Archive for the ‘eco kitchen’ Category

Easy-to-make All-Purpose Non-Toxic Cleaning Product

Monday, June 16th, 2014

I’m interested in preventive measures when it comes to the health and the well-being of my family, and in my home office. Since home is where many of us spend 90% of our time, it’s a good idea to make the indoor environment as toxin free as possible. We can’t control what’s happening outside but we can when it comes to the indoors. Did you know that most of the conventional cleaning products available on the market contain toxic chemicals and hazardous substances that are harmful to our health?.

One of the easiest and best ways to reduce exposure to chemicals in your home is by making and using your own all-purpose non-toxic cleaning products, and you’ll save money too. I just made a batch that will last me for months. I’m also trying to reduce the amount of waste my household produces by reusing glass containers. I wash and save the glass milk bottles I get at the market. They make excellent containers for my homemade cleaning product. Or use large pasta sauce jars.


All you need: White Vinegar + Water + Tea Tree Oil + Orange Essential oil (or Lavender or Rose Geranium)

empty bottles

Fill 1/4 of the bottle with White Vinegar, then fill the rest of the bottle with tap water, almost to the top. Add 20 drops of Tea Tree Essential oil, a natural anti-bacterial and 20 drops of Orange Essential oil to make it smell nice. Put the top back on and shake it up.

These 8 bottles are full and ready to be carried back to where they are stored on a shelf, and out of direct sun.

bottles on the move


The all-purpose cleaners smell so good, clean and fresh. Poured into glass spray bottles, they are all ready to be used with  washable and reusable cloth rags instead of wasteful paper towels.

full bottles

Let me know if you have a recipe you love to make and use for cleaning your home or office! Let’s all help each other be healthier as well as save money while doing it.


For more tips and resources about living a sustainable lifestyle:

For housekeeping products:




12 ways I save water at home

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Water is essential to our quality of life. We can’t thrive without it. In California, we are in water crisis. For the first time in the state’s history, the water supply and delivery system may not be able to meet our growing needs.

There are several ways I have learned to reduce the amount of water my household uses by saving good water that is usually wasted, which in turn, also saves money by reducing my water bill. I’ve gone beyond turning the tap off when brushing my teeth, the 3 minute shower and turning the dishwasher on when it’s full.

Following are the other 9 ways I save water in my home:

In the back of the toilets, I’ve hung Toilet Tank Banks, which saves 0.8 gallons of water with every flush:



Available from Amazon

In the shower, I keep a Rubber Bucket, to collect the freezing cold water because I don’t want to get in until it warms up! After my shower, I empty the bucket in my garden on my non-edible plants, such the hedge:



Available from Amazon

The bathtub is used primarily for soaking and not for bubble baths, so I can easily use a Sump Pump to pump the water out through the window and into another part of the garden that doesn’t include edibles. Occasionally, I’ll fill up the water barrel outside my bathroom window and use that water when the garden needs it:



Available from Amazon



Water Barrel:  Available from Amazon

In the kitchen, I keep a Recycled Plastic Kettle near my sink, which I pour unfinished glasses of water into. When the Kettle is full, I pour that water into my orchids or other non-edible plants:



Available from Amazon

In my kitchen sink, I use my largest stainless steel bowl when rinsing fruits or vegetables under running water. I pour that water into one of my raised vegetable beds. In this image, I used a ceramic bowl!



Available from Amazon

In my kitchen, I also use a Salad Spinner to wash my greens such as lettuce, kale, spinach, dandelion, parsley, herbs, etc. That water gets added to the raised vegetable beds or any other plants that need water in the garden:



Available from Amazon 

In my garden, I have another Water Barrel to collect water coming down from one of my gutters when it rains. That water is used to irrigate the non-edible garden beds:

water barrel #1


Available from Amazon

In my garden, I’ve been switching to drip irrigation, which saves water from evaporation, which occurs when using a hose or conventional sprinklers:


I also have a water purification system by Lifesource, which takes care of the needs of my whole house, filtering out chlorine and retaining natural and beneficial minerals such as calcium and magnesium. To find out more, contact



Friday, August 30th, 2013


I recently took a culinary workshop at The Getty Center in Los Angeles called “From Garden to Table: Dining in the Renaissance.” It was fascinating to learn how gardens and food evolved during that period!

One of the art forms to undergo a big transformation during the renaissance (circa 1400-1600) was garden design. The renaissance garden was designed to be a place of beauty and relaxation and promote physical health. Studies of ancient botanical, and medical writings underscored the importance of diet to a person’s well being, so the culinary arts were suddenly deemed worthy of examination and reinterpretation. A food revolution was happening in Italy, and simply prepared dishes of local, fresh and seasonal ingredients were gaining popularity over the heavily spiced meals so common elsewhere in Europe.


Four o’Clock, Brown Hairstreak, Herb Robert, and Chanterelle-1591-by Joris Hoefnagel


Great teachers of that time were monks who lived in monasteries, where they tended to their gardens daily and planted them with medicinal herbs used in the healing of illnesses. Over time, they became so educated in medicinal herbs that the first medics studied under them. In Padua, Italy, in the 16th century, a University Medical School was established to study plants, and a large medicinal plant garden was created, enclosed by a large wall, to prevent thieves from getting in and stealing the precious herbs.

Italian cooks started sharing their recipes in books, and the first cookbooks came out of Italy during the renaissance period, and became very popular in Europe, where people were learning about eating salad and vegetables.


Speckled Wood, Talewort, Garden Pea, and Lantern Plant-1591-ny Joris Hoefnagel


Following is an authentic recipe dating to that period from Maestro Martino:


Asparagus Frittata


Asparagus have been a delicacy throughout the Mediterranean area since ancient times, where they were a sign of elegance and had been recognized for their medicinal properties, for being ” cleansing and healing.”




1 bunch of green asparagus

1 small bunch of Italian parsley

1 small bunch of marjoram

1 small bunch of mint

2 tablespoons of olive oil

6 eggs beaten

½ cup of milk

¼ cup of Parmesan

salt & pepper to taste




1-Trim the tough ends of the asparagus so that each spear is 4″ long. Blanch the asparagus by boiling them in salted water for a few minutes, until barely soft; then plunge them into ice water and dry on an absorbent towel.

2-Finely chop the parsley, marjoram and mint. Mix the eggs with milk, Parmesan cheese in a large bowel and add the chopped herbs.

3-Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan until quite hot, making sure the oil is spread out over the entire surface. Pour the egg mixture evenly into the pan. Arrange the asparagus spears on top of the frittata like spokes of a wheel with the delicate tips facing the outer edge of the pan and the ends touching in the center.

4-Set the heat to medium/low. Cover the pan to allow the eggs to cook completely through. Check often to make sure it’s not burning or sticking.

5-When set, slide the frittata onto a large round serving platter and cut into wedges, one asparagus spear per slice.


Serves 6.



The second recipe is from physician and botanist Costanzo Felici:

Insalata Mista Di Erbe E Fiori (Herb and Flower salad)


The Italian word insalata literally translates as “salted” and refers to “every raw green or mixture of raw greens or something else dressed with oil and salt,” as proudly defined by Costanzo Felici. Northern Europeans were wary of raw vegetables and fruit, warning those who traveled south to take care to avoid these potentially dangerous foods. The English Boke of Kervynge of 1500 even advised court chefs to “beware of green salletts and raw fruytes for they wyll make your soverayne seke.” But Italian botanical and medical research was insisting otherwise, and the inclusion of such simple, earthy dishes in Renaissance banquets is proof. They also learned to wash all salads, vegetables and fruit before eating them, to wash off any bacteria, just as we still do now.




1 head of romaine lettuce

1 head of radicchio

¼ pound of fresh spinach

¼ pound arugula leaves

¼ cup each chopped herbs: parsley, mint, marjoram, thyme)

½ cup of rose petals

1 cup of mixed edible flowers (violets, marigolds, nasturtiums, calendula)

¾ cup of olive oil

¼ cup of wine vinegar

salt & pepper to taste



1-Wash the romaine, radicchio, spinach and arugula leaves well, and dry in a salad spinner. Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a large salad bowl.

2-Coarsely chop the parsley, mint, marjoram and thyme; add this to the salad bowl.

3-Add the rose petals and edible flowers

4-Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss well to mix all the flavors and serve at once.

Serves 6-8



* I shared from notes I took during my culinary workshop, and also from from a helpful and very informative handout that was given, which included the recipes as well. Many thanks to the wonderful instructor Robin Trento.


To find out about other culinary workshops: The Getty Center Culinary workshops:

Satsuma Tangerine Candle

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

My daughter Lucie sent me the information on how to make my own Satsuma candle at home. Thank you Lucie :) This is very easy to make and so lovely, besides being inexpensive and all natural/non-toxic. I bought  four thick skinned Satsumas, even though I only needed one, just in case I made a mistake. All you need  to make this candle is a small serrated knife, a small spoon, matches and olive oil.

You will need to make a cut about a 1/3 down from the opposite end of the stem. You need to keep the stem side intact because it holds the wick. The wick is very important…

Tangerine cut 1/3 down…and carefully remove the skin


Using a small spoon, gently pry the fruit from the skin, working your wall slowly around the inside and being careful to keep the middle stem intact because this will be your wick.


Add a little bit of olive to the inside, about 1 to 2 tbsp, keeping the wick from being covered up in oil.


Here is the beautiful, all natural, clean burning candle you will be in awe of because it’s so gorgeous and amazing.

Note: The olive oil might leave a mark where you set your candle down, so be mindful where you put it. I put mine in a small dish…

New Non-Toxic Home care and Personal Care Products

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Yesterday, I went to the very lively Natural Products Expo West and I came home with many samples of non-toxic home care products I’ll be trying out over the next week. The only one I am familiar with is the Mrs.Meyers liquid dish soap, which is lovely. Several of the other products aren’t available yet in stores, but will be in the next 6 months, I reckon. Here are the ones I photographed:

* Seventh Generation’s natural laundry detergent has new fabulous packaging and scent: geranium blossoms and vanilla.

*Handmade vegan and eco-friendly Soap by Wembe’ made in Paraguay.

*Alabu skin soap made with pasteurized goat milk, olive oil, cocoa butter and essential oils.

*Vaska herbatergent laundry detergent is allergen and scent free.

*Bravo’s paper towel is made with 40% post consumer recycled fiber.

*Thayers natural dry mouth lozenge is made with slippery elm.

*Mountain Rose Herbs maitake mushroom is cool looking (most likely use: tea)

*Hugo Naturals have a lip balm in pineapple coconut.

*Pre-fence, an alcohol free hand sanitizer.

*Fatwood 100% natural fire starters are chemical and additive free.

*Earth Science stick deodorant is aluminum free and made with liken plant.
Preliminary Test: The Bravo paper towel feels thick and soft and I will definitely buy some and the Pre-fence hand sanitizer, great for traveling, is a foam that is alcohol free and feels wonderful on my hands, leaving them soft after use.

Non-Toxic Products Pre-Testing


Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Globe Artichokes are in season! Buy several if you can at a time from your local Farmer’s Market and if you can’t cook them right away, they are good for 5 days in the fridge.


Cooking Artichokes is very easy and steaming them is the healthiest way. You need a large enough pot to fit at least two, bringing 2 cups of water to a boil, then adding the artichokes with their stems cut off. Cook the Artichokes for about 30 minutes. I usually poke the underneath with a fork to test if they are done, and soft to the touch. Depending what kind of pot and steamer you are using, you can either pour the pot with Artichokes into a large colander in your sink or remove them carefully with tongs and place upside down in a bowl, to drain the water. Serve warm or cold with one of your favorite light dressings. Mine is with Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, a teaspoon of Dijon Mustard, salt and pepper. Adding a teaspoon of chopped Tarragon to the dressing is also very yummy.

Did you know…that Artichokes are originally from the Mediterranean region and are high in anti oxidants, so very good for your liver. Artichokes also have no fat and one medium one has more fiber than a cup of prunes! Go Artichokes!

Here is a great multi use Stainless Steel steaming pot similar to the one I use. It comes with 2 different size steamers, so also good for steaming asparagus and broccoli.

All-Clad Stainless Steamer Basket

Stainless Steel Steamer PotHere are some super useful Tongs:

Tongs with Silicone Heads

Good Gripping Tongs


Monday, February 21st, 2011

I love Juicing! It’s just the best and I can’t believe it took me so long to finally start doing it. Every morning, I make my veggie juice, and it makes me feel so good. I’m telling you, I have more energy than I have had in a long time,  my skin looks amazing and my hair feels healthier and softer. By the way, the Juice tastes delicious! What I also really like is when I clean my juicer, all the veggie waste goes straight into my Valentina composter (, which then makes nutrient rich material, that I then dig into my vegetable garden beds, where I am growing the vegetables for my juice. Coming full circle is a great feeling on many levels: Reducing waste by not adding more to my weekly trash output, improving the nutrient deprived soil in my garden without using chemical fertilizers, growing my own vegetables which nourishes the soul and putting something in my body that is so naturally healthy.

New tip I just learned: When you are almost finished putting your vegetables in your juicer, add the Celery last, because it picks up any stray veggie bits because of it’s high water content. I recommended Juicing in the January issue of my Almanac, and here is a link to buy the same wonderful juicer that I use:

Breville Ikon Juice Extractor



Jamie Oliver

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

” If change can be made in this country, beautiful things will happen around the world. If America does it other people will follow.”

-Jamie Oliver-

Jamie Oliver aka The Naked Chef, is the uber British food revolutionary extraordinaire. In his quote I posted above, he is referring to the food revolution that needs to happen in the USA.

He is currently in Los Angeles, filming his show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” and according to the news: “Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef turned food activist, was forced to halt the filming of his ABC show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution at West Adams Preparatory High School in South LA last week after he couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t make the district look bad on TV.”

Food Revolutionary

February Foods

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

I thought this was quite interesting, in the spirit of following the natural rhythms of nature by eating as much as you can what is in season: “Traditional Chinese medicine advocates changing your diet the first week of February and start eating more springtime foods like sprouts, fresh young leafy greens, asparagus, young veggies, young beets, young carrots, sprouted legumes, sprouted seeds and sprouted grains.”

-Dr Mao Ni-

Scattered here are a few images of some of those veggies we should be eating :

CARROTS: good for your eyes, your skin, your immune and digestive system, and lowers cholesterol

CARROTS: good for your eyes, your skin, your immune and digestive system, and lowers cholesterol

BEETS: provide antioxidants, detoxes your liver, and the iron in it improves your blood flow

SPROUTED KAMUT:  low in gluten, good substitute for those who are allergic to wheat and a great source of amino acid

My daughter Arielle is allergic to wheat/gluten, so I will be sharing with her the health benefits of Kamut!

Mighty Hazelnut

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I was in Paris early fall last year, and chanced upon a cache of fresh Hazelnuts at a little marche’, which I scooped up into a paper bag. Three days later, I was still eating them for breakfast, mid morning snack or really anytime snack. I loved that they were still in their natural Hazelnut wrapping, which I had to peel back to the hard shell, which I cracked open to reveal the raw and pure Hazelnut inside. Hazelnuts have many health benefits, such as being rich in folic acid, enriching red blood cells ( essential for oxygen transport throughout the body), and provide the body with proteins, which are considered the building blocks for the formation of tissues and muscle mass. Hazelnuts are so delicious too!

Mighty Hazelnuts