Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Muffins (nutrient-dense)

A friend recently offered me a pumpkin muffin and I was surprised to find chocolate chips inside. I'd never had pumpkin with chocolate before, and I was enamored of this new flavor combination.  I was inspired to make my own version of Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Muffins; these muffins are super tasty and will now be a regular part of our Fall breakfasts.

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Muffins
  1. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.  (I prefer If You Care Unbleached Baking Cups because the muffins do not stick to the sides of the cups.)
  2. Combine the einkorn, coconut flour, ground nuts, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a medium bowl. Whisk it all together to break up any lumps.  
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Combine the butter and sucanat in a large bowl (a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer works great for this recipe). Cream together for a couple minutes until the mixture turns slightly lighter in color.
  5. Mix in the molasses until well-combined. 
  6. Combine the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract in a small bowl. (I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works great for this because the pour spout makes it easy to add these ingredients to the mixer while it is running.) Do NOT mix up the eggs at this point.
  7. Mix the eggs one-at-a-time into the butter/sucanat mixture.  With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in each egg while the mixer is still running.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well. (It is okay if the mixture looks a bit curdled during this step.)
  8. Mix in the pumpkin puree.
  9. Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time.  Because the Einkorn flour does contain gluten, make sure not to overmix or the muffins will be tough. 
  10. Stir or mix in the chocolate chips.
  11. Use a 3-Tb scoop or large spoon to scoop the batter into the muffin cups.
  12. Bake the muffins at 350 degrees F for 27-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out dry.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before serving.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our Daily and Weekly Homeschooling Routines

One of the questions I am asked frequently about our homeschooling is what our daily and weekly schedule looks like.  When I first started homeschooling over 3 years ago, our schedule was very regimented. Over time, our schedule has become more relaxed and flexible; this is commonly the case with many homeschoolers who figure out that recreating a "school" atmosphere at home can actually have many disadvantages.  Here is a peek inside our routine.

Weekly Routine

Because I am balancing homeschooling with being a homeopathic practitioner, no two weeks are precisely the same. However, I do have a loose weekly schedule that I aim for.

Many will see this schedule and immediately wonder: "Is that it? What about math and writing?"  Our weekly schedule is a sort of bare-minimum. In reality, a substantial portion of our learning and school activities happen spontaneously throughout the week. For instance, there are often little math lessons when my children want to count up their money to buy something at the store. Writing happens as we make lists of things to buy, create cards and letters, journal in our nature notebooks, and play games.

I have learned through experience that the unplanned lessons which my children learn as we go about our lives are often the most valuable. By being flexible, I can capitalize on the many opportunities for learning that naturally arise. Sometimes I even ignore the plan altogether and use a whole week to delve deeper into something that has captured my children's excitement. These unplanned lessons are fueled by passion, and that makes them seem to stick in my children's brains much more than worksheets ever could.

Daily Routine

Our daily routine varies considerably depending on my homeopathic appointment schedule and whether or not we stay at home all day. A typical weekday at home looks like this:
  • 6:30-7:15AM
    • I typically wake before the children, so I grab a quick snack and head to the computer to work on e-mail, blogging, articles, or homeopathic case study.
  • 7:15-7:45AM
  • 7:45-8AM
    • Family work: The children and I clean the kitchen, start laundry, make beds, etc.
  • 8-8:45AM
  • 8:45-10AM
  • 10-11:30AM
    • Children have free play while I work on homeopathic cases, blogging, or household tasks.
  • 11:30AM-12:30PM
    •  Lunch and clean-up.
  • 12:30-2:30PM
    • More free play while I work on homeopathic cases or blogging. 
    • Frequently, this time also includes more reading aloud or playing a game together.  
    • Snacks.
  • 2:30-4PM
    • Quiet Time: 
      • Children go to separate rooms where they play quietly, listen to audio books, work on projects, color, etc. These days my children will often spend about 30-45 minutes on their own and then collaborate quietly on workbooks, legos or cuisenaire rod projects.
      • I take a 10-15 minute power nap, then study homeopathic texts, homesteading-related books, or 7 Keys Certification materials.
  •  4-5PM
    • Chores and cleaning:
      • My daughter does her chicken chores (feeding, watering, egg collecting, etc).
      • Both kids finish and clean up any Quiet Time activities.
      • I work on laundry, cleaning, or short homeopathic phone appts.
  • 5-6PM
    •  Dinner prep and/or free play
  • 6-7PM
    • Dinner and cleanup
  • 7-8:30PM
    • Free time for all, including playing, discussing, reading, creating, etc.
  • 8:30-9PM
    • Prepare for bed and family read aloud. 

Do you have a weekly or daily routine? How does it vary with the seasons?

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Slow Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Soup (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

    Years ago when I first started using a slow cooker, I was repeatedly disappointed by overcooked, dry chicken. It took me awhile to figure out that, unlike beef roasts which benefit from slow cooking over a long period of time, chicken is best if slow-cooked for only a few hours.

    One of my favorite chicken recipes is chicken and mushroom soup.  The earthy flavor of mushrooms contrasts nicely with the light flavor of chicken. The herbs and vermouth give this soup outstanding flavor. 

    Slow-Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Soup
    Serves 5-7
    • 1 large white onion, diced
    • 1/2 cup vermouth (or dry white wine)*
    • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
    • 3 to 3&1/2 pound whole chicken
    • 1 lb of brown mushrooms, sliced
    • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tsp of dried thyme
    • 1.5 tsp dried parsley
    • 1 Tb celtic sea salt (or less if your broth is salted)
    • freshly ground pepper
    • 2 T white rice flour or arrowroot
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup filtered water
    1. About 8-10 hours before dinner, add the onion, vermouth, broth, and a sprinkle of salt to the slow cooker. Cook on HIGH.
    2. Six hours before dinner, it is time to add the chicken and mushrooms.  Start by washing the chicken well inside and out with plenty of water. Add the chicken to the slow cooker. Sprinkle the mushrooms around the chicken.
    3. Sprinkle the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, one Tb of salt, and pepper (to taste) over the chicken and mushrooms. (My broth is unsalted; use less salt if your broth is salted.) Don't worry that there is too little liquid in the pot; the chicken and mushrooms will release a lot of moisture as they cook.
    4. Cook on LOW for about 5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 170 degrees. If you cook the chicken too long, it will be dry and overdone.
    5. About one hour before dinner, pull the chicken out of the slow cooker and place it in a large bowl. Allow to cool enough that you can handle the chicken without burning yourself. 
    6. Use a fork or your fingers to pull the meat and skin off the chicken. Set the bones and any chewy bits/tendons aside; if desired they can be used to start a pot of broth cooking after dinner. Chop the chicken and skin into bite-sized pieces. 
    7. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup of filtered water, and arrowroot or rice flour. Whisk this into the soup broth 30-45 minutes before dinner.
    8. Stir the chicken meat/skin back into the pot about 20 minutes before dinner. Reduce the heat to WARM. 
    9. Taste test the broth and adjust the salt as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve! This soup pairs nicely with Cheesy Bread and a side salad. 

    *I love to use vermouth, as it doesn't go bad like unused wine. Vermouth is shelf stable, can be used in place of dry white wine in cooking, and can be stored at room temperature indefinitely.

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    Saturday, November 1, 2014

    Ham, Broccoli, and Cheddar Quiche (grain-free : gluten-free : Primal)

    Mmmm, quiche. My 4-year-old son's favorite food is quiche: eggs and veggies in cheesy goodness, what's not to like?  Usually I make mushroom and cheddar quiche, but this week I wanted something different. Ham, broccoli, and cheddar made a fantastic combination.

    Ham, Broccoli, and Cheddar Quiche
    Serves 6-8
    • 1&1/2 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen, preferably organic
    • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, preferably from grassfed cows
    • pinch celtic sea salt
    • 1 tsp green onion, minced (green parts only)
    • 1 small clove garlic, minced
    • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
    • 9 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
    • 3/4 tsp celtic sea salt
    • 3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
    • 2 ounces chopped ham
    1. Chop up the broccoli into smallish bits. 
    2. Melt the butter in a well-seasoned 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the broccoli and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
    3. Saute the broccoli for 5-10 minutes, until it has released its moisture cooked down a bit.
    4. Add the green onion and garlic, and saute for a minute or so, until they are fragrant.  Turn off heat and allow to cool some.
    5. Meanwhile, break the eggs into a large bowl.  Add 3/4 tsp celtic sea salt and beat with a fork. Stir in the cheddar cheese, ham, and yogurt.
    6. Stir the egg mixture into the skillet with the broccoli.
    7. Place the skillet into a 350 degree F oven, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the quiche is set in the center and beautifully browned on the edges.
    8. Let cool a bit, then slice and serve!  This pairs wonderfully with crispy fried potatoes and a green salad dressed with vinaigrette.  
    9. Store leftovers in a covered dish in the fridge.  They reheat well in a toaster oven at 250 degrees for 20 minutes.

    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

    Sunday, October 26, 2014

    Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

    With Halloween and Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's time to make pumpkin puree.  Homemade pumpkin puree is much more tasty than the canned variety. 

    My method for homemade pumpkin puree is simple: bake whole, scoop, and puree!  Each year, I make lots of pumpkin puree, to be stored in the freezer.  Lots of pumpkin pie clafoutis, pumpkin spice bread, and pumpkin crumble will keep us happy over the winter.

    You can use any type of winter squash you like, such as pumpkin, hubbard squash, and butternut squash. My favorite type of pumpkin to use for puree is NOT the sugar pie pumpkin. It is actually a variety of pumpkin called the Long Island Cheese. This pumpkin has vibrant orange flesh and excellent sweet flavor.

    Recipe: Homemade Pumpkin Puree

    Baking whole pumpkins is the easiest way to cook them. It does take a while, but it is so much easier than trying to cut up a raw pumpkin as they are VERY hard before they are cooked. 
    1. Place the whole pumpkins on your oven rack. I place a cookie sheet underneath just in case of any drips.  
    2. Bake for several hours at 200 degrees F.  A ten pound pumpkin will take about 3 hours to cook.  Larger pumpkins will take closer to 4 hours. A small pie pumpkin should be done in 1-2 hours. 
    3. To test for doneness, wrap your hands with a dish towel and gently squeeze the pumpkins.  Check them on multiple sides (and you may even need to rotate the pumpkins partway through if you cook more than one at a time, like I do). If the pumpkins are soft enough to squeeze a bit, then they are done!
    4. Remove from the oven and place on a cookie sheet or large baking tray (such as a 9X13 glass dish). Carefully use a knife to make a slice down one side of the pumpkin, slicing all the way down to the bottom. This allows the water and heat in the pumpkin to be released.  Let cool for awhile.
    5. Once cool enough to touch, finish cutting the pumpkin in half. This is amazingly easy to do since the pumpkin has already been cooked. Scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy bits.  
    6. Being careful to not get any of the skin, scoop the soft flesh out with a spoon and place it into a food processor.  Let the food processor whir the flesh to make a beautiful puree. This may take several batches depending on the size of your pumpkin and food processor.
    7. Store the puree in airtight containers.  Keep it in the fridge if it will be used in the next few days. Otherwise, store it in the freezer, where it will last for many months.  
    What are your favorite ways to use pumpkin puree?

    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    Peanut Butter Cookies (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

    During the hot summer months, I craved light foods such as salads and raw veggies. Now that the weather is getting cooler, my tastes are changing and I find myself wanting more comfort foods. These peanut butter cookies fit the bill: they are chewy in the middle, crispy on the edges, and super tasty.

    Peanut Butter Cookies
    Makes 30-40 cookies

    1. Set your oven racks so that none are in the bottom third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325 F.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking soda, baking powder, ground nuts, and coconut flour. Whisk or sift well to combine and break up any lumps.
    3. In another bowl (or stand-mixer), beat the softened butter and sucanat together for a couple minutes, until well mixed. (I love using my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer for making cookies as it makes it very easy to add the ingredients while the mixer is running.)
    4. Add the peanut butter to the butter mixture and mix to combine. (I love to use a Measure All cup for measuring peanut butter and other thick ingredients such as honey and sour cream.)
    5. In the meantime, combine the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract in a small bowl. (I find that a Pyrex glass measuring cup works great for this because the pour spout makes it easy to add these ingredients to the mixer while it is running.) Do NOT mix up the eggs at this point.
    6. Once the butter, sucanat, and peanut butter have become well-mixed, mix in the eggs one-at-a-time.  With my stand-mixer, I can just pour in each egg while the mixer is still running.  Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated well.
    7. While the mixer is running, add the dry ingredients.  Since coconut flour does not contain gluten, there is no worry of over-mixing it!
    8. Scoop the cookies onto greased cookie sheets (or line the cookie sheets with silpats, which are wonderful since the cookies never stick and are less likely to burn).  I like to use a 1-Tb scoop for consistently pretty cookies, but you could just use a spoon. Do NOT flatten the cookies as they will spread plenty while cooking.
    9. Bake the cookies at 325 F for about 15-18 minutes (or a few minutes longer if you are cooking them on stoneware). They are done when the edges get a bit dark and crispy.
    10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.  Then use a spatula to move them to a cooling rack.
    11. Once cool, store these cookies in an airtight container.  They can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer if you won't be eating them all in the next few days.  They are nice and chewy straight from the fridge, and even soft enough to eat straight out of the freezer!  Storing them in the freezer will also remove the pressure of having to eat them all in a week or so, as they will last for months in the freezer.
    *I used to avoid consuming peanut butter because of the potential for aflatoxins. However, now that I am consuming a more sustainable, less restrictive diet, I have added small amounts of peanut butter back into my diet. Rather than obsessing over every detail of my diet, I'm finding a place of balance that can be sustained for the long term.  

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      Wednesday, October 15, 2014

      How We Use Nature Study in Our Home School

      While I did include some aspects of nature in our early home schooling experience, it wasn't until I read about Charlotte Mason that I began to intentionally make Nature Study a formal part of our studies. Over the last two years, nature study has become an integral part of our science curriculum.

      "The child who learns his science from a text-book, though he go to Nature for illustrations, and he who gets his information from object lessons, has no chance of forming relations with things as they are, because his kindly obtrusive teacher makes him believe that to know about things is the same as knowing them personally." - Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series
      Nature Study allows my children to focus their hearts and minds on the beautiful cycles that flow through our outdoor world. When they connect with nature, there is serenity, wonder, and joy.


      Planning for Nature Study

      To make Nature Study an intentional part of our schooling, I plan and schedule it into our school days. I schedule time for nature study at least twice a month. On days when I plan for us to do Nature Study, I make sure that we have at least 2 hours that will be uninterrupted by other events or projects.

      In addition to our scheduled Nature Study times, I also watch the outdoors for Nature Study opportunities. For instance, since we live in the desert and have infrequent rain, I try to be flexible so that my kids are able to enjoy the rain and mud when they are present, and that we can explore the outdoors afterwards to see the changes that rain brings. I watch for seasonal changes that we can observe together, such as the budding of flowers and the changing of leaves.

      I also keep Nature Study in mind for rough days, when the children are overly argumentative or are bickering incessantly. Nature Study can be a complete mood-changer on those days. It can bring us back to balance and peace.

      Examples of Our Nature Study

      Some days, our Nature Study can be very simple; other days we make it more complex and in-depth. A few ideas from our Nature Studies are the following:
      • grab our nature notebooks and head out to the desert where we can observe and journal about plants, insects, and animals
      • take short field trips to the arroyo (dry creek bed) behind our house, where we can observe the way that water shapes and reshapes the land
      • make leaf rubbings of various leaves
      • capture a bug or critter, which we can observe in a small terrarium for a few hours before setting it free
      • work in the garden, preparing the soil, planting seeds, weeding, watching the plants grow, and reaping the fruits of our labor
      • observe and collect wildflowers
      • capture and raise a caterpillar into a chrysalis and then butterfly
      • birdwatch through our windows, observing the different species and their variety of behaviors
      • use a microscope to study and perhaps draw samples of any of the above
      • use nature observations as a jumping off point for further study with library books


      Just Get Outside

      Nature study doesn't have to be formal. In A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola writes, "young children will discover toads, butterflies, beetles, earthworms, robins, thistles, squirrels, mushrooms, berries, and run into thorn bushes on their own, without any prodding from us."

      Making sure that we spend time outside is one of my priorities. While my daughter loves to play outside, I find that my son often requires some gentle nudging to go outside. Once he is outside, however, my son thrives on the experiences of watching birds soar overhead, collecting rocks and leaves, and finding insects.

      I also have to intentionally find time for myself to be outside; I can too easily stay indoors working, writing, and studying, but yet I find that I, too, benefit from spending time outdoors. Even simple things such as reading aloud in the back yard can make a difference in my mood and well-being.

      Resources and Materials that Aid Nature Study

      We can certainly explore nature without any special materials or equipment, and yet I have found the following items to be particularly useful in making Nature Study an intentional part of our home schooling.

      Reference Books

      Do you incorporate Nature Study into your lives? What are your favorite resources for Nature Study?


      Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!


      Friday, October 3, 2014

      How We've Improved Our Marriage This Year

      My husband and I have been together for over 15 years, and have been married for nearly 12 years.  We have a strong marriage, but things have definitely changed over time as we became parents of one, and then two children. Daily life with young children is so busy that we can go along without putting any real effort or thought into our marriage, and over time that can take a toll on our relationship.

      About 8 months ago, I stumbled across something that has changed my life, my relationships, and my parenting: Energy Profiling. Although I am always open to new information, I wasn't looking for a change when I found Energy Profiling. In hindsight, I can see that finding this information was a true blessing for me and my family.

      What is Energy Profiling?

      Carol Tuttle's Energy Profiling System is a way of understanding people and the way they move through life.  Carol breaks down the world into 4 Types.  These 4 Types are seen throughout nature and the natural world.

      In her book, It's Just My Nature! A Guide to Knowing and Living Your True Nature, Carol wrote,
      "The truth is, at your very core, you express a unique, natural energy that influences how you approach new experiences, relate to people, manage challenges, and move through life in general. The truth is, your life runs better in every way when you understand your inner nature and live true to it, rather than fight against it."

      The Energy Profiling System is much more than just a personality profiling system. A person's Energy Type encompasses:
      • introvert versus extrovert tendencies,
      • how a person relates to the world (emotional versus logical),
      • body language and physical features,
      • the filter through which a person sees the world around them, and
      • where a person fits in the whole cycle of doing/accomplishing things, such as having the ideas (Type 1) , planning how to do something and working out the details (Type 2), getting it done (Type 3), and perfecting how it is done while looking at the big picture (Type 4).

      What are the 4 Energy Types?

      On Carol's Energy Profiling site, she gives the following brief description of each of the 4 Types. To learn more, you can access her FREE Energy Profiling Course here

      "Type 1: The bright, animated person who has a gift for new ideas and possibilities. The natural movement of Type 1 is upward and light. A person with a dominant Type 1 expression is naturally an upward, light, upbeat person.
      Type 2: The soft and calming person who has a gift for gathering details and making plans. The natural movement of Type 2 is fluid and flowing.
      Type 3: The swift and dynamic person who has a gift for moving into action quickly to create practical and lasting results. The natural movement of Type 3 is active and reactive.
      Type 4: The structured and exact person who has a gift for looking at the world through a critical eye and perfecting it. The natural movement of a Type 4 person is constant and precise."

      How Energy Profiling Has Improved Our Marriage

      I initially watched the free 6-part Energy Profiling Course on my own. I was excited about what I learned and immediately wanted to share it with my husband. He was a bit doubtful at first, but that changed once we watched the course videos together. We had (and continue to have) some profoundly insightful conversations as a result of learning about our Energy Types. 

      Learning about our Energy Types has allowed us to come to a new understanding of each other. We understand better why we each do the things we do, and this understanding has helped our relationship in many ways. Some of the changes have been small, just little details, but others have been more meaningful.

      For instance, knowing my husband's Type 4 nature has allowed me to understand and celebrate some of his traits that are often looked at as being "negative" in our society. Being a Type 4, my husband has a natural need for solitude and reflection. Before I understood this, I could easily misunderstand why my husband would often retreat to be alone for some time in the evening. As a Type 4, my husband also has an eye for perfecting things, which could be seen as pessimism, when in reality it is a gift for perfecting.  

      My husband has been able to learn more about why I do the things I do, too.  He used to frequently say that I should slow down and relax.  I have a very hard time sitting still or even getting through a whole movie without feeling the need to get up and do something. It turns out that this is part of my dominant Type 3 nature. As a Type 3, I naturally feel the need to accomplish things, lots of things, every day.  When I fight against this aspect of my nature, I find that I feel tired and lethargic.  

      Type 3's can also be very impulsive, springing into action very quickly and completing tasks.  On the other hand, my Type 4 husband looks at the big picture and the best way to complete a task.  My natural tendency is to push through and move quickly, whereas my husband naturally wants to work more deliberately and carefully.  Understanding this has made it clear why we can sometimes become so frustrated when trying to work together on a project, and now we are able to talk through these things to make the most of both of our gifts.  

      Energy Profiling has allowed us to discuss aspects of ourselves that we may have never even quite understood ourselves. In doing so, our marriage has grown stronger and our family life has improved.

      Did having kids change your relationship? Have you improved your marriage this year? What Energy Type are you?

      Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Energy Profiling has been such a fantastic resource for my family that I have signed up as an affiliate for the Energy Profiling System. The initial Energy Profiling Course is free, but if you go on to purchase related products, I will earn a small commission (while your price remains the same). Thanks for supporting this site!

      Saturday, September 27, 2014

      Pumpkin Crumble (gluten-free : nutrient-dense)

      Fall is arriving amid cool mornings and rainy days. We watch as the black-chinned hummingbirds become plump in advance of their southerly migration. The prolific doves, who usually move singularly or in small groups, are gathering in large flocks that swoop overhead.

      We mist ourselves with lemongrass and lavender oils to repel the pesky mosquitoes; the lovely smell of this repellent has come to signal the winding down of the long summer days. The long-ripening winter squash are reaching fruition, and hence my children have garnered two orange globes from a friend's garden. Pie pumpkins have arrived.

      Pumpkin Crumble
      Serves 8
      1. One trick to making a crispy crumble topping is to make sure that the butter stays cold.  Keep the butter in the fridge until just before you are going to use it.
      2. Combine the pumpkin puree with milk, syrup, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk or mix with a hand mixer until well-combined.
      3. In a small bowl, combine the sucanat, 3 Tb coconut flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and spices. Whisk to combine. Mix these dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.
      4. Grease an 8X8 square glass baking dish with a bit of butter.  Pour in the pumpkin mixture.
      5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
      6. Chop the cold butter into approximately 1/2-inch cubes.  Place the chopped butter in the fridge to stay cold while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
      7. Combine the remaining crumble topping ingredients in a medium-large bowl and stir to combine.
      8. Add the chopped butter to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until there is a uniform, crumbly consistency. Note: a food processor does not work very well for this recipe, so use a pastry cutter or two knives instead.
      9. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the pumpkin mixture in the baking dish.
      10. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, until the topping has reached a medium brown color.
      11. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
      12. Serve warm or cold. Sweetened whipped cream (recipe follows) or vanilla ice cream are fantastic served alongside pumpkin crumble.
      13. Refrigerate any leftovers. 
       *You can read about why I use white rice flour instead of brown rice flour in this archived post.  

      Sweetened Whipped Cream

      1. Beat the cream and salt together until the mixture starts to get thick and fluffy.  I like to use my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, but you could also use a hand mixer.
      2. Add the vanilla extract, and drizzle in the honey while the mixer is running.  Alternatively, you could drizzle in the honey a little at a time and mix between each honey addition. 
      3. If you're using a stand mixer, use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure you don't have any clumps of honey at the bottom.  I like to beat it until it gets a bit stiff since it will tend to soften up a bit in the fridge over the next few days.
      4. Store the whipped cream in the fridge in an airtight bowl.
      **If your raw honey is very crystallized, place it over a bowl of warm water to make it a bit runny.


      What are your favorite ways to use pumpkins?


      Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you use these links, your price remains the same, but I earn a small commission. Thanks for supporting this site!

      Friday, September 19, 2014

      Top 10 Storebought Body and Hair Care Products

      I love to use homemade body and hair care products, but my husband still prefers some storebought products.  And, since there isn't enough time to make everything, there are some products I have never even tried to make (such as soap). These are our favorite storebought body and hair products. I'll talk about my favorite homemade body and hair care products in a future post.

      Skin Care Products

      1. Coconut and Papaya Bar Soap
      I always thought I hated bar soaps. All of them would leave my skin feeling stripped and dry. But then a couple years ago I was given a bar of Coconut and Papaya Soap as a gift, and realized I was wrong.  This soap has a wonderful, light scent, a smooth, foamy lather, and it does not dry out my skin!  Now I use this soap in my every-other-day showers and in the soap dishes by our bathroom sinks.

      2. California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash 
      My husband and son have rather sensitive skin with a tendency to eczema, and in the past they have had skin reactions to soaps and laundry detergents. It took a lot of trial and error to find California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash, which works for everyone in the family with no skin reactions.

      We have been using California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo and Bodywash for over 6 years now. My son's chronic eczema has now been cured through homeopathy, and my husband's eczema has gotten better and better as he continues his homeopathic treatment.  Nonetheless, we still use this soap.

      I use this soap as a gentle facial soap. My husband uses this soap as an all-over bodywash and shampoo. I also add a squirt or two of this soap under running water to make bubbles for my kids' baths, which they use to wash themselves with. This soap is sold at Target for cheaper than it can be found online.
      3. Unrefined Coconut Oil
      I love using unrefined coconut oil as a moisturizer. I coconut oil as a daily light facial moisturizer as well as for all over my body after showering. Click here to see my tips for using coconut oil as a moisturizer. My favorite brands of unrefined coconut oil (which I use for body care as well as cooking) are Spectrum and Dr. Bronner's, and the best prices for these are at our local healthfood co-op. 

      4. California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion
      My husband's preferred moisturizer is California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion. He has been using this lotion on his sensitive skin for over 6 years.  We used this lotion on our daughter when she was a newborn (back before we realized that kids don't need baths daily; now they hardly ever need to use lotion at all since they aren't bathing daily). I used this lotion as a facial moisturizer for years, until I started using coconut oil.  I currently use this lotion occasionally at times when I need a lotion that will absorb quickly.



      My husband and I stopped using conventional antiperspirants many years ago, when we learned how unhealthy antiperspirants can be. Through lots of trial and error, we have both found deodorants that work for us.

      5. Alvera Aloe and Almonds Deodorant
      For some reason, my body chemistry has always reacted to scents. Back in high school when I first tried wearing perfume, I was always disappointed that shortly after applying perfume the scent would change to not smelling very good.  I have the same problem with many deodorants.

      But I love Alvera Aloe and Almonds deodorant. I've been using this deodorant for over 5 years. The fragrance is fantastic, and it stays smelling good all day. This is not an antiperspirant (which is good from a health standpoint), so I do still sweat while using this deodorant. But it does make my sweat smell very good.

      6. Bubble and Bee Pit Putty Cream Deodorant
      My husband's favorite deodorant for the last few years has been Pit Putty Cream. He prefers the Spearmint and Tea Tree scent, and I love it's refreshing scent. (Being a short person myself, I do get to have a sniff of this deodorant whenever I hug my husband.) Pit Putty Cream contains arrowroot powder which will absorb small amounts of sweat, so I have used this deodorant occasionally when I needed to prevent sweat rings under my arms with dress shirts. 


      Hair Products

      I use homemade shampoo, conditioner, and hairspray (which will be included in my upcoming list of Top 10 Homemade Body and Hair Care Products), but there are a couple of storebought hair care products that I use as well.  

      7. Argan Oil
      Argan oil is renowned for its moisturizing properties. Even though it is an oil, Argan oil is very lightweight and does not leave any greasy sheen. Many people use Argan oil as a facial moisturizer, and it is reputed to be anti-aging.  I'm sticking with coconut oil for my face, but I do like to use Argan oil for my hair.

      I use a very small amount (one or two drops) of Argan oil after my every-other-day shower. I simply rub the oil on my fingertips and then apply it to the ends of my towel-dried hair. Argan oil helps keep my hair shiny, moisturized, and smooth. Argan oil is very pricey, but I use such a small amount that I have used less than half a bottle in 6 months (and that includes the time I accidentally knocked the bottle over and spilled some).
      8. Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion 
      This is a very lightweight product that contains essential oils, and it has a watery consistency.  I use it because it reduces frizz and flyaways in my very fine, wavy hair. After applying Argan oil to the ends of my hair, I apply a small amount of Giovanni Sunset Styling Lotion all over, and then I scrunch my hair and let it air dry.


      In addition to the homemade tooth cleaners I discussed previously, we enjoy using the following two storebought toothpastes. Because my family is hypersensitive, we need to avoid using mint toothpastes as they can interfere with our homeopathic remedies, and that rules out most toothpastes on the market. However, these two options work well for us and are glycerin-free.

      9. Lemon EarthPaste
      Earthpaste is a non-foaming toothpaste based on Redmond Clay (which is rich in more than 60 trace minerals that may aid in tooth remineralization). I had heard of Earthpaste before, but only ever saw flavors such as cinnamon, which I am not fond of. However, I randomly saw lemon-flavored Earthpaste in the children's section of our healthfood co-op a few months ago, and decided to give it a try.  We love it!

      10. Coral Kids Toothpaste
      On days when I would like to have the classic foaming-toothpaste experience, I use Coral Kids Toothpaste.  We used Mint-Flavored Coral White toothpaste back before we started our homeopathic treatment, but with out mint sensitivity that option is currently ruled out.  But now we can use the Coral Kids version instead. It tastes great, and people who want something more "normal" will like it just fine.  This toothpaste also contains minerals such as calcium which may help in tooth remineralization.

      What are your favorite storebought body and haircare products?

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