Guys. It is that wonderful time of the year when we get fresh blueberries. I love blueberries. Plus, I am sure as most of you know they are little bombs of health. So, you can… More
I have wanting to start composting for a while, but I live in an apartment. I always thought I wouldn’t have space, or it would be really difficult. Good news for everyone: I was wrong! Composting can be done anywhere, and is way easier than you think.
First off, composting is not just letting your food rot in a container. It does take some work. You can use worms to help break down your food, but I want to figure out what I am doing; otherwise, we might have a worm massacre on our hands. Instead I used some news paper. Newspaper breaks down really easily, and gets the process going.
I decided to use a standard 5 gallon bucket to start, I figured I can always go up in size. I normally cook for two people. So far, the 5 gallon bucket is a perfect size for the amount of compostable waste my husband and I produce. You will need to drill a bunch of holes all over the bucket and lid. You will want a lot of air flow through your compost bin. The more air flow the better. Air flow does not mean dry, I keep a spray bottle near my compost bucket. When I go and mix the compost, I give it a spritz if the compost is looking dry. Healthy compost should always be slightly damp.
I keep my compost bin out side under our porch. Do not keep your bin in direct sunlight. Whenever I am cooking, I grab the bin, bring it in the house, and put all my kitchen scraps in. I keep a brick on the top to help keep pests out of the bin. Get a bin that has an easy lid to remove. You will want to mix your compost every day.
I started my compost with a few vegetable scraps that had seen better days. You can cut the scraps down to a smaller size to make the compost process faster. Kitchen scraps are great to start composting; they will give the end result a hearty mix of carbon and nitrogen. Which is what helps makes a healthy soil. Egg shells are quick to break down, and get the composting process started. Since I am vegan, I don’t have egg shells. That is where the news paper comes in. It works very similar to the egg shells, and it breaks down quickly.
Here are a few ideas to start your compost:
- Vegetable scraps/peels
- Coffee grounds
- Dried leaves and twigs
- Grass clippings
- Untreated wood scraps/sawdust
Let’s talk about things not to compost:
- Poop-just don’t do it. Poop, especially from critters, can contain organisms caring diseases, and can be transferred to whatever you use your compost on.
- Dairy products: although they break down, when the bacteria in dairy spoils it can become toxic, and make people very sick. Because the bacteria is not being denatured, it will become toxic. Assuming you will want to use your compost in a garden, or around plants you will eat, just be safe and keep dairy out of your compost.
- Meat, fat, bone, animal products: composting can actually preserve animal products, and attract critters to your compost.
- Glossy paper: unlike news paper, glossy paper does not break down, and will remain in your compost.
- Plants treated with pesticides: the pesticides will not break down, and will transfer to your compost.
- Metal, tin, plastic: Things that are not biodegradable
Kombucha. What is it? Can you grow it at home? Let’s find out!
First off, let’s talk about kombucha. You have probably have seen it in a grocery or heath food store. Kombucha is a probiotic that you can drink. Probiotics help replace the healthy bacteria in your intestines. Scoby gives kombucha the healthy probiotic power. For anyone who doesn’t know: scoby is the big snot looking thing that hangs out in the kombucha. Scoby is an acronym that stands for: Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Basically, scoby feeds on sugar to turn tea into kombucha. (Because Kombucha is fermented, which means there is trace amounts of alcohol in the drink).
Yes. You can make it at home. It is under $4.00 for your starter batch, and under $1.00 for any following batches.You will need a few things before you begin:
I use a 1 gallon glass jar to start my kombucha. You can find one here. Because your scoby is developing in this batch, it will not produce a large batch for a few months. You will eventually need a 2 gallon glass jar. You always need to keep kombucha in a glass jar. Once you have processed your first batch, you will need glass containers to hold the freshly processed kombucha. (Old wine bottles or coffee syrup containers work really well for this). Or you can get these nifty storage jars here.
Few disclaimers here: I use regular, organic black tea, which has caffeine. Thus, there will be trace amounts of caffeine in the processed kombucha. If you need a caffeine free option, purchase a caffeine free tea. Also, as we discussed, kombucha is fermented. So, where will trace amounts of alcohol in the processed komucha. And by trace, I mean .05% on average.
You can either purchase a scoby online, or you can grow your own from a store bought kombucha. You can purchase any brand of kombucha, you will want original flavor. Look and find the bottle with the most amount of scoby you can find. But make sure it is ORIGINAL flavor.
You will want the original flavor because flavoring changes the scoby. If you want to add a flavor to your kombucha-NEVER ADD IT TO THE BATCH. You always add it after processing. Process your scoby, and add organic juice to your storage container. Let the kombucha process on your counter for 2-3 more days, then move it to the fridge.
- 1 cup Original flavor kombucha
- All the chunks out of the kombucha-if the store bought kombucha doesn’t have a lot of chunks do not panic, it will grow just fine.
- 6 bags black tea
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 8 cups of water
First, you are working with a living organism here. Even if you think everything you are working with is clean- clean it again. Trust me. I normally clean all my pots, measuring cups, and utensils; then give everything a rinse with vinegar. This just helps make sure there is no soap scum or other residue left on the utensil. For maximum sanitation, leave everything air dry. If your scoby grows mold, you will be able to wipe it off. Your scoby will naturally have white spots come and go on the surface. If there is mold, you can wipe it off the surface.
If you ever question if your scoby has died or grown something funky, just throw it out and start over. A healthy scoby really does what ever it wants. Sometimes it hangs out on top, sometimes it hangs out at the bottom, sometimes it hangs out in the middle. There will be chunks on the bottom. Just let your kombucha do its own thing.
It is really simple to make your own:
- Clean Everything and rinse with vinegar
- Reserve 1 cup of your original flavor kombucha. Try to get as many chunks as you can. I strained my kombucha over a bowl. Reserved the chunks, and then reserved the cup. If you don’t have a ton of scoby bits-don’t worry, it will grow just fine.
- Boil water
- Add sugar
- Add tea bags
- Stir to combine
- Let water cool to room temperature. Make sure it is room temperature. If your tea is too hot, it will kill the scoby.
- Add your sugar/tea mixture to your glass jar.
- Add the cup of kombucha and chunks
- Let sit 4-6 weeks until your scoby grows
Store out of direct sunlight. Cover with a coffee filter. The kombucha needs to breathe, but keep the bugs out. A cheese cloth is not tight enough to keeps bugs out, and certain cloths are too tight that don’t allow the kombucha to breathe. Secure the coffee filter to the jar. Jar rings, hair ties, rubber bands, all work great. The room temperature should stay between 62-75 degrees (Fahrenheit).
Normally, kombucha only takes 2-3 weeks to fully develop; so, this will be a really strong batch. If it is too strong, you can add some essential oils, and make a cleaner. You can find my favorite recipe here. It works as a vinegar substitute.
Move your processed kombucha to the fridge. This stops the fermentation process, and keeps the bacteria cultures alive and healthy. To make another batch, remove scoby and reserve 2 cups of fermented kombucha. Repeat steps 1-7. Let it ferment for 2-3 weeks.
Best of Luck, and let me know how yours turns out!
What is if your all-purpose cleaning spray? Most cleaning product containers have to be thoroughly cleaned before being recycled because they are so toxic. If you want to kick those toxins out of your home, this is the cleaner for you.
About a year ago, I cleaned my bathtub. I grabbed what everyone does to clean my tub. Bleach based products, straight bleach, and of course a “natural” cleaner. Not long after I was done with cleaning, one of my cats jumped into the tub. I started thinking about what his little paws were absorbing. So, I started really looking into the ingredients in those cleaners under my kitchen sink. It. Was. Disgusting. I was at a loss for words.
Most environmental experts estimate the average house hold has 62 toxic chemicals in their home. 62. We think we are “cleaning” out homes, but end up spreading toxins that are even worse for our bodies. Household cleaning products can include any amount of toxins because big corporations can re-name them as “antibacterial” or “fragrance” without having to disclose the actual ingredients in the product. There are potential neurotoxins in your home; potential endocrine disruptors, and a laundry list of other potential carcinogens. We think of our homes as a safe place where we can relax after a long day, but the things we are using to clean our homes with should have us running for the hills.
I was fed up. I didn’t want to introduce anymore toxins to myself, my husband, or my adorable fur babies. Enough was enough.
This cleaner has replaced EVERYTHING that I previously used for cleaning my home. It cleans everything from: floors, to counter tops, and leaves a streak free shine on windows or mirrors. It cost $2.78 to make (including the spray bottle). Best part, I know and can pronounce every ingredient in the cleaner. Talk about a win-win.
- 1 c. vinegar
- 10 drops On Guard Essential Oil
- 5 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil
Make sure to use a stainless steel or glass container for your all-purpose cleaning spray. If you want to get your own on-guard, you can find it here.
That is it. So simple. It smells amazing. Plus, if you husband is like mine, he loves the smell, and started cleaning the house more because he loves to smell the cleaner. (No complains coming from me).
Here is how well this works:
In Wisconsin, sometimes we get 30 inches of snow in the the middle of April. So, after brushing off cars, shoveling, and crying about the weather, there can be a wet mess left on the floor from boots and outdoor apparel. That is what you see below.
This is after using the all-purpose cleaner I made.
Seriously, this stuff is the real deal. It is amazing on any surface. Let me know how it works for you!
Guys, I love chili. Maybe a little too much. It is warming to the soul. And when you live in Wisconsin, you can eat it year round because winter never ends here. We are in the middle of a blizzard here in Wisconsin. Yes, you read that right. Blizzard in the middle of April.
I love this Chili because you can set it, and forget it. Plus, it makes a large batch. So, you can freeze the left overs for an easy meal another night.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 hours
- Total Time: 5 hours and 10 minutes
- Serves: 8-10
I used all 15 ounce cans for the beans
- 2 cans kidney beans
- 1 can navy beans
- 1 can great northern beans
- 1 can black beans
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 1 can red beans
- 2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 28 oz. water or vegetable broth
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 1 10 oz. bag organic frozen corn
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 large jalapeno diced
- 1 medium chopped onion
- 3 tbsp. organic chili powder
- 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 3 Bay leaves (REMOVE LATER)
- 1 tsp. cumin
This is my favorite part:
- Combine all ingredients.
- Cook on high for 5 hours (low 9 hours)
So. SIMPLE. I love recipes that you can just set and go. You can serve the chili over some quinoa or noodles. I love to top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Or you can add your favorite hamburger alternative too keep the meat lover in your life satisfied.
Guys! Spring is here. Unless you live in Wisconsin, where we get 12 inches of snow in April. Either way, you are wanting some spring flavors in your life-this is an amazing recipe.
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Serves: 6-8
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 1 bunch Asparagus
- 1 medium Cucumber
- 1 bag Frozen Peas
- 6-8 sliced Radishes
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- Zest of One Lemon
- Juice of One Lemon
- 2 tbsp. Stone Ground Mustard
- 1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 tbsp. Chopped Tarragon
- 1 Shallot
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Rinse and strain quinoa.
- Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water. Simmer for 12-15 minutes
- Remove from heat and add frozen peas.
- Set aside and cool for 10 minutes
- Combine in a small bowl olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, stone ground mustard, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Mix
- Add tarragon and shallot.
- Add chopped asparagus, sliced radishes, and sliced cucumber to quinoa.
- Mix dressing and quinoa.
It is a great salad warm or cold! I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do.
This bronzer is really easy to make- it only take FOUR steps. Plus, it is a great alternative to the bronzer in your makeup drawer. To top it all off, this bronzer can actually restore your skin while you wear it! Win, win, and win!
I love arrowroot powder. It sticks to grease, and absorbs it through out the day. So, if you are like me, and have extra oil on your face-this bronzer can help absorb some of the extra oil throughout your busy day. You can focus on being awesome, and never worry about how your contour is holding up. I also use arrowroot powder in my dry shampoo recipe found here.
One of the great parts of this recipe is how you can change it to the color you want. If you want a lighter, more subtle bronzer, add more cinnamon. If you like a richer, more robust bronzer, add more nutmeg.
- 2 tsp. Arrowroot Powder
- 2 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. Nutmeg
- 1/3 c. Cocoa powder
- 5-6 drops Frankincense
- 6-7 drops Lavender
- Combine arrowroot, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa powder.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Add essential oils.
- Store in a glass container for up to 2 months.
By using frankincense in this recipe, it restores your skin, and helps to repair any scaring. I have some acne scaring (they are the worst). I love how this bronzer is working to repair those scars while I am at work, running errands, and just living life. The lavender helps to sooth any blemish or imperfection.
This bronzer restores and repairs your skin while your contour is on fleek. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE?! It is a game changer.
Let me know how if works for you!
Who doesn’t love warm chocolate chip cookies? They are the best. I love eating the raw cookie dough just as much as the warm cookies. Nothing is better. This recipe is really easy to make, and taste amazing.
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- Rest Time: 30 Minutes
- Cook time: 12 Minutes
- Makes 1 dozen cookies
Let’s talk egg alternatives. For this recipe, I use equal parts coconut oil and apple sauce. I have made this recipe more times than I would like to admit. It is a good thing my husband has a sweet tooth, and loves cookies.
I found that using only coconut oil makes the cookies greasy, and they dry out faster. Using only apple sauce makes the cookies too fluffy, and not chewy enough to be a cookie. By using equal parts, you get the perfect cookie. They are chewy, but don’t dry out because the applesauce keeps them moist.
If you want a chewier cookie, use 1/3 c. coconut oil and 1/4 c. apple sauce. If you want a fluffier cookie, use 1/3 c. apple sauce and 1/4 c. coconut oil.
- 1/2 c. organic cane sugar
- 3/4 c. packed organic brown sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 c. coconut oil
- 1/4 c. unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/2 c. non-dairy milk (my favorite is almond for this recipe)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 c. unbleached organic flour (or gluten free alternative)
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 c. vegan semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 c. vegan dark chocolate chips
- Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift four and baking soda together in a mixing bowl.
- Combine sugar, brown sugar, and salt.
- Add melted coconut oil, applesauce, non-dairy milk, and vanilla extract. Mix. (BONUS: add 1/2 c. peanut butter for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. You can use a natural peanut butter, or make your own. Recipe here.)
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Form into golf ball size cookies
- Bake for 12-15 minutes.
If you are looking for an easy vegan recipe to try, look no further. They are perfect for parties, potlucks, bake sales, Sunday afternoons, the possibilities are endless.
Let me know how your cookies turn out!
Straws suck. Seriously. Most straws end up in the trash, when they could be easily recycled. It is SO easy to live without them. When you are out to eat, ask for your drink without a straw. If you need your iced coffee with a straw, look into re-usable options.
There are several options online for reusable straws. This option has 6 silicone and 2 metal straws with brushes for $14.95. It is an awesome deal.
Nilla and Meekah want you to know it is SUPER easy going strawless, and you can totally do it!
If you want more info, or want to sign a pledge to go strawless, check out No Straw Please . Try it for a month, and let me know how easy it is!
As a vegan, I love being asked where I get my protein every 10 minutes. TOTALLY KIDDING. Non-Vegans, stop asking about protein. We are fine. Thanks.
Nevertheless, this recipe is full of protein. They are great for a pre-workout snack. Or just a filling afternoon snack. Plus, it only takes 3 ingredients to make!
- Prep time: 10 Minutes
- Makes 25 quarter size balls
- 1 c. chopped dried dates
- 1/2 c. peanut butter (you can make your own! recipe here)
- 1/2 c. chopped almonds
These are my favorite dates to use. For this recipe, you have to chop the dates. Using a food processor makes the dates into a caramel. Medjool dates do have pits that have to be removed.
- Remove pits, and chop.
- Add peanut butter
- Combine. I used a wooden spoon at first, but it was way easier to mix by hand.
- Roll in Chopped almonds
You can use a food processor to chop the almonds. I rough chopped them. The variation of sizes helped to coat the date and peanut butter mixture to make it less sticky.
Plus, when I drop any of the almonds, I have Charlie to help me clean them up. He is a great helper in the kitchen.
Keep them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. But they probably won’t last that long.
Homemade Peanut Butter. Need I say more?
It is so simple to make your own, and cheaper to make it at home. Making your own peanut butter give you control of what ingredients you include. This peanut butter is the BEST peanut butter I have ever tasted. IT ONLY NEEDS 4 INGREDIENTS. So. Simple.
Let’s talk peanuts. I used unroasted, and roasted them at home.
- Melt 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil. Pour over peanuts.
- Mix in Salt
They roast best in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, mixing them about half way through. The longer you roast the peanuts, the more robust, deeper peanut flavor you get. Try to find someone who roasts and distributes peanuts locally if you cannot find unroasted peanuts.
- 1 lb. peanuts (it was about 2 cups)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (or honey)
- 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
- Grind peanuts in a food processor. If you roast your own peanuts, let them cool for about 8 minutes. If your peanuts are a little warm, it makes for creamier peanut butter.
- Add salt.
- Grind the peanuts until they are roughly chopped. This took about 4 minutes for my food processor for creamy peanut butter. After about 2 minutes it was looking like chunky peanut butter.
- Once the peanuts are roughly chopped, add melted coconut oil and agave nectar. (If you roasted your own peanuts, don’t add the coconut oil.) Continue processing. It will start to come together as peanut butter.
- Store in the refrigerator
- BONUS! I added 1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla for extra flavor.
You can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 months
It takes 30 minutes to roast, cool, and make your peanut butter. It is SO worth it. Try it, and let me know what you think!