Simplifying Your Bathroom Routine Naturally

Simplifying Your Bathroom Routine Naturally
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How many toiletry items do we really need?

I’ve seen it said in multiple places that the average woman has 337 items in her bathroom. I can’t seem to find a credible source for that, so I’m not sure I believe it, but it still brings up a valid point: most of us have a lot of extra stuff cluttering up our lives. Do we really need all that?

I’m somewhat vehement in my quest to declutter, simplify and get rid of stuff (which is good, because my husband is not, so we balance each other out - in theory).

Extra stuff weighs you down and sucks time out of your day. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time being productive when I’m surrounded by a bunch of clutter.

The bathroom is no exception.

But in the bathroom, it’s not just having clutter that is a problem, it’s what that clutter consists of.

Chemicals.

Read the ingredients of your favorite lotion, makeup remover, or deodorant. It’s not pretty.

I’m not sure why having all these chemicals, and having them in such vast quantities to boot, is so popular because the truth is, most of the natural, simpler options work just as well or even better.

Let’s look at a few of them, shall we?

Deodorant

Surprise! Making natural, effective deodorant isn’t as much of a mystery as you might think. In fact, you probably already have the necessary ingredients in your house. This is a good thing, because slathering conventional, chemical-filled deodorant onto the sensitive, super absorbent skin of your underarms is a dangerous idea.

 Baking soda and cornstarch are the staples of deodorant making. You can brush these alone onto your underarms, or mix them with a little coconut oil to fill an empty deodorant tube and, voila! You’ll never know the difference!

Or, if you don’t have time to make it yourself (shameless plug here) buy it from here from my etsy shop!

Mouthwash

Try gargling either hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda water instead. Since you already likely have either of those in your house, you get to eliminate another bottle in your bathroom. Double win!

Toothpaste

Sprinkle some baking soda on your tooth brush and start brushing! If you want to get fancy try mixing a tablespoon of baking soda, two drops of peppermint essential oil, and enough water to make a paste. Store in an air tight container.

Hair Care

Wash your hair with a few tablespoons of baking soda (seriously, is there anything you can’t do with baking soda?) mixed into a cup or small bottle of water. Optionally, you can add a few drops of tea tree oil which is supposed to eliminate dandruff (haven’t tried that one yet.)

Rinse with apple cider vinegar. You can read about my experience with this method here. I’ve found that my hair changes dramatically with hormone changes (pregnant, nursing, etc.), so sometimes this method works Better than others.

 Aloe Vera Gel also works very well in place of moose or hair gel. Curly girls I’ve talked to say that aloe vera gel works even better than chemical alternatives!

Facial moisturizer

I’m a coconut oil girl all the way. I have super dry skin during the winter, and coconut oil has been the best moisturizer I’ve ever used on my face. At first, I used it cautiously and sparingly, afraid that I’d start seeing pimples and whatnot, but now I just slather it on.

I realize though, that not very one shares my love for the stuff. For a non-greasy, but totally amazing facial moisturizer,  aloe Vera gel works wonders.

Body lotion

Here again, you can just use straight coconut oil, which is great! But even better, make some of your own lotion with more skin nourishing stuff like cocoa butter, jajoba oil, vitamin  E oil… And the list goes on. There are lots of great and simple recipes floating around like this one for whipped body butter. Give it a try!

Shaving cream

Soap. I’m not talking about the glycerin-stripped bars of detergent you buy at the store - that stuff just dries your skin out - I’m talking about real soap here. The stuff you make yourself, or get from someone else who makes it. I use goat milk soap (again, find it in my etsy shop), but really, as long as it’s soap. You’ll be surprised how much you love using soap in place of shaving cream. If you’re like me (and other people I’ve talked to) you’ll even like it better.

Hooray for one less item in your shower!

Cleansing (Soap/body wash/face wash)

One bar of soap. That’s all it takes. Just one bar of soap in the corner of your shower. It’s cleansing, it’s moisturizing, it’s natural. Cosmetic companies try to sell you a different wash for each body part. you don’t need it!

Makeup remover

I use a mixture of olive oil and witch hazel with some skin nourishing essential oils thrown in, but really, all you need is some sort of oil in which to dip of Q-tip or tissue.

Sanitary Pads

Oh yes, I went there. Paper menstrual pads are so full of chemicals and toxins - and we put them on some very sensitive, absorbent skin! You can save a lot of  money, and live a lot greener by switching to cloth. (Check out this article for a more in-depth look at the topic.)


If you look  look into our shower, you’ll see exactly three items - four if you count my razor. Shampoo, conditioner, and a bar of soap. We all use the homemade soap from head to toe - I’ve found it to be mild enough even for little babies. I still use the shampoo and conditioner occasionally, but when it’s gone, I also don’t plan to replace it. Then we’ll be left with only one item in our shower.

Now that’s some serious minimalism there!

What are some ways you simplify your bathroom routine?

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Free Online Job Chart

Have you ever heard of My Job Chart? I heard about it about two days ago, and it looks really neat!

The smart phone app allows you to add chores to your child’s chart anywhere, and the rewards for chores completed helps motivate children to get their chores done.

I like this idea!

Disclosure: there are affiliate links in this post.

Free Baby Carrier From Seven Slings

When my first child (Garrett) was about four months old, I purchased a pocket sling from Seven Slings. Oh my goodness, we both loved it so much!

Up until that time I had used a ring sling, which I love - especially for the newborn stage when the baby doesn’t have any head control. But a ring sling is pretty cumbersome as slings go. When I got my Seven Slings carrier, I was really impressed with how small it was. folded, it easily fits inside my purse - and consequently, I never leave home without it - and it’s so easy to get on and off. Nothing to loosen or unfasten. just drape it over your shoulder and lift the baby in.

Best. Hip. Carry. Sling. Ever.

Also awesome about this carrier is the price. Right now, you can use the promo code “ENBABY” at checkout to get a free baby sling! You just pay shipping. You can use this offer more than once too, just open a new browser. This company seems to always be offering free carrier codes, which seems kind of spammish. Maybe they make their living from the shipping. But I know it’s a real deal, because I used it (different promo code at the time), and I LOVE it. So I want to pass it on to y’all.

In my opinion, this carrier is second only to the ErgoBaby carrier ErgoBaby carrier - which is kind of the gold standard in carriers, and pretty pricey. Baby H seems to actually prefer the sling to the Ergo - I think because in the hip carry position she can see more.

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Carrying a tiny baby H around Lowes in our Seven Sling carrier

The fabric on these slings is sturdy, but breathable. So they’re much cooler to wear in the summer than a lot of carriers. If you have a baby or toddler that you carry much, I highly recommend Seven Slings Carriers. For the $7 shipping price (that’s what it was for me anyway) they can’t be beat!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This in no way influences my opinion of the product. As you can see in this post written some time ago without affiliate links, I really just love this sling.

Healthy No-Bake Cookies

I have a weakness for no-bake cookies, problem is, I’ve really been trying to eat more healthy and stay away from excessive amounts of sugar.

 

So a few days ago, during one of my all too predictable no bake cookie cravings, I decided that, instead of hitting up the sugar jar, I’d experiment with some more healthy ingredients based around other healthy dessert recipes I’d seen (namely these no-bake chocolate bars from Momy’s Kitchen).

After they were finished, Gabriel and I tasted them, declared them quite good (so did Garret, but he’s not really a trustworthy judge), and I decided I better photograph them before they were gone. That was when I discovered that I have no idea how to photograph no bake cookies in such a way that they look like something other than mud pies. See?

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I’ll try again with the next batch I make. Because there will be a next batch. Oh yes, there will. (Update: As you can see by the top photo, the “next batch” turned out pretty well! grin)

I have to say, these were definitely different than your average no-bake cookie. The main difference is the lack of sugar crystals. These have a much more creamy texture. But never fear!  if you love no-bake cookies these will not disappoint!

I mean, for real, who’s going to complain about rich, creamy, chocolate cookie?!

You may have noticed that most of my healthy dessert recipes contain peanut butter (like these three ingredient toddler cookies). Peanut butter is such a great binder, and source of protein - I just can’t seem to leave it out!

So here it is, a healthy version of a really bad dessert!

Healthy No-Bake Cookies

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or butter if you prefer)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder

Note: You can use regular peanut butter - but of course, that will make your cookies reduced sugar rather than sugar free.

Combine first three ingredients in a sauce pan and warm gently on stove top. If you’re using raw honey, you’ll want to be careful to warm it only until the coconut oil melts and the peanut butter softens. No reason to heat the life out of your honey! smile

Next, add in the vanilla, oatmeal, and cocoa, and stir well.

Drop by the spoonful onto a saran lined plate and let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator - if they last that long.

Enjoy!

Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Real Food Wednesday, Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Hungry Little Girl, frugal Follies, Weekend Potluck, Show And Tell, Sweet As Sugar Cookies, Cast Party, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

30 Household Uses For Baking Soda

I have 100 pounds of baking soda in my pantry. No joke.

For most people, I suppose that would last a life time, but for me? Well, I do expect 100 pounds to last for quite a while, but I’m guessing we go through it a lot faster than the average person.

So what do we do with all that baking soda?

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First, I use it to wash diapers - and I wash diapers a lot.

Secondly, did you know that goats eat baking soda? Yup. It helps balance out their PH level. And we currently have five goats.

But you don’t have to live on a farm, or use cloth diapers to get a lot of use out of the stuff. Baking soda is an amazing, natural cleaning agent. It can take the place of a lot of harsh chemicals to help you live a more natural, healthy lifestyle.

Here’s a list of 30 ways you can use baking soda no matter where you live:

 

  1. Make modeling clay using equal parts baking soda and cornstarch, and enough water to make a dough
  2. make playdough. Bakng soda playdough is a favorite with us!
  3. Cuticle care:  Exfoliate dead skin cells and soften your hands with a baking soda paste.
  4. Use as a facial scrub the same way as you would the cuticle exfoliant.
  5. Use as an antacid. Gabriel does this regularly. Baking soda is very alkaline, so it helps balance out the PH in your gut.
  6. Use as hair wash You can read about my experience with this here.
  7. Deodorant. Love using baking soda deodorant. Good stuff!
  8. Make Toothpaste by mixing baking soda with peroxide to make a paste. You can add peppermint oil if you prefer your  toothpaste to taste good. smile
  9. Use on itchy insect bites and rashes.
  10. Boost your laundry detergent. As I said above, I do this regularly - especially with diapers.
  11. Use to wash baby laundry. When Garrett was a baby, he had this rash that just wouldn’t go away, so I switched to washing his laundry in nothing but baking soda. The clothes came out sprkling clean!
  12. Use as deodorizer - refrigerator, trash can, cutting board, drain, etc.
  13. Extinguish Fires. What I read is that as the baking soda heats up, it gives off carbon dioxide, smothering the flames.
  14. Keep brushes and combs clean by washing with a solution of 1 tsp. baking soda to a cup of water. Rinse and dry.
  15. Clean crayons off the walls. Apply baking soda to a slightly wet cloth and rub lightly. Wipe off with a clean, dry cloth.
  16. Keep cut flowers fresh longer by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the water in the vase. I’m excited about this one!
  17. Produce wash Mix a quarter of a cup of baking soda in a sink full of water, add fruits and veggies, rub vigorously, and rinse.
  18. Add to bath water to soften skin.
  19. Add to water vaporizer to clear sinuses.
  20. Put it under sinks and along basement windows to repel cockroaches and ants.
  21. Sprinkle it onto your cat’s litter box to absorb the bad odor.
  22. When boiling a chicken, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water. Feathers will come off easier, and the flesh will be clean and white. this is great for those of us who occasionally process older chickens.
  23. Soak dried beans in a baking soda solution to make them more digestible.
  24. Remove the fishy smell from your fillets by soaking the raw fish in a baking soda solution for an hour inside the fridge.
  25.  Make fluffier omelets by adding half a teaspoon of baking soda for every three eggs used.
  26. Reduce the acid content of your tomato-based recipes by sprinkling them with a pinch of baking soda.
  27. Make a thick paste of baking soda and water, and used it to scrub enameled cast iron and stainless steel.
  28. Use to remove cradle cap
  29. To remove perspiration stains, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Rub paste into the stain, let it sit for an hour, and then launder as usual.
  30. To remove stains from your coffee and tea cups, wipe them with a damp sponge dipped in baking soda paste.

Funeral Arrangments: Things You Should Talk About Before You Need To Talk About Them

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Before last April. Funeral arrangements weren’t something I bought a lot about. But when my mother passed away unexpectedly, I learned first hand that funerals are expensive.

So, morbid as it may seem, Gabriel and I had several talks about our courses of action should one of pass away, and I highly recommend that you do too, to keep yourself from being blindsided by the various, avoidable expenses, not to mention, the misery and uncertainty of having to make unexpected decisions.

The fact is, it’s expensive to die. The last thing any of us wants to do is saddle our loved ones with the burden of spending mass ammounts of money that they may not even have to burry us.

Personally, I feel like it’s worth while to pay a little money for the things you want, and for me, some of the things I want just happen to be less expensive, so I’m going to give you some of my non-monetarily based opinions in this list too.

  • Embalming. Ask yourself, do you need it? Is it necessary to have an open casket (assuming you have to delay the funeral)? Embalming can run several hundred dollars or more, and for me, I don’t like it. Bodies are meant to decompose, and I don’t want to hinder that process. I also don’t want to fill either the body, or the ground with toxic chemicals.
  • Caskets. I was shocked with how expensive caskets, and even urns are. It’s important to know that you don’t have to buy them from the funeral home. My personal preference is wood, or another degradable material. I hate that so many caskets are metal. Why? Are you going to dig it up after a few decades? I don’t think so. Softwoods like pine, are usually much cheaper than hardwoods.  
    Growing up as I did in an Amish community, building a casket for a loved one seems like a perfectly natural option to me, and certainly much cheaper (if you’re a skilled carpenter - which I’m not). Funeral homes don’t like it, which is understandable since they make their living selling things to you, but here at least, it’s not against the law.
  • Burial vault. I’m not really sure what the purpose of these are, but they were presented to us as optional, and as with so many funeral related things, are quite expensive, so we chose to skip it. As far as I know, not a single state requires their use.
  • Funeral homes. I’m not sure there’s a way around using a funeral home in some capacity, but limiting its use will certainly help keep the bill down. Can you have the funeral at a church, or some other venue?
  • Flower and decorations for the casket and burial. You’ve probably never thought about decorating a casket for a funeral have you? Neither had I. Not, at least, until we started going through the funeral home’s check list of things to do. Casket flower arrangments turned out to be insanely expensive, so, knowing our mother’s preferences, we chose to make a spread using wild flowers and greenery, along with a special handmade afghan. It turned out very understatedly pretty and natural, and most importantly to me, un-funeral home-ish.

So many of these decisions are so personal, there’s no one right way to do things. The important thing is that you do talk about them, and to the best of your ability, make decisions ahead of time. No, you don’t need to dwell on it, like it’s a black cloud hanging there above you head. Write your wishes, or your loved one’s wishes down. Make a file for these things. You’ll be glad you did.

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black bean Chili

black bean Chili
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Yeah so, I guess you could say I’m really on a black bean kick lately. It was black bean burgers last week, and then we had black bean brownies for dessert one night. Today, it’s black bean chili.

The first time I made this was the first time I’d ever ehard Gabriel say “this is really good chili!”. Which made me really happy because so often, Gabriel and I don’t see eye to eye when it comes to food. We were both really happy with this chili, and Garrett ate his fair share too.

this recipe is the epitome of frugal food, and that’s just one more reason to love it! The beans only cost you pennies if you cook your own rather than buy them canned - I like to cook an entire crockpot full at the beginning of the week and keep them in the refrigerator for various dishes throughout the week. If there are any leftovers, we simply freeze them. Other than that, aside from the spices, there are only a can of tomato sauce, an onion, and ground beef, the amount of which you can customize to your liking (less beef + more beans = even more frugal dish). You can even make it vegetarian if you like!

So here it is, Our favorite chili recipe:

Black Bean Chili

  • 4 ½ cups cooked black beans (or three 15oz cans, undrained)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

Brown ground beef in a skillet with onion. While it’s cooking, the rest of the ingredients in a pot or saucepan. If you’re not using canned beans, add enough water (or bean broth) to make it your desired consistency.

Add in ground beef and onion. To enhance flavors, let the soup simmer in a pot or crockpot, for up to several hours.

Serve with your choice of sour cream, cheese, green onions… or whatever you like on your chili.

Enjoy!

Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Real Food Wednesday, Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Hungry Little Girl, frugal Follies, Weekend Potluck, Show And Tell, Sweet As Sugar Cookies, Cast Party, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

Baking Soda Play Dough

Baking Soda Play Dough
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No childhood is complete without play dough. I mean really, can you imagine?

Over the last several months, Garrett’s imagination has really been budding, so I knew I had to find a good play dough recipe. He loves it! He insists on calling it cookie dough however (LOL), and despite all the Play Doh toys we have, and how I show him to build things with it, he only has interest in one toy.

Yep, he likes to “squish it”.

Sadly for those of us with food allergy issues, homemade play dough often incorporates gluten and/or wheat. Yuck!

But that’s okay! It’s really easy - and a lot of fun - to make your own, gluten-free play dough. There are lots of fun variations you can use when you make it yourself, such as adding glitter for “sparkle dough”, or unsweetened Kool-Aid packets for the coloring and a nice fruity scent, or even scenting your play dough with essential oils - my own favorite, as it’s a great way to get your kids up close and personal with the medicinal properties essential oils have to offer.

This play dough recipe uses baking soda and cornstarch and is the best homemade playdough ever! In fact, I’d say it’s just as good as the store-bought stuff. Garrett and I sat at the table and rolled, squished, and re-rolled playdough without it sticking to our hands, which made me very happy. smileI was also quite impressed with how well it came out of some of some of the more detailed molds.

Gluten-Free Baking Soda Play Dough

*This recipe is an adaption of the Arm & Hammer Play Clay recipe

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Mix ingredients together in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. If you have older kids, they may get a kick out of doing this because the baking soda makes it fizz for quite a while before it starts to thicken.

And when it starts to thicken, beware! It goes really fast.

Take it off the heat as soon as it’s thick enough to start wanting to stick together. Let cool, paritally covered until it can be handled.

Separate into balls and color. I used wilton icing gel colors left over from my cake decorating days and really loved the results.

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You can also use the liquid food coloring available in most grocery stores. It usually comes in a box of four colors - red, blue, green, and yellow . Just remember that red, blue, and yellow are the primary colors from which you can make any color you want.

Red and yellow for instance, make orange, and blue and red make purple. The green play dough pictured here, was made by mixing blue and yellow because I didn’t have green coloring.

Make this = your kids will love you. At least, that’s how it works for me! grin

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link, and happen to order from that site within a specific time frame, I will earn a small advertising fee. This will NOT affect your purchase price. If you do not wish to support The Frugal Farm Wife in this manner, simply clear your cookies before placing your order.

Long Term Food Storage Without The Fancy Stuff

Long Term Food Storage Without The Fancy Stuff
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If you buy food in bulk like I do, you probably end up repackaging it into smaller containers, or more long term storage containers.

It doesn’t actually take any special equipment despite all the talk of mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.

One of the easiest ways to preserve dry food is with your oven, and a few jars or bottles. It’s easy! And it doesn’t take up freezer space.

First, preheat your oven to 250 degrees

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Why yes I did have flour on my hands when I turned on the oven, why do you ask? smile

 

Next spread your beans, peas, flour, or whatever, onto cookie sheets, or other baking pans. I’m doing pinto beans today.

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While those are in the oven, get out your jars and make sure they’re clean.

Hint: if you’re a juice drinker, clean and save the bottles; they’re perfect for bean storage!

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After the beans have been in the oven for 20 minutes or so, all the bug eggs should be dead, so take them out, let them cool a bit, and fill and cap your jars.

It’s that easy! I’ve kept beans and rice for years this way (yeah, I know, you’re not supposed to keep anything that long) without any bug problems. Just make sure the lid is airtight.

Vegan Black Bean Burgers

Vegan Black Bean Burgers
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So, you may be wondering what in the world a gal who raises grass fed beef as part of her livelihood is doing making vegan recipes.

To be honest, it does feel a little weird. But the fact is, beef isn’t free, even for me. And these burgers are the kind of thing that make me think I could *totally* go vegan. I mean, with bean burgers this good, you wouldn’t even miss the meat.

Black beans are both nutritious, and super cheap - especially if you use dried beans instead if canned - and I’m a big fan eating more beans as a source of protein. In this recipe, they’re paired with rice, making these patties a source of complete protein, and adding a great texture.

I served these the other night with a vinegar coleslaw and fell in love with eating them together. Something about the sweet, tangy mix with the bean patty… Mmmm. Oh, and I eat my burgers bunless, with a fork - thus the picture of a naked burger up top there. wink

Gabriel eats his more like a traditional burger, with ketchup and pickles. Which brings up another point. Gabriel is a big meat eater - he doesn’t usually like sitting down to a meal that doesn’t include either meat or eggs, but with these burgers, he’s okay with going vegetarian for dinner. that really says something about how tasty these things are!

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

  • 2 cups of cooked black beans (or one 15 oz can)
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil
  • cornstarch

Cook rice in 2/3 cup of water until just done. You do not want the rice over done and mushy.

Drain and rinse beans. Let sit in colander until fairly dry.

Sautee onion and garlic in alive oil until onion is translucent.

Mix the beans, rice, onion/garlic mixture, and spices together with a potato masher until beans are mostly smashed, but there’s still some texture.

Dust your hands with cornstarch and form mixture into approximately 8 balls. Shape into patties. you may have to re-dust your hands between patties. At this point, you can freeze them in a single layer. These are a great freezer food!

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Dust black bean patties with a little more cornstarch and sautee on each side until nicely browned.

Serve while hot.

Enjoy!

Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Real Food Wednesday, Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Hungry Little Girl, frugal Follies, Weekend Potluck, Show And Tell, Sweet As Sugar Cookies, Cast Party, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday