Friday, April 28, 2017

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

This has been out household hand soap recipe for some time (I haven't added essential oil because I'm using Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap $11 at Trader Joe's.)

I use $0.99 foaming bottles that I got at the store on sale and just dumped out the antibacterial soap that came in it. It was cheaper than buying foaming bottles online.


2 Tbsp. Castile Soap
Distilled Water (not required)
1 tsp. olive oil or almond oil

Put soap and oil into empty foaming pump. Gingerly fill the rest of the bottle up with water. Careful to leave room for the foam pump mechanism (it takes up quite a bit of space). Give it a soft few turns to mix and that's all.

$11 is a lot for liquid soap but it's a 32 ounce bottle which is roughly 64 tablespoons.  Which works out (again roughly) $0.35 per refill. Even if I were getting my hand soap at the Dollar Tree, I'd still be saving money.


Takes me seconds to refill.  I know what's in my soap (despite it having coconut in it which my poor sister is allergic to I can't sing the praises of Dr. Bronner's enough! Click on soap name to find out more information.) , I'm reusing a plastic bottle, it's cheaper and one more thing I don't have to add to my grocery list when shopping. 

I can't take complete credit for this recipe.  I tweaked it to suit my needs.  The original is from Wellness Mama.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Potato Wedges In N Out Style

I've been working hard but who knew hard work could taste so good! I finally think I found the sweet spot with my potato wedges. 

Just recently I received my blood test results back from my physical and great news! My Cholesterol is down a total of 20 points and I'm down 10 pounds. 

3 years ago, I had a blood test and the doctor told me if I didn't get my Cholesterol down, I would have to be put on medication.  I was 34 years old at the time and just could not believe we were already talking about medication for a health condition that I may have for the rest of my life.  Something had to change and it did.  I decided to go on a plant based diet.  No meat or dairy to start but eventually I went down the vegan rabbit hole and for 3 years, have been working to get rid of and no longer purchase any animal products.  It started out great but even though I stayed vegan, the vegan "junk food" reared it's ugly head and unfortunately, I haven't been able to shake it.  I still am drinking coffee, eating the occasional vegan cupcake, binging on too many nuts, added oil, etc.  I could lay out a whole bunch of excuses as to why I fell off the horse but honestly, life is life and if I'm true to myself, I must care for myself no matter what life throws at me to ensure I'll be here during the good times as well. 

These wedges have no added salt.  Except for the ketchup, mustard, & dill relish at the end.  I eat 4 golden yukon potatoes cut into wedges.  Yup, 4 potatoes.  Many of you out there are saying "OMG the carbs!" Yes, but also 12-24 grams of protein (25%-50% of the recommended daily intake), 8-16 grams of fiber, over 100% of my daily intake of vitamin C, and between 1200-2400mg of Potassium.  Take that white bread! Because of the water and fiber content, potatoes fill be up.  This is a meal for me.  Each potato is 50-100 calories on average. After the toppings I'm guessing it's about a 500 calorie meal.  Not adding the salt means I'm removing a trigger for me to over eat.  Same idea with no oil.  Or, as Chef AJ might say, "the evil trinity"  SOS, salt oil and sugar.  I have to add, this is just ONE meal for me.  I eat more during the day of whole foods to get even more nutrients in there. 

I make my own seasoning for these wedges.  Now, if I'm Jonesn' for some salt, I will add a half tsp to the mix.  This is really good to add if a person is trying to transition to an SOS free diet.  Without further delay.  Here it is!

Prep: 5-15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes

Ingredients
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes cut into wedges (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 2 tsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried lemon peel
  • 1/4 tsp. tyme
  • 1/4 tsp. basil
  • 1/4 tsp. dill
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
    Ketchup
    Mustard (Dijon if desired)
  • dill relish (not sweet!)
  • Serving Dish or bowl
  • Fork (if desired)

Tools
  • Chef's knife
  • cutting board
  • tongs or spatula
  • Mixing bowl
  • A baking sheet
  • Parchment paper or Silicon baking mat

  1. Preheat Oven to 425F. 
  2. If still needed cut potatoes into wedges
  3. Place wedges into mixing bowl with all of the spices and toss with tongs, hands or spatula.
  4. Place parchment or baking mat on baking sheet
  5. Spread wedges out onto prepared baking sheet
  6. Slide into preheated oven for 45 minutes
  7. Squirt desired amount of ketchup and mustard onto your pile of wedges along with desired amount of relish.
  8. Eat with a fork or fingers!
If these topping aren't your style consider making this cheese topping to go with it.  Creamy and delicious but healthy!!  Add some grilled onions and this may help give you an In N Out animal style fix!  There are two sauces and they are both good for this recipe. Nacho Cheese sauce is actually really really good as a sauce for macaroni and cheese.  Fooled my family and it's now a staple dinner recipe!

Nacho Cheese Sauce (The Recipe below the video if you want to skip the video):https://youtu.be/FqPLur2kWZw

Really Easy Fat Free Cheese Dip:(Again, below the video is the recipe) https://youtu.be/EcHt6RrLZPE

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Oil Free Goma (Sesame) dressing

Perusing through the Asian section of Central Market, I came across Ikari Oil Free Sesame Dressing.  Kewpie brand Goma dressing is like gold.  The absolute BEST salad dressing in my humble opinion.  Also, any steamed vegetable like spinach is amazing with Goma powder on top.  (Usually a mixture of ground roast sesame seeds & sugar) In Japan many schools don't allow children to have sugary snacks or even fruit in their bentos (lunch boxes).  Many times this powder is used to entice youngsters to "eat their veggies". 

It's ridiculously hard to find oil free salad dressing in the super market.  Salad is so so healthy...and then, we pour dressing over it and add about 100-300 added empty calories to it.  At $3.99 a bottle and 12 calories a tablespoon, Ikari makes for a great back up when I don't have home made.  It's very tasty.  Like, really.  Like, I ate a whole head of Roman lettuce in one sitting because I loved it so much. 

Did I mention it's delicious? Okay, now that we have that out of the way, here's the con.  It's store bought in a bottle.  While it doesn't have oil, it does have some preservatives and other things that I really don't want to have all the time. So I set up Nicki's lab----ur, I mean Nicki's Kitchen to make my own version. Here's a recipe chronicling my first attempt.

  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove (diced)
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 dates (Medjool pitted)**
  • 3 baby carrots or, about 1/4 of a carrot (minced finely)*
  • 4 Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds (divided)
  1.  In a small sauce pan ad cornstarch, water, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar.  Simmer until solution is clear and it's thickened a little
  2. In a frying pan, dry or water saute onion and garlic until translucent
  3. Place all ingredients, save one Tbsp of sesame seeds in a high powered blender or food processor to combine. 
  4. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. sesame seed in and shake for added texture if desired



    *If you have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, just put the baby carrots in whole or, roughly cut whole carrot in chunks.
    **If you don't have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, try 1 Tbsp of maple syrup and add more to taste.





Thursday, April 07, 2016

Purple Jesus & Copy Cat All Purpose Cleaner

Just realized there's no essential oils in the pic! Sorry about that.  I've linked
below in the recipe what essential oils I used.
What do these two have in common?

There is a certain "natural" cleaner that I get at a certain favorite store of mine.....no names here other than this store would be good for traders. Anyway, the cleaner comes in a 34oz spray bottle and is super for all applications but especially wonderful in the kitchen and bathroom.  It leaves a streak free shine on the back of the bottle is says it's good for, ' any washable surface, including glass, mirrors, stainless steel, oven tops and hoods, countertops, refrigerators, walls, tile, linoleum, sinks, and even granite countertops. ' 

It's not that expensive.  About $3 a bottle I believe.  I also appreciate that there is no animal testing.  However, I wondered if I could make this all on my own.  The ingredients on the back were almost everything that I had already at home.  Except for one.

Grain Alcohol or, Everclear was something I had never heard of.  My college educated husband had though.  Apparently this is something used at a PJ party (Purple Jesus Party).  According to stories it involves grain alcohol and a bathtub.  Let's all take a moment and pay homage to higher education.  HA!

After exploring online, there are some folks who will use rubbing alcohol for a DIY cleaner.  It's a lot cheaper for sure. A bottle of Everclear at the store cost me about $21 (This bottle will probably last me for 30-40 of these recipes).  I'm not sure if there is a significant difference of the two when it comes to quality of cleaning.  The one thing I will write is that although both liquids are pretty detrimental if swallowed, grain alcohol would be less so. On my store bought natural cleaner, there are no warnings about not swallowing the product and no phone# for poison control so,  I'm lead to believe this is the reason grain alcohol was used over rubbing alcohol. 

If there is a reader out there who knows more information please write a comment.  I couldn't find much information online about this.

Even though I spent $21 on a bottle of Everclear, I'm still saving a good amount of money by making it on my own.  If someone where to use rubbing alcohol it would literally bring your cleaner cost down to pennies.  I also appreciate that I won't be in a scramble running to the store if I run out.  I can just whip up another batch in my kitchen in like....a few seconds.

You ready for this?  Here we go:

  • 3 Tbsp. of Everclear
  • 1 Tbsp. of dish soap (You can also use Castile Soap)
  • 30 drops of Essential oil (There are many with anti microbal or anti bacteria properties use your favorite!  I used 20 drops of orange oil and 10 drops of tea tree.  The original store bought cleaner has clary sage and ceder wood oils)
  • Distilled Water (Tap works alright as well)
Using a funnel, pour first 3 ingredients into the bottle then top off with water.  Give it a little shake.  I reused my 34 oz plastic bottle BUT, I read that I could do this later on. Mind Blown!

It's that easy. Seriously. This will take you seconds to do. Do it. Right now.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hippidy Dippidy Mouthwash

Not sure if the title of this post is an actual word or phrase but we're gonna roll with it today!

Besides moving slowly into a Vegan plant based life, our family is also taking a journey down DIY cleaning products and toiletries.  We aren't only looking to save money (although, this was the main reason we started this) but also reduce our package waste and get rid of unwanted and unnecessary chemicals in our lives.  I've found that in many cases I can produce a product with items that I already have in my cabinet at home.  So, almost kinda for free.  For this mouthwash, I did have to purchase Aloe Vera Juice.  That's about a $6 to $9 investment but it won't take the whole bottle to make this mouthwash so, you'll get a good amount for that price. 

A while back, I suffered from a mild case of bleeding gums.....ew...I know.  I tried quite a few different store bought mouthwashes.  The one that finally worked was this one 

Now, did you catch the price on that bad boy? Yeah almost $10...... I can't afford that!  That's like a trip to my favorite Pho restaurant, 2 days worth of family meals, 2 specialty fancy coffees, ...well, you get the picture.  But, I really liked it....and, it worked.  I noticed the active ingredient it bragged about was Aloe Vera.  I decided to play mad scientist and make some of my own.  Guess what?  I like it.  It's cheaper. It works. So without further delay....


1 cup aloe vera juice
1/2 cup water (I used distilled but tap should work as well)
1 Tbsp. baking soda
15 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil
5 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil

Pour ingredients into a jar or bottle.  Fasten a lid on and give it a shake before taking a swig....and by swig I don't mean swallow it.  Swish around for 15-30 seconds and spit.  AH!  Minty fresh!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

22's Chili



Now a typical Texan may have my hide for this recipe but this really does it for me....and, I don't live in Texas so thankfully, for now my hide is safe! 

This is some super fast chili and really really easy.  We made this chili to go along with the Happy Herbavore's recipe for California Drive Through Fries! (or, a healthy substitute for In-n-Out?) My hubs said that was better than Dennison's Chili......hmm-mm intrigued? If you make your beans instead of purchasing canned, use about 1 3/4 cup cooked beans for each "can" indicated on the recipe. Better Than Bouillon no beef base is AMAZING but, if you can't find it, veggie bouillon works in a snap or even swapping out the water for broth works too. Whenever possible, I water saute my veggies.  I try very very hard to refrain from oil.  It's added calories that I don't need, and oil is expensive! I highly suggest trying to cook without oil as much as humanly possible.  You will be amazed at how easy it is to give it up in most recipes.

Top off a baked potato with this, wrap it in a tortilla, or use in your taco rice, or if your a purist it it all on it's own. Preferably on a chilly wet day!

1 can pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp. Better than Bouillon no beef base
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. cornmeal

1.  In a food processor mince onion, garlic, bell pepper. (or, chop by hand)
2.  Pour veggies in a pot with chili powder, cumin, and oregano.
3.  Saute for several minutes.  If for some reason the veggies start to stick, add a little water and stir.
4.  Put in tomato paste and dices tomatoes (if you've got a picky eater when it comes to chunks of tomatoes, consider blending them in the blender before adding to the pot) Bring to a simmer.
5.  Dump in those beans and cornmeal.  Give it a good stir.
6.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until heated through.



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Stupid Easy Butternut Squash Soup



I love soup.  Some people don't.  Especially my children.  Which is why I made mine for lunch.  So, I can have it all to myself. After taking a couple cooking classes in Europe, one thing that was usually done while boiling vegetables was to add a little salt and sugar to the pot. The salt in this recipe is already in the Bouillon so I didn't ad any more.  This recipe calls for pre-cubed squash from the market but if you've got the time, just cube it yourself.  It's much much more budget friendly. The cashews ad creaminess.  However, only if you have a high powered blender! If not, try adding coconut cream (from a can) or, a cut of margerine after it's been placed in the bowl.  If you aren't Vegan some sort of cream. (Again, after it's been plated)

A 2 lb package of pre-cubed butternut squash
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 Tbsp.  Veggie Bouillon powder + 4 cups of water (or 4 cups of veggie broth)
1 Tbsp.  Onion Powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp.  pepper
1/2 Tbsp. organic sugar
1/2 cup unsalted raw cashews

Dry saute cubes of squash until some pieces are browned. Add other ingredients (except for the cashews) and simmer covered  for 20 minutes.  Pour soup and cashews into a blender and blend until smooth. (be careful!  It will be super hot. Do this in batches if need be) If for some reason, your liquid isn't covering the squash when it's simmering, add more liquid (water or, broth)

Theoretically, one could make TONS of variations with this.  Unfortunately, I was at a loss of time and fresh ingredients...

Try this.  Let me know how it turned out or let me know if you created a different variation with this base recipe and leave a comment about it! If there were more time, I may have tried cubing 1 or 2 apples in place of sugar and possibly using fresh onion instead of powder.  This is vegan.  If there is a concern about adding sugar, try dates or maple syrup as a sub!