Living Simply

 
Continuing on with ridding chemicals from my family's life, I tackled lip balm and was pleasantly surprised with the results!  I think this recipe is sooo much better than Chapstix or Burts Bees and since it is petroleum-free my wonderful husband can even kiss me without dealing with his reaction to petroleum products!

I use my "improvised double boiler method" to make lip balm, lotion bars, lotion, deodorant so that I don't have to do extra dishes!
- Place all ingredients in a glass jar and place the jar in a pan of hot water on the stove.  You can easily keep the water hot (and melt your ingredients without dirtying a pan or worrying about burning your ingredients.  This is especially helpful since I have little ones and can't keep a constant eye on my projects :-)  When you are done, just cool the jar and leftover ingredients in the jar, put the lid on the jar, label the jar and save until next time.  Dump the hot water out of your pan and place in dish drainer to dry -- no dishes!

Natural Lip Balm
3 Tbsp Bees Wax
2 Tbsp Palm Oil or Coconut Oil
2-3 Tbsp Shea Butter
1 Tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

Melt everything together in your jar.  Use a small dropper or syringe to fill empty lip balm tubes.  Cool filled tubes and use!  Makes about 25-30 tubes.

I'm still trying to figure out how to add beet powder to make a tinted lip balm...so far my beet powder has not really mixed in and not really tinted enough to


 
 
Eliminating chemicals is a bit tough to do, so we started with one thing at a time and once we "mastered" one thing, This was our first change.  Thanks to Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking for her great recipie that actually works!  Click Here for Lindsay's Recipie.  We've tweaked it a bit and really like it!  Here is our version:

2 parts coconut oil (softened/slightly melted)
1 part bees wax (melted)
1 part baking soda
1 part cornstarch (100% pure, now that I've used up all my cornstarch, I'll be buying arrowroot powder)
Mix together, spoon into an empty deoderant container, let cool to harden and use!

I usually make more than one container full and just save it in a glass jar to refill the deoderant container when needed.
 
 
As I've tried to make my lifestyle more healthy I've come to realize that in addition to changing our eating and cooking habits, I needed to change our personal hygine products to eliminate chemicals.  I also discovered that these "natural" and "green" products available at our local stores are often not "natural" or "green" and are expensive!  I've done some research, stumbled upon great ideas and experimented.  I'll be sharing what I've discovered and what is "cooking" in my kitchen for body care products. 
 
 
With the beauty and fun of the holidays also comes frigid weather (at least here in Central Minnesota!).  I'm always looking for a nice, warm beverage to sip.  Usually I drink caffine free teas -- antioxidant rich, low-cal, easy and inexpensive.  One of my favorites is Good Earth Original (Caffine Free). 

So, here is my amazingly easy Holiday Cider recipie:

Put in a large pot on the stove or in your crock pot:
1 gallon apple cider*
4 Good Earth Original tea bags

Heat until hot, let the tea bags steep for at least 20 minutes before serving, and serve!

* In a pinch you can also use apple juice made from two cans of frozen concentrate.
 
 
This is an easy recipie that tastes like lasagna but is easier to make!  The spinach adds some extra nutrition.  This was a favorite before going "Nightshade-Free".

Brown 1 lb ground beef/turkey and drain grease
    -OR- 1 1/2 c. cooked black beans
Add and simmer for 20 minutes
4 Tbsp minced onion (fresh)
4 c. tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. basil
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Add:
1 10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water drained
    -OR- 10oz fresh spinach, chopped or purreed
Optional add ins:
mushrooms
black olives
green peppers
Make 8oz. whole wheat pasta according to package directions (I use penne or rotini)
Drain pasta and stir in sauce mixture and 8 oz cottage cheese.
Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with 8 oz mozarella cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.
 
 
This is my favorite banana bread recipe -- nice and moist but not "mushy" like some I've tried.
Alas, I rarely get to make it because we eat SO MANY bananas at our house that we rarely ever have any "past their prime" to use for bread!  I'll have to start buying "old" ones just for bread!

Mix together:
3 mashed bananas
1 egg
3/4 c. sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/4 c. melted coconut oil
Add:
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt

Mix well. Pour into one loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.
This recipe easily doubles to make two loaves.  Loaves also freeze well for later use!
 
 
Oh, I love muffins!  Especially hearty ones!  They are great for breakfast or an easy take-along snack.  This recipie is great because it works with whatever you have on hand.

Mix together:
1 c. oatmeal and 1 c. yogurt (or milk)
Let sit for 20 minutes (I've skipped this part and it works fine)
Add:
2 c. total pureed harvest produce (apples, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, etc.)
     - I usually use 1 c. apples (or applesauce) and 1 c. pumpkin or sweet potatoes
1/2 c. melted coconut oil (or butter)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sucanat (or brown sugar)
Mix well and add:
3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Spoon into greased muffin pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Makes 24 muffins.  Muffins freeze well for later use -- if they last that long!
 
 
Since going nightshade-free I've been looking for new recipies to replace old favorites. 
So, this is our new "spaghetti recipie".

Saute 1/2 c. chopped onion with 1/4 c. butter (you could probably use coconut oil too)
Add: 1 1b beef (or venison) -- stew meat or ground
Salt to taste
Cook on low until meat is cooked (or you can use pre-cooked meat and then skip this step)
Add: 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder (1 Tbsp cornstarch or 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour)
Stir and heat until it begins to thicken
Boil whole wheat pasta according to package directions, drain and toss with olive oil (to prevent it from sticking together)
Stir 3/4 c. sour cream or yogurt into meat mixture, heat until hot.
Add: 1-2 cloves minced garlic right before you serve (to preserve the benefits of raw garlic)

Serve meat mixture over pasta.  It is great sprinkled with parmasean cheese!
 
 
These are so good!  We eat them at least once a week!

Put in a large mixing bowl:
4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp.  baking powder
Mix well and add:
1/4 c. oil (extra virgin olive oil, melted butter or melted coconut oil)
Mix well and add:
1 1/4 c. water
Mix well and continue to mix/knead with hands unil all the flour is mixed in and you have a nice dough.  Let dough rest for at least 15 minutes (cover with a towel if letting sit longer)
Divide dough into "large golf ball sized balls" and roll thin -- the thinner the better.
Cook on a hot skillet on the stove top about 1 minute on each side.

Makes about sixteen 10-12 inch tortillas.

These freeze well for future use!
 
 
Check out the Whole Foods for the Holidays progressive dinner -- Breads -- this week at A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa for more great bread recipies!

Rosemary Bread (for the bread machine, sort of)
Add to the bread machine in this order:
1 3/4 c. water
5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp. sucanat (sugar)
2 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. dried rosemary
4 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
4 tsp. vital wheat gluton (optional)
2 tsp. yeast

Use the "dough" setting on your bread machine to mix up the dough (or mix up the dough however you usually mix up bread dough).  Divide dough into two loaves and place in greased loaf pans to rise.  Let rise until doubled in size.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

So easy, so good, a bit special for the holidays!