Vegan Pumpkin Bread

Mmmm, pumpkin!! Doesn’t get anymore delicious does it?

If you’re like me, you got a bunch of pumpkins/squashes right after Halloween when everybody had them marked way down! My favorite local pumpkin spot had everything for $1.00. You can bet your bottoms I stocked up!! Now that my freezer and kitchen and hallways are full of pumpkin, I’m making quite a lot of pumpkin-y things!

This recipe is super tasty, vegan or not!

We are not vegans (not even vegetarians!!) I just have a tendency to run out of eggs at the weirdest, most inconvenient times, so I end up making/testing/trying quite a lot of vegan recipes!

This bread is very sweet, and could easily be used for a dessert as its also moist and dense.

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

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Ingredients-
4 tbsp. chia seeds
6 tbsp. water
1/2 c. organic cane sugar (or sucunat)
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
1 c. cooked pumpkin (pureed or not, I never puree my pumpkin)
1.5 c. organic unbleached white flour
A pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the chia seeds with the water, stir them and let them sit for 5 minutes (I usually melt the coconut oil while I’m waiting for the seeds to gel!). The seeds will form a gooey substance very similar to an egg*. When the 5 minutes are up, add in the oil and sugar. Whisk it together as much as it will combine. Add in all of the other ingredients and mix it together very thoroughly. Dump the batter into a well greased bread pan and bake for 50 minutes. It won’t rise too much and it will feel sturdy and not liquid-y when you tap the top of the loaf if it’s done. Let it cool completely before you cut it.

*If you want to use eggs instead of chia seeds, add 2 eggs and leave out the water and chia seeds.

Peace, love and blessings!

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Homemade, Real Food, Cheesey Crackers

I love crackers. Plain and simple. Super crappy crackers from the grocery store made out of chemicals and ‘food’ have my name all over them. ‘Eat me, Courtney, eat me!! I promise you won’t regret it!!’ It’s pretty tempting. But aside from the ridiculous prices of a store cracker, the ingredients are just so obnoxious it keeps me from buying them. So what do I eat instead??

Homemade crackers!! Once you start to realize you can actually make anything you want yourself, you suddenly want to try and make everything yourself!

Crackers are way easier then you ever thought. These cheese crackers taste like the popular ‘Cheez-it’ cracker. Only better, and good for you!!

Homemade, real food, Cheesey Crackers

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4 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese
(buy a block and shred it yourself to avoid eating the sawdust they put on pre-shredded cheese! And purchase white cheese to avoid artificial colors and dyes!!)
2 tbsp. of pastured pork lard
(you can sub in butter if you don’t use lard, but I highly suggest lard!!)
3/4 organic whole wheat flour or unbleached white
2.5 tablespoons of grass-fed raw milk
(Plus extra to brush on the crackers)
Himalayan Pink Salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine everything except the salt in a food processor until it forms a soft dough. You can add a little extra flour if it’s too sticky. Roll the dough out as thin as you can and cut it into small squares with a pizza cutter. Place the crackers on a cookie sheet and brush them with milk. Sprinkle a little bit of salt on each cracker and bake them for 14- 20 minutes, or until they are brown on the edges and getting crunchy.

Bam! Healthy ‘cheez-its’. Not to mention they taste way better and they are way cheaper!! My daughter loves these crackers.

Please note, unless you use artificial dyes/colors, these crackers will be a brown/tan not bright orange like the original cracker!!

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Environmentally Conscious Toddler Gift Guide!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I think we can all agree that things are becoming very materialistic and people are becoming overly greedy. Presents are being bought in excess and the ‘meaning of the season’ has become new toys, electronics and clothes. Supporting huge corporations and adding ever more to the piles of waste. On top of that, most children’s toys these days break within a week and are made by children the same age or younger then the children we are gifting them too, in foreign countries, getting paid .07 cents a day.

And just for you gals and guys, I thought I’d compile a small gift guide of some of my favorite gift ideas for toddlers the holidays this year!!

The best option would be to make things yourselves. However, I know not everyone is artistically inclined or is able to sew/knit/crochet. If you knit or crochet, check out Raverly for tons of free patterns for anything you can think of! Great knit/crochet ideas for toddlers/older babies would be blocks, balls, stuffed animals, mittens, hats or slippers. If you sew check out Pinterest or All Free Sewing for patterns and ideas! I think I’ll be sewing some little stuffed veggies this year for Delilah, and putting them in a little garden basket. I may even make a little garden bed cushion she can ‘plant’ the veggies in and pick them into her basket!

Now, for those of you that can’t, don’t have the time or aren’t able to make all homemade gifts, I’ve found a few super awesome gifts to buy!

Batsiranai Sharing Doll
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Delilah is actually getting one of these from her grandma this year. It’s handmade in Zimbabwe and certified fair trade (meaning it was made by adults who were all fairly compensated!). Besides the fact that it’s adorable and is baby wearing a little baby in a sling (!) whenever you purchase one, they give the same doll to a child in a heavily HIV/AIDS infected infected area! So really, you’re buying your child a doll, then buying one for a less fortunate child who may not even have a toy!

Handmade, personalized blocks

I came across these the other day, and fell in love! You can get any amount of letters you want and you can pick which letters! The whole alphabet, numbers, pictures, your child’s name, blank blocks, shapes. It’s really cool! The awesome thing, is the family who makes them, also uses organic oils and beeswax to coat them using materials they grow themselves on their farm! How cool is that?? They are completely safe an non-toxic so children who are teething can enjoy them as well as older children! PLUS they donate to the Peace Corps with every purchase!

A basket of fresh, farmer’s market veggies

Farmers Market Basket of Veggies

I love this play food! Make a play ‘farmer’s market’ in the house and buy veggies in your basket! You can pick whatever veggies you like for in the basket! Totally homemade by ‘Locally Sewn Produce‘ (see what she did there!!) based out of Iowa. Plus, she has a ton of other options in her shop if you want to add some other veggies.

Wooden TrucksWooden Toy Trucks and Wooden Toy Cars Wooden Toys Organic Walnut Set of 6

These awesome trucks and cars are hand crafted from quality wood and finished with beeswax! This particular link is for a whole collection of trucks, but they can all be purchased individually for those on a budget! I think they are so pretty and we might be getting Delilah one of these from me and her dad this season!

Felted Number Eggs
Needle Felted Eggs with numbers, Made to order

Learns numbers and learn where eggs come from! Put these little guys under a toy chicken and have them count the eggs as they collect them. Perhaps put them with the farmer’s market veggies I mentioned earlier! Or have them pretend with you while you prepare eggs for breakfast. Plus, there is a little bell in each egg! So they can make noise while they play, what’s better then noise??

Do you have a favorite gift idea? Do you make gifts yourself? Do you make gifts and sell them? Feel free to link them in the comments!

I definitely urge you to go at least partially handmade for the holidays this year!

Til next time,

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Celebrating Winter Solstice

This year we have decided to give up Christmas. We have many different reasons for this. I don’t want to delve to deep into  our reasoning, simply because its not incredibly important to this post, but I will give a brief explanation.  I have recently started my journey as a Buddhist, and my husband is an atheist. We found it silly that we were celebrating the birth of a god we don’t believe in or worship. Secondly, it is far too commercial. Starting in October every store you walk into begins throwing Christmas EVERYTHING in your face, and all people care about is money, savings, sales, buying. It’s no longer about love, compassion and giving. So we have decided not to raise our children celebrating Christmas.

So for our winter-time ‘holiday’ we have decided to start celebrating winter solstice. It has been something that has appealed to me in the past so I decided to look further into it.

In short, the winter solstice is a celebration of light, nature, the sun and new beginnings. Solstice occurs on the shortest day of the year, or when the least amount of sunlight reaches the earth (December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere). The sun seems to stand still. From this day forward in the year, the days will be longer and more full of light.

For more history on the solstice click here, here or here. (I will share more history with latter posts and ideas!)

Since its creeping up on us, I’d like to share with you our plans, some ideas, recipes and activities between now and then.

For those of you that think quitting Christmas and celebrating solstice is totally crazy, let me tell you our plan for the day-

Sleep in. Cook a nice breakfast. Exchange some gifts (not tons, and mostly homemade). Make bird feeders (as Delilah gets older, we will add more nature friendly activities). Start dinner. Then in the afternoon, about an hour before the sun sets, take a walk and hang our bird feeders in the woods for birds to nibble all winter. Then we will watch the sun set over the river. When we get back, we’ll light candles all over the house and drink wassail, have sun cake and some herbed cookies and enjoy a nice, hearty, dinner!

How could you not want to do that?? Even if you celebrate Christmas, solstice might be something to add into the festivities!!

For this post I’ll detail 3 things we’ll be doing!

Solstice Tree-

In similar fashion to Christmas, we plan to have a small evergreen tree in the living room throughout December. But we plan to decorate it with homemade ornaments! Dehydrated orange slices with ground cinnamon and cloves, hung with ribbons and beads. Homemade ginger bread sun, bird and animal ornaments. A homemade tree topper in the shape of a sun. Twinkling lights (I would do traditional candles, but I don’t think our landlord will be OK with the fire hazard!)  Some red winter berries from a local farm and maybe some cranberries!

Very natural and beautiful.

Wassail-

Wassail is a traditional cider/drink for solstice/yule. It can be alcoholic, but there are plenty of alcohol free recipes!! Wassailing was an ancient tradition where everyone would enjoy some drink in sing songs. We plan to use this recipe.

Gifts-

We plan to give a few simple gifts. I’m making my daughter a teddy bear, we’ll give out homemade cookies to our neighbors, and family will get some knitted items, homemade bath items and foods. We will wrap them either in fabric, or recycled newspapers to help keep waste down and to add to the nature friendly aspect of the holiday.

I hope to add a few more posts throughout December highlighting a few other traditions of solstice and a few more ideas. If your celebrating leave a comment and let us know what your favorite aspect of solstice is!

If your looking for more inspiration for your own solstice celebration, you can follow my Pinterest board for solstice ideas!

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Homemade, All Natural Deodorant!

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Did you know your deodorant is (more then likely) incredibly toxic?? If you haven’t, I’m sorry I have to be the one to tell you. There is aluminum and other toxic chemical ingredients in deodorant. When you rub it into your underarm (right near your breast and all over your lymph nodes) your pretty much just rubbing a lovely smelling toxin right into your skin. Its not pretty to think about, and its really not very healthy!

Out of all things natural, organic, chemical free, good for the enviroment and healthy, a good deodorant is near impossible to find. I’ve looked. My mom has looked. My sister has looked. Its tough!!

However, the stuff I make, is amazing. I never smell when I wear it, its easy to apply, its super cheap, it takes 5 minutes to mix up and its really natural and chemical free!!

Now that I’ve thoroughly talked it up, here’s the recipe!

Equal parts arrow root powder and baking soda (for instance, you want 1 cup of deodorant, use 1/2 c. arrow root, 1/2 c. baking soda)
A little coconut oil
A few drops of tea tree oil

Mix the baking soda and arrow root together and make sure they are combined. Stir in just enough coconut oil for it to come together and seem moist. It needs to be wet enough to be combined, but not so wet its runny. Add a few drops of tea tree oil, and your done!

I store mine in a dark cool place in a Mason jar.

To apply it, scoop some out onto your finger (I put just enough to cover my finger pad) and rub it onto your underarm. It may look a little white, but it melts into your skin after a minute or so. (If your wearing black, and can’t wait a minute, you can also continue to rub it until its totally invisible).

Now go remove your body odor naturally!!!

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Tomato Wild Rice Soup

Ahhh, fall!! My FAVORITE season!! Why?? Sweaters and soup. I love sweaters and soup. If it were more logical, I could totally live off soup. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating on my husband with soup I love it so much.

This wonderful soup warms me to the bone and tastes fantastic!

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Tomato Wild Rice Soup

You will need:

1 28 oz. can organic tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed, any way!) or approx. 4 large fresh tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock (homemade would be best!)
1 large chopped organic onion
1/2 cup organic wild rice
2 tbsp. organic olive oil
3 cloves of chopped organic garlic
1 tbsp. dried organic basil
1 tbsp. dried organic parsley
2 tbsp. organic, unbleached sugar (you can leave this out if you want!)
Salt and Pepper
Optional- 1 tsp. organic crushed red pepper

Put everything except the stock, rice and the tomatoes in pot and cook it in the olive oil until the onions are withered and soft. Take the pot off the stove. If you have an immersion blender, add the tomatoes and the stock to the pot and blend it until the tomatoes are no longer chunky. If you don’t have an immersion blender, put the tomatoes (with the juice the come in) in a food processor until they are smooth then add them to the pot. Return the pot to the stove and add the rice. Bring it to a boil then reduce it to a simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the rice is cooked through and tender.

That’s it!! Its super easy and delicious =) I like it with freshly grated Parmesan and some homemade bread!!

Stay tuned for an easy, homemade deodorant recipe later this week!!

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Creamy Garlic and Purple Cauliflower Pasta

Pre-post note- You may have noticed that I have been blogging less. I have decided to blog 1-3 times per week as opposed to daily/every other day. Its taking a lot of time away from my family and housework. And I don’t want to look up from my blog one day and see my little baby daughter is going to college and I blogged away her childhood. So I’ll just be slightly less posting =)

This is just about the most delicious pasta I’ve ever made. I ate two whole plates of it and I generally don’t eat that much.

You will need-

1 pound of pasta
(I used squid ink pasta, but you can use any you like. Squid ink pasta makes it that much better though!)
Half a large head of purple cauliflower broken into bite size pieces
(you can use white cauliflower, I just prefer the amazing flavor of purple)
5 cloves of organic garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of organic olive oil
4 tbsp. grass fed butter
3 tbsp. organic flour
1.5 c. raw milk

Its beautiful isn't it?!

Its beautiful isn’t it?!

Cook your pasta and set it aside. Put the olive oil, garlic and cauliflower into a skillet and cook it until the cauliflower has started to cook, but is still crunchy.
Make a roux from the flour and butter. (If you don’t know how, the couscous section of this post explains it.) Add the milk to your roux and cook it on medium heat until it thickens. Add the cauliflower and garlic to the roux and get it totally covered then mix in the pasta. (Or you could pour the sauce over everything.) And that’s it!

Add a little fresh grated Parmesan and crushed red pepper.

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As my dad always said, ‘Yum, yum, eat em up!’

Enjoy!

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Roasted Habanero Hot Sauce

Hot sauces are one of those things that seem really hard to make, but really aren’t. Its not too hard to find a fairly high quality hot sauce store bought with few ingredients, but when you see how easy it is, you’ll want to make your own.

*Warning!! This hot sauce is HOT!*

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You will need-

1 pint of organic habanero peppers
1/2 c. white vinegar
2 large pinches of sea salt (or about a teaspoon)Water

Before you begin, you may want to get some rubber gloves to wear while you make this. Habanero peppers burn something awful if the juice comes in  contact with your skin. I didn’t use gloves but I was really careful to only touch the skins or use tongs/a fork to touch them.

Preheat your oven to its broil setting. Start off by removing the stem and cutting all the peppers long ways in half. Place all the peppers cut side down in a baking dish and broil for ~10 minutes, or until the skins just start to blacken (see picture)(also, keep the windows open or a fan on or have a well ventilated area while you cook them, the hot peppery fumes can burn and make you cough). Remove them from the oven and transfer them all into a pint mason jar and close it for 10-20 minutes. This finishes cooking them through with their own steam. Add the vinegar and salt into the jar and fill it with water (probably about a cup). If you have a stick blender and are using a wide mouth jar you can blend it directly in the jar. Otherwise, transfer to a blender and blend it until its completely smooth. Store it in the fridge.

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Remember a little goes a looong way with habaneros. They are really hot.

Add a few drops in soup or add some to a pot of chili or even in tacos.

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This post was shared on Party Wave Wednesday!