Cleaning Detergents that Are Kind to the Environment (and Your Pocket)

 

homemade-cleaning_products

Over ten years ago Berkeley, the University of California released an article that detailed the harmful effect cleaning detergents have on the environment. Not only are these toxic to the surroundings, the ingredients consist of petroleum and other non-sustainable items. This places a lot of pressure on the environment, but will also push up prices as these ingredients become more valuable. An alternative for cleaning products will have a positive effect on the household, whether the household is mindful of the environment or not. With the use of just a few simple ingredients, consumers will have a multitude of cleaning detergents. These ingredients are coconut oil, vinegar, borax, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and fresh lemon juice.

Homemade Cleaners for Bathrooms and Kitchensavoid_toxic_deodorant

Although these are areas that require a thorough clean, chemicals and bleaches may not always be the solution. In fact, bleach can be far more harmful than good.

The Tub and Toilet

These two areas tend to suffer from brown stains and rings. This recipe should blot those stains out.

Mix the following ingredients for an overall cleaning solution:

  • 1 cup bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 tablespoon borax
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Water as needed to form a paste as desired

Follow this up with a wipe-down using a cloth dabbed in a fragrance oil of your choosing. Homemade cleaners work the best and leave surfaces smelling fresh and inviting.

For areas that are a bit grimier and stained, use two tablespoons vinegar to two tablespoons bicarb and two tablespoons borax. This should form a thick paste. Add a bit more vinegar if not pasty enough, or bicarb if too runny. Put it on the grimy area for a few minutes before cleaning. Although favorites for these jobs, ammonia and formaldehyde are linked to allergies so should be avoided at all costs.

 clean_with_coconut_oilTaps and Mirrors

Although a vigorous rub with a microfiber cloth will make a world of difference, stubborn water stains and marks can be tough to deal with. For taps and other chrome or steel fittings, dab the cloth in a bit of coconut oil. Solid oil works better as this ensures there isn’t too much on the cloth. Keep a bit in the fridge for this purpose if it has a liquid state. There should be enough on the cloth to form a thin coat on the items, but not enough to be noticeable.

Mirrors can be a bit tricky to keep clean. Keep the following in a jar for mirrors that are easy to maintain.

After cleaning the mirror with this mixture, use a newspaper to remove any oily residue. If the oil seems a bit thick, use vinegar on its own.

Stainless Steel, Brushed Steel, or Chrome Appliances

After wiping appliances with a damp cloth and waiting for it to dry, use the microfiber and coconut oil combinations for the bathroom taps and fittings. This will prevent water marks and finger marks. Also, it will keep the exterior of the appliances rust-free, especially in coastal areas.

 

5 Facts We Absolutely Know About Good Nutrition

whole_food_greens_powder_sale

Though there is much debate in the scientific community regarding the role nutrition plays in development of health and disease, a few facts exist that are relatively certain and based on a body of good research.

Like everyone else, we’ve grown weary of the countless fad diets and claims about miraculous results just by eating one thing or avoiding x food. For that reason, we’ve assembled a list of nutritional facts that can be used to help assemble and/or supplement a healthy diet.

1) Low Carbohydrate Diets Reduce the Likelihood of Type II Diabetes

As Type-II Diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes) hits prevalence, researchers are constantly exploring different factors that could be contributing to this pandemic. Some focus on genetic factors (for which there is some support) and others focus on lifestyle choices (exercise levels, for instance).

But nearly all walks of science and common sense agree on one thing – eating too much sugar is a major risk factor, particularly processed sugars that have been separated from their respective whole foods. Soda is one of the prime culprits, sometimes containing over 40 grams of sugar in just a single can.

Diets low in processed sugars (or entirely devoid of them) have been linked to reduced incidence of Type-II diabetes and may generally lead to healthier outcomes. Conversely, whole foods high in fiber reduce the incidence of diabetes, most likely by slowing the absorption of sugar and improving gut health.

2) Setting Goals Helps Stay on Track in Life and Nutrition

Goal setting has always been an important part of success. Some cultures naturally orient themselves towards healthier diets, but that isn’t the case for everyone. The United States is one of the more obvious examples, where the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is plagued with chemically derived ingredients and artificial foods.

For those pursuing better nutritional standards, setting goals can be helpful in the same way it has been proven for other areas. Exact methods vary, but taking advantage of what technology has to offer may reduce the difficulty. Tracker apps such as MyFitnessPal or SparkPeople aid in keeping track of calories consumed, activity and food types eaten. They’re best paired with security apps such as VPNs in order to ensure privacy (among other things).

3) Unprocessed Foods Are Higher in Essential Nutrients

It’s no secret that eating whole foods is beneficial; virtually no sane person would argue the contrary. Yet exactly how beneficial a diet loaded with unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and meats can be is often lost on the public. Take the nutritional content of a sweet potato.

A single sweet potato contains over two times the daily requirement of Vitamin A, half the daily requirement of Vitamin C, and a host of B Vitamins. Eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes also incorporate a large amount of our daily fiber requirement.

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli tend to be high in Vitamin K and Folate (absolutely essential for anyone avoiding enriched grains, particularly women who plan to become pregnant), while fruits such as berries or citrus are usually high in Vitamin C. Grass fed and free range meats are fantastic sources of complete protein (they contain all essential amino acids) and are higher in Omega-3 than their grain fed counterparts (especially the processed kinds).

Unprocessed foods, due to lack of added sugars, contain significantly fewer calories. Eating a mixed diet full of vegetables, fruits, and proteins make it difficult to overeat because the fiber, fat, and protein content help to trigger the “full” response in the hypothalamus and keep the stomach from emptying as quickly.

organic_greens_powdersThose still new to unprocessed foods may want to consider supplementing at least initially. Particularly when it comes to eating leafy greens, it can be really difficult to develop a taste when coming from a previously high sugar, high salt diet. Have time constraints? A greens smoothie makes a quick, easy breakfast, lunch or snack.

4) Whole Foods are Devoid of Fillers & Additives

Another major concern we constantly see voiced is one regarding the “extra” ingredients added to so many different kinds of foods. Additives range from colors to artificial flavors and preservatives, all with the aim of making food sell better and stick around longer before it rots. Fillers, on the other hand, are there to cut costs (usually at the cost of vital nutrients). We see this done with sugar more than anything, especially in foods where fat is removed.

But whole foods don’t suffer from any of these pitfalls. Before hitting your table, they had everything needed to survive and this translates into better nutrient content. This has many benefits for us. For instance, watermelon seeds are actually highly nutritious (don’t worry, you won’t grow a watermelon in your stomach).

That’s not to say all whole foods are equal and able to be eaten in excess. Bananas taste great, but are relatively high in sugar and low in fiber compared to some other fruits and should be eaten semi-conservatively. But even at their worst, bananas will never lose out to packaged snacks and other premade foods.

5) Trans Fats Are Never a Good Choice

There are so many reasons that trans fats are terrible for you. Totally devoid of any real nutritional value, they are produced by a chemical process involving hydrogen and high heat to yield what is commonly labeled on foods as “partially hydrogenated [oil type].”

This is the type of fat you might expect to find in packaged sweets and especially in butter replacements like margarine. Consuming trans fats has been linked with heart disease, insulin resistance, and even the development of Alzheimer disease. In the interest of good health, there’s absolutely no reason to ever consume anything with trans fats in it.

organic_virgin_coconut_oil_saleThat it is still allowed in food is nearly a mystery of its own. That said, if you use oil to cook, it’s recommended that you stick with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, as both offer relatively healthy mixes of fat (omega 9 and saturated fat respectively) and are readily available without breaking the bank. Just be sure your olive oil comes in an opaque container and isn’t used in high heat recipes, as direct light and high heat ruin its nutritional value.

For a Healthy Tomorrow

While researchers may continue to debate the merits of individual chemicals such as caffeine, there is no shortage of certain information regarding good nutrition. Other factors are certainly at play in determining overall health, but eating nutritious foods is one way to keep things in your favor.

Will you take steps to create a scientifically sound diet? Tell us how below.

About the Author: Cassie is a health enthusiast with a heavy focus on nutrition. While some of her knowledge comes from academia, much of what she knows is independently learned through a great deal of research.

How to Avoid Damaging UV Rays Without Living in the Basement

Physical_sunblock

Life on Earth as we know it couldn’t exist without the ultraviolet (UV) rays provided by the sun. In addition to the vital role the sun plays in the food chain by providing energy for plant life, UV light is important for human beings in helping produce vitamin D in the body. However, as anyone who has ever experienced sunburn knows, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In the case of UV light, overexposure can cause serious damage to skin and even lead to cancer. There’s nothing wrong with getting some sun. However, you need to use some protection if you’re going to be out in the sun for a prolonged period of time to ensure you’re not getting too much of a good thing.

Applying Protection

Sunscreen is important to remember when you’re out and about on a sunny day. It’s recommended to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to provide the best protection. Sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” provides protection from more types of UV light than products without that label. Water-resistant formulas are better because they won’t be rinsed away as easily during activities in the water or run off when you sweat. Another key factor when choosing a sunscreen is getting a physical sunblock as opposed to a chemical sunscreen with nanoparticles that absorb into the skin and get into the blood stream. For more information on this, check out this blog post.

Safe_sunblock_for_kidsPeaceful Planet sells two sunscreen brands that are physical sunblock and get a # 1 rating from the Environmental Working Group. These are Thinksport Regular and Kids Sunscreens, both have a 50+ SPF. The other brand we sell is Mercola Sunscreen, one has an SPF of 15, and the other has an SPF of  30. One last thing to remember about proper sunscreen use is to re-apply often, sometimes every hour in the worst of the summer months, to ensure you receive maximum protection.

Wearing clothing that covers as much skin as possible is another good way to stay protected in the sun. Be sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats to receive the most protection. Dark-colored clothing provides more protection than light-colored clothing; and tightly woven fabrics are better protection than loosely woven clothing.

Seeking Shade

And finally, the easiest way to help shield yourself from UV rays is to keep to shady spots on very sunny days — especially during the late-morning-to-late-afternoon period when the UV light from the sun is at its peak. This includes when you’re on the sand or snow, because it can reflect UV light and increase the amount in which you’re exposed. Staying inside when UV light is strongest also helps, especially if the windows in your home or car are tinted to block more UV rays. If you’re thinking about having your car windows tinted to protect yourself from the sun, the amount of tint you are allowed to have may vary based on where you live. The following chart illustrates the amount of window tint permitted in each state. Now go enjoy the outdoors safely!

rayno-window-film

This post was courtesy of Rayno Window Film.

Beat Mosquitos Without Killing The Planet

Mercola_Natural_Bug_Spray

More and more people are changing their lifestyles and eliminating as many chemicals and toxins around them as possible. But, since chemicals are all around us from the beauty products and cleaning supplies we use to the food we consume and the air we breathe, it is not that easy to do. Every little bit helps, and some changes are easier than others, like using naturally-made DEET-free mosquito control and repelling products over chemical ones.

Pest control products like bug sprays, mosquito fogger systems and insecticides are very toxic, especially to the environment. So by switching to the more natural versions of these products, you will be able to decrease the amount of chemicals that are polluting our rivers, lakes and even air. Let’s look at the some of the main differences between natural and synthetic mosquito repellents and also how to properly use natural bug spray to get the most out of the products.

Chemical vs. Natural Mosquito Repellents

Fresh Citronella Leaves On Wooden BackgroundAs you might guess, the main difference between natural and artificial insect repellents is the ingredients that are used to produce each type of product. If in chemical sprays the main active ingredients often are either DEET or Picaridin, then in green bug sprays the mosquito repelling abilities of the products come from different essential oils, usually oil of lemon eucalyptus, citronella oil or lemongrass oil.

How do Natural Mosquito Repellents Work?

Now, you might be wondering, how can these natural plant oils deter mosquitoes? Well they do that thanks to their aroma. All of the most common essential oils used in natural mosquito repellents have distinct scents. They usually smell citrus-like and fresh. And, since mosquitoes distaste these types of aromas, and would much rather go for flowery, sweet scents, once you apply the natural insect repellent on your skin or clothing, mosquitoes will keep away from you.

DEET: Not good for People or the Planet

The second difference of the two types of repellents is how healthy they are in regards to human health as well as the environment. As we already established, synthetic insect repellents usually contain laboratory-made chemicals. DEET is a member of the tuolene chemical family which are solvents used in plastic and rubber cements as well as paint removers. They can pass through the skin and into the bloodstream, getting all the way natural_bugspraysto the gut. It is also harmful if inhaled or consumed, or sprayed on other living creatures, like cats and dogs. The most troubling concern is the adverse effects it can have on the nervous system. The combination of DEET and permethrin, another common mosquito spray ingredient, has been shown to lead to motor deficits, and learning and memory disorders. Is this something we want to spray on our children? Of course, sprays made of natural ingredients may have an adverse effect on some people. Those with sensitivities may get a skin rash or experience other reactions if they are allergic to one or more of the ingredients in the natural bug sprays. However, the likeliness of that happening is much smaller than when you use insect repellent based on DEET or any other chemically-made bug deterring ingredient. Which I think is a reason enough to go for natural insecticide.

Natural Bug Sprays Can Be Just As Effective, If Used Properly

And the third big difference when it comes to chemical and natural pest control is how efficient each type of product is and for how long it will be able to repel mosquitoes. Although, chemical bug sprays may last longer than natural ones, their efficiency is a different story. Many natural bug sprays are just as efficient as chemical sprays, but they don’t last as long and have to be reapplied more often than their synthetic counterparts. To me, the fact that I’ll have to reapply the repellent a bit more frequently doesn’t bother me compared to the damaging effects of chemical bug sprays on my family and the environment. But how do you make sure that you are using your natural repellent to its full potential?

First and foremost, read the label of the product. There should be information about how you should apply the product, how often it needs to be reapplied, if it is waterproof or not and other important bits of knowledge that will help you get the most out of your spray. Secondly, don’t forget to reapply the mosquito repellent, because, you will probably only get a few hours of efficiency after which the mosquitoes will start bugging you again. And thirdly, don’t overdo it with the application of the repellent – it won’t make it magically work better. All it will do is create an unnecessary layer of repellent on your skin which can start to irritate it.

Which Brand Of Natural Bug Spray Do We Recommend?

We love the Mercola Bug Spray for the whole family, including our pets! I use it daily on my dogs to keep ticks off them. I still find a tick on them here and there, but certainly not daily anymore. My sister uses it on her cat for the same reasons with equally good results. There are only four ingredients, oil of citronella, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil and vanillin. It has a pleasant lemony scent.  The best news is it beat DEET in a lab test Mercola_Bugsprayperformed by BassFan Lab. The results are below:

  • Unprotected group: 16 bites per hour
  • DEET group: 2.78 bites per hour
  • Mercola Bug Spray group: < 1 bite per hour (1/5 bite per hour)

Mercola Bug Spray was the clear winner and is an excellent choice for you and your family and pets. But, as stated, it does need to be applied every 2-3 hours for best results.

Overall, choosing to use natural bug sprays over chemical ones does have more pros than cons to you as well as to the environment and everyone around you. But, of course, ultimately it is your decision.  And no matter if you do decide on organic bug spray or stick to a synthetic one, wearing any type of pest control in the spring and summer is much better and safer than not using any at all.

Guest blog by Insect Cop

Which Superfoods Are Missing From Most People’s Diet?

purple_superfoods_acai

Purple Superfoods and You

For many of us, the science of nutrition can be a scary beast.  There‘s a great deal of information out there, and with so many sources of information, some of it is outright confusing or contradictory.  Trying to digest this information and come to an informed opinion can then be tricky, as even simple questions have multiple answers. In this respect, most of us know the basics: fruit and vegetables are healthy. But beyond that things are less clear as to what is the very best of these foods available.  Here’s a handy introduction to the ‘purple superfoods’, one of nature’s very best foods for your body.

What are purple foods and why should I care?

It is no coincidence that the healthiest fruits and vegetables tend to be of a darker hue. The dark coloring and unusual shape of a beetroot or aubergines (eggplant) may deter some people, but this distinctive appearance is nonetheless synonymous with a plant rich in nutrients. Many berries also fit in the purple superfood category, like blueberries and acai berry. Purple superfoods come in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms, from large picked veggies, to powders, specifically designed to be consumed as a supplement.

There are reliable guides as to what constitutes a purple (and other colored) superfood. Portions of such foods should be included in the diets of absolutely everyone, whether you’re a fitness freak or not. Most of these foods are familiar and are easily picked up in markets for use in standard recipes – red onions and blueberries, for instance. Others, like aubergines and beetroot, may require a little more culinary imagination.

The question must therefore be asked: what makes purple foods so great? To answer this is hardly a secret, they are rich in antioxidants, a substance which carries many health benefits. Thanks to the presence of these, purple superfoods help prevent cellular damage, and have been proven to be highly effective at combating ‘free radicals’, unstable molecules known to cause so-called ‘oxidative stress’.  This stress can cause, or exacerbate, a variety of conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.  It therefore pays to understand (and eat!) purple foods.

Less is sometimes more.

If you cannot stand fruit and vegetables in large doses, just a small quantity of the stuff can still improve your health. For example, a cup of blueberries a week can enhance grey brain matter, thereby improving memory retention and general cognitive functions. Meanwhile, a diet rich in purple superfoods can mitigate the effects of aging, especially the appearance of wrinkles as those malicious elements that degrade your skin over time won’t find it so easy with such a strong defense in place. Just ensure that any purple foods you do buy to add to your diet appear on your plate – around 45% of all fruit and vegetables purchased end up in the trash.  As our food options increase so does the likelihood that some of that food ends up as waste. Being smart about food means not just knowing the health benefits but also understanding food economy and how your wallet can benefit as well as your health.

However, purple superfoods are unlikely to end up as waste if you are smart about what role they serve in your diet.  For instance, they are a useful source of vital nutrients for those with allergies or particular dietary requirements.  Vegetarians can eat beetroot if they want a viable alternative source of protein. Acai berry is most often found as a supplement and can easily be taken in capsule form without worrying about how to prepare it. We like Perfect Acai best because it is organically grown, sustainably harvested and fairly-traded.

The golden (or purple) rule.

As with most things in life, moderation is key. Purple foods will improve your health as part of a balanced lifestyle, but they are not miraculous – if your diet or lifestyle is poor then the effect of these foods will be negligible.  But if wisely incorporated, either as a side dish or within recipes, they boast some impressive health benefits, especially as part of a weight loss program.  Furthermore, because they are less popular than their more famous fellow fruits and veggies, they tend to be inexpensive and easy to find. The issue for many consumers is that they seem to occupy a tricky niche as regards recipes- many of us wouldn’t be too sure what goes best with beetroot or red cabbage.  Fortunately, however, there are a whole host of recipes for purple foods just waiting to be discovered by an intrepid chef.

If you are looking to make a healthy addition to your meals or are simply looking to diversify your diet, purple superfoods are an excellent option – endlessly flexible and enormously beneficial. What’s not to like?

Almond Butter Brownies: Try Not to Eat the Whole Pan!

 

paleo_blondie_brownie_recipe

Dr. Erica Lepore, naturopathic doctor and creator of the 21 Day Detox Program, posted this recipe on her Facebook page and I had to try them. She said her family ate the whole pan in one sitting. I had to hurry to get the pictures done before my family ate them all! They’re that good – scout’s honor. The recipe is more like a blondie because it has chocolate chips and no cocoa. With the exception of the chocolate chips, which have a bit of evaporated cane juice to sweeten them, this recipe is Paleo-friendly. It is also gluten free and Vegan. And very addictive. We can not be held responsible for weight gain due to over consumption of these yummy goodies. Good luck not eating the whole pan!

Almond Butter Brownies

recipe from foodbabe.com
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water or 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of “Enjoy Life” mega chocolate chunks

note: If using unsalted almond butter use 1/2 tsp salt

 Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line the bottom of an 8×8 dish with parchment paper or grease it.
  3. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl
  4. Add chocolate chunks, give a few stirs and pour batter into pan
  5. Bake brownies until dark golden brown – 20 to 25 mins
  6. Remove from oven and try to wait at least 10 mins before cutting

The Healthy Truth About Chocolate: It’s Good for You!

paleo_sugar-free_chocolate_candy_recipes

Good Chocolate is Good for You

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and that gets everyone thinking about one of my all time favorite things: chocolate! We talked all about many of the health benefits of chocolate in this blog post, Get Your Chocolate Fix! But, recently, a new study suggests that eating chocolate may make you smarter. Check out this article on PsyBlog, a website dedicated to figuring out how the mind works and founded by psychologist and author Dr. Jeremy Dean. In a nutshell, the study followed over 1000 people for over 30 years and found that people who regularly ate chocolate performed better on tests of reasoning and attention as well as tests of working memory. Not like I need another reason to eat chocolate, but, woohoo!

Yummy Sugar-Free Chocolate Candy Recipespaleo_sugar-free_chocolate_recipes

Now, most chocolate isn’t good if you are following a Paleo Diet, Primal Diet or any diet that eliminates white, processed sugar. But, I’ve been making these fantastic Paleo-friendly chocolate delights the past few months – since my last 21 Day Detox in November. I first introduced them to my extended family on Thanksgiving and they’ve been a big hit ever since. I always have a batch of one of these recipes in the fridge at any given time. Right now it’s the fruit and nut clusters. OK, so now I have to go get one because just talking about them makes me want one – or three!

Paleo Almond Joy Bars

inspired by detoxinista.com
Crust:
1 cup almond meal ( fine ground almond flour is ok, but rough almond meal works better)
1 1/2 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs organic unrefined coconut oil (more solid the better)
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
pinch of sea salt
Coconut Filling:
1 cup shredded unsweetened organic coconut
3 Tbs pure maple syrup
2 Tbs organic unrefined coconut oil
1 tsp Bovine Gelatin dissolved in 2 tbs hot water
1/3 cup halved raw organic almonds or organic Brazil nuts (optional)
Chocolate Topping:
1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (substitute half with organic cocoa butter for firmer chocolate)
2 Tbs organic maple syrup
6 drops stevia liquid (optional)
pinch of  sea salt

Instructions:
Before starting, get the cocoa butter melting if you are using it, see step 9.
1) In a glass bowl, add almond meal, maple syrup, almond extract and salt.
2) In a small glass dish, melt coconut oil in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds or on the stove in a double boiler. Add to other ingredients and mix well.
3) Line a small glass pyrex dish (7.5 x 5.25 x 1.75) or bread pan with parchment paper. Dump the crust mix into the dish, spread it out and press it firmly into the bottom of the dish with a fork. Put in freezer to set while you make the coconut filling.
4) I always just use the same glass bowl for this next part to save on dish washing. Add the shredded coconut and maple syrup to the bowl. Melt the coconut oil as before and add to the bowl.
5) In a very small glass or mug, dissolve the Bovine Gelatin into the 2 Tbs hot water. Use hot water so it dissolves completely and mixes better with the rest of the filling. Add to filling and mix well.
6) Remove crust from freezer and pour filling on top. Spread out and again press it firmly into the bottom of the dish with a fork.
7) If you are adding the nuts, cut each in half and spread on top of the coconut filling. Press into the filling with a fork. You want them to be halfway in and halfway out of the coconut layer. Return to freezer while you make the chocolate topping.
8) I again use the same bowl, although if you mind tiny bits of coconut in your chocolate layer, you may want to use a clean bowl. Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup to the bowl.
9) I originally made this recipe using only coconut oil for the chocolate topping, but found it to be a little on the soft side. So, I’ve been making it with 2 Tbs coconut oil and 2 Tbs melted organic cocoa butter. To melt the cocoa butter, grab a deep frying pan or wok and add about an inch or so of hot water, set the heat on low to warm the water further, but don’t boil it. Place the cocoa butter chunks in a small glass dish or mug and place that in the frying pan. Start this early because it takes a while to melt. Once the cocoa butter is melted, add the coconut oil directly to it, it will melt in the hot oil. You don’t want the coconut oil to be super melted or the chocolate comes super thin. If the coconut oil doesn’t mix enough, then zap it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it a bit more. Whisk till well blended.
10) Add oils to the bowl and whisk to mix well. Don’t forget to add salt to taste – it adds a really nice touch to this recipe. Add stevia to taste if you like it sweeter.
11) Remove dish from freezer. Use a small spatula to pour chocolate onto the top and spread evenly. Return to freezer to set for at least 15 minutes.
12) Remove from freezer. Remove from dish by pulling the parchment paper up and out of the dish. Pull sides of parchment paper down and place the whole block on a cutting board. I cut it in half the long way and then I usually make 6 cuts the short way for a total of 14 pieces. Which immediately turns into 13 pieces or fewer depending on how many people are standing there waiting for me to finish. Store left-over candies ( if you have any) in the fridge.

Healthy Peanut Butter Cup Bars

This can be made Paleo or primal by using any other nut butter instead of peanut butter.

inspired by detoxinista.com
Both Chocolate Layers (make two batches separately):
1/4 cup organic cocoa powder
1/4 cup organic unrefined coconut oil or softened grass- fed butter (substitute half with organic cocoa butter for firmer chocolate)
2 Tbs organic maple syrup
6 drops stevia liquid (optional)
pinch of salt
Peanut Butter Filling:
Use any other nut butter for a Primal version.
1/2 cup crunchy natural organic peanut butter (the kind with no sugar or oils added)
2 1/2 Tbs pure maple syrup
1 Tbs  coconut oil or softened grass-fed butter
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup organic nuts (optional)

Instructions:

1) I originally made this recipe using only coconut oil for the chocolate topping, but found it to be a little on the soft side and it added a mild coconut flavor that I didn’t really like with the peanut butter flavor. So, I’ve been making it with 2 Tbs grass-fed butter and 2 Tbs melted organic cocoa butter. To melt the cocoa butter, grab a deep frying pan or wok and add about an inch or so of hot water, set the heat on low to warm the water further, but don’t boil it. Place the cocoa butter chunks in a small glass dish or mug and place that in the frying pan. Start this early because it takes a while to melt. Melt enough for both layers of chocolate.
2) Line a small glass pyrex dish (7.5 x 5.25 x 1.75) or bread pan with parchment paper.
3) Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup to a glass bowl. Once the cocoa butter is melted, add the butter or coconut oil directly to it, it will melt in the hot oil. You don’t want the butter or coconut oil to be super melted or the chocolate comes out thin. If the oils are starting to cool and thicken, the chocolate comes out thicker.
4) Whisk to thoroughly combine and it’s a nice thick texture. Don’t forget to add salt to taste – it adds a really nice touch to this recipe. Add stevia liquid to taste if you like it sweeter.
5) Use a small spatula to pour chocolate out of bowl into parchment lined dish. Spread evenly and put in freezer to set.
6) I use the same bowl to mix up the peanut butter filling because a bit of chocolate in my peanut butter layer is OK with me. Add the peanut butter and maple syrup to the bowl. If using softened butter, add to bowl. If using coconut oil, melt it slightly, like 15 seconds in the microwave. Stir so texture is consistent and thick, but not chunky. Add to bowl and mix thoroughly. Salt to taste.
7) Remove base chocolate layer from freezer and using a spatula, pour peanut butter filling onto chocolate layer and spread evenly.
8) Add nuts evenly to top and press into the peanut butter layer. Put back in freezer to set.
9) Follow steps 1 and 3 to make another batch of chocolate.
10) Remove dish from freezer. Use a small spatula to pour top layer of chocolate on the peanut butter layer. Spread evenly. Put back in freezer for at least 15 minutes to set.
11) Remove from freezer. Remove from dish by pulling the parchment paper up and out of the dish. Pull sides of parchment paper down and place the whole block on a cutting board. I cut it in half the long way and then I usually make 6 cuts the short way for a total of 14 pieces. Store left-over candies ( if you have any) in the fridge.

Paleo Fruit & Nut Clusters

Chocolate Base:
1/2 cup organic cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil (substitute half with organic cocoa butter for firmer chocolate)
4 Tbs organic maple syrup
12 drops stevia liquid (optional)
sea salt to taste
Mix-ins:
3/4 cup dried organic fruit and nuts
My most recent batch has unsweetened coconut flakes, cranberries, pecans and cashews. A really tasty combination was dried cherries and pistachios, YUM!!!

Instructions:

1) To melt the cocoa butter, grab a deep frying pan or wok and add about an inch or so of hot water, set the heat on low to warm the water further, but don’t boil it. Place the cocoa butter chunks in a small glass dish or mug and place that in the frying pan. Start this early because it takes a while to melt.
2) Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup to a glass bowl. Once the cocoa butter is melted, add the butter or coconut oil directly to it, it will melt in the hot oil. You don’t want the butter or coconut oil to be super melted or the chocolate comes out thin. If the coconut oil or butter doesn’t melt nicely into the cocoa butter, you can microwave it for a few seconds to melt it a bit. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Add to bowl and whisk and to a nice thick texture. Don’t forget to add salt to taste – it adds a really nice touch to this recipe. Add stevia liquid to taste if you like it sweeter.
3) Add dried fruit and nuts to the bowl and mix till all is coated in chocolate. Spoon out bite-size portions onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes or set in fridge for a few hours. Store left-over candies ( if you have any) in the fridge.