I’m all about doing the natural thing whenever possible.  I love this post from Simple Mom on doing just that—Natural beauty and how to go about it.  Here are the tips from Simple Mom:

by Tsh on November 16, 2009

in green & frugal living

So we’ve talked about going shampoo-free, and we’ve talked about using oil to clean your face naturally. But a few of you have asked — what about the rest? What about soap, toothpaste, lotion, deodorant, and the like?

I’ll be the first to admit that going natural with my toiletries and cosmetics is new to me. This isn’t something I’ve done for years, and am just now dispensing my experiential wisdom. Switching to homemade or natural is something I’ve been doing just over the past six months, so I’m learning as I go.

I do know that the more I learn about what ingredients are in conventional toiletries, the less comfortable I am in spreading them on my largest, most porous organ. But I’m not an alarmist, so we’re doing this gradually, as we run out of the stuff we’re already using.

Here are the remaining product choices we make in our family, tweaking and adjusting as we go.


Typical ingredients for conventional shower gels are detergents, preservatives, fragrance, and foaming agents. None of these things are toxic in very small quantities, but they do enter the bloodstream from our pores, and they’re technically not necessary to get clean. So I figure — why bother using them if I don’t need them? And they’re extremely dangerous in larger quantities.


Many people make their own soap, but I don’t. I just don’t have the time right now. So for us, we use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap. It’s concentrated, so just one bottle will last ages. There’s nothing in it but pure castile soap and essential oils (if it’s scented).

Once you start using pure and simple castile soap, you’ll realize the film that traditional shower gels leave. Dr. Bronner’s is cost-effective, long-lasting, and serves many purposes. My husband actually washes his hair with this instead of the baking soda and water rinse that I use.

Not only can you wash your body and hair with castile soap, you can also use it as a household cleaner, as dish soap, as a produce rinse, as laundry soap, and even as toothpaste.


Most conventional toothpastes have dyes synthesized from petroleum, sodium fluoride, foaming agents (also used in engine degreasers and strong household cleaners), and a myriad of other toxins.

There’s something about the fact that it’s used in the mouth that makes me squirm when I read about the nitty gritty ingredients in toothpaste. If you’d like to learn more, head here for more information.

I recently started making our own toothpaste, and I’m still tweaking the recipe. My husband isn’t crazy about the baking soda flavor, but I like it. Admittedly, if I had access to natural toothpaste brands like Tom’s of Maine, I’d probably stick to buying that. But since I don’t, here’s the recipe I’ve tried.


Basic Homemade Toothpaste

  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Stevia powder
  • a few drops of pure peppermint extract

Mix it all together until it resembles toothpaste.

Coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees Fahrenheit, which means this toothpaste feels more liquidy during warmer weather. It doesn’t change its effectiveness, though.

The Stevia provides a bit of natural sweetness, making the toothpaste palatable, as does the pure peppermint extract. You could try a variety of flavors to your liking.

Right now, I’ve got this toothpaste in a small lidded jar, and I scoop out a tiny bit with a tea spoon onto my toothbrush. But you can also get empty squeeze tubes, often found among camping supplies at stores.

Lotion and Moisturizer

Caramel Pecan Double Vanilla Bean lotion from Verbena Custom Blends on Etsy.

Body Lotion

Right now I’m using a deliciously divine lotion a friend here made from me. I watched her melt the ingredients together in just a few minutes over the stove, then whipped together in the blender to make a rich, creamy lotion. She used lemongrass and lavender essential oils together, and it smells heavenly.

There are a wide variety of homemade lotion recipes; it just requires the ingredients. Most ingredients are easily found in health stores or online, so don’t let finding these things stop you. If you’d like to make your own, Brambleberry is a popular and reliable source for lotion ingredients.

Lotion is simply a mixture of water, oil, emulsifier (which blends the water and oil together so that it doesn’t separate), a thickener (the most common is stearic acid, found in cocoa butter), and a natural preservative.

You could also support homemade and buy from an Etsy shop — there are thousands of options there.

Facial Moisturizer

In warmer months, I don’t need a moisturizer with the oil cleanser I use on my face. But as the weather cools, I find I do need a touch of moisturizer in the morning. I use straight up coconut oil, easily found in major stores. A tiny bit goes a long way, and since it’s also a common ingredient in other natural toiletries, a jar of this stuff really comes in handy.

Lip Balm

Photo from Diaper Ware

There are also lots of easy recipes for homemade lip balm and salve, but I use 100 percent lanolin. Yep, it’s the same stuff you use while breast feeding. In fact, I’m still using the tube I used when I was nursing my son a year ago! This stuff lasts forever.

It doesn’t dry out my lips like manufactured wax-based products, and a little lasts me almost the whole day. Lanolin is simply an ointment secreted by wool-bearing animals to protect their coats from water. So yes, it is essentially sheep sweat. But it’s not gross, I promise.

We’ve got a guest post on the way about making your own deodorant, and later, we’ll discuss using natural makeup, so stay tuned.

Natural Beauty: Clean Skin, Teeth, and Lips


I was looking at sandwich recipes (uninentionally) and saw one with a croissant—my WEAKNESS!  I am trying to try out the gluten-free diet to see if it helps my son and myself, however it is SO difficult and life changing.  Well, I started to wonder if there was such a thing as a gluten-free croissant and I came across this AMAZING blog, I’m sure I will be using a lot.  Below was her post—great photos!  Thank you so much Gluten Free Gobsmacked!

Gluten Free Homemade Croissants!

with 50 comments

Dear reader or fellow gluten-free lifestyler,

Do you know what I ate two nights ago for the first time in eight years? Something so delicious and delectable that I practically made myself ill because I couldn’t resist and I ate THREE of them! I’m talking about homemade gluten-free chocolate-filled Croissants. Yeap. Catch you breath. I said the magic word – CROISSANT and GLUTEN FREE in the same sentence.

Last December, I was emailed a recipe that I just wrote about for Crescent Rolls. I had been wondering for VERY long time how I could make croissants to eat with my morning latte filled with chocolate (or not) or fill with turkey and cheese or whatnot for lunches. Typical croissant recipes require yeast, milk, the gluten of flour to create the flaky layers, and resting/rising time that most gluten free recipes cannot duplicate. However, with super slight modifications from the recipe I posted for crescent rolls, I have been able to make croissants the last few nights that I have been enjoying for breakfast and lunch.

Homemade Croissants

It is a welcome change of pace for my taste buds.

The beauty is that this same technique (the rolling, turning, frozen grated butter) that has made the most tender and flaky pastry can also be used for filo dough. In fact, I have a little part of my mind planning to make some more baklava this weekend – oh babee! I’ve made baklava before following Rebecca Reilly’s recipes (Delish, by the way. This is a cookbook to own if you like to bake and also have to bake gluten-free. However, I was truly missing the flaky and tender pieces of filo dough that you normally have in baklava. I was curious about whether this dough would work for that – but was only convinced after my can-eat-gluten-but-doesn’t husband gobbled up a couple mini-croissants and exclaimed “Wow, Katie, you could make the best filo dough and baklava with this stuff.” Done. That’s *so* next on this baker’s agenda.

In the meantime, if you have some time on your hands and plenty of butter on hand, please make some croissants! You won’t regret it, I promise. You can fill them with whatever your heart desire. And trust me, you will want more of these buttery, flaky, tender croissants. I wish I could tell you what they are like on Day Three, but the ones I’ve made have yet to make it past Day Two!

In fact, for the first time ever, I’m rather bummed that my colleagues aren’t wondering what I’m eating for lunch because it looks so “normal” to them. It surprised my last night when that thought crossed my mind. Then I realized, they are usually curious about what I’m eating because they haven’t often seen quinoa salads or eaten homemade risotto or rice balls with smoked salmon. For once, when I want them to jump up and down with me on the desks at lunch, they are painfully unaware of my triumphant, scrumptious lunch. Meh. It’s for the better. They would all just want a bite anyway. LOL

My lunch today includes a croissant filled with turkey/white cheddar and one filled with broccoli/white cheddar cheese. I’m in heaven, don’t ya know. In fact, breakfast? Yeap. A croissant dunked into my coffee. Man, I’m bad! I have definitely had my butter intake for the next – oh – month or so, lol. But that’s okay. I am enjoying exploring the kitchen again.

This recipe takes time to prepare (more like time to roll out repeatedly and refrigerate), but after reviewing many gluten recipes for croissants over the last several years, the time is actually less involved than for traditional croissants.

I’m not good at rolling them up to look perfect, and have decided to stick with the mass-rolling technique of keeping them straight. Or, in the case of the ones filled with cheesy goodness or chocolate, I actually rolled them up a bit more like an egg roll + crescent to keep the filling within the croissant and not all over the baking pan. You can even seal in the goodness by filling, rolling over one flap over the top of the filling and brushing the edge with some beaten egg and folding up a *bit* (like 1/4″). Once you’ve done that, you can roll it like a crescent/croissant.

I do hope you try this recipe, please tell me if do! I’d love for us to keep this one on the exploration front – it’s worth it! Here are the basic steps I followed. Keep in mind that the croissants will NOT puff up/rise (there’s no yeast here) nor will they be as large as the ones you see at the market.

First, prepare batch of the crescent dough with the modifications I used plus a few others. I have retyped the recipe here because I have added a bit more of a few ingredients like cream of tartar, xanthan gum, baking soda, sugar and an additional flour (sweet rice flour).

I have also uploaded pictures of the steps (rolling) for you if they will help as well. Although, let me just say this, photography + massive amounts of sweet rice flour….. well, they just don’t always mix. LOL

Here’s the overall step-by-step picture. You can find details that explain each image on Flickr too. Just click on the big picture and it will take you to the Flickr page where you can read more.

Making Croissants

GF Croissants
Recipe makes 14 small-medium croissants.

1 stick of butter, (8 Tablespoons) slightly softened
1 stick of butter, frozen
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon GF cottage cheese
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon GF cream cheese
1 cup GF Flour Mix (rice-based or sorghum-based)
2 Tablespoons of sweet rice flour + 1 ½ cups sweet rice flour for rolling
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
1 or 2 eggs, beaten (to seal the croissants closed and brush on the croissants before baking)


  1. Cream together softened butter, cream cheese, and cottage cheese until whipped, creamy and semi-yellow in color (about 3-4 minutes)
  2. Add GF Flour mix, 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour, xanthan gum, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda and sugar. Mix together until the dough comes together – mostly away from the sides and begins to form a ball or lump in the middle of the mixer (about 3-4 minutes).
  3. Shape into a disk and place into a Ziploc bag. Refrigerate at least two hours, overnight preferred.
  4. Grate the frozen butter (I used my food processor) and put it into a freezer-safe storage container/bag. Return grated butter to the freezer until you are ready to use. (By the way, it will store indefinitely like this.)
  5. Work in a cool place or consider refrigerating the dough after Step 9). Place parchment paper, sweet rice, grated frozen butter, and the rolling pin on a large surface that you can easily reach to roll the dough thinly.
  6. Remove dough from the fridge and divide into fourths. Return 3 of the 4 to the Ziploc bag and place in the refrigerator.
  7. Reshape this ¼ piece into a disk quickly. (Try to touch the dough as little as possible in order to keep it as cold/cool as possible.)
  8. Generously dust the top of the parchment paper. Place the dough disk into the center on a generous amount of sweet rice flour. Generous dust the top and side of the dough. Cover with another piece of floured parchment paper. Roll the dough as thinly as possible (about 1/8 of an inch or so). You should be able to see through the dough partially. I was able to roll the dough about 22” long and about 15” wide.
  9. Turn the dough lengthwise. Generously sprinkle the middle 1/3 of the dough with the grated, still-frozen butter. Fold up the bottom third of the pastry over the top of the middle third. Sprinkle the grated, still-frozen butter over the top of the part you just folded on top. Fold down the top third of the dough to cover the center/butter again.
  10. Turn the dough and fold in any edges that are thin or not part of the folded center. Generously dust the top, sides, and bottom (lift the dough gently to push flour underneath) of the dough. Repeat the rolling and butter sprinkling (Steps 8 and 9) one more time. You will sprinkle the butter on twice and roll out three times.
  11. After the second sprinkling of butter and folding, turn the dough again and roll the dough out for it’s final time, once again rolling it as thinly as possible. Work quickly at this point as the dough is beginning to warm up again.
  12. Lift off the top parchment paper and divide the dough in half with a pizza cutter. Leave the dough lying flat along the parchment paper.
  13. Divide each half into long triangles with the pizza cutter. You will end up with 4 large triangles for each ¼ of the dough. At this point you may fill your croissants with pieces of dark chocolate or turkey/cheese, etc by placing your filling on the wide end of the triangle.
  14. Roll the croissant up from the wide end carefully (as the layers are thin). Seal the end (to keep it together during baking) by brushing beaten egg onto top ½ inch before finishing the roll. Shape into a crescent moon shape or leave in a roll.
  15. Brush the completed croissants with beaten egg (this provides them with a golden brown or they will turn a dark brown while baking).
  16. Lay the complete croissants on parchment paper and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. Repeat steps 7 through 15 with the remaining dough. OR bake the first batch, see what you need to adjust and then bake the others. The dough will keep refrigerated for two days.
  17. Bake the croissants at 375F for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.


Any way I can sneak a veggetable in dessert for my family, I’m all for it—as long as it tastes good and will be eaten!  This sounds promising, I can’t wait to try it.

Thanks Care2 and Melissa for this—yummm!

Vegan Zucchini Chocolate Cake

posted by Melissa Breyer Oct 20, 2008 9:00 am
Vegan Zucchini Chocolate Cake


By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Care2 Healthy and Green Living

Against all odds, there are still plenty of zucchini lining up for one last hurrah at the greenmarket. Trying not to be outdone by the arrival of their bright and beguiling autumn neighbors (butternut squash! pumpkins!), the earnest zucchini seem to be calling out “buy me, buy me!” And to them, I succumb. I can put off one more week of fall produce for one last shot of zucchini–with which I will say ta-ta to summer, once and for all, with this lovely vegan zucchini cake.

1 medium zucchini
1/2 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup water
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teapoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium apple, shredded
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup Sucanat or organic brown sugar
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
8 ounces soy yogurt
4 tablespoons ground flaxseed mixed with 12 tablespoons water until gelatenous
1/4 cup light vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Shred zucchini, place in a colander to drain for 15 minutes, then squeeze excess water out.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan.

3. Over medium heat, cook dates, stirring, in water until you have a smooth and thick liquid.

4. In a large bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add shredded apple, then stir in zucchini, dates, cinnamon, cocoa, Sucanat, chocolate chips, yogurt, flaxseed gel, oil and vanilla.

5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.

I got this yummy recipe from Care2—-love this site!!!!  I can’t WAIT to try this recipe.  Anything Chocolate and Peanut butter I am so on! :D

Here it is, thank you Care2 and Melissa!!

Wholesome Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

posted by Melissa Breyer Oct 23, 2008 12:00 pm
Wholesome Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars


Imagine taking a wholesome version of a Rice Krispies marshmallow treat and doing a mash-up with a healthy Reeses Peanut Butter Cup–and you get these peanut butter chocolate bars. The original recipe comes from the cookbook Levana Cooks Dairy-Free! (Skyhorse Publishing, 2007) by Levana Kirschenbaum.

I have made a few suggestions to replace some of the more refined sweeteners with their more wholesome sisters–I substitute agave syrup for corn syrup and Sucanat for white sugar. If you don’t have agave or Sucanat, you can play around with other liquid sweeteners and dry sweeteners–the recipe is pretty flexible.

1 cup agave syrup
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup Sucanat
1 cup pure cocoa powder
1/4 cup espresso, or very strong coffee
1/2 cup rum
10 cups organic crisped rice cereal
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (see note)
2 tablespoons oil

1. Place the agave syrup, peanut butter, Sucanat, cocoa, coffee, and rum in a large pot, and heat on a low flame until the mixture is smooth (this will take about five minutes).

2. Add the crisped rice and combine thoroughly, still on the flame, with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture while still warm onto a large, well-greased 1-inch deep cookie sheet. Pat the mixture very firmly and uniformly. Refrigerate for one hour.

3. Melt the chocolate chips with the oil mixture in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Spread evenly over the cooled mixture. Cool again about 1 hour.

4. Using a sharp knife, cut into 1 inch wide by 2-inch wide bars. Store refrigerated in an airtight tin.

NOTE: I like to use SunSpire chocolate chips–they are organic, vegan, and Fair Trade Certified.

I GOT THIS recipe from Cupcakes and Crinoline, I can’t WAIT to make them, YUM!  And yes, I do think this cupcake could be for breakfast—I’m with ya girl!  Thanks for this awesome recipe!!!

Oatmeal Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling

by mb on March 23, 2009


Cupcake Monday Cupcake Monday Cupcake Monday

Today’s cupcake is so yummy…I consider it more of a “breakfast cupcake” because it contains fruit {preserves}, yogurt and oatmeal. {If you agree with me, please have a talk with my husband…he just does not get the “breakfast cupcake” approach to this!}

{This is another recipe form Cupcakes Galore}

Strawberry-Filled Oatmeal Cupcakes

Makes:  12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream {I substituted non-fat plain yogurt – I didn’t have enough sour cream on hand}

12 teaspoons strawberry jelly {on of my son’s has an allergy to strawberries so I used grape jelly in 2 of the cupcakes…it was also delicious!}

Oatmeal Crunch Topping

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chilled unsalted butter cut into little pieces

1.  Put all of the topping ingredients in a food processor and process until lumps form.  Set aside {I don’t have a full-size processor and my mini one worked just as well}


2.  Preheat oven to 350° F.

3.  Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.

4.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix well.  Alternately add dry ingredients and sour cream, blending well after each addition.

5.  Spoon half of the batter into 12 cupcake papers.  Make an indentation and place 1 teaspoon of jelly in each cupcake.  Fill cupcakes with remaining batter.  Using your fingers, sprinkle a little topping over each cupcake.  Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until cupcakes are golden brown on top.  Remove from oven and cool.


breakfast {because I say so} cupcake hugs!  mb

I am always looking for an outstanding granola recipe—I’m a huge fan, but have not yet mastered this one.  This one sounds promising, and excludes some of the oil you find in others—yahoo!  So lets tryi it out…

ow fat granola with millet

Didn’t I mention something about cake? Cookies? Something toothsome, gooey and sweet? I swear this isn’t turning into a breakfast/vegan blog (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but this is how I’ve been eating lately. It’s spring outside…or at least it’s trying to be and I think it’s time for a dietary shake up for a bit. The cake and cookie recipes will come, I promise! Last week I picked up Mark Bittman’s hefty cookbook, How to Cook Everythingand found myself at his granola recipe. It intrigued me since it required no oil and there was a suggestion to throw quinoa or millet into the mix. It got me thinking, and just a few minutes later I found myself heading to the cupboard making up a low fat granola recipe.

Now, I’m no slouch when it comes to making granola. My recipe archives contain recipes for peanut butter granola, cocoa-coconut granola, vanilla almond granola, and my no-fail granola. But despite my granola cred, I’ve never added millet. And dear readers, millet is a granola god-send! It adds such a snap, crackle, pop for the perfect bite of crunch. As for the no-oil, I couldn’t detect much difference between this one and my normal granola, so why not choose the low fat version instead? It’s delicious, filling and healthy breakfast and if you prepare a batch every Sunday evening then you have something to look forward to all week long.

low fat granola with millet
(Inspired by Mark Bittman)
6 c organic oats (not quick)
1/2 c millet (regular, uncooked millet)
1 c dessicated coconut
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c flax seeds or ground flax
1/2 c wheat germ
1 c pecans
1 generous T cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground cardamom
dash of salt
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c raisins
1/2 – 1 c maple syrup
orange juice

Heat oven to 300F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients from the oats down to the salt. Drizzle in the maple syrup and stir well with a wooden spoon to get everything coated. Needs more liquids? Add in some more maple syrup or a bit of orange juice.

Spread the mix out into a large baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally so that nothing burns. Add in the raisins and cranberries and bake until the granola turns golden and crisp, again making sure things don’t get too “golden”. Remove from oven and cool. Store in a sealed container. Serve with fresh fruit and yogurt.

Thank you to Everybody likes sandwiches for this recipe!

I got this recipe off of the Care2 daily email I receive, and I can’t wait to try it.  Yumm!!!

“Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts & Golden Raisins

I think I could eat plain sauteed spinach every day of the week and be happy, but sometimes it’s fun to dress it up a bit. This recipe from Eating Well puts a Catalan spin on spinach with pine nuts and sweet golden raisins to brighten things up.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh spinach (see Ingredient Note), tough stems removed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon shaved Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add raisins, pine nuts and garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar and salt. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan and pepper.

Ingredient Note: The sturdier texture of mature spinach stands up better to sauteing than baby spinach and it’s a more economical choice. We prefer to serve baby spinach raw.

Recipe Nutrition, two servings. Per serving: 158 calories; 9 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 5g mono unsaturated fat); 2 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 310 mg sodium; 804 mg potassium. 1 Carbohydrate Servings. Exchanges: 1 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 fruit, 2 fat

Visit for free quick and easy healthy recipe collections!”

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