GF Isn't an Acronym for Bad Words

I've been mostly gluten free for the past two weeks.  I say mostly because I sort of cheated.


Ok.  Fine.  Technically three times.

The first time was this past Tuesday.  The kids wanted pizza night and I'd had a long day.  Not wanting to really cook, I got a couple of those cheap frozen pizzas.  The really cheap ones. The ones that taste more like the cardboard disk underneath then than the picture under the plastic wrap suggests.

Later that evening and through the next morning I had a migraine, along with inflammation and cramping in my legs and feet.  On Wednesday, since I had forgotten to prepare anything for that day's lunch and was in a hurry, I grabbed some of the leftover pizza, although I knew what might happen.  It did.  The migraine continued through the day and evening.  I could barely see.  Light hurt.

Did I learn my lesson?

Temptation is an ugly monster, my friends.  Ugly.

On Thursday a wonderful woman who works with our office brought doughnuts.  Among them was my favorite, a huge Boston cream.  My co-worker reminded me of the new eating style I'd adopted.

Are you kidding me?

I grabbed that doughnut and scarfed it down like it was going out of style.  Don't judge me.

Later that evening my feet were purple and hurt like the dickens.  Cursed temptation.  I mean really.

Tonight I'd had enough and decided to be good.

Tonight I made a wonderful Chicken Chickpea Pesto Salad, along with some fun Cheesy Baked Vidalia Dip that we had with gluten free tortilla chips.

Will I cheat again?

Be serious.  At least about a week a month.


My New Favorite Face Powder

As I've said before, I've got horribly sensitive skin. When I saw this recipe, which calls for colorants like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cocoa powder, I thought, "Are you nuts?" My next thought was that I'd smell like a bakery, but I decided that's not so bad.  I've been a big fan of mineral makeup for years, but that stuff is expensive and I'm finding out some of the additives aren't that great.

On Monday I decided to try pure cornstarch. While my face wasn't as shiny as going powderless, I did notice a couple of pimples had appeared.  Upon further research I found that cornstarch can clog pores. Bingo. Additionally, there's the GMO issue.

I looked around for some easy natural face powder recipes and came across arrowroot powder as a base ingredient. Since it's also got medicinal uses, I went out and scored some at the supermarket (baking supplies aisle) for just under seven dollars for a twenty ounce bag.

Since the recipe calls for only a few tablespoons per batch, that's a great deal.  I added cinnamon and nutmeg as colorants, but remember this is not going to be a full-coverage powder. This is more for anti-shine purposes.

Normally I wear sheer foundation along with eyeshadow, bronzer, and mascara. This week I went with strictly the natural powder and mascara. Simple and clean.

Mind you, I use coconut oil as a moisturizer and layer the powder over it.  When I asked my coworker/friend what she thought if the change, she said she actually hadn't noticed a difference between this and my normal makeup.  She's a pretty observant person.  This says two things:  YAY for looking natural in full makeup, but also, what the heck was I buying all that stuff for?

The end result of the experiment?  My oily-skinned face remained shine free throughout the day and I didn't notice any negative side effects.  Here's the kicker:  Those zits from the cornstarch? Both completely gone by the very first workday's end after they'd appeared. No sign they were ever there.  That's enough proof for me!


Natural Deodorant Recipe Review

This week I decided to forgo store-bought deodorant and try making a natural version.  Store-bought deodorants are loaded with unhealthy additives. It's just bad news. But since nobody wants to stink, what do you do?  I did some research and found a recipe using coconut oil, which is one of my favorite things, anyway.  The recipe calls for three ingredients total, but you can add essential oils according to personal preference.

The deodorant is a mix of arrowroot powder, baking soda, and the coconut oil. I didn't use an essential oil our any other scent.  Mine didn't really solidify, so I might have used a bit too much coconut oil.  The oil soaks right into your skin, though, so it's not really a problem.  UPDATE:  After a couple of days, it has solidified and is pretty firm.  I can get it out of the jar, but it would be very likely to work well in an old deodorant tube, if you wish.  I'm sticking with the glass jars, because, um ... plastic.

I put my arrowroot powder into canning jars.
I put my mixture into a pint canning jar and have used it for two days. Nobody at the office passed out, so that's a good sign. I told my coworker what I'd done and she said she really only smelled a faint scent of coconut, but said she knows I moisturize with it, anyway.

My little jar of homemade natural deodorant.

The verdict?  It's natural, it's safe, and it's inexpensive.  So far it works pretty well and I plan to continue with it.  Here's a list of other alternatives to store-bought deodorant.  The lemon one sounds interesting, and I'm wondering if it would work when blended with this recipe.


Cider House Rules - Vinegar, that is...

There are a number of reasons people around the web praise the benefits of Bragg's apple cider vinegar.  Some of these include for weight loss, clearer skin, and general detoxification.  A very detailed post about the many benefits can be found here.  

I've been curious about trying it for many of these reasons, especially given the fact that I have inflammation issues from my Hashimoto's.  All the positive reviews finally got to me and I decided to give it a shot.  

Ignore my crappy, discolored glass-top stove - and my crappy pictures.  
My first reservation was over the taste.  Let's face it, drinking vinegar doesn't exactly bring to mind thoughts of champagne glasses and sugar cubes.  The recipe on the bottle 1-2 teaspoons of the vinegar in a glass of water, and to sweeten it with raw honey.  Luckily, I'd just replenished my local raw honey stash at the farmers' market this weekend.

This stuff is awesome.  More on that later.

Supplies at the ready!
The honey is a bit thicker, so it took a lot of stirring to get it mixed well.  Then I was worried about it being slimy or something.  I'm a big chicken like that.  Once it was all stirred I braced myself and drank it down.

The finished product.
I have to say it's really not bad.  I'd probably use a little more raw honey next time, though.  It's got an unusual taste, sort of like a tart, unsweetened apple juice.  According to the bottle, you're to do this three times a day.  It's natural and not bad for you, so why not?  I'll give it a try and see how I feel after a week or so.
Gracie approves.  She actually drank a glass with me.


I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts

A couple of years ago I began to seek out more natural ways of living.  Harsh chemicals are in everything from cleaning supplies to the food we eat.  Since I have multiple auto-immune disorders, it's been a mission of mine to get rid of all of that junk and stick with the basics. I have a few natural staples for our home that we use for multiple purposes.  One of those staples is coconut oil.  Too many people are completely unaware of just how useful this stuff really is.  From soap-making and personal care to wood polish to cooking, coconut oil is truly amazing. I ran out today, and that's a big no-no around here.  After scouring several stores this afternoon, I was finally able to get my hands on some more.  I use only organic virgin coconut oil because it's being used both on our bodies and in cooking, and who wants to risk impurities?

I keep several jars.  Usually at least one in the kitchen for cooking, one in the bathroom for my body, and another for general purpose use.  Eventually I suppose I should just buy it in bulk because we use so much of the stuff!

On your body:  One of coconut oil's most amazing uses is as a whole-body moisturizer.  I'm one of those people who is sensitive to just about everything, especially anything artificial.  Almost every lotion and moisturizer on the mass market contains alcohol and other irritating ingredients - even the ones marketed for babies!  Coconut oil is less expensive and pure.  One simple ingredient.  As soon as I'm out of the shower, I moisturize with it straight from the jar.  (It can also be whipped with added vitamin E and essential oils, if you like.  Instructions for that can be found here.)  It soaks in very quickly, so you won't have a greasy, oily feeling after using it.  Be aware a little really does go a very long way, so you only want a dime-sized amount at a time.

On your face:  You might be surprised to find that coconut oil can also be used as a facial moisturizer!  I know you're thinking, "Oil? On my face?"  Yes, but coconut oil is different.  I have very oily skin that's prone to irritation and breakouts, as well as issues with redness.  Coconut oil has proven to be the best thing for even my sensitive skin.  I've used it for almost two years and have not once had a breakout from it.  Even better, I experience less irritation and redness in my t-zone when I use it regularly.  

On your hair:  Coconut oil is a wonderful hair conditioner, just be aware you should use less than a pea-sized amount for even very long hair.  You'll want to rub it between your hands until it's liquefied completely and then smooth it into your hair, starting at the ends.  If you use too much it'll look oily.  If that happens, just rinse your hair thoroughly to get some of it out.  You can use in while in the shower, if you prefer.  Your hair will love you for it.

For sun damage:  This year I took my kids to a music festival and oops!  I forgot sunscreen on myself.  Really dumb, I know.  I'm blonde and pale-skinned and of Irish descent, so you can imagine the sunburn I had.  I was out of aloe, so I just put coconut oil all over the burn.  It took half as long to heal, and didn't peel very much at all.

As a natural deodorant:  I've read fantastic things about natural, homemade deodorant made with coconut oil.  I got all the ingredients today and will make up a batch tonight.  I'll post the recipe (with proper credit, of course) and tell you how well it works within the next few days.

On wood furniture:  Last year a friend of mine brought me a couple of old bookshelves he'd had sitting in his barn for quite some time.  They were handmade and very primitive, and covered in cobwebs and dust.  After cleaning them up with some orange vinegar solution (I'll go into that in another post), I grabbed the coconut oil and rubbed it in well.  They looked good as new, and really looked completely different from when they'd been dropped off. A year later, and they still look fantastic.

For cooking:  If you've heard coconut oil isn't a healthy option, you'll want to read this.  That claim is completely false, and coconut oil is a very healthy food product.  It's pure, and it even has some wonderful healing properties.  You haven't lived until you've had homemade pancakes cooked in coconut oil.  I don't use it in everything, though, because you can taste it in the food.  I like it in both sweet and savory dishes, so just be creative with it and figure out what works best for you.

Coconut oil has myriad other uses, which you can read more about here.