Ok folks–like many women out there I want to lose weight. No, I’m not hugely overweight. Hugely meaning, I could stand to lose at least fifteen pounds, though I’d be happiest if I lost at least 25. I’ve been reading obsessively about the importance of eating, whole unprocessed foods and I’ve decided that this IS the manna cure that I’ve been looking for all my life. Problem is–as much as I believe it–implementing it is a totally different deal. In my previous posts about Sugar Addiction, I addressed some of the things I’ve done to cut out the neverending cravings that have repeatedly derailed my eating common sense. Since writing that post, I have very slowly strayed and have found myself once again trying to get both feet back up on the wagon. Translated this means that I’ve gained a little bit of weight back by making poor choices. I am not going to blame it on anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the things in my previous post aren’t effective — in fact they are, but sticking to them is the hardest part over time. (Which leads me to my real issue which is self-discipline in the face of anything I want momentarily. But that’s a post for another day.)
My latest search for a cravings fix is the supposed healing wonders of Dr. Bronner Coconut Oil Whole Kernel. Does it do everything it promises (improve skin, hair) and more importantly, will eating one tablespoon a day raise my body temperature and thus improve my metabolism? I am fascinated by the press I’ve read about Matt Stone’s book, Eat for Heat, which puts forth the idea that certain foods can alter your metabolism. I started yesterday taking one tablespoon of pure unrefined coconut oil a day to find out if this is true. I will update this post in one month and hopefully won’t have GAINED weight from all the saturated fat in the oil. For my trial I am using Dr. Bronner Coconut Oil Whole Kernel. (I feel compelled to point out that Dr. Bonner hasn’t promised all these things–his is simply the brand I chose. The claims about coconut oil are rampant on the internet so I take no responsibility about any perceived promises, yada yada.) Why did I choose the Whole Kernel type with the brown label? Very scientifically. I asked the super skinny, slightly snotty girl at our local health food store which one was best and she stated that she was taking home the whole kernel one that night. It appears the main difference between it and their white label type is that it has a stronger coconut smell. Honestly, I like it better than the plain type so far. I chose the Dr. Bonner brand for it’s price and because I like their soap products. I’ve always had the impression that they make good stuff with no fillers. So, no double blind studies, no statistical means or deviations, just plain ole anecdotal evidence starting er. . . . yesterday. Take it or leave it cause I will or won’t, depending on if it works or not. It does feel hot in my house tonight, but surely that can’t be the oil working already or can it?
Newly cut shampoo bars made using hot process soap making.
This is a fun project for kids in the summertime. (If you are in Missouri you can have Easter Lillies and an ice storm at the same time, like we are having now.) Take some blooming flowers and with parental supervision, take a knife and carefully split the stem lengthwise at least halfway up. Place the flower in a glass or vase. You want the water to be just a little higher than the split. Pick a color from your food coloring pack that you think will contrast well against your flower’s color. We used a yellow easter lily and blue food coloring. Add at least thirty drops to the water in your glass or vase. (The more color the better!). After approximately 24 hours, the color will slowly move up the stem and spread into the bloom. Every flower is different so each flower will look unique. You can create a beautiful bouquet for a table centerpiece by using different types of flowers and different colors of food coloring and then combining the flowers into a single arrangement.
What in the heck is yogurt cheese you ask? Yogurt Cheese is what is left over after you drain the liquid part of yogurt out with a strainer. Why would you want to do this? Well, keep reading.
When I look at yogurt, I really can’t see any liquid in it. But if you strain the yogurt through a very fine mesh, the solid and liquid will separate, leaving you with spreadable cheese that closely resembles cream cheese. This can be used in place of cream cheese in recipes as a healthy alternative. In addition, you can add different variations of herbs or seasonings to the yogurt cheese to spread it on crackers or vegetables.
Take a wire strainer with a handle and place it in a large bowl so that it is suspended above the bottom of the bowl. Take cheese cloth and place 2-3 layers inside the strainer. Leave enough cheese cloth so that it will drape over the edges just a bit. As it strains, it will pull the cheese cloth down so you want to have some extra to keep it from collapsing in on itself. If you have any extra on the sides you can lay it over the top of the yogurt to protect it while it’s straining.
Take a plain quart container of PLAIN yogurt. I learned the hard way that “sweetened yogurt doesn’t work as well. Just use full fat plain yogurt. (The lowfat type may work, I just haven’t tried it yet. ) Turn the container of yogurt upside down into the strainer. Save the container and the lid. Place the bowel in the refrigerator overnight. Many people hang the yogurt in a long piece of cheese cloth over a bowel on the counter for several hours. I personally, prefer to keep the bowel in the fridge overnight so I don’t have to wonder about anything spoiling.
In the morning take the bowel out of the fridge. Place the solid yogurt that is left in the strainer back into the yogurt container. You can keep the liquid that is left in the bowel. It is liquid whey and is very nutritious. You can keep it in the fridge for approximately six weeks. You can drink it, add it to protein shakes or use it to fermenting vegetables (more on that in a later post). The yogurt cheese will keep for approximately one week in the refrigerator.
This is one of my favorite recipes from Ani Phyo. It’s a copycat “raw” recipe for donuts. If you are on a low sugar diet or are avoiding processed foods, this is a great recipe to try. I love what Ani says about processed foods all tasting the same. She states that if you buy an Oreo or some Doritos, every cookie and every chip will taste exactly the same when you bite into it. No matter where you bought it or what time of year it was packaged an Oreo or a Dorito will always taste exactly like an Oreo or Dorito. Real food is not like that, however. Nature puts natural variants into the taste of things–depending on the season, the quality of the harvest or the location it was purchased, a piece of fruit may be very sweet, sour or somewhere in-between. Our taste buds have gotten so accustomed to packaged and processed foods that we don’t even notice that there is NO difference anymore when we eat something. As a matter of fact, when a tomato or a piece of fruit doesn’t taste like we expect, we automatically assume that there is something wrong with it.
Changing your taste buds back to natural foods is a slow process and one that I am still working on myself. Being able to incorporate some sweet tasting healthy foods definitely helps in that regard. I know that the more real food, made from whole unprocessed ingredients that I eat, the better I will feel physically, emotionally and mentally. And the more whole, natural unprocessed foods I eat, the less I will crave the processed stuff being peddled at the grocery store and TV. So without further ado, here’s the recipe.
Raw Donut Holes
1 cup of almonds
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Vanilla Bean or 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Dried pineapples
1 cup pitted dates
5 Tablespoons dried shredded coconut
Grind the almonds and sea salt in a food processor until the pieces are very small.
Add in the dates, vanilla and pineapples and 3 tablespoons of the coconut.
Grind again until thoroughly mixed. It will be sticky.
With clean fingers roll the “dough” into small balls.
Roll the balls in the remaining coconut for garnish.
Store in an airtight container.
A couple of notes: If the “dough” gets too sticky you can add a bit a water to your hands. I use real vanilla extract in mine from the Dollar Store as vanilla beans are a little hard to find around here. My dates are also from the regular grocery store. Also, if you find that your dough isn’t sticky enough then add a few more dates. If it is way too sticky then add a few more almonds.
I totally recommend buying organic if you can. For me, I have to ask myself if using non-organic ingredients outweighs the benefits. I don’t think it does, so you will see that I used a combination of non-organic and organic speciality ingredients. I am always striving to use better ingredients, but common sense and financial constraints compel me to use what’s readily available first. If I know that I am going to make a lot of something or will use it before it expires, then I will order organic in bulk.
It’s amazing to me that homemade soap can be made with such simple ingredients.
I used Olive, Coconut and Palm Oil for this recipe. The olive oil was “Pure Olive Oil” from Sam’s Club. The golden yellow color made very nice off white soap. The 100% coconut oil was from the grocery section at Wal-mart. The palm oil was the only oil I couldn’t find locally. It was ordered from Columbus Foods, “Soaper’s Choice” section. The shipping at Columbus Foods is outstanding compared to a lot of other places that sell oil in bulk. If you know someone else who also makes soap, you can share the shipping and reduce your costs even more. I purchased the lye (sodium hydroxide) at a local True Value Hardware Store. Grocery stores in this area stopped carrying lye some years back when the crazies started using it to make meth. However, you can still find it labeled as “drain cleaner”. Remember, it has to be 100% sodium hydroxide. You CANNOT make soap without using lye. The clear glycerin soap you buy at a craft store isn’t the same thing as cold processed soap. Sure, you can buy the solid squares of it and melt it down and add a fragrance, but that’s not full fledged soap. Don’t let the thought of chemicals scare you–as long as you follow the proper precautions (goggles/gloves) and use some common sense, you won’t have any problems. A more detailed tutorial to coming soon. If you are interested in purchasing homemade soap visit my shop at http://etsy.com/shop/middleclasswellness