Down and Dirty Guide to: Essential Oils

A Beginners Guide To-

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Hello friends! Today I want to talk to you about essential oils.

About a year and a half ago, I became interested in learning more about essential oils after listening to several friends and acquaintances rave about them. What were they? Why was I just now hearing about them? Were they just a fad? Why would I want to incorporate them in my life? Were they hippy mumbo jumbo?

I set out on a quest to discover all of these things, and like any normal human, I turned to Google for answers. I immediately realized it was going to be very difficult to discern fact from fiction and to get the answers I was looking for about oils. There is just so much (often contradictory) info out there. I longed for a simple, broken-down, absolute beginner’s guide to oils.

And so a year and a half later, I’m writing one.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health-care practices, as well as in aromatherapy. They are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds found in plants. Some come from the seeds, others come from the flowers, roots, bark, etc. They are extracted through various methods, such as steam distillation and cold pressing, and in this potent form are much more powerful than the plants from which they were extracted.

Put simply – essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts.

When I say they have “long been used…” I mean LONG. Although essential oils have only gained more popularity in the Western world recently, oils have been in use since (at least) the times of ancient Egypt. Essential oils were also popular in ancient Greece, Rome, and China. There is even mention of essential oils in the Bible.

So now that you have a basic understanding of what essential oils are. . .

WHY ESSENTIAL OILS?

I know what you’re thinking; if essential oils have been around for so long, why have they only become popular in the West recently?

I think it is fair to say that in the past decade there has been a definite push toward a more natural, toxin-free, and sustainable lifestyle. Being derived from plants, essential oils definitely fall into this category.

Oils are reputed to be a natural remedy for many common ailments such as headaches, inflammation, viruses, bacterial infection, skin issues, and much more, as well as boosting the immune system, digestive system, respiratory system, and more.

You can also clean with essential oils, and they smell amazing when diffused (more on this below!)

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HOW DO I USE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Now that we’ve covered the what and the why, how should you use essential oils starting out?

Some of the first oils I bought were:

  • lavender
  • lemon
  • rosemary
  • tea tree
  • eucalyptus

I had done a little research, and it seemed that these oils were used frequently in different recipes that caught my interest. When I say “recipes,” I simply mean combining different oils to suite different purposes. You can diffuse your oils, blend them with together for topical application, use them in steam inhalation, or put them to use in homemade face wash or cleaning products! There are so many possibilities.

After personally testing many different recipes, here are some of my favorite blends that I make in 10mL roller bottles. Other than diffusing, this is how I most often use my oils, and I would not hesitate in recommending these to beginners. When making these concoctions, you will need a carrier oil, which will vary based on what you are using it for and personal preference. For more on carrier oils, try here.

Headache/Pain Relief Roller

  • 10 drops copaiba
  • 10 drops panaway (blend)
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 10 drops lavender
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on wherever the pain is. (You could also make this in a cream with coconut oil as the carrier oil – I love coconut oil.)

Seasonal Relief/Immunity Roller

  • 5 drops thieves (blend)
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 10 drops lemon
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 5 drops R.C. (blend)
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on over your sinuses, on your chest, or on your feet for sweet relief.

Skin Blemish/Wound Salve/Anti-Aging

  • 5 drops lemon or purification (blend) or tea tree or copaiba*
  • 5 drops lavender
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

If it has to do with your skin, this is your best friend. I’ve rolled this on everything from wrinkles to bug bites to scratches to blemishes. (* – I use a couple drops of each)

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Finally, I think my favorite use for essential oils is diffusing. Some of my personal favorite combinations are:

  1. Lavender + Cedarwood + Citrus — for sleeping
  2. Purification (blend) — for making my space smell enticingly clean and odor free
  3. R.C. (blend) — for breathing easily
  4. Tea Tree + Eucalyptus + Peppermint — for calming and focus
  5. Thieves (blend) + R.C. (blend) — for combating a cold/sinus congestion

One of the great thing about oils is that as you learn more about them, you begin to understand how they compliment one another, and what works and doesn’t work for you.

And there you have it! My down-and-dirty, absolute beginner’s guide to essential oils.

If you have questions, comments, essential oil recipes/uses, or anything else, please comment below! I would love to hear from you! (Even and especially if it is to correct me or make this post better!)

Keep up with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest and find me on Snapchat at shelby.briley!

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Photo by: Jeff Rose

As always, live healthy, and love hard!

-Shelby


Further reading:

The New American Herbal – Stephen Orr

Herbs; An A-Z Guide Gardening, Cooking & Health – Reader’s Digest

hello oils.

 

 

 

15 Healthy Snack Food Alternatives

Greetings! It’s Bethany here on the blog today.

With New Years resolutions in full swing, I am sure many people are already struggling to keep one of the most common resolutions: eating healthy. I have decided to discuss the Achilles heel of any of my attempts to healthy eating —snacks. If I am exercising and eating healthy meals, why does a little snack matter? Snacks can  account for many of our calories throughout the day, and some days snack calories can surpass calories from our meals! In the past, I have tried cutting out snacks entirely. Not only is this not necessarily a healthy choice, but I failed miserably.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had decided to cut out anything that wasn’t extremely healthy. On day five, I could feel my will power fading. I went to bed pretty hungry, but I decided to “sleep it off”. The next morning, I woke up feeling full! What a miracle. Sleeping it off had worked! Except it totally hadn’t.

When I went to turn off my alarm, I had some peculiar observations – my hands were sticky with a powdery orange resin. Then I saw it. The empty family sized Cheeto bag I had purchased before my health plans. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I noticed a single shameful Cheeto stuck to my back. Not only is this not a sanitary way to sleep, but I had no idea how this even happened!

After this incident, I officially believe three things:

1. Sleep eating is a real thing.

2. You need to listen to your body. Don’t completely deny yourself of enjoying your food.

3. There has to be a way to be healthy and not compromise taste.

Whether you’re a working individual or a stay-at-home parent, unhealthy options are all around us! In my office, there is a full candy dish within arm’s reach, a snack machine right outside my door, and a free birthday cake for [insert coworker name here]. Since the Cheeto incident of 2014, I realized that I don’t have the will power to cut out every wonderfully tasting snack food available to me.

What’s the good news?

I have compiled a list of snack foods that have helped alleviate my cravings without completely compromising my health goals. In other words, the snacks can stay! In fact, I have found that these snacks in particular energize me throughout the day.  If you find yourself overthinking what you’re eating all the time, step back and make sure enjoying your food!

This list is not to completely cut out food you enjoy, but to equip you with some healthier options if you so choose! Eating some healthier options throughout the week also leaves some room for special treats (ice cream or lattes with friends etc.)  You can always try substituting out one or two snacks for the healthier version and go from there.

I made sure to try all of these snacks myself to ensure that they are easy to access, obtainable for busy individuals like myself, and tasty.

We are starting off this list with three healthy snack recipes that I recently made for the first time. I am really excited to add these three recipes to my collection. Let’s take a look!

1. Chilled Greek Yogurt Dipped Fruit

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This snack is great for your sweet tooth cravings. I’m surprised I have never made this sweet treat before now, but I was in love as soon as I tasted it. I am excited about all of the options with this snack. You can choose your desired fruit as well as your desired Greek yogurt. I used what I had on hand this day: a granny smith green apple and light berry Greek yogurt. I would suggest apples with plain Greek yogurt and local honey!

For this recipe, I simply sliced my apples, dipped them in Greek yogurt, and I chilled them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Chilling the yogurt onto the fruit is optional, but I suggest this for added dimension in texture. It’s also a lot less messy this way, and makes them easier to eat on the go!

Why Greek Yogurt? Find out HERE.

2. Baked Zucchini Chips

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As a person who is constantly craving chips, zucchini chips are a great alternative to the ones I would normally turn to. I was really excited to try this recipe, and for good reason. They turned out to be DELICIOUS. Since the baking time for these chips is two hours, I prep these at night and store them in an air tight container for next day use. The recipe was really simple to follow, and I’m incredibly happy to have found a chip alternative that I really enjoy!

You can find this recipe HERE. (Check out her awesome food blog while you’re at it.)

I like zucchini cooked many ways. It’s a side item to my meals several times a week. My next zucchini venture is try zucchini fries! You also might enjoy hearing about what nutritional value zucchini provides HERE.

3. Poached Egg on Wheat Toast (with optional avocado spread)

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While this recipe is not as travel friendly as my other options, I couldn’t resist adding a snack that contains eggs. Poached eggs are a great addition to your health plan. I pair mine with wheat toast so that I can have the complementary textures of crispy and soft. I would also suggest smearing on some slices of fresh avocado!

Poaching eggs can be a little fickle without a poacher. I learned how to poach eggs on the internet, and they turn out pretty great! To learn how to poach an egg, check out these simple instructions by one of my favorite chefs HERE. If you’re a visual learner, I have  found that the method in this video works as well: HERE.

Sometimes eating healthier is easier when you understand why you should eat certain foods. To hear some of the benefits of poached eggs, check out this article HERE.

List Continued:

The rest of this list is a compilation of my favorite snacks that I have made in the past or keep on hand. There is a mix of sweet, savory, soft, and crunchy. This allows some variation and a full pallet experience:

4. Hummus with Celery or Carrots

5. Air Popped Popcorn

6. Whole Grain Cereal

7. Dark Chocolate (in moderation)

8. Whole Grain Crackers with Laughing Cow Cheese

9. Almonds

10. Dried Fruit

11. Sliced Cucumber  in Vinaigrette (soak overnight)

12. Edamame with Sea Salt

13. Kale Chips

14. Wheat Toast with Blueberries, and Light Cream Cheese (or Greek Yogurt)

15. Air Popped Popcorn with Dark Chocolate ChipI hope you enjoyed my list of healthy snack foods!

Please let us know if you try any of these recipes! I would love to see how you put your own personal preferences into these snack options. What are some of your favorites that didn’t make this list? I’m always looking to expand my repertoire. While I love these healthy options, I believe that food should be a great experience. So have fun with it, and don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet, and hashtag your blog experiences with #OakAndEarthBlog. We would love to hear from you!

Have an incredible week!

-Bethany