Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweet & Simple Homemade Hairspray

Yes, indeedy! Homemade hairspray is a staple in most women's morning hair routine. I was one of those women who emptied a can of hairspray in two weeks, and it was the highest powered stuff I could find! So you can imagine how skeptical I was when I first heard about homemade hairspray. I never thought it would work. My lungs, however, were really hoping for a break from the daily ritual of chemical build-up.

I first tried this several weeks ago, and it was the perfect compliment to my >Organic Hair Gel,< which I absolutely LOVE, by the way. This hairspray REALLY works, ladies & gents! It holds all day, but it also leaves your hair feeling soft, not crunchy. It's so simple you can make it at home RIGHT NOW, because I'm sure that you all have the ingredients handy.

An added bonus to this is that the sugar actually makes your hair shinier! We could all handle a little more shine in our tresses!

In case you're wondering about bugs, I haven't tried this in the summer yet, but I have done a little researching. Some people say it attracts bugs, some say they've never had problems with it. HOWEVER, if you add some peppermint essential oil, it will actually repel bugs! They are not fond of the peppermint scent, apparently.

Try it tonight! And be sure to follow the fool-proof rules that go with it!

1 C. Water
4 tsp. Sugar
4 Tbsp. Rubbing Alcohol (optional, but acts as a preservative)
Vitamin E Oil (natural preservative)
Essential Oil for scents (peppermint repels bugs)

Can I just say that I LOVE making my own hair products? I can coordinate the gel and hairspray with the same scent, so my hair smells just fantastic! 

Heat the water just until it starts to boil, then turn it off. Stir the sugar in until it melts. Let it cool a little before you put the rubbing alcohol or vitamin E and essential oils in. Bottle and use!

A note on the preservatives. Rubbing alcohol is the most popular in recipes I've seen, but I actually prefer the vitamin E. Vitamin E is natural and it is a moisturizer, which is great for your hair! The rubbing alcohol kind of stinks, and it can dry your hair out. However, even with the alcohol, it's a lot better for your hair than store-bought hairspray. You might try both ways and see what you like best. I keep mine (with vitamin E) in the refrigerator, and it lasted me about two weeks. Just keep smelling it; you'll notice when it goes rancid!


Fool-Proof Rules:

Depending on your hair type, you might need more or less sugar. More sugar will have a firmer hold. But remember, I used a TON of extra hold hairspray, and I only needed two sprays of this to cover my head & hold all day! This concentration of sugar water is perfect for me.

Find a spray bottle with a super fine mist. I actually use a little plastic bottle from the travel-size toiletries at Walmart.

Wait 20-30 seconds for the spray to dry. I didn't do this the first time, which is why I used too much! I only need about 2 to 3 sprays and it's perfect.

Stick with these rules and you should have some great hairspray!

I have another recipe that does not use sugar. I have not bought the ingredients for that yet, but I will let you know when I try it out! So far, I love this sugar recipe, so I'll be sticking with it for a while!

Let me know how it goes for you!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Best Things Take Time... like Turkey!

The holidays are so busy, as we all know, and it seems there is never time to get together with everyone you want to. So after all the actual holiday days were over, some of us were able to get together and just spend an evening together.

We had decided we wanted the traditional Christmas dinner, but all made in a healthy fashion since new years resolutions had already been made and started. I love a culinary challenge! I set out to create the menu and it went something like this:

*Sweet & Sassy Slow-Cooked Turkey & Gravy
(what this post is all about)
*Apple Walnut Stuffing
(the best stuffing ever)
*Orange-Glazed Sliced Carrots
(not bad, but not amazing)
*Herb Roasted Potatoes
(taters are always delish)

I must admit, I didn't eat all of my sides because I got full off of all the amazing turkey! If you have never cooked a turkey in a crock-pot, you have GOT to try this recipe! I couldn't decide between the traditional herbed turkey recipe, the spicy turkey recipe, and the sweet apple spiced turkey recipe, so I kind of combined all three and came up with this. I think this will be the all-time favorite turkey recipe from now on. Definitely!

If you try this, do not be concerned with how it smells the entire time it's cooking. The smell is very deceiving. I was afraid we were going to end up eating potatoes and carrots for dinner, but as soon as I tried it, I was blown away with surprise!

As an added bonus, the leftovers are PERFECT for the >>Leftover Turkey Rice Soup Recipe<<.

The Recipe
  1. 4 C. Apple Juice
  2. 1/4 C. Kosher Salt
  3. 1/3 C. Raw Honey
  4. 2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  5. 1 Tbsp Ground Mustard
  6. 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  7. 1 1/2 tsp Dried Rosemary
  8. 1 tsp Black Pepper
  9. 3-5 lb Turkey Breast, unflavored

It is generally best to brine the turkey overnight, but I completely forgot until that morning, so mine only brined for about 3-4 hours. When poultry is brined, the impurities and blood are pulled out of the meat; it also helps keep moisture in. To brine, you just mix equal parts of salt and sugar with enough warm water to cover the meat. Make sure the salt and sugar dissolve in the warm water first. Keep the bowl and turkey refrigerated overnight as it brines.Then just discard the brine when you are ready to cook; I gave my turkey a quick rinse just to remove any lingering impurities.

You can go ahead and place your rinsed turkey in the crock pot as you make the marinade. Do not turn the crock pot on yet! By the way, my crock pot was the medium sized kind- I honestly don't know how many quarts it held. It worked best for the small turkey breast. You want the meat completely covered in liquid as it cooks.

To make the cooking marinade, bring all the ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Cook and stir until the salt and honey are dissolved. Like I said before, don't be afraid at the smell; it was very unappetizing to me, but it is definitely worth it! I don't know how it happens, but that little crock pot works some magic! Make sure you keep it covered as much as possible!

I gathered the garlic together on top of the turkey breast for the first hour or so.

Simply pour the cooking marinade over the turkey in the crock pot. There needs to be enough liquid that the turkey is completely covered, so if you are a little short, just cook up a bit more marinade and add it in.

Cook on HIGH for about 2-3 hours, then on low for an hour. I turned it down to low when the glass lid started jostling around due to steam from the boiling marinade. Or, you can cook for about 6 hours on low, depending on how much time you have.

The turkey will be "done" much sooner, but you want it to be so soft it falls apart when you pick it up with a fork. And trust me, if you can wait that long, you will never cook turkey the same way again!

Here is the whole meal. Yum!!

GRAVY TIME! Once the turkey is done, spoon out about 1 C. of the cooking marinade and bring it to a boil in a small saucepan. Mix about 1tsp corn starch with 1Tbsp of water in a cup, then pour it into the boiling marinade. Continue adding corn starch and water until the gravy gets to the consistency you want. Allow it to simmer together a few minutes before you add any more.

The gravy will turn out fairly spicy, due to the red pepper flakes, so go easy if you're not a fan of spicy stuff.

Enjoy & God bless!!!
Let me know how it goes if you try it!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Minty Minerals Toothpaste: Updated Recipe

"I love your toothpaste! You really came up with a great product! I WAS AMAZED at how it cleaned my teeth! I have never had that good of a feeling out of a toothpaste. And the ingredients are natural... that is the best!" 
-A lady I work with who I asked to sample my toothpaste

First, I will say that I did not come up with the basic thought of this recipe, but found it on a website for holistic dental hygiene. However, I DID change almost all the amounts of ingredients and got rid of some. So this is my modified version.

Have you ever heard of re-mineralization? There is a lot of information about tooth re-mineralization coming out lately. You might have seen some of those commercials with "dentists" telling you that once enamel is gone, it is never coming back. However, it does! >>THIS WEBSITE<< has a lot of information about it. This toothpaste not only makes your teeth clean and white, it will also speed up the re-mineralization process.

I have only used this toothpaste for two days now and already my teeth are slightly whiter. My mom even commented on it. My teeth feel so clean and my gums feel great, too! Personally, I have always hated the texture of normal toothpaste. Strange, I know, but texture is kind of a big deal with me when it comes to foods and obviously toothpaste. So the thought of a grainier toothpaste over the strangely-thick-sticky-mess-in-a-tube-GAG toothpaste was actually exciting to me. This new paste is definitely a different taste also, and doesn't really foam like store-bought pastes. The graininess is due to several of the ingredients, but it is still very easy on the teeth. Plus, all the benefits gained are worth a little graininess twice a day.

I have listed the ingredients below and their benefits to dental hygiene. I will also list the recipe at the bottom of the page. You might also want to read some of the information I posted on a previous recipe for toothpaste. There is a quick overview of how horrible fluoride and glycerin are for your teeth. When you read about that you can truly appreciate the benefits of the following ingredients in this homemade toothpaste.


Coconut Oil
-Coconut oil provides super moisture for your gums. Scientists have also found that it can help fight the main bug behind tooth decay. They tested coconut oil against Streptococcus mutants - a sugar-loving bacterium that clings to teeth and produces acid, causing them to rot. Coconut oil is a great active ingredient for toothpaste. 

Baking Soda
-A natural ingredient to clean and whiten teeth fast. It neutralizes substances that cause stains and odors. Baking soda penetrates into the crevices of the teeth, and is gently abrasive on your enamel. 

Calcium Magnesium & Zinc Powder
-Without the presence of fluoride and glycerin, the teeth can heal themselves and re-grow enamel. Calcium magnesium and zinc are essential minerals for strong teeth and bones. This powder will heal re-mineralize your teeth and they will operate like they were supposed to. 

-A natural sweetener and a sugar alcohol, in that it is similar to fructose but only absorbs 40% into your body. You get the sweet taste with less than half the calories. Xylitol also cuts through bio-film, which coats teeth and cavities and acts as a hiding place for bacteria. It also cuts through odor and prevents cavities. 

Redmond Sea Salt
-A natural sea salt mined from ancient sea beds and contains 50+ trace minerals including iodine. It is antibacterial and aids in the re-mineralization process.

Ppeppermint Essential Oil
-Fights bad breath and soothes sore gums and toothaches. I am also thinking of adding Tea Tree Essential Oil to my next batch, as it is antimicrobial and antibacterial as well. It is most often used in homemade deodorants and the like. *** I did try the Tea Tree the second time around; just make sure you do more peppermint than tea tree when you mix them in. Tea Tree is a minty taste as well, but it kind of leaves a strange aftertaste, unless you have a lot of peppermint.


Now for the recipe! I have listed where you can buy the ingredients, if you are local.

* 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil (Walmart - But I prefer to use the extra virgin kind from Puritans Pride)
* 2 Tbsp Baking Soda
* 2 Tbsp Calcium Magnesium & Zinc Powder (buy them in tablet form and grind- walmart)
* 3 Tbsp Xylitol (Back to Nature)
* 2 tsp Redmond Sea Salt (Back to Nature)
* 20 drops Peppermint Essential Oil (GNC)

You will need to grind up the calcium tablets with a mortar and pestle or food processor. Then simply mash everything together in a bowl. You can add more or less of the coconut oil to get the desired consistency. I liked it with 3 Tbsp as oppose to 2 Tbsp.

***UPDATE: About 10 tablets will make 1 tablespoon of powder. I noticed that grinding 5 calcium/mag tablets at a time worked best for me. ALSO, the tablets have a very thin casing that does not grind up. I used a sifter to separate the powder from the casings. If you leave them in, it shouldn't harm you, but it will be more grainy and have a funky texture. I prefer to sift! After sifting once, I grind it a second time; there were some ball-like pieces of the tablets leftover. A second grinding will powder them easily, then just sift the casings out and toss them.

I encourage you to try this for yourself! Several people have asked me to make this for them, so if you are local, I am willing to make and sell you some as well!

Enjoy & God bless!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Minty Coconut Toothpaste

Yes, toothpaste. It has been my latest experiment. Why? I first saw it pop up in a search I was doing on coconut oil uses. I had never really thought about it before, but the more I read about it, the better it sounded, and the more cautious I became of store-bought toothpastes. 
Am I sounding like a crazy DIY person yet? :-)

I got this bottle at Target in the traveling toiletries aisle. 
I'm obsessed with my sticker-maker, too!

So with the research I did on toothpastes, here are two main ingredients in almost all store bought toothpaste that seem a little questionable:

Glycerin- It is what gives the toothpaste the creamy texture and what helps coat your teeth for "protection" as they say. It also takes about 20 rinses to wash it off, and it also stops re-enamelization, so your cavities can't self-heal. One doctor actually suggested using bar soap to clean your teeth after brushing, just to get the glycerin off and to promote re-enamelization; soap will also kill germs.

Fluoride- We have heard a lot about this in recent years, mainly about it being put into our drinking water for the health of your children's teeth. However, it is quite toxic to our bodies. Brace yourself for a bunch of facts. Fluoride has been linked to 113 known ailments. It is dangerous to kidneys, and many toothpastes now have warning labels on them to keep children from swallowing too much of it. This warning label is due to many lawsuits from parents whose children have been poisoned by fluoride-containing toothpastes. Also, fluoride in chemical form, like in water fluoridation, has been linked to causing cancer. I found that somewhere around 120,000 cancer patients die every year because of fluoride in their water. Fluoride is the smallest negative ion on Earth, which also means it is the most intensely negative particle on Earth. So... fluoride breaks the positive hydrogen bonds, which holds coils together in proteins and enzymes. In relation to your teeth, that means fluoride can cause receding gum lines; it severs the proteins holding your gums to your teeth. If that's not enough, how about this: Sodium fluoride is a by-product of aluminum manufacturing that is also found in rat poisons and industrial pesticides. Yummy, yummy toothpaste!

If you are curious about fluoride, re-enamelization, and healthy teeth, check out this website about Gerard Judd. Or, you could look at the FLUORIDE ALERT page. Healing Teeth Naturally also has some good information on the subject.

SO, I was pretty intent on making my own toothpaste at this point. I looked around for the best recipe, but couldn't find one that sounded right to me. Many were simply oils and liquid soaps, many were full of baking soda and other powders I hadn't heard of, and a LOT had glycerin in them, to make it creamy. I wanted my toothpaste to be thick enough to stay on my brush, and I really didn't care if it was creamy, just as long as it was healthy and it worked!

So what's the deal with baking soda? One dentist explained that baking soda is great for whitening, just as a fine piece of sandpaper is great for polishing a wood table-top. It's good at first, but after a while, that table is going to be worn down, gritty, and just really terrible. Your teeth may get really white at first, but eventually it would wear your teeth down. A lot of recipes were half baking soda, or all baking soda and water. That's really bad for your pearlies! It is safe to add SOME baking soda, but not all. Mixed with other ingredients, it will simply whiten and clean your teeth.

One more note about store-bought toothpastes: If it claims to whiten, fight bad breath, fight gum disease, and/or more symptoms, you can bet that it is full of chemicals. I'd rather not brush with chemicals!

I never found a recipe that I really felt comfortable with, so I took the best of what I had learned and saw, and tried out my own recipe. And you know what, it actually works! I really like it! It has a different texture and taste than I'm used to, but I'm alright with that, because I know it's healthy! I was missing one ingredient that I plan to add in the future: Calcium Magnesium. It will really aid in the re-enamelization process of your teeth. Also, the dentists recommend taking calcium + Vitamin D pills to help this along.

Here is my recipe! If you try it out, will you let me know how it goes?

>*> Minty Coconut Toothpaste <*<
  • 4 tsp Dr. Bronner's peppermint liquid Castile soap
  • 1/2 C. melted Coconut Oil (antibacterial, antimicrobial, soothing to gums, & smells great)
  • 1 tsp Local Honey (helps fight cavities, they say! Add more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda (I did add a very little to whiten. It is so little compard to the other ingredients that it won't do damage to your teeth)
  • 2 Tbsp of boiled water
  • 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder (a tasteless thickener, like cornstarch, except much more gentle and easy for your teeth and gums; you can get this at health food stores, like Back to Nature)
Make sure your coconut oil is pretty softy; you could even melt it if you want. Blend everything together until it's well blended and somewhat frothy.

Scoop it all into a zip-lock bag, snip one of the bottom corners off and "pipe" the paste into your air-tight container. I use the little empty travel bottles from walmart in the shaving aisle. You could store it in a jar if you want, but I wanted to be able to squeeze it out easily. I also store mine in the fridge, which helps the coconut oil stay a little more firm.

And that's all! Minty Coconut Toothpaste! I was pretty impressed! It does have a somewhat "soap" after-taste, because of the Castile, but with two rinses with water, it pretty much goes away. I would rather have that than fluoride, though. So I figure it's a good trade-off. Even the Jess Man liked it!

Let me know what you think! And if you're local and interested, let me know; next time I make up a batch I can make extra for you to try!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Organic Hair Gel: Surprisingly AWESOME!

Concerned about chemicals in your hair and scalp? I was! But since my hair is so high maintenance, I was convinced nothing homemade would help it out! I had a pretty strict process to go through in order to keep it looking decent. First off, I only shampooed once every three days. Curly hair is very dry, you see, and over-stripping it of oils on a daily basis is not healthy. Many Curlies prefer the once a week washing, but I really can't stand it that long. Then came the moussing and hairspray, air drying with clips, more moussing, a little cream here and there, and much, much more hairspray. Then, every morning that I did not wash it, I had to reapply more mousse and more hairspray. I had gotten used to the "daily grind," but my lungs were not too happy with me.

I came upon this website that really lifted the veil on how bad my "beauty" products really were. I think I have shared it before, but just in case, check it out HERE! You can enter all your products (be sure it's spelled correctly; it doesn't have spell-check and doesn't "did you mean" your search) and see how it is rated on a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being the most toxic for you. It will even tell you how cancerous it is, if it causes infertility, and much more. All of my products rated between 4 and 6, and yes, my hairspray was slowly stuffing my lungs with toxins. Needless to say, all of that information really made me reconsider the whole natural hair care route.

I did quite a bit of research, and it seemed the best thing for curly girls was flax seed gel. Who would have thought you could style your hair with flax seed? Flax seeds have been used for ages for all kinds of health benefits. Normally, they are ground and eaten. Check out some of the benefits on this PAGE, and HERE, too. If you eat them, it's actually good for hair growth. I'm not sure how well it transfers from using it as hair gel, but I'm guessing it's still really really good for your hair, considering it has so much omega-3s, fibers, and even lignans which may prevent cancer. SO much better than cancer-causing products in stores!

Well anyway, I was skeptical, but tried it anyway. It's really very cheap to make. I bought a huge bag at a local grocery store for about $3; this will last me close to a year. My mousse of choice alone was almost $5, and it lasted maybe two months. I was pretty excited about saving some money! In my searching, it seemed there were so many variations to this recipe, but the same basic ratio of water to flax seeds, so I came up with my own recipe using this ratio.

People, THIS, STUFF, WORKS! I was thrilled! I use so much less, and it holds so amazingly well! It's not crunchy, flaky, or sticky. My hair is even curlier, most likely because it's not being weighed down by so much product. My hair is like a two-year old being freed from their clothes after a long day! Yes, I suppose my hair is happier because it is somewhat "naked." It's more natural! It feels softer and healthier! You have got to try this for yourself! Especially if you have any natural wave or curl; you will love the results!

Here's the recipe:
  • 2 C. Water
  • 1/2 C. Golden Flax Seed (I have heard dark brown will provide a firmer hold)
  • 1 Tbs. 100% Aloe Vera Gel (optional; adds extra moisture & thickens it a bit)
  • 2-3 Drops of Essential Oil of choice (I used orange)
  • 1 tsp. Vitamin E Oil (optional; natural preservative)
  • 1 Tbs. Coconut Oil (optional; although it's extremely healthy for your hair)
Make sure you have a very fine wire mesh strainer, and a bowl deep enough that the strainer can sit on the top, leaving a few inches of space from the bottom.

Pour the seeds & water into a pot on the stove-top; do not heat the water first. Over low to medium heat, gently bring to a rolling boil. Make sure you are constantly watching the seeds and stirring them often. If you don't watch it close, the seeds will stick to the bottom, and your gel will become extremely thick. Once a frothy gel-like substance forms on the top, turn off the heat. Continue stirring a few times around, but don't wait too long.

Place the strainer over your bowl and pour the mixture through. You may need to stir the seeds around and/or press the gel through, depending on how thick your gel is. I actually had to make two batches before I figured out the right consistency; the first time I made it so thick that the gel wouldn't pass through the strainer. If that is the case, you have cooked it too long.

Let it cool a little, and then add your other ingredients. I added the coconut oil while it was still warm, so it would melt the oil, since it is solid at room temperature. There are now little balls of coconut in my gel, but it melts as soon as it touches your skin, and it adds great moisture and shine to your hair. I also whisked it all together at this point, just for a smoother integration of all the ingredients.

Using a funnel, pour your new hair gel into a squeeze bottle. Can you tell my label is not water-proof? That's something to work on. Since it is all natural, you will want to keep this in the fridge, as it will not last too long. In the fridge, and with the vitamin E oil, you will get about 2 to 3 weeks out of it.

You apply as you normally would, however, I have learned to apply in "scrunch mode," instead of combing it through with my fingers. By scrunching it, you get thicker clumps of curls, and combing through with fingers makes smaller curls. So it's your choice.

I hope you try it out and enjoy it!

My new regimen also includes all natural shampoo from Cal Ben. It's made from coconut oil, shea butter fat, and vegetable protein conditioner. It's awesome, guys! Try it out for yourself and see!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Leftovers Again?

It's 8:00 pm, and I've been cleaning all evening. I realize I haven't even had supper yet, and slaving over a meal is the last thing I feel like doing. I have a ton of Christmas leftovers, yet I am sick of the traditional meals of the Holidays at this point. That means it's time to experiment!

My new favorite, which has GOT to become a tradition from here on out, is definitely the Turkey & Rice Soup! Oh my goodness- leftovers never tasted so great! Never would I have thought to try this, but Mr Jess encouraged me to take over his kitchen and use anything I could find. What an invitation! It turned out to be super easy, and in reality, doesn't take very long at all. I was experimenting, so it took a little longer than it should have. Next time, it will be a synch! Here's the super easy and slightly ambiguous recipe:

  • Leftover Turkey
    • As much or as little as you like - He had SMOKED turkey! PERFECT for this recipe. Also, you want to shred it up into bite-sized bits of yum!
  • 1 C. of Brown Rice
  • 32 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 3/4 bag of frozen Mixed Veggies - I used a carrot/cauliflower/broccoli mixture
  • Velveeta Cheese to taste - optional, but it's a good option! :-) If you don't use cheese, find something else to use to thicken the soup up a bit.
  • Some butter - to taste - and please don't use plastic-coated nickles! ... I mean margarine.
  • Minced Garlic (So much better than powder!)
  • Minced Onion
  •  Spices
    • I used lots of pepper, little salt, lots of chili powder, parsley, and would have used some red pepper flakes if I had some...
First, start your rice cooking in a fairly deep pot. But instead of water, use 1 & 1/4 C. of the chicken broth to boil it in. SO much more flavor! Cook according to package instructions, except I added the extra 1/4 C. of broth, just because I wanted to. Because I don't follow recipes exactly - where is the fun in that? :-)

While the rice is cooking, I did a quick saute with the butter and onions, until they are soft. Then toss the minced garlic in for about 60 seconds, but don't let it brown. Add about 1/4 C of the chicken broth to this, let it heat up, then put the leftover turkey in this. Add your seasons to the turkey, and let it simmer in the liquid-gold mixture. I left this simmering for a good 15 minutes, just don't let it burn or reduce. Keep the heat nice and low. Sing some Christmas songs while you wait. It's never out of season :-)

You can add the rest of the chicken broth to the rice now. Let it heat back up, and then add your frozen veggies. Let me tell ya, the carrots, cauliflower and broccoli were perfect for this! Let them cook in the rice and broth until tender. Make sure not to over-cook those beautiful veggies!

Once the veggies reach tender perfection, you can add all of the turkey and broth mixture into the rice and veggies pot. It will look kind of greasy, due to the beautiful butter sitting on top. Just go right ahead and pour that in, too! Saturated fat in butter is SO much better for you than the receptor-blocking nickle components found in margarine (it's true, margarine will turn you into a nutrient-blocking, plastic-artery partial-human thing- research it!). Keep the soup at a low simmer.

This is where you cube up your Velveeta and plop it into your soup to melt up all creamy and delicious. I put about an inch and a half worth of cheese into our soup. It thickens the soup up and gives it a great flavor, of course! If you don't add the cheese, your soup may be a little runnier than you want.

Let it all melt together, add a few more seasonings if you feel it needs it, and spoon it into the deepest bowl you can find! This recipe yielded about five single servings.

Fast, simple, and quite possibly the best Turkey and Rice Soup I have ever had! But that is probably because I've never had it before. I hope you try this recipe with your leftovers and enjoy it!

Thanks to Mr Jess for the use of his kitchen and leftovers to make this!

Natural vs Synthetic: God's NATURAL Intentions

As you saw with my last post, I have been on this all-natural, clean & pure, journey/hike/observation lately. It all began with the idea of chemical-free lotion. I started with two simple ingredients- Coconut Oil and Vitamin E oil. I loved it! (You can find my recipe below this post) I loved it so much that I shared a batch with an awesome lady, whom I like to call my Diana Barry (please tell me you know what that is in reference to...). From there, we kind of went a little crazy. Our recipe morphed into a deliciously soft and decadent body butter, and we made some great brown sugar body scrub to go with it. We had such a great time making it, and we had such soft and silky skin, simply from all-natural, found-in-God's-Green-Earth natural oils & butters!

Then the epiphany happened. God, in all His wisdom and power, created this Earth and everything on it. So obviously, He created these natural oils and butters, too! And for a good reason! I like to think that God knew we women would be obsessed with being soft and feminine- after all, He DID create us with that in our hearts, did He not? - and so, being the thoughtful Provider that He is, I believe He created fruits and nuts and all sorts of herbs with many benefits for healthy nutrition as well as natural body care, for those softer humans who enjoy a little pampering now and then! :-)

Obviously, our focus should not be on the outward appearances, but on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), and we know that beauty is vain, in that it will someday all be lost and have no point or benefit on eternity (Proverbs 31:30), so we should focus on knowing the LORD. I agree wholeheartedly!

My point is this: women will always have a small, or great, desire to look their best and feel their best about themselves. They will buy SOME sort of beauty product to make them smoother, softer, less wrinkly, and more toned up. So, do they go to synthetic, lab-created, chemical-laden, cancer & infertility-causing products? Or will they go to the natural and pure substances found in nature, created especially by God?

Here's a thought: nothing ever occurs to God. There is NO way that God created the coconut without knowing that within that coconut laid precious oils that would soften and bring health back to damaged hair. True, the thought of hair repair oil is pathetic in comparison to the great many things God sees and cares for, but the simple fact that He created such a wonderful and pure substance that just happens to help us women out is just amazing!

Am I the only one who is amazed by this thought? We go to such great lengths and expense to make ourselves beautiful and soft with over-priced chemicals, eventually ruining our health and bodies. Yet, there are so many pure alternatives out there that God created, with absolutely no health risks or problems, just waiting to surprise us in our old age!

So let me step off my homemade soap box, and tell you that you might be seeing more body product recipes on here from now on. I will still be posting food recipes, too, which reminds me I need to put up a new post-Christmas traditional soup we made! And you can bet that they will be mostly organic and healthy! Jes and I are working towards making healthy choices in our everyday life. Decadent body products are now, proudly, one of them!

 Here is a list of what products I have already made. I'll be posting some recipes later:
  • Decadent Body Butter
  • Brown Sugar & Vanilla Body Scrub
  • Organic Hair Gel - works wonders for Curly Girls!
  • Organic Hair Spray - works wonders for Curly Girls!
  • Hot Oil Scalp & Hair Repair
  • Dandruff Treatment (for the boys!)
  • Athletes Foot Treatment (for the boys!)
I only use Cal Ben Five-Star Shampoo, which is just a combination of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Cocoa Fat Essence (cocoa butter), and Vegetable Protein Conditioner. It's SOO wonderful! Try it out for yourself! It's very inexpensive, and a lot goes a long way! It smells great, too!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Deliciously Soft & Pure Whipped Body Lotion

It's been a sick day, so I tried my hand at a different kind of recipe.

I have been doing a lot of research lately on body care products and their safety. There are so many things hidden away beneath the silky smooth textures and uplifting scents that are actually very harmful to our bodies and to our futures. Our skin is our largest organ, and the most absorbent. Anything we put onto our skin is going to absorb into our blood stream. I don't know about you, but the more I learn about the ingredients I can't pronounce, the further I want them away from me.

I have sensitive skin, so I have found that I must buy more expensive skincare products so that I do not break out or get incredibly itchy. I have been spending way too much money, I think. I wonder how much I really spend each year on that kind of stuff, full of chemicals? What kind of damage am I doing to my body, and how are all those chemicals going to affect me in the future, or even my future children (God willing I have children).

The Environmental Working Group (EWG)  put together a website and a searchable database that has reviewed and tested thousands of beauty products and then published their findings. I suggest an experiment. Take the top three body care products you use (lotions, shampoos/conditioners, styling products), and look them up on their website (click here). See how they really "care" for your body.

I decided to try my hand at homemade lotion, and I was actually very happy with it! It has all the major pushes of store bought lotions, in that it is soft & luxurious and leaves skin feeling fresh and smooth. But it has no chemical preservatives, fragrances, and color additives. This whipped lotion is made with pure oils and essential oil fragrances.

Coconut oil is one of the most pure and moisture-rich oils out there. If you're a curly girl like me, your hair is extra thirsty and needs some moisture-care. You can massage coconut oil into your clean curls and scalp as an extra moisture barrier. Let it sit for about an hour, covered with a shower cap and warm towel, then gently wash and rinse.

Vitamin E is another great moisturizer, and along with Coconut Oil, it is an antioxidant. These two combined oils will help keep your skin moisturized and healthy!

I think vanilla and lavender essential oils are such a rich smell in whipped lotion, but if you want more of an uplifting scent you can try sweet orange!

I made this last night and my skin is still amazingly soft and smooth, and smells great! A little goes a long way when it comes to oils on your skin, so this recipe will last you quite a while. It can get greasy if you use too much, also. So start with a small amount and rub it around. The coconut oil melts instantly when it touches your skin, so smooth it around quickly!

Make this today, and enjoy! You can even use it in your hair if it is dying of thirst!

  • 1 C. Coconut Oil (look for the Gold Label kind, it retains some of the delicious scent!)
  • 1 tsp Vitamin E Oil
  • Essential Oils for chemical-free fragrance
    • You could also use Pure Vanilla Extract if you don't have essential oil
Using a hand mixer, whip all ingredients together for about 7 minutes until it looks like a delicious whipped cream frosting! I store mine in a mason jar, and am working on creating a fun vintage-esque label for it. There is no water in this mixture, so it won't mold, and can be stored for as long as your coconut oil container says.

Go forth and be soft! :-)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fast & Easy Shredded Teriyaki Chicken Burritos

It's 78 degrees outside and I have the day off work. Our plan is to take a 10-mile bike ride along the Arkansas River and have a delightful little picnic! ... I have learned that creating a picnic meal is not as easy as I thought. It must be filling enough to rejuvenate our protein hungry muscles, light enough to allow us to finish the bike ride, versatile enough that it doesn't need an oven, microwave, or refrigerator. Sandwiches come to mind. Though we are creatures of habit, we enjoy some diversion with our food choices.

I have been marinading some chicken breasts in the frig for the past 24 hours, although normally I would leave them for 48 hours. What a great change in pace from sandwiches! We will have cold-style shredded chicken teriyaki burritos! Protein rich chicken and fresh ingredients with no heavy oils, artificial flavors or preservatives! Yum! Just a small ice pack to keep it cool while we ride and we can have a nice quick picnic.

I hope the beautiful weather has inspired you to get outside! We're going bike riding. What are you doing?


Teriyaki Chicken Marinade
  • 1/3 C. Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Garlic Clove, crushed or minced
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger Powder
  • 1 C. Chicken/Vegetable broth - or bouillon cubes and hot water
  • 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Place 4 chicken breasts in this marinade and let it sit in your refrigerator for 24 - 48 hours. Then line a baking dish with foil and cover the bottom with a layer of olive oil. Place the chicken breasts around in pan and sprinkle some paprika on the tops. Bake for 30-45min at 425 degrees. Check the centers with a knife to make sure they're done.

       Homemade Teriyaki Sauce
      • 1/3 C. Soy Sauce
      • 1 C. Water
      • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
      • 1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
      • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (optional) ... start with 1/2 tsp.
      • 1/3 C. Brown Sugar
      • 2 Tbsp. Honey 
      • 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch, mixed with hot water to liquify
        Mix everything BUT the cornstarch in a sauce pan and heat for a few minutes. Then, mix in the cornstarch/water solution. Heat until the mixture boils, then cool as the sauce thickens. STAY BY THE STOVE: As soon as it boils remove!!! Add hot water to thin the sauce if it gets too thick. 

        Once the chicken is done, shred it immediately with two forks. Then, mix the chicken with the sauce and refrigerate to cool until serving (or serve hot- that would be super yummy, too!). 

        I'm going to shred a block of pepper-jack cheese to put on our burritos. Monterrey Jack or Mozzarella would be yummy, too! 

        I hope you enjoy them!

        Friday, January 6, 2012

        Jenny Pasta & Flaming French Bread

        This may sound like a very vain and pridefully self-named pasta, but let me explain its origin before anyone jumps to any conclusions. You see, there was once this girl named Megan the Baker who had a one-eyed cat (the cat really has nothing to do with this recipe, but Blanche is indescribably splendiferous); and who loved cooking with walnut oil. So on one fateful afternoon, when she discovered I had no lunch, she kindly offered to cook for me; this recipe is the result. It was love at first bite! When I asked for a recipe to recreate the lovely pasta, it arrived entitled, "Jenny Pasta," which was perfect of course, because it is now my absolute favorite! The delightful ballet of flavors coupled with the quick preparation time is sure to make this a hit with anyone wanting an impressive weeknight meal. Furthermore, what is absolutely amazing about Walnut oil is that it is rich in Omega 3s! So eat up!
        Megan, my dear friend, this is for you...

        Prep Time: 20min max! (with you in mind, Monica!)

        • 1/2 lb Orzo pasta
        • 2-4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (boil or saute)
        • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
        • 2 minced garlic cloves
        • feta cheese (as much as you think you can handle... the more the tastier!)
        • 1/2 C. Walnut Oil (pasta-pairing perfection!)
        • 2tsp (or more to taste) balsamic vinegar
        • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
        • Sea salt, black pepper, paprika, ground ginger, ALL to taste
        The How-To
        1. Bring salted water to boil in medium sized pot; cook Orzo al dente. Drain and set aside.
        2. While the pasta cooks, saute the tomatoes until they are tender and delightful.
        3. Whisk together the walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and lemon juice. Set aside. (NOTE: Do not cook the walnut oil over flame- this oil is sensitive and you want to keep its chemical content and Omega-3s safe from heat; it does not need to be heated at all for this recipe)
        4. In a cool bowl, combine all ingredients. Add feta and listed seasons according to taste. (Depending on how "al dente" your Orzo is, you may need more walnut oil; BUT, this is more of a dry pasta, so you want the vinaigrette affect, not saucey.)
        5. Lastly, in the words of Megan-Dear, "Proceed to stuff your face with tastiness"
        When I make this for hungry tummies, I serve it with rosemary french bread, which is really quite scrumptious and is easy as pie. But then, pie is not so easy, so it is easy as... dirt. Dirt is easy.

        • Cut loaf in half length-wise and coat with one entire stick of butter (yes, the whole thing; yes, butter, NOT margarine!)
        • Sprinkle fresh or dried rosemary leaves here and there and until Kingdom Come! ... or to taste.
        • Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes, or until the butter is melting into the bread.
        • Crank on the broiler and broil the bread for 3 to 5 minutes, keeping a VERY close eye on it the whole time. It is very important to not be distracted in conversation with handsome men in your kitchen, because after 5 minutes, your oven will be on fire... and that is no good, and then your knightly man will run through the house with flaming french bread to the backdoor...)
        • The bread is done broiling when the butter has turned a kind of burnt-brown/almost blackened color; the flavor really kicks into high gear at this point... do not be afraid of the char! Mmm!
        • Slice into strips and serve immediately with pasta

        I hope you all enjoy this pasta as much as I do. It was truly a stroke of genius, and I aspire to Megan the Baker in all things food (and sewing). And I truly hope you do not flame my rosemary bread... it is delish!