Drop Dead Gorgeous

Everyday people get up in the morning and proceed with their routines. Shower, get dressed, brush hair, moisturize, detangle, powder, pluck, the list is endless. And, everyday we use products to assist us in maintaining our bodies: lotions, rubs, gels, and cosmetics to name a few. We rely on products to improve our overall well being by nurturing, healing and preventing. But what if the things we thought were helping, are actually hindering us?

Drop Dead
Like most people who use cosmetics mostly everyday, I was in the dark about the toxic ingredients of commercial products until I stumbled upon a book in the Lifekind library. Drop Dead Gorgeous by Kim Erickson is an eye-opening book about protecting yourself from the hidden dangers of cosmetics.

Synthetic materials such as suspected carcinogens, hormone-disturbing parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives linger in those lotions and soaps that leave your skin feeling dreamy and moisturized. In our beloved face powders and favorite blushes you are exposed to substances such as Aluminum Powder which is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. So why does the public consumer not know about this??

Unfortunately these types of issues are no concern to the manufacturers and they skirt around the issue when it becomes public knowledge. But there are still ways of obtaining the knowledge. Kim Erickson’s book is a wealth of information with excellent references and even all natural recipes for your own lotions and beauty products. Here is a sample of one that you can try at home!

Chocolate-Mint Body Smoother
(Emollient-rich cocoa butter has a delicious chocolate scent)
2 ounces cocoa butter
¼ cup apricot kernel oil
1 teaspoon beeswax, grated
1 teaspoon liquid vitamin E
3 drops peppermint essential oil
Combine the cocoa butter, apricot oil, and beeswax in a small saucepan. Heat on low until the cocoa butter and beeswax have completely melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add the vitamin E and peppermint essential oil, stirring well to blend. Pour into clean container and allow to cool completely before capping.

So before you buy your next lotion from the local drug store remember Drop Dead Gorgeous by Kim Erickson. Maybe if enough people know and realize the dangers of everyday products we can start a change towards a cleaner, healthier living that is chemical free.

Eco-Friendly Clothes that Won’t Break the Bank

Most of us who enjoy and believe in an organic lifestyle try to incorporate our beliefs into every aspect of our daily lives. Making educated choices in food, cleaning products, furniture, and clothing are just a few ways we can do that. But buying organic usually comes with a price….literally.

Everyday organic item pricing is almost always higher than non-organic. With the increase of popularity in the organic industry, however, companies are coming out with low-cost options. This is even creeping its way into the fashion world.

Clothes are not only necessary, they’re what separate and individualize us, whether we realize it or not. For me, what I wear is a chance to express myself. Moods, seasons, personality, and priorities are all reflected in our choice of dress and represent us in the minds of others. A person is more likely to remember someone’s clothes than the color of their eyes.

If we put that much thought into our image, why aren’t we putting even more into what our clothes are made of?

As the public learns more about the benefits of living organically and demand increases, companies are coming out with organic clothing lines for a lower budget. But price isn’t all that matters! When looking into where products are sourced from, I found it troubling that even if the tag says “organic,” it might still come from a sweatshop, have been imported, or have been fumigated. (Yikes!)

Such issues are increasingly becoming public knowledge. In response, popular brands are unveiling organic lines. Some, like H&M, REI, and Jonano, are meeting the demand for organic choices while keeping prices reasonable. Levi Strauss offers choices that include organic cotton and recycled zippers and buttons, as well as natural indigo dyes. Products from popular t-shirt company American Apparel are made in the U.S. and are sweatshop-free. They’re a great place to find inexpensive basics like leggings, t-shirts, and hoodies. Their cotton products are made with 20% organic fiber, and they’re hoping to bump that up to 80% in the near future. They also recycle over a million pounds of scrap fabric per year and have solar panels on the roof of their LA headquarters. Talk about moving toward greener living!

So next time you’re picking out a new pair of jeans or strolling around the mall thinking about buying that lovely blouse, remember that there are choices in mainstream fashion. Don’t compromise your way of living just because the majority of the retail world does. You can focus on honoring the companies out there who are thinking organically, just like you!

Dad’s Tofu Tacos

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to have parents who not only believed in an organic and holistic lifestyle, but lived one as well. My sister and I grew up without jarred baby food or baby formula. My parents would use a hand grinder wherever they went, and we would eat straight from their plates. Goat’s milk and kefir were staples, as well as tofu and homemade bread. My parents shopped for organic produce at the local co-op or grew it themselves. We hand-raised pigs, and bought a steer from a local farmer each year. It was a healthy, sustainable childhood.

My upbringing taught me to believe in a natural and organic lifestyle. I eat organically, use natural remedies, and always recycle. One area I never thought about until I started working at Lifekind, however, was my bedroom. I never knew the potential hazards of something so seemingly trustworthy as a mattress. I’ve learned so much at Lifekind, and have unearthed a new dimension in my strive for purity.

My goal is to have an organic mattress made without chemicals as soon as possible, but in the meantime I’ll work my way up through pillows and mattress toppers till the money tree can shake a branch free. This in turn has prompted me to start trying harder in the areas of my life I already consider to be organic, and where better to start then to re-create some of my parents’ dinnertime dishes from when I was growing up?

One of my father’s most notorious and loved dinner recipes is for Tofu Tacos. Not only is it a great option for vegetarians (a.k.a. my sister Ashley), but it’s also a much leaner choice than typical beef tacos. Hopefully sharing this recipe will show how easy it is to make a small change to a healthier lifestyle.

Ingredients:
1 or 2 packages of firm tofu (I like to use two for leftover taco salad)
1 small yellow onion
Salt and pepper
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Paprika
Grated Pepper jack and/or cheddar cheese
Sliced olives
Chopped tomatoes
Cilantro
Chopped lettuce (Romaine is best)
Avocado
Sour cream
Corn tortillas

Drain tofu and squeeze out excess moisture, then chop into roughly 1/4-inch squares. Coat a large non-stick skillet with olive oil and turn the heat to med-high; add tofu. Meanwhile, dice the onion and add it to the tofu. Once the tofu begins to brown, you can add the seasoning: a healthy dose of garlic powder and chili powder, then a lighter dusting of paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn down the heat and continue cooking until the tofu is crispy on the outside.

While the tofu and onions are cooking, prep the rest of the fixings: Chop the lettuce, dice the tomatoes, pick the cilantro leaves, peel and slice the avocado, drain the olives, and grate the cheese. Fill a small skillet with about ½” of vegetable oil; turn to med-high heat until the oil is hot. Place corn tortillas one at a time in the oil for 10-15 seconds, then using tongs, fold in half into a taco shape. Cook on each side about 30 seconds, or until the shell turns golden brown, and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

For extra “yum” factor, dust the tortilla shells with parmesan cheese while they’re still hot. Build your taco with all the fixings you prefer, and you’ll have Dad’s Tofu Tacos.

Enjoy!