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Green Home Insulation AlternativesIf you live in a home then you probably have some sort of insulation. Insulation is one of the most important parts of home construction. It helps retain heat by stifling the air flow, and therefore cuts down on energy and the cost of heating and cooling in the winter and summer, respectively.

In the early 20th century, most homes started being built with fiberglass insulation. Fiberglass is layers of plastic reinforced by a man-made mineral blend made of various materials like recycled glass and sand.

As effective as it is at conserving energy, there are some shocking drawbacks to using fiberglass insulation. Small particles can become airborne and, because they are basically microscopic glass shards, there have been reported cases of internal bleeding and respiratory issues. Fiberglass insulation is also a skin irritant, causing itchiness and sometimes rashes on contact. And it certainly doesn’t help that most commercially made fiberglass insulation looks like fluffy pink cotton candy to little kids.

On the bright side, there is a variety of green home insulation alternatives to ensure a cozy and healthy home environment.

Cotton Insulation

Cotton insulation is an effective method that is made by shredding recycled cloth (like denim) and pressing it into a thick batt that goes between the walls, in the same way that fiberglass insulation is installed. This sounds like a very flammable idea, but companies generally treat the fabric with a borate solution that is safe for humans, and the environment.

Natural Wool

Sheep’s wool is also a popular green option, and is naturally fire retardant, only charring and not producing toxic gasses like other materials can.

Polystyrene Foam

We must also consider the foam variety. The chemical polyisocyanate is the active ingredient used to make polyicynene and polyurethane foams that are frequently used for home insulation. While it may not seem like a ‘green’ option, polystyrene provides extremely high R-values with considerably less material than most other types of insulation.

There’s no singular right way to insulate your home, some people value some characteristics over others. Hopefully the information in this article has helped you discover a few new, greener choices so it’s easier to find an option that best suits your needs and concerns.

Green Home Insulation Alternatives

 

Photography by Brett and Sue Coulstock

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Grow These 3 Healing Herbs to Keep the Doctor AwayHerbs are not only fun to grow at home, but also come with many health benefits. Adding fresh herbs from your garden can be a great way to spice your dishes while knowing the source and saving some money. Nearly half of the nutritional values of plants are shortly lost within a few minutes of harvesting, so adding freshly cut herbs will help to add more nutrition to your dishes as well!

Rosemary

Rosemary is an aromatic herb that is loaded with beneficial compounds, including carsonic acid, renowned for fighting cancer cells. Additionally, it is suggested that regular consumption of rosemary can help to improve memory and brain function.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Northumbria found out that participants who stayed in rooms that had been pumped with rosemary scent performed better on several memory tasks than those in rooms without rosemary scent.

Rosemary adds wonderful flavor in culinary dishes like with chicken or lamb. It is loaded with iron calcium and vitamin b6. You can prepare it as a whole herb or a dried powdered extract. In traditional medicine, rosemary has been hailed for its role in alleviating muscle pain, boost immune and circulatory system, and promotes hair growth. It also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that are essential in fighting harmful compounds and free radicals.

Cultivation Tip

  • To grow rosemary at your home, you can enhance its performance by ensuring it is in an area with plenty of sunshine and regular watering. For a gentle infusion without cutting, try growing rosemary in an area where you can brush against it as you walk by. A simple brush of the hand can release its beautiful aroma.

Basil

The round leaves basil have been used in various traditional cultures as medicine, and its fragrant leaves are commonly used for seasoning various types of dishes — most notable pesto, which is made from basil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese.

Health Benefits

Several studies on basil have shown that it has unique health-protecting effects in two main areas: its flavonoids and volatile oils.

  • Basil contains antibacterial and DNA protective properties. Flavonoids in basil offer protection at cellular levels. It has two water-soluble flavonoids including orientin and vicenin, which according to studies protect cell structures and chromosomes against radiation and oxygen-based damages. Basil oils prevent bacterial growth.
  • Basil has anti-inflammatory effects. Its volatile oils contain a compound called eugenol, which helps block the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. Most non-steroidal and over-the-counter drugs work by inhibiting these enzymes. Basil offers important healing benefits and symptomatic relief caused by inflammatory health issues like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Other health benefits include help reducing swelling, treating indigestion, suppression of severe cough, soothing a sore throat, easing headaches, and relieving pain from insect bites.

Cultivation Tip

  • Basil thrives well in well-drained soil. You can grow basil in well-drained containers.
  • For optimum growth, keep the temperatures fairly warm and expose to sunlight for at least six hours every day
  • Water often in hot weather and prune beginning from the top leaves when the plant is six inches long.

 

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera has been used in traditional medicines for centuries. Its use in traditional medicine started over 6,000 years ago in Egypt. It was commonly used in treating wounds and other skin problems since the ancient times. Currently, Aloe Vera is being used to treat a number of diseases and health conditions like asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and psoriasis. Aloe Vera can even help to fight stomach ulcers by improving digestion and reducing irritation. Its juices have anti-inflammatory properties for fighting inflammations common in problems like colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Cultivation Tip

  • Grow Aloe Vera in large containers with well-draining potting mix and it’s best not to expose it to direct sunlight. You can also use artificial light.
  • Water Aloe Vera deeply and allow the soil to dry for at least 2 inches between watering to prevent rot.

Grow These 3 Healing Herbs to Help Keep the Doctor Away

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The Best Guacamole Recipe — Simple and delicious. This is hands-down my favorite!I love guacamole. It’s delicious and amazing and so good for you…. and because avocado!

Avocados are full of healthy fats, vitamins and other awesome things that our bodies love. I love cubing an avocado for a snack, but making a bowl of yummy guac is nearly as easy, and oh so tasty!

After a little trial and error, I have landed on a super simple recipe that leaves me feeling happy and satisfied… every time. I love the simple flavors in this recipe. I really think it is the best guacamole recipe, and I hope you enjoy it too. Even my kids eat it up, which sort of sucks, because I hate to share — oldest child problems.

Before we get started, you’ll want to get out a fork, potato masher (a fork works too, but a masher makes it so much easier!), a dish to mix in, and a one to serve it up in. I like to use a flat bowl or casserole dish for mixing because the flat bottom is perfect for mashing.

The Ingredients:

  • 2 Ripe Avocados*
  • Juice of 1/2 a Small Lime
  • 1/2 Small Red Onion (finely chopped)
  • Cilantro (finely chopped)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce

Making Guacmole

The first thing you want to do is finely chop your onion and cilantro. I use a good handful of cilantro, but you can do it to taste or leave it out if you aren’t a fan of cilantro – though I really think it adds a lot to the dish. Finely chopping is an important part, at least for my taste.

Next you’ll cut, pit and peel your avocados (You can see how I do that here.) Add salt and pepper to taste. (I use about 1/4 tsp of each.)

Juice your lime! Rinse your lime and then cut an end off, grab a fork, poke around a little and squeeze over your dish. You’ll want just half of the lime for this recipe. It’s so easy and then you can toss the rest of the lime into a cube with the other half of the onion and it’s ready for tomorrow’s guac!

The Best Guacamole Recipe — Simple and delicious. This is hands-down my favorite!

It’s time to add the Tabasco! This doesn’t really make the guacamole spicy, but it does add good flavor. I give about eight “shakes” from the bottle. It looks like a lot, but really it’s not. You can always add more or less to suit your taste.

Next you’ll want to grab your masher and get to mashing. This part is quick, easy and fun. If you have a kiddo around, you can let them lick the masher when you’re done — or keep it for yourself.

The Best Guacamole Recipe — Simple and delicious. This is hands-down my favorite!

Grab a bowl, dish up the guacamole and serve with your favorite chips! (I really love tortilla chips from Garden of Eatin’.)

Choosing an Avocado

When choosing an avocado you want to pick one that is firm, but gives a little when gentle pressure is applied. I like to hold the avocado in both hands and gently rotate it, applying *very gentle* pressure with my thumbs. I’m looking for a little give, but no soft spots. Rock solid isn’t ripe and won’t taste good – too soft and you’ll have a mushy avocado that may be stringy with brown spots.

It takes a little practice, but once you figure out that sweet spot you’ll have perfect avocados every time! And if all you can find are hard ones, let them sit out on the counter for a day or two and give them a feel. Once they’re ripe, toss them in the fridge where they may last that way for up to a week (or get to making guac!)

The Best Guacamole Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 2 Ripe Avocados
  2. Juice of 1/2 a Lime
  3. 1/2 Small Red Onion (finely chopped)
  4. Cilantro (finely chopped)
  5. Salt
  6. Pepper
  7. Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce
Instructions
  1. Finely chop your onion and cilantro. (A handful of cilantro is good, but you can do it to suit your taste.)
  2. Cut, pit and peel your avocados.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I use approx. 1/4 tsp of each.)
  4. Juice your lime. (Rinse, cut an end off, grab a fork, poke around a little and squeeze over your dish. You’ll want just half of the lime for this recipe.)
  5. Add eight “shakes” of Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce.
  6. Mash & then dish it up!
  7. Share if you're feeling generous.
Notes
  1. I love this with Garden of Eatin's tortilla chips.
The Eco-Friendly Family http://theecofriendlyfamily.com/

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7 Surprising Health Benefits of HummusHummus is a thick, creamy spread and it can be made from ingredients like mashed chickpeas, garlic, sea salt, lemon juice, tahini, and olive oil. Hummus has become increasingly popular over recent years and it’s easy to see why. The ingredients contained in hummus are plant based, whole and unprocessed. This makes it an excellent choice to be included with any meal. Additionally, it can be flavored to meet the needs of almost any palette and the uses are endless.

Reach & Maintain a Healthy Weight

Hummus is rich in protein and this helps with the balance of sugar levels in the blood while fighting hunger cravings. Hummus also contains iron which boosts the energy levels, which is always helpful in the effort to be more active.

Reduce Cholesterol

One of the ingredients contained in hummus is chick peas, also known as garbanzo beans. Most beans in general are considered to have nutrients that help with fighting cholesterol and maintaining a healthy heart. To avoid excessive salt intake, it’s ideal to purchase a carefully selected hummus — or simply make it yourself!

Fight Off Nefarious Cells

Beans are known for their effective properties that help to prevent cancer. The three compounds of beans, protease inhibitors, saponins and phytic acid aid in guarding the cells of the body.. Beans also contain folate, which can help to reduce the risk of getting colorectal cancer.

Improve Muscle, Blood, & Skin Health

Hummus is made up of a large amount of protein and this is essential as a building block of the skin, blood, and muscles. Hummus is a great source of protein for anyone, but an especially delicious source for vegetarians.

Prevention Constipation

A high content of fiber makes hummus perfect for keeping a healthy digestive tract regular. Dietary fiber helps with growth of ‘good bacteria’ in the colon and this is believed to help with prevention of colon cancers. Fiber is also important because of other health benefits like prevention of cardiac conditions. 

Ward Off Anemia

Anemia can make you feel tired and weak. Tahini and chick peas are both good sources of iron, which helps to ensure that red blood cells are well supplied with oxygen — helping you feel your best.

Strengthen Bones

The ingredients of hummus, contain calcium and this helps in maintaining the health of bones. This is important especially in the prevention of osteoporosis when bones can become more brittle with age.

7 Surprising Health Benefits of Hummus

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