Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review - Old Man Murray's Soap

I love organic, all natural, handmade soap. I mean ... I LOVE IT!! It doesn't compromise the environment or my health and, in my opinion, nothing could be more luxurious! So imagine my delight when I was contacted by Old Man Murray's and invited to try out two of their bars.


A company's environmental commitment is important to me. So before agreeing to review their products, I visited Old Man Murray's site. My first impression was that, rather than rushing to sell us something, they were interested in sharing information with readers. There are a number of articles which I found interesting ... one explaining parabens, one about coping with dry skin and another on the benefits of lavender oil. I then clicked on the "About Us" section and learned that they use USDA certified organic vegetable oils, pure essential plant oils, and herbs ... and further that they never use synthetic fragrances, colorants, or preservatives. Under the section about Sustainability, I learned that they not only expect high standards from their own products but require their suppliers to maintain a commitment to the environment as well. Palm Oil is sourced from members of the Palm Sustainability Council. Shea butter is sourced from a non-profit organization dedicated to the empowerment of women in West Africa and it is certified fair trade by the Fair Trade Federation. Everything I read about this company looked good ... so I chose two bars of soap:

(Blood Orange and Bergamot)
Ingredients: Saponified oils of safflower, sunflower, palm, and coconut (with retained glycerin); essential oils of blood orange, bergamot, orange, tangerine, lemongrass, and lime; madder root; rosemary extract

Citrus Herb
(Lemongrass, Rosemary and Lime)
Ingredients: Saponified oils of safflower, sunflower, palm, and coconut (with retained glycerin); essential oils of lemongrass, patchouli, rosemary, lime, sage, and bergamot; annatto seed; rosemary leaf; rosemary extract

Each bar came packaged in an Eco-friendly cardboard box:

The front of the box
("with love" seems to encompass the care with which each bar is created, packaged and mailed).

The back of the box
(ingredients are clearly featured)

A company's Eco-commitment, the ingredients of their products and packaging are all important factors to consider when buying anything ... but ... how does the soap perform?

When I opened the boxes, I was greeted with delightful fragrances. The Citrus Herb has a refreshing scent ... the rosemary came to me first, followed by the clean fragrance of citrus. The Sanguinello is definitely blood orange first but then the wonderful scent of bergamot comes forward.

Each bar is a generous 4 ounces and is the perfect size for holding in your hand in the shower. It lathers beautifully and feels so nice on my skin. An important feature in any soap is how well it rinses off ... all natural soaps don't leave a residue but rather rinse off completely. Old Man Murray's soaps left me with clean, moisturized and slightly fragrant skin.

Old Man Murray's soap is, indeed, the "finest quality handmade soap".

You can browse their site and purchase products by clicking HERE.

I received products in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)! If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

There's a lot of great information in this post and I encourage you to read through it ... however, if you don't have the time right now, you might find the following quick links helpful:

Last week we continued our food theme and restocked our shelves ... not just with anything but with foods containing 6 ingredients or less. While that may sound like an easy challenge, one trip down the grocery store isles will show that it can be quite difficult. Shelves are full of processed, convenience foods ... and reading the list of ingredients is like taking on an epic novel ... one with a tragic end. Even seemingly innocent foods, like bread, are often full of preservatives, fillers and weird-sounding chemicals. This challenge definitely showcases just how far society has moved away from whole foods.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments. Here's what they had to say:

Kris accepted our challenge and shared that reading labels is confusing. In this POST she talks about the foods she and her family eat. Here's something impressive ... she has made almost all of her daughter's food since birth. Way to go, Kris!

Sarah took the challenge and had this to say, " Another great idea, can also see that it will make more home cooking from this. I'm planning on making lots of 'home ready meals' to make it easier to eat good food fast when I get in from work." As I browsed Sarah's blog this week, I read a post about the meals her family enjoyed ... many of them were home cooked. How did they go over? Well, she heard this from her son: "this weekend has been a fantastic food weekend". I'd say that the challenge was a total success!

Argentum Vulgaris normally avoids processed foods so this challenge wasn't difficult for him. There is one item, though ... one he's not willing to give up ... that may have more than 6 ingredients. Can you guess what it is? Find out HERE. By the way, AV ... I did a little checking on that item and I think you're safe (tried to leave you a comment but things weren't working that day).

Catherine already eats whole foods ... she cooks a lot of dried beans, makes her own salad dressing, and eats plain yogurt. But, for this challenge she started reading labels and found out that some of the foods in her kitchen have way more than 6 ingredients. Check out this POST to find out which foods she'll be making at home instead of buying them. By the way, a little twitter bird told me that Catherine made her first loaf of bread this week ... and that it was yummy. WhooHoo ... nicely done, Catherine!

Scarlet joined us. Here's her comment, " Good points. The 6 ingredient list is a great idea!"

I'd like to welcome Kevin ... so nice to "see" you, Kevin. He shared this, "I like this 6 or less. We could even up the ante by trying to do most as produce/ vegetables / fruit etc, but also attempting to keep even 50% of our grocery choices to 1-3 ingredients. Food manufacturers are beginning to take note and offer us good selection here (like my fantastic 'just peanuts' peanut butter - it tastes WAY better than the leading brand!!!)" I like the "up the ante" challenge, Kevin ... and I apologize for not getting it into the post last week. But ... while we post a challenge for a week, we really want the activity to become a lifestyle so ... EVERYONE ... let's try out Kevin's challenge, shall we? :-)

Mrs. Green wrote Could you take the six ingredient challenge? Basically she's mastered this challenge and primarily buys whole foods. She does keep a few convenience items around ... for those times when she needs a meal quickly. She makes an excellent point ... buying processed foods doesn't mean one can just ignore the ingredients. When she buys a convenience food, she reads the list to ensure that the ingredients are basically healthy. As she said about a fish pie, "No different to the ingredients I would use for a home made dish."

Valerie joined us and had this to say, "I love the idea of a six ingredient challenge! We are already very careful about no HFCS or partially hydrogenated oils (yuck!) but I know we still buy plenty of things with long lists of ingredients. :/ This week I'll focus more on short lists! Thanks for hosting this challenge."

Charlie shared this GRAPHIC on her blog ... I think it sums up this challenge nicely!

Alicia left an interesting comment, " This is an awesome idea! We tackled this one a few years ago. We only buy fresh or frozen veggies or use the ones from our own freezer.We don't eat dairy or meat and buy no processed food.I make our salad dressings from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, our own herb vinegar and dried herbs and spices. You have to watch because some commercial seasoning blends have a lot of junk added to them. We use coconut and almond milk to drink, cook with and make sauces. I just looked at the ingredients on the almond milk and there are 12 listed! Most are vitamins that have been added but I am going to check into making our own. I heard it was pretty easy. I hope so! Again this is such a good challenge because there are so many ingredients that are lurking in the foods we eat and we sure need to be aware of them." Wow, who knew that almond milk had so many ingredients. So here's a question for everyone ... how do you feel about the addition of vitamins in your food? Thanks, Alicia ... that got me thinking!

I loved CelloMom's comment, " Since we're gluten free (and have to make a lot of our food from scratch) and I am lazy, many of my staple recipes have very few ingredients. When we do buy ready made foods, I do go for the ones of which the ingredients are few and pronounceable to those without a degree in organic chemistry."

Aly whipped up a delicious meal for this challenge ... Slow Cooker Spinach And Macaroni Cheese. Mmm!

Lauren, aka Hobo Mama, stopped in. You might remember that she was the inspiration behind this challenge. Here's what she had to say, "Thanks so much for giving our Six Ingredient Challenge such a lovely shout-out! I've mentioned you in my post today. Eating this way has made such a difference in the quality of food we buy and prompted a mostly painless reduction in our processed food purchases." Check out this POST to see her lovely "shout out". Thanks, Lauren ... we hope you'll come by and join us again!

Lady JC embraced this challenge and learned a few things. She shares, " This is a great challenge and it was certainly food awareness week for me. I read two articles that made it even more important to try to follow the 6 ingredient rule. One was the NYTimes: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, which basically made me feel like a test subject and the next was about truly disgusting food additives. (carmine for example). Well, let's just say I'll be reading my food labels with a loupe from now on. In my household we've been pretty careful about ingredients thus far, but to fulfill the challenge I baked oatmeal cookies with organic raisins with less than 6 ingredients and all of those ingredients had less than 6 ingredients. The new motto is: If I crave a particular food, I can find a way of making a healthier version at home rather than buying a packaged item with potentially questionable ingredients. That way I know exactly what's in it and there is no packaging to recycle or dispose of. :) 2nd Article: " Great point about the packaging ... and love your new motto!

Lady JC also gave us an update on a previous challenge about organizing. In Tea Paradise she talks about one of her projects and how it turned out. Nicely done, JC!

From our challenge on food waste, Ann comes up with a very clever idea ... feeding fish. Check out this POST for one of her favorite fish ponds.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation ... here's what they had to say:

From @pinkladyapril
- this is a good idea - I think most of the stuff I buy already fits in to this - but I'll be more aware this week!
- home made pineapple cake: flour, sugar, butter, eggs, pineapple, sultanas = 6 ingredients. It's gorgeous & lasts ages

From @bylittlenea
- Wohoo! Nu funkar det som det ska igen :-) Och idag är det dags för #CTWW .... (translation by Bing: Wohoo! Now it works like it should again:-) And now it's time for # CTWW ....)
- This weeks #CTWW: 6 ingredient challenge! Since we cook most of our food at home this one should be easy for us!
- It really does! It gives you control so you know exactly what you eat, and choose not to eat. Plus cooking is fun :)

From @lowimpactmama
- I can't tell how I glad I am to participate in #CTWW - it brightens up my midweek brilliantly!
- Making my 1st ever loaf of bread! All thanks to #CTWW and @smallftprints challenge to use 6 ingredients or less #happydays

From @plus2point4
- Preserving stuff today.Frozen sloes with be turned into jam.Then I'm making slow cooker citrus marmalade.And maybe orange gin

From @gwened02
- Malteasers are out but shortbread is ok
- Home made pie
- So things that pass the #ctww test: chicken dippers, cherry coke (!), pancakes.
- Things that fail: all types of shop bought bread, teacakes, brioche :(

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who share our challenges on twitter using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I highly recommend following them ... they have a lot of great things to say. Let's meet them:

@wrenmeyers @skipbang @ginavalley
@jamericanspice @mombloggerplr @lowimpactmama
@intricateknot1 @crazedkitchen @mamasmoney
@ban_monaka @mcmillendc @crazy4grnlivn
@phebeohyes @lizbethsgarden @givetreegifts
@plus2point4 @turningclockbac @bestrawesome
@momgamerwriter @biggreenpen @groovygreenlivi
@89linz @marjoriemcatee @almosttruth
@wencdj @theriverwanders @laalicia
@eclothguy @clubcontent @bylittlenea
@gwened02 @groovygrapevine @earthyurban
@beatepdx @rozdb @sleepybard
@nolamixn @timsimms @familyfocusblog
@ladyjcmuses @cleansediva @jadekerrion
@pinkladyapril @esideecodesign @lorcadamon
@greenforu @kellybakes @ithoughtiknewma
@nolafusion @a_kiasi @seachildmag
@ecoexpert1 @treesgroup @littlegreenblog
@spilldmilkshake @hobo_mama @theworld4realz

My Final Thoughts:

This challenge was meant to encourage whole foods which have a lighter environmental footprint than their processed counterparts. But there are other issues to consider as well. Processed foods are not healthy. More and more studies are emerging which show that ingredients, designed to improve shelf life or cheaply flavor a food, hurt us. We owe it to ourselves and our families to provide healthy, whole foods ... foods which are good for us and the planet.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I have Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share feature at the bottom of this post.

This Week's Challenge:

Let's do something different this week. How about a group review?
Here you go ...

This week review the body soap you are currently using. Please include such information as how the product performs, how it was packaged and the ingredients. Perhaps do a little research on the ingredients to determine if they are all environmentally and personally safe. You may include the name of the soap or not ... your choice. You may also post your review on any platform, including a comment here. The idea is for us to take an honest look at the soap we're using and share information so that we all learn.


If you'd like a little visibility for your post, come back here and add it to the linky directly following this challenge. Or, to make things even easier, add the following linky code to your post:

Link your reviews here:

This is going to be fun!

As always ...


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Guest Post - Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)

What is an Energy Efficient Mortgage?

Energy efficient mortgages (EEMs, sometimes known as “green mortgages”) are loans that allow homeowners to finance energy-efficient upgrades for their current home or in a new home purchase. The cost of the upgrades is rolled into the mortgage so that multiple loans are not needed.

An EEM allows lenders to extend borrowers’ debt-to-income qualifying ratio, which means that they may be able to take out a larger home loan than would be allowed with a traditional mortgage. With an EEM, upfront costs may be higher than with a typical home loan. The reason for this is because improvements need to be made to a home to make it “energy efficient”. Despite the upfront cost, an EEM should save homeowners money in the long run through lower energy costs.

In order to qualify, the energy efficient home must undergo an energy audit by an approved inspector.

Conventional EEM:

A conventional EEM is the most commonly used green mortgage option. With a conventional EEM, the lender will be able to credit the borrower’s income by an amount equal to the amount of energy that will be saved with the renovations/upgrades. For instance, if a borrower makes $75,000 per year and stands to save $2,000 a year in energy costs by upgrading their home, their income will be $77,000 for underwriting purposes. This enables the borrower to purchase a more expensive home than they would otherwise be eligible for.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) EEM:

FHA EEMs provide mortgage insurance to a borrower who is looking to purchase or refinance their home and incorporate the costs of energy efficient improvements into their mortgage. In order to qualify, the borrower must meet all the normal underwriting conditions for an FHA loan.

With an FHA EEM, the borrower can borrow the lesser of:

  • The total cost of the improvements plus report and inspections; or

  • The lesser 5% of the value of the property, 115% of the median area price for a single family house, or 150% of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit.

In addition, the energy improvements must cost less than the total amount saved over the life of the improvements. Further, the improvements must be made after the loan closes. The funds for the improvement are put in an escrow account and released to the borrower when the loan closes.

Veterans Administration (VA) EEMs:

These green mortgages are available to veterans who qualify for financing through the VA. VA EEMs allow buyers to upgrade an existing home. Typically these loans are capped at $3-6,000 maximum.

Benefits of EEMs:

Energy efficient mortgages have been around since the early 1990’s but were used rather infrequently so many lenders were not aware of them at the time. Energy efficient improvements are starting to become more and more common as current home owners and future home buyers begin to realize how much money they could be saving on energy costs. Not only are the green improvements environmentally-friendly, but they also help homeowners save money. Since mortgage interest is tax-deductible, an energy-efficient mortgage can be a cost-effective way to finance any home energy improvements instead of using using a credit card, bank loan or cash, which offer no tax benefits. In addition to saving on energy costs, green improvements can increase the resale value of the home down the road.

If you’re looking for a way to make environmentally friendly home upgrades without huge up-front costs, an energy efficient mortgage could be great for you.

Mark Scheets is a writer at Total Mortgage Services. For the past fifteen years, Total Mortgage has combined the personal service and integrity of a local lender with low rates, convenience, speed, and know-how of a national lender.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Once Upon A Time ... Hidden in Hair


The Plot

A tale of good vs. evil ... of mystery and intrigue. A story of dedication ... and triumph. Based on actual events, this story will amaze you!!

The Cast of Characters

The Innocent Victim ... played by The Earth

The Damsel in Distress ... played by Isabelle

The Bad Guy ... played by Flea

The Accomplice ... played by Feral Cat

Our Hero ... played by Art

Art's Flea Sword ... played by Flea Comb

Our Heroine ... played by Small

The Tale

Once upon a time, in a magical land called Asheville, there lived a very green family. They removed toxins from their home, shunned most chemicals and grew vegetables ... and life seemed perfect. Until ...

Isabelle, an indoor cat, wandered out to her patio. Being a pampered (aka Lazy) cat, she enjoyed sunning herself on the cozy rug which her owners provided for her and she never tried to jump the rail and enter the world beyond. She lounged while watching the birds and enjoyed her private little oasis.

One day, while Isabelle was sleeping inside, Feral Cat jumped over the rail. He wandered about, investigating everything, until Small noticed him and scared him off. For several days this went on ... Feral Cat coming in and Small chasing him out. Little did Small know that he had dark passengers.

Feral Cat eventually got the message and Isabelle again enjoyed lounging in the sun. But then ...

One evening, Art and Small noticed some strange behavior in Isabelle. She jumped from her bed and began scratching furiously. Clearly in distress, she meowed and begged for relief. That's when Art & Small noticed the dreaded ... Flea (the audience gasps).

Now Art and Small lived a green life, always trying to protect the earth ... so they weren't about to introduce toxic flea medicine into their home. They tried shampoo ... it didn't work. Poor Isabelle was suffering. Would they relent and buy her flea treatment ... or a flea collar? No ... they held firm.

Art consulted the experts (aka the Internet) and found a natural treatment ... one which would require dedication and attention to detail. He armed himself with the Flea Sword while Small heated boiling water and then, together, they began the process. Every day ... sometimes twice a day ... they combed Isabelle. In the beginning, the evil fleas would jump off her body. Small would immediately put a glass over them and then, very carefully, transport them to the bowl of boiling water where they would die instantly. After a thorough combing, Small would vacuum the entire house.

As time went on ... there were fewer and fewer evil fleas. Small and Art continued the process ... for weeks ... which turned into months ... 2 months to be exact. And finally, the fleas were beat. Isabelle went back to being a happy, pampered cat with our heroes watching closely for any sign that the evil fleas had infiltrated the border. Occasionally they breached the sanctuary walls ... but our heroes were on top of it ... launching into action at the slightest "scratch" from our damsel. And so it went ...

No pesticides were used and ...

The Earth smiled ...

The End!

Images courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti and chrisroll of and Art Ist of One A Day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How Green Will Your Country Be?

Let's do another survey, shall we? Polls are a great way to open up discussions about issues that affect us all. So, please answer the question and then leave a comment explaining why you chose your answer. Feel free to respond to other people's answers as well.

Let the discussion begin ...

In 10 years do you believe that the country, which you live in, will be implementing more environmental policies?

Image courtesy of xedos4 /

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Love is in the air

Ahhh Valentine's Day ... that romantic celebration where we pamper our loved ones with special treats. As with most of our celebrations, Valentine's Day is often filled with less than Eco-friendly items ... huge boxes of candy with a lot of excess packaging, cards which end up in the trash bin, non-organic flowers and even jewelry containing materials which are mined from the earth. In truth, it doesn't seem very loving to exchange gifts which hurt our environment. So let's examine some common Valentine's Day gifts.


Almost everyone likes chocolate. And ... good news ... chocolate is actually heart healthy. But before you go running off to the store for that heart-shaped box of confections, understand that not all chocolate is created equal. Raw cocoa is filled with antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and magnesium ... all good for us. Unfortunately, milk chocolate doesn't share those benefits because adding in dairy products prevents our body from absorbing the "good stuff". And white chocolate isn't really chocolate at all ... it's a mixture of cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Both milk chocolate and white chocolate often contain hydrogenated oils (bad, bad stuff). Look for dark chocolates with a high percentage of chocolate liquor ... this number is like a badge of honor to manufacturers who produce quality chocolate so if you don't see it on the label, it probably isn't good quality. Be sure to choose certified organic varieties so that your treats don't come with pesticide residue. To ensure that the environment and cocoa farmers are being protected, choose Fair Trade chocolate. One word of caution ... even quality, earth-friendly chocolate contains fat. It's heart-healthy fat similar to fats found in avocados and olives ... but it's still fat. So let moderation be your guide!


Giving a bouquet of flowers is sure to bring a smile to your loved one's face. That is, until your loved one thinks about the cost. No, I'm not talking about the amount of money spent (although that might be an issue as well) ... I'm talking about the environmental cost. Did you know that 85 percent of fresh cut flowers are imported primarily from South America? In 2008 I wrote an article about why fresh flowers are a problem (you can read that post HERE) ... and it seems that things have only gotten worse since then. So, if you must give flowers, choose organic varieties which are locally grown. Consider giving plants or trees instead but ... be sure to ask about where they were grown and how because they can also come from far distances and/or contain pesticides. Here's a clever idea ... choose a dozen packets of flower seeds, attach them to bamboo skewers and tie them together with a ribbon to create a unique, earth-friendly bouquet.


On the most romantic of all days, many couples get engaged. Others express their love with fine jewelry. Diamonds and gold top the list of gems and precious metals used in our most cherished pieces. But what if each piece came with a disclaimer stating that things like mercury, cyanide, and dynamite were used to mine these precious materials? What if, as in the case with "Blood Diamonds", slaves were forced to unearth the gems? Yes, the truth is that the mining process has traditionally been one which destroys the landscape by displacing tons of earth (which typically isn't "put back"), uses toxic chemicals to extract materials and has been associated with slavery. These beautiful pieces don't look so brilliant when we know the facts. When choosing jewelry, look for pieces with recycled gems and metals. If buying new, find out if the materials were mined in an ethical and sustainable method. Consider fair trade items or think outside the box and choose alternate "gems" such as sea glass. Be sure that your "bling" truly represents love and respect.

All The Rest

Cards, parties, going out for dinner ... these are all typical ways that we celebrate Valentine's Day. Here's a question ... how many greeting cards do you actually save? Most people don't save them and that equals a lot of waste. Send egreetings instead ... there are some lovely versions available. If you must send an actual card, make sure it's printed on recycled paper using Eco-friendly ink. Parties are a great way to show your friends that you care ... but they typically include a lot of waste. Reusable plates and utensils, Eco-friendly decorations and plant-based foods will ensure that your party is both fun and kind to the planet. Perhaps your celebration includes a lovely meal at a fine restaurant. Choose a local establishment which employes Eco-friendly, sustainable practices. Do they include local foods on their menu ... are their "take away" containers made of earth-friendly materials ... do they use energy-efficient lighting ... is cooking oil recycled ... do they compost their food scraps? Planning your celebration wisely will ensure that everyone enjoys the event without worry.

Valentine's Day is an advertiser's dream ... they know that we all want to express our feelings to loved ones. So they seduce us with beautiful colors and frills ... and tell us that their products are the best way to say "I love you". But if we purchase items which are full of waste or which include materials that hurt our environment, we're really saying that we don't care. This Valentine's Day, give the gift that respects both the earth and the recipient ... a gift that truly says "I Care".

Now it's your turn ... how do you plan to celebrate Valentine's Day?

Image courtesy of Phaitoon /

Friday, February 1, 2013

Vegan Recipe - Lacto-fermented garlic dill pickles!

If you've followed me for any length of time, then you know that I believe that eating meatless meals is one of the easiest ways to live green. That's because the amount of natural resources involved with producing food and the cost in fossil fuels to process, transport and cook it, are less for plant-based foods versus animal-based foods. So, eating meatless meals is good for the earth!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Jayedee of Life in the Lost World. I've been following Jayedee for a long time. Her blog is a wonderful mix of posts ... giveaways, reviews and one of my favorite features, Menu Plan Monday – #ExtremeVeganYumminess (which includes links to recipes from all over the web). Jayedee also posts vegan recipes like French Toast, Peanut Butter Fudge and Burgers. Head over and visit Life in the Lost World ... I just know you'll like it!

Jayedee has graciously agreed to share a recipe with us today. I hope you'll try it out!

Lacto-fermented garlic dill pickles

I’ve made tons pickles over the years, everything from good old bread and butter pickles, to kosher dills. I’ve pickled just about every vegetable you can think of, too….some successful, others not so much. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I know I’ve been searching for the perfect deli pickle, like they used to make, at the now closed, Ronnie’s Deli, in Orlando Florida. These pickles probably come closer than any other I’ve tried, to fulfilling this dream. Crunchy, briny, fresh tasting, and garlicky with a lovely herbal note from the dill.

The process couldn’t be easier. And with just a few ingredients and no special equipment, either!

It’s made with a process called lacto-lfermentation. If you aren’t familiar with it, lacto-fermentation is the act of creating a lactic-acid rich environment that enables the natural preservation of some foods. Lacto-fermentation has the added bonus of making these foods more nutritious (it increases their vitamin content) and more digestible (it fosters the growth of natural probiotics).

Vegetables are easily lacto-fermented by mixing them with a salt water solution and allowing them to sit in a glass mason jar at room temperature for several days before moving them to the refrigerator.

For each quart of pickles you’ll need:

  • 4-5 pickling type cucumbers – PLEASE make sure your cukes haven’t been waxed
  • a couple of peeled, slightly crushed garlic cloves
  • a sprig or two of fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt
  • a sterile 1 qt. wide-mouth mason jar with screw-top lid

1. Wash the cucumbers. Snip off the very ends ( the blossom end contains enzymes that will make your pickles soft and squishy – yuck!) and slice them lengthwise.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to each jar (don’t use table salt. it contains additives that will discolor and could ruin your pickles)

3. Place cucumbers and garlic cloves into jars

4. Add distilled water to cover. Leave about an inch of head room between the cucumbers and the top of your jar. Screw the top on the jar tightly and gently turn it upside down a few times to dissolve and distribute the salt.

5. Allow to sit at room temperature for three days.

6. After this time, go ahead and open the jar. The liquid should be pretty fizzy, don’t let that scare you, it means the lacto-fermentation was successful.

If there is any type of “off smell”, discard and start again (I’m mentioning this as a caution, but also want to say that I have been lacto-fermenting for years, and I have never had anything go wrong).

Go ahead and taste a pickle. The cucumbers should have a nice garlicky flavor and they should pleasant notes of dill too.

7. Store your pickles in the fridge after day 3. Lacto-fermentation will continue in the colder temperature, but at a much slower rate.

That’s it. Easy as can be…trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

If you have a vegan recipe which you'd like to share, please send it to me HERE. And for all the recipes we've shared so far, be sure to visit our recipe page using the tabs at the top of this blog ... or by clicking HERE.