Chai Spice Sugar Scrub… and more! Great Gifts!

Last year I discovered the joys of sugar scrubs.  They are a great exfoliant, leaving your skin soft, moisturized and bright.  They make a great shaving “cream” or overall body scrub.  Talk about dessert for the skin!  Hand me a spoon!  They are almost too easy to make, and they make fantastic gifts.  My favorite to date is Chai Spice.  It is as simple as opening a Chai Spice tea bag, mixing it with the sugar, adding 10 drops of cinnamon essential oil to a base oil, and stirring!

Basic recipe:

2 parts sugar, 1 part oil. 

Choose your sugars.

  • Regular white sugar gives a soft, gentle exfoliation. (My favorite texture, although I don’t bake with it since it is likely GMO)
  • Brown sugar gives a deeper exfoliation.
  • White cane sugar gives a firmer, deeper exfoliation.
  • True demerara sugar (as opposed to demerara style) provides the deepest, firmest exfoliation.

Choose your oils.

Most liquid cooking oils will work fine.  I have used olive oil, sweet almond oil and grape seed oil.  Smell it first.  Make sure it isn’t rancid.

Choose your additives… or not.

  • Ground candy canes (run it through the blender to get small bits)
  • Ground coffee beans
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Almond or Vanilla Extract
  • Essential oils (Ex. Cinnamon)
  • Loose leaf teas (think, Chai Spice with cinnamon!)

Mix your ingredients.

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine liquid ingredients.  Add wet to dry and stir well.  Spoon into jars and decorate jars to your liking!  Enjoy!

Mountain Rose Herbs has exceptional quality, certified organic herbs, spices,oils, essential oils and more.  They maintain a strict emphasis on sustainable agriculture.  I highly recommend them for outstanding quality and service.

 

 

Lip Balm Recipes: Honey Vanilla, Chocolate Chip Mint and Sweet Almond.

Lip Balm CollageMost commercial lip balms contain petroleum products, artificial colors and flavours, and are loaded with preservatives.  Applying these to your lips is as good as eating these ingredients.  Thankfully, lip balm is simple and cheap to make.  You can make it with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, or at the very least, that you can find fairly easily in natural foods stores.  With pure, all natural ingredients these lip balms are effective and safe, and they make fantastic little gifts!

Choosing your oils

You can use any cooking oil you like.  Some have better qualities than others.  Choose one with little or no fragrance unless you love the fragrance.  Good ones include olive oil, grape seed oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, sweet almond oil etc.  You can use any of these oils instead of the ones in the recipe.  They will all work well.  You can also use herb-infused oils such as chamomile or calendula to create a very soothing, calming product.

Choosing your butters

Butters are oils that are solid at room temperature.  (Except coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature but classified as an oil, not a butter).  Butters are loaded with enriching qualities.  Cocoa butter, shea butter and mango butter are great choices for lip balms and other body products.  Cocoa butter is probably the easiest to find.  You can substitute any of the butters with each other.

Beeswax

Beeswax is necessary to solidify the product.  If you are vegan you can try substituting carnauba wax for beeswax, but you will need some kind of wax in the balm.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is moisturizing and has antioxidant qualities.  It is also added as a natural preservative.  It helps prevent rancidity, and extends the shelf life of the product.  No natural preservatives are as effective as synthetic ones, so use up your products in a matter of months, not years.  Store any products you aren’t currently using in a freezer in a sealed container.  If you don’t want to use vitamin E you can substitute it for rosemary essential oil, which also has natural preservation properties.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can be substituted for others, or left out entirely.  They do have a bit of a natural preservative effect, but if you don’t want fragrance they can be left out.  Do not use citrus essential oils.  Most citrus (and a few others… worth checking out the link) are photo-toxic and should not be worn when you are exposed to the sun.  Peppermint essential oil contains menthol, a natural analgestic which soothes sore, chapped skin.

Extras, such as honey or chocolate chips.

Again, these can be left out entirely.  Honey is great in body products because it attracts moisture.  It is also naturally antibacterial and… it tastes good…  The chocolate chips are added for color and flavour.  I choose organic, all natural ones to maintain the purity of the product.  Do not add ingredients that are water based such as aloe, or rosewater etc.  Introducing water to your product will allow a bacteria-growing medium into your product which you don’t want, and is completely unnecessary for lip balms.


Choose your recipe below, and follow these directions. 

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except essential oil in a small sauce pan or double boiler and melt, on low heat.   Stir just until melted.  Do not allow the ingredients to boil!
  2. Stir in essential oil.
  3. Pour immediately into lip balm container.
  4. Allow to cool before moving.  Cap and use!  Or gift!

Here are three “tasty” recipes to choose from.

Chocolate Chip Mint

Honey Vanilla

Sweet Almond

Mountain Rose Herbs has exceptional quality, certified organic herbs, spices, essential oils and more.  They maintain a strict emphasis on sustainable agriculture.  I highly recommend them for outstanding quality and service.

Notes:

  • Each recipe fills 2-3 tubes or tubs.
  • You can purchase the lip balm containers at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Search “lip balm containers”.
  • Use up in a few months to avoid the oil from going rancid.

This post has been linked to Homestead Abundance #1Waste Not Want Not #9 and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #57.

Zucchini Chips! 5 healthy, easy versions.

This summer I have zucchini coming out my ears.  The cold, wet spring, in the end, didn’t finish off my zucchini plants and the hot, dry summer provided perfect growing conditions. I made loaves and muffins, I grated zucchini and froze it.  We fried it.  And we still have more.   None of my company is allowed to leave without taking a zucchini… or three.  This year in desperation I dehydrated them.  I was amazed!  They were crispy, had a natural mild sweetness, and were a delicious snack.  I came up with a few easy toppings for variety.  And you know they are a hit when the kids are eating them out of the dehydrator before it is even turned off. 

Directions

  • Slice zucchini in thin slices. Thinner means they dry faster, and are more crispy, but slightly thicker is ok too, because they curl up into great little “cups” that make excellent salsa or sour cream scoops!
  • Choose your topping.  If using oil, toss in a bit of oil and sprinkle on your toppings.  Toss together in a bowl and place on racks in the dehydrator, or on cookie sheets in the oven.
  • Dehydrate at about 135F for several hours or until crisp.

Toppings that taste fantastic (and I know because I’ve tried them):

Salt and Vinegar
Soak zucchini slices in vinegar for a few hours or overnight.  Toss with a pinch of salt and dehydrate.

Cinnamon Sugar
Toss with a few tbsp. of melted coconut oil and a cane sugar-cinnamon mix.  Dehydrate.

Salt and Oil
Toss with a few tbsp. of grape seed oil or olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Dehydrate.

Herbs
Toss with a few tbsp. of your favorite herbs.  I would suggest freshly-dehydrated dill or basil.  Dehydrate.

Plain
Dehydrate as is.  Dehydrated zucchini has a slightly sweet flavour and are surprisingly good with no toppings at all!

  • Store in air tight container to preserve crispiness.
  •  Don’t over-salt them!  They dehydrate and shrink up a lot so use salt sparingly.
  • For the same reasons as above, don’t over-oil them.
  • Reaching crispiness may take longer than several hours.  My homemade dehydrator took a full day to do the job since I don’t have an accurate temperature adjustment on it.

Enjoy!

This post has been linked to Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, From The Farm Blog Hop #35 and Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #42.