Homemade Elderberry Syrup - and how to get your kids to take it!

We started taking Elderberry syrup a few years ago, always homemade - cause have you seen how expensive it is at the store?!? It helps shorten sickness and can even ward it off if someone else in your house has it. Here's the sciencey stuff on why it helps boost your immune system.

This takes about an hour from start to finish. I usually keep a bottle in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer - because of the honey it doesn't freeze solid and takes very little time to defrost. Use a local raw honey (local will help with allergies).

I get my supplies from Bulk Herb Store - Whole Organic Elderberries, Organic Cinnamon Sticks, Organic Cloves and Raw Honey if you don't have a local source. Or if you prefer to buy from Amazon Prime here's your shopping list - Whole Organic ElderberriesOrganic Cinnamon SticksOrganic Cloves and Raw Honey if you don't have a local source. To make this cost effective you can either split the ingredients with a friend OR what I have done is make up a HUGE batch and offer it at cost to friends and in local Facebook groups.

Why is this good for you?

Elderberries are "full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to help strengthen the immune system, these delicious berries are often made into a syrup to help combat sickness, support the respiratory system and reduce fever." Cinnamon "may possibly help relieve and support the following: anxiety, stress, fatigue, blood pressure, circulation, digestion, and blood sugar levels." Cloves may help to naturally equip the body to combat toothaches, earaches, joint and muscle aches, and sickness.* Of course the "may" is because the FDA won't let inexpensive, non-laboratory remedies make health claims.

*from Bulk Herb Store


1/2 C. Whole Dried Elderberries
3 C. Filtered Water
10 Cloves
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Knob of ginger (optional)

12 oz Raw (Local) Honey


Add all but the honey to a sauce pan and bring to a low boil - reduce to simmer for about 25 minutes. If the boil is still too high you may have to do what I do and use a cooling rack to raise it from the fire (please excuse the dirty stove top - you know it happens really fast).

After it looks to be reduces by half pour through a strainer - I love this Stainless Steel Mesh Colander Set from Pampered Chef. They are also great for soaking grains! Let cool for about 20 minutes, you still want it warm but not HOT - you will be adding the honey and do not want to "cook" it, but just incorporate it.

I usually keep my honey containers and fill half with the reduction and half with honey, screw on the lid tight and shake till it looks to be all the same consistency. That is why there is a "froth" on top.

Because of the honey content I feel totally safe storing this in the freezer without it cracking the glass. I do keep one in the fridge for immediate use for a few months - the frozen I use for up to a year.

How to Use

Our family has found it easiest to use 1/2 to one tablespoon in equal parts water and apple juice. I don't necessarily like the added sugar when they are sick, BUT it isn't "processed" sugar. We have tried with other juices we have had on hand and can tell you grape juice makes it too strong. Most of the kids and my hubby don't mind it in orange juice.

We do one serving about 3 times a day when they aren't feeling well and try to get a serving into the other kids to help prevent the spread. If you have had the store bought elderberry syrup it doesn't even compare - we had to resort to this once when we were out of town and it was terrible trying to get my daughter to drink it.  If you don't want to drink your medicine OR want something a little more practical for the road these are a great option.

Have you made your own Elderberry Syrup before?

Affordable Non-Food Alternatives for Halloween

I shared earlier this week one of the reasons I really don't like Halloween. So in an effort to not totally hate the holiday and ruin it for my kiddos I've decided devoting our Halloween to the Teal Pumpkin Project. The first thing that starts this off is that our four-year-old is allergic to corn - which is in almost everything!

One of the reasons for the corn-filled candy is that is it cheap, which is why sometimes joining in offering non-food treats can be challenging - sometimes it can get pricy. Well, we are in a financially hard season so I have to be careful about extras like this.

All of these "trinkets" are non-halloween specific and fun for most of the year. These are all under 20 cents each - so depending on how many "trick-or-trinkers" you have you can decide which are best for you.

These fall themed foam beads would be fun to have your kids help make up little baggies with a handful of "beads" and a length of string. This way your "trick-or-trinkers" will have a creative project to do with their parents and get a little quality time as well. These are less than $18 for both and could easily serve 100 portions.

Sticky Hands! My kids love these things and I love that they wear out pretty quickly so it doesn't add to all the clutter. 72 for less than $6 or 144 for less than $14

Mixed bag of toys 100 pieces for less than $15. I love that there is a large variety in this mix and love of choices.

100 Glow Sticks for $9 - this is a great price, much better than I have seen in the stores. My kids love using these when we make forts in the living room!

These fun Glow in the Dark Temporary Tattoos are will be such a surprise for your 'Trick-or-Trinkers". This is an add-on item is 72 pieces for $4.50

This has to be one of my favorite cause I know my boys (and my girls) will love these! Glow in the Dark Critters. They are a little Halloweenie and great for any little kiddo. Less than $7 for 144 of them.

What kiddos doesn't love bouncy balls - and how much better are they when they are glow in the dark?!? There are 144 of these for less than $15

This last one is a little more pricy than the rest, but I think probably the best one. These are those little lights that go on your finger. At some point we had a couple of these and my kids really enjoyed playing with them.

There are SO many more options - these are just a few of what I'm considering. If you want an even larger selection team up with some friends to order a variety and split these "trinkets". Don't forget the add your house to the Teal Pumpkin Project map so kids with food allergies can be sure to visit your home!

Here's a little sign you can put on your door for those kiddos to know what to ask for - simply right click and save.

What are you giving for Halloween treats this year?

Stop telling me "It's no big deal"

One reason I dread some holidays is because of all the sugar. All the times I hear other adults say, "oh just let them have this, just this once . . . it's not a big deal."

Well, let me first dispel that. It isn't just this once.

It's Valentine's, Easter, parades for all those "patriotic holidays", Halloween, and Christmas.

Oh ya, I forgot; there are trips to the store when the cashier asks if your kid can have a sucker, trips to the doctor (seriously, there are still doctor's giving candy), the grandparent's house, the cousin's house, the donuts at church every Sunday, oh and then there is class on Sunday and the rest of the week in public school. So in other words, many, many times every week, every day even.

What's so bad about Sugar?

Sugar gives you energy right? So how is that bad? And it tastes SO yummy.

Sugar lowers the immune system.
Sugar can cause upset stomach and loss of appetite.
Sugar stores fat.
Sugar raises chances of Diabetes.
Sugar raises chances of Heart Disease.
Sugar creates an imbalance in cholesterol levels.
Sugar is addictive.
Sugar stops the body from knowing it's full.
Sugar hype and crash.
Sugar can lead to depression.
Sugar can age skin faster - particularly the face.



And sugar isn't just in candy - there are "hidden" sugars in most food marketed towards kids. Why? Cause it's addictive, so you can get kids to easily eat it. Moms worried about getting their kids to eat something will often fall victim just just letting them eat whatever - regardless of nutritional value.

The AHA recommends no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. That is about 6 teaspoons. And if you start looking at labels you will see that it adds up faster than you could imagine.

So what?!? Let kids be kids. Everyone is doing it.

Here's my big issue . . . have you noticed the amount of adults on Sugar Detox Diets? These diets are everywhere because the addiction is real and devastating.

We are only setting our kids up to have to wean themselves off this addiction later in life. So why not teach them healthy habits now?!?

Watch this with your kids. Educate them and help the make good choices, on their own.

Water First

Teach them that water - not milk, not juice, not soda - should be their first drink of choice. I recently found out that water is not even readily offered as a choice for lunch at my children's school. Milk - that's all.

Sweets are Treats

And as such treats should be rare. Treats should be for special occasions, and not for daily consumption. I am not saying I never allow my kids treats, but . . . I don't buy them cookies, candy, juice or other things that readily contain added sugars.

When we do have these things it is in small portions and rare.

But it's Cheap

I get it. A bag of candy is way cheaper than fresh food. Than a toy. Than most other rewards. So teachers, doctors and parents use these things readily to motivate and reward children.

Buying toys or other items for holiday treats, party favors or whatever else can be expensive. So think about this . . . don't do it. Just don't. Generations have lived and thrived without rewards for every occasion. Make the big things meaningful and acknowledge the little things.

Let kids know you love and care about them by other means. It may take longer, but memories last longer than a sugar high.

So, to all those you think I am being ridiculous and unreasonable - stop telling me "It's no big deal". Stop trying to make me feel guilty. Stop trying to tell me that I am denying them their "childhood". Yes, those are the things I have heard when my answer it, "no thank you" - usually also met with a look of shock.

It is a big deal

Look at that list of the things sugar can cause. Now look at the rise in childhood obesity, diabetes, cancer and the recurring colds and ear infections.

There are tons of other sources to learn more - it has to be each person's decision to help stop this. I love Jamie Oliver, and he has a great documentary on sugar - as well as quite a few other topics.

Here's what we are doing for Holiday treats instead of sugary foods - Affordable Non-Food Alternatives for Halloween.

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