Upcycling your Hamama Coco Mats

What can I do with my used seed quilts you ask? ANYTHING but the garbage can is my reply!! There are lots of ways to repurpose or upcycle your mats.
First, peel off the seed layer and scrub or snip the roots off.
Give the mat a good washing with a natural gentle dish soap.
Then let the fun begin!

IN THE KITCHEN:
Cut them into thirds and use as scrubbers. These days many of the natural sponges have a coco fiber layer JUST like your mats.

IN THE BATHROOM:.
You can use a piece as a soap holder in your shower or bathtub.


IN THE GARDEN:

Cube them and use as a mulch in your garden bed or containers. Coco fiber has excellent water retention properties. You can add more as you use your mats over time. It will break down and add organic matter to your soil. WIN WIN!

Cut them into a circle and use to cover the drainage hole in the bottom of your garden pots or seed starter trays. This will allow drainage but keeps the soil inside. BOOM!

Tear them up and add to your orchid pots as a natural mulch.
(I actually put these in my blendtec and let them spin for a few seconds to unwind the mats, but not sure how that would work in a regular blender, it was just my time saving hack.)

At the very least you should compost your mats. I home compost mine and have found a few tricks that help. I peel off the seed layer since I don’t want a bunch of “volunteer” plants in my compost bin. Then I either peel the remaining coco mat into layers or cut it with heavy kitchen shears into strips or cubes. That way it composts more quickly. The more you break it down the more quickly it will decompose. It is considered a brown for those of you that compost.

Feeling crafty? Why not make some ornaments for an au natural Christmas tree this year! All you need is a sharpie, some sharp scissors, a few cookie cutters and some colorful cord to make a fun and crafty ornament. Use a skewer to poke a hole for the cord.

Clean and Green Life: All the Things I Use and LOVE

From time to time I get asked for a comprehensive list of the things I use and love. Among friends and family I am known as someone who does my research and is fairly picky, but hopefully in a good way. I am always looking for the very best products with the cleanest ingredients and ideally the greenest footprints. So for those of you that have asked over and over, here it is, finally! In some categories I am still in research mode, as it has been a long and in some cases slow process to find products that are clean but still work, so consider this blog post a work in progress.

In the Kitchen

CLEANERS

Dishwasher Soap: I use Ecover Zero Automatic Dishwashing tablets and they really work! It took a few tries using different products to find one that really cleaned the dishes and left the glasses spot free, but this does the trick. I also use their Dishwasher Rinse Aid which helps the glasses sparkle. I need to give their Dish soap a try.

Dish Soap:
I am still in search of the perfect dish soap. Will report back soon. In trials of several that get EWG A rating. In the past I have not been able to find one that is both green, but also cleans! It’s all in the bubbles for me. Still searching. I have a list to try which includes Ecos Lavender, Ecover Zero, Trader Joe’s Lavender Tea Tree and The Honest Co Grapefruit, all of which are EWG A rated. Anyone have input?

Hand Sanitizer:
I am not a super frequent user of hand sanitizers, but there are situations where it is called for. I love having it on hand when I travel. Grove Collaborative makes an amazing blood orange hand sanitizer. It comes in a spray and a gel, and I love BOTH. My friends ask me for a squirt when we are together because they love the fresh orange scent. Trust me, you are going to love this one!

Hand Soap:
2 favorites in this category.
Kosmatology soaps are amazing. They smell sooo good and the ingredients are super clean. You can buy refills which reduces waste. I especially love the lemon and the rosemary mint. I am a usually a huge fan of grapefruit, but I found the lemon to have a stronger aroma in this case, which makes it a winner.

Branch Basics operates on a clever and eco friendly concept. You buy a kit that contains 1 concentrate and you receive several bottles with fill lines. You use the universal concentrate to create hand soap, laundry soap, spray cleaner, window spray and a bathroom cleaner. Love the idea of reducing my plastic consumption. The ingredients are earth friendly and non toxic. That is a winning combo. Including here, but I guess this product fits into several categories, so just keep that in mind!

Scouring Powder: I use good old Arm and Hammer Baking Soda. I keep it in a 1.5 quart tall wide mouth mason jar with a fine mesh sprouting lid to make a sprinkler top.

Spray Cleaners:
Force of Nature Spray Cleaner: I adore this simple but super effective spray cleaner. The clever device turns a small vial of salt, vinegar and your added water into electrolyze water, which is a cleaner powerful and yet gentle enough that hospitals use it in wound care. It has a very mild pool water smell that just says clean without being overpowering.

Branch Basics concentrate can also be used to make a nice spray cleaner. It is unscented which is a plus in my book. Again you are using the universal concentrate to refill the supplied spray bottle. I love reducing my plastic footprint, don’t you?!

FOOD, WATER AND FOOD STORAGE

Berkey Water Filter: I took way too long to take this plunge, but am so glad I finally did. I love my Big Berkey. I had toyed with the idea of the Travel Berkey, but am glad I went BIG. We go through a complete fill every day. With the Big Berkey I have the option to upgrade to 4 carbon filters for faster purification in the future (it comes standard with 2). I can also add on the fluoride filters if I choose to in the future, although I don’t love that the filter cases extend into the lower water collection chamber…hmmm.
I opted for the stainless spigot which is a nice upgrade. Living in Florida this purchase is really a no brainer as a berkey should be a part of anyone’s disaster plans. Can you say hurricane?! You can literally make clean drinkable water from mud! Boom.

Circle C Farm: I order all of my chicken from this Florida Farm. Their chicken is pastured and fed a supplemental diet of rice and sorghum, rather than corn and soy. Of course the pastured chickens are allowed to peck for whatever else they would normally eat in nature. They have a large variety of pastured grass fed meats and they ship nationwide.I love their pasture points reward system as you can earn free food, and who doesn’t love that?!
Use my link to get 5% off your first order.

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit: I absolutely adore this system for growing your own microgreens. It is probably one of my favorite products, maybe ever! So easy and microgreens are a nutrient powerhouse! Read all about this super easy growing system in my blog post here. If you can pour water you can grow microgreens.
Use coupon code Paleogirl99 for 15% off new subscriptions.

Hotlogic mini: This plug-in lunch bag is a must for heating food on the go. You can even get an adapter so you can heat food in your car!
Use code Paleogirl99 for 20% off! This is life changing!

Kouzini Olive Oil: I have lots of different olive oils in my kitchen, but this is my go to olive oil for when I want to really taste that pungent olive flavor. Love that it comes from just one source in Greece and the harvest date is right on the label.
California Olive Ranch also makes really nice olive oils. They too include the harvest date right on the label so you know what you are getting is fresh! You will find their olive oils on so many “best of” lists. They are committed to eco friendly practices and are currently working to create an organic olive oil and I am excited about that in the future. I like their Everyday olive oil when I need a light and mild tasting olive oil. Their Miller’s Blend is pungent and peppery with that lovely polyphenol punch! Yum.

Redmond Real Salt: This is my everyday “go to” salt. I love that it is from an ancient sea bed, so it is untainted by our modern day ocean pollution woes. Plus it has over 60 natural trace minerals. My favorite is the kosher sea salt for it’s “just right” salt grain size.

Sizzlefish: I order all of my seafood here. It is flash frozen on the boat to capture peak freshness. This is important to me as I need to minimize my histamine exposure due to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I have a monthly subscription and they ship to me in eco friendly packaging (their standard packaging is styrofoam so ask for the eco friendly option).
Follow my link to get 10 % off your order!

Eco Friendly Living

Mason jars: I store anything and everything I can in Ball Mason Jars! I have an entire cabinet full of them! Really! See my post here.

Pyrex Ultimate: Glass bases that last forever and glass and silicone lids that are dishwasher, freezer, microwave and oven safe. What is not to love about that! See my post all about them here. I bought the lids separately as I already had the bases, but they are available both ways.

Swipies: These are a MUST for every list maker! You use non permanent water soluble pens with these reusable paper substitutes so they wipe clean and can be used over and over again. The owner says she is still using the ones she first developed 4 years ago. Mine have gotten a lot of use already, but they still look new. Trust me, these are super cool and you can feel good about saving a tree!
Code Paleogirl99 gets you 10% off orders over $25 and free shipping over $50.

Household and Cleaners

Force of Nature Spray Cleaner: Again, can’t say enough great things about it, as I mentioned in the kitchen section. It is great for bathrooms too, and for cleaning odd shaped items with difficult to reach spaces, like my hydroflask lids for example.

Molekule Air Filter: I have been using this for about 6 months now and I really love it. It has a sleek modern design. It uses both filters and a UV light to not only trap, but also vaporize mold and other airborne pathogens. You can turn off the connectivity to reduce EMF. It offers a scheduled dark mode which I find handy. The light on my unit goes off at 9 pm and turns back on at 7 am. The filter portion of the unit continues to run, but I get a nice dark room for better sleeping conditions.

Dr. Bronners Sal Sud: I am just discovering the many ways to use this concentrate all over the house. Read all about it here. I am experimenting with this for dishes and possibly laundry at the moment. Will report back!

IN THE LAUNDRY

Laundry Soap: Converting over to cleaner and greener products has been a process of researching and testing products one by one to find what I like and that works. Like dish soap, this is another area where I am still in the testing phase. I had been using Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender which works really well, but when I discovered it gets a dismal D rating on EWG I dug in to research mode for better options. A friend recently suggested Biokleen laundry liquid. She uses the citrus essence and vouches that it fights the toughest yoga sweat on her microfiber gear, and that is a pretty impressive testimony. Their citrus rates a B and their free and clear an A on EWG. I am giving them a try. I like that they offer a cardboard bottle option, though it does contain a thin plastic bag liner. Also currently testing Branch Basics concentrate for laundry as well as Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds and will update when I can provide more feedback.

Oxygen Boost: Branch basics makes a nice oxygen boost which gets an A rating on EWG.org.

Beauty & Self Care

Bella Cuore Harmonic Healing Oil: I use a few pumps mixed with moisturizer for my face twice a day. Use coupon code PALEOGIRL for 10% off. Read about it here.

Dr. Bronners Rose Hemp Castile soap: I use this as my daily face wash, morning and night! Light fresh scent and gentle on my sensitive skin, not to mention your pocket book! Such a bargain!
Dr. Bronners Lavender Castile Soap I use this for the rest of my body in the bath and shower, but there are TONS of uses for Bronners soaps! Read alol about them here.

Carina Organics I LOVE LOVE LOVE their super clean shampoo, conditioner and facial moisturizers. The citrus scent is reminiscent of fresh tangerine. YUM. See my blog post all about them! Ingredients so clean you could practically eat these products! They rate an impressive 1 on EWG’s skin deep data base.

Cleure Original Toothpaste: I have burning mouth syndrome and this super gentle toothpaste is my go to for brushing without the burn! Love the clean no nonsense ingredient list.

Flourish Beauty I love their silky hydrating mist for detangling and protecting my hair during blowouts and their silkening serum for a little extra control. Read all about what I love from them here.
Coupon code paleogirl20 saves you 20%.

Just Thrive Probiotics: I use this spore based probiotic. I love that it does not require refrigeration and that it survives the acid environment of the stomach to arrive in the intestines 100% active. It functions differently from traditional probiotics that attempt to reseed the gut flora, which is very difficult to sustain. Rather it works to recondition the gut, allowing good bacteria to grow and thrive more easily so that you in essence reseed on your own. Clever! Give it a go.
Coupon code Paleogirl15 saves you 15%.

Keto Mojo Ketone and Glucose monitor: Yes 1 device does BOTH!. There are 2 sets of strips but just one meter, which is super handy. As a devoted biohacker I love using this data to understand better how my body reacts to different foods. I find this data very valuable when tweaking my diet for optimal health and wellness.

Oura Ring: I LOVE mine! The sleep data and readiness score really help me understand what days are for GO FOR IT days and when I should really just rest and recover. On several occasions it alerted me that I was getting sick even before I had symptoms. That allows me to take action and nip illness in the bud! Again as a biohacker I love the sleep data.

SanRe Organic Skin Food. I adore this line of products. So many things to love. Small business founded by a mother daughter team committed to organic skin care they call skin food…love that! Shouldn’t you feed your skin only good things!! It is your largest organ after all…just sayin! I especially love their C-Love vitamin C cream which melted away my sun spots! Miraculous! Read about what I love here.

23 and Me: I have learned a TON about my health status by running 23 and Me and then using strategene to identify my SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). It turns out I have a lot of genetic miscoding that causes me to be a less than optimal detoxifier. That is the BIGGEST reason why I am so devoted to clean and toxin free products!!

Affiliate links:

I appreciate when you use affiliate links, which help support this blog. Most things I share about here I purchase myself, but I do occasionally receive sample items from vendors to be able to test out new things. I also have affiliate accounts with a few brands that I truly believe in. Rest assured I will not share about anything I don’t use myself and totally love!

Creamy Dairy Free Chive Dressing

Thick and rich ranch inspired dairy and egg free dressing

I have been craving a creamy salad dressing lately, something flavored like traditional ranch dressing. Admittedly it has been so long since I have had real ranch dressing I am not sure I remember accurately what it tastes like, but nonetheless I am trying to recreate what I recall. I googled dairy free recipes but they all seemed to include something I couldn’t have like egg, garlic or vinegar, so I set out to make my own version. This was my first go at it and I think it came out really delish, so I decided to share it here. I may tweak it over time, as often happens with my recipes, but will add notes at the end if I make any changes.

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut milk (I only use Golden Star*)
1 T fresh lemon or lime juice
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T fresh dill
1 T fresh parsley
1 T fresh chives
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt, I like smoked
1 1/2 T freshly ground golden flax

Blend all ingredients at high speed until creamy and smooth.
Chill in fridge for a few hours before using to let flavors meld and to allow the flax to thicken the dressing. This would also make a delicious dip for veggies. Going to try using it like that next!

*I prefer Golden Star as it contains only coconut and it is nice and white and thick and creamy.

Tips for Saving with the ibotta app

Wait! Don’t throw those receipts away! There may be cash back on them!!

Ok, so if you know me in real life, or even on Instagram , then you are aware that I am currently a wee bit obsessed with the ibotta app! OK, ok, A LOT obsessed! I actually joined back in 2014, but at that time I regretfully didn’t take the time to get the hang of it and now I am kicking myself for those 5 years of missed savings! I started using it in earnest in late June 2019, and in the 2 month period since then I have earned over $200. And this savings is CASH BACK. YES, real life cash you can Venmo or PayPal to yourself, or take as any number of awesome gift card options, like Amazon, Target, Zappos, Whole Foods, amongst many others!

I am sharing this “how to guide” since in my short experience with the ibotta app, I have noticed that people seem to have a tough time getting started, but it is actually pretty easy to use, and totally worth the effort! Since they often offer a $20 welcome bonus you need to get up to speed before you start so you are ready snag some big savings!

1: SIGN UP and join my team here. This link includes my embedded referral code, but in case you get asked for it again it is 6s5xiq. Sometimes it drops out if you sign in using Facebook and you will get asked for it again. If you join my team you will benefit a little bit from my purchases and me from yours, as together we work towards teamwork bonuses. That’s a win win for us both! Boom! If you connect to your Facebook account then all of your Facebook friends on ibotta will also be on your team, so you will be in good company right away.

2: DOWNLOAD the ibotta app from the App Store and sign in. Open the app and follow along below to get a feel for using it. Trust me, you will catch on quickly.

3: GET STARTED BY CLIPPING digital coupons within your favorite stores inside the app. See photo above for the home page showing my frequented retailers.

To clip you hit the red “+” symbol for the item (blue arrow in screen shot above). The clipping action is part of the “get” for the retailers. They gain a little advertising moment as a small blurb about the item may pop up as you clip. You may even learn a little something new about things you already use. Winning!|

Only coupons you “clip” are active. The red “+” symbol will change to a green check mark to show your coupon is now active (green arrow in screen shot above). Some coupons allow multiple uses indicated by an icon at the bottom of the item which will read LIMIT 3 or LIMIT 5, (red arrow in screen capture above).

The first time you clip coupons it will feel like it is a long list, but once you have done it initially, you can then just go in once or twice a week and review the New Offers tab. Any coupon you clip will apply to all stores offering it.

If you are looking for a specific item there is a search button in the top right corner of the app.

There are tabs for categories at the top of the coupons list.
Clipped active coupons will appear in the bottom banner called “Your List” within each store. You can review them there before or while you are shopping.

4: FOR IN STORE SHOPPING:
After shopping make sure no new coupons have come in and then hit redeem. You will then take a photo of your receipt inside the app and hit finish. The app will automatically recognize most if not all of the offers that apply. If you think there are missing items it will give you the option to add more items with easy instructions. Once you have completed the receipt scan it will either immediately give you the savings, or it may sometimes take a short while to process the savings. Receipts can be redeemed for up to a week from the date of purchase, so get in a habit of redeeming them when you unload your groceries. You can view your total savings under the Account tab.

Some stores now offer linking of loyalty cards so that redemption of your clipped coupon occurs automatically at store checkout. In that case just make sure you clip any relevant coupons BEFORE your shopping trip to get the most bang for your buck.

5. FOR ONLINE SHOPPING:
You must enter the online store FROM the ibotta app, and you must add the items to your cart from ibotta. Any items already in your cart before entering ibotta will not count towards cash back or bonuses.

Online retailers may offer coupons to clip, but most offer a percent cash back. For example at the moment Amazon is offering 3% cash back on all purchases, and eBags is offering 11% back. These numbers will vary with promotions. FYI these percent cash back purchases do not count as “offers” towards bonuses. Once you get in the habit of entering the app for your online purchases the cash back savings will really add up.

Online purchases may take up to 14 days to appear in your account. Cash back credit for returned online items will reversed and subtracted from your account.

6. BONUSES:
Here is where you will make a big percentage of the cash back! Of the $200 I have earned so far, $76 of it was from bonuses!

When you join you will likely have a WELCOME bonus worth $20 if you redeem a certain number of “offers” within 14 days of joining. Some important terms to understand. An “offer” refers to the clipped coupon items. It is important to know that “any item” coupons do not apply as offers, and if you buy multiples of an item only 1 of that item will apply as an offer toward the bonus. Online purchases do not count as offers unless there are specific coupons offered on the retailers ibotta page.

So far I have noticed that I typically get a “weekend warrior” bonus just before the weekend and I sometimes get a “mid week” bonus offer as well. Bigger bonuses seem to drop around holidays. As I am writing this blog post 2 big Labor Day bonuses just dropped. 1 is a $10 bonus for in store purchases, which would be easy to achieve if you were planning a Labor Day gathering, and the second is a $10 bonus for a cumulative $200 in online purchases from their many retailers. I will keep this in mind for the future as I JUST made a big purchase from Vitacost earlier this week and I should have held out knowing they would drop a big bonus for Labor Day, just like they did earlier this year for July 4th. I am anticipating more of the same types of bonuses for upcoming holidays.

There are also bonuses for referrals, which is a double win because you will be building your team when your friends join and your friends will be introduced to a way to save money with receipts they are just throwing away. The typical referral bonus is $3, but there are sometimes larger incentives. You will only earn the referral bonus once your friend has signed up using your referral code and redeemed a qualifying offer, which again would not include “any item” purchases or non offer related online purchases. Your referral code can be found under Account>Invite Friends. I have found that email invites work better than text invites since the referral code is imbedded in the email link, but must be manually entered from the text link.

7. PAY with ibotta: Some stores are now offering additional cash back for using the app to pay for your purchases. You can link your Apple Pay or a credit card to the app for payment. The ibotta app generates a gift code that is scanned when you enter the total amount of the sale. I did this for the first time the other day at Whole Foods and it was actually quite easy and my cashier was even familiar with the drill. I literally JUST got a notice that, due to overwhelming demand, Pay with ibotta is currently unavailable while they work on some updates, but I will revise this section when it becomes available again, with more details on the new format.

Super Tender Turkey Flax Meatballs

I love mini meatballs. They are super yummy to build a bowl around and very versatile. These are so moist and delicious! They practically melt in your mouth.

Turkey Flax Meatballs

1 pound of organic ground turkey, mixed white and dark meat, NOT all white breast meat or they will be dry.
2 T ground golden flax. I buy mine as whole seeds and grind in my blendtec blender and freeze what I don’t use immediately.
1/2 cup of frozen cauliflower rice
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt, I use Redmond Real Salt
1 T hemp heart gomasio (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400.
Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended.
Use a Tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the mixture and roll by hand into small meatballs.
Brown them in oil in an oven safe skillet (stainless or cast iron).
Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking the meatballs. They are done when a thermometer inserted measures 165. How long that takes will be a result of how big they are and how much browning you did stovetop. For me it is about 10 minutes.

I like to make these on a food prep day and then transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen I transfer to a large stasher bag and keep in my #freezerstash.

Raw Green Flatbread

If you are on Instagram you know I have been on a green “flatbread” kick lately. My husband would call it a jag 😉…love you honey! I first discovered raw green “bread” from following the amazing Dr. Deanna Mutzel on instagram…check her out here. She is the Queen of this stuff and she has a wonderful ebook and online course where you can learn all there is to know about making it. I have been toying around with my own version and many of you have asked for me to share it, and since I always gladly share my recipes with you all, here goes. Continue reading

Hemp Heart Gomasio

Years and years ago as a teenager I did a stint of eating macrobiotic and back then we made a LOT of gomasio and put it on everything! I can just taste it now. So good! We made it with sesame seeds and sea salt…simple enough. I decided to give it a go with hemp hearts, which are my current favorite and a recent successful food reintroduction.

Here is what I did. I can’t even call this a recipe…it’s a “barely recipe”. Continue reading