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30 Amazing Household Uses for Organic Cornstarch

You may think of cornstarch as a thickener, and it is – it’s great for makings sauces and gravies but did you know it has a myriad of household uses also?  Check out this list of unusual uses for organic cornstarch and be prepared to be amazed.  Not only is organic cornstarch economical and organic cornstarchversatile, it is very eco friendly, just make sure you’re buying organic cornstarch  so you’re not getting GMO corn.

Kitchen Uses For Organic Cornstarch

DIY Baking Powder: If you run out of baking powder, all you have to do is mix 1 part of organic cornstarch with 1 part of baking soda and 2 parts cream of tartar and you’ve got baking powder.

Remove grease spots from walls: It’s happened to all of us, the splattering of grease in the kitchen.  To remove grease spots that may splatter onto the wall, sprinkle organic cornstarch onto a clot and rub the grease spot gently until it is gone.

Polish silver: Make a paste by mixing organic cornstarch with water. Use a damp cloth to apply this to your silverware. Let it dry, then rub it off with a clean soft cloth to make it shine like new.

Unstick marshmallows: If you’ve ever bought a bag of marshmallows and they’re all stuck together inside the bag?  Add some organic cornstarch to the bag and shake it up.  The cornstarch absorbs moisture and the marshmallows will separate.

Create a Perfect Fluffy Omelet: Just add ¼ teaspoon of organic cornstarch per egg, beat well and cook as usual for the fluffiest omelet ever.

 

Laundry Uses For Organic Cornstarch

Lift a scorch mark from fabric: If you’ve ever left the iron in one spot a little too long, you know the feeling of seeing that scorch mark and knowing you’ve ruined your clothes.  Save that clothing by wetting the scorched area and covering it with cornstarch.  Let it dry then brush it away and the scorch mark will be gone.

Remove blood stains: Whether it’s on clothing or table linens, you can remove or minimize a bloodstain with this method. Make a paste of cornstarch mixed with cold water. Cover the spot with the cornstarch paste and rub it gently into the fabric. Put the cloth in a sunny area to dry. Once it is dry, brush off the remaining residue. If the stain is not completely gone, repeat the process.

Remove grease on fabric: Blot as much grease as you can with a cloth and sprinkle cornstarch over the stain. Let it sit for ten minutes, and then shake it off. To break up the grease, dab the stain with white vinegar. Launder as normal.

Remove ink stains on fabric:  Mix a paste of cornstarch and milk and apply it to the stain.  Let it dry, brush off the residue, and launder as usual.

 

Bath & Body Uses For Organic Cornstarch

Dry shampoo: Even if you’re not ‘no-poo’ (no shampoo) all the time, if you’re in a rush and don’t have time to shower, sprinkle some organic cornstarch on your scalp.  Let it sit for a few minutes before brushing out.  The cornstarch will absorb the oil and make your hair look fresh.  This method also works great for pets.

Sweat & Odor Remover: To absorb sweat, sprinkle on some organic cornstarch. This will also help absorb body odor.

Sunburn, Bug Bites & Poison Ivy Relief: Make a paste of organic cornstarch and water and apply to the affected area.  Let the paste dry and then remove with lukewarm water.

Facial Mask:  Mix ¼ cup organic cornstarch, 2 Tablespoons milk and 1 egg white.  Mix until smooth and apply to face.  Let dry for 15 to 20 minutes then rinse off.

 

Household Uses For Organic Cornstarch

Remove ink stains from carpet: Mix milk with cornstarch to make a paste. Apply the paste to the ink stain. Allow to dry on the carpet for a few hours, and then brush off the dried residue and vacuum.

Give carpets a fresh scent: Sprinkle a little cornstarch on your carpeting. Wait about half an hour and then vacuum normally.

Soak up furniture polish residue: If you wind up with polish left on the surface of your furniture, sprinkle cornstarch lightly on furniture then wipe up the polish and cornstarch and buff the surface.

Make windows shine: Create your own window cleaning solution by mixing 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/2 cup ammonia and 1/2 cup white vinegar in a bucket containing 3-4 quarts (3-4 liters) warm water. Mix well and put the solution in a trigger spray bottle. Spray on the windows, then wipe with a warm-water rinse. Rub with a dry paper towel or lint-free cloth.

Get rid of roaches: Make a mixture that is 50 percent plaster of Paris and 50 percent cornstarch. Spread this in the crevices where roaches appear.

Remove stains on leather furniture. To get rid of oil stains from leather simply apply cornstarch to the oil spot. Leave the cornstarch in place overnight to give the cornstarch time to soak up the grease. The next day use a cloth to brush off all of the corn starch. You may need to repeat to remove the stain.

Save your books You can use cornstarch to help you prevent and kill mildew in your books.  Sprinkle cornstarch all throughout the book to absorb the moisture of the damp pages. Let the cornstarch sit several hours or overnight. Then take your books outside and brush the pages clean

Say no to squeaky floorboards: Sprinkle cornstarch in between the seams where the boards are rubbing together and the squeak will stop.

 

Organic Cornstarch Solutions for Babies & Kids

Untangle knots: Have your kids ever gotten their shoes tied in such tight knots that you can’t get them undone? Sprinkle the knot with a little cornstarch. It will then be easy to work the segments apart.

Make your own paste: The next time kids want to go wild with construction paper and paste, save money by making the paste yourself. Mix 3 teaspoons organic cornstarch with 4 teaspoons cold water. Stir to create a paste consistency. Use with fingers, wooden tongue depressor or popsicle stick.

Make finger paints: Mix together 1/4 cup organic cornstarch and 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and continue boiling until the mixture becomes thick. Pour your into several small containers and add food coloring to each container and you’ve got finger paints.

Clean stuffed animals To clean a stuffed toy, place the stuffed animal into a bag. Sprinkle cornstarch into the bag, close it tightly, and shake. Take the toys out of the back and brush them clean.

Make face paints: Mix two parts of organic cornstarch with one part of white vegetable shortening to make a non-toxic grease paint. Make different color variations by just adding a few drops of food coloring mix until you get the color you want.

Clean sticky playing cards:  Place the cards into a paper bag along with a 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Shake the bag. Remove cards and wipe them down and the sticky will be gone.

Un-stink shoes: If you’ve got active kids, you know how stinky their shoes can get.  Sprinkle some cornstarch inside the shoes to absorb perspiration and odor.

Diaper Rash Relief: To protect your baby from diaper rash, add ¼ cup of organic cornstarch to their bath water. To sooth diaper rash, powder their bottoms with cornstarch after each diaper change.

Remove grease stains from zinc oxide ointment: Use a spoon to scrape off as much of the ointment as you can. Sprinkle the stained area with cornstarch and let it sit for an hour or so. Brush the starch away and treat the stain with a grease-cutting dish soap. Wash in cool water.

Do you have any of your own tips and tricks for using organic cornstarch? Share below in the comments!

Sea Salt for Beautiful Skin and Hair – 3 DIY Recipes

Aside from being the most common seasoning, sea salt is said to have literally thousands of uses.  Sea salt can be used for cleaning, insect repellent, odor removing and a whole lot more.  One of my favorite ways to use sea salt is in homemade beauty treatments like exfoliating salt scrubs, facials, and even hair spray.sea salt

 Sea Salt Facial

Since sea salt is made by the evaporation of sea water, it contains many trace minerals which have  health benefits for the skin. It’s easy to gently exfoliate and stimulate your face a sea salt facial scrub.  Simply mix equal parts fine grind sea salt and olive oil with a few drops of essential oils.  Use rosemary essential oil for dry skin, lavender for acne, clary sage to reduce signs of aging.  You can also use any of Aura Cacia’s Facial Care Serums like baobab, argan or rosehip.  Blend together and gently massage the face and throat using upward strokes.  Let the mixture sit on your face for up to five minutes then rinse.  The sea salt will give your face an extraordinary glow.

Sea Salt Body Scrub

Sea salt is wonderful for removing dead skin cells. Since the coarser varieties are quite abrasive, it is a great choice for scrubbing dead skin from rough spots like elbows and feet.  It is also good for removing impurities and for helping flush toxins form the body.  The increased blood flow to the skin after using a salt scrub helps bring circulation to the skin, thus aiding the elimination of toxins.  Sea salt has also been shown to be therapeutic for muscle pain due to its high magnesium content. Magnesium functions as an electrolyte when it is consumed and this can help reduce muscle spasms and cramps.

To make your own sea salt body scrub you’ll first choose a base.  This will be a skin-friendly oil like almond, jojoba, avocado or apricot kernel.   Then choose a scent.  Using essential oils is a great way to customize your scrub.  For relaxing effects, try lavender, sandalwood, jasmine or lemon balm.  For uplifting effects, try bergamot, grapefruit, sweet orange or clary sage.  You can also create a body scrub with therapeutic effects.  Eucalyptus will help clear congestion and ease headaches, rosemary is great for arthritis and muscle aches, peppermint is a great decongestant.

Mix two parts salt to one part base oil.  Add just a few drops of essential oil to the mixture and mix well.  Use all over your body for healthy skin, healthy body, and healthy mood.

Sea Salt Hair Spray

I’ve always loved the way my hair looks after a day at the beach with that sea salty air blowing through it all day.  I even went so far as to buy a commercial hair spray that’s supposed to mimic that look using sea salt.  Since I don’t like to use unnatural chemicals in my hair, I sought out ways to re-create that look using natural ingredients and I found a few DIY recipes, tried them, and came up with a blend that I love.

All you need is an empty spray bottle, sea salt, coconut oil, and aloe vera gel.  Fill your spray bottle with 1 cup of water, preferably filtered or distilled.  Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon coconut oil.  Since you can use this spray any time of year, you may be making this in the wintertime and coconut oil will solidify in colder temperatures so you may want to substitute almond oil in the winter.  Add a teaspoon of aloe vera gel, place the top on the spray bottle and shake to combine everything.  Spray on damp (but not wet) hair and scrunch to create beach waves!

Do you have any favorite body care uses for sea salt? Please share them in the comments!

Fishy Food Cars Travel Cross Country to Promote GMO Labeling

Fishy Food Cars Travel Cross Country to Promote GMO Labeling (via Organic Connections Magazine)

On August 5, seventeen activists will set out on a cross-country 3300-mile journey from the nation’s capital to Seattle, Washington for what is being called the “Are We Eating Fishy Food Tour.” The tour features five mutant GMO art cars fitted…

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Organic Beverages: 2 Recipes For Electrolyte Replacement

When you think of electrolyte replacement drinks, those brightly colored sugary drinks quickly come to mind.  What many people don’t realize is that electrolyte replacement is very simple and you can make your own organic beverages for electrolyte replacement right at home.  No need for artificial flavors, artificial colors or excessively sweetened beverages – all you need is water, salt, and citrus.  Making your own electrolyte replacement drink at home saves money and ensures you’re getting the most nutrition.organic beverages

Let’s look at the ingredients in these simple organic beverages.  First we have water. Make sure you’re using pure water – distilled, filtered, or simply boiled.  Next up is the salt.  Electrolytes are salts that keep our body, muscles, and nerves functioning properly.   While technically any salt will do, I’d recommend using a high quality sea salt like himalayan pink salt or a celtic sea salt.  If the salt grains are large, grind them in a mortar and pestle before adding them to the water.  The last ingredient in this organic beverage is citrus.  Oranges are especially good (so that was why we always had orange slices at our childhood soccer games!) but you can also use grapefruit, lemon, lime or any other citrus that you like.

2 Organic Beverages Recipes for Electrolyte Replacement

SweetTart Electrolyte Booster

1/8 cup lemon juice

1/8 cup lime juice

1/2 tsp salt

1 squeezed orange

2 cups water

Mix and enjoy!

Quick and Easy Electrolyte Replacement

1 lemon, halved and squeezed into a glass

1 orange, halved and squeezed into a glass

1 spoonful of honey, stirred in

a few shakes of salt

Fill the rest of the glass with water, stir to combine the honey, and drink.

If you want to keep some organic beverages on hand to do the trick instead of making your own, try organic coconut water (or coconut water powder).

 

How to Make Your Own Organic Condiments Quickly & Easily

When I look at the ingredients lists for most condiments, even the organic condiments, I’m always just a little bit disappointed to find ingredients that I wouldn’t typically eat.  For instance, jarred organic mayonnaise will always contain soybean oil or canola oil.  Even though I know they’re non-gmo, since they’re organic, I still would rather use a different type of oil.  The solution? Make my own!  The same goes for ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, even ranch dressing.  So let’s take a look at just how easy it is to make them!organic condiments

DIY Organic Condiments

Organic Mayonnaise Recipe

The key to making homemade mayonnaise is to start with your ingredients at room temperature, so a few hours before you’re going to be making it, let your ingredients sit out on your counter.  This is one the organic condiments that once you taste it fresh, you may never be able to eat it jarred again.

Ingredients:
1 egg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup plus 1 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients aside from 1 cup of olive oil in a blender or food processor.   Blend until well mixed – about 20 to 30 seconds.  Slowly drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while it is mixing.  This needs to be done very slowly so make sure that you’re pouring only the thinnest stream of olive oil into the mixture.  Once it is all combined it should look like the creamiest version of a mayo you’ve ever seen.  Place the mixture in a jar and refrigerate.  It should last for about a week longer than the expiration date on your egg.

Note: The olive oil you use will add flavor to your mayo.  If you’re using a strong tasting olive oil like Bariani, you’re going to have a strong tasting mayo, so choose an olive oil that has a light flavor if you don’t want it to overpower your mayo.  You can also use sunflower or safflower oil instead of olive oil.

Organic Ketchup Recipe

The kid-friendliest of the organic condiments, ketchup is a favorite of just about every kid I know.  Considering how much sugar is in commercially prepared ketchup, why not try making your own?

Ingredients:
7 oz tomato paste
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons sweetener of choice (try coconut sugar, coconut nectar, date sugar, or honey)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 Tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup filtered water

Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together completely.

Organic Mustard Recipe

Mustard is one of those organic condiments that can be made in a myriad of ways for everyone’s taste – from dijon to spicy brown to grainy mustards or super smooth spicy mustards, everyone has their favorite.  My favorite is the really grainy type so here’s a recipe to make your own at home.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup dry mustard powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 Tablespoons cold water

Place mustard seeds, wine vinegar, and wine in a small bowl and let stand for 3 hours. Empty the bowl into a blender or food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse until the seeds are broken. Add the remaining ingredients and process for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the container process for another 30 seconds. Place in a well-sealed container and refrigerate.  Allow to sit overnight before using.  Mustard mellow with age so if it is too strong at first, let it sit for a couple of weeks.

Organic Ranch Dressing Recipe

Its not that far of a stretch to group this salad dressing in with the rest of the organic condiments.  While technically a salad dressing and not a condiment, since so many kids will eat any veggie if its dipped in ranch, I’m treating it like one of the other organic condiments.  We don’t do a lot of dairy in my household so this is a recipe for a raw vegan ranch dressing that can stand up to the best traditional ranch dressing recipes.

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours and drained
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 pitted dates soaked in 1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup of the reserved date soak water
2 large cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons red onion
1 Tablespoon Herbamare
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped finely
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped finely
1 Tablespoon scallions (use the green part only), chopped finely

Add all ingredients except the fresh herbs to a blender and process until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and stir in the fresh herbs.  If you’re using this as a dip, store it in an airtight container and let it chill for 2 hours before serving.  If you’re using this as a dressing, add 1/2 to 1 cup of water and stir well before storing.

Are there other organic condiments you’d like to learn how to make?  Let us know in the comments and we’ll post recipes in a future blog!

Organic Oatmeal – More Than A Breakfast. 25 Creative Uses For Oats.

A bowl of organic oatmeal is a hearty and healthy breakfast, but did you know how versatile oatmeal really is?  Not only is it a high fiber, delicious breakfast food, it can be used for beauty care, kitchen cleanup, kids’ activities, and more.   Let’s take a look at 25 uses for organic oatmeal:organic oatmeal

Skin Care with Organic Oatmeal:

1. Acne: Spread cooked oatmeal (after it has cooled) over your problem skin. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse. Oatmeal can absorb and remove oil and bacteria from skin, and exfoliates dead skin cells, all of which can combat acne. Try adding honey and tea tree oil for more acne fighting power.

2. Itch relief:  If you’re suffering from the itchiness of poison ivy, chicken pox or even a sunburn, try an oatmeal bath.  As a kid who got a lot of poison ivy, I can vouch for this one.  Place oats in an an old piece of clean pantyhose and knot it around the faucet in the bathtub so that it hangs in the water.  Draw a warm bath, allowing the water to run through the oats.  Soak in the tub and use the pouch of oats to rub your itchy skin.

3. General skin problems: Its easy to make your own oatmeal soap or scrub for any skin problems.  To make a scrub, grind 2 Tbsp of oatmeal in a blender then add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and enough water to make a paste.  Spread on dry skin then rinse off after 10 minutes.  Oatmeal soap can be made using the bits of soap left in your shower.  Melt them down with a small amount of organic oatmeal and pour into a mold.  Cool and you have your own fresh organic oatmeal soap.

4. Rejuvenating face mask: Mix 1/2 cup hot water with 1/3 cup oatmeal for two or three minutes, then add two tablespoons each plain yogurt and honey, plus one egg white. Spread thinly on the face, then relax for 10 minutes and rinse with warm water.

5. Stress releif: You don’t need itchy skin to have an excuse for an oatmeal bath. Try adding a cup of milk, two cups of oats (in a pouch) and a tablespoon of honey to the bath to moisturize the skin and relax the body. You could also use scented oils in a ground oatmeal pouch, as described in the itch remedy above.

6. Go ‘No-Poo’: If you’re not familiar with the trend, many people are moving away from using shampoo and are using other methods to cleanse the hair and scalp.  Grind oatmeal into a powder and mix with an equal amount of baking soda. Rub into the scalp and let it soak up oils and odors, then brush out.

7. Itchy dogs: Dogs also suffer from dry skin and hair problems. Try mixing equal parts oats and warm water and rubbing the mixture thinly over a dog’s dry, itchy spots. Wrap in aluminum foil and keep the dog still for 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and repeat regularly until your dog is scratching less.

8. Pore Refiner: Mix 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup hot water, and 1/4 cup honey in a food processor. Let cool, and apply. Wait 10 minutes, and rinse.

9. DIY Scrub: To smooth out rough skin your body or face, make your own scrub out of oatmeal by grinding up two or three tablespoons of oats in a food processor. Add one or two teaspoons of baking soda and enough water to turn it into a paste. Smooth the scrub onto the skin and rub gently in a circular motion. After about 20 minutes, rinse off the paste with cool water.

Organic Oatmeal For Your Health:

10. Weight Loss: Oats have more fiber than wheat and other flours so cooking with oat flour offers a more full feeling with fewer calories.

11. Fuel Your Exercise: Studies have shown that oats can help fuel muscles during a workout. Eat oatmeal about three hours before your next endurance run or bike ride and enjoy the benefits of this high fiber complex carbohydrate.

12. Lower Cholesterol: The soluble fiber in oats lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). Oatmeal may curb small LDL cholesterol particles, which may be riskier than bigger LDL particles.

13. Reduce Inflammation: Lab tests show that antioxidants in oats have anti-inflammatory properties. It would be impractical to try to eat the amount of oatmeal needed to get the antioxidant levels used in those tests, but smaller doses over time may have benefits.

14. Cardiovascular Benefits: Since organic oatmeal is high in fiber it offers many cardiovascular benefits, including a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure. Postmenopausal women, who tend to develop high blood pressure, should eat six servings of oatmeal on a weekly basis. Studies show that men can also reduce their risk of heart failure if they eat one bowl of oatmeal, per day.

15. Stable Blood Sugar: A high fiber diet that includes organic oatmeal for breakfast will stabilize blood sugar levels and won’t cause the mid-morning slumps, which comes from eating a lot of sugar and carbs in the morning.

16. Immune System Booster: Oatmeal contains a type of fiber called beta-gluten fiber. This fiber protects against heart disease and also supports the immune system, helping the immune cells seek out and repair areas of the body that may be fighting a bacterial infection.

17. Prevent Diabetes: Oatmeal isn’t just a good source of fiber, it is also a good source of magnesium, which regulates the body’s insulin and glucose levels. It’s been shown that, over the course of eight years, women who eat a diet rich in whole grains like oatmeal can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by up to 31 percent.

18. Lower Risk of Breast Cancer: A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggested that premenopausal women can reduce their risk of breast cancer up to 41 percent by focusing on diets rich in oatmeal and other whole grains.

Household Uses For Organic Oatmeal:

19. Odor Absorber: Oatmeal can absorb odors in your refrigerator or bathroom.  Just leave a container of oats open in your fridge or any other smelly spot.

20. Kid’s Toy: Make your own substitute for Play-Doh with organic oatmeal. Just mix two parts oatmeal with one part flour and one part water.  Add some natural food coloring if you’d like.  Once mixed, it can be molded into virtually any shape and can be painted once dry.

21. Soak Up Oil Spills: Cover the oil puddle with uncooked oatmeal and let it sit for 5 minutes before sweeping it up.

Organic Oatmeal In Your Kitchen:

22. Breadcrumb Substitute: Process oats in a food processor and use in place of breadcrumbs in meatballs, meatloaf and veggie burgers.

23. All Purpose Flour Substitute:  Grind oats in a food processor to create oat flour and use as a healthier substitute for traditional flour in cookies, pancakes, breads and more.  You’ll get twice the fiber with less calories.

24. Homemade Granola:  Nothing is better than fresh warm granola right out of the oven.  Control the ingredients in your granola by making it at home.  Here’s a great recipe for a basic granola that you can add to with whatever dried fruits and nuts you like: http://www.chow.com/recipes/30062-basic-granola

25. Thickener:  Soups, stews and dips can be thickened with some ground oats or oat flour.

Now that you’ve seen the whole list, what are some of your favorite ways to use organic oatmeal?

Eating To Live With Organic Legumes + 3 Lentil Recipes That Aren’t Soup

I’ve become a recent organic legume evangelist.  In my quest to find the best diet for my body, I’ve tried a lot of different eating plans.  I’d been eating a low-glycemic raw food diet for a few months and was pleased with how easy it was for me to stay away from sweets once they were out of my diet completely.  The downside was that to feel satisfied and full, I was eating a lot of nuts, seeds and oils and I had some negative side effects from that.  It was a great conversation with a customer about eating vegan that led me to the embrace organic legumes.  She recommended to me the book ‘Eat To Live’ by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating at least one cup of organic legumes per day, along with 1 pound of raw vegetables, 1 pound of cooked vegetables and a few pieces of fruit. I picked up a copy and decided to give it a shot.

I hadn’t been using beans or legumes at all in my diet so it was important to introduce them slowly.  You know that song, ‘beans, beans, good for you heart, the more you eat them…’ you know the rest.  Adding organic legumes a little bit at a time allows the body to adjust so that you don’t have to suffer the gassy fate of that song.  It is true though, that beans really are good for your heart – and they have a multitude of health benefits that everyone, not just vegans, can enjoy.

Organic legumes are a staple food in many regions of the world.  Organic legumes and beans are rich in copper, iron, magnesium and folic acid, nutrients that many of us are deficient in.  Peas as well as dried beans are also a good source of absorbable iron, great for anyone, but especially beneficial for vegans. They are low in fat, high in quality protein and are one of the best sources of soluble fiber. That fiber is what makes beans and legumes heart healthy, by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.  Eating organic legumes and beans is especially beneficial for people with diabetes as the soluble fiber slows down the absorption of sugars, keeping blood glucose levels stable.

How To Cook With Organic Legumes

It takes a bit of advanced planning to use dried organic legumes.  You’ll want to sort through the dried beans looking for discolored beans and pebbles.   Once they’re sorted through, rinse them in cold water then soak them for 6-8 hours or longer if it works better for your schedule.  I often soak them in the morning before work and cook them when I come home from work so they’re soaking a good 9 hours.  Soaking is the best way to offset their gas-producing effects; it also shortens your cooking time.  When your soak time is up, skim off any beans that are floating on top, then drain the water and rinse.  Place the beans in a pot and add fresh water.  My quick tip is to use enough water to cover the beans plus two knuckles worth of water.  If you put a finger in the water so that the tip of your finger touches the top of the beans, you should fill the water to your second knuckle.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender.  Depending on the variety it should be about one to three hours.  At this point you can season them however you like.  A bit like tofu, beans take on whatever flavor you add so you can be as creative or as simple as you’d like.  You can use organic legumes as a hot stew or soup, add them cold to salads, or blend them to make a spread for wraps.

organic legumes

Photo credit: Maggie Hoffman / Flickr

Since adding organic legumes to my diet, I am able to fill up easily without adding a lot of fat to my diet.  The versatility of legumes has been a real treat, I can eat them every day and not get bored at all.  My favorite of all of the organic legumes would have to be lentils; here are a few recipes using them in different ways so you can see the versatility:

Red Lentil Dip

1 cup red lentils
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Place lentils and bay leaf in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes until tender.  Drain and discard the bay leaf.  Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute until onions are translucent.  Add the remaining ingredients in the list (aside from the lemon juice) and cook for about 5 minutes.  Combine lentils with the onion mixture in a food processor and add the lemon juice; process until smooth.  Enjoy on crackers, pita, with fresh veggies or as a wrap filling.

 

Cold Lentil Veggie Salad

1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 tablesoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/4 cup red cabbage, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Place lentils in a deep pot and cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil them cook, covered, over medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes or until tender.  They should retain their shape.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar.  In a medium bowl, combine cooked lentils, green onion, parsley, red onion, carrot and red cabbage. Add olive oil and lemon mixture to lentils and toss well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.

 

Spicy Lentil Tacos

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup dried green lentils
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup jarred salsa
12 corn tortillas (I like Ezekiel brand)

Sauté the garlic and onion in the oil in a medium pot for 4-6 minutes, or until they become soft and fragrant. Add the lentils and the chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir to combine. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.  Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more to allow the mixture to thicken. Mash the lentils with a fork and stir in the salsa.  Spoon the mixture into the tortillas and top with your favorite taco toppings like shredded lettuce and fresh tomato.

 How do you like to use organic legumes? Please share your favorite recipes in the comments!

Organic Nut Butter; A DIY Homemade Nut Milk Trick

As a vegan who’s picky about the ingredients in the foods I eat, finding a milk alternative wasn’t easy.  organic-nut-butterMost commercial nut beverages contain added ingredients to stabilize the liquid.  I also found that I’d open up a carton of nut milk and it would go bad in my fridge before I used it all.   I decided to explore making my own so that I could control the ingredients and make just what I’d need without wasting anything. The easiest way I found is to make nut milk out of organic nut butter.  It’s so simple you’ll never buy packaged nut milks again.

How To Make Nut Milk From Organic Nut Butter

The basic recipe is 1 tablespoon of organic nut butter to 1 cup of water.  You’ll need a blender, but it doesn’t have to be a high powered one, a regular blender will do.  Just whizz the nut butter and water together until it is milky and smooth.  Use more water if you like a thinner consistency, less water if you want a thicker consistency.  A thicker nut milk makes a great creamer substitute.

Making your own nut milk out of organic nut butter allows you to make only what you need so that you’re not wasting any.  The most common nut butter used to do this would be almond butter but experiment with other nut butters like cashew butter, walnut butter, peanut butter and pecan butter.

Keeping organic nut butter on hand is a great way to make sure you’ll always have nut milk available for recipes.  Cashew butter, when made into milk, is the best cream substitute I’ve found.  One of my favorite recipes to make is a creamed spinach recipe using cashew milk instead of cream.  It is so rich and delicious, my 11 year old step-son was even asking for more.

How to make vegan creamed spinach using nut milk:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 c cashew milk
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt

Steam sauté the spinach until wilted and drain to remove the water. Add cashew milk and spices to the pan and stir constantly until the mixture thickens, 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.

Organic Salad Dressing: Make Your Own For the Freshest Flavors

organic salad dressingGreens.  We know we’re supposed to eat a lot of them, but how do you do it without getting bored of the same old salads?  Make your own organic salad dressing!  Nothing beats the freshness of homemade organic salad dressing and they’re really so simple to make with just a few key ingredients and whatever spices and seasonings you have on hand.  I’ve got a handful of organic salad dressing recipes tucked in my back pocket that I can pull out and use when I’m in a rut.  Salads never have to be boring again, once you know the tricks.

There are two main types of organic salad dressing – vinaigrette and creamy dressings.    The basic formula for a vinaigrette is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil with whatever seasonings you’d like to add.  The key is find the right balance between the acid, fat and seasonings.  Since oil and vinegar naturally repel each other, these dressings will separate when standing.  Creamy dressings add an emulsifier like mayonnaise to keep the ingredients from separating.  You can either use a homemade mayo (simply whisk 1 ounce of egg yolk with 1 cup of oil until you reach the right consistency) or use a commercially prepared mayonnaise.

I’ll share with you some of my favorite organic salad dressing recipes but the flavors can so easily be tweaked for your own taste buds.  By varying the type of oil (olive, sunflower, safflower, sesame, etc), the type of vinegar (balsamic, white wine, red wine, apple cider, flavored), and the seasonings, there’s nearly endless combinations.

Here are some of my favorite organic salad dressing recipes:

Raw Vegan Italian Salad Dressing

Ingredients
3 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  While this works best in a high speed blender, any blender will do.

‘Crack’ Dressing

I don’t know what else to call it because it is so good and you’ll crave it once you try it – its that good!  I found a version of it online a while back and it was an instant addiction.

1/2 cup shoyu or tamari
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup olive oil
1 cup water
Blend all in a blender; store in the refrigerator.

Miso Tahini Organic Salad Dressing

The flavor of this recipe depends on the type of miso you use.  If you use a lighter miso, the dressing will be mild and sweet; if you use a darker miso, the flavor will be strong and bold.
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp miso
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup waterWhisk all ingredients together until creamy; you may need to add more water to thin the dressing.

Mustard Vinaigrette

1 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, pressed or smashed
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tsp of dried thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, add the vinegar, garlic, mustard and mix well. Slowly add the olive oil while either whisking or stirring rapidly with your fork. Add the oregano and thyme, salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.

Creamy Caesar Dressing

Ingredients
2 anchovy fillets
3 garlic cloves
1 cup mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Place anchovies and garlic in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse until finely minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.  This dressing is better the next day after the flavors have combined overnight.

5 Fantastic Organic Quinoa Recipes

organic quinoaAn exotic little seed that sprouts a tiny tail when its cooked, organic quinoa has so much going for it I barely know where to start.  It’s a gluten free grain that is very high in protein, it’s easily digested and can be used for a wide variety of dishes from pilaf to cold salads, breakfast porridge and muffins (yes, muffins!), savory sides and sweet desserts.

A South American staple food, organic quinoa was first used for food at least 3,000 years ago in the Andean region of Bolivia, Peru and Columbia.  The Incans called it the ‘mother grain’.   In the 1980′s quinoa was introduced to the US and its cultivation began to increase for the first time since the fall of the Incan civilization.  So powerful is this ancient food, the United Nations declared it a ‘superfood’ and NASA ranked it high on its list of possible foods for long duration space flight.  A good source of complete protein as well as other nutrients, organic quinoa is a great addition to any meal.

The number one reason I’ve heard from people who have eaten organic quinoa and didn’t like it is that it tastes bitter.  Organic quinoa has a coating on the outside of each seed of a compound called ‘saponin’, a bitter resin that needs to be rinsed off the grain before cooking.  That bitterness goes away completely once you rinse the quinoa.   Pour the amount you’re going to cook into fine mesh strainer and rinse it with water.  You’ll see soapy bubbles; that’s the saponin.  Rinse until the soapy bubbles stop.

There are a few different types of organic quinoa – white quinoa, red quinoa, black quinoa, and a combination of the three which is sometimes called tricolor or rainbow quinoa.  The darker varieties have a slightly nuttier flavor but they can all be used interchangeably depending on what color you’d like your final dish to be.

Now that you know the secret to cooking great tasting quinoa, I’ll share with you some of my favorite recipes: a breakfast porridge, a muffin, a hot pilaf, a cold salad and a dessert.

Five Fantastic Organic Quinoa Recipes

Organic Quinoa-Hemp Breakfast Porridge

Get a good start to your day with this protein-rich, hearty breakfast that is full of antioxidants and omega 3′s.

Ingredients:
½ cup organic quinoa
1 cup hemp milk
¼ cup frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 tsp cinnamon

Rinse and drain quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Combine quinoa and hemp milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is soft. Add hemp seeds, blueberries and cinnamon. Enjoy!

Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

These muffins make it easy to get great nutrition on the run – perfect for lunchboxes for kinds and adults alike.

Ingredients:
2 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped raisins
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup grated carrots
1 small minced onion
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 F.  Combine the turkey, raisins, quinoa, carrots, onions, salt, pepper, oregano and Worcestershire sauce together, combining well. Add the egg and milk and combine well so that the mixture holds together.  In an ungreased muffin pan, distribute mixture evenly, mounding the mixture on top.  Bake for 20 minutes or until completely cooked through.  Remove from oven and let cool a bit before turning them out of the pan.

Quinoa & Mushroom Pilaf

Enjoy this earthy, nutty pilaf instead of rice with dinner or try eating this cold on a bed of salad greens.

1 cup quinoa, pre-washed or rinsed
1 2/3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 small carrots, diced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 ounce dried mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Rehydrate dried mushrooms in boiling water and slice into strips.  Combine quinoa and broth in a medium sauce pan.  Bring to a boil then turn the heat down, cover, and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes.  While the quinoa is cooking, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until they start to soften, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the carrots and thyme and cook until carrots are tender, another 5-7 minutes.  Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  When quinoa is finished, remove from heat and combine the quinoa and vegetables and stir in the chopped parsley.  Enjoy!

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

A twist on a classic Mediterranean dish – by using organic quinoa in the place of bulgur wheat the dish becomes gluten free while maintaining all of the traditional flavors.

Ingredients:
1⁄2 cup quinoa, prewashed or rinsed and drained
1⁄3 cup olive oil
1⁄4 cup lemon juice
1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
6 or 7 radishes, diced
1⁄2 cup chopped scallions
2 tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Place the quinoa in a small saucepan with 3⁄4 cup water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, 15 minutes or so.  Remove from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Toss the cooked quinoa with the oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with pepper.  Let the quinoa cool completely, then add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Chocolate Quinoa Pudding

A twist on a classic rice pudding recipe, made even more decadent with dark chocolate.

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa
3 cups almond milk
¼ cup maple syrup
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp chia seeds

Add quinoa, milk and maple syrup to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in cocoa powder. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently until the water has been almost completely absorbed.  Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds.  Let cool – serve warm or chill to serve cold.

Now that you have organic quinoa recipes for any meal of the day, which are you going to try first?

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