gluten free vegan zucchini muffins!

It’s summer squash season, and I just harvested a foot long zucchini from my garden. That’s a whole lotta zucc! Top of my recipe list this year is zucchini muffins! and these most certainly deserve the exclamation point. Packed with fresh zucchini, dates, almonds and hemp seeds, and topped with buttery crumbles- you’ll definitely be going back for seconds. This moist, just sweet enough, and very satisfying recipe is a must-try for the season, and a healthy one at that- gluten, dairy and guilt free, so you can feel good about indulging!

Muffins, breads, salads, fritters, & fries… tell me your favorite zucchini recipe below.

Paws off my muffins!

vegan zucchini muffins
gluten free vegan recipe | yields 12 muffins

for the muffins:                                 for the crumb topping:
1.5 cups all purpose gluten free flour        1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1.5 heaping cups grated zucchini                 1/2 cup all purpose vegan flour
1/2 cup raw cane sugar                                    1/2 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup coconut oil                                           1/4 cup dairy free margarine, softened
1/3 cup sliced almonds                                    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup dates, pitted & diced
2 tablespoons flax meal
2 tablespoons filtered water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix flax meal with water in a small bowl and set aside. This will serve as our egg replacement.

2. Prepare the crumb topping: in a large bowl mix together flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon and sea salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in margarine until crumbles form. Set aside.

3. Prepare the muffin batter: in a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Set aside. In another mixing bowl whisk together the wet ingredients (soaked flax meal, coconut oil & vanilla extract) and fold in zucchini. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. Fold in hemp seeds, chopped dates, and sliced almonds.

4. Fill lined muffin tins about 3/4 of the way with batter. Top each muffin with at least a tablespoon of crumb topping. Bake at 350F for about 30 – 35 minutes, or until top is golden brown and a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and devour!

How do you eat your zucchini muffins?

raw vegan chocolate bars

Chocoholics, rejoice! Your favorite treat will no longer leave you feeling guilty, bloated, or quickly crashing after a much-needed fix. This recipe uses pure, raw, real-deal cacao (pronounced Ka-Kow), the heart of all chocolate. Don’t let Hershey’s or the FDA fool you- true chocolate is not mainly composed of sugar, artificial fillers and processed cocoa devoid of any nutritional value. It’s meant to be nourishing- rich in antioxidants and essential minerals, cacao is a serious mood and energy booster.

Wait a minute… cacao? Don’t you mean cocoa? Err, no. Chocolate comes from small tropical trees called Theobroma cacao. In Greek Theobroma means ‘food of the gods.’ These trees produce thick red and orange pods that shelter white flesh, inside which dark, bitter cacao beans lay snug as a bug.

Fun Fact: pure raw cacao contains more antioxidants than green and black teas, red wine, blueberries, goji berries, acai berries, and pomegranates all together. Raw cacao is one of the world’s most nutrient-rich foods, containing over 1,200 active compounds. It is especially beneficial for our hearts, protecting from heart disease and lowering blood pressure. Cacao also helps reduce bad cholesterol levels. It is an excellent source of magnesium, iron, manganese, chromium, sulfur, copper and zinc, and is rich in fiber. And maybe most well known, raw cacao contains phenethylamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter responsible for producing endorphins that bring about feelings of – sing it with me now – love and happiness.

Over the years the word “cacao” has been Anglicized and incorrectly replaced with the word “cocoa.” However, a recent rebirth of old-world artisanal chocolate making has ignited a return to the sweet treat’s true origins: cacao.

Cocoa is actually a processed by-product of cacao beans that comes in a powder form. It is produced from chocolate liquor, which is made by grinding fermented cacao nibs (bits of de-husked cacao beans) to a gritty, runny paste. The paste is then pressed to separate the cacao butter (fat) from the cacao paste (solids). The solids are then pressed again, dried, and milled into a powder. The Dutch method goes a step further by processing cocoa powder with alkali neutralizes its acidity and produces a milder flavor less bitter than natural cacao. However, this drastically reduces the amount of natural flavonols, or antioxidants, present in the cocoa powder.

Traditionally cacao beans are fermented then roasted to further develop their chocolate flavor and enhance their delicate, sometimes floral subtleties. This method, however, greatly impedes the cacao’s nutritional value by exposing it to high temperatures. My recipe calls for raw cacao paste and raw cacao butter to ensure the most nutritionally dense chocolate. It has endless variations, but the basic rendition below is a great base to start with. You can add just about any fun, fruity, nutty goodness, and subtract as much sugar as you like.

If the chocolate melts and then hardens again, it may appear chalky in appearance.  This is because it has partially or fully “fallen” out of temper.  The chocolate is still fine to eat and perfectly nutritious! The only result being that you may experience a different mouth feel.

raw vegan chocolate bars

vegan recipe | makes many many many bars

2 cups cacao paste
1/3 cup cacao butter
1/4 + 1/8 cup raw beet sugar
1/4 + 1/8 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Prep all your ingredients: Shave cacao paste and cacao butter into bits. Mill beet and cane sugar to a fine powder in a coffee grinder, Magic Bullet or Vitamix blender. Chop all your nuts and fruit.

Create a double boiler: Bring a large pot with a few inches of water to a simmer. Cover with a large glass or metal mixing bowl (about 2 – 3″ larger that the pot), making sure the water does not touch the bowl. The bowl should fit tightly into the pot, creating a seal so that no steam escapes.

Temper the chocolate: Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the inside of the bowl to monitor the chocolate’s temperature. Add the cacao butter to the double boiler, stirring gently with a rubber spatula as it melts. Once the butter has melted add half of the cacao paste, a little bit at a time, and continue to stir. Bring the chocolate to 115 degrees, no higher. Then remove it from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl, and set it on a heat-proof surface. Add the remaining half of the cacao paste, stirring gently to incorporate. This newly added cacao will bring down the temperature of the chocolate as it melts. Let the chocolate cool to below 84 degrees. Then return the bowl to the pot for 5 – 10 seconds, remove it and stir, repeating as necessary until the chocolate reaches 88 – 89 degrees. (Do not let the chocolate temperature exceed 91 degrees at this point!) Your chocolate is now tempered!

To make sure you have properly tempered your chocolate, spread a spoonful thinly over waxed paper and allow it to cool. When the chocolate cools it should be shiny and smooth. If it is dull or streaky, start the tempering process over.

Pour the chocolate into your molds: BPA free polycarbonate and silicone molds are the best to use, though inexpensive plastic molds are widely and readily available in most craft stores and supermarkets. I’ve even used a rubber ice cube tray and cookie cutters as molds, so get creative!

Pour your melted chocolate into its molds and add your nuts and dried fruit. Allow your chocolate to cool over night at room temperature. Once it hardens your chocolate is ready to enjoy!

Try making stuffed chocolate cups and hearts by pouring a thin layer of chocolate into the bottom of a mold and allowing it to harden. Then add a dollop of nut butter without letting it touch the sides of the mold. Cover completely with melted chocolate and leave out overnight, allowing it to harden completely. You now have peanut butter cups or cashew butter stuffed hearts!

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ch-ch-ch-chai chia

There’s a lot to be done with chia: you can make it your pet, turn it into pudding, sing a ditty about it, or rub it all over your body. I prefer the pudding, but whatever your chia fetish, just know that it’s a healthy one. (Hmmm, I’m actually not so sure about that.)

What I am sure about: chia seeds (yes, the same ones used with those adorably frightening chia pets, chia people, and, most recently, Chia Obama) are rich in protein (and complete protein at that!), omega-3 fatty acids (even more so than flax), and antioxidants. When compared to other good sources of fiber, chia reigns supreme, beating out even the dry figs and prunes grandma used to feed you when you couldn’t make #2 as a wee one. A true superfood, these teeny tiny seeds are also packed with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. (Don’t tell Popeye, but chia has over 6x more iron than spinach!)

Chia seeds were a staple in ancient Mayan and Aztec diets. They used chia primarily to increase stamina, and thousands of years later, this miracle seed is still being used by runners for long-lasting energy.

Chia seeds have the ability to absorb 9 to 12 times their weight in water. Like flax, a gel-like sac forms around each seed when soaked in liquid, so you can simply toss a tablespoon in a glass of water for your daily dose of protein and omega-3s. They are virtually tasteless, though have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Add dry chia to smoothies, oatmeal, baked goods, and salads for added nutrition. Or, try this delicious pudding on for size! (You can eat it, too, though it won’t be as moisturizing.) It’s great for breakfast, desert, or snacking, and can be stored for up to a week in the fridge. For all those tapioca pudding lovers out there, this one’s for you!

All together now: ch-ch-ch-chia!

chai chia pudding
vegan gluten-free recipe | yields about 3 1/2 cups

2 cups of your favorite mylk (I used Edensoy Milk)
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup chia seeds
2 tablespoons agave/raw honey/ stevia
1 1/2 tablespoons loose chai tea / 2 chai tea bags
splash vanilla extract
1/8 cup dried fruit of choice (I used raisins and currants)
1/8 cup chopped/slivered nuts (I used almonds)

Gently simmer, but do not boil, mylk and filtered water in a pot with chai tea for about 10 minutes. Strain liquid into a glass bowl and mix in dry chia seeds. Let sit, covered, in the fridge overnight, stirring occasionally to reduce clumping. (You can soak the seeds for less time, just until you see a gel-like sac forming around each seed, though soaking them for longer increases the amount of available nutrients.)

Just before serving, sprinkle pudding with dried fruit and nuts.

Nom nom nom chia make me happy.

How do you like your chia?

raw carrot ginger flax crackers

Super yum with a satisfying crunch that so many raw foods leave you yearning for, these are a staple in any raw kitchen. These flax crackers are gluten-free, vegan, packed with fiber and healthy omegas, and will make your hair nice and shiny. Simply put, they’re delicious and nutritious!

raw carrot ginger flax crackers

raw vegan recipe | makes about 32 one-inch crackers

1 cup milled flax seeds
1 1/2 cups purified water
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 large clove minced garlic (about 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped ginger blended with 2 tablespoons purified water
2 1/2 cups fresh carrot juice pulp
3 1/2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos / Tamari / Soy Sauce
3 tablespoons whole flax seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons agave
2 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon allspice

1. Mix water and milled flax together in a medium sized bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. In the mean time prep your veggies.

2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.

3. Spread evenly onto two dehydrator sheets. Be sure to use parchment paper or Teflex sheets (never wax paper! that could get messy).

4. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 4 hours, then score the crackers with a rubber spatula. Flip crackers over and remove Teflex sheets. Dehydrate for another 4 hours or until nice and crispity crunchy. OR if you do not have a dehydrator, put these babies in the oven on the lowest setting with the door propped open. Use a fan for circulation if possible (obviously do not put the fan in the oven, just pointed towards the oven). With the oven method you may only have to dehydrate for half as much time, so be sure to keep an eye on these crackers.

Note: If it is humid where you are, you will have to dehydrate your crackers for longer for a crispy cracker. Enjoy alone (yes, they are that good!), with your favorite cheesy spread, pate,  white bean hummus, or dehydrate for less time until pliable and fill with veggies for a filling rawlicious wrap.

Store these crackers in an airtight container (I prefer glass) for several months. (If you are skeptical of the shelf life, keep em in the fridge.) 

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a vegan’s best friend: nutritional yeast

The name might sound a bit scary and indelectable, and you may know of a cat with a serious addiction to it, but I promise nutritional yeast is your friend. And a very good one at that.

Let me begin by disavowing the unsavory etymology of the stuff. Some prefer “nooch” over nutritional yeast, a much friendlier sounding label, so let’s stick with that.

What is “nooch” (nutritional yeast)?

A cousin of edible mushrooms, nooch is a yellow flaky or powder supplement made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to “deactivate” it. This means that it has no leavening ability, and will not make your bread rise like baking yeast. It is not active dry, instant or fresh yeast. It is not brewer’s yeast, a very bitter tasting product of the beer-making process. It is not torula yeast. It is also not dairy or whey yeast.

You would never want to substitute any of the aforementioned yeasts for nutritional yeast as 1. it will taste absolutely horrid and 2. you will probably be left with a big frothy mess of a meal.

Why should I eat nutritional yeast?

As the name implies, it is packed with nutrition, specifically the kind vegans crave. Its dietary roster includes B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and protein. Most brands (not all- check the label) of nooch are fortified with B12, an essential vitamin majorly absent from the plant kingdom. It is also rich in dietary fiber, low in fat and sodium, and gluten-free.

Truthfully, the vitamins and minerals are just a plus for me. It’s the flavor that I love. Nooch is unbelievably savory. Nooch is deliciously nutty. Nooch is incredibly cheesy. All in all, it’s sinlessly delicious.

How should I use nutritional yeast?

The combinations are truly endless, but here’s my favorite ways to eat nutritional yeast:

  • swirl nooch into soup, sauces and stews for more depth of flavor
  • sprinkle it on popcorn
  • toss it on toast with Earth Balance and garlic powder for easy cheesy garlic bread
  • fluff it into mashed potatoes
  • blend it with raw almonds and a touch of lemon juice for a Parmesan substitute
  • shake it with salads or dark greens like kale and spinach
  • speckle it on steamed or stir-fried veggies
  • add it to roasted potatoes fresh out of the oven
  • powder into vegan egg dishes for a more authentic flavor
  • top off any pasta dish for a cheesy finish
  • mix it with gravy for that “umami” touch

Where can I find nutritional yeast?

Most health food stores carry nooch, and often times in the bulk section. Popular brands include Bob’s Red Mill, KAL, Now Foods and Red Star. Chain supermarkets are just beginning to stock their shelves with nutritional yeast, but you can always find it at Whole Foods or online.

How to best store nutritional yeast

Nooch is best kept in an airtight container in a dry, dark, cool place for up to a year. Store it in a pantry, refrigerator, cupboard or freezer.

How do you eat nutritional yeast? Tell us below! We’d love to hear your favorite nooch concoctions…

maple pecan grawnola

Granwnola. Mmm-mmm-mmm! This is one of the most delightful, scrumptious & grounding raw foods there is. And it’s easy! I decided to go the gluten-free route and include sprouted buckwheat (also known as buckwheaties for their delicious crunch) instead of oats, so it took an extra two days for sprouting. If you are in a hurry you can skip the sprouted grains and simply use nuts, seeds and fruit. 

The best part about making granola is that you can use whatever you have at hand. Consider this recipe a guide and try different nuts, seeds, and fruits. You can also experiment with various sweeteners like honey and agave. If you don’t have a dehydrator just spread the batter on a cookie sheet and put it in the oven at the lowest possible temperature, leaving the door ajar for air circulation. 

Serve granola with raw almond milk and blueberries, pack in a baggie as a hiking snack, or sprinkle on coconut ice cream for a crunchy sundae. If you prefer chewy snack bars simply mold the batter into desired shape and dehydrate for less time. Voila!

Experiment and have fun! Just make sure to let me know how you prefer your granola below :) 

maple pecan grawnola
raw vegan gluten-free recipe | yields about 11 cups

3 cups pecans, soaked for at least 2 hours, then drained
2 cups almonds, soaked for at least 4 hours, then drained
2 1/2 cups sprouted and dried buckwheat groats
1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked for at least 2 hours, then drained
1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked for at least 2 hours, then drained
1 apple, peeled, cored & diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried currants
1/2 cup dates, pitted & diced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 + 1/8 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon purified water
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1. In a food processor combine 1/2 of apple, maple syrup, lemon juice, dates, 1/8 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/8 cup sunflower seeds, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. Process until completely smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the remaining pumpkin and sunflower seeds to the food processor (don’t bother rinsing the bowl) and pulse several times until coarsely chopped. Add them to the mixing bowl with the syrup, and repeat with almonds and pecans.

3. Add cranberries, currants, and buckwheat groats to large mixing bowl. Fold nuts, seeds and fruit into syrup until all ingredients are well combined.

4. Spread the granola onto three or four Teflex-lined dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 115 degrees for 6 to 8 hours. Flip the granola over onto the screens and peel away the Teflex. Continue dehydrating for another 8 to 12 hours, or until granola is crunchy. Once completely cooled, break granola into pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a few weeks. Keep in refrigerator to maintain freshness.

How do you like your grawnola?

south of the border black bean quinoa salad

Inca warriors fought to the death with a deep, invincible self belief. They entered the battlefield in unsettling repose- silent in swift yet seemingly motionless form- to fearlessly engage the enemy in raw hand-to-hand combat. They often returned from battle with the severed heads of their opponents in their hands. They endured a blood-soaked thirty-six-year-long guerrilla war and fought til the very last man was taken down. How did they do it, you ask? Quinoa.

A rediscovered ancient grain, quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) was called the “mother grain” by the Incas and was traditionally used to increase warriors’ stamina for said events. Tough battles call for super yum, energy-dense meals (especially when they might be your last)- quinoa has a delicious nutty flavor and fluffy yet slightly crunchy texture. It’s a vegan staple for those concerned with protein intake. In fact, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. It is very rich in lysine, an antiviral amino acid that is essential for tissue growth and repair (like for, say, rabid bloodthirsty battle recovery), which can only be obtained from food. Lysine is often prescribed by nutritionists and doctors for Bell’s palsy, cold sores, various injuries, surgical recovery, and athletic stamina.  Loaded with magnesium, quinoa is also great for those who suffer from migraines, cardiovascular issues and deep tissue wounds. It’s also gluten free!

Black bean quinoa salad is a delicious and healthy substitute for traditional rice and beans. This hearty dish can be eaten alone as a meal or as a side with tortilla soup and a mixed greens salad.

south of the border black bean quinoa salad

vegan recipe | serves 6

2 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly and drained
3 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon vegetable base / 3 bouillon cubes / 3 cups vegetable broth (omit water)
1/4 cup lime juice
1 large avocado, diced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
1 medium sized red onion, peeled and diced
5 – 7 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 15oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (for a little kick)

1. Combine quinoa, water and bouillon base in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all water is absorbed (about 15 – 20 minutes).

2. While quinoa is cooking saute garlic and onions in olive oil until fragrant and translucent over low – medium flame. Add corn and black beans, and continue sauteing for another 5 minutes or so. Mix in tomatoes and spices until well blended and cook for another 5 – 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Mix quinoa and sauteed vegetables. Add cilantro and lime juice, and blend well. Fold in diced avocado and serve with a sprig of fresh cilantro and a dollop of salsa. Enjoy while hot!

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miso-hungry split pea soup

For many, cooked peas bring back childhood memories of angst, and are strictly categorized as survival food. No matter how cute the name (greenie beanies and pea-peas), veggies can be difficult for some kids to swallow.  I’m here to help you grow up. All you have to do (after cooking this deliciously filling soup, of course) is sit back with a piece of toasty crusted bread and relish each bite of creamy, savory, flavorful goodness that I promise will warm you to your toes.

This delicious rib-sticking textured soup is sure to call everyone back for seconds, and is healthy enough for a cleanse! The miso lends a creamy, buttery consistency and nutty flavor while the seaweed complements the sweet peas with its savory essence- no croutons required. Immune supporting and energy producing trace minerals are abundant in this Eastern inspired twist on traditional split pea soup, and the legumes are rich in protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. And, it’s both vegan and gluten-free!

I make mine in a large batch to last through the week. For a small portion simply divide the ingredients in half. When you reheat, make sure not to boil the soup, as this will destroy the active enzymes in the miso paste.

miso-hungry split pea soup
vegan recipes | serves 14

25 cups filtered water
5 cups split peas, rinsed and drained
3 medium onions, peeled and diced
5 medium carrots, sliced
1 head of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup chickpea miso paste
1/2 cup ginger paste (4 – 5 inch piece of ginger blended with 4 – 5 tablespoons water)
1/4 cup vegetable bouillon paste (try Better Than Bouillon) or about 7 – 10 low sodium bouillon cubes
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1 large sheet of kombu (or 5 – 6 strips), torn into bits
1/2 sheet nori seaweed, torn into bits
3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1. Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add peas and continue boiling uncovered until soft, about 40 minutes. Skim foam from surface of water as necessary.

2. Add onions, garlic, kombu, nori, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and vegetable bouillon. Simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

3. Add carrots and continue simmering for 30 minutes, covered.

4. Remove from heat and stir in rice vinegar and miso paste until completely dissolved. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh dill.

fluoride-free homemade toothpaste

Why don’t I just buy a tube? Well, for one, the chemicals. The authority we too often grant to big name brands has overshadowed the dangers of toxic and carcinogenic ingredients included in most commercially produced toiletries, cosmetics, cleaning products, clothing and food. As a general rule of thumb, I try to avoid consuming products with tongue-twister ingredients or those which sound synthetic. FD&C Blue No. 1, titanium dioxide, polyethylene glycol 1500, methylparaben and propylparaben are just a few of the poisonous ingredients commonly used to make toothpaste. Personally, I don’t enjoying putting poison in my mouth. Especially not 2 – 3 times a day.

Not So Fun Fact: Virginia Tech researchers have discovered that triclosan, a widely-used synthetic antimicrobial agent found in most hand and dish soaps, toothpastes, lotions, acne treatments, and cosmetics reacts with chlorine in tap water to produce chloroform. So, if you are brushing with triclosan-containing toothpaste and rinsing with chlorinated water, a very deadly chemical reaction is taking place right in your mouth. Chloroform causes cancer, promotes nervous system disorders, damages the liver, kidneys, and heart, and can lead to death. In fact, it was used to make phosgene, a chemical weapon employed during World War I.

Then there is the widely debated issue of fluoride, a byproduct of industrial waste, which has been linked to cancer, bone disease, gastrointestinal ailments, brain damage, kidney disease, and impaired thyroid function. Fluoride is “more acutely toxic than lead,” yet it is still used in commercial toothpastes and mouthrinses, and is added to tap water throughout much of the US. In case you are still not convinced: it’s a common ingredient in rat poison.

The second reason not to purchase chemically-laden toothpaste is to alleviate your impact on the environment. The chemicals present in our toiletries and common household cleaning products get washed down the drain to sully our water supply and pose a toxic threat to plants and animals. Most of those chemicals are non-biodegradable, and so once released into the environment remain infinitely intact to continue polluting the Earth.

The third reason to get crafty with your daily tooth cleaning practice is because it’s way more cost effective than buying typical brand-name pastes. Have you ever noticed how expensive toothpaste has become? A 3.5 ounce tube can run you up to $9! I find that absurd, especially considering that making your own can cost as little as $0.13/ounce.

Easy, Inexpensive & Natural:

Fluoride-Free Homemade Toothpaste Recipe

You will need:
3/8 cup Baking Soda A mild abrasive that gently cleanses teeth and gums. It also sweetens breath while preventing tooth decay.
1/8 cup Peroxide Kills bacteria and whitens teeth.
6 – 12 drops of your favorite Essential Oil Different oils serve different purposes, but generally speaking the oils are used to naturally flavor the paste without using artificial chemicals. Peppermint oil, for instance, also freshens your breath and gives you energy. Cinnamon and lavender are antimicrobial. Rosemary gets rid of halitosis almost immediately. I also recommend clove and fennel.
3 1/2 tablespoons Xylitol A naturally occurring sugar alcohol sweetener. Xylitol is found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables, and can be extracted from various berries, oats, and mushrooms. Fibrous material such as corn husks and birch trees are also popular sources of the low-calorie sweetener. The World Health Organization has given xylitol its safest food rating, and doctors around the globe have recommended diabetics use xylitol as a sugar substitute for decades. Xylitol is a perfect ingredient in toothpaste because it sweetens while killing cavity-forming bacteria and preventing tooth decay.
1 teaspoon Sea Salt It’s a natural abrasive and cleanser that reduces tartar and plaque buildup.

What to do: Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid, and stir to combine. Voila- homemade toothpaste!

The mixture doesn’t need to be refrigerated- you simply store the paste in its airtight glass container next to your toothbrush. Then just spoon some out for use or dip your dry toothbrush directly into it. If you are squeemish about double-dipping or sharing the paste, put the mixture into a sandwich bag, squeeze to the bottom, and cut a tiny hole at a corner. You can also use a small squeeze bottle or old honey container.

If you prefer a powder mixture, simply omit the peroxide.

If you have sensitive gums that often bleed when brushing, try adding coconut oil to your paste or simply rub it on your gums to sooth sore areas. It is also naturally antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, so it helps kill harmful bacteria and treat/prevent gingivitis.

Do you have any tips or suggestions? Share your latest DIY project with us below!

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

chipotle black bean burgers

Even the toughest of omnivore critics cannot deny that these burgers are yum. I love making this recipe in bulk (as with most of my concoctions) so I can freeze the uneaten patties, though they have yet to last longer than 2 days in my house. (What’s wrong with burgers for breakfast? My point exactly.) If you are worried about the commitment, cut the recipe in half. And have fun with it- add corn, cilantro or roasted red peppers. Try it with a vegan chipotle mayo. Top with creamy avocado and freshly sliced tomato. You can even stir fry crumbed patty bits for a ground beef substitute to enjoy in burritos. The best part is that these chipotle black bean burgers are vegan, gluten free, low fat, and high in protein, so you can feel good about eating them!

chipotle black bean burgers
vegan recipes | yields about 10 two inch patties

3 cups cooked black beans (rinse & drain if using canned)

2 1/3 cups cooked quinoa

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into quarters

8 sundried tomatoes

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 small green pepper, chopped into quarters

1/4 cup water

1 large dry chipotle pepper, diced (remove seeds to reduce heat)

3/8 cup + 1/2 tablespoons flax meal, soaked in enough water to cover

3/8 cup nutritional yeast

2 1/2 tablespoons cumin powder

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1. Soak flax meal in water for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (You want an egg-like consistency.) Preheat over to 375 degrees.

2. In a food processor, finely chop garlic, onion, green and chipotle peppers, and sundried tomatoes. Add 2 1/3 cups black beans and process until mashed.

3. Empty contents from food processor into a large bowl and add spices, soaked flax meal, nutritional yeast, quinoa, and remaining black beans. Mix thoroughly. If necessary, add water. You are going for a thick paste that will hold its shape.

4. Taste test time! How are they? I like mine spicy! Please note that flavors will mild out once cooked. Make alterations if necessary.

5. Divide mixture into 10 patties and place on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Enjoy on toasted bread with your choice of toppings. Yum!

How do you eat your black bean burgers?


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