Are you a toast and eggs kind of person? I'm not. Especially runny eggs. There is something about that gooey, yellow yolk oozing out that I can't stand. Watching someone dip their toast in it and then actually, physically put it in their mouth is to me what crunching an apple is to my husband's ears.
If you like your eggs runny, I'm not judging. We've all got our preferences. I tend to like mine baked...in something delicious...that I can put maple syrup on!
Enter baked french toast.
I first discovered this beauty when some first-time mommy friends and I got together for a bring-your-own-baby brunch. Then our kiddos were less than a year old. Now they are all three and a half! Over the past three years I've tweaked it, added to it, and changed it up all kinds a ways. But this one is my favorite...for now.
Now, my dad is quite particular about instructions. He likes to tell me that he used to have to read them in the wee hours of the morning at his former job, so they had to be good. He's since retired and has a lot more time on his hands...to read my blog...and give me some constructive criticism. Here's hoping I live up to his standards!
recipe adapted from thepioneerwoman.com
1. Butter your baking dish. I use a small rectangular pan or a square 9 x 9. Tear your bread into chunks, or cut into more evenly sized pieces, and spread over the pan.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together your eggs, milk, cream, sugar and essential oils or zest/cinnamon. Pour over the bread, cover and pop it in the fridge overnight to soak in all the goodness.
3. In a small bowl, place your topping ingredients, butter last. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, mix together until it gets crumbly. Transfer to a ziplock bag and store in the fridge until the next day.
4. When you're ready to pop this deliciousness in the oven, preheat to 350. Spread your topping over the bread mixture and bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes.
Serve with maple syrup or nothing at all because this is so moist and yummy, it doesn't really need help. Maybe a some fruit and a dollop of vanilla yogurt.
Tried it? Like it? Changed it up? Let me know!
I love me a soft, warm towel. Smells good, feels good. I just want to wrap up in them and do a little happy dance. I feel that way with any warm, soft fabric thing I pull out of the dryer really. I'm not biased towards towels.
I am biased against chemicals.
On my green cleaning journey I'm learning...a lot. And today I learned all about dryer sheets and fabric softeners. They make our towels, sheets, and other clothing feel so nice and smell so yummy, but really, they aren't very good for us. And, there are better options!
According to branchbasics.com, "of the 3-10 gallons of toxic household cleaning products in a home, the chemicals in dryer sheets and fabric softeners are considered to be among the most toxic. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are made up of harmful chemicals combined with a hefty dose of fragrance". As you might have read in my previous post about using the Skin Deep app, fragrance is a big concern in cosmetic products. Dryer sheets and fabric softeners are no exception.
Those fragrance chemicals are difficult to remove because they cling to fabric so the signature scent stays in the clothing. "Those lingering chemical residues in the clothes enter the body through the skin, which is tantamount to eating them! Many of these are solvents that directly affect the nervous system and endocrine system and can contribute to the development of chronic illness. Since the term “fragrance” on a label is so very vague, the body is provided a cocktail of poison 24 hours a day, 7 days a week". Unfortunately, most people are unaware of this issue and don't realize the impact it makes on their health. So many scents, not just in dryer sheets and fabric softeners, but cosmetics, too, have dulled our sense of smell as a warning mechanism. Sometimes, even our ability to perceive a specific fragrance can be lost. Sometimes we actually get a high and crave the smell of the clothing. Weird, huh?
So what can make clothes or towels soft without chemicals? Friction. If you've ever hung things out on the line to dry, especially cloth diapers, then you know sometimes they can become stiff. I found that taking two cloth diapers and rubbing them together completely solved that problem. Why? It disturbs the fibers in the fabric and loosens them up, making them feel soft. You can do that two ways without dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or feeling up all your clothes!
For those of you like-minded individuals who like to DIY a whole big bunch, let me introduce you to two marvelous ideas.
First up, felted dryer balls.
These are super easy to make, and to scent with something that is NOT harmful to you in anyway. Since they bounce around your dryer, they beat up your fabrics gently, loosening the fibers and helping them feel soft.
What you need:
100% wool yarn
Your favorite essential oils or blends
What you do:
1. Take your yarn and wrap it around your middle and indezxfinger a few times. Then take it off and wrap around the middle a few times. Keep wrapping, making a ball, until you've got close to a tennis ball size. Then cut your yarn and tuck the end inside. You should probably be able to make a few balls from one skein of yarn.
2. Cut the leg off of your panty hose and tuck the first ball into the bottom, then tie a knot above it. Repeat this with the other balls so they are all secured. Then throw them in your washer with a load on the hottest setting. This will felt your wool yarn and keep your new dryer balls intact.
3. Add 2-3 drops of essential oils to your dryer balls and toss them in. The scent should last a few loads before you need to recharge.
Option number 2, homemade dryer sheets.
Also super easy to make, and again to scent with something that is NOT harmful to you in anyway. Since these contain vinegar, the small amount of acetic acid helps to get that soft feeling in your fabrics, and vinegar is a natural static reducer to boot!
What you need:
Sealable glass container
Fabric scraps (receiving blankets (look familiar Nealey ladies?), old t-shirts, any cotton fabric)
Your favorite essential oils or blends
What you do:
1. Cut some small squares of fabric. Use pinking shears to prevent fraying if you don't want to sew. If you do want to sew, zig zag the edges to prevent fraying. If you're not bothered because hey, they are just dryer sheets, then just cut them with any old scissors!
2. Mix up your fabric softening solution: white vinegar and essential oils. I would use 8-10 drops per 1/2 cup to mask the pickle smell, but you can add more or less to your liking. I am lovingPurify in my laundry at the moment!
3. Place your squares in your container and pour the vinegar/essential mix on top. Seal and then shake to ensure the squares are nicely soaked.
4. When you're ready to dry a load of laundry, grab 4-5 squares for a large load, ring out the excess liquid and toss them in. Best part? When your clothes are dry, just place the dryer sheets back into your container to reuse! Refill with vinegar/essential oil solution as needed.
Interested in some of the science behind why NOT to use dryer sheets and fabric softeners? Check out:
The Brain Wash by Michelle Schoffro Cook. This looks to be an amazing book about preventing all kinds of diseases. Here's an excerpt
Also check out Branchbasics.com for the their full article and more great links!
Tried out one of these options? Let us know how it worked and what oils you liked best!
Is your pantry as much of a mess as mine? Things seem to just get randomly stuck in there all higglety pigglety pop. Check this out! It got kinda bad. After a while it's really easy to forget what's in there, how long it's been in there, you get the idea. So, today was finally the day to take it all out, clean it all out, and figure out, using the Food Scores app, what the heck we are eating!
The things we had lower were snacks for the kids. Cleaning products like dishwasher tablets higher up. That made sense originally because then the girls could grab something healthy when they were hungry, right? Except now I feel like I have to lock the pantry because their access is so easy, they aren't hungry for actual meals! The snacks definitely needed to move. But first, let's look at how they scored.
These tend to be some of our go-to snacks. Who doesn't love a good squishy! These scored really well. Again, just like with the Skin Deep app, the lower the score, the better. The Happy Tot's scored a 1.6. Pretty darn good! The other three? Not quite so well.
The Simply Balanced fruit strips and the Nature's Bakery Fig Bars both scored a 6. The big concern with the fruit strips was the high sugar content. They contain 64% sugar by weight and 2 teaspoons of natural sugar per serving. That's two sugar cubes per strip! I don't know about you, but it's easier for me to visualize sugar in terms of cubes. No wonder my girls like them so much!
The Fig Bars contain 36% sugar by weight and a whooping 3 sugar cubes of added and natural sugar per serving. There are two bars in each pack, but an actual serving is only ONE of those bars. Tricky how they do that, no? The other issue with these is ingredient based. Any rice or rice-based ingredients may contain high levels of arsenic, a carcinogen and cardiovascular toxicant. However, since the only rice-based product in these is brown rice syrup, I tend to think the arsenic level is low to non-existent. Just my opinion.
And, last but not least, Pirate's Booty. I think everyone with toddlers has these in their pantry somewhere, our maybe in their couch. These actually scored a 6 as well. Some thing that popped up in their scores surprised me: antibiotics were likely used in the production of the diary ingredients, hormones may have used in the production of the dairy, likely contaminated with dioxin and other organic pollutants due to the dairy...looks like I need to learn a lot more about dairy production!
We had a lot in our pantry, too much to blog about every product. So, I'm just going to include the products that surprised me the most from this point out, whether pleasantly or not-so-pleasantly.
We like tuna in our house and Costco has some great bulk options. We started to buy the Wild Planet brand. What's your guess for the score?
A 10! There were little to no processing or nutrition concerns with this one. The main concern was that it is likely to contain high levels of mercury, which, according to the Food Scores App, can affect neurodevelopment. Now, Food Scores lets you compare a product to others of a similar variety, so I checked out Wild Planets other products. Their Skipjack Light Tuna scored a 5, due to the fact that type of tuna it contains likely contains moderate levels of mercury. So, perhaps we will look for that type next time we do a big Costco shop.
The other three? They fell between 8 and 10. The Bisquick scored an 8 because it contains ingredients like Partially Hydrogenated Soy Oil and Cottonseed Oil, contains 25% of the daily sodium recommendations, contains added sugars, and has moderate processing concerns. Normally, I make my own pancake mix from scratch, but sometimes a momma needs a little help, you know? Think I'll go back to making my own in bulk!
Ghirardelli scored a 10 and contains 1 of the EWG's top food additive of concern: Hutylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT). Why is this a concerning additive? Debate surrounds the link of BHT to cancer risk, asthma and behavioral issues in children. (wikipedia.com) The brownie mix also contains an exorbitant amount of sugar, but you kinda expect that, no? The dairy/antibiotic/growth promoters issues comes into play with this product, too.
And, last but not least, Schweppes Ginger Ale. It scored a 9. Hello sugar! Per serving you get a whopping 8 teaspoons of sugar. That's 8 cubes people! 8 cubes per 8 ounce serving. Whaaat!
Now, for the winners.
Arborio Rice, pretty harmless, except for the whole rice=arsenic thing, only scored a 3. Keeping this one around. Pretty much all the Rice Select options scored really well; Couscous, Brown Rice, Pearl Couscous, Texmati, take your pick! The same went for the Barilla pasta brand. Pretty much any type o' noodle scored below a two.
The Simple Truth Organic peanut butter scored a 4, due to fat and sugar. But, again, you kinda expect it to have both of those just considering what it's made from. The Terra chips also scored a 4, again due to fat and sugar.
Big take aways? Beware added fat, sugar and sodium. They seem to be everywhere, even in the Del Monte canned diced tomatoes (which also likely have BPA in the lining of the can). Also, there are some really good options out there, you just have to look.
Using the Food Scores app was really helpful in that I could easily see what similar products were available and a better choice for us. I'll definitely be trying some of them out, and using Food Scores more frequently when I go grocery shopping.
As for the organized pantry? That's going to have to wait for another post. I tried, but I think we still need some more work on that, and some baskets and such to keep things corralled!
How do you organize your pantry? Any tips to share? And, if you've tried out the Food Scores app, what surprised you in your pantry? Share with us!
All product information taken from the Food Scores App.
I'm Tonia, a Midwesterner transplanted to Colorado. I'm a mom of two lovely littles, a yoga instructor, DIY-er, teacher, stay at home mom, and a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. I blog about a little bit of all of these and everything in between!
Are you looking for natural health options, but don't know where to start? Book a 1-on-1 appointment with me! We'll spend about 30 minutes getting to know your health goals and concerns, learn a bit about doTERRA, and go over the most commonly used oils that meet your needs. You don't have to buy anything, but if you see something you like, of course I can help you!