Homemade Organic Salsa

I’m about to let you in on a little secret… the world’s best salsa is actually homemade, organic, and way too easy.

I discovered this recipe from a friend about ten years ago.  (Wow, it makes me feel old to admit that.)  Matt and I had it at a party, and it was so good, we purchased a food processor for the express purpose of making this salsa.

It only has 5 ingredients and virtually no prep.  Prepared to have your mind and tastebuds blown.

Ingredients:

2 cans organic diced tomatoes (you could use fresh if you have them.  I’ve always made it this way, and you know what they say about an old dog)

3-4 organic green onions

1 bundle of organic cilantro

4-5 cloves of organic garlic (this is subjective.  Matt and I like a lot of garlic.  You could start with one and keep adding/tasting until you get to the garlic level you prefer).

1 organic jalapeno, seeded

Now here is where it gets amazing – because it’s just so easy.

 

Step 1 – Roughly chop the green veggies/peel the garlic and throw it all in the food processor.

Step 2 – Pulse for a few seconds until the veggies are all minced.

Step 3 – Add in the tomatoes.

Step 4 – Blend and taste.

You can keep adding garlic or jalapeno to get the taste you are looking for.  It does get tastier as it sits in the fridge, but that’s it!

How easy is that?  And the really cool part – it’s 100% 21 Day Fix approved – all natural, organic salsa that you can use to fill up a green container.  You can also use this salsa to make the dressing for my Taco Salad!

Next week, I’ll show you how to use your leftover salsa (if you have any!) to make some tasty guacamole!

Enjoy!

amy allen fitness star diamond beachbody coach

 

 

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I quit using Shampoo

About a month ago, I switched to organic skincare and mentioned that I was looking for alternative hair care options as well.  After reading several articles about how traditional shampoo damages hair and strips away the natural oils it needs, I boldly declared that I was ready for the challenge.  I committed to using baking soda and apple cider vinegar to clean my hair (an all natural alternative).  And I did it publicly.

I have never regretted a statement quite so much.

The idea is that instead of using a traditional shampoo, baking soda and apple cider vinegar can be an acceptable substitute.  First, wash with baking soda, then rinse very well and follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse – 1-2 tablespoons mixed with about a cup of water.  I used an organic baking soda as well as Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.

I would use about 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda.  I just took a tiny bowl of it into the shower with me and added a small amount of water to make it into a paste.  Be warned, this will not make nice frothy bubbles in your hair.  It will feel like you are dragging a bunch of gritty sand through it.  It will not smell good.  It will not make your hair feel clean.  It is hard to spread through your hair and when it is rinsed out, your hair still feels dirty.

After you have rinsed out the baking soda, follow with the vinegar rinse.  The theory is, when mixed with water, the vinegar has a ph that is very similar to what your hair should be, so it’s a great natural way to keep your hair soft and shiny.  I used an empty cup to mix the ACV and water, and I would soak the ends of my hair in the water for a bit first before rinsing the rest of my hair.  I let it sit on my hair for a couple of minutes, and then rinse.  Try not to let it get on your face or in your mouth.  It’s not a fun taste during your shower.

For me, the ACV rinse was the only thing that somewhat saved me.  I have been traveling quite a bit during the last month and so I brought baking soda with me but I didn’t typically take the vinegar.  You don’t want to try this without the vinegar.  It made a huge difference in the softness and cleanliness of my hair.

I have been shampoo free for a month now.  During the first week, it wasn’t too bad.  The first time I showered, I did nothing to my hair, just rinsed with water.  Halfway through the week, I washed with baking soda and did the apple cider vinegar rise, and then again on Saturday.  My goal was to wash my hair only twice a week (since all the article I read said that I washed much too frequently, and the less you wash your hair, the less you need to…)  So I washed my hair following this method on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the rest of the time, I just let it be.

During the second week, I almost quit.  I made a trip to Lush, one of my favorite mostly natural stores, trying to find an alternate solution.

lush fresh cosmetics store mall okc no shampoo no drought review

To my dismay, they only claim to be 67% preservative free and working on the rest…

67 percent natural lush no shampoo

So after reading every. single. shampoo bottle in the place, I left with just a dry shampoo that I thought might be a worthy addition to my routine and a hair mask that was all natural and claimed would brighten my hair color.

On Wednesday of the second week, I tried the dry shampoo (No Drought).  I was disappointed.  I went ahead and washed with the baking soda routine after all.  I can see that it would be great in a pinch, like if you just finished a workout and needed something to use until you could find a shower.  But it definitely wasn’t a shampoo substitute.

Here is a pic of my hair around the two week mark – it doesn’t look bad, but it felt stiff and greasy.  Not pleasant at all.

two weeks with no shampoo my hair

The next day, I tried the hair mask (Marilyn), and honestly that’s just because at this point, I was so discouraged by how my hair felt.  It felt greasy, dirty, stiff, and I was very frustrated with it.  And when I finished it that evening, my wet hair felt wonderful, silky and smooth, like you would expect.  But the next day when I got up, it was greasier than ever.  So I washed it again with the baking soda but stuck to my guns that was all I would use.  I haven’t used either of those products again.  I think they both serve a great purpose, but they don’t really help if the goal is to go all natural.

During the third and fourth weeks, I think it got better.  I stuck to the Wednesday/Saturday washing routine.  My hair feels less greasy, or maybe I’m just getting used to it.  I actually did have a compliment on my hair this past Sunday, but they also knew I haven’t been using shampoo, so maybe they were just trying to make me feel better.

Since I started this, my hair has been in a ponytail almost every single day.  I just can’t stand the way it feels.  I can’t forsee myself doing this long term in the future… because honestly, I don’t want to.  It might look okay in some pictures, but it feels gross.  And while my philosophy hasn’t changed – I am still working really hard to go organic and all natural in every area of my life following my cancer experience – I just can’t give up shampoo.  I am giving this two more weeks because I have heard that sometimes it takes up to six weeks for your hair to adjust to the change, but unless there is a big improvement, I will be starting the search for an all organic or mostly organic option that foams up, smells good, and makes my hair soft.  Because honestly, life is too short to be miserable about my hair everyday.

21 Day Fix Asian Salad with Homemade Asian Dressing

21day fix asian salad with vinagrette 21 day

After living in Japan for three years, I love all foods Asian.  It’s the number one thing I miss about living in Asia.  And while the Japanese are pretty healthy as a culture, some of my favorite foods aren’t.  This salad is a great way for me to get my Asia fix with out sacrificing taste!

21 Day Fix Asian Salad (Serves 1)

Container Checklist: 2 green, 1/2 purple, 1 orange

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup organic butter lettuce
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup pears, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Green Onions
  • 1 Tbsp mixed seeds (pumpkin and sunflower)
  • 1 Tbsp homemade Asian Vinaigrette (recipe posted below).

Toss first five ingredients then drizzle with vinaigrette. It’s kind of any ugly salad, it’s mostly green, but it sure is tasty!

Asian Vinaigrette (Serves 6)

  • 1/4 cup 100% orange juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger,peeled & finely grated
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil

Combine orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, honey and ginger in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend.  Slowly add oil while whisking, mix well.  Store in refrigerator, covered.  If it thickens when cold, hold it at room temp for 30 minutes and shake well before using.

Amy Allen star diamond coach

Grow your own Egghead Sprouts

After we grew our own organic sprouts a few weeks ago, Madison had the idea to grow eggheads.  I’m not sure where she saw this or how she came up with the idea, but its a great fun way to get your kids excited about eating something healthy and new, like sprouts, and it was a fun project for us to do together… and you know this healthy homeschool mama is always up for fun and messy projects to do with her kids.

Organic Egghead Sprouts

Ingredients:

1 egg

1 tsp organic sprouting seeds

water

all natural cotton

serrated knife

egg dish

markers

bowl

making your own egghead with kids homeschool project organic sprouts

Step One:

Cut the top off your egg.  I’m sure there is a better, more efficient and more practical way to do this, but we just grabbed a serrated knife and literally sawed the top off of our eggs.  And it worked really well.  If you are doing this with kids, you might want to do it for them, and if you are kid reading this, have an adult help you cut the top off.

Step Two: 

Once you have a decent hole in the top of your egg (about 1/5 of the way down the egg), dump the whole egg into a bowl.  You can use it for breakfast.  Now you have an empty but dirty egg.

Step Three:

Rinse the inside of the egg really well.  I suggest using some dish soap – you’re going to be growing something edible, so make sure all the egg is gone.

Step Four:

Dry off your egg and draw a face on it.  We just used regular markers.  If you have an egg dish, that’s really handy, but if not you can cut off a portion of your egg carton to have something to hold you egg while the sprouts grow.  Now you have a pot made out of an eggshell – time to plant your sprouts.

Step Five:

Fill your egg with a bit of all natural damp cotton. It will be mostly full – 3/4 of the way or more – with cotton. Put about a tsp of sprouting seeds on top and pour water over your seeds, then drain it.  The seeds will be very close to the top of the shell.  You want the seeds to be damp but not soaking wet.

Step Six:

Water your seeds for the next few days – sprouts grow in about 2-5 days.  After 2 days our sprouts looked like this:

making your own egghead with kids homeschool project organic sprouts

Remember to keep the seeds/sprouts damp everyday!  After four days, our sprouts looked like this:

making your own egghead with kids homeschool project organic sprouts

So after four days, they were long enough to EAT and enjoy on our salads.  You can pull them out or you can trim the tops and they will keep growing – the “hair” can get very long.  All three of my kids had a fun time pulling the sprouts out of the “head” and at least trying them – it’s fun, it’s healthy, and it’s a memory they will always enjoy.

Amy Allen star diamond coach

Garlic and Basil Quinoa

basil and garlic quinoa amyallen fitness

Garlic and Basil Quinoa (makes 8 1/2 cup servings)

Container checklist: 1 yellow

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 cup organic whole grain quinoa

1 tsp basil

Bring two cups and garlic of water to a boil.  Add 1 cup quinoa, bring back to boil and cover.  Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes or until Quinoa has absorbed all the water.  Removed from heat, fluff and stir in 1 tsp basil.  Cover and let stand for about 15 minutes.

Amy Allen star diamond coach

 

 

 

DIY Banana Face Mask

banana face maskAs I have shared before, part of my post cancer journey has been purging all chemical and artificial things from my life.  Up until now, that has included the food we eat, the cleaners we use, and medications.  For the most part, we eat organic, non-gmo whole foods.  I use primarily homemade, chemical free cleaners.  And I have forgone typical medications in favor of more holistic treatments and essential oils.  But one area that I hadn’t addresses, and to be honest, I hadn’t thought much about at all, is my bathroom products.  I’m talking about skin care, makeup, shampoo, bodywash, etc.  Until two weeks ago, which is when this happened:

breakout after face peel chemical reaction

Madison and I were having a girls day – doing nails, face masks, etc.  For Christmas, my mom put a face mask in her stocking – one of those $1 things you can get at Target or Wal-Mart – so we got it out and put it on her face.  We left it on for about 5 minutes, per the instructions, and when we took it off, this is what her face looked like.  And it burned so badly, and for a while, I thought we were headed to the doctor.  It did clear up after a little while but it really made me step back for a minute and evaluate some things.  I have been working so hard to get rid of chemicals, but I’m still putting them on my face everyday?

So here is the first step in the next stage of my healthy journey – cutting chemicals out of our skin care products.  After this disaster with the face mask, I told Madison to look up natural recipes and we would make our own from now on, and here is our first try.  It was a big success and my face felt very moisturized when I was done.

Side note to moms – this is a fun project to do with your girls… but you might not want to let them apply the mask… just a tip from a mom who has been there…

Banana Face Mask

banana face mask

Ingredients:

1 banana

1 egg yolk

1 T. avocado oil

Step One:

Mash the banana.  Here’s a neat trick – before you start mashing with the fork, use it to poke the banana full of tiny holes and the mashing will be MUCH easier.  And one more thing – mash that banana as fine as you possibly can – the less chunky it is, the better it will feel on your face.

banana face mask

Step Two:

Mix all the ingredients together.

banana face mask

Step Three:

Apply to your face and let sit for 20 minutes.  Here is where my advice will come in really handy… unless you want Banana Face Mask in your ears, in your hair and down your shirt, think twice before you let your ten year old daughter apply it…  and just be warned it is very cold.

banana face mask

(She really looks like she is having a little too much fun, doesn’t she?  Don’t worry, I took a video when it was her turn!)

Oh, and PS – the cucumbers are optional but I think my daughter has been spending a little too much time on Pinterest; she insisted they were necessary and to be honest, they were a nice addition.  My eyes felt very refreshed along with my skin.

Step Four:

Rinse face with cold water and enjoy your fresh smooth skin!

So why did we decide on those particular ingredients for our face mask?

Banana – the Vitamin C cleans skin and helps repair blemishes and antioxidents neutralize free radicals that case early aging!

Egg Yolk – Vitamins B2 and Zinc can help heal and prevent acne, and the B3 in them aids with circulation for a healthier feel!

Avocado Oil – rejuvenates dry skin and also help prevent signs of aging.

Hope you enjoy!

Amy Allen star diamond coach

Spicy Green Beans

If you asked my husband what his favorite recipes are, I’m quite sure this one would be in his top five. It’s super quick and easy but also very tasty. I’m personally not a super huge fan of spicy things, but my husband is, so this is a recipe we can both enjoy – I add crushed red pepper to his and I leave it off mine and the kids.

spicy green beans amy allen fitness

Spicy Green Beans (serves 1)

Container Checklist: 1 green, 1 oil

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup organic green beans (can be fresh or frozen

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 t. olive oil

1/4-1/2 t. crushed red pepper (optional)

Heat oil in skillet on stove top over med-high heat. When it is very hot, add the green beans, garlic and red pepper and saute until they are tender, 15-20 min. We like ours to be a little singed, so I don’t stir them very often and let them get a little bit black on the outside.

You can use fresh or frozen green beans (both are approved on the 21 Day Fix!) but until we get our garden up and going, I normally use these frozen ones – the flavor is really good and they are organic.

cascadian farms fresh cut green beans frozenEnjoy!!

Amy Allen star diamond coach

 

21 Day Fix Salad with Homemade Balsamic Dressing

IMG_5852

This has long been my absolute favorite salad recipe, and I’m happy to share that with just a few modifications, I can still eat it during the 21 Day Fix… now it’s a little bit healthier for me (and just as tasty!) and I can enjoy it without any guilt.

21 Day Fix Salad (Serves 1)

Container Checklist: 1 green, 1 blue, 1 orange

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic baby spinach
  • ¼ cup organic sprouts (learn how to grow your own here!)
  • 1/8 cup Feta Cheese
  • 1/8 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 1/8 cup homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe posted below).

Toss first four ingredients then drizzle with vinaigrette.  For toasted pecans, I like to heat a skillet on the stovetop and just warm the nuts without using any sort of oil or seasoning.

 

Balsamic Vinaigrette (Serves 8)

  • 6 T Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp raw honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 6 T EVOO

Combine vinegar, lemon juice and honey in a medium bow. Whisk to blend.  Stir in mustard, mix well.  Slowly add oil while whisking, mix well.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. If it thickens when cold, hold it at room temp for 30 minutes and shake well before using. It’s amazing on salads but also great drizzled over sautéed veggies, steamed fish, grilled chicken or beef.

Growing your own Organic Sprouts

IMG_5740

For Christmas, my sweet husband bought me a grow your own sprouts kit… Well, actually, I picked it out, told him I wanted it, and he told me to go ahead a buy it for myself, wrap it and put it under the tree… I guess it doesn’t matter how it got there. The bottom line is I love adding fresh sprouts for my salad and now I can grow my own.

There are a great many benefits to eating sprouts.  Experts estimate that there are up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than there are in traditional fruits and veggies.  The protein quality is also higher, and the vitamin and fiber content increases substantially over traditional fruits and vegetables.  Sprouts also help to maintain alkalinity in the body.  And while I am not a doctor, I have read studies that indicate broccoli sprouts may be helpful if you are fighting cancer**.

I ordered the kit pictured above from www.seedsnow.com and in retrospect, I didn’t really NEED the kit. I already had most of the items needed around my house aside from the seeds. The kit was handy because it came with everything I needed, but I wasn’t completely happy with my purchase.  It was advertised as non-GMO (true) and organic, but actually only one of the seed packets was organic.

I would recommend ordering just the organic non-gmo sprouts from www.seedsnow.com and sourcing the rest of the materials yourself. It would likely save you money and wouldn’t be too difficult to do. So here is what you will need:

  • Organic, non-gmo sprouting seeds
  • A large mason jar
  • Some sort of mesh to cover the mouth of your jar
  • A towel
  • Water

Step by Step Directions

IMG_5815

Step One:

Measure out sprout seeds. I used small alfalfa sprout seeds, so I used 2 Tbsp of seeds. For larger seeds, like peas, you may need up to ¼ cup.

Step Two:

Put your seeds into the ball jar and cover them with water.  There should be about an inch of water over the top of the seeds.  Screw on the lid with mesh covering attached and allow to sit overnight, 8-12 hours.  Cover the entire jar with a small towel during the entire process (the sprouts should be kept out of the light as much as possible during the process).

IMG_5816

Step Three:

In the morning, drain all of the water off the sprouts and rinse them with fresh water – you can leave them in the jar while you rinse them.  Drain the excess water and turn the jar onto it’s side and shake the jar to spread out the seeds evenly.  They should be damp but there should be no standing water.  Cover with the towel.

IMG_5817

Step Four:

Over the next three to five days, remember to rinse the sprouts 2-3 times per day, and always leave the jar on it’s side, covered with a damp towel.  Again, you can leave the sprouts in the jar to rinse them; just be sure to drain the excess water.  By the fourth or fifth day, your jar should be full of organic sprouts to enjoy any way you choose.  After the fifth day, I did leave mine in the jar, uncovered in the fridge.  I’m not sure what the correct procedure is for storing them but this has worked well for me.

IMG_5853

These organic sprouts are a great addition to any clean eating, organic, non-gmo meal plan.  Enjoy!

**Side note – the American Cancer Society does not recommend sprouts in your diet if you have a weakened immune system such as occurs during chemotherapy.  While there are a great many benefits to eating sprouts, be sure to consult your doctor first if you fall into this category.

Black Beans and Rice

Beans and Rice Ultimate Reset 21 day fix

This is one of my favorite recipes from week 1 of the Ultimate Reset… and luckily for me, with just a few modifications, it fits in perfectly with the container system for the 21 Day Fix!  It’s super easy and quick to make, but also super healthy and extremely flavorful! If you like Mexican food, this is a great healthy substitute.

Black Beans and Rice (Serves 1)

Container checklist:  2 yellow and 1/4 tsp oil

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 canned low sodium black beans
  • 1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. Bragg liquid Aminos** or (low sodium soy sauce)

While rice is cooking, heat beans gently in saucepan until very hot. Drain and return to pan.  Add oil, spices, aminos, and salt.  Stir well.  Gently fold rice into cooked beans.  Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, so I like to make up a batch in my rice cooker at the beginning of the week so I can have it ready to go during the busier week days.

This is a great stand alone vegetarian meal… but if you are like me and have meat eaters or non fixers in the house, it’s easy to amp it up with some chicken, fresh corn, guacamole – and with tortillas, you can make it a taco night 🙂

**Braggs Amino Acids is a great and healthy soy sauce alternative.  In my house, we don’t buy soy sauce anymore and not even the pickest four year old complains about the taste of Braggs.  You can get it at any health food store or on Amazon here.  Braggs also has a great line of other products that would be “free” foods during the 21 Day Fix, like organic apple cider vinegar and organic sprinkle all purpose seasoning.