Saturday, March 16, 2013

Homemade Natural Coconut Bodywash (Update!)

After nearly 6 months, it's time to make a new batch of coconut body wash! This time, I took a trip to the Co-op to stock up on natural soap and vegetable glycerin. To see the differences between vegetable and the glycerin found in the band-aid aisle, read All Things O'Natural's post. Short version,  natural and healthier!

The recipe is the same in ingredient amounts and ratios as my original post Homemade Coconut Bodywash, just different products. 

Three bars of unscented natural soap (approximately 12 oz) at $1.79 each, cut up into small pieces. I prefer unscented so I can add whatever I want, but use any scent you like!

Dissolved and melted in 12 cups of boiling water. 

Add in 3 Tablespoons of vegetable glycerin. 
(This bottle was $9.99 at the Co-op, but can be found cheaper on Amazon)
Add in 3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil.

Then add in your favorite essential oil or a mixture of oils, if you desire. I added about 10 drops of Peppermint and 15 drops of Lemon. 

Natural Coconut Bodywash
  • 12 cups water
  • 3 bars unscented natural soap (12 oz)
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Glycerin 
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
Cut the soap into small pieces. In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil and melt the soap.  Add the Glycerin and Coconut oils. You can add about 20-25 drops of your favorite essential oils if you want a scented variety. Pour into jars or containers and let thicken overnight. Another alternative is to put it in the fridge or outside if it is cold. Makes 5 pint sized jars (approx. 80 oz). 

Another 6 months of clean! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Happy Baking Mishaps: Almond Butter-Banana Cookies

I'm so thankful for Pinterest and the vast amounts of gluten/dairy free recipes, especially healthy "cookies" that I can grab and go before my blood sugar gets too low to stay one step ahead of the kids. One of my favorite recipes so far is the Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies by Cupcakes OMG!. As I looked at the recipe, I realized that I had only around 3/4 of almond butter instead of the 1 cup that was required. That was the first in the list of baking mishaps.

Thankfully, my style of cooking and (sometimes unsuccessfully) style of baking is very much improv and substitute based, influenced largely by my mother's cooking style. With a family of six whose schedules took them in all different directions, running to the store for the one missing ingredient was generally not practical. That's when the substituting skills came in.

To sum up: to make up for the lack of almond butter, I added a very ripe banana. I also didn't have any aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper to line the cookie pan. I did, however, have coconut oil! After all the other ingredients were mixed in and the cookies were spread on the coconut-oiled cookie sheet, I realized I had left out the honey. No need for panic! I figured the the sweetness of the banana would make up some of the sweetness, so I would just have to wait until the cookies came out to see how they tasted.

Makes 8 medium sized cookies. Obviously one was sacrificed for the greater good. 

They turned out great! More cake-like, less oily and crumbly than the cookies without the banana. They didn't require a lengthy "setting" time on the cookie sheet either.  As to the taste, I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not always in the mood for really sweet foods, especially for snacks, and always prefer the lessening the amount of added sugar. The chocolate chips add a bit more sweetness, making it perfect for me, almost like a lightly sweetened biscuit.

Almond Butter-Banana Cookies
Adapted from Cupcakes OMG!

  • 3/4 cup raw almond butter
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free chips (or to taste--I get the Trader Joe's brand)
  • Approximately 1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil (or foil to line cookie sheet)
  • If you prefer a sweeter cookie, add 1/4 cup raw honey
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mash the ripened banana. Stir in the remaining ingredients. On a coconut-oiled or lined cookie sheet, scoop out batter to make around 8 medium sized cookies. Bake around 7-8 minutes (oven temperatures may vary). 

Delicious! I think I will continue to experiment with flavor combinations. Maybe add organic, juice-sweetened fruit spread instead of the chocolate chips. Maybe mix peanut butter and almond butter. Coconut flakes? Cinnamon? Lots of different possibilities! I would say it was a successful series of baking mishaps. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Children's Books for Therapy

After attending an inspiring training on play therapy last week, I have really been reexamining how I and my team conduct therapy with our clients. In the "high-energy" setting of daytreatment, it is easy to get focused primarily managing behaviors, attempting to scratch the surface of the paperwork pile, and essentially just try to get through the day without someone getting punched out or seriously physically injured. It seems like this focus increases in the winter months when the therapists are feeling the seasonal affect changes as well as the kids. It's not a great time.

After listening to Paris Goodyear-Brown's stories, techniques and tips on how to help clients succeed in treatment through play therapy, I had several realizations.

#1. I remembered why I am in this field. Therapy with kids is where I am drawn. It excites and inspires me.

#2. I have been letting the environment of my job have too much influence over how I conduct therapy with my clients. That needs to change!

#3. I have a multitude of skills that I bring to the table. For the purpose of this post, the focus will be on my organizing and planning abilities. I excel at both, to a point that if I lose sight of what my goal and purpose is with a particular client or group if my lists, sub-lists and sub-sub-lists are not current and put in some sort of meaningful order.

Being a therapist, especially in my setting, requires that I put on the following hats all in a given day (or on an hourly, or minute-to-minute basis): group and individual therapist, coach, nutritionist, life-skills teacher, social skills teacher, caregiver (this should never be the focus, but is occasionally necessary),  reading/writing teacher, conflict mediator, care coordinator, secretary, message carrier...the list goes on.

That is a very long list, and is reflective of my harried emotional state at the end of many days. Then I remembered a novel thing: planning! If I am a teacher of many different sorts, I should look at what teachers do after they go home at night. "Lesson" planning for group, individual sessions and skills work. I constantly walk a fine line of doing my job and my work leeching into every aspect of my life in an unhealthy way. My resolution, however, is the following: Only work on researching and planning for treatment, activities, etc at home. I really love doing this part, and there is not time during the day to do it at the office. Now, that means I must have a boundary around how much time I commit to this endeavor per day/week. I don't know what that is yet, but I will figure it out.

As part of my planning sessions, I spent part of this very snowy snow day (the first in a year and eight months of working at my job!) compiling a list of children's books with therapeutic topics to use in groups during our reading (therapy nerd term: bibliotherapy) day. During these days I read a book to the kids who then reflect on the message behind the topic and apply it to their current lives or situations. Sometimes the most they are aware of is that Dr. Seuss uses really weird words. But we persevere, and I use my overdeveloped thinking on the spot skills to relay that, "Yes, Dr. Seuss does use really weird words and pictures. What do you think people thought of him in a time that everything was "proper" and much more structured? It took a lot of courage to give his strong messages in a fun way!"...and on I go.

Although I can think on the spot rather quickly with no child the wiser, I prefer to have a structure in place. That structure is reflected in my list. I have a bunch more books at the office to add to this compilation, and hope to get all the Berenstain Bears books someday. I use the suggestion of ages 4 and up very generously. These books are just as much for me as my 9-12 year olds. I will be updating this list and adding more all the time. Please write suggestions of any books with therapeutic topics that you may have! I'm grateful for all the information I can get my hands on! I also have the PDF file of the book list (my techie skills are not enough to upload a PDF online). If you would like a copy, you can direct message me at my twitter account JillEHDamron with your email address. Happy reading!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Natural Homemade Body & Antibacterial Lotion

This Minnesota winter has been horrible for my skin! I developed eczema on my hands, which has never occurred. I had already been evaluating my usage of commercially made hand soaps and lotions, even from the Co-op. I also work with germ-incubators (a.k.a.: kids) 40 hours a week, and wash my hands a ridiculous number of times per day. I'm also steering away from using alcohol-based hand sanitizers because of the chemicals and the fact that they dry out my hands like no one's business.

So, I've already made my own non-toxic Homemade Laundry Soap and Homemade Coconut Bodywash, homemade natural deodorant  toothpaste, washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, and switched to a locally made bar soap with moisturizing ingredients from the Co-Op. My latest homemade venture is lotion and antibacterial lotion for the office. My concoctions are inspired from Go Hippie Chic's coconut body butter and Jillee's antibacterial moisturizing lotion.

 Natural Coconut Oil Lotion

  • 8oz. or 1 cup of raw Shea Butter
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 cup Almond Oil
  • Essential Oil of Choice (I prefer a more natural scent, so I used around 5 drops of lavender essential oil to get a faint scent)

Shae Butter and Almond Oil from Amazon. Virgin Coconut Oil from natural food stores or Trader Joe's

In a double boiler, or glass bowl on top of a pot with a small amount of water at the bottom, melt the Shea Butter and Coconut Oil . Add the almond oil and let it sit. In Hippie Chic's post, she states that a Kitchen Aid mixer is the best way to get the whipped consistency after the oil has cooled enough to harden around the rim. I don't have a Kitchen Aid mixer, so by trial and error I used a hand mixer after leaving it out overnight (or put it in the fridge to speed up cooling process) when it had hardened throughout. It took about 5 minutes or so to get to the consistency that I wanted. A little goes a LONG way. 

The recipe made enough to fill a 16 oz upcycled peanut butter jar and the 4 oz recycled almond oil container. 

The almond oil container is for the antibacterial lotion. Add approximately 10 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil (used for both chest and nasal decongestion as well as for its antibacterial properties). Ta da! Your very own moisturizing, anti-ezcema, skin cracking, antibacterial lotion to ward off the germs. 

I'm really enjoying my journey to create a toxic free environment and lifestyle for my family and me, I hope that you do too!