Sweet Life Daily

a blog about a back-to-basics kind of living

Homemade Kale Pesto

Kale… it’s trending second, after coconut oil (I kid…) I’m not a big fan of it in its bare, natural state. But if I dress it up and pulse it in the food processor, it’s another story.

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Pesto with Homemade Bread

Pesto with Homemade Bread

I’m all of a sudden in love with kale and this pesto goes on everything: I spread it on freshly baked bread, mix it in with pasta or rice.

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Kale Pesto with Pasta

Here is a recipe that will take all of 20 minutes or so with washing, prepping, processing and tasting.

The short list of ingredients:

– 1 bunch kale – about 8 cups (washed, dried, de-stemmed)

– 5 cloves garlic

– 1/2 cup olive oil

– 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1/4 sunflower seeds

Mix all ingredients in the food processor and fresh kale pesto is ready! If the consistency is not too spreadable, add more oil.

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I usually double the ingredients and end up with about five  6oz jars. And that’s how I love my neighbors ;)

No Bake Energy Balls

Oh that sweet tooth… It’s haunted me forever. By choice or not, I think it’s safe to assume that most people aim to consume sugar in moderation. I have been striving towards that goal myself. Making these energy balls often definitely quenches my need for sweets; they are tasty and healthier than most dessert options.

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There also are no baking pans involved and no oven heat in the summer months. These balls are satiating and full of healthy, raw ingredients that retain their nutritional goodness. On top of that, it’s hard to mess them up.

Here’s a recipe that was inspired by a post at recipefirst.blogspot.com (but the blog has been removed… maybe for mentioning balls!? :). It makes about a dozen or 15 balls, depending on the size.

6 Tbs butter (or the whole stick, if you choose to omit the next ingredient), melted

2 Tbs coconut oil (I like to get this stuff into everything!)

1/4 cup sugar (you could use less, or none at all, replace it with agave nectar or maple syrup)

1 tsp stevia (optional)

2 Tbs coffee (or water)

~~~~mix the ingredients with sugar till the sugar liquifies a bit~~~~

1 1/2 cups oats (rolled or quick)

1/2 cup almond meal

1/4 sunflower seeds

1 handful of walnuts (for reasons of consistency ~ 2 Tbs)

1 Tbs chia seeds (or more! but serve with floss ;)

1 Tbs flaxseed meal

1/2 cup cocoa powder

~~~Now mix it up! Add another tablespoon of coffee or water for consistency, if needed~~~

3 Tbs of peanut butter

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

~~~Mix again and there, you have the yummy start of your balls. Or bars.~~~

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I sometimes roll some of them in shredded, unsweetened coconut I’d love to hear about other healthy dessert options, so please share if you have or are wanting to try something. Happy mixing and healthy snacking!

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Easy DIY Baby Wipes

Mama cares. Hence the easy, four ingredient DIY baby wipes.

My son has extremely sensitive skin so I do what I can to spare him servings of chemicals which, of course, are also found in commercial baby wipes. I bought one container and now use it to store the ones I make.

As with any DIY, there are different ways to do it. The hardest part of this whole process is cutting Brawny paper towel roll in half with a sharp knife. :) You want something sturdy and as we all know, Brawny never lets you down. I put half the roll in a plastic container which I store in the fridge and use to replenish my recycled Pampers container; this does inhibit mold growth. Then it’s time to mix the four ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 cups water (boiled, cooled. I’m not sure if it’s necessary but I do it anyway)
  • 1 Tbs Oil: olive, almond, avocado or whatever floats your boat. I tried coconut oil but unless your home is always warmer than its solidifying temperature, it’s not the best idea. I don’t get too fancy with this, – usually it’s olive oil.
  • 1 Tbs Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile soap (or baby wash, as natural as you can get)
  • A few drops of tea tree oil for antibacterial action. Essential oils work great, too, instead of the tea tree or in tandem with it.

Mix and pour evenly onto the roll in the plastic container.

Let it sit 5 minutes. Take out the cardboard center roll.

Wipes Galore

Wipes Galore

All Done!

All Done!

I take out enough to last a few days and place it in the baby wipes container. The rest goes in the fridge and can last a couple of months.

Recycled Pampers Wipes Container with Artwork ;)

Recycled Pampers Wipes Container with Artwork ;)

Take one, take five...

Take one, take five…

Easy, quick, good for baby and definitely gets the job done.

DIY Baby Harem Pants

Whenever I think of shopping, I think of sweaters. Especially sweaters in all shades of gray. Needless to say that is the most abundant category of clothes in my closet. I felt like my baby was missing out on the fine things in life, with all the fun, striped and colorful, adorable baby clothes at his disposal. So I decided to sacrifice one of those gems and make baby some harem sweatpants/wool soakers/longies to introduce him to the luscious life of gray wool. It went something like this:

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I’ve been searching for the pattern that I had found to link to but for the life of me I can’t find it… There are a ton of easy, simple examples out there. I like the way this one gives a bit more room for the cloth diaper.

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This dancing baby gnaws on everything, including whatever is on his feet. These longies have worked beautifully on our walks in the stroller or in the sling, to keep his feet warm, after he’s pulled his booties off. Since there is no drawstring or elastic in the waisband, it does not cut into his buddha belly (I have cut the elastic on most of his pants). I am no baby, but I imagine this is the most comfortable pair of sweats one can have.  AND they’re gray.

I ended up with this pair of longies and a pair of shorts. We cloth diaper during the day and still haven’t bought a diaper cover. Washing the sweater in hot water and drying in the dryer helped increase the moisture wicking quality of the wool. That’s quite a second life for a sweater!

UPDATE: It’s been about 9 months since I crafted these and we’re still wearing them. Fancy pants, indeed. Except we now have an upcycled scarf and parts of a dress to wear as a sweater coat and a handmade cashmere hoodie. I’m sure my baby is stoked. Hmm. :)

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Back to Basics in the Shower – Soap

Being the recovering product junkie that I am, it was difficult to consolidate my bottles… I love my suds! I kept looking for healthier soap alternatives and found Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps (I know, I know… it’s been around forever – I must have looked in all the wrong places).

Baby Mild Soap - picture from Dr. Bronner's website

Baby Mild Soap – picture from Dr. Bronner’s website

Here is an example of soap uses in our family:

body wash

face wash/make up remover

shaving soap

hand soap

dish soap

cleaning agent

one of the ingredients in baby wipes

Lavender is by far my favorite, but peppermint works great for cleaning and dish soap (I don’t especially love the cooling sensation it leaves on my body). For body/face wash I dilute 3 parts soap to 1 part water.

Some pointers:

I have found lots of DIY cleaning product recipes online calling for vinegar and soap in the same recipe. However, I have also read that these two should not be mixed together as they cancel each other out because vinegar is acidic and soap is basic. But again… I am no chemist. Clean as you wish. :)

Do your best to keep the soap out of your eyeballs… Really. Especially if you’re using this as a facewash. After all, this is soap at its finest.

One bottle. Shopping is simplified, too. Love it.

UPDATE: 07/28/13 A diluted solution also makes great blowing bubbles and non-toxic fun. My one-year-old will attest to this.