Monthly Archives: March 2015

Homemade toothpaste

Homemade toothpaste


After reading this article on what really is in our toothpaste and how harmful it is (even though we have been using Tom’s brand for years) I decided it was time to start making my own toothpaste and tooth powder. I’ve had a few recipes stashed away for a while and had even purchased the ingredients. What was holding me back?! Well, I finally made some and we are totally thrilled with the results. Here is how I made it, from a recipe by the Wellness Mama that I adapted a bit. Bonus: it also remineralizes your teeth.

If you live near a co-op or Whole Foods, you can find all of these ingredients at those stores. If you are having trouble finding the items, they can be ordered online (I have included links to them…in orange)

Tooth powder:

  • 4 Tablespoons Bentonite Clay
  • 3 Tablespoons Calcium Magnesium Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon Powder or Mint Oil, for flavor (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Clove Powder (also optional, as it has a very strong flavor). Clove oil is used for tooth pain, so if you have painful teeth the clove might help
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Xylitol Powder

Mix ingredients and put into a jar. We each have our own jars because we dip our toothbrushes into the powder. To give the toothpaste a minty flavor we use Orawellness brushing blend drops, which is an essential oil blend that is specially formulated for tooth and gum health. Wet your toothbrush, add a few drops of the oil blend to the brush, dip in the tooth powder and brush away. It’s just that easy.

I also made a paste which was super easy to do….I added coconut oil to the tooth powder until I achieved the desired consistency….same recipe, same jar. My husband prefers paste to powder.

Everyone is happy, and our smiles show it :)

How to clean baby teeth safetly

How to clean baby teeth safetly


I am not a fan of fluoride and even the dentist doesn’t recommend brushing baby’s teeth with fluoridated toothpaste when they are very little. We don’t use fluoride at all in our house and we even make our own toothpaste. My 18 month old swallows everything so we decided that he needs his own toothpaste that is completely safe if swallowed, and yet effective against bacteria in his mouth. Coconut oil prevents tooth decayand is totally safe for baby. Viola, Andrew’s new “toothpaste” was born. We upcycled an old gum container to store his toothpaste in so it would fit nicely in our medicine cabinet. The brush was purchased at Target.

The easy way to blow out Easter eggs for decorating!

The easy way to blow out Easter eggs for decorating!


So, I picked up this handy little tool at a Ukrainian Egg decorating store about 5 years ago and we use it every year to blow out the eggs we decorate and hang on our egg-tree. This year our egg-tree is so full that we had to make egg holders for the leftover eggs. For anyone who has drilled holes in eggs and tried to blow out the contents with your mouth…and then experienced TMJ and ear pain (ouch!), this is the tool you have to pick up!

Here’s how it works…

  • Use the “drilling” tool to drill a hole in the egg (I didn’t take a picture of that part but its on the package photo). Only drill one hole
  • Use the “pumping” tool to pierce and blow out the egg contents through that hole. It basically creates a high pressure inside of the egg that forces the contents out through the hole and the shell remains intact for you to decorate
  • Decorate the eggs and keep them to hang on your egg-tree every year



the instructions on the back of the package


a carton full of eggs to decorate


Here is one of the eggs that I decorated for the egg-tree this year

How to dye eggs with onion skins

How to dye eggs with onion skins


We are having an Easter egg decorating extravaganza in our house lately. We have blown out eggs and drawn on them, hardboiled eggs and dyed them, and now we are trying out a method that takes a bit more time but is well worth the effort. Using onion skins creates the most beautiful patterns on the eggs. I have dyed hard-boiled eggs with onion skins before and absolutely hated cracking them and destroying the beautiful

How to cook the perfect steak

How to cook the perfect steak


I ate a limited amount of red meat during a weird phase in my 20′s. Then one day I started to crave red meat and decided to reincorporate it back into my diet. For me, cooking a steak was definitely the most intimidating way to prepare red meat. Growing up in Minnesota, I was VERY familiar with cooking ground meat because we are like the hotdish capital of the universe! After much trial and error I have come up with a method that is very easy, not intimidating at all, and super tasty. Move over hotdish, Mama’s making steak tonight. If you don’t have access to quality grass-fed meat you can order from US Wellness Meats, we order from them frequently and everything we have ordered has been amazing!

What you need:

  • 1 good quality grass-fed steak.
  • coarse sea salt

My method:

  • About one hour before you plan to cook your steak, take it out of the fridge and put it on a plate. Cover it with coarse sea salt and rub it in. Do this on both sides. The salt will dissolve.
  • Next get out your pan, I prefer to use cast iron because it heats evenly and it is what my Dad always uses in his kitchen. I always listen to my parents. (Hi Mom and Dad)
  • Rinse the salt off of your steak
  • Get your pan HOT!!!
  • Hold your steak with tongs and find the fatty side of the steak. Push the fatty side of the steak down on the pan until some of the fat melts and greases the pan. Then put your steak in the pan, season with salt and pepper, and let it cook. Once it browns, flip it. Cook and season the other side. Remember not to over-cook your steak. The meat will continue to cook even when you remove it from the heat source. Use the finger test to check if it’s done to your liking. You can also use your meat thermometer.
  • I like to melt a little bit of butter on the top of my steak after its cooked. Let it melt and dig in.

Paleo chicken legs, fast!

Paleo chicken legs, fast!


My little cave-family eats more like a pack of saber-toothed tigers. They eat a LOT! I pride myself on my meal planning (and quantity planning) abilities, but sometimes I fall short. When my fridge is bare I fear I will be eaten next. So, I always have a package of organic chicken legs in the freezer….it just might save my life someday.


  • 1-2 large packages of organic chicken legs (the dark meat is the healthiest part of the chicken, so ditch the chicken breasts)
  • Coconut oil for smearing
  • Spices (this time I used salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika)


Pre-heat oven to 375*. Grease a glass baking dish with coconut oil. Placed legs in dish and pat dry with paper towels. Smear with coconut oil. Season liberally with spices, they add a nice texture and crust. Bake until a meat thermometer reads 165*. You can baste with the juices as it cook,s but that’s totally optional. Who has time for that while fighting the family off with a wooden spoon anyway?!

How to slice and freeze avocados

How to slice and freeze avocados


Avocados are a staple food in our household and we go through a lot of them every week. I sent my husband to the grocery store a few days ago and on the list it read “avocados, buy a bunch of them”…I should have been WAY more specific because he came home with a dozen avocados. Well, even the most avid avocado-eatin’ people can’t go through a dozen ripe avocados before some of them go bad. So, I had to do something with them. Then I found out that you can freeze them. Wow! Freeze them I did! They stay perfect and they last!

Here’s how I did it:

Slice an avocado into quarters and take out the pit. Peel off the outer layer. (Here’s a short video showing the same slicing technique that I use.) Stack into a plastic freezer bag and into the freezer they go. It’s just that easy. They work great for smoothies with frozen banana’s because they have a great ice-cream like texture when blended. Single-serving slices right out of the freezer.


This bag of frozen slices had been in the freezer for 2 weeks and they are still bright green!


7-day Bone Broth

7-day Bone Broth

20130327-133824   I make a weekly batch of bone broth in our house, but I still find myself buying the box broth at the co-op when I make my favorite Vietnamese Pho soup because I don’t have enough! I read a recent post about making broth over the course of 6 days and freezing it. AWESOME! I gave it a try and here is what I came up with…

7 Day Bone Broth:


  • 1 whole organic, free-range chicken (beef bones are pictured above, and chicken bones are pictured below…we use both).
  • enough filtered water to cover it in a crock-pot every day for 7 days
  • 14 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (ACV) — very important because it pulls the minerals out of the bones and deposits them into the broth
  • Sea salt
  • 21 garlic cloves
  • 3 sweet onions
  • Any spices you desire if you plan to make this a soup base


Place the chicken in a crock-pot and cover with water, 2 Tbsp ACV, and salt. Start on high until it is boiling then turn down to low and keep the crock-pot on low until the chicken is done, about 5 hours. Take chicken out and clean off the meat. Then, place the carcass back into the crock-pot, throw back in all the skin and knuckles. Everything will cook down to bone broth deliciousness. Cover with water and add 1/2 onion, 3 smashed cloves of fresh garlic, 2 Tbsp ACV, and any spices you would like (I followed the Pho recipe for spices).


Let this cook for 24 hours. Then strain off the broth and pour into a large glass container. I used large mason jars. Leave 2 inches of headroom in the jar if you plan on freezing the broth to allow for expansion. Put all the chicken parts back into the crock-pot, minus the onion. Add back in another 1/2 onion, 3 smashed cloves of fresh garlic, 2 Tbsp ACV, and any spices. Repeat this daily for one week. The broth continues to become even more rich and flavorful as the days go on. I made 7 huge jars of broth to put into my freezer. Considering that those small boxes of broth at the co-op can be about $4.00 per box, if you get the organic stuff without MSG…this is a considerable savings. Yay for broth with health benefits that also leaves a little jingle in your pocket!

Now I have 7 jars of Pho soup base in my freezer. When I am craving my favorite soup all I have to do is thaw out the broth and add some chicken, bean sprouts, basil, fresno’s, fish sauce, and fresh lime juice. Takes less than 10 minutes to prepare! If you do not have access to grass-fed animal products, you can order from US Wellness Meats, we order regularly and have never been disappointed!


What is really flavoring the candy we eat?

What is really flavoring the candy we eat?


Sweet treats are everywhere on Valentine’s Day. Who doesn’t love candy, baked sweet treats, and ice-cream? What if you found out you were eating the extract from the anal glands of a beaver, or ground up beetles? Well….you are!

One of the biggest reasons that I feed my family whole, real food is because then we know what we are eating. The pre-packaged foods at the store are filled with garbage. Here is just a little insight into what those ingredients are…

  • Castoreum: from the anal glands of the Beaver. Used in vanilla and raspberry flavoring and can legally be labeled “natural flavoring” on the food labels.
  • L-cysteine: a dough conditioner that is sometimes made from human hair, but more commonly made from duck feathers. Used in breads and baked goods.
  • Red food coloring (Carmine, Crimson Lake, Cochineal, or Natural Red #4): made from ground up cochineal beetle. Red #40 is derived from coal.
  • TBHQ: also known as butane! Used in chicken nuggets to keep them “fresh” tasting. Who knows how old they might be…but they still taste fresh. Also used in frozen dinners, crackers/chips, and most foods with a “long shelf life”.
  • Propylene glycol: also known as antifreeze! Used as a stabilizer for baked goods and as a solvent for substances such as flavorings and colorings that are not readily soluble on their own. “Found in ice-cream, energy drinks, food coloring, artificial flavors, chips, soy sauce, fried onions, flavored syrups, icing, canned coconut milk, salad dressings, cake mixes, chicken bullion….its actually found in over 1,200 food items! And not all of them listed it as an ingredient. For example, a food’s ingredient list may include “artificial butter flavor”. The butter flavor is made with propylene glycol, but since it came into the factory pre-made and was added as an ingredient in the process of another food, that manufacturer is not obligated to list sub-ingredients.” (source)
  • Vanillin: also known as wood pulp. That’s right, its a byproduct of the pulp industry. Used in artificial vanilla flavor.
  • Cellulose: also derived from wood pulp (and cotton), a byproduct of paper ­manufacturing. Used in shredded cheese to keep it from sticking together, and also can be found in ice cream.
  • Shellac (Confectioner’s glaze): derived from secretions of the Kerria lacca insect. Used to make jelly beans, and other hard-coated candy look shiny.

Just some fun facts to know before you dive into those treats!

Reuben cabbage rolls

Reuben cabbage rolls


We are celebrating St. Patrick’s Daytoday and in the spirit of corned beefand cabbage I made up some Reubencabbage rolls. We love Reuben’s, but we don’t eat bread. So the cabbage is holding together all the kraut, corned beef, swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing. Yum! We referenced this recipe.



  • 2 heads of cabbage
  • 1 large cooked corned beef roast, sliced (about 3-4 cups). I ordered mine from US Wellness Meats….amazing!
  • 3 cups sauerkraut (preferably homemade so all the probiotics are intact)
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese, cut into thirds

Thousand Island Dressing:

  • ½ cup homemade mayonnaise (follow this recipe, substituting olive oil for bacon grease)
  • 2 T organic ketchup (the kind withou thigh fructose corn syrup)
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T onion, finely chopped
  • ½ dill pickle, chopped (3 T)
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400*

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. You want to fill the pot with enough water so that at least half of the cabbage is submerged. Place the whole cabbage head in the water. After about a minute, the outer leaf will begin to peel back from the cabbage head. Using tongs, peel that layer away from the head and keep it in the boiling water for 3 minutes. After the leaf has boiled for 3 minutes, take it out of the pot and place it in a colander to dry. The outer leaves on the cabbage will continue peeling away from the cabbage. Keep using your tongs to peel the outer leaves off the head and leave them submerged in the boiling water for 3 minutes. The goal is to boil each leaf for 3 minutes.

Once your leaves are all boiled, soft, and pliable, cut each tough stem about 2 inches from the bottom in a V shape (cutting out the rib)

You may either chop up the remaining cabbage to put in the bottom of your 13×9 pan or put it away for another day. If you chop it up and use it for this dish, add some salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a splash of Worcestershire sauce to it.

Make the thousand island dressing by combining all the ingredients into a small bowl.

Now we’ll stuff our rolls. Put about 1/4 cup of the corned beef at the top of the roll (the opposite side of the V-shape). Add about 1 T of dressing. Next top with about 3 T of sauerkraut. Then add the cheese slice if you are using cheese. Starting at the top, roll up the leave once. Fold the edges in and continue rolling. Place the stuffed roll into the 13×9 pan (on top of the sliced cabbage if you put the leftover cabbage in the pan). Stuff and roll the remaining leaves.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. Use the leftover dressing as a dipping sauce for the cabbage rolls and/or place a dollop on top of each roll and the leftover cabbage in the bottom of the pan.


The health benefits of Bone Broth

The health benefits of Bone Broth


We try to get bone broth in some form every day, either via a cup of broth or a scoop of the broth gelatin straight from a jar in the fridge. Bone broth is a very nutritious food that has numerous health benefits. It is made by slow cooking the bones, skin, cartilage, tendons, and even feet from an animal in water for 24 hours or longer. Typically made from the bones of chicken or beef, it can also be made from lamb or fish. An acidic medium (vinegar or lemon juice) is added to the cooking liquid to pull the minerals out of the bones while they cook, depositing the minerals into the broth. After the broth is cooled in the refrigerator over night it congeals into a gelatin. The longer the bones cook in the broth, the more gelatinous it becomes. The end result is a rich healthy source of nutrients that is a key component to a healthy diet.


Bone broth contains:

  • antioxidants
  • vitamins
  • minerals (calcium, silicon, sulfer, magnesium, glucosamine, phosphorus, trace minerals, and glucosamine chondroitin sulfates)
  • amino acids(proline, arginine and glycine)

Bone broth health benefits:

  • Heals leaky-gut related conditions and lessens inflammation in the mucosal lining
  • Helps to heal autoimmune conditions by healing the gut
  • Aids in detoxification by supporting the liver
  • Aids digestion by regulating the synthesis of bile salts and the secretion of gastric acid
  • Improves nervous system function and keeps our minds (and moods) in good working order
  • Boosts antioxidant activity in the body, thus decreasing oxidative damage
  • Balances blood sugar, helps maintain muscle, and regulates human growth hormone (for all you gym-goers out there)
  • Helps to reverse heart disease by reducing atherosclerotic plaque build-up
  • Reduced cellulite, stretch marks, and wrinkles (from the collagen content)
  • Improves hair and nails
  • Re-mineralizes teeth

My favorite Scientist (ThePaleoMom) sums up the science behind bone broth better than anyone out there…

“Glycine and proline are two key components of connective tissue, the biological “glue” that holds our bodies together. There are many types of connective tissue and these two amino acids feature prominently in most of them, from the cartilage that forms our joints to the extracellular matrix that acts as a scaffold for the cells in our individual organs, muscles, arteries etc. Without these two amino acids, we would literally fall apart. So, it is no surprise that we need these two amino acids to heal, not only gaping wounds, but also the microscopic damage done to blood vessels and other tissues in our body caused by inflammation and infection. In fact, glycine is known to inhibit the immune system and reduce activation of inflammatory cells in your body. Whether you are trying to heal from an infection, address an auto-immune disease, or reduce inflammation caused by neolithic foods or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, high levels of dietary glycine are critical. In addition, glycine is required for synthesis of DNA, RNA and many proteins in the body. As such, it plays extensive roles in digestive health, proper functioning of the nervous system and in wound healing. Glycine aids digestion by helping to regulate the synthesis and of bile salts and secretion of gastric acid. It is involved in detoxification and is required for production of glutathione, an important antioxidant. Glycine helps regulate blood sugar levels by controlling gluconeogenesis (the manufacture of glucose from proteins in the liver). Glycine also enhances muscle repair/growth by increasing levels of creatine and regulating Human Growth Hormonesecretion from the pituitary gland. This wonderful amino acid is also critical for healthy functioning of the central nervous system. In the brain, it inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters, thus producing a calming effect. Glycine is also converted into the neurotransmitter serine, which promotes mental alertness, improves memory, boosts mood, and reduces stress.”(ThePaleoMom)

We buy a large container of grass-fed beef soup bones from our local co-op for super cheap and end up with a ton of health-giving bone broth. Such an inexpensive way to get a nutritional boost every day! Most recently I made a batch of broth over the course of 7 days, using the carcass of one chicken. Here is the recipe. Go make a batch right now!

Be well!

“Good broth will resurrect the dead”South American proverb.

Real fruit snacks

Real fruit snacks

Battling sugary snacks is an ongoing challenge with the constant exposure to candy advertisements and displays everywhere we go! My daughter finally agrees that “candy makes me sick”. Win! So, that being said, I also don’t want to be the Food-Nazi-Mom that doesn’t let my kids have anything sweet. This Valentine’s Day I decided to make some “candy” for them that has no artificial additives, and is full of vitamins and minerals. Here is what I came up with:



  • 6 kiwi fruit (Trader Joe’s sells 6-pack organic kiwi for cheap!)
  • 2 star fruit


  • Slice the star fruit into 1/4 inch slices (remove the seeds)
  • Peel and slice the kiwi into 1/4 inch slices
  • Dehydrate until leathery in a dehydrator or low over. I dried mine in my dehydrator at 135* for about 5 hours. The lower heat you use, the more nutrients that remain intact.

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