Healthy Living Tips

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Nurture Body and Soul with Naturally Leavened Bread

Originally posted at, on March 13, 2013 by Kristen Chevrier

Homeschooling is about nurturing the whole person–the body and the soul. Naturally leavened bread seems to be much healthier for the body than bread made with commercial yeast and it is definitely good for the soul.

People with gluten issues, candida and celiac, seem to be fine with natural yeast breads.

I made my own starter using the instructions in Peter Reinhart’s The Breadbaker’s Apprentice. I absolutely love knowing that I can make my own starter and I don’t have to depend on grocery stores for yeast. I have used Reinhart’s instructions for basic sourdough and I have used the recipe for sourdough that is found at the Daniel’s Challenge website. Both were wonderful, but the one on the website is a little less complicated.

To keep your starter ready to use, refresh it* at least every three days. You can leave it in the fridge for a week or two, but it will not be usable until you’ve refreshed it. So, if it has been sitting for several days, you will refresh it, let it rise for about six hours, maybe more and maybe less, depending on the temperature in your home. If it has doubled in size and is nice and bubbly, then you can use it to make bread. I have, on occasion, when I was gone or too busy to bake for over two weeks, had to refresh twice before baking a good loaf of bread.

Watch the videos at Daniel’s Challenge for instructions on making the bread. Note my personal methods here and do what works for you.

  • Before bedtime, mix the ingredients, adding flour to make a stiff dough that is just a little tacky on clean dry fingers.
  • Continue kneading in your bread mixer for at least 10 minutes. (If you’re doing it by hand it is a little more complicated. Feel free to ask me questions.)
  • Turn the dough into a large oiled bowl, at least twice the size of your ball of dough, and then flip it, so the top of the dough is oiled.
  • Cover with a damp towel.
  • Put plastic over the damp towel while the dough is rising over-night, so that the towel doesn’t dry out. (May not be necessary in humid climates.)
  • Mostly following the directions in the video, put dough on wet counter, knead a bit and then shape the loaves. I don’t roll it out, as it says to do in the video.
  • Let loaves rise for roughly an hour, depending on the temperature in the kitchen and the activity of the dough, and then score them with a sharp knife or razor blade before baking.
  • I use the bottom part of my broiler pan for a water pan and heat the oven 425 or 450 before putting loaves in, making sure that the oven is steamy. (Don’t stick your hands or head in to check, though.)
  • I bake the loaves on “couches” or in my Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pans or in 1.6 liter CorningWare dishes. (Oil them first.)
  • I turn the loaves over in the pans about 11 min. before they are done baking to make the bottom crusty. (It may just be that my oven doesn’t cook evenly.)
  • I put a damp towel on them as they cool on a rack. Let them cool a good 45 minutes before you cut them.

I’m totally thrilled with the way the bread is turning out. I have used white bread flour, which is fantastic. (Using white flour on your first try might be easier. It’s still better for you than commercial yeast bread; it just won’t have all the nutrition it could have.) I have used 100% whole wheat, which is a different flavor, but still delicious. And I have used mostly white with three cups of rye flour/kamut flour (3 cups total; the rest is unbleached bread flour). The rye/kamut/white is my favorite, so far. I’ve also made cinnamon rolls, which were delicious. Do whatever you want to do. Don’t be afraid to experiment. And don’t think you’ve killed the starter, until you talk to me. ? (If it has blackish water on top, drain it off and use normally. If it is purple or orange throw it away.)

Once you get going and you have some extra starter on hand try making some delicious crackers.

You may also want to try vitamin B12 enriched bread.

Bon appetit!


*To refresh: Add at least as much flour as you have starter and water to make the whole mass about the same consistency as the starter. You minimize the sourness by adding fresh flour and using newly refreshed starter. The longer the starter sits unrefreshed, or the less flour you add, the more sour your bread will be. Also, the longer your bread sits on the counter, the more sour it will become.


Healing through Yoga and Meditation

Amanda Kotter, MH, CN

In 2006, I attended a yoga workshop at the local gym, where I was working. I had heard yoga was a gentle way to strengthen the core and become more flexible. At that time, Zumba classes were the rage and I was less than coordinated. This meant I spent most of the class just a few steps behind everyone else. So, when I heard about the possibility of bringing yoga into the gym, I was more than thrilled at the prospect of doing something a little more my speed.

The yoga instructor was a vivacious woman in her 30s, who also happened to be 8 months pregnant with twins. We spent an hour and a half going through different poses, and at the end of the class, she showed us how to do headstands. Watching a woman in her condition hold her body in an inverted position and not topple over was, to say the least, impressive!  In the end, the most impressive part was how energized yet tranquil I felt after the class. Later that year, my coworker was certified to instruct Hatha style yoga, and I hardly ever missed her class.  When she decided to become the instructor of the kickboxing class, I took over the yoga class. When I look back, I can, with all honesty, say it was yoga that saved me during some of the most devastating events in my life.  

Yoga is known to help increase strength and flexibility, both physically and mentally. Through holding certain postures, known as asanas (AH-sah-nas), the student will gain core strength; through specific stretches, the student will attain more flexibility.  And through meditation, the student will become more mindful. Meditation is a practice that spans from East to West, being known in all cultures and religions of the world. Terms that may indicate a form of meditation are introspection, pondering, reflection, and quieting the mind. Often, the media will relate this practice to Tibetan monks, who use transcendental meditation to achieve miraculous results such as keeping their body temperature normal in freezing temperatures. It may surprise you to learn that anything which creates a sense of calm awareness can be called meditation!  Vacuuming, driving, jogging, slow breathing, humming, singing, or pretty much anything that draws attention to the present moment, is considered a form of meditation.

You don’t have to practice yoga to meditate, and you don’t have to meditate to practice yoga, though they do go hand in hand. During a yoga class, I might simply focus on my breathing during a challenging posture so I can get through the discomfort. Or, during meditation, I might use some basic yoga type stretches to increase relaxation. The connections are limitless!

Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure, lessen insomnia, cure headaches, and even shrink tumors. Other benefits linked to meditation are increased focus, reduced memory loss, and pain control. In the United States, stress is the most common malady, and it is directly linked to such physical and mental issues. Unlike pharmaceuticals, meditation has only beneficial side effects. Meditation has no contraindications, no insurance premiums, no copays, no expensive refills, no toxic fillers.  

To learn more about yoga, you can visit websites like Yoga Journal or find a myriad of instructional videos for free on YouTube. I would suggest starting with Hatha and Vinyasa styles to get an idea of the most common styles in the United States. One on one yoga lessons are always beneficial, though you can find some amazing classes at your local gyms. My friend Olga Campora teaches online classes and offers free tutorials on her website

Basic meditation needs no formal instruction, though finding a tutor to walk you through some steps may help you feel comfortable. I often point my clients to 432 Hz music on YouTube to assist them in meditation. I recommend listening with headphones and focusing on deep breathing. The channel Meditative Mind is by far my favorite!

For more in-depth information about meditation, I suggest the book “Wherever You Go, There You Are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  

Other resources: 

Kino Yoga

Lauren Eckstrom

Breathing Bubbles


Amanda Kotter MH, CN

[email protected]

Dragonfly Herbs LLC


(Editor’s Note: This guest post reflects the experience and opinions of the author, alone. It is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your medical practitioner for advice on treating injury or illness. Your Health Freedom does not endorse any product, or any producer, or distributor of any product.)

Why I Love Essential Oils

Amy Morris

It’s 12 A.M. You are awakened by your little one coughing terribly–that barky cough you know all too well. You rush in there to pick her up to try and relieve her gagging. She’s pretty warm and miserable. How does it always get worse in the middle of the night?! Now you’re debating whether an ER trip is in order. Consulting your good friend, Google, you find information on respiration rate and checking for retraction. That was me.

Despite being a medical assistant, I still had to check my stats again to be sure and my sweet baby’s rate was high. I could see the skin pulling in between her ribs as she struggled to breathe, which prompted a trip to the ER. She was suctioned, admitted, and put on oxygen for a bit. I did give her sodium ascorbate which probably helped her recover faster, and I declined menu items like a chocolate milkshake, as well as the flu shot they offered upon discharge. Really? Giving those things to a sick baby? (Sidenote: I asked the nurse why they offered a flu shot and she said they have a quota they want them to hit every month… so there’s some food for thought.)

At that point, I was still breastfeeding. I had used some homeopathics, loved using nutritional supplements, and we had a plant-based diet. I had researched for countless hours on environmental toxins and medications we could avoid, and yet my daughter still had been affected by what I had labeled “the year of the runny nose.” I decided that visiting the cesspool of daycare daily must have been the culprit.

This was my curse, until I met a friendly essential oil lady at a breastfeeding event. She came to my house and taught me all the basics and got me using a protective essential oil blend on my daughters feet daily before daycare. Lo and behold, the runny nose ceased and happy days followed. A whole new world opened up to me. When she did get sick I had solutions. It’s so empowering as a mother to be able to take care of my own children without harsh chemicals, dyes, or side effects. 

So what are essential oils? How and when do I use them?

  1. Essential oils are super concentrated plant power! They come from the protective parts of plants. Some are steam distilled, and some cold pressed.
  1. 1 drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea!
    1.  This oil was my saving grace during the 1st trimester of pregnancy when I had the “all day” sickness. It’s also fantastic rubbed on the temples or back of head to ease tension. Just don’t get it in your eyes! 😉 
  1. Oils can be used 3 ways: 
  1. Topically 
  1. Apply to the area of concern. Examples: Deep Blue essential oil to soothe overworked muscles or discomfort in your back or joints; Digestzyn on the stomach or abdomen for relief of cramping or gastrointestinal issues. (Think of it as a Beano, Alka Seltzer, Pepto Bismol or Tums substitute, all natural, with no aluminum!)
  1. Apply on the feet to absorb throughout the body. Think of reflexology, where each part of the foot connects to a different organ in the body. 
    1. Dr Hill the chief medical officer in doterra recommends Balance on the bottom of the feet daily to ground our emotions and balance the body. Or put On Guard on your kids feet before putting shoes to support healthy immune response.
  1. Apply to the back of the neck and/or down the spine. 
    1. When my kids are sick I often use frankincense to boost the power of On Guard, or Tea Tree (Melaleuca) to combat the illness. I use it diluted with coconut oil and apply it down the spine. For stomach issues, I put it there as well.
  2. Aromatically 
  1. Oils can be dropped in a diffuser to be blown into the air. You could use a citrus oil to cleanse and create an uplifting feeling or lavender or Serenity oil blend to calm and relax for bed. (Don’t forget On Guard that’s been shown to inhibit influenza virus*)
  1. 1 or 2 drops placed in your hands and inhaled via cupping hands over the nose and mouth. With Breathe or eucalyptus you can calm a tickle in your throat and open airways with an inhale. To calm down and soothe anxious feelings try a combination of wild orange and Balance or doTERRA’s new clinically proven Adaptiv oil. 
  1. Internally
  1. Drop 1-2 drops in water, like lemon to help detoxify the body.
  1. Swallow in a capsule. There are also some oils already in a softgel like Serenity for sleep or copaiba for anything from anxious feelings to discomfort . (It’s just like cannabis but no THC since it’s from a tree in Brazil.) I’d also recommend Oregano to be in a capsule as nature’s antibiotic! Don’t drop it in your water! It’s very warm and can burn your skin.
  1. Place under the tongue. Like frankincense to calm inflammation which generally causes most disease and discomfort.
  1. Note: I can only confidently suggest internal use with doTerra oils that are labeled for internal use. 

My life has definitely changed for the better not only by using oils for myself and my family (loving how we hardly get sick!), but also by sharing these gifts from the earth with others. I’d love to share more with you and empower you with solutions to your own health concerns!

Contact me for a free oils class and or health consult at [email protected] 

For more healthy living tips from diet to toxin free living follow me on facebook and Instagram at “Health is Cultivated” and online at

*Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection PMID: 21078173