My name is Grace Wang and I’m the founder of NATUREST. I’m passionate about nature & minimalism, and I’m actively learning new things about sustainability as part of my journey to zero waste. During my time reading books on the subject, I discovered some recipes to cook delicious homemade food, to create zero-waste cleaning products, and to re-create anything else that helps us avoid harming the planet with our actions. This information stuck with me and now I would like to share them with you. These recipes are nourishing, healthy, low-waste, and eco-friendly… but most importantly, they’re FUN to try! They are intended to help you explore a sustainable way to make the products and food you consume every day without sacrificing your enjoyment of life. 

Scrap Apple Cider Vinegar



INGREDIENTS


3 cups chopped apples(from 2 whole apples; wash first and include the cores, stems, peels, and seeds)


2 tablespoons sugar ( or 1 tablespoon per cup of filtered water)


2 cups filtered water, or enough to cover the apples


DIRECTIONS


1. Fill a clean, quart-size wide-mouth glass jar three-quarters of the way with the apple pieces. In a separate jar, dissolve the sugar in the filtered water. Pour the sugar water over the apples. Make sure that's completely submerged, pouring in a little more water if necessary. Use a fermentation weight to keep the apples submerged. Cover the jar with cheesecloth or a thin, breathable flour save towel, secure it with a rubber band, and place the jar in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks. Gently mix the apples once a day to aerate the ferment, encourage microbial activity, and prevent mold. If brownish scum develops on top, skim it off with a spoon.


2. After 2 weeks, pour the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean wide-mouth glass jar. Compost the apple scraps. Cover the jar with a fresh piece of cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. Leave on the counter and allow it to ferment for 2 to 4 more weeks. You'll know it's ready when it smells and tastes tangy and acidic like vinegar. If it's not quite there, allow it to ferment for another week or two. Once you're happy with the taste, cap and store the vinegar in a cool, dark place until you're ready to use it. It will keep indefinitely.


Almond Pulp Cracker

INGREDIENTS


1 cup firmly packed almond pulp (left over from homemade nut milk)


1 tablespoon ground flax seeds


1 tablespoon sesame seeds


1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)


1 teaspoon dried basil, oregano, sage, or thyme


1 garlic clove, minced


1/4 teaspoon sea salt


3 tablespoons olive oil



DIRECTIONS


1. Preheat the oven to 275 F.


2. Combine the almond pulp, seeds, herbs, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the dough to a bowl and add the olive oil. Mix well. Use your hands to roll the dough into a ball, then place It between two sheets of compostable parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment, then use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 1 - to 2-inch squares. Gently transfer the parchment paper with crackers to a baking sheet. 


3. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip the crackers and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp. Let cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. 



Dried Apple Ring

INGREDIENTS


5 pounds apples


1 quart filtered water (optional)


1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (optional)


3 tablespoons ground cinnamon (optional)


DIRECTIONS


1. Wash, core and peel the apples. Using a sharp knife, a mandoline, or an old-fashioned apple slicer, slice the apples as thinly as possible, about 1/4 inch thick. If you wish to keep the apples from browning, combine the filtered water and lemon juice in a medium bowl and let the apples soak for 30 minutes. Otherwise, proceed to step 2. Drain the apple slices and pat them dry with cloth napkins or towels. 

2. If using a dehydrator, spread out the apple slices in a single layer on food dehydrator trays. If you wish, sprinkle with the cinnamon. Dehydrate at 135 F for 6 to 8 hours. 


3. If using an over, preheat it to 150 F (or the lowest temperature setting possible). Spread out the apple slices in a single layer on wire baking or cooling racks. If you wish, sprinkle with the cinnamon. Place the racks in the oven. Close the oven door, propping it slightly open to allow for air circulation. Bake for 5 to 8 hours, depending on your oven, the thickness of the apples, and the apply variety. 


4. Remove the apples from the dehydrator or oven and check to see if they are completely dry on both sides as well as inside. The apples should feel leathery. If not, keep drying them until they are done. 


5. Let cool for a few hours, then store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. 


Creative Uses for Coffee Grounds


Coffee is good for more than just waking you up in the morning. Before you toss used grounds and send them to the landfill, consider putting them to use in the garden, around the house, or in bath and body products. Here are a few ways to repurpose them. 


REPEL GAREDEN PESTS. Sprinkle liberally around your planets or the perimeter of your garden to deter pests like ants, slugs, and snails. 


ATTRACT WORMS. Work the grounds into your soil to attract these little garden helpers. 


BOOST COMPOST. Add coffee grounds, along with the filter, directly to your compost pile. The grounds, which are rich in nitrogen, make excellent green matter. 



FERTILIZE PLANETS. To make fertilizer, mix old grounds with dead grass clippings, brown leaves, or dry straw, then spread the mixture around acid-loving planets like azaleas, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, and roses. 


JUMP- START CARROR AND RADISH SEEDS. To double your harvest, mix dried coffee grounds with carrot and radish seeds before planting them. 


MAKE CARDENER'S SOAP. To make an exfoliating soap, melt one bar of glycerin soap, add 1/3 cup coffee grounds, mix well and pour into a soap mold. 


DEODORIZE YOUR FRIDGE. To neutralize food odors, fill a jar with grounds and place it, uncovered, at the back of the fridge.


DEODORIZE YOUR HANDS. After chopping garlic or onions, rub grounds on your hands to eliminate odors. 


CLEAN TOOLS AND COOKWARE. Sprinkle coffee grounds onto a scrub brush and use them as an abrasive to remove stuck-on food from pots, pans, and utensils. 


REMOVE PUFFINESS AND DARK CIRCLES UNDER EYES. Scoop up a little bit of cooled grounds with your fingers and apply to the area under your eyes. The caffeine constricts blood vessels, draws out excess moisture, and eliminates dark circles and bags. 


REMOVE PRODUCT BUILDUP ON HAIR. Before shampooing, massage a handful of coffee grounds into your hair to remove residue from shampoo, conditioner, and other hair care products. 



Food Scrap Simmer Pot

INGREDIENTS


3 or 4 apple, orange, and/or lemon peels


3 drops vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean


1 to 2 cinnamon sticks


2 to 4 star anise pods


1 fresh pine sprig


1 fresh rosemary sprig


1 cup dried lavender


2 tablespoons ground allspice

   1 tablespoon whole cloves


   1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  DIRECTIONS


 Combine all the ingredients in a small pot and cover generously with water. Let simmer over low heat for up to 24 hours, adding water as      needed to keep the ingredients submerged. Remove the pot from the heat when unattended for sleep or running errands. After 24 hours, strain the mixture and compost the scraps. 


 NOTE: To save on energy, you can place the pot on top of a warm wood stove or radiator instead of using the kitchen stove. 



Laundry Soap 



INGREDIENTS 


One 5-ounce bar pure castile soap


1 cup washing soda, store-bought or homemade


1 cup baking soda


1 cup coarse salt

DIRECTIONS


Chop the soap into small cubes, put them in the bowl of a food processor, and blitz until finely ground. (If you don't own a food processor, you can also use a hand grater - it'll take a little longer but works just fine.) Add the washing soda, baking soda, and salt to the food processor and blend into a fine powder. Store in a glass container with an airtight lid. 


TO USE Use 2 tablespoons per load for standard machines and 1 tablespoon per load for high-efficiency machines. 


Fabric Softener


Fabric softeners sound good in theory - they reduce wrinkles and static cling, prevent stretching , fading, and pilling, and leave clothes feeling softer and smelling fresh. But are they worth it? The Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding commercial fabric softeners because they contain chemicals that trigger asthma and damage the reproductive system. They're also believed to harm the environment and cause indoor and outdoor air pollution. As an alternative, you can add vinegar to the rinse cycle to smooth natural fibers and reduce static cling. If you're concerned about the smell of vinegar, don't worry - it dissipates when the clothing dries. 


INGREDIENTS


1 quart distilled white vinegar


10 drops essential oil (optional)


DIRECTIONS


Combine the vinegar with the essential oil (if using) and store in an airtight quart-size glass jar. 


TO USE When ready to wash clothes, add 1/2 cup to the rinse cycle compartment or to the main compartment when the rinse cycle begins. 



Reusable Dryer Sheets

If you love dryer sheets for softening fabrics, reducing static, and adding fragrance, here's a recipe that will do all of that without creating waste or exposing you to artificial fragrances and harmful toxins. 


MATERIALS


100% cotton rags, T-shirts, or washcloths


2 1/2 cups water


2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar


3 tablespoons vegetable glycerin


10 drops essential oils (optional)


DIRECTIONS


Cut old cotton rags, T-shirts, and/or washcloths into 5-by-8-inch rectangles (about 20 is a good quantity for a quart-size jar). If necessary, stitch around the edges to prevent unraveling. Combine the water, vinegar, and glycerin in a quart-size jar. Close the lid and shake vigorously. Add the essential oils and shake again. Place the rags in the jar and seal it until you're ready to use them. 


TO USE Remove 2 to 4 dryer sheets from the jar, wring them so they're not dripping, and add them to the dryer load. When the clothes are dry, simply put the sheets back in the jar and use them again. Launder with towels and linens once every 2 weeks, depending on usage.

 

Homemade Wool Dryer Balls


Wool dryer balls are an eco-friendly alternative to fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Not only do they soften your clothes, but they also eliminate static, decrease wrinkling, and reduce drying time by up to 25 percent. They're free of synthetic fragrances, too, although you can certainly add a fresh scent to your clothes by using essential oils. You'll want to do this at the end of the drying cycle, however, since heat will destroy the essential oils. Once your clothes are dry, simply add a few drops to the dryer balls, return the balls to the dryer, and run on cold for a few minutes. 


MATERIALS


1 skein 100% wool roving yarn (not matching-washable yarn, which won't felt)


Scissors


Felting needle or crochet hook


1 pair old or thrifted pantyhose or stockings


Laundry soap, store-bought or homemade


DIRECTIONS


1. Start your first wool dryer ball by wrapping the yarn around your index and middle fingers 10 to 15 times. Remove the yarn from your fingers and twist in the shape of a figure 8 to form a bundle. Wrap more yarn around the center of bundle 10 to 15 times. Continue wrapping, alternating directions, until the bundle starts to look like a small ball. Keep wrapping until it's the size of a large tennis ball. Cut the yarn from the skein. Using a felting needle or crochet hook, tuck the tail of the yarn under several layers of the ball. This should keep the ball from unraveling during the felting process. Make 5 more balls. 


2. Cut off the legs of the pantyhose and stuff 3 balls in each leg. Separate the balls by tying a piece of yarn between each ball, then tie off the top of the pantyhose. Place the hose in the washing machine, add detergent, and wash on high heat. Dry on high heat until the balls are dry and felted (the yarn strands have fused together). Remove the balls from the pantyhose. 


TO USE Toss 3 dryer balls into the dryer, add clean, wet laundry, and dry as usual. If you experience static problems, try drying your clothes for a shorter amount of time. You can also try spritzing your dryer balls with water before tossing them in with laundry. The water will combine with the heat in the dryer to create steam, which will reduce static. 


Stress Relief Tea Blend

A delicious blend with soothing nervines (herbs that support the nervous system), this tea will help you relax at the end of a stressful day. One ingredient is lemon balm, an herb the Renaissance physician and alchemist paracelsus called the "elixir of life" - perhaps because of its effectiveness in relaxing the nervous system, promoting sleep, and calming the digestive system. Another ingredient is skullcap, which acts as sedative and nerve tonic to relieve anxiety, stress, and tension.



INGREDIENTS


2 tablespoons dried lemon balm


2 tablespoons dried chamomile


2 tablespoons dried skullcap


1 tablespoon dried lavender buds


1 tablespoon dried passionflower

DIRECTIONS


Combine the herbs in a 4-ounce glass jar and mix well. Seal the jar, label and date it, and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.


TO USE Make an infusion by adding 1 tablespoon herb blend to 1 cup boiling water. Allow the tea to steep for 15 to 30 minutes - the longer it steeps, the stronger it will be. After infusing the tea, strain and sip. 


SAFETY TIP Consult a pediatrician before giving this tea to children. 


Sweet Dreams Tea Blend

If you have trouble sleeping, you'll love this tea blend combining herbs that soothe the nervous system and support sleep.


INGREDIENTS


3 tablespoons dried chamomile


2 tablespoons dried lemon balm


1 tablespoon dried catnip


1 tablespoon dried oatstraw


1 1/2 teaspoons dried passionflower


3/4 teaspoon dried hop flowers


3/4 teaspoon dried valerian


DIRECTIONS


Combine the herbs in a 4-ounce glass jar and mix well. Seal the jar, label and date it, and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.


TO USE Make an infusion by adding 1 tablespoon herb blend to 1 cup boiling water. Allow the tea to steep for 10 to 15 minutes - the longer it steeps, the stronger it will be. After infusing the tea, strain and sip about an hour before bedtime. 


SAFETY TIP Consult a pediatrician before giving this tea to children.


Sweet Dreams Honey

On its own, honey is potent medicine. When you infuse it with herbs, it becomes a super medicine with the potential to deliver healing properties without the bitter taste of tinctures and teas.

INGREDIENTS


1 tablespoon dried chamomile flowers


1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers


1 tablespoon dried lemon balm


2 cups raw honey



DIRECTIONS


Put the herbs in a clean quart-size glass jar. Pour in the honey, making sure the herbs are fully submerged. Screw on a tight-fitting lid and place in a cool, dark place for 2 to 4 weeks - the longer you have it, the more potent it will be. Check on the honey daily. If the herbs float to the top, turn the jar upside down to resubmerge them, After 2 to 4 weeks, pour 1 inch of water into a small saucepan. 

Remove the lid from the jar of honey and stand the jar in the water. Turn the heat to medium and warm the honey until melted. Take carnet to let the water boil - otherwise, the high temperature will destroy the honey's enzymes. Once melted, strain the honey, transfer to a clean glass jar, seal with an airtight lid, and store in a cool, dark place indefinitely. 


TO USE Add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon honey to 1 cup warm Sweet Dreams Tea or plain chamomile tea.