Saturday, January 30, 2010

Vegan Cashew Cheese

I like to use this cheese when I make homemade pizza. It's especially yummy on a crispy crust! It sets up quickly and it's easy to crumble.

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).

Baking Soda Method Fail

Today was day three of consecutive "baking soda method" use (I started several days ago, but cheated with my Burt's Bees shampoo on day two). It didn't go well. I tried blow drying it, but it was a little frightening. I figured I'd just have a up-do day, but even with it in a ponytail it was obvious that something wasn't quite right. I was too self-conscious to leave my own bathroom with that hair because the carpet cleaning guy (with the really hot voice) was there - never mind that only minutes before I'd answered the door with my wet, uncombed hair pulled up in a sloppy ponytail. But believe me, day three blow dried baking soda hair was worse. Much worse.

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

Bean, Lentil, & Vegetable Soup

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!

Homemade Flushable Wipes

I used these wipes on my youngest when he was in diapers and now both of my kids use these as flushables. They are a little bit of a chore to fold, but I sit down about once a month to do them while I watch a movie and it's definitely worth it. I found the original recipe here (thanks, Trina!). She has great pics so if my post is hard to understand (I plan on taking instructional pictures the next time I make wipes) you ought to pay her blog a visit.

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

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

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

In an effort to find more health-friendly, earth-friendly, wallet-friendly ways of living, I decided to start making my own laundry detergent. I tried a few recipe's I'd found online and combined and tweaked what I liked until it best suite my needs. After that I wished I'd started making my own laundry detergent sooner!

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!


  • 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.