The Gift of Enlightenment for All
A perpetual inspiration and gift to me that I would like to share with you. Happy and ever healthy holidays to you and the ones you love. http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/
Dish Soap Dilemma
I ran out of dish soap the other day and instead of popping out to the store I remembered that I had all the ingredients I might need to make some. Why not, I make our laundry soap, couldn't be too far off that recipe.
Why I make my own dish soap?
A typical hand dishwashing detergent contains ingredients for cleaning, foaming and substances that allow the detergent to dissolve quickly in water. Other ingredients are associated with preservation, colour, fragrance and anti-irritation. By far the major active component in hand dishwashing detergent is surfactant, which is the main cleaning ingredient for cutting through grease as well as forming suds or foams. Most surfactants are anionic (a negatively charged ion) and are used in conjunction with lauric, myristic and ethanol amides and hydrotopes (the dissolvers) such as propylene glycol (antifreeze) and polyethylene glycol ethers. Some of these chemicals (in some detergents) may possibly be harmful if there is exposure on a continuous and long-term basis.
Propylene glycol—a humectant which means it keeps substances from drying out, was originally developed as an anti-freeze, but is now included in some deodorants, antiperspirants, dish washing liquid, and more. It is a neurotoxin known to cause contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver damage. In propylene glycol’s Material Safety Data Sheet, published by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, workers are urged to avoid skin contact with the toxic chemical as it may cause eye and skin irritation, gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort, nausea, headache, vomiting, and central nervous depression.
The next time your standing over vapours of hot soapy water, check the back of your bottle..
I flipped through a few sites with different recipes and picked one for the ingredients that I had at home.
2-3 tbsp borax powder ( don't mistake this for boric acid)
1/2 cup of shredded castile soap, Alberta soap works makes some nice unscented bars.
And a recycled dish soap bottle full of hot water.
Then shake it until the grated soap dissolves. Great 3 min whole body work out if you shake it right!
Simple enough, yes??? No...
I have made laundry soap with borax and soap for quite some time, feeling that it was a safe and natural product. Borax, known as sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is a boron mineral compound, a salt of boric acid. It has a pH of close to 8.5-9 so it is medium alkaline, while boric acid, as the name suggests has about 5 pH, slightly acidic and considered much more toxic to humans.
Borax itself has some irritants, especially to the lungs if inhaled, but the toxicity is quite low and a grown person would need to ingest spoonfuls of it to have any toxic affects (not recommending trying this). Borax is classified as non-carcinogenic but a mild skin irritant. The alkalinity of borax is likely what causes skin irritation (just as excessive use of baking soda would cause irritation). There are also several studies in the ToxNet database that show its only a very mild lung irritant and causes no lasting damage. In addition, it shown that it does not penetrate the skin well, and is not considered to be bio-accumulative. (Meaning, repetitive use over time does not mean it builds up in your system.)
So why the balk about borax?
Recently I've read quite a bit about environmental health and food security. It seems that Borax, while still a natural product, contains boron. Not such a problem in small quantities, it is an essential mineral and is even lacking in some soils in North America. The problem occurs when there is an high accumulation in water ways and it accumulating in the ground water. In turn, making it back to our food supply. High concentration of boron would be detrimental. It also contains a higher level of arsenic that most other products (30 parts per million) which is why it's also an effective ant killer. (please don't kill the ants) I personally don't hold in high regard or quantifiably the studies that found it could lower sperm counts in men and ovulation in women, these studies were data collected for people that worked in boric acid producing factories, and in animal studies where they were administered a solution of boric acid. I do however take heed, and think about alternative options.
Will environmental upset and reproductive havoc happen with all of us home soap makers? Probably not, but knowing that it does have even low levels of toxicity to it, label it well and use it wisely.
Think about and discover better alternatives.
Vinegar is a great whitener/cleaner that can be used successfully to disinfect dishes. Baking soda, and castile soap can also be used in conjunction for scrubbing pots and pans. The best new recipe I've played with is using washing soda instead of the borax.
Washing soda is made from sodium bicarbonate, it is grease cutter, and a great multi-purpose cleaner. Even though it carries the same irritant warning, and low level toxicity if ingested it has much lower environmental impact overall so it's one step closer to being as green as can be. Just be mindful and keep it out of reach of little two and four legged kids.
For a bottle of dish soap use;
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/4 cup (tightly packed) castile bar soap, grated (should melt by shaking)
Optional would be to add essential oils
Then fill the rest of the container up with water and shake well.
Live clean, be happy.
The Giving Season
In this giving season we all like to consider giving outside our own interested parties, some give to local food banks that are always in need, especially at this time of year when heating and fuel cost go up but pay cheques may not. The Interfaith food bank helped more than 129 000 Calgarians in 2013, I don't have the statistics for 2014 but from 2013, Calgarians that needed to use the food bank were not under employed they were proportionately underpaid for the high cost of housing/ living, this surmounts to more people in need of the basics of life, and important one being food and food security.
From reviewing this organizations policies and transparency it is a truly deserving charity with well run efficient programs to get the most food to the most people. If you are looking to donate at the local level you can feel good to donate to a local organization like the Interfaith Food Bank. Some things to consider when donating to this or any food banks;
1)Donate food you would want to eat, don't clean out the cupboards and donate what no one eat in the house. If you don't eat Kraft dinner because you don't consider it food, please don't consider it food for 'others'.
2)When considering those pre-packed hampers for the food bank that cost $10 at your local grocery store, consider if you could do better with that $10. Is there non perishable bulk foods that are more nutritious and have lower sodium than the box of GM pasta noodle, a can of high sodium pasta sauce, and the 2 cans of no name soup. Bulk brown rice, lentils, or dried beans may go further on the nutritious road than the 'canned' items and they are less allergenic as well as being respectful of all Canadian multi cultural food diets.
3)You can donate perishable items to the food bank directly so they can get it to the end user the most efficiently. Grocery stores often donate produce as it is on the cusp of being 'non sellable', this is not a detrimental to anyone, this is a blessing, boxes of brown bananas and bruised apples, cabbages, carrots and onions so kindly donated from local growers. They fall short every month with extremely limited fresh produce. In my mind, a staple of basic nutrition.
Follow the link to donate now
In such an agricultural province, one should wonder why and how anyone can go hungry? I'll not get into agribusiness and it capacity to cripple food security in first world countries, this is another topic worthy of at least a page.
So where are the food security initiatives if there are so many vulnerable people here?
Grow Calgary has started a small urban farm to help the food bank meet these needs for fresh produce. They except donations and even better for those on a tight budget; they except donations of your volunteer hrs.
HSCA also has food security and education initiatives that you can become involved in with your dollars or your time.
Donations are a great gift for the person you know that has it all, and the person you may not, that has much less.
Feel like your money might do better farther a field?...There are the small micro finance donations and loans that help people with a hand up with their own entrepreneurial pursuits. Small business and small scale farming is one way to support more sustainable global economies and shrink poverty levels around the world. There are entrepreneurs the globe over, supporting small independent business is a sustainable, environmental and a ethical way to donate. The best gift for someone you know in financial/business world:)
If you are looking into a micro-finance loan donation there are a few questions you might go over to find the most suitable cause and organization.
1)Is the organization focused on social impact? Do they state what these impacts are?
2)What interest rate does the organization charge?what is the organizations repayment rate?)
3)High repayment rates, with a focus on social impact/development, give contributors confidence that they are making a difference.
4)Who are the clients? Not necessarily to the name, but what community, and what are these persons goals in equation to the loan?
Kiva has a selection of micro loans to choose from and in there 7 years of sustainable development they have a good track record, great transparency, and reputation.
Something for anyone to choose, if you are interested in helping with micro finance programs read more from the link below.
My personal opinion is that programs the focus on water, sustainable agriculture, and education are some of the most effective and uplifting programs you can donate to as communities as a whole are looking for food security and for that to be sustainable when the organizations are gone and the food is still growing and thriving.
The United Nations deemed 2014 the year of the family farm as most of the world farmers have less than a half acre of land. The return to family farming practices and the dismantling/re-organization of large scale multi- national agribusiness and factory farming will have more impact than dumping subsidies GMO crops in developing countries during times of crisis flooding their local markets driving down prices exacerbating the problem. (1)
One of the worth wild programs that I feel is respectful of diverse ethnic diets and the environment while working on direct community development is A Well Feed World. Working on development of the small scale, sustainable farm with considerations of water as a much higher commodity than we realize in the first world.
Read more about them through the link
At the root of all agricultural and community based development programs there is a need, for clean water.
We may complain if we have to drink from the tap and have heavy chlorine and fluoride levels that can slowly poison internal organs. Imagine being thirsty and not having any access to potable (usable) water. Water is needed in a day to day basis and is of great importance to health of humans and the environment. Look for more reputable organizations and feel excellent about giving the give of the most precious substance, for where there is water, the community can grow.
Just one of many great projects to look into.
A few stats to ponder.. Spending in November and December last year totalled $56.5 billion last year, an increase from $54 billion in 2009, according to the Retail Consel of Canada.
You don't need to donate a lot of money, but to think that if even half of Calgary donated $10 each it would pool together to become an injection of something like $5 million, if half of Canada donated $10 it would be close to $175 million. Not enough to feed the world but enough to start a better conversation in Canada about it's contributions, not in GMO crops, but in something more tangible and engaging. This would add to the contributions our Country's currently considers.
Please remember the people you love and the people you don't know you love.
In this time of giving and getting together, lets get down to our human roots, lets share ideas, lets grow ideals, lets share with everyone.
Happy Holidays my friends! Eat well & live well.
2.Contributions to WFP: Comparative Figures and Five-Year Aggregate Rankinghttp://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/research/wfp232961.pdf
Spiced mixed Nuts
I'm in the kitchen a lot this season, preparing cooked dinners, and gifts of num, nums for this holiday season. Who does't want treats to nibble on as a gift?!?
I decided to experiment with a friend's recipe. Marcia always has such great ideas and we both get joy out of talking food, in all of it's amazing forms and configurations. Some of these conversations of food start as early as 10am but most transpire in the late afternoon hours when lunch is a memory and dinner needs some consideration.
The last convo was on baking for the holidays. She has a wonderful recipe for them and I listened carefully to what her secret was for such a great treat. I also when and did a little research for what might be a nice mix.
I came up with what I feel is the best blend of flavors and texture.
Sweet and Spicy
3 cups total of almonds, cashews, pecans, and pumpkin seeds (organic where possible)
1/3 cup organic maple syurp
2 tbsp organic paprika
1 tbsp organic cinnamon
Sea salt to taste
Mix everything in a large mixing bowl and spoon onto baking sheet. Put in a 250* oven and bake for 35-45 mins. ( you will know if the syurp on the baking sheet flakes of when scraped with a spoon.)
Even better, after I made this batch, I noticed I had a big chunk of ginger! Yeay ginger!!!! An even better recipe minus the paprika add as much ginger as you like but I used 4 tbsp of fresh grated ginger.
Pumpkin Pie Lattes
I stumbled onto a few delicious recipies this week that I thought I might share.
The first recipe sprouting from the need not to wash out the blender that had housed pumpkin pie filling. Why let good filling clinging to the walls of the blender be washed down the drain never to be enjoyed?
Instead of sticking my finger in the blender to try and 'save' some of the delicious filling finger scoop by finger scoop, here is another option that worked pretty well for me.
The makeshift recipe for Pumpkin Pie lattes;
Left over blender filling ( any amount)
2 scoops of organic pumpkin protein powder
2 cups organic almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups organic coffee
Blend until frothy, pour into favorite cup, sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy a warm pumpkin latte!
*The filling contained organic pumpkin
organic butternut squash
organic maple suryp
organic med tofu
organic almond milk
cinnamon & nutmeg
Add a crust= pumpkin pie, add coffee and some other yummy stuff= intant pumpkin pie latte:)
Hope you enjoy!
Rebecca L. Thornton
I wanted a venue to share my thoughts on what I have learned and lived in life.