Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Top 10 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

Since the weather is getting colder, the cold/flu season is upon us. Every year, when I think I might be getting a cold or a flu, I try to remember all the natural “tricks” that might help me in that situation. Moreover, I often get asked of what one can do to help with cold/flu symptoms naturally, so I decided to put a list of “must have” things to do when you are trying to beat those symptoms. This is our family list of natural remedies when we feel under the weather. If you are trying to combat cold or flu symptoms naturally, give these a try! 

  1. Raw Garlic. Growing up, this is something that we always ate when we were sick. If it is too much for you to just eat some raw garlic, for instance, you can mince it and mix it with avocado. My garlicky avocado toast is a great example of how to get in lots of garlic but in a very delicious way. You can find the recipe here
  2. Probiotics. I swear by Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics. At home, we always take them on a daily basis if we are not feeling great 
  3. Oreganol P73 Softgels. In the past, I was trying to find a natural “antibiotic”; something that would provide antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits and came across these capsules. Oregano oil is a powerful antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal compound that helps to fight infections. I found the Oreganol P73 softgels to be the most potent and helpful when it comes to fighting various infections. However, this potent “antibiotic” is not recommended during pregnancy, so I advise to skip it for those of you who are trying to get pregnant or are currently pregnant
  4. Lemon honey tea. While I always try to add lemon to any tea when not feeling well, I always feel that simple lemon slices with hot water and honey just do the job. Lemon is very high in vitamin C and has antibacterial properties which are very much needed when you are under the weather. Honey is also antibacterial and antifungal and reduces cough and helps with throat irritation, so it is a definite must add
  5. Saline nasal spray. While you can always go for a prescription/medicine nasal spray, I prefer to stay natural or at least start that way. While some people use neti pot with salt water, I don’t have time for that, unfortunately. I need a user friendly solution J I found a natural nose spray that’s safe for daily use that’s gentle, and is great for allergies, cold, flu,  and sinusitis. The one that I use is called Ocean Saline Nasal Spray and can be found in pharmacy
  6. Avoid dairy. Research shows that during the cold/flu, the body produces more phlegm. Phlegm is a thick mucus that is responsible for post-nasal drip and congestion. With consumption of dairy, the amount of phlegm increases, which makes it even harder to function, since phlegm irritates throat and makes the cough worse
  7. Foot bath. If I find myself freezing during the day, event etc., I always try to make a foot bath for myself when I get home. My mother always told me that one gets sick from their cold feet, so the feet need to always stay warm :) Grab a large bowl or large enough container where you can give yourself a foot bath. You can always add some salt or drops of essential oils to resemble a spa treatment. In our home, we heat the kettle and put it next to us while sitting and heating our feet. Water gets lukewarm quicker than you think, so by adding some hot water, you can make your little “treatment” last a little longer. When you are done, make sure to put warm socks on, and either go to bed right away or keep your feet warm and maybe get yourself hot tea with lemon and honey!
  8. Gargling with salt water. With cold and flu, most of the time, the throat suffers. Gargling warm water with salt (I usually add no more than 1 tsp of salt to a cup of warm water), helps sore throat tremendously. This step reduces swelling and irritation. I suggest gargling at least 2-3 times a day
  9. The Olbas products. This is a wonderful brand and we always have these products at home. From the analgesic salve which provides relief not only to sore muscles and pains, but to coughing due to colds (rub on throat and chest before going to bed to get some relief); to Olbas inhaler, powerful vapors of which provide instant relief, make nasal passages feel cleaner and provide cooling and refreshing sensation to your nasal passages: to throat cough syrup which tastes good and consists of five herbal extracts, six essential oils, and wildflower honey. We have used these products for years and swear by them. Such products can be found at Whole Foods or other natural grocery stores
  10. Fresh ginger. While ginger is often used for nausea, it also helps with inflammation and pain reduction and has immune boosting action. Ginger is not only warming, but it also helps promote sweating, which is very helpful during the cold and flu symptoms. I grew up with a saying “you need to sweat it out if you are sick.” Until this day, foot bath and hot tea, I try to cover myself with warm blanket, so I can sweat. By sweating, the body  not only reduces the temperature which helps when you are running a fever, but research also shows that sweat contains a germ-fighting agent that helps fight off the infections
Please feel free share if you have some natural remedies. I would love to add some new "tricks"! :)

Be well and hope you found this helpful!


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Green Smothie

Have I got a great smoothie recipe for you! :) While it is green, do not be scared, it is still very delicious and nutritious. I use Tribest personal blender, which is easy to use and very fast to clean, so the ingredients are for 1 person. If you are making the smoothie for several people, just remember to scale up.

1 banana
1/3 cup of coconut water
1 tsp of maca powder (optional)
1/4 tsp of powdered probiotic(optional) I use BlueBonnet Milk Free Powder Acidophilus Plus FOS Powder, description can be found here
1 large kale leaf, stem discarded
3-4 fresh pineapple chunks
1 tsp of chia seeds

Blend all the ingredients except chia seeds, pour the mixture into a glass and sprinkle chia seeds on top. I prefer not to blend chia seeds (it makes the smoothie too thick), but by sprinkling, I still get my dose of omegas :)

Hope you enjoy. Let me know what your favorite smoothie recipes are. I would love to try them!

And here is me...just being goofy...


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Garlicky Avocado Toast

This is my version of the now famous avocado toast. Now if you are on a strict GF diet, make sure to use gluten free bread. I also read some time ago that for those who have gluten sensitivity, sourdough bread might work since due to fermentation process, the bacteria breaks down the gluten proteins and either reduce or eliminate them altogether. I found that sourdough does not upset my tummy, so once in a while, I prefer it vs other GF breads.

Sourdough bread (4-5 slices)
2 avocados, cubed
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 garlic clove for the toasts, skin removed
1/2 tsp of paprika flakes
juice of 1 lime
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush the bread with olive oil and toast for about 10 minutes (the time might vary depending on the oven).

Now, slice the avocado and open by twisting it. Carefully remove the pit. Holding half of the avocado in your palm, carefully slice it with the knife so you will have cubes. (Let me know if anyone needs a tutorial on how you can do this. My hubby thinks many might not know, but I usually assume otherwise). Flip the skin and the cubes of avocado will fall into the designated bowl. If you are nervous and not sure how to do this, you can always use a tablespoon and just remove half of the avocado by carefully sliding the spoon between avocado and the skin. At that point, you can just cube the avocado as you would any other vegetable.

Juice the lime, add the minced garlic, paprika flakes, drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Taste and see if you need to adjust seasoning.

Remove the toasts from the oven and rub with the remaining garlic over the toasted bread (been making the garlicky toasts this way since childhood :)). Whatever is left of the garlic, you can always mince and throw in the avocado mix. Top the toast with the avocado mixture and enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer Cold Soup - the Russian Style

Hello Y'all,

Hope you guys are doing well. Having all the ingredients readily available at home, I decided to whip up a cold beet soup that I grew up with, also called "Svekolnik". This is a cold summer soup that is made with seasonal veggies and fresh herbs.

There are many variations to this soup, but in my household, I make it with goat milk plain kefir (which is lactose friendly) and beet-infused water. While the color might suggest this soup to be beet-heavy, the rest of the ingredients bring balance where the beet brings color to this summery madness :)

This soup is very easy to make, so give it a try while the weather is still hot.

2 medium size meets, skin removed (make sure to save the water in which beets will be boiling)
4 eggs
4 small seedless cucumbers, finely chopped
2 medium sized potatoes (keep the skin)
2 cups of plain goat milk kefir
1/2 of the scallion bunch, chopped
1/4 cup of dill, chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp of horseradish (optional)
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp of salt
pepper to taste

Remove the skin from the beets, cut them in half, add to a medium size pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. The beets should be ready in about 20 minutes. You can check them by piercing the beets with the fork - if easily pierced, they are ready! :)
Add potatoes in skin and eggs to a second medium size pot, add water to cover everything and bring to a boil. After 15 minutes of boiling, remove the eggs and cool them down in the cold water, while letting the potatoes cook additional 10 minutes or so (check for readiness to make sure).

While the veggies are cooking, cut the cucumbers into small cubes and add them to a large bowl. By then, the eggs should have cooled down, dice 2 out of 4 eggs and add them to the bowl as well. When the beets are ready, grate and add to the rest of the veggies, while keeping the leftover beet water (very important and will come handy, trust me). When potatoes are cooked, remove the skins and cube them, and add them to the rest of the veggies. Add the chopped scallions and dill and you have your veggie bowl complete.

Grab the second bowl (make sure it will be large enough since you will be combining all the ingredients). Add 2 cups of kefir and 1 cup of beet water.

If you lost your beet water in the sink (it happens), add regular water. I just prefer beet since it is a little bit more flavorful, but not too strong of a flavor that it will ruin your soup.

Add the prepared veggies to your liquid mixture.

Add the lime juice and the horseradish and mix everything together. Season with salt and pepper and taste. Add more seasoning if you'd like.

Now, remember, you still have 2 more eggs left :) You want each bowl to have a sliced egg on top. I also chopped a slice of pancetta, fried it, and added it on top for extra crunchiness. This step, however, is optional.

Usually, we eat this soup with the side of boiled potatoes mixed with fresh dill (at least that's how we did it in Lithuania), but we also enjoy it with the avocado toast.

I hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review of Brewla Bars

A definite summer obsession in our household. Brewla bars are all natural popsicles without any artificial sweeteners or flavors. Now flavors are unique and tea based. Given that I am a huge tea lover, I had to give these popsicles a try. Besides being incredibly delicious, there is only 9 grams of sugar in each popsicle. Majority of frozen treats out there have a higher content of sugar (often 15 grams or even higher).

The favorite flavor in our house is the Cherry Pomegranate + Red Tea. The bars are gluten free, caffeine free and they are full of B and C vitamins.

The other flavors that the company makes include (flavors can also be found here):

  • Peach Ginger + White Tea
  • Craft Brewed Root Beer Float
  • Tropical Fruits + White Tea
  • Strawberry + Hibiscus Tea
If you are on the lookout of a healthy frozen treat, give these bars a try. They are so good, they disappear in our household way too fast, so I am honestly considering making something of my own, since we keep running out of them :)

Do you have a favorite ice summer treat that is not too high in sugar content? Please share the goodness, so we can give them a try as well!
Sunday, August 23, 2015

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Fresh Figs

Hello Friends,

If you noticed, figs are in season and I cannot stop myself from buying fresh figs almost on a daily basis. Soon I will be all figged out! J

I came across a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi and could not resist of trying it – the combination of roasted sweet potatoes with fresh figs just sounded a-mazing. While I changed the recipe just slightly, all the praise goes to them.

If you love fresh figs as much as I do, this will give you a new appreciation for them…
Ingredients in this recipe will make 1 entrée or appetizer for two.

1 large sweet potato
2 tbsp of sunflower oil
3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1.5 tbsp of sugar
½ bunch of green onions, cut into 1-1.5 inch segments
4-5 fresh ripe figs, quartered
1 Fresno red chili, cleaned and minced (if you are not used to chilies, use half of the pepper)
1 tbsp of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the skin from the sweet potato, halve the potato and then cut each half once more. If the pieces are still too chunky, I suggest cutting those once more, so they will cook faster. Mix the potato slices with 2 tbsp of the sunflower oil, season with salt and pepper and let them cook for 25 minutes, checking on them occasionally.

In the meantime, prep the onion and the chili pepper (make sure you remove the seeds – which are the spiciest part of the pepper). If you are not very experienced with chili peppers, wear gloves to avoid touching your eyes or other parts of your body later – that might hurt J Given the previous experience, I also remove my contacts before cooking just in cases. LOL

When the potatoes are almost done, start working on your balsamic reduction. To make the balsamic reduction – add the balsamic vinegar and sugar to a small pot and bring to a boil. Then decrease the heat and simmer for 2-4 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey.

Fry the green onions and chili in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure not to burn the chili.

Arrange the sweet potato on the plate, spoon the green onion and chili pepper on top, add the figs and then drizzle with the balsamic reduction. (if you prepped the reduction a bit too early and it got too thick – that’s ok. Just put it back on the stove, add 1 tsp of water and slightly reheat it).

The dish is ready to be served.

The slight heat from the chili, warmth from sweet potatoes and the sweetness from the figs make this dish a winner in my book. I hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Headspace Review - Meditation Made Simple

Hi All,

Headspace - Meditation Made Simple. I got a chance to try Headspace, which is a web and mobile meditation platform that allows one to cram some meditation into a daily life. While I always thought I am not one of those people that can mediate and allow my mind to calm down, this app has already proved me wrong.

Meditation is definitely a skill that needs to be acquired. But with this skill, we can find the help we sometimes need in our busy, stressful lives.

If you are in the place where you might benefit from a daily/weekly guided meditation, you can sign up for the 10-step foundation program that is free. If you like what you see and it works for you, Headspace offers much more - different series such as health (i.e. self esteem, anxiety, sleep, stress) or singles (i.e. sos/mini meltdowns, on the go, and classic). The company offers different subscription services from monthly subscription for $12.95/mo or yearly for 7.99/month.

This is how it works:

I have ONE FREE 3 months' subscription to Headspace. If you are interested, please comment on the blog post by end of August and let me know if you have ever meditated and what your experiences have been like. I will compile all the names and with the help of modern technology, a winner will be randomly picked! :)

I always enjoy learning about new technology/services and this was a winner for me. I hope you will find this interesting.


P.S. Disclaimer - I was not paid to provide a review of this platform. This is my personal opinion of the product, including the free 3 months subscription that I am offering.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Strawberry Hibiscus Ginger Punch - Perfect Summer Drink

Hello Friends,

Since it is so hot and humid (at least in NYC), I wanted to share this simple punch recipe with you, courtesy of Curtis Stone. Even though I was making iced drinks with hibiscus for years (I love hibiscus+chrysanthemum combination), the idea of adding strawberries and fresh ginger is simply brilliant.

1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of dried hibiscus flowers (can usually be found in International stores)
2 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced in half (I often add some frozen berries if I ran out of strawberries)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
7-8 cups of water

In a medium saucepan, add 4 cups of water and 1/2 cup of sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar will dissolve. Turn off the heat, and add hibiscus flowers, strawberries, and ginger. Cover the saucepan and let everything steep for about 2 hours.
Strain the liquid into a bowl first and then transfer into a pitcher. Add 3-4 cups of water, depending on your taste. You can serve over ice or just store the pitcher in the freezer - this is something that we do!

Depending on your taste, the punch might be a touch bit sweet, so feel free to add some punch to the glass and then add more water to dilute. In that case, the punch will last longer :)

Hope you enjoy!



Friday, July 3, 2015

Watermelon Feta Salad

This salad is a perfect dish during the summer months. Watermelon can usually be found 90% of the time in my household in the summer, so I had to share the recipe with you :) While most of the time I just eat it by itself, sometimes I want something else with it - something like feta...

Watermelon, cubed
Sweet onion, very thinly sliced (I usually use mandoline for this)
Feta, cubed (I use authentic Greek one, which is a combination of sheep and goat)
Lime juice
Extra virgin of olive oil, drizzled
mint, chopped (I bought apple mint from farmer's market, which I absolutely loved in this dish)

I think the proportion of the ingredients can vary, depending on your liking. But for one person, I use half of the quarterly watermelon slice, not much onion, ~ 1/4 of cup of feta, 1 tbsp of mint, lime juice from half a lime and a drizzle of EVOO.

It is a great combination of ingredients. Let me know if you tried something like this before and if you liked it. If you did, do you use similar ingredients or do you add something else? Let me know!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lemon Honey Jar and Ginger Lemon Tea

Happy Monday Folks,

It's has been a while since I posted anything. Sorry about that. I wanted to share this one with you because I have literally been using this stuff every single day.
My husband and I call this lemon jar - Pap's lemons :) Our pap, officially my father-in-law, used to take daily walks and collect lemons from this amazing lemon tree - neighbor's lemon tree I might add. According to him, he didn't want the lemons to rot, so he had to "save" them. Now, just in case and thank goodness he has a big fridge - he has, on average, about 8 jars in his fridge with these preserved lemons. You save time and in case you ran out, you always have lemons at home.

While I thought it was a great idea to have one in the fridge for my tea, I never ended up preparing them at home. However, while visiting San Diego this May, the weather was colder than I anticipated and I wanted to make sure I wouldn't get sick, so I made myself ginger lemon tea. I have been making it every since. Now I know it is summer and this might be a perfect winter drink, but I like to drink it in the morning to wake up my digestive system and get ready for the day. Drink it to feel better in case your stomach/digestive system is out of whack or if you are sick. It is simply wonderful.

To prepare lemons:
Get a jar that has a good lid. The one that you see in the picture I got in Home Goods for 3 bucks. Slide lemons and place them in the jar until the top. Add honey on top and let it sink it. I start with 3-4 tbsp of honey. You might need to add more later, but it takes some time for honey and lemons to work and get those juices going. I check in on the jar during the day to see if I need to add more honey. You don't want top lemons to be without any liquid because they can go bad. I keep the jar in the fridge and use it every day.

To prepare ginger lemon tea:
Clean and thinly slice about 1.5 inch of ginger. Pour hot water on top, cover the top and let it steep for about 5 mins. Add 2-3 lemon slices from the jar with a 1 tbsp of the juice.

I love this ginger tea because it is not "too gingery" for me. The lemons come in handy for any tea/drink.

Enjoy and stay healthy!


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