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Homemade scrubbing power!

I am about to admit something rather embarrassing. A few weeks ago I went to the dentist for the first time in over four years  awhile. I was terrified of cavities galore, chastisement from my hygenist and other scary things associated with regular dentist appointments. Instead, I was congratulated, my dentist remarked that I have wonderful teeth and said I must take great care of them. What do I thank? Homemade toothpaste, from a handful of simple pantry items.

Last summer I began on an adventure of eliminating toxics from my life in every place possible. Not only is it important to watch what goes into my body as nutrients, but what I use to clean my house and myself. As the flax seed hair gel already posted about, this toothpaste is a simple way we not only take control of what goes into our bodies, but we take control of who gets our dollars. Not to mention, based on the ingredients pictured above we have clearly taken a side on the fluoride debate.

We’ve been using homemade for almost a year, and whenever I use commercial toothpaste my taste buds are shocked at how sweet it is. Once I did some poking around I found out the sweetness comes from saccharin, an artificial sweetener which is petroleum based and, it has been argued since the 1970’s, a carcinogen. Making your own will allow you to choose where your dollars go (even Tom’s Of Maine, the forever heralded natural brand, is now owned by Colgate-Palmolive), what ingredients you do or do not put into your body, and- it costs pennies to make!

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Making toothpaste by the moonlight..

The recipe we use comes from another recipe from Diy Natural (have I mentioned that I love their website?).

Homemade Toothpaste:

You’ll need:

-container for mixing
– approximately 2/3 c. baking soda
-1.5 T salt
– water
-any extracts you may want to add

Step 1: Choose your container. We have found that anything shallow works well, but you’ll need a bit of a lip to be able to stir things up a bit when water separates from the baking soda from time to time. I had the yellow and white containers lying around that are pictured above, and they work well.  You want to make sure it will seal OK, as it is going to be hanging out in your bathroom. The width isn’t super important, as long as you can get your toothbrush head in there. We just happen to have really wide containers.

Step 2: Add baking soda to half-way fill your container. For us this is a little shy of 2/3 of a cup. This stuff won’t go bad, so if you’ve only got a hefty container-no worries. We go through 2/3 c. between the two of us in about 3-5 weeks, for reference. Once you get in the habit it takes a minute to whip up, and fresher is always better.

Step 3: Slowly add water, stirring as you do. You’ll need about 3/4 as much water as you did baking soda. You want it to be pasty, not liquid. It might dry out eventually, we often have to add more water once or twice, but for starters try to get a thick paste.

Step 4: Add salt to your liking. I think the salt gives more scrubbing power and really makes my teeth feel clean. We add 1.5 T of salt to ours (about 5.5 teaspoons!). If  you’re cautious about the salt, start adding 2-3 teaspoons and, after your first brush, adjust the ratio if you want more or less.

Step 5: We add a touch of peppermint extract when we’re feeling extravagant. I think we’ve gotten used to the flavor without any extract in it, but if  you’re just making the switch from commercial toothpaste you may be surprised by the taste of baking soda and salt! Try adding a little mint or other extract if you need something to cut the bitter baking soda. But be warned- a little extract goes a LONG way. Start with 1/8 of a t and adjust later (yes, 1/8!).

That’s it! We dip our brushes in and scoop some of the paste and scrub away!

Happy brushing.

Flax Seeds Two Ways

April 9, 2012

What do vegetable fritters and hair gel have in common? In our house- flax seeds!

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We received a delicious box from Valley Green Feast on Friday full of beautiful produce, some locally milled and grown flour and Massachusetts cranberries. We’ve reached a tough point in the year for local foodies, spring hasn’t quite sprung and winter storage crops are running low. However, our box was full of some regional items, including a few summer squashes and some parsley. I had heard of squash fritters but never made them myself, convinced they needed to be half vegetable half egg in order to successfully bind together. A post over at My Garden Grows changed my mind with the brilliant use of ground flax seeds as the binding agent.

We used VGF parsley, squash and flour, and frozen peppers and corn from last summer. The fritters were fried up in coconut oil and were incredibly fresh and crisp tasting, making me look forward to spring and summer crops rolling in!

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Any vegan baker worth her salt knows the unbelievable gelling capabilities of those innocent little flax seeds. Not only do they work to bind fritters, they make a delicious addition to any dessert in need of an egg that won’t suffer from their slightly nutty, health-food taste. And, amazingly, flax seed gel makes a fantastic hair gel. I have been transitioning from using store-bought personal and cleaning supplies since last summer and have thus far ticked shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and toothpaste off my list. Laundry detergent and hand soap are up next.

Until recently, however, I was using apple cider vinegar to clean my hair, but relying on a bizarre, bright blue, store-bought hair gel to keep everything in place. I ran across flax seed hair gel when reading up on Diy Natural about homemade hairspray. My hair ranges from relatively curly on a good day to moderately wavy every other day, and is known to frizz in even the slightest humidity. The homemade hairspray recipe in the DIY Natural database didn’t quite pack the staying power I need from my hair products, but a reviewer left a comment referencing flax seed hair gel. My curiosity got the best of me, and I found a multitude of recipes using everything from pantyhose to cheesecloth, tea balls and sieves to separate the flax seeds from their gel.

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I’ve made this gel a few times now, following different instructions each time trying to determine which would work best for me. Here’s my current method, although I’m sure it will change slightly each time I make it. Let me know if you find a simpler or more effective way to make this product!

Homemade Flax Seed Hair Gel

You Will Need:
-1/4 c. flax seeds
-1.5 cups water
-small jar to hold gel
-fine mesh sieve
-bowl your sieve can sit in without touching the bottom (see set up above)
-small sauce pan to boil water in

Happy hair and happy spring.

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