Mommypotamus 2015-05-21T19:06:50Z http://www.mommypotamus.com/feed/atom/WordPress Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[10 Natural Remedies For Eczema]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34905 2015-05-21T19:06:50Z 2015-05-21T18:32:51Z It’s a toss up with “best cooker ever” . . . But I think my favorite job title has to be “best boo-boo kisser south of Puckett’s station.” Getting paid in kisses is even better than compliments about my baking skills, you know? But what do we do when kisses are not enough? For many [&hellip

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natural-remedies-for-eczema

It’s a toss up with “best cooker ever” . . .

But I think my favorite job title has to be “best boo-boo kisser south of Puckett’s station.” Getting paid in kisses is even better than compliments about my baking skills, you know?

But what do we do when kisses are not enough? For many who struggle with eczema (or whose children suffer from it), the answer seems to be obvious: topical steroids.

Unfortunately, they’re not actually recommended for long-term use. According to the National Eczema Foundation’s guidelines, they should not be used continuously for more than two weeks due to risk of dependency. Of course, in practice they’re often used much longer than that. So is this warning legitimate or frivolous, like those warnings not to swallow coat hangers?

Janelle Norman, whose skin peeled off when she weaned herself from steroid creams, urges us to take it seriously. “I looked in the mirror, and my face was gone,” she shares in this article about her story.  (Warning: The photos are graphic.)

Available in both over-the-counter and prescription form, topical steroids and have been reported to create dependency even when used for less than two weeks, and according to some practitioners they’re more of a band-aid approach than a solution.

“Using cortisone cream to fix eczema is a bit like painting a rickety house that’s about to fall down. It makes it look better, and you may feel better for a short period of time – but ultimately the underlying issues must be healed,” writes Emily Bartlett, LaC, author of The Eczema Cure. (Source)

What is eczema?

Chris Kresser, LAc, writes that “most of you have heard of leaky gut by now, but what about ‘leaky skin’? The main function of the skin is to act as a physical, chemical and antimicrobial defense system. Studies have shown that both stress and gut inflammation can impair the integrity and protective function of the epidermal barrier. This in turn leads to a decrease in antimicrobial peptides produced in the skin, and an increase in the severity of infection and inflammation in the skin.” (source)

In other words, Kresser and many other researchers believe that eczema may sometimes be an expression of a gut imbalance. So what do we do with this information? Since boo-boo kisser is about as official as things get for me professionally I’ll leave that to you and your trusted healthcare provider. I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA, and they are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please see full disclaimer here if you need more convincing.

However, I want to pass along several dietary and lifestyle changes that others have found helpful, many of which can be found on mainstream medical resources such as this article published by the University of Maryland Medical Center.

natural-remedies-eczema

1. Probiotics

According to Chris Kresser, supporting balanced gut flora is helpful for nurturing skin health. (source) One of the most often suggested ways to go about this is by consuming fermented foods or a high-quality probiotic. (I use both a soil-based and lactic-acid based probiotic. Both are listed on my resources page.)

In addition to being taken internally, they can be directly applied to skin. “When you apply a probiotic directly it can actually act as a barrier because it’s competing with the bad bacteria from taking hold,” Whitney P. Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, told ABC News.

I have friends who have used both yogurt and kombucha scobys topically. Post on that coming soon! (Or eventually depending on your definition of soon.)

bone-broth-natural-remedies-for-growing-pains

2. Add Foods That Support Gut Health

Several healing protocols, including the GAPS diet and autoimmune paleo protocol, focus on improving gut health. Here are a few of the foods they emphasize:

Healthy Fats & Essential Fatty Acids

According to this PubMed analysis, adding a GLA-rich oil such as evening primrose oil to the diet may be helpful. Many families have also reported that coconut oil was helpful for them, possibly because it is a rich source of immune-boosting lauric acid. Fish oils such as raw cod liver oil are also rich in high-quality essential fatty acids.

Vitamin A Rich Foods

According to Chris Kresser, “While physicians prescribe synthetic retinoids to treat skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, wounds, burns, sunburn, and ichthyosis, it is possible to obtain similar effects from consuming natural sources of pre-formed vitamin A. (5)” (source)

My favorite sources of pre-formed vitamin A (which preferred over it’s precursor, betacarotene, because many of us do not have the ability to convert it well) are raw cod liver oil and chicken liver. I took me awhile to get used to the idea of eating liver, but I’ve found ways to make it palatable for my family. This bacon and chicken liver pate and ultimate chili have both gotten great reviews, and my kids don’t gag when I give them the raw cod liver oil listed on my resources page.

Bone Broth & Grass-Fed Gelatin

According to Dr. Ernie Garcia, MD and The Paleo Mom Sarah Ballantyne, PhD,  “Including glycine-rich foods like homemade bone broth and organ meat can help speed the healing of both the gut and the skin (glycine is an essential component of connective tissue and the extracellular matrix that acts as a scaffold for cells). ” Grass-fed gelatin is also rich in glycine and another beneficial amino acid, proline.

3. Remove Triggers

As important as it is to get the good stuff in, it’s equally important to remove inflammation causing foods. Here’s a list to consider.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium is thought to be helpful for a variety of reason. First, it is often called the “anti-stress” mineral, which may be helpful if you’ve found that one of your triggers is stress, whether emotional or physical in origin. This study also suggests that magnesium supports histamine regulation, which may be helpful because histamine plays a role in inflammatory response. (source)

Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin in the form of epsom salt baths or magnesium spray. (I link to the brand I buy on my resources page.)

5. Sunlight

While heat and sweating are generally avoided because they can exacerbate a flare, some research suggests that sunlight may be a beneficial complementary therapy. According to this study published in The Lancet, “Narrow-band UVB is an effective adjunctive treatment for moderate to severe atopic eczema, and the treatment is well tolerated by most patients.”

6. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Astringents such as apple cider vinegar or a salt + magnesium spray can be helpful for weeping eczema. For apple cider vinegar, it is usually suggested that individuals dilute it by adding 1 part purified water to 1 part apple cider vinegar. Those with very sensitive skin may need to dilute more.

7. Apply Barrier Moisturizers

According to this study, pediatric patients who were given extra virgin coconut oil topically had better clinical results than those who were given mineral oil. Other moisturizers that individuals have found helpful are tallow balm, tamanu oil, argan oil, shea butter and cocoa butter.

Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent Made Easy

8. Switch To Non-Toxic Personal & Home Products

While not exactly a natural remedy, so many parents reported that changing personal/home care products made a difference for them that I felt it was worth including. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center article I mentioned earlier, common irritants that may exacerbate eczema include “wool, synthetic fibers, soaps and detergents, perfumes, cosmetics, lanolin, certain chemicals, such as chlorine and solvents (including mineral oil), cigarette smoke, dust, and sand.”

When I transitioned to natural personal care products, these are some of the first I prioritized:

And here are my favorite basic cleaners:

And of course, cotton is the best clothing option because it allows the skin to breathe.

9. Bath Filters (And Fewer Baths)

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology which suggests that bathing less often and moisturizing more often may prevent symptoms of eczema in babies. They recommend no more than 2-3 times per week.

Some individuals have reported that bath chemicals such as chlorine irritate their skin. A bath filter or vitamin C tablets can help neutralize chlorine. (The tablets I used before moving to a homestead with spring water are listed on my resources page.)

10. Herbs, Essential Oils & Hydrosols

Though not a cure by any means, when used properly essential oils can be very soothing to many types of irritated skin. We use lavender and tea tree in our bug bite balm, and plantain for our homemade first-aid ointment. Lavender, chamomile, helichrysum, cedarwood and geranium are all soothing.

Calendula salves are likewise soothing, and for those who cannot tolerate stronger formulations hydrosols might be a good option. (If you’re not familiar with hydrosols, they’re the flower water that is left over when essential oils are distilled. They have many of the same soothing qualities, but are considered milder.)

Have dietary/lifestyle changes helped you with your eczema symptoms? Please share them below!

(Note: If you are a representative of any company, please keep things general instead of mentioning specific products. For example, instead of “XYZ works wonders – email me for details!” please stick with “I used a lavender-based cream with good results.” I am ALL FOR entrepreneurial go-gettnerness, but I’m enacting this policy to prevent feelings from being hurt when one comment is not approved while others are due to the potential risk associated with certain products. Thank you for understanding, muah!)

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Homemade Hot Sauce Recipe]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34876 2015-05-20T13:51:15Z 2015-05-19T16:17:25Z To the pyro-gourmaniacs . . . The lovers of all things that tickle the tongue with fiery goodness, I come with a gift. This simple hot sauce recipe is perfect over burritos, eight layer dip, and even eggs, but that’s not the only reason to love it. In addition being rich in capsaicin – which is [&hellip

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hot-sauce-recipe

To the pyro-gourmaniacs . . .

The lovers of all things that tickle the tongue with fiery goodness, I come with a gift. This simple hot sauce recipe is perfect over burritos, eight layer dip, and even eggs, but that’s not the only reason to love it.

In addition being rich in capsaicin – which is though to be anti-inflammatory, helpful for relieving pain, and immune boosting – it will make you more athletic.

I mean cooperative. Or empathetic. Or something.   

I should probably back up here. According to Epicurious.com, a “recent study indicated that people who ate a very spicy bird’s eye chile pepper prior to playing a game were more motivated to work as a group, even if it meant winning less money for themselves.”

The idea is that they developed a sense of camaraderie by going through something intense together. So if you’re up for that, make this sauce to share with someone you love. (Or better yet, if you haven’t finished your own plate in years because it always looks more delicious than the identical thing on everyone else’s plate, slather it on and cross your fingers that no one else can take the heat. See how diabolical I am? Muahahahahaha)

Or just make it because it rocks. Seriously, I barely got the final jar photographed before I inhaled it. Yum!

Fiery and fresh, this easy hot sauce is one of my favorites! #hotsaucerecipe

Homemade Hot Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound peppers (I like to blend of red chilis with something slightly spicier)
  • 4 -6 cloves garlic
  • 6 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoon rapadura, honey or maple syrup – or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt – or more to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste – optional

Instructions

hot-sauce-recipe-step-1

Set oven to broil. Wash and trim chili peppers, then place them on a baking sheet.

hot-sauce-recipe-step-2

hot-chili-sauce-recipe-step-2
Pop peppers into the oven and broil on high until the top of the outside is black and blistered – mine usually take about 10-12 minutes.

hot-sauce-recipe-step-3

Gently tug on the stems – the tops will come right off. Then pinch the blistered skin and peel it away. If desired, de-seed them to reduce the heat of the final product. (I didn’t and my sauce wasn’t overly spicy, but I sometimes do if the peppers are particularly hot.)

hot-sauce-recipe-step-4

Add peppers, vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt and four cloves of garlic to a food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and add optional cayenne pepper and additional salt and sugar, and extra cloves of garlic if desired. Transfer mixture to a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge for up to one month.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Sweet Dreams Tea Recipe]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34833 2015-05-15T20:18:11Z 2015-05-15T16:32:03Z Sanity is a moving target . . . When parenting little ones, isn’t it? Just when you convince your older child that creatively blending the words “frog” and “yuck” is not a good idea, you discover that your toddlers new favorite trick is to dip his older brother’s toothbrush in the potty. (I wish I wasn’t speaking from personal experience [&hellip

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sweet-dreams-tea

Sanity is a moving target . . .

When parenting little ones, isn’t it? Just when you convince your older child that creatively blending the words “frog” and “yuck” is not a good idea, you discover that your toddlers new favorite trick is to dip his older brother’s toothbrush in the potty. (I wish I wasn’t speaking from personal experience here, but . . . )

While it’s inevitable that some days will not go as planned, I’ve developed a secret weapon against frazzled nerves – a little evening routine that wipes away the spills and disasters of the day, both for me and the potami.

It’s super simple, and although there’s a glaring omission I’m sharing it anyway. Ready? Here it is:

After toys are put away and pajamas are snuggled into, I let the older potami pick out an essential oil blend to place in the diffuser (They love this one, this one, but this one is their favorite. I love it, too, and often wear it as perfume.) After that we brew up some relaxing sweet dreams tea and I make a small snack – usually something with a lot of fat to help stabilize blood sugar throughout the night. (Think crackers and cheese, or a little sweet potato smothered in butter and cheese.)

As I shared in my post on 18 Science-Backed Tips For Deeper, Longer Sleep, I’m a huge fan of herbal teas before bed, especially when they’re blended with a few sleep enhancing ingredients. Until recently this was something I just did for myself, but the potami started requesting their own blends. Ummm, YES I CAN DO THAT, I said. (Because as you know, the few moments you have alone at night when the house is still are sacred.)

And so I did, and it’s worked so well that I thought I’d share two of our favorite recipes with you.

About The Ingredients

Before we get to the actual recipes, though, I want to explain why I chose each ingredient.

Calming Herbs

Catnip, chamomile, and passion flower are all gentle, kid-safe herbs with mild sedative qualities. In addition to their popularity among herbalists and even children’s books (remember how Peter Rabbits mom used to put him to bed with chamomile tea?), these herbs are now making their way into research.

According to this PubMed review, the sedative effects of chamomile may be due to a flavonoid called apigenin, while this study found that passion flower improved sleep quality when taken as a tea before bed.

Though not considered a sedative, one study showed that lavender’s aroma improved sleep in individuals suffering from insomnia. When brewed as a tea, lavender buds release their aroma while adding flavor.

Herbs For Flavoring

My son loves the fruity flavor of hibiscus and my daughter loves the sweet taste of licorice root, so I incorporated these flavors into their blends.

Gelatin

Grass-fed gelatin is rich in several amino acids, particularly glycine, that are thought to calm the body and promote healthy sleep. Here’s the brand I use.

Honey

As mentioned in this study, some experts believe that “a major function of sleep is to replenish glycogen stores in the brain that have been depleted during wakefulness.” While not formally studied, some people believe a little honey before bed supplies the liver with a boost in glycogen that helps the body complete this task, thus increasing how rested we feel in the morning. Of course, it tastes good, too.

Salt

If you crave salty and crunchy foods when you’re stressed, there’s a good reason for that. According to this study, salt improves our stress response. There is even some evidence to suggest that it raises or oxytocin – aka the feel good hormone – levels as well. (source)

As you know, stress hormones impair sleep, so anything we can do to reduce our stress load is helpful.

Now, Back To That Routine . . .

After we finish our tea, teefies are brushed and I flip on the Sleep Genius, which is what I switched to after ditching my white noise machine. (By the way, you can get the Sleep Genius app for $5, but if you’re already thinking about replacing your mattress soon, my favorite non-toxic mattress company is 10% off every mattress plus a FREE $295 upgraded version of Sleep Genius with every mattress ordered through May 31st, 2015. Click here to read about why I love them and check out the sale.)

We don’t keep a night light on in their room (Wellness Mama explains why here), but I do turn on this salt lamp so that they can read in bed. (And now you see the glaring omission – story time fail! Right now my toddler is just not cooperating with storytime, so we’ve taken a break from it.)

They’re usually asleep within minutes, which means I can turn the lamp off and start preparing babypotamus for bed. He’s always the holdout. :)

Then it’s my turn to relax, hang out with Daddypotamus, and eventually brew my own cup of Sweet Dreams Tea to sip on while I journal for five minutes or so. Then it’s off to sleep for me!

Now, how about those recipes?

sweet-dreams-tea-recipe

Chamomile & Licorice Blend

This mild, licorice-flavored blend is my daughter Katie’s favorite. It incorporates three calming herbs: catnip, chamomile and lavender. Rather than give exact amounts, I’m sharing the proportions with you so that you can make as small or large a batch as you’d like. You can use a teaspoon of each or a tablespoon – all you need to do is measure equal amount of each.

Two delicious recipes for herbal tea that encourage restful sleep #sleepytea #herbaltea

Passion Flower & Lavender Blend

This aromatic, slightly fruity blend is my son’s favorite. I usually make this blend using a tablespoon as my measurement, so that would be two tablespoons passion flower, one tablespoon lavender, two tablespoons catnip, etc.

2 parts passion flower (where to buy passion flower)
1 part lavender blossoms (where to buy lavender blossoms)
2 parts catnip (where to buy catnip)
1 part chamomile (where to buy chamomile flowers)
2 parts hibiscus flowers (where to buy hibiscus flowers)

Sweet Dreams Tea Recipe

I’ve found that consuming some form of healthy fat before bed is helpful for balancing blood sugar throughout the night, which seems to decrease night waking for me. I sometimes add butter to my chamomile blend, but I’m not a fan of it (or coconut oil) in the passion flower blend. On the nights we sip on Micah’s favorite (passion flower), I make sure to add a small snack such as raw cheese to the menu.

Ingredients

To Make

Boil water and pour it into your bug. Add 1 teaspoon of your tea blend to a tea ball and place it in the mug. Allow to steep for 5-7 minutes, then add the other ingredients and enjoy.

What helps your little ones relax before bedtime?

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Loriel Adams http://www.naturallyloriel.com/ <![CDATA[Dairy-Free Frozen Mocha Cappuccino]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34840 2015-05-20T02:19:15Z 2015-05-14T14:56:43Z Note from Mommypotamus: I started journaling this year, and one of practices I’ve committed to is writing down three things I am grateful for every day. You know what makes it onto the list pretty often? Coffee, of course! One cup lasts me all day, so I like to take a few extra minutes to make [&hellip

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frappuccino-recipe-mocha-copycat

Note from Mommypotamus: I started journaling this year, and one of practices I’ve committed to is writing down three things I am grateful for every day. You know what makes it onto the list pretty often? Coffee, of course! One cup lasts me all day, so I like to take a few extra minutes to make it special. If you’re like me, you’re going to love this guest recipe from Loriel of Naturally Loriel . . . 

Sometimes you gotta do, what you gotta do.

It doesn’t help that lattes have always been my weakness; it might be because I was born and raised in California and that’s just what we do. The only problem is that a couple years ago I started having unexplained chest pains and no one could figure out what was going on. After lots of different tests, visits to different doctors (many telling me that I was too young to have any heart problems), and finally the key visit to a Naturopath, we found out that dairy was causing my chest pains. You can read my story here.

I couldn’t believe something like dairy could have such a huge impact on my health and well-being. That moment I truly felt the power of food and how it could work with you or against you.

She told me to stay away from dairy completely but since then, I have found what type of dairy my body responds to best. Thankfully butter and sour cream are tolerated but milk, cream, and ice cream were on the no-go list. This ultimately meant that I couldn’t enjoy a latte without having severe stomach cramps and feeling like my heart was going to fall out of my chest.

Desperate times called for desperate measures so I invented a dairy-free iced maple chai tea latte to replace the dairy alternatives at the coffee shop. Let me tell you, a homemade version never tasted so good.  I felt pretty much at peace and satisfied with my alternative.

That is, until my sister was in town visiting and she got a frappucino from Starbucks. Something about the whipped cream and almost slushy drink on a hot Florida day sounded so enticing. However, out of all the coffee drinks, frappucinos would put me out for the count.

Naturally, I headed to my kitchen to make a dairy-free alternative that would blow those $5 drinks made with GMO-milk and weird sweeteners out of the park.

Enter this dairy-free copycat mocha frappucino recipe.

mocha-frappuccino-recipe-copycat

Made with creamy coconut milk and sweetened with homemade chocolate syrup, it has the perfect amount of coffee flavor. It’s not super chocolately, so if you’re having a chocolate attack, I would add an extra tablespoon of cocoa powder. I prefer a moderate level of sweetness, so I go with three tablespoons.

If you have a little more time on your hands, make up some homemade whipped cream (or whipped coconut cream) and shave some chocolate on top.

Time-Saving Tip

You might want to brew extra coffee and freeze it in ice cube trays so you can quickly whip up a mocha on busy days. Drink up, mama!

Love frappuccinos but not the corn syrup, food dyes and preservatives used to make them?  Here's  how to make a copycat version at home using real ingredients.

Dairy-Free Frozen Mocha Cappuccino (Copycat Frappucino Recipe)

Makes 36oz

Ingredients

Instructions

Brew coffee, pour into ice cube molds, and freeze until hard. To make the chocolate syrup, combine cocoa powder, maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt in a bowl and mix with a fork. Don’t worry about incorporating it all the way because it’s going to go in the blender. Place coffee ice cubes, coconut milk, and chocolate syrup in a blender. If using a high powered blender, select the “ice crush” mode or blend until incorporated and ice is fully crushed.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Bug Bite Balm Recipe]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34774 2015-05-20T01:45:55Z 2015-05-12T20:40:24Z Sneak Attacks In a perfect world they never happen. We always apply homemade bug spray before heading outside, and when an afternoon picnic turns into an evening soiree swarming with mosquitos, we’re prepared. But in the real world, sometimes a child decides to poke a stick in that “volcano” at the park, only to release a steady stream [&hellip

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bug-bite-relief-recipe

Sneak Attacks

In a perfect world they never happen. We always apply homemade bug spray before heading outside, and when an afternoon picnic turns into an evening soiree swarming with mosquitos, we’re prepared.

But in the real world, sometimes a child decides to poke a stick in that “volcano” at the park, only to release a steady stream of angry ants. It happens, and when it does, you’ll want to have this soothing bug bite balm on hand.

Unlike pure essential oils which can spill, this blend of tea tree and lavender essential oils is the perfect thing to keep in your bag. It’s kid safe, and has long been used for cuts, scrapes, and relief from itchy bug bites. As a bonus, it has a fresh, clean scent that calms as it soothes. As is true with most remedies, this formula works best when used with additional therapies such as hugs and kisses. :)

Bug Bite Balm Recipe - The ingredients in this kid-safe remedy have long been used for cuts, scrapes, and relief from itchy bug bites. Of course, they're most effective when used with additional therapies such as hugs and kisses. #naturalremedies

Video: How To Make Bug Bite Balm

And for those of you who prefer written instructions . . .

Bug Bite Balm Recipe

Makes approximately 3/4 oz (three .25 ounce tubes or five .15 tubes)

Ingredients

Equipment

  • Double boiler (or a stainless steel bowl set in side a pot of boiling water)
  • Lip balm tubes or pots (Mine were .25 oz so I only needed three, but I don’t see any in this size available right now. You could use five .15 oz containers, or three of these these lip balm pots or three of these lip balm tins)
  • Container with spout

Instructions

Gently melt beeswax and cocoa butter in a double boiler. When the mixture is completely melted, add essential oils. Quickly transfer the mixture to a container with a spout and pour into lip balm tubes.

To Use

Apply to bites as needed.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make Mayo With An Immersion Blender (Video)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34787 2015-05-07T19:15:19Z 2015-05-07T16:25:24Z In my house, mayo is practically a food group Whether it’s in the form of our classic homemade version or this spicy chipotle twist, we love the stuff slathered on everything except chocolate cake . . . and bananas, and maybe a few other things. But mostly everything. As nourishing as it is delicious, this creamy staple [&hellip

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Video: How To Make Mayo With An Immersion Blender

In my house, mayo is practically a food group

Whether it’s in the form of our classic homemade version or this spicy chipotle twist, we love the stuff slathered on everything except chocolate cake . . . and bananas, and maybe a few other things. But mostly everything.

As nourishing as it is delicious, this creamy staple is rich in nourishing fats, vitamins  A, E, D, B, K, omega-3 fatty acids, choline and all nine essential amino acids – and that’s just from the egg yolks alone!

Unfortunately, if you’ve ever tried making it at home in a traditional blender, you know that unless you pay. complete. attention. things can go wrong quickly. Turn your head to answer a question while you’re s-l-o-w-l-y pouring in the oil, and you’ve got a big gloppy mess.

Fortunately, there’s a much quicker and more reliable way to make it with an immersion blender. In the video below I’ll show you how. Here’s the recipe I’m using in the video.

P.S. Sorry some of the sections are a little out of focus! As a mama of three little potami I rarely get to reshoot if things don’t go perfectly. I hope you find it helpful anyway :)

Or, if you prefer written instructions . . .

1. Using this recipe, add egg yolks to a tall, narrow container. (Make sure it is not so narrow that your immersion blender can’t reach the bottom, though.)

2. Next, add the apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey and salt.

3. Finally, pour in the oil.

4. Place your immersion blender all the way in the container – the tip should be touching the bottom. Turn the blender on and watch for thickening at the bottom. As it thickens, slowly begin moving the blender upwards to incorporate more of the oil. Continue blending until all of the oil is incorporated. That’s it!

Want more tips on preparing nourishing foods at home?

I’ve started a real food basics series that will be covering everything from five-minute fermented foods to home canning. Click here to see the tips and tutorials that are already available.

VIDEO: How To Make Mayo With An Immersion Blender - If you've ever tried making homemade mayo and it flopped, you need to watch this video! This method makes it nearly fail proof - and it's faster, too. #mayorecipe #homemademayo

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Why I Ditched My White Noise Machine]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34728 2015-05-15T03:47:53Z 2015-05-05T17:04:55Z Getting a kid to sleep is no joke Whether it’s pulling off this Indiana Jones maneuver or answering 432 questions about the nature of intesticles and callapittars while brushing teeth, I know I can’t be the only one that silently fist pumps as I tiptoe out of a sleeping child’s room. Now don’t get me wrong. [&hellip

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white-noise-machine

Getting a kid to sleep is no joke

Whether it’s pulling off this Indiana Jones maneuver or answering 432 questions about the nature of intesticles and callapittars while brushing teeth, I know I can’t be the only one that silently fist pumps as I tiptoe out of a sleeping child’s room.

Now don’t get me wrong. I adore my kids, but one of my life goals is to go to the restroom by myself at least once per day. To make sure that happens, I have long relied on our Homedics sound machine, aka the keeper-asleeper-of-sleeping-children.

Then a few weeks ago, while on vacation with some dear friends, another mom mentioned to me that they might inhibit brain function. Um, what? 

Now, I’m not really one . . .

To go looking for things to worry about, but since the potami spend nearly 1/3 of their lives sleeping with a sound machine playing in the background I felt like I needed to check into it.

What I learned is that studies do suggest white noise can increase our stress load, impair cognitive function and possibly even delay brain development. Fortunately, there’s a solution that involves one small tweak to your sound environment. We’ll get to that soon, but . . .

First, try this (I dare you!)

Without analyzing things too much, click play and watch this video. No skipping ahead, mmkay? This is serious business.

You bobbed your head at least a little, didn’t you? It’s okay, this is a safe place. We won’t tell.

Here’s the thing, though, your response isn’t necessarily due to your love (or lack thereof) of the Back Street Boys. In Healing At The Speed Of Sound, authors Don Campbell and Alex Doman explain why:

“Aside from songbirds, humans are the only creatures that automatically feel the beat of a song, according to Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University. Music entrains our bodies – physically by activating the muscle-control centers of our brains that get us moving to the rhythm, and emotionally by guiding our moods into synchronicity with its own tone.”

That last part about guiding our moods describes one of the most fascinating aspects of brain entrainment, or how our brains mirror the sounds around us. When the sounds are meaningful and beautiful, our brains become more organized and integrated. When the sounds are chaotic and stressful, our brains struggle with basic functions.

white-noise-machine-effects

Does my sound machine impair brain function and development?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably always equated white noise with the sound of rain, or waves, or some other sound in nature. Interestingly, it’s not natural at all, and therein lies the problem.

White noise is actually machine-generated static that is used to mask annoying or distracting sounds. It works by combining all the frequencies we can hear – about 20,000 tones – into one sound. Basically, it’s the equivalent of a huge orchestra all playing a different note at once. What you get is not music, but a wall of sound that blocks other sound.

Of course, few of us (if any) can relax to the sound of scratchy static generated by a radio, or any other form. White noise manufacturers know that, so they embed the static within sound clips of waves or rain to make it more palatable. Though it seems like a sensible solution, this approach may actually cause several problems:

Increased stress levels, impaired cognitive function

One really important feature of white noise is that it “has equal power across all frequencies,” meaning that the wall of sound contains both high-pitched and low-pitched frequencies. (source) High-pitched frequencies can be stressful to the body, which is why they are filtered out in sound therapies such as pink and brown noise.

According to this Scientific American article:

“Several studies have indicated that stress resulting from ongoing white noise can induce the release of cortisol, a hormone that helps to restore homeostasis in the body after a bad experience. Excess cortisol impairs function in the prefrontal cortex—an emotional learning center that helps to regulate ‘executive’ functions such as planning, reasoning and impulse control. Some recent evidence indicates that the prefrontal cortex also stores short-term memories. Changes to this region, therefore, may disrupt a person’s capacity to think clearly and to retain information.

Though not definitive, recent research also suggests that noise-induced stress may decrease dopamine availability in the prefrontal cortex, where the hormone controls the flow of information from other parts of the body. Stress resulting from background noise, then, may decrease higher brain function, impairing learning and memory.”

Why does white noise have this effect? One theory is that our brains are hardwired to interpret meaningful noise rather than static. According to Campbell and Doman, “Certain sounds, provided in the right context and combinations, can organize our neural activity, stimulate our bodies, [and] retune our emotions.”

When the sounds grow “more coherent – sounding more like a real melody – different parts of the brain interact in a more intense and consistent, or coherent, manner.” In contrast, when confronted with a disorganized sound, “your brain creates a stress response that can include a rise in blood pressure and shallow breathing.” (source)

According to this perspective, even though we don’t hear the static underlying white noise consciously, our auditory processing centers do and they do their best to filter that into meaningful information for us. However, since our brains are not optimally wired to interpret static, it may leave us with the stress of constantly trying to figure out what we’re hearing on a subconscious level.

Potentially impaired brain development in children

This section comes with a HUGE SILVER LINING, so read on! This study found that, in rats, exposure to “continuous white noise sabotages the development of the auditory region of the brain, which may ultimately impair hearing and language acquisition.” (source)

Now obviously rats aren’t people, but we can still extrapolate very valuable information regarding general auditory development in mammals from this study. The good news is that although brain development was significantly delayed, the rats compensated by extending the “critical period” in which the brain wires its neural networks – a feature called neuroplasticity. As soon as the white noise was removed, they completely caught up.

One of the researchers, Edward Chang, summarized by saying “it’s like the brain is waiting for some clearly patterned sounds in order to continue its development. And when it finally gets them, it is heavily by influenced them, even when the animal is physically older.”

Sound and our circadian rhythms

As mentioned earlier, most white noise is paired with a soundbite, usually a five-second clip of ocean waves/rain/etc. played on a loop. In nature, nothing repeats on a five-second loop for eight hours straight, which got me wondering what kind of effect this might have.

According to this study published in the American Journal of Physiology, sounds have as much impact on our circadian rhythms as light. Could exposure to a repetitive 5-second clip throughout the night disrupt our internal biological rhythms? At this point we don’t have any studies on that, but I think it’s a question worth asking.

Are white noise machines bad?

Eh, I wouldn’t say that. They’re better than being kept awake by intrusive sounds, that’s for sure. But after using one for years, I have often found myself thinking about how glad I will to be rid of it when our toddler transitions out of our bed.  Now that I understand how my body responds to noise instead of meaningful sound, those thoughts make a lot more sense.

Fortunately, I don’t have to wait. Remember Alex Doman, the co-author of Healing At The Speed Of Sound I mentioned earlier? Well, I had the privilege of talking with him recently about one of his latest projects . . .

Sleep Genius: A Better Way To Fall (And Stay) Asleep

At the beginning of this post I told you that making one small change in your auditory sleep environment could have a huge impact, and now I’m going to tell you what it is: Sleep Genius. It’s sound therapy that comes in the form of a $5 app (designed for iPhone and android) and a sound system, and it has transformed the way my family sleeps.

(I’m going to explain more about the difference between the app and the sound system later, but if you want to skip ahead it’s at the bottom of the post.)

sleep-genius-app-review

Recently featured in Spinoff, a magazine created by NASA to celebrate the use of its technologies in everyday life, Sleep Genius is completely new type of sound therapy.

Developed by Dr. Seth Horowitz, one of the auditory neuroscientists who worked on the original project with NASA to help astronauts overcome insomnia, along with Alex Doman (author of Healing At The Speed Of Sound and the founder of Advanced Brain Technologies), Lance Massey (the musician who created the famous T-Mobile ringtone) and Vera Brandes (an expert in music therapy who serves as the Director of Research Program for Music-Medicine at Paracelsus Medical University in Austria), Sleep Genius uses four research-backed techniques to help our brains sleep better, deeper, and longer.

Unlike white noise, which masks disruptive noise but has no detectable impact on our brains sleep center, these four techniques work with our biology to filter out distracting noises and bring in sleep-enhancing sounds, thus improving sleep quality.

Neurosensory Algorithms

Though they sound very clinical, neurosensory algorithms are actually more like the comforting arms of a mother than cold electrodes on your brain. Here’s what I mean:

If you’ve ever rocked a baby to sleep or become drowsy while riding in a car, you’ve experienced a curious phenomenon called the vestibular effect.

Basically, the vestibular system is a sensory system that detects motion and helps us keep our balance. Interestingly, it’s also hardwired to the sleep network in our brain – “the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the master clock in charge of regulating our circadian rhythms, and a region in the hypothalamus that’s host to a stimulation-inducing neuropeptide called orexin.” (source)

High-amplitude vibrations picked up by the vestibular system stimulate alertness, while low-amplitude vibrations make us sleepy. What NASA research revealed is that motions such as rocking or riding in a a car are not the only way to deliver low-amplitude vibrations – we can do the same thing with sound.

Using very specific algorithms, Sleep Genius “rocks” the vestibular system to sleep using very specific musical vibrations – pretty amazing, huh?

Multi-Band Binaural Beats

These pulses of sound  “induce synchronization from the brain stem to the frontal lobe. Multiband binaural beats create a relaxing cascade of sound that gently and efficiently help you maintain deep, restorative sleep.” (source)

Pink Noise

Similar to white noise, pink noise helps to mask annoying and intrusive sounds. The important difference between the two is that the stress-inducing, high-pitched frequencies found in white noise are filtered out of pink noise.

Scientifically-Composed Music

As you’ve probably already guessed, this is a blend of relaxing sounds and harmonies that weave the three previous elements together.

The downside of Sleep Genius

Last night, as Sleep Genius played softly in the background, I crawled into bed to write for a few minutes before drifting off to sleep. The aroma of ylang ylang, patchouli, frankincense, clary sage, sweet orange and thyme drifted across the room as I scribbled in my salt-lamp illuminated journal. It was pretty much perfect, but there is one “downside” of Sleep Genius I want to mention.

Unlike white noise machines, which create a wall of sound to block other sounds, Sleep Genius integrates pink noise with other components to relax the mind, rock the vestibular system to sleep, and encourage optimal sleep patterns.

Though it creates a relaxing spa-like environment – which, I kid you not, has drastically reduced the amount of time it takes for the potami to fall asleep AND helped them sleep longer – it doesn’t block noise in the same way that white noise machines do. It filters out some, but it doesn’t completely block it.

The first night I used Sleep Genius was a little difficult, because I’d come to believe I needed the “wall of sound” to relax. By the second night, though, I realized that even though I could hear more ambient noise, my mind was so relaxed it just rolled off me like water off a ducks back. In contrast, when I was using the white noise machine, even small noises would often disrupt my sleep.

Personally, after experiencing Sleep Genius I cannot imagine going back to my white noise machine unless it was to counteract very intrusive noise while traveling, etc., but I wanted to mention this so you won’t be caught by surprise.

Which Sleep Genius should I get?

As I mentioned earlier, there’s both an app (designed for iPhone and android) and a sound system. The app can be downloaded to your phone, but you’ll need to hook your phone up to a high-quality speaker to get the benefits. (Also, if you use the app to help your little one nap, you’ll need to relinquish your phone while he/she is asleep.)

Another option is their sound system, which includes a high-quality speaker integrated with an iPod shuffle that has been loaded with four tracks: Serenity, Renewed Universe, Dreamscapes and Tranquility.

There are a few differences between the physical sound system and the app. First, the app is only $5, which is awesome. Because apps limit the size of files downloaded, Sleep Genius had to compress the tracks available to fit within those guidelines. So some of the benefits of the music are lost in compression, while the speaker sound system uses a much larger file to deliver high-fidelity sound. The better the sound quality, the more likely the brain is to be receptive.

That said, if you read the reviews on the app (except for the ones expressing frustration over technical difficulties due to a recent format change from Apple), they’re glowing. So the app is good (I’ve used it with great success), but the sound system is even better.

Another thing to consider is that the speaker system is completely wired, which means it emits no radio-frequency EMFs. If your going to use the phone app, I suggest turning it to airplane mode before going to sleep.

I thought about just focusing on the app in this post, but if you’re already thinking about replacing your mattress soon I want to mention that my favorite non-toxic mattress company is offering a special package this month – 10% off your mattress plus a FREE $295 Sleep Genius with every mattress ordered through May 31st, 2015. (Click here to read about why I love them and check out the sale.)

sleep-genius-review

Have you tried Sleep Genius?

Please share how it worked for you in the comments!

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Very Berry Resistant Starch Smoothie]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34680 2015-05-02T16:45:47Z 2015-04-30T16:42:28Z Quick, kid-friendly and easy to customize . . . With nutrient-dense additions like gelatin and maca powder, smoothies make an easy snack or breakfast addition on busy days. This recipe features vitamin C rich berries, prebiotics in the form of resistant starch, and other goodies. Now, you may be wondering . . . What Is [&hellip

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Very Berry Smoothie Recipe

Quick, kid-friendly and easy to customize . . .

With nutrient-dense additions like gelatin and maca powder, smoothies make an easy snack or breakfast addition on busy days.

This recipe features vitamin C rich berries, prebiotics in the form of resistant starch, and other goodies. Now, you may be wondering . . .

What Is Resistant Starch?

Great question. I’m working on a post about it, but here’s the short version:

According to Dr. Amy Nett, “Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates, or at least indigestible to us, that reach the colon intact and selectively feed many strains of beneficial  bacteria. Prebiotics are generally classified into three different types: non-starch polysaccharides (such as inulin and fructooligosaccharide), soluble fiber (including psyllium husk and acacia fibers), and resistant starch (RS). Each of these types of prebiotics feeds different species of gut bacteria, but among these, RS is emerging as uniquely beneficial.”

When beneficial bacteria feed on resistant starch, they produce short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, which help to increase metabolism, decrease inflammation and improve stress resistance. (source)

Some sources of resistant starch are:

Bananas – Specifically ones that are not fully ripe. They should still have some green on them.

Potato starch – According to Dr. Nett, “Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch (NOT potato flour) is one of the best sources of RS with approximately eight grams of RS in one tablespoon. Potato starch is generally well tolerated even by those who react adversely to nightshades.”

She adds that “Plantain flour and green banana flour are also excellent sources of RS, and there may be benefit to including all three of these sources (specifically alternating your source of RS rather than relying on a single one).

These are relatively bland in flavor and can be added to cold or room temperature water, almond milk, or mixed into smoothies.  But to maintain the benefits of RS, these should not be heated above 130 degrees.”

Now let’s take a look at some of the other ingredients:

Egg Yolks

As I mentioned in my post on making chocolate peppermint smoothies, egg yolks are sometimes referred to as ‘Nature’s Multivitamin.’ They contain vitamins A, E, D, B, K, and E as well as omega-3 fatty acids, choline and all nine essential amino acids. I personally feel comfortable consuming them raw as long as they come from healthy, pastured chickens, but you can boil them before adding them if you prefer. For more information on the safety of raw eggs, I recommend this article from Lauren Geertsen, NTP.

Gelatin

Gelatin is rich in amino acids such as glycine, which helps with detoxification and promotes good sleep. It also contains proline, which along with glycine supports collagen production. In addition, it’s also a good source of protein – about 6 grams per tablespoon. Like eggs and milk, the quality of the source is important, which is why I recommend buying gelatin obtained from grass-fed cows.

Another consideration is the “clump factor.” Regular gelatin tends to clump together when added to smoothies, but the cooked form – known as hydrolysate – does not. Great Lakes Gelatin produces hydrolysate gelatin from pastured cows that remains smooth even when stirred into cold liquids.

Coconut Milk / Coconut Oil

According to the BBC’s website, Good Food, “Coconuts contain significant amounts of fat, but unlike other nuts, they provide fat that is mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) in particular, one called lauric acid.

Lauric acid is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral and antibacterial that destroys a wide variety of disease causing organisms. It is therefore now thought that consumption of coconut milk may help protect the body from infections and viruses.”

Coconut milk also contains bone building phosphorous and soothing magnesium, making it one of my favorite kitchen ingredients.

Optional Additions

To boost the nutrient-value of your smoothie, try adding maca powder, dessicated liver powder, or  probiotics. You could even add additional whole-food vitamin C, like acerola powder or

This berry smoothie recipe incorporates resistant starch, which is indigestible to us but helps beneficial bacteria thrive. Oh, and it's yummy, too :)

Very Berry Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup frozen blackberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 3-4 inch piece slightly unripe banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, raw milk, almond milk, or kefir (how to make coconut milk from coconut cream)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons – 3 tablespoons gelatin hydrolysate (where to find it)
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter (where to buy coconut oil)
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup, optional (where to buy honey, where to buy maple syrup)
  • 2-4 egg yolks, or more if desired, optional
  • Potato starch, plantain flour, or green banana flour – Optional, start with 1/4 teaspoon and work up as you are able to. Too much can cause bloating and gas. (where to buy potato starch)
  • Additional milk/coconut milk/almond milk, kefir, water or ice cubes as needed

Instructions

Add blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, banana, milk, and gelatin to blender. If desired, add optional egg yolks and additional supplements/add-ins.

Turn blender on, remove cap from the blender lid, and pour in additional liquid/ice as needed. When the smoothie reaches your preferred consistency, add coconut oil/butter through the hole in a slow, steady stream and serve.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Coconut Oil Shampoo Bar Recipe (Video Tutorial)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=33546 2015-05-01T21:22:17Z 2015-04-28T04:35:12Z Want to play “I never”? Good, I’ll start. Since becoming a mom, I have never ever forgotten to eat dinner, then just finished my kids plates as I washed them. I have never ever accidentally rubbed soft scrub in my armpits instead of my homemade deodorant. And I most certainly have never ever run out of [&hellip

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shampoo-bar-recipe

Want to play “I never”?

Good, I’ll start. Since becoming a mom, I have never ever forgotten to eat dinner, then just finished my kids plates as I washed them.

I have never ever accidentally rubbed soft scrub in my armpits instead of my homemade deodorant.

And I most certainly have never ever run out of shampoo and washed my hair with regular bar soap.

Okay, I have actually done all those things. Now obviously I don’t recommend the first two, but hear me out on that last one.

It all started on a day when I needed to shower and get dressed in 10 minutes (are there any other types of days for moms??) and I realized I was completely out of shampoo. Rather than hop out of the shower and mix up a batch of clay hair wash, I grabbed my coconut oil soap and rubbed on my head. ( I figured Tropical Traditions sells a coconut oil-based shampoo bar, so why not?)

There was SO. MUCH. LATHER. We’re talking lather for days. And my hair was so soft afterwards I started to feel a little self conscious about how often I was stroking my own hair. Unfortunately it did leave my hair a little oily, but I loved overall effect so much I decided to play with the recipe and see if I could change that.

Turns out, reducing the amount of oil in the finished bar by about 8% did the trick. It gently cleaned and moisturized my hair without leaving it heavy or greasy. It only requires three ingredients, and today I’m sharing the recipe with you.

New To Shampoo Bars? Here’s What You Need To Know

As mentioned my post on detoxing your hair, commercial shampoos are usually made with surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate – which is a known skin irritant that is often contaminated with the probable human carcinogen 1,4 dioxane – instead of soap. (source 1, source 2)

They also often contain silicone that coats the hair and prevents it from absorbing moisture. While silicone can make hair look smooth and shiny in the short-term, over time it causes it to dry out and become more brittle over time.

When you make the switch to natural shampoo, you’re going from an approach that strips hair and then coats it with polymers to something that washes and nourishes the hair with a natural oil. If you’re using the right bar it won’t make your hair heavy or greasy – it will provide just enough oil to help hair maintain it’s softness and flexibility.

During the transition you may find that your hair feels a little “gummy” – this can happen as silicone and other polymers begin to peel off. Fortunately, you can speed up the process with the tutorial I linked to above.

Another reason hair can seem dry or dull is that it soap is alkaline and your hair prefers a more acidic environment. When washing with soap, you need to keep it happy by restoring hair pH with an acidic rinse after shampooing.

The rinse acts as a “conditioner” that restores pH, smooths the cuticle and makes your hair shiny. In most cases you won’t need an additional conditioner, because shampoo bars moisturize as the cleanse.

The easiest way to use your shampoo bar is to lather in your hands and then work from root to tip, then rinse very thoroughly and follow with the shine boosting rinse below.

  • ¼ – ½ cup apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar and enough filtered water to bring vinegar mixture to 3/4 cup.*
  •  8 drops essential oil (optional) – rosemary and peppermint work well for most hair types.

To Use: Mix ingredients in a mason jar or wide-mouth cup. Pour enough over hair to saturate and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes, then rinse. Cool water is best because it helps the hair cuticle close, but warm is okay.

Video Tutorial: Making Coconut Oil Shampoo Bars

Before I started making soap, I asked a friend if I could stop by and watch her make a batch. She agreed, and that afternoon in her kitchen was what helped me become comfortable with the process. In the video below, I invite you into my kitchen to do the same. I’ll walk you through the method, and then you can scroll down this post for the exact recipe and written instructions to check as you go.

If you’re looking for the body bar and laundry soap recipes mentioned in the video, you can find them here. Also, here’s the link to my homemade laundry detergent. Now, back to the shampoo bar . . .

Shampoo bar recipe that gently moisturizes without leaving hair heavy or greasy. Only three ingredients!

Coconut Oil Shampoo Bar Recipe (12% superfat)

This bar delivers a rich lather that cleans and gently moisturizes without leaving hair heavy or greasy.

Ingredients

For Normal Hair (12% superfat)

For Dry Hair (15% superfat)

Equipment:

Note: According to Anne Watson, author of Smart Soapmaking, you can use your regular kitchen utensils as long as you follow these guidelines.

Photo Tutorial:

Step 1: Weigh all your ingredients.

shampoo-bar-recipe-step-1

Step 2: Add the coconut oil to the crockpot and set it to low. (It’s okay if it’s in solid state – it will melt quickly!)

shampoo-bar-recipe-step-2

Step 3: Add water to a medium-sized glass or ceramic bowl and take it outside along with the lye and long-handled spoon. (If you have a mask and excellent ventilation you can mix it up inside, but I recommend going outdoors. )

While wearing your protective gear and taking care not to breathe the vapors, slowly add the lye to the water while mixing gently. Order is important here, so make sure it is the lye you’re pouring into the water.
shampoo-bar-recipe-step-3

The mixture will get very hot so be careful! Let it transition from cloudy to clear, then bring it inside. Let cool for 5-10 minutes while you work on step 3. (Note: If you use a wooden spoon make sure it is dedicated to soapmaking – do not use it in your kitchen for preparing food. A stainless steel or plastic spoon can be washed and used for preparing food after making soap.)

Step 4: Add lye to crockpot (being careful not to splash) and stir a few times.

shampoo-bar-recipe-step-4

Step 6: Using the stick blender begin mixing toward “trace.” You’ll know trace is achieved when the mixture has the texture and thickness of a light pudding.

shampoo-bar-recipe-step-5

Step 7: Cover and cook on low for approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour. During this process the oils should rise up the sides like a wave and then fold back into the mixture. Mine usually takes 45 minutes, but the cooking time will vary depending on how hot your crock pot is. Check on it often.

shampoo-bar-recipe-step-6

Step 8: When the soap is ready it should look a little like semi-translucent vaseline with no oil puddles in the middle. There are two ways to test and see if it’s done. First, dip a PH test strip and wait several minutes for it to fully change color. It should be between 7-10. If it is higher than 10 it needs to cook some more. A more informal approach is to take a little of the soap and rub it between your fingers. It should feel a bit waxy. Then touch it to your tongue – if it ‘zaps’ you, it’s not done. Note: It is really important to make sure all the lye is converted – otherwise the finished soap can burn!

shampoo-bar-recipe-step-7

Step 9: If you’re adding essential oils, do that now. (I skipped this, so no photo!)

Step 10:  Spoon mixture into your mold and let cool.

shampoo-bar-recipe-step-8

Step 11: Unlike other bars which need to harden for 24 hours before being cut, coconut oil makes a very hard bar that will be difficult to cut if you let it dry too long. Cut as soon as it’s cool and firm.

Step 12: In an area with good air flow, place bars on a rack/tray with about an inch of space between them. Allow them to dry out and harden for another few days. Though you can try your first bar right away, it’s best to let them sit for 2-3 weeks to let the conditioning properties fully develop.

homemade coconut oil soap

Shelf Life

About 1 year when stored in a cool, dry place.

DIY Organic Beauty Recipes4

Want more organic beauty tips and recipes?

Check out my latest e-book: DIY Organic Beauty Recipes

In this 180 page guide, you’ll learn how ridiculously easy it is to make your own shampoo, conditioner, lotion, tooth whitener, body balm, soap, baby products and more.

Disclaimer: Sodium Hydroxide is highly caustic and should be handled carefully and knowledgeably. It is the soap makers responsibility to research safety procedures for soap making.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Maple Carrot Cake Recipe From My Paleo Patisserie]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=34606 2015-04-24T22:25:45Z 2015-04-24T15:34:04Z When I first cracked open a copy of My Paleo Patisserie . . . I wasn’t sure if it was a cookbook, an art book, or a coffee table book. Turns out, it’s something else entirely. My Paleo Patisserie is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Written by my real-life friend Jenni Hulet of The Urban [&hellip

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gluten-free-carrot-cake-recipe

When I first cracked open a copy of My Paleo Patisserie . . .

I wasn’t sure if it was a cookbook, an art book, or a coffee table book. Turns out, it’s something else entirely.

My Paleo Patisserie is a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Written by my real-life friend Jenni Hulet of The Urban Poser, this is not your standard recipe guide. Jenni goes to extreme lengths to simplify the process of pastry creation so that – if you want to – you can develop your own signature recipes.

There are mix-and-match options so you can pair a chocolate eclair with pistachio pastry cream and a chocolate fondant glaze, or you can nix the pistachio and go with a praline cream. What kind of glaze? Maybe raspberry, espresso or maple. You decide.

Now, I’m going to be straight with you. I love Jenni – and not just because she use to stop by my house with a plate of homemade marshmallows every now and then – but I didn’t think this book was for me. I am not a food artisan. I am a mom who yells “WHOOP!” every time I discover a real-food recipe that can be made in under five minutes.

But you know what? I was wrong – this book is for everyone. If you married a Paleo Pastries for Dummies with a five star chef’s cookbook, you’d have My Paleo Patisserie. And more importantly, you’d have eclairs and tiramisu.

Tiramisu, people. 

my-paleo-patisserie-review

Yes, it takes more than five minutes. (Usually a lot more.) And yes, it’s a special occasion thing. But you know what? It’s so much better than baking a cake which your friends politely remark “must be healthy.” That’s crunchy mama code for “Your food tastes like a yoga mat,” by the way.

[Totally random fact: Jenni was a yoga instructor before health challenges nudged (or shoved) her toward a paleo-style diet, so she may or may not be informed on the flavor of yoga mats.]

Today I’m so excited to share Jenni’s recipe for decadent maple carrot cake. If you want to check out the rest of the book, it’s on sale for 35% off right now.

Click here to pick up your copy of My Paleo Patisserie

Maple Carrot Cake Recipe #glutenfree #paleo

Maple Carrot Cake (Paleo, Gluten-Free)

For this recipe you will need three 6-inch (15-cm) round cake pans, as the recipe is written for that amount of batter. However, this amount of batter will also make one 9-inch (24-cm) round cake for a nice single-layer cake if desired.

Ingredients

For the cake:

For the buttercream:

*To substitute ghee, use an equal amount by weight. If measuring by volume (cups), reduce the amount of fat used to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons.

Yield

One three-layer (6-inch/15-cm) round cake (serving 12 to 15)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Grease and line the cake pans with parchment paper circles cut to fit the pans.

2. Melt the shortening in a small saucepan over low heat, then set aside to cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, egg white, sugar, and lemon juice on medium-high speed for 15 minutes. The mixture should become thick and voluminous. Always beat it for the whole 15 minutes, though.

3. While the egg mixture is beating, whisk together the flour, spices, and baking soda in a large bowl till blended. Add the shredded coconut, raisins, pineapple, pecans, carrots, and melted shortening, then toss to combine.

4. When the egg mixture is ready, gently fold it into the flour mixture till completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or till the tops spring back when gently pressed. (Bake for 35 to 40 minutes if using a 9-inch/24-cm round cake pan.)

5. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Loosen the edge of each cake with a sharp knife, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and let cool completely before assembling.

6. Once the cakes are have cooled, prepare the buttercream. Combine the egg whites, maple syrup, and cream of tartar in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a small or medium-sized saucepan with 2 inches (5 cm) of simmering water in it. It is important that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Heat the mixture till it reaches 160°F (71°C) on a candy thermometer, whisking constantly so the eggs don’t curdle or seize.

7. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or use a metal bowl and a hand mixer. Start whipping on low speed, gradually increasing to high over the course of 30 seconds. Continue to beat the mixture on high speed till stiff and completely cool. This could take up to 8 to 10 minutes, or longer if using a hand mixer.

8. When the meringue is ready, switch to the paddle attachment on the stand mixer. Add the shortening bit by bit, beating on medium-high speed till thick and smooth. Beat in the vanilla.

9. If the buttercream becomes loose and liquid, your meringue may not have been sufficiently cool when you added the shortening. Chill the mixture slightly in the fridge, then resume beating. It will emulsify eventually. If it curdles, the shortening may have been too cold. No worries! Don’t fret or throw it out; just keep beating! Beating the mixture fixes pretty much everything.

10. To assemble the cake: Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Spread about a 1/4-inch (6-mm)-thick layer of buttercream evenly over the cake. Place the second cake layer on top of the buttercream, then spread more buttercream on top. Finally, place the last cake layer, then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream. You don’t need a super thick layer, but you want enough buttercream to press the coconut flakes into.

11. Scoop up handfuls of coconut flakes and gently press them into and all over the surface of the cake.

12. For best results, chill the cake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to secure the coconut flakes. If needed, fill in gaps by placing a little frosting on the back of a coconut flake and securing it to the area.

The post Maple Carrot Cake Recipe From My Paleo Patisserie appeared first on Mommypotamus.

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