H20 at Home Review

30 May

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Aside from my own soaps, we use vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and other “green” cleaning products in our home. Admittedly, some of them do not clean as well as conventional ones so I was excited to try H20 at Home‘s products in return for a review.

Here is what came in the mail: Netepur Soap, Cleaning Clay, Dish Soap, Double Sided Microfiber Sponge and an Essential Multi-Surface Chiffonnette. While I will not review their bar soap as it would be a conflict of interest, I can review their other products.

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CLEANING CLAY with Double Sided Microfiber Sponge and Essential Multi-Surface Chiffonnette

The one thing I do have in my cleaning closet is Windex because nothing cleans shower doors and mirrors like it does. However, I read that H20’s Cleaning Clay can be used on ceramic, pots, pans, granite, sinks, ovens, mildew, glass, shower doors, silverware, stainless steel, jewellery and grout. I decided to try its powers on my son’s shower doors, which have not been cleaned purposely (yeah right) in weeks.

This is what it looked like before using the Cleaning Clay on it: pretty cloudy and dirty.

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This is what it looked after I applied the Cleaning Clay over it: almost spotless except for the bottom bit that I missed. And I didn’t try that hard.

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Cleaning it was very simple, quick and didn’t require tireless scrubbing.

  1. Soak the small white sponge inside the container with water.
  2. Place on the white clay and slide it to create a foam.
  3. Apply this foamy substance all over the dirty glass door with the white sponge.
  4. Use the scrub side of the Double Sided Microfiber Sponge to lightly mix in and spread the Clay all over the glass door properly.
  5. Clean off the Clay by rinsing the Double Sided Microfiber Sponge and wipe the door clean with the soft side of the sponge.
  6. Wipe off excess water with the Essential Multi-Surface Chiffonnette.

Notes on the Cleaning Clay: the results were much better than I was expecting. And it only took a few minutes. I really like this Cleaning Clay.

Notes on the Double Sided Microfiber Sponge: it worked well in bathroom cleaning but I wouldn’t use it to scrub pots and pans. The scrub side is a little too soft for kitchen purposes.

Notes on the Essential Multi-Surface Chiffonnette: I used it recently on my dirty computer screen and not a dust remained on the screen, although I saw some in the air as I cleaned. So, I’m not sure it works quite well in trapping all the dust.

DISH SOAP

I have both Seventh Generation and Dawn under my kitchen counter. I also use my own handmade coconut soap for pots, pans and dishes. I don’t make my own liquid dish detergent, so I feel this is not a conflict of interest to review their product.

Thoughts?

  1. The bottle is not the easiest to use. I use gloves when cleaning and when I squirt the bottle, half of the detergent goes on my gloves and not where I want it to go.
  2. That said, two small squirts are indeed enough to clean a whole pot.
  3. There isn’t a lot of lather, but it cleans well enough.
  4. Glass cleans and dries off amazingly clear without streaks and water marks. Same with stainless steel.
  5. The smell does not bother me like commercial products.
  6. I have not tried it with my gloves off to test for skin sensitivity issues.

Notes on the Dish Soap: the detergent works better than the bottle.

OVERALL RATING

I’d definitely buy the Cleaning Clay and the Double-Sided Microfiber Sponge!

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Hand Eczema Under Control

16 May

Hands

Got hand eczema? Me too.

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This is what my hands have looked like everyday since I was a child: extremely dry and rough. I tried many moisturizers, lotions and products without improvement. My Chinese grandmother always shook her head as I held her hand. She would tell me that my dry hands told a future of a very hard life.

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In my recent years, this is what my hands looked like on bad days (though not the worst). Open wounds would appear especially when I used products in someone else’s house or in public places. Even if I looked at the ingredients on packaging, it was difficult to determine how exactly my skin would react. Fissures, like the one on my left pinky (above), are terribly painful. Just one use of a commercial hand soap and my rough skin would flare up and fissures would appear within hours. Unfortunately, it could take weeks to reverse the reaction.

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My son took this photo of my hands today. I don’t remember my hands ever being this smooth and soft before. What have I done differently? In the past few months, I have discovered how to create my own soaps. More importantly, I learned to make the mildest and gentlest soaps. No more rough and dry skin for me. No more fissures. I wish my grandmother could feel my hands as they are today. She would tell me that my soft hands tell a future of an easy life.

Artistic Handmade Soaps for Women

16 Jan

Amber

Amber Crystal

The amber scent is my favourite scent of all my soaps. An amber crystal has been added as part of the design of the soap. Although hard when you first use the soap, the crystal will soften and melt afterwards.

Saponified olive oil, fragrance, turmeric.

$5.50 per approx. 2 1/2 oz.

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Amber Rose

The amber-rose scent is very mild on this soap.

Saponified olive oil, phthalate-free fragrance oil, activated charcoal.

$4.50 per approx. 2 1/4 oz.

 

Indian Salandwood this

Indian Marble

Mild, marbled soap with a touch of sandalwood. This is my personal favourite: luxurious and rich.

Saponified olive oil, phthalate-free fragrance oil, clay, activated charcoal.

$6.75 per approx. 3 1/4 oz.

 

Lavender

Lavender

Lavender Fields

This soap relaxes and calms. One of the most requested soaps!

Saponified olive oil, lavender buds, essential oils.

$5 per approx. 2 1/2 oz.

 

$9.50 per approx. 5 oz.

 

this one

Salt and Charcoal Facial Soap

This facial bar helps exfoliate, as well as cleanse and soothe the skin. Use 1 to 3 times a week depending on your skin.

Saponified olive oil, saponified coconut oil, salt, bentonite, activated charcoal.

$6 approx 2 1/2 oz.

Ylang Ylang Castile Soap

Tropical Flower

If you want a gentle soap with a scent of the tropics, this is for you.

Saponified olive oil, phthalate-fragrance oil.

$5 per approx. 2 1/2 oz.

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Vanilla Honey & Oats

 Honey moisturizes and oat exfoliates. The vanilla honey scent is light and mild on the small bars. This is another popular one.

Saponified olive oil, phthalate-free fragrance oils, oats, honey.

$5 per approx. 2 1/2 oz.

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Handmade Soaps for Foodies

16 Jan

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Apple Pie

Saponified olive oil, phthalate-free fragrance oil.

$5.10 for approx 2 1/2 oz rectangle

$5.60 for approx 2 3/4 oz oval

Beer

Beer

Beer soothes the skin. It also creates a much better lather. You won’t smell like beer at all.

Saponified extra virgin olive oil, beer.

$7.80 per approx. 5 1/4 oz.

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Cinnamon Toast

 This gentle soap smells like the real thing! My son and I love the scent and feel of this soap.

Saponified olive oil, phthalate-free fragrance oil.

$4.30 per approx. 2 1/4 oz.

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Corn Bread Anyone?

With calendula and plantain infused extra virgin olive oil, this soap is extra soothing to the skin and promotes healing.

Saponified extra virgin olive oil, calendula and plantain herbs.

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Hot Chocolate

A gentle soap for any kid at heart. Kids cannot wait to use these.

Saponified olive oil, goat’s milk, cocoa powder, fragrance oil.

$4 per approx. 2 oz.

St Patty's 1

St. Patty’s Day Beer

Beer creates a better lather and soothes the skin. The scent is mild.

Saponified extra virgin olive oil, beer.

$6.50 per approx. 3 1/8 oz.

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Honey Oat Vanilla

Vanilla Honey & Oats

 Honey moisturizes and oat exfoliates. The vanilla honey scent is light and mild for the small bars, but heavier and stronger for the big bars. This is another popular one.

Saponified olive oil, phthalate-free fragrance oils, oats, honey.

$5 per approx. 2 1/2 oz.

$9.75 per approx. 5 oz.
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Handmade Soaps for Men

16 Jan

Thinking of buying soaps for the men in your life?  Try these!

Beer

Beer

Beer soothes the skin. It also creates a much better lather and cleanses well. Your guy won’t smell like beer at all.

Saponified extra virgin olive oil, beer.

$7.80 per approx. 5 1/4 oz.

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 Greek

This is gentle on the skin. Olive leaf powder is added for its healing properties. This is my husband’s favorite this soap.

Saponified olive oil, olive leaf powder.

$6 per approx. 4 3/4 oz.


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this one

Lemon Charcoal $9

Lemon and Charcoal

NOW A 100% Olive Oil CASTILE SOAP!
Masculine in aesthetics. The scent is mild and fresh.

Saponified olive oil, activated charcoal, lemon peel, essential oil.

$9 per approx. 5 1/2 oz.

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this one

Salt and Charcoal Facial Soap

This facial bar helps exfoliate, as well as cleanse and soothe the skin. Use 1 to 3 times a week depending on your skin.

Saponified olive oil, saponified coconut oil, salt, bentonite, activated charcoal.

 

$6 for approx 2 1/2 oz

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Honey Oat Vanilla

Vanilla Honey & Oats

 Honey moisturizes and oat exfoliates. The vanilla honey scent is heavy, strong and masculine on the big bars. This is another popular one.

Saponified olive oil, phthalate-free fragrance oils, oats, honey.

$9.75 per approx. 5 oz.
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And for the Star Wars Fans?

Check this out.

Star Wars 100% Olive Oil Castile Soaps

14 Jan

Individual Figures: saponified olive oil, activated charcoal and/or indigo.

The Millennium Falcon (6 x 8.5 cm), Big R2-D2 (6.5 x 9 cm), and Big Han Solo in Carbonite (4 x 9.5 cm) are each around 2 oz.

5 Darth Vader or 4 Storm Trooper heads together are around 2 oz.

Please specify your choice.

These are very popular so if your choice is not available, I can make them to order.

$4 per approx. 2 oz.

$6.30 per approx  2 1/2 oz bars.

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Mama in the Kitchen Soap Shop Open for Business!

8 Jan

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Now licensed to sell soap!

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As a sufferer of hand eczema, I started making my own soap in search of a solution to my skin condition. On my soap making journey, I have discovered that pure 100% olive oil Castile Soaps are the mildest and gentlest soaps. In fact, it is the only soap I can use without dreading fissures on my skin. Today, Mama in the Kitchen Soap Shop focuses on creating 100% olive oil Castile Soaps for you.

100% olive oil Castile soaps moisturize and hydrate the skin. Their gentle and mild properties benefit all skin conditions from dry to oily.

 

HANDCRAFTED IN SMALL BATCHES

My soaps are handmade in small batches to ensure quality. They are cured for a couple of months to ensure gentleness.

My soaps are also attractive and luxurious. They are not over-the-top creations, but remain understated in their beauty and simplicity.

NATURAL and CLEAN

Simplicity and purity are key: the less ingredients, the better. No: Preservatives, Parabens, SLS, SLES, Unnatural Colours, Palm Oil. Non-toxic and gentle on the environment.

MILD SCENTS

If any of my soaps are scented, the smell is mild and not overpowering. I choose to use quality essential oils over fragrance oils when economical. When I do use fragrance oils, they are without parabens. Unlike strong perfume, my soaps do not give me a headache when I smell them.

VEGAN and VEGETARIAN SOAPS

No animal fats used.

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Gentle, Unscented Star Wars Bastille Soaps for Kids

21 Oct

Everything Star Wars here. Why not soap too? Here’s a gentle, unscented recipe for kids of all ages.

IMG_8162005Star Wars Soap Cupcakes

Recipe:

  • 5% castor oil
  • 15% coconut oil
  • 80% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

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At trace, divide up your batch:

  • leave some plain
  • add activated charcoal for Darth Vadar’s helmet
  • add indigo for R2D2 (I still have to find the best way to do this without using synthetic materials)
  • add just a little of activated charcoal for Han Solo in carbonite

Pour into Star Wars molds. You can also add the figures to a fresh batch of bar soaps (photo above and below).

  • cover with a towel and allow to gel for 24 hours
  • remove towel after 24 hours
  • unmold and cut
  • cure for 4 – 6 weeks

IMG_8165006  IMG_8164004   R2D2, Xwing, Carbonite Soap

Now, who’s got tickets to the new Star Wars film coming out this December?

Sensous Sandalwood Soap

7 Oct

I wanted to create a Sandalwood Soap with the look and feel of wood, as well as the sensual fragrance of sandalwood. Here it is!

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Recipe:

  • 10% avocado oil (for a more moisturizing soap)
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 65% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

At trace, add 1 1/3 T Sandalwood fragrance oil/pound and 0.5% of ingredients of grapefruit oil as a preservative. Divide the batch into 3 and to:

  • 1/3, add 1 T activated charcoal/pound
  • 1/3, add 1 tsp red clay/pound
  • 1/3, add nothing.

Sandalwood Soap

I used a cardboard box as my mold and lined the inside with a plastic bag:

  • pour the red clay batch in first
  • top it with the plain and charcoal batches in lines down the mold
  • use a thin tool to make circular patterns on the top of the soap for the design
  • cover with a towel and allow to gel for 24 hours
  • remove towel after 24 hours
  • unmold and cut after 48 hours
  • cure for 4 – 6 weeks

Amber Crystal Soap

21 Sep

I was really excited about the potentiality of this Amber Crystal Soap project because I love amber crystals and their scent. I prefer to stick to natural products and don’t add unnatural colourants to my soap, so I was uncertain how the soaps would look. Here they are!

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Recipe:

  • 30% coconut oil
  • 30% vegetable shortening for vegans and vegetarians/ lard or tallow for the omnivores out there
  • 40% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

At trace, add 1 1/2 T Amber fragrance oil/pound and 0.5% of ingredients of grapefruit oil as a preservative.

I used a cleaned soymilk carton as my mold:

  • pour batch into your mold
  • insert old pieces of soap to add texture and colour to the soap
  • cover with a towel and allow to gel for 24 hours
  • remove towel after 24 hours
  • unmold and cut after 48 hours
  • cure for 4 – 6 weeks

With my extra pieces of cut soap, I balled them up and rolled them in some turmeric to make Amber Rock Soaps.

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The amber fragrance fills my kitchen as I write and it smells heavenly.

Rose Bastille Soap

17 Sep

I wanted to create Gothic English Rose Soaps, but didn’t think the older ladies in my family would understand it.

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So I have some all white bars and some with a layer of activated charcoal.

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They look beautiful.

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I snuck in some all black Gothic-looking mini rose soaps too.
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Recipe:

  • 20% coconut oil
  • 80% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

At trace, add 1 1/2 T English Rose fragrance oil/pound. Add activated charcoal to some, if you wish.

My family presented me with a mold recently and I couldn’t wait to use it:

  • pour batch into your mold
  • top with rose petals
  • cover with a towel and allow to gel for 24 hours
  • remove towel after 24 hours
  • freeze for a couple of hours (very important as the soap may still be soft and may be ruined during this next process)
  • unmold
  • cure for 4 – 6 weeks

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Castile Soap with Olive Leaf Powder

14 Sep

I read that the quality of olive oil one uses in soaps drastically changes the final product of soap. There is a lot to read about Castile Soaps on the internet, but I wanted to experiment on my own to verify what I read.

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil Castile Soap with Olive Leaf Powder.

Well, it is true: plain olive oil produces a creamier texture, while extra virgin olive oil produces a more brittle soap. I noticed that plain olive oil also creates a silkier finish and is easier to handle. Now, I have 4 to 6 months of curing left before I can actually use them to assess how they differ as soaps.

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Plain Olive Oil Castile Soap (top) and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Castile Soap (bottom)

Recipe:

  • 100% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

At trace, add 1 tsp olive leaf powder/pound of oils. Olive leaf is said to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory. It is also full of antioxidants and helps heal wounds faster.

I used an old soymilk carton as my mold (my fave as there is no washing up and I can still recycle it):

  • pour batch into your mold
  • spray top with alcohol to prevent formation of soda ash
  • cover with a towel and allow to gel for 24 hours
  • remove towel after 24 hours
  • unmold after 48 hours and slice
  • cure for 4 – 6 months

Lemon and Charcoal Bastille Soap: Oriental and Masculine

14 Sep

I asked my brother what kind of soap he wanted me to make him. He chose Lemon and Charcoal Bastille Soap.

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Now, my brother is a very masculine man. He has a strong personality with Oriental preferences and a Zen-like attitude.

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I wanted to create Lemon and Charcoal soaps that reminded me of him, that somehow captured his sensibility.

IMG_7829007Well, here they are!

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Handmade. Just for my little brother.

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Recipe:

  • 30% coconut oil
  • 70% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

At trace, divide the batch into 2:

  1. to 2/3 of the batch – add 1 tsp lemon peel powder and 1 oz lemon essential oil/pound
  2. to 1/3 of the batch – add 1 T charcoal/pound

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I used an old soymilk carton as my mold:

  • pour most of the charcoal batch into the mold
  • carefully pour all the lemon batch on top of the charcoal layer
  • use a spoon to slightly mix the two layers together
  • spoon the rest of the charcoal mixture on the top
  • decorate as you wish
  • spray with alcohol to prevent formation of soda ash
  • cover with a towel and allow to gel for 24 hours
  • unmold after 24 hours and slice
  • cure for 4 – 6 months

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Cinnamon Toast Soap

6 Sep

Totally inedible, except for the cinnamon.

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100% olive oil soap.

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Gentle for all skin types.

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Recipe:

  • 100% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want

At trace, add:

  • 6g per pound of oils cinnamon sugar fragrance, optional

Use an old cardboard box lined with a plastic bag as a mold:

  • make sure you only pour a thin layer for the “toast”
  • sprinkle ground cinnamon on top for decoration, but not too much as cinnamon can be a skin irritant
  • sprinkle with pieces of grated white soap or baking soda for the powdered sugar effect
  • unmold after 24 – 48 hours
  • cure for 4 – 6 months
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IMG_7794006 Mama, can I have one?

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Why, of course, who did I make these for?

Homemade Moisturizing Hand Lotion

5 Sep

Indulge in your own homemade hand lotion. You can make it as light or heavy as you want. You can personalize the scent and the oils that you use. Best of all, you control the ingredients.

I’m not going to lie and tell you this concoction is not greasy. It is, but only for a while. There’s actually a trick so that it moisturizes well, soothes the skin, and the rich creaminess dissipates into your skin quickly.

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Recipe:

Melt the following in a double boiler:

  • 3T olive oil, extra virgin (don’t even get me started… I ditched all my high-end facial creams for olive oil and my skin is so much happier)
  • 1 1/2 T shea butter, unrefined (great moisturizer for dry skin and reduces inflamed skin reactions)
  • 1 T avocado oil (relieves dry and itchy skin, naturally boosts collagen production, retains water)
  • 1 T jojoba oil (similar to our skin’s natural oils, it is easily absorbed into our skin)
  • 1 1/2 T your choice of wax (there is soy, Carnauba, or Candelilla wax for vegans and beeswax for vegetarians, this is added to help blend and solidify the oils)

Take off the heat, add and mix well:

  • 1T honey, raw (optional, but I love honey on the skin and hair. Honey fragrance is an extra bonus.)
  • 10 drops Frankincense Essential Oil (or choose your own, but if you believe in EO, Frankincense has anti-aging properties and speeds up healing)
  • 10 drops Sandalwood Essential Oil (or choose your own, added for antiseptic, astringent, and amazing fragrance)

Refrigerate for 10 minutes until it solidifies somewhat. Place in your container of choice.

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When you want to use it, simply take a dab or two with a finger. It will feel greasy.
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What you want to do is rub it all over your hands with a few drops of water. It will feel like regular lotion. In this way, you are in control of how light or heavy this lotion will feel on your skin, as well as how much you want. By not adding water to our lotion, we are also preventing mold.

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Enjoy it on your hands, elbows, and knees.

How To Make Liquid Soap from Homemade Bar Soaps

4 Sep

I want to buy LESS stuff from someone else and make MORE of my own stuff. One of the easiest things I have recently discovered is the DIY room temperature method for creating soap bars. I am definitely hooked.

Soap bars are great, but for washing dishes… I prefer liquid.

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I went soap-crazy the other night and decided to bevel my soaps. Don’t they look nicer?

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The result was bowls of little pieces of soaps.

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What to do with them besides making pouches of travel soaps? Liquid soap!

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It’s so simple:

  1. Chop or grate your homemade bar soaps.
  2. Add boiling water on top to cover by an inch or two. It all depends on how creamy or watery you prefer your liquid soap. Less water for a creamier liquid, more water for a more watery one.
  3. Let it sit for a while to cool down a little.
  4. Blend together with an immersion blender. 
  5. Make a week’s batch at a time to prevent mold. Or, make a big batch, freeze in small pieces, and defrost as needed.

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This simple chore gave me a feeling of great accomplishment. Silly, but true.

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BYOS: Bring Your Own Soap

1 Sep

After years of traveling with eczema on my hands, I think I’ve finally found my solution: BYOS or Bring Your Own Soap. Not only are my homemade soaps biodegradable, but I know the exact ingredients that I used for each bar.

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I simply chop little pieces of soap before they get too hard, put them in a small container in my handbag, and I don’t have to worry about washing my hands with unknown chemicals that aggravate my eczema when I am out and about.

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These are the little jewels in my purse.

Pure Olive Oil Soap Gentle Enough for Baby

31 Aug

I was sure different types of olive oils would create variations of pale to dark green hues, but who knew that Pure Olive Oil Soap could be so WHITE?

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I used regular olive oil mixed only with water and lye. The result is a beautiful milky and creamy bar gentle enough for baby.

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I have also read a few bloggers grate this Castile soap, mix it with rose water and coconut milk to make a very silky shampoo. Recipe here.

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I can’t wait to give this to my baby niece!

Recipe:

  • 100% olive oil
  • lye (NaOH)
  • run it through my fave soap calculator to get the amount you want
  • unmold after it is hard enough to slice
  • cure for 4 – 6 months

Champagne and Orange: Mimosa Soaps

29 Aug

Are you ready for Brunch? These Mimosa soap treats are a perfect blend of Champagne and Orange.

IMG_7682007IMG_7676005Recipe:

  • 100% olive oil
  • Champagne, flat (boil off the alcohol first, otherwise your batch may rice or seize) and frozen
  • lye (NaOH)

At trace, add

Pour into molds. Unmold after 24 – 48 hours. Cure for 4 – 6 months. Wrap them up so they look like mini Champagne bottles.

Ylang Ylang Castille Soap

29 Aug

Ylang Ylang Castile Soap

Recipe:

  • 100% olive oil
  • water
  • lye (NaOH)

At trace, add

Pour into molds. Unmold after 24 – 48 hours. Cure for 4 – 6 months.

Artisanal Espresso Soap Cups

24 Aug

I don’t drink coffee, but I love the smell. These little cups are inspired by my Dad, who is the biggest espresso drinker I know.

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I was going to name these soaps “Cappuccino Cups”, but my Dad suggested “Artisanal Espresso Soap Cups”. I couldn’t agree more.

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Vegan/Vegetarian. All natural ingredients. No added fragrances. Simply coconut and olive oils, lye, water, coffee, cocoa powder, and cinnamon.

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Imagine waking up and washing your hands with your own brew of Artisanal Espresso Soap first thing in the morning! How delightful!

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Espresso Soap Cups Recipe:

  • 25% coconut oil
  • 75% olive oil
  • water (less 1.5 oz because you will be adding coffee later)
  • lye (NaOH)

At trace, add to 3/4 of the batch (if making 1# of soap):

  • 1.5 oz extra strength coffee
  • 1/2T cocoa powder
  • 1/2 T raw honey (optional for Vegans)

Fill molds with coffee mixture, top with the remaining soap mixture.

For decoration:

Cure for 4 – 6 weeks. You can either keep them in the mold or unmold them. Your choice. They look deliciously drinkable in these cups though.

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I can’t wait to give these as gifts!

Creamy Coconut Milk Lemongrass Shampoo Bar

23 Aug

Last week, I made a list of the types of SOAP BARS I wanted to create:

  1. Castile Soap (100% olive oil)
  2. Bastille Soap (at least 70% olive oil)
  3. Low-Cost Basic Soap (at least 50% of the butters or oils at only $0.10/oz)
  4. Moisturizing Shampoo Soap (that didn’t dry out my hair)
  5. Grease-Cutting Kitchen Soap (so I wouldn’t have to buy dishwashing detergent again)

A few days ago, I blogged about #1, 2, and 3.

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Creamy Coconut Milk Lemongrass Shampoo Bars

Today, I unmolded these luscious soaps: my own Creamy Coconut Milk Lemongrass Shampoo Bars. They smell great and feel velvety too.

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My criteria for my soap:

  1. I wanted coconut to be the main ingredient in my bar. Growing up in the Philippines, fresh coconut milk was often applied to my hair as a “hot oil” treatment to moisturize my scalp and hair, and encourage my fine hair to grow thicker. When it was washed off, my hair would shine and smell of the tropics. Naturally, I chose coconut milk and coconut oil for my shampoo soap.
  2. I wanted an extra moisturizing and conditioning bar.
    1. That meant keeping coconut oil to a minimum because saponified coconut oil can be drying over 30%. I limited this to 25%.
    2. I added castor oil, which provides a fluffy lather while conditioning and moisturizing.
    3. I added hemp seed oil for extra conditioning.
    4. I added jojoba oil, an oil similar to our skin sebum, at trace as an extra moisturizer for my scalp.
    5. I added raw honey at trace for extra conditioning.
    6. My other soaps are superfatted at 8%, but this one is at 11%. Superfatting allows some oils LEFTOVER on the soap bar AFTER saponification takes place.
  3. I wanted a softer bar for ease of use on the hair. I don’t mind lathering up a hard soap for my body, but I want a softer soap for a shampoo bar.
    1. Castor oil creates a softer soap.
    2. Hemp seed oil creates a silky bar.
  4. Fragrance and more:
    1. Raw honey not only conditions hair, as stated above, but also smells heavenly.
    2. Optional: add your choice of essential oils or fragrances as the coconut milk smell will disappear.

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I ran my soap recipe through the SoapCalc and was happy with the results:

  • hardness 29 (range is 29-54)
  • cleansing 17 (range 12-22)
  • conditioning 68 (range 44-69)
  • bubbly 35 (range 14-46)
  • creamy 30 (range 16-48)

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Creamy Coconut Milk Lemongrass Shampoo Bar Recipe

  • 5% hemp seed oil
  • 20% castor oil
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 50% olive oil
  • coconut milk, fresh or canned, frozen before you start
  • lye
  • superfat 11%

Use the Room Temperature Method. At trace, add lemongrass essential oils. Refrigerate in mold overnight. Then, take out and place under towels. Unmold after 24-48 hours. Slice and cure for 4 – 6 weeks.

*Shampoo bar results to come in 2 months!

UPDATE: I think this works great as a soap… I’m not gung-ho on its benefits as a shampoo though.

Too-Good-To-Be-True Soap Treats for Kids (Warning: these look edible!)

21 Aug

I have been obsessed about making my own gentle soaps. I don’t know if I can wait 4 to 6 weeks for them to cure! Take a look at my mouth-watering dessert soaps!

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“Hot Chocolate topped with Whipped Cream and a Piece of Chocolate” Castile Soap

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“Vanilla and Chocolate Fudge” Castile Soap, “Chocolate Mint Brownie” Basic Soap, “Oatmeal and Honey Cookie” Bastille Soap

 Tricks I have learned about making soap:

  1. It’s SO easy. Don’t bother with the Cold Processed Method where you have to heat several bowls and take the temperature of both the lye and the oils. Room Temperature Method is THE WAY to make soaps for busy Mamas. No temperature issues. Less clean up. And it takes about 1 hour or less to make a whole batch, including prepping the molds to cleaning up. This process works for soaps with lye, oil, and butters only. Check out these links:
    1. The Room Temperature Method by Soap Making Essentials
    2. Room Temperature Soap Making by Skin + Soul
  2. Use a soap calculator to check your recipes. My favorite is SoapCalc because you can simply input the percentages, weight, and oils that you want and it calculates everything for you. Plus, they give you very useful information about your soap’s properties: cleansing, hardness, conditioning, lathering, creaminess, and so on.
  3. Prepare your molds before you start making soap. Grease your molds for ease of removing.
  4. Prepare the ingredients you will be adding at trace.
  5. Castile soaps (100% olive oil) take a LONG time to trace. Bastille soaps (bastard Castile, i.e. at least 70% olive oil) trace much quicker.
  6. If you are using liquids with sugars, freeze them first so that when you add lye to them the solution does not get too hot.
  7. Once the soap traces, work quickly to put them in the molds. Or leave them out a few minutes longer if you want to create decorations with them.  

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    Freshly piped whipped cream soap

  8. Fragrances can darken your soaps, so I add these to the darker (chocolate) parts of my soap.
  9. If you are using any milks instead of water in your recipes, refrigerate them overnight. Take a look at my “whipped cream”. After a few hours in the refrigerator, the cream is whiter.
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I just placed them in the fridge

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After a few hours, the soap is a creamier white.

10. Waiting to remove your soaps from the molds requires patience. You can usually do this in 24 -48 hours. My impatience has cost me pox marks on my soap. Plus, see #3, which I failed to do.

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The wait time to remove the soaps from the molds requires patience!

11. But waiting for the soaps to cure requires even more patience. Bastille soaps require 4 – 6 weeks, while Castile soaps require at least 4 – 6 months or even longer (they say 1 – 2 years at least to get a fuller lather).

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I made some Castille Oatmeal and Honey Soaps from the leftover “cream” soap batch by adding ground oats and raw honey.

12. Cleaning up is a breeze. Keep aside everything you used during soap production where little hands cannot reach and hurt themselves. 2 days later, wash them up with soap that has dried on and in them. I usually have enough to wash other things in my kitchen sink too. No waste!

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My son and I CANNOT wait to try these.

My husband says I have enough soap now for my son’s wedding in a couple of decades.

Don’t tell him but I cannot wait to make MORE!

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Recipe Notes:

“Hot Chocolate topped with Whipped Cream and a Piece of Chocolate” Castile Soap: your choice of milk, cocoa powder mixed with olive oil, and vanilla fragrance for 2/3 the batch.

“Vanilla and Chocolate Fudge” Castile Soap: cocoa powder mixed with olive oil and vanilla fragrance for 1/2 the batch.

“Chocolate Mint Brownie” Basic Soap: I used mint from my garden, cocoa powder mixed with olive oil, and peppermint essential oil.

“Oatmeal and Honey Cookie” Bastille Soap: ground oats and raw honey.

For every 2# soap, at trace I added:

  • 3T cocoa powder mixed with some olive oil for my chocolate soaps
  • 6T ground oats, 2 T honey
  • 2 tsp essential oils or 1 1/2T fragrance for mild scents. Note: these can darken the soap colours, so I added these in in the chocolate bars only.

Liquids:

  • lots of options here
    • plain water
    • tea
    • your choice of milk. If you use any kind of milk, freeze first.

Recipe for my Castile Soap:

  • 100% olive oil
  • lye (NaOH)
  • your choice of liquid
  • 8% superfat
  • cure at least 4 – 6 months

Recipe for my very gentle Bastille Soap:

  • 15% coconut oil
  • 85% olive oil
  • lye (NaOH)
  • your choice of liquid
  • 8% superfat
  • cure at least 4 – 6 weeks

Recipe for my very gentle Basic Soap:

  • 20% coconut oil
  • 30% olive oil
  • 50% tallow/lard/palm oil (If you use palm oil, look for a sustainable option. Otherwise, look into tallow/lard. Any questions about sustainability? Check out why vegetarian Humblebee & Me uses animal fats in her soaps.)
  • lye (NaOH)
  • your choice of liquid
  • 8% superfat
  • cure 4 – 6 weeks

Finally, special thanks to the amazing Liz over at The Paragon House for teaching me how to make soap! She made it look so easy.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes with Kids

1 Jul

I’ve been waiting for my son to show some serious interest in the kitchen. This past week, he volunteered to make Vegan Mashed Potatoes, not once, but twice. I’m pretty sure he would do it another time too. This Mama is so excited to have a willing helper.

Son's Vegan Mashed Potatoes

Vegan Mashed Potatoes are so easy and so forgiving. My son loves every step of the process and wants to do it all himself. Your kids might want to do the same. Here’s what he did:

1. Scrub the potatoes clean.

2. Quarter them. (We keep the peel for extra nutrients.)

3. Drop them in a pot full of water.

4. Boil, then turn down the heat to simmer until the potatoes are tender. (15 minutes?)

5. Drain.

6. Put the potatoes back into the pot.

7. Mash, while adding sea salt, olive oil, and your choice of milk.

8. Serve. My son loves it with Baked Beans.

Vegan Mashed Potato

Harry Potter’s Vegan Eggnog

20 Jun

Any other Vegan Harry Potter fans out there?

Well, my son is currently attending the Online School of Wizardry over at DIY.org for Harry Potter fans. So this Mama in the Kitchen immediately borrowed The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook for him.  One of the things he bookmarked was Eggnog for Kids, which requires 6 eggs, whole milk and heavy cream. The recipe is a complete NO-NO for a kid with super high cholesterol. Since today is a Saturday (a dessert day), I thought I would concoct a Vegan version for him. I would love to create a RAW Vegan Eggnog, but my son is allergic to nuts, so I used soy. This Harry Potter’s Vegan Eggnog was a HIT at our house.

Vegan Eggnog

Place all of the following ingredients in a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix:

  • 2 cups unsweetened organic soymilk
  • 2 cups organic soy creamer
  • 1 cup soy ice cream
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 1/8 teaspoons sea salt
  • pinch of cloves

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Pour it straight from the Vitamix. Cast a spell on your Vegan Eggnog and delight in all that foam.

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Pretend you are drinking your Vegan Eggnog out of a Butterbeer Mug at The Three Broomsticks and it is Christmas.

Accio Vegan Eggnog!

Oops. Looks like Hermione, Ron, and Harry wanted to try some of your Vegan Eggnog!

“Nicer” Krispie Squares and Vegan CookBook Give-Away

16 Jun

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After a few months with limited sweets due to a stricter diet at home, I decided to try a couple of desserts from Dreena Burton’s Plant-Powered Families. My family needed a few healthy treats.

3 recipes

We tried her Fudgesicles, Chocolate Chia Pudding, and Oatmeal Banana Bites.

Nicer Krispie Squares

But the “Nicer” Krispie Squares, with modifications based on ingredients I had on hand, was the biggest hit with my son.

Note: I used sunflower seed butter instead of the macadamia nut butter for a nut-free version. I used maple syrup instead of brown rice syrup, which made the squares a little more brittle but still delicious. I did not use the spices she suggested and I used chocolate brown rice crisp cereal, instead of the plain.

Dreena’s “Nicer” Krispie Squares 

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Makes 16 squares

This recipe first appeared in my cookbook Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, and it is such a well-loved, kid-friendly recipe that I had to share a nut-free version here! These squares taste phenomenal, with the buttery richness of the macadamia nut butter and the sweetness of brown rice syrup. They aren’t sticky or gooey like traditional Rice Krispie squares, but the flavor is remarkably similar!

1/2 cup macadamia nut butter (see note for nut free options)

1–2 tablespoons coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar (see note)

1/4 teaspoon agar powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1–11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 cups natural brown rice crisp cereal (see note)

Line an 8″ × 8″ pan with parchment paper. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the macadamia nut butter, coconut sugar, agar powder, sea salt, brown rice syrup, and vanilla extract. Stir continually as the mixture heats, until the agar powder is fully dissolved (reduce heat if mixture starts bubbling).

Remove from the heat and stir in the cereal, making sure to fully incorporate with the nut butter mixture. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press in evenly (use a nonstick spatula or a piece of parchment to press the mixture without sticking). Refrigerate to cool completely, then cut into squares.

Nut-Free Options:

  • With coconut butter: This is my suggested nut-free option; it may even rival the macadamia nut version, simply because it has a similar mellow flavor but holds together even better— and agar is not needed! Simply replace the macadamia nut butter with 1/3 packed cup coconut butter (not oil). Omit the agar. The remaining ingredients stay the same.
  • With sunflower seed butter: Sunflower seed butter has a stronger nutty taste, almost peanut-y. With this substitution the squares taste different than a traditional Rice Krispie square, but it’s still a nice option. Use 1/2 cup of sunflower seed butter, 3–4 tablespoons of coconut sugar, and add 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom to balance the seed butter flavor. Use the full 11/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and retain the sea salt and agar. A sprinkle of mini chocolate chips just before transferring to the pan is also good!

Sugar Note: I don’t always add the coconut sugar to these squares. For me, the brown rice syrup adds sufficient sweetness. If you think you’d like them a little sweeter, use the added touch of sugar.

Brown Rice Crisp Cereal Note: These squares use the crisp rice cereal similar to Rice Krispies. There are a few organic and brown rice brands available; one of my favorites is by Erewhon.

Chocolate Version: To make a chocolaty version, add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder while melting the ingredients. Whisk through to get out any small lumps. You may want the additional sweetener if using cocoa powder, since it will introduce some bitterness.

Give-Away

Dreena’s book is full of other healthy choices besides desserts: breakfast, lunch, salad, dinner recipes, as well as solutions for picky eaters, lunchbox options, and plant-powered family support. Interested in getting your own book? Let me know in the comments below WHY you would be interested in winning Dreena’s book and please LIKE my Facebook page. US/Canada residents get a physical copy, while International readers will get an e-book. The winner will be announced on the 30th of June 2015 at 9am EST.

THANK YOU!

Forget Statins for Kids: Lower LDL with a Vegan Diet

16 Jun

Over the past year, our family has changed how we eat… yet again.

After our 7 year old Vegan decided to become an Omnivore, we discovered he had extremely high LDL. Several doctors we consulted suggested statins if he was unable to lower his cholesterol. Our goal was to decrease his LDL dramatically.

A Largely Vegetarian Diet Did Not Work

My first response was for him to go back to a Vegan diet but he argued that he wanted to try a largely Vegetarian diet with meat a couple times a month. After 6 months, his LDL stayed basically the same around the high 180s mg/dL.

Vegan Diet Is The Answer

I suggested switching back to a strict Vegan diet. He agreed. After another 6 months, his LDL decreased by 80 mg/dL. Although barely in the normal range, we were all ecstatic. More importantly, my son saw for himself the results of the Vegan diet.

Going Forward

So, what is my son doing these days?

Here is his basic daily health plan which I modified from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s recommendations for adults.

Health Plan

My son and I need to make sure he gets to write a check mark beside at least 7 things on this list a day: daily exercise, fresh air/time outdoors, at least 3 cups of fruit, at least 2 tablespoons of nuts/seeds/avocado, at least 1/4 cup of whole grains, at least 1 cup of steamed vegetables, at least 1 cup of raw veggies, at least 1/2 bowl of beans/tofu, and a minimum of 1 tablespoon of any sugar (this one is a difficult one!). He is allowed desserts only on the weekend. He is allowed any food of his choice when we do not eat at home, which is only a few times a month.

Is it doable? YES! Is he totally on board? YES!

He has another blood test in a couple of months and I will be sure to update you! In the meantime, Vegan is our way at home!

This Vegan Mama Cooked Lamb

31 Oct

Photo Oct 30, 18 57 56003

 

I chopped a lamb’s leg yesterday morning. I haven’t done that in over 7 years. It was a weird feeling. I had gloves on, washed my hands really well, and even showered, yet the odor of meat still stuck to me for the rest of the day. I roasted the meat for dinner and the smell pervaded the house even more.  I had forgotten how cooked lamb smells. I had forgotten how much cleaning is involved in preparing fresh meat. I had forgotten how the rubbish smells the day after, and worse, the days after that.

Vegans: don’t judge me.

After three years of Vegan food at home, my family has started craving animal products with an intensity I had not seen before.  It was time for me to be sensitive to their wants and needs too. They have asked for meat once a week. They also asked for more Vegetarian meals. It has been a difficult transition for me. I am relearning how to cook with butter, eggs, dairy, and meats. I struggle having to create two separate balanced meals: one for them and one Vegan for me. At certain times, I have broken down and eaten some of their foods because I honestly had no time left in my day to make any for myself.

As I strive to understand my family and how our kitchen is changing, I remember what my friend Ian told me: it is important that I grow together with my family, and not grow apart.

Yes, this is what I choose to do.

Nori Wraps

29 Jul

A meal that takes less than 5 minutes!

Simply mix a huge bowl of salad. Use whatever ingredients you want! Easy minute salad is all I had time for last night.

Place some on a nori sheet.

Wrap.

Eat.

Happy Healthy  Tummy!

Is Veganism Safe For Babies?

9 Jul

HuffPost Live

First of all, thank you Nancy Redd and HuffPost Live for having me for a much needed discussion. Watch the video here!

My thoughts to:

  • @chubbyveganmom – wish we were closer! I totally see our kids having fun in the kitchen together!
  • @FatGirlPosing – enjoy looking at your photos!  I thought you’d be interested in the new study out by National Health and Nutrition Examination
    Survey (NHANES) that states it is the lack of exercise, not food intake, that causes obesity.

Vegan Mamas out there: Are your Vegan Babies Healthy? Would love to hear from you!!!

NOTE: My Twitter is @MamaInDKtchn! Also, our family members are ranked rowers (NOT national rowers… wish we were though)! 🙂