Clean your Dirty Fruits + Veggies the Natural Way!

I come home each week from our local famers market with a big bountiful basket of fresh picked produce that is most often times is covered in dirt. Now, while I maintain the philosophy that 'dirt don't hurt', I am also not a huge fan of that added "crunch" in my meal that comes from not washing my locally sourced goods. After taking a tooth out (no not really,  but it could happen) I came to the conclusion that I should probably start washing the things that I am eating. As a native Montanan, I realize that not all of us get fresh picked local produce from the ground all year round, and in many cases we buy produce from stores that is already "washed" and appears ready to go. While fresh foods on the shelves may seem clean and ready to eat, it is actually most often times not the case. Most fruits + veggies at the supermarket (yes, even your local co-op) are usually covered in waxes, harmful sprays, and even pesticide residue. After researching many fruit and veggie cleaning products, I was discouraged to find that they either contained heaps of not-so-friendly ingredients or they cost more than I was bargaining for. This dilemma led me to this very easy, very cheap, very effective, and very natural produce wash. 

After consulting my roommate, aka the "Essential Oil Queen", and doing a little research/experimentation of my own, I stumbled upon a great go-to mix. The Essential Oil Queen proscribed the perfect combination of citrus-based oils for my undertaking. Turns out essential oils, including grapefruit, lemon, lime, and orange, contain properties that are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic, anti-viral, and disinfectant. Just not enough anti's in there for you? Well this stuff smells heavenly and is an instant mood booster as well, so go ahead, spray it on your veggies AND your not so cheerful friends. The Essential Oil Queen and I always love joking around by spraying it directly into our mouths after we spray our sink full of dirty produce, now thats the sign of a natural product!  

All Natur-All Fruit+Veggie Wash

Ingredients/supplies:

1 medium sized spray bottle (glass is best but a recycled plastic one works too!)

2-5 TBS apple cider vinegar (I used good ol' Braggs but my Toasty Avo sidekick Kelsey has a killer recipe for home made pineapple vinegar up on the blog as well- which just sounds so much more fun)

2-5 TBS of baking soda

1 cup of filtered water (or however much it takes to fill the rest of the spray bottle up) 

10-30 drops of 100% pure citrus essential oils (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange etc.) **If you don't have essential oils on hand, go ahead and juice a few fresh lemons, limes, oranges, or grapefruits!

How To:

Don't need to get too precise on the measurements here, just find a spray bottle on hand and fill er' up with these simple ingredients. Go ahead and spray your produce and let the mixture sit for a few minutes and work its magic before rinsing it off. The spray should last a while stored in your kitchen (esp. with the citrus and vinegar properties) but I recommend making smaller batches that last you up to a week or 2 to ensure freshness. 

Happy Spritzing! 

 

Whip it good.

Your skin is your body's largest organ and what you put on it is literally absorbed. So my philosophy is quite simple: I try to not put anything on my body I would not also want to eat/drink. Now you may be wondering what that includes considering the drugstore is lined with shelves of products with ingredients you can not even pronounce! Don't worry, turns out making your own products are not only a breeze but include only a few easy to find ingredients (that are oh so much cheaper than most products on the market) and have tons of nourishing properties. Oh yea, and the best part is, you can eat this stuff! (although I would not recommend it). 

The good stuff.

Most people are catching on to the coconut oil phenomenon and there is a good reason for it! Not only is coconut oil wonderful spread onto toast, blended up in smoothies for extra creaminess, and an extra good oil for cooking at high temps, but it is also a wonder food for your skin! This stuff is loaded with vitamin-E, which is essential for skin and hair growth (go ahead, toss some of this whipped goodness in your locks for a rejuvenating hair mask!), skin repair, keeps it nice and smooth, and even prevents anti-aging. Basically, coconut oil  delays the aging process, softens skin, retains moisture content of skin, and even protects the skin from anti-microbial infections. When buying coconut oil, make sure you look for cold-pressed and organic (if possible), it is worth spending a few extra bucks for the good stuff, remember, this stuff will literally be absorbed into your body! 

Jojoba oil is another great asset to this fun concoction. My fellow gal pal/Toasty Avo blogger, miss Kelsey Hammond, first introduced me to this liquid gold after I asked her what her secret was to her flawless G L O W I N G skin she is always sporting. For those of you that don't know, Jojoba oil is a liquid that is processed from the seed of the simmondsia chinensis plant. This oil is light and non-greasy and won't clog your pores like many other oils. In addition, it carries many anti-inflammatory properties that are used to help skin-realted problems such as acne, eczema, scars, etc. I have personally had all of the above skin problems and have found great success with jojoba oil. Although it may sound somewhat exotic, it is quite easy to find. I picked mine up at my local Trader Joe's for about 5 bucks and is at most health food stores as well. 

In mi casa Essential oils pretty much make everything better.. and more fun. However, you have to be vigilant when picking out oils. Even most health food stores sell toxic essential oils that are not suited for consumption or even topical uses. My girlfriends and I use DoTerra oils (no I am not getting paid by them to say that, although I wish I was) because they are 100% pure. This means that they are not combined with extra junk like preservatives or added oils and are not heated to extra high temps that can damage the properties of the plant. When shopping look for labels that say "100% pure" or "organic" or "therapeutic grade". These will ensure that you can use these topically and also ingest them to reap all the good benefits nature has to offer. Have fun with the combos for this whipped body butta recipe, try citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit etc) for an uplifting lotion to use in the morning or a calming blend (lavender, chamomile, peppermint etc.) for night time use. 

Whipped Lavender+Lemongrass Body Butta

Ingredients:

2-4 cups coconut oil- be sure to have this room temp or even chilled, if it is melted it will not get the desired "whipped" consistency. 

3-5 TBS. jojoba oil

10-20 drops of 100% pure essential oil- any flavor you like! I used lavender+lemongrass for this batch

 

Simply toss all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whip it good with a hand-held electric mixer. I would recommend not using the blender for this, it tends to overheat the oil and prevent the mixture from achieving that frothy, whipped consistency that is so good (I can attest from multiple trial and errors here). 

 

Don't have time to make your own lotion?

no problemo! There is a great online resource called Ewg's Skin Deep Data Base that allows you to search for and choose products on the market that don't have nasty paragons and added fragrances. The link is below for your smart shopping pleasure! 

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/


Drink your Deodorant!

Please don't be turned off by the title of this post. I SWEAR it's interesting stuff. I mean, who doesn't love to talk about B.O.?!  Don't get uncomfortable - just let it happen.

 Deodorant is one of those products that's not only recommended for use, but also generally necessary.  Lotion? Eh, usually you can skip it.  Body scrubs?  A luxury.  But deodorant?  If you forget to swipe those pits, you better have a backup in your purse/backpack/desk drawer/back pocket.  Ain't nobody like walking around smelling like a dumpster.

Most people who use deodorant use topical deodorant/antiperspirant combos to stave off bad B.O.  Many out there are now switching to more "natural" formulas that do not use aluminum, as commercial antiperspirants do. Though some experts claim the studies are flawed and inconclusive, research suggests that there is a link between aluminum levels in the body and breast cancer, Alzheimer's, and kidney disease.  Whether the evidence is sound or not, it's worth trying out better alternatives, because, why not?  Except for you, Tom's of Maine.  You're still the worst.

And one truly awesome alternative that blows all the other options out of the water: LIQUID CHLOROPHYLL.  Yep, the same stuff that gives plants their green glow is also Nature's internal deodorant.  And it really, REALLY works.

Mmm.  Plants.

Mmm.  Plants.

How you use it:  Drink 1-2 tablespoons of the stuff every day.  Mix it into any mild-flavored liquid of your choice.  Notice the benefits after 1-2 weeks of diligent use.

What to expect:  Here's the brand I use.  It claims it's "naturally mint flavored" - I wouldn't describe the flavor as minty.  It's a little...planty?  It's odd.  But it's not bad.  For that reason, I wouldn't recommend mixing it into coffees or strongly-flavored teas - it's best with lemon water (or maybe gin and tonics?  Hmm...).  It is DARK GREEN.  Do not let this deter you.  It won't stain your teeth, though it might stain your clothes if you're clumsy and have a tendency to spill things, as I do (I'm currently wearing green smoothie dribbles as I type*).  It's a bit pricey as far a deodorant goes - $12 for a bottle that will last you about 6-8 weeks.  

But, people - THIS. STUFF. WORKS.  I am so impressed with the results and might never bother with 
"normal" deodorant again.

So let's back up a bit and talk about my B.O.  (P.S. How great would that be for a first date topic? Add that to the reasons I'm single).

Easily the best stock photo of all time.

Easily the best stock photo of all time.

I'm not a stinky person, but I've taken precautions to avoid smelling like a real-life Pig-Pen.  I was religious about applying deodorant and perfume.  Then, about a year ago, I ran out of both simultaneously, and I stopped caring - or, I should say, started caring less. I didn't buy more perfume (ish is EXPENSIVE) and I figured I would wing it on the 'pit front.

And you know what? I smelled fine.  Not fruity or flowery albeit, but - fine.  So I didn't restock my deodorant. I embraced my natural scent. I was digging it.  I'm naturally lazy and usually running late, so eliminating two whole beauty products from my daily routine was a no-brainer.

Then things turn a quick turn for the worse. I started Crossfit.  And I got STINKY.

Like, wow.  Just...bad.  The intense workouts really brought out my natural je ne sais quoi.  I started to get really self-conscious about my stank, y'all.  I don't know if you're familiar with Crossfit, but some pretty fine men attend my box, and I can't waltz in smelling like something the dog dragged in. 

Natural deodorant wasn't too helpful, especially because I still, for the life of me, could not remember to put it on (oops).  Then I saw a post on Instagram by Fat Face Skincare, a rad little company making all-natural skincare that works (not a plug...just a fact).  They posted a photo of liquid chlorophyll, explaining that it works as an INTERNAL deodorant (among its many benefits)...say whhaaaaaa?  Now THAT was definitely the most-out there solution I'd ever heard.  I pretty much dismissed it as hippie BS, intrigued but not willing to shovel out any dolla bill$ for "deodorant" I would just pee out.

But then I smelled myself.  And I went to the store and I bought some stupid liquid chlorophyll and prayed it was not a waste of my hard-earned dollars.  Here's how it' played out:

Week 1: I didn't notice any change.  I was still RANK.  I was pouring the stuff into my morning smoothies and nightly teas.  I didn't give up.

Week 2: Slight improvement in stench.  I wasn't passing out from my own B.O. anymore, but I definitely got whiffs when I lifted my arms.  I was a work-in-progress.

Week 3: You guys/gals. This was the sweet spot.  Three weeks was all it took.  I DON'T SMELL. EVER.  I've been religiously checking my pits after each workout - nada.  I smell fresh.  It is INCREDIBLE. 

 Note: I did not wear deodorant at all during this experiment.

I am a chlorophyll convert.  This stuff is magic.  It's not hard to remember to drink, either, because I keep the bottle in the fridge right next to the water.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!  I hope I'm not the only success story!

 

*ETA: Yeah, that ish stains.  Drink through a straw or learn how to not be an idiot like me.  Also: soak the stain in baking soda/water pre-wash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NUTS for SOAP NUTS!

On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a soccer mom and 10 being a dirty hippie, this post is definitely an 11.  It's about to get real crunchy up in this biz'nass.

So, a dirty hippie walks into a laundromat...what does she use to wash her clothes?

Nuts.

No, literally.  That wasn't a punchline.  She washes her clothes with nuts.

Not just any ordinary nut, like almonds or pecans. THAT would be weird.  I'm talkin' SOAP nuts. They're a real thing, they're awesome, and they're most definitely nutty.

Soap nuts are shells that grow on the Sapindus mukorossi tree.  These shells contain saponin.  Saponin = soap. Neat, right?  Nature's Dove!  They're also known as soap berries, which is an infinitely cuter name.

When you put these bad little buggers in warm water, they release their soapy byproduct, cleaning surfaces and fabrics.  They're perfect for sensitive skin types, as they are naturally free of scents, dyes, chemicals, etc.

Now, most natural products get a bad rap.  The products I've used 1) don't work, 2) are über expensive, or 3) they're not actually "natural" at all, containing all sorts of sneaky chemicals that we should not be applying to our beautiful bods.  And to be honest, I haven't had much luck with a lot of "natural" products out there (looking at you, Tom's of Maine).

But after much testing, I can tell you with a straight face: these berries really work. 

But before I go any further, let's back up a second and talk about MEEEE.  I have really sensitive skin, and have suffered from eczema most of my life.  Any chemicals, scents, dyes, etc. make my skin go nuts (get it?).  It's not pretty.  I tried a few of the "free and natural" laundry detergents on the market and though they helped, my dry skin woes weren't eradicated.

I read about soap nuts on a few crunchy blogs and thought...those are nuts. Like, literally, but also, they are crazy weird.  Even for me.  But, desperate for a solution, I threw caution to the wind and bought a giant box on Amazon (because what CAN'T you buy there?), preparing myself for disappointment and dirty laundry.

When I first opened the box, I laughed. They look like fossilized prunes.

"Prunes are berries. Soap nuts are berries. Therefore, prunes are soap nuts." -Socrates

"Prunes are berries. Soap nuts are berries. Therefore, prunes are soap nuts." -Socrates

To use 'em: throw a small handful into a small muslin bag (Amazon suggested I buy these too.  They didn't steer me wrong.). For your warm/hot laundry: toss in a single baggy in with your clothes and let it do its work. For cool/cold loads: soak a baggy of berries (hehe) in a cup of hot water beforehand. Then dump the bag and water in with your laundry and fuggehdaboudit.  So easy, even a caveman could do it. Actually, cavemen probably used these to wash their loincloths.  My point stands.

Nuts + sack.  Nutsack.

Nuts + sack.  Nutsack.

I've used these nutty nuts for about two years and I can happily say my laundry is cleaner than ever, and my eczema has reduced dramatically.  While I still use chemicals for heavy stains*, I otherwise rely on soap nuts alone to make my clothes squeaky clean.  For stinky loads (hello, gym clothes), I'll throw in a cup of white vinegar as well so my clothes come out extra fresh**.  I don't need fabric softener at all (soap nuts take care of that, too).  My workout clothes used to get gnarly yellow pit stains after a while of wear. TMI?  Whatevs.  Not anymore.  That could also be because I don't really use deodorant much anymore (more on that later...crunch crunch crunch), but I like to think deez nutz are the real MVP.

The best part?  A box of these suckers last for-ev-er. That 5-lb. box I bought off Amazon two years ago?  I've barely made a dent.  One little baggy's worth of nuts can last about six full loads.  Just toss the nuts when they start to feel soft and mushy - that's when you know they are kaput.  The cool part is, you can trash them, or just throw them back where they came from!  Meaning, outside in the dirt.  Anticlimactic maybe, but still pretty neat.

So go nuts for nuts!  Completely natural laundry detergent with just one ingredient - it can't get easier than that.

 

"But have you seen my shoes?"

"But have you seen my shoes?"

*My go-to stain remover: hydrogen peroxide.  Use with caution.

**Note: If you're worried your clothes might end up smelling like salad dressing by tossing in vinegar with your wash (unless you have a bionic nose, you probably won't notice), toss in a couple of drops of essential oils in with your wash, too.  I recommend soothing lavender or a bright citrus.

Disclaimer:  You may notice that this post doesn't actually require you to make anything.  But it is 1000% weird.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

FIY Pineapple Vinegar

Welcome to the first post of our "MAKE WEIRD STUFF" section of the blog. We actually make a lot of weird shit, but we just haven't told you about any of it yet! I actually try not to tell people about all of the weird stuff I make. I think it would scare them.

First, a little bit about this page.... If you want to know what to do with that leftover wooden pallet, or if want to know how to glitterize all the lame shit you already have, or if you are still wondering what to do with that mason jar in your kitchen, or even if you want to know how to PUT A BIRD ON IT- Go to Pinterest. This is where we make weird stuff that we actually use and that the average Joe could probably make too.

So on to FIY(Ferment It Yourself) Pineapple Vinegar. Pineapple vinegar has a sweet taste and is a great way to use up those pineapple skins that would otherwise go straight to waste. Fancy vinegars also get real expensive and most store bought varieties contains zero probiotics (except Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar). MMMmmmm pineapple and probiotics!! 

Notes: Best to use sugar. This is not to feed you, this is to feed the bacteria. Honey could also work but it took me an extra-2 weeks using honey. I think the overall flavor was better with sugar too. You can also use whatever size glass jar you have and adjust the amount of sugar.

Also, if this is your first homemade ferment- WELCOME! You will be skeptical and scared to try your creation, but it really works. The fermented fruits of your minimal labor will be delicious.

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • 1 Pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • Water
  • 1 Liter glass jar 
  1. Wash pineapple.
  2. Chop off pineapple's head (slice the top and bottom end off of pineapple)
  3. De-skin the rest of pineapple and save skins.
  4. Enjoy and consume meaty flesh of pineapple.
  5. Add sugar to jar and fill jar 2/3 full with water.
  6. Close jar tightly and shake until sugar has disolved.
  7. Remove lid and add pineapple skins until the water level rises and fills up the jar.
  8. Cover the jar with a cheesecloth or paper towel and rubber band. The contents of jar need to be exposed to the air to begin fermentation process, but covered to keep away flies. Set jar away from light in a cupboard for one week.
  9. After one week, remove cheesecloth. Liquid should have cloudy appearance and bacteria layer may have developed on surface. This is normal. Leave it (or remove after step 10 if you are really freaked out). Remove pineapple skins.
  10. Recover with cheesecloth and let ferment for an additional 1-2 weeks (I usually do 2 weeks). After 2 weeks, your vinegar should be ready. If you would like more of a vinegar taste, allow liquid to ferment an additional few days. Otherwise, cover it with a lid and stick it in the fridge.

Ways To Use Pineapple Vinegar:

  • Use a salad dressing with a heavy-handed sprinkle of red pepper.
  • Especially good with chopped jicama, watermelon, mango, pineapple, cucumber and then MORE red pepper, salt and hot sauce. Seriously, just do this one.
  • Put chopped jalapenos in a jar of pineapple vinegar. Leave them in the fridge overnight to create pineapple pickled jalapenos.
  • SHOTS! Take a shot of vinegar for a boost of probiotics and energy. I haven't done this, but you could if you are so inclined. 
  • Show house guests your unlabeled jar of cloudy liquid and insist they try some.
  • Add a splash to a glass of water. Then, it doesn't taste like you are drinking water. How neat is that?
  • Use however you normally use vinegar.