Moms Top 10

Friday, June 25, 2010

natural beauty products from the kitchen

For so many years, I have been very concerned with the chemicals, antibiotics, and pesticides that I put into my body via my mouth with food and drink, but I really never gave any thought to the chemicals I was putting into my body via my skin with lotions, gels, shampoos, make-up, conditioners, sunscreen etc.

I first started thinking about this when I was swimming a lot and teaching swim lessons as a volunteer. I learned that our skin is like a sponge and will soak up anything that it comes into contact with. We would always tell the little kids before swim lessons to take a nice long shower before entering the pool. That way your skin would absorb as much fresh "clean" water as possible and not let as much yucky chlorine water in. After being in the pool so much (almost everyday), I started feeling ill all the time and actually started having allergies after being in so much chlorine. I eventually had to stop volunteering in the pool.

I do not like the thought of all the dyes, chemicals, artificial, unnecessary man-made things that are put into beauty products being soaked up into my skin and my children's skin. Buying all natural products can be pretty spendy and most of them still contain many artificial ingredients.

So I went on a quest to find true "all natural" inexpensive beauty products. I was very pleased to find that many ingredients I already had in my kitchen can be used as homemade, all natural, good-for-you, beauty products.

Here is a short list of the products I recently started using and have liked the results. Most of my information comes from a fellow mom at passionate homemaking. She has done loads of research and has it all compiled on her site of items she uses, the recipes, and even some cost comparisons.

Lotion: coconut oil ( a little goes a long way)
Shampoo: baking soda and water (so simple and so cheap)
Conditioner: apple cider vinegar and water
Face wash: apple cider vinegar and water

She also has a great recipe for homemade toothpaste that I hope to try in the future.

So we are officially "shampoo-less and I love it! I was a afraid this idea would be a little overboard for my husband (he likes the "all natural" ideas only to a certain degree) but he was totally onboard when I delicately suggested the idea. In my opinion he doesn't really have much say in it anyways...the guy only has a 1/4 inch of hair!

I guess my husband grew up shampoo-less and so he knew exactly what I was talking about. Am I the only person that did not know about this? How come nobody told me? I would have switched over a long time ago had I known.

I am glad I know now and super excited to be able to cross off not one, but four items from my shopping list. I don't know why, but I find such joy and satisfaction in reducing the amount of "stuff" I have to buy at the grocery store. I am slowly trying to cross off items, making more of my own things and shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and face wash are completely gone...forever!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

cooking with quinoa

I first started cooking with quinoa about five years ago when my daughter was a baby. I wanted to make my own baby food so I bought a baby cookbook called Simply Natural Baby Food, by Cathe Olsen. She uses quinoa in a lot of her recipes, mixed with broccoli, sweet potatoes and other veggies. I wasn't sure what it was back then (and didn't do any research) but knew it was healthy for my baby, so mixed it in her food.

Just until recently I found out that I haven't even been pronouncing it properly. I was saying "kwuh-NO-uh" but learned the correct pronunciation of "KEEN-wah" from some friends (thanks D and L).

So I have been feeding it to my babies for awhile but just recently started making it for the whole family. It is a great replacement for rice. Especially for those who are gluten intolerant and would like more variety in their diet. Quinoa is a complete protein and is high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, and many other vitamins. It only takes about 15 minutes to cook...less time then rice! It is recommended to first rinse quinoa and then soak for about 8 hours before cooking. In order to aid proper digestion.

I have made chicken quinoa soup, quinoa pilaf, and stir fry with quinoa. Blend it in with your veggies when making baby food or just give chunks of cooked quinoa straight to your toddler.

If I haven't convinced you to give it a try and expand your culinary palate...maybe this guy will.

My next quinoa cooking adventure... quinoa tabbouleh...oh ya!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm so excited I won!

Just wanted to say thanks to Angela over at Domestic Godliness and Wall Worthy for the awesome Wall Worthy giveway. I never seem to win these kinds of things...I am so excited! I recently checked out Wall Worthy's website and liked what I saw, so now the only problem is choosing what to order for our home:)

Thanks again!

Monday, June 7, 2010

raw energy bars

I absolutely, love, love, love, these raw energy bars. They are packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamin E, vitamin B, calcium and the list could go on and on. All of that mixed with just the right amount of honey makes these the perfect snack for kids, after a good work-out...basically for anyone, any time of day. I will usually double this recipe and keep one batch in freezer and one in the fridge.

1 C almonds or other nut(chopped if not using a food processor)
1/4 C sunflower seeds
1/4 C flax seeds
1/4 C unsweetened coconut
1/4 C carob chips
1 t or more cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1/4 C almond butter
1/4 C coconut oil (melted)
1/3 - 1/2 C honey (a 1/2 C makes them pretty sweet...I usually do 1/3 C)

Combine all dry ingredients and process until desired nut size.

I chop mine pretty fine for my nutbars.

Add in wet ingredients, process until mixed...

...and you're done!

Press into a small off with shredded coconut.

Keep in fridge or freezer (they will get gooey and won't taste as yummy at room temperature).

A great idea for kids is to roll them into balls and then roll them in the coconut.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

homemade chocolate sauce

This recipe from gone raw (I love this website) is so easy to make and can be used in so many different ways. You can put it on ice cream, pies, brownies, pancakes, in smoothies or even in your yogurt. The nutbars get that on special occasions (like when I have some leftover:) I wouldn't consider my variation to be raw because I do not use raw cacao (too expensive) but it is still definitely way healthier then the store bought yucky stuff they call chocolate.

1 ripe avocado
1/2 C cocoa or carob
2/3 C dates and/or honey (I usually will use a combination of the two)
1/2-1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt or less
1/4 t cinnamon (optional)
1/4 water

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and processor until smooth, adding the water if needed. I usually have to scrape the sides of food processor a few times to get it all mixed in. I also taste it a few times and make sure it doesn't need any more dates or honey added.

Double the water if you want more of a silky chocolate sauce. Use less water for a thicker consistency like mousse.

More ideas:
Dehydrate small drops of sauce for homemade tootsie rolls.
Freeze in popsicle molds for homemade fudge bars.

'tis the season

You know what always makes me feel like a big lazy slob more then anything?

Watching The Biggest Loser contestants every Tuesday night, work their butts off in the gym for hours on end, while I'm sitting at home on my couch...doing absolutely nothing for two hours.

I love that show! It motivates me to push myself harder when I do get to the gym. With summer just about here and watching Daris complete a marathon in four hours, I am so excited for the season of triathlons, marathons, 5ks, 10ks, etc. It is a little late to start training big time for an event, but I have decided to not let this summer fly by with out getting into shape (or sort of in shape:) and doing one of these events. It is so inspiring to watch The Biggest Loser contestants complete their marathons every season. It just amazes me every time. Some of those people are twice my size and they ran(with some walking) a marathon! The longest I have ever run at one time is 4 miles.

I finally achieved a goal of mine and completed a sprint triathlon last summer. But ever since then (almost a year) I have been in a work-out schlump. Just not really sure what to do...mixed in with plenty of illness between the kids and I this winter, along with many visits from family. I just haven't been in a groove at all! It is starting to freak me I am determined to achieve this little goal.

My husband and I decided to do a triathlon this August, but as a relay. So our friend will join us and we will each do one of the three legs. I will do the swimming, which I love and am so excited to get back in the pool. We only have two I better get my buttsky off the couch and stop blogging so much. It's a good thing my Tuesday nights have recently opened up:)

I have done a couple 5k runs in the past, and I think those are a great way for someone to start out. I am not a strong runner, so 3 or so miles is just perfect for me. I love it because it involves everyone and every member of the family can matter, age, gender, physical ability. Some people, the really good runners, run super fast the whole way and make all the rest of us look like out-of-shape smokers, others run/walk, and some just walk. My parents even did a 5k with me on Thanksgiving day last year! It rained the entire time but we had so much fun and they had a great time speed walking the whole way.

The atmosphere is wonderful! There is upbeat music playing and often times prizes and food are handed out after the event. It's so great to be there with friends and family and share the achievement with them. Everyone is there to have a good time...there really isn't any competition, except maybe with yourself and achieving some personal goals along the way. That is the great thing about having a friend by your side. Not only will they motivate you and help you achieve those goals, but they will chat with you the entire way, making the time just fly by.

There are also events for the kids as well. Usually a half mile or so. My kids have done a few of these, which are usually free or little cost. It is such a fun way to introduce the mindset that exercise is fun and a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle. Something I hope I am teaching my own kids. Parents are more then welcome to run along side the kids or push the little ones in strollers (we always run with ours) It's a great family activity, full of fun and exercise!

The only downside (if you want to call it that) is the fee to register...prices range from $20-$80 depending on what type of event you are doing. The plus side is that the money usually goes towards a good cause such as AIDS, breast cancer, etc. The event fee also usually includes a small gift bag and commemorative t-shirt, which is always fun:)

So I guess what I am trying to say is...

If Michael from The Biggest Loser can do it, I'm pretty sure anyone can do it. So find an event in your area, grab a friend, your spouse, your nutbars...and just do it! You know you want too.

Bob and Jillian would be so proud.