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.

Love for Local: Wintertime Roasted Root Vegetable Recipe

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Typically in Minnesota, we think of summertime being the months of farmer’s markets, gardening and freshly plucked produce. Surprisingly there are a lot of wonderful produce options during the winter months that, I hate to admit, but I’ve looked past for years.

Recently I took a closer look at the produce section of my local co-op and found that not only was there a wide variety of root veggies to pick from, many were grown in MN and WI! I quickly gathered a basket of mysterious looking veggies and went home to experiment.

I decided the easiest way to sample all of the veggies at one time would be to roast them. Roasted veggies make a great snack and are a fantastic side dish to almost any meal. It turns out the assortment of veggies I collected included: yellow and orange carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, celery root (celeriac),  beauty heart radish (watermelon radish) and turnips.

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I became completely enamored with the radish. Who knew such a vibrant color would be hiding inside? The flavor of it was similar to a regular red radish, but with less of a punch. The celery root had a faint flavor of celery, but a texture more similar to a potato. Shockingly, the roasted rutabagas were my favorite veggie of all.

These commonly overlooked root vegetables are not only versatile but offer a gauntlet of nutritional benefits to your health. Many are rich in vitamin C (antioxidant) and phosphorus, which is important for the health of your bones. They are also high in fiber and low in calories!

How to Roast Root Vegetables

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Clean all veggies (cut skin off of the celery root, peel carrots and parsnips, cut ends off of radishes and parsnips) and rough chop them into fork-friendly sized chunks

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  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
This looks more like a platter of fruit than a platter of vegetables, doesn't it? Stunning!

This looks more like a platter of fruit than a platter of vegetables, doesn’t it? Stunning!

  • Toss veggies in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (or other high heat oil of choice)
  • Once evenly coat veggies with oil, sprinkle seasonings of choice over veggies and mix well. I used garlic powder and Montreal steak seasoning but salt and pepper would work just as well.
  • Spread veggies out into one layer.
  • Roast veggies until tender, which is about 30 mins. Cook longer as needed.
  • DEVOUR. 🙂

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

Chicken Foot Bone Broth Recipe: Step by Step Guide to Making Gelatinous Broth

 

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I’m sure that you’ve heard the buzz about bone broth by now. Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know there was a difference between bone broth and soup stock. The main differences are the length of time each are cooked and the extra nutrition you get from broth vs. stock.

If you have not heard of bone broth, do some research and you’ll quickly see why it’s not only delicious but so beneficial to your health. Bones from animals offer a variety of benefits to your health including improving your immune system, strengthening bones, healing digestive system lining, improves your complexion and much more.  Of all the broths I’ve made and tasted over the last couple years, my absolute favorite broth to make and devour is Chicken Foot Bone Broth.

There are so many ways to make broth and it seems everyone has “the best” recipe or “the most effective” way to leach even more goodness from the bones. I’ve tried roasting the bones, soaking them for hours in apple cider vinegar and several other tricks I’ve read about, but the truth is, every recipe is divine and I’ve never tasted a bad broth. I like to keep things easy in my kitchen and that’s exactly what my broth recipe is!

Here is what you’ll need to make my very easy, super tasty and gelatinous Chicken Foot Bone Broth:

  • A Large Stock Pot (I use an 8 quart stock pot typically)
  • 1 lb of Chicken Feet, membranes removed – a little less than a pound or a little more than a pound will be just fine as well
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Celery Stalks
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Bay Leafs
  • Water
  • Garlic Powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Oregano

One important rule that you must remember is  there are no rules when it comes to seasoning the broth. You can pretty much add in whatever veggies and seasonings you like and the broth will turn out amazing. Don’t feel as if you need to stick to my recipe, toss in whatever you have on hand.

I prefer to make small batches of broth because I don’t have a lot of freezer space to store jars. If you prefer large batches, double the recipe.

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Put Chicken Feet into Stock Pot

It's so easy a 5 year old can make this recipe, and she has been since she was 3 ;)

It’s so easy a 5-year-old can make this recipe, and she has been since she was 3 😉

I leave the veggies in large pieces so they are easy to strain once the broth is finished. Cut the carrots, celery, garlic and onions and add them to the pot.

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Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and a dash of oregano into the pot. Add Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), toss in bay leaves and fill the pot up with water. I normally use an 8 quart pot and fill it about 2″ from the top. 

Bring pot to a boil, cover and reduce heat to gently simmer for 24 hours. Once complete you will have a golden liquid that is going to bring much joy to your life. I enjoy broth by the mugful but it’s great to use for homemade soup recipes as well as. Typically I’ll add a little additional salt or seasoning once it’s finished simmering.

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Once the broth has cooled, strain it and store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to 7 days. I find that my small batches of broth ALWAYS gel up.

What’s great about the bones is that you can use them again! I often times strain out my broth, leave all the bones and previously cooked produce in the pot, add more of everything from the ingredients list, sans new bones and cook a second batch. The second round does not usually produce such a gelatinous broth as the first, but it still tastes great and it’s perfect to use for soup and other cooking.

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My absolute favorite way to use my broth is to make soup with it. Almost daily I have kimchi, broth and two poached eggs for breakfast or lunch. It’s a fantastically flavorful meal that is very nourishing for the body and low on calories. Try it!

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

 

 

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Cranberry-Apple Jam with Honey Recipe

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Cranberry-Apple Jam is one recipe I make every fall/winter. I love making jam, it’s so easy and it’s a great gift. It’s fun to preserve different fruits throughout the lovely seasons we have in Minnesota. One issue I have with jam is all of the added sugar and that’s why I have adjusted this recipe to only use half of the usual amount of sugar by substituting the rest with local honey.

Yield: 9 jam jars

Ingredients:

  • 8 Cups of peeled and diced apple (which is 8 regular sized apples, or 6 large apples).
  • 4 Cups of whole fresh cranberries
  • 3 Cups organic sugar
  • 2 Cups of honey (1 pint)
  • 2 Lemons, zest and juiced
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cloves

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Combine cranberries, diced apples, sugar and honey in a heavy bottomed pot, stir well and bring to a boil. I use any kind of apple because I like the chunkiness of the apples, therefore I am not concerned with using a soft apple. Dice the apples up in whatever size you prefer them. I typically chop them up in about 1/4-1/2″ chunks. Continue to stir while jam is boiling so it does not burn.

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Cook for about 12 minutes, until the apples are soft and the cranberries have begun to pop.

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Add spices, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir well and continue to simmer the mixture until the sauce begins to thicken (5-10 more mins). Feel free to take a little spoonful out to taste test and determine if you want to add more spices. Get creative! Other spices you might consider adding are ginger, nutmeg or allspice!

This recipe can be canned using the water-bath processing method or it can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months.

The deep red color and cinnamon flavor makes this the perfect holiday jam!

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Enjoy!

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

My Great Great Grandma Selma’s Sugar Cookie Recipe

Minnesota from scratch - grandma's cookbooks

Today I’m going to share my Great Great Grandma Selma’s sugar cookie recipe! I had the pleasure of knowing my grandma for ten years before she passed away. I have joyful memories of grocery shopping with her, my great grandma and my grandma. When Selma got too old to shop, we’d sit in the bakery area and enjoy a sweet treat while the other grandmas shopped. I recall often playing the card game “Gold Fish” with her, as well as memories of painting her nails. She was a sweet woman and I am so thankful I got to know her for the short time I did. She was 93 when she passed away and though she wasn’t much of a chef in her later years when I knew her, it turns out she was quite the wizard in the kitchen in her younger years. Thankfully, many of her hand written recipes are preserved in binders that my aunt and uncle have in New York City.

Making this recipe with my daughter (Selma’s Great, Great, Great Granddaughter) somehow made me feel as if I was connecting the two in some way… bringing a tangible object from my grandma into the present for my daughter. Imaging my grandmother making these cookies around the holidays and tasting the same thing we are tasting now, nearly 100 years later is special to me.

Enough of the chit-chat, let’s get down to the recipe… 😉

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Great Great Grandma Selma’s Sugar Cookie Recipe
Makes about 65 small cookies

Cookie Dough:

5 cups organic all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted organic butter
1.5 cups gmo-free granulated sugar
2 organic eggs
1 cup organic sour cream
1 teaspoons organic vanilla

1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and heat oven to 350°F
2. Whisk dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

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3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer.
4. Add eggs one at a time, and mixing well. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined well.

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5. Slowly add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.

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6. Use a spoon to scoop out dough and roll dough into 1.5″ balls. Flatten balls out with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour to avoid dough sticking to the glass.

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7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The top of the cookie will not brown, however the bottom of the cookie will.

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8. Cool completely and decorate!

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Frosting:
2 sticks room-temp (1/2 lb) butter
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
3 cups organic powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons organic milk (as needed to create a smooth consistency)
Seelect Natural Food Dye
Homemade Colored Sugar for Sprinkles
9. Frosting: Beat butter and vanilla using a hand mixer until creamy and smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing until combined well. Add milk and continue mix. Once frosting is made, divide up the frosting into small bowls, and add food coloring until the desired color is reached.

We used Seelect Natural Color brand food dye colors Red and Forest Green. We used 2 tsp of the red to reach our desired color and 1 tsp of the green.

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***Though my grandma did not note if this dough could be used for sugar cookies that you roll out and cut shapes out of, we did try making three bears and it worked great. If you are going to cut shapes out of this dough, I recommend cooling it in the fridge for 2 hours before rolling out.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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

How to Make Colored Sugar with Natural Food Dyes



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Baking cookies and other treats around the holidays is a tradition many participate in annually. I personally am not a huge sweets lover, but I do like going through the process of making them with my family members (my daughter LOVES it) and it’s fun to share the cookies with those we love. Because I like to cook from scratch and try to avoid unhealthy preservatives and synthetic food additives, I always struggled with baking cookies and then smothering them with red dye #40 and other junk. So for many years we just had plain white frosting on our holiday shaped cookies (they still tasted good 🙂 ~ but looked a little blah). Well, I’ve come upon a whole game changer this year and we are finally ready to add some color to our cookies – the natural way!

Yesterday at my local co-op, I found some natural food dyes. I picked up a red (made from beet extract) and green (made from turmeric and spirulina) and only had intentions of using the dyes for coloring the cookie frosting. Then it dawned on me that I could potentially make colored sugar to use for additional decorating and so I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised!

I used 1/3 cup sugar and mixed it with 1 tsp of the red dye and mixed it together evenly. It didn’t look red enough, so I added 1/2 tsp more. Once pleased with the color, I spread the sugar out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

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I repeated the task with the green dye as well, but for this I only used 1 tsp of the green dye.

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The I turned the oven on to 350°F for only two minutes and shut it off. You just want to warm the oven enough so it can dry out the sugar and not actually cook it/burn it. Once the oven was warmed up, I placed the baking sheets in the oven and set the timer for 45 mins.

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At 45 mins, I took a spatula and tapped the sugar to break it apart a bit more and spread it out evenly again and placed it back into the oven for another 45 minutes. That’s IT!

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It turns out the baking process lightened the sugar coloring a bit, which I was pleased with for the green (it turned from dark blueish green to a lovely pine green), but next time I’ll likely add 2 tsp of the red dye to try for an even darker red outcome.

Store the colored sugar in an air tight container and use as needed. That’s it. I’m so excited about it that I think I’ll go grab the yellow and blue colors to experiment with them as well.

In the next day or two, I’m going to be posting a recipe about how to bake my great great grandma Selma’s sugar cookies… a recipe that is nearly 100 years old! Don’t miss out!

 

 

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

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