Category: Food

Recipe Weekend: Jane-of-All-Trades Silky Homemade Hand Cream

Or did it? Honestly, I call this hand cream, but feel free to get creative and use it for rashes, small wounds, hand and foot massage, even Summer after-sun care. Did I say foot massage? I (and now you!) can use it to pamper baby’s tush as well – it’s a beautiful diaper rash cream. The high aloe vera content not only keeps this cream light and soothing, it also makes this made-in-the -shade as a great post-sun cream. Coconut oil, even by itself may be the best lotion I’ve ever tried, and its antifungal and antibacterial properties imbue this cream with great rash, irritation, and cradle cap potential. The chamomile and calendula soothe skin inflammation; as far as I’m concerned, calendula is the gold standard in healing skin conditions. Lavender imbues it’s antiseptic and calming properties, and the almond oil base is full of vitamin e, a real skin healer with a smooth texture and gentle nature for sensitive skin. Plus, since over 60 percent of everything we apply to the skin gets absorbed into the body, I love that I could -theoretically – eat it. My son asked me that. Feel free. But I don’t recommend it.

This is a jane-of-all-trades kind of cream.


Jane-of-All-Trades Silky Hand Cream

  • 1/2 C. sweet almond oil
  • 1/2 C. coconut oil
  • 1/4 C. dried chamomile flowers
  • 1/8 C. dried calendula flowers
  • 1/8 C. dried lavender flowers (optional)
  • 1 oz beeswax
  • 1 C. aloe vera gel
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil (again optional, feel free to substitute with 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oils)
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1 tsp vitamin e oil or wheat germ oil (skin nourishing and act as preservatives)

Step by Step Direcitons —>


#1. Melt the almond oil and coconut oil on low heat in a double boiler, until coconut oil liquifies completely.






#2. Add the dried chamomile, calendula and lavender flowers. Stir on low heat for 30 minutes.







#3. Remove the oil from heat and strain out oil from herbs, leaving you with a transparent yellow oil. I use a piece of cheesecloth placed over a strainer, and strain the oil into a sterile glass measuring cup or bowl. (I sterilize all jars and bowls I intend to use prior to using, in case I decide to use this on rashes or irritated skin — either boil everything in big stewpot for 10 minutes, or put it in dishwasher on sterilize/high heat setting.)



#4. Pour the chamomile-calendula-lavender oil back into a rinsed double boiler (I like to take the little bits out of the double boiler before re-using, so I get a really clean-textured end product.) Add the beeswax and melt it into the oil on low heat.





#5. Let oil and beeswax mixture cool to room temperature. You can pour it into a blender for this step. (Want to cheat? Put it in the freezer for a few minutes, as long as your bowl is not too hot to the touch – or not glass – but whatever you do, don’t skip this step. When the impatience monster rears its head in me, I get a more cottage-cheesy consistency to my lotion – the watery parts of the lotion separate.)



#6. While the oils cool, in a separate bowl, whisk together the aloe vera gel, vitamin e and the essential oils of your choice.







#7. Pour the aloe-vitamin e-essential oil gradually into the cooled oil/beeswax. Blend the aloe vera mix and the cooled oils together by adding the aloe mix slowly to blender, or use a handheld immersion blender and add aloe in small increments until completely combined.


#8. Place in jars of choice, on hands, next to diaper changing station, into gift bags for friends and, if you don’t go through lotion quickly, in the refrigerator. I keep mine in amber or cobalt jars to preserve the integrity of the essential oils as best I can. It makes about 16-20 ounces or so, and will last at least 6 weeks refrigerated.

Final note on preparation: homemade oils may separate if they get warm, so if you want to keep it well-mixed, keep it in a cool place. If it does separate, mix again and cool.

Recipe Weekend: Tummy Trouble Tea


We like to eat whole foods, we really do. We won a small victory for whole foods, in fact, tonight when my son complained about missing a salmon, quinoa and kale dinner and had to eat “junk food” at a friend’s. “You know that’s my favorite!” he complained. It doesn’t always go this way around these parts, certainly not on tempeh salad night, or any night I even entertain the idea of cooking lentils but I’ll celebrate the victories as they come. Of course we helped him to a portion of the leftovers immediately. Occasionally, however, I’ll bring home something naughty. I try to keep it aligned with the diet restrictions we choose to follow – usually gluten and dairy-free, and natural sweeteners. Tapioca flour doughnuts, tempeh bacon, rice flour muffins, cheddar cheeZe… Some great, some not so great renditions of old comfort food favorites.

There’s a joke my husband loves to tell, how he’s going to start a gluten-free, dairy-free snack company called, “It’s Not That Awful” foods. This is clearly a reference to these so-called ‘treats’ I bring home. He believes that ‘it’s not that awful” is the highest compliment most of these treats can receive. He’s a purist, and I guess I don’t blame him. I don’t always remember what the original food is supposed to taste like. He does. So when I brought home a new brand of quinoa cookies, I was surprised how quickly my husband and son scarfed them down.

And if you’ve ever heard the phrase, ‘crime doesn’t pay’, I’m now going to apply it to gluttony as well. I hate to malign the poor quinoa cookies when it very well could be the amount of cookies ingested, or the record-breaking time in which they were inhaled, but Daddy and Aidan ended up with father-son tummy aches.

This is the tea I made them, dedicated this Recipe Weekend to gluttons everywhere. Because food should also be fun. But just in case our bodies don’t agree…

Tummy Trouble Tea

  • 1 Tblsp dried catnip
  • 1 Tblsp dried peppermint
  • 5-6 small pieces fresh raw ginger (about 1/2 in thick)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 Tblsp dried chamomile flowers
  • 1/2 tsp lavender

Pour 2-3 C boiling water over the herbs. Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain. Enjoy. Watch the evidence of gluttony or other discomfort fade away… Makes two generous cups. One for your child, one for you.

Other options you can substitute or include: lemon balm, spearmint, anise seed — all great digestives.

The quantities are more art than science, so feel free to get creative, and find a taste you like. Or just use whichever of these ingredients you have on hand — every one of them taken alone would still help. My husband says it worked miracles on his belly. (Aidan fell asleep before he could report back.)

PS --> This tea makes a great teething tea as well. I’d substitute spearmint for the 
peppermint in this case, and steep for 5 minutes for a gentle baby remedy

Recipe Weekend: Healthy Hibiscus Tea

My son Aidan and I have started a new routine. After I’ve put his little brother to bed, Aidan stays awake with me and helps me with the recipe I’m working on — cough lozenges, Ammie’s baby food, our homemade hand cream, whatever. Last night I was awake making hibiscus iced tea for a baby shower — and Aidan asked to stay awake with me. He helped with the ingredients, he even took all the pictures you see in this blog. It made me realize a new joy of getting elemental and making homemade stews and brews — I get to share it with him. It’s become our thing.

The other thing that’s become ‘our thing’ — in fact, our entire family’s ‘thing’, is the hibiscus tea that Aidan and I came up with in our wee hour time together. After the party, both my husband and my mother raved about the fruits of our labors — and admitted that neither of them had ever liked hibiscus tea before (loathe I think was the word used);this one they polished off with apparent delight. In fact, 3 large batches later, it was still gone long before the guests left.

The beautiful thing about hibiscus tea for Summer (and on the heels of poor Aidan’s stomach flu), is that it is amazingly high in Vitamin C, and the kids I know love it. Also called ‘agua de jamaica’ in Spanish, it’s a popular and refreshing beverage throughout Mexico. While normally served up with sugar, I’ve used honey instead (with natural antimicrobial properties), and included fresh spearmint (a great herb for cooling and digestion) to make it both a festive, refreshing, and healthy drink for Mother’s Day brunch, pool parties, and the lazy hot Summer days that await…

5 Ways to Get your Kids to Eat Their Greens

 We’ve talked about why they should. We’ve shared a couple recipes on how they can. But there are 2 recipes and 365 days in a year. And, as we tour the amusement parks of Southern California this week, about a million food stands that don’t have a leafy green in the mix anywhere… Here are my five favorite ways to incorporate leafy greens into the fabric of our meals and our lives. In reality, it’s often easier to inspire kids than getting grownups to do it (no posing required in the pics, I promise:)).

1. Talk to your Kids about it. In our blog on why kids should eat their greens, I talk about the inspiration for this series — a conversation with my son that highlighted to me where I’ve failed as an educator and a mom… I never told him why to eat his greens. I modeled it and I provided it, but without the vital addition of information and dialogue, the greens on his plate ranged from yummy addition to his meal to the symbol of mama oppression — one more rule to follow in a world of rules — ‘just try them.’ Keep the conversation age-appropriate and honest. saladWith the explanation that they help him to feel healthy, have energy, and grow, he eats them with relish. It actually empowers him to feel like he’s doing something good for his growing body, something that helps him run faster, play better, enjoy activities more. And the process of empowering him may be fundamentally more important than any food group.

2. Balance the Bitter. Sometimes the flavor of greens can be a bit bitter for young palates. Try chard, spinach and lacinato kale for something a little milder – mustard and dandelion aren’t great starter greens. Another way to rectify the bitterness of greens is to accessorize…Not into following recipes? Throw some peanut butter or almond butter together with a little bit of maple syrup and olive oil. It balances the bitter (and everything tastes better with nut butter!). Another option: steam your greens with a handful of currants and maybe some shredded carrot. This added sweetness delivers a little treat with each bite.

3. Juice it. Either juiced or blended (Mommy’s ER recipe HERE) whole in a high-powered blender, most kids we know will drink kale, cucumber, parsley, celery, spinach or all of the above when turned into a refreshing drink.  The trick here is to keep a sweet, watery fruit in the mix — such as green apple, or coconut water. [The pic is of my older son drinking The Green Basic at The Plant in San Francisco: kale, apple, celery, parsley, lemon — with enough apple to keep it sweet, the celery and parsley make it mild and refreshing]. We just stopped at Bliss Cafe in San Luis Obispo that mixed up kale in a Vitamix with banana, green apple, protein powder and water. I couldn’t get my smoothie back from my son, honestly.blended-greens

4. Eat Them Yourself. Everything I read and experience reminds me that, as parents, we lead by example. This point was driven home to me with uncomfortable clarity the other day when my son, in an uncustomarily bad mood announced that the reason was that he hadn’t been able to ‘work out’ that morning (where has he heard this before???) They are sponges, we all know this, and not just for the bad stuff. I may have gorged on PopTarts and Oreos at first as a Freshman in college, but after a startling 10 pounds, I was back to eating the balanced way my parents had modeled for me.

5. Keep it Consistent. Habits don’t change overnight. I’ve heard that it takes 3 exposures to anything to decide we really like it (whether its music or marketing). Advertisers use this to their advantage, why not parents? If your child is used to skipping the green veggies in favor of other fare, keep the message positive, but keep them coming. If one prep doesn’t work, try another. I’ve always thanked my father for respecting my inherent childhood dislike of lima beans and zucchini. He just presented me with other options — keeping me feeling healthy and empowered around my food choices. I carry that feeling with me as a grownup, and use it to guide the Mommy’s ER messages. Your child will learn from you how to eat and prepare greens, even she or he doesn’t take to them immediately. Sometimes, kids will eat the salad but not the cooked greens or vice versa. Allowing them to have their preferences keeps the association with veggies positive and nourishing. Allowing them to help you in the garden growing their own makes it even more appealing…I’m no green thumb, so that’s a different blog entirely – one that my husband or Maddie — or you, dear reader — will have to write.