Tag Archives: You As A Cook

Still Standing After My 1st Fast

Yesterday, I chose to stand with thousands of people fasting for climate change on the first day of each month. My previous post explains my reasoning for participation. This post will explain how I did my first ever fast (on the first of October) and how I felt.

I felt very well the entire day. Our household starts to stir around 6am every morning (except weekends, which is by 7am). I did my usual bed stretches and my current version of a 4 minute-morning. Made the kids their breakfasts and walked briskly with Dot to the bus. Got home and did household chores, and some on line research. I had been drinking a natural amount of water throughout the morning – about 8oz each hour. By 10am, I started to feel a faint request from my stomach for a morning snack; I acknowledged it with a smile and carried on. By 11:30am, I started to feel that rumbling, more like demanding for lunch. I kissed that demand with some hot water and started contemplating what other liquid would be acceptable for my rules of this fast. Tea came to mind but then I remembered that the previous day I had made a batch of beef stock. By 1pm I drank an 8oz glass of hot beef stock. It was the most amazing drink. The homemade beef stock nourished me; I felt like a wilting plant that stands to attention when given water, I could sense my very own cells responding in that way. I chose beef stock over herbal tea because, being naturally low on iron I would need something substantial to sustain a clear mind, as I was running out the door to run errands before picking the kids up from school.

Shortly after 1pm I was out the door stopping at the Soap Dispensary to refill my liquid dish soap containers and got a great tip to try out a solid house soap for cleaning my pots – this soap will get it’s own post one day because it is remarkable. Photo below.

Solid Dish Soap

Then to the sewing machine store, followed by the butcher to pick up stewing beef (in my Life Without Plastic stainless steel container) for my family’s Irish Beef Stew dinner, which I modified from this recipe, using the already prepared homemade beef stock. By 3pm I had picked up Dot from school then 3:30pm had picked up my son. Just before 4pm I was back in the kitchen preparing the stew and of course my timing was off so had to prepare something else for the kids’ dinner. UGH. Silver lining…we could have it for breakfast…which we did, and it was worth the wait!

By 5pm I sipped another 8oz glass of hot beef stock. It was good. My husband and I had to go out to a school parent social organized for our daughter’s grade. There was a lot of beautiful food and drink laid out. I should have taken a photo to show you. I drank two glasses of sparkling water while I was there.

The only negative effects I felt, was by about 8:30pm I started to get chilled, and started talking faster than normal. By the time we got home I began my wind-down-for-the-evening routine, including my “before bed stretches” then was in bed reading by 9:30pm and lights out before 10pm.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”


I was wondering how I was able to get through the day the way I had. With zero cravings or near slip ups. The answer is simple. I have been re-training my mind over these last few years. I don’t nibble or nosh randomly or with abandon. And with yesterdays fasting experience, I have now discovered that I have actually learned something worthwhile from the years of this self-discipline around being selective with food. Because I have been methodically eliminating suspicious foods from my diet for fixed periods of time (over the last few years), I have learned how to go without. I have trained myself to make choices; I choose to eat with my mind and with intention for the nutrition of my cells, rather than for taste alone, instant gratification or because of a demanding gut or weak mind. I don’t mindlessly slip food in my mouth while I make the kids their meals, partly because I don’t usually eat what they eat. I don’t nibble at socials just to be polite or because I can’t resist temptation. There is no marketing which subliminally controls me.

I know that I am on a different level than most, because most people tell me that they couldn’t do what I do. But, I counter, ‘of course you can, anyone can, humans have amazing minds, we are capable of so much’…”we don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” ‘

Be careful how you train. You reap what you sow.


Related Posts:

My First Fast For The Climate by Zero Waste Chef


#Fast For The Climate


After learning about Fast For The Climate from Cory at Aquarian Bath, it didn’t take more than a second to decide that I would join this “movement of youth, environmentalists and people of faith [who] are showing their strength of commitment by going without food once a month to call for world leaders to do more to solve the climate crisis.” ¹

I decided that I would stand with the fasters. My first Fast will be Wednesday October 1, 2014.

The idea of fasting on the first day of each month appealed to me on a few levels. Firstly, because I already practice compassion and self-discipline: when, on occasion, I hear my inner voice announce that I need a treat or something sweet, I think about mother’s like me who may be four blocks away or hundreds of thousands of miles away, living in poverty who don’t have the luxury to casually escape into indulgence. Thinking about those mothers snaps be back into reality and gives me strength to not give in. It strengthens my resolve to both take better care of my health and environment. Therefore, going forward, I can Fast For The Climate on the first day of every month.

“To bring climate change under control we need to exercise self-control, we need to act together, fasting enhances our focus and determination.”

Secondly, on a regular basis, I think about the impact products of modern commerce have on our climate. The shipping, manufacture including pre-production and post-consumer waste of products, which affect everyone but mostly affect those living in poverty. Can each of us be more mindful about our needs versus our wants? I can practice making less garbage, which means being more mindful about not buying products that come in plastic or single-use disposable packaging. I can forego that chocolate that comes in single-use packaging even though it can be recycled, I know that recycling is something that should be practiced as our last resort but has become a way of justifying selling and buying more products.

Lastly, I think about the ingredients of man-made products. What are these ingredients made from? Are they processed? The mere act of processing creates by-products which need somewhere to go and often end up in landfill or polluting our waterways. If we are consuming products that are highly processed, then our health declines. As our health declines we become dependant upon pharmaceuticals which eventually enter our water ways therefore contaminating the very water systems that support life. Think global numbers here and think about how many pharmaceuticals the average person from North America alone is prescribed. Now think about our water quality. We can change this.

It should be everyone’s goal to practice eating real, unprocessed food and to not eat “products”. We should prepare our own food, which is very different from assembling ingredients that are ready-made store bought ‘products’. We need to change our behaviour from eating on the go with the belief that we can swallow our nutrients in liquid form while multitasking. We need to join the slow food and plastic free movements to ensure a happy healthy civilization (including all beings) on an equally healthy planet.

“To keep in health this rule is wise.
Eat only when you want and sup light.
Chew well, and let what you take be well cooked and simple.

He who takes medicine is ill advised. Beware of anger and avoid grievous moods. Keep standing when you rise from table. Do not sleep at midday.  Let your wine be mixed (with water), take little at a time, not between meals and not on an empty stomach.

Go regularly to stool. If you take exercise, let it be light.  Do not be with the belly upwards, or the head lowered; Be covered well at night.  Rest your head and keep your mind cheerful. Shun wantonness, and pay attention to diet.”

-Leonardo da Vinci, excerpt from Notebooks pg. 263

Can you imagine what Leonardo da Vinci would say about our global climate crisis?

“A nonviolent protest against wanton disregard for the natural world,
And a spiritual affirmation that we are all part of that world,
Responsible for its careful tending.” – Fast for the Earth

¹ Fast For The Climate

You can subscribe (upper right corner) to receive future posts via email. I will post “Reflections on My First #fastfortheclimate by the end of the week. I will share what my kids think of this and how I can include them without having them Fast.

Related articles: 

Why I’m Fasting for Action on Climate Change by Cory Trusty 

Reflections on My First #FastfortheClimate by Annie Levy of Kitchen Counter Culture

No Sugar Added Banana Muffins

No sugar banana muffin

Today while shopping at Whole Foods Market, in the bulk section (using my reusable cotton bulk food bags) I happened across Diane Sanfilippo’s book: 21-Day Sugar Detox. I don’t really think of myself as someone who needs a detox because I practice eating very naturally. But as I started flipping through her book I found it incredibly informative and came across concepts that I had not included in my understanding of nutrition. I decided that I would introduce this 21-Day Sugar Detox philosophy to my family. Even though I rarely, if ever eat sugar anymore, my kids still do, mind you in lesser quantities, since I have been learning more on the subject.

Over the last year and a half, my kids and I have been following an elimination diet based on the results from our individual ALCAT blood tests, from which, my son was advised to avoid ALL sugars and gluten for an entire year – a tall order for anyone, but imagine how that would feel for an eleven year old. He surprised us all by accepting the challenge. When his friends were “enjoying” treats, he declined. When teachers handed out candies as rewards, he declined. When school-mates’ parents brought birthday cupcakes and donuts to school, he declined. He stuck to the plan and his health changed dramatically. He also learned a lot about himself in the process. He learned to practice self-discipline, something not many people practice. However, once the 12 months of being strict came to an end, he anxiously started to add in those toxic treats from time to time. What we noticed? His behaviour changed, and he admitted to feeling lousy each and every time he indulged. He learned a lot about himself going through that yearlong experiment and especially what happens to himself when he reintroduces those unhealthy ingredients. He is learning to control what he chooses to eat, backed up with knowledge.

The way I see it, our entire life is an experiment and my job as a parent is to help my children (and myself along the way) to continue to become educated on how to truly nourish ourselves as opposed to just fuelling up and dashing off to the next activity.

My kids often have sugar and grain cravings, and there are times when I do too. There is a reason why most us do experience cravings, it is partly due to to the fact that none of us really understands how to feed ourselves.

Ripe Banana

Because I had some ripe banana’s on the counter, making a batch of muffins was on todays’ agenda. However, what I learned from my quick glance through Diane’s book is that eating the overly ripe banana’s isn’t the best choice! In any case, I had already committed to using them. But because of what I learned from Diane’s book, I made some changes to the recipe I usually use. (Note: I only made muffins a few times this past year – they are not a staple). Next time I will make more changes based on Diane’s advice for eliminating more grains.

The way we feed ourselves is a vicious nonsensical cycle! We think we are making the right food choices but are actually contributing to these biological hunger games.

    “If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.”

– Alan Cohen

Nowadays, I generally add very little or no sweeteners to foods that I prepare, and it has been a long road of trying to reprogram my brain to accept that all refined sugars affect the body in very similar ways. Be it cane sugar to agave syrup, from HFCS to honey. The truth is we really don’t need any of these sweeteners.

“Removing added sugars and very sweet foods retrains your taste buds to perceive sweetness, and you’ll find that foods you once thought weren’t sweet at all become quite sweet as the days pass [when following the 21 Day Sugar Detox].”

– Diane Sanfilippo

This is true for me. I enjoy all vegetables (which are carbohydrates) with such pleasure because I can detect the pure subtle sweetness. We have cut back considerably on the amount of grains we consume in our household, and I can see from picking up Diane’s book today that I will be cutting back on them even more. The key is to understand why we eat the foods we do and to learn how to prepare meals that are nourishing.

We do allow for some organic grains in our diet but as we become more comfortable with these changes, we are more accepting of continuing to learn what else we can eliminate to thrive better.

I designed this muffin recipe specifically for my daughter after receiving the results from our ALCAT test, but now I realize that going forward, it is going to get a whole new makeover, in fact this may be the last time I ever make it.

This is today’s version…

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Fine Organic Spelt Flour (Anita’s from bulk)
  • ½ Cup Organic Oat Flour (gluten-free)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBSP organic ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients 

  • 3 Large Eggs, beaten
  • 2 Cups mashed very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 Cup (-less 1 TBSP) melted Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1 TBSP melted Organic unsalted Butter
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla

Additions (optional)

  • 1/4 Cup finely mashed organic walnuts into paste, used mortar & pestle
  • 1 TBSP unsweetened cocao nibs, ground into walnut paste with mortar & pestle
  • 3/4 Cup finely grated organic carrot


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Prepare muffin tins (lightly greased with butter).
  3. Melt coconut oil and butter. Remove from heat.
  4. “Bloom” cinnamon by adding cinnamon to melted oil/butter. Stir well and set aside to cool.
  5. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  6. Mash ripe bananas in a small bowl.
  7. In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs, then add mashed banana and remaining wet ingredients. Whisk together.
  8. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and incorporate. Not too much – stir approximately 10 times. Don’t over mix.
  9. Fold in additions if using. Careful not to stir the mixture too much.
  10. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full or to your liking.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes depending on your oven. Check for doneness using method of choice.
  12. Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Yield: 12 mini muffins +1 mini loaf (I have a mini loaf pan & mini bundt pan that I use when I have some leftover batter).

Note: Spelt Flour is NOT gluten-free.

Diane Sanfilippo has great recipes in her 21 Day Sugar Detox book which is an accompaniment to her cookbook. This Fall, my kids and I will be learning and experimenting from this approach.

Let's live without single-use plastic! Better for our health and that of our planet.        Stop the Recycle cycle.        In this order: AVOID - REDUCE - REUSE - RECYCLE

The Kids’ Menu

Kids Menu

My kids don’t eat from the kids’ menu. Actually, they quit the kids’ menu a few years ago. Not that we frequent restaurants on a regular basis, but when we do, my kids are quick to let the server know that they will order from the adult menu, which in their opinion should be the only menu. My kids then privately launch into their usual contempt for the way kids are treated in restaurants. “Why is everything on the kids menu made with cheese and wheat or breaded?”

“Here, eat this food you’ve eaten a hundred times before…The children’s menu is always available, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.” – Seth Godin

This link will take you to a great short piece written by Seth Godin at Seth’s Blog: The children’s menu. It makes us think about our habits, habits that have become automatic. And automatic meaning: done spontaneously, without conscious thought or intention. However, having said that, a lot of people will argue that that is precisely how they like their habits to be.

Daughter and I overheard: Parent saying to child, “Here’s your lunch.” Child protesting, “I don’t want to eat that.” Parent says more to himself, “I don’t know why we keep ordering Mac & Cheese for you, you never eat it.”

Most often tired and busy parents like to have predictable outcomes. As a result, they feed their kids food that they know they will eat so that they can check that meal off the list and carry on, without running late to the next activity. The problem being is that kids don’t develop a taste for real food or a healthy habit in understanding hunger and satiety. Most foods that are given to kids are loaded with sugars (often disguised with unusual names) and highly processed. The kids’ health begins to decline and body weight begins to rise and so the parent’s automatic reaction is that the kids need to exercise more. As a result the kids are then signed up for more activities, which leave even less time to practice eating healthy meals.

Habits don’t change automatically with age. We don’t just “grow out of it.” Most adults carry their bad habits from childhood.

Follow these 5 easy steps to practice eating healthy right now:

  1. Eliminate refined sugars from your diet (see the 50 alternative names, but not limited to, for sugar listed below). This includes cutting back on fruit. Do not eat copious amounts of fruit assuming it is a healthier choice. Fruit is nature’s candy. Eating copious amounts of anything is a habit.
  2. Eat a variety of foods. Try a 4-day rotation. Try not to eat wheat, dairy, meat or coffee/tea every single day. If you are not a vegetarian or vegan, try eating like one on i.e. Mondays. You will survive, I promise and you might even feel better for it.
  3. Prepare for hunger. Generally, we get hungry every 3-4 hours. Be prepared, otherwise we make unwise choices by grabbing what’s available as opposed to what’s healthful.
  4. Drink Water (the plastic-free variety). Make water your go to drink.
  5. Join the Plastic Free July personal challenge. By avoiding purchasing foods packaged in plastic you will cut back on your exposure to processed foods that have many grams of sugar added. Practice being in control of what you put into your body and what you end up putting in landfill. Plastic is a hormone disruptor and damages our health and pollutes our waterways. The same water we consume. Click this link to learn more about Plastic Free July.

Our habits matter.


List of some alternate names for sugar

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar
  • Date sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextran
  • Dextrose
  • Diastatic malt
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl maltol
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Panocha
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar

Q & A with La Coco Bella

The world Hair Care product industry is a huge global business, having generated nearly $49 billion in 2010 and expected to reach $58 billion by 2015.* That’s a lot of product literally going down the drain!
And what exactly happens to the ingredients in the products after they wash down the drain? The ingredients don’t just go away. We know that there are toxic chemicals in cosmetics that interfere with hormone function which may cause cancer. We already know that these chemicals are harmful to fish and other wildlife. All in the name of beauty?
The good news is that there are simple, toxic free ways to groom oneself. Aquarian Bath is an ecologically friendly business, running their website on just 3 Watts of solar power. They only use natural ingredients and promote plastic free alternatives. They are an example that it is possible to provide a safe and effective product in a sustainable way, while considering all the details from start to finish.
I began to wonder about this $50 billion industry. Each country has its hair care specialty geared to different ethnicities encouraging assimilation in order to sell more product. Is there really such a difference in hair types that require all these different gels and balms, sprays and so on? Over the years I have been somewhat aware of the different products available for African hair but because I don’t have African hair I never delved into learning about it. However, upon experimenting with natural shampoo bars for me and my family, I began to wonder if everyone could get accustomed to shampooing hair more naturally, like this, thus on a global scale, reducing the need for plastic bottles and cutting down on the amount of harmful chemicals we unwittingly expose ourselves to on a daily basis, which in turn pollutes the very environment we depend upon.
And so began my quest for deeper understanding. I came across Lauren’s blog: La Coco Bella and decided to ask her some questions. She seemed like the ideal person to ask because as she explains on her site, that after years of chemically treating her hair, she made the transition to natural hair products. From reading her blog and watching the video “You Can Touch My Hair”, it became clear to me that there is a lot more to African hair than all the work that goes into managing it.
Which begs the question: Why are we spending all this time managing hair? What is the big idea behind ‘managing it’ and the need for chemicals and ‘treatments’ to transform ones hair into something it isn’t. And I think this goes for a lot us…wanting the opposite of what we’ve got and fighting nature tooth and nail to get it. Poor nature.

Kathryn – Q: How long have you been using natural shampoo bars?

La Coco Bella A:  I’ve been using natural shampoo bars and products for about 2 years now. I don’t see myself ever changing that :o) The first brands I ever used were Bobeam Naturals and Henna Sooq bars.


Kathryn – Q: Do you make your own hair products?

La Coco Bella A: I haven’t quite delved into the realm of making my own products consistently but I have experimented here and there with a few raw ingredients like butters, oils, essential oils, etc. I do enjoy doing DIY hair treatments though! I hope to some day make and perhaps sell my own products because I have realized that the simplest, most natural products are the most effective and I don’t need to rely on large manufacturing companies to help me maintain healthy hair! For now, I’ve been sticking to small business/boutique vendors.


Kathryn – Q: How did you learn to make your own products?

La Coco Bella A: I was inspired to play around with a little mixology by paying close attention to what ingredients were in products I love and then checking out YouTube and Google for recipes to get the right measurements. Again, I am no pro and most of my “products” were just mixtures of different raw ingredients! Oh and coconut oil is a MUST have for anyone interested in healthy hair!


Kathryn – Q: How did your hair feel when you switched to natural shampoo?

La Coco BellaA: Since I had been using shampoos and conditioners that contained silicones, sulfates and other synthetic ingredients, my hair had to go through a brief detox stage because synthetic ingredients leave a coating on the hair. Natural shampoos break through all the synthetics and can take a few washes. I first switched the natural shampoo by using Terressentials Mud Wash and followed their protocol for detoxing.

I think the term detoxing freaks some people out but it’s really not as harsh as it sounds lol, its just that your hair can feel rubbery or straw-like during the detox stage. Natural shampoos open the hair cuticle so you have to ensure to properly condition it afterwards to close and seal the cuticle back down. Your hair usually feels amazing right away! The key is to be patient in the transition process and you will soon see how healthy, strong and shiny your hair becomes! Another MAJOR benefit I have found from natural shampoos is how well it cleanses and clarifies my scalp. When you have a healthy scalp, you create a healthy environment for hair to breathe and grow!


Kathryn – Q: Was the positive effect on your health and environment part of your decision to stop using chemical products?

La Coco BellaA: The positive effect on the health of my hair was the main decision for me to switch to natural hair products but if it helps the environment while I am at it, then hey, even better!


Kathryn – Q: What made you switch to natural shampoo bars and hair products?

La Coco BellaA: I started to educate myself by doing research online and seeing what the benefits of individual ingredients did. I also researched on the negatives of synthetic ingredients. This helped open my eyes and dispel a lot of the “myths” major hair product companies have been putting out there. I realized that the simplest, most natural ingredients were the most effective (and consistent!), not the products that had the best marketing ploys or cute packaging. God put everything we would ever need on this earth before man created chemicals in labs so that fact was more than enough for me to completely give up on synthetic hair products.


Kathryn – Q: I don’t know very much about African hair. Can you briefly explain the difference between African hair and other types of hair?

La Coco BellaA: I love that God created His children so uniquely. We all come from the same roots but we do have physical differences, our hair of course being one of them, so I don’t classify hair by race or ethnicity. Women of African descent can have thin, fine strait hair to super thick, dense, course hair. Hair also comes in difference textures, densities, porosity, thickness, etc. but women with thick, textured, curly hair, like myself, have to battle with dryness and breakage. Our main concerns are typically keeping our hair moisturized free of frizz. Curly hair in general is especially prone to dryness because it is harder for the natural oils from our scalp to reach the length of our hair. This means we have to take extra care in supplementing moisture by washing less frequently, sealing in moisture with butters/oils and doing deep conditioning treatments often. But when it all comes down to it, all hair types and textures really need the same basic essentials and natural hair products can cater to every type of hair regardless of ethnicity. The beauty of nature :o)


Kathryn – Q: I love how you explained that – to “not classify hair by race or ethnicity.” Which completely knocked the wind out of my next question: Does African hair require different care from other types of hair? What I have learned from you is that really curly hair has different needs from straight, wavy or mildly curly hair. I find it so interesting and equally disturbing how industry invents a market.

La Coco BellaA: Just like any ethnicity, everyone’s hair has different needs and requires different types of care but women with thick, course, textured hair tend to need more moisture. There are lots of factors when it comes to the needs of any type of hair. Things like porosity (the way your hair absorbs and retains moisture) play a major role as well, so it can be a bit hard to pinpoint particular needs. I guess it boils down to becoming intimate with your own hair and being in tune with how it responds to what you put in it. The more you learn about your hair, the more you will be able to discern its needs. This means spending more time in your own hair rather than paying someone at the salon :o)


Kathryn – Q: Thank you so much for sharing your hair wisdom with us. I have been thinking about that last sentence, which makes perfect sense: “Spend more time in your own hair rather than paying someone at the salon”, which is the same way I think about one’s body when it comes to exercise or healthy eating.

Do you have a page on your blog where people with very curly hair can follow a step by step program to wean themselves off of the chemical processing? Do you have a FAQ’s page as well?  

La Coco BellaA: I don’t have a step by step page or FAQs but I do have a page about my regimen as of last year. Although my current regimen is a bit simpler than what appears on my site, it does contain in depth descriptions of what works for my hair type. Also, I give lots of tips and information in my product reviews so readers can use the search tool on my site to see if I touch on any particular topic, ingredient, etc.


Kathryn – Q: How long did it take you to transition to natural products. Was it gradual, or did you do it all at once?

La Coco BellaA: I pretty much switched to all natural products all at once because I had detoxed my hair and didn’t want to revert the effort I had put in lol I didn’t see it as a huge, earth-shattering change, it was more of a hey, this looks cool, let me give it try! I just started buying all natural products and have ever since. Experimenting is the fun part! I also get giddy reading and learning about the benefits of all the yummy ingredients in natural hair products lol


Kathryn – Q: Now that you have been natural for a couple years, I imagine that you would have some pearls of wisdom to share with people who are just starting to contemplate this change for the better in a variety of ways? Are there one or two points that, if you could go back in time, that you would do differently? Some advice that might save someone from getting turned off the concept?

La Coco BellaA: I would recommend for anyone interested in improving the health of their hair to not be afraid to try all-natural hair products, I wish I had sooner! It can be a bit intimidating because there are so many options out there but just start with a couple items and build up your regimen. You really don’t need a bunch of different products, that’s the beauty of it! Because once you nourish your hair to health, it requires less maintenance.

Also, stick with products that are pure and organic, they all work well together so you don’t have to worry about chemicals reacting to each other or anything like that. It’s like nature’s chemistry is perfect.

Give your hair some time to adjust to the change and don’t be discouraged if you don’t have AMAZING hair overnight (although you just might!). You will be glad you made the change and will wonder why you hadn’t sooner, trust me :o)


If you have any questions for La Coco Bella,  you can leave her a message on her site.   


Related Video

“You Can Touch My Hair”

“You Can Touch My Hair Part 2”

*Statistics by MarketLine

What to expect when using Natural Shampoo Bars

Since using natural solid shampoo bars over the last four months, my hair dries much faster and is nearly completely dry after washing, needing only two minutes under the dryer; unprecedented for my nearly waist-long hair! I used to spend a very long time drying my hair. The same effect has occurred for my daughter’s hair, which is well beyond waist length.

A few questions surfaced as I started to explore making changes to my hair washing routine. If this is your first time visiting you may be wondering what Shampoo has to do with a food blog? Click here to read part 1.

  • Why didn’t my hair feel smooth and silky when I rinsed out the shampoo?
  • What about conditioner?
  • How do I control those unruly hairs?
  • What happens when I go to the hair salon? Do I bring my own shampoo bar?

When I first started using natural shampoo bars…

Initially my hair would feel squeaky clean upon rinsing out the lather. You know, that kind of soap clean feeling, which makes it difficult to run fingers through? I would wring out the excess water and notice that my hair actually felt nearly dry! That was interesting, because with all the professional salon shampoos I had used in the past, my hair would remain soaking wet and would actually take very long to dry, even with a handheld hair dryer. Summer months excluded; my hair wouldn’t take as long to dry in the summer but regardless of the season, I had never experienced such a low water content remaining on my hair. I consider this a good thing. I spend less time damaging my hair further with the hot air from a hair dryer thus spending less overall time on my hair grooming routine! However I see now that it may have more to do with the dehydrated state of my hair. Everyone’s hair will respond differently to shampoo bars and to different shampoo bar formulas: self-discovery required.

As my personal experiment continued, I noticed that my hair started to adapt nicely to the shampoo bars and that my hair became softer and bouncier. I also noticed that my hair appeared cleaner longer, therefore not requiring as frequent washings, now that I wasn’t loading my follicles up with styling aids.

Professional salon or drug store varieties use additives to synthetically coat the hair strands, which gives hair that ‘artificial’ shine. It all comes down to what you want. Do you want to spend a lot of money on products to turn your hair into something it isn’t thus becoming chained to the products or would you rather work with nature and enhance the untapped natural unique beauty your hair actually is? Which is what I think all of these synthetic products are claiming to do…hmmm.

What about conditioner?

When I was going through my transition phase, I kept wondering about conditioners. Aquarian Bath didn’t sell any conditioning bars at the time (but said she was working on a formula because customers new to shampoo bars had been asking for one). I have gone through the last four months not using any conditioner or any leave in hair product for styling, just to see how my hair would react. I like the results. But admittedly, I like change – I like experimenting and I really like the idea of using fewer products especially the ones that come in plastic with too many unrecognizable ingredients (toxic for me and the environment).

I have done some research on various sites and have found that for people (with any hair type), who are transitioning to ‘natural’ shampooing, generally pre-condition hair once per week, prior to shampooing. Pre-conditioning would consist of applying an oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil to either just the ends of the hair or the entire head and letting it rest for half an hour (or overnight) before shampooing.

The biggest lesson I have learned is to start spending time experimenting with my own hair. And that a grooming routine should be a flexible guideline that changes based on the fluctuating factors that come with simply being alive. Much like how I view food and exercise, each of us is an experiment of one.

How do I control those unruly hairs?

I have unruly hairs. Do you? I seem to have wavy, straight and kinky hair all over the place with no symmetry. Every hair is doing her own thing. On top of that, many of my hairs are now turning silver and those ones seem to want attention; they tend to be the short, kinky extra coarse ones that shoot straight up…there was no controlling my hair unless I wanted to douse my head with chemicals and only then is the control temporary! Lately, I have started applying about six drops of organic jojoba oil (bought in bulk from The Soap Dispensary in my own reusable blue glass bottle with dropper). This seems to do the trick. But I don’t use it every single time I wash my hair. But what I have noticed is that my hair is retaining moisture much better and my kinky hairs are becoming smoother. I think that my hair has been so chronically dehydrated, even though I had been diligent over the years -to no avail – with using ‘professional salon’ products to correct the problem. So far, the underside of my hair which always held more moisture is now looking so much healthier and my natural waves and curls are starting to emerge with some kind of unity – as if to say “We knew you’d figure it out sooner or later”. I am very curious to see what the texture of my hair will be after a few more months of this experiment.

Well, it’s only taken me twenty years to listen to my hair, as opposed to listening to the experts who keep pushing new and improved formulas. My favourite quote from Alan Cohen rings true:

“If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.”

I have a feeling that the more I embrace the quirkiness of my hair and explore what it naturally wants to do…the best years are yet to come.

What happens when I go to the hair salon? Do I bring my own shampoo bar?

I did that once. I took my own shampoo bar. My stylist, who I have been going to for thirteen years, was not amused. Partly because I didn’t tell him that I had asked his assistant to wash my hair with my own shampoo bar. I was curious to see if he would notice the difference. He could tell the difference. Because my hair used to become so dry after washing he was not accustomed to the texture and his comb could not get through. His fist reaction was “What have you done to your hair? It feels stripped!” The particular shampoo bar that I took to the hair salon that day was made by a different local company than Aquarian Bath. Controlling the bubbling chuckles brewing inside of me, I told him the shampoo bar was called Dreads…he was aghast! He graciously put up with my experiment but had to keep spraying my hair to keep it wet. We got through the appointment and we now know how to prepare the hair for the next cut. We talked about the possibility of him carrying a line of natural shampoo bars though I’m not sure he is ready for that (especially with what I put him through that day) but he is happy to hear about my results. 🙂

What I have learned about shampoo bars

Shampoo bars are not all created equally. Each formula will react differently for each individual. What might result in a smooth finish for one person may not have the same effect for someone else. I notice this all the time between me and my daughter. Over the last four months I have amassed a nice collection of Shampoo bars for experimenting until we find which bars work best for our individual hair types. But I keep an open mind and am always willing to retry a bar I didn’t particularly like at first, because now that I have started to truly re-hydrate and eliminate synthetic additive from my hair, these shampoo bars are working even better.

If you google Shampoo Bars you will notice many on the market. Look for small batch makers with a business philosophy like Aquarian Bath. Avoid bars that contain:

  • SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
  • SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
  • Triclosan
  • Parfum
  • Parabens
  • Petrolatums
  • DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, Quarternium-15
  • P-Phenylenediamine
  • Cyclomethicone, Siloxanes
  • BHA, BHT
  • Dibutyl Phthalate

How we use solid shampoo bars in the shower:

  1. Wet hair.
  2. Wet shampoo bar and rub bar directly onto hair to lather. (A little goes a long way).
  3. Keep shampoo bar away from water when not in use as it dissolves quickly.
  4. Turn off water allowing shampoo to rest in hair. (And conserving water in the process).
  5. Lather body with shampoo bar or body bar.
  6. Turn water back on rinsing hair and body.
  7. If repeating shampoo, do it now.
  8. Rinse and squeeze excess water from hair.
  9. Place shampoo bar in a dry place. Allow shampoo bar to air dry.
  10. Dry and style hair as usual.

How to Pre-Condition Hair

I have started to experiment with pre-conditioning my hair with Raw Coconut Oil, because that is what I already have handy from making my own solid lotion bars.

Once per week I take about one Tablespoon of Coconut Oil and massage it into my hair, starting at the ends working my way up to my scalp. Because I have a lot of unruly new growth silver hairs I found that applying the oil at my roots helps to soften the coarseness of those hairs. I have left it in anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes before washing my hair with a shampoo bar. Then style as usual without the need for any additional products.

La Coco Bella


Next Post: Q & A with La Coco Bella

RELATED Articles: 

Sustainable Shopper’s Guide to a Dirty Dozen Ingredients to Avoid in your Cosmetics. by David Suzuki Foundation

How to give your hair a fresh start or transitioning to shampoo bars by Cory Trusy


Solid Shampoo Bars

What does shampoo have to do with a food blog?

Consider for a moment that skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs what we put onto it…

As you know, it is NOT easy to always do the right thing; it can take a lot of work and advanced planning. But what is the right thing anyways? Of course doing the “right thing” varies for each individual and it takes time for everyone to find their own way in this regard. But the sad truth, and perhaps an inconvenient truth, is that we are running low on time. Our planet, environment, beings and ecosystems are no longer able to bounce back from disasters and diseases as they once did. Our natural state of homeostasis is being overburdened by global pollution. Most of us are so busy getting through our day, dealing with our long list of duties and demands that we have fallen victim to the very notion of an easier way of life. We tend to do what is convenient for our life and not able to see how our disposable actions and choices affect the very fabric of our world. We have succumbed to living for the moment as opposed to learning to expand or stretch time to live in the moment.

Heavy…I know.

But there can be light. And I have got another really cool solution for you:


All natural Shampoo in the form of a solid bar. Therefore, no bottle or cap required to dispose of or reuse and best of all no more clutter in the shower or tub! Water, lather, rinse, repeat if necessary. Voilà.

Shampoo Bar

When I shower away from home, I take my shampoo bar with me. I simply wrap it in a clean dry wash cloth and bring it home in the same clean dry wash cloth. I then unwrap it and let it air dry. Easy. I do the same with the body soap bars too. An interesting tidbit to know is that you can test out the shampoo bars on your body and clean both hair and body with the same bar. Double easy! However, I generally use the body bars for my body. AND I have a selection of bars which I use on a rotation, because I treat the outside of my body the same way I treat the inside of my body; by eating foods on a rotation therefore, attempting to not eat the same foods two or three days in a row.

Like with any transition there is a period of adjustment. And there is definitely an adjustment period when transitioning from shampoos loaded with chemicals. (More about the transition in an upcoming post). I have been experimenting using exclusively natural shampoo bars since December 2013. It is now just the end of April 2014 and my hair feels the best it has felt in years! With having very long hair, I used to use all the expensive salon formulated-clinically-tested shampoos; being sold on the idea that I needed to add other products that would hydrate my hair, even though I would cut it every nine to twelve weeks to keep the ends healthy. Interestingly, even after all these years of using different high-end products loaded with ‘formulas’ that would supposedly hydrate my hair etc., my hair was always getting a lousy report card (if it wasn’t the product that was flawed it was that I wasn’t using the products properly or often enough) and I would convince myself to try other products that the stylist would be raving about at the moment.

“If what you’re doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.” -Alan Cohen

Suddenly, after four full months of only using these solid shampoo bars, the natural oils from my scalp have finally had an opportunity to be restored and do what they do best – protect my hair and keep it healthy without chemicals.

Oh, the irony. Adding chemicals to our hair to make it soft and manageable meanwhile polluting our body and waterways? And it seemed to me that by using those “professional products” only made me need to use them more. My hair needed to be washed more often as a result. Now my hair can go longer without needing to be washed and seems to look better with each day as my natural oils do what nature intended. The only reason I wash my hair every two or three days is because I swim, otherwise I would wait longer.

The first ever shampoo bars that I tried are made by Cory Trusty, in Florida USA at Aquarian Bath. If you visit her site you will see all the other products she makes. These bars lather very well and can last. I haven’t counted how many washes I can get out of a bar, but it is a lot, when *stored properly. My kids tend to hold the bars under the shower which causes the bars to disintegrate quickly; it’s not easy getting kids to follow instructions especially where water and bubbles collide.

I have tried all of these Aquarian Bath products: body soap bars, solid lotion bars, tooth powder, solid deodorant balm. I am so satisfied with the quality, ingredients and results that I have even started to make my own solid lotion bars from a kit (recipe included) that Cory sells on her site.

Be a spark | Inspire change | Give each other time to find our own way.

Here are some photos of my hair having only been washed with a natural shampoo bar. My hair dries much faster and is nearly completely dry needing only two minutes under the dryer during winter months. It will be interesting to see how my hair responds during warmer more humid weather.

3 days since

3 Days since last hair wash


Same day, after hair wash


2 days later

There is a lot to describe about hair texture during the transition to natural bars, and so on…but I will save that for another post. Think you are ready to try Shampoo Bars for yourself? Aquarian Bath is giving away 2 Shampoo Bars to one lucky person in any country. Read Terms & Conditions.

Congratualtions to Paul

Wins 2 Shampoo Bars generously provided

by Aquarian Bath!

Contest is now OVER a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter to win

2 Vegan Shampoo Bars from Aquarian Bath

(Carrot Top Shampoo Bar & Key Lime Eucalyptus Shampoo Bar)

*How to store solid shampoo bars? Don’t leave them in a wet or humid environment where water will cause them to disintegrate. Use cedar soap decks. Once my bars have air dried, I store them in an open box. I love it, it keeps my shower floor free from the clutter of bottles. Ah! Minimalism.

Related Article:  How to wash your hair without shampoo Explains what store bought shampoo is made from and what it does to your hair.

Next post: What to expect when using Shampoo Bars

Coming Soon: Q & A with La Coco Bella

Reusable Kitchen Strainer-Bags

Nut Milk Bag

I like the idea of finding ways to reduce the amount of single-use anything I use each day, with the hope of not contributing to our already overburdened landfill destination.

Did you know?

Not only does it take a lot of energy (human and fossil fuels etc.) to transport our garbage to landfill but also an enormous amount of resources to maintain landfills; in some places for as long as thirty years. New landfills collect the global warming greenhouse gasses: methane and carbon dioxide, that are produced from the slow decay of garbage with the intention of using them for industrial/energy purposes. Collecting those hazardous gasses is a big job, perhaps if we all did our part it could be a job that need not exist.

Landfills are configured with special pipes that collect leachate*. If leachate seeps through liners, or from developing cracks, the leachate eventually finds its way into surrounding ground water, wet lands, rivers and lakes. Thus polluting the natural resources our entire ecosystem depends on.

Did you know that most old landfills did not prevent leachate from entering our environment?

Knowing this is definitely depressing, but realizing that we CAN, at an individual level make a difference each day by not contributing to landfill is very uplifting!

A simple reusable item is the Strainer-Bag or Nut-Milk Bag. I have a few which I dedicate to certain jobs in the kitchen.

  • For making Nut Milks (the same bag for Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Hemp Milk, Rice Milk)
  • A different bag reserved for making Soy Milk
  • For straining stocks (the same bag for Chicken or Beef Stocks)
  • A different bag for straining Fish Stock
  • A different bag for straining Vegetable Stock

I don’t always use the strainer-bag every time I make stocks, and on those occasions, I will simply run the stock through a very fine wire mesh sieve. The strainer-bag/ nut-milk bag ensures a very clear stock.

I don’t use plastic strainers/ sieves or nylon bags because I don’t like the idea of the food I am eating to be in contact with those substances. If I am to bother going the distance to prepare organic homemade food, milks and stocks, I think it is wise to consider the quality of the utensils and cookware used in preparing the food as well.

I also don’t like the idea of using paper-based products to strain my stocks, because there is a lot of chemicals that are associated with paper products, besides the fact that they are a single-use product.


*Leachate is a liquid that forms from the collection of “rainwater that trickles through a landfill [combining] with harmful chemicals and other particles from the rotting waste.”  Source: EcoKids


Envirothreads is a Canadian company based in Lindsay, Ontario. They make their products from various cotton textiles including certified organic cotton, unbleached and printed cottons, hemp as well as bags made from post consumer polyester (made from recycled plastic bottles).


Related video: Unwasted. The Future of Business on Earth (Full length documentary)

Businesses around the globe produce nearly as much waste as they do product — almost 110 million tons annually in the US alone. Washington State spent more than 500 million dollars on waste disposal, recycling, and composting in 2009. But what is the real cost to business and the community?

Filmed between Spring and Summer of 2011, “Unwasted” is a look at businesses and organizations in and around the Puget Sound who are leading the way toward a less wasteful, more profitable and environmentally sustainable society.

Sage Environmental Services is pleased to bring this project to you. For information on screening, obtaining a copy or learning more about the project & the team behind it, visit: http://www.sagebug.com


Rubber Bands

Big & Little Rubber band balls

What do you do with all the rubber bands you collect in a day? Maybe you have never thought about rubber bands before? In an attempt to cut back on what I put into landfill, with each day I become more aware of all the very minute details which contribute to the ‘stuff’ I throw away.
The rubber bands that I inadvertently collect, are generally from the grocery store, holding my organic produce together or sometimes the newspaper that is delivered to the house has one (or two?) to keep it folded; when its not sealed in a compostable plastic bag. I can’t think of any other instances whereby rubber bands sneak their way into my home.

Lettuce w/ rubber band

I can always find a use for something with elastic properties. I have used wide ones around stubborn lid caps to get a better grip in order to open them. However, I’ve lately turned to using my rubber kitchen gloves for that job.

So, while at this point I haven’t been able to completely eliminate rubber bands from entering my life, the one thing I can do is to make sure that they don’t go into the landfill while they still have a use. Over the years I started wrapping them into a ball and keep them in a handy kitchen drawer. I remember the day I showed my two young kids at the time, my super bouncy rubber-band-ball; with wide eyes they were speechless for the two seconds it took the ball to bounce on the ground and soar into the air, followed by shouts of joy and pleads to do it again. That was a great moment!

Here is story about Zack Hample who has been building his rubber band ball since the age of four. Now, after 32 years of adding to his ball it has grown immensely and weighs in at over 250 pounds. What probably started as a use for household or found rubber bands, turned into a lifelong hobby. Though it appears as though he purchases new rubber bands for adding on to his very large rubber ball.

Little Rubber Band Ball
Here are some ways to reuse or recycle rubber bands:

  • Donate Rubber Bands to a local school
  • To grip a slippery surface (jar lids, or put around shampoo bottles etc. making them easier to grip when wet).
  • Add rubber bands to hangers
  • A temporary fix for a leaky pipe until a plumber arrives.

How do you reuse your rubber bands?



Essential Kitchen Tool: Washable China Marker


How can a washable China Marker be essential to the kitchen, you ask?

Eliminating single-use plastic from my life is a serious on-going challenge. Remembering to bring my reusable cloth grocery bags to the grocery store was the first step; how many times did I have to experience the pang of ‘doh’ as I would reach the checkout before my behaviour changed?

Oh, how one thing leads to another. From there I moved on to eliminating plastic food storage containers from my kitchen, pantry and for keeping leftovers. Simultaneously, I suddenly became aware of how the foods I chose from store shelves were packaged; almost all in plastic, even the ones contained in nice ‘earth-friendly’ boxes had plastic sealed sleeves. There were moments when I felt frozen in time, standing there in the grocery aisles, as shoppers would go whizzing around me grabbing items for their carts. I realized that I couldn’t just grab and go like I used to. I am now at a point where I don’t even bother going down certain aisles based on packaging. Funny, it used to be I only avoided products because of the listed ingredients. One change sure does lead to another. Back then, a part of me had woken up to the effects of the choices I was making — the short-term and long-term effects on my health and the health of my family. Before then, my focus had been so narrow, I was so caught up in cautiously selecting the most nutritious and organic ingredients, that I had been oblivious to the effects single-use packaging would have on the product contents (and thus ironically on our health) and on the health our planet, both in production and landfill/ waterways.

Healthy beings require healthy soil, air, oceans and planet in its entirety.

We cannot have one without the other.

To make a long story short(ish), one of the most essential kitchen tools that I have come across is the China Marker. It simplifies my effort in repurposing glass jars or using air-tight stainless steel food safe containers in the kitchen. In my transition to being less wasteful in the kitchen I started writing labels and dates on bits of masking tape and re-using them until I got annoyed with that solution; realizing that it wasn’t much of a solution because the masking tape eventually ended up in the garbage. I knew that there had to be a better way and that is when I happened to see it mentioned on Life Without Plastic’s site. Next was to track down the China Marker, which was easy: art supply store. It is wax based, and writes especially well on the outside of warm leftover containers prior to refrigeration. It doesn’t mark as well on cold jars, it helps to first warm up the writing surface with the heat of your palm.


And when it comes time to wash the writing off, simply soak in warm/hot soapy water and rub. It generally won’t just wash away in the dishwasher.

Do you have any kitchen tips to share that can help us to reduce or eliminate daily single-use plastic waste?

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