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Archive for October, 2016

Natural Remedies That Can Help You Sleep Better

Natural Remedies That Can Help You Sleep Better

Natural sleep aids can be just as effective, and a lot safer, than their commercially-produced alternatives.  Most remedies also gently wear off during sleep, and they don’t usually make us sluggish or feeling hungover the next morning.  Let’s take a look at a few tried-and-true natural alternatives that can help to calm nerves and send us off to sleep when we are faced with difficult and stressful situations.

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Valerian Root

Valerian is a plant that is well-known for its sedative properties due to its active ingredient, GABA, which calms the nervous system.  The best way to quickly extract GABA, and other important compounds, is by making a tea from the root of the plant.  However, brewing the plant may produce an unpleasant odor that can be difficult for some to deal with.  There are supplements available that can produce a similar effect, but the trick is to remember to add them to your survival kits ahead of time. 

All you need for the tea is some dried valerian root, a tea bag or coffee filter and hot water.  Place the root pieces into the bag and steep it in hot water for at least 15 minutes before consuming.  You could experiment with longer or shorter steeping times, but 15 minutes should be just enough time to draw out the compounds and infuse the water. 

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Chamomile Tea

Chamomile works in a similar way to valerian, but it lacks the pungent aroma that gets emitted while brewing.  You can find chamomile teas almost anywhere, and they have been used for ages as a night time relaxant.  You can also brew your own if you grow or have access to fresh chamomile flowers.  All you need to do is take about ¼ cup of flowers, removed from the stems, and place them in a pot of boiling water.  If you are using dried flowers instead of fresh ones, put about 2 teaspoons into the water.  Let the chamomile steep for about 5 minutes before drinking, and you should experience a calming sensation within a few minutes.    

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Cherry Juice and Bananas

Cherries and bananas contain tryptophan, which is the same compound that’s found in turkeys.  This is what makes us feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinners.  Drink about a cup of fresh, tart cherry juice and you’ll start to settle down once the compound enters the bloodstream.  Some people also believe that boiling a couple of bananas about 30 minutes before bed, and then drinking the juice, can also help to put the body in a restful state.

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Warm Milk

Drinking warm milk is another effective and time-honored way to help people drift off to sleep, but it has more to do with psychology than anything else.  While milk does contain a small amount of tryptophan, it is not enough to have a sedating effect on the body.  However, there is just something about having a warm, smooth, creamy glass of milk at the end of the day that has an uncanny way of putting people into a relaxed state.

These are just a few examples of many herbal sleep aids out there that are safe and healthy.  While we don’t tend to think a lot about sleep aids in our preparedness efforts, they could be worth their weight in gold during a survival situation.  Consider adding some to your survival kit, bug out bag or stockpile, and you can take advantage of them when they are needed the most.

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Make and Can Your Own Batch of Delicious Baked Beans

Make and Can Your Own Batch of Delicious Baked Beans

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Baked beans are synonymous with camping, hiking or “roughing it”, which also makes them a perfect addition to your survival diet.  Beans are loaded with protein, carbohydrates as well as important nutrients, and you can easily prepare and store them for the long-term.  When you’re ready to eat them, you don’t need to worry about water, cooking or waiting for them to soak ahead of time.  Follow the steps below, and see how easy it is to make a batch with some basic ingredients along with a pressure canner.

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Ingredients:

4 cups of dried navy or pinto beans

3 onions

½ cup molasses (to taste)

½ cup of brown sugar (to taste)

2 teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons of ground mustard

1 ¼ cup of diced salt pork

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Preparing the Beans

The first step is to sort and rinse the beans, and remove any that are not in excellent condition.  Rinse and place in a bowl of cold water for between 12-18 hours.  You will know when the beans are done soaking as they will be soft but not overly-mushy.  When finished, drain the beans, rinse and place them in a stockpot. 

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Preparing the Recipe

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Fill the stockpot with water until the beans are completely covered and bring to a boil before reducing to a simmer.  Cover and cook the beans until you notice their skins start cracking.

Drain the beans, but keep the water for later.  Place the beans into a baking dish or casserole before adding the rest of the ingredients, stirring until everything is mixed evenly.  Pour about 4 cups of the saved water over the top, cover, and place the beans into a 350 degree oven for 3 ½ – 4 hours.  You want the bean sauce to be a little bit runny for this recipe, so add water as necessary if the liquid becomes too thick.

Prepare the canner and jars so they will be ready when the beans have finished baking.  Fill the pressure canner with the appropriate amount of water and turn it on to warm it up.  Warm your canning jars in a hot water bath, along with the lids.  Keep them warm until the beans are ready to be canned. 

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Canning

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Carefully ladle in the beans and juices evenly in each canning jar, leaving 1 inch of headspace.  It is important that the liquid completely covers the beans, and you can add some more of the water you have been saving as necessary.  Remove air bubbles, and add more beans or liquid to keep the inch of headspace.  Wipe down the rims thoroughly to make sure they are clean before attaching and securing the lid assemblies.

Place the jars in the pressure canner, attach the lid, and let it vent for 10 minutes before closing everything up and starting the timer.  Pressure for weighted gauges should be 10PSI at sea level, and dial gauges should be set to 11PSI.  Processing times for pint jars will be around 80 minutes, and quarts will need at least 95, but make sure to adjust for altitude.

Remove the canner from heat and depressurize it before opening.  Once depressurized, remove the jars and place on a rack or counter top lined with some towels or cloth.  Allow the jars to cool overnight until they reach room temperature.  Inspect each one after cooling to ensure the integrity of the seals.  Label, date and store the beans in a cool, dry place until ready to eat.  Refrigerate or consume any beans from defective jars instead of re-processing them.

Try this recipe out for yourself, and feel free to improvise according to your tastes.  Properly canned beans should last upwards of a year, but try to consume the product beforehand in order to enjoy it at its peak of freshness and flavor.

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