My Obsession with Branch Basics

Ever since I ventured down the path of allergy-free eating, homemade herbal syrups and supplements, home brewed kombucha and fermented products, nothing is too far fetched for me to make at home as long as it is healthier than the product offered in the store.

I am teaching a weekly enrichment in my daughter’s 4th grade class called Amazing Herbs, which is a make-and-take class based on all the powerful herbal concoctions available within the palm of our hands. One of the topics I wanted to address was homemade cleaners. I am appalled that companies are not required to list their ingredients on their label, so I usually refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to spot the safest, most transparent products on the market. What bothers me the most is that the exact same cleaning product can have a 1 safety rating in one scent, but if they also make the product in a different scent, the safety rating may boost up to a 6 or 7! Same goes for the same company — the safety rating for one product does not mean another of their similar products is also safe! So frustrating, both as a parent and as a consumer.

But what really pushed me over the edge is green-promoting Melaleuca, which boasts being safer for the environment and better for your home. The reality is that I have not been able to find a list of their ingredients for any of their products, nor has the Enviornmental Working Group rated them. I sadly have  bunch of this product in my closet because I thought it was the safest on the market only to find out they are one of the least transparent companies.

I’ve also heard that a good rule of thumb to purchasing cleaning products is based on ingestion — if you must call poison control immediately upon accidental ingestion, it must be an incredibly toxic product. If the label instead suggests drinking water in the event of accidental ingestion, then it must be relatively safe.

So, I began resorting to homemade cleaning products based on good old vinegar, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, and essential oils. And just as I was about to buy a huge batch to start making my own, I heard about Branch Basics from a health blog that I subscribe to. There was a sale on a starter kit, so I decided to take stab at it and buy a gallon of their concentrated liquid plus three of the refill bottles.

Low and behold, this concentrate is AMAZING! It has taken the mud stains out of my daughter’s white soccer socks, urine stains out of my child’s mattress, and grime off of my kitchen counters. I haven’t used it for my laundry yet, but that is definitely next. The crazy part is that this exact same product is safe enough to wash my hands, face, and even my produce! Though it’s not recommended to ingest, it is perfectly safe to do so!

I’m so excited that only ONE product does all of these things, it just needs different concentrations to do so. For super tough stains, I use the full concentrate. For foamy face and soap wash, I use a 1:5 soap to water ratio. When you purchase a starter kit, it tells you exactly what to do and how much to use! I add my own essential oils, so that each bottle smells differently based on what I want to use it for. I use peppermint for the foamy soap, orange for the all purpose cleaner, etc.

Want to know the ingredients? “Coconut oil, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids come from edible, leafy green and seed-bearing plants. They also use food-grade alcohol as a manufacturing catalyst, which is completely evaporated out before bottling.”

I am not an affiliate, nor am I receiving any promotional material for this post. I am just so excited that I’ve found an all-in-one cleaner that actually works! And right now everything in their store in 25% off site wide through Dec 31, 2014. Check out their products and let me know if you try it or not!

This is not to say that making your own cleaning products is not completely sufficient. I love this product because it’s affordable, plant-based, and it’s one less thing that I have to make at home because it’s equally efficient as buying it from the source.

Now if only they made deodorant…



School Potluck: Seaweed Salad

My son’s class had a potluck today, so I made an allergy-friendly dish by asking the vegan child in class what she would like me to make. Of all the cooking projects we have done (documented here), she chose last week’s Seaweed Salad! seaweedsaladWe used ground ginger and garlic powder instead of the fresh spices simply because it was faster, and I believe the toasted sesame seeds are what make the dish, so don’t skimp on the 10 minutes of toasting! It’s the easiest dish ever, and sea vegetables like wakame (also known as seaweed or kelp) are so good for you! Google them to find out why 🙂 It’s amazing how many children chowed down on this dish in class today — second and third helpings until it was all gone. It made my heart melt ❤

And while I’m on the topic of health (as if I’m ever NOT on the topic of health), I wanted to mention my new favorite deodorant. I’ve heard a lot thaicrystallately about how toxic deodorant is, and with my lifestyle, I simply can’t live without it. I have tried the salt crystal deodorant called Thai Deodorant Stone, and while it works great on my husband, it didn’t work at all on me. It rates a tiny little “1” on the Cosmetics Database Product Rating Guide (available at Whole Foods/Whole Body), but it simply did not earthsciencework. Then I tried Earth Science Natural Deodorant, Tea Tree Lavender, but I swear it made me smell even worse than when I didn’t wear any! It also rated only a “1” on the database. This week I tried a different one that my sweet, equally health claydryconscious friend, Cherri, told me about Zion Health ClayDry Deodorant Original Scent (available at Whole Foods/Whole Body), and I love it! Unfortunately, it does rate a “3” according to the database, but none of the ingredients are cancer-causing, as most of the leading antiperspirant and/or deodorants are. What is your favorite deodorant?

If you’d like to make a change to your beauty products, slowly start checking them on the database as you start running out of product and replace it with healthier alternatives.