Saturday, 20 September 2014

Going Shampoo Free

Should be called Going Shampoo Free - An Experiment In Patience

So everyone has heard about the "no poo" craze and it all makes sound sense (although personally I hate that term cause it sounds like you're not getting enough fiber). Commercial shampoos are full of harmful chemicals that strip the natural oil from your hair and create the need for us to keep shampooing, not to mention the cost to you and the environment with all those chemicals going down the waterways and plastic bottles being discarded! The list of reasons to go "poo" free goes on...

People always used some form of cleansing of their hair but commercial liquid shampoo wasn't really available before the 1930s and people washed their hair with soap once a month!!! Clearly we've gone down a terrible consumer driven path somewhere if we are shampooing every second day! Anyway as a big advocate of DIY and natural holistic remedies I thought I would give this a go. I had a friend (male) who just stopped washing his hair and said his hair was fabulous after 2 weeks. It looked good to me too, I never would've known!

So full disclosure, about 4 months ago I tried it the way he tried it (just nothing and occasional rinsing with water in the shower) and after 6ish weeks I still had greasy hair and I a little discouraged. I have fairly thick wavy hair so from what I had read and been told I had imagined by week 4 that my hair would have re-calibrated and I would have luscious Brave style hair (apart from not being a redhead) so I did what you're not meant to do, I gave up :(

In fairness most people I've read the comments of give up after a few days or a week but having thick wavy hair I only wash my hair twice a week to begin with.

So I think I know where I went wrong... All the experiences I'm reading about used some form of cleansing, just not shampoo. I used nothing.

I have read that most people have success with the baking soda rinse/apple cider vinegar rinse combo but if you scroll down the comments of these blogs you'll find that many people also did not have success with that combo...even worse, they claim it ruined their hair. Something to do with baking soda not being the same PH as your scalp and ripping your hair apart. Call me vain, but that alone scared me into looking for alternatives.

I found a honey "shampoo"/apple cider vinegar rinse combo that worked for Lauren on Empowered Sustenance,  so I thought I would try that. Obviously switching the honey for agave...having a similar PH level. My friend in Japan, Faith, is also trying it with her own herbal concoction which I will steal from her at some point. Faith also looked into buying the JR Liggett Shampoo Bar but a closer inspection of the ingredients shows it's just natural soap. In fact, almost the exact same ingredients I use in my own homemade soaps...any excuse for a plug ;)

So here it shampoo free adventure...take two!

Started; 14th September, 2014 

Me after my last shampoo. 
Was having an ok hair day...for once!

18th September, 2014

So it's been 4 days...
My hair is slightly greasy and I'm wearing it up a lot at work...mainly buns.
It doesn't smell but I'm paranoid it does. Slight amount of small dandruff flakes showing (and sticking to the grease!!!!) but it's because I developed scalp psoriasis after moving to Utah, USA from Sydney, Australia ...I think a combination of hard water and lack of humidity. Seriously it's so dry here I feel like I've gain 10 years if wrinkles in 1 year :(
Another reason I want to try this and really stick to it this time.
I'm hoping once I move somewhere more humid my skin and hair will renew and moisturize magically like sea monkeys!

20th September, 2014

Today I washed my hair for the first time since I went shampoo free. I used a "Honey" Shampoo and ACV rinse recommended on Empowered Sustenance.

"Honey" Shampoo - 1 Tbls Raw Honey (I used raw agave) mixed at a low temperature with 3 Tbls water.
Once mixed well you can add a few drops of carrot oil which is supposed to be great for hair. I didn't use this as I didn't have any. The add a few drops of essential oil if desired. I used Rosemary Essential oil.
Pour over scalp and massage in before rinsing. Then use ACV.

ACV - 1-2Tbls Apple Cider Vinegar mixed into 1/2-1 cup water.
Dip ends of hair in solution, the pour over scalp and let sit in hair for a minute before rinsing out.

Once my hair dried it felt ok. It still was slightly waxy on top and dry at the bottom (Dryness could be the lasting effects of a recent Ombre job though). My hair feels much less greasy than it did before I washed it so that's nice. Before that I hadn't even got it wet. I have a feeling I'll be wearing it up a lot LOL

Before the "Honey" Shampoo/ACV routine

After the "Honey" Shampoo/ACV routine, dry hair

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Palak "Paneer"

This was one of my favourite Indian dishes before I went vegan, "palak" meaning spinach and "paneer" meaning cheese. Traditionally it's made with homemade Indian cottage cheese squares in a pureed spinach sauce. I got this recipe from the amazing blog Vegan Richa.

Palak "Paneer"
Serves 2-4


Spiced Tofu:
2 teaspoons oil
14 oz firm tofu block, pressed and cubed
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala**
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kala namak (this is also known as Indian Black Salt and really gives that sulfur/salty flavour)
1/2 tsp cayenne(to taste)

Spinach curry:
2 cups packed Spinach, washed, chopped if large
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup almond milk or coconut milk
2 Tablespoons soaked cashews, soaked for 15 minutes in hot water
4 cloves of garlic
an inch cube of ginger, sliced or grated
1 chili pepper or to taste
1 medium tomato chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp salt to taste
1 teaspoon raw sugar or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon garam masala

In a pan, add oil and heat on medium heat.
Chop up the tofu and add to the oil.
Mix to coat and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add all the spices under Spiced Tofu and mix to coat.
Continue to cook for 8-10 minutes, partially covered on low-medium heat.
Meanwhile, wash the spinach and add it and all the other ingredients under spinach curry except garam masala to the blender. Blend into a smooth puree.
Add the puree to the sizzling tofu. Mix well. Add garam masala to taste.
Cook covered on low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the raw garlic smell is not detectable and desired gravy consistency is achieved. Taste and adjust salt and spice.
Drizzle some cashew cream and Serve hot with Naan, roti or other flat breads, or with quinoa or rice.
Add pepper flakes for added heat. Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon powder for variation.

**Garam Masala
I have found this hard to find in the USA so you can easily make your own;

1 Tbls ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Zucchini Brownies

A great way to sneak some vegetables into your kid's (or husband's) meals without them suspecting foul play ;)
I got this recipe from My Gluten-Free Kitchen.

Zucchini Brownies


2 cups good all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used this gluten free mix)
¾ tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using a flour blend that has xanthan gum)
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1½ cups sugar
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup melted unsalted butter or margarine, or canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Additional ⅓ cup to ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips for topping


Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a 7"x11" cake dish, I use a piece of baking paper at the bottom as well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat sugar, applesauce, butter/margarine/oil, and vanilla extract for 30 seconds.
Add flour mixture and continue beating for about 1 minute, until mixture resembles wet sand.
Add the shredded zucchini, then the cocoa powder, and mix on low until combined.
Stir in the 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Pour brownie batter into pan and smooth down.
Sprinkle extra ⅓-1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips over the top of brownie batter.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until brownies are set. This will have a soft center, if you want a harder brownie, leave in for an extra 5-10mins.
Allow to cool slightly and slice with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
Cool on wire rack.
I had them warm with vegan vanilla ice-cream - YUM!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Beet & Ricotta Baked Shells

This is delicious comfort food! You can easy switch out the beets for spinach. YUM!

Beet & Ricotta Baked Shells


GF pasta shells
1 cup vegan mozzarella

2 large beets, peeled and chopped
(8oz) 1/2 cup vegan ricotta
1/4 cup vegan Parmesan
1 Tbls fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp white truffle oil (optional)


Preheat oven to 400F/200C.
Wrap beets in foil and bake for 40 minutes or until soft.
Boil water and cook pasta shells until they are Al Dente, then drain and rinse with cool water.
In a food processor blitz the beets, ricotta, Parmesan, truffle oil, basil, salt & pepper.
Grease a baking tray and pour in 1/2 the marinara sauce.
Spoon the ricotta filling in the shells and place back into the tray, as close together as possible.

Cover with the remaining marinara sauce, cover tray with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
Sprinkle with vegan mozzarella and bake for another 10 minutes.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Simple Marinara Sauce

I got this recipe from the Food Network and it is a great simple recipe for when you don't have a jar of marinara sauce lying around. Excuse the lame photo - I only had my phone :)

Simple Marinara Sauce


1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3x 28oz cans chopped tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes)
1/2 cup fresh chopped garlic
2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste


Heat oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-low heat.
Fry onion and garlic until onion is browning.
Add tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper.
Bring to boil and reduce heat to low and heat uncovered for 25-30 minutes until thickened.
Serve same day or freeze.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Park City, Utah

I've been to Park City several times and it changes with every season. Although I never ski and it is first and foremost a ski resort town, it is also filled with beautiful scenery, quaint shops, a gorgeous main street and adorable coloured houses. It's just a nice place to visit. Also the home of the Sundance Film Festival (don't let the name fool you, all the films are shown in Park City).

501 on Main is where I usually go to eat because I know they have a couple of vegan/gluten free options. And gluten free beer options - very important!
This is the Tomato Basil Bisque with gluten free toast (also vegan).
I've had the vegan chilli before as well...delicious!

I love Rootd home wares which always has the neatest stuff. I love that most of the stuff they have is made locally and definitely nothing made in China.
I love these stone coasters I got made by a local artist.

I love The Mountain Town Olive Oil Company - they have the most amazing flavoured and aged balsamic vinegar and flavoured olive oils. And you can taste every single one! My favourite is the 15 year aged balsamic and the Peach Balsamic.

Famous graffiti artist Banksy left his mark in a little side nook off Main Street. 

In the off season you can take a 40 minute ski lift ride :)

Simple Vegan Pesto

Pesto is ridiculously easy to make yourself because it only has 4 ingredients, and it's much nicer when it's fresh. Perfect as a spread or on hot pasta.

Simple Vegan Pesto
makes around 1 cup


2 cups basil (you can use any herbs but the flavour will change)
1/2 cup pine nuts (you can use any nuts you like but the flavour will change)
1-2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup good tasting extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Sea salt, to taste
Some optional ingredients are;
1 tbls lemon juice
3 tbls nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan


In a food processor add the nuts, basil and garlic and pulse until chopped and mixed well.
Add extra virgin olive oil in a steady drizzle as you pulse the processor on and off.
Process until it becomes a smooth, light paste.
Add in optional ingredients if desired.
Season with sea salt, to taste.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for at least an hour.

Vanilla Sugar

This is such a simple thing to do and yet makes the world of difference to your baking.
You can add vanilla sugar to anything, and if a recipe specifically asks for it then using regular sugar will effect the results.
A lot of people will just tell you to store the vanilla pods in the sugar but a much more effective way to get all the flavour out of the vanilla pods is to ground them up.
If you have a coffee grinder this works best but if not a food processor (or pestle and mortar) will work too. A cute mason jar full of vanilla sugar also makes a great gift!
This recipe is from Jamie Oliver.

Vanilla Sugar


1lb fine vegan sugar
2 vanilla pods*


Using a coffee grinder or food processor grind the vanilla pods, you may need to scrape down the sides a couple of times.
Add ground vanilla pods and sugar to a food processor and pulse until mixed thoroughly - the mixture will look like an ash colour.
Store in an air tight container.

*NB A fresh vanilla pods will be soft and pungent, if it's not as fresh it will be hard.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Zest Kitchen & Bar

I only went to Zest Kitchen & Bar recently when my brother and sister in law were in town. I've always wanted to try it but you know as a vegan you tend to stick to the places you already know are good. I'm sorry I had not tried this place sooner! The food was amazing and the service was great. We sat outside because there was a band playing and it was a little bit loud inside, the weather was very pleasant though and the atmosphere in that part of SLC is very social with a bar straight across the road. I liked that they had the option of raw as well as cooked vegan food. I also liked that you could choose between processed vegan cheese or homemade nut cheeses.

Zest is a Vegetarian restaurant EVERYTHING is gluten free but almost everything can be made vegan. They also had Green's vegan gluten free beer which I haven't seen anywhere else in SLC. I definitely will be going back!

Vegan Lipstick

I've always loved Manic Panic's vegan lipstick because it's cheap and really lasts but their colour range isn't amazing.

A couple new brands I've discovered that I'm enjoying are Tarte Amazonian range and Etherealle from Etsy.

Etherealle - "Empress"

Etherealle - "Hibiscus"

Tarte Amazonian Clay - Foxy Hot Pink