Why I Love Fermenting!

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So I have been actively fermenting stuff for several months now, and have to say I am hooked on it. My first culture baby was my sourdough – after being inspired to make bread and discovering a sourdough loaf was one of the easiest on your gut.

The sourdough experience was admittedly a nerve wracking one. I kept thinking, “How the heck do I know I’m not going to get bread mold disease or some other such horrific ailment after ingesting whatever grows in here?” My starter went through a phase of smelling like feet, where I almost threw it out, didn’t seem to be bubbling as fast as I would like – and then eventually, magically, as I kept “feeding” it, it ended up smelling like a yeasty sourdough loaf, and frothing like a champ.

And I must say, the sourdough bread that followed was amazeballs. And it was easier on my digestion. I have problems with yeast in my gut and did not find the sourdough to aggravate the issue (read: bloating, etc), in fact it was the opposite. No indigestion there. Oh, and hubs was thrilled to have freshly baking bread.

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Oh, and you can even make sourdough pancakes (omit the oil, please)!

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So why should you feel safe to ferment your own foods at home? Isn’t there a risk of contamination? Well, yes, sure there is. But most fermenting forums and web tutorials will give you some very clear warning signs as to when you should be concerned about what you are brewing. Say, for example, had my sourdough developed black or green spots or a fuzzy layer. Garbaaage. (Some people say to scrape it off, but let’s ply the safe game here, shall we?). If that smelly foot taint never wore off – garbaaaage. But if it looks, smells like, and has whatever consistency your recipe tells you it is going for, you should be good. Spoilage of your ferments is rarely a devious process – it usually slaps you in the face (although there are some issues that may come up with a few trickier ferments that you should study your tutorials carefully for). And guess what, there is a risk of contamination of regular stuff in your fridge, too. And when you go out to eat. So although frightening at first, it’s important to remember that humans have been fermenting successfully for thousands of years.

Although I really have to say I am still very intimidated by the smell of my first batch of sauerkraut. It really just smells like farts. I am really looking forward to moving on from this phase.

But don’t let the weird smell phases of your ferments startle you. Often times a ferment needs to cycle through the die-off of another microorganism before the proper one(s) have enough oomph to get growing well. If the bad smell doesn’t cycle away, but don’t let it dissuade you just yet 😉

So why should you be eating fermented foods? They are amazing for gut health! You know the ever overused term probiotics that’s been thrown around by many a company these days? Well, ferments are the gosh darn source of these healthy gut flora. Your gut flora help to keep your immune system functioning at peak level, and they also aid in nutrient absorption and vitamin production. When they get out of whack, a great deal of health problems can occur. Buying probiotics in a bottle? Somebody cultured something somewhere to make them. Eating yogurt? Yup, that’s a fermented food!

One other thing to be mindful of: storebought ferments like yogurt are, more often than not, pasteurized to remove some of your contamination risk. But this process also removes a lot (if not arguably, all, according to some) of the healthy culture. So when you brew your own ferments at home, you are getting way more of the healthy probiotics that keep your intestines running smoothly. Literally. Having issues with constipation, chronic indigestion, bloating, gas? Cravings for sugars, carbs, the like? Battling a bacteria or virus that is getting chronic? You could do with some ferments to kickstart your gut flora back into proper health. And guess what, it’s waaayyyy cheaper than those expensive probiotic bottles in your health food store (especially if you are buying the higher quality supplements like Udo’s).

Oh, and did I mention that fermented foods are just really YUMMY?

My favourites? I have to say, to date, my favourite fermented foods have been the fermented beverages I have made, especially kombucha. They are naturally fizzy and very delicious! I am going for some good old fashioned root beer next. The ones made with tea (like kombucha) sure give you a kick in the morning – no coffee needed!

Feel like getting started? Here are some great recipes for you to begin with:

Kombucha brewing – The Kitchn
Sourdough Starter – The Kitchn (can use rye flour in same quantities)
Ginger Bug for homemade soda – Nourished Kitchen

For troubleshooting, I strongly recommend:

FB group “Wild Fermentation”
Cultures for Health

General supplies you may need to start off:

Cheesecloth, coffee filters, or stretchy, finely woven cotton material for covering brews that need to be open to the air (to prevent flies and such om getting in).
Some wooden or plastic utensils to stir your cultures with (do not stir with metal utensils).
FIDO jars like these ones
Mason jars
Growler bottles for fermented drinks
……and other large GLASS or CERAMIC (no metal, it interferes with your brew) containers for big brews. I suggest places like Home Sense for these if you can’t find some second hand. Beware of antique ceramics, as they may contain glazes with a high lead content.

If you are PREGNANT: A little warning not to delve into fermenting if you have not previously eaten much in the way of cultured foods prior to your pregnancy. Rarely, allergic reactions to certain cultures may occur. Also, your guts may be overwhelmed by the new copious amounts of microorganisms, which might lead to temporary digestive upset or loose stools. As pregnancy already comes with it’s own digestive issues, you might want to wait to see what your reaction is until baby is here. Better to be safe, IMO!

I hope that helped explain the benefits of culturing your food, and that you are keen to start on your own journey! Local kitchen stores and restaurants often do fermenting workshops as well, which may be worth checking out if you are more of an observational learner. Good luck fermenting!

Spray on Natural Deodorant for Sensitive Skin

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So while I simply love my original recipe for natural deodorant, I do find that some people aren’t able to use it because of their sensitivity to baking soda and / or corn starch. If over-applied, even individuals with lower sensitivity may find they need to take a break from it every once in a while, as baking soda does tend to be mildly abrasive. So I have a great alternative for you – which has been working very well for my hubby who works long, sweaty days outdoors in construction – is there a better test for this, really? I even enjoy alternating using my baking soda deodorant with this one once in a while, if my pits need a vacay from the baking soda. And it is incredibly easy to make!

All you need is:

A small spritzer bottle,
One part freshly squeezed lemon juice,
One part alcohol free witch hazel like THIS one.

Combine in the bottle, shake and spray! If you don’t have witch hazel around, you can even skip it altogether and just use the lemon juice, although I think the witch hazel does improve the effectiveness, as well as being tonifying for your skin. The shelf life will also reduce without the witch hazel. This recipe DOES need to be kept in the fridge, which is one reason why my first recommendation is always my original recipe. But I personally don’t find it that inconvenient to just spray it on in the kitchen instead.

You can even just rub some juice from a sliced lemon on your armpits, if you don’t have a spritz bottle. Yup, just a lemon. Just rub it on there and go. Keep the slice in a container (you might want to mark it: “this lemon for armpits only”) in the fridge. My husband found this somehow unappealing, and thus this recipe was born. But hey, if it works for you, and is easier, go for that option instead!

Give it a few minutes to air out on your pits, to avoid rubbing it all off on you shirt when you put it on. And do beware of freshly shaven armpits, the lemon juice might give you a bit of a sting if you’ve nicked yourself anywhere!

How easy is that? No aluminum or other toxic ingredients, incredibly cheap, and amazingly effective. Hope you have success with it!

DIY Products and Temperature Shift – How to Deal.

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So if you’re new to DIY products (especially for your bod) and you’re experiencing the summer heat, you may be noticing your creations are not handling the heat well. That’s ok – I don’t always handle the heat well either, but I have lots of tricks to help my body cope – and good news: you can help your body butter cope, too. Here are a few of the tips I have up my sleeve:

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1). Some recipes can benefit from a higher ratio of solid / higher temperature withstanding ingredients. For your body butter, you may consider greatly increasing your ratio of cocoa butter, which holds a solid state at a much higher temperature than coconut oil, or adding a bit of beeswax to the mix. For your toothpaste, you may want to increase your baking soda content by a tablespoon or so. Play with your recipes a bit to get the mix that works for you.

2). Experiment with changing your location of storage. Some rooms in your house might be hotter than others, maybe you can keep your product in a downstairs bathroom if it is cooler there? Even switching the product from your countertop to under the sink might be enough to make the difference. On the extreme end, you may just want to keep it in the fridge. However, this can cause it’s own problems for texture – some things you just don’t want to be rock solid. For this problem, I recommend either:
A). Popping your products in the fridge from the time after your hygeine / beauty routine til about 8 hours beforehand, and then taking them out again, to soften up until you start your routine again (for example, if you have a morning routine, refrigerate the items during the day, and then take them out to sit overnight to be malleable for the morning) OR
B). Keep a lunch cooler bag in your bathroom with an ice pack in it. I have done this in my hot bathroom, and it works like a charm. Just don’t forget to change out your ice pack!

3). Just use your recipe in liquid form, or try an alternate liquid recipe. For example, you could use my glycerin based spray on moisturizer for your skin in replace of a body butter. However, even if your body butter turns to body oil, it still works just as awesome, it’s just not as fun to apply. Consider transferring it to a squeeze bottle, or just using plain old olive oil out of a squeezer instead if you are worried about the mixture solidifying in there again.

Out and about with some sunscreen or another product in danger of melting? Keep a freezer pack in your bag with it. Have a product that’s already separated or melted? Not to fear, just mix it again as per the directions in the recipe, and refrigerate or freeze to harden prior to leaving it out again to soften to workability. The only thing that might need adjustment is the essential oil content – you may want to freshen your oils up by adding a few extra drops when you re-mix, as extreme temperature changes and additional processing can cause them to evaporate off a bit.

I hope this helps with your temperature troubles!

Keep It Simple Sunscreen!

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So I posted my first sunscreen recipe a while back, and am extremely sorry to say that the consistency of the recipe has not proven itself to be reliable. It seems to work fine as a sunblock, we haven’t had any burns with it on (unless we’ve been in extreme conditions or forgotton to reapply) – but I really hate making the lotion, and find that it separates, gets gummy and develops hard bits in it after a while. Furthermore, I find the clean-up ridiculous using a food processor.

So…..apologies to any of you who have had mixed results with that recipe. I know when to admit I haven’t gotten something totally right, and this was one of those times!

But I have good news for you! A new, SIMPLE recipe is here! I have now tried and tested this recipe and I think it is not only mountains easier to make, but clean-up is easier, and the lotion is of a much better consistency. It glides on super smooth, and the zinc oxide blends much nicer without any chunks. I have omitted the aloe verathat was in my past recipe because I think it was contributing to the lumpiness and lack of emulsification, being water based and not oil based. If you would like to include aloe in your sun exposure regimen, I suggest making a spray out of food grade aloe juice and applying it after being in the sun 🙂

And it WORKS! I am talking moderate exposure, of course. I haven’t tried this in the desert in Arizona. If you are out and about at a spray park for a few hours, at the park, spending the day at the beach (with some shade time interspersed) and reapplying once or twice, you are golden. Literally ;). I can’t attest for severe conditions, as I don’t expose my family to them – we do moderate sun exposure and seek shade often. The only time I’ve burned with this lotion on is while standing in a paddle pool with my son from 12 pm – 2 pm, after having applied it at like 9 am, and likely having the stuff on my back partially rubbing off in the car (read: human error). My son has never burned with it on, including during that same time in the pool :). Please re-apply after swimming or extended water play, as this sunscreen is not entirely waterproof (I haven’t met a sunscreen that really is, frankly).

And in case you’re new here, or you’ve forgotten, check out these few articles on the toxic nature of commercially produced, chemical based sunscreen, and do some additional research for yourself:

EWG’s “The Trouble with Sunscreen Chemicals”
Mercola’s Sunscreen Guide

My recipe utilizes only TWO ingredients, both of which contribute to the SPF of the recipe, extra virgin coconut oil, and non-nano zinc oxide. “Non-nano” zinc oxide means that it is not penetrating your skin’s mucous barrier, and going into your bloodstream. You can buy non-nano zinc oxide online at New Directions Aromatics, or at many soap making shops or bulk ingredient stores like The Soap Dispensary. I buy my coconut oil at Costco – they have a very affordable extra virgin organic oil there, and it seems to always be in stock.

Sure, you can buy zinc oxide based sunscreen, but holy moly does it ever put a dent in your wallet – and if you don’t use it all within season, don’t expect it to have held together for next year! So I choose to make my own, cheaply and simply.

So let’s get started on how to make super easy, inexpensive, low toxin sunscreen.

1). Start with one cup of softened or completely melted coconut oil. I prefer softened only, if possible.
2). Put in a bowl big enough to mix it in with an electric mixer with beaters.
3). Add 1/4 cup zinc oxide, being careful not to inhale any (wear a mask if possible). Although fairly benign on your skin, you do not want to inhale the stuff.
4). Beat together the mixture until very well blended.
5). Put mixture in the fridge for 5-15 minutes, depending on how soft your oil was to begin with. You want the oil to cool significantly, but not become very hard or solid.
6). Beat the mixture again until it develops soft peaks and takes on the texture of a thick lotion. If it does not seem to be getting creamy, only staying soupy, you need to refrigerate a bit longer and try again.
6.5). If you would like to add some mosquito repellent qualities to your recipe, add about 10-15 drops of citronella essential oil to your recipe now, and continue blending.
7). And you’re done! Store the mixture in a cool location, but preferably not in the fridge, or it will get too hard. What you can do is store it in the fridge for longer periods of non-use, and then take it out the day before you plan on using it. If it is super hot in your house, or if you plan to take it with you to the beach and leave it in a hot bag – store it with a freezer pack so it stays cool. The ingredients will separate if it totally melts. If this happens, not to worry, just repeat steps 5 & 6 🙂

If you mix the same proportions as me, you will end up with a sun lotion with about an SPF of 30. But you can add more zinc if you wish, to increase the SPF – the higher proportion of zinc in the recipe, the higher the SPF – supposedly the percentage of zinc you add is your recipe’s SPF; and coconut oil has an SPF of between approx 5-10.

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*A note about clean-up: I caution you from just putting your bowl and beaters directly into the dishwasher or sink prior to doing a wipe down with paper towel. This will likely result in a lovely greasy film spreading all over your entire load of dishes, that you will need to hand wash to remove. I almost never use paper towel or any other disposable cleaning product in my house, but I DO use it for cleaning up zinc oxide sunscreen. It is quite hard to clean off, because it is greasy and not very permeable (hence making it a great barrier for sun protection, but not so great a barrier to clean through). So I suggest wiping as much as you can off your utensils and bowl with paper towel, and then hand washing them in a sink by themselves so as not to get the sunscreen residue all over everything. You’ve been warned!

For low sun exposure, I just use my Whipped Body Butter, or plain coconut oil. How easy is that, just rubbing on some coconut oil?

I can’t wait to hear what you think about this new recipe. I am super excited about how easy it is to make, and how effective it has been. Let me know how it goes!

Three Amazing Chia Recipes!

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I love the versatility of this seed so much that i decided to post about some of my favourite uses. As you can easily google the health benefits of chia, I won’t spend much time detailing its nutritional profile, but will say this – it’s another “super food”, loaded with healthy omega 3’s, calcium, manganese & phosphorus, as well as essential amino acids. You can count on chia as a brain food that gives you an energy boost, as well as keeping your bones & teeth healthy. Apart from just adding it to a lot of recipes & baking, I have a few favourite uses for chia that I would like to share with you.

ONE: As a thickener in recipes calling for things like corn starch or pectin. Jams, jellies, sauces and other dishes that need thickening or a little extra cohesion benefit from added or substituted chia. I personally don’t like using corn starch (because of its low digestibility) or pectin (because of the cost, and it being an extracted ingredient rather than a whole food). I haven’t figured out a super reliable substitution rate, but I would say a safe assumption to start with would be a sub of 2:1 of chia to starch or pectin. If you don’t want the minor seediness that comes with whole chia, you can grind it in a coffee grinder to get the thickening benefits without the seedy texture.

A recipe for quick chia jam:

Combine in a saucepan / small pot:

1 cup of (I use frozen) berries (blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, huckleberry – whatever you like, or a combination).
2 tbsp of chia seeds
Simmer until reduced (and thawed if frozen) for 5 minutes.
If you want a jam with uniform texture, use your hand blender to lightly puree the mixture while still in the pot. If you like it chunky, leave it! For the pureed jam, simmer for another 5 minutes or so after pureeing; for the chunkier jam, give it about 10 minutes on the stove (or longer) to soften up the lumps a bit. After your jam has finished simmering, stir in:

Approx 1 tbsp raw honey (to taste – however sweet you like it – the chia adds a mild sweetness as well).

You can use the jam warm, or transfer to a jar in the fridge. After some time in the fridge, it will thicken even further. And voila! A jam with added protein and omega 3, without the use of other thickening agents or sweeteners. This jam also freezes very nicely.

TWO: For a homemade hair gel. That’s right, I said it! Hair gel! Chia makes a wonderful plant based jelly when combined with any liquid. For a hair gel, you can combine:

1 cup of water with
2 tbsp of whole chia seeds

Simmer in a small pot for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring fairly constantly to separate lumps. Remove from heat and stir in:

2 tbsp aloe vera gel (food grade please)

– and let cool. Once cooled, get out a jar for storage and place fine meshed cheesecloth over top. Begin pouring mixture over the cheesecloth, and when enough accumulates on the top, squeeze the gel through the cloth into the jar – the leftover grit and seeds will stay in the cheesecloth. Continue until you have strained it all. If you have a very fine mesh strainer, this would work as well – but it needs to be very fine or you will get chunks in the gel.

Keep it in the fridge and use as needed – it will work like a “wet” hair gel. Both the chia and aloe are very conditioning for your hair, so it also makes a great dry hair treatment!

THREE: Chia fruit juice jelly: A really fun, refreshing light snack that is super easy is this chia seed jelly – a little like a slightly softer jello :). Combine in a jar:

1 cup of your favourite fruit juice (my favourite for this recipe is grape) with
2 tbsp of ground or whole chia seed (depending on the texture you would like).

Stir well until distributed evenly in the juice. Let sit on the counter for five minutes in the sealed jar. Give it a good shake or another stir, and place in the fridge for several hours (I let it sit overnight). It’s perfect for a hot summer day, especially to get some fun fluids and vitamins in your kidlets.

And there you have it! My favourite chia based recipes both for on your bod and in. Also check out my recipe for chia rice pudding HERE. A yummy gluten free breakfast! What are your favourite uses for chia?

I bought my domain – Let’s have another giveaway!

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So I finally bought my domain. Wahoo! Big step. But now I really need to make some income so my hubby feels like it’s money well spent. Can you help me spread the word about my blog & business? If you can get my facebook page to 200 likes, I will give away a summer skincare set of some chocolate peppermint body butter, a bug repellent SPF 25 sunscreen, and a lavender face & body scrub.

I will run this giveaway through Rafflecopter as well, through the link below (if it’s not up yet, come back in a few minutes)! You will earn 1 entry for liking DIY Jayne on Facebook, 1 for tweeting about it, and another for following my Twitter account. PLEASE enter through the Rafflecopter link, as I use this tool to randomly and fairly choose a winner. If you don’t use the rafflecopter link and follow the instructions there, you won’t be entered.

Share with your friends to spread the word, and keep on DIY-ing! The winner will be announced when we hit 200 likes on Facebook 🙂

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY ON RAFFLECOPTER!

Dish soap / De-greasing spray cleaner NEW RECIPE

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So I’ve been fiddling around with things again, and had used my de-greasing spray cleaner as a dish soap from time to time. Then I got to thinking….uhhh…why am I making two different recipes for dish soap and spray cleaner, when they have very similar ingredients and seem to work just a well? Also, I would like to have a liquid dish soap. It’s just a tad easier. So I had kind of of a “duh” moment. Let’s just use one recipe for both!

So here we go. In case you missed the previous recipes, let me get you hyped up for this one. For messes my vinegar spray cleaner can’t handle, I started using this recipe to handle greasy kitchen messes (being pH alkaline, these ingredients handle fats and oils better than vinegar, which is an acid). And I then chase it with the vinegar cleaner to remove any residue. It works BRILLIANTLY. Ditch those toxic spray cleaners for this one, you will be glad you did. And it is cheap to make, too.

Using this as a dish soap, you will notice it doesn’t suds much. That’s because it doesn’t include any surfactants, which are mostly carcinogenic materials that give your cleaners their bubbles. But you know what? You don’t need much sudsing action to clean. This dish soap cleans marvelously without it, and if you rinse your dishes in water that has a bit of vinegar added (ie. fill up your second sink if you have one), they will come out absolutely squeaky clean with no residue.

That being said, do not combine vinegar with this recipe until you want it stripped off. If you end up mixing it in accidentally (or on purpose) while you are still trying to clean with it, you will instead neutralize the recipe and get some pretty lame results. Just FYI!

Ready for the recipe? In a metal / pyrex / glass bowl:

Mix together until dissolved:
1 part (1 tbsp) washing soda
20 parts (or 1 & 1/4 cups) boiling water

Add:
4 parts (1/4 cup) liquid castille soap
16 parts (or 1 cup) boiling water

Mix it all together, and allow to cool enough so that it will not melt any container you are putting it in. Then pour some in a spray bottle for kitchen cleaning, and some in a squirt bottle for dish soap. And use your vinegar cleaner to strip it off for a squeaky clean finish! And there you have it! How easy was that, right? I am putting myself out of a job, here! Seriously 😉

NOTE: If you find your mixture congeals at all (not all washing sodas and castille soaps are created equal) simply pour back into your bowl, and add a tiny bit more boiling water, re-mix and add back to your container. Note this in your recipe for the next time!