Monday, June 30, 2014

Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents and Dishwashing Liquid and Ecover Zero Product Reviews and A Giveaway!


Many of us, including myself, wash dishes, do laundry, and clean the house on regular basis. It is a chore that we don't think much about anymore. But have we ever wondered what happens to all the water that go down the drain? Toxic waste from chemical-filled household products makes its way to the sewer and continue into the soils and ground water, polluting the environment and harming aquatic life, which then comes back right at us when we consume them as food. My family has been trying to make our own household cleaners as much as we can, including all purpose cleaner and floor cleaner. But making everything natural is not always easy. I've succeeded in some, and I have also failed, wasting all the ingredients I bought for those specific purposes. Some others I'm just too intimidated to try, including making my own laundry detergents and dishwashing liquid, because I'm afraid the result will not be effective and disappointing. I want my laundry clean and plates sparkling and I just don't have the confidence that homemade detergents and dishwashing solutions can give me this result. Thus, I have to resort to using gloves when I wash the dishes to protect my hands from itch and rashes from the harsh water and chemicals. 



Then I discovered Ecover Zeroa range of Ecover products that are made from natural, sustainable plant-based and mineral ingredients, which makes them very mild and gentle for the skin. It proudly boasts that:

- It is biodegradablequickly and completely, leaving no residue behind. 

- It is fragrance and coloring-free: This range is formulated especially for allergy-prone and sensitive skin, such as eczema. (The fragrance that is used in Ecover's other range of products are sourced from nature, like their soft and gentle Camomile and Marigold Washing Up Liquid.)

- It is dermatologically tested, for sensitive skin.

- Phosphate-free: Phosphates pollute the water and endanger aquatic life. 

- It is eco-friendlyTheir packaging are made using Plant-Pastic - a renewable, reusable and recyclable plastic made of sugarcane, which spares the oceans a tsunami of plastic litter. And because it is phosphate-free, it does no harm to the waterways of the world after it's been washed down the drain.

- Doesn't contain foam boosters and optical brighteners: Foams don't necessarily clean any better and optical brighteners only create an illusion that our laundry is clean, but they actually do not enhance cleaning performance and they do not biodegrade completely.

- It uses eco-surfactants: Surfactants is an active ingredient used to give great cleaning results. Ecover uses plant based alternatives instead of harmful petrochemical-based surfactants found in many conventional household cleaners.

Preservatives used are naturally derived and/or Ecocert approved.

- Through continual research and development, Ecover ensures their products use more and more renewable science, leave fewer unwanted residues, biodegrade even more quickly and have less impact on aquatic life. 


I had the privilege to try Ecover Zero's Washing Up Liquid and Laundry Liquid and I'm completely satisfied with its effectiveness and cleaning power. My plates are squeaky clean and laundry fresh. Not only they are eco-friendly, they don't irritate my skin, they don't have any overpowering fragrance (just the way I like it), and they do their job well! I have spent a lot buying conventional "baby" detergent and dishwashing liquid to wash baby clothes and bottles before and I can guarantee that they are not as safe and eco-friendly as we think. Now that I know about Ecover Zero, I have no reservation in using their products to wash any of my things, including baby things.

This range also carries Fabric Conditioner to soften fabrics, should you choose to use it.

Amazingly, even Environmental Working Group (EWG), the non-profit organization that rates household and cosmetic products, gives this Laundry Liquid a smashing AThat means it's one of the best one out there. (There was no rating for the Washing Up Liquid). 

To have a green product that works as effectively as its non-green counterparts, which means being kind to our skin and to this earth God has entrusted to us, what more can I ask for?

Ecover products are available in all Home-Fix Singapore outlets. They are giving a 20% discount (expire on 31 August 2014) exclusively for Pasture Living readers when you shop on their website (Discount Code: ECV20PL). iHerb also carries selected Ecover products, but not as extensive as Ecover's own website and retail stores.

Thanks to Ecover, three lucky winners will each receive a bottle of their regular Washing Up Liquid to try. To enter, simply:

1. "Like" Pasture Living Facebook Page

2. "Like" Ecover SG Facebook Page

3. Comment on this post on why you'd like to win Ecover's Washing Up Liquid and leave your email address. If you are uncomfortable leaving your email publicly, send me a message through Pasture Living Facebook page.

4. Like and share this giveaway on your Facebook page and tag a friend.

This giveaway will end on 6 July 2014 Singapore time and the winners will be announced through email. Open to Singapore residents only.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: Ecover sponsored the above products for reviews, no compensation was received and all opinions are my own.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Recipe: Calcium-Rich Anchovies and Wakame Seaweed Soup

There are two other things that I always try to find ways to add into our diet: fish and calcium. Fish is so good for us and calcium is important for bone strength, growing children, and prevent osteoporosis. 



This wakame seaweed and anchovies soup is a Korean soup that is traditionally eaten for a few weeks after a woman gives birth because it is believed that this soup contains nutrients that help with post-partum recovery and boost breastmilk production. The ancient Korean folklore learned that female whales would eat strands of seaweed after giving birth and that was how this tradition started.

Wakame seaweed is naturally rich in:

- Iodine: which supports our thyroid
- Calcium: for bone strength
- Omega-3 fatty acid: which is important for our brain and nervous system
- Vitamin A: for immune system
- Vitamin D: for immune system and helps to absorb the calcium in our body
- Vitamin E: an antioxidant
- Selenium: a rather less-talked about, heart-friendly mineral that protects the brain from oxidative damage and the body from mercury toxicity, ensures that the thyroid functions normally, and maintains cardiovascular health.
- Iron and Folate: both important for pregnant women.

Anchovies, known as the "King of Calcium" in Korea, is composed of mostly calcium, and is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, D, and E, and selenium.



Recipe

Dried anchovies
Wakame seaweed
Sesame oil
Soy sauce
Garlic
Water

Directions

1. Make anchovies broth. Take a handful of dried anchovies and boil in water for half an hour. I always make a big batch of anchovies broth and refrigerate or freeze it so I can take as little or as much as I need whenever I need.



2. Soak the seaweed in water until it softens, about 15-20 minutes. It will triple or even quadruple in size. So start with little and you can easily add more if it's not enough. Then rinse off.



3. Heat garlic in sesame oil in a soup pot and add the seaweed. Sautee for a few minutes then add anchovies broth and soy sauce to taste. Cover the pot and let it simmer for half an hour.

This nourishing soup is good for any day of the year, for children and adults alike. Seaweed is a natural MSG, thus it naturally taste good!

Bon app├ętit!

Disclosure: This link contains affiliate links.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

[10% SALE] Open Purchase Order for Green Pasture Cod Liver Oil in Singapore (Deadline: 2 July 2014)


The health benefits of taking properly fermented cod liver oil (FCLO) is astounding. Its abundance in naturally-ocurring omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and D are vital for our brain, nervous system, immunity, and optimal functioning of our bodies. It's especially important for growing children, pregnant and nursing mothers.

There are a few types of FCLO: pure, emulsified, and butteroil/FCLO blend. You can learn about the differences in our in-depth study on cod liver oil here. This is an open purchase order for pre-ordering FCLO. You can see the different types of FCLO here and pre-order using this form. The deadline for submitting your pre-order forms is 2 July 2014. There is 10% discount for all orders placed with this open purchase order. Prices listed on the link is before discount. You will receive your order some time in mid August.

Although the cost of FCLO may seem high at first sight, it is actually not so if you understand what you are getting. You can read my post on cost and other considerations about getting Green Pasture FCLO here.

Thank you.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Six Easy On-the-Go Healthy Snacks for Little Kids

I've not seen any toddlers or little kids who don't like to snack. Snacks are fun and keep kids entertained and happy. A lot of snacks that we buy in the supermarkets are unfortunately "empty calories" and they do no good to our children's fast growing minds and bodies. For me, there are three main criteria when it comes to snacks. First, nutritious; second, minimal preparation and cleaning, and third, they don't create a big mess.

Here are six snacks that fit all three criteria. My daughter loves all of them except avocado (sad, but if your kids love it, it makes an awesome healthy snack!):


Dates

My daughter's favorite! She's never said no when I offer her dates. It's sweet, rich in iron (perfect for pregnant mothers too!), calcium, potassium, manganese, fiber, and vitamin A. They are easy to bring and easy to eat. Just be careful with the seed inside. I usually take the seed out before I give it to my daughter.

Blueberries

Packed with antioxidants, blueberries are easy to bring and is mess-free. Its small size is easy for little hands to grab and it is especially sweet when it's in season (summer).


Anchovies

I first saw a Japanese mother giving her toddlers dried anchovies and upon learning about it, I realize this little fish has such an amazing nutritional profile. It's rich in calcium (actually known as the "King of Calcium" in Korea), omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, D, and E, and selenium. It contains one of least amount of mercury and it tastes naturally salty, a nice variation for kid's snacks.


Dried Fruits and Nuts

Dried cranberries, banana chips, apples, mangoes, and raisins mixed with nuts such as cashews and pistachios are power snacks that provide healthy fats, protein, and other vitamins and minerals. Try to buy organic without added sugar. Be careful of the nuts if your kids are prone to choking. My daughter eats slowly and rather carefully, so it hasn't been a problem for her. You can also dehydrate your own fruits if you have a dehydrator. My friend, Ruth, gave me some of her own dehydrated organic pineapples and apples and they are so delicious.

These last two require minimal prep, but they are healthy and good! 

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato is more nutritious than regular potato. It tastes sweet and is rich in vitamin A, C, potassium, and fiber. It also helps to regular blood sugar level. You can serve it in two ways:

1. Bake whole sweet potatoes at 200 Celcius for 30 minutes, cool, and bring it out with you. 

2. Make sweet potato fries. Slice sweet potatoes lengthwise, put on the baking rack, drizzle with coconut oil or olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt, and bake at 200 Celcius for 20 minutes, or until crispy.

Avocado

Touted as the best first food for babies, avocado is rich in healthy fats, fiber, potassium, vitamin B, C, E, and K, and is anti-inflammatory. You can bring a whole avocado on the go, cut it open and scoop the meat out for your little ones. 

What other healthy snacks that travel well?


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Second Helpings Homemade Peanut Butters Review and a Giveaway!


Who doesn't love peanut butter? I used to smear them on my toast to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or peanut butter and chocolate sandwiches. The combination of those ingredients are so divinely sinful. That's right, all the refined sugar, artificial ingredients, and trans fats in store-bought jams and nut butters are so sinful, they will clog your heart, increase your cholesterol level, give you diabetes, and promote ADD/ADHD (hyperactivity disorder) in children, to name a few.

Knowing that many of us eat jam and bread for breakfast, the most important meal of the day, and as snacks anytime of the day, it is so important to find a healthier alternative to the conventional store-bought jams, and prevent excess sugars especially in children. The food industry knows that more and more people are going towards healthier alternatives and so long as there are demand, supply will follow.

Let me introduce you to Ezra Nicholas and Tannie Tang, the founders of Second Helpings, a Singapore-based business that place great emphasis on producing edible goodness with no artificial flavoring or preservatives.


These are their homemade nut butters and they come in 3 flavors:

Ori (Original)Peanuts, Olive Oil, Honey, and Sea Salt. Pure goodness in jar without the partially hydrogenated oil (transfat).

Cocovan (Coconut & Vanilla)Peanuts, Olive Oil, Honey, Sea Salt, Non-Sweetened Dessicated Coconuts, and Vanilla beans. This is my favorite of all three. I can taste the mild coconut and vanilla flavors in the nut butters.

B3: Black (Cocoa)Peanuts, Olive Oil, Honey, Sea Salt, Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder. This creamy and smooth nut butter may just just do the trick for children who love Nutella. It tastes just like a chocolate spread without the trans fat, refined sugar, emulsifier, skimmed milk powder, and artificial flavoring that comes with store-bought chocolate spread.

They come in 100 ml or 190 ml jars and can be customized for party/wedding favors and door gifts. Their products are sold at The Redundant Shop at Everton Park and Envy Coffee at Nexus@One North. You can also contact them directly through their Facebook page for orders.

Thanks to Second Helpings, three winners will receive all three flavors in 100 ml jar each. To enter, simply:

1. "Like" Pasture Living Facebook Page

2. "Like" Second Helpings Facebook Page and/or "Follow" their Instagram account.

3. Comment on this post on why you'd like to win Second Helpings nut butters and leave your email address. If you are uncomfortable leaving your email publicly, send me a message through Pasture Living Facebook page.

4. Like and share this giveaway on your Facebook page and tag a friend.

Please make sure you follow all 4 steps and let me know that you have done so.

This giveaway will end on 23 June 2014 at 6PM Singapore time and the winners will be announced through email. Open to Singapore residents only.

Good luck!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Fruits and Herbs-Infused Flavored Water


Being hydrated is of the utmost importance for a healthy body. A normal human can probably live without food for a few weeks, but only a few days without water. A room temperature water is best and I drink it that way. Many people though think of drinking water as burdensome (I even have a friend who doesn't like water!), and some others think their water needs more "flavor" in order for them to be able to drink more. I have good news for you: you can easily create your own homemade flavored water the natural way! Not only it is a healthy alternative to sugary juices and sodas, this flavored water is infused using only fresh fruits and herbs. My family members who have been drinking flavored water reportedly have been able to significantly drink more water. Flavored water makes drinking water that much more enjoyable. This trick may also work on children who don't drink enough water. 

You can flavor your water by infusing fresh fruits and herbs in a water jar. In the picture above, I infused the water with slices of lemons, oranges, cucumbers, strawberries, and fresh mint leaves.

Citrus (lemons, oranges, lime) gives extra vitamin C, which helps to build collagen and keep our skin firm. It also boosts our digestion and metabolism, and helps to get rid of toxins from our body.

Cucumber is cools down the body and has anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting benefits. It contains vitamin A, C, K, iron, potassium, calcium, and silica that support the connective tissue and bones in the body.

Mint is an antioxidant, a natural breath freshener, and can help with indigestion issues.

You can mix and match the flavors for variations. Try berries and mint, cucumber and basil, cherries-lemon and vanilla beans, pear and ginger, melon and lime, watermelon and rosemary or mint. The combinations are endless.

When water is this good, who can resist?

What is your favorite ingredients to infuse water with?


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Introduction to Konjac and Not.a.sponge Konjac Sponges Review and a Giveaway!

Konjac noodles

What is Konjac?

Konjac is a fibrous vegetable that grows in parts of Asia, including Japan and Korea. As food, konjac root is an alternative to gelatin or seafood. Konjac noodles are also popular in Asian dishes. Konjac jellies (also called konnyaku) are very chewy and yummy as desserts! It consists of 97% water and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibers which helps to keep us satiated. It's alkaline nature balances our body's pH and it is very low in calories and contains no sugar, making it an ideal food for dieters and those with diabetes. It is also gluten-free. Konjac also has a prebiotic effect on our digestion, which promotes the growth and nourish the good bacteria in our digestive tract.


Konjac noodles

In skincare, konjac is made into natural sponges used to cleanse our skin. Its soft, alkaline, moisture and mineral-rich nature makes it a gentle yet very effective tool to exfoliate, detoxify, re-balance our skin's pH, promote oxigenation, stimulate blood flow, as well as nourish our skin naturally. They are so soft yet textured enough to remove dead skin cells, rejuvenate, and stimulate new skin cell growth. There are not many natural products that we can use to exfoliate the skin around the eyes, but this sponge can. 



I've had the privilege to try konjac sponges from not.a.sponge and I must say I'm in love with these puffs! My skin feels so smooth, refreshed, and glowing! It is indeed a secret recipe for a radiant complexion!

Not.a.sponge sponges are grown in the prestine waters of Jeju island in Korea, a place marked as a UNESCO World Heritage and that produces some of the purest water in the world. Their konjac sponges are grown in volcanic rich soil and they are:

100% natural, earth, and skin friendly
100% handcrafted
100% bio-degradable and fully sustainable
100% cruelty-free and vegan

Not.a.sponge sponges come in three options:

1. In The Raw Pure: suitable for normal skins and is excellent to use for bathing new born babies.
2. Volcanic Power Puff: great for more sensitive skins as it contains volcanic clay to soothe and calm the skin.
3. Bamboo Charcoal: recommended for men or more oily skin.



How to Use Konjac Sponge?

1. Wash your face with warm water to open up skin pores. Cleanse your face with a natural cleanser if you are wearing heavy make up or sunscreen. 
2. Soak the sponge in warm water until it is soft. It is best to not add any soap on the sponge to let the nutrients from the sponge work itself into the skin. The sponge also degrades faster if soaps are used.
3. Massage your face and neck with the sponge in circular motions.
4. Rinse, wring out excess water, and hang to air dry.
5. Sterilize in boiling water once a week for one minute to keep it clean.

The fibers in konjac helps to unclog pores and remove the dry flakes from sun burns. The mineral content in the sponge lessen overtime and the sponge starts to disintegrate after about two months or so of use. When the "holes" in the sponge get bigger, it is time to replace.

Thanks to not.a.sponge, five winners will receive one In The Raw Pure konjac sponge each (worth US$10). To enter, simply:

1. "Like" Pasture Living Facebook Page

2. "Like" Not.a.sponge Facebook Page

3. Comment on this post on why you'd like to win a konjac not.a.sponge and leave your email address. If you are uncomfortable leaving your email publicly, send me a message through Pasture Living Facebook page.

4. Like and share this giveaway on your Facebook page and tag a friend.

Please make sure you follow all 4 steps and let me know that you have done so.

This giveaway will end on 18 June 2014 Singapore time and the winners will be announced through email. Open to Singapore residents only.

Good luck!

Disclosure: Not.a.sponge provided me the konjac sponges for review and giveaway. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Giveaways Announcement on Pasture Living


Exciting giveaways coming up for Pasture Living readers for the next few weeks, starting tomorrow! From healthy food, to natural skin care products, to eco-friendly household products. Stay tuned!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Benefits of Chia Seeds, Coconut Water, and Coconut-Chia Drink Recipe


Chia Seeds

Chia seed is the new kid in town. Everyone is talking about chia seeds. They were used for medicinal purposes in the olden days and modern athletes consume them for extra energy. 

What is so good about chia seeds?

- High in fiber: Fiber is important for our digestion, controls blood sugar level, lowers cholesterol level, and helps to keep us full longer. 

- High in protein: Chia seeds are 23% complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids. Most people get their dose of complete protein from animal sources, thus chia seeds can be a valuable addition to a vegetarian diet, as it is hard to get complete protein from animal sources, especially with soy out of the picture.

- High in antioxidants: Eating antioxidant-rich foods help to fight off free radicals formed from consuming the wrong kinds of food and protect us from radiation from the sun.

- Gluten-free.

A Note About Omega-3 Content in Chia Seeds

The high omega-3 content in chia seeds is one of the highlights of why people buy them. The modern diet supplies us too much omega-6's (from vegetable oils and processed food) and very little omega-3's, causing or sorts of inflammation and other diseases. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that is so much needed for our body. Unfortunately plant-based sources of omega-3's converts poorly to the long-chain omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA that are important for our brain and nervous system. So although chia seeds are high in omega-3, we cannot depend solely on chia seeds for it. Animal sources, especially seafood, such as fermented cod liver oil, are the best sources for omega-3 DHA and EPA. 


Despite its low omega-3 to DHA/EPA conversion rate, I still love these tiny seeds and I consume it regularly for its superb nutritional profile. You can mix it with plain water, smoothies, oatmeal, etc. Do you know that chia seeds contain more five times more calcium than milk, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, three times more iron than spinach, and twice the potassium content of banana? (source). You can buy chia seeds on iHerb.

Coconut Water

The health benefits of coconuts are endless! Consumed internally, it improves our thyroid function, speeds up metabolism, and slows down the digestion of food, which means you feel more full and thus you snack less. Applied externally, the fatty acids in coconuts moisturize our skin, promotes hair growth, and relieves itches from skin issues such as eczema or growing/stretching bellies in pregnant mothers. Coconut oil is also an ingredient used in many homemade natural skin care products. 

Another part of this amazing fruit is the water. Water from young coconuts is refreshing, naturally sweet, and very rich in minerals, especially potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It is an excellent way to replace electrolytes and hydrate the body on a hot day. In fact, when IV solution was scarce during World World II, coconut water was used as a substitute! One of the components of coconut water is cytokinins, molecules that protect the cells and helps cellular DNA replicate perfectly as they undergo cell division. It also plays a key role in fighting cancer and ensuring longevity.



When coconut water meets chia seeds, it becomes the ultimate natural energy booster! It is rejuvenating, hydrating, and packed with nutrition! Simply add a teaspoon of chia seeds to a glass of coconut water and wait for 15 minutes to let the seeds soften and form a gel.

What is your favorite way to eat chia seeds?

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Natural Remedies for Common Illnesses


As parents, we try to give our children the best in all aspects of life, including giving them nutritious food and avoiding toxic ingredients that are harmful for their health. I started learning about healthy and natural living after my baby was born. Motherhood changed me for the better. But as much as I try to be on top of things regarding their health, common illnesses that plaque so many children today are just unavoidable. Treating these ailments naturally, like common cough and cold, is great but, sometimes, modern medicine plays a role in healing as well! For the longest time, I avoided conventional fever medicines on my toddler until one day she had fits and had to be hospitalized. And I promised never again would I succumbed myself to be "only natural" at the expense of someone else's life! Sure, it was heartbreaking to see my little one got pumped up with antibiotics and other medicines but I was just glad that medicine was there to help when necessary. When it's not necessary though, then natural is definitely always best!

Here is a summary of my previous posts as to how to treat these common illnesses naturally. It is a guide to help you learn about the different ways the "fruits of this earth" that God has created can help with healing: 

Treating Diarrhea Naturally

Treating Cold Naturally

Treating Cough Naturally

Treating Fever Naturally

Treating Ear Infection Naturally

Healing Eczema Naturally

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." - Proverbs 17:22

Disclaimer: I am not a certified or a licensed medical practitioner who can counsel anyone in medical issues and cannot be held responsible for any decision you make regarding your health. This compilation is based on my own research and other people's testimonials. What works for them may not work for everyone and I encourage you to do further research or ask your doctors whenever you're in doubt.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5 Ways to Tweak Baking Recipes to Make Healthier Versions


As much as I try to eat healthily, I just can't resist eating breads and cakes sometimes. Baked goods are yummy, but they often contain a lot of refined ingredients and a few bites don't usually satisfy. Fortunately there are ways to prevent excess sugar and overeating (especially with kids!) and change baking recipes to reduce the "unhealthy" ingredients while still being delicious.

1. Cut the Recipe in Half

Many recipes make way too many servings for a snack. Downsizing the portion reduces all the calories, sugar, and flour. Try using smaller or mini pans so that each serving is smaller.

2. Replace Margarine with Grass-Fed Butter or Coconut Oil

If your recipe uses margarine, replace it with grass-fed butter or coconut oil. Pastured butter is way healthier than margarine.

3. Substitute White Flour with Whole Wheat Flour

Using whole wheat flour will give a denser baked goods in general but there are many tried and true recipes online that use whole wheat flour, yielding delicious yet healthier goodies. If you are set on a recipe that uses white flour but you want to replace some of it with whole grains, try half and half as a start and tweak it as you go.

4. Replace and Reduce the Sugar

Substitute white sugar with natural sweeteners such as raw honey, molasses, or sucanat. You will find that taking out at least a quarter of the sugar in recipes will not alter the flavor or texture too much. 

5. Add Herbs and Spices

Add real vanilla extract or spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to enhance the flavor of your baked goods. It also brings out the sweetness of the sugar you put in.

Happy baking!

What other ways to make healthier baked goods?