Candied Violets

Violets pop up all over my yard every year at this time, and I’m always extremely excited when they do. Violets are edible, and though picking them can be a little painstaking, I really enjoy eating and making things with the delicate purple beauties. Yesterday, I made candied violets.

candied violets | healthy green kitchen

As I mentioned above, violets are delicate…fragile. If your lawn is similarly dotted, and you’d like to use them in a recipe, plan to do so right after you pick them (otherwise they will wilt). I decided to make just a small amount of sugared violets (I will tell you why tomorrow) so I didn’t pick that many flowers. If you want to make lots of candied flowers, or a syrup or jelly with your violets, you’ll need to pick quite a lot.

violets  on plate_

To make candied/sugared violets, all you need is the flowers, some sugar (I used organic sugar), and something to get the sugar to adhere to the flowers. Generally I would use beaten egg white, but since I wanted these candied violets to be vegan, I used a slurry of flax seeds and water*: approximately 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water. The mixture was somewhat thick so I did add a little more water as I was working.

Superfine sugar is the best type of sugar to use for candied flowers: you can whir regular (or organic) sugar in a food processor to make it more fine, if you like.

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5 Ways To Reduce Food Waste #SAVEITSUNDAY

As I’ve mentioned in each of my #SAVEITSUNDAY posts, we Americans waste a lot of our food: this food waste has devastating consequences to our environment and our wallets. In past posts I have mainly focused on ways to store your food at home so you can waste less (Glad’s Protection Pointers have been very helpful to me), but today I want to do something a little different. I want to talk about 5 ways you can reduce food waste before you even bring your food home.

5 ways to reduce your food waste | healthy green kitchen

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DIY Orange Vinegar Cleaner + One Simple Change Giveaway

Happy Earth Day! It was gorgeous here in my neck of the woods today…I hope the same was true for you.

I have been interested in environmental issues for many, many years and the reason I called my site Healthy Green Kitchen is because I wanted there to be an focus on green living here. The same is true for my book my book One Simple Change: a good many of the chapters focus on green living because the book is about improving not just personal health, but planetary health, as well.

To celebrate the day, I want to share an easy recipe for an inexpensive DIY green cleaner; I also want to give a signed copy of One Simple Change to one of you!

It could not be simpler to make this citrus vinegar cleaner, and it’s a great natural alternative to store-bought household cleaning products. Use peels you save from eating oranges, or from using oranges in any recipe (such as this one for Orange Cardamom Curd). You can store the peels in a bag in the refrigerator until you have enough to fill whatever size glass jar you want to use. I used the peels from making fresh orange juice, which I do a few times a week: juicing oranges yield a lot of peels all at once (you can compost the extra ones). You could also make a vinegar cleaner with lemon, lime, or grapefruit peels instead (or use a combination).

orange peels_

Once you place your peels in your glass jar, cover them with white vinegar. Yes: cheap white vinegar. Vinegar is an all-natural, all-purpose cleaner that works well on many surfaces, including glass and wood, and the oils in the citrus peels boost the cleaning power further! (You can mix this cleaner with a bit of liquid soap for cleaning tiles, if you like.)

citrus cleaner_

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Branch Basics Review and Special Offer

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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Homemade Bath Salts

herbal bath salts

The holidays are closing in fast at this point- Hanukkah begins tonight, in fact. I’ve got another simple, yet lovely, homemade gift idea for you, though…one you can throw together in a flash. Making your own bath salts to give away is fun and pretty inexpensive, and you can buy all the ingredients you need … Read more