Friday, 27 September 2013

DIY Natural Baby Wipes

Babies are expensive. Diapers, wipes, clothes, formula, food, cribs, chairs, daycare, and on and on.
I feel far richer with a full house and an empty bank account then I ever did when my money was mine, but it's still hard to spend so much on stuff that either gets tossed out after a single use or is outgrown in weeks to months.

Now I do not have a lot of spare time, like none really, but I am still determined to save a couple bucks on things that are easy to do myself. The second part of that determination comes from finding out just how awful baby products are. I mean is it really necessary to include toxic chemicals in body wash, wipes, formula, etc? It's funny how you don't hear anything about the amount of chemicals we and our children come into contact with or ingest daily. You would think it would be brought up almost constantly what with the steady rise in cancers and other health issues.

My children (and yours) live in a very toxic age. It's now to the point where people don't even question it. Everything, from the food we eat to the lotions we slather on our new born babies' skin, is loaded with chemicals. We all just assume that it's there for a reason, and that it can't be that harmful or they wouldn't allow it. Wrong. Most of the time, the reason is to allow larger production, longer shelf life and therefore a bigger profit margin, and we all know that when it comes to the business man's priorities, a little toxicity does not compare with dollar signs.

Most people remain unaware because the effects of this type of exposure is more chronic than acute. If you ate some questionable fish and then 12 hours later you were laid up in bed, you would probably think a little harder about it the next time suspicious fish came your way. However, if you ate fish that smelled fine, tasted fine, looked fine, but was contaminated with, lets say... trace amounts of lead, and consumed said fish over several years, you would see a depletion in health and the guilty fish would go unsuspected. We as people, have a very cause and effect mentality. We tend to look at the thing that immediately preceded something and assume it is the reason.

Our children are the first generation expected to live a shorter life span then their parents, and childhood illnesses and afflictions are at an all time high, including autism. My children also suffer from very sensitive skin. Now I am not a doctor. I am also not a scientist, I am a mother. I have learnt to trust my intuition and to do what feels right for my children. Honestly what feels right for me, might not feel right for someone else, but parenting doesn't come with a manual and each child is different, that is why I think it is important to follow your instincts and do what you think is right for YOUR child.

For my family, I have really begun to adapt a more organic way of living. Now like i mentioned before, I don't have a ton of free time, nor is my bank account equipped to buy 100% natural, organic, free from, etc, etc. The only way I have figured out how to do what I feel is right for our household, is to do it gradually, and to DIY a lot of things. Now I am not a good enough sewer to make all my own cloth diapers, nor do I have the time to grow all of our own produce year round, I do what I can. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, small steps in the right direction.

So my first small step that I decided to take was baby wipes. My mom used baby cloths on my siblings and I, and washed them after each use. I had my children in the age of convenience, and am a bit ashamed to admit, but not too proud, that I just can't muster up the gumption to go from disposable wipes to washing poop covered washcloths by hand multiple times a day, ewe. Yes i know, I sound spoiled, but most of us are. I have however, decided on a reasonable compromise.

This method of making baby wipes can also be used to make other household wipes, such as glass cleaner wipes, makeup removal wipes, furniture wipes, etc. You can choose to use an eco-friendly paper towel for this (or not) but whichever you choose, make sure you don't skimp out on quality. A strong paper towel that holds up when wet is key.

What You'll Need:

  • 1 Roll good quality paper towel
  • 2 Containers, I use plastic food containers
  • Natural, pure liquid soap. I use vegetable glycerin soap from The Soap Works because my husband is allergic to hemp oil found in the leading castile soap, Dr. Bronners, but both work beautifully
  •  Witch hazel (optional, but it is very soothing as well as helps the wipes to remain mould free)
  • Essential oils (again optional, I like tee-tree for it's anti-fungal properties. Rose and lavender are also nice)
  • Coconut oil (LOVE LOVE LOVE Coconut oil)
  • Distilled or boiled water (I just boil the kettle)

  1. Cut the roll of paper towel in half. This is kind of a pain in the butt, but takes just a minute or two and then it's all down hill after this. 
  2. In each of the containers, dump in 1.5 cups of hot water, 1T liquid soap, 1-3 drops essential oil, 1.5T coconut oil, and a capful of witch hazel(about a t). Gently stir. 
  3. Place 1/2 roll of paper towel in each container and squish down with lid until it closes. 
  4. Make sure lid is on tight and then flip the containers over and let them sit for about 10 mins.
  5. Turn back over and remove lid. Grab ahold of the tube in the centre and pull it out. It will come easily. 
  6. Pull first paper towel from the centre to start using roll. 
  7. Keep the lid on when you aren't using the wipes. 

I have kept wipes around after making them for about a week before using and have had no signs of mildew.  I have also had no need to put any kind of preventative diaper rash products on my babe's bum because the residual coconut oil does a great job.

I have two still in diapers, and They have both had less irritation and almost no rash issues since I switched to homemade wipes, and I have also saved a ton by buying my paper towels in bulk and each item you add to these wipes lasts a really long time.

I also make my own baby wash, laundry soap, and toothpaste now. Little bit by little bit, we are greening our home, I encourage you to give it a shot! Whether it's for frugality's sake or health concerns, what have you got to lose?

Friday, 20 September 2013

Gloriously Green - Creamy Broccoli Soup Recipe

Well, tomorrow is the first official day of fall. Seems like I was still waiting for summer to begin when it was suddenly over. We did miss out on a lot of the fun summertime activities this year, what with the new baby (which puts mama into hibernation mode) and little man's cast being on for 2 months. Poor thing didn't even get to the lake once this year.

As sad as I am to see summer disappearing however, I am equally pleased to welcome fall. I love the fall. Beautiful colours, warm days and cool nights, pumpkin picking and family dinners. Fall has always felt somewhat romantic to me. That is right up until I had four little germ factories coughing directly in my mouth the second the temperature dips. Kinda brings all those romantic illusions crashing down.

This last week, right on schedule, we all spent the days sick with a nasty cold. So what that means for mama is three sick kids (babe didn't get sick, thankfully) a sick husband and a pile of work to do. All the while I feel like death myself, have what I will swear is the whiniest bunch of munchkins on earth and cold and flu season hasn't even officially started yet.

This year, I'm determined to kick cold season's butt. The kids are now taking vit C, Zinc, and echinacea. I am also Determined to sneak as many vitamins and nutrients into their food as possible. This soup looks like broccoli soup and tastes like broccoli soup but is so much more than that.

My little unsuspecting babies gobbled this up never knowing that it was crammed with extra green goodness. It was tasty, warm and comforting. Do yourself a favour, make a double batch of this at once (only takes about half an hour) and freeze half for an on hand vitamin boost later!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1/2 leek, chopped
  • 3 cups broccoli florets 
  • 1/2 bunch kale (just the leaves)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves (smashed)
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 TBSP Ghee
  • Salt and pepper
  • pinch of cumin
  • 1 Litre of chicken stock (can use other stock if preferred, but I like chicken)
  • 1 Can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 TBSP Nutritional Yeast (Don't worry, this yeast is not like brewer's yeast, won't contribute to candida issues) 

  1. First sweat the onion and leek and garlic for five minutes or so in the ghee. 
  2. Once they turn translucent, add in cumin and cook until very fragrant. 
  3. Then add kale,  broccoli, coconut milk, and chicken stock. bring up to a gentle boil on med-high, then reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender.
  4. Remove from heat and blend until very smooth in a blender. (Or whatever you prefer to blend with) You will probably have to do this in batches.
  5. In the last batch, add in avocado, nutritional yeast, and spinach. 
  6. Mix all the blended soup together and season to taste.

This soup reheats and freezes quite well. The nutritional yeast gives it just enough of a cheesy flavour, and the avocado makes it silky and creamy. Enjoy!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

How to make Coconut Butter

I LOVE this coconut butter! Seriously, I love it. I have no idea why it isn't main stream. It is nutritious, delicious, and a nut free alternative. It is chockablock full of MCT (medium chain triglycerides) and thyroid boosting goodness. It is also directly converted to energy, making it easier to burn, and is great for heart health, despite the bad rep that saturated fats have gotten over the last few decades. Did I mention that I love it?

Coconut Butter

1.5 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup coconut oil (maybe more)
1 TBSP raw honey

In a powerful blender or food processor, that is completely dry, process coconut for about 8 minutes or so. You will need to either tamp it down or scrape the sides fairly frequently. When the oils start to release from the coconut, add in the coconut oil. I like to do this because coconut oil is very healthy for you, and it helps to give a nicer texture at the end. It also makes processing the coconut easier.

In my food processor, the coconut butter stays pretty light, however when I use appliances with more power, the mixture heats up a lot, so be careful, but it also gives it a toasted colour and flavour. If you want this but are using an appliance that will not achieve it, toast the coconut (dry) on a baking sheet just until it browns lightly before you begin.

Once the mixture is the texture you prefer, i like mine almost completely smooth with just a bit of texture left, add in honey. The honey is optional, but I like it a touch sweet, and honey is healthy and a great unrefined sweetener. This may cause the coconut to seize up a bit. keep processing, again scraping sides as needed, and add a bit more oil if necessary.

Pour into the container you are going to store it in, I use an old peanut butter jar. Allow to come to room temperature. If it is cold where you are, it may become quite solid at room temp, but just place closed container in a warm water bath for a minute or two and it should come back.

This will separate, but just give it a stir before you use it, just like natural nut butters.

Coconut butter is a healthy, delicious, brain boosting, metabolism boosting treat. I eat most of mine right off a spoon when my sweet tooth kicks in. You can also use it in place of nut butters though. It is great on toast, paired with jam or bananas. I have also made chocolate coconut butter cups, watch out for that recipe in the future. Yum.

You can also buy coconut butter, but it runs for about $9-$15 per jar at my health food store. This cost me less than $3 to make. I was sceptical the first time I tried it, but trust me, you will be pleasantly surprised and love it!

Oh, one more thing, STOP BEING AFRAID OF FAT!!!! I have talked about this before, but it is so embedded into our brains that fat is bad, I need to constantly remind you. Some fat is great for you... like coconut for instance.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Sunday Morning Pancakes

You would think that pancakes would be one of the easier foods to convert to GFCF, but you would be surprised. I have tried recipe after recipe and have been disappointed every time. Finally I had the breakthrough I had been waiting for... my new all purpose flour mix. I have made rice flour pancakes by the hundreds, with results that were often not even edible, I have tried oat flour, which I love, but is far too heavy for pancakes to be the main flour. I see thousands of rice flour based pancake recipes on Pinterest and Google, and wonder if I have higher standards or if these people just don't remember what a real pancake tastes like.

When I began learning to cook GFCF, I had to start from scratch. I am a trained professional cook, and have no need to doubt my ability to make something as simple as a pancake, unless you take away all of the familiar ingredients, add in new ones, and leave me with no one I personally know with hands on experience to offer guidance. There was really nothing for me to do except start from the beginning. I researched what everyone else gluten free was doing and tried to do what they did. You figure something out pretty quick though, people have a different expectation for gluten free items. I don't want to make things that are "good for gluten free" I just want to make things that are good, period.

This recipe doesn't have pumpkin or banana or chocolate chips. It doesn't need them. Not that I have anything against these things in a pancake, but when you are using them as a camouflage for an inferior product, well then... Get the basics right first, then add in whatever you want. You need a solid foundation to take off from. I added a fruit component as my condiment, mango honey puree, but the kids just ate theirs with maple syrup, and they were delicious. 

I called these Sunday Morning Pancakes because that's usually the day that people are looking for a nice warm, comforting breakfast to have together as a family. For us, that day is not Sunday (the joys of having two shift working parents) but you get the point.

The best part of these pancakes though, I would have to say is their longevity. Yep. They last! Have you ever had those nasty frozen pancakes from the freezer isle, right beside the Eggos? They are full of chemicals, refined sugar, and don't even taste good. With these though, I just make a double batch, let the leftovers cool on a wire rack (single layer) while we eat, and when I'm cleaning up I just stack them, put them in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer. When the time comes, I gently separate a couple (they come apart pretty easily) put them on a plate, cover them with a paper towel and microwave them for a minute or so. They are just as good as when they were made!!! Kinda turns "Sunday Morning Pancakes" into "OMG We're running late and the kids haven't eaten what am I going to feed them in 2 minutes pancakes" doesn't it? 

Sunday Morning Pancakes

2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthm gum
2 cups almond milk (or other non dairy milk)
1.5 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
2 large room temp eggs

  • Preheat Griddle to around 375° F or a non stick frying pan on med-high
  • In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients
  • Gently warm almond milk and mix with other wet ingredients
  • Pour wet into dry and mix (Do not over beat, but don't leave any lumps behind)
  • Let sit about 5 minutes (to thicken slightly)
  • Pour 1/3 cup of batter onto un-greased griddle
  • Leave until bubbles appear on the entire surface of the pancake
  • Flip over and continue cooking for 2 mins or so. Pancake should puff slightly when cooked
  • serve immediately or cool on rack and freeze

Mango Honey Puree 

1 large ripe mango, peeled and roughly diced
2 TBSP raw honey
2 TBSP melted ghee

  • warm mango and ghee slightly
  • blend all ingredients to desired consistency 
  • Pour over pancakes
I did this sauce in my smoothie maker, but you can use a blender, immersion blender, food processor, or mash with a fork. I like mine a little chunky, but you can let it blend a bit longer to make it smooth if you like. This would also work with berries, plums, peaches, etc.

I hope you enjoy these gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free pancakes! They were very good. Period.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes That Put All Other Cupcakes to Shame

My beautiful baby girl just turned two. She is a textbook terrible two's kid, with an attitude as big as a house and a defiant streak that would make me proud if I didn't have to deal with it. She is also a chocoholic, just like her mama. You could hand this kid chocolate covered tree bark and she'd eat it with a smile on her face.

We had a pretty low key birthday. We have learnt over time that it's just not worth it to invite everyone. As much as there's people you wanted to come and were missed, it is so hard on little man to have that many people here. Home is like his safe haven and a massive disruption like that takes him a very long time to recover from.

He has come a long way with a small get together of his closest people, (we usually split the close people up between two or three visits to keep it small) to the point where he stays in the room, talks to people and truly has a good time. After all, what is the point of having a party if no one's having fun?

There was a time (not so very long ago) that I believed we would never be able to say that little man had fun at a social gathering. I'm glad I was wrong. My little miss had a blast as well, but that's no surprise with her. They are polar opposites. The extrovert and the introvert, the social butterfly and the wallflower. She overwhelms him sometimes, but she really is good at bringing him out of his shell. She doesn't get offended when he doesn't respond to her, and just waits a bit and engages him again.

Her spirit and determination is bash my forehead off the wall frustrating sometimes, but when I look at the way they love each other, I am thankful for it. She makes him feel like it's OK to be fervent, impassioned, fun. I also have no doubt that she will stand up for him should the need arise (not that he'd appreciate that I'm sure).

So to commemorate the anniversary of the day that my little firecracker came in to our lives, I have made her my "could fool anyone chocolate cupcakes". Don't forget the pretty pink icing, because she likes to ninja you with her attitude, hiding it behind a sweet pink clad exterior before she strikes.

My husband said with a mouthful of his third cupcake "you could make a million dollars off of this and not even tell anyone they were gluten free"

My picky mother (love you) told me this is the best cake she has ever had, gluten free or not.

And my kids beg me for seconds every time I make it.

I usually try to be humble about the recipes I post, but honestly, I've just heard too many raves about this recipe to sell it short.

Chocolate Cake
yield: 18 cupcakes OR 2 small round cakes OR 9x13 sheet cake

2 cups cake flour
1 tsp xanthm gum
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups organic cane sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut milk + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup melted ghee or coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water

  • Preheat oven to 325° F 
  • Line cupcake pan with papers.
  • In bowl of mixer, or other large bowl, mix dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients minus the water
  • Add the wet to the dry and mix just until incorporated
  • lastly add in boiling water, mix until incorporated. 
  • Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and pop pan in to preheated oven
  • Bake for about 15-20 mins or until cake springs back when gently touched in the centre
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 mins or so in own, and then remove and finish cooling on wire rack.

Make sure you cool these COMPLETELY before frosting them, other wise your frosting will melt and slide right off. I make my own sometimes, but when pressed for time I purchase a frosting. This one is Wilton brand White Frosting from Michaels, thinned out a tad with coconut milk, whipped up and coloured.

These were amazing. I make this recipe every time we have a birthday. I always offer another cake, but am firmly told to make the chocolate one. Here is a picture taken at my brother's birthday last year with the same recipe. There were about 25 people here and no one knew the cake was gluten free.

I feel like I'm sharing something very dear to me by posting this recipe, so I would be very interested in feedback. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Funfetti Chocolate Chip Cookies

Remember To Have Fun!!!
This is something that I feel the constant need to remind myself of. With all of the chaos around here, and dh getting a new job that keeps him away for long hours, I often feel like I'm just getting through the day. No matter how much I clean, seems like there's always a mess; My to do list is a mile long and growing by the day, and someone is always hungry, or hurt, or needs a new diaper. 
These are my reasons for feeling overloaded, but it seems like everyone has their own now a days. Jobs, kids, family, friends, extracurriculars, second jobs, housework, and on and on. Sometimes we are so focused on getting these things taken care of, we forget about the truly important things, like having fun. 

When the children are being extra defiant (and yes I say extra, because no one like me would have obedient children) or are cranky, I think to myself, when is the last time the had any fun? Not just the normal fun, same old toys, same movies, same surroundings, but new, out of the routine fun. Usually when I ask myself that the answer is not recently enough. No wonder they're cranky, me too for that matter. Now I have not yet mastered venturing into the outside world with my socially frightened little man, my take off running little girl, and my 100% dependant 3 month old. 
This means finding something fun to do at home. Well, cookies are actually pretty fun, especially when you get three little rug rats helping you and add a bunch of coloured sprinkles (their idea, not mine). Don't stress about the mess the kids make helping out, don't stress if the recipe isn't followed to a T. Just relax, let them be kids. 
My beautiful step daughter was here that day, which really helped little man to want to participate. She is probably the one person that can get him to venture out of his comfort zone just by doing things in front of him. I didn't pressure him, and he actually participated! This was a great experience for little man in a lot of ways. He needed to take turns, follow directions, share the experience with other people, and wait for the final product, teaching him that effort and patience will pay off. 
All in all, it was a fun day, and at the end of it we cuddled up on the floor and watched a movie before bed with a plate of cookies. They were great, but I think the kids enjoyed them more because they were a part of the whole thing.

Funfetti Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield 24 cookies

2/3 cup ghee
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Large Egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Scant Cups All purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthm gum
3/4 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup coloured sprinkles
  • Cream sugars and ghee in stand mixer with paddle attachment, or by hand until pale
  • Add in egg and vanilla, mix
  • Whisk dry ingredients (minus the choc chips and sprinkles) in a separate bowl and then add to ghee mixture. mix until well Incorporated
  • Add in sprinkles and choc chips, mix by hand.
  • Pop in fridge and chill for 2 hours minimum.

  • Once dough is well chilled, preheat oven to 325° F
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment or silmat. 
  • Roll about 2 TBSP dough into balls and place on sheet about 1.5" apart. 
  • Bake for about 12 minutes or until slightly browned around edges and small cracks appear on top. 
  • Remove from oven and let cool ten minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

These cookies are wonderful, they're chewy and buttery. Yum!
Feel free to leave comments letting me know how you enjoyed them.