Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

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This week’s top deals:

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FREE this week only– daily essential oil webinars!

This event is now over.

This awesome event, the Essential Oils Revolution, just started yesterday and is running all the way until the 18th, with new webinar topics released each day.

I’m actually listening to the one on Essential Oils for Gut, Adrenal & Thyroid Health with Dr. Axe as I type this (it’s making me a little distracted but it’s worth it) and I’m finding it fascinating!

Just sign up for FREE with your email address and you’ll have access to these webinars all week.

They’re also available for purchase (hint: get them before the event ends, because I know for a fact that the price will be going up at that point). But you can also just take in as many as you can while they’re still free.

Each day they release about another 4 webinars and if you’re signed up, they’ll let you know which ones are coming each day so that you don’t miss the ones you most want to see.

Personally, I’m just so happy for a chance to dig in further and expand my knowledge on how to use essential oils effectively and safely with my family. Although we use many natural remedies in our home, they’re something that we commonly reach for and find useful for so many things.

 

abe's50% Off Jesben Slow Cooking Sauces at Abe’s Market.  Limited Time Offer.  Don’t forget Abe’s also has their Spring Clearance Sale still going on where you can save up to 80% on tons of products!

bibsJust $6.68 for Pack of 2.  Tommee Tippee Explora Easi Roll Bib, Blue and Green, 2 Count.  BPA Free. Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.
vanillaAs Low as $6.78 McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract-16 OZ is on sale for $7.98.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

tpAs Low As $11.57-$13.16 ($0.36-$0.41/roll) Cottonelle Ultra Comfort Care Toilet Paper, Double Roll Economy Plus Pack, 32 Count is on sale for $15.96.  Save $2 when your coupon is applied to the first delivery of this subscription.  Save an additional 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

Hat tip to JungleDeals&Steals for these 3 deals!tropBuy 1 Get 1 FREE Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil Insect Repellent.  Sale ends Thursday, May 14, 2015

cumin30% Off Tropical Traditions Black Cumin Seed Oil.  Sale ends Sunday, May 17, 2015

BHSCheck out May Savings at Bulk Herb Store
burts beesAs Low As $4.50-$5.03.  Burt’s Bees Baby Bee 100% Natural Diaper Ointment, 3 Ounces.  List Price $10.38  On Sale $5.30.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.
crib sheetList Price $35.00  On Sale $24.73 Best Baby Fitted Crib Sheet – 100% Certified Organic Cotton  YourEcoFamily (Beige).  Get FREE shipping on qualifying order

Or how about sheets for YOU?!

sheets

List Price $260.00 On Sale $79.95 +$9.91 shipping  Organic Cotton Bed Sheet Set. Soft and Luxurious – Queen Natural.  

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

frugalFrugal Living The Guide To Minimalism [Kindle Edition]

superfoodsSuperfoods Cookbook: Book One: 75+ Recipes of Quick & Easy Cooking, Low Fat Cooking, Gluten Free Cooking, Wheat Free Cooking, Low Cholesterol Cooking, … cookbook [Kindle Edition]

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $1:

bodyBody Scrubs: 30 Organic Body Scrub Recipes For Gorgeous Skin [Kindle Edition]
minimalistMinimalist Living Guide for Frugal Living [Kindle Edition]
slow cookSlow Cooker Recipes: 30 Of The Most Healthy And Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes: Includes New Recipes For 2015 With Fantastic Ingredients [Kindle Edition]

This week’s best coupons:

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

Build Your Own Healthy Salad

Use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

By Hilary Bernstein, Contributing Writer

Salad season is here again!

If you’re excited to get back to the healthy crunch of fresh foods at mealtime or you’re simply trying to add more vegetables to your daily diet, use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

Greens

Filled with vital nutrients, leafy greens are the building block of any healthy salad. In particular, load up on:

Lettuce

Depending on what kind of lettuce you choose, you’ll notice a difference in looks, taste, and texture. All fresh lettuce leaves contain Vitamin C to boost your immune system and folates to help your body make new cells and maintain cells you already have, as well as prevent neural tube defects in developing fetuses.

Lettuce is full of Vitamin K to help blood clotting, increase bone mass, and limit Alzheimer’s damage in the brain.

Lettuce also has iron to help form red blood cells, copper to produce red blood cells, and potassium to help control blood pressure and heart rate.

The beta carotene found in lettuce converts to vitamin A in your body and promotes healthy vision and skin.

Use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

Arugula

Arugula boosts your immune system, thanks to vitamin C. It helps blood clotting and increase bone mass with vitamin K and forms red blood cells with iron.  This leafy green also is packed with calcium and vitamin A.

Kale

Kale is unusually high in fiber. This helps prevent constipation, and it aids your body’s digestion. Lutein and zeaxathin, two carotenoids found in kale, help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.

Vitamins A, B6, C, and K, calcium, folic acid, iron, manganese, and potassium all are found in kale. (In particular, vitamins A and K both help strengthen bones and teeth. The vitamin C helps lower blood pressure.) Kale’s vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids help ease arthritis, asthma, and other autoimmune disorders.

Loaded with beta carotene, kale can help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Cabbage

Cabbage is filled with vitamin C. (In fact, it contains more than oranges!) This vitamin boosts your immune system – and it helps prevent cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and stomach ulcers. Cabbage also contains vitamin B6, vitamin K, and folate.

Rich in sulfur, cabbage helps fight infections in ulcers and wounds. The sulfur and vitamin C in cabbage also help to detoxify your body and purify blood.

The fiber in cabbage helps to prevent constipation. And the iodine content in cabbage helps your brain and nervous system function properly.

Spinach

Spinach contains a lot of vitamin K and calcium, which helps strengthen bones. The vitamin K in spinach also helps maintain the health of your nervous system and brain. (It prevents cardiovascular disease, strokes, and atherosclerosis, too.)

Lutein, found in spinach, prevents cataracts and macular degeneration. The folate in spinach protects against heart disease. Flavonoids – a kind of phytonutrient – found in spinach protect against cancer and memory loss.

Spinach’s antioxidants (vitamins A, C, and E, beta carotene, manganese, selenium, and zinc) all protect against cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.

The vitamin A found in spinach also helps increase your immunity by protecting mucous membranes, as well as intestinal, urinary, and respiratory tracts. Vitamin A is part of infection-fighting white blood cells. It makes skin healthier, too.

Spinach is full of fiber – and that promotes good digestive health and lower blood sugar.

Use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

Fruit & Veggies

Avocado

You’ve got to love the rich, creamy and nutritious avocado. Helping your body absorb fat-soluble nutrients, avocados are loaded with fiber, folic acid, potassium, B-vitamins and vitamin E. Avocados also contain good, monounsaturated fat — and that helps reduce cholesterol levels and lessen your risk for heart disease.

Bell Peppers

Filled with vitamin A and C, bell peppers are filled with beta carotene and antioxidants – these vitamins help your heart and eyesight. They’ll prevent cancer, too. (Lutein found in bell peppers also promotes eye health.)

Bell peppers are low in calories, cholesterol, fat, and sodium. They are filled with fiber, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, and vitamins B6 and K, so they reduce high cholesterol and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Red bell peppers contain more lycopene than green bell peppers. Because of this, the red peppers do a better job of protecting against heart disease and cancer.

Broccoli

Move over milk. Broccoli contains a lot of calcium, which is helpful for people dealing with lactose intolerance. (Besides building strong bones, calcium also controls blood pressure. The magnesium and potassium in broccoli helps with blood pressure, too.)

With antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, broccoli protects against cancer, heart disease, and cataracts. Selenium, glucoraphanin, and indole-3-carbinol in broccoli also help protect against cancer. And broccoli’s lutein, folate, and vitamin B6 protect against heart disease.

The beta carotene, selenium, zinc, and vitamin C found in broccoli help boost your immune system. With both insoluble and soluble fiber, broccoli helps with digestion.

And if you’re pregnant, eat your broccoli — it’s chock-full of folic acid.

Use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

Carrots

Thanks to vitamin A, carrots help eye health tremendously. While carrots won’t improve your eyesight, they can help prevent cataracts and night blindness.

Packed with beta carotene, carrots can help prevent heart disease, cancer, macular degeneration, and strokes. To absorb more beta carotene, eat cooked carrots – fiber traps the beta carotene, but cooking helps release it.

Carrots have lots of soluble fiber that can help lower cholesterol. (They also are filled with vitamins B and C, calcium, and potassium.)

Cauliflower

Even though cauliflower doesn’t have chlorophyll like other colorful cruciferous cousins (broccolicabbage, and kale), it still helps prevent cancer with two phytonutrients – sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Bonus … the I3C also helps lower bad cholesterol.

Cauliflower’s full of vitamin C, which helps promote healthy immune systems. Just eating three raw florets of cauliflower gives you 67 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement!

Corn

Chock-full of both insoluble and soluble fiber, corn greatly helps with digestion. Corn also is full of antioxidants, vitamin C, lutein, beta carotene, and manganese.

The folic acid found in corn helps prevent neural tube defects in growing fetuses. It also helps prevent heart disease.

Cucumbers

With a water content of at least 90 percent, cucumbers are a fat-free, sodium-free, low-calorie food. Filled with fiber and potassium, cucumbers help digestion.

Cucumbers contain magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C – all of these nutrients should be consumed daily. Plus, the silica in cucumbers helps skin, bones, blood vessels, and connective tissues like tendons and ligaments.

Green Onion

For such a small plant, green onions contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C (an immunity booster), vitamin K (a blood clotter), copper, fiber, manganese, and potassium.

The chromium found in green onions helps regulate glucose levels. Green onions help lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, thanks to allyl propyl disulphide.

Because of the antioxidant quercetin, green onions have anti-inflammation and anti-histamine properties.

Use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

Radishes

Because of their natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, radishes are often used to treat skin disorders, soothe insect bites, and ease kidney problems.

Filled with vitamin C, radishes help maintain bones and teeth. The vitamin helps rebuild blood vessels and tissues, too.

Aside from vitamin C, radishes contain calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and vitamins B and K. These vitamins and minerals help prevent cancer.

Radishes are loaded with fiber – and that helps prevent digestion issues. They also are a diuretic, which helps prevent urinary tract infections.

Red Onion

Onions have antihistamine, antiviral, and anti-allergy properties. They help repair cells, too.

Flavonoids found in onions decrease inflammation and help keep blood vessels healthy. The chromium found in onions helps control blood glucose.

The sulfur compounds found in onions act as antioxidants and help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and cancer, and detoxify your body.

Onions may even help prevent bone loss in menopausal women.

Snap Peas

All peas contain a large amount of soluble and insoluble fiber. This fiber can help lower cholesterol – it helps with digestion, too.

Peas are rich in iron, which is beneficial to your blood. Peas contain calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium. Peas also have plenty of lutein, which protects against cataracts and macular degeneration.

Vitamins A and C are found in peas – these antioxidants boost your immune system and protect against cancer and heart disease. Peas also contain vitamin K, which helps strengthen bones.

Many B vitamins are present in peas, including B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B6. These vitamins fight against osteoporosis and regulate your body’s carbohydrate, fat, and protein levels.

Use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

Tomatoes

A low-calorie food, tomatoes are low on the glycemic index.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene. As an antioxidant, lycopene can help reduce heart disease. It also benefits immune systems and can help prevent cancer – particularly prostate cancer.

The antioxidants found in tomatoes come from lycopene and vitamins A, C, and E. (‘Maters also contain vitamins B and K.) The vitamin C is found in the gelatinous substance around the seeds.

Tomatoes are high in potassium, iron, copper, beta carotene, phosphorous, and folic acid. Lutein, a nutrient found in tomatoes, promotes eye health. Tomatoes also contain carotenoids and bioflavonoids that act as anti-inflammatory nutrients.

Other fixings

Almonds

Almonds help to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s, prevent diabetes, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and create satiety that helps in weight loss.

Because of arginine, fiber, vitamin E and antioxidant phytochemicals like flavonoids, phenols, proanthocyanidins and phytosterols found in almonds, the tasty nuts can lessen the risk of heart disease.

Cheese

Adding diced or shredded cheese to your salad will certainly add a lot of calcium. And if you pick a full-fat cheese, you’ll feel fuller for longer.

Chicken Breast

A fantastic source of protein, skinless chicken breasts on your salad will add niacin, selenium, and vitamin B6 to your meal. Those nutrients help convert carbohydrates to energy, fight cancer, and metabolic processing.

Dried Fruit

If you’re looking to add a bit of flavor (and disease-preventing phenols) with dried fruit, opt for raisins over dried cranberriesraisins contain much more protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Hardboiled Egg

Looking to add a cheap source of protein to your salads? Choose hardboiled eggs! Egg whites contain B-vitamins like B2, B6 and B12, as well as vitamin D, copper, iron, selenium, and zinc. Egg yolks include lecithin and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

The betaine and choline found in eggs can benefit heart health.

Use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

Strawberries

Filled with antioxidants and nutrients (calcium, folate, magnesium, manganese, and potassium), strawberries can help heart health, protect against cancer and stroke, reduce arthritis, and lower blood pressure.

One serving of strawberries (about eight to ten strawberries) packs more vitamin C than a whole orange.

Add more fiber to your diet with strawberries – add them to your breakfast cereal or snack on them.

Use this guide to pair together your favorite salad fixings. Simply build your own healthy salad based on your flavor preferences, and enjoy the nutritional benefits!

If you’re looking for a tasty and healthy salad dressing option, try these 10 different real food recipes!

When you build your own healthy salad, what are your favorite fixings?

PlanToEat-150x150This post is sponsored by Plan To Eat. If you know you need to make strides towards regular meal planning and you’re looking for a tool to make it easier, I highly recommend you check out Plan To Eat’s virtual tour. Sign up for a free 30-day trial to see how it works! Plan To Eat was born from a desire to eat real food — great food — prepared at home, together as a family. Plan to Eat is an online menu planner that uses your recipes, scheduled for the days you want them, automatically generating your grocery list, organized the way you like to shop. Eat well. Eat together.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Weekend Links

{Keeper of the Home}

Links for this week:

It’s a Secret, but Many Christians Do Distrust God @ Commonsense Christianity

Why I Don’t Believe in Mommy Wars @ Kitchen Stewardship

Recipe: BLT Chicken Lettuce Cups @ 100 Days of Real Food

When You Need a Mother’s Day Gift that’s Honest, Powerful & Healing [Free Printable] @ A Holy Experience

A Surrendered Heart: So…What Does Your Husband Do? @ Heavenly Homemakers

Crock Pot Tomato Basil Soup {Paleo-friendly} @ Food Renegade

When you realize you are a part of the problem… @ Live Renewed

Let’s Celebrate All Women This Mother’s Day @ (in)courage

May Sponsors

Are you looking for companies that share the same values you do? Here at Keeper of the Home we curate a fabulous selection of companies that fit well with our audience. Here are our sponsors this month!

Plan to Eat | Eating at Home is About to Get Easier

Modern Wellness | Be proactive about your health with essential oils!

EntreFamily | lead an uncommon life

Tropical Traditions | America’s Source for Coconut Oil

MadeOn Hard Lotion | Hard Lotion For Dry Skin

The Healthy Lunchbox | Sandwich-free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch

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Also, have you seen our Natural Living Guide? It’s a fantastic go-to resource for natural products and services from companies we know and trust! Check it out!

Happy Mother’s Day! How are you showing mom you appreciate her this weekend?

My love of BendSoap and 30 reasons I use it in my “NEW” Natural Home

My love of Bend Soap {Keeper of the Home}

Stephanie’s note: I’m pleased to introduce you today to Jennifer, who works on our Keeper of the Home team, connecting naturally-minded companies and products with our conscientious readers! I’ll let her share her story with you…

A few years ago I had a life altering experience that changed my life forever.

I was exposed to Toxic Black Mold in a previous home I lived in. Needless to say it’s been an uphill climb for my family and I, as we’ve struggled with our health and have recently moved and changed our current home to a “New” Natural Home.

You can read my crazy story HERE on my modest little website about the dangers of Toxic Mold and how I survived a near fatal experience. Perhaps I’ll share my experience and answer more questions on the topic in the future, but for now I’d love to talk about my natural home and one product in particular that I’ve replaced: soap.

Through this 5-year journey, I’ve been excited about converting my home into a Natural Home. I’m constantly educating myself on the dangers of pollutants, molds, chemicals and the control of these “ugly monsters” in and around my home.

One of the many products I had to convert in my “NEW” Natural Home was soap. In my past “toxic” home, I had every brand and type of body soap imaginable. I had some of the most toxic body washes, body scrubs and bar soaps on the market. After we moved, I decided that anything from here on out that touched my family’s skin needed to be natural and toxin-free.

I am constantly looking for great, all-natural soaps and couldn’t wait to share my review and love of a very particular, all-natural bar soap — BendSoap.

Bendsoap family

First of all, I have to say they have an amazing family business. (For extra smiles, I thought I’d include a picture of their family)

Let’s talk about what’s in their soap

What makes BendSoap different than any other “goats-milk soap” is that they use fresh goat milk from their own goats that they milk twice a day throughout the year.

Each bar of soap has over 26% fresh goat milk in it – making it a truly creamy moisturizing experience. This can be compared to other “goat milk soaps” that use only smaller amounts of goat milk powder, goat milk extract, or a pre-made goat milk base (which most likely used goat milk powder).

I am personally drawn to the fact that they do not use any dyes, synthetic preservatives, alcohols, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, etc.  No junk!  If you shop “natural” or “organic” soaps in the stores, you’ll find many of them contain quite a few good ingredients, but often still include a bunch of the bad ones we want to avoid.

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In my collection here, I have both unscented and essential oil-scented soaps.  I need to stick with the unscented and essential oil-scented varieties because of an extreme sensitivity to anything synthetic since our health crisis. These are 100% natural! Wahoo!

They have sixteen different 100% all-natural scents to choose from – with their newest scent being “Sweet Orange” which was introduced just in time for Mother’s Day.

I use the Milk Bath in a bag as it contains 100% all natural goat milk soaps.  They shred the soap, which can be added a handful at a time to the bath for a luxurious soak from head to toe.  This is especially beneficial to those with skin sensitivities and other topical issues that need extra nourishment.

If you have family members that have eczema you can also use the Milk Bath to soak in and relieve eczema.  (They in no way claim to cure or “treat” eczema or other skin issues, but their soaps do seem to be doing their own talking.)

The Goat Milk unscented lotion was perfect!! It absorbed quickly into my skin and I noticed a softness in my skin even 12-24 hours after, so I can honestly say you’ll have that soft skin feeling all the time if you use it daily.  Another item they sell is their wooden brush which is wonderful for exfoliating those dead skin cells after soaking.  This product looks like it’s only available if you buy a basket though. I then apply the “Goats Milk” lotion after my bath and voila!

This past Christmas we introduced BendSoap to you in our Christmas Gift Guide as an awesome idea for gift giving around the holidays. Although this is a super neat idea for a Christmas Gift, I couldn’t help but let you know it’s more than a gift, it’s a lifestyle and there are tons of ways you can use BendSoap around your home all year long.

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Let me share with you all the amazing benefits and uses of BendSoap’s product line. Here are 30 ways I use it in my natural home.

I like to put my health before practicality, so let’s start with the health benefits first:

1. They are non-toxic.
This was the biggest reason I started using them. Because of my “NEW” Natural Home and lifestyle, this was a no-brainer so I doubt I need to explain the great benefits of using something non-toxic. These are made by hand and contain absolutely no harsh detergents or any harmful chemicals.

2. Cleans gently but cleans down DEEP to detox.
Pure goat milk contains “lactic acid” which is known to play a key role in the detoxifying process of removing impurities. Another fun fact about goat’s milk is that it contains alpha hydroxy acids that break down the bonds between dead cells and remove the dull surface layer of the skin to give the skin a super clean appearance. BendSoap is rich in natural ingredients, which work gently without causing excessive dryness.

3. Actually gives you “REAL” healthy skin.
Did you know that goat’s milk has an abundance of vitamins, such as A, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E, etc., and minerals, such as zinc, copper, iron, and selenium? In addition to vitamins, it also contains fatty acids, amino acids, citric acid, antioxidants and enzymes. Everything I’ve mentioned is needed not just for the inside of our body, but are also very important for our skin health as well. After doing my research I’ve come to the conclusion that the regular use of goat milk soap, more specifically BendSoap’s unique formula with more added goat milk, can feed the skin and nourish it from within.

4. It kept my skin soft and moisturized.
Goats Milk is a natural moisturizer and easily absorbed through the skin, but the amazing part is that it creates a moisture barrier that kept my skin soft and smooth for a longer period of time than other “natural” soaps I was previously using. I wanted to find out why and to my surprise learned that goat milk is loaded with good proteins, fatty acids and glycerin. Yes, glycerin! Glycerin has super-hydrating and moisturizing properties. The soap itself has a creamy-like texture that makes you feel pampered with a luxurious softness that penetrates the upper layer of your skin and reaches cracks that can sometimes form with dryer skin types.

5. It can prevent premature aging!!
I’m not going to reveal my age here, but I am not getting any younger and if there is a natural product that can help me look younger, I’m all for it! I found out that goat milk is super-rich in antioxidants like Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. These vitamins can actually help our body fight against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The goat milk aspect of the soap also removes layers of dead cells from the surface of our skin which reveals new healthier cell layers underneath. Both the presence of vitamins and removal of dead skin cells prevent aging or premature signs of aging.

6. Helps fight acne.
In recent comparisons, goat milk soap was very competitive against other anti-bacterial soaps and acne washes. Goat’s milk contains a milk protein that has anti-microbial properties that can prevent acne-causing bacteria

7. Helps irritated and inflamed skin.
Ongoing/daily-use of BendSoap’s goat milk soap can help to relieve inflammation of the skin. Goat’s milk has some pretty strong anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of fat molecules in it.

8. Heals skin infections faster.
Goat’s milk offers effective anti-microbial properties. BendSoap’s bars can easily be used to assist the body’s natural healing process by clearing up skin infections, such as rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis faster.

9. It can help maintain the pH balance of your skin.
BendSoap’s proprietary goat milk soap can help to balance the pH of your body perfectly. Goat’s milk contains a certain fatty acid named caprylic acid, which lowers the pH balance of the soap and makes it almost similar to that of the human body.

10 Protects from skin cancer.
Now let me start with a disclaimer on this one. I am not saying that BendSoap or Goat Milk Soap can cure or treat skin cancer. In my research, I found that selenium was found and proven by scientists to protect the skin from damaging ultraviolet rays of sunlight and goat’s milk contains a TON of selenium, so you be the judge.

Now here are some practical uses for BendSoap:

11. Help sewing pins insert easier.
Insert your sewing pins into a bar of this amazing goat milk soap and your pins will penetrate your fabric with ease.

12. Marking hemlines when sewing.
Use Goat Milk soap instead of chalks or pens that may have harmful chemicals in them. Using the soap to mark is a non-toxic and easy to wash out alternative.

13. Keep my glasses from fogging over.
This is an awesome but useful trick. Simply rub the lenses with the Goat Milk soap (dry). With a wash cloth or clean dry cotton material rub off the soap until the glasses are clear. This will prevent them from fogging up around humidity.

14. Check to see if gas pipes might be leaking.
You can find a gas leak in your gas pipes by smearing a little Goat Milk soap mixed with a few teaspoons of water in a small dish. Mix the soap and water and apply the soap/water mixture to seals in pipes. If you see soap bubbles then you potentially have a gas leak that needs to be addressed by your gas company. (A word of caution: always have a professional fix gas related leaks, never try this on your own).

15. Put a little soap under my nails before gardening.
Scratch your nails over the Goat Milk soap before you go out to work in the garden or do lawn work to prevent getting dirt under your fingernails. After you are finished just rinse.

16. To keep deer out of your yard or garden.
In a study done at the University of Vermont, they found that using Goat Milk soap as a deer deterrent can be very effective. It’s a common first line of defense of gardeners against unwanted deer in their gardens because it’s easy and inexpensive. Goat milk soap can interfere with a deer’s sensitive sense of smell. Since deer feed from ground level to about six feet high (that’s six feet above the snow line in winter), this is the area where your soap should be hanging. In the category of scents, this is one of the easiest controls — hanging bars of smelly (especially the minty kinds) of goat milk soap in the garden, the stronger the scent the better. You can easily cut them in half and hang in burlap or cheesecloth stapled to stakes in the garden in early spring.Mint_Tea_edit__78472.1430939930.386.513

The repellent factor seems to be the part derived from animal “goat” fatty acids.  Some pleasant scents that BendSoap offer that also interfere with deer noses include mint oil-based soaps like their Mint Tea, Eucalyptus Spearmint, Mint Scrub, Double Mint, Peppermint, and Citrus Mint, (often combined with pepper and garlic), cloves and cinnamon, or citrus based soaps also have somewhat of an effect but not as much as the mint-based varieties.

17. Unstick zippers.
Rub BendSoap over zippers when some of the teeth get out of their track. Once the zipper is fixed you can easily wash the item of clothing and the soap disappears.

18. Stop squeaky door hinges.
Use Goat Milk soap around the home or on autos and RV’s by rubbing it over door hinges. Make sure that you don’t add water or you could cause your hinges to start to rust.

19. Unstick wooden drawers.
Remove hardwood drawers from dressers and chests and rub Goat Milk soap on the tracks of both the drawer itself and the track attached to the dresser/chest to create a smooth sliding drawer.

20. Stop floorboards from squeaking.
Rub Goat Milk soap over cracks to create a buffer between wood slats to prevent squeaking.

21. Use as a shaving cream substitute.
Regular soap doesn’t work well for shaving, but Goat Milk soap is very gentle and actually creates a barrier between the razor and your skin. The added benefit of this is that your face (for men) and legs (for women) are super soft after using Goat Milk soap.

22. Drawer deodorizer.
Place a wrapped bar of “scented” or the “essential oil” Goat Milk soap in drawers and clothes will pick up the scent of the bars. *Tip: You can use just one bar for an entire dresser or chest by cutting the bar into many slices.

23. Use it as a natural pesticide for both plant and vegetable gardens.
Shave off some of your Goat Milk soap and place it in a bottle and shake it until the soap dissolves. Put the liquid in a garden sprayer and spray “under” the leaves of plants and vegetables to prevent bugs from climbing up onto the leaves of your plants.

24. Protect the bottom of your cast iron pans from soot.
If you ever use your cast iron pots or pans over an open flame you can rub a bar of “non-scented” BendSoap over the bottom of the pot/pan before you set it over the open flame. The soap will make it easier to cleanup, as the soap will prevent the soot from accumulating on the bottom.

25. Loosen a tight ring.
Rub Goat Milk soap over your finger and the ring will slide off when you wash your hands.

26. Smelly sneakers, boots or shoes.
You can place a wrapped bar of Goat Milk soap in your shoes, sneakers or boots and leave it overnight. They will smell fresh by the morning.

27. Make sliding glass doors and windows slide easier.
Rub Goat Milk soap on the bottom track of sliding glass doors and windows and watch them open and close with ease.

28. Mouse trap bait.
For whatever reason, mice love bar soap and especially Goat Milk soap. Put a little piece on the other side and “SNAP!!” They apparently love it…which is good for us, just not so good for them.

29. Quiets squeaky belts on cars.
Apply Goat Milk soap to belts to prevent that squeaking noise that can sometimes happen when it rains or snows outside.

30. Prevent scratches on your wood floors.
Prevent furniture scratches by applying Goat Milk soap to the bottom of chairs or couch legs to create a protective barrier.

Can your soap do all that?

You can order right from BendSoap’s online website at: http://www.BendSoap.com

I gave BendSoap’s goat milk soap a try and you should, too!

Let us know what you think: Have you ever thought of using natural goat milk soap? Did you notice any visible difference on your skin after using the goat milk soap? Do you have any other uses for Goat Milk soap that we haven’t shared here? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Bend Soap Company. All opinions expressed are my own.

8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home

Is your home in need of some major decluttering? Can't seem to get ahead of the clutter? Here's a great technique to reduce clutter in the home in just eight weeks. Your clutter doesn't have to own you anymore, spend the next 40 days reclaiming your home!

Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?

Several years ago, my husband and I discovered that the clutter in our homes was eating away at our peace and enjoyment. It distracted us, made us grumpy, created extra work and messes, and just generally detracted from our lives.

During that season, we began to really tackle all the stuff in our home and view it with new eyes. We asked questions like:

  1. Do I truly find this beautiful or useful?
  2. How long has it been since I actually wore this shirt, used this pan, cared about this book? Will I even miss these things if they’re gone?
  3. What is this clutter costing me in terms of stress, cleaning, storage, maintenance, mental sanity? Is it adding to my life or taking something away?

At the time, we went through our things using this “8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home” plan that I created, mostly for myself. But I also shared it with my readers and in the years since, it’s become one of the most popular things on the blog!

We feel that, in our home at least, it’s a never-ending thing. You don’t declutter once and then poof! Magic! You’ll never need to do it again! (Don’t I wish?)

Instead, we need to keep up with it as time goes on. We slowly acquire new things, our children get bigger and enter different seasons of life, and our priorities change as a family. For us personally, we’re also getting ready to welcome baby #5 in just 6-7 weeks and it seems like the right and necessary thing for us to do, to regain more peace, space, and clarity now, so we can enter both the summer and this family transition

And so, we’re back in “less” mode, ready to declutter again.

With that, I thought it was high time I shared this post again, along with the FREE printable file that goes with it, so that you can also work through your home systematically and get rid of what you don’t really need. Keep reading to learn more about how the plan works, and then to download the file for yourself!

Happy decluttering! ~ Stephanie

This fall, my husband and I began to go through our possessions, attempting to really clear out the unnecessary items as much as possible. We got rid of almost 2 van loads of stuff, which is hard to believe.

Even harder to believe is the fact that we don’t miss any of it. At all. Instead, we found that we enjoy being in our home more, and we spend less time cleaning and maintaining things. Having less proved to be a very, very good thing.

So good, in fact, that we’re not finished yet. This summer we’ll be going through our home in a detailed, step-by-step decluttering process.

Over the course of 8 weeks, or 40 days (not including weekends), we want to purposefully assess each area of our house and our possessions, and pare down to what we truly need, use and love. Everything else? It will be sold at a garage sale, donated to others, or taken to the dump as a last resort.

Are you eager to free yourself from the demands of your material possessions, so that you can fully enjoy and engage in the parts of your life that are most important? Relationships with family and friends, time spent with the Lord, serving and giving to others, opening your home for hospitality, having time for creativity, for rest, and for purposefully pursuing the things you are most passionate about.

When we free ourselves from “stuff”, we have so much more to give to the things that really matter.

Will you join me in 40 days of decluttering our homes?

The goal:

To spend 30 minutes or less each day working on a specific area of the home

and

To find 10 items to get rid of each day

At the end of 40 days, we can expect to be released from 400 things that we don’t need… can you imagine the effect that this will have on your home and life?!

I do realize, though, that it’s summer. We want to be outdoors, enjoying time spent with loved ones, soaking up some sun, and having a whole lot of fun making memories. I don’t want to spend days or weeks cooped up in my house as I sort through what we own.

That’s why I created a plan to work through your house very systematically, but in 30 minutes or less per day. There might be the odd task that is a more daunting one for you and it will require more time. On the other hand, some of these tasks will be a piece of cake for you, and could be finished in 10 minutes flat. On average, most tasks shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, and the areas that I think will require extra time have been broken down into bite-sized or multi-day tasks.

Are you ready to join me?

To guide you through the process, I’ve created a PDF file, sort of a mini-ebook (8 pages) with some thoughts on decluttering and getting started, tips on working through the process, and then a step-by-step 40 Day Plan.

Get your copy by clicking on the link below.

8 Weeks to a Less Cluttered Home PDF Guide

I made this plan detailed and specific because that’s how I work best. If someone just tells me to take a week to declutter my house and go through it room by room, I’ll get lost and overwhelmed.

This 40 day plan was created by mentally walking through each and every part of my home. For example, the kitchen is broken down into bite-sized pieces over the course of 7 days (with individual tasks like drawers one day, kitchen linens another, and cookbooks/recipes on another). Clothing is split up into individual closets, dressers, and even a specific day for shoes. I included the random areas, like the medicine/supplement cabinet and first aid kit, videos/DVDs/CDs, and holiday supplies and decorations.

Every day, you’ll know exactly what to work on. It’s all spelled out, and organized into manageable tasks, to keep it from being overwhelming.

This is going to be so good

Honestly, I’m excited to begin. Our household purge last fall was such a positive thing and I am eager to remove more and more of the clutter from our home.

I’ve also set some goals for what I want to use the garage sale money more… even more motivation!

I hope that many of you will join me on this challenge and experience along with me the increased freedom and peace that comes from taking control of your belongings, instead of letting them control you. You will be happily surprised by how much more less really is.

Is your home in need of some major decluttering? Can't seem to get ahead of the clutter? Here's a great technique to reduce clutter in the home in just eight weeks.

Is your home in need of some major decluttering? Do you have any specific goals you’d like to meet, financially or otherwise?

Top image by PoshSurfside.com

Real Deals: This Week’s Sales and Discounts on Natural Products You Really Use

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This week’s top deals:

nicki

Up to 50% Off select products at Nicki’s Diapers Spring Steals.  Not just diapers!  Check out their baby carriers, Momma Goose Amber Teething Necklaces, baby clothing and more!  Just click on ‘Spring Steals’ from the category list.

EO_SidebarBanner_600x600_Attend

Coming up next week – a FREE Essential Oils online event!

This event is now over.

From May 11-18th, the Essential Oils Revolution will be running, with 31 presentations containing relevant evidence and practical advice from the experts. Their goal is to help you use essential oils effectively and confidently. This event is the first-ever, online, brand-generic event to include experts from every field, including aromatherapy, direct sales, medicine and research.

(And a personal note from Stephanie: I’m not sold on any one brand to the exclusion of others, and I really, really dislike the brand wars, so the idea of just learning more about essential oils in general – their safety, use, research, etc. excites me.)

You can register for FREE by clicking this link.

The way these online events work is that you’ll have the opportunity to attend as many of the webinars for free as you like during the week of the event, with new webinars being released each day (I’ll try to keep you posted on which ones are coming up, but I suggest registering so that you’ll get emails alerting you to when each one is happening, so that you don’t miss the ones you’re most interested in).

At the end, if you want to get access to the ones that you missed or to have permanent access to these webinars so that you can go back to them again, you have the chance to purchase them, but there’s absolutely no commitment or cost to sign up and watch during the event itself (yay!).

Some important things you’ll learn about essential oils:

  • Understand what essential oils are and why they are popular today
  • Why essential oils are nature’s BEST medicine
  • How to use essential oils safely and effectively
  • Tips for regaining control of your health with essential oils
  • Pain and stress remedies using essential oils
  • Culinary uses for essential oils
  • How to use essential oils for high performance health
  • Essential oils for animal aromatherapy
  • And so much more!

Here are a few of the experts who will be speaking:

  • Robert Pappas, PhD, Essential Oil Adulteration
  • Jordan S. Rubin NMD, PhD, Biblically-Based Essential Oil Uses
  • Josh Axe, DC, CNS, Essential Oils for Gut, Thyroid and Adrenals
  • Sylla & Nyssa Hanger, MA, LMT, RYT, Essential Oil Safety
  • Joette Calabrese, HMC, CCH, RSHom(NA), Homeopath & Mother Raised Children with No Meds, Ever.

Plus 25+ additional presenters sharing their expertise about essential oils!

If you register today, you’ll also have access to the following FREE GIFTS as soon as you register!

  • EARLY ACCESS to Dr. Axe’s expert talk, Essential Oils for Gut, Thyroid and Adrenals
  • EARLY ACCESS to Dr. Pappas’ expert talk, Essential Oil Adulteration
  • The King’s Medicine Cabinet Essential Oils eGuide by Dr. Josh Axe
  • The Essential Homestead: Using Essential Oils in the Home, Barnyard and Beyond eBook by Jill Winger
  • Using God’s Medicine For The Abundant Life ebook by Dr. Eric L. Zielinski

The Essential Oils Revolution runs online from May 11-18, 2015, and you can register for FREE here.

Bob's oats

As Low As $12.21-$13.64 ($3.05-$3.41/24 oz bag) Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain, Steel Cut Oats, 24-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4)  is on sale for $14.36.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

coconutAs Low As $17.07-$19.07 ($4.27-$4.77/16 oz pack) Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour, 16-Ounce Units (Pack of 4) is on sale for $20.08.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order.

flax

As Low As $10.95-$12.24 ($2.74-$3.06/24 oz package) Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Flaxseed Brown, 24-Ounce (Pack of 4) are on sale for $12.88.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  Get FREE shipping with qualifying order

100Just $5 for TODAY only!   100 Days of Summertime 2015 eBook.  A daily dose of inspiration for a summer filled with family, food, and fun!  The 100 Days of Summertime eBook, updated for 2015, is a journey that begins around Memorial Day, and leads you day-by-day through the best parts of summertime right up to Labor Day. Each day offers a task, activity, or reminder to help inspire and motivate you throughout the summertime. It also includes calendars and a workbook of 34 lists from ListPlanIt.com for

  • end-of-school planning,
  • summer camp,
  • holidays,
  • family vacations,
  • party planning/entertaining,
  • back to school and
  • more!

It is all you need to make this your best summer yet!  After May 5th, the price will be $8.

maple

As Low As $13.48-$14.72 Coombs Family Farms 100% Organic Maple Sugar, 1 lb 9 Ounce, Container is on sale for $15.49.  Save 5-15% with Subscribe & Save.  FREE shipping with qualifying order.

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45% Off Organic Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil Gallons from Tropical Traditions  Sale ends Sunday, May 10, 2105

 

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40% Off  8oz Moisturizing Lotions from Tropical Traditions Choose from unscented, citrus, lavender, peppermint, arnica, coconut, vanilla, and baby silk.  Sale ends Thursday, May 7, 2015

teeth-cleaners
30% Off  Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Teeth Cleaners from Tropical Traditions.  Choose from classic, mint, or cinnamon.  Sale ends Sunday, May 10, 2015
facepaint

List Price $24.95 On Sale $16.95  Face paint|the safest certified organic|hypoallergenic|lead FREE|child safe replacement paint kit in stackable interlocking quality jars|perfect for arts and crafts or sports events|makes your designs even better|money back guarantee! Made in the USA nestList Price $119.90 On Sale $109.59 + FREE shipping LA SIESTA Organic Hanging Nest Joki Planet Turtle

FREE Kindle eBooks:

(Note: Prices can change without notice so please double check the price before purchasing)

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Finances: Frugal Living. How to Save Money and Live on a Budget Happily
quinoa40 Top Quinoa Recipes For Weight Loss


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Managing and Budgeting Money: How to easily budget and manage your money in a simple step by step approach: (BONUS: FREE BUDGETING TEMPLATE)
preschoolPreschooler’s Busy Book for Beginners 2nd Edition: The Best Inexpensive Creative Games & Activities For Your Children To Keep Busy

Kindle eBooks for Less Than $2:

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HOMEMADE NATURAL MOSQUITO REPELLENT: HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE NATURAL MOSQUITO REPELLENTS

 

This week’s best coupons:

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Find a deal you love? Share it! Pin this week’s post, tweet it, or share on Facebook.

Want to get these deals in your inbox each week?

Sign up for our once-a-week “real deals” email. It comes out each Tuesday morning.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!
About prices: Though we do our very best to post only current deals and prices and to let you know when offers expire, companies can and do change their prices and offers at their own discretion, and we have no control over this. If you notice that a deal has changed, please let us know and we’ll change the post to alert other readers that something is no longer available. Thanks for understanding!

Simple Homemade Ranch Dressing

After testing and tweaking a few different recipes, I finally settled on a homemade ranch dressing that I really love and that tastes even better, in my opinion, than the kind I grew up with!

By Emily McClements, Contributing Writer

Whether a topping for salad, a dip for crudités, or a way to get your kids to eat something they might not otherwise eat, ranch dressing is a staple for many families.

But as those of us who have been around the real food/natural living world for more than a few weeks know, the ingredients in most store bought ranch dressings, like soybean oil, MSG, sodium benzoate, and others, are not something we want our family to eat on a regular basis.

I grew up eating a well known brand of ranch dressing and loved it on everything. I would cover my salads with it, dip everything from carrots to chicken nuggets to pizza into it, and even mix it with salsa for a chip dip or taco topping. I loved ranch dressing.

Then when my family began moving toward more real, whole foods I knew my love affair with this ranch dressing was going to have to end. I searched for a more natural brand of ranch dressing with ingredients I was okay with, but they didn’t taste the same and some even tasted flat out bad to me. I found recipes on Pinterest for homemade ranch dressing and tried several different ones, still they were not quite right.

So I gave up on ranch for a while and tried to replace it with other kinds of homemade dressings and dips, but I was never completely satisfied. I definitely missed my ranch dressing.

One more time I scoured Pinterest for homemade ranch recipes. I had an idea of what I was looking for, based on my previous attempts, as I looked through dozens of recipes. After testing and tweaking a few different recipes, I finally settled on a homemade ranch dressing that I really love and that tastes even better, in my opinion, than the kind I grew up with!

Here’s what I love about this Homemade Ranch Dressing:

1. It’s made with a spice mix, so you can make up a large batch of the spice mix and then just mix up a smaller batch of dressing when you need it. That way the dressing doesn’t go bad if you don’t eat it all right away.

2. The dressing uses ingredients I always keep on hand, and that have a longer shelf life in the fridge, meaning I don’t have to make a special trip to the store just to make the dressing. Many of the recipes I had tried originally called for buttermilk and that’s just not something that I usually have in my fridge.

3. You can use the spice mix in recipes that call for a packet of ranch dressing mix, so this recipe does double duty!

4. A simple measurement adjustment to the recipe gives you a thicker dressing you can use for dips, which my kids love!

5 from 1 reviews
Homemade Ranch Dressing Spice Mix
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix the ingredients together and store in an airtight, labeled jar.

After testing and tweaking a few different recipes, I finally settled on a homemade ranch dressing that I really love and that tastes even better, in my opinion, than the kind I grew up with!
5 from 1 reviews
Homemade Ranch Dressing
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup mayo (You could use homemade mayo or a natural brand; I use Hain Safflower Mayo)
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp ranch spice mix
Instructions
  1. Mix the ingredients together with a blender or immersion blender. I use an immersion blender and feel like it does a great job and I have less clean-up than if I used a regular blender. Taste and adjust the ingredients or spices if needed.
  2. For a thicker ranch dip, use 1 cup of sour cream and add a little more spice mix if needed.
  3. This should keep in the fridge as long as any of the ingredients would keep on their own. Use your best discretion.

Enjoy this healthy and easy homemade ranch dressing whenever you need a delicious topping for salads or dip for the kiddos. Who am I kidding, I eat this as a dip almost more than my kids do!

What was one of your favorite conventional foods you felt like you had to give up when you switched to a real food diet? Have you been able to find a homemade replacement you enjoy even more?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

Weekend Links

Keeper of the Home

Links for this week:

One More @ Preparing the Soil

Longing for a Resourceful, Old-Fashioned Way of Life @ Accidentally Green

Fudgy Flourless Black Bean Brownie Bites – Grain and Refined-Sugar Free @ Health, Home, & Happiness

Mother’s Day for the Motherless Mother @ Lisa-Jo Baker

Moms Who Aren’t in the Trenches, We Need You @ Intentional By Grace

Cinco de Mayo Meal Plans for 5 Special Diets @ GNOWFGLINS

Making Your Loudest Voice Calmer & Your Truest Voice Stronger @ Hands Free Mama

When My Mothering Doesn’t Measure Up @ (in)courage

Mother’s Day will be here soon! What are your plans?

Orzo Salad with Spinach and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I love this recipe for orzo salad with spinach and sun dried tomatoes for many reasons. The dressing is simple, but the mediterranean flavors are always crowd pleasing!

By Andrea Green, Contributing Writer

I love this recipe for orzo salad with spinach and sun dried tomatoes for many reasons.

First, the dressing is a simple red wine vinaigrette. Because it’s not a mayo-based dressing, it’s perfect for packing in lunches or for picnics.

Second, the classic Mediterranean flavors are always a crowd pleaser. Double or triple the recipe to bring it as a potluck side dish and everyone will be asking you for the recipe.

Finally, whole wheat orzo is my favorite whole wheat pasta. It cooks up just as tender as it’s white pasta counterpart.

However, I can’t always find whole wheat orzo in my local grocery store. I usually order a pack of 3 off Amazon and that tends to last me for several months. It’s well worth it since it cooks up quickly and is easily transformed into any number of side dishes.

I love this recipe for orzo salad with spinach and sun dried tomatoes for many reasons. The dressing is simple, but the mediterranean flavors are always crowd pleasing!

You do have a few options with this salad. If you want to add a bit of protein, it’s great with some chopped up chicken. I also like it with either mozzarella or a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Orzo Salad with Spinach and Sun Dried Tomatoes
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 12 pitted black olives, sliced
Instructions
  1. Place sun dried tomatoes in a cup of boiling hot water. Allow to plump in the hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and chop the tomatoes.
  2. Cook orzo according to package directions.
  3. Drain orzo and rinse under cold water to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and basil. Toss in the pasta.
  5. Gently stir in the spinach, tomatoes and olives.

If you like this pasta salad, you’ll want to check out my Lemony Pasta Salad for a Crowd. It’s perfect for bringing to summer BBQs!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through our links, we earn a small commission, which helps to keep this site going so that we can continue to offer free and useful content, so thanks!

The Benefits of Cooking and Baking with Stoneware

Have you heard of cooking and baking with stoneware? Not sure where to begin with using stoneware? or what the benefits are? Start here!

This post was originally published in 2010, but with more and more people looking for safer alternatives to their non-stick cookware, this is a great topic to revisit!

With all that I’ve been learning over the past few years about toxic materials in my various pots, pans and muffin tins, it has been so refreshing to find a safe alternative that I love using! I’ve discovered that high-quality stoneware easily meets all of my qualifications, being 100% safe, durable and effective.

I have slowly been building up a collection of stoneware, for both baking and cooking, and I could not be happier with it. Just today I told my husband that another piece under the Christmas tree would be a happy thing for me. Forget the jewelry, expensive clothes or fancy decor… I’m that rare wife who actually wants to receive a blender or a vacuum or a cookie sheet. Call me crazy.

Why I Choose Stoneware

Stoneware just makes sense for me for a number of reasons.

1. People have been using it for literally thousands of years.

It is not a new invention, which isn’t to say that all new inventions are bad, only that I like it when something has truly stood the test of time.

2. It produces quality baking results.

Stoneware heats very evenly which enables even a mediocre baker like me to attain excellent results (and anything that can do that for me gets my 2 thumbs up approval and a hearty thank you from my husband).

3. It is toxin-free.

So long as you double-check that the stoneware you are buying is made with lead-free clay (I’ll give you some shopping resources below), stoneware can be safely used without worrying about what is leaching at high temperatures or what little flecks of chemical coating are making their way onto your cupcakes.

4. It is heavy-duty, will last me forever, and is easier to use than you think.

When purchased from a reputable manufacturer, stoneware will come with a warranty (3 years is a common guarantee). If cared for well, it could possibly last until the tables turn and your children (or grandchildren!) begin to cook for you!

Seasoning Your Stoneware

Stoneware is similar in use to a cast iron pan. The goal is to “season” it using some type of fat or oil, so that it will develop a non-stick coating.

When you first receive your pan, give it a light but thorough coating with your fat or oil of choice. Personally, I choose to use fats that are saturated, as they remain stable even at high temperatures. I usually use coconut oil or beef tallow (lard would be fine as well). You can simply use your hands or a cloth to rub the oil thoroughly over the pan.

Another way to help season it is to use plenty of oil the first few times you use it. A great (and delicious) way to do this would be to make something like homemade baked french fries or oven roasted beets, if this suits the particular piece of stoneware. For something like a muffin tin, you could try make a slightly greasier muffin like these bacon, egg and cheese muffins. You could also oil the muffin tin well and then use unbleached muffin papers in the beginning, to allow the seasoning to set in but without ending up scraping muffin off the sides for those first uses.

Once you have done this several times and baked the stoneware with the oil on it, it will begin to be seasoned and you will find that foods stick less and less to it the more that you use it.

The combination of heat with the application of oils is what truly gets the seasoning into the stone. It sets it in and helps to create that layer of non-stick coating. So do make sure that the stoneware is baked at a high temperature with a good coat of oil on it, the first several times that you use it. It will also begin to darken and look a bit grungy as you do this, but remember that this is a sign that it is becoming seasoned and well loved. I liked this quote I found:

A good motto to remember is “The worse it looks, the better it cooks!”

Cleaning Your Stoneware

I will admit to you… sometimes I don’t actually clean mine. If I have only been baking cookies or making something like granola that comes off easily, I don’t wash my stone in water. I simply wipe it off with a dry cloth to remove any crumbs or bits of food, and then I put it away just like that.

If I have been making something like squash fries (which tend to stick more because they don’t crisp up the same way potato or sweet potato fries do), or a cake or sweet bread that sticks just a bit, then I use my rubber scraper to clean off all the food bits, then I use a bit of hot water and give it a quick rub, then dry it off.

The most important thing to remember is this: Soap is a no-no.

Never use soap on your stoneware and this is why:

1. It will strip away that oiled, seasoned finish that you have worked so hard to establish and it will no longer be non-stick at all.

2. The soap will actually be absorbed into the stone and it will affect the taste of your food.

If something really does end up sticking badly, the best thing I’ve found to do is to allow it to soak in plain hot water (no soap!) for about 10-20 minutes, and then use a scraper to work the food off as best you can. I have heard of people using baking soda to create a paste and use that to scrub their stoneware. I suppose that you could do this and it might not strip it as much as soap would, but I would be hesitant to go that route unless absolutely necessary.

The tool that every stoneware user should have:

These Nylon Pan Scrapers. They have four different shaped corners, each of which is ideal for getting into different grooves or angles in your stoneware dishes. I love my scrapers.

How and Where to Buy Stoneware

I will be the first to admit that stone bakeware and cookware is a bit pricier, but so worth the extra cost. Amazon carries some stoneware, their prices are decent, and you can often get shipping for free.

Pampered Chef sells their entire stoneware line in their online shop, or you can purchase it from Pampered Chef parties hosted in people’s homes.

Ebay is another place to source out stoneware. The prices are occasionally low, but usually not much different than you would find new elsewhere.

The Traditional Cook site also has a great selection of stoneware. It is run by a Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader, who wanted to use traditional cookware herself and now makes it available to others. She doesn’t carry every type of dish you might want, but what she does carry is guaranteed lead-free and also has a 3 year warranty.

You can sometimes find stoneware at garage sales and thrift stores, but be aware that you have no idea how it was previously cared for. You can definitely score some great pieces and then lovingly work to season them, and hopefully they will work out well for you. Unfortunately, you might also find items that just haven’t been cared for and could end up never developing a good non-stick seasoned coating, have soapy residues, or end up breaking or cracking due to misuse.

When you are looking, be sure to see whether the products are certified to be free of lead, cadmium and other toxins. They should be kiln fired at temperatures above 2000 or 21000 F.

Any other stoneware users out there? How do you care for your stoneware?

Top image by Jeff Nelson
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