NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

Category: Recipes

DIY All Natural Deodorant – 4 Ingredients, gluten-free

Until recently, I was not aware of how important it is to be careful of the things we put on our skin.  I would lather products on liberally to protect from the sun, to prevent wrinkles, moisturize, or to beautify, but I was completely unaware of what was in these products.  

It’s just our skin, we’re not eating it – what’s the big deal, right?

Well, the big deal is that our skin is our largest organ in our body and  it absorbs pretty much everything we put on it.

Yikes! That’s why medications like the nicotine and birth control patches are so effective.

In the last few years I have stopped using makeup and face creams that are filled with chemicals.  I started making my own deodorant, or buying natural kinds, and this year I made the switch over to entirely natural mineral based sunscreens.  Although some of these things have actually saved me money, other things (like natural sunscreen) are a lot more pricey, so I like to save money by making my own whenever I can.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen me testing a new recipe for a DIY deodorant. I’ve made some deodorants from recipes in magazines or on Pinterest in the past, but I’ve always been disappointed with the results. Most recipes simply combine coconut oil, baking powder, and corn starch for a simple deodorant that is easy to whip up.  The result was oily (grease stained underarms – yuck) and really didn’t cut it in hot weather.  However, I used this basic recipe during my entire pregnancy with my daughter since I didn’t want to put anything with chemicals on my skin – especially while pregnant – but I never liked it. When summer came, after she was born, that greasy deodorant just didn’t do the trick.

An all-natural simple deodorant recipe that actually works! It even goes on just like a conventional brand! Inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick - NatureAmy.com

My recipe was inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals’ Hippie Stick

I was excited to try Trim Healthy Mama’s skin care line Trim Healthy Naturals’ deodorant Hippy Stick when it came out last year.  I absolutely love it and it is completely natural and it actually works!(If you aren’t the DIY sort, you can click here to buy THM’s Hippie Stick).  However much I love the Hippie Stick, it is a bit pricey for our growing family’s budget, so I wanted to make something similar for myself and family members.  The following recipe is the result.

After creating this recipe earlier this month, I knew I needed to put it to the test. I loved how it poured easily into a deodorant tube so that when it cooled and hardened it was easy to roll on.  I also liked how I could tailor the smell to my favorite essential oils – definitely a plus for this smell sensitive pregnant lady!  The big test, however, came when we spent the day hiking at Lake Tahoe in 90+ degree weather.  I got home and did the sniff test – no stink! Success!

Ingredients: (Scroll down for a printable recipe)

  • 6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons organic beeswax pellets
  • 11 Tablespoons Arrowroot Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
  • 20 -30 drops essential oil(s) of choice to desired fragrance

Instructions:

  1. Add coconut oil and beeswax to a small saucepan. The first time I made this recipe I used unrefined coconut oil, which has a gentle coconut smell. The second time I made this I used refined coconut oil, which has no smell. Depending on the fragrance you want, you can use refined or unrefined oil.

    An all-natural simple deodorant recipe that actually works! It even goes on just like a conventional brand! Inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick - NatureAmy.com

    Slowly melting the coconut oil and beeswax. Don’t let it get too hot!

  2. Over low heat, gently melt the coconut oil and beeswax. Just enough heat to heat up the oil will do the trick – don’t let it get too hot. Turn off the heat when the oil heats up and let the wax melt on its own.
  3. Add the arrowroot flour/starch and baking soda and mix well. If you can’t use baking soda, you can certainly try leaving it out. I have always used it, however, so I don’t know if it will absorb odor quite as well without it.

    An all-natural simple deodorant recipe that actually works! It even goes on just like a conventional brand! Inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick - NatureAmy.com

    Add the dry ingredients and mix. It will harden as it cools. Add the essential oils to your desired fragrance strength.

  4. Add food-grade essential oils of choice until you reach your desired fragrance. I used 10 drops of doTerra Lavender, 20 drops of doTerra Grapefruit, and 10 drops of doTerra Citrus Bliss. The lavender is naturally anti-bacterial and the citrus are my favorite fragrances.
  5. Now pour the deodorant into two containers. If it has cooled too much (mine hardened quickly) simply heat over very low heat for 30 seconds or so until it is liquid again. I used two old deodorant containers I had saved to store them in. Make sure to lower the plastic push thing (sorry, but what do you call that thing!) to the very bottom of the container before you pour in the deodorant. To harden quickly, place in the refrigerator to cool.

    An all-natural simple deodorant recipe that actually works! It even goes on just like a conventional brand! Inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick - NatureAmy.com

    Heat up and stir the deodorant mixture so that it is easy to pour. Pour into some old deodorant containers. I used an old blue one and my Hippie Stick container.

  6. Store at room temperature and use as you would a store bought deodorant. The coconut oil will be harder in the winter and softer in the summer. I find it to be just right in the summer (not too soft even though we keep our house pretty warm). It can be pretty hard in the winter, but if you warm it up for 5-10 seconds on your warm underarm, it should spread nicely.
Nature Amy's DIY All Natural Deodorant
Author: 
Recipe type: Deodorant
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 deodorants
 
An all natural deodorant inspired by Trim Healthy Naturals' Hippie Stick
Ingredients
  • 6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons organic beeswax pellets
  • 11 Tablespoons Arrowroot Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
  • 30 - 40 drops essential oils of choice to desired fragrance
Instructions
  1. Add coconut oil and beeswax to a small saucepan. The first time I made this recipe I used unrefined coconut oil, which has a gentle coconut smell. The second time I made this I used refined coconut oil, which has no smell. Depending on the fragrance you want, you can use refined or unrefined oil.
  2. Over low heat, gently melt the coconut oil and beeswax. Just enough heat to heat up the oil will do the trick - don't let it get too hot. Turn off the heat when the oil heats up and let the wax melt on its own.
  3. Add the arrowroot flour/starch and baking soda and mix well. If you can't use baking soda, you can certainly try leaving it out. I have always used it, however, so I don't know if it will absorb odor quite as well without it.
  4. Add food-grade essential oils of choice until you reach your desired fragrance. I used 10 drops of doTerra Lavender, 20 drops of doTerra Grapefruit, and 10 drops of doTerra Citrus Bliss. The lavender is naturally anti-bacterial and the citrus are my favorite fragrances.
  5. Now pour the deodorant into two containers. If it has cooled too much (mine hardened quickly) simply heat over very low heat for 30 seconds or so until it is liquid again. I used two old deodorant containers I had saved to store them in. Make sure to lower the plastic push thing (sorry, but what do you call that thing!) to the very bottom of the container before you pour in the deodorant. To harden quickly, place in the refrigerator to cool.
  6. Store at room temperature and use as you would a store bought deodorant. The coconut oil will be harder in the winter and softer in the summer. I find it to be just right in the summer (not too soft even though we keep our house pretty warm). It can be pretty hard in the winter, but if you warm it up for a few seconds on your warm underarm, it should spread nicely.

A quick note about essential oils:

It’s important to use a high quality food grade essential oil (like doTerra or Young Living) when using it on your skin (or breathing or ingesting it).  I use some cheaper brands I can get easily at our local natural food store for making some of my cleaning products, but I won’t use them for skin products or in food recipes.  I think most people know someone who sells these high quality products, I know several people myself, but if you don’t, you are welcome to use this link to support my friend Teresa’s doTerra business, Shine Brighter.  I love to support friends whenever I can!

Containers

If you don’t have an empty deodorant container lying around, you can always store this in a glass jar.  Or, you could buy a cheap deodorant from the dollar store, dump the contents, rinse with hot water, and add your deodorant to this container – whatever floats your boat! Maybe you want to make a bunch to give away (Christmas gifts, anyone?), then you can buy these empty containers online Pack of 20 Deodorant Containers New & Empty.

Ingredients

I was able to find all of these ingredients locally, which was nice.  The coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oils I already had in my pantry.  The organic beeswax pellets I was able to buy in bulk at my local health food store, so I just bought a small amount.  If you can’t find a small amount of pellets, you may want to buy the wax in a small block and grate it up for ease of measuring.  Or you could buy a pound from Amazon here 100% Organic Yellow Beeswax Pellets. The arrowroot powder was also at our local health food store in the gluten free section, or you could get it at Amazon here Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Starch / Flour, 16-ounce.

So far I’ve made some of this great deodorant for myself and for my oldest son.  I love that I can make something that is not filling his young body with chemicals!  I tweaked the fragrance for him to something he liked better.  Next, I will be playing around with a spicier masculine fragrance for my husband – he’s definitely not a fruity smell kind of guy.  The options are limitless!

I hope you like this as much as we do!  Let me know what fragrance options you try! I love to connect with my readers on Facebook and Instagram.  If you aren’t following me there, yet, could you head on over and give me a like?  Thank so much for reading!

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A Trim Healthy Mama Goes Camping: or what I eat on a weekend camping trip

I just published a post on the allergy-friendly camping menu I use at least twice a year to feed 20-40 people.  One thing I love about the menu is its versatility.  There is something for everyone in the mix, so if you want to eat healthy, but a large part of the group does not, there are options for everyone.  See the original post for details on the complete menu I use.   This is the companion post I promised to write on what I eat on this trip while still staying “on plan” – the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) Plan, that is.

What I eat on a weekend camping trip to stay on plan with THM -

Burney Falls is one of our favorite stops on our field trips. This pictures says it all…

I love THM (you can read more about my journey with THM here), but one of the BEST things about the plan is that it is easy to tweak a basic menu to be on plan for you, but not for others.  The basic meal types simply pair healthy carbs with protein for an Energizing meal (E), healthy fats with protein for a Satisfying meal (S), or combine healthy carbs, fats, and protein for a Crossover meal (CO).   While camping, I am personally very active and generally hike a lot and I’m on my feet all day.  Therefore, I eat a lot and also indulge in a good amount of Crossover meals.  THM recommends incorporating Crossover meals occasionally when you are at or near goal weight, pregnant and/or nursing, trying to gain weight, or for people with high metabolisms.  When camping, I am burning even more calories than I do in a normal day; as a home school mom with little kids, I am generally quite active everyday (plus I try to exercise daily), but camping takes it up a notch.  If you are the kind of camper that likes to lounge at camp all day enjoying a great book and relaxing, there is nothing wrong with that, but you probably don’t want to eat as many crossovers as I do…

Please read my entire menu plan to understand what I pack for the large group for our trip – this article just goes into what I eat from that menu.  So, let’s jump in…


Day 1 :

Lunch

Lunch for the group is make-your-own sandwiches, fruit, chips, and water or juice.  For myself, I like to do an E sandwich (think healthy carbs and low fat) on a couple pieces of sprouted whole wheat bread.  I use turkey meat, light mayo/mustard, lettuce, and tomato.  However, if I want to make it a Crossover by increasing the healthy fat, I would add some avocado and a cheese slice – yummy!  I add a piece of fruit and some water for a perfect meal.

If you wanted to make an S meal instead (think low in carbs and higher in fat), simply  switch out the sprouted bread for a low-carb wrap or a couple pieces of some THM Nuke Queen Bread made at home before the trip.  You could have up to half an avocado, cheese, and mayo with this option. You could also have a fattier sandwich meat, like salami or roast beef, or even add some pre-cooked bacon slices for a treat.  Most fruits would be too high carb for this option, but if you packed some berries, that would pair perfectly with an S lunch.

Snack-

Snacks can be a bit tricky, because on THM we want to make sure they are centered around protein to keep us fuller longer and to stabilize our blood sugars.  My go-to camping snack is a piece of fruit (an E) and maybe some healthy popcorn (low in fat), but that does not give my body enough protein to balance out the snack.  If you pack some low-fat cheese sticks or a Triple-Zero yogurt, that would work.  You could also grab some sandwich meat from the cooler to add to the snack.  Nuts are also a great snack, especially to take along on a hike.

Sometimes on camping trips, I like to prepare some foods that travel well to bring along.  (I don’t do that for these large group trips, however – getting food ready for 40 people keeps me too busy!) I love to make some Cowboy Cookies by Mrs. Criddles Kitchen or make up some pack-able treats from the THM cookbook (there are too many wonderful choices to list).

tacochiliDinner-

Dinner on the first night is my Famous Taco Chili, which feeds an army and is THM E.  I make the base of it at home and then add the canned beans at camp for a quick “from scratch” meal.  To keep this meal an E, skip adding cheese and sour cream (unless it is low fat) and eat it with some on-plan blue corn tortilla chips.  I always add a pre-made salad mix to the meal, so for an E meal, I make sure it has a lighter dressing and toppings, and, of course, skip the croutons.

I love bringing pre-made salad mixes camping.  I never buy them normally, but when I’m camping, I still want to get my greens, but I don’t want to bother with washing, chopping, slicing, etc.   Read the ingredients carefully.  You may need to mix up a salad without some of the additions to keep it on plan, but that is easy to do.

Dessert – 

I wish THM marshmallows roasted well, but I don’t think they would hold up!  Instead, I have some Lilly’s chocolate and some hot tea and sit back and enjoy the fire!


Day 2

What I eat to stay on plan while camping with THMBreakfast –

I like to keep breakfast simple with such a large group, so I have a large variety of continental breakfast items and heat up a big pot of water.  I eat 2-3 packets of oatmeal topped with a little milk and sweetened with some THM Gentle Sweet.  I also have hot tea sweetened with some THM Gentle Sweet packets (you can find them at the THM store – so convenient for camping!) and half-n-half.  A piece of fruit is always a good addition to this E meal.

Be sure to select the  instant oatmeal packets carefully to find something on-plan.  Most instant oatmeal is made with many added ingredients, including a lot of sugar.  Even the “Plain” variety can have many additional ingredients, but there are some healthier brands, so make sure to read the labels.

To add some protein to your breakfast, I like to add a scoop of collagen powder – it is easy to pack ahead in small Ziploc bags.  Alternatively, you could add the collagen to your hot coffee or tea.  Collagen can also be found at the THM Store, when they are not out-of-stock because it is such a high quality in-demand product!

Lunch – 

In the interest of keeping things simple, day two has the same lunch as day one.  There is a lot of variety in the sandwich meat, so I generally make it a bit differently, but still have an E or CO. (Actually, lets be honest – I always have a crossover – avocado is just too good to pass up on a sandwich.  Plus, I need the energy for all the hiking and caving we do all day.)  I add fruit and a lunch size packet of healthy popcorn.

Snack – 

Same options as day 1.  I like to pack a piece of fruit, or two, and some nuts or cheese sticks along for some hiking energy.  Some Lilly’s chocolate is also a treat!

WurstsDinner –

I love cooking food over the fire while camping, and this dinner does the trick.  I make everyone cook their own sausage (they come precooked, so I don’t have to worry that anyone will under cook them). I generally have Aidell’s Chicken sausages and/or cheddar-wurst for an S meal.  I skip the bun and baked beans I feed the group and have a large salad (from a pre-made salad mix again), this time indulging in something with a creamy salad dressing, since this is an S meal.

Dessert –

We have s’mores and hot drinks again for the group, but I enjoy some Lilly’s chocolate and hot tea or sugar-free hot cocoa instead.


Exploring the caves at Lava Beds National Monument

Exploring the caves at Lava Beds National Monument

Day 3

In keeping with the simplicity theme, my second breakfast is the same as the first.  Just like with lunch, there are so many options that there is still much variety for the group.  I have oatmeal and tea again, though, and a piece of fruit.

Depending on what we are doing on Sunday, we pack a lunch for a hike or simply pack up camp for the long trip home.  We stop for lunch (or dinner, if we had lunch on a hike before leaving) on the drive home someplace where there are many fast food options.  I like to have a lettuce wrapped burger or a large salad – my go-to choices when we eat fast food.


This is just an example of what I eat while feeding a large crowd of non-THMers on a weekend trip.  We will be taking a week-long family camping trip soon, so I plan to document my meals on that trip so that I can post about that as well.  Staying on-plan while out and about is more challenging than when we are at home, but it is very possible.  I try to keep things simple – that works well for me.  But if you like things fancier, that is also possible with some planning and prepping ahead of time.

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An Allergy Friendly Weekend Camping Menu (for a crowd!)

We LOVE camping as a family – and we love taking others camping, as well.  In fact, twice a year, we bring a large number of college students on a weekend camping trip.  This last weekend, we took a group of 30 college students,  plus our family and some extra help, for a grand total of 40 people on a three-day, two-night trip.  This group always includes my husband, who has multiple food allergies, and usually at least one or two students who also have allergies.  So, not only do I have to feed 40 ravenous people, but I also must have a menu that is allergy friendly!  The most common allergies on the trip are dairy, gluten, nuts, and eggs.  Thankfully, I am used to cooking for food allergies (check out my recipe section for my allergy-friendly recipes), so I enjoy the challenge.  It is also a treat for the students with multiple allergies to be able to eat on a school-sponsored trip.  As a wife of someone with multiple food allergies, I know how rare this is!

How we feed 20-40 people camping with an allergy friendly menu. - NatureAmy.com

Checking out the Sulfur Works at Lassen National Park while my hubby lectures in the background.

We visit different locations with our Fall and Spring Semester trips, but the schedule and the food is the same for both.  I have found a menu that works well and I stick to it!  Below is the menu we use, with some variations that I add for those that have food allergies or intolerances.  The healthiness of the food definitely varies, and since I don’t eat sugar or processed flour there are many items I choose not to eat, but since I am feeding 40 people who don’t choose to eat the same way I do, I make sure there are many options available. (Read this post to see what I eat as a Trim Healthy Mama on this trip.)

Another good option if you have a big group is to have an allergy-friendly ice chest with its own cutting board and knife as well as a special table for allergy-friendly food.  I keep gluten/dairy/nut free options away from the potential contaminates in the other food.  The last thing I want in the middle of nowhere is to take an emergency trip to the hospital or have a sick student.  If you have a small group, this may not be necessary depending on the severity of the allergies.


Friday – Day 1

An allergy friendly 3 day camping menu for large groups

Everyone makes their own sandwiches for lunch

Lunch (breakfast is eaten before they come, hopefully…)

Sandwiches with many different bread choices, including whole wheat, sprouted, and gluten-free options

  • Various lunch meat options, we usually have turkey, ham, roast beef, and salami
  • Mayo and mustard
  • Various sliced cheeses
  • Lettuce (already washed and cut into bread-sized pieces)
  • Tomato (washed before and slice when serving)
  • Avocado (cut, scoop, and slice when serving)
  • Peanut butter and/or Sun-butter
  • Jelly

Fruit

  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Grapes

Chips

  • We buy the lunch size variety packs – they actually have some popcorn options that are quite healthy.

For beverages, we make sure everyone brings their own reusable water bottle (read why that is important here) that they can refill often.  We also have 100% juice boxes as an option for those who really want something to drink other than water.

Snack time

The snack options vary greatly in how healthy they are, but it gives choices for everyone.

  • Fruit
  • Several varieties of Trail mix (I have even found a dairy/gluten/peanut-free option at Costco before, but for many allergies, you may need to make your own)
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Cookies

Dinner

I make a HUGE pot of chili (actually, I often need two pots for a really large group) by doubling or tripling my Famous Taco Chili Recipe.  This recipe is allergy friendly and generally a huge hit.  I make the base of it before hand (see the recipe for details) and simply add the canned items at camp and heat.  It makes a homemade camp meal easy-peasy and fills up those hungry tummies with lots of healthy hidden vegetables.   Generally, one recipe of my chili feeds 10-12 hungry adults, so you may need to double (or halve, etc.) the recipe for your group’s needs.

Garnish as desired with shredded cheese, sour cream (Daisy’s squeeze bags are convenient for camping), dairy-free sour cream (my husband loves this special treat), and tortilla chips.

I also serve sliced French or Artisan bread with butter and I bring pre-made salad mixes to toss and serve as well.

I love bringing pre-made salad mixes camping.  I never buy them normally, but when I’m camping, I still want to get my greens, but I don’t want to bother with washing, chopping, slicing, etc.   Read the ingredients carefully – usually there are gluten/nut/dairy/egg-free options.  You may need to mix up a salad in a special bowl excluding an item or two for the allergy group and place it on its separate table.  With a large group, we may have two salad options and mix one bowl especially for the allergy-friendly serving table.

Dessert

S’mores, of course!  We always get a special dairy-free dark chocolate for those who need a dairy-free option,

How we feed 20-40 people camping with an allergy friendly menu. - NatureAmy.com

Roasting marshmallows for s’mores

Also. hot water for hot chocolate, cider, coffee, or tea.


Saturday – Day 2

How we feed 20-40 people camping with an allergy friendly menu. - NatureAmy.com

Breakfast

I like to make breakfasts simple when I’m working with a big group.  So a continental breakfast is the way to go.

As soon as I get up, I put a big pot of water on to boil.  This is used for hot drinks and instant oatmeal packets.

  • Large muffins cut in halves or quarters
  • A large variety of cereal options
  • A large variety of instant oatmeal options (including a gluten free option)
  • Milk (regular, rice, and almond)
  • Fruit
  • Juice
  • Hot drinks
    • Instant coffee (I know, sacrilege, but we’re not coffee drinkers)
    • Tea
    • Hot cocoa packets
    • Apple cider packets
    • Sugar/Stevia/Half-Half

Lunch

In the interest of keeping things simple, day two has the same lunch as day one.  There is so much variety in the type of sandwich each person can make, it gives people the option for something different, if they choose.

Depending on the schedule for the day, we sometimes have the group pack their own lunch right after breakfast.  This has worked very well when we have a long hike.  We also make sure there are plenty of snack items available to pack as well.

Dinner

How we feed 20-40 people camping with an allergy friendly menu. - NatureAmy.com

I love cooking food over the fire while camping, and this dinner does the trick.  I make everyone cook their own sausage (they come precooked, so I don’t have to worry that anyone will under cook them).

  • Pre-cooked sausages, an assortment
    • Costco polish sausages
    • Aidell’s Chicken sausages (these are a great allergy-friendly option)
    • Cheddar-wurst
    • Buns, I like to buy the large hoagie size – Gluten-free simply enjoy this bunless, or they could use some GF bread from lunch
    • Baked beans – I heat these up on the stove
    • Condiments – ketchup, mustard, etc.
    • Premade salads (see the note from Friday night)

Dessert

S’mores and hot drinks again.

And my mother, who often comes along to help me (I am spoiled that way!), makes an amazing peach cobbler in the Dutch oven for an additional treat.  It is made with canned peaches, Bisquick, some sugar, and dairy-free margarine.   She works the magic – and we all enjoy it!

cobbler


Sunday – Day 3

In keeping with the simplicity theme, my second breakfast is the same as the first.  Just like with lunch, there are so many options that there is still much variety for the group.  Sometimes there is even leftover cobbler from the night before and that is especially good for breakfast!

Depending on what we are doing on Sunday, we have packed a lunch for a hike or simply packed up camp for the long trip home.  We stop for lunch (or dinner if we had lunch on a hike before leaving) on the drive home someplace where there are many fast food options.  We also make any leftovers available if people don’t have money for lunch or dinner.

How we feed 20-40 people camping with an allergy friendly menu. - NatureAmy.com

Caving with a group of students at Lava Beds National Monument


 

That is how I feed 20-40 people and keep it allergy friendly and mostly healthy for a weekend.  It’s not amazing, but it has worked for several years and gives a lot of variety while keeping things as simple as possible.

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Why I don’t want a “successful” blog

You may have noticed that things have been quiet on the blog for the last couple of weeks and I have not posted anything new.  I wanted to apologize to my loyal readers (Hi, Mom, Dad, and Grandma!) and let you in on the why…

I started this website because I love to write (and had not written for fun in way too long) and I love to teach and share; I wanted a place to share my passions and I have really loved this new experience.  I loved being a mom and a teacher and I loved my life, but I wanted an outlet – something that was just mine – to be able to share my heart.  This blog is the result of that longing.

However, I also did a lot of research on how to make a blog successful (i.e. attracting large numbers of visitors and making an income) and I started to feel very overwhelmed.  I spent a good amount of time trying to make sense of the world of successful blogging and the more I read, the more I felt in over my head.  I am not a business woman and I have no desire to sell anything.  In fact, I want people to buy and consume less, yet the world of “successful” (read money making) blogs is about selling products and essentially become an advertiser.  Annoying popups and flashy ads make money.  I started to feel like I needed a degree in marketing and business to be successful.  I felt like I needed to be flashy and impressive to draw in an audience and the whole thing was making me feel sick to my stomach and very uncomfortable.  I started to stress about the number of visitors on my website and likes on my Facebook page and as my anxiety grew, I realized I needed to take a step back to remember who I am and why I started a blog in the first place.amy crop

I am a teacher at heart and an encourager.  I believe in living a simple and lighter footprint life by consuming less and loving others more.  I love to eat healthy, get outside into nature, and create sugar-free recipes. I want to encourage people who find my site no matter where they are in life.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think there is anything wrong with monetizing a blog and working hard to increase an audience. Most of the bloggers I love are monetized and it does not bother me, but it just isn’t for me.  I may occasionally promote a product that I really, really love or become an affiliate of a company that I truly respect and admire (like Trim Healthy Mama, the one company I am affiliated with currently), but that is not why I started this blog and it is not what makes me happy.  

The second reason I have stepped back a bit at this time is I am finding it hard to get back on track after my miscarriage. Everyone told me to take time to heal and grieve and process the loss.  But, I am the type of person that wants to jump back into everything immediately – I’m fine, I’m strong, etc. – but when I tried, I just felt overwhelmed and I cried – a lot.  So I have had to take some time to quiet my soul and to allow myself space and time to heal.  I am getting there, but I am not there yet…selfie

I will get back to writing some posts soon, I promise. I have several in the works currently.  Plus, I have been listening to some great audio books recently and am feeling inspired to write some more about living simply.  I will also be writing more about our journey to live greener lives with less negative impact.  And, of course, there will be more recipes and healthy living tips.  And, hopefully, some great guest posts, as well!

This blog has only been around for three short months, but I am blessed beyond measure with the number of shares and pins my posts have gotten and the positive feedback I have received.

Thank you for reading, my friend,

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Healthy Sweet & Sour Chicken ~ Sugar-free, Gluten-free, Dye-free

My family loves Chinese food – well pretty much any Asian food actually.  My husband especially loves it because of his many food allergies, especially to dairy and gluten.  It is pretty easy to get Asian food that he can eat.  However, finding Chinese food without a lot of sugar is hard!  So we have not spent a lot of time at his favorite local Chinese restaurant recently.  Sorry, Honey…

Everyone in the family loves the classic Sweet and Sour Pork or Chicken recipe – loaded with sugar, red food coloring, breaded and fried, and completely bad for you.  So I was on a mission to make a Sweet and Sour sauce that not only was healthy, but also was lick the pan – can I have more, please – good!  I finally perfected the recipe!  And, not only is it cheap, it also does not have any special ingredients that you cannot find at your local grocery store! Score! (All my recipes have no special ingredient options – check more out here.)

This recipe is an Energizing (E) meal, meaning it is low in fat and higher in healthy carbs, if you follow the Trim Healthy Mama plan (read why I love THM here) when made with chicken breast and eaten with brown rice (I love eating rice with sweet and sour sauce – yummy!)

There is also the option to make this dish a Satisfying (S) meal, meaning it is higher in healthy fat and low in carbs, when made with pork and no rice.  It is easy to make into a Crossover for those skinny kids or husbands in your life (this is my life) or if you are at or near goal-weight or pregnant or nursing.  However, when doing a pork S option, you will need to pull the amount of pineapple to just a small amount and increase the amount of vegetables.   Since pineapple is a high-glycemic fruit, it really can only be a garnish. Therefore, there needs to be no more than two tablespoons of pineapple per serving for an S meal.  So, if you choose to make this an S meal with pork, use 1/4 cup of drained pineapple tidbits instead of the full can of pineapple.   Of course, if you do the E option, no need to worry about the pineapple!

Quick and Easy ingredients to Sweet and Sour Pork or Chicken Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken breast (for E), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Mineral salt
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut oil 
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I use my homemade bone broth)
  • ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons THM Super Sweet Blend, or 4 Tablespoons Truvia (about 12 packets), or sweetener of choice
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½-1 teaspoon Glucomannan powder or ½-1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum, to thicken
  • 1 – 20 oz. can of pineapple chunks in juice, drained (see not above if making an S meal)
  • 1 bell pepper – whatever color you want

Makes 6 servings

  1. Cut up the meat into 1 inch cubes, or bite size pieces. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Cut up the bell pepper (whatever color you want to use) and any other vegetables you may want to add.  We had asparagus on the side with this meal, but it would have been very good cut into bite size pieces and added to the dish!  Open the pineapple and drain it.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the meat.  You may want to do this in batches to better brown the meat.  I like to cook the meat through and then let it turn golden on each side for more of a crunch.
  4. In a small/medium sauce pan, add the broth, vinegar, sweetener, and tomato paste.  Still and heat to simmering.  Add the glucomannan or xanthan gum by sprinkling it in slowly as you whisk the sauce.  This is important or the thickener will get clumpy and won’t thicken properly.  Let the sauce simmer for a minute or two and then turn off the heat and let cool.  It will thicken more as it cools.
  5. Add the vegetables to the meat and cook together for a minute or two.  Add the sauce and let simmer together so that the flavors can marry – this does not take more than a few minutes

    sweetsour_cook

    The cooked meat and veggies ready for the sauce (left). The sauce and other ingredients cook together for a few minutes before serving (right).

Serve over brown rice if you made the E option with chicken breast – the rice is so yummy with the sauce.  Now I just need a THM fortune cookie recipe and my life will be complete.

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Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Clicking on these links and ordering products or services will result in a small commission for me.  It does not cost you anything extra, but helps keep this website going and is much appreciated. Click HERE to use my Trim Healthy Mama Affiliate Link.

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The Final Downton Night: Healthy Lemon Poppyseed Scones ~ THM FP

If you have been a loyal watcher of Downton Abbey for the last six years, you are likely in a mix of emotions today.  Not only are you dying to find out what is going to happen to the Crawley family and the staff downstairs, if you are like me, you are devastated that it is coming to an end. (Of course, if you are reading this from the UK, you already said your goodbyes…) In our house tonight we will be celebrating with a British inspired dinner (Bangers and Mash, anyone? Cauliflower mash for me), and of course, tea and scones for dessert while watching the show.

Healthy Lemon Poppyseed Scones - THM FP, Sugar-free, Low Carb, Dairy-free, Gluten Free - NatureAmy.com

In honor of this momentous occasion, I have been working on one last scone recipe (check out my blueberry and cranberry scone recipes).  I love scones with my tea, but since giving up sugar because of my sugar addiction and becoming a Trim Healthy Mama (THM), my old standby recipes are no longer an option.  One of my favorite scones is Lemon Poppyseed – I love that combination – and after some tweaking, I’ve come up with a winner.  This recipe is a Trim Healthy Mama Fuel Pull (meaning it is both low in fat and carbs) when made with THM’s Baking Blend.  I also wrote a no special ingredients option that is a bit higher in fat and would fall into the satisfying “S” meal category.  These scones are a little drier than my other scone recipes because they are not made with fruit.  Scones are usually quite dry and adding butter or clotted cream (yummy!) solves this issue. However, if you want to keep this scone as a Fuel Pull, you may want to add some sugar-free berry jam like I did.  (I used the Slim Belly Jelly recipe from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup THM Baking Blend  (or substitute 2 tablespoons coconut flour, 1 tablespoon flax meal, and 1 tablespoon almond flour, this would be an S, because it is higher in fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of mineral salt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon THM Gentle Sweet (or 4-5 packets Truvia, or use sweetener of choice)
  • zest from half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon poppyseeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 egg white (or 2 tablespoons carton egg whites)
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of almond milk or juice from lemon if you like it very “lemony”

Healthy Lemon Poppyseed Scones - THM FP, Sugar-free, Low Carb, Dairy-free, Gluten Free - NatureAmy.com

  1.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix the baking blend (or flours), baking powder, salt, and sweetener together in a bowl. Zest the lemon and add the poppy seeds.
  3. Add the coconut oil and mix together so that it is crumbly and a biscuit-like consistency.
  4. Add the egg white and mix together.  If it seems too dry, add  almond milk or lemon juice until you get to a firm consistency that holds its shape well, but is not too dry.
  5. Place parchment paper on your baking sheet and dump the dough onto it.  Form the dough into a square and then cut it through the center to separate into two beautiful triangles.

    Healthy Lemon Poppyseed Scones - THM FP, Sugar-free, Low Carb, Dairy-free, Gluten Free - NatureAmy.com

    My baby girl ate half my dough before I could get it in the pan, so mine only made one scone. Your recipe should make 2.

  6. Bake in the oven about 15 minutes until just golden. Let cool a bit and enjoy!
The joys of creating recipes with kids - so much fun, but you have to share!

The joys of creating recipes with kids – so much fun, but you have to share!

You can choose to keep this a fuel-pull by eating this as is, or by adding some on-plan sugar-free berry jam.  To enjoy as a satisfying S-meal, go ahead and add some butter or Devonshire Clotted Cream.  And, of course, make sure to steep a cup of black tea (I will be having Tetley British Blend decaf – it is late at night!) with a splash of milk or cream and a bit of stevia.

Healthy Lemon Poppyseed Scones - THM FP, Sugar-free, Low Carb, Dairy-free, Gluten Free - NatureAmy.com

Spread with some sugar-free berry jam, it was oh so good! I managed to get a small piece away from my daughter!

Do you have your hanky ready? Now we are ready for the perfect evening (and last Downton Night – sob!)

Cheerstelephoneamy

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Clicking on these links and ordering products or services will result in a small commission for me.  It does not cost you anything extra, but helps keep this website going and is much appreciated. Click HERE to use my Trim Healthy Mama Affiliate Link

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Hawaiian “Huli-Huli” Chicken – THM S, Sugar-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free

Anybody else want a vacation to Hawaii?  I know I would love it!  Mom and Dad, you wouldn’t mind the kids for a week or two, right?  

Well, since a trip to Hawaii is definitely not on the calendar – or in the budget – how about a yummy chicken recipe that definitely is in the budget!

One of my family’s favorite recipes is a Hawaiian “huli-huli” chicken that is traditionally grilled outdoors and often sold in street carts in Hawaii.  My husband and kids LOVE this recipe, so it was one of the first I had to change to be sugar-free so that we could enjoy it as a family after I gave up sugar.  I also love this recipe because it is cheap!  Bone-in chicken is some of the cheapest meat you can find – I usually pick it up for under $1/pound, so this makes this meal come in at under $1/person – which is very good for our budget.  I love Trim Healthy Mama, and it really is easy to make affordable on-plan recipes!

This chicken can be grilled on the barbecue or done in the oven with the broiler.  In the winter, I usually do it inside with the broiler – I love how it warms up the house! In the summer, I like to keep the heat outdoors and do this on the grill.  The process is the same both places and it tastes great both ways.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lbs chicken quarters (thighs and drumsticks) or 1 chicken cut up or butterflied
  • mineral salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 inches ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup drained pineapple chunks
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce or Braggs liquid aminos (make sure to select a gluten-free sauce if you need to)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon THM Super Sweet Blend (or 2 packets Truvia or sweetener of choice)
  • 2-4 tablespoons water

Serves 6

Sauce ingredients

  1. Start coals/barbecue or start heating the broiler to med/high.  I can set the temperature on my broiler, so I always turn it down to about 400 degrees.  I also drop the rack down two places because this chicken gets hot!
  2. Take your chicken and generously sprinkle with mineral salt.  Let rest while you make the sauce.huli_sauce
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in your blender or food processor and puree together.  Add the water as needed. The 1/2 cup pineapple adds 13 grams net carbs, so spread out over 6 servings, it does not add significant carbs to this S-meal.
  4. Put the chicken on the grill or under the broiler with the skin side away from the heat source.  Cook for 5 minutes and turn over.  Do this 4 times for a total of 20 minutes.  Then baste the sauce generously on the chicken and cook 5 more minutes.  Do this 4 times for a total of 20 more minutes.  Your chicken should be cooked  through at this point and the skin should be crispy, sweet, and charred.  Perfect!

    Chicken broiled for 20 minutes without the sauce on left. Chicken broiled with the sauce for the remaining 20 minutes on right.

    Chicken broiled for 20 minutes without the sauce on left. Chicken broiled with the sauce for the remaining 20 minutes on right.

  5. Serve over rice if you want a crossover (my kids and husband need crossovers and they love this with sticky rice).  I like it with a side salad or veggies drizzled in some of the excess sauce collected from the broiler pan. Yummy!
hulikids

The boys could not eat this meal fast enough!

I hope you enjoy your little taste of the islands as much as we do!

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Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Clicking on these links and ordering products or services will result in a small commission for me.  It does not cost you anything extra, but helps keep this website going and is much appreciated. [eafl id=253 name=”THM” text=”Click HERE to use my Trim Healthy Mama Affiliate Link”]

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Amy’s “Famous” Taco Chili (THM E)

It may seem pretty arrogant to call this my “famous” chili recipe – but that is what my kids named it so the name has stuck!  They LOVE this recipe and so do children everywhere, and adults, too!  This makes a huge meal that is allergen-friendly so it is my family’s go-to meal for large family events, camping field trips, freezer meals, bringing to other families when they need a meal, etc.  This is a great and healthy meal to have in your recipe arsenal, especially if you have picky eaters to feed.

My oldest would eat any kind of veggie up until he turned three.  But something switched at three and he started turning his nose up at any and every vegetable out there.  He still claims to “hate vegetables” except for lettuce drenched in ranch dressing even though he is now seven.  He still must eat at least a few bites each night, but I love meals where I can trick him into eating much more.  This is one of those meals.  This chili is loaded with veggies – the trick is to chop them very, very small – I use the “wet-chop” method with my blender for this and it is super quick.  A food processor would also do the job well.  You can even do it by hand and get some good exercise in while making dinner. Just make sure the veggies are so small they are not recognizable – that is the trick with picky eaters.

chiliveggies

This is a Trim Healthy Mama E (for Energizing) meal, so it is naturally low in fat and high in healthy carbohydrates centered around a protein source, of course.  I am a “Whole Grain Jane” so I naturally gravitate to E meals.  Healthy carbohydrates are a very important part of a balanced diet and one of the reasons I love THM is because they do not shy away from them.  This meal can easily be made a cross-over (to include more fat) for your growing kids, slim husband, or if you are at or near goal weight or pregnant/nursing.  I love this as a crossover, but usually have it as an E.

canz

INGREDIENTS:

Building the Chili Base:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (if you want this to be a THM E-meal, it must be 97% lean or more)
  • 4-6 celery stalks
  • 1 large onion
  • An assortment of veggies of your choice which may include:
    • zucchini
    • yellow squash
    • small eggplant, or half of a large one
    • radishes
    • carrots
    • bell pepper
    • anything else you want to put in it
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Chili Powder (to taste)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Cumin (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

All of the following ingredients are in cans, so this base can be frozen or brought along on a camping trip.  It makes a very quick meal to add the cans for a quick “from scratch” dinner.

Add to the base:

  • 1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 – 10 or 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 5-6 cans of beans of choice,  drained and rinsed (black, pinto, kidney, navy, and garbanzo are all good options)
  • 1 – 15 oz can of corn (or 1.5 cups frozen corn will work)
  1.  First finely chop the vegetables you are going to use.  If you only use celery, onions, and bell peppers, you will have a decent base, but I like to add as many veggies as possible.choppedveg
  2. Brown your turkey in a large pot.  If you are using turkey with more than 3% fat, you can drain and rinse the browned meat with very hot (boiling) water to strip the excess fat for a good E meal.  This is not necessary if you want a crossover meal.
  3. Add the chopped veggies to the browned turkey and mix well, stirring often.  The veggies get soft and start to cook and steam, shrinking in the pot and blending in with the turkey meat.
  4. Add the spices to your desired spiciness. I use the spices separately for a taco-like flavor so that the meal is allergen friendly – I do not make this with pre-made taco seasoning.  However, if you always use pre-made taco seasoning, you can use that in place of the spices.
  5. Add the tomato paste and canned tomatoes with chilies and stir well.  Drain and rinse the beans and corn and add to the pot.  Stir carefully at this point because your pot is likely very full and thick.  Add water to your desired consistency.  We like this thick, so we only add about 2 cans full of water for a very hearty chili.  Let it heat through and the flavors marry for at least 15 minutes.chilistove
  6. Serve this up.  Your main dish and veggies all fit in one bowl!  You may garnish with plain non-fat Greek yogurt for an E, or add sour cream and cheese for a yummy crossover.  We generally get two good sized meals for our family of 5 with this one pot of chili!  Enjoy!
Kids love this meal and don't know they are eating their veggies!

My veggie- hating seven year old LOVES this meal! Don’t tell him he’s eating squash and eggplant.

Don’t worry too much about going back for seconds with this meal – it is so loaded with veggies that you can have up to 3 cups of this chili and still be within the healthy carb limit for THM E-meals.  If you want to have the meal with some on plan baked organic blue corn chips, you will have to have less chili, but even one (or two) cups of this hearty chili is very filling!

I hope your family enjoys this as much as we do!

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I would love it if you could head on over to my Facebook page and give it a like!  I am just building my website and will be posting recipes every week or two, all family friendly, Trim Healthy Mama friendly, sugar-free, and budget friendly.  Thanks so much for your support!

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Downton Night: Healthy Blueberry Scones

Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Clicking on these links and ordering products or services will result in a small commission for me.  It does not cost you anything extra, but helps keep this website going and is much appreciated. [eafl id=253 name=”THM” text=”Click HERE to use my Trim Healthy Mama Affiliate Link”]

If you are an Anglophile like myself, then the thought of Sunday night this time of year means – you guessed it – Downton Abbey!  I love to be transported to Yorkshire and spend the evening with the Crawley family.  But, I must also have a proper cup of tea (Tetley British Blend does the job well) with a bit of stevia and cream.  I could stop there – and some nights I must, for the sake of time, or my bare cupboards – but if I really want to savor the experience, I must have a scone with my tea! (Check out my other scone recipes here.)

Before I started on the path to sugar freedom and Trim Healthy Mama, I would have made a wonderful blueberry scone recipe I got from my fellow English loving cousin.  But, I have given up sugar and that recipe is laden with processed white flour, something else I try to avoid.  So what is a girl to do?  Make my own, of course!

Blueberry Scones - THM FP

BLUEBERRY SCONES

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup THM Baking Blend (can substitute 2 tablespoons coconut flour, 1 tablespoon flax meal, and 1 tablespoon almond flour, this would be an S, because it is higher in fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of mineral salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons THM Gentle Sweet (or 2-4 packets Truvia) to taste
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 egg white (or 2 tablespoons carton egg whites)
  • dash of almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Blueberry Scones - THM FP

This recipe is the perfect scone consistency with Trim Healthy Mama’s Baking Blend. I have made it a couple times using the easy substitutes of coconut flour, almond flour, and flax meal and it tastes wonderful. (If you follow THM, do note that these flours make this an S, not a Fuel Pull).  These flours/meals and Truvia can be found at most grocery stores, so it will be easy to make without purchasing THM products. I do love THM Baking Blend – it is full of healthy ingredients, low calorie, low carb, and certified gluten free.  I also LOVE their Gentle Sweet all natural non-GMO sweetener – it is the most sugar-like of any sweetener I have tried. (You could substitute honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup if you do not follow THM.) I will write more about this wonderful book and eating plan and the food freedom I have found – especially my freedom from sugar addiction – in a later post.  But if you are curious about their plan, check out their website and books.

  1.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix the baking blend, baking powder, salt, and sweetener together in a bowl. Add the coconut oil and mix together so that it is crumbly and a biscuit-like consistency.
  3. Add the egg white and mix together.  If it seems too dry, add a dash of almond milk.
  4. Mix in the blueberries – fresh blueberries are amazing, but frozen will work just fine.  If you want a lemony taste, add lemon zest (or a bit of lemon juice).  If you don’t care for lemon, vanilla is great, too.

Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Blueberry Scones

5. Place parchment paper on your baking sheet and dump the dough onto it.  Form the dough into a square and then cut it through the center to separate into two beautiful triangles.

6. Bake in the oven about 15 minutes until just golden. Let cool a bit and enjoy!

blueberryscones2

Now it is time to grab your cup of tea and settle in with an evening at Downton Abbey.  And as long as they don’t kill off any characters – it will be the perfect evening!

Cheerstelephoneamy

 

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