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Healthy Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

Aug24-Blog-VanillaCupcakeRecipe(1)Who doesn’t love Vanilla? And who doesn’t love cupcakes? We all like to indulge in our sweet tooth now and then, but you know that little niggling bit of guilt that often accompanies eating something that we know isn’t the greatest for us? Well, we’re here to tell you that you CAN have it all.

You can have a delightfully sweet and delicious dessert AND be guilt-free because you know it’s all good for you. This cupcake recipe is easy and it turns out soft, moist and delightful cupcakes. Now that’s something worth celebrating.

Ingredients
3/4 cup Xylitol or Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
.5 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Organic Cacao Powder
1 cup Almond Milk
1 tbsp Organic Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Organic Applesauce
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 cup Almond Meal
3/4 cup Coconut Flour

Directions for Cupcakes:
*Preheat oven to 350°F.
*Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cups.
*Combine all the dry ingredients except for the Organic Cacao Powder in a large bowl and stir until blended.
*Make a well in the centre and fill with the wet ingredients. Blend until batter is smoothe but do not over-stir.
*Separate half of the batter into another bowl and put aside. This will be used to make the frosting.
*Pour the batter into the muffin tin. Distribute as evenly as possible.
*Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean.
*Allow to cool.

Directions for Frosting:
*Add the Organic Cacao Powder and 1 tbsp Almond Milk to the remaining batter and stir until blended.
*Chill until the cupcakes are cooled enough to add the frosting.
*Spread the frosting on the cupcakes.
*Enjoy!

3 More Back To School Favourites

Aug21-BlogAromatherapy is not just for adults. Mother nature has provided amazing essential oils that have wonderful benefits for busy kids and teenagers too. Here are a few suggestions for some 100% natural goodies that students will find handy:

Tea Tree Deodorant: Specially formulated with Tea Tree and Peppermint, this deodorant does wonders to keep odour at bay. Shake well, roll on and let it dry for perfect confidence that you smell rather delightful, thank you very much.

Revive Stick: Made with Basil, Coriander and Lime, this handy stick is formulated to give tired minds a boost when fatigue sets in. You know that 2pm slump that can hit unexpectedly and most inconveniently? Just twist up this nourishing goodness and apply to pulse points and temples for a burst of renewed energy.

Cool Feet Spray: Active kids and athletes will revel in this toxin-free spray. Formulated to cool, refresh and revive tired, sweaty feet; simply shake to blend the Peppermint and Tea Tree Oils (which are both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial by the way) and spray directly onto feet for instant ah. It can also be used to spray into shoes, sandals, gymbags and lockers. Parents and fellow students will appreciate this refreshing little gem too.

3 of Our Back to School Favourites

Aug17-BlogThe time has come for blank pages to be filled with lessons, and young heads to be filled with knowledge. Alongside new pencils and notebooks, here are a few of our favourite staple items that no backpack should go without:

Breakout Buster: Got zits? Zip-zap with this little gem, and stop them in their tracks. Tea Tree, Peppermint and Grapefruit Oils provide soothing relief for blemishes with their naturally anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. We’ve had feedback that it’s great for cold sores and bug bites too.

Lip Butter: Is this not a staple all year long? Available in 9 delicious flavours, all you need to do is snag your favourite, apply generously and smile because you know it’s good for you. Provides long-lasting 100% natural hydration and protection for young lips. Tuck it in a pocket or backpack and keep it handy all day.

Hand Cream: Whether they’re typing on a laptop or creating a work of art, young hands need nourishment and hydration, especially as the weather becomes colder and drier. Our Hand Cream protects and hydrates naturally with Mango Butter and Olive Oil, and it’s the perfect size to tote with ease. Check out our 5 yummy scents including Juicy Cherry and Apricot.

DIY Aloe & Honey Face Mask

Aug14-DIYMask-BlogYou can’t find two more beneficial ingredients (not to mention easy to find) for the skin than Aloe Vera and Honey. Both of these delightful substances have enormous benefit for all skin types.Unpasteurized Honey is naturally anti-fungal (one of the reasons it never goes bad), antiseptic and is super-hydrating because it’s a humectant and will pull moisture out of the air and into your skin.

Aloe Vera is bursting with vitamins and soothing properties. A piece of Aloe Vera cut fresh from the plant, sliced open and applied to sunburned skin will do wonders to speed healing and soothe the pain and tenderness.

So whether you have acne-prone skin or you’re extremely dry and in need of a major quench, you will reap enormous benefit from combining these two ingredients and serving yourself with a nourishing, home-made face mask.

What you need:
1 tbsp raw honey
3 inches of aloe vera leaf

How to do it:
*Slice the Aloe leaf open lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape all the juicy goodness from the inside.
*Blend the Aloe together with the Honey. You can do this right in the palm of your clean hand or in a small bowl.

*Make sure your hair is tied back so it doesn’t get stuck in the mask.
*Using the back of a spoon, gently apply the mixture in a thin coat over the entire face, neck and if you like, chest area. Keep it out of your eyebrows, eyes, and nostrils.
*Relax for at least 15 minutes, allowing the mask to nourish your skin. It’s best to wear an old button up shirt in case any of the mixture should drip as it warms to your body temperature.
*Rinse off with warm water and marvel at the instant glow your skin now has.

Are Tree Oils Good for Me?

Aug11-TreeOils-BlogTrees don’t just provide us with oxygen, look pretty, and smell great. Did you know that they also have some amazing benefits from a therapeutic point of view? When we formulated our Evergreen bar soap, we were inspired to use only tree oils and whip up a soap that had that the fresh, woody scent of a walk in the forest. We focused on using three tree oils, all of which are prevalent in Canada.

Abies Siberica, otherwise known as Siberian Fir has strong antiseptic properties and a is a wonderful oil to use if you’ve got congestion in the chest. It has also been used traditionally as a pain-reliever.

Pinus Pinaster or Pine Long Leaf is a favourite essential oil for its fresh and earthy fragrance. It’s is often prescribed by dermatologists to treat conditions like psoriasis, itching and acne. Native Americans would use Pine oil to help prevent scurvy. Purely from an aromatherapeutic point of view, the aroma of Pine may help to ease feelings of stress and anxiety.

And last but not least, Cedrus Atlantic, which you would recognize as Cedarwood has a calming and grounding effect on the senses and has traditionally been used (much like Pine) to treat acne, dermatitis and other similar skin conditions.

So not only can you enjoy the scent of these evergreen trees in your bathroom, now you know that they’re not just a pretty smell, but one of nature’s amazing gifts to us so we can take care naturally of our bodies and our emotional well-being.

Other products with tree oils:
Cedarwood Soap
Foot Butter
Yoga Aromatherapy Spray
Relax Aromatherapy Stick

Why SLS Free Soap Matters

Aug6-BlogSocial-SLSFreeSoapYou might be familiar with SLS and SLES already, but if you’re not, here’s a primer on why you might want to choose a soap that is made without these two ingredients.

Most of the soap products on the market today contain an ingredient known as SLS. That’s an acronym for Sodium Laureth Sulfate which is a harsh synthetic detergent and foaming agent that corrodes in order to clean. Companies use SLS to create a rich lather, and for its intense cleaning action. Unfortunately SLS has been on the radar of organizations like the Environmental Working Group, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, because it’s been linked to issues such as canker sores (in toothpaste) and eczema (in soap).

In her book Beauty Bible, Paula Begoun (The Cosmetics Cop) writes, “[SLS is] considered a standard comparison substance for measuring skin irritancy of other ingredients. Thus in scientific studies, when they want to establish whether or not an ingredient is problematic for skin, they compare its effect to the results of SLS. In amounts of 2% to 5%, it can cause allergic or sensitizing reactions in lots of people.”

Many companies have tried to soften the effects of Sodium Laureth Sulfate, by a process called Ethoxylation which changes it to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. The problem with this is twofold; ethoxylation generates a by-product known as 1,4 dioxane, which is a known carcinogen whose track record is much uglier than SLS. And secondly, there are still many cases of lauryl sulfates being linked to skin irritation and eczema.

Our natural soaps are made with 100% natural ingredients such as coconut oil, flowers, and herbs. These natural ingredients are just as effective as synthetic ones and are a lot safer. Coconut oil creates a rich lather naturally, without the use of corrosive cleaning and foaming agent.

We’re Building an Eco-Friendly new Workshop!

Aug3-Newsletter-workshopWe’ve been working out of the building we’re currently in (at 115 Bow Meadows Crescent in Canmore) for over ten years. About five years ago, we had to acquire some rental space for our administrative offices so that our soap making, storage and shipping area had room to expand. Now we’re bursting at the seams again!

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that we’re all about toxin-free and 100% natural ingredients. Our products are as natural as they come. When it comes to our stores, any that we build or renovate are as toxin-free and eco-friendly as we can possibly make them. Our workshop will be no different. We’re working with our architect, suppliers, and trades to renovate a current building (that is just down the road from us) into the most eco-friendly and productivity-friendly that we can make it.

Here are some of the ways we’re doing that:
We made the decision to purchase and renovate a used building instead of building a new one.

We found reclaimed marble slabs from the exterior of an office tower in Toronto which we will refashion into counter tops.
We’ll be reusing existing furnaces, lighting, doors, bathroom fixtures and kitchen cabinets as much as we can.
We’re using reclaimed wood for all millwork and studs as well as recycled fiber carpeting.
We’re using low VOC paint, adding solar electricity, and re-using insulation.
Any new lighting is LED will be from reclaimed sources.
We’re reusing old pallets to make a decorative ceiling treatment.
We’re refinishing old cabinetry for our lab and offices.
We’re making a boardroom table with fir we’ve salvaged from our old Vancouver store.
Our desk stations will be custom built from birch plywood instead of metals, laminates and plastics.
We’ve found used appliances for our office kitchen.

We’re very excited to have more space to work out of, and most of all to have all of us be working under the same roof again. If you’re in the Canmore area and you’re curious to see our new building, we invite you to give us a call and set up a visit. We’ll be fully moved in by late summer. We’ll make sure to post photos so you can let us know what you think!

We’re Renovating Our WEM Location to be Toxin-Free!

Aug3-Newsletter-WEMKioskOur West Edmonton Mall location is one of our oldest locations and it’s past due for a renovation. We love Edmonton. We love our customers in Edmonton. And we’re very pleased to announce that on August 9th, we’ll be closing the doors to our WEM location in order to give it a toxin-free facelift!

We first renovated our Canmore store into a toxin-free design in 2011. Since then we’ve built or renovated four more (including our Edmonton Southgate location) of our stores with our toxin-free concept.  Every time we go through a build or a renovation, we achieve a new level of sustainability.

As always we will be working closely with manufacturers and trades to make sure our new WEM store is free from any of the items found on our red list and is as environmentally friendly as possible. One of the ways we do this is by salvaging as much wood, marble, furniture and fixtures as we can and re-finishing them for use in our store.

If you’re worried about not having access to your favourite 100% natural and toxin-free product while we’re closed, you can put your fears to rest! We’ll be opening a kiosk on August 10th that will be located right next to the WEM store, so that you’ll be able to get whatever you need.

We’ll be re-opening the doors to our toxin-free WEM location this fall. So stay tuned to our newsletters and social media pages for all the updates, photos, news and events as we go through our toxin-free facelift!

Nature’s Nursemaids: Lavender & Chamomile

July28-BlogSocial-NursemaidsMost people know that both lavender and chamomile have properties that help calm and soothe frayed nerves and anxiety. Chamomile is especially popular as a bed time tea, and lavender as been used literally for centuries as the herb of choice to calm a fussy baby.

But did you also know that both of these oh-so-gentle essential oils have remarkable healing qualities for the skin as well? Lavender can soothe irritated or burned skin like no other oil. The discovery is well documented by a french chemist named Gattefossé. When he burned his hand quite badly, he immediately plunged it into the nearest vat of liquid to cool it. That vat happened to be full of lavender oil. He was amazed at how quickly the burn healed and more surprising still, it healed without any scarring.

Chamomile also has superstar medicinal qualities as well. Inflammation, insomnia and skin abrasions are just a few of the ailments this gentle but powerful herb has been used for. You can even find chamomile in a dissolvable tablet form to help soothe teething pain.

A simple way to introduce the benefits of lavender and chamomile to your baby is to put a drop of each into a 1/4 cup of carrier oil such as almond or apricot. We recommend using so little because essential oils are powerful and you don’t need much to reap all the benefit. You can then use this mild blend as a baby massage oil and moisturizer.

We love lavender and chamomile for babies so much that we’ve used them in all of our baby products. Check out our Baby Bum Balm, Baby Spray, Baby Powder, Baby Bear Soap and Baby Foaming Wash. You’ll find them wonderfully helpful for common baby ailments from cradle cap to diaper rash. They’re gentle, natural, and of course toxin-free.

DIY Toxin Free Bubbles Recipe

July23-BlogSocial-DIYBubblesBlowing bubbles is should be a mandatory part of childhood, don’t you think? There is nothing quite as delightful as blowing some big fat bubbles and watching them float away on a light breeze (or jumping and chasing them in a mad effort to pop them). It’s the perfect activity to gets kids enjoying the outdoors and perfecting their bubble blowing skills. Luckily, it’s super easy to make up your own toxin-free bubble solution with natural soap.

If you’re feeling industrious and resourceful you can even avoid plastic bubble blowing toys and make your own bubble wands out of soft gauge aluminum or copper wire.  You can find desirable wire at any hardware store. Use a pair of wire cutters and needle nose pliers to mold the wire into small and large loops. Spiral the wire onto itself to make a handle and be sure to bend any cut ends back on themselves and pinch them tightly to make the bubble want skin and clothing friendly.

To mix up your own bubble solution, you’ll only need three ingredients (we said it was easy!):
*1/2 cup castile liquid soap (such as our Unscented Body Wash)
*1/2 cup of glycerin or corn syrup
*2.5 cups of water

Instructions
*Blend the glycerin or syrup into the water first. Stir it well until it has dissolved.
*Add the soap next, stirring it in gently to avoid making a lot of froth.
*Let the mixture sit for at least a couple of hours if not a full day. Allowing it to rest makes for better quality bubbles.
*Send the kiddies out to fill the air and their hair with delightful toxin-free bubbles while you sit back and enjoy the laughter.