Borscht, Vegetarian Style, w/Beets, Cabbage, Potato

This soup can now be found in my ebook, Soup’s On. Alas, I couldn’t post the duplicate content, even on my own webpage, so… I’ll just sum up the recipe for you here. For more details, maybe you can get the book?! :)

Authentic Borscht recipes might use rye flour to thicken the soup, or even “Kwas” (a fermented rye brew). For those used to fermenting foods, it’s nothing too tricky; after rye flour and water ferments for a few days, the water’s poured off. The water gets fermented some more, which gives the soup its twang.Bowl of Bright Red Russian SoupSauerkraut (homemade or store-bought) can sub for the Kwas; it will give the soup a tangy kick as well. If using store-bought sauerkraut, do NOT purchase the one in a can. It really smells like garbage, and then you’ll think you don’t like it. The one in the jar should say, “naturally fermented”; once the product gets canned though, I think it’s subjected to too much heat in processing, which ruins it…

Add beef broth (and/or chunks of beef) for a hearty soup, if you want. But it’s good vegetarian-style too!

To make the soup, just bake (or slow cook) some beets until tender. Or cook them the old-fashioned way, in water on the stove top. Any way you slice it, they get rather messy. Oh well! Set the cooked beets aside.

You’ll also want to cook up some diced potatoes and carrot, in water to cover (again, until tender).

Grill some cabbage in a bit of olive oil (or coconut oil). Add 1 tablespoon or so of rye flour (or sub white flour), plus some caraway seeds (toasted first to bring out flavor). Slowly add some of the cooking water from the potato/carrot pot, stirring until smooth.

At that point, everything can go into the potato pot, including the beets (sliced in thin strips), plus some salt to taste. Add that “Kwas”, or a half cup or so of sauerkraut, or a teaspoon of white vinegar.

Serve it with some sour cream, yogurt, or a dollop of coconut cream, and maybe a sprinkle of dill weed. Pretty dang good!

Posted in 3. Soups, Recipes | Tagged , | 1 Response

Carrot Soup w/Dill: Nutritious, Delicious!

You can still order my ebook, SOUP’S ON! But if you want a “peak” at recipes, I’ve posted the following…

The New Deli's Carrot Soup w/Dill

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The Phytate-Sphere: Soak Grains, Eat “Sensibly”, Don’t Worry

Foods High In PhytatesBran is not  as trendy as it was ten or twenty years ago. I remember the days- we used to stop by our favorite bakery and consume mass quantities of sugary, sweet bran muffins (probably loaded with unhealthy oils too). I was having a bran fest- I even added raw bran flakes to my cereal. All in the name of “FIBER”!

Was it any wonder that I had some serious anemia? Bran is particularly rich in phytates, which can bind with the iron and other minerals in our system, which can lead to that anemia. Who knows what other health issues might have been connected to my “bran diet”?!

Bran is quite high in phytates; phytates can also be found (in lesser quantities) in grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.  So I’m not a bran fiend anymore. And I do try to soak my grains. Or I ferment them–I’ve really been into homemade, whole-grain sourdough bread lately. (Now that I have a Vitamix that grinds my whole wheat berries into  fresh whole wheat flour…)

Not that I’m not going on a Phytate Rant here. Phytates can be good. Consuming them in our foods probably isn’t going to upset the average person’s health. One caveat: but it might.

Just as in the bran days of yore, any one food trend might lead to unbalance, as the misinformed attempt to overcompensate, adding too much of a good thing to their diets. One of the latest trends is the “Gluten-free” craze (and the GAPS diet). One catch: folks might start chowing down on that gluten-free cake, made with almond meal instead of flour, on a fairly regular basis, telling themselves that this will help them to avoid gluten and regain health. The cost might be a phytate overload…

That was me. After bran went out of style, I forgot about it and prided myself instead on eating “healthy” breakfasts of raw, soaked grains topped with nuts, cacao nibs, and coconut. Another vegetarian meal or two might follow, featuring beans and/or grains. A snack or dessert might include a treat high in cacao nibs and nuts. Ironically, that particular diet of “wholesome” whole foods might have been slightly unbalanced. (Ya think?!)

Not to sound the alarm. There is a plus side to ingesting those phytates. Yes, they are enzyme inhibitors, but also: They can bind to excess minerals in our system. This is a valuable service, considering that excess iron generates free radicals in our bodies. So, while excess phytates might be a problem for an anemic person (like I’m prone to be), they would help someone else who was prone to an excess of iron.

Also, phytates act as antioxidants. They can even fight the proliferation of cancer cells, and improve cardiovascular health. One other feature: They might lower a food’s glycemic load, for the very reason that they slow digestion.

In conclusion: Moderation is our friend. We might consider reducing a potential overload of phytates by soaking some of our grains, beans, seeds and nuts (this will break down phytates, allowing for easier digestion). We might make bread (the yeast/fermentation process decreases phytates), and we might toast some grains, seeds (which also decreases them).

But, unless you’re going off the deep end (like I’ve often done), you can probably just adhere to this simple rule: Eat a sensible diet, be aware of the danger of raw nuts, grains, and seeds consumed in excess, and then… don’t worry about it!

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A Healthy Gut = Happy Head

I am digging my probiotics. Maybe you’re already a pro at making your own probiotics, in which case- you know what I’m talking about! My friend mentioned how her buddy was drinking kombucha to help with anxiety, so… I knew I needed to post this!

Healthy Gut Equals Happy Head

This article on Mark’s Daily Apple dishes the low-down on probiotics, and what they do for the health of our gut. The new superfoods!  For one, gut bacteria can LEARN. They can learn how to digest certain things. If you eat a lot of a certain food, eventually, the gut bacteria might learn how to break that food down into well-absorbed nutrients. Amazing.

These gut bacteria also produce short-chain fatty acids- an aid to health. They help improve bone mineral density. They can even turn phytic acid into inositol, for our bodies to put to use! Phytic acid is found on the outer parts of many grains, nuts, and seeds, and can interfere with our absorption of nutrients. But healthy gut bacteria can actually break that phytic acid down.

And they can even manufacture Vitamin K and B vitamins out of some of the basic food materials we ingest. Making something out of nothing, practically.

Gut bacterias also form a hardy barrier against bad bugs that pass their way. Whoot!

Also, did you know that gut bacteria create a LOT of our serotonin and dopamine? Our gut is actually communicating with our brain. Ever wonder if those mood swings had something to do with that fast food you just ate? Maybe. Scientists have noted there seems to be a connection between behavior disorders and gastrointestinal problems. Huh.

Maybe this doesn’t inspire many folks to healthier, probiotic eating. For me, I can’t even finish writing about these findings without going to get a slug o’ my kombucha brew. I find this news very exciting.

For newbies, let me say: It is pretty simple to add probiotics to your diet. Here are three simple ways to add probiotic goodness and improve your gut’s health:

1. Dairy Kefir or Yogurt (maybe the most well-known of the probiotics)

2. Kefir (water kefir, that is, which is created when little clumps of gelatinous “kefir grains” turn sugar and molasses water into a probiotic, fizzy, natural “soda” that’s actually good for you)

3. Kombucha (in which a floating, mushroom-ish critter turns a sweet, tea-infused brew into another probiotic, fizzy drink)

4. Fermented Veggies (ya know- like pickles. And like cabbage, which already contains elements just dying to convert into sauerkraut and kim chee-type relishes. A little salt, a little pressing into a jar until covered in its own juice, a little time for the veggies to ferment, and… Whal-lah! Done!)

Probiotics are the ultimate economical foods, since they seem to turn something cheap (sugar, cabbage, etc.) into a finished product worth far more than the initial ingredient. Check it out!

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Portabella Mushroom Burgers- Vegetarian Style

Use the mushrooms in place of hamburger patties, for a “meaty” vegetarian alternative at dinner. Or let the mushrooms cool off a bit, slicing into strips. Toss a simple salad of greens, olive oil, vinegar, and salt (or your favorite dressing), dish up onto salad plates, topping with the mushroom strips. What a salad!

 Vegetarian Main Dish: Portabella!INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Portabella Mushrooms
  • 1/2 c. or so olive oil
  • 1 TBS. chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or Jack cheese, sliced
  • 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

PREPARATION

1. Get enough Portabella mushrooms for the number of people you’re serving. Typically, it’s one burger-sized mushroom per person, or just a half mushroom per person for a salad. Remove stem and drizzle olive oil on the inside; rub more olive oil onto the outside. For four burgers, use: > 4 Portabella Mushrooms > about 1/2 c. or so olive oil

2. Next, spread some chopped garlic around the inside of the mushroom. Use: > 1 TBS. chopped fresh garlic

3. Add: > 1/2 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or Jack cheese, sliced (or grated)

4. Top with: > 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

5. Bake the cheese-mushrooms at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or so, until cheese is lightly golden. Serve on toasted hamburger buns, with all the fixings, if desired, or atop a salad.

6. If you’re short on time, you can speed things along using the microwave. Microwave the cheese-mushrooms (about 1-2 minutes per mushroom), then broil just a few minutes, until cheese is golden and mushrooms are soft.

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Do You Know Where Your Honey Went?!

It might sound like a conspiracy theory, but I don’t trust most brands of honey anymore. I get my honey from Glory Bee Honey now, since they carry honey that’s high in pollen. (I get this particular honey or it’s larger cousin, as it’s organic and seems the best value for the price.) After all, not all “honey” is, well, honey!

Honey Comb- Real Honey!This study found that 100% of all honey tested from drug stores and fast food chains had no trace of pollen in it. And more than 75% of all the honey tested in larger grocery stores (Safeway, Target, Kroger, Costco, etc.) had no trace of pollen in it. Pollen is the one thing in honey that can vouch for its composition. Without the pollen, it can’t be traced. It might be all honey, it might not be! (Should I say, “It might not BEE”?!)

Maybe that’s why the Europeans created standards for levels of bee pollen and propolis. To be called “raw, organic honey”, it has to pass certain testing. The European Union Directive on Honey says, “The removal of pollen will make the determination of botanical and geographic origin of honey impossible and circumvents the ability to trace and identify the actual source of the honey”. Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics is dangerous. Granted, it’s only fatal to a very small percentage of people, but… still!

I know of some dear folks who’ve been fighting allergies for years. I did too, so I know how annoying this is! But perhaps a daily dose of local honey could help address this issue? (REAL honey, that is…) I believe that, for us to benefit from the potential health advantages of honey, we ought to stick to stuff like Glory Bee Honey, Bee Farms Raw Honey, and other such products. Just to be on the safe side!

As I researched various products at Glory Bee Honey, I pondered whether to get bee propolis or bee pollen as well. Such products have been popular for some, as nutritional supplements. But I concluded that the main thing is to just get a quality honey in the first place, as it will naturally contain some pollen and propolis, since it’s unfiltered, natural honey.

A few ideas of ways to use that special honey? I add a bit to smoothies, if I’m not putting something sweet like banana in it. Or it’s good in granola bars or energy bars. Another fave: Rice pudding, made with honey instead of sugar. It turns out real custard-like… delicious! You can even skip the rice if you’re going grain-free. What a treat!

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Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

If I’m going to make homemade sourdough bread using freshly ground whole wheat flour, I definitely need a system. Otherwise, I won’t have time for this! Below is the streamlined recipe I use every few days (when we’re getting low on our daily bread).

Sourdough Bread w/whole grainsIn my earliest experiments, I kneaded bread on a wooden board (as directed in most recipes). Messy cleanup- arg. So I tried kneading the dough on our Formica counter top. Some success- it didn’t stick as much. The bread turned out even better since I didn’t have to add as much extra flour to keep it from sticking to the counter.

Then I moved up to kneading the bread in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, set on a towel (so it doesn’t move around too much), in the sink (a good level for throwing some hearty dough punches). So convenient, and I get a good work-out too!

Recently, I splurged on a Kitchen-aid for the home kitchen. Even though I don’t bake all that much, it’s proved to be a valuable time-saver for bread-making. Now I just knead the dough in the Kitchen-aid. But if you don’t have a mixer with a dough hook, the 8-cup-glass-in-the-sink is the next best method.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (scant) qt. sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 c. warm, filtered water (non-chlorinated is best for the yeasts)
  • 2 c. wheat berries, frozen (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 c. more of wheat berries, frozen (or about 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour)
  • 1 TBS. salt
  • Optional: 1 c. raisins, 2/3 c. millet,  1 1/3 c. walnuts, 1 TBS. caraway seeds

PREPARATION

1. In a medium bowl, add: > 1 scant quart of sourdough starter

2. Stir in, mixing well: > 1 1/2 c. warm water (around 105 degrees is fine, or warm to the touch)

3. Grind flour in a VitaMix, KitchenAid (with attachment), or other mill. Use frozen wheat berries to keep the flour from getting too warm from grinding. Start with: > 2 c. frozen wheat berries (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)

4. Stir flour vigorously into the bowl of starter and water mixture, until smooth. Pour a scant quart of the mixture back into the sourdough starter jar, to refrigerate until next time.

5. To the remaining mixture in the bowl, add more flour. Use: > 1 1/2 c. more of frozen wheat berries, ground into flour (or use 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour)

6. Stir second batch of flour in fairly well. It’s OK if some of the flour remains in the mixing bowl.

7. Transfer the rather firm blob of dough into an oiled KitchenAid bowl (or 8-c. measuring cup). Use any leftover flour to rub around the first bowl, to pull the remaining dough bits off the sides of the bowl. Easier cleanup this way!

8. Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel or with oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise in the oiled bowl until doubled. You can let it take its time, even refrigerating it to really slow it down, or putting it in a warm place to speed it up. Even then, it’ll probably take at least two hours.

9. Add salt to the bread and knead it after it’s doubled in size, for 9 minutes or so. Use the KitchenAid dough hook, or hand-knead it. Recommended: Sitting the bowl on a towel in the sink- a great angle for serious kneading. (Or, of course, the KitchenAid, which saves time.)

10. Add any other fixings during the last few minutes of kneading, if desired. However, before adding anything, this is about 2 1/2 lb. of dough, which is about all that will fit into a standard 8½ x 4½” bread pan. With additional goodies added, you can make a big rounded loaf instead, set in a 12″ round cast iron skillet. Extra ingredients for variety: > Approx. amounts of various grains, nuts, fruits, etc. (1 c. raisins, 2/3 c. millet,  1 1/3 c. walnuts, 1 TBS. caraway seeds, 1/4 c. palm sugar, 1 TBS. cinnamon)

11. Shape into a loaf, rolling it in some organic corn flour or other favorite, to coat the outside. Set in well-0iled loaf pan or skillet (coconut oil works well for this).

12. Let rise another few hours, until doubled again. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes per loaf (or in skillet), or 15 minutes for a dozen rolls. For larger loaves, when goodies like raisins, millet and such have been added, let back 45-50 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on a rack.

Posted in 2. Bars, Bread & Breakfast, Featured, Recipes | Tagged , , | 1 Response

Springerle- Easy Anise Cookie for Christmas

It’s great to involve kids in cookie-baking projects, but attention can wane. This particular recipe is perfect for those with a limited time/attention spans, of all ages! A special rolling pin is required, which will emboss a design on the cookie. But the dough is easy to make- just a few ingredients. Other recipes may contain extra ingredients, but this simple recipe seems to work perfectly.

Easiest Christmas Cookie: Springerle!

Although this festive cookie takes little effort, some waiting is involved. The dough refrigerates for several hours, and the cut-out cookies need to air dry on parchment for at least half a day before baking. This gives them their texture- perfect for dipping in tea and such. Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. anise seed
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp. anise extract, if desired

PREPARATION

1. Cream: > 2 eggs > 1 c. sugar

2. Stir in, until very stiff: > 2 1/4 c. flour > 1 tsp. anise seed > 1/2 tsp. anise extract, if desired

3. Place on plastic wrap, patting out into a rectangle shape, for easier rolling later. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or more.

4. Roll or pat out on floured board, into a piece (or two) that are about the width of the rolling pin. Roll out with a “springerle cookie rolling pin”, pressing down firmly to emboss. Cut into squares, let dry at least 10 hours on parchment paper.

5. Before baking, use a spatula to lift the cookies from the parchment (so they stick less). Bake on the parchment at 325 degrees, 12-15 minutes. They shouldn’t brown, although the edges can get slightly golden. Let cool on racks; store for 1-2 weeks (these actually keep quite well).

Springerle cookie rolling pin embossed design on cookies

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Gingerbread Cake w/ Lemon Curd (& No Leftover Egg Whites)

I had to post this recipe for the Christmas season- my aunt used to love this dessert, and it brings back such good memories… Another memory: several years back, we made huge batch of this (20 x recipe), to serve at our church’s annual Women’s Christmas Dinner. (Contact me if you need THAT recipe!)

Gingerbread w/Lemon Curd- no leftover egg whites!I don’t typically want to save egg whites in the freezer- I just want a recipe that uses the whole egg! So I came up with this recipe, which uses the egg whites leftover from making Lemon Curd, in the cake. Heating the butter and lemon juice for the lemon curd before it adding to the egg yolks, speeds the process along. Serves 9 or so.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2-4″ piece ginger (or substitute 2 tsp. dry ginger)
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) room temperature butter, divided
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 c. light molasses
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced (1/3 c. total)
  • 1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter

PREPARATION

1. Mix dry ingredients together first: > 2 1/3 c. flour > 1/3 c. sugar > 1 tsp. baking soda > 1 tsp. cinnamon > 3/4 tsp. salt

2. Grate: > 2-4″ piece ginger (or substitute 2 tsp. dry ginger)

3. Mix the dry ingredients and the following in mixer on low, then 3 minutes on medium: > 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, soft > 1/2 c. olive oil > 5 egg whites > 1 1/2 c. molasses > the grated ginger

4. Oil and flour 9″ square pan (or 13 x 9″ pan, which will cook quicker). Bake 45-55 min. at 300 degrees. Cool; serve w/ lemon curd.

 

Lemon Curd

This will make about 1 pint, enough for the above cake.

PREPARATION

1. Mix together until smooth: > 5 egg yolks > 1 cup sugar

2. Microwave or heat in pot, 1-2 minutes, until melted and bubbly: > 1 stick butter > 1/3 c. lemon juice > zest from 4 lemons

3. Slowly mix hot butter/lemon into yolk mixture. Microwave 30 seconds, then stir and repeat until thickened, or- warm gently on the stove just until thickened. This can store 2 weeks or more, refrigerated.

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Stock- Homemade & Easy!

Stock is so easy to make! Yes, it’s easier to buy a carton or can of it, but I think some of the nutrition and flavor is lost. A good batch of stock is full of gelatin, congealing after refrigerating, so you know it’s rich. With homemade stock, you can also use minimal salt. I always like to add salt just as I’m finishing preparing a dish. Otherwise, I believe too much sodium soaks into the ingredients. Not that it makes the finished product taste that salty. But it IS loaded with sodium! The salt added to dishes last is more pronounced, so you can use less.

Some folks might add carrot, celery, herbs, and/or onion to the pan when roasting their meats, to add to the stock. It will add more flavor, but I prefer an unadulterated stock: other extras can be added in later, when using the stock in various soups and sauces.

Chicken, Turkey, Beef, or Pork: Homemade Stock

Stock Recipe from "Soup's On" (Jen's Book)

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Gingerbread Cookies, Natural Style

I’m pretty excited about ginger right now. It fights inflammation and can help regulate blood sugar, serum cholesterol, and cortisol levels. Not that I’m chowing down on Gingerbread cookies for health reasons (although I am making some ginger tea). But for the holidays, these cookies are a fun, special treat, even for some gift-giving!

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies, Decorated w/Nuts, Dried FruitsUsing fruits and nuts to decorate allows for creative input from cookie-bakers of all ages- easier and less messy than frosting! Makes approx. 15 cookies.

INGREDIENTS

  •  1 stick butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c. molasses
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 TBS. (or more) fresh grated ginger (or sub powdered ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Cashew pieces (for smiles)
  • Dates and sweetened dried pineapple (for hair)
  • Pecans, almonds, and chocolate chips (for misc.)

PREPARATION

1. Cream in mixer, several minutes on high: > 1 stick butter > 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

2. Add the following, beating just until blended: > 1/2 c. molasses > 1/4 c. water > 2 1/2 c. flour > 1/2 tsp. salt > 1/2 tsp. baking soda > 1 TBS. (or more) fresh grated ginger > 1/2 tsp. nutmeg > 1/4 tsp. allspice

3. Refrigerate dough several hours, or longer. (Dough will keep in refrigerator for several weeks, wrapped in plastic.) Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness (easily accomplished rolling it between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, floured some as needed). Cut into gingerbread people.

4. Decorate cookies before baking, using the following, or your own creations: > Cashew pieces (for smiles) > Dates & sweetened dried pineapple (for hair) > Pecans, almonds, and chocolate chips (for misc.)

5. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

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Giving: Green Christmas Gift Ideas

No weary-shopper eye-roll here- my fingers are doing the walking! It leaves me with a bit more time to make a few homemade gifts too (as featured in my last post of recipes for homemade skin care gifts). Below are some ideas for “Green Gift Giving”, since most of them fall in line with the eco-style trends of the hipster folk!

Green Gift Ideas for the HolidaysGreen Gift Giving- Sheep Drier Balls1. Wool Dryer Balls (Eco-friendly, All-Natural, Fabric Softener)- AKA “Sheep Balls”- These bounce around with your wet clothes in the drier, aerating them and fluffing as they go. They break up clumps. allowing for quicker, more economical drying of clothes. I got some of these earlier this year and absolutely love them!

 

 

Natural Beeswax Candles- Green Gifts!2. 100% Beeswax Tapers 10″ (8 Tapers)- Skip the toxic chemicals found in many candles; go au natural with these beeswax candles. Lovely, elegant, clean, green, & totally cool!

3. 100% Beeswax Tea Lights (24 case)- These fit nicely into the candle holders above. Plus they’re non-toxic & chemical-free. A good deal- 24 votives!

Green Gifts- Himalayan Salt Candles- Good Vibes4. Himalayan Crystal Salt Tealight Candle Holder- I love mine. I put the little beeswax tea lights in it (below), and enjoy the mellow mood it sets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compost Caddy- Green Christmas Gift5. Vintage-style Compost Container-This looks so cool on my counter. The plastic bucket insert won’t corrode (like my old container did), and a charcoal filter inside the lid keeps all smells fresh!

 

 

 

 

 

Hand cranking apple peeler6. Apple & Potato Peeler- This little machine is so cool. Especially if you have an apple tree. We can process a lot of apples quickly, and throw ‘em in the dehydrator. My model isn’t as nice as the vintage, cast-iron one selling on Amazon for around $20. Wish I’d seen it before I bought mine for much more money, from a Pampered Chef consultant!

 

 

Rachel Ray Olive OIl Container7. Ceramic Olive Oil Dispensing Bottle- I love my coloring, opague olive oil bottle. Because the light can’t go through it, the oil stays fresher. It can sit out on the counter- very handy.

 

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Homemade Gifts: Natural Skin Care Goodies

Part of my enthusiasm for making my own skin care products is my love of essential oils, which I use regularly in face creams and bath salts for myself. Certain ones are perfect for skin, for mood; some have hormone-balancing and other benefits. I’ve shared my favorites at “Jen’s Shop“; if you’re interested in aromatherapy, take a look at the oils I suggest there (under the “Health, Beauty, & Lifestyle” section). I mention the qualities each is known for; also, I’ve chosen oils that are more therapeutic. Some “essential oils” may be a blend of an expensive variety (like, of lavender), but mixed with a carrier oil or even a sub-par plant variety. But I’ve picked out the best quality and value for you, at Jen’s Shop!

Oh, for another fun, homemade gift (that you can make with your kids), check out my “Cinnamon Ornament” post!

Homemade Gifts: Natural Skin CareWe had a lot of fun at a recent “Spa-rific” New Deli party, where we made up various creams, balms, and such to give as gifts come Christmas time. We made body butter, bath salts, lip balm… all using natural, top-quality ingredients. Didn’t have to bear with Holiday Shopping Mania- got all this stuff online! Below are some favorite recipes.

Homemade Body ButterBODY BUTTER

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION*

1. Warm the 1/2 c. coconut oil in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Use a warm oven, or a double-boiler (with a folded towel set in bottom of pot to protect the glass cup).

2. Add cocoa butter pieces to the melted coconut oil, until it measures another half cup (that will be one cup total).

3. Warm this mix some more, until mixture’s melted. Add in the 1/2 c. shea butter using the same “displacement method”.

4. Let warm again, enough to blend the mixture, then mix in about 20-30 drops of favorite essential oils. (Lavender’s a nice one.)

5. Refrigerate the mix enough for it to set some, then whip it, then fill glass jars with it (these 4oz Amber Glass Jars are cute). Label cutely and you’ve got some nice gifts on your hands!

*General Tip: Three or four parts hard butters to one part oils works well. If you have a scale, you can measure equal parts of the four fats and oils, melting them gently in a small saucepan.

 

Homemade Bath SaltsBATH SALTS

  • 3 c. Epsom Salts
  • 2 c. Baking Soda
  • 1 c. Sea Salt
  • 8 drops or so  Lavender essential oil (or other)
  • 1 TBS. Vitamin C powder

Just mix and store in cute mason jars. My husband says most people aren’t as into Epsom salts as I am, but if you’re concerned about chlorine, this recipe helps address that issue. (Read my article, “Turning Chlorinated Water into Liquid Gold“, for more info on the subject.)

 

 

Homemade Face ScrubEASY FACE SCRUB

  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 4 or more drops favorite essential oil ( Lavender, lemongrass, linden blossom, etc.)

Mix, then put up in 4oz.-size jars (like these) – a good size for most of us. Use organic white sugar if desired, for a body scrub, but the granules are larger, so it’s not as suited for the face.

 

 

Homemade Lip BalmLIP BALM

Gently melt the first two ingredients, then add your choice of essential oil. “Decant” into little tins (like these little steel ones) or into lip balm stick containers (like these- a pack of 12 for under $1/ea.).

Posted in 9. Crafts & Such, Blog, Recipes | Tagged , , | 1 Response
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