Essential 7

Essential 7
The Name I Trust for Quality Essential Oils

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Healthy Oat Crackers: Easy to Make; Yummy to Eat!

Shopping for healthy snacks is quite a challenge. I always spend way too much time reading labels and tossing aside products containing more than 3 or 4 ingredients. When I finally find a box of crackers or chips that meets my criteria, the price makes me question whether I really want it. 

This dilemma sent me on a recipe search online. To my delight, I found some great homemade snacks that are wallet and waistline friendly. My favorite is a simple oat cracker recipe that I have tweaked to satisfy my family's taste buds. Feel free to do the same, once you make a batch or two. 

This recipe requires a food processor, or at least a good blender. The ingredients couldn't be more simple:

  • Old Fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Honey
  • Seasonings (paprika, cumin, or similar)
Begin by measuring out 2 cups of rolled oats and toss them into the food processor. Pulse until the consistency resembles flour. Now add about a teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon each of your favorite seasonings. I use paprika, cumin, and a McCormick blend called Applewood Rub.

Pulse a few times to mix in the seasonings. Then add three tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon of honey. A trick I use when adding these last two ingredients: Measure the olive oil first. then use the same measuring spoon for the honey. The oil on the spoon makes the honey slide right off without any waste. Pretty slick (literally)!

Now it's time to turn the food processor on and let everything mix while you slowly add about 3/4 cup warm water. Don't add the water too quickly. Watch carefully for the ingredients to form into a dry dough. Add just enough more water to cause the dough to form a ball. When the dough ball begins to roll around in the food processor, turn the machine off. 

Use some olive oil to generously grease a large cutting board. Turn the dough out onto the board and finish kneading it gently into a smooth sphere. Use a sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Then divide each half in half again. You should have 4 somewhat equal quarters of dough. Set three of them aside and roll the fourth one into a nice ball again. If the dough is crumbly, pour a little olive oil into the palm of your hand, rub your hands together. Then knead the dough for a few seconds to moisten.

With a large rolling pin (or a smooth jar), roll the dough into a rectangle about an 1/8 of an inch thick. Smooth the sides with your hands as you go, keeping the edges from crumbling. Now sprinkle some rolled oats (right from the oatmeal container) onto your rolled dough. I toss in some sunflower seeds (shelled) too when I have them. They give the crackers a nutty flavor and add extra salt. Now roll over the oats and seeds with rolling pin, pressing them lightly into the dough.

With a sharp knife or large pizza cutter, score your dough into cracker-shaped sections. I usually get about 15-20 small crackers out of one rolled sphere of dough. Because you greased the cutting board these "crackers" should lift easily with a butter knife or spatula. 

Place the cut-outs on a greased cookie sheet, leaving a little space between each one. Continue rolling out the remainder of your dough, one quarter at a time, until you have all of your crackers cut out and placed onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake until crisp at about 325 degrees, checking every 5 or 10 minuted to make sure they don't burn. 

When they come out of the oven, place the crackers on a plate or cooling rack for about 15 minutes before storing in a sealed container. I usually yield about 65 crackers from just 2 cups of oatmeal. When I factor in the few additional ingredients, I come up with a cost of about 45 cents per batch. Not bad, compared with store prices.

The best part is the taste. These crackers are flavorful, crunchy, and somewhat addicting. Thankfully, the oatmeal is filling. Otherwise I would be making these things every day! 

The health benefits of these oat crackers are amazing. Oatmeal is great for lowering cholesterol and adding rich vitamins and minerals to your diet. It also extends the metabolism for hours, keeping you from getting hungry again right away and providing lots of energy for mind and body. And since they contain no wheat flour, they satisfy the gluten-free community too.

Don't waste any more time sifting through those "bloaty-blob" snacks at the grocery store. Grab the oatmeal off the shelf and go to work in the kitchen. It only takes about an hour to make a healthy alternative!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cleanliness is Next to Dogliness: The Most Excellent Way to Bathe a Dog

My life has become a literal dogs' life over the last ten years. My husband and I run a Bed & Breakfast for dogs in our home, and we do quite a bit of dog bathing in the midst of it all. I was chosen at the onset as the official dog bather of the house, not because of my qualifications; but rather my height. My husband so delicately explained that I was already closer to the floor, and hence the tub; while he had an extra 12 inches to descend before resting his already-sore knees on the hard bathroom floor. I accepted this lot with a smile. I really do not mind bathing dogs. I've been bathing kids for years. How much harder could it be?

Well, the truth is that dog bathing can be a little tricky. Washing a statue of a dog would be pretty simple, but live dogs tend to be...lively! Some enjoy the water so much that they drink voraciously from the faucet while you try to wet them down. Others act like you are trying to torture them. They scramble and scratch as if they were wearing little doggie ice skates. And they always try to lean their heads over the edge of the tub at the exact moment that you spray the water on them, causing a veritable sea-spray to shower the bathroom floor.

Then there is the battle of the body-shake. Invariably, I would soak a dog's fur from head to toe, reach for the shampoo bottle, and be rewarded with a violent body twist that would make Elvis smile with hound-dog pride. Water droplets fly in all directions, and the nicely soaked dog in front of me is now too dry for a shampoo application. It's mildly frustrating...the first time. I have actually repeated this little routine with certain stubborn pups multiple times. It can try your patience and soak you to the bone in the process.
Thankfully I have learned, through trial and error, a more excellent way to bathe a dog. Here is a quick tutorial on the procedure.

First you must assemble your tools and get the bathroom ready for the dog. This means gathering up a clean towel (or two, if your dog is large or extra furry), an empty shampoo bottle (yes, I said "empty"), your favorite dog/people shampoo, and some essential oils. I often use tea tree oil and peppermint in combination for a fresh-smelling result that also repels parasites. Essential oil of lavender is a good choice for dogs with sensitive skin or skin allergies. 

Take the top off of the empty shampoo bottle. Add a dollop of your favorite shampoo. Then drop in a few drops (between 5 and 10) of each essential oil. Fill the bottle to the top with warm water, and replace the cap. Now shake the bottle gently to mix the ingredients together.
If at all possible, use a spray nozzle for soaking and rinsing the dog. We have a shower head with a hand-held sprayer that detaches easily and quickly. This works much better than filling a large cup or pitcher from the faucet. There are also spray nozzles that can be fitted over the bathtub faucet. Any spray head will do nicely. Just make sure that the hose is long enough to reach across the length of the tub.

Once your dog-bathing zone has been prepared, it's time to bring in the dog. Small dogs can easily be carried to the tub. Larger dogs must be led or coaxed - unless they happen to be water-lovers that know just how fun baths can be. For the reluctant large breed, I always speak softly and sweetly as I lead them to the tub. Once they are facing the tub and in a close proximity, I gently lift their front legs and place the front half of them in the tub. Some dogs take the hint and bring their back legs in to meet the front ones. Most dogs, however, need the hind-leg-assist maneuver, which can be gently done without straining your back. Be sure to hold onto the dog's collar as you do this. Otherwise, the dog may perform an about-face and spring those front legs back out of the tub just as you are maneuvering in the hind legs.

Now that you have the dog in the tub, turn on the faucet. Be prepared for the dog to retreat, especially if he is new to this game. I keep one hand on the dog's collar and talk soothingly during the bathing process. I may have even been heard singing silly songs with made-up words to keep dogs calm in the tub. Whatever works! Dog-bathing is like changing a baby. Your dignity goes out the window, and it's all about causing the least amount of distress while you focus on the mission.

Slowly pick up the sprayer and begin soaking the dog's fur. I usually start with the head and work toward the tail. Never shoot water into a dog's ears. For one thing, they will respond with a head shake/body shake that will cause you to start over. You can also cause water to become trapped down deep inside the ears, resulting in ear infections. As you rinse the dog's ears, carefully plug the inside of each ear with your finger, or shield the inner ear with the palm of your hand to direct the water away.

As you achieve the initial soaking of the dog, be ready to lay down the sprayer (turning it off first) and pick up the shampoo bottle in one smooth motion. Don't give the dog time to shake all of the water off. Placing your hand on his neck will also deter him from doing this. Now flip the top or remove the cap on your shampoo/water mixture, and squirt it liberally all over the dog's neck, back, tail, and hindquarters until you have used the entire bottle.
Remember, this is a very diluted shampoo that contains only a dollop of soap. Applying it this way ensures even coverage and quick disbursement. It also prevents an over-concentration of soap in one area, which makes rinsing difficult and more time-consuming.  As you squeeze the soapy water onto the dog's fur, begin to work it into a lather with your other hand. Now give the dog a nice body massage as you suds him up from head to tail. Be careful not to get any soap in his eyes. Carefully lift each paw, one at a time, as you work the lather in between his toes. Don't forget his undercarriage and his chest too.

Now it's time to rinse. Giving him no time to stand and think about shaking, pick up the sprayer and begin a thorough rinse from head to tail. Aim the sprayer into the fur, and watch the water as it streams off of the dog's coat. Do not stop rinsing until the water runs clear. Even then, spend a few extra minutes on the rinse cycle. Leaving soap residue on the dog can result in an itchy skin condition later. Soap is also a magnet for dirt, so a poor rinse job soon makes for a dirty dog. That's counterproductive, don't you think?

Oh, and remember those essential oils that you added to your shampoo mix? They are left behind as a beneficial residue. Water doesn't rinse away oil very well, so the soothing lavender, the crisp peppermint, and the flea-fighting tea tree oil will remain in your dog's fur. This also leaves your dog smelling fresh and clean instead of wet and doggie.

Well, you have now reached the drying phase of your dog's bath. I prefer to let the dog help me out with this process. After all, a dog knows right-well how to remove excess water from his coat. If the dog is calm (and most dogs are after a soothing body massage accompanied by my repertoire of silly bath songs), I simply draw the shower curtain closed and wait a minute or two. He will usually take this private moment to do the shimmy-shake he's been longing for since the water first touched his fur. My shower walls end up looking like a giant yeti rubbed against them, but at least the fur fling is contained this way. The alternative leaves me cleaning the entire bathroom afterwards, instead of just the tub and shower.

With a rousing "attaboy" to let him know you are pleased, it's time to throw in the towel. Well, at least wrap the towel around his cute little face as you swab off the rest of his body with the corners. Rub down his legs and feet before you allow him to jump out of the tub. Don't be surprised if he wriggle-shakes again on the bath mat. He knows that you don't do nearly as good a job as he does at drying his wet fur.

Before you open the bathroom door, get a firm hold on the dog's collar or place a slip-lead over his head. This gives you some control over your wet hound as you guide him to a tiled area for further drying. I have gasped in horror as an exuberant, freshly bathed shagapotomus leaped up onto my bed and began rubbing his wet self all over my clean sheets!
My jazz hands have extended seconds too late to stop a sopping canine-bullet from making a beeline for our living room sofa, where he proceeded to squeegee himself off on our couch cushions! 

The most important rule immediately after a dog bath is this: Do not let the wet dog outside off-leash! Even if you have him on-leash, please stick to concrete areas like sidewalks and patios. Cleanliness gives dogs a kind of "high". They zoom. They bounce. And worst of all - they roll! They roll to show their excitement, and they roll to remove this yucky fresh scent that smells nothing like the great cat poop that they rolled in yesterday. (Ugh!) So do yourself a favor and hang onto that leash. Better yet, wait until the dog is completely dry before going outside. Nothing will make you cry more than seeing your dog-bathing efforts get coated in dirt and leaves!

There you have it! From my experience, this is the most excellent way to bathe a dog. Rinse and repeat as necessary, and remember - cleanliness is next to dogliness!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Treating Your Dog's Skin Allergies the Natural Way

My husband and I own and operate a pet business, and we come in contact with many dogs who have skin allergies. Some dogs seem to experience itchy and irritated skin during spring and summer months when certain plants are more prevalent in their yards. Other dogs get itchy when they eat grain-laden food. And then there is the poor dog who just seems to be allergic to life. He scratches and digs at himself year-round, no matter his environment or his diet. 

The remedies for these pestered pooches are as numerous as the types of allergens. Some vets prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Steroids and steroid sprays/creams are also popular treatments. Many dog owners give their itching pups Benadryl to quell their symptoms. Still others purchase expensive vitamins and grain-free dog foods. We have seen it all, and nothing seems to be The Perfect Cure, although all of these options do help, to some degree. 

The only real cure for allergies is a removal of the allergen. If you don't know what causes the allergy, the treatment is merely hit-or-miss. As with people, the best way to solve the allergy mystery is to keep a diary or a record of outbreaks. When Fido is chewing his skin and scratching incessantly, write down his activities and his foods for that day. Did he spend a lot of time outside? Was a flea product applied recently that he might be allergic to? Was there a change in his diet this week? Write down everything you can think of, and record the date. With subsequent sessions like this, a pattern may develop that will lead you to the allergen answer. Once you isolate the culprit, remove it from your dog's life, if at all possible. This will break the cycle and put an end to future outbreaks.

Of course, you can't let Fido suffer while you do your research. He doesn't care about solving the mystery. He just wants his itching to stop so he can sleep in peace. That's where a little help from nature can bring a lot of relief. 

Essential oil of lavender is an excellent allergy balm. Drip as many drops as it takes to form a line from the nape of your dog's neck to the base of his tail. This is also a great way to calm your dog, making him less agitated from his furious scratching. Repeat this process as often as necessary. You may notice that your dog's time between treatments lengthens as the lavender works into his bloodstream through his skin. To better understand how this works, I invite you to read my e-book 


As you seek to control your dog's itching, don't forget to treat any self-inflicted open wounds he may have. Dogs' nails are rough (or should I say "ruff") on skin.  Coconut oil is an excellent skin ointment. It contains a natural antibiotic that soothes irritation and prevents infection. Rub this natural miracle anywhere you see redness or broken skin. If your dog licks it off, it won't hurt him at all. Quite the contrary, in fact!
Vitamin E is another skin-loving nutrient. Carefully snip the tip off of a vitamin E capsule and squeeze the oil onto your dog's irritated skin. Adding this to Fido's food is another way to bring his skin into better condition. 400 mg per day is enough to make a big difference over time.
Aloe Vera soothes wounds and cuts better than any over-the-counter remedy I have found. For this reason, I always keep some aloe plants near the house. Break off a "leaf" and squeeze the slimy goo inside onto the affected area. Again, this plant is harmless if ingested, so your dog can safely lick his wounds after you apply it to his skin.

Several days of these natural allergy relievers should have Fido feeling much better. Remember to continue your quest for the cause. Otherwise, you may spend years just treating symptoms. The good news is that years of this natural regimen will not ruin your dog's liver the way some prescription medications do over time.

Being gentle to your dog means more than careful petting and handling. Dogs need gentle doctoring too! Before you opt for a pharmaceutical treatment, see what nature has to offer your canine friend.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mammograms:Are They Doing More Harm Than Good?

Mammograms, along with several other diagnostic tests, have become routine these days. Posters and campaigns touting the health benefits of annual mammograms claim that this type of screening catches breast cancer before it can be detected by the naked eye (or hand). Women are being run through the mammogram mill like cattle, especially after age 40. This test has become so commonplace that no one really questions it anymore. It is akin to getting an annual dental cleaning.

The problem is that mammograms are more closely related to dental x-rays, in that they use radiation to produce their imagery. Breast tissue is especially sensitive to radiation, and radiation exposure is cumulative. This means that every mammogram introduces more radiation into the breast tissue, adding to the effects of the previous mammograms. This constant exposure eventually destroys the DNA in the tissue, which causes breast cancer.

Isn't that ironic? The test that detects breast cancer may actually be causing breast cancer. I suppose that it offers a certain amount of job security for breast cancer specialists, but a mammogram conspiracy is too malicious for me to embrace. I prefer to think that this vicious circuit is circumstantially supported. The woman who receives years of annual mammograms feels thankful for her own dedication to the cause, because she eventually contracts the disease. She attributes the early detection to her faithful mammogram scheduling, when all along, this frequent radiation procedure is actually the cancer-causing culprit.

It's true that some women are at a greater risk for contracting breast cancer, based on genetics or heredity. Sadly, these are the women most targeted by mammogram campaigns. If they only knew that signing up for a regular mammogram was actually ensuring that they contract the disease. You see, genetically-weakened breast tissue cannot repair DNA damaged by radiation, so breast cancer is almost a sure thing for these ladies.

Thankfully, there are other imaging methods for detecting breast cancer. Thermal imaging procedures, called thermograms, are non-radiating alternatives to mammograms. MRIs are also effective in detecting breast cancer, and they do not use radiation either. Unfortunately, doctors do not suggest these detection methods. It is up to the patient to insist on these safer alternatives.

Meanwhile, prevention is the best weapon against breast cancer. Women who take at least 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 each day will dramatically lower their risk for breast cancer. Taking the supplements quercetin, curcumin, and ellagic acid will also lower your risk tremendously. In fact, a daily dose of these supplements, along with a diet that includes blenderized fresh vegetables (especially leafy greens), is the best way to combat all cancers and infections.

Don't buy into the mammogram hype. Remember, regular diagnostic testing is beneficial to a laboratory's financial health, but not so helpful to women's breast tissue health! Wear the pink ribbon if you like, but don't let campaign scare tactics rope you into damaging your health.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Using Essential Oils to Quell Digestive Problems

From a sour stomach to intestinal cramping, essential oils can ease your digestive discomfort. They are safe, natural, and easy to use. Best of all, they do not require a prescription and they are fairly inexpensive. Here are the three most common oils to keep in your medicine cabinet for digestive issues.

Essential oil of peppermint is great for the stomach. Indigestion, sour stomach, and nausea can all be quieted by rubbing some peppermint oil over the abdomen and inside the belly button. If symptoms are especially bothersome, place a drop of peppermint oil in a 12-ounce glass of water and sip slowly. 

Essential oil of ginger is another stomach-friendly oil. Remember when your mother gave you ginger ale for an upset stomach? The ginger was the remedy. The ale just made it easier to drink. Unfortunately, ginger does not exist in most commercial brands of ginger ale these days. Thankfully, ginger oil does an equally good job, and it does not need to be digested. Simply rub a few drops over the abdomen and place a dot behind each ear for quick relief.

Is your intestinal tract inflamed or cramping? Essential oil of clove is the oil to reach for. But be sure to dilute in a carrier oil before rubbing it on the skin. Clove oil by itself can burn the skin. Mix 10 drops of clove oil to one ounce of olive oil or coconut oil. Then rub this mixture across the intestinal area. You'll smell like an Easter ham, but your cramps should soon subside. 

You may be wondering how you can treat a digestive problem without actually digesting the treatment. The answer is found in the way our skin absorbs oils and allows them to pass directly into the bloodstream. The effect is much quicker than going through the digestive process. The result is usually better too, since the "medicine" is applied directly to the affected area. You can learn more about this skin-to-bloodstream path in my e-book, 


Remember to use only therapeutic-grade essential oils for medicinal purposes. Aromatherapy oils are not strong enough or pure enough to use in this manner. I trust exclusively for all of my therapeutic-grade oils, but there are several other good sources online. You can also find quality oils in some brick-and-mortar health food stores. Small neighborhood stores are usually the best local sources to check.

Next time your belly has an ache, try leaving the pink stuff in the cabinet. Instead, reach for nature's answer to your digestion question. The result may reveal to you the reason these amazing oils are called "essential"!