Category Archives: how to

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How To Make Homemade Body Spray (with essential oils)

I’m not one to wear perfume, but if you knew me as a teenager, then yes, I had a variety of scents (didn’t we all)?! I don’t know when it happened (perhaps it correlated with my Crohn’s diagnosis) but a few years ago I developed a significant sensitivity to chemical smells, perfumy smells, detergents, hair spray, lotions, those plug-in scent things, shampoos and conditions, you name it.  My symptoms are pretty uncomfortable: instant headache, nausea, dizziness, irritability, stomachache ache, lethargy, etc.  I can only spend about 30 seconds in one of my favorite stores (Bed Bath and Beyond) before running for the door, desperate for fresh air.  Perhaps some of you can relate to this?  This all being said, I don’t have a problem with essential oils, which is so nice, because I love them.  I don’t wear them everyday, but I like having this option and some on-hand for when I want a little scent on me.  Last week I was browsing around in the health and beauty department at my local Coop and found some body spray (made with essential oils), and it caught my eye.  It was a lovely fragrance, lemon, ginger and peppermint.  I looked at the ingredients (3 included: essential oils, filtered water, vegetable glycerine).  What!  That’s just too easy!!  I have all these at home, so I made my own body spray- and LOVE it.  I used one of my favorite smells (patchouli) and also made one with orange.  You could go crazy with the combinations, the ideas are endless really.  What a fun Mother’s Day gift.  And this would pair nicely with one of my homemade lotions, such as homemade cocoa and shea body butter.  
Orange Blossom Body Spray
-1 oz filtered water 
-60 to 90 drops essential oil of orange (less or more to your liking)
-1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerine 

Bohemian Momma Patchouli Body Spray 
-1 oz filtered water 
-1/8 teaspoon essential oil of Tunisian Patchouli (less or more to your liking)
-1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerine

How To

1.  Mix ingredients together in small glass spray bottle and shake well.  Always shake before using. 
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Labels: beauty, how to.


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Sunday, April 29, 2012

How To Build A Pea/Bean Trellis

(thank you to my 5 1/2 year old daughter for snapping a quick picture of me). I’ve had this post ready to go since December, if you can believe it.  I remember this day (December 9th) because it was unseasonably warm.  My snow peas were really taking off and I needed to create a trellis.  My design last year didn’t work so well, so I needed a new plan.  I took my son to the lumber yard that morning, purchased a few 1×2 boards, some cotton twine, and drilled this together later that afternoon during his nap.  I can’t seem to find the picture of the peas right before I tore them out last week, but they were growing far over the top!  So this simple trellis held the weight of 32 snow pea plants. And this is an eco-friendly design, no plastic or metal wire used to guide the peas.       
Here are the plants in mid-February:  
-7 1×2 boards
-Cotton twine
-Small saw
How To:
1.  Drill two of the boards onto one side of the bed
2.  Secure the first two boards with a third 1×2
3.  Add two more boards to the opposite side of the bed.
Measure and saw a small piece of board and secure to the end. 
4. Add another long 1×2 to the side
and repeat on the other end: saw & drill to secure
Continue adding cotton twine as the peas grow.  
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Labels: adventures in gardening, how to.


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Friday, March 2, 2012

Homemade Walnut Milk

One of my awesome readers, Erin, left the best suggestion on my homemade almond milk post: homemade walnut milk!!  I make a walnut nut butter and walnut flour…why not walnut milk?  Well let me tell you it’s delicious, so thank you Erin.  This comes at a good time for me, as almond flour and almond milk have not been agreeing with my digestion.  I make this walnut milk in the same fashion as my almond milk.  I use a high water-to-nut ratio compared to most recipes.  I purchase organic nuts in bulk, so I try and stretch my dollar by adding in more water.  I happen to adore the flavor, but it may not be for everyone, especially if you’re accustomed to a thicker nut milk.  Do what feels right to you and what you like.  Thanks again for the great suggestion Erin!
-1 cup raw, organic walnuts
-7 cups filtered water
-1 teaspoon vanilla
How To
1.  Soak walnuts in filtered water for 8 -10 hours, or just over night.
2.  When the walnuts have been properly soaked, drain and rinse with filtered water
3.  To your blender add walnuts, 7 cups water, and vanilla
4.  Blend on high for 90 seconds
5.  Here’s a step in the process that might be different from most:

*After blending I let the milk sit in the blender for about 5 minutes.  This gives the milk time to settle and the foam to gather on the top.  After the 5 minutes I scoop off all the foam.  After removing the foam my original 7 cups remain.  I dislike straining foamy milk through the nut milk bag.  See pictures below for foam scooping process:


5.  After you scoop off the foam (and discard into the sink), strain the milk through a nut milk bag.  I strain the milk into an 8 cup glass Pyrex

6. Transfer to glass pitcher with lid and store in the fridge for up to 5 days
*If using a “regular” blender (not high-speed), start with 5 cups water and blend on high for up to 2 minutes.  Add more water in future batches if you like the consistency and taste with 5 cups.

Check out this  great site on: what to do with your nut pulp.  There’s like a zillion recipes!  So awesome!! 


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Labels: dairy free, drinks, how to, non-dairy milk, SCD.


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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homemade Coconut Shea Butter Lotion: for dry sky and eczema

After I made my first batch of lotion, I’ve been experimenting with different ingredients for different aliments.  For example, using colloidal oatmeal as an anti-itch relief.  It’s super fun and easy to make your own lotion.  It takes just a few minutes to mix the ingredients together and there you have it.  Today I’m sharing another variation for the dry/eczema prone skin.  I keep everything raw when making lotion.  I never heat the ingredients, which I feel is very important.  This batch includes shea butter as the base, with coconut oil, calendula oil, jojoba oil and a dash of eucalyptus (for its healing properties and fragrance).  Raw shea butter has a very interesting smell, almost smokey, and in the many batches I’ve purchased (on amazon) they have all varied in color and smell.  This is to be expected.  So have fun and experiment with essential oils!
-3 tablespoons jojoba oil
-1 tablespoon calendula oil
-3/4 teaspoon eucalyptus oil*
How To
1.  Mix ingredients in bowl, initially by hand, then with electric mixer.
2.  Fill small glass jars and use within 2 months.
3.  Final product can be stored at room temperature during use, as it has great self life!  Store remaining unused shea butter in the refrigerator, or you could also store leftover lotion in the fridge if you won’t be using it right away (it will keep for months in the fridge).  This stuff is resilient and you’re good either way, no matter where you keep it.
Eucalyptus is a powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory essential oil that can help control eczema flare-ups.  Eucalyptus oil works by stimulating blood circulation and has a calming and cooling effect on irritated skin.  And like echinacea, eucalyptus also stimulates your immune function.  Before applying eucalyptus oil (or any essential oil) to the skin, the oil should be diluted in a carrier oil (i.e. sweet almond oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, etc.) to avoid further irritation and burning.  Eucalyptus can be applied throughout the day as needed for itch relief.  Eucalyptus is also great for treating a baby eczema rash.
Use hand mixer OR food processor.  Both work well.  I tend to use a hand mixer with soft ingredients.  When I make lotion with cocoa butter, I always use a food processor.  It’s difficult to incorporate cocoa butter with a hand mixer.  Something else that’s important to consider is that the heat from the friction (from running the food processor a while) will help melt the small chunks of cocoa butter and incorporate all the ingredients nicely.
Additional Homemade Lotions from The Tasty Alternative
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Labels: beauty, eczema, Holistic healing, homemade remedies, how to.


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Friday, January 13, 2012

Delicious Vegetable Stock from Leftover Vegetable Pulp

Want to use that gorgeous, healthy pulp from juicing?  Well here’s a great idea for you.  This week I made a huge batch of green juice and used the vegetable pulp to make a stock.  I have to say this stock is outrageous, bursting with deep flavors of kale and carrots!  Perfect for your vegetable or meat-based soups.
Vegetable Stock

Pulp from: 3.5 lbs. of carrots, 1.5 lb. of cucumbers, 10 oz of spinach, 1 lb. of kale 
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
6 fresh sprigs of thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon peppercorns 
Filtered water (1 or 1 1/2 gallons)

How To
1.  In a large stock pot, combine above ingredients
2.  Simmer for about an hour and a half 
3.  Skim off foam once in a while
4.  Let cool
5.  Strain through cheesecloth and mesh strainer (place cheese cloth on top of a mesh strainer)
6.  Store as desired

Shared on: Wellness Weekend

Posted by Amber at

Labels: how to, soups, vegetarian.


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Friday, December 9, 2011

Garlic: Why it’s a Powerful Immune Booster.

My name is Amber.
And I’m a garliholic.
Okay, got that out there.  I’m a true garlic lover.  I love garlic like my sweet husband loves chocolate, and that’s saying something!  The words crave and satisfy come to mind.
Let me give you an example.
If given the choice between a jar of chocolate covered nuts and a jar of marinated garlic cloves…fuggedaboutit!  Pass me the stinking rose please. Think I’ve made my point here.
What makes garlic so powerful anyway?  So health-full…so immune boosting?  Well, if you lu-uv garlic like me and eat it all the time, there are a few things you should know.
Garlic’s powerful anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-biotic properties are found in the sulfur compound: Allicin.
Allicin is released from garlic when cut, chopped, crushed, etc.
Allicin immediately starts to break down after it’s produced.  Heat causes additional breakdown and microwaving garlic completely eliminates allicin.
To receive the health-full benefits garlic has to offer, add raw chopped garlic to cooked food and mix well.  This method protects the fragile allicin by reducing contact with direct heat, and may even slightly decrease the spiciness.

Garlic also comes with precautions, and these should be considered in full if you’re a frequent garlic user.
Safety First(Ahem…body odor and bad breath do not count as cautions in my opinion).

*Garlic may interact with some prescription medications.  For example, take great caution in consuming large amounts of garlic if taking prescription blood thinners. Please consult your doctor or holistic practitioner before taking garlic supplements or eating garlic on a daily basis. 

*Believe it or not, garlic allergies do exist (oh boy, I would take my peanut allergy over a garlic allergy any day).  

Symptoms may include: skin rashes, mild fever, nausea, vomiting and headaches.  Consult your doctor or holistic practitioner if you suspect a garlic allergy.

*Garlic can irritate your digestive tract and cause some disruption in digestive function.  One key symptom is nausea.  Other symptoms may include loose stools or diarrhea, even vomiting if you consume too much.
*I eat raw garlic when I feel a cold coming on and consume in small amounts until I start to feel better.  However, I also eat roasted garlic quite regularly, so feeling sick or not, I usually have some on hand in the fridge.  I smear it on gluten free bread, add it to soup, hummus, eggs.  It’s such an easy way to get that delicious garlic flavor and without the very intense spiciness of garlic.

How To Roast Garlic

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Cut head of garlic in half
3.  Add a bit of oil and salt to your preferred roasting pan and place garlic face down in pan
4.  Roast for 20-30 minutes; check at 20 and if garlic is tender and sizzling then remove.
*Another popular method is to wrap a cut head of garlic (with salt and oil) with parchment paper.  Secure with oven-proof string or make a little parchment-pouch.  I prefer creating less waste and using a glass pan.  But do whatever works for you.  
This is what you will remove from the oven…deliciousness!
Allow garlic to cool before handling
It’s pretty fun to pop out those little cloves
Mash Mash
Add some oil to support your mashing efforts
Mash until your desired consistency
I like mine just like this:
Garlic breath and all!

Shared on:
Wellness Weekend over at Diet, Dessert & Dogs
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Labels: Holistic healing, how to, spreads.


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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Allergy-Friendly Play Dough (2 ways)

I came across a really fun child-friendly activity/gift idea in the latest issue of Living Free magazine (pg. 10): making your own allergy-friendly play dough! 
I’ve been thinking about the Holidays here and all the gift giving that’s just around the corner.  Between my husband and I we have a pretty big family and we can’t possibly buy everyone a gift.  We find pleasure in simple 1-item gift exchanges, happiness in each other’s company, good food, music, and laughter.  But we do have little children in our immediate and extended family.  When I read this article in Living Free I thought, now there is a super cute idea for a child.  You could make the dough yourself, or provide the ingredients in a little jar with instructions and they could make it at their leisure.  I wanted to share the two recipes with you today.  

#1: Play Clay
Makes about 2 pounds
If not used immediately, store in an airtight container 
or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
1 cup potato starch or cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, or oil of choice 
2-3 drops food color (optional) – I only use this natural plant-based food coloring
How To
1.  Mix together potato starch and baking soda and pour into sauce pan.
2.  Mix water and oil in small bowl.  Add food coloring, if using.
3.  Heat saucepan and pour in water and oil, stirring constantly about 3 minutes or until clay holds together in a ball. (Small lumps will appear and then clay will hold together.)
4.  Turn off heat.  Spoon clay onto parchment paper and let cool slightly.

#2: Salt Dough
Makes about 1 pound 
If not used immediately, store in an airtight 
container or plastic bag in the refrigerator. 

1 cup table salt
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup water, more as needed
2 drops food coloring (see above)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil, if needed

How To
1.  Mix together salt and flour in a saucepan.  Pour in water and add food coloring, if using.
2.  Cook over medium meat until dough forms into a ball.  If dough is too dry to hold together, add more water 1 Tbsp at a time.
3.  Spoon dough onto parchment paper and let cool slightly 
4.  Knead until smooth and shape into a ball.  If dough is too hard, knead in 1 teaspoon oil until well distributed.

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Labels: allergy-friendly, how to, kids.


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ditch The Can: How to Make Delicious Pumpkin Puree

Making your own pumpkin puree is easy as….pie?  Okay it had to be said.  How about Sunday Morning?  Easy Peasy?  Let’s stick with pie.  It’s truly easy, fun and very satisfying.  As is anything you can do from scratch and without packaging.  A few years ago I bought a bag of almond meal/flour on-line.  It was my first and last time for that.  I immediately started grinding my own organic almonds here at home for recipes.  Simple, fresh, organic, no packaging  – no waste. 

What was I talking about?

Oh, yes, bad puns.

Okay so first you need a pumpkin.  

I just throw mine right in the oven. 
 Lazy?  Perhaps.
Easy?  Yes!
Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I feel like I’m wresting with the raw pumpkin – it’s aggravating.  I love the way the knife slips into the tender meat when it’s all hot and roasted.  

Step 1: roast a pumpkin
{400 degrees for 70 minutes for a 4 or 5 lb pumpkin, roast longer and until soft for heavier pumpkins}
Step 2: allow to cool and then remove skin and seeds
Step 3: chop- chop OR scoop out into a food processor 
Not ALL pumpkins will cube like this, it depends on the variety.  
Step 4: Add to food processor 
Step 5: add 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice mix to 1 cup of pumpkin puree.  I usually have about 4 cups of pumpkin (so 4 teaspoons spice mix).  Blend in food processor until incorporated. 
Here is a groovy recipe for pumpkin pie spice mix if you are so inclined to make your own.  

Now you’re ready to make something tasty.  
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Labels: fall cuisine, how to.


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Friday, October 21, 2011

Homemade Jojoba Shea Butter Lotion: for dry skin and eczema

When my son Ethan was 5 months old he developed eczema all over his body.  It wasn’t entirely a surprise.  My husband develops terrible eczema on his hands during the summer/winter months.  So when it started showing up on Ethan it was all about holistic healing and comfort…and time.   
I started with food. I was nursing Ethan so I would systematically cut out foods from my diet that I suspected might be aggravating his skin.  Food didn’t seem to change his skin much.  Already 100% dairy free, sugar free, soy free, etc, I cut out eggs for a while.  I also experimented with wheat and nuts.  We noticed that during the cold months his skin was dry and susceptible and during the hot months his skin was dry and susceptible.  I would say that staying on a allergy free diet helped his skin from becoming worse than it already was, and allowed time and other natural remedies to work and heal the inflammation. 
Our pediatrician, like most pediatricians, suggested the steroid cream.  Scott never had much success with this sort of cream and he also didn’t particularly like the ingredients – very intense stuff.  So we both knew this just wasn’t an option…or for us a very last resort option.  For the most part Ethan was smiley, happy and easy going.  He appeared comfortable.  He wasn’t distressed or preoccupied with itching his skin.  So that being said, we continued with holistic/homeopathic remedies including:
1.  Keeping his nails trimmed 
2.  Always covering the weepy patches of skin, but also allowing the skin time to breathe now and then
3.  Dressing in only 100% cotton or organic cotton clothes
4.  Gentle soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) to wash his clothes
5.  We did not bathe him every night
6.  During baths I would often put chamomile tea in with his bath water (steap about 8 cups of water with 8 tablespoons loose chamomile flowers )
7.  Moisturize, moisturize and moisturize!  We kept his skin very lubricated, especially during the winter months.
Side note: I’m not kidding when I tell you we used just about every organic, natural cream on the market.  We found these at our local Coop and I also found products on-line from small organic companies (this is a great blog for such a purpose).  I was very picky about what I put on his skin, obviously.  We did not use lotions filled with preservatives, parabens, SLS, phthalates, glycols, petroleum, artificial fragrances, PEGS, PGG, MEA, TEA, DEA, etc…the list goes on and on…and so the list of what you can use gets smaller and smaller.
I didn’t think about making my own lotion at the time.  I wish I had because we all know those organic creams are EXPENSIVE!  
In time his eczema decreased, starting with his face.  By his first birthday his face looked great.  Next his arms improved to zero areas of inflammation much like his face, his back and stomach followed.  His legs improved greatly but this is still the area of concern.
Last summer I purchased my last store-bought cream/oil.  I was determined to make my own dry skin/eczema remedy and found three ingredients that target inflammation 
(and ingredients I frequently saw in the store-bought brands):
So here is what I did…
1: Purchased 16 oz. of raw, organic shea butter ($10).
2: Purchased 8 oz. of organic jojoba oil 
(from bulk at our Coop – $5)
3: Purchased 1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers 
(from bulk at our Coop – $1.50)
4: Infused jojoba with chamomile for 2 weeks
5: Strained through cheese cloth and TADA…chamomile infused jojoba oil! 
6: Raw shea butter is super hard so I placed it in a glass bowl and let it sit in the sun for a few hours to soften.  Worked great.  Above picture is a few hand stirs with a spoon after the sun bath
7: I added the strained oil to the shea butter and whipped with a hand mixer until well incorporated
1.  This lotion is oily.  Take caution when applying it around fabric you love, as oil may transfer
2.  It soaks into skin after a bit and should be noted it’s much less oily than just applying straight oil
2.  This would be a terrific hand treatment at night with cotton gloves
3.  Apply immediately after shower/bath to affected areas
4.  This mixture of ingredients has a fantastic shelf life
5.  Experiment with other healing herbs/oil 
Here are some pictures of Ethan’s skin.  I never took any of his body because it was usually covered.  I look back at these and smile ear to ear.  He was such a chubby little thing! To give you an idea, he weighed 17 lbs. at 4 months old! And I’m not kidding when I tell you he was a happy little thing too – always a smile on that red little face.  Mommy kept him very comfortable!
Overall, his legs were the worst.  He had many patches of skin that were weepy, he also had these patches on his arms.  Keeping these patches covered prevented itching and aided in healing.
And, here he is in 2010:
This face looks so much better.  His cheeks healed with time, as did his arms, back and stomach.  We are happy about declining the steroid cream.  This this was a personal choice and every parent should decide what will be best for their child and what they are comfortable administering.  I would say he outgrew the worst of it. Keeping him on an allergy-free diet is very important despite the little change we noticed in his symptoms early on.  He is currently dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, soy free, chocolate free and nightshade free.  And we keep that skin super-duper moisturized with our awesome new lotion.  

Still a very smiley little guy!!  

See HERE for a list of all my homemade lotions 
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Labels: beauty, eczema, Holistic healing, homemade remedies, how to.


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