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Paleo Style (Delicious) Chocolate Bark.

on
Monday, April 25, 2016

Let's be real. There's nothing like curling up sloth-style on the couch after a long day and relaxing. My husband and I cherish our sacred time of sitting together and rejuvenating our souls with a mini TV marathon and chocolate. We like to avoid processed, sugar-loaded crap, so finding something healthy but delicious for us to snack on was my mission. We always check for sales at our health food store on legit organic cocoa bars, but they can still be pretty pricey. Then I thought, wait, why can't I just make my own? I decided to jump in and give it a try, and holy cow, it was for sure THE BEST decision I have ever made. My husband (and one year old) loved it, and I knew we had a winner. This chocolate bark is so easy to make, and the best part is that it's actually a healthy treat!

Picking a good cocoa powder to make these with is important and where a lot of the nutrition comes from. Organic cocoa contains an abundance of antioxidants, magnesium, and iron. My current favorite brand is Navitas Naturals. It makes this bark so rich and delicious.


The Recipe
1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil
2 TBS honey
A pinch of salt


  1. Heat the coconut oil in a small pot on low/medium heat to liquify it.
  2. Add in the honey and combine well.
  3. Slowly add in the cocoa powder and whisk until there are no lumps. 
  4. Add a pinch of salt. 
  5. Pour the warm mixture onto a silicone mat on a baking sheet, large plate, or tray.
  6. This is where it gets fun- top it with whatever you heart desires! Here are some ideas: pumpkin seeds, nuts, coconut flakes, freeze dried or dehydrated fruits. 
  7. Transfer to the freezer to harden for at least one hour. 
  8. After one hour pop it off and break it into smaller pieces.


Because of the coconut oil these will melt slightly if left at room temperature, so storing them in the fridge or freezer is best! We prefer cold chocolate, so we normally store ours like that anyways. You can even play around and use fun silicone molds instead of pouring it onto a flat surface.


Have you ever made a healthy chocolate alternative? Share your recipes! 

Natural makeup brush cleanser

on
Tuesday, April 12, 2016


How often do you clean your makeup brushes? I would be lying if I said that I'm great at keeping up with cleaning mine. I'm sure I'm not the only lady guilty of mumbling "just this last use and then I will clean them" as I quickly throw on my makeup (with a crazy one year old digging through my bathroom cabinets and throwing everything onto the floor). Putting on any makeup at all is enough work...am I right, or am I right? But when you think about how much sweat, oil, dead skin, dirt, and bacteria makeup brushes can harbor and breed (uhhh gross)...it should be enough motivation to get on it and wash those stank things!

For me, buying a special brush cleanser is clearly out of the question...just another thing to keep up with. I eventually figured out that making my own is not only WAY easier because I already have everything on hand, but it's also the best natural option. I get to control what goes into my cleanser and soaks into my brushes (and eventually touches my face) and I am easily able to avoid any toxic or harsh chemicals. Basically it's a win-win for me. I personally prefer to make it as I use it, but you could also pre-make a small bottle. I've gotten in a good routine of washing my brushes every 1-2 weeks, or even daily sometimes if I'm in the midst of a bad breakout. Brushes that are used in liquid (foundation, liquid eyeliner, etc.) should be washed every few days, but brushes used in powder are able to go longer in between cleanings. I can definitely tell a difference once mine are clean because my blush and powder go on smoother and way quicker.

I've tried several different recipes and so far this one is my favorite! All you need is:

1. Castile Soap
Castile soap is a vegetable based soap made with olive oil, and other plant oils. I love Dr. Bronner’s brand products. They're certified organic and contain no synthetic foaming agents, thickeners, preservatives, fragrances, dyes, or whiteners.

2. Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) Essential Oil
Tea Tree is a great oil to add because of it's antibacterial properties. It will help keep your brushes clean and bacteria free!

3. Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon oil is known for its purifying and cleansing properties, and it is often used to promote detoxification. It also smells wonderful and leaves a natural, fresh scent!

In a small glass bowl combine 1/4 teaspoon of castile soap, two drops of tea tree oil, and one drop of lemon oil. Add a little bit of warm water and put your brushes in- I like to swirl mine in the soapy mixture and then let them sit for a minute. Take them out and massage them under running warm water until they run clear. If they need another did in the soap then pop them back into the bowl (make another bowl if that water is too dirty).
Voila....clean brushes! Easy right?

How do you clean your makeup brushes? Do you like to keep your brush cleanser natural?
Share your recipes!










Beet Kvass Pickled Eggs

on
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I love pickles, anything pickle flavored, and anything at all that's pickled. I could (and do) eat something pickled everyday. Yes. Every. Darn. Day. Am I the only one who believes it was destiny that my last name turned out to be Gercken (thank you to my husband Jarrett)???



gher·kin

ˈɡərkən/
noun
  1. 1
    a small variety of cucumber, or a young green cucumber used for pickling.
  2. 2
    a trailing plant with cucumberlike fruits used for pickling.


Now that we've gotten both my pickle-like last name and my passion for pickled foods out of the way, let's talk about beet kvass pickled eggs. Recently I was on the hunt for something to pickle that would make a good snack in the evenings. I came across a pickled egg recipe, and thought about how long it had been since I had had one! I whipped up my own recipe, and after 3 very long days of waiting I was pretty impressed! These little suckers were what my pickled dreams are made of. For reals. Easy to make, delicious, and a good way to get extra protein! When putting my recipe together I decided to add some fermented beet kvass (check out my recipe on how to make beet kvass here). It's loaded with nutrients and also added an extra earthy flavor to the eggs!

Ingredients:
  • 2 quart jar with lid
  • 12 pasture raised eggs
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs)
  • 1 can of organic beets with their juice
  • 1/2 cup beet kvass (*Optional- you will just top off with extra water if the beet kvass is left out)
Instructions:
  1. Place the boiled and peeled eggs in the 2 quart jar.
  2. Add both the white and apple cider vinegar, canned beets with their juice, and beet kvass. 
  3. Top it off with water (if there's any extra room) to make sure that everything stays submerged in the brine.
  4. Seal the jar and place it in the fridge. Let the eggs rest for at least 3 days before trying (it's very hard, but if I can do it then you can do it too)! 
As long as everything stays submerged in the brine then it should last for a month (or longer) in the fridge! 

*Notes- Other recipes include sugar to balance out the sourness of the vinegar. I prefer more sour and also prefer to avoid sugar, so I left sugar completely out of mine. The beets added enough sweetness for me. If you did want to include additional sugar add in 1-2 tablespoons of brown or raw cane sugar in your recipe. Just heat and dissolve it in a saucepan with the canned beets/their juice and both vinegars, and then let cool. Once completely cooled, pour over the boiled/peeled eggs inside the jar, add the beet kvass, and top off with water (if there's extra room). 




Have you ever made pickled eggs? Do you have a favorite recipe?