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Why load up your bathroom cabinet with expensive products, which can contain harmful parabens and dyes, when you can make your own pure and natural products at home? Most of the ingredients in these fun and easy-to-make recipes are commonly found in most kitchen cupboards and each batch you make is guaranteed to save you money, with the ingredients costing a fraction of what you would usually pay for shop-bought products!

Whitening Toothpaste

Conventional toothpastes can be expensive and also full of added ingredients that are completely unnecessary such as sweeteners and even sodium lauryl sulphate, a foaming ingredient which is also found in shampoo. This isn’t something you would necessarily want in your mouth! This simple recipe for whitening toothpaste contains only natural ingredients. Experiment with various essential oils to suit your taste, and try putting a pinch of sage in it. It has antimicrobial properties which make it ideal for use in toothpaste, although it does taste quite strongly, so you’ll only need a pinch! You will need a glass jar to store it in, this recipe will make approximately 5 ounces of finished product. Store it in a cool dark place to keep the oils stable.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons distilled water
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
½ cup baking soda

Optional Ingredients

1 tablespoon xylitol
3 drops essential oil to taste – peppermint, clove, orange and anise all work well

Equipment

Glass mixing bowl
Spoon
Pestle and mortar
Glass storage jar
Measuring cup

Method

Use the pestle and mortar to reduce the sea salt to as fine a powder as possible. Add it to the baking soda and mix together thoroughly. Add it to the baking soda and the xylitol if you have chosen to use it. Start adding the coconut oil to the mixture and then a little water and keep mixing until it reaches the desired consistency. Store it in a glass jar and simply scoop onto your toothbrush and brush your teeth as normal when you are ready to use it.

Dry Shampoo

This dry shampoo is perfect for camping trips with no showers or even for the days when you fancy a lie-in instead of waking up early to wash your hair! You can add a drop or 2 of essential oil (the powder will absorb the oil, making sure your hair smells gorgeous with no greasiness), and the recipe is available for all hair tones; for light hair, use just the powder and essential oil of your choice, but for darker and auburn/red hair you can mix it perfectly with cocoa powder and cinnamon to match your hair tones and avoid that ‘dusty look that dry shampoo sometimes has after you apply it. Either arrowroot or corn starch both work very well as an absorbent base powder; experiment with both and find your favorite!

Ingredients

¾ cup of absorbent powder
3 drops of essential oil

Dark Hair
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Red Hair
3 tablespoon cinnamon

Equipment

Glass mixing bowl
Clean salt shaker (for application)
Sieve or colander

Method

Sift the absorbent powder through the sieve or colander to remove any lumps. Add the other ingredients and mix together well. When applying it, it needs to be at the roots of your hair. Separate your hair into sections using a comb and some hair grips if it makes it easier. Shake a little bit onto each section of hair, one at a time. Comb through each to absorb the oil, and there you have it – clean, sweet-smelling hair in a fraction of the time that it takes to wash it!

All-Natural Deodorant

Store-bought deodorant can contain everything from aluminium, which has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease to parabens and dyes which can irritate your skin. This home-made deodorant comprises of only natural ingredients and you can be confident that it will keep you smelling great on the hottest of days, while the shea butter and coconut oil are kind to the delicate skin under your arm. You can experiment with optional ingredients and essential oils to find the combination that works best for you.

Ingredients

1/3 cup baking soda
1/3 cup corn starch powder
6 tablespoons coconut oil – solidified
6 -7 drops essential oil – lavender and lemongrass work well

Optional Ingredients

Arrowroot powder (use instead of corn starch)
2 tablespoons shea butter
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons beeswax
6 drops Vitamin E oil

Method

Melt the coconut oil in a bowl over a pan of hot water and add your chosen essential oils. If you are using shea butter and/or beeswax add these too and stir continuously until all the ingredients have melted. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes, then add the vitamin E and corn starch. Whisk thoroughly for a few minutes until it is all combined. Then, pour into your chosen storage container and store it in a cool dark place. When you’re ready to use it, simply scrape off a small amount and apply it to a clean dry underarm with your fingers and it will melt into your skin. Wait a few minutes to get dressed to avoid marks on your clothes.

Aloe Vera and Coconut Facial Moisturizer

This luxurious facial moisturizer contains only six natural ingredients which will pamper and nourish your skin, and none of the chemicals and preservatives found in store-bought products. This recipe uses almond oil, which is excellent for dry skin, as the base but you have lots of other options too; try grape seed oil for acne-prime skin, or apricot kernel oil for skin that feels dry or aging. Hemp oil is also a great choice for this recipe as it is very light and suits all skin types. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to your moisturizer; try lemongrass to brighten and tone or lavender which is soothing if you have dry skin, or problems with blemishes. Be careful when adding the essential oil — you only need to add a few drops — just enough to give your moisturizer a very faint scent. You will find that this recipe makes around 350ml of finished product or enough for 6-7 small jars, and it will last at least 12 months when stored in a cool dark place. Why not split the cost of the ingredients with friends, make a batch between you and take a jar home each!

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons Aloe Vera gel
3 tablespoons cocoa butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil (solidified)
4 drops carrot seed oil
1 teaspoon Vitamin E liquid
5-6 drops essential oil

Equipment

Glass mixing bowl
Hand blender
Storage bottles
Mixing spoons
Pan
Whisk

Method

Place the Aloe Vera and your chosen oils into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Melt the coconut oil and cocoa butter in a pan over a low heat, stirring continuously. When they have all melted, combine with the oils and mix together. It now needs to be blended, but only a little at a time; over-blending will render it far too runny. When it has reached the consistency of mayonnaise, it is blended to perfection. Place into your storage jars and leave the lids off until your moisturizer has cooled; store in a cool dark place and it will keep for 12 months.

Cucumber, Tea Tree and Aloe Vera Facial Mist

This refreshing and rejuvenating facial spray has the irresistible scent of your favorite essential oil and pure distilled water to give your skin a moisture boost. Ideal for cooling down on a long hot day in the office, or during a flight or long drive. It can even be spritzed lightly over your make-up to give your skin a fresh dewy look or sprayed lightly on dry hair to moisturize split ends and give your hair a lovely fresh scent.

Ingredients

1/2 cup distilled water
3 tablespoons organic Aloe Vera
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
1 organic cucumber
5 drops tea tree oil

Equipment

5 oz. glass spray bottle
Glass mixing bowl
Knife
Chopping board

Method

Peel and dice your cucumber, and place into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly together, remove most of the cucumber chunks until only a couple are left, then pour into the spray bottle and give it a good shake. Keep it out of direct sunlight and in the fridge before use.

Silky Vanilla Beeswax Lip Balm

This tempting lip balm is easy and fun to make and costs a fraction of the price of store-bought products which can contain chemicals and preservatives. You can add an optional tint with a pinch of red or rose Mica powder, a sparkly mineral derivative found in cosmetic products. Make sure you choose one that states it is ‘cosmetic grade’. This recipe uses a couple of drops of vanilla for a subtle scent but you can use an essential oil of your choice (peppermint, anise and lemongrass are all great options), or you can leave it unscented if you prefer.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons coconut oil, solidified
2 tablespoons shea butter
1 ½ tablespoons beeswax, grated
2 drops vanilla extract

Optional Ingredients

¼ teaspoon Mica powder (rose or red)
2-3 drops essential oil of your choosing

Equipment

Glass mixing bowl
Pan of hot water
Spoons for mixing
1oz glass jars for storage

Method

Melt the grated beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter in the glass bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring continuously. Add the essential oils and stir again thoroughly. Place into your storage containers and allow to cool. This recipe will make the equivalent of 10 standard sized tubes.

Cooling Peppermint Foot Lotion

After a long day on your feet, a cooling foot lotion with hints of peppermint is just what you need! It will leave your feet feeling soft and silky, and the vitamin A in the olive oil will help to keep cracked, dry heels at bay. You can also add tea tree oil to this lotion if you wish, it has quite a strong smell but it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which can be helpful for problem feet.

Ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup distilled water
25 – 35 drops peppermint essential oil
3 tablespoons shea butter
2 ½ tablespoons emulsifying wax

Optional Ingredients

10-15 drops tea tree oil

Equipment

2 glass mixing bowls
Pan of hot water
Spoons for mixing
Hand-held mixer

Method

Combine the emulsifying wax, shea butter and olive oil in a glass bowl over a medium heat, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat when all the ingredients have melted. Add the peppermint essential oil to the mixture, and also the tea tree oil if you have decided to use it. Pour the distilled water in slowly, and use the hand-held mixer to combine them thoroughly. Mix until the ingredients are no longer showing any sign of separation. Place the mixture into your storage jars and leave uncapped to cool and thicken. This can take up to 48 hours and you should end up with approximately 12oz. of finished product.

Remember, when buying the ingredients or your products, always buy the best quality that you can afford. Try to use organic products wherever possible as they are much better for you. When it comes to storage jars, if you aren’t using brand new ones, remember to sterilize them with some boiling water before you put any of your finished product in them. You will also need to label them with the contents and the date you made them.

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Cooking With The Seasons

To cook with nature at home, you need to be aware of the rhythm of the seasons. Everything grows in its own time. Summer is a time of abundance, but even in winter, there are fresh vegetables available. To cook against nature means using foods out of season that have been kept in cold storage. Cooking with nature is more sustainable, supports your local producers and ensures that you get your food at its best.

Spring is a wonderful time as fresh young foods come on the market. If you have never been to a farmers’ market or a well-stocked greengrocer, now is the time to start. The produce on offer is of a wider variety and much fresher than the supermarket, where produce is more likely to come out of cold storage than the fields.

Fresh young greens such as lettuce, watercress, sorrel and spinach will be in abundance in spring, but the weather is still cool enough to enjoy soups like minestrone and spring vegetable soup. Young green peas, beans and asparagus make delicious light soups with served with sourdough from the farmer’s market and jewel-like preserves from the store cupboard. Stock up on soft and hard cheeses and enjoy a ploughman’s lunch in the early spring sunshine. It’s the perfect time to start cooking with nature when the seasonal produce is so light and lively.

Spring is also the best time to take a hands-on approach to producing your own food. Start a simple herb garden by planting basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme and chives. These will soon be providing you with extra zing and flavor for your meals. Move on to tomatoes (they grow well in the same spot as basil), peas, green beans, carrots and Asian greens such as pak choi which are easy to grow and will soon start producing for you. Check the climate zones on the internet and find out what grows best in your area. A plant which grows well in a warm, subtropical zone will struggle with frosts in a colder zone.

In summer, you will naturally be thinking of salads, and this is actually the time of year when many people do decide to buy fresh produce, as it all looks so appetizing and no one wants to cook complicated dishes on hot days.. Barbecues and al fresco eating are popular, but remember to always pick what is in season and what is grown in your area. Food flown in from far afield that is easily grown in your area isn’t sustainable or in keeping with a natural approach.

The shelves of your local greengrocers and the stalls at the farmer’s markets are groaning with fabulous produce in summer. You can find bell peppers in many colors from a deep, almost black purple to a bright sunny yellow; melons of all sizes and shapes; cane fruits such as blackberries and raspberries; tomatoes are ripe and inviting, but for best flavor look for the heirloom varieties, and of course, there are strawberries in abundance.

In your garden, you should be harvesting your spring planting and have started growing capsicum, corn and other barbecue favorites. Later, you can also plant zucchinis, pumpkins and cabbage to get started for the cooler months. As you grow your own vegetables and care for your garden you will understand why fruits and vegetables are seasonal and what this means to their freshness and nutritive value.

In the fall, you can enjoy the bountiful harvest of tree fruits such as plums, pears and apples that haven’t been in cold storage for a year. This is fruit at its best so make sure you buy from greengrocers and farmers markets that bring you fresh young produce. It is time for more hearty fare in your cooking, which can include delicious soups and stews made with pumpkins, carrots, parsnips, turnips and all the flavorful foods of fall.

Slow cooked casseroles and apple pies satisfy cravings for home-cooked comfort foods that are the hallmarks of the cooler months. This is the way nature intended the rhythm of the seasons, to keep you cool and light on your feet when it is hot, and warm and well-nourished when it is cold. From your garden, harvest cabbage and cauliflower, and lots of peas and beans.

It is time to start preserving as well, to make the excess fruit and vegetables last through the winter. If canning is not for you, stock up your freezer instead. This way you can keep up your commitment to cooking with nature as the winter sets in. Frozen vegetables are only kept for a short time and do not lose their flavor or nutritional value if you use them up over winter. Soon it will be spring again and time to start shopping for fresh young greens and preparing the ground for new plants.

Get to know what is grown in your area and what you can expect to see on sale in each season. Cooking with nature is healthy and fun, whether you do it outdoors or in your own kitchen. Nature itself also produces year-round foods you can forage from field and shore. Get someone knowledgeable to show which wild mushrooms and herbs are safe to pick, and forage along the sea shore for edible seaweed and sea kale. Knowing what nature provides where you live ensures you enjoy the freshest diet possible.


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