A Letter from a Self-Conscious, Sensitive, Formally Anorexic, First-Time Pregnant Mother

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t at least a little self-conscious about my body. Whether it was my hair, my skin, how big my thighs were, how small my breasts are, or the puffiness of my face when … Continue reading

DIY: Essential Oil Hand Sanitizer

The Need for Sanitation

This time of year is full of sneezing, couching, tummy aches, and germs. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s the holiday rush that puts us in a no-sleep tizzy, maybe it’s the shopping and baking and eating of other’s people’s cooking, or perhaps it’s that we’re all spending way more time with our germy little nieces and nephews and cousins.

As a former public school teacher, hand sanitizer was almost always sitting atop my desk. However, I had a love-hate relationship with this germ fighting, often offensively scented gel. Commercial hand sanitizers are often so chemically-scented that I don’t always want it on my hands all day, and I also worried about the safety of these commercial formulas for myself and for my students.

I thought I had found the solution when I got a number of those pocketbac from Bath and Body Works. You know, the ones you can hook on to your key chains and advertise alluring scents?

Bath-Body-Works-I-Love-PocketBac-Collection-for-Valentines-Day-2012-Spring-2012-1

Yes, these lovely things.

But then I looked on the ingredients list.

Among some harmless and even some natural ingredients were some that raised some alarm, including Propylene Glycol, Coloring ingredients, and a controversial item labeled only as “Fragrance“.

Not only that, but I did not appreciate the overly pungent mell of these things– it was like putting on another perfume just on my hands–(Sorry B&B!) and so I began searching for a way to clean my hands, smell nice, and be as germ-free as possible while on the go.

 Enter Essential Oils

doterra+oils

I’ve been reading about the benefits of Essential Oils on various blogs and websites, and I was very interested in trying it out. It seemed like a natural way to prevent illness, treat skin conditions, aid in mood swings, and promote overall wellness.

Well, I received a starter pack of oils for Christmas, and soon after the hustle and bustle of the holidays was through, I got sick. After the first signs of a cold, I rubbed some DoTerra “breathe” and “on guard” into my skin and headed out for a NYE concert at my church.

In the middle of the alto sax solo, I pulled out some tissue to blow my nose, and naturally reached for my pocketbac of hand sanitizer to clean up with. The “Sugar Plum” scent was nauseatingly sweet after the fresh eucalyptus and cinnamon of the oils.

I knew there had to be a better way.

DIY Hand Sanitizer with Essential Oils

  • 5-10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5-10  drops tea tree or melaleuca  essential oil
  • 5-10 drops DoTerra On Guard essential oil blend (you can also use other germ-fighting oils like lemon or peppermint oil)
  • 2 Tablespoons witch hazel (Here’s where to get it)
  • 8 ounces 100% pure aloe vera gel (Here’s where to get it)
  • ¼ teaspoon Vitamin E Oil– a natural preservative to increase shelf life and help to soften hands (I didn’t use this for my initial mixture, but I plan on using it for next time).

Mix all ingredients together in a glass bowl with a whisk. Use eye dropper or funnel to pour into empty pocketbac containers, or larger pump containers for easy use.

The result is a completely natural and powerful hand sanitizer that keeps you clean and not smelling like a barbie doll. The powerful agents of lavender oil releases a calming effect while the tea tree oil cleanses your hands along with the witch hazel. The Aloe Vera Gel keeps it together and nourishes your hands and the On Guard oil blend helps prevent germs from getting in your way.

And a bonus: it smells amazing, but isn’t so strong that it will take over your perfume.

Note: If you’ve been reading recent reports about how unhealthy the use of hand sanitizers can be, keep in mind that the danger exists in the chemicals used in commercial sanitizers. This hand sanitizer recipe does not use any of those harmful chemicals, and relies on pure essential oils to kill germs. Essential oils do not cause bacterial resistance like antibacterial chemicals do, and are actually effective in killing strains of bacteria that have become resistant to man-made medicines and chemicals. (source)

Sometimes it’s good to allow our bodies to encounter germs and strengthen our immune systems, but sometimes it’s nice to have a hand sanitizer available for emergencies. (Think nasty gas station bathroom or your kid having a sneeze-fest.)  In these cases, this gentle homemade formula is one of the best alternatives to a commercial hand sanitizer.

The Most Colorful and Texturized Salad You Will Ever Eat

IMG_6567I just made this amazingly tasty and healthy salad and I wanted to share.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Handful of leafy greens- I used Organic Girl’s 50/50 from Mariano’s

1/4 of a cucumber sliced into quarters

6-8 slices of carrots

1/6 of a raw red beet, sliced into thin sticks

2 eggs boiled and sliced- I used some from my cousin Annie’s chickens at Corben Acres!

6 raw green beans cut into smaller pieces

1/4 cup of tabouli salad with tomatoes (here’s the brand I used)

1/8 cup heated coconut oil

A few shakes of himalayan pink salt and a few shakes of black pepper

A dash or two of cayenne pepper

Here’s what you’ll do:

Mix or layer all ingredients save the coconut oil and spices into a large bowl, then shake and dash the salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on top, and drizzle with the coconut oil.

Wha-la! Enjoy your crunchy and deliciously healthy salad!

 

Veggie Meatloaf: A Florine Family Kitchen Staple

About three years ago I became an un-vegetarian after seven years with no meat, which is a long story that I’ll save for another time. That being said, I am still in love with veggies and still learning to cook meat in new ways that I haven’t done before.

One of those ways is meatloaf. 

lentil loaf-11I think I have been avoiding this particular dish because it just doesn’t sound good to me…. “meatloaf”. I don’t know, the word itself just sounds kinda gross. I still wish it had a different name. But suffice is to say, it is not gross at all, and indeed is pretty darn tasty– at least my recipe is!  

One of my November goals is to be more aware of healthful choices in the kitchen, and also with saving time and money. So I found this recipe to be helpful because it uses organic products and is packed with veggies (a former Vegetarian’s dream!), and also because I can make it in larger batches and freeze it. When we have like, 17 kids, this will be even more useful, but even with just me and the hubby this method is working great so far! 

Anyway, enough chit-chat! Here is the recipe:

Side note: You can make these into 7 mini loaves, forming the single-serving loaves with your hands, or you can spoon the mixture into a bread loaf pan and make a larger one. I have little mini-loaf pans and I made 3 mini-loafs with this recipe. 1 mini-loaf served 2 people with a fist-sized serving of meat per person (the recommended amount), but it did not leave room for second helpings. I hope this information helps with portions.

You will need:

  • 1 small zucchini (chopped finely)
  • 1of a yellow onion (chopped finely)
  • 1of a red bell pepper (chopped finely)
  • 3 garlic cloves (chopped finely)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • dried thyme to taste
  • dried oregano to taste
  • dried basil to taste
  • coconut oil
  • 1lb organic grass-fed ground beef (you could probably use ground turkey or another kind of meat too)
  • 1egg
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of organic seasoned tomato or pasta sauce

Steps to Make:

  1. Combine the vegetables and seasonings to taste in a pan and sauté in coconut oil for 10 minutes on medium heat. Allow to cool to room temperature (I put in the fridge to speed things up).
  2. In a large bowl mix ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, 1/2 of the tomato sauce (4oz), and then finally add the room-temperature vegetable mixture.
  3. Pat into 7 small meatloaves on a foil lined backing sheet, or spoon the mixture into a larger bread loaf pan, coating the inside of the pan with foil. Make sure to spray the foil with cooking spray (I have a pump sprayer that I fill with coconut coconut oil for this).
  4. Top each loaf with the remaining tomato sauce.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

And that’s all folks! If you made multiple loaves that you won’t eat yet, or if you doubled the recipe, you can let them cool, then wrap them in foil and places them in freezer bags to save for later. Just make sure you mark and date the bags so you don’t forget about them! This method saves me a lot of time because then all I have to do when preparing dinner is make sure to pull out the meatloaf to defrost. 

I served this meatloaf with baked potatoes and a bitter mixed green salad with kale, red cabbage, spinach, and swiss chard; I sweetened it up with some homemade raspberry vinaigrette, pecans, and some dried cranberries. This salad actually brought out the sweetness of the red pepper in the meatloaf but the bitter greens worked with the buttery baked potato– in short; dinner was on fleek

How I Prepped Dinner:

Sunday night I made the 3 mini-meatloaves. I froze 2 and put the 3rd in the fridge. I like to prep for the week on Sunday night because the weeks get really busy (especially the evenings) and I don’t usually have time to cook a real meal. This is the only way we have good and healthy food for the week!

Monday morning, I placed a few small potatoes in the crockpot lined with foil and set it on low to cook. This takes literally 2 minuets, and I do it while making coffee.

Monday late afternoon/early evening I mixed the green salad (I had already made the vinaigrette last week) in a large bowl and set in the fridge until dinner time. Since I didn’t have to chop anything for the salad, it only took about 3 minutes to do.

When we were about ready to eat, I re-heated the meatloaf, sliced it in two, added the potatoes from the crock pot, sliced and topped with butter, then forked some of the greens on the side of the plate. Wha-La! Bam! Shazam! Donezo. Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.51.16 PM

After the initial making of the meatloaf on Sunday night, the Monday night meal itself only took about 10 minutes to prepare. Next week it should be even faster since all I’ll have to do on Sunday is defrost the previously made meatloaf!

And that’s one way I’m working towards my goal to simplify time and money in the kitchen. And since the meatloaf was so healthy and tasty, I think it’ll be a Florine Family Kitchen Staple.

Try it out and see what you think! Let me know how you liked it.