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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Rosemary and Caramelized Onion Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia

Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza dough.

               I received a sample from Secolari to facilitate this post

 The other day my church had a celebration that included a cookout with burgers. I helped with the preparation of the food and that included slicing onions and tomatoes. While I was slicing the tomatoes for the burgers, I placed the top slices of the tomatoes aside so I could take them home. The top slices had the stems in them so they were not going to be used for the burgers and I hated throwing them away as I knew that I could use them in my cooking. When the church event was over there was also leftovers of onion slices and tomato slices, so I took those home with me. One of the perks of helping in the church kitchen is being offered the leftovers.

I thought of sun-dried tomatoes
  On the drive home from church, I decided to make sun-dried tomatoes with all the leftover tomato slices. This is my go-to recipe when I have an abundance of tomatoes as it is a great way to preserve them. I have a wonderful recipe for making sun-dried tomatoes in the oven that is so simple. I love tomatoes that are roasted in the oven as they are so flavorful and sweet. My favorite way to use oven-roasted tomatoes is on focaccia. I love using rosemary on my focaccia as it gives it a great flavor but my family is not too fond of the wood-like texture that rosemary has and the fact that the pieces tend to get stuck in your teeth. So I decided to use a Fused Rosemary Flavored Olive Oil. My favorite olive oil is made from fresh-picked rosemary leaves and has the full flavor of rosemary without the woodsy pieces. That way I get the taste of rosemary on my focaccia without upsetting my family. When my youngest saw this bottle of olive oil, he asked me if we could use it to make my Lemon Frosted Rosemary Holiday Sugar Cookies. That boy loves cookies and already is thinking of Christmas cookies. I told my son that since this olive oil has a light smooth flavor, it might be great for cookies.

Caramelized onions
 Since I had an abundance of onions, I decide to make a batch of caramelized onions. Caramelized onions are also great to use in my recipes like pizza and focaccia. When onions are caramelized they last longer in the fridge so I would have plenty of time to use them in many recipes. I knew that my Secolari Rosemary Oil would be useful for sauteing all the onions and would give a unique flavor to my caramelized onions. Secolari makes so many gourmet Artisan oils that I know will add some intense flavor to my cooking. To me, quality olive oil is like a fine bottle of wine. Good olive oil equals the best flavor. So I don't skimp on that bottle of olive oil. 

Focaccia is like a pizza
 Focaccia is so similar to a pizza and is the perfect canvas to so many pizza toppings. So I decided that my homemade focaccia bread needed some olives. My favorite olives are black olives and green ripe California olives. I always have a can or two of these delicious olives in my pantry for snacking or for recipes. I knew that that the jumbo ripe black olives would add some additional flavor to my chewy focaccia. So I sliced the black olives in half. You can slice the olives anyway you like for this recipe but I thought that halved olives would give this homemade bread a cool look. If you like pizza, you need to make my Wild Mushroom Pizza With Caramelized Onions.

Fused vs infused olive oil
An infused oil is when the flavor or extracts are added after the oil is pressed which causes the oil to breakdown faster. When olives and fresh-picked rosemary are fused, cold-pressed, together at the same time, the result is a better quality flavorful olive oil.

Kneading dough is so relaxing
 I love kneading dough and find it to be so relaxing. It takes away any stress if I have any, but I really just enjoy the way it feels in my hands. I love making homemade bread and pizza when the weather cools down as the oven heats up the house. The smell of fresh-baked bread is a pleasing aroma that I also love. Have you ever walked past a bakery when they are making bread? It is one of the best smells in the world. The smell of bread baking in the oven is so intoxicating! Fall is the perfect time to make my homemade pretzel bread or honey whole wheat bread for sandwiches. 

 Once the dough rises, press it to fit a 13×9 inch lightly oiled baking pan.  Dimple the dough all over with your fingers and drizzle with the fuse Rosemary Olive Oil. Add the topping and press them gently into the dough. I love the art of making bread. To bring out the taste of the garden-fresh ingredients, sprinkle the focaccia lightly with some sea salt.

Bake until golden brown then transfer to a rack to cool

Yield: 12

Rosemary and Caramelized Onion Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia

Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza dough.
prep time: cook time: total time:


  • 1 Package Dry Yeast
  • 1 Cup Warm Water, 110°F – 115°F
  • 1 Teaspoon Honey
  • 2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil, I love using Rosemary Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, thinly sliced and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, for cooking the caramelized onions
  • 1/2 Cup Sundried Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup Black Olives,  pitted and sliced into half or quarters
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil divided in half for drizzling over the dough


How to cook Rosemary and Caramelized Onion Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the water and honey. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow it to stand for about 5-10 minutes or until foamy.
  2. When the yeast is ready, stir in the flour, 1/4 cup olive oil, and salt. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead until dough is smooth 5 to 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour
  3. While the dough is rising, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion slices and cook until onion is golden brown, stirring frequently about 20 minutes.
  4. After the dough has doubled in size, remove dough from bowl and press it into a lightly oiled 9- by 13-inch baking sheet until it touches the edges. Using your finger, poke holes all over the dough. Drizzle the dough with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Let rest until the dough becomes puffy, about 20 minutes.
  5. Once the dough has rested, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly press the sundried tomato slices and olive slices into the dough. Sprinkle or press the caramelized onions into the dough. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the toppings and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  7. Cut into pieces and serve.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Friday, September 13, 2019

What To Expect When Switching To Sulfate Free Shampoo

 Making the decision to eliminate chemicals and switch to vegan hair care products isn’t hard.

      I received products from Nubian Heritage to facilitate this post

 I think making the wise decision to eliminate toxic chemicals from my home and body was an easy one for me. I was presented with the scary facts of what toxic chemicals like sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and petroleum can do to my body and I said yes to trying to have a chemical-free home. The fact that these chemicals were making my son's skin break out in a rash and making my skin extremely dry with dermatitis was a no brainer to me that I had to start using more natural body care products. Another reason was my asthma was getting worse and I knew it was time to say no to toxic chemicals in my beauty products.

  I said making the decision to improving my health with natural products was easy but the transition itself required some adjustments. Switching from products that I had been using for years and assumed were safe for my body to natural products was a learning experience but I was ready to make a positive impact on my health and the environment. Some natural, organic, vegan products were easy to switch out in my bathroom like SLS free toothpaste. Seeing the mouth sores disappear in my son's mouth was awesome. Even our dentist-approved of my son using fluoride-free toothpaste and he has not had any cavities since. Sure the cost of these products was overwhelming but I have learned how to make a wonderful Homemade Natural Lemon Drop Toothpaste and my son loves the lemon taste. DIY homemade products save me money but can be time-consuming so I will buy most of my natural beauty products and save money in other areas of my life, like making coffee at home.

 Some of the natural products that I find easier to buy than to make are natural deodorant and mineral-based sunscreen. I also buy room sprays with natural essential oils. I started my younger boys on natural deodorant so they never had to do an armpit detox. If you are considering switching to natural deodorant from aluminum-based antiperspirant, these tips on How To Switch To Natural Deodorant are very helpful.

  One of the recent beauty products that I decide to make the switch to was hair care products. Sure the detox period of switching from toxic chemical-based shampoo took some getting used to but once I saw the results, I was glad that decided to use vegan hair care products that were sulfate-free. My hair even looks better than ever. Here are some things that you can expect when making the switch to paraben-free shampoo.

 1. Less Suds
  The one thing that took me by surprise was natural shampoos don't have a whole lot of foamy suds.
 We are made to think that more suds equals better cleaning but that is not always the case. Traditional shampoos use sulfates such as SLS to create a rich lather with foamy suds. I had to learn to use plenty of water to work the natural product through my hair and not use more shampoo. Sure there were times I had to shampoo my hair twice but that was usually after I went a week without washing my hair. I still took showers every other day but I just did not wash my hair as it was not dirty.

2. Wash Less
  I learned that I really did not need to wash my hair as often as I thought as my hair was not dirty. We are made to believe that our hair needs to be washed every day to look nice but unless you are rolling around in the mud, is your hair really getting dirty? I typically wash my hair 2-3 times a week and my hair is just fine. Before washing your hair, try spritzing it with water first to revive the hair in the morning. If your hair feels greasy, then wash it. For me personally, less washing has made my hair not be so dry.

3. Changes In Oil Production
 Sulfate shampoos are designed to eliminate product build-up through the use of harsh chemical cleaners. That means that these shampoos can strip natural oils from your hair. When you switch to a vegan sulfate-free shampoo, your hair may initially begin producing too much or too little natural oil. For me personally, my hair got back some of that oil and my head was no longer dry and itchy. Stick with the natural shampoo as, after a few shampoos, your hair will adjust.

4. Changes In Hair 
  Your hair may become thicker and full of more body or even wavier. Traditional chemical-laden shampoos contain ingredients such as silicones and waxes that can build up on hair follicles. This build-up can block pores or weigh your hair down. This build-up can even prevent hair from growing. For me personally, after I started using sulfate-free shampoos, my hair went from wavy to curly. That was a change that I liked.

 This release of build-up can also do the opposite and make hair feel matted. This can happen when the silicones attach to your hair as the natural shampoo is releasing is trying to eliminate it from your scalp. This will last a few days as the build-up is being removed with shampooing.

5. No more itchy scalp
 Switching from traditional shampoo that contains sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petroleum, DEA, artificial fragrance or synthetic coloring to natural shampoo can relieve your itchy scalp. All those toxic chemicals listed above could be the cause of your dry itchy scalp. So when these toxic chemicals are gone so maybe the symptoms. I know that once I started using natural soaps, I know longer had itchy skin so I was able to use way less lotion.

6. May cost more
Natural and organic shampoos may cost more than their chemical rivals simply because the ingredients are all "real" and more difficult to source. If you were using premium shampoos already then you may not notice a difference in cost. In short, the cost is worth it for the health and environment benefits. For me, I would rather spend more money on natural products then spend money on medicine for my asthma or my son's eczema. You can save money by buying natural products that come in bigger sizes or stocking up on your favorite brand when they are on sale.

7. You'll Be Helping The Environment
 When you choose to use vegan, organic, and natural hair care products you will be helping our water sources. Fewer harsh chemicals down the drain are better for sea life and even us as humans. Those toxic chemicals will not be in the water that we may drink.

8. Try different brands
 Just like the traditional shampoo, you may find that one brand of natural shampoo may work better than another. So don't give up with the switch from toxic chemicals to natural products if one brand doesn't work. Try several brands until you discover the one that works with your hair type. Natural hair care products come in different formulas for different hair types and conditions. A brand that I like for my hair that tends to be on the dry side is The Olive Oil Hair Care Collection from Nubian Heritage. This cruelty-free line of organic hair care products is formulated with nutrient-rich Extra Virgin Olive Oil and other ethically sourced ingredients like nourishing Quinoa and vitamin-rich Moringa. I love that Nubian Heritage products don’t contain sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petroleum, DEA, artificial fragrance or synthetic coloring.

 I love how the Olive Oil Vegan Shampoo gently cleans my hair and leaves it soft and shiny. This brand also foams up and gives me plenty of suds. I love that I only have to use a small amount to get my hair clean. This organic shampoo also has a nice clean scent that comes from essential oils so it does not bother my asthma. Since this shampoo is made with natural ingredients, I could share it with my son as it does not bother his sensitive skin.

How my hair looks when it needs to be washed

 When my dry hair is screaming for moisture, the joys of living in the desert, I will use Nubian Heritage Olive Oil Vegan Deep Condition Masque. This deep treatment masque gives my hair intense moisture that leaves my hair smooth and silky.

The Nubian Heritage Hair Care Collections are available at Vitamin Shoppe, VitaminShoppe.com, and nubianheritage.com

 Since switching to organic shampoo, I have noticed that my hair has a nice curl to it after I wash it. When I wake up in the morning, my curls are gone. So I take a mister bottle filled with water and spritz it on my hair. The moisture revives those curls and then I use Nubian Heritage Styling Mousse to add more definition to my natural curls. This unique product is enriched with extra-moisturizing Olive, Moringa Oils, and nutrient-rich Quinoa that helps tame the frizz that my curls get from the dry weather of the desert. I might complain about the dry desert but my hair doesn't like humidity either. My curly hair gets very poofy when we do get rain. Natural hair care products have been a blessing to my hair and my health. I am glad that I decided to make the switch. I now dislike using traditional hair care products on my hair and will even bring my organic vegan products with me when I stay at hotels, even though the hotels provide free body care products.

Have you considered switching to natural hair care products?

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