“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens.
Brown paper packages tied up with strings.
These are a few of my favorite things.”

The Sound of Music

As another year nears the end, it is my pleasure to share with you my annual top picks and favorite natural things. But before we dive in, let’s define what natural means, so that we are all on the same page. After all, this word is used today in all sorts of ways that are not always good for us.

Natural Things Criteria

My criteria for natural things is as follows:

  • The items may be physical, such as foods, personal care products, books, and housewares, or experiential, such as classes, retreats, places, or services.

  • The items must contribute to our wellbeing on one or more levels of the mind, body and spirit.

  • The items are based on natural health principles and mind-body philosophy, which promote the body’s natural healing abilities, empower us to take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing, and do not interfere with the body and mind’s optimal balance (homeostasis).

  • The items must be based on conscious, responsible choices that have human, animal and Earth wellbeing in mind.

  • The items emphasize characteristics like: whole, organic, non-GMO, sustainable, fair-trade, cruelty-free, non-toxic, eco-friendly, raw, and optimally healthy.

Top 10 Favorite Natural Things of 2016

Below are my top 10 favorite natural things of 2016, more or less in order of how much I value them or enjoyed them. Please note, these are personally-driven recommendations, not sponsored or solicited by any of the following companies or retailers. Some of the links are affiliate links (i.e. Amazon.com) and if you purchase any items by using the link, Amazon shares a tiny percentage of the sale’s profit with me, which helps to support my work and this website, without costing you anything extra. Thank you in advance for any of your support.

1. glo Organic Sateen Sheets

While it is important to pay attention to the quality of our food and personal care products, we cannot forget about choosing the most natural options when it comes to other areas of our life too. One of the most important is in fact our bedding, given how much time of our life we spend in bed sleeping. Unfortunately conventional sheets are full of pesticide residues, chemicals and toxins associated with their growth and production. Since I knew that the lifecycle of my sheets was coming to an end, I decided a couple years ago to start researching quality organic bedding options to replace my old sheet and duvet set and fixated on glo Organics.

They have outstanding organic cotton and fair-trade certification and a wide selection of products with great reviews. The sheets are either made in India or the US. I ended up getting their sateen collection taupe sheet set and duvet set in the middle of 2015, and have used the one set exclusively from month to month for over a year now. The sheets were outstanding to begin with and are to this day. They are beautiful, soft, comfortable, breathable and durable. What more can one ask for? This is why they have become one of my most favorite natural things and made this year’s list at number one.

You can learn more about glo Organic Sateen Sheets or try your own:

2. Earthpaste Toothpaste

Since late 2007 I’ve been using Green Beaver natural toothpaste, which I was generally speaking very satisfied with. But in 2016 my oral health research took me deeper into the many dimensions of top oral health ingredients and considerations, and I discovered Earthpaste. A toothpaste with outrageously simple, yet powerful ingredients, based on Redmond Clay, Real Salt, xylitol, and essential oils. It has no fluoride, no foaming agents, no glycerin, no artificial colors or flavors or other synthetic ingredients. So far I’ve tried the unsweetened spearmint variety, and love, love, love it! This is why this natural product ranks at #2 on my favorite natural things list and will be my new go-to toothpaste.

You can learn more about Earthpaste or try your own:

3. Skinny & Co. Oil Pulling Peppermint Coconut Oil

Speaking of oral health, at the start of 2016 I also adopted oil pulling regularly, for weeks at a time, several times throughout the year. I started with one of my usual organic, unrefined coconut oil choices, which was just fine. Later in the year however, I was introduced to Skinny & Co.’s peppermint-infused coconut oil for oil pulling and it provided the best oil pulling experience ever!

First off, Skinny & Co. coconut oil stands out as exceptional all on its own, in terms of quality and purity, beyond anything I’ve seen thus far. According to their literature, the coconut oil is truly raw, without any heat processing whatsover, alkaline and free of all chemicals, fillers, binding agents, and solvents. Their oil is marketed predominantly for personal care use, which I fully approve of, as opposed to coconut oil for consumption. Ultimately, what makes this product so awesome for oil pulling is the peppermint touch, which provides an incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating experience for the mouth, especially first thing in the morning.

You can learn more about Skinny & Co. Oil Pulling Peppermint Coconut Oil or try your own:

4. Jesse Tree Organic Olives — Toronto, ON

As part of whole-food, plant-based eating we gain most benefits when we eat the whole food, as opposed to any of its isolated or extracted parts. This is why for optimal health it is most important to focus on the whole olive fruit, not the oil. However, high quality olives are hard to find, as most come with numerous additives and preservatives. Even more challenging is to find organic olives, that are not excessive in price, and ones that come in glass jars.

This is why I was thrilled this summer to find Jesse Tree Organic Olives when visiting the 4 Life Natural Foods store in the Kensington Market area, downtown Toronto. I have not heard of this company before, and do not endorse their other food products, but am happy to praise their organic olives, which are pure and wholesome, naturally cured in sea salt and water, and come from Italy or Greece, with large sizes featuring glass jars. For an olive lover like myself, they were one of my most favorite things of the year and I am so happy to have found them. I purchased two of their largest size jars (1693g / 1.7L), of Kalamata and Cerignola olives. Both varieties were outstanding in flavor and quality, not to mention price (only $15 per jar!). Unfortunately these will not be easy to get if, like me, you don’t live within the Toronto area. Jesse Tree Fine Foods may offer some online shopping ability, so I will be exploring this in the future as well.

5. U-Raaw! Organic Nuts, Seeds & Foods — Canada

Living in the wilderness, away from major metropolitan areas would make it difficult to get the highest quality natural and organic products, if it wasn’t for online retailers, which I predominantly depend on for my dry foods, personal and home care products. This is why I am always on the lookout for Canadian-based online retailers who share my values (as outlined in the natural criteria above), and offer high quality products at great prices, with convenient shipping options. I was therefore delighted to find U-Raaw! this year when looking for high quality organic and raw nuts and seeds. I ordered from them several times now some of my usual nut and seed staples and have been very pleased with the turn-around time, shipping, quality and prices of the products. Online orders are free over $99, which is easy when stocking up in bulk, and I look forward to using them again for future purchases.

  • You can learn more about U-Raaw! or try for yourself if you are based in Canada.
  • If you are based in the US, I recommend finding a high quality US-based natural food supplier, like Live Superfoods or Food to Live (below in #6) to avoid border duties and problems.

6. Food to Live Organic Medjool Dates, Nuts & Foods — United States

Dates have been a staple in my kitchen since the start of my whole-food, plant-based journey. Though as great as many date varieties are, nothing beats Medjool dates. When these are of a high and fresh quality, they almost melt in your mouth with a most succulent sweetness that is caramel-like. One such example comes from Food to Live, whose products I discovered on an extended trip to the US at the start of 2016. The company has excellent certification and lots of organic, high quality, whole foods for some of the best prices I’ve ever seen. I instantly fell in love! I ordered some of their foods both from them directly and from Amazon.com and was equally pleased. Aside from having outstanding organic Medjool dates, I also got an amazingly fresh batch of raw organic Brazil nuts and organic cashews.

You can learn more about the Food to Live Organic Medjool Dates and other foods, or try your own:

  • In the US, find Food to Live Organic Medjool Dates on Amazon.com or from the company website above.
  • If you are based in Canada, these are not easily available, so I recommend finding a high quality Canada-based natural food supplier, like U-Raaw! (#5 above) to avoid border duties and problems.

7. Thompson’s Homeopathic — Toronto, ON

Homeopathy is an area of natural medicine that works to support the body’s natural healing ability, without interfering with its functions. Although it is still greatly misunderstood by the majority, those who know its potential know and benefit from the powerful healing and prevention that it offers, without any side-effects or chemical imbalance. I’ve been a student and user of homeopathy since 2012 and am always so grateful for this elegant and powerful healing system. Instead of any pharmaceuticals or supplements, this is my go-to health support and/or healing modality.

In an effort to always seek the highest quality and purity of products, I was therefore delighted to discover Thompson’s Homeopathic this year, which is a traditional homeopathic dispensary located in Toronto, Ontario. It was established in 1868 and is Canada’s oldest supplier of homeopathic products. They offer in-person and online orders of all single remedies, mixtures and custom formulas in all potencies. I had the pleasure of experiencing both ways of purchasing their products, and was very impressed with the quick online order turn-around time and shipping, as well as the store in person. Unfortunately their website seems to be a work-in-progress, and requires that one knows specifically what they are looking for if they are going to use it, but for anyone looking for the highest quality of homeopathics, I definitely recommend Thompson’s.

  • You can learn more about Thompson’s Homeopathics or try for yourself if you are based in Canada.
  • If you are based in the US, I recommend finding a high quality US-based homeopathic supplier to avoid border duties and problems.

8. Himalayan Chandra Porcelain Neti Pot

This year I also decided to finally try a neti pot and use it as part of my personal care routine from time to time. Although I don’t live in a high pollution area and don’t have any allergies or chronic mucus or sinus problems, as a student of Ayurveda, I have known about the many benefits of neti pots for years, and always held the intention of one day trying it myself.

A neti pot provides a quick, easy, gentle and effective way to rinse the nasal passages to maintain an optimal environment that is naturally protective against physical, chemical and biological irritants. People who live in areas of high pollution or suffer from any types of chronic sinus problems should most definitely consider using a neti pot on a regular, if not daily basis. They are also extremely helpful for seasonal allergy sufferers and any sinus or head cold illnesses. The most important thing is to get a “glass” not plastic neti pot of a good quality. Upon my research, I found the Himalayan Chandra Porcelain Neti Pot to be authentic and highly rated, and have been perfectly pleased with it.

You can learn more about the Himalayan Chandra Porcelain Neti Pot or try your own:

9. Organic Traditions Austrian Pumpkin Seeds

As I have shared in previous writings, I am a big fan of Organic Traditions whole, raw foods, given their outstanding certifications and quality. During one of my orders this year I decided to try their Austrian Raw Jumbo Pumpkin Seeds and was pleasantly surprised by their flavor. I like pumpkin seeds, but I don’t love them, and hence do not eat them very often. However, I have never tried Austrian (or European) pumpkin seeds before. They are a whole other level of pumpkin seeds if you are new to them as well. They are bigger, much darker, and their flavor is so much more robust and pleasant than traditional pumpkin seeds. As pumpkin seeds go, they still have more of an acquired taste, but these were so good that they made my top 10 favorite natural things of 2016 list.

You can learn more about the Organic Traditions Jumbo Pumpkin Seeds or try your own:

10. Presto PopLite Hot Air Popcorn Maker

Who says healthy eating cannot include some of your favorite snacks? It can, you just have to do it the right way. First, get the purest, highest quality foods. Second, prepare them in the smartest, healthiest and least problematic ways. With this in mind, popcorn can be a very acceptable healthy snack if we start with organic popcorn and then pop it using hot air only. Then simply avoid adding to it any oils or other fats, and instead opt for unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt, pure nutritional yeast, or your favorite herbs and spices.

As this is a snack my husband and I enjoy from time to time, last year we decided to research high-quality hot air poppers and get a popcorn maker. After reading many reviews, price and feature considerations, we decided to go with the Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper. We’ve had the unit for nearly a year, making popcorn in it about once per month and are super pleased with it. It is easy to use and perfectly pops the corn for a great final product.

You can learn more about the Presto PopLite Hot Air Popper or try your own:

Conclusion

Whatever products you choose for yourself or loved ones in your life, always be sure to apply a conscious and discerning approach to make the best and smartest choices. Remember, you vote each time you buy something, and these choices all add up and influence your health and wellbeing, that of others and our Earth. So always aim to choose the most natural options, items that are of a high quality, contribute to wellbeing, and are likely to last a long time. Finally, be mindful about who you choose to support with your choices and dollars.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season and new year!