Homemade “Nomato” Marinara – Tomato Free Pasta Sauce!

tomato free marinara sauce

Let me begin this post with a disclaimer: I am NOT a food photographer. Obviously. I’m also not really a food blogger either. But as we travel along the road that is food intolerance, I find recipes that are hits and misses. I had been searching for a good replacement for marinara. Something I can use to replace canned tomatoes in recipes. I found several good options, and combined and tweaked and edited those recipes to come up with this super tasty version.

I have to say, my husband and I were pretty surprised at how easily this sauced fooled us. It tastes just like the real thing! It’s great to make a big batch for the refrigerator and reach for it any time a recipe calls for tomatoes. If you are struggling with acid reflux (from a rough pregnancy, perhaps) this is a great alternative for you. Plus it’s full of fabulously nutritious veggies and healthy chicken stock!

“Nomato” Marinara:
• 1 small butternut squash, cubed (or any pumpkin/winter squash)
• 1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
• 2 beets (8-10 oz, or less if you want a milder taste, beets are very earthy)
• 1 cup chopped mushrooms
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 5 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 quart chicken stock (or water)
• juice of two lemons
• 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 cup brown sugar or sweetener
• one splash apple cider vinegar (depending on how sour you like things)
• salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and marjoram to taste

Chop up all the veggies. Heat oil in a Dutch oven, then sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add all veggies, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar. Cover with chicken stock. Heat to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes until veggies are soft. Blend, add spices to taste, and enjoy! Tastes just like the real thing!

Nomato marinara recipe

You wouldn’t guess from the beginning that this soup like substance will turn into thick, tasty sauce.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 1.41.37 PM

The color is so vibrant! It certainly fools the eye, as well as the stomach. If you’ve been looking for tomato-free recipes, I hope you’ll love this one!

DIY All Natural Tinted Lip Balm Recipe

Processed with Moldiv


Part of my zero waste initiative of 2015 has been to start making my own toiletries and beauty products. For the most part, I use recipes I find online, but sometimes I tweak and alter them until I have something that fits my tastes. This is one of those recipes. I’ve been trying out a few different combinations of ingredients to get a lipstick like texture. So far I haven’t found it, but this recipe makes a great tinted balm that leaves a good amount of color on your lips.



I started by searching for vintage lipstick tubes. I didn’t want to spend time and money making all-natural products just to store them in plastic. Especially when a big part of zero waste is eliminating plastic completely. I browsed several styles on Etsy, and decided on these vintage Revlon tubes from Frugal Resale. They appear to be brass, and since brass commonly had lead in their composition, I picked up a surface lead test from my local hardware store. They were negative, which means, hooray, lead free! I scraped out the remnants and boiled the containers for a few minutes to clean them. I did have one of the labels fall off, so I’ll be gluing it back on. I’m particularly fond of that “Touch of Genius” shade ;)


Many online recipes call for specialty ingredients you have to order online. Since my goal is to hopefully one day source all the ingredients locally, if not completely from my homestead, I tried to find some more basic supplies. Most of this can be found at your local grocery or health foods store. In fact, I ground up dried hibiscus leaves from my HEB bulk section (it was with the spices), and peeled, sliced, and dehydrated and then ground fresh beets into a powder.

grinding-hibiscus-flowers One tip that I found handy with my hibiscus powder was to strain it through a fine mesh sieve. In this case it was a tea strainer. This keeps the larger clumps and flower parts from getting into your coloring powder, keeping the shade a bit more even. Still, hibiscus is a bit more finicky than the beet root. In the stick, it’s hard to tell a difference.


Beet root is on the left, hibiscus on the right. I had a bit of clumping there since I waited just a touch too long to start mixing it up and pouring it into the tube. Here is the beet root balm (it appears a bit darker in real life):


And below is the hibiscus (also a bit darker and slightly more even):


You can see the graininess that the hibiscus can have. It’s less noticeable in person, and you can rub your lips together and work most of it in. I would also say that while the beet root gives the better color, I like the flavor and texture of the hibiscus more.

Now enough hemming and hawing, let’s get to the recipe!

DIY All Natural Tinted Lip Balm Recipe

• 1/4 t beeswax (grated or pellets)
• 1/2 t shea butter
• 1/4 t cocoa butter (I only had coconut butter, and that worked well)
• 1/2 t olive oil (or sunflower/almond/jojoba/whatever oil)
• 1 t coloring powder (beet root, hibiscus, paprika, cocoa, or a mix of several)
• 3-5 drops essential oil of choice (I chose grapefruit since it’s uplifting and makes me happy)

Melt the beeswax, shea, cocoa and olive oil in a double boiler over medium heat. Be sure not to fill it too high to keep water from splashing in. I used a 1 cup pyrex pouring measuring cup for this, stirring with a wooden skewer. This will take up to five minutes, as the beeswax takes a while to fully melt. Once melted, still in the pot, I add in my color powder and make sure it dissolves and blends well into the mixture. Remove from heat and cool. Once it’s cool to the touch, add in your essential oils. You don’t want to do it too soon while it’s hot or it will denature any of the good properties of the oil, leaving just a pretty scent. Allow it to continue cooling, as the oils and colors can separate. Every few minutes stir the mixture with your spoon/skewer, making sure they stay combined. Once it’s the texture of warm butter, begin to coax it into your tube or container. I like to scoop in a bit then tap it on the counter to make sure it’s compacted. I did this several times until it was full to the top. Allow it to cool and set overnight.

Apply as desired! It also makes for a nice cheek or eye stain as well. It’s a subtle color, that needs frequent application. Hopefully soon I’ll come up with the perfect lipstick recipe to share here as well!

Kids Modern Activity Coffee Table: A How-To

Activity Table Tutorial  Every holiday, I feel a strong urge to build something for my girls. Typically, this urge hits within five days of said holiday. Any holiday. This time it was Valentines Day, because, well, why not? I had some leftover Purebond in the garage from Christmas, and it happened to be the perfect size for a table top. So I raided the barn for a few 2×2′s, and went to work!

painted toddler activity table tutorial

This was a really quick and easy build. I spent maybe an hour building it, but at least 9 painting it. Isn’t that how it always goes? But I’m pretty happy with the mural on top, and the girls are too. We have fun building train bridges over the water and putting the little wooden ducks in the water.

activity-table-painted-top  Cute, right? I painted the base white, and the top with probably 75 layers of light green. At least that’s what it felt like. Then two layers of craft paint for the details, and this sucker was done. I haven’t gotten around to adding a top coat yet, but I’m planning to use three layers of polycrylic to protect the paint from chipping too much. It’s the perfect fit for these Critter Chairs, as I’ve come to call them.

Now let’s get on with the build!

• 1/2 sheet 3/4″ plywood (I use purebond since it’s sourced in North America, and is formaldehyde free)
• 4 – 2x2x8
• 2 – 1″ x 1/4″ x 8′ trim pieces
• 8 L-brackets
• 1 1/2″ pocket hole screws

Cut List:
6 – 2×2 @ 35.5″
6 – 2×2 @ 12.5″
4 – 2×2 @ 22.5″
3/4″ plywood @ 35 1/4″ x 48″
2 – 1/4″ trim @ 35 3/4″
2 – 1/4″ trim @ 48″

Step 1:

Begin by assembling the legs. I used 1 1/2″ screws and drilled from the outside of the long pieces into the ends of the shorter pieces. You can use pocket holes, but in this case they’ll be better hidden on the outside of the wood.


Step 2:

Finish the square by adding the bottom piece. Drill from the top again, this will be hidden. Repeat for the other two legs.


Step 3:

Attach the legs to the underside of the plywood with 1 1/2″ screws. I used three screws per leg.


Step 4:
Attach all three legs, measuring and centering the middle leg. I added L brackets for additional stability, on the idside of the end legs and on each side of the center leg.


Step 5:


The last step is optional, but I found that the legs were still a bit too wobbly, even with the brackets. I drilled pocket holes into each end of the 22.5″ piece, and with the holes on the bottom, attached them to each leg at 10″ from each end. You can vary the placement to accommodate baskets or stools. I left room for the “critter chairs” I built for my girls, they’re the perfect fit!

Step 6:
I don’t have a photo of this step, but it’s attaching the trim. I placed it flush with the bottom of the plywood so it extends a bit over the top, keeping the toys and trains corralled on the table. I used glue and 3/4″ finish nails to attach it.

Then it’s just a matter of sanding and finishing! I decided on a bright, glossy white to break up all the dark wood in the room. I think it’s the perfect area for all sorts of playing!


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