Ohnik Studio News / healthyliving

Healthy Living Blog #4: Organic or Not? The Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

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As organic products become increasingly available, I always ask myself, is it worth the money to go organic? 

While organic food contains a lower level of pesticides and organic farming is more eco-friendly, many studies find no meaningful benefits or harm to an organic diet (see one of those articles here). However, for peace of mind and the environment, I try to buy organic, but can't afford to pay the premium price for every produce. So the question becomes, which produce to go organic?

Basically, a thick skin protects a fruit or vegetable from pesticides (i.e. what you eat will be "clean"). I used to buy organic bananas because of the small price difference, but then I realized, "I don't eat the pesticide-ridden banana peel anyway!" 

If you're worried about the level of pesticide you're consuming, the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" is a good general guide:

The following lists are reposted from David Suzuki's website:

The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination) -- Buy Organic or Peel (if possible!)

Sweet bell peppers

The Clean 15 (in order of least contamination) -- Don't need to buy organic
Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potatoes


But of course, eating any fruits and vegetables (organic or not!) is better than eating none.

Check out my other healthy living blogs here.

Bon Appétit!

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Healthy Living Blog #3: Coffee air freshener, cornstarch dry shampoo and more

As I mentioned in my other healthy living blogs, I'm always on a quest to find natural and toxin-free personal and household products. An extra bonus is those natural, homemade products almost always end up cheaper than store-bought products! Kin's been using the 3-ingredient coconut deodorant for 2 years and he hasn't purchased a single deodorant since.

Today, I'd like to offer some of the other natural products we use in and around the home. Enjoy :)

1. Car air freshener: coffee grounds

Who doesn't love the smell of coffee? What you might not know is coffee grounds makes an excellent natural air freshener for your car! Apparently you can use used coffee grounds as well, but we've been using fresh hazelnut coffee grounds. Oh, the possibilities with all the amazing flavours out there!

How: put 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 mL) coffee grounds onto a piece of tissue paper. Wrap it up with a ribbon like a pretty gift.

2. Dry Shampoo: cornstarch

For those days when you simply don't have time to wash your hair, dry shampoos are great to freshen things up. Did you know cornstarch works very well as a dry shampoo? No more aerosol bottles! I keep my dry shampoo cornstarch in a spice shaker in the washroom.

How: sprinkle some cornstarch on greasy ends of hair. Leave for 1 minute. Pat away the cornstarch with your hands.


3. Oven cleaner: baking soda, salt and water

For those who have the unfortunate experience of liquids (or solids) spilling onto a heated oven floor, you know how difficult it is to scrub the burnt food off. A quick fix is to use the super-hot self-clean function in most modern oven. I have reservations about using the self-clean function too often, so I usually try to naturally clean the oven myself. This is definitely not the most effective recipe (you still need to use a fair amount of elbow grease), but everything in the recipe is edible, which gives me peace of mind over the types of gases store-bought oven cleaners can release.

How: use equal parts baking soda, coarse (kosher) salt, and water to form a paste. Apply with a scrubbing pad.

    4. Pot cleaner: baking soda and water

    Burnt food not only get stuck on ovens, but sadly, also on pots and pans. This method is great for stainless steel and also enamelled cast iron pots and pans (love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven. I seem to cook and bake everything in it. Can't believe I never had one till this year!). It's gentle enough not to make any scratches.


    • Bring a small amount of baking soda and water (more than enough to cover the bottom of a pot) to a boil.
    • Watch the carbon dioxide fizz and work for you!
    • Add more baking soda if necessary.
    • Scrub off burnt food with a wooden spoon.

    5. Window Cleaner: vinegar & water

    Who knew just vinegar & water can give windows a brilliant shine? Check out other natural window cleaners here.

    How: 1/2 cup (125 mL) vinegar + 4 cups (1 L) water

    6. Bug repellent: citronella oil

    I'm always wary about the combination of sunscreen and bug repellent. Citronella oil is a natural alternative, though some people, especially children might be sensitive to it.

    I also avoid putting on sunscreen if I can (many toxic chemicals there!)... I try to wear hats and cover up well when I am outdoors for an extended period of time.

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    Healthy Living Blog #2: Plants that Clean your Air

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    When we moved into our condo almost 3 years ago, we thought it'd be nice to have some plants to liven up the place. Sadly, I have no green thumbs and have managed to kill all plants previously given to me. :( That's why I decided to search for plants that are hardy enough that even I could nurture and keep. 

    Then, I stumbled upon this TED talk "How to Grow Fresh Air". I loved the idea of growing plants that can remove formaldehydes and other toxic, volatile chemicals from the air. Specifically, the speaker Kamal Meattle grew three types of plants in his Delhi's office: Areca palm, Mother-in-Law's Tongue and Money plant. Mother-in-Law's Tongue is a wonderful bedroom plant as it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen at night. Money plant is a miracle plant that absorbs toxic, volatile chemicals; some say Mother-in-Law's Tongue does the same.

    After some research, I decided to buy Mother-in-Law's Tongue (aka Snake Plant) and Peace Lily (another plant that absorb toxic chemicals). They're both readily available in my local gardening stores, and are very economical. Best of all, they're deemed to be very sturdy plants that are easy to grow! They don't require a lot of sunlight, watering or fertilizer (I haven't used a single drop of fertilizer on them).

    See how they've grown in less than three years! We've had to repot a few times. :)



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    Healthy Living Blog #1: 3-ingredient Homemade Natural Deodorant Recipe

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    Hi Everyone! This is Evy here. :)

    I've always been interested in healthy eating & living, and as a Science teacher, I get asked tons of weird questions daily and love to share what I have learned (and continue to learn!).

    Three years ago, I read a book called "Never Be Sick Again" by Raymond Francis. It's a book that has made a significant impact on my life. Sadly, yes, I've been sick again since reading the book, but I don't exactly follow everything it says either (oops!). I love the simplicity of the book's premise: there are only 2 reasons cells (and thus we) get sick: deficiency and toxicity. Deficiency comes about when we don't consume enough nutrients (Do you eat enough fruits and vegetables daily? Is there enough variety? I know I'm still guilty of not eating enough "colours"!). Toxicity comes not only from the food we eat (think about all the pesticides!), but also from our new cars, furniture, and household items. The book began with the story of how the author was once severely allergic to many things... including the smell of ink from a newly printed book. That really made me think. If that smell could make someone so sick, it can't be good for me, can it?

    Anyhoo, there is my very long introduction to this blog post. The book mentioned how many toxic chemicals are in deodorants, so making a homemade deodorant was suddenly on top of my to-do list. Kin has been using this for more than two years now, and he loves it! I love the fresh scent of coconut. Sexier than those body sprays! ;)

    This amazing recipe came from Clotilde's Chocolate & Zucchini Blog. I've made some minor adaptations to make it easier to make and use. And if you don't mind getting some beewax and essential oil, you can make a temperature-stable and thus travel-friendly version!

    Coconutty Natural Deodorant

    Prep Time: 10 min; Ready in: The next day (overnight refrigeration needed)

    This lasts one person 2-3 months.


    2 tablespoons baking soda

    2 tablespoons starch of your choice (we've always used corn starch, but you can use arrowroot powder, potato starch, or tapioca) 

    3 tablespoons (35 grams) organic virgin coconut oil, softened (available now at most food stores, including Costco)


    1. In a small bowl, combine (2 tbs) baking soda and (2 tbs) starch.

    2. Add the (3 tbs) coconut oil. Stir until smooth and creamy. 

    3. Use plastic wrap to line a separate small bowl. Pour the creamy mixture into the plastic wrap. Gather and twist the plastic wrap at the top. Kin likes to shape his like an oval soap.

    4. Keep the wrapped creamy mixture in the small bowl to refrigerate overnight or until hardened. Voila!

    5. Rub it on as you would with a normal deodorant. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge to maintain its shape. Alternatively, keep at room temperature and use it like a lotion.



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