Deodorant That Won’t Give You Cancer

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Clever and effective marketing strategies have developed a very odd armpit culture in America.  Everything that an armpit is, it should not be. No sweat! No smell! No hair!

As a result of this brainwashing, I have a long history with deodorant. From my first stick of Teen Spirit at age 9, deodorant has been as much a part of every single day of the last 20+ years as eating and drinking. That seems pretty silly, since the application of deodorant is certainly not essential to sustaining life, but my actions would indicate otherwise. If a hiccup in routine somehow saw me out the door without any, it would be on my mind all day, similar to the nagging hunger after accidentally skipping a meal. But why? Because I might sweat? Because I might not smell like freesia? Because I might end up in a heated confrontation about violating a social norm?

In addition to those pressures, both internal and external, to wear deodorant at all, I’ve spent way too many of my life’s precious minutes considering the product itself. My first concern involved the co-title of virtually all women’s deodorants: antiperspirant. I noticed as early as high school that something was weird with that. The human species spent eons evolving the ability to maintain body temperature through perspiration. And, for some reason, we decide that not sweating is better? Our evolutionary alternative would be panting. And that would just be gross. Sweat is just not something I want to stress over.

Then there are the questionable ingredients, and the ample evidence for their horrific effects.  Studies show that aluminum increases the risk of Alzheimer’s, breast and prostate cancer, and dermatitis, phthalates and parabens increase cancer risk, and triclosan use has been correlated with increased asthma. I’ve been really liking the body care philosophy of only slathering yourself with products that you would be willing to eat, and the alleged toxicity of traditional deodorants certainly puts it far out of that category.

So then what’s wrong with just using the natural deodorant sticks? Well, in my experience, they just don’t work. I’ve experimented with a few, and discovered, by the end of the day, they are about as effective as not wearing anything (which I’ve also experimented with), and sometimes they’re even worse.

With all that in mind, I wasn’t hugely optimistic about homemade deodorant. I expected a few weird, hard-to-find, expensive ingredients, a messy and unwieldy consistency, and stinky pits by the end of the day. So I was extremely pleased to discover a recipe that included only 3 ingredients, all of which I already had in the kitchen. They mixed together smoothly, and were easily coaxed into a creamy dollop which rubbed in well.  The real test came next: the end-of-the-day stink factor. Twelve hours after application, the sniff test ensued and revealed armpits that smelled like, of all things, skin! Clean skin at that. It was a whole new concept to me. After years of pretending to smell like a peach or sprig of lilac, I smelled like nothing. Yet more proof that less can be more.

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Still skeptical? Luckily, this recipe is designed so that you can make up a trial size to start.  Once you’re a believer, it’s a cinch to whip up a weekly or monthly supply, or even  a jumbo serving. Just choose a scoop size (teaspoon, tablespoon, 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, etc.) and follow the recipe below.

Homemade Deodorant

3 parts coconut oil

2 parts baking soda

2 parts arrowroot powder

Scoop the appropriate number of each ingredient using your chosen size spoon or cup into a glass jar. Mix with a spoon until smooth and well incorporated. If the oil is too hard to mix, microwave for a few seconds to soften (it will be liquid at 76 degrees).

To use, scoop out 2-3 pea sized chunks and massage with fingertips to warm and melt. Rub into pits.

Store in the lidded jar in a coolish area. Avoid allowing it to reach melting point (again, just 76 degrees), because that would just be a mess to use, and the solids will settle out.

Happy stink-free sweating!

 

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Easy Beets for People Who Don’t Like Beets

Just beet it.

Just beet it.

I’m on a perpetual quest to redeem and elevate the reputation of the most despited vegetables. The ickier they are perceived to be, all the better to experiment with. I’ve had my hits and misses. With the hits, there are no leftovers. Or if there are, I end up picking them out of the pan until there aren’t. With the misses, the leftovers sit sadly neglected in tupperware at the back of the fridge until trash day. Trash day is really a funeral procession for culinary failures.

But back to experiments. Veggies deserve a better reputation. They come in every color, they’re packed with vitamins, and they grow out of the ground.  By themselves! That’s awesome. Not everyone gives them such respect though, particularly not my not-huge-vegetable-fan taste testers.  And they are a discerning group.  A critique of “That wasn’t too bad”, I consider a green light to make the dish again in the future.  If they indicate in any way to have actually enjoyed the dish, it’s basically fit for royalty. This recipe went over pretty well. Not bad for a lowly beet.

Easy Beets for People Who Don’t Like Beets

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 tbsp. butter (I love Organic Valley Cultured Butter)

4 golden beets, peeled and chopped

1 apple, chopped

salt to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped beets.  Cook in butter, stirring occasionally, until just softened and beginning to brown on edges, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add chopped apple, season with salt, and stir to incorporate.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until apple softens, another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve to beet skeptics.  Make sure you have seconds ready for them.

Paleo Alaska Jambalaya

We drove up to Talkeetna a few weeks ago to visit Denali Brewing for lunch and do a little fishing.  While we didn’t have much luck fishing, lunch was definitely a success.  I decided to venture away from my usual chicken salad or lettuce wrapped burger and tried their Creamy Cajun: white rice with a creamy tomato sauce topped with chicken, shrimp, and reindeer sausage.  It was so good I had to try my own, and I’m pleased to say the first attempt hit the mark!

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Paleo Alaska Jambalaya 

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

1 head cauliflower

2 tbsp. coconut oil, divided

1 can full-fat coconut milk

6 oz. tomato paste

1/2 tsp. each sea salt, pepper, onion powder, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika

3/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

12 oz. kielbasa-style reindeer sausage

12 oz. rockfish, other firm white fish, or shrimp

Extra sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, pour in 3/4 c. of the chicken broth.  Add the chicken thighs, cover, bring up to a boil on medium heat, then turn down to a simmer. Turn off heat when just cooked through.

2. While the chicken is simmering, grate the raw cauliflower into “rice” using a box grater. Melt 1 tbsp. of the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat, add the cauli and stir to mix the oil through, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the remaining broth to the cauli 1/4 cup at a time, stirring each until absorbed before adding the next.  Turn to low to keep warm.

4. In a small saucepan, whisk the coconut milk and tomato paste together over medium heat.  Add all of the spices (sea salt, pepper, onion powder, oregano, thyme, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper) and continue to whisk until just bubbling.  Pour the sauce into the cauliflower and stir well.

5. Remove the chicken to a cutting board.  Using two forks, shred the meat and separate it from the bone and skin (discard them or stick them in the freezer to use for making chicken broth later).

6. Cut the fish into bite-sized pieces and slice the sausage into rounds.

7. Melt the last 1 tbsp. of coconut oil in a pan (last one!) over medium.  Add the fish and stir until just cooked through. Add the chicken and sausage and cook until the edges of the meats just begin to crisp.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

8. To serve, scoop about 3/4 cup of the cauliflower mixture in a bowl and top with about 1/2 cup of the meats.  Garnish with parsley.

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Breakfast Chicken-Fried Pork Chops with Eggs

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I make a lot of “surprise meals”: dishes that sound “eh”, but taste “wow!” and leave me feeling fantastic.  The idea of pork chops, particularly leftovers, for breakfast, doesn’t inspire me much.  One morning, I didn’t have bacon or sausage, but was greeted by another cut of pork in the fridge and thought, “Why not?”  The results were amazing!

Breakfast Chicken-Fried Pork Chops with Eggs

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 egg

1/2 cup almond flour

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. sage

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

3 tbsp. coconut oil, divided

4 fresh or leftover bone-in pork chops

8 additional eggs

Additional sea salt and pepper

Directions

1. In a shallow dish, beat the egg.

2. In a second shallow dish, mix the almond flour and garlic powder, sage, salt, and pepper.

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3. Heat 2 tbsp. of the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.

4. Coat each pork chop in egg, then in the almond flour mixture.

5. Fry the pork chops in the coconut oil until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side for left overs, and 5-6 minutes per side for fresh chops, or to preferred doneness depending on thickness.  (Keep in mind that pork chops cooked medium are both okayed by the USDA and delicious! No more dried out chops from the 80’s!)

6. Melt the last tbsp. of coconut oil in the pan and fry the eggs to desired doneness.

7. Top each chop with two eggs and season with salt and pepper.

8. Dig in and start your morning super satisfied!

Easy Apple Noodles

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My brand new spiralizer showed up on my front porch yesterday, amid a flurry of ringing doorbells, dog barks, and yelling 5-year-olds.  I’d been planning on adding this appliance to my kitchen arsenal for well over a year, and finally pulled the trigger.  It’s arrival neatly corresponded to the day after zucchini was conspicuously absent from the grocery store, so there would be no paleo pasta to christen it. Instead, I looked to dessert, but I think this dish would be equally good as a side for pork.

Easy Apple Noodles 

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 tbsp. butter

2 spiralized apples

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Directions

1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add apples and stir until softened.

3. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to mix. Serve.