Tag Archives: natural

Homemade Tahini and My New Favorite Sandwich

I use A LOT of tahini.  I need it for hummus, salad dressing, sauces and as a spread for my new favorite sandwich (that I came up with during a moment of divine inspiration.  Recipe below.)  The problem is, tahini is expensive!  The supermarket brand, which I don’t love, is $7 a can.  Once Again, my favorite brand, is $10 a jar.  Yikes!

Clearly, I needed to learn how to make my own.  The good news is that is EASY, delish and SO MUCH CHEAPER.  I found a recipe on Kimberly Killegrew’s  The Daring Gourmet website.  All you need are sesame seeds, a little oil and a food processor or blender.  I ordered a five pound bag of hulled sesame seeds… (as I mentioned I use A LOT of tahini.)  You toast the seeds until they are golden brown; let ’em cool, toss ’em in the food processor with a little olive oil and that’s it!  One thing I did do differently than Kimberly was toast the sesame seeds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the oven, rather than in a skillet on the stove top.

Now for the sandwich!  I invented this recipe while I was rushing around making lunch one morning,  When you are a strict vegetarian and short on time, you need to get a little creative when it comes to lunch sometimes.  You will need two slices of bread. I prefer rye.  Spread the tahini on both slices.  Drizzle Sriracha sauce over the tahini.  Drizzle honey over the sriracha sauce.  Add a slice of beautiful tomato (preferably from the Farmer’s Market or at least organic.) Enjoy with or without a pickle.  It is so good!  It’s sweet and hot with the yummy nuttiness from the sesame seeds.  Oh my goodness!

Cynthia's Favorite Sandwich

Cynthia’s Favorite Sandwich


Do you make your own tahini?  Would you try it now that you know how easy and cheap it is?  Leave me a reply.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,


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Natural Beauty DIY: Better than Store-bought Facial Exfoliant

Most people know by now that commercial facial exfoliants with those little plastic micro beads are bad for the environment and have looked for alternatives.  Thank Goodness!

However, I don’t understand why people are willing to still buy products, containing other harmful ingredients, in packaging (that may or not be recyclable) and throw down a huge chunk of change to do it.  I just did a quick search and saw a dozen or so facial exfoliants, ranging in price from $5 to $50.  My facial exfoliant is all natural, only has two ingredients and costs practically nothing.  You can make it right now.

Honey-Sugar Facial Exfoliant

Pour approximately a tablespoon of honey onto a dish or in a small bowl.  Add a teaspoon of sugar. Mix them together.  Apply to damp skin in gentle circular motions with your fingertips.  Avoid your eye area.  (If any gets in your mouth, eat it!)  Rinse with warm water.  Voila! Beautiful smooth skin!

Sometimes, we seem to consume for no other reason than …just because.  Our inner child is lured by a shiny new package (destined to crowd landfills and pollute our oceans.)   We are looking for a quick fix to assuage our fears and insecurities.  So we buy something that we not only don’t need but may cause us harm either through artificial ingredients or by befouling Mama Earth.  Let’s top the madness; shall we?  Let’s take care of ourselves by being creative instead of blindly consuming.

How do exfoliate your skin?  Do you DIY your beauty products?  Leave me a reply.  I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings,


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Natural Lady: DIY Make-up Remover and Reusable Rounds

It took me a very long time to find an eye make-up remover that I liked.  A lot of them would sting my eyes or leave my skin chafed.  I found I really like the make-up remover wipes from Trader Joe’s but they were quite pricey. There were only 20 in a pack, requiring me to buy 2 a month.  All that plastic packaging and disposable material made me feel a little guilty.  So, I decided to try to make my own.

I culled through dozens of Do-it-yourself recipes on the internet.  They were wildly disparate and contradictory at times but three ingredients kept coming up over and over: witch hazel, water and some kind of oil.  Of course, I could find little consensus on how much to pour of each in order to make a bottle.  So, I decided not to use a bottle at all.

reusable rounds

I use a reusable round (mine are made out of bamboo and are really more oblong) and I put a drop of jojoba oil on it, followed by a drop of witch hazel and then I spritz it with rose water.  And voila! It works great and doesn’t sting.

Effectiveness is only one benefit.  There are others. I like keeping all these ingredients separate because I use them all separately as well.  By combining them as needed, on the spot, I am less likely to run out of anything and not have it available to use for another purpose.  Oh my goodness, the money you save!  I used to spend between around $10 a month on those wipes.  I have had that bottle of witch hazel for years.  Jojoba lasts a really long time too because you need to use so little of it.  The rose water I go through fairly quickly but that’s only because I like to spray all over my body from head to toe.

Do you think you will give it a try?  Do you have your own formula?  Leave me a reply in the comments section.

Many blessings,


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Natural Pain-Relieving Beverage: Turmeric Milk

A few months ago, I found out that my neck had been injured quite severely over the years. I will go into more detail on this in a future post but one of the things I found out is that I essentially have arthritis in my neck, as a result.

I knew that I wanted to find a more natural way of handling the pain, which at times could be quite severe. So, I started researching natural remedies and turmeric kept coming up again and again.

Turmeric is an Asian spice. You have probably had it in curry or commercially-produced yellow mustard. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Curcumin is the component in turmeric that is most often cited for blocking inflammation and having positive effects in treating arthritis. Turmeric has also shown promising results in treating and preventing cancer, as well as, Alzheimer’s.

I add turmeric into certain dishes and often include it in my salad dressing. One of the tastiest ways that I have discovered to take turmeric is to drink it in a warm beverage. It tastes a bit like chai tea but a little earthier

Turmeric Milk:

One Cup of Milk (I use almond milk)

One Heaping Teaspoon of Turmeric

One Teaspoon of Honey

A Generous Sprinkle of Cinnamon

A Pinch of Nutmeg

Put the cup of milk in a saucepan and heat on low. Add the other ingredients. Stir until the honey is dissolved. Do not boil it! Just gently warm it. It should be pleasantly warm, not hot. Put in your favorite mug and enjoy!

Will you try Turmeric Milk? Do you have a favorite natural and delicious drink to deal with a health ailment? Let me know in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.

Many blessings to All,


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Naturally Beneficial: Behold The Mighty Dandelion!

Today, winter turns into spring but it’s snowing… So, it seems like a good time for you and me to discuss dandelions. That’s right, dandelions. Before you decide to kill them again this year, I implore you, let them live. Let them live!

I don’t know who convinced the American public- at-large that we all need lawns that look like pristine, lush, green carpets – probably some brilliant but evil marketing genius at a chemical company – but that person should have been sho- ahem, given a stern talking-to!

Anyway, however it happened, it’s a damn shame because the dandelion, and other so-called weeds with wonderful health-benefitting properties, went from friend to foe in the space of a generation, when all they ever wanted to do was heal us and the rest of the planet. That’s right! Those lovely, little yellow flowers are really nature’s medicine. Dandelions are meant to nourish us and many other species.

The bees, for example, rely on dandelions for food in the spring before many other flowers are blooming and again in the autumn, after less hearty blossoms have long been spent. Much has been made recently about the declining bee populations and the dire consequences that stem from their loss. You can help the little buggers out by leaving the dandelions alone! I mentioned in an earlier post that you may have noticed your dog or cat eating dandelions. They do this because instinctively they know that dandelions will clean them out and improve their health. Dandelions are a mild diuretic and they are high in vitamins and minerals. *

Guess what? Dandelions will help get you healthy and clean you out too! I can hear you now. “Oh Cynthia! You’re being weird again! There is no way I am picking dandelions from my yard and eating them!” Well, you don’t have to eat them straight from the yard. Bring them in the house and wash them first for Goodness’ Sake!

Early spring dandelion leaves are quite tender and delicious in a raw salad. I have also put them in smoothies. A lovely herbal tea can be made from fresh or dried dandelion leaves. Wildman Steve Brill has several interesting cooked dandelion root recipes on his website. You can even make the flowers into wine! (I gotta try that… one of these days!)

Have I convinced you not to poison or rip out and discard this misunderstood herb yet? Are you impressed by all the health-improving benefits offered by the mighty dandelion? If you still feel weird about picking these beautifully abundant plants, you can always go to Fairway and pay several dollars for a bunch instead of allowing them to grow in your own backyard!

What’s your take on dandelions? Friend or foe? Leave a comment and let me know!


*A somewhat decent but by no means complete list of dandelion’s beneficial properties:

  1. Food for animals and insects
  2. Diuretic
  3. Eases indigestion

Good source of:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Biotin
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorous
  • Inositol
  • B Vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin D

Love and Blessings to All,




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Natural Pets: Eat Your Veggies Fido!

I couldn’t figure out why the tomatoes kept disappearing right as they were ready to be picked. No one in my family would admit to taking them. Then one day I was standing at the kitchen sink, looking out the window and I saw Quincy, our faithful mutt, throwing his body against the pots. As he knocked the ripe tomatoes down, he would gobble them up as soon as they hit the ground.

You’re not a carnivore and neither is your dog. There I said it. I can just imagine all the immediate protests that statement might instigate. “Polite: you are mistaken my dog is a carnivore.” Outrage: “Are you out of your $#@%^^& mind, Woman!”

It’s true though. My Dad LOVES read meat. He considers himself a carnivore. I suspect he knows that he is really an omnivore but he won’t admit it. If my mom let him, he would have red meat at every meal. (You should see what the guy orders on pizza! You can’t even see the cheese.) If I had my way he would be an herbivore. Alas, Dad is an omnivore and so is his bichon frise, Lucy.

Lucy loves veggies so much that she will sit on the floor by my feet while I am cutting them and whine for me to throw her a treat. Her favorite is the stems from kale. (My dog Chauncy enjoys these as well.) The best way to get her to eat her whole dinner is to include steamed veggies in the mix. One of their other faves is cut up pieces of the stalk from broccoli.

Why do some many people believe dogs are carnivores then? Some of the obvious reasons would be that dogs have long, sharp teeth that would seem ideal for ripping flesh and hunting. They are also closely associated with wolves, who many would agree are carnivores but there have been arguments made that wolves are omnivorous as well. Although, physically they are built as carnivores, dogs appear to have adapted over thousands of years of hanging with humans and are now suited to a more varied diet. Dogs are capable of metabolizing carbohydrates.

Dogs may have always been a bit instinctually omnivorous anyway. Have you ever noticed your dog eating grass and dandelions in your backyard? They are not being weird. They are smart. Dogs know what humans have forgotten. Many weeds are natural cleansers for the body. Dandelions are especially wonderful because not only do they act as a diuretic, clearing the body of waste, they are also rich in many vitamins and minerals. (More on that in a future post.)

Dogs, like humans, benefit from a varied diet including fruit, vegetables and lean proteins. (There is some debate about whether or not dogs should eat grains. There is also debate over whether humans should either. It’s beyond the scope of this blog but it is worth investigating on your own if you choose.) Some vegans believe that dogs (and cats) can maintain good health and feed their pets meatless meals and supplements. Personally, I am not comfortable omitting meat from my dog’s diet. He seems to thrive on well-balanced diet of meat, raw & steamed veggies and some grains.

Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores. Although, they do eat grass to cleanse their systems like dogs do, they are biologically built for meat consumption. They have sharp teeth and nails, short digestive tracks, heavy-duty acids to break down raw meat. A vegetarian or vegan diet contains no taurine, an essential amino acid for cats but one they cannot produce on their own. Although, it is possible to supplement a cat’s diet to include taurine and other essentials that would be absent in a vegan diet, I do not think this would be the NATURAL choice for a cat. I respect nature… thus the name of my blog.

Does your dog eat his or her veggies? Let me know in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!

Love and Blessings to All,




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Natural Hair Care: Are You Caring for Your Hair or Just Styling It?

I stopped coloring my hair sometime in the spring of 2012.  I figured at a certain point in life, you just have to be good enough the way you are.  And I figured if my hair is more brown than blonde these days, well, I’m still loveable.

When I moved in with my folks after Hurricane Sandy, Mom threatened for a while to highlight my hair while I was sleeping… “Come on, just a few to frame your face, Cindy.”  She realized though that I was serious about going natural and eventually gave up.

My natural hair care has since gone even wilder than putting a halt on chemical color.  I noticed that although my hair wasn’t breaking off as much when I stopped, it still seemed to break more than I felt it should.  A little investigation revealed that harsh chemicals aren’t just in hair color and lighteners; they are in nearly every mass-market, commercial hair product we use.   I’m not just talking about mousse, hairspray and gel; they are in your shampoo and conditioner too.  Grab a bottle of anything you use on your hair (or face or body) and see how many of the ingredients you can pronounce.

In the interest of keeping your interest and this blog post a considerate length, I will not be explaining the perils of every ingredient.  (You’re welcome!) One of the biggest culprits in shampoo and body washes is Sodium Laureth (Lauryl) Sulfate, a foaming agent.  Ohhhh, I like a rich foamy lather!  The problem is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a known skin and eye irritant.  It’s kind of funny that we would choose to slather our skin with something that irritates it.  Are we all a bunch of masochists?  The other big concern with SLS is the manufacturing process, know as ethoxylation, produces 1,4 dioxane contamination, a known carcinogen.  Products with SLS contain traces of these 1,4 dioxanes.

It’s easy to dismiss it and say “weeeeelllll, if it is only trace amounts… is it really going to cause cancer?”  Well, I don’t know but when you consider how often most people wash their hair and skin… you are putting this stuff all over your body every day!  That’s a pretty significant environmental toxin if you ask me.

Sulfates are not just potentially poisonous; they also damage your hair and skin.  Ironic, right?  Harsh chemicals in all types of hair care products are dehydrating your hair and stripping off the natural oils that make your hair naturally soft and shiny.  The more products you use, the more you damage your hair.  Then the more you damage your hair, you use even MORE products to make it look shiny and healthy again.  The crazy part is that if we didn’t use these products (or heated styling tools) our hair would be shiny and healthy!  Even more ironic, right?!

Americans never used to wash or style their hair this much.  I remember my Nana would get her hair washed and set once a week.  That shellac-ed masterpiece looked about the same going into the salon, as it did coming out.  I don’t want my hair to look like a helmet but it does show, you can go a week without shampooing and your hair won’t smell or look greasy.

You might think your hair is especially oily and needs to be shampooed every day.  I did.  However, the truth is that is how you trained your scalp.  When you constantly strip your natural oils away, your scalp makes more oil to compensate.  When you stop shampooing all the time, your scalp will slow down the oil production.  At this point, I wash my hair twice a week: on Wednesdays, I shampoo and condition it (with a low hazard, organic shampoo and conditioner); over the weekend, I do a baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse (acv).  I have fine hair.  So, if it looks a touch oily in between washes, I sprinkle a little arrow root powder on it to absorb the oil.  I find this also creates volume at the roots.  How nifty is that?  No mousse or hairspray.  All natural, you can even eat it.

A good rule of thumb in general… if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, you probably want to at least limit how much you put on your skin.

So, tell me, how often do you shampoo?

Love and Blessings to all,



Are you intrigued by washing your hair with baking soda and rinsing it with apple cider vinegar?  Crunchy Betty has already laid it out brilliantly http://www.crunchybetty.com/no-poo-to-you-too

Would you like to know the hazard level on the products you use?  Then you might want to check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database,  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/  There is an app you can download to your smartphone or apple mobile device to scan bar codes.  So, you can be informed before you purchase.

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Return of the Neti Pot: Getting the Gunk out with Nasal Irrigation!

I started using a neti pot over ten years ago.  I still remember the day I got it because when I mentioned to my mom, during our weekly phone call, that I was going to the health food store to pick one up, she was revolted by the concept.  She kept referring to it as my “nettle pot.” (P.S. About a year later though, she asked me to pick one up for her after she read an article in the Times about an opera singer who uses a neti pot.)

A lot of people, particularly in the United States, are appalled by the idea of using a little pot (that looks like a cross between a ceramic teapot and a magic genie lantern) to pour salty water into one nostril; so it can run through your nasal passages and come out the other nostril.  It can be a little intimidating the first time you use it.   Fearful of drowning, I remember leaning as far forward as possible, to ensure I could still breathe through my mouth while I was irrigating.  I was willing to try it though because I had a lot of sinus trouble, particularly when I was still consuming dairy.

I hadn’t used it since my nose was broken six months ago.  This morning I woke up with dry eyes and felt that twinge in my sinuses that lets me know that something is in there and it needs to come out. My nose finally started to feel normal again over the last week.  So, I broke out the neti pot and got to irrigating.  I won’t gross you out with the details but let’s just say it was very productive.

The benefits to using a neti pot are numerous.  It obviously gets the gunk out.  I have avoided sinus headaches by using it when I get that first twinge.  It’s also good for treating sinusitis and helping to clear a sinus infection or a cold.  Allergy sufferers can use it to clean pollen and other irritants out.  The best part is that it is all natural, no harsh chemicals …just water, salt and gravity.

Do you use a neti pot?  Would you consider?  I would love to hear your experiences or answer any questions you may have.

Love and blessings to all.


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Healing: Turning Why into What on the Road to Wellness

Almost always, after a personal trauma or crisis, the big question is, “Why did this happen to me?” … Why now… why me?  I experienced a double whammy of this after I fell on March 2nd.

Falling down a flight of stairs and being injured like I was seemed so unfair; I had just begun to feel like I was getting my act together after Hurricane Sandy and now this… why?  I realized though I already knew why.  It’s pretty simple.  It happened because I was careless and there are no mulligans in situations like this one.  What I really wanted to know was how to turn back time and get to do it again but hold the handrail this time.  Not gonna happen, Cynthia.

The better question is “What can I learn from this?”  Another is “how do I become better for having had this experience?”

One of the best ways I have discovered since Hurricane Sandy to stop feeling sorry for myself is to start counting blessings.  What are my blessings?  1. I am alive.  Several people have shared stories with me of people who had an accident similar to mine but didn’t fare nearly as well. 2.  I am grateful for what is working well: my brain, internal organs and spine are fine.  I can walk and breathe.  3.  I am thankful for the support that I have:  My parents have been helping me in so many different ways since this happened: food, shelter, care, making phone calls, talking me for me, scheduling and driving me to doctor appointments.  My friends and relatives have been texting me to check in because they know my jaw is wired shut and I can’t talk.  My dog Chauncy has only really left my side to eat (and to tussle with my folks’ bichon Lucy)  since I have been home from the hospital. 4.  I found a good doctor who has begun putting my mouth back together.  5. Percocet (I normally avoid pharmaceuticals but this situation has proven exceptional.)   6.  The bruises are fading.  7.  The swelling is going down.  I am fortunate in that I can go on and on.

Since I have begun this shift from self-pity to gratitude, I have noticed that I feel better.  I have a road ahead of me to recover from this accident but starting out on the right foot seems to make a really big difference.  If whatever, you focus on tends to expand then I choose to focus on being positive and believing in my body’s innate ability to heal.

Another opportunity I have here is to learn how to help my body heal itself.  Did you know that sea veggies and foods containing pectin are effective at helping the body rid itself of radiation?  Apples do extra duty in my case because they are also rich in malic acid, a natural pain reliever.  I know I will learn even more about how proper nutrition will aid my recovery.

Lastly, I don’t have the chance for a do-over or un-fall but I can recognize that I need to be more mindful and be present in each moment.  Before this happened, I remember feeling like I never quite had enough time to do everything I needed or wanted to do.  When Hurricane Sandy hit, I realized that present moment is all we have.  This fall has reminded me of that in a way I can never forget.

Love and Blessings to all,


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