I’ve signed up for National Blog Posting Month which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Branch Basics. I am being compensated to share my thoughts on this product with you; the opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.

I committed to using only toxin-free, eco-friendly products to clean my home years ago and while there are plenty of cleaners on the market that supposedly meet these criteria, I don’t really trust them because there seems to be a lot of “greenwashing” going on. As an alternative to using store-bought products, I’ve made some of my own homemade cleaners. But they don’t always work as well as I would like.

For these reasons, I was extremely excited to hear from the the lovely ladies of Branch Basics. They asked me to test out their product in my home and to share my experience with it here on my blog…I was happy to do so.

branch basics 1

What is Branch Basics? It’s a 100% natural, non-toxic, food-grade soap concentrate (there are zero synthetic ingredients: it’s made from purified water, fatty acids, coconut oil, organic alcohol, folic acid, minerals and enzymes derived from edible and seed-bearing plants). This one product can be diluted down to use on your laundry, stains, and surfaces throughout your home. You can also use it to rinse your produce, and it’s perfectly fine for your face, hands, and body. It is safe for children (even if accidentally ingested) and pregnant women; those who are immune compromised or chemically sensitive can safely use Branch Basics, as well.

I used it throughout my home and found that it worked remarkably well for many tasks in my kitchen and bathroom; it did a terrific job on my windows and carpets, too. I have not yet used it on my laundry but I will give that a try soon. The concentrate is very economical: according to the company’s website, 1 gallon of concentrate is enough to wash about 256 loads of laundry using about 1 T. concentrate per load. One gallon is also enough to make 24 all-purpose spray bottles!

24_spray_bottles_graphic_for_1_gallon_

The only place I found it fell short was on my kitchen sink…my sink needs a lot of scouring! So I asked the owners of Branch Basics what to do and they suggested I combine their product with the all-natural powder cleanser Bon Ami. The combo worked like magic.

I love that Branch Basics is 100% natural and that it works so well, but you know what else I love? I love that it can help you simplify your life. When you use it, other cleaners are completely unnecessary. That slew of cleaning agents you have under your sink? Bye bye! This one is all you need.

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I’ve signed up for National Blog Posting Month which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013.

It’s Day 4 of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and I have to say I am LOVING it! NaBloPoMo is really stimulating my creativity…it’s making me think a little outside of the box in terms of my posts. It’s also steering me away from my perfectionistic tendencies, which feels surprisingly nice.

Don’t get me wrong: I am still striving to do high quality work here, of course. But at the same time I am acutely aware of “not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good”. Sometimes good enough really is good enough. (Apply this statement to your writing, recipes, and photography if you are a food blogger, or to your parenting or your diet or something else, and see if it helps to liberate you in some way.)

Baby Kale Pomegranate Salad | Healthy Green Kitchen

I bought some baby kale last week and I have been using it a lot. There are no tough stems to deal with and the leaves are very tender. It makes a great addition to soups, and also to salads. I used some in this Baby Kale Salad with Feta, Pomegranate, and Candied Pumpkin Seeds, and it was really delicious.

Baby Kale Pomegranate Salad | Healthy Green Kitchen

I am not going to write this out in “official recipe format” because it’s quite time consuming for me to do that (and my goal this month is to write more posts, but spend less time on each one). So…this is how I made this salad: Fill a bowl with a few heaping handfuls of baby kale (or use any other type of baby greens). Add the arils from 1/4-1/2 of a pomegranate. Toss and then add some feta cheese. You don’t want to add too much because then your salad will be overly salty, but you want enough so that you get more than a little feta with each bite. If you don’t want to use feta, try this with crumbled goat cheese. Top with some Candied Pumpkin Seeds, or use candied (or raw) pecans or walnuts (or the seed/nut of your choice). I dressed my salad with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of sumac, if you have it, are nice here, as well.

A bowl of this salad serves at least 2 people. To pack individual servings with some protein, add some cooked chicken or a poached egg or two…YUM!

Baby Kale Pomegranate Salad | Healthy Green Kitchen

More Fabulous-Looking Fall Salads from Food Blogger Friends:

Kale Delicata Salad with Citrus Maple Vinaigrette from Oh My Veggies
Autumn Harvest Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette from Tasty-Yummies
Autumn Arugula Salad from How Sweet Eats
Delicata Kale Salad from A Cozy Kitchen
Massaged Kale Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate from With Food and Love
Pomegranate, Kale, Wild Rice Salad from Pinch of Yum

I’ve signed up for National Blog Posting Month which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013.

I’ve been keeping chickens for a couple of years now. Right around this time every year their egg laying starts to drop off. This is because the days are getting shorter: chickens need 14 hours of sunlight each day for maximum egg production.

How to Keep Your Chickens Laying Eggs in the Winter | Healthy Green Kitchen

While you can certainly let nature take its course and wait until spring to have lots of eggs again, most people who keep chickens prefer it if they keep laying eggs in the winter. It’s pretty easy to make this happen. You just have to “trick” their bodies into thinking the days are longer than they actually are.

chicken | Healthy Green Kitchen

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I’ve signed up for National Blog Posting Month which means I’m blogging every day of November, 2013. Is this crazy? Possibly, but I love a challenge.

I mentioned this homemade mint extract recipe a while ago on my Facebook page but I figured I should share it here, as well, since not everyone who reads my blog is a follower over there. This simple mint extract was inspired by this recipe on Nourished Kitchen.

Homemade Mint Extract | Healthy Green Kitchen

I made a batch of this mint extract over the summer, but I am going to make some more while I still have the mint to give as gifts (we recently had our first frost and while most of my plants bit the dust, my mint and some other herbs are still going strong). You should make some, too: all you need to make homemade mint extract is fresh mint and rum (or bourbon or vodka)! And if mint extract doesn’t excite you, you can make vanilla extract instead (here’s a post from Simply Recipes which describes how to do that).

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Last night, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to sign up for National Blog Posting Month (aka NaBloPoMo). NaBloPoMo is an annual blogging event that takes place each November: participants commit to posting on their blogs each day of the month. This means you’ll be hearing from me more frequently over the next four weeks…I hope that’s ok with you :)

To keep my goal of posting every day in November an attainable one, my posts will most likely be shorter than usual. There will be recipes, of course, but not every day…some days may just be brief musings on topics related to general health or nutrition. I have a few giveaways planned, too :)

Today, I have an easy, tasty recipe for candied pumpkin seeds for you.

Candied Pumpkin Seeds | Healthy Green Kitchen

I made this recipe with the seeds I took out of the pumpkin I used to bake this Pumpkin Stuffed with Cheese, Sausage, and Pasta. Whenever you “play with” pumpkins, you always end up with a sloppy mess of pumpkin seeds, right? Don’t dump them in the compost (or worse yet, the garbage)…use them to make a healthy snack instead! (I am being more conscious about my food waste than ever these days, since I am participating in this program.

Seeds (and nuts and grains and some other foods) naturally contain something called enzyme inhibitors. To increase the amount of nutrients available to your body when you eat these foods (and to make them more digestible), it’s good to give them “a good soaking”. This is why I recommend soaking your pumpkin seeds in salted water before roasting them (doing this also simplifies removing all of the pulp that may stick to the seeds upon removal from the pumpkin).

These fiber and zinc-rich goodies are perfect for topping salads and side dishes. They are also wonderful eaten on their own.

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