Discovering You Can Do It
Acquiring a zero-waste mentality — my first step towards acquiring a zero-waste lifestyle — has resulted in some incredible insights. One of the biggest is that I have lived my whole life believing a horribly crippling lie that goes like this: “I couldn’t possibly make/do that myself.”
My husband tells me not to be too hard on myself. As a society, we have lived thousands of years (since the advent of agriculture) inching towards what has become an incredibly specialized society. And so it’s not surprising I grew up believing I had to leave most things to the “professionals.”
Enter Bea Johnson into my life (thanks Lisa Berry!) and I see I can make pretty much anything I want to make! And because I want to produce less trash, surround myself less chemicals and preservatives, and have my food taste better, I want to make a lot of things!
Two of the areas where I have believed I am most useless is in the food and beauty product arenas. I remember hearing the story of a very successful granola company in which the owner simply baked her first batch in her kitchen. You can make granola at home? I thought. I was convinced it was only made in industrial kitchens. But about a month ago, I made my own batch and was astounded by how simple it was.
Since then, the wheels have been turning and, if only out of sheer curiosity or because I want to prove my newfound sense of empowerment, I have been trying to make almost everything myself.
In my next Happy Planet/Happy Body post, I will share my beauty product recipes. In this post, I want to share two things I cannot believe I have bought pre-made (or ready-to-make) for so long: coconut milk and popcorn.
I hope this post inspires you to start thinking about how able you are and what limitations you may have unwittingly imposed on yourself.
Homemade Coconut Milk
In my house, we go through four cartons of coconut milk a week. We drink it with everything and on its own. Just last week, I wondered how to make it. Was I supposed to buy a coconut and blend the flesh? I am so glad I Googled the process because I came up with what is now my favorite coconut milk ever! It is so tasty and so easy to make! The fast version takes exactly 4 minutes.
1.5 cups of unsweetened organic coconut flakes
3 cups of water
Dash of maple syrup (amount is optional--if any)
Sprinkle of sea salt (optional)
Sprinkle of vanilla extract (optional)
Heat the water to nearly boiling. Add to a blender. Add the coconut flakes. Hold on to the top of the blender so the steam doesn’t cause the top to fly off when you start blending. Blend for a minute or two. Strain. Add maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt, if desired. Stir. That’s it! And it tastes sooooooo good!
Same ingredients, same directions. The difference is you let the coconut flakes soak in the hot water for a couple of hours before blending. This makes an even creamier milk.
I have been making two batches of this recipe at a time so we have enough for a couple of days. It tastes really good when it’s still warm from having been made. It’s also delicious when it’s fridge cold. Please note the fat in the coconut milk will solidify when refrigerated. If I am blending the milk in a smoothie, I add in a bit of the solidified fat. If I am using the milk in cereal or drinking it on its own, I strain it into the dish or glass I am using to remove the fat.
I always thought it was so tricky to make popcorn that one either had to possess a popcorn machine or buy the microwavable kind. I am stunned by how great it is to make it the old-fashioned way, in a heavy lidded pot and with actual popcorn kernels, oil and sea salt. What I like the most about the old-fashioned method is that I choose what oil and salt I want to use, I can add my own toppings, I can control the amount that’s made, and there are no preservatives or weird additives.
The basic formula is to use 1 tablespoon of oil per ½ cup of popcorn kernels. This yields perfectly-fluffy popcorn.
I am sure there are many different ways of making popcorn and a lot depends on the pots and the stove. This is what works for me:
Turn stove on to high and let it heat up for about 30 seconds.
Add oil (I like to use avocado oil or coconut oil as they are both good for high-heat cooking) and two kernels. Cover the pot.
When the two kernels pop, add in the rest of the kernels and a pinch of sea salt (if using). Cover the pot, put on your oven mitts, and shake the pot, making sure it stays close to the heat source.
Place the pot back down on the burner. Lift and shake it every 10-12 seconds.
Once the popping has died down, turn off the stove. Shake the pot and return it to the burner for about a minute. When there is barely any popping, pour the popcorn onto a dish, and add more sea salt (if desired).
When I am in the mood for something salty, rich and slightly greasy, I make this popcorn with 2-3 tablespoons of avocado oil (instead of just 1). The flavor is reminiscent of buttery movie theatre popcorn but with no questionable ingredients.
I love sweet & salty, which is why I adore chocolate-covered pretzels. When I am craving sweet & salty popcorn, I drizzle maple syrup over my salted popcorn. My big recommendation is that you heat the maple syrup before you pour it on your freshly-popped corn. YUM!