Thursday, September 16, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Beads of Hope Africa is a fair trade cooperative that teaches and compensates women living in the refugee camps of war-torn Uganda for making beads out of recycled paper. The beads are sold in North America and money from the sales is put back into the Ugandan community by way of educational scholarships for children living in orphanages. Way cool.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
1 Cup dry Quinoa, rinsed
1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
Nobody picks me peaches and pears.
Nobody offers me candy and Cokes,
Nobody listens and laughs at my jokes.
Nobody helps when I get in a fight,
Nobody does all my homework at night.
Nobody misses me,
Nobody thinks I'm a wonderful guy.
So if you ask me who's my best friend, in a whiz,
I'll stand up and tell you that Nobody is.
But yesterday night I got quite a scare,
I woke up and Nobody just wasn't there.
I called out and reached out for Nobody's hand,
In the darkness where Nobody usually stands.
Then I poked through the house, in each cranny and nook,
But I found somebody each place that I looked.
I've searched til I'm tired, and now with the dawn,
There's no doubt about it-
Thursday, May 27, 2010
- 1 Cup Couscous, dry
- 1 2/3 Cups Water
- 1 tsp. Vegetable Bouillon
- 2-3 Cups Fresh or Frozen Vegetables
- Tofutti Sour Cream
Combine as many different vegetables as you like (I usually use corn, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and green beans) and steam or microwave until thoroughly heated/soft.
When the couscous is done, add the vegetables. Stir in Tofutti sour cream to taste.
The creaminess of this dish reminds me of stroganoff - so yummy! And it's an easy way to get in a variety of veggies :)
*Pics to come...
Saturday, May 22, 2010
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."
—South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R), arguing that government food assistance to lower-income residents, including food stamps or free school lunches, encourages a culture of dependence, Jan 24. 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
My six year old has been requesting pancakes/waffles for dinner for two days in a row, so tonight I begrudingly agreed to make them. Unable to bring myself to look at the bland, heavy whole wheat mix that I usually use, I looked through my recipe books and online in search of a winner. The original recipe (which is very close to the one I'm posting below) can be found at allrecipes.com - one of my favorite sites.
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil1/4 Cup Applesauce, unsweetened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/4 Cup Wheat Germ
1/2 Cup Flaxseeds, whole or ground
4 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbs. Turbinado Sugar (or sweetener of choice)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Wisk the wet ingredients (egg substitutes, milk, oil, applesauce, and vanilla) together in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients and blend together just until mixed.
Using a pastry brush, apply a thin coat of coconut oil to a hot waffle iron. Pour batter into hot waffle iron (about 1/3 Cup per waffle).
These were great with pure maple syrup (they really didn't need much) or fruit sweetened jelly.
*Sorry the pictures aren't the greatest - I wasn't originally planning to blog about them, but they ended up being SO yummy that I had to share!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I ended up making all of my cakes from scratch using expensive vegan recipe's or, on occassion, I bought eggs from a local farm (which I didn't feel the greatest about). Since I wasn't neccessarily catering to vegan clients, I couldn't increase my prices to cover the extra costs and still compete with other cake decorators. *Sigh*
But NOW (ha, ha, ha!) I have found something that while being totally unhealthy, is inexpensive, vegan, and oh, so yummy!
- Using a cake mix that doesn't have eggs, milk products, or lard in it (such as Duncan Hines, Cherrybrook Kitchens, or Dr. Oetker Organics), omit the eggs and water and add 12 ounces of lemon-lime diet soda instead. Bake as usual.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Valerie, a fellow blogger who I like more than anyone I've never met before, generously presented me with this blog award and instructions to share 7 things about myself. Thank you, Valerie! Like Valerie's daughter said on her blog, the seven things don't necessarily have to be interesting (even though Valerie's were) so here we go:
1. I adore daffodils. I am amazed at how the sight of a daffodil transports me to the best place in my childhood, every time.
2. I love animals - even bugs, yet I have a pervasive and totally irrational fear that I will be eaten by a shark one day :/
3. I cry harder at movies and commercials than I ever cry about real life - embarrassing, hiccuping, gulping sobs. I have had to forfeit my $8 seat at the movies more than once.
4. I think I'm hilarious. I'm not sure how many people share that opinion, but I crack myself up all the time :D
5. I find it extraordinarily frustrating that I will never learn all there is to learn
6. My older sister is quite possibly the coolest person I know
7. Sometimes I have dreams that I can breath under water and they are so convincing that it takes several minutes of self-questioning after I wake up in order for me to believe that I really can't and shouldn't try :)
I plan to pass this award on to Morgan for her blog Ordinary? Why, Nothing is Ordinary. You can't be around Morgan without having a greater appreciation for life and I enjoy her blog.
Thanks again, Valerie!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
The supplies you will need for making bar soap include:
- Food or postal scale
- Candy thermometer
- Pot (for oil/soap mixture)
- Heat resistant glass jar or pot (for lye/water solution)
- Soap mold (storebought or ANY kind of non-metalic container)
- Rubber scraper or wooden spoons (I used a wooden paint stirrer that I got for free at the hardware store)
- Safety goggles, gloves, and other desired (apron, surgical mask, etc.)
- 6 ounces sodium hydroxide lye crystals
- 12.5 ounces cold water
*Slowly add the lye crystals to the cold water (NEVER the other way around). Set it aside in a safe place away from kids and animals and allow it to cool to a temperature of 100-120 degree's F.
- 12 ounces Coconut Oil
- 12 ounces Olive Oil
- 9 ounces Canola or Soybean Oil
- 8 ounces Palm Oil
*Carefully weigh solid oils in a pot and stir/heat over stove just until melted. Add the carefully weighed liquid oils. Allow the oils to cool to 100 degree's F before adding lye solution.
Carefully add the lye solution to the oil mixture. The oils will turn cloudy right away. Stir until lye solution and oils are blended. Using short bursts (less than 1 minute at a time), use the stick blender to mix the soap until it reaches trace.
To see if the soap has reached trace, pull the stick blender straight out and watch for beads of the solution to drip back into the pot. If the beads are very slow to drip (or they don't drip at all), you've reached trace (I know it doesn't sound helpful now, but you will know it when you see it!). If you continue mixing beyond this point, the oils will start to separate from the soap mixture.Pour the soap into a mold (anything but metal or aluminum). For my soap, I pulled a greeting card box out of my recyling. Put the soap in a safe place away from children and animals and allow it to set. After 24 hours, pull the soap out and cut it (it is still very soft at this stage and it's easier to cut and there is less waste than if you wait the 3-4 weeks for the soap to finish curing). Put the soap back in a safe place and let it continue to cure for 3-4 weeks (I lined a non-aluminum baking sheet with waxed paper to finish curing my soap on).
What a great process, right?! After 3-4 weeks your soap is ready for use and you are slightly cooler than you were before you started this process ;)
*By the way, my soap has "character" because I had to rebatch it. Normally, you would get a creamy uniform color soap with this recipe.
SAFETY: While making soap and cleaning up your work area/supplies afterwards, you should ALWAYS wear gloves and goggles (I also wore a heavy apron and a surgical mask). Keep white vinegar handy - if your skin comes in contact with the lye or the soap solution, the vinegar will neutralize the reaction and prevent it from burning your skin. Do NOT reuse utensils and containers for food. Do not allow children or animals access to any of your soap making supplies or, when you are batching, your work area. Thoroughly clean your work area with white vinegar when you are done making soap. Always add the lye crystals to cold water - do NOT add the water to the lye crystals. It's not as horrible as it sounds - the lye just demands a little respect.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
In a very large bowl, combine:
8 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 1/2 Cups Wheat Germ
1 1/2 Cups Steel Cut Oats
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
1 Cup crushed Almonds
1 Cup crushed Cashews (or cashew pieces)
1 Cup crushed Walnuts or Pecans
*Set dry mixture aside.
In a small saucepan, combine:1 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 Cup unsulphured Molasses
1/4 Cup pure Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup brown rice syrup (non-vegans can substitute honey)
1/2 Cup Olive or Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Applesauce
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. Vanilla
*Bring mixture to a boil. Pour boiling mixture over dry mixture and mix well.
After mixing all of your ingredients, spread the granola mixture onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper, silicone liners, or tinfoil. Bake in the oven at 200 degree's F for 35-40 minutes.
If you're impatient or in a hurry, you can bake it at 325 degree's F for 15-20 minutes, but you really have to watch it closely; it may be fine one minute and totally burnt the next!
After the granola has cooled completely, store it in an airtight container; but it's too good to resist, so don't expect it to last long!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Today I took it out and cut it. The residual that I washed off of my hands lathered well and didn't melt my hands off, so I figure it must have worked :D Now that it's cut I'm going to let it finish curing (another three weeks) and see how it acts. If all else fails, I can still use it in my homemade laundry detergent recipe. I'm really excited that it's working out afterall!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
#1. Don't mess it up
While this step may seem obvious to many of you, I apparently missed the memo. I was so satisfied with myself for getting past my feelings of intimidation enough to try making bar soap today and I mentally congratulated myself several times as I put away the ingredients. Then I noticed that my bottle of olive oil looked full. Surprisingly full. I never added it to the soap that was curing on the top shelf of my closet. That's a big mistake - I'd advise against it.
#2. Safety, safety, safety!
I felt like a big nerd putting on my goggles, HUGE rubber gloves, heavy apron, and later, a surgical mask...until I splashed a few drops of lye in my face. No matter how over the top you think you look, WEAR APPROPRIATE SAFETY GEAR! And keep your safety gear on until everything is completely cleaned up and put away.
#3. Try, try again
The only thing I regret about my experience today was the $$ I lost out on by making such a big mistake and ruining my soap - luckily it was a half batch! It was really fun to watch the chemical processes of making soap and I learned a lot! I'm also glad to have gotten past the unknown - I will definitely try again (probably mid-April) and I feel like I have a much better idea of what to do and what to expect.
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
~ Thomas Alva Edison
Friday, March 19, 2010
Then I had a "duh" moment and realized I could use citric acid! I found it at my local health food store for $2.10/four ounce bag (1/2 Cup) - I dare say it works better than the commercial detergent I was using! I haven't broken down the total cost, but I'm pretty confident that it works out to be around around $5 for 100 loads (about $0.05 per load). I will post the actual breakdown and the price comparison to what I was paying for my generic commercial detergent later.
- 1 Cup Borax
- 1 Cup Washing Soda (sodium carbonate)
- 1/2 Cup Citric Acid
- 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
Add one tablespoon to the detergent cup.
I put the detergent into an empty Vegenaise jar (like a mayonaise jar) but any plastic, glass, or cardboard container will do. I also keep a tablespoon measurer in there that I got as part of a set from the dollar store - that way I never have to search for a proper measuring spoon and I don't have to worry about reusing it for a food item. If you are unsure of what washing soda is or where to find it, please refer to my post about homemade laundry detergent here.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I like LaraBars (especially their cherry pie bar!) and I recently made some flourless PB cookies for my friend with Celiac's disease. Thinking about those two things kind of opened my mind to the idea that I don't necessarily need flour (flourless cookies) or refined sugars (LaraBars) to make a great dessert. So I did a little mixing and even my (VERY picky) little ones gobbled the "cookie dough" right up. Mmm...
- 3 ounces (about 12) Dates, dried and pitted
- 1/3 C. rolled oats
- 1 - 1 1/2 Tbs. Natural Peanut Butter
- splash of almond or soy milk
I put the dates in a food processor (after failing to adequately mash them by hand or with a hand blender) until they were mashed and sticky with no large chunks. Then I mixed in the oats and peanut butter but they weren't sticking together very well, so I added a splash of almond milk and that did the trick!
My 3 year old barely glanced at my concoction before refusing it and my 6 year old agreed to take a bite if I tried it first. Once she tried it, she couldn't get enough. When my 3 year old witnessed her enthusiasm, he decided to give it a try and the two of them polished off everything I hadn't already put in my mouth. I couldn't believe how much it tasted like my favorite cookie dough (peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip)! Not low calorie, but definitely a healthier, more natural alternative to most cookie doughs.
The Big Dirty Secret About Agave
The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS.35 The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites. 36 (One agave manufacturer claims that his product is made with “natural” enzymes.) That’s right, the refined fructose in agave nectar is much more concentrated than the fructose in HFCS. For comparison, the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas is 55 percent refined fructose. (A natural agave product does exist in Mexico, a molasses type of syrup from concentrated plant nectar, but availability is limited and it is expensive to produce.)
According to Bianchi, agave “nectar” and HFCS “are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches.” The result is a high level of highly refined fructose in the remaining syrup, along with some remaining inulin.
In a confidential FDA letter, Dr. Martin Stutsman of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Labeling Enforcement, explains the FDA’s food labeling laws related to agave nectar: “Corn syrup treated with enzymes to enhance the fructose levels is to be labeled ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup.’” According to Mr. Stutsman, agave requires the label “hydrolyzed inulin syrup.”37 Even though, like corn, agave is a starch and fiber food processed with enzymes, it does not require the label “High Fructose Agave Syrup.” Agave “nectar” is a misnomer; at the very least, it should be labeled “agave syrup.”
Agave syrup comes in two colors: clear or light, and amber. What is this difference? Mr. Bianchi explains: “Due to poor quality control in the agave processing plants in Mexico, sometimes the fructose gets burned after being heated above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, thus creating a darker, or amber color.” However, the labels create the impression of an artisan product—like light or amber beer. As consumers are learning about problems with agave syrup, the label “chicory syrup” is beginning to appear as a non-conforming word for the product. Consumer beware!
- 1 bunch collard greens, ribs and stems cut out
- 2 Tbs. Pine Nuts or Crushed Almonds
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
- 3 Tbs. Raisins or Chopped Dates
- 2 Tbs. Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar
Rinse collard greens in cold water (let some water remain on the leaves). Set aside.
Toast nuts in dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown (about 5 minutes). Set aside.
Put garlic and oil into large skillet and saute over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant (about 1 minute). Stir in damp collards. Cover and cook for 2 minutes longer. Stir in nuts and raisins or dates. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Best eaten while still warm (reheats well in the microwave, too).
Monday, March 8, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Hearty Steel Cut Oats
2 Cups milk (almond milk, soymilk, rice milk, etc)
1 Cup Steel Cut Oats
1 Apple, chopped
1/2 Cup walnuts or almonds, chopped
1 Tbs. Earth's Balance Buttery Spread
1/4 Cup sweetener (molasses or pure maple syrup)
3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Raisins (optional)
Mix ingredients well and add to greased crock pot. Cover. Before bed, turn crock pot on low setting. Serves 4
*I like to pour almond milk over my oats when I eat them
Unlike quick oats, steel cut oats don't get "gluey" if you store them as leftovers. I make this once a week or so and then I can reheat it for four of my breakfasts! I love that I don't get hungry again until close to lunch time.
- heaping 1/4 Cup Peaceful Planet Supreme Meal soy-free vegan protein shake
- 1 Cup Almond Milk
- 1/2 Cup Mixed Berries, frozen
- 1 Banana
- large handful Fresh Spinach
- 1 tsp. psyllium fiber
- 1 tsp. sweetener (pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Drink soon after blending, especially if you add psyllium fiber because it thickens if it sits too long. I know the spinach sounds gross, but you can't even taste it - what an easy way to get more greens!
*I'd had smoothies from the health food store or the gym that had spinach in them, but it hadn't occurred to me to add spinach into my shakes at home until my friend posted about smoothies on her blog - and I'm lovin' it! Thanks, Dara :D
Friday, February 26, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Turbinado Sugar as a substitute for White and Brown Sugar
Sugar isn't vegan?! I have been really surprised at how many people seem offended by the fact that I don't eat meat - especially since I am careful not to bring it up unless I'm asked - so when someone first told me that white sugar is not a vegan product, I almost assumed they were just giving me a hard time :P Then I looked into it and found that most cane sugar is processed using bone char. Bone char is made from ground up animal bones (mostly pigs and cows) and used to pass sugar through to whiten it. Newer technology is starting to replace the use of bone char, but bone char is cheap and many major sugar manufacturers still use it. Generic brands of sugar are hit and miss since they get their sugar from multiple suppliers. They also use bone char when they process brown sugar because, despite what most of us probably grew up thinking, brown sugar is not less processed than white. They process it all the way through to white sugar and then add molasses at the end. Some people use sucanat sugar in place of brown sugar, but I find that the flavor is too strong for my taste. Additionally, sucanat and brown sugar do not have comparable moisture levels, so baked goods can turn out dry when sucanat is used as a substitute. That being said, when my recipe's call for brown sugar, I add 2 Tbs. unsulphured molasses for every 1 Cup of turbinado that I use to replace the brown sugar.
Turbinado sugar is less processed than white sugar - never making it to the bleaching stage. It is slightly coarser than white sugar and is off-white to tan in color. It cooks/bakes just like white sugar but in addition to being vegan, it also has a higher mineral content and is slightly lower in calories (turbinado sugar = 11 calories per teaspoon, white sugar = 16 calories per teaspoon). Take a look at THIS awesome guide (love it!) for more information on sweeteners.
Earth's Balance Buttery Sticks as a substitute for Butter
This is a great brand of vegan "butter"! I love to bake and this "butter" bakes and cooks just like dairy butter. There are no hydrogenated oils or artificial anything. You can buy it in tubs or in a box of four (1/2 Cup) sticks. It's GREAT! HERE is a link to their website if you want to check it out.
Powdered Egg Replacer
This is not a great egg substitute for recipe's that really depend on egg's emulsifying qualities (like in cakes and brownie mixes - for those I'd recommend a liquid egg replacer), but it's great for cookies, breads, and anything else that just needs the extra moisture that an egg would normally provide.
If you are making a hearty recipe, like a whole grain bread or oatmeal cookies, you can also substitute 1 Tbs. ground flaxseed and 3 Tbs. water for each egg you are replacing in your recipe instead of using a commercial egg replacer. But be careful because flaxseed is too heavy for a lot of recipe's. If you're in a pinch (and you're a weirdi like me and actually keep these kinds of foods in your house) you can also use 1 Tbs. soy flour and 3 Tbs. water to replace an egg.
If you're looking for more options, I've heard great things about Ener-G Egg replacer. I've never tried it because I really haven't missed eggs in my recipe's enough to go looking...
Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream as a substitute for Sour Cream
This is, by far, the best sour cream substitute that I've found. It has a nice texture and a mild flavor. Unless someone intends to eat this by itself, I don't imagine most people would notice much of a difference from dairy sour cream. It doesn't cook up (ex. casseroles) as creamy as dairy sour cream does, but it
does the best job of all the brands I've tried. Tofutti manufactures another sour cream substitute (Tofutti Sour Supreme) but it has hydrogenated oils in it so I haven't ever tried it.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
A lot of people use herbal preparations in their neti pots, but I prefer to stick to saline. Add 1/4 tsp. non-iodized salt and fill the neti pot with room temperature water. Repeat for each side.
It took me several tries of using a neti pot to tilt my head and breath just right so that the water didn't run down my throat, so don't give up if it's unpleasant at first! Also, watch to make sure that you don't add water that's too hot or cold or you'll get shooting pains similar to a "brain freeze" when you use it (not to mention risk for inflammation or injury to the delicate tissues in your nasal passages if you use really hot water). On a side note - spend the extra $4 to get a ceramic neti pot. They're worth it. The overpriced, cheaply made plastic ones I've seen are a horrible embarrassment to neti pots everywhere.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Castile soap is my miracle soap. Right now I use Dr. Bronner's brand (even though the over-the-top religious rhetoric printed on the bottle creeps me out a little) but this weekend I'm planning to make my own for the first time - good or bad, I plan to blog about it. Castile soap has an alkaline pH of 9 (that means you shouldn't set the bottle down too hard while it's open so that it splashes in your eyes because it really hurts - not that I'd know). The higher pH worried me at first because most manufacturers strive to create body cleansers that have a neutral pH of 7. Either way, I can tell you that castile soap has worked wonders for my skin! It is now the only soap I use - even for my face. It has been incredible for my skin allergies and sensitivities (yes, I'm the geek with the allergies) and almost immediately after I started using it I noticed my face wasn't as oily. It's all natural, hypoallergenic, environmentally friendly (you can use this when you go camping) and it is the only soap I know of that lathers in salt water - don't ask.
Baking Soda as a Face Scrub
I noticed once, after buying a HUGE box of baking soda, that it had tips on the back of the box that listed possible household uses. One of the suggestions was to use baking soda as a gentle exfoliant. I've tried it and it's really gentle while still being effective. And even though the baking soda method ("no-poo") thing was a total fail, I've found that adding a teaspoon of baking soda to your shampoo once a week gives your shampoo a great lather and your hair more body and volume.
Unrefined Coconut Oil as a Moisturizer
I use unrefined coconut oil after every shower as an all over moisturizer. It's made almost entirely of medium chain fatty acids - just like the oil your body naturally produces - and it's loaded with antioxidants. Because of it's high level of antioxidants, it even offers some UVA/UVB protection. I would advise combining it with zinc oxide powder for sun protection if you plan to be out for awhile because natural antioxidants are neutralized when they combine with free radicals (meaning the UVA/UVB protection won't last for more than a couple of hours at best). I was hesitant to start using coconut oil on my face because I'm already prone to breakouts, but I'd read so many positive reviews from people using it specifically to control acne that I thought I'd give it a try. Miraculously, it hasn't caused me any problems. I apply a thin layer on my face to wear under my makeup and a heavier layer before I go to bed at night. It's also great as a substitute for shaving cream or gel.
Shea Butter as a Hand Moisturizer
Shea Butter is a natural derivative of karite trees that grow in Western and Central Africa. It has a great texture and a very mild, neutral smell. Considering the number of times I have to wash my hands every day (I'm a nursing student), I find that unrefined coconut oil is not heavy enough of a moisturizer or convenient enough to carry around and use as hand cream. Before I started using shea butter as a hand cream my hands were getting cracked and irritated. Now, even though I only remember to use the shea butter at night, my hands feel great!
I hope these simple tips are helpful!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Last week I cleaned my oven. About 3/4 of the way through, I realized that I hadn't taken any "before" pictures but that I wanted to blog about it because conventional oven cleaner is such a toxic, caustic, nasty chemical cleaner (check out the chemical safety data sheet here) and I wanted to share my cleaning method so that, if you are like me, once every two years or so the job can be a little easier.
After sweeping out copious amounts of baking soda from the floor of my oven, I lightly spray the oven down with white vinegar. Then I preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. After five minutes or so, I turn the oven off and pour white vinegar into the oven being careful not to get it on the oven's heating elements. When the oven is cool enough to work on, I use a scouring pad to scrub it clean. The mess usually comes up pretty easily no matter how many times it has been baked on. This time I thought it would be best to lay down a layer of tinfoil to save myself the trouble the next time I clean it.
I know I can't really hope to demonstrate an accurate representation of "before" and "after" when I start taking pictures just a few minutes before I finished, but here's a picture I took of the sidewall of the oven before I scrubbed it:
Remember, I'm intrinsically lazy, so this is after a half-hearted attempt at scrubbing:
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Vegan Cashew Cheese
- 11 ounces water
- 2 tsp. agar powder
Bring the water to a boil. Sprinkle agar powder over the top and simmer for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 3/4 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbs. tahini
- 3 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. mustard powder
- 1-2 tsp. garlic powder (or 1 clove fresh garlic)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into container or mold and keep it in the fridge. It should set up within a couple of hours. This recipe makes one block (6 servings).
So I pulled out my trusty Grapefruit and Sugarbeet Burt's Bees shampoo (am I starting to sound like a commercial?) and washed my hair again. Oh. My. Gosh. It was so soft and silky! I loved the way that it slipped through my fingers while I was styling it. I don't know if the baking soda contributed to that or if my soft, clean hair was just such a contrast to the powder residue that I'd been walking around with for the last few days. I'd be willing to use the baking soda method a couple times a week and I think it would work if my hair was coarser or much shorter (I'd totally recommend it to short-haired guys) but for now I'm gonna stick with my tried and true. Burt's Bees shampoo is sulfate free, 99% natural (I know, I know, that 1% eats at me), and much more eco-friendly than conventional shampoo's. Yay, Burt's Bees!
Friday, January 29, 2010
I'm not usually much of a soup person, but I LOVE this recipe. In fact, I have been eating this soup almost every day for lunch since mid-December. Obsessive? Yes. Yes, it is. And I'm enjoying every second of it.
Bean, Lentil, & Vegetable Soup
Combine the following in a large frying pan and saute until tender:
- 1/8 cup unrefined coconut oil or Earth's Balance Buttery Sticks
- 1 cup onions, chopped
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
In a large pot, combined sauteed vegetables with the following:
- 1/4 tsp. oregano
- 1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp. basil
- 1/4 tsp. thyme
- 1/4 tsp. rosemary
- 1 clove of garlic, diced or 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 7 cups water
- 7 tsp. vegetable bouillon
- 2-3 red potatoes, cubed
- 2 cups soaked kidney beans (or 1 can)
- 2 cups soaked navy beans (or 1 can)
- 2 cups soaked black beans (or 1 can)
- 1/3 cup dry lentils
- 1/3 cup barley
- 1/2 cup dried split peas
Cover and simmer for one hour or until dried beans and barley are tender.
Although I definitely recommend following this recipe at least once, it can be a bit much to get all of the spices if you don't have them already. This recipe is very forgiving. You can always use a tablespoon of cumin or chili powder in place of the other spices if you need time to build them up in your kitchen. It's a totally different flavor, but it's still delicious.
This is also a great meal if you're trying to lose weight - it's low in calories, but you're packing a lot of nutrients into one serving. In addition to being filling and high in fiber, it's loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I'm interested to know who came up with the No-Poo name. How convincing would it be for me to include "I'm not a dirty hippie" in the name of my blog and then post about how I "No-Pooed" my hair today? Seriously! So for the purposes of my blog, I'm renaming this "the baking soda method" :D
My siblings all tease that my mom must have kidnapped me from someone's cart at the grocery store when I was little because (among other things) unlike ALL four of them who have thick, luxurious hair that they complain takes hours to dry, my superfine hair blow-dries in less than 5 minutes. They used to lecture me about how bad it is for my hair's health to shampoo it everyday. That was before I let them see what happens at the 24 hour mark. Now they leave me alone...or send me large bottles of shampoo for Christmas. My fine blonde hair is prone to oiliness and it doesn't take much to look like a slicked-up grease monkey. Now imagine my hesitation to try a shampooing method where all you use is baking soda.
I first came across this method when I discovered I was allergic to sulfates and had to switch to sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfate-free shampoo's generally cost quite a bit more than the cheap-o brand that I was using and I wanted to see if I could make my own. I tried castile soap shampoo recipe's with no success and I couldn't get my hands on the ingredients I needed for a decyl glucoside shampoo.
I have been using Burt's Bee's Grapefruit & Sugar Beet shampoo for the last several months and I've liked it. But I still wanted the "stick-it-to-the-man" feeling that comes from making my own stuff, so I've finally given in and decided to try the baking soda method. I used way too much baking soda the first few times and ended up with unnatural, straw-like strands. But I think I've finally discovered the trick (at least enough to make it work once, anyway) - yay!
Baking Soda Method for Clean Hair
- 1 Tbs. baking soda
- 1 Cup of water
If you have longer hair, add more water but DO NOT add more baking soda. Mix the baking soda into the water until it is dissolved and there are no clumps. Pour the mixture over your head and LET IT SIT for about a minute. Rinse thoroughly. Ta-da! You're done. I've only been doing this (successfully) for a couple of days, but my hair has not been greasy, it's been manageable, and it's had more volume. I've read that there is an adjustment period for some people where they find their hair is greasier for awhile and then gets better. I haven't seen any of that so far, but it might have helped that I was switching from Burt's Bee's instead of a more drying, less natural shampoo. I'll keep you updated!
For this recipe I have tried using Bounty, Bounty Basics, and Up (the Target brand). Even though the Up brand paper towels seem thicker and softer when they are dry, I actually prefer the Bounty because they seem to hold up better once they're wet. For a little more expense, you could also try Viva brand paper towels - the "Charmin" of paper towels. Obviously, there is no comparison. The most important thing is to use a paper towel that will hold up when it's wet and that comes in a "choose-a-size" that can rip into thirds.
Here is what you'll need:
- paper towels that rip into thirds
- olive oil
- castile soap or natural liquid baby soap
First, tear your paper towels into thirds. Fold and stack them "accordion style" so that when you remove one wipe from your box, the next will pop out. I get my containers out and make my folded stacks of paper towels equal to the height of the box when I am pressing down on the dry wipes.
Next, boil 3/4 - 1 Cup of water (depending on the size of your stack). When the water comes to a boil, add 1 Tbs of olive oil and 1 Tbs soap. Wisk together with a fork before pouring it over your stack of paper towels. I find that a loaf pan works well for a single stack and a 9"x13" pan works well when doing multiple stacks. Allow wipes to cool before putting them in an airtight container. I keep the wipes we use for hands and faces in an old Huggies wipes container and I keep the wipes we use in the bathroom in a Huggies Clean Team wipes container and they both work really well for me.
Homemade deodorant?! I know, right? But I absolutely love this recipe! I originally got it from here and she got it from here.
I was used to either using an anti-perspirant (even though I know that anti-perspirant use is linked to breast cancer and weight gain) or nothing at all. For any of you who have tried the "nothing at all", you know that some days you can get away with it. Emphasis on some days.
This deodorant is SO fast to make and it spreads on like a creamy lotion. Again, there are some upfront costs, but in the end, it works out to be about $3 per batch. A batch will last for about 5-6 months (longer if you store it in the fridge). It ends up being about the same price as a conventional deodorant and a lot cheaper than the natural deodorants at my local health food store.
I guess it would seem pretty intuitive that cocoa butter (one of the ingredients in this recipe) would smell like chocolately goodness, but I'd never used it before and had never really thought about it. Then I opened my bottle and YUM! It has such a strong smell that you have to add a lot of essential oils if you want to overpower it. I, on the other hand, had a hard time completely letting go of such deliciousness, so I added just enough orange oil to make it smell like a chocolate orange. It turns out that it didn't make much of a difference anyway since I can never smell it once it's on. Someone asked me if this leaves white marks on my clothes. I have not had that problem and when I apply it, it seems to go on clear. I would be comfortable going sleeveless while using this deodorant. Enjoy!
- 3 Tbs. shea butter
- 3 Tbs. baking soda
- 2 Tbs. corn starch
- 2 Tbs. cocoa butter
- 2-4 drops vitamin E oil
- essential oil
Combine all ingredients except for the oils. Melt in microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir well. Add oils. Stir again. Pour into 1/2 pint jar and place in refrigerator to set. Use pea size amount and apply to underarms like a cream.
That's it! You're done! If you store this in your fridge or it gets cold in your bathroom, soften the deodorant between your fingers for easier application.
By the way, you can buy vitamin E capsules for this recipe, but it is usually less expensive to buy a bottle of vitamin E oil - it's generally kept with the essential oils at your health food store.
*As with all deodorants, you should wait at least 20 minutes after shaving before you apply
All of the ingredients in this recipe are natural though I still recommend wearing gloves and perhaps some protective eye wear while you make it. Sodium carbonate (also called washing soda or soda ash) is fairly caustic with a pH around 11.6 and borax is toxic if ingested (Hear that? No tasting your laundry detergent, folks!). Many people can find sodium carbonate in the laundry aisle of their local grocery store. I'm not one of those people.
I didn't want to lose the cost effectiveness of making my own laundry detergent by ordering washing soda online and paying a bundle on shipping, so I did some research and ended up finding it in the swimming pool maintenance section of my local Walmart. It was labeled "Alkalinity Plus: Balancer" but the only ingredient in it is sodium carbonate. Cha-ching! Just what I was looking for. I later found that my local dollar store sells an imitation OxyClean. The only two ingredients in Original OxyClean are hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate. Both suitable to use in laundry (hydrogen peroxide is a natural whitener), so for a dollar, I could get enough to make 2-4 batches. So if you're having a hard time finding washing soda, just keep looking!
Anyway, there are a few supplies that add to the expense up front, but it is definitely worth it to have a natural, hypoallergenic, earth friendly laundry soap that costs about $1.50 for 110 loads. I hope you enjoy this easy recipe!
HOMEMADE LIQUID LAUNDRY DETERGENT
- 3.5 ounce bar of natural soap
- 1 Cup of Borax
- 1/2 Cup Sodium Carbonate
- 3 gallons + 5 Cups water
Shave or crumble soap into small pieces and add to a pot with 5 cups of water in it. Bring the water just shy of boiling and let it simmer until the soap pieces are completely melted (the smaller you shave the pieces, the faster this part will go). Pour 3 gallons of water into a 5 gallon container. Add the melted soap and water mixture. Stir well. Add 1/2 Cup sodium carbonate and stir until dissolved. Add 1 Cup of Borax and stir until dissolved. If you want, you can add some essential oils for fragrance.
Cover and leave to cool overnight. It will thicken up once it's cooled. My first batch didn't gel uniformly, so I just made sure to stir it before use. A full load of laundry uses 1/2 cup of this detergent.
*Here are some tips: For my first couple of batches, I didn't have anything to measure a gallon out, so I spent what felt like forever measuring and pouring out 48 cups of water for the three gallons. Tedious, to say the least. Eventually I found an old one gallon distilled water container (that originally cost me $0.88) and it goes a lot faster now. To stir this, I got a (free) long wooden paint stirrer from the hardware store when I went there to buy my 5 gallon bucket ($5). To avoid having to dig into my bucket every time I do a load of laundry, I poured detergent from my bucket into my old store-bought laundry detergent bottle. I just shake it up before each use and pour it into the laundry.
The next time I make this, I'm going to try using liquid castile soap instead of the bar soap. If it goes well, I'll modify this recipe and let you know!
UPDATE: I tried making this using liquid castile soap instead of bar soap, but it didn't turn out as well. It doesn't gel as much when it sets up and I don't think it really cleans the clothes as well either. I have found myself needing to add white vinegar to my loads more often than I normally do.