Saturday, August 27, 2011

Peach Cobbler Cookin'

Fresh ripe peaches, so good!
Today I was supposed to clean my room after I went to work for a couple of hours. It is a horrendous mess. Guess what I did instead. If you guessed "baked peach cobbler" then you are correct. =) We have a large bowl of fresh peaches that need to be used so that they don't turn to mush.

I adapted the following recipe from one I found on

1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 cups fresh peaches - peeled, pitted, sliced (around 5 to 6 peaches)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup gluten free flour mixture - I used 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1/4 cup coconut flour, and 1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 Tbs coconut sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs organic non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Peach filling: In large saucepan combine 1/2 cup coconut sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Stir in peaches and lemon juice, tossing until peaches are evenly coated.
Cook filling over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil 1 minute. Pour mixture into an ungreased 2 quart casserole dish. Keep mixture hot in oven while you make topping. 

Topping: In a medium bowl combine flours, 1 1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly, then cut in shortening until mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add coconut milk and stir until mixture is evenly moistened. 
Remove peach filling from oven and drop dough onto peaches in 6 equal-size spoonfuls. (I also sprinkled cinnamon and coconut sugar over top of the dough).

Return cobbler to oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

Before and After
The changes I made to the original recipe were replacing the refined white sugar with coconut sugar and using coconut milk instead of dairy milk. The gluten free flour mix I used was 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1/4 cup coconut flour, and 1/2 cup almond flour.

My only complaint with this recipe was that the cobbler topping browned on top but did not bake all the way through. Technically it was okay because there are no eggs in the batter, but since the peaches are so soft I would have liked a more fully cooked, partially crispy, crust. But some of my family members actually said that they preferred the undercooked softness of the topping, so maybe there's no no way to win. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No Shampoo Snafu

First of all don't you like my title? It kind of rhymed but snafu is a funny looking word. But anyways I really want to begin by saying that I am sorry I haven't blogged in a couple of months. The main purpose of this blog is to share my experiences to help others, but I can't help anyone very well if I never write now can I? Now to the good stuff...

Lately I have been having issues with the shampoo free hair washing system. My hair has been really frizzy, something I have never really had a problem with since I have straight hair. Maybe my hair is dry due to the baking soda. I try not to use it too much, or rather, when I use it I try to use as little as possible. Every two or three days I wash my hair with the baking soda mixture and follow it with the ACV rinse. This seems to be more often than many non-shampooers but my hair gets greasy in two days. I can only use so much cornstarch! While my hair gets oily my scalp is dry and flaky. Obviously I have an imbalance going on. Ideally I would leave my hair for a few months only rinsing it with hot water so that everything could balance out naturally. However, I have to go out in public and I cannot look like a greasemonkey. Even if the saying goes "greasy hair isn't dirty hair", an oily head is not socially acceptable.

In the face of the challenges my scalp has (always) offered me I am on the search for a natural alternative to chemical filled shampoos, an alternative other than baking soda. I had read about castile soap being used as shampoo so I purchased some. Before using it for the first time I researched how it should be applied. Good thing I did because it needs to be diluted a lot. I ended up doing 1 part castile soap to 40 parts water (1 teaspoon to a little less than 1 cup). I didn't use the whole cup of liquid on my hair, I tried using it sparingly and applied it the same as I would my baking soda mixture following with the ACV rinse. I ended up with shiny hair that day, a little too shiny. The castile didnt seem to remove all of the oil from my hair. I was in a rush to get to work so I just threw it in a ponytail like it was. The next day I washed my hair with baking soda and blew it dry. My hair looked light, fluffy, and great! But by days end my hair turns out flat and sometimes stringy looking. Baking soda does clean my hair but lends hit or miss results. I never how my hair will look or feel. If I use a tad too much or a tad too little baking soda the final head of hair is drastically different.

All that said, I would like something that is sure and will deliver results that can be anticipated. I like surprises but not when it comes to my hair. Is that too much to ask for? I hope not. While researching about castile soap I saw many rave reviews for CV shampoo bars. I think that might be the next step in my search. If the baking soda/ACV treatment is working for you I encourage you to stick with it, I have heard many success stories using that method. Every head of hair is different (I feel like I have said this before but it is so true!), so what doesn't work for me may work for you.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Lavender & Rosemary Hair Rinse Recipe

Alright, there is a slight problem. I will be honest with you all...I don't remember exactly how I made this hair rinse (I had found a simple recipe on Google before and didn't bookmark it). But I will recall as best I can the way I made my rinse the first time.

My Recollection:

1) Put 1.5 cups water in a saucepan (I did 1.5 cups because of the size of my container)

2) Bring to boil
(if you have a water boiler you can skip that saucepan and just turn the boiler on to make the hot water)

3) Place 1 Tablespoon lavender and 1 Tablespoon rosemary in a heat proof container
(preferably glass or ceramic) (and I used dried herbs from the health food store)

4) Pour boiling water over the herbs and let them steep covered, I believe I waited about 15 minutes (the longer the herbs steep the stronger the rinse will be)

5) After steeping strain the herbs out of the rinse with a mesh strainer or a muslin cloth
(if I remember correctly I just used a paper towel)

6) Once cool the herb rinse can go in the desired container and be kept right in the shower, a spray bottle would be really handy but I keep mine in a little mustard container
(just like my ACV rinse)

7) I use this rinse about once or twice a week following my baking soda and ACV routine

Any herbs can be used in your hair rinse. I just chose Lavender and Rosemary for the qualities they possess. Different herbs do different things to your hair. A list can be found here or just Google useful hair herbs or something along those lines.

Also, something you can do is to make your ACV rinse and herbal rinse into one rinse. The reason I did not combine mine was because it was my first time making and using an herbal hair rinse so I just wanted to try it out. The following recipes combine the ACV and herbs into one easy rinse.

A few more recipes....

Ummm okay.. through my quick research here I noticed most people are refrigerating their herb mixes. I haven't refrigerated mine and as far as I know it has not gone bad. I tried to search if herb rinses spoil or not but I did not find a whole lot. To me it seems like a pain to keep it in the fridge when you are going to be needing it in the shower. I am sorry I don't have an answer to this dilemma, I am really wondering now. But I would suggest to keep an eye on your herbs and if it looks or smells funky make a new batch. Please let me know if you know the answer to this!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

GF Banket (attempt 1)

Today I headed out to the Grand Rapids farmers market with my Dad and little siblings after grabbing a tasty bite at Marie Catrib's. While there I spotted a vendor selling banket, a wonderfully delicious pastry that a family friend always made for us. It is SOOO GOOD. banket is a tube like pastry that has an outer crust and is filled with an almond paste on the inside (see pic below). Since I, along with my family, am gluten free I had to resist. However, when I got home I still had a craving. My solution = make gluten free banket using a gluten free recipe I find online. Good idea, problem was there were NO recipes for gluten free banket yet I still wanted it really bad. My next solution = make my own by following and modifying a normal banket recipe. I have never done a recipe modification (so obviously I really wanted some). Ohh and through my online searching I found out the banket is a Dutch pastry, West Michigan has a fairly large Dutch population so that might explain why I have had it.

There were a few bumps along the process and I had to think on my feet and trust my instincts but overall the banket turned out pretty darn good. I am not fully happy with the recipe and I intend to change it the next time I make it. In this recipe there are two whole sticks of butter, not something I like. Also, in the filling I used about a cup of coconut sugar, and while it is a low glycemic sweetener we usually never have to use more than 1/2 cup for recipes.
Yes, sweet success! As you can see one has already been eaten =)

The crust turned out crumbly and falls apart a little bit. I have included a picture so you can see the final product. I won't be posting the recipe until I experiment a little bit more and get a recipe that it more to my liking (if you really want to recipe I made today just leave a comment). I was just so very excited about my first recipe modification (and the fact that it worked) that I had to post =).

Friday, June 03, 2011

Deodorant: Natural vs. Name Brand

When I first decided to go shampoo free I was concerned about our baking soda and checked to make sure it did not have aluminum in it (it does not). After doing this my mom pointed out that if I was worried about aluminum getting into my body through my scalp, I should not continue using the same  deodorant. The active ingredient in pretty much all non natural deodorants is aluminum. How convenient. After attempting to switch to natural deodorant purchased at the health food store I realized why aluminum is used, because it works!

Let me first explain that when I first ever started using deodorant it took me FOREVER and countless deodorants to find one that worked. Don't ask why, I guess I just have picky underarms. Once I found one that did work, Sure unscented, I stuck to that one up until a couple weeks ago.

In making the switch to natural the search has been just as hard and I am still not satisfied. Just to clarify, when I say "doesn't work" I mean I smell at the end of the day. Gross right...girls aren't supposed to smell. So I have been very tempted to return to my old deodorant because it works so well. I am on my third type of natural deodorant and so far it is working the best but it still is not good enough.

The deodorants I have used so far are Toms of Maine Long-Lasting Unscented ($4.69),  Kiss My Face Active Enzyme Unscented ($5.99), and the one I am using now is Nutribiotic Unscented ($5.48). I have always used unscented deodorants because that is what has worked the best for me. Ohh and look at those prices compared to the one I used to use ($2.14), tempting to keep using it.

Toms price was better than the other two deodorants that I have tried so it is a good aluminum free, natural product, at a cheaper price. Also, it is available at big name stores, I picked mine up at Meijer grocery. Hops is the ingredient in this deodorant that stops odor causing bacteria from forming.

Kiss My Face is also available at big stores I believe, I am pretty sure I saw it at Meijer as well, but I got mine at a local health food store. My little sister uses the Kiss My Face brand for her deodorant and I know it has been working well for her, she may have a scented one. The Active Enzyme version of Kiss My Face deodorant contains vegetable enzymes, clay, and baking soda to help prevent odor.

Lastly, I have been using Nutribiotic. It seems to work a little better than the previous two but I still smell on some days which is not a fun spot to be in. The local health food store is where I got this brand and I do not think it is available at major grocery stores. Grapefruit seed extract, witch hazel, and aloe vera are the active ingredients in this deodorant, fighting bacterias that cause odor. 

Each of these deodorants contain slightly different ingredients to ultimately achieve the same goal of less sweat and odor. Finding the right ingredients to work with your body may take a little bit of searching or none at all. I do recommend going natural because heavy metals such as aluminum do not belong in our bodies.

*My underarms may be very different from yours so any of these products could work great for you, I am not bashing the products by saying they didn't work, I am just relaying my experience.*

It may sound like I am against natural deodorants because it is not working for me, but that isn't true. Just because something is easier doesn't mean it is always the best option. Many mainstream products just seem right because "that's what everyone else is doing", but you never know what else is out there until you venture away from the "norm". And it is not just for the sake of experimenting or fulfilling curiosity that I am trying new things or that you should try new things. If mainstream products were good for our bodies there would be no need to look elsewhere, but there can be many chemicals in body care products that consumers don't know about. I know that when I read a shampoo bottle I don't know what the ingredients are, a lot of them have long confusing names. Homemade and natural products help you to know exactly what you are applying to your skin and putting into your body.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Apple Cider Vinegar "Conditioner" Recipe

Throughout this recipe I will refer to Apple Cider Vinegar as ACV because it is much shorter and easier. The ACV recipe is super similar to the baking soda shampoo and it is just as easy.

The ratio is actually just the same:

1 Tablespoon ACV
1 Cup water

This huge jug of ACV was $20 and it will last me so long! To the right is the container I store my vinegar in (cheapy mustard container). I love how I can open and close it, the opening is a good size too.

Pour into a container with a lid, mixing up as much at one time as will fit into your container. The handy thing is that you can store it right in the shower. My vinegar is kept in a cheap plastic mustard dispenser I picked up at Meijer after not being able to find a spray bottle. Not gunna lie, ACV smells a little funky, especially for something going into your hair. If you want to mask the smell a little you could add something like pure lavender oil or infuse your rinse with herbs. I have not tried this yet but my vinegar rinse just ran out and I need to mix up some more.


-Fully rinse out baking soda mixture
-Flip head upside down so your hair is hanging upside down
-Sprinkle/Pour some vinegar onto head targeting roots and scalp
-Gently massage scalp working vinegar through hair
-Let sit for a minute or two
-Rinse out

There is probably no wrong way to apply the vinegar as long as you are getting it into your scalp and through your hair. I just gave you the way that works for me. Vinegar balances the PH of your hair, that is why it is important to get it into your scalp, and it works as a conditioner/detangler. I am unsure if white vinegar would work the same as ACV, but I do know that ACV works wonders with almost anything. I have read that it can improve your health and energy if you drink some every day, so I just think ACV is better all around! Google it if you want to know more uses for ACV.

Again, you may have to adjust this recipe based on your hair needs. By playing around with the amounts of both vinegar and baking soda you can find what is best for you.

My hair and scalp have been a little bit dry. I am wary of using too much vinegar because in the past my hair has been very oily so I do not want to over condition. I am going to try and increase the amount of vinegar solution I use during each rinse to see how that works.

I also found some recipes for deep conditioners that I want to try out. These treatments would be less often (maybe once a month?) to ensure that my hair is getting all the moisture and nutrients it needs. I am excited to try some out but I need to wait until it is time to wash my hair again because a washing is required after conditioning.

Questions are welcome and I will post more hair adventures soon.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Baking Soda "Shampoo" Recipe

This recipe is super simple and only takes a minute or two to make. When I was researching before starting the 'no poo' plan I found two ways to make the baking soda mixture. One way was to make a paste, mixing a little bit of water with a couple of tablespoons of baking soda. That's great and all and works for some people but truth be told I am lazy so I wanted something I could make every once in awhile.

The recipe is a simple ratio:

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
1 Cup water

Pour into a container with a lid and shake. You will not be able to see the baking soda, it will fully dissolve in the water. Store in shower and shake before each use. I usually make about 2 cups at a time because that is how large my container is and it lasts a good couple of weeks. I store my mixture in an old water bottle with a squeeze top (works well to apply the mixture to my head).


-Wet hair in shower
-Flip head upside down so hair is hanging down
-Pour small amount of baking soda mixture onto head targeting scalp
-Gently massage the mixture into scalp and hair (as you massage the baking soda should get mixed into all of your hair)
-Let sit for a minute or two
-Rinse out

This is how I have been using my baking soda mixture and it seems to be working well. I have noticed that a small amount goes a long way. I squirt only a few spots and then massage that little bit into all of my hair.

Everyone's hair is different so you may have to adjust the amount of baking soda depending on your hair type and length. I have shoulder length fine hair.

If your hair is too dry decrease baking soda, if it seems oily increase baking soda. The oil level or dryness of your hair also depends on the apple cider vinegar "conditioning" mix (will post recipe).

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions, I will happily try to answer them.