Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


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Berry Good Baked Goods

I’m heading into the last few weeks of my pregnancy.  I’ve loved every moment of being pregnant, but I’m also looking forward to meeting the little one!  And I’m finally done with work, so I have some time to myself at the moment!

Keeping Busy

I’m not one to sit around with my feet up, so I’ve embarked on a baking extravaganza, all in preparation for baby’s arrival and my anticipated lack of time.  My goal has been to bake something every few days and then toss it in the freezer. My baking has largely been limited to berry-based recipes due to the 72 baggies of berries that I had in my freezer until quite recently.  I’ve also been trying to choose healthier ingredients where I can so that I have somewhat healthy midnight snacks.  To do that, I’ve used oatmeal as a partial substitute for flour, apple sauce and yogurt to moisten the muffins and, for the non-berry recipes, I’ve used veggies.  In all of my experiments, I’ve used coconut oil which worked out really well in all of them.

Here’s how it has turned out so far:

Berry Good Baked Goods

Lemon-Blueberry Loaf

This was the first lemon loaf I ever made.  I liked it so much that I made a second batch the next day.  It incorporates yogurt in the recipe which really kept the loaf moist.  It froze well and I’d definitely make it again!

Lemon Blueberry Loaf with Yogurt

Lemon Blueberry Loaf with Yogurt

Blueberry Muffins

I tried a couple of different recipes for my blueberry recipes.  Ultimately, this one was my favorite.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Strawberry Lemon Muffins

Not only do I have lots of blueberries to use up, I also have strawberries!  I loved this recipe for strawberry and lemon muffins, two of my favorite flavours.  These were a cinch to make and they taste great!

Strawberry Lemon Muffins

Strawberry Lemon Muffins

Non-Berry Based Baking

I also dabbled in some non-berry baking, mainly because I couldn’t resist the temptation.   It’s been squash and pumpkin season and here’s what I made with those:

Butternut Squash Muffins

I was inspired to make these after reading Heidi’s post about them on her blog Lightly Crunchy.  I used homemade squash puree, homemade apple sauce and I even made my own pumpkin spice for this recipe.  Heidi’s recipe and tips both worked great. I only tasted one of these before putting the rest in the freezer.  I really enjoyed that muffin!

Butternut Squash Muffins

Butternut Squash Muffins

Apple Zucchini Muffins

I also tried some apple zucchini muffins.  Unfortunately, these didn’t turn out so great.  Maybe I got the proportions wrong, but they came out tasting pretty bland and a wee bit tough.  They won’t go to waste, but I don’t think these are up to standard for serving to others!

Carrot Scones
Carrot Scones

Carrot Scones

I was lucky enough to receive a bag full of fresh carrots from a friend’s garden.  The carrots were so sweet!  I used a few of them to try out a carrot scone recipe I found on Pinterest.  If you check out the recipe, you’ll see that two of the key ingredients are carrots and cheese.  How could you go wrong?  Truly, they turned out well!

More Baking to Come?

To date, I’ve made 3 loaves of bread and 12 batches of muffins (that includes a couple batches of scones).  My freezer doesn’t have any more room than before. Rather, I’ve just replaced the bags of berries with baked goods.  I have no doubt that we’ll go through them quickly and soon enough, there will be room in the freezer for other goodies.

If you’re interested in any one of these recipes, just about all of them are pinned on one of my Pinterest boards called Yummy Food and Treats.

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Natural Remedy for Swollen Gums

I’ve been counting myself pretty lucky throughout my pregnancy.   I’m into my third trimester.  Aside from being tired and some mild swelling in my feet, life is pretty good.  That is, it was until last week.

Attack of the Swollen Gums

One night last week, I was flossing my teeth.  I noticed that my gums on my bottom row of teeth on the right hand side were very sore.  I didn’t think too much of it.  After all, I take good care of my teeth and I figured it was nothing to worry about.

The next night, as I was flossing, the discomfort had spread all the way up to my front teeth.  I took a look in the mirror and sure enough, my gums were inflamed and red.  Really, they looked quite angry.  Even worse, my teeth felt a little bit loose.

A quick look in my pregnancy book and I confirmed that this is a normal symptom of being pregnant.  Gums can swell and bleed, all as a result of raging hormones.  Apparently, that can happen even if you take great care of your teeth!  Ack!

Of course, the recommendation was to visit the dentist and let them deal with it before the infection spread. The only thing is, I really didn’t like the idea of going to the dentist.  It was bound to be a painful visit as they dug around, poking and prodding at my poor gums.  Surely, I could come up with a less painful and easier way to handle this?

How About a Natural Remedy?

The next day, I did a quick search online for natural remedies.  I found a couple of things, ranging from swishing salt water or warm lemon water around in my mouth to applying clove oil.  I wasn’t surprised to see any of these remedies listed.  Since then, here’s what I’ve been doing:

– gargling/swishing salt water every chance I get.

– gargling/swishing lemon water (One of my favorite drinks anyway!).

– changed out my toothbrush and swapped toothpastes (I had just started using a new one a couple of weeks ago) to one that I had used before.

– drinking lots of freshly pressed green juice!

Juice

Did it Work?

Yes!  It worked and I avoided the painful dentist visit!  After gargling with salt water a few times a day for the past week, and also having a few doses of lemon in warm water, the swelling disappeared and my gums feel great once again.  The most immediate indication that I was making progress was that my teeth stopped feeling loose almost immediately.

What A Great Feeling!

I don’t write this to advocate dentist-avoidance. Rather, I just wanted to share a successful home remedy that worked for me.  It’s a such a relief to be able to handle my own minor ailments, without being completely dependent on someone else.  Of course, had my gums gotten worse (or even stayed the same), I would have made that appointment to see my trusty dentist.


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Hot Lemon Water

My favorite way to start the morning is with a cup of hot water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Lemons have quickly become one of my favorite fruits.  I use them in my baking, I love to drink lemon flavoured drinks, and I also use lemons in my skin care.  Could you ask for more from a fruit?

What’s so good about lemons?

Frankly, the reasons are endless.  Here are a few:

Lemons are an antiseptic that helps deal with bad bacteria.

Lemons help prevent disease in the body and aid in cleansing the system of impurities.

Lemons help relieve things like heartburn, bloating, and excessive gas.

Lemon juice also helps keeps your digestive system regular, from end to end!

Lemons are high in Vitamin C.

Getting hot lemon water on the fly

I recently spent a couple of weeks away from home on a work trip.  My team met each morning in an Italian coffee shop before heading into the office.  While everyone was having a fancy Italian coffee, I would ask for a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon.  The first day, the staff was wonderful and produced exactly what I was looking for.  What a relief!

Unfortunately, I was only able to coax them into giving me hot lemon water one more time in that two-week period.  Most of the time, there were no lemons in the kitchen (I nearly fell over the first they told me that — how could you NOT have lemons on hand?!) The rest of the time, the staff was just totally confused at my request.  In fact, on the second day that I managed to get some lemon, the staff was about to give me the whole (last) lemon that he had in the kitchen.   Perhaps he thought I’d put the lemon in the cup and let it steep?

I never really thought a request for hot lemon water would be so confusing!  Fortunately, I’m back home now and I can make my own each morning, to my heart’s content.

Would you start your day with a cup of hot lemon water?