Back to Basics: Homemade Banana “Ice Cream”

Craving ice cream but want to eat healthy and stay away from sugar?  Making this one-ingredient “ice cream” is easier than you can imagine, and you don’t even need an ice cream maker!

That’s right, all you need are bananas!  The process is easy:

Gather 2-3 bananas (or more, depending on how much you are making)

Peel & slice the bananas and freeze them in a container or sandwich bag.

When the bananas are frozen, take them out and whip them in a food processor or with a hand mixer.  (If using a hand mixer, make sure the bananas are thawed slightly).

You will have a delicious and nutritious ice cream substitute!  No need to worry about additives, artificial flavors, or sweeteners.  This banana ice cream is creamy, rich, and full of flavor.

You can even make this banana ice cream turn into “banana chocolate chip ice cream” by adding high quality dark chocolate or carob chips, as we did for an extra special treat.

This batch of banana “ice cream” came out as a soft-serve due to thawing the bananas slightly first (not completely, just enough to break them in half with a fork).  For a firmer “ice cream” simply freeze the banana ice cream for a few minutes, until it firms up to your desired ice cream texture.

And that’s it!  It really is that simple to have a healthy snack that tastes just as good as ice cream.

PS:  You’ll never have to waste over-ripe bananas again, since banana ice cream puts over-ripe bananas to great use!



Ok, so this may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t actually think about the concept of how grocery stores are laid out. 

The fact is, the easiest way to eliminate processed foods from your life is to not buy it!  Even if you feel that you cannot afford organic or farm fresh food, shopping along the perimeter of a grocery store is the most efficient way to avoid buying processed junk and pre-packaged meals.  Cook from scratch whenever possible, and shop from fresh/real food departments only.

This rule applies even when shopping at a “natural” food store. For instance, even when I’m shopping at Whole Foods, I make sure to stay mostly on the perimeter of the store.  The inner isles of a store like Whole Foods are filled mostly with organic junk — processed and packaged foods that are labeled and marketed as “organic” or “all natural”, but are still bad for your health if you actually look into the ingredients.  Because of this, my Whole Foods shopping trip usually consists of stopping at the following areas: produce, meat, seafood, nuts/oats/grains (bulk bins), frozen bread (only for the frozen sprouted bread and bagels), & dairy.  Occasionally I’ll shop in the isles, but only when I know what I need, and I make sure to go straight to get what I want & get out.  The only times I’ll shop in the isles are if I need cooking oils, spices/herbs (including salt/pepper), sugar, or canned tuna (wild caught and BPA free cans!).  And that’s pretty much it.   Everything else I try to avoid buying whenever possible.

These simple rules are seriously what keeps me eating mostly high quality/fresh foods only, and helps to eliminate the processed junk that I used to eat so much of.



Back to Basics: Homemade Toothpaste

Here are the homemade toothpaste/tooth powder recipes I’ve promised from last week’s Back to Basics post, regarding why store-bought toothpaste is not as beneficial as you may think it is.

Remember, you want to steer clear of harmful store-bought toothpastes that contain: Fluoride, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Saccharin, glycerin, and any artificial colors (such as: FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Red 33, and Yellow 10 Lake), and any other chemical ingredient. Research the ingredients in your hygiene products! 

First, let’s look at the ingredients I choose to use to make homemade toothpaste & why:

  • Baking soda:  Cleans teeth, whitens teeth, and freshens breath. Going “back to basics”, baking soda has been used as a teeth cleaning agent for years, and is still used in today’s commercial toothpastes.  Baking soda is also alkaline and will neutralize the acids that are lingering in your mouth & on your teeth from consuming acidic foods/drinks.  Acidity can erode enamel & causes cavities.
  • Sea Salt: Natural anti-septic, used for years.  Kills bacteria that cause plaque, and cleanses teeth & gums.
  • Xylitol:  A natural, non-fermentable sugar that not only sweetens the toothpaste, but protects against cavities as well. Xylitol has the opposite effect of traditional sugar.  While sugar helps bacteria grow & thrive by creating an acidic environment, Xylitol cannot be fermented, and therefore protects against the growth of bacteria and helps to prevent cavities, helps with the re-mineralization of teeth, & eliminates plaque.
  • White Kaolin Clay: Earth’s clay has been used for years by our ancestors for various cosmetic and healing purposes.  Clay has been known to cleanse & purify the skin by pulling toxins and pollutants from the skin when used as a mask, and have also been used in toothpastes and mouthwashes for the same purpose.  When clay is used in the mouth, it purifies, cleanses and rids the mouth of bad bacteria. Kaolin clay is also known to polish the tooth’s surface, while gently removing surface stains and plaque.
  • Eggshells: Probably the best natural source of calcium, since eggshells are calcium & other trace minerals.  The composition of eggshells are very similar to our bones & teeth.  Eggshells are easily absorbable.  Finely ground eggshells make calcium powder.  However, only use organic, pastured-eggs, not store bought (factory farmed) eggs.  Factory farmed/store bought eggs are not very nutritious…if the chicken does not get proper nutrients, the eggshells will not be filled with all of the nutrients we need, and instead will be weak & easily breakable (therefore, have less calcium).  If you don’t have healthy eggshells available, use calcium powder instead.
  • Coconut oil: Great for the gums and is anti-bacterial.  Coconut oil kills bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Aloe Vera gel (in it’s pure, liquid form): Aloe has been used for centuries as a home remedy.  For toothpaste purpose, it cleanses and soothes teeth and gums, as it is also anti-bacterial.
  • Myrrh Essential Oil:  Great for the mouth & gums!  This oil has been used for cleaning and purifying since ancient times and is known to keep gums healthy & eliminate mouth sores/infections. It is antiseptic by nature, and also stimulates circulation, which is great for the mouth and gums.
  • Peppermint Essential Oil:  Anti-bacterial and provides a minty fresh scent to breath, and a minty taste to homemade toothpaste.

After much research and thought, here is the toothpaste recipe I like to use: (you can feel free to add or remove ingredients based off of your own research, and change measurements as you see fit.  I use measurements of my own based off of research and personal wants/needs, and personal opinion).

1/2 cup baking soda (finely ground*)
1/4 cup finely ground* sea salt
1/4 cup finely ground* xylitol
2 tablespoons Kaolin clay
2 tbs finely ground* eggshells (organic, pastured-eggs from a farm.  I wouldn’t do this with factory farmed, store bought eggs.  You can replace the eggshells with calcium powder if necessary).
Essential oils (I use myrrh & peppermint)

To use as a toothpowder, use recipe above and sprinkle onto toothbrush & brush gently.  If you’d rather have more of a paste consistency like I do, use the following:
A few tablespoons coconut oil (I used 2 tbs)
1-2 tsp aloe vera (pure aloe vera, in it’s liquid form/aloe vera juice)

Store in small glass jar or bowl if you made paste (the wet Kaolin clay CANNOT be stored in plastic, as it will absorb the toxins from the plastic.  As a tooth powder (in dry form), it can be stored in plastic).

*For ingredients marked “finely ground”, I literally grind these ingredients (in small portions) into a fine powder in a small coffee grinder (Krups Electric Coffee Grinder, $19.00).  It works fabulously.  The reason for grinding these ingredients is simple:  They’d be too abrasive on the tooth’s enamel otherwise.  Although some people do use baking soda whole and brush strictly with baking soda alone, I feel that it is too abrasive to use on a daily basis (in it’s whole, un-ground form).  Some dentists say it’s fine and good for your teeth, others say it’s okay to use, but maybe only once a week instead of daily, while other’s disagree completely and say it is too abrasive. Well, to be safe, I grind all of my “too abrasive” ingredients, including baking soda, to a fine grind.

I make this recipe, which allows me to have more than I need for one small jar (think baby-food jar), which is probably about 2-3 tablespoons of the tooth powder (dry) mixture.  Then I mix about equal amounts of coconut oil, and 1-2 teaspoons of aloe vera to form a paste.  I store the extra dry ingredients that are already mixed together in a zip lock bag so when I run out of toothpaste in the future, I just have to mix together a few tablespoons or so the dry ingredients with the coconut oil and aloe vera, and I’ll have a new jar of toothpaste.  Quick & easy.  I could also always use the dry ingredients as a powder, of course, but for now, I’m sticking with the paste.

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*I obviously am not a dentist or a professional of any kind, & all of the information I have is based off of my own research & opinion and is not meant for treating or curing any hygiene disease.  I simply make homemade products for my own personal use, and I’m offering the recipe for my homemade toothpaste for those who would like to make and use their own all natural toothpaste.  That doesn’t mean you will be cavity-free!



2011 —> 2012: A year in review

It’s finally 2012! The year that many have anticipated due to the ending of the Mayan calender.

1/1/2012 …the anniversary of my first Tumblr post of the new year, and last night (12/31/2011) was my Tumblr’s official birthday, which started with a post of a quote that inspired the name “Malleable Reality”.  So for me, this really is a year in review.

I’ve learned a lot over the year & really changed/grew as a person.  As I read over my post from exactly 1 year ago, I realized that I ended my post with my “to-do’s for the 2011 year:

- “Learn more about the things I’m interested in.”

- “Continue to take more steps to living a healthier life.


I was happy to read those two things & realized that I accomplished those things to the best of my ability within the year.  I’ve made a ton of changes in my lifestyle and learned a plethora of valuable information, some of it in which I shared here (via Tumblr) throughout the year.  These posts included: Buying organic produce, skin cancer, disease branding, toxic chemicals in our everyday lives, more chemicals in our lives, toxins in our skin care, the dangers of teflon, BPA levels in canned foods, chemicals in baby shampoo, the dangers of water fluoridation, birth control pills, the FDA and arsenic in your chicken, the secret ingredient in your store bought meat, the food revolution, and introduced a Back to Basics series which included posts on some of the changes I’ve made throughout the year that helped me to lead a better/healthier lifestyle.  You can view all of my posts posted within this last year here.

With that said and last year behind us, my plan for 2012 is to continue to learn and grow as a person, and hopefully continue with the changes I’ve made, and make even more changes for this year.  My “to-do” list for this year is pretty much the same as last year.  To continue improving and building on the things I’ve already done.  2011 was a great year for me.  I still have plenty of more information that I’ve learned and continue to learn that I have yet to post in a blog.  I will continue posting Back to Basics posts and updating everyone on my lifestyle changes & the “how to’s” and recipes, as much as I can.  However, this year, the Back to Basics posts will be moved to SUNDAYS, rather than Fridays.  

Back to Basics posts every Sunday for 2012, starting this week!



Back to Basics: Homemade Granola Bars (Recipe #2)

This weeks Back to Basics post is a homemade, no-bake granola bar recipe.  I’ve previously posted a homemade granola bar recipe here, along with a short explanation on why it’s important to make your own rather than continue to eat store bought granola bars.  Also, it’s important to remember to soak and dry all of your ingredients beforehand (I mentioned how I do this at the end of my previous granola bar recipe post).  I always soak my ingredients in large batches so that I can have already soaked ingredients on hand for whenever I need to make another batch of granola bars (we need to have a constant supply of granola bars at all times in our house). 

I decided to post a new granola bar recipe for this week’s post since I’ve been making different kinds of granola bars, and this one has become one of our favorites:

INGREDIENTS:

2.5 cups rolled oats  (soaked & dried)

1.5 cups nuts and/or seeds (I used equal amounts of sunflower & pumpkin seeds - soaked & dried)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup raisins

6 tablespoons salted butter (organic, grass-fed!)

1/2 cup sugar (I use Sucanat or Rapadura)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons honey (I use raw honey)

2 tablespoon molasses

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix oats, raisins, coconut, and nuts/seeds in large bowl.

2. Heat butter, sugar, cinnamon, honey and molasses in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is heated evenly (slightly bubbling)  and all ingredients are well incorporated.

3. Remove from heat and stir into oat mixture until evenly coated with large spoon. press and fold until all dry ingredients are covered in liquid mixture.  Mixture will be sticky, keep folding ingredients until everything is moist.  Let sit just until cool enough to handle

4. In the meantime, line a 9×11 (or 7x11) inch pan with plastic wrap/wax paper. Spoon mixture into pan, pressing down with spoon to compact. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm granola. Remove from pan, peel away plastic wrap/wax paper and slice into bars. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or wax paper, if desired.

I store mine in the refrigerator, but these can be stored at room temperature as well.  As you can see from the picture above, I choose to wrap this batch in small plastic sandwich bags for convenience since we use them as snacks on the go.

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***NOTE:  FUTURE BACK TO BASICS POSTS WILL BE ON SUNDAYS, STARTING THIS UPCOMING WEEK!!  I WILL TEST SUNDAYS OUT FOR THE TIME BEING, BUT MOST LIKELY WILL STICK WITH SUNDAYS.  I WILL MAKE A NOTE OF ANY CHANGES, IF FOR SOME REASON I DECIDE TO CHANGE THE DAY AGAIN IN THE FUTURE (UNLIKELY).  I will post a reminder about this again when I make a post tomorrow (the day of my Tumblr anniversary!) ***



Back to Basics: Healthy Homemade Ketchup

Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of your store bought ketchup bottle?  High fructose corn syrup is often one of the main ingredients (yuck!)

Ever since we finished using our favorite store bought ketchup, I decided to no longer buy ketchup, and that the ketchup we use in our house would only be homemade.  Of course, there’s always the all natural, organic ketchup that can be purchased at Whole Foods in case of condiment emergency. But organic store bought ketchup, even in it’s “all natural” state, is still not as healthy as homemade lacto-fermented ketchup.

So here is a healthy, all natural, organic, enzyme & probiotic filled (via lacto-fermentation) recipe.  This recipe is SO simple, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been making ketchup yourself all along  (at least I did!)

Ingredients:


3 cups organic tomato paste (I used 4 cans of 6oz Muir Glen organic cans — in the future I will most likely use Bionaturae brand since they come in glass jars instead of cans)

1/4 cup liquid whey (homemade only…click the link to learn how to make your own).

1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup

2-3 organic black peppercorns (crushed)

1 Tbs sea salt

3 cloves organic garlic, mashed

1/2 cup fish sauce (try to only use fish sauce that has only anchovies and salt as the listed ingredients…I tried to find it, but the only one I could get at the time also had sugar.  Next time I will go to an Asian supermarket since they have a vast selection of fish sauce, but for now, I used Thai Kitchen - which has anchovies, salt, and sugar)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and mix on low with a hand mixer (you could also just whisk this mixture together yourself, but I prefer the hand mixer to make sure everything is mixed well).  Pour into a 1 quart jar or container.  Make sure there is approx 1 inch at the top of the jar/container to allow for expansion during fermentation.  Leave the jar/container out on the kitchen counter for 2 days to ferment, then store in the refrigerator.  Mark the container with the date to keep track of how long you’ve had it for.  Will keep for up to 6 months.

I adapted this recipe from Sarah, at The Healthy Home Economist, who adapted recipe from Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon Morell.


**NOTE: After the new year (my anniversary with Tumblr), I will most likely be moving Back to Basic posts to SUNDAYS!  It will be “Back to Basics Sundays” instead of “Back to Basics Fridays”.   I will post this note again before the change is made for sure.



Back to Basics: How to Make (Liquid) Whey

Liquid whey is much different from whey protein (in powdered form), which is derived from whey and is often used as a supplement by many health enthusiasts.  Powdered whey, however, is denatured and often toxic, and contains MSG (although it will not be listed on the label, since the MSG is a byproduct of the manufacturing process and is not added). Whey protein is extremely delicate and should not be subject to heat processes such as those used to make whey protein powder in order to separate the protein from it’s food source.

Liquid whey cannot be store bought (it can only be “homemade”), and is filled with good fats, vitamins, minerals, and healthy probiotics.  This real, live whey promotes a healthy gut by protecting it from pathogens, and helps aid digestion.  It can also benefit those with gut dysbiosis (which is the underlying cause of many auto-immune diseases) by helping to re-balance the good bacteria in the gut in order to promote healing.

Now, onto how to make Liquid Whey! 

You will need:

1. Raw Milk (directly from a reputable farm, this milk must be grass-fed and unpasteurized)  -or- if raw milk is not an option, organic yogurt will do, but you will not get as much whey out of it as you would with raw milk.

2. Cheesecloth or a clean, thin dishtowel (tea towel)

3. A bowl

Step 1: Allow raw milk to clabber.  To do this, allow the milk to sit on your kitchen counter for 1-4 days, depending on how long you’ve had your milk for at this point.  The milk solids will begin to separate from the liquids and you will be left with curds & whey.  Curds = the solid, clumps, and whey is the liquid that is left. (Sidenote:  You absolutely cannot do this with pasteurized milk!! Do not try it, the milk will just go bad!)

Step 2:  Spread cheesecloth or tea towel over a bowl and pour the clabbered raw milk over the cheesecloth/towel.  This will strain the liquid from the solids.

Step 3: Gather the excess cheesecloth/towel to lift up the cheesecloth out of the bowl — use a rubber band to tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and use the rubber band to tie the cheesecloth (now filled with the milk solids) to a kitchen cabinet handle, or secure it any other way that you can in order to suspend it so that it is hanging over the bowl.

Step 4:  Allow this to hang there for a few hours, with the bowl underneath, until the liquid is completely strained form the solids, and the cheesecloth is no longer dripping.

Step 5:  The liquid you have in the bowl is your whey!  Pour the liquid whey into a jar/container and keep it in the refrigerator.  This will last for about 6 months.  The strained solids that you have in the cheesecloth are now homemade, real, cream cheese and can be sweetened naturally with maple syrup and/or fruit (mixed together in a food processor) and can be used as you would store bought cream cheese, for up to about 2 weeks.

I’ve used this liquid whey for a few different real food recipes thus far and intend on using it for many more!  I wanted to post this basic post today so that when I post recipes in future Back to Basics posts, you can have this to refer to when I mention liquid whey as one of the ingredients.

Whey can be used in many homemade recipes to add probiotics to things including homemade condiments (will cover in future Back to Basics posts), smoothies, to lacto-ferment fruits and vegetables, and even to make ricotta cheese.



Back to Basics: On a Quest to Eating Traditionally…

I’ve previously posted an introduction to my new venture in life: eating traditionally (video included).  Today’s Back to Basics post is in regards to some of the changes that I’ve made so far in my quest for a healthier lifestyle. Most of the changes I’ve made are small things here & there, removing some ingredients used & replacing them with healthier, less processed & unrefined choices.  All of these things are simple steps to take in order to begin traditional eating.  Most importantly, remember:  Any positive change (big or small) is better than none at all.

Here are some of the things I switched out over time:

  • Conventional fruit & vegetables to organic.  As much as possible.
  • Pasteurized milk to raw (unpasteurized) milk. Raw milk must be grass-fed/fresh from a farm.
  • Anything white to anything in it’s whole (unrefined/less processed) form. This includes white flour -> whole wheat flour, white rice -> whole grain rice, white bread -> whole grain bread, white sugar -> sucanat/or other natural sweeteners. (I did switch to Sugar in the Raw before I realized even that wasn’t sugar in it’s purest form…just marketing at it’s finest).
  • Conventional, store bought (factory farmed) dairy to grass-fed/pastured only dairy. Including:   Eggs, Butter, and Cream.
  • Store bought (factory farmed) meats & eggs to local/farm meats & eggs.  
  • Prepackaged/processed snacks/foods to made from scratch foods.
  • Vegetable Oils (rancid) to healthy oils.  Corn, canola, & soy oils are oils that I never buy, no longer cook with, & always look for in the ingredients lists of any packaged foods that I might still buy (such as bread, mayo, ketchup, salad dressings — If/when I don’t make my own).  These oils are replaced with coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil.
  • Regular/processed Apple Cider Vinegar to Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Regular/processed honey to raw honey.
  • Table salt (iodized) to Sea Salt.
  • Improperly prepared grains to traditionally (properly) prepared grains.  With anything I make from scratch with grains, I make sure to properly prepare the grains first.  I’ve also been switching from regular whole grain store bought breads & bagels -> only traditionally prepared (sprouted) whole grain breads & bagels.
  • Store bought items with High Fructose Corn Syrup to items with only natural sugars.  This includes pantry items that have High Fructose Corn Syrup as a main ingredient, such as: Jelly (Grape) -> natural/organic grape jelly.
  • Pam cooking/baking sprays (oil in a can) to oil in a Misto oil sprayer.  The mistro sprayer allows you to use any oil that you want, without the use of toxic chemicals and propellants in the can.
  • Canned vegetables to fresh or frozen (organic).

Items I added to the pantry & shopping lists that I never used to use before:

  • Grade B Maple Syrup (not grade A!)
  • Fermented Cod liver oil
  • Butter oil
  • Liquid Whey (homemade only)
  • Arrowroot powder
  • 100% Cacao (REAL cocoa)
  • Molasses (Blackstrap) 
  • Fine & coarse sea salt (including pink Himalayan sea salt)
  • Aloe Vera juice/liquid
  • Fish sauce
  • Coconut oil (organic, extra-virgin, unrefined)
  • Rapadura/Sucanat (whole cane sugar - unrefined/unbleached)
  • Raw honey
  • Raw apple cider vinegar

That’s all I can think of for now! Hopefully this helps give some insight on how I have been transitioning to more traditional eating habits.

For the upcoming weeks Back to Basics posts, I will go into detail of how some of these ingredients can be used and why they are important to have in your pantry/diet.  I will also post recipes in the future, as well as products that I’ve invested in & how I made the switch from using less processed/packaged foods and condiments, and more homemade/from scratch items.



“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
― Michael Pollan
Because of the holiday yesterday and the craziness of today & this weekend, I’m skipping the post that was going to be this weeks Back to Basics post, & will instead pick up with it again next week.  Instead, I’ll leave you with an awesome quote by Michael Pollan to reinforce the idea & importance of going Back to Basics!


Go Back to Basics!!

Go Back to Basics!!