No Bake Date & Apricot Granola Bars

No Bake Granola Bars
No Bake Granola Bars

School is back in session, and my son is now a third grader. The time sure does fly! I absolutely love his school, they work towards being a zero waste school and encourage parents to pack zero waste lunches! This is great because it also encourages healthy lunches and snacks to be packed for students since most of the nutritious foods don’t come in wrappers and packages. Last year I did a decent job at packing a zero waste lunch but I did sneak in the occasional granola bar or Justin’s peanut butter packet every once in a while. Since there is always room for improvement, this year I am going to do a better job.

When my family and I visit Santa Cruz we always go to one of our favorite coffee shops in town, Verve Coffee Roasters. Along with their coffee they have the most delicious vegan & gluten free date bars there. So I am going to mimic those and add a couple of other ingredients that I know my son will enjoy. I am wrapping them in compostable parchment paper in hopes my son will fold the paper up nicely and bring back to me for reuse… but who are we kidding he is an eight year old boy. If the paper doesn’t come back for reuse at least he knows to put it in the compost at school.

This recipe is so easy and quick with just 5 ingredients and no baking involved. This recipe is vegan and gluten free, you can make them grain free/Paleo if you leave the oats out and add more cashews! Just toss those dates and apricots in your blender or food processor for about one minute just to get a little head start. Then simply add the rest of your ingredients in and blend for about another minute, maybe even less. Just make sure everything is chopped and mixed well together. Then flatten the mixture out and cut them into desired shape and sized. I cut mine into squares to make 6. Wrap them up in parchment and they are ready for healthy and eco friendly on the go snacks.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of pitted dates
  • 1 cup diced apricots
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cashews
  • 1 tablespoons chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Add dates and apricots to food processor blend for 30-60 seconds
  2. Add the rest of your ingredients to the food processor blend until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed well
  3. Flatten, form and cut into desired shapes and sizes
  4. Wrap in parchment paper or portion out in reusable bags and enjoy on the go

The Multipurpose Mask

Bentonite clay mask
Bentonite clay

So this week I started a fun new community page on my Starting From Soil Facebook. Folks can ask questions, share tips, and recipes relating to health and wellness.  You are all welcome to join! While on the topic of natural deodorants, arm pit detoxing came up and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to write about the benefits of bentonite clay and different ways it can be used.

The name Bentonite stems from where most of the clay has been found and is still harvested to this day, Fort Benton, Wyoming. The clay is composed of volcanic ash and has a number of beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium, silica, copper, iron, and potassium. This explains why it has been used in traditional healing methods for centuries along with using it as a detox method. When activated by liquid, Bentonite also has the ability to draw out toxins from the body by acting as a magnet to heavy metals, chemicals, and toxins.

Lets get to the armpit detox! Your armpits are an entry way for toxins, especially if you are still using an antiperspirant rather that a natural deodorant. So lets switch that around and let your armpits work as an exit point instead with a bentonite mask. This can be especially helpful If you are looking to make a switch from antiperspirant to natural deodorant. When transitioning, some can experience excessive sweating, odor, skin discomfort, and rash. A detox will help eliminate or shorten this pitfall… see what I did there 😉 If you have already made a successful transition and you just want an extra way to cleanse your body of impurities than this is for you too!

The recipe I am going to provide for you will give you enough to include a face mask in with your pit detoxing. I figure kill 2 birds with one stone right? Using bentonite clay topically has amazing benefits. Earlier, I mentioned this clay was rich in minerals, one of them being Silica, this mineral in particular helps with skin regeneration. Along with beneficial minerals and it being able to bind and release toxins from your skin it also has antibiotic properties and has been used to treat eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, reduce blemishes, unclog and tighten pores, removes dead cells, and leaves your skin feeling soft and fresh!

Although I use bentonite clay specifically for armpit detoxing and face masks there are lots of other ways this clay can be used. Unfortunately, our bodies are exposed to toxins all day, everyday… With that being said, toss some clay in your bathtub for a detox bath. You can also use bentonite clay as a replacement for baby powder, some folks even mix it with water and rinse their mouth with it daily to help fight bacteria. Bentonite clay has also been used to help relieve digestion by neutralizing gut bacteria and killing off viruses.  If this is something that you think you will benefit from, I would look into the liquid form of bentonite rather than the powder. It’s my understanding that if you take the powder form internally there is a possibility it may clump up and back things up a bit and we don’t want that to happen.

Ok, so here’s how to make the mask.  Mix 1 part clay to 3 parts water or apple cider vinegar. That’s it! I like to do a half and half mixture of water and apple cider vinegar, I find if I do all ACV it irritates my eyes and nostrils a little bit.  You will want to avoid mixing your mask with metal utensils. The clay has the ability to pull the metals from your utensil into your mask to avoid leaching mix with wooden spoon. Once the mask is mixed well use a clean brush to apply evenly to face first and then to armpits. Leave on skin for 15-20 minutes, if you have sensitive skin cut that time in half. Remove clay by washing with warm water.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon clay
  • 1 tablespoon ACV or water

Instructions

  1. Mix well with wooden utensil
  2. Apply evenly on skin with clean brush
  3. Let sit for 15-20 min
  4. Rinse with warm water

Finally! A Body Wash With Ingredients We Can All Pronounce!

DIY BodyWash

Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the back of your body wash bottle and not known what they are or how to say them? Well, I have a solution! Yes, This is another diy, but it is simple, quick, and only uses 5 natural ingredients. All off which you can pronounce and some possibly found in your kitchen. As mentioned in a previous post about diy make up, your skin is your body’s largest organ. Everything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. If you think about it that way, do you really want to use anything topically that you wouldn’t want to eat?

Unfortunately, our body wash does not fall into the vegan category because this recipe does contain honey (Sorry friends). Honey is so good for our skin because it has natural antibiotic properties, it is full of antioxidants and it’s very moisturizing. Along with honey, jojoba oil will be included in our wash and is also amazing for your skin. If you are not familiar with Jojoba oil it is a liquid extracted from a seed of the jojoba plant, native to parts of Mexico, Arizona and Southern California. This oil is commonly used to treat psoriasis, acne, sunburn and chapped skin. Next, lavender essential oil, not only does the oil smell amazing, it is another skin health powerhouse with anti-aging antioxidants. Also, due to its anti-microbial properties this oil also helps speeds up the healing process for any cuts or burns you may have. Lastly, we will be using some unscented castile liquid soap and water. A mason jar with a soup dispenser top is the only hardware you’ll need. I purchased  These tops.  Or a reusable BPA free plastic dispenser will work. This recipe makes 2 cups enough to fill a 16oz mason jar.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 2/3 cup unscented castile soup
  • 2 teaspoons of jojoba oil

Supplies

  • Glass bottle with dispenser or BPA free reusable plastic dispenser

Instructions

  • Mix it all ingredients together.

Just One More Excuse To Eat Chocolate

Just One More Excuse To Eat Chocolate

Yesterday on my Starting From Soil Instagram I promised everyone my chocolate chia seed pudding recipe, so here it is! By the way if you are not following me on Insta yet you should be 😉 I love Chia seeds in general because of their cost efficiency. A small amount goes a long way and the shelf life is 4-5 years, plus, they are so versatile! You can throw them right into smoothies and jams, toss them in when making energy bars or cookies for added protein, and can be used as an egg replacement— along with flax— when baking. But one thing I would like to advise is, if you consume chia seeds unsoaked make sure to drink plenty of water. Chia seeds can absorb 10-12x their weight and can absorb that water from you during the digestion period. But I think it is safe to say we all probably need to drink a little more water anyway! But don’t let that turn you off, these seeds are a modern day super food! Chia seeds are derived from the Salvia Hispanica plant native to South America. They might be little, but are packed with antioxidants and loaded with fiber, protein, healthy fats (Omega 3), that is just to name a few of their benefits.

I have fallen in love with chia pudding lately because of all the fun preparations. You can dress it up with fruit and granola and eat it for breakfast or drizzle it with chocolate and enjoy it for dessert!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons raw cocao powder
  • 4 heaping teaspoons of unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup (if you like it sweet double this)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of almond butter
  • 1 1/4 non dairy milk

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients up very well
  2. Refrigerate over night
  3. Enjoy! Don’t be scared to jazz this pudding up to your liking! I love adding bananas, strawberries and blueberries to it with more coconut flakes. I also love drizzling extra almond butter or maple syrup over the top!

This recipe fills up a 12 oz jar. It is enough for 2 breakfasts for me if I top it will fruit!

Just One More Excuse To Eat Chocolate

Never Purchase Broth Again!

It is not too good to be true, I promise! My family loves soup, in fact, I could probably eat soup everyday, so this hack has really helped me in many ways… Saves me money, I have broth made from fresh organic ingredients with no preservatives and helps food waste and reduces trash. Making broth from scraps

All you need is a gallon sized freezer bag, preferably reusable. I got mine from Blue Avocado or a Tupperware you are willing to keep in your freezer to reuse will work just fine as well. Next, your vegetable scraps, stems and ends! Yup, that is it. Every time you are in the kitchen prepping your dinner take out your freezer bag and add your carrot peels, celery ends, onion and garlic skins, and herb stems to it then, put your bag back in the freezer until it is full. When you’re all full it is time to add soup to your weekly meal plan. Add the contents of your bag to a stock pot with about 10 cups of water with some salt & pepper maybe a bay leaf and a sprinkle of turmeric. Simmer for about an hour and let cool, strain out you vegetable scraps and you will have enough broth for a big pot of soup and then some! Leftover broth is good in the fridge for about a week, or you can choose to freeze your broth as well for future recipes, if you do this remember to leave room in your container for the broth to expand when it reaches its freezing point. Also, I may have only listed a couple vegetables to add to your freezer bag, those were just examples, don’t limit yourself! You can also add things like mushroom stems/ends or even insides of peppers, fennel tops. Really anything you think will maximize the flavor of your broth.

Making broth from scraps
Made a big pot of soup and still have this left over for the week.

Side note: This life saver hack is not my own. This is a tip I got from my Thug Kitchen  cookbook years back, and I feel it needs to be shared. If you are looking to introduce more plant based recipes into your diet this cook book is awesome and hilarious. The amount of money I saved on not having to purchase broth paid for the book in about 2 months (like I said we like soup)

Supplies

  • Reusable gallon sized freezer bag

Ingredients

  • Vegetable scraps
  • A teaspoon of Salt and Pepper
  • A bay leaf, a sprinkle turmeric and/or garlic powder if you have it

Instructions

  1. Collect enough vegetable ends, peels, stems to fill a gallon bag
  2. Add to stock pot with 10 cups of water
  3. Add salt and pepper, bay leaf, turmeric
  4. Simmer for about an hour
  5. Strain
  6. Make some soup

DIY Face Cleansing Pads

DIY Facial Cleansing Wipes

A little over 3 years ago, I started breaking out along my jaw line. No one likes acne, but especially at the age of 28! I had only struggled with this one other time in my life, around the age 24, when I started, and very quickly quit taking a birth contraceptive. To help with this new development, I made a little change in my daily routine. A great friend of mine suggested I try tea tree oil, so that very same day I ran out to my local health food store and picked up a bottle. When I got home from the store I immediately ran to the bathroom to dampen a cotton ball with some water, added 2 drops of tea tree oil to it, and started wiping my face down. I was so impressed (and a little grossed out) with how much dirt had I just wiped off my face and I haven’t turned back since.  My acne along my jaw line cleared almost immediately.  In fact, this cleans my face so well I don’t even own or use face wash at all anymore, no need to do both and it is one less plastic bottle in my shower now. They are also awesome for those nights you are in the mood for a face mask, they help scrub any excess mask off that you may have missed in your shower.

So today I will be sharing with you how to make your own face cleansing wipes. Here are some of the ingredients, and supplies you will need. Tea Tree also known as Melaleuca oil, which is derived from a plant in Australia and has many uses! This oil can be used for skin, hygiene, or DIY cleaning products as it has been documented to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Coconut oil will also be playing a role in our cleansing pads to add a little moisture. I found the tea tree was drying out my face a little bit in the beginning so the coconut oil comes in to balance things out. You will also need some cotton rounds, I use and recommend organic because you don’t want to wipe your face or skin down with something that has been sprayed with a bunch of chemicals! You also need water, and a clean jar to fit your rounds. I chose the regular mouth 8oz ball jar, I put 45 pads in my jar but could probably fit up to 60 if I really wanted.

DIY Facial Cleansing Wipes
Gross but they work!
DIY Facial Cleansing Wipes
Pour your mixture over the top and clean away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons of melted coconut oil
  • 10 drops of tea tree oil
  • organic cotton rounds
  • 1 jar

Instructions

  1. mix all wet Ingredients together well
  2. place 45-50 cotton rounds in a clean jar
  3. pour mixture over cotton rounds while pressing down on the rounds to help all rounds absorb the liquid

 

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Gluten Free Banana Bread

I just got back from an amazing vacation with my family, one of the first things I did when I got home was make a fresh batch of almond milk and dehydrated our leftover pulp to make almond meal.  Today I have some over ripe bananas that will be great mixed in with the almond meal to make a delicious banana bread! I love this recipe.  It only takes about 10 minutes to prep and 45 mins to bake. I toss it all in my blender which makes for quick and easy mixing and clean up. This recipe is so flexible and caters to multiple diets. It is Gluten free and If you want this recipe to be vegan, use 2 flax eggs. If you are unfamiliar with flax eggs, making them is effortless, I promise. You simply mix together 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds with 2 1/2 tablespoons of water per egg. You will want this to be one of your first steps so you can set them aside to thicken for about 5 minutes. While your “eggs” are thickening, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and toss all other ingredients in your blender. When your eggs are thick and sticky, add them to the blender with all other ingredients and run on low for about 50 seconds or until it’s well mixed. Add the mixture to a lightly oiled pan and sprinkle some chocolate chips, walnuts, or coconut to the top (optional). Bake for 45 minutes, then let cool before slicing.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs (Paleo) or 2 flax eggs (Vegan)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 2 cups of almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Flax egg ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of water
Flax Egg
Flax Egg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Make your flax eggs by mixing ground flaxseed and water and set aside to thicken for 5 minutes
  3. Add all other ingredients to blender
  4. Toss in flax eggs when they are thick and sticky
  5. Run blender on low for 50 seconds or until well mixed
  6. Add mixture to lightly oiled pan
  7. Add fun toppings such as coconut flakes, chocolate, or walnuts (optional)
  8. Bake for about 45-50 minutes
  9. Let cool

**Skip step 2 if using eggs**

The Delivery Service That Helps Fight Food Waste

Back in April, my son and I were enjoying the Oakland Earth festival when we were approached by the sweetest young lady. She began to tell me all about Imperfect Produce, who they are and what they do. I was immediately hooked and ready to sign up!

Imperfect Produce is on a mission to find a home for the 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables that are deemed too ugly to be sold in grocery stores. This helps the consumer because they are able to sell the produce at a discounted cost because these fruits and veggies have been shunned from grocery store shelves due to size or discoloration. This also helps the local farmers sell their products and helps with food waste. The best part, you do not even have to step foot in a store for your food. Imperfect Produce delivers the food to you!

Imperfect Produce
Bunches of broccoli stalks are so tasty and nutritious! Something you do not find in the store often or at all…

Here’s how it works.  After signing up, they email you at the beginning of each week with a link to customize your box/order.  Log into your account and you can begin choosing your product, it’s that simple!  The offerings that week will be detailed with where it is from, if it’s organic or conventional, why it is imperfect, and how much it costs. You have complete control over what will be delivered to you. Now, If you are the adventurous type, you are more than welcome to let them chose what will be in your box so you are surprised when your delivery comes!  Also, you can sign up for weekly or bi weekly deliveries and it’s easy to skip a delivery if needed. Lastly, in your first box, along with your fresh food you also receive some storing tips. Knowing that the average sized family of four throws out nearly $1,600 worth of produce annually, I think we can all use some storing tips! All boxes after that come with a fun recipe.

Imperfect Produce
There is nothing imperfect about this produce!

No, I do not work for Imperfect Produce, I just love their mission! Americans are leading the world in food waste and we need more businesses out there looking to make a change!! Unfortunately, this particular company only covers the LA and Bay Area but I am sure if you search hard enough in your area you can find something like this.  A lot of times we just don’t think to look for, it but green businesses are out there! If you are in the Los Angeles or Bay Area and this is something you might want click on the referral link to get a $10 credit

https://www.imperfectproduce.com/register.php?referral=80212

 

The Best Grain Free Granola

Grain Free Granola
Grain Free Granola

You guys have to try this granola!  I’ve made it a couple times now and it is my new go to. This recipe is completely grain-free and made mostly with nuts, seeds and some coconut! It is sweet, salty with the right amount of crunch that is perfect to add fresh berries to for breakfast or to yogurt for an afternoon snack. Now, this particular recipe is made with honey but can be made vegan with one ingredient swap, maple syrup.  Also, this recipe is Paleo as is.  It’s also a great way to use some of that almond meal we made last week! Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. First, add all your dry ingredients to a bowl, followed by your wet ingredients, then, mix well. Spread onto a cookie sheet.  I lined mine with parchment paper which makes it easier for transferring into a jar later on. cook for  28-32 mins depending on how dark or toasty you like it! let sit and cook for a couple of minutes before transferring into an airtight jar. Makes about 6 cups.

Ingredients (Organic perferred)

  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Add all dry ingredients to bowl
  3. Stir in wet ingredients and mix well
  4. Spread mixture on parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 28-32 minutes depending on how toasted you like your granola
  6. Let cool for at least 5 minutes
  7. Add in raisins, dried cranberries, or goji berries (optional)
  8. Mix if you added dried fruit
  9. add to airtight container and enjoy

How To Use Your Left Over Almond Pulp

On Monday we made the most delicious almond milk but had all that leftover pulp.  So, let’s use it! Optimizing your food fights waste and gives you the most bang for your buck. Hopefully your pulp drained any leftover liquid because we are going to dry it out to make almond meal! This literally takes zero effort but it does take some time so I would plan to do this when you know you will be home for a bit. Once your almond meal is dried, it will last up to 9 months. The left over pulp should make about 1 cup of almond meal. Store this in a larger airtight container this way you have room to add to it as you continue to make your milk. Almond meal is very versatile and can be used as breading, for pancakes, or baking and is gluten free and paleo.

 

All you need to do is set your oven at the lowest temperature, spread your pulp out on a cookie sheet and pop it in the oven. The lowest my oven goes is 170, at this temperature it takes about 3 hours to dry out the almond pulp. I usually mix it up half way through then forget about it again but that is not a mandatory step in the drying process. Once your pulp is all dry, transfer to a food processor or blender and run on low for about 15 seconds just to break up and larger clumps. Lastly, store it away until you are all ready to use for something delicious!

How to make Almond meal from your left over pulp
How to make Almond meal from your left over pulp

Ingredients

•1 cup almond pulp

Instructions

  1. Set oven to lowest temperature
  2. Spread almond pulp onto cookie sheet
  3. Bake for 3 hours
  4. Once pulp has dried, blend for 15 seconds to break up bigger chunks
  5. Transfer to airtight container