat by the highest percentage?  It is not just about exercise- a lot of people were exercising.  Research coconut oil and you will see why I give that oil a lot of credit for that!

Example 3:  In the last month or so I have gotten lax in my daily habits and have been regularly "indulging" in refined sugars: candies, pastries, beverages, etc.  I have always eaten plenty of fat in my diet: butter, whole fat yogurt, meats, and so on.  But do you know what has happened in the last month?  I have gotten "fluffy" around my middle.  I have added extra weight and it is all around my tummy.  The only change I can attribute this to?  Sugar.  (Boooo!)

I am recommitting myself to eliminating refined sugar as much as possible from my diet, as well as my family's (as much as they will let me).  This is not just about weight, sugar also affects our moods, energy, and so much more!  I am ready to start feeling good again!


Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Recipe Box is Back!

If you have used a recipe from this blog in the past I wanted to let you know that the Recipe Box on the new blog has been updated!  I had to put all the links back in for each one because of the new blog name/location.  So, go ahead and explore in there & you should be able to find everything you are looking for.  What are you looking for?  Chocolate Roasted Almonds?  Buttermilk Syrup?  Baked Oatmeal?  Honey Dijon Chicken?  Ranch Dressing?  It's all in there (and more of course).  Just click on the Recipe Box at the top of the blog.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Makeover Time!

I just received a copy of my last post in my email inbox... eww!  That didn't really work, now did it?  I went into my blog & did a little makeover-- the most significant of which is that my blog now has a new name!  It used to be called "Come Walk with Me" (which seemed confusing and not really descriptive of the true point of the blog) and the web address was walknt.blogspot (the nt being for Nourishing Traditions).  Now the blog's NEW name is

Exploring Real Food,

and our website is www.ExploringRealFood.blogspot.com -- now isn't that better?

Come check it out!  Not a whole lot has changed but I still like my blog's new look!  And please let me know if you see any bugs in there too~


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Favorite Sourdough Biscuits

My family loves these biscuits.  Making homemade biscuits is not that difficult, especially with a few shortcuts I'll share with you!  You will need to make these ahead of time so they can "sour" for several hours before baking in order to get the full benefits of sourdough.   Most biscuit recipes instruct you to use chilled butter, which you then have to cut into the dough.  I hate this step!  Too much work for me!  The original recipe that this came from also required this, but I found that I can make good biscuits using softened butter and just mixing it in (I have even used melted butter).  You should try it too!

Sourdough Biscuits
2 1/2 cups flour (we use a mix of white and whole wheat)
1 Tablespoon sugar (preferably unrefined, such as sucanat, you could also use honey*)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sourdough starter
up to 1 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl , mix together the flour and sugar.  *If you're using honey instead of sugar, you should add it with the sourdough starter.  Add butter (melted or softened) and sourdough starter, mixing into dry ingredients. Slowly add just enough milk to make biscuit dough.  Allow dough to rest (covered with oiled plastic wrap or under a lid) for 5 to 6 hours.

In a small bowl combine salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Sprinkle over dough & work in by hand.  Another way I save time on biscuit making is to just hand-form the biscuits (like hamburger patties, but smaller and thicker) instead of rolling & cutting.  I am not lazy, I am just efficient, right?  Ha!  I place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place biscuits on sheet.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375.  Remove plastic wrap and bake biscuits for about 30 to 35 minutes.  When they come out of the oven you can spread butter on top while still warm if you like.  These (like all bread of course) taste best if you eat them while they're warm!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sourdough Bread Tips

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't call this blog the "Sourdough Blog" since a huge majority of my posts seem to have sourdough in them!  That is my life right now though, my sourdough starter is always out on the counter and it gets used almost every single day.  We have 6 people in our family, plus additional workers who eat some meals with us, so I am feeding at least 7 if not 10 people at every meal.  I make two loaves of homemade bread about every other day.  Other days I am  making sourdough pancakes, sourdough crackers, sourdough muffins, sourdough biscuits, sourdough desserts, etc*.  My husband really has noticed a difference in the eczema he has had on his fingers and skin problems with his feet.  He thinks he is sensitive to gluten and sourdough reduces the effect.

If you are making sourdough bread I want to share with you a few tips that may make it a little easier for you.  Start out with my favorite & go-to bread recipe, which you can see on this post here.

*I always include at least 6 hours of "souring" time even if the recipe does not instruct you to do so.  This is the minimum time needed to allow the sourdough starter to do it's job working on the flour.

  • Did you know that eggs are a natural dough conditioner?  I always add an egg now to my sourdough bread recipe.  I like it not only for the little bit of added nutrition, but also because it helps condition the dough.
  • What's the easiest way to slice a loaf of bread?  Upside down!  First, always allow your loaf to cool completely before slicing.  (Ahem, although I must admit that one of my favorite treats is to cut the end piece off of the still very warm loaf & drag it through some butter.  Mmmm, warm sourdough bread & butter- I love it!)  Next, make sure you use a long serrated knife made for slicing bread (trust me).  When you flip the loaf over you are slicing through the softer side & ending at the crust; instead of trying to force the knife through the crust & smashing your loaf in the process.  Just flip it!
  • Ever run out of time to make sourdough?  Making true sourdough bread requires some advance planning since it takes at least 8 hours.  I know that if I don't get my dough started by 2pm that I'm going to be up late at night waiting to bake it, cool it, store it.  You have a couple of options here.  #1 is to add a tiny bit of commercial yeast to your dough, like 1/2 teaspoon, to speed up the rise.  I do not prefer this option, so let me suggest instead option #2.  Skip the first rise of your bread & put your dough directly into greased loaf pans.  Sometimes there still isn't enough time, so what I will do is make my dough right before bed and let it rise in the loaf pans while I'm sleeping.  When I get up in the morning I go right to preheat the oven & then bake the bread while I'm getting ready & making breakfast.  This has worked well for me, if you're kitchen is cooler than mine, or you want a longer rise time, then you'll need to plan accordingly.  Try it out & have some fresh baked bread with your morning eggs!
  • How do you keep the bread from sticking to the pan?  Always keep your butter wrappers!  After I use a cube of butter I fold up the wrapper & put it back in the refrigerator.  Next time I need to grease a pan I wipe that wrapper all over the pan & it works great.  I have been using my stainless steel pans & I love them.  When I grease them with butter the loaves just fall right out.  Have you thrown out your non-stick pans yet?  The toxins in non-stick cookware should motivate you to have a goal of replacing any non-stick coated pans as you are able.
Those are some tips I wanted to share with you today.  Do you have any great bread tips you want to share with us?

Keep on baking!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Shake up your Ketchup

Most ketchup on the store shelves contain high fructose corn syrup (unless you can find an organic one).  When I am able to, I buy organic ketchup in bulk.  However, here in Rwanda I don't have that option.  There also may be times when you have run out of ketchup & need a stand in.  I would like to share with you a recipe for ketchup that you may decide you like better than the stuff in the bottle anyways!  With the added spices it makes for an interesting flavor, plus it is sweetened mostly with honey which makes it better for you too.  (Try to use local raw honey to help boost your body's immune system.)

Ketchup with a Little 'Tude
6 oz. tomato paste*
6 Tablespoons white vinegar (you can just fill the empty tomato paste can!)
6 Tablespoons water (again I use the can to measure)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon clove powder (I don't have this, so it is definitely optional.)

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar.  Mix well.  Store in the refrigerator.  That's it!

(The original recipe called for simmering this mixture  for 15 minutes, but I've found that to be unnecessary because I don't mind it a little thin.  If you want your ketchup thicker then bring it to a boil and simmer, stirring often.)


*There is one problem I have with this recipe:  using canned tomato paste.  BPA in cans, especially tomato products, is not a good thing.  If you can find tomato paste not in a can, or in a BPA-free can you'll be better off.  But sometimes we just have to do our best with what we've got!