Archives for January 2011

Green Your Beauty Routine

Photo: SteffanyF!

I will be the first to admit that Greening My Beauty Routine has been the hardest for me. There are two reasons for this.

First, there are A LOT of great deals on drugstore beauty products out there, and it is hard for me to pass up a .25 bottle of shampoo! (I try to keep it honest here)

Second, I find it incredibly difficult to navigate all the labels and ingredients – even in the so called “natural” products.

For example, can anyone tell me what triethanolamine is? Or what potassium myristate is? Can anyone tell me which one is in the “natural” shave cream and which one is in the “drug store” shave cream?

Confusing, right?

But there are a lot of great reasons to avoid what is out there too! Did you know that the FDA doesn’t regulate any of those chemicals that are being used in what is going on our bodies? And that a lot of these chemicals are actually absorbed through our skin – the largest organ on our body!!!!

So here are a few ways to Green Your Beauty Routine. I’ve tried all of these with great success, so you may want to try them too:

Olive Oil – When we were living in Jordan, the Arab women I met always raved about olive oil as a moisturizer. I’ve been using it, and I swear by it! You’ll want to slather it on at night and consider sleeping in a pair of PJ pants to save your sheets. And add a few drops of essential oils, such as lavender, if you want to avoid smelling like a pizza!

Tea Bags – Used black tea bags soothe the puffiness around eyes. Just lightly dampen and let rest over your eyes for about 5 minutes. Puffiness gone! The secret is the tannins. This works better than the cucumber slices you may have tried in the past.

Oatmeal – Oatmeal is known for soothing red, irritated skin. Make a facial mask by combining equal parts honey and lemon juice. Add enough oatmeal to make a spreadable paste. Apply to your face and let sit until it starts to feel tight. Wash off, enjoy your beautiful skin.

Cornstarch – Cornstarch is super absorbent and can be used in the same manner baby powder is used. To make it delightfully fragrant, try putting cornstarch and a dried herb in the food processor and pulsing. Good herbs to try include lavender, rosemary or lemon thyme.

How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans Using Non-Toxic Cleaners

Burnt pots or pans? Here’s how to clean them with non-toxic cleaners that really work.
How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans

*BEWARE*

This works so well, you may find you have pots and pans have spots that are CLEANER than when you started!

Recently I had the perfect opportunity would present itself to demonstrate how powerful vinegar and baking soda are in cleaning your home in the form of burnt on cheese!

I made homemade meatball hoagies and the cheese spilled over and burnt onto the pan. With minimal effort, I was able to get the pan sparkling clean!

How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans:

1. Start by gentle scrubbing off what bits you can with a nylon scraper. (If you don’t have a scraper, add it to your cleaning arsenal. So handy! And they’ll last forever.)

2. Make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the soda mixture to the burnt on food using a sponge.

3. Pour vinegar directly onto the pan and allow the chemical reaction to work. After about 30 minutes, scrub pan clean!

Check out this video on how to clean tough, burnt pots and pans using non-toxic baking soda and vinegar.

Can’t see the video? Head over to The Natural Green Mom You Tube channel to view.

I hope the next time you go to clean-up, you’ll remember this trick and will consider vinegar and baking soda!
Need more dishwashing help? See my Secret Shortcuts Everyone Needs to Wash Dishes Quickly!

Make Four Grain Waffles from Scratch

Continuing with my whole grain recipes theme, I have a fantastic waffle recipe you can make from scratch that I wanted to share with you!

First, I have to let you know I LOVE my waffle iron. It is idiot proof.

I. kid. you. not.

Just in case you care, I have a Cuisinart Classic Waffle Maker given to us by my mom.

Nope. Cuisinart did not pay me to tell you about their waffle maker. They should. I’m one happy waffle maker owning person. It’s the broken Cuisinart coffeemaker they don’t want me to tell you about. I’m sure that’s why I haven’t been contacted yet!

So the Cuisinart classic waffle maker? It’s the goods. And if you haven’t had homemade waffles, and have been settling for those frozen, mealy things you get in the freezer section, this recipe will change your mind! Go ahead, make a double batch. Eat half for breakfast and freeze the rest. They toast up just great!

Four Grain Waffles makes 8 waffles

1 C organic, unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 C whole wheat flour

2/3 C oat flour (can pulverize oats in the blender to make oat flour)

1/3 C cornmeal

4 t baking powder

2 T sugar

2 C buttermilk

2 large eggs

1/4 C coconut oil

1. Preheat your waffle iron.

2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and oil. Whisk until blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients. Mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. There may still be some lumps.

4. Pour 1/2 cup batter onto the preheated waffle iron and cook per your waffle iron’s instructions.

5. Serve with fruit or syrup.

 

Green Your Clean: How to Make Non-Toxic Household Cleaners

Why make your own Green cleaners?

Most of the cleaners available on the market contain toxins and poisons. They might clean well, but they also contain dangerous ingredients that pollute your home.

With a few common household ingredients, you can clean your home effectively and be green at the same time. Making your own cleaners reduces your impact on the planet and reduces your household expenses. You will find homemade cleaners are quite cost effective.

How to make your own Green cleaners:

To make your own green cleaners you need a few simple ingredients:

  • White Distilled Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Castile Soap*
  • Reuseable Rags

*Castile soap is basically an olive oil based soap. It is gentle and natural enough you could wash your vegetables in it – should you so choose!

Using Natural Cleaners Around the House:

All-Purpose Scrub – Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with enough castile soap to make a paste. Use a sponge to scrub surfaces. Use a clean, damp rag to wipe up any residue.

Dishes – Stubborn baked-on goo? Rub tough spots with a paste of a baking soda and water. Let soak. Add straight vinegar and wash as usual! Messes will come right off.

Toilets – Add 1 cup vinegar to toilet bowl and allow to sit. After about 10 minutes, scrub and your toilet will be fresh and clean. For tough rings, add 1 cup baking soda to the bowl and use a toilet brush to scour.

Windows – Spray windows with straight vinegar. Use balled-up newspapers to wipe clean. Enjoy your clean, streak-free windows!

Carpets – Sprinkle carpets liberally with baking soda. Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Vacuum. Odors will be gone. Pet mess? Use a bit of vinegar on the spot to eliminate both the stain and the odor. Test the area first to make sure colors will not bleed!

Showers – For tough mold/mildew, spray with straight vinegar.  Allow to dry.  Wipe clean with a damp rag.  To clean and whiten grout and tiles, spray with a mixture of 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide, one cup water. Allow to dry. Wipe clean with a damp rag.

Laundry – Use straight hydrogen peroxide to get out chocolate, blood or red wine stains. Rub deodorant stains lightly with straight vinegar prior to throwing into the laundry to remove. To keep baby’s clothes soft, add 1 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle of your laundry.

What Works for Me:

I keep vinegar in a bottle with a pour spout top. You can find a pour spout at Target, Walmart….any place like that. I like the pour spout because you can turn the bottle almost completely upside down to be able to get under the rim of the toilet. I also like to add a bit of essential oil to the vinegar to add a more pleasant smell. Because oil and vinegar don’t mix (think of your salad dressings!), turning the bottle upside down also helps mix the oil and vinegar and I get a nice scent instead of straight vinegar!

I keep baking soda in an old round flower vase – reminiscent of a fish bowl. I have a decorative scoop in it and I have it placed in a glass cabinet in my bathroom. It looks decorative, and it is easy to grab a spoonful to sprinkle on carpets or right into the toilet to give it a scrub.

Be sure to check out all the Resolutionize posts by the Better Living Network:

How to Measure Flour for the Best Results When Baking

In an effort to encourage the use of more whole grains, I’ve been posting all of my favorite whole wheat recipes.

I’ve shared my Tasty Cakes, my Whole Wheat Pancake Mix, my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, and my Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread – to name a few.

I’ve been baking with whole wheat for forever. Maybe even a little longer than that. So, we are used to the flavor and texture and really enjoy it.

That said,  I find it is a tough sell to some of my kid’s friends. I’m amazed when they turn their nose up at the whole wheat bread I use for sandwiches. I want to say, “Don’t your parent’s love you?” or  “Haven’t they read a blessed thing about the benefits of whole wheat?” or  “Aren’t you a little old to be so picky?”

Not really.

Well maybe.

Ok. So I do think it. But I always end up making them something else with a smile.

And, apparently, a bit of judgment on the side.

If whole wheat is a hard sell in your house, there is one key thing you can do to make sure that you get the best results. Measure your flour correctly. This really does matter when you are baking. Baking is more science than regular cooking is, so you need to have as close to exact measurements as possible to have a successful recipe! Here is a little clip to show you how to measure flour correctly:

Can’t see the video? Head over to The Natural Green Mom YouTube Channel.

Just in case you’re thinking it: I’m not sure what’s up with the weird eyes I make. Nerves? Jeesh.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from you if this makes a difference in your baking!

Like what you see? Head over to Savings Lifestyle for more 80 second videos or to Simple Lives Thursday.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Do you make your own pizza dough?

This whole wheat pizza dough is another great way to start sneaking whole grains into diet.

I make up two recipes of whole wheat pizza dough at a time – enough for 4 crusts. I make one for dinner, then I pop the other 3 in the freezer.

When I was working, this recipe always made a quick and easy dinner! In the morning, I just pulled a frozen crust out and left it in the fridge to defrost. Then, when I got home, I immediately pulled it out and put in on the counter. I changed into my PJs, poured a glass of wine, blah, blah, blah, 30 minutes later, and the crust was ready to roll!

If you have never made a yeast crust, there is no magic involved. There are just a few hints I have to make sure you are on the right track. Five minutes after you’ve added the yeast to the water and honey mixture, this is what it should look like:

If it does not look like bubbly like this, your yeast is not ready to go. Toss it and start over, making sure you test the temperature of the water. I don’t use a thermometer, but in the beginning, you may need to. I’ve found if I feel the water, and it feels like the temperature when I would get into the shower, that is the right temp!

Next, I always preheat my oven to 100 degrees, then turn it off and let the dough rise in there.

Keep your dough covered to stop it from developing any nasty crusty spots!

Implement those two easy tricks and you’ve created the perfect environment for the perfect pizza crust.

Still worried your family  won’t go for a whole wheat crust? Instead of making a traditional pizza, try a BBQ sauce and chicken pizza, or mexican pizza with refried beans and cheese topped with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Recipe

Makes (2) 12 inch crusts

1 T Honey

2 1/4 t (or one small packet) yeast – not rapid rise

1 C warm water

2 C whole wheat flour, divided

1 C all purpose flour

1 t olive oil

1/4 t salt

  1. Dissolve honey in warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top. Stir, then let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1 and 3/4 C whole wheat flour, 1 cup all-purpose flour, oil and salt to a large bowl. Add yeast mixture. Stir all ingredients together until it starts to form a soft dough.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Begin to knead. If it is too sticky, add whole wheat flour 1 T at a time until it becomes smooth.
  4. Spray a bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl. Turn to coat dough with spray.
  5. Cover dough and let rise in a warm place 1 hour or until doubled in size. (If you can stick your finger into the dough and the indentation remains, your dough is ready.)
  6. At this point, you can divide the dough in half. I wrap one crust and place in the freezer.
  7. For remaining dough, roll on surface coated with either cornmeal or flour. Let rise for 30 more minutes before adding toppings. Bake pizza at 425 degrees for 8 – 12 minutes.

What do you think? Is this something you’d make for your family?

Green Your Grocery List Part 2: Meat and Dairy Labels

Last week, in part 1 of Green Your Grocery List, part of my Resolutionize Your Green Life series, I talked about  Organic Food Labels. This week, we’ll look at the labels you find specifically on Meat and Dairy products. Being aware of what all the labels mean will help you build a healthy, green grocery list.

Organic Food Labels – Meat and dairy can earn the USDA Organic food label. As stated last week, this means the product is antibiotic-free, hormone-free, not genetically modified in any way and has not been irradiated. Looking for the USDA Organic label will ensure what you put in your cart is both healthy and green.

Antibiotic Free – Antibiotics are given to animals raised in confined spaces to halt the spread of any infectious diseases. Antibiotics are also given to help accelerate growth rates in these animals.

Even the FDA has stated antibiotics in meat pose a “serious public health threat.” This is due to the fact the drugs create antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can infect humans who eat it. Look for meat raised free of added antibiotics to best protect your family from antibiotic overuse.

Not Treated with rBST or rBGH– rBST and rBGH are growth hormones given to animals to accelerate their rate of growth to bring more meat to the table faster. For dairy cows, administering growth hormones can accelerate the amount of milk they produce.

Why should this concern you? They are finding that these growth hormones can be passed on to us when we ingest them. This is of particular concern to our girls because it may be the cause of early onset puberty. Look for the labels “no rBST” or “no rBGH” to make sure your food is free of these hormones.

It’s important to note that federal regulations prohibit the use of growth hormones in raising pigs, bison and poultry. So when you see “raised without growth hormones” on a package of poultry – don’t pay extra thinking you are getting something different from any other package.

Vegetarian Fed – Look for labels that say “vegetarian fed” or “no animal byproducts.” Why? Animals that eat feed that may contain other animal by-products is what leads to diseases such as Mad Cow Disease. Diseased animals can lead to diseased humans and these diseases can lead to serious consequences – including death.

Nitrate Free – Nitrates are used in products such as lunchmeat and hot dogs to help preserve them. Why avoid nitrates? Nitrates are thought to lead to some forms of cancer. Of course, there are studies on both sides of the issue. The fact is, it is pretty easy to find products without them, so why not avoid any possibilities?

Grass-Fed – For cattle, grass is the most natural form of feed. When you purchase grass-fed beef, most likely that cow was given free range of a pasture. It was not raised in a feeding pen where most of the diseases are passed from animal to animal. It is also leaner and healthier meat than the meat from its corn fed counterparts. Grass fed beef also tastes a bit different and has different cooking requirements because it is so lean. Read this post for more information on grass-fed beef.

Cage-Free – This is a misleading food label. You’ll find it on poultry products such as eggs. It implies the animal was raised outdoors. However, in reality, all this label means is the animal was given access to the outdoors – not that it ever went out there!

Poultry that is given outdoor access actually produces healthier eggs higher in Omega-3s.

There are egg producers who are truly raising their animals cage-free. This can especially be true if you shop the farmer’s markets. This is a great case to know where your food comes from. A small producer is most likely to give this label true credit.

On The Natural Green Mom, I’m spending the month of January Resolutionizing Your Green Life.

The Better Living Network has lots of other great topics to help you Resolutionize!

Resolutionize Your Finances with Kay@Bucksome Boomer

Resolutionize Your Home with Nikki@Coupon Cookin

Resolutionize Your Wallet with Jennifer@The Coupon Mommie

Resolutionize Your Mommy-tude with Brandy@Savin Some

Resolutionize Your Kitchen and Cooking with Tiffany@Eat at Home

Resolutionize Your Mom Groove with Crystal@Crystal&Co.