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Like many other personal/health products, healthy toothpaste is more difficult to replace its toxic counterparts than food.  Deciding to ditch the toxic fluoride-bomb regular toothpaste is great, but then the dizzying array of alternatives is enough to make your head explode.

First off, many of the “natural” toothpastes still contain undesirable ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, glycerin (which coats the teeth and is very difficult to remove, preventing remineralization), and more.  Not to mention that these alternative commercial toothpastes tend to be very pricey.

There are probably hundreds (or more) of recipes on the internet and other media for homemade toothpastes, but it can be very difficult to find one without baking soda.  For people with sensitive teeth, baking soda is simply too abrasive and causes pain.  The first time I made my own toothpaste, which of course contained baking soda, I had to stop using it after three days because my teeth hurt so much.  I have also since heard stories of people who never experienced pain or sensitivity while brushing with baking soda, but later discovered that their enamel had become very worn.

The relatively rare recipes for homemade toothpaste without baking soda often contain castile soap, which I have no interest in putting in my mouth.  And since I want a toothpaste my whole family can use and my preschooler still regularly swallows his toothpaste, soap is definitely out.  Other homemade alternatives include plain coconut oil (which becomes thin and very runny in the mouth; still not a good choice for a child), plain water, and dry brushing.  I’ve tried plain water and dry brushing both and my teeth simply don’t feel clean.

Returning to commercial alternatives, the problem is that even if you find a good tooth soap, powder, etc. to buy, you still have to fork over the cash for it!   After hearing about Redmond’s Earthpaste, made from bentonite clay, I was very intrigued and have since seen only positive reviews of it.  However, there is no way I’m paying $8 for an itty bitty tube of toothpaste (or $7.46 on Amazon).  Just…no.  So, I made my own!

Redmond’s doesn’t post an actual ingredient list, but the link above describes it as clay, essential oils, Redmond’s RealSalt (unrefined sea salt), and xylitol.  For the clay, Redmond’s Clay or any other sodium bentonite powder will do.  I actually used this kind, but it’s more expensive per ounce than Redmond’s.  The essential oils and RealSalt were items I already had on hand, and I deliberated for a bit on the xylitol.  Xylitol is touted as a “natural” sweetener with inherent cavity fighting abilities; however, I have heard negative things about it as well.  In the end, I wasn’t willing to spend the money on it ($15 for 2.5 pounds on Amazon).  So I replaced it with coconut oil, which has antibacterial properties of its own, and is an ingredient already found in my kitchen.  I was going to add a few drops of stevia for sweetness but forgot, and I think it really doesn’t need it anyway.  But that’s certainly an option.

I didn’t have much spare time when I made my toothpaste and I didn’t bother measuring anything, so take the following measurements with a grain of (Real)salt.  I just slopped everything together in the jar and stirred it with a butter knife.  And I love it!  The clay is a much gentler abrasive than baking soda and has not caused any sensitivity for me yet.  My teeth feel noticeably cleaner even hours later than with any other toothpaste I’ve tried.  The texture does take a little bit of getting used to, as it’s very different from the foamy clouds produced by most commercial toothpastes.  The clay can feel a bit drying as well, so I suggest a thorough rinsing and drink of water afterwards.  Also, the saltiness will be more pronounced if you use it the same day you make it.  Letting it sit overnight seems to improve the flavor.  Finally, my son wrinkled up his nose a bit when he first tried it, but he used it without complaint, and that’s all I ask for!  The following recipe will make about 1/3 to 1/2 cup.   You can easily increase the proportions to make more at a time.

And without further ado…

Homemade Earthpaste

  • 1/4 cup bentonite clay
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (mine was very soft but not liquid at the time, but it probably doesn’t really matter)
  • 1/4 teaspoon RealSalt or other unrefined sea salt
  • 6 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil
  • Water

Find a small, sturdy glass jar with an air-tight lid.  Add all ingredients except the water.  Mix in water (preferably filtered) one tablespoon at a time until a thick paste has formed–it won’t take much.   Brush!

Doesn’t look too pretty, but who cares? It just gets spit into the sink anyway.

ETA: I usually just use mint extract for flavoring now in lieu of the essential oils, and often add stevia extract to make it more palatable.  Our dental visits have confirmed that it works – no cavities for us!

(**Shared at Simple Lives Thursday, Green Living & Giveaways, and Freaky Friday**)

Like most people, I’ve entertained thoughts of various jobs throughout my life.  As a little girl, I wanted to be a singer, She-Ra, a princess, or a unicorn.  As a teenager, I wanted to be a rock star or a writer.  Over time, I’ve considered becoming a doctor, lawyer, psychologist, chef, historian, web designer…other than mathematician or scientist (never my strong suits), you name it, I’ve thought about doing it.  Yet after several failed college attempts, not one of those have ever come to fruition.

I had an epiphany last summer, finally realizing that the reason no profession has ever truly appealed to me is because I always thought of it in conjunction with money: What job could I stand to do that would make decent dough?  It seemed that the only things I really enjoyed doing would never earn any money.  And so I finally asked myself, “If money didn’t matter, what would you want to do with the rest of your life?

If money didn’t matter, at this very minute I would at home with my son, with another child growing within me, teaching him and playing games.  We would be gardening and baking our bread at our own convenience, instead of me frantically doing it during his naps on weekends.  We would step out of our farm house in the country to enjoy fresh air and sunshine while tending our chickens, milking our cow, and taking care of whatever other animals lived with us.

You get the idea.  My current life of rushing our son off to daycare, rushing off to work, rushing to make dinner, rushing to eat dinner, rushing our son off to bed, and trying to cram everything I need to do around the house into what little time remains of the night is incredibly unfulfilling.  Way too often, despite my husband and son, friends and family, good health, etc., I clench my teeth and seethe, I hate my life. 

When I move around my kitchen, tending my home, feeding my family, I feel good about myself in a way that nothing else evokes.  I feel content.  I’ve started taking walks during my two daily fifteen-minute breaks at work, and no matter whether it’s sunny and blue or cloudy and windy, I turn my face to the sky and think, This is where I belong.  Outside, not trapped behind a desk all day.

Interestingly enough, when I tell people all this, they’re more surprised at my desire to homeschool than anything else.  Apparently drinking fresh milk obtained from my own cow is less controversial than not enrolling my child in school.  But whenever I think of conventional schools, I hear Bette Midler’s voice from “Hocus Pocus” in my head: “It is a prison for children.”   The more I hear about bullying and five-year olds being assigned difficult homework every night, the less I want to subject my son to that.  Even light research into homeschooling disproves the common myths and ideas people have about it.

…And now for the angst.  Money does matter at this point.  I can’t do any of those things, now or in the foreseeable future.  Trying to pay off my personal debt, which is well over what I make in a year, is like an endless battle that never seems to progress.  Some of my debt resulted from plain bad luck, but most of it was my own stupidity and bad choices, and I have the dubious honor of being able to mentally flog myself for it on a regular basis.  I masochistically seek out anything involving pregnancy and then blink back self-pitying tears when I find it. 

But on the bright side, I always used to loathe that favorite question of interviewers and employers, where do you see yourself in five years?, because I never had a real goal or knowledge of what I wanted from life.  And although my answer now would not be at all desirable from their perspective, I could answer it truthfully and be confident about every word.  Angst aside, I try every day to keep my goals in mind and work toward them, however long it takes.

This will totally be me someday. Except without the record player. And the holiday stuff. (Who puts a Christmas tree in the kitchen?!) And the high heels. Okay, it will kinda be me...in spirit.

I arrived home from work last night over an hour late due to extremely aggravating vehicle issues, and had only a few minutes to make dinner.  It’s always a good idea to keep cooked meats and grains handy, and I happened to have roast beef, pork stock, and quinoa already thawed in my fridge (had they been frozen, it would have added a few minutes to the cooking time, but still wouldn’t have taken very long).  You could use practically any frozen or quick-cooking vegetable, especially if corn is a no-go for you.  Quick and tasty!


 

10 Minute Dinner:

One-Pot Beef and Quinoa

4 to 5 servings

  • 1 cup stock of choice
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups cooked roast beef or stew meat, chopped or shredded
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese

Place stock, corn, beef, and spinach in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 6 minutes or until corn and spinach are fully thawed and heated through.  Stir in remaining ingredients and serve. 

(**Shared at Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, and Pennywise Platter Thursday**)

I’ve previously mentioned my love for the Two Fat Ladies (and their Mitton of Pork), and now it’s time to give a shout out to my other favorite cooking show, Bitchin’ Kitchen.  I have a major girl crush on Nadia G., and I just look away when she uses things like canola oil–hey, no one’s perfect.  Season 2 debuted last fall with “(Dysfunctional) Family Pizza Night,” and the All Dressed G Style Pizza is now my go-to pizza recipe.  After I made the pizza a few times, I decided to try making bread with the crust recipe with only a few minor changes.

I’ve made a lot of different homemade breads over the years using a lot of different ingredients and recipes: bread machine, from a mix, sourdough, with a stand mixer, whole grain, white flour, soaked, unsoaked…you name it, I’ve tried it.  Some I hated less than others, but none of them came even close to the taste and texture of store-bought that I so craved.  The bread from Nadia G.’s pizza crust recipe DOES.  It stays soft for several days at room temp, freezes, thaws, and slices beautifully, and tastes excellent.  Yes, the recipe does call for white flour mixed with wheat flour, and I do use organic unbleached white flour.  I figure we don’t eat that much bread, and it’s still better than the bread at the store full of canola oil, high fructose corn syrup, and soybean oil.  Because my family has no real issues with grains and because as I said, we don’t eat a lot of bread anyway, I don’t soak this recipe either, but you certainly could try it that way.  Do knead it by hand – there is just no real substitute.


 

Bitchin’ Homemade Bread

1 loaf

  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 10 ounces warm water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice
  • 1 1/2 cups organic unbleached white flour (more as necessary)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (more as necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pastured lard (or more butter)
  • 1 egg, beaten

In a medium bowl, mix the yeast with the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add salt, sugar, and melted butter, and whisk.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the white and whole wheat flours.  Make a hole in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture.  Slowly hand mix the flour until all the liquid is absorbed.  If too wet, add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time. [Note – I have always had to add considerably more flour than the recipe lists, so make sure you have plenty on hand.]  Sprinkle a clean work station with flour and knead the dough until smooth and elastic.  Coat a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl with the olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and flip over to coat in the oil.  Cover the top of the dough with plastic wrap and cover the bowl with a dish towel.  Let rise until the dough has doubled in size, 2 hours.  Punch down the dough and let rise for another hour. 

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a bread pan with lard or additional butter; shape dough into a loaf and place in pan.  Brush with beaten egg.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until just starting to brown.  (I like mine just barely done so that it’s soft but no longer doughy.)  Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Seriously.  Best bread ever.

You could use any homemade ravioli recipe you like here, or even store-bought, if you must.  I will try making homemade ravioli dough next time, or bake them first or something, because I didn’t really care for the texture of the wonton wrappers in the soup.  My husband loved it as is, though, as did my son, so we’ll definitely be having it again one way or another!  Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients – it came together quickly and stuffing the ravioli was really the only time-consuming activity. 


 

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Ravioli Soup

1 big pot 🙂

Ravioli

  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 2 cups yogurt cheese (labneh), or softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper EACH
  • 1 egg, separated

Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter, tallow, lard, etc.
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 8 cups stock (I used 6 cups chicken and 2 cups turkey)
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh chopped spinach
  • 1 cup cooked crumbled bacon
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire or fish sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste (if necessary)

For the ravioli, mix together the cheeses, mustard, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.  In a small separate bowl, beat the egg white (save the yolk for later).  Place each wonton wrapper so they are diamond-shaped and spoon a small amount of the cheese mixture in the center.  Brush the wrapper corners with egg white and fold the top point down to the bottom point, pressing the edges together.  Then fold the side corners over and the bottom portion up, forming a little envelope.  Continue until you run out of wrappers or filling, or both.  Set aside.  If making ahead, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate until using.  Save any egg white that may be left.

For soup, melt the fat in a large pot; add the onion, carrots, celery, and bell pepper.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and garlic; stir in the stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. 

Beat the reserved egg yolk with any remaining egg white and pour into soup, stirring with a fork, to form shreds.  (You could add another egg or three if you want it more like an egg-drop consistency.)  Carefully add the ravioli and cook for three minutes or until they float.  Gently stir in remaining ingredients (no need to thaw the spinach if frozen – the hot soup will melt it quickly).  Serve!

(**Shared at Fat Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, and Real Food Wednesday**)

Image by Carlos LorenzoTurmeric has been getting a lot of attention lately for its many health benefits.  It’s a potent medicine, but we’re often not told how to use it.  If you prefer whole foods to supplements, you don’t have to limit yourself to curry every day.  Turmeric is certainly an ingredient in curry, but is actually pretty mild-flavored on its own (although if used in large quantities, it can generate a slightly bitter aftertaste). 

Here are a few ideas on how to include turmeric in various recipes:

  • Sprinkle on fried, scrambled, etc. eggs and add to egg salads. 
  • Add to any tomato-based dish or condiment — chili, salsa, ketchup, gumbo, tomato soup, meatloaf, pizza sauce, etc.
  • Add to any cheese-based dish or any dish/condiment that looks orange/brown — cheese or winter squash soups, nachos, savory pumpkin anything, macaroni and cheese (gives homemade mac and cheese that store-bought neon-orange look without all the nasty ingredients!), homemade or store-bought mustard, homemade bread, sweet and sour dishes, etc.
  • Add to hot dog and pork dishes.
  • Add to homemade salad dressings (especially French or Russian).
  • Add to any savory dish containing coconut milk, since they already play so well to begin with and it can cut the milk’s sweetness a little bit.
  • Add to tuna or salmon salads.

Really, you can use turmeric just about anywhere except dessert!  I add it to soups so often that my son’s blue soup spoon has turned permanently green on the business end.  Rather than adding one large amount to one dish and risking that bitter aftertaste, add turmeric in small quantities to as many dishes as possible, and reap its benefits!

What are your favorite ways to eat turmeric?

(**Shared at Sunday School and Monday Mania**)

My husband said after dinner, “This is really good.  The flavors all go really well together,” in a rather surprised tone.  Surprise?  After all these years?  Don’t doubt me, my man. 🙂 

If you can’t decide whether to have potato salad or a green salad, why not just have both?


 

Probiotic Chicken Potato Salad with Salsa Dressing

5 to 6 servings

  • 6 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (or sub in any precooked chicken parts)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fermented salsa
  • 1/3 cup cultured sour cream
  • 1/3 cup fermented mayonnaise (I recommend expeller pressed coconut oil or a very mild olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Lettuce of choice
  • 2 to 3 fermented eggs, sliced or quartered

Place potatoes in a crockpot.  Lay chicken over the top and pour in enough water to cover just the potatoes.  Cook on low for 8 hours. 

Remove chicken and shred or chop.  Drain potatoes.  Cut into bite-sized pieces and return to crockpot; add butter and salt and stir until the butter melts.  Let the chicken and potatoes cool; they don’t need to be cold or room temp, but no hotter than lukewarm or your probiotics are gone.  Mix salsa, sour cream, mayo, lime juice, mustard, and pepper in a small bowl.

Place lettuce on a plate, top with potato chunks and chicken pieces, drizzle with dressing (thin with a little milk or buttermilk if it’s too thick), and garnish with egg.

If you have leftovers, they may need a bit more salt since the potatoes like to suck up flavor.  You could also substitute smoked salmon, ham, or some other flavorful meat for the chicken.

(**Shared at the Probiotic Food Challenge Linky, Fight Back Friday, and Living Well Blog Hop #24**) 

 

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