Happy Earth Day! Exclusive Promo: Join MightyFix For Just $1!

Earth day is Saturday, April 22nd – Make a change for the better! 

Long before MightyNest was around, I wished for a store that offered all-safe products, free of BPA, PVC and other harsh chemicals and toxins. I had a newborn baby at the time and I found myself spending endless hours searching the internet to find the safest products available. I wanted a place to take the worry out of my shopping experience and that is EXACTLY what MightyNest has done. Everything sold at their shop is safe and toxin-free. Truly a dream come true!

Now MightyNest has deployed an awesome program called MightyFix. It’s a subscription program where each month, you are shipped one amazing product that is eco-friendly and promotes more sustainable living. Each item sent monthly is valued more than the monthly subscription fee (which is only $8.25-$10/depending on plan) and it ships for free! Not only does your MightyFix item ship free, but you can purchase any products from the MightyNest website and that will ship for free with your MightyFix order! Who doesn’t love FREE shipping?

This month I was sent 5 Reusable Produce Bags as part of the MightyFix subscription. These reusable bags are perfect for bagging produce at the grocery store but also work wonderful for bagging bulk items such as: beans, nuts, and dried fruit. They also serve as washable bags to toss small items in when traveling or going to the beach. They also can be used to protect your delicates in the washing machine!

Here are some jaw-dropping facts about plastic from theworldcounts.com:

  • 160,000 plastic bags are used globally EVERY SECOND.
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a floating landfill of garbage in the Pacific, is twice the size of Texas and is mostly composed of plastic.
  • Whales and other sea life are dying because they mistake plastic for food and eat it.
  • Plastic bags are produced using petroleum, natural gas and other chemicals. Its production is toxic to the environment.
  • Plastic remains toxic even after it breaks down. It doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades, which means that after it degrades, it breaks down into smaller and smaller toxic bits of itself and bleeds contaminates into the environment.

Now why are we using plastic bags again? MightyNest is making it really easy for you to take the first step in your personal life to making better choices.

MightyNest is offering Minnesota from Scratch readers a special promotional rate of just $1 for the first month of a new subscription! Just use the promo code: MINNESOTAPRODUCE at checkout or click hereYou will be sent these awesome Reusable Produce Bags for just $1. Such a crazy great deal!   You can cancel your subscription at anytime, so what have you got to lose?

Happy Earth Day!

Make It Minnesota Magazine – Minnesota Kitchen – Can It and Ferment It Recipe

This month I was invited to take over the “Minnesota Kitchen” portion of Make It Minnesota Magazine. Each issue of the magazine has a theme, and the theme of this issue is: Driven. In the article, I explain my drive behind preserving food and I also share one of my favorite fermented recipes, Strawberry Chutney, from my book, Can It & Ferment It, that is coming out this summer (7.18.17).

This magazine is available in print as well as in a digital format. To view the magazine online, click here.

6 Delicious and Unique Recipes Featuring Rhubarb

Pic from one of our 2015 harvests, when we made some jam. 🙂

The rhubarb in our home garden started appearing in early March and I still have 20 cups of it (cleaned and chopped) frozen from last year’s harvest. Year after year I make dozens of jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam and apple-rhubarb jam and today I’m in the mood for something new. After some time spent searching the internet, I created a collection of 6 recipes that piqued my interest. I intend to give 1 or 2 of these a try this week!

  1. Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
  2. Rhubarb Simple Syrup
  3. Stewed Rhubarb 
  4. Spicy Rhubarb Chutney
  5. Rhubarb Butter
  6. Rhubarb Kimchi (Fermented)

If you have a favorite rhubarb recipe not listed, please let me know in the comments.

How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts in a Jar

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Growing sprouts is one of the easiest things you can do on your own. They are tasty and add a delightful crunch to a sandwich, salad, taco or soup.  In addition to being delicious, they are also packed with health benefits. According to Livestrong.com, alfalfa sprouts are a great source of dietary fiber, protein (important for vegan diets), and B vitamins.

To grow your own alfalfa sprouts at home, you just need a quart size mason jar (or other similar glass container), cheese cloth, a rubber binder, organic sprouting seeds, tap water and about 4-5 days.

I buy organic alfalfa sprouting seeds here. They are very inexpensive.

  • Add 1 tbsp seeds into a clean quart jar and fill with tap water until the seeds are submerged. About 1-2″ of water. Cover jar with cheese cloth. Soak overnight.
  • After the seeds have soaked 12+ hours, pour the water out that they were soaking in and rinse once more. Cover with cheese cloth. Turn the jar horizontally and slowly rotate to spread the seeds out so that some will stick to the sides of the jar. Store in a dark place (such as a dark corner of the counter top or in a cupboard), out of direct sunlight at room temperature (ideally 68-72°F). Store the jar on it’s side. You don’t want the seeds in a wet mass in the jar or they may mold. 
  • Repeat the steps of rinsing the seeds daily until the seedlings have grown 1-2″. It takes about 4-5 days.
  • My mom has grown sprouts for decades and she tells me to place the jar in sunlight for about 20 minutes once the sprouts have grown to their edible length. This gives the sprouts a chance to turn darker green.

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Soak over night, or for at least 12 hours

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Rinse daily and gently rotate the jar so the seeds can spread out and grow

THAT’S IT. IT’S SO EASY. Kids can’t get enough of these things. Once the sprouts are big enough to eat, I take what I need from the jar and continue to rinse and let them grow on my counter for a few days. If longer term storage is needed, store them in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Dreams Do Come True: I’m Writing a Book!

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Next summer, in July or August of 2017, you’ll be able to buy my book! I’m writing a book! I cannot believe it. I wrote my first 4,000 words over the weekend and although it feels good, I have a lot ahead of me. It’s an awesome feeling but also so, so scary. It’s easy to let my insecurities creep into my mind but I will continue to be positive and keep my eyes on the prize, THIS BOOK IS GOING TO ROCK.

I began canning about ten years ago and it quickly became an obsession, I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean. After a lifelong love affair with kimchi, I decided it was time to start fermenting as well (I finally mastered my recipe two years ago). As the years go by, I’ve come to realize that most people stick to one hobby or the other, not enough of you can and ferment food. That’s when the idea came to me and I decided that I needed to write a book with both canning AND fermentation recipes, for the same produce item. Now you will be able to easily reference recipes for both canning and fermenting for the same fruit or vegetable in one amazingly resourceful book, my book!

I’m going to be laser focused over the next 9 months and do my best to produce the most delicious recipes I can come up with.

Thanks for all the love and support over the years on this blog, twitter and instagram. ❤

10 Ways to Incorporate Hydrosols in Your Life

(Photo: Pop Tika/Shutterstock)

(Photo: Pop Tika/Shutterstock)

Have you used hydrosols yet? Hydrosols are also known as “Flower Water”. If you like essential oils you’ll want to be sure to add these to your daily regimen. If you aren’t familiar with what a hydrosol is, it’s a water solution that contains micro-molecules of essential oils. The plants used in the hydrosols are steam-distilled to release the oils. So when you spray the hydrosol, each droplet of water includes some essential oil as well. They are refreshing, smell amazing and are very versatile!

Here is a list of my ten favorite ways to use Hydrosols:

  1. Mist on my face after I wash it, using the hydrosol as a skin toner.
  2. 2-3 sprays on my face perks me up if I’m feeling tired and sluggish.
  3. Spray in the air to give a fresh smell to a room and it disinfects the air as well.
  4. Spitz on minor wounds to help sooth the scratch/cut, as the hydrosol helps kill germs and aids in healing.
  5. They are even used as surface cleaners, but I only use it to clean off my cell phone and key board. I save the larger surfaces for other cleaning products. 😉
  6. Spray on my daughter’s pillow before bed to aid in peaceful rest (lavender hydrosol).
  7. I mist it on my face, neck and feet if I’m feeling hot and it instantly cools me down.
  8. It feels great on the skin after a day in the sun!
  9. In the bath! Add just 1/2 cup of hydrosol to a tub of water.
  10. Mix it in a drink, but make sure it’s safe to consume. My lavender hydrosol has a recipe for relaxing drink: Mix 1 tablespoon of lavender hydrosol, with 8oz of mineral water. ❤

I’ve also heard of people using the spray on pets for minor abrasions.

Hydrosol

 

 

A portion of these products were generously provided by  Lakewinds Food Co-op.

Safe Sunscreen Options: Part 2 of 2

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We are back from our Bahamian trip and I’m happy to report that none of us got sun burned! Unfortunately my daughter had a high fever our entire trip, beginning with our very first night so this put a damper on our activity level. Additionally, the weather was in the 70’s and very windy, so we were not in the sun as much as last year. However we did manage to spend a couple of days with the sunshine and we maintained a healthy relationship with the sun while doing it!

First off, I liked all of the lotions we tried. They all went on white but once rubbed in, the white color was more faint and after minutes it was soaked in and not noticeable. My favorite of them all was the Alba 45 SPF. My husband preferred the Goddess Garden spray lotion SPF 30. But he doesn’t need to apply the lotion as diligently as I do, since he’s hairy…haha… sounds funny, but it’s true. His hair offers some defense against the sun.

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Straight out of the bottles. The lotion closest to my hand is Think Sport 50, next is the Mineral Fusion SPF 30, then the Alba SPF 45 and finally Goddess Garden SPF 30.

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After I gently rubbed it in.

Though none of us in my household burned, my father-in-law did burn the back of his hands on a boat excursion. I offered him the Alba Hawaiian after-sun lotion, which he commented on as smelling great (it really does!), though he noted that it doesn’t squeeze out of the bottle easily. I agree with him, you have to twist off the cap and dig into the bottle to get out the lotion, but it’s worth it. My father-in law-also used the Lily of the Desert 99% Aloe Vera Gelly, which  helped soothe the blistering.

I loved the little Mineral Fusion SPF 30 face stick. It’s shaped like a tiny deodorant stick that glides on gracefully over the skin. I did make sure to exfoliate my face because after the first time I used it, I noticed the dry skin on my face was accentuated by the white lotion. But that’s more of a personal problem than a flaw of the product. 😉 I love that it’s small enough to toss in my bag without weighing it down. My forehead is prone to burning so I’m always re-applying and this made it very convenient for me.

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I love the little 21 SPF chap stick. As  mentioned in my first post that it doesn’t leave any residue on my lips whatsoever and it is so smooth that it’s comparable to lip gloss! I’m replacing my current chap stick brand with this one.

I’m thankful all of the sunscreens worked this year but in addition to the products, I know a large part of not burning was knowing how to protect myself effectively when visiting a place where the sun is much stronger than in Minnesota. Here are a few more tips on how to protect yourself from burning:

  • Apply sun screen at least 15 minutes before going into the sun
  • Read the application directions on each bottle and re-apply as needed, usually once an hour or after swimming/perspiring.
  • Avoid being in the sun over the hottest time of day (10am-2pm) and if you are, seek shade as relief.
  • Apply lotion liberally, if you rub it in too much you reduce the effectiveness.
  • SPF over 50 offers a false sense of security.
  • You need sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • Don’t breathe in while using spray sunscreens and always apply them outdoors.

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All products used in this post were generously provided by Lakewinds Food Co-op.

Safe Sunscreen Options: Part 1 of 2

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Soon I’m heading back to the Bahamas. We are going to the same location we went last year in Nassau. I love taking off to the islands in the spring, but I always worry about my skin. When I was a kid I got burned badly a few times and because of that I have to visit the dermatologist annually to check my skin. GoThinkbaby.com published an article that stated that one bad burn before the age of 16 will double your chances of skin cancer. DAMN IT. But that’s why I’m so careful with my daughter’s skin. The last two times we’ve gone on vacation I’ve gotten burned and it’s frustrating because I do my very best to be careful while in the sun. Last year we had a full-day excursion on the ocean and as a result, I burned worse than I have to date, despite reapplying sunscreen all day. I was the only one in my family to burn so I figured it must be something about me and my skin.  So now that we are heading back, I am very cautious and am feeling nervous about being in the strong sun again. The burn last year really put a damper on the enjoyment of the rest of the trip for me. My skin blistered and it was so incredibly uncomfortable. This year I’m taking every precaution to NOT BURN.

Last week I stopped at the co-op I’m apart of (I talk about it a lot but I love it and I’m so happy they joined our city) and spoke to the wellness department manager. He took the time to explain the different products to me and helped me select the best options for myself and my family. I explained my unfortunate burn from last year to him and he told me something I never  knew before… he told me that even if I’m using a sunscreen with an SPF 50, but apply it too thinly, it could be comparable to using an SPF 5! That’s crazy and horrifying and quite possibly why I fried! I am so much more diligent when applying sunscreen to my daughter. We use the natural brands, that often times leave a white coating from the zinc oxide on our skin. I don’t mind leaving the thick whiteness on my child, but I do try to rub it in thoroughly on me – I don’t want to go around looking like a clown. 🙂  That would really explain why I burned so badly… I was essentially rubbing the sunscreen OFF of myself. How horrible?!

It’s important to me to use skincare products that are safe and not full of harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for checking which products are safe and I always check their sunscreen list before I purchase any. Part of the reason I love picking items up at the co-op is because they do a lot of the research for me by not stocking brands that include a lot of the unsafe ingredients. Your skin is your largest organ and what you put on it soaks into your system.

Here is a list of ingredients that are banned from the co-op’s wellness section:

  • Synthetic preservatives: Parabens, EDTA
  • Formaldehyde donors: Urea
  • Petrochemicals: petroleum, propylene glycol
  • Ethanolamines: TEA, DEA, MEA
  • Synthetic sunscreens: Oxybenzone, Avobenzone
  • Ethoxylated ingredients: PEG/PPG
  • Anti-bacterial: Triclosan
  • Antiperspirant: aluminum Phthalates/synthetic fragrances

Many of the ingredients have a common theme of being linked to one or more types of cancer. For complete details on the hazards of these ingredients, check out Lakewind’s Body Care List of Unacceptable Ingredients.

Here’s what I decided to take with me on our trip.

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The wellness expert suggested these products as they do not leave a white film on the skin as the brands I’ve used in the past. I ended up with: Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+, Alba Botanica Hawaiian After-SunLotion – it  smells so good I’m almost impulsed to taste it, Super Lysine coldstick SPF 21, Aloe Gel, Mineral Fusion SPF 30 Sun Stick, which is for my face and Organic Lavendar Hydrosol because hydrosol offers a wonderful refreshing spritz for the skin and it smells beautiful.

It can be intimidating and expensive to try to figure out which lotions are the best bang for your buck, so I am going to report back after my trip and let you know what I thought about my selection. Don’t mind the hangover formula… that was an impulse buy as I was checking out and you just never know. 😉

Here are some other interesting tidbits of info I learned while speaking to the wellness manager that day… he said that though people say coconut oil is a safe sunscreen, it isn’t. It only contains 1-5% SPF and that won’t do much as you are supposed to use 15-50 SPF for skin protection. However he said that it’s a GREAT after-sun moisturizer. He also told me that many of the sunscreens for lips contain petroleum and that’s bad, the best option at the store was the cold-sore chap stick called Lysine (pictured above). I have used it a couple times since last week and love it. It even makes my lips shiny and smooth as if I’m using lip gloss and there is absolutely no white residue leftover. He also mentioned that while spray lotions are convenient, they waste a lot when spraying vs. rubbing lotion directly on the body. Though I’m a fan of spray lotions when I’m on vacation and need a quick re-application and that’s why I decided to give Goddess Garden a try.

I’ll report back with my findings! Wish me luck to not burn this year!

 

 

Many products used in this post were generously provided by Lakewinds Food Co-op.

MinnesotaFromScratch Turns 2 Today! {Party Time!}

2 years

It’s hard to believe that two years ago today, I sat down and wrote my very first blog post. It feels like yesterday that I was publishing our one year birthday post. It’s really incredible to think back two years and realize how much life has changed. My daughter was 2 when I started the blog and our crafts included painting and gluing and now she is 4 and can bead and sew! It’s been fun to document the last two years over the blog and I’m so overjoyed that so many of you are interested in our lives and enjoy our posts. Thank you!

Here are the top 5 posts that repeatedly keep new visitors coming:

#5.  Baked Zucchini with Mozzarella Cheese AKA “The New Garlic Cheese Bread” Mmmm it’s so yummy, I might need to make some tonight!

#4. Homemade Organic Strawberry Jam – No Powdered or Liquid Pectin Added Having this on hand in the winter brings a little taste of summer to your palate during the deep freeze!

#3. Chunky Cream of Broccoli Soup Recipe – No Blender Needed Ugh YUM, this is one of our favorite recipes and it’s SO easy.

#2. 101 Things I love About My Mother Who knew this would be so popular?? I definitely didn’t, but I’m glad it is 🙂 Love you, Mom.

#1. Picked California Mixed Veggies – Spicy Pickled Cauliflower with Carrots, Celery and Red Bell Pepper Mmm, Mmmm good!

Thanks for all of your support. If there are certain topics/recipes you’d like me to cover this year just let me know in the comments!

Happy 2015 everyone! Let’s make it great!

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar Transformation in Photos

Monarch MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

When we bought our home six years ago, the previous homeowner had milkweed plants growing near the back door. At the time, I had no idea that milkweed was a huge part of Monarch caterpillars’ diet, but I was sure happy when I saw my first little caterpillar on the plant! I had never seen one in nature before, it was so much fun to watch.

This year, we had 3 caterpillars munching away at our milkweed plants and one in particular stayed the entire transformation from larva stage until pupa stage. Here is the transformation in photos I took:

This is when we first found our little buddy. My daughter spotted it somehow with her hawk-like eyesight. I cannot express how tiny this little bugger was; Less than 1mm!

Monarch Caterpillar - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

This was about 3-5 days later. The size has increased by 5 or 6 times the size when we first found it.

Monarch Caterpillar - day 5 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

And this was the last time we saw the caterpillar… about 14 days after first noticing him. All grown up and ready for the next stage:

Monarch Butterfly - day 9 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Unfortunately we don’t know where he  made his chrysalis, but it would be so neat to see that stage as well. Next year we might try building something that will hopefully appeal to the caterpillars to stick around.

Monarchs feed almost exclusively on Milkweed plants and as adult butterflies, they get a lot of their nutrients from the milkweed flowers. Consider planting some in your garden if you haven’t already!

Each year, millions of Monarchs make their way down to Mexico because it’s too cold in Minnesota for them to survive. We celebrate the kick off of this 1500 mile migration at Lake Nokomis at the Minneapolis Monarch Festival which takes place at the beginning of September. It’s a great opportunity to learn tons of interesting facts about Monarch Butterflies and learn why they are so essential to our environment, plus there are great vendors with delicious food and amazing entertainers as well. I love the awareness this spreads throughout the community. Do you have a similar event in your neck of the woods?

A few facts about Monarch Butterflies:

  • Their number one most important job is pollinating and they are great at it!
  • They eat destructive bugs from other plants.
  • Once their life is over, they play an important role by being a beneficial food source to others, such as bats, birds, lizards, monkeys and snakes.
  • They are beautiful and bring joy to those that see them. 🙂
  • Average lifespan is 6-8 months.
  • Male Monarchs have a black spot on the bottom quarter of each wing, which females don’t so they are easy to distinguish between.
  • The prevalence of Monarchs in our environment give scientists great insight on our ecosystem and how it is changing.

So consider what plants you have in your yard and think about making a butterfly-friendly area.

Monarch Sculpture - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

What is your favorite type of butterfly?

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