Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Ridiculously Delicious Nutritious Yogurt Popsicles

In the summer heat, it is nice to have cool, refreshing snacks on hand.  Ice cold popsicles come to mind when I think of a fun summer snack, but the sugar-laden, dye infused, artificial ingredient list on the back of store bought freezer pops makes me cringe to think of feeding to my kids, or anyone for that matter. So that’s why I decided it was time to come up with our own version of this popular summer treat.

Yogurt is one of our favorite foods around here.  We typically eat it for breakfast, with a bit of granola and raisins stirred in.  But sometimes the same thing every day gets boring–especially for kids–and it is fun to toss things up a bit.  And when the summer heat begins to suffocate, I begin to crave these delightfully refreshing, nourishing popsicles.  Yogurt popsicles have pretty much become our favorite summer snack around here. Most mornings my kids wake up and ask for their popsicle and I send them out to the back porch to lick and drip to their hearts content.

And the best thing about them? They include only four completely natural, nourishing ingredients and are a snap to make!

Ridiculously Delicious Nutritious Yogurt Popsicles

10-12 ounces frozen organic strawberries or fruit of choice

1 Tbs raw honey

1 quart plain organic yogurt (my recipe here!)

1 pack gelatin (Bernard Jensen and Great Lakes are two hormone free, natural bovine gelatins)

Method:

Defrost strawberries, then mash them with a spatula.

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Strain juice into a saucepan through a fine mesh sieve while smashing the strawberries in the sieve.

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Heat strawberry juice on a stove and quickly whisk gelatin in until combined. You don’t want clumps!

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Pour juice, mashed strawberries, and yogurt into a blender and puree until smooth.

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Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

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Enjoy, guilt-free!2013-09-15 04.02.07

GAPS Homemade Chocolate Chips (Grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free)

If you’re anything like me, you simply have to find a health alternative to all things chocolate.  Since cocoa powder is allowed in the GAPS diet once digestive issues have been righted, I knew I had to come up with a source of chocolate that was sweetened with only honey.

The result was mouthwatering chocolate bliss.

Simple Homemade Chocolate Chips

2/3 cup organic virgin coconut oil

2/3 cup raw cocoa powder

2 tsp raw honey

Melt coconut oil over low heat on stovetop. Remove from heat. Add in cocoa powder and honey. Mix to incorporate.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pour chocolate mixture evenly over paper. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and place hardened chocolate onto cutting board. Using a large cleaver, chop chocolate in rows one direction, and then the other, forming chocolate chunks (whatever size you prefer).

Voila! A healthy alternative to a delightful treat! Keep in freezer until just before use, as they begin to melt quickly at room temperature.

Note: These melt when baked into cookies, so just be aware they sort of ooze out of the bottom of your cookies a little–but not too bad!

March Chemical Elimination: Deodorant

In an effort to progressively rid our home of harmful toxins and chemicals, March’s goal is to replace one of our personal care products, deodorant, with a natural, safe alternative.

Most of us wouldn’t think of the personal care products we use on a regular basis as harmful, let alone toxic.  But the sad truth is, these products do not undergo the same testing as food and medicine do, and do not have the same requirements of safety since they make no health claims. Deodorants, like most personal care products on the market, contain a handful of harmful ingredients. Most deodorants on the market contain aluminum, a toxic metal which can be absorbed through the skin and has been linked with mental illness such as Ahlziemer’s Disease and autism.  Many deodorants contain parabens, a toxic petroleum derivative.  For more reading on harmful chemicals to avoid when shopping for deodorant, click here.

Although it can be discouraging and overwhelming to learn of the presence of so many harmful ingredients in the products we use and love every day, the purpose of this post is to encourage you with finding other, safer options.

Because each of us has different body chemistry, personal care products vary in their effectiveness.  That es why one deodorant may not work for you, but it may work for your spouse.  It is also why it usually takes some trial and error to find what works for you.

Following are a wide range of options to replace toxic forms of deodorant with natural, safe alternatives.  I have included both products available in the store and homemaking options.  If I have tried any of the options, I will include a personal review in italics.  But again, keep in mind that each person is different, so what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.  Be inspired by how many different options you have, and don’t give up!

Safe Alternatives to Anti-Perspirant:

Meleleuca offers safe, aluminum free options.  This option did not work for me. I have friends who love it, though!

Tom’s of Maine has safe, though pricey, alternatives.  Look carefully at ingredients, though, as some contain aluminum.  They can be found in most stores.  This option did not keep me odor-free, either!

Homemade Deodorant Recipes

We use this recipe from PassionateHomemaking.com with some variations. I am eager for my husband to try it after his current bar runs out. We are going to try this method of putting it in his old stick.

Mix in a small bowl:

6-8 Tbsp Coconut oil, partially melted
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (arrowroot is preferred)

Directions:

  1. Combine equal portions of baking soda & arrowroot powder.
  2. Slowly add coconut oil and stir it with a spoon.  Allow coconut oil to set up, stirring occasionally to ensure equal distribution.
  3. You can either scoop this recipe into your old deodorant dispensers or place in a small container with lid and apply with fingers with each use. Makes about 1 cup. This recipe lasts about 3 months for two people with regular daily use.

-Zinc oxide is a natural anti-perspirant.  Including it in your homemade deodorant will most likely help relieve any odor.  For a simple recipe as well as a plethora of variations, For a simple recipe to make your own, click here. I am excited to try this one, too.

Homemade Deodorant Spray

(From MomsAWARE.org)

Make a baking soda spray by blending 3 tsp. baking soda with 1 c. water in a spray bottle. Add 3-5 drops tea tree oil for added protection.

This is what I used and worked fine until after the birth of my daughter.  My hormones must have changed, because suddenly, for the first time in my life…I am very sweaty! This no longer cuts it for me.  But if it works for you, simply spray some on your hands, rub it under arms, and allow it to dry. I added the tea tree oil.

Queen of Hungary Water

(This can also be used as a toner and as hair care!)

Originally used in Europe as a perfume, Queen of Hungary Water is revered for its many healing properties and is widely known as a cure-all.  It can be used as a toner, astringent, a deodorant, a hair rinse, and can even be ingested to help soothe a sour stomach, among other things.  Here is my recipe, but you can really use whatever herbs you have on hand:

Combine in a large Mason jar:

3 TB. Peppermint leaves

2 TB Comfrey leaves

2 Tbs chamomile

4 TB Rose leaves

2 Tbs Lavender leaves

2 Tbs Nettles

3 TB Calendula/Marigold

1 TB Lemon zest

1 TB dried rosemary

1 TB dried sage

Cover with organic, raw apple cider vinegar and leave in a sunny spot for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks, strain out the herbs and place in fresh, clean bottle.

To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 1c. total extra liquid (I used witch hazel extract).  Add several drops of essential oil, if using. Stores indefinitely.

That list of herbs may look intimidating, but most of them can be found at your local health food store, or you can place an order at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Or you can ask me for a sample size, and I can mail you one for a small price.

I hope one of these options works for you and your family! I, for one, am glad I have found something that works and saves us from chemical exposure while also saving us money!

Crockpot Yogurt Recipe (and Greek Yogurt!)

Yogurt is one of those absolutely amazing, incredibly nourishing natural foods.  Packed full of  nutrients and healthful probiotic, its beneficial bacteria helps populate our gut with beneficial flora, which in turn helps us in our digestive process.

We eat a lot of yogurt in our household.  Jeshuah loves it for breakfast mixed with his probiotic and elderberry syrup, and Stephen and I enjoy it with strawberries, craisins and granola.  With the amount of yogurt we go through on a regular basis, the cost can add up fairly quickly!  A few months ago, I learned about a began making our own yogurt and have found the cost savings to be astronomical and the benefits immense!

Here is the cost savings breakdown:

  • Before: we would buy Stonyfield organic plain yogurt from Wal-Mart: (at least) $3.50/quart (most places $4.50)
  • Now: I make it out of our organic raw milk from the farm: $1.40/quart
  • Savings = $2.10/quart x 3/week = savings of $6.30/week = savings of $327.60/year
I feel the need to repeat that. By making my own yogurt, we save over $300 a year!!

Some of the other benefits of making your own yogurt (besides saving a ton of money!) is that you have complete control of what goes into it.  Store bought yogurt can contain very few (or no) live active cultures and can instead have a lot of added ingredients, including sugar and artificial flavorings.  By making my own, I know exactly what is in it, and I can choose my own sweetners and flavorings.  Our favorite sweetener is organic orange juice concentrate (with no high fructose corn syrup) and organic, frozen strawberries.  I can also use raw milk, which preserves many of the nutrients on the milk.  Read more about the benefits of raw milk here.

Raw Milk Crockpot Yogurt

(I make a gallon at a time, but this can just as easily be split in half to make 1/2 gallon)

1.  Turn your crockpot on low and add 1 gallon of milk.

2. Cover and warm for 2 1/2 hours.

3. Turn off crock pot and let sit for 3 hours.

4. Whisk warmed milk and measure out 1-2 cups of the warmed milk into a bowl and add to 1 cup yogurt starter (either from previous batch or plain, store bought yogurt with live active cultures).

5. Gently stir warmed milk and yogurt together, then reincorporate into crock pot.

6. Cover with a few towels or a blanket and allow to incubate overnight, 8-12 hours. I find 12 hours to be the perfect texture/taste.  More or less time can make your yogurt thinner/thicker or more tart.  Find what tastes best for you!

Obviously, we are Steelers Fans:-)

7.  Add a natural sweetener (honey, juice concentrate), some fruit, or whatever else you like! Don’t forget to keep an extra cup plain for starter for your next batch. I also use plain yogurt instead of sour cream.  Store in mason jars or other containers in fridge.  Best to refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.

Pasteurized Crockpot Yogurt

The same as above, except in step 2, allow milk to warm for a full three hours instead of 2 1/2.

Greek Yogurt

(Thanks to my friend Jamie for coming up with this version!)

Follow the above steps for the type of milk you are using whether it is raw of pasteurized milk, with the following substitutions:

Use Greek Yogurt for your starter culture

Let it incubate 15 hours instead of 12

Use a basic bread/flour sack towel for the straining of the whey. Put the whole amount in the cloth inside a large strainer. Then bind it up and let it sit. Every 10 or 15 minutes, scrape the inside of the towel to release the more thick yogurt from the cloth. Let it sit for 45 minutes or so doing this process to thicken it. Voila!

For more tips of great yogurt every time, check out this post!

Naturally Simple Solutions: Homemade Dishwasher Soap

A few weeks ago, I began my venture into homemade dishwasher soap.  This was not really anything I ever considered an option, having heard so many negative comments on how natural dishwasher soaps simply do not work.  However, I was motivated by three main sources to give this a try. The first was reading a parenting magazine about caring for baby dishes and it just had as an aside “Do not place baby’s dishes in your dishwasher as dishwasher detergent is toxic.” My immediate thought was, “Wait, what? Then why are any of us using it?!”  The second motivation came while dumping my detergent into my washer and pausing to read the advertisment on the side “Now with bleach!” Knowing how harmful this pesticide is, why are we using bleach to clean the surfaces we will be eating off of? The third and final motivation was listening to Chris Fabry Live!’s Toxic Talk Tuesday on a naturally clean kitchen.  Andrea gave her recipe, and I decided, hey, if it works for them, I might as well try my hand at it!

There are two ways to make your own dishwashing soap: liquid and powder.  I decided to try each and choose which I preferred.  I tried the liquid numerous times and kept coming up with a very persistent residue on my top rack dishes.  But with some trial and error, I have perfected the powder for our machine and LOVE IT!

I found this recipe on Andrea Fabry’s website, Moms AWARE.

Automatic Dishwashing Powder: (all ingredients can be found at Wal-Mart in the laundry detergent aisle!)

  • 1 c. washing soda
  • 1/2 c. borax
  • 1/2 c. baking soda

Combine ingredients and store in mason jar under the sink. Use 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons for each dishwasher load, depending on mineral content of water. Use 1/2 cup white vinegar as a rinsing agent.

We have a half size dishwasher, and I found that I needed to use only 1/2 Tbs of the powder and dump about 1/4- 1/2 cup of vinegar in the bottom of our washer.  This took less than two minutes to mix up and cost pennies.  The result is sparkling, clean dishes and the knowledge that they are safe to eat off of!

Soaked Whole Grain Bread

As I have endeavored to learn more healthful ways of cooking and eating, one of the things I discovered was that, not only is it important to eat whole grains, beans, and legumes, but that these things contain phytic acid.  Phytic acid is difficult for our bodies to break down and digest.  However,  Passionate Homemaking states,

“Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing these nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins, including gluten. For many, this may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains. Everyone will benefit, nevertheless, from the release of nutrients and greater ease of digestion.”

For more information on the value of soaking whole grains, check out this post at Passionate Homemaking’s website.

It took me a really long time to get the gumption to test out adapting my recipe for soaking. I think the first time it failed, the second time it worked, and the third time it failed again. I was so discouraged I didn’t try again for a year! But now I have tried it again and made two successful and delicious batches. I am ready to share my recipe and hope you enjoy it!  A word on whole grain flour: Milling your own flour is extremely important, as flour only maintains its nutrients for 72 hours at room temperature, after which point it becomes rancid.  This is why breads made from store bought whole wheat flour often taste bitter.  If you cannot mill your own flour, buy whole wheat flour from your local health food store if it is kept in the refrigerator and store in your freezer. Or find someone like me who would be more than happy to mill some extra for you!

Soaked Whole Grain Oatmeal Bread

6 cups freshly milled whole grain flour (I use a combination of hard red wheat and prairie gold wheat. If it was in the freezer, bring it to room temperature before using for best results.)

1 cup oats

1/4 cup raw honey

2 Tbs melted coconut oil (or oil of your choice)

2 1/4 VERY WARM tap water

1/2 cup acid medium (I used plain yogurt, but you can also use part water/part lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, whey, or kefir, to name a few. If you were using lemon juice, use 2 Tbs lemon juice and 6 Tbs water)

1/4 cup warm water

2 1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp honey

1 Tbs salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, oats, acid medium, honey, coconut oil, and 2 1/4 cups very warm water. Mixture will be barely moist.  Cover and soak at room temperature 12-24 hours.
  2. After soaking, in a small separate bowl combine 2 1/2 tsp yeast, 1 tsp honey and 1/4 cup very warm water. Allow yeast to “proof” about five minutes until puffy.
  3. Add proofed yeast mixture to soaked flour mixture in mixer. Add salt while mixing. You may need to add a cup or more of white flour to the mixture to get the right consistency. Dough should clean the sides of the bowl.
  4. Knead for 10 minutes until gluten is fully developed. Dough should be “springy” and stretch when pulled, not break immediately when gluten is fully developed. (Over-developed gluten will result in “gummy” bread, however, so don’t make that mistake either!)
  5. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise til doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Punch down and let rise again, about an hour.
  7. Form into two equal sized balls and punch into greased loaf pans. Let rise until about an inch taller than the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. (Rising times vary drastically depending on heat and humidity. In the summer, I cover my dough and place it on the porch and it rises rapidly. In the winter, it usually takes twice as long to rise.)
  8. Heat oven to 350* and bake bread for 28 minutes until golden brown on top.  Let cool on cooling rack for ten minutes before removing from pans.
Yields: 2 loaves
Successful bread making is a sort of art, but it is well worth the effort. It takes a bit of trial and error to perfect homemade bread. If you find yourself frustrated or confused, don’t hesitate to ask questions!
Further Reading

Adapting Your Recipes for Soaking

Milling your own flours

Healthy Buckeye Recipe

Healthy and Tasty Buckeyes

Last week, I posted my Healthy Peanut Butter Balls recipe.  I keep a ready supply of these protein packed morsels in my fridge as I have been craving peanut butter a lot lately.  But more than just plain peanut butter, I love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.  So when my turn came up to make treats for Care Group last Monday, I pulled out a recipe I have made in a long time. Buckeyes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeyes

What surprised me, though, was how sickeningly sweet they were to me. Loaded with butter and powdered sugar, I was well aware of how unhealthy they were.  It occurred to me how delightful it would be to take my Healthy Peanut Butter Balls recipe and simply dip them in the chocolate. I was a little nervous about how it would turn out, and my husband (who loves my peanut butter balls) stated that if I made a healthy buckeye recipe, I was going to have a lot of angry football husbands on my hands.

Not deterred, I set about making my healthy peanut butter balls, then dipped them in the chocolate. After chilling them sufficiently, Stephen and I took our first bites. His eyes lit up. “These are better than the original buckeyes!!” He exclaimed emphatically.

Score!

Here is my Healthy Buckeye Recipe for you to (hopefully!) enjoy as much as we did!

Healthy and Tasty Buckeyes

1/3 cup raw honey

1 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

1/3 cup ground flax

1 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup Go Lean Crunch granola (I used Honey Almond Flax variety)

1/4 cup oatmeal

Roll into balls, refrigerate in sealed container for an hour.

Melt 6 oz bittersweet chocolate and 1 Tbs coconut oil. Use toothpick to dip in chocolate, refrigerate and enjoy!