Soothing Tamanu Skin Gel

I've absolutely been loving making my own DIY recipes.... mostly, it's calming to know that I'm using things on my body and in the home that are non-toxic and free from chemicals ~ that has so many positive impacts on pretty much everything in our lives, it's a no-brainer. But the best part is that it's fun, you get to play, relax, unwind, and make something that smells and feels absolutely incredible on the skin! This gel is exactly that. 

Of course, I don't need to say that you really need to use Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils. So many essential oils out there are not properly distilled, and in fact are not even safe to put on the skin, let alone breathe! Do yourself a favor and get the right oils! One wise woman once said "it doesn't make sense to replace chemicals with more chemicals". Right? If you're curious where you can find the only essential oils I use, check them out here.

Tamanu oil, if you ever get a chance to play with it, is this gorgeous green emerald color (which ends up giving this gel a greenish tint ~ I love it). If you don't have Tamanu, feel free to use any skin-safe oil, like sweet almond, jojoba, rosehip, etc. 

 

AND NOW FOR THE RECIPE.....

1/2 cup aloe gelly (I find mine here)

2 Tablespoons Helichrysum hydrosol (I find it here)

2 Tablespoons lavender or roman chamomile hydrosol (I find them here or here

2 tablespoons tamanu oil (I find mine here)

3 drops Roman or German chamomile essential oil, 7-10 drops lavender essential oil, 2 drops frankincense essential oil (found here)

Stir ingredients together with a spoon until the mixture turns cloudy and smooth ~ it's quite interesting to witness, so pay special attention! Use on your skin to create a nourishing, spa-like effect. It's so lovely, thick but light, and doesn't leave your skin sticky at all. For longest shelf life, store in the fridge.Enjoy! 

This recipe is inspired by my education at School for Aromatic Studies. If you are interested in any of their aromatherapy/essential oils programs, please check them out here! 

 

 

 

 

Currant & Tangerine Popsicles

Original post written: 2014

Um, there are no words to describe…I can’t even.

I had the best time this past spring taking an Ayurvedic Cooking course at the Natural Epicurean, and I’ve been implementing what I’ve learned about spices and flavor profiles into my current raw “uncooking”. This is one of those recipes that is so flipping good, there are no words. It’s amazing what happens (whether cooked or uncooked) when you combine whole ingredients with aromatic Indian spices. Flavors bloom.

This blog is pretty short since, well, I’m sitting here eating this gorgeous popsicle trying to come close to what it tastes like (and I have to say, I'm rather distracted), but I think you have to try it to believe me. If you can imagine creamy tangerine sorbet with a hint of anise and cinnamon, then you’re close, but not quite there. A pinch of cardamom for floral and spicy aroma, and tropical coconut for sweetness and freshness. Combined into one, this was an experiment, but one that I know I will repeat many times this summer. 

This is currant season, if you haven’t seen them yet! They come in beautiful reds, blacks and whites, although I used the reds for this recipe. When currants come into season, you have to take full advantage, leap high into the ground with glee, and get as many as you can. They are delicious, eaten raw, like candy, but in this case, we decided to take them over the top. To boot, these are sugar free, low-glycemic, so if you are struggling with insulin resistance, feel free to make these and consider them a delicious treat without the worry.  

It depends on how big your popsicle molds are, but for us, this recipe made about 4. Sad, since I already want more.

About 2 cups currants, blended, strained to leave you about ¾ cup liquid (Discard pulp)

1 cup canned coconut milk (include as much of the solid fat as you can, then top the rest with the remaining coconut liquid)

¼ tsp each: anise, cinnamon, cardamom powders

2 droppers full of stevia

Pinch salt

3 drops Young-Living brand Tangerine Vitality essential oil** 

 

**This recipe uses only Young Living brand Tangerine Vitality essential oils. Please do not ingest any other oils.  If you don't have this oil, please reach out (I'm happy to answer any questions) or just use 1 tablespoon organic tangerine/orange zest. 

 

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth, and pour out into molds. Freeze over night. Enjoy!

Summer Tomatillo Gazpacho

There’s just something about gazpacho. It’s a win win ~ a win for your garden, and a win for your taste buds: your garden provides pretty much everything you need, and it’s pretty much the best damn soup you can ever make. If you don’t grow your own food, the farmer’s market will do it for you AND everything will be picked at peak ripeness, with all the flavors of summer. It might seem a bit labor intensive, but with a food processor, you’ll make it zippy fast. Plus, it’s an easy lunch you can enjoy happily for 3-4 days.

Tomatillos growing in the garden. They have a paper like outside that you peel off, revealing a smooth green fruit inside. I think they look a little like little lanterns. 

Tomatillos growing in the garden. They have a paper like outside that you peel off, revealing a smooth green fruit inside. I think they look a little like little lanterns. 

I really like the addition of tomatillos in this soup. They're add a unique element of citrus, sweet, and fresh that I really love. They're also a little fruity, and I've been know to eat them like an apple. Try it! Just be sure to wash off the sticky residue from underneath the paper skin (which by the way is totally normal, nothing to be alarmed by). 

Paper-like skin. 

Paper-like skin. 

I've added a can of crushed BPA free organic tomatoes in the mix, simply because I love the richness of tomato flavor and the deep red color that it provides. If you wish, you can just replace this with fresh tomatoes, although the taste will be different and the soup will be more pink than red. Either way, they both work. 

 

2 large cucumbers, peeled (optional) and chopped

1.5 cups peeled and chopped tomatillos

2 green peppers, chopped (or a mixture of colors)

4-5 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

One 28 oz can of crushed organic tomatoes, BPA free (or extra tomatoes) 

Large handful cilantro, chopped

4 small garlic cloves, microplaned

1 tsp sea salt

1-tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, process the cucumbers, tomatillos, peppers, fresh tomatoes, and onion in batches (still a little chunky but like thick soup). Pour out into a big mixing bowl. Add in the crushed tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, salt, vinegar and pepper. Combine well with a large spoon, and taste for seasoning. If you want the extra fat, feel free to dress with a drizzle of olive oil and/or chopped avocado.

BLT Zoodle Salad

This is a super simplified BLT, in all of its glory, with all the nutritive qualities you'd want and none of the bad stuff! We've got coconut bacon, fresh ripe tomatoes, and the spiralized zucchini stands in for the lettuce. Super easy to put together, incredibly tasty and filling. Just make sure you have enough coconut bacon on hand, as you'll want to make this again and again!

1 zucchini, spiralized

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 cup sliced red onions

drizzle of olive oil

drizzle of raw apple cider vinegar

sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons coconut bacon (recipe found here)

Combine zucchini, tomato, onion, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together and taste for seasoning. Serve with a  sprinkle of coconut bacon on top and devour. 

Jackfruit Pulled Pork

Maybe you've heard of this new phenomenon involving jackfruit, imbibing it in glorious barbecue sauce, on a whole wheat bun with some creamy and crunchy cole slaw.... I wanted to take a stab at it, but there were so many recipes to use and I didn't want to be disappointed, so I went with one of the best online chefs around: Minimalist Baker. You can find her recipe here. 

These are some reflections on making the pulled pork that I thought might be helpful....In essence, you pop open the can, rinse the jackfruit pieces, sprinkle them in spices Minimalist Baker recommends, sauté them in some oil to brown, add in the barbecue sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pull the fibers apart with two forks and Voila...vegan barbecue pulled pork that not only tastes but looks like the real thing. Easy peasy. 

Since I had bought 6 cans of jackfruit, I felt like I could experiment a little bit. When you first pull out the jackfruit from the brine, it looks almost like pineapple triangles, with a soft outside and a harder inner core. Minimalist Baker suggests that you cut that core out and only use the soft shred-like outside of the fruit. I did this the first time and certainly it was very easy to use a fork to separate all the fine fibers so it looked like legitimate pork, but I wasn't as keen on having to throw out all of those little hard triangles...I thought maybe there could be a better way?

Second time through the recipe, I cut the hard bits off, and added them to the pot (and they were hard to chew). So finally, I realized why she mentioned to throw them out ~ it required effort to chew! 

Third time I made the pulled pork was perfect: I sliced off the hard bits but then sliced them super small so they were easier to chew. Nothing was discarded, and the pulled pork came out great. Highly recommend this version!

I really enjoyed having leftover pulled pork salads too (I like them even better on a roll)...super filling, with veggies, rice, and avocado. 

Sour Cherry Berry Breakfast Bowl

Recently, I was gifted the most beautiful sour cherries by my friend Carolyn, who is also a chef herself (check out her site here!). She mentioned she turned around for a minute, and her kids ended up harvesting 13 pounds in no time, which makes me the lucky one...since she ended up sharing with me. 

Little did she know that sour cherries are very dear to my heart. They are very popular in Romania and I remember growing up eating them every summer...sometimes, picking them as a little girl, from my grandmother's cherry infused liquor (I ended up just fine, never got drunk, I promise), in glorious vanilla pound cakes, or straight from the tree (and everyone seemed to have one). But in all of these, I ended up isolating the cherries, dismissing anything that was around them, and just enjoying their pure taste.

I have to admit, I had to force myself to make something with them. My desire was two eat them straight out of the bag, but I had to come up with something more interesting than that. Also the whole low-glycemic thing came into play...if I made pound cake, well, there's not enough stevia to make pound cake palatable. But here's what eventually did happen:

1. I made a berry crumble for my boys, and they loved it (not pictured) with the crumble topping from Minimalist Baker found here. (I also cut the sugar in 1/2 and mixed cherries with peaches, gooseberries, blueberries and strawberries...a potentially weird combo, but it rocked!)

2. I froze some for my sister (since she has to taste them, but she's returning from a trip in July), and gave some to my mother (who was beside herself, since she obviously spent more time in Romania than I have and she remembers sour cherries fondly). 

3. I made a yummy raw hazelnut vanilla torte with sour cherries and chickory flowers, which I'll be using in my wild edibles book (out whenever I get my act together...currently working on two others now). 

4. And last but not least, this sour cherry berry breakfast bowl. In love with the last sweet tart tastes of these beauties, and breakfast is complete. 

1/2 cup coconut yoghurt (plain or unsweetened vanilla)

1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/2 cup sour cherries, pitted

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1 scoop chocolate classic protein powder (Sunwarrior, vegan, raw)

sprinkles of blueberries, unsweetened coconut flakes,  cacao nibs, and chia

Blend yoghurt, milk, berries and powder until smooth. Pour into your favorite bowl and decorate with blueberries, coconut, cacao and chia. Enjoy!

Low-Glycemic Mushroom Risotto with Peas & Rosemary

IMG_8463.JPG

Who doesn't love creamy, robust risotto with savory mushrooms, sweet peas, and herbs? Give me a plate! But if you've read my blog by now, you know I love low-glycemic foods so that I don't fall asleep after a meal. This meal is packed with fiber and that prized "umami" flavor from mushrooms (which literally means "deliciousness"), sweetness from caremelized onions and peas, a little kick from your favorite herbs.

The pasta itself is the brilliant part: it's low glycemic rice called "Miracle Rice", which is gluten free, soy free, and has zero calories. It's also made from....get this...konjac flour, which has also been used as a vegan gelatin, completely plant based, and doesn't spike blood sugar (but if you're checking blood sugar, be sure to check this one anyway as results are individual). Konjac is a root and has been used in Asian countries for over 2000 years! It's also high in soluble fiber, which we all need,  and they absorb the flavors of your dish (so on their own, they're pretty tasteless). 

Now, I want you to know that I'm not big on low-calorie foods in general, the processed kinds. I want food that's filling, whole, real and genuine. But I find that risotto rice is white, has a high carb content, and can spike blood sugars if you don't watch it. Who wants that? This is the best of both worlds: have your risotto and eat it too. 

You do need to read the package instructions to know how to prepare the rice. Initially when you open the bag, they smell a bit funky. That's totally normal, and the following procedure will take care of the smell. Rinse rice well, then soak in a bowl of boiling water for 2-4 minutes. Rinse again, and add in to the recipe below. 

1 tsp coconut oil

1/2 red onion, diced

a few pinches sea salt

2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

1/3 cup peas

one package Miracle Rice, prepared according to package instructions

a few pinches rosemary, fresh or dried

black pepper, to taste

Heat a skillet and add in coconut oil, onion and salt. Sauté over medium heat until the onions sweat and release some water (sometimes I do this with the lid on to help it along). Add in the mushrooms and allow them to release their juices, a few minutes, covered, over medium heat. Once the mushrooms are soft, add in the peas, rice, and rosemary. Cover and heat through over medium low heat, a few minutes. Season with black pepper, and enjoy. 

Low-Glycemic Garlic Noodle Love Bowl

Noodle bowls are incredible; can I get an AMEN? Stir fry's are fun, warming, filling and nurturing, especially when you're cramped for time, hungry, and it's a cold, rainy night. I've found that I can't tolerate regular noodles in general, however, as they make me sleepy ~ probably from a carbohydrate coma. High in gluten, high in flour and carbs that spike your blood sugar, they can seriously impact your health if you have them often. They also impede digestion, as they're made of flour, and can often constipate sensitive digestive systems. 

Recently I've found a brand of noodles made from Konjac Flour named "Miracle Noodles": they're low glycemic, low in calories, gluten free, soy free, and made in the USA! Best part is that they're super delicious, easy to use, require minimal cooking time, are low glycemic and won't make you sleepy after you eat them. Since they're low calorie and high in fiber, many people use products made from Konjac to help with weight loss, and are also sometimes used as a vegan gelatin substitute. That said, you just need to stock up on these packages, which come in rice size, angel hair, and fettuccine. You can find them here in a bulk pack of 6. 

The noodles do have a funny smell at first, I won't lie. You need to rinse them well, place them in bowl and soak in boiling water for 2 minutes (I go to 5 just to make sure), drain, rinse again and by this point, the smell will be completely gone.

You really can use any veggies you'd like ~ make it fun, and use whatever is in your fridge and whatever is your favorite. 

Ingredients:

1 tsp coconut oil

2 pinches of sea salt

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

1/2 cup sliced shitake mushrooms

1 cup sliced broccoli

1 small bunch thin asparagus, woody ends cut off, and sliced into 1 inch pieces

3 scallions, sliced in 1 inch pieces

2/3 cup of 1 package Miracle Noodles, Angel hair, rinsed well, soaked in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, and drained

2/3 cup Coconut Aminos Garlic Sauce

1 tsp white sesame seeds

a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce (I love Ninja Squirrel)

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the coconut oil and melt. Add in the garlic & the sea salt, and sauté for one minute to release the flavors. Add in the mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, and scallions and sauté another 3 minutes or so, stirring often to prevent sticking, until the veggies turn bright green. Add in the sauce and noodles, cover and turn down to medium heat just until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Place in two bowls, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce. Makes two servings.

NOTE: One time when I didn't have the garlic sauce on hand, I actually used a little bit of vegan Worcestershire sauce and some vegan hoisin Sauce and it came out really tangy, dark, rich and delicious. Feel free to experiment. 

Leek & Dill Soup

From the start, I have to state that this is my Romanian Aunt Anca's recipe and I fell in love with it from first taste. It's low in fat, full of fiber and vegetables, surprisingly sweet and savory at the same time, and absolutley delicious. This also fits really well in the "easy peasy" department as you don't have to babysit it much and it practically makes itself.

2 leeks, white part and a little of green, cleaned and chopped fine

1/2 zucchini, cubed (optional)

handful of peas

water to cover

1/4 cup chopped dill, saved for the end

Combine leeks, zucchini and peas and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. You can blend 1/2 of it with an immersion blender until smooth, or leave it as is, chunky. Add in the dill, and season to taste with salt & pepper. 

You can easily add anything else to this soup you'd like: a potato, carrots, celery, etc. Enjoy and experiment. 

Fresh Spring Rolls with Parsley Dipping Sauce

Right before a frost a few weeks ago, my husband and I were able to harvest bowls and bowls of spring mix, kale, parsley, cilantro and herbs. We lived off of those greens and I was happy that I had FREE salad for about 10 days (somehow it kept much better than the greens bought in a store! Probably since it wasn't shipped!).

I easily harvested about 5 cups of parsley and had to get to work, creating something with these amazing rich-green leaves. I found this recipe (which is for a dressing) and adapted it a bit to create an amazingly emerald green dipping sauce that I dunk practically everything into! I'd imagine you can do the same thing with cilantro leaves as well for an extra special dressing. If you find wild edibles such as chickweed or nettles, or a mixture...even better...

Be sure to not over-blend: herbs get bitter the more they're processed. 

2 cups parsley leaves, tightly packed

1 generous clove of garlic

1/2 cup mixed oils (I used flax seed oil and unfiltered cold pressed olive oil)

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

sea salt and pepper (adjust to taste)

Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender. You can definitely use this as a dressing but I found it was pretty thick, like a dip....I served them with fresh spring rolls, which made the perfect lunch. I filled brown-rice wrappers with red peppers, spring mix (from our garden), and avocado, and dug right in! Hope you enjoy these as much as I did. 

Spring Asparagus Thai Bisque

This past spring has been interesting...hot (as in 70 degrees) and then it's snowing, mix 30's, then hot again, cold again. I can't really keep up, except that it's been warm enough for me to get inspired over seeds, gardening and growing healthy green food. I'll take the warm weather speckled in the cold if it means I can get to gardening sooner.  

Spring comes with its own bounty: sprouts, greens, and one of my favorites, asparagus. Buying asparagus in the spring (try growing it too!) is completely different than any other time of the year since it's at its peak, fresh, a little sweet and very flavorful. 

I knew I wanted something light: loads of veggies in a coconut broth, but something all the while spicy and warming, so I paired the veggies with some red curry paste. This creamy, slightly spicy bisque is a balanced marriage of both light and warming that will soothe your bones on chilly spring evenings while giving you the best of the season's produce.

Ingredients:

1 tsp coconut oil

1 yellow or red onion, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 bunch thin asparagus, chopped (be sure to discard the woody bottoms)

1/2 cup coconut cream (I prefer the thicker part of the Trader Joe's Coconut Milk)

1 heaping tablespoon Red Curry Paste (I like this one

In a medium heavy bottomed stock pot, melt the coconut oil and sauté the onions on medium heat, until translucent. Add in the zucchini and asparagus, and cover with about 1 inch of water. Add in the coconut cream and bring to a boil, then let simmer half-covered about 25 minutes (until all the veggies soften). Add in the red curry paste, season with salt to taste, and then using an immersion blender, blend until semi-smooth (I like it a little bit chunky). Feel free to give it a finishing touch of red pepper flakes and crushed black pepper. Enjoy! 

Raw Vegan Fudge In A Jar

This was a vamp off a frosting recipe that inspired me, I tweaked and then refrigerated and then voila - it hardened into fudge. I went with it. Happy little accident, and Bob Ross would be proud. 

It couldn't be easier.  It's low-glycemic (I used stevia), loaded with healthy coconut fats, high in antioxidants from the cacao powder (or carob if you choose to use that), and just plain delicious. Depending on whether or not you actually like the flavor of coconut manna, you can opt for 1/2 coconut mana and maybe 1/2 melted cacao butter. More chocolate flavor, less coconut. Either way. Just make it, love it, and enjoy. Honestly, I have this covered in plastic in the fridge and eat about a tablespoon at a time with some fruit and it really hits the spot when I want some chocolate. It also keeps well for about 5 or 6 days, so it's perfect in that regard, that you don't really have to think about dessert: it's already waiting for you!

1/2 cup softened coconut manna/butter (do not use coconut oil though)

       (You can also do 1/2 and 1/2 with melted cacao butter)

1/2 cup hot water

1 dropper full hazelnut stevia

1 tsp hazelnut extract

2 tablespoons cacoa powder

1/2 tsp reishi, maca, maqui, or other medicinal powder (Optional but fun)

pinch sea salt

Blend ingredients in a mini personal blender, pour into a ball jar, cover and refrigerate. After a few hours, the coconut will harden and turn into a soft fudge: hard enough to spoon up and devour! You can also change this up and add in some cinnamon, nutmeg, go crazy...make it your own. Enjoy! 

Sunflower Sprouts

I absolutely love growing my own sprouts. They're very cost effective, easy (they grow on their own with little supervision), they give you an indoor gardening when you don't have the outside space, and they provide unparalleled nutrition. They are the epitome of nutrition, in fact, loaded with fiber, antioxidants, chlorophyll, protein, and abilities to support the body through detoxification. In many instances, they are exponentially more nutritious than their grown counterparts (for example, broccoli sprouts contain more nutrition than broccoli itself!)

Some sprouts are grow in ball jars, need to be rinsed, and then they develop tails in about 3 days. More on those later, article coming.

These particular sprouts, along with wheatgrass, grow in dirt. The benefit of these is that there's very little chance of mold, at least in my experience. And they require minimal babysitting. 

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, organic, soaked overnight

2 cafeteria trays

enough organic soil to fill one cafeteria tray

something heavy, like a 1 pound weight or a plate

a sprayer with water, and extra water

First, take one of the trays, and pour the dirt inside. Brush it to the edges, leaving 1 inch of space before you hit the edge (this helps water pool). Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top. Then using a slow stream of water, drizzle some water over top of the sunflower seeds in long lines. Turn the tray once and do it again (creating a criss cross pattern). If there's extra water in the 1 inch edge, then pour that out. Cover with the second cafeteria tray, and put a weight on top. Leave it away from sunlight, but indirect sunlight is ok. Wait about 3-4 days until the sprouts themselves push up the tray (and they will!) Next, spray the emerging sprouts with water daily until they reach about 3 inches, trim, and enjoy! 

My Every Morning Protein Smoothie

I know how hard it is to get a proper breakfast. We're all running around, dazed by the alarm and lack of sun, early risers greeting the day with...what's that? A cup of coffee? A glazed donut? Those days are long gone for me, since I know how important it is to set yourself up for the day. But believe me, I lived there for many years.

According to my teacher Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo's research, enjoying protein in the morning can help diminish any later-day cravings for sweets and carbs. I've seen this happen in my life, where in the past, I may have started out with starches or carbohydrates, then I get a quick sugar spike, then I need something again after two hours since my sugars are down...the dreaded rollercoaster! Ideally, your breakfast should have enough protein, greens, & healthy fats to keep you satisfied for hours. Creating something like this isn't that likely if you're rushing out the door and you just need a quick fix. 

This is why I created this smoothie. It takes under 3 minutes to make, is loaded with all the necessary nutrients I need to start my day right, is gluten free, vegan, loaded with bio-available protein, and tastes like a milkshake! Emphasis on the last part. 

I also love this new indian spice box which I bought to assemble all my necessary powders, my add ins: from the top right, going clockwise we have: spirulina, moringa, nigella seeds (I take a tsp and swallow with some smoothie, not blended in), maca, a supplement I take for PCOS, dehydrated low-glycemic berry powder (which I only put in when I'm out of raspberries) and in the middle we have Green Vibrance powder. Guess what? By the time 8:00 am hits, I have this mega smoothie packed with whatever add in's I want for the day (and they're not always the same, by the way).

You can also play with the recipe by adding in some other things, like aloe vera, maybe some E3Live, and even take my vitamin D supplement. I make it work for me, rather than the other way around. Keep it fun but most of all, keep it simple.

The toppings are great also. Why? To slow you down. The only glycemic food here are the raspberries (and by testing them, I know I tolerate them well). But since they're blended and quicker to digest this way, I still like to take my time and keep myself from gulping everything down. Having something to chew really helps you slow down and enjoy your smoothie, starts the digestive process in the mouth, and offers more fiber as well. Also, you can add in any toppings you like (chia is also a good one). 

Ingredients:

2 cups water

1 scoop Sunwarrior Chocolate Protein Powder

3/4 teaspoon each of your favorite add ins (today I included everything but the berry powder)

1/3 cup frozen raspberries

toppings: anything you like, like cacao nibs, unsweetened organic coconut and pumpkin seeds, chia, bee pollen, etc.

Low-Glycemic Lime Mint Smoothie

I feel in love with this smoothie when I first saw this video, titled "Limey Love Shake" by Chef Shelley of PH Miracle. It's literally the perfect smoothie: only veggies, lime and stevia as the sweeter, and it's so cool and refreshing from the mint and ice! It's literally a dream, the first time I had it. I alternate the greens, but for the most part, have something like this almost every other day. 

I also came across Chef Shelley through the writings of her husband Dr. Young of the PH Miracle. They've done amazing work together to heal acidic states in the body through raw, alkaline foods. I noticed a huge difference when I took their advice and added green powders to most of the water I was drinking through the day, and incorporating this smoothie into my diet. 

Of course, I can never do the same recipe exactly the same way: I decided to alter the recipe a bit in my own way, based on my tastes. Here's my take on the "Limey Love Shake":

1 long english cucumber, sliced

1 large handful of kale, torn

2 limes, peeled

2 full droppers of liquid stevia

1 large handful mint (I put in about a cup)

1 full tray of ice

1/2 avocado

Toppings: cacao nibs and/or unsweetened coconut shreds, optional. 

Blend the cucumber, kale, limes, stevia and mint with enough water to cover ingredients about halfway. Add in the ice and the avocado last, and give it a fast whirl (you don't want to blend the avocado too much as it can turn foamy.) Top with toppings, if using, and enjoy! 

 

 

Premium Starter Kit ~ 14-day challenge!

Welcome to your oily journey! You're in for some fun and inspiration...now that you've received your kit, many people are unsure where to start, so I created this fun 14-day challenge to take you through all of the oils and learn, one step at a time! Check them out below and enjoy! 

Also, in case you forgot, here's another slide to remind you the difference between the white vitality label and the regular label. I know it's showcasing lemon oil, but it still stands true for ALL of the oils - white label is Vitality (may be taken internally), regular label is topical/aromatic. In a pinch, if you're confused, all you need to do is peel the label back and it will tell you the safest way to use it.

Oil #1 for Day #1! Peppermint is one of my top DAILY oils! I love diluting one drop with a carrier oil of your choice (sweet almond oil, jojoba, etc) and putting it on the back of my neck to help me cool down. I also love adding the vitality peppermint oil to peppermint brownies, diffusing it for a clean, fresh scent, and inhaling to support my breathing. It's very uplifting too! A nice oil to diffuser when you're working out at home to put a pep in your step! What are your favorite ways to use it?

Oil #2 for Day #2: Lavender! I love Lavender for so many uses. I love rubbing some on my feet at night for a better sleep. I also love making sleepy time roll ons for friends with lavender, cedar wood and orange. The vitality Lavender can also be used internally and I love making lavender lemonade or if you're into baking, think lavender shortbread cookies? It also is probably the most purchased YL essential oil (for those of you who took the quiz!). It's called "the swiss army knife" of oils since it can do so many things! I also love adding it to my skincare routine. But the simplest and most fun ways to use it is simply to diffuse.....it brings such calm and comfort!

Oil #3 for Day #3: Lemon essential oil! 
Diffusing lemon is the way to go if you're looking for a clean, fresh, uplifting aroma (smells divine!). I love keeping lemon vitality by the kitchen sink for adding to the water I drink throughout the day. Also, did you know you can replace lemon juice or zest with the lemon vitality oil? Think lemon bars! Or raw vegan lemon goji energy truffles! Add a couple of drops to your salad dressing too. Plus it's great for cleaning. I love adding a few drops to the washing machine. One of my favorite diffuser blends (you have to try it!) is lavender, lemon, and peppermint (2-3 drops each)...As a side note: lemon essential oil can also get rid of that tricky sticker glue! SO many uses. What's your favorite?

Oil #4 for Day #4! The fact that Young Living put frankincense in the kit speaks volumes - this is such an incredible essential oil! I don't even know where to start! First, I simply love using it to meditate or ground me during yoga with its relaxing aroma. I put it in all things DIY for the face and skin, and also love making my own roller ball bottles along with lavender and orange (this combo is super calming so I love putting it on the bottom of my feet before bed), or in a relaxing pillow spray (1 ounce bottle, add some drops and then fill up with distilled water). For spiritual purposes, it's my #1 - when I'm feeling in a funk, or need to carry my meditation through the day with me, I love inhaling it and it instantly brings me back to my practice. I could go on and on and on! Frankincense and I are inseparable! How do you use it?

Oil #5 for Day #5! Whenever I open up a bottle of Copaiba, someone in a class ultimately says they've never heard of it and my response is "it's a secret gem of an oil", since it truly it! It's almost as versatile and useful as lavender, but not as well known. It's distilled from a resin (tree is grown in Brazil) and is in the same family as Myrrh and Frankincense, so the qualities are quite similar. I love adding it to my beauty face serums, skin salves or massage oils, and I'm finding out, it's the secret oil in blends that end up being my favorite blends ~ like Stress Away and Breathe Again roll on! I also love adding a drop of Copaiba Vitality to a mug of warm almond milk and a few drops of stevia for a nourishing night-time drink. How do you love it?

Oil #6 for Day #6! Digize for the win, when you want to support your digestion! I carry this with me when I travel, and love rubbing it into my belly or on the bottoms of my feet. I also love using it with peppermint, for digestive support, and together they make a wonderful pair! I'm spoiled at home, where I get to eat food that I'm used to, but in visiting family, eating out, sometimes tummy troubles are inevitable. I love having Digize vitality at a moment's reach for any digestive support I may be seeking!

Oil #7 for Day #7 ~ Thieves! This for me was the gateway oil (while for the rest of the world it's probably lavender!) As some of you know, I'm also a music teacher and many years ago, I was looking for immune support since all of my kiddos were coming in with all sorts of bugs! A friend of mine had Thieves hand spray (which I highly recommend) and I started to spray my piano with some of it. And here we are, years later. I still use it every single day, but now I use the diluted concentrate in a spray bottle (and I carry the hand spray in my purse). LIFE CHANGER! All kinds of wonderful immune support plus it smells divine - I love diffusing it, adding it to my DIY, and even making "Coke" with the Thieves vitality oil using: seltzer, 2 drops Thieves vitality oil, 2 drops tangerine vitality, and some maple syrup or stevia (it's AWEsome good!)...but I have to mention the Thieves cleaner since Thieves is a WHOLE line of amazing products, like toothpaste, mouthwash, hand spray, cleaner and so much more! Toxins out, chemicals out, health and wellness in!

Oil #8 for Day #8 - I simply LOVE this oil! RC is a blend of three types of eucalyptus and is fresh and invigorating. I love applying a little with a carrier oil to the back of my neck before and after a workout, and love making my own salve with aloe vera gel and sweet almond and a few drops RC to rub on the chest for some respiratory support. It's also my go-to when creating inhalers with organic cotton round inserts, for any type of respiratory and breathing support. 

Oil #9 for Day #9 - Panaway is always ready to soothe! I love diluting it with a carrier oil to massage my muscles after a good workout, plus it smells incredible with the wintergreen and clove! An excellent oil to carry with you to the gym!

Oil #10 for Day #10. OK, I know I say this a lot but this is one of my FAVORITE oils! It's a gorgeous, refreshing blend that contains citronella, lemongrass, rosemary and myrtle, among others. It's one of my favorite oils to add to my outdoors spray so I can enjoy the summer outdoors when I'm hiking, and soothe my skin! Also, I love adding purification to dryer balls and which both scent the laundry in amazing ways and also cut out static. No chemicals in our laundry room! And the clothes come out smelling incredible! Also a great oil to put on a cotton round and place in an air vent when traveling - sometimes hotel rooms smell icky to me, and this refreshes the room in wonderful ways! 

Oil #11 for Day #11 ~ oh, Stress Away. This one never leaves my side. It's my #1 diffuser blend to chill out, especially in the middle of the day when stress can be quite high! With vanilla and lime, it's super comforting and is also one of my favorite ways to wear "perfume"! Add it to bath salts for an incredible experience as well. I've found myself in an interesting pattern lately... when I'm sitting in the car at any point - at a red light, at the bank, picking someone up, Stress Away always comes out of my bag and I rub it on the back of my neck and wrists. Waiting becomes a pleasurable experience! 

Day 12 - Ningxia for the win! I love drinking my Ningxia serving (1-2 ounces will do it!) around 3:00 pm when my energy slumps and I crave a little something....it's also in my bag after a hike, or on road trips for some super good nutrition! 

On day 13, we learn about Essential Rewards ~ It's your prestige rewards membership in a customizable wellness box! Think Amazon meets Costco meets your cash-back credit card! I love being on ER since it's CONTINUED learning - you can't use what you don't have, right? You can choose oils to learn, past the premium starter kit, but remember YL is a wellness company. You can add toothpaste, mouthwash, chemical-free make up, soap, shampoo, lotion, doggie treats, goji bars, Ningxia, anything you can think of that promotes the healthy lifestyle that we're all reaching for! But instead of going to a store (and not being sure what you're getting), you buy from the best AND you get some serious perks while doing so: Free bundles at different payment tiers, chosen monthly, Discounted shipping, You earn points back on all of your YL purchases (10% back for the first 3 months, 20% back for months 4-24, 25% back for 25+ months), Free gifts at months 3, 6, 9, an Exclusive “Loyalty” oil at month 12 (not for purchase otherwise). All this from buying things we already need. Your local pharmacy doesn't give you all of these perks! So it's not about purchasing more, it's about making your normal purchases with Young Living instead! One last thing - those percentages back are no joke! I made a purchase last month for $150 that was completely free, paid for the credit I accrued over the past few months. How awesome is that? 

Thank you so much for joining us on this journey! This is day 14, and by now, you are much more educated on all of the wondrous oils you are holding in your hands! But this is just the beginning. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions...I'm always here to support you! 

Light Breakfast Bowls

Breakfast is a funny thing. Sometimes I wake up and don't have to eat until 11:00 am. Sometimes I'm ravenous at 6:30 am. Most of the time, I keep it simple and just have a satisfying protein smoothie, but there are some days when I want something light and refreshing.

These are two of my signature bowls that I've made over and over and they fit the bill perfectly. The first is tart, sweet, and just the right thing when I need something to hold me over, but I'm not starving. The second is a little more substantial and holds me over for longer...but it still follows the same formula. Some fruit and almonds. Love the both and hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Interestingly enough, they're sweet enough (but low-glycemic) to pass for a dessert. 

GRAPEFRUIT ALMOND BREAKFAST BOWL:

1 grapefruit, cut in half, flesh scooped out

1 banana, sliced

a handful of pumpkin seeds.

Combine ingredients and enjoy.

 

COCONUT YOGHURT BLUEBERRY BOWL

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut yoghurt

1/2 cup blueberries

a handful of slivered almonds

Combine ingredients and enjoy.

 

Enjoy! And let me know what you're having for breakfast! 

Fresh Coconut Acai Love Bowl

You've probably seen the glorious photos of Acai Bowls everywhere...on instagram, Facebook, even in some healthy restaurants, made at home by those of us who want to eat healthy. Why do we need ONE more, you ask? Well, this one is loaded with good healthy fats (that keep you satisfied, help your hormones, etc.), and it's also low-glycemic ~ that's the important part! Many of our common Acai Bowls contain sweeteners and are loaded with sweet fruit. While this works for some people, I'd like to make the sugar down a bit and increase the healthy fats. You'll enjoy this delicious bowl of superfood goodness, giving you energy while keeping you away from the blood sugar rollercoaster! 

Acai is a berry that's touted as a superfood, containing fiber, heart-healthy nutrients, Vitamin C, healthy fats, antioxidants and capacities to help us detox (Because the benefits are just SO HUGE and too long to list in this post, here are two super useful and fun articles to read to further your knowledge on Acai : HERE and HERE).  But the bottom line is: Acai berries are delicious, and that's reason enough for us to eat them! Eat more of the good and less of the bad. This fiber-rich antioxidant bowl works really well as a morning breakfast or a mid-afternoon pick me up. 

Also, I've recently ordered fresh frozen coconut meat from Exotic Superfoods in hopes of making low-sugar raw desserts, but I haven't even gotten to that part yet ~ I've just been eating it straight out of the bag and it's absolutely delicious! I did buy the case, which can get expensive, but cutting into regular young thai coconuts and not knowing if they're fresh or not, sprayed with formaldehyde to keep the outside white, or low-yielding, then you have to clean the meat....It's a lot of work! I figured this saves me time, hassle, it's all clean, and I can taste the purity. 

Ingredients:

One packet of unsweetened Acai Berry Puree, defrosted (I like the Sambazon brand)

a few drops liquid stevia 

slivered almonds

blueberries

1/2 cup fresh raw coconut meat, sliced

chia seeds

bee pollen

In a bowl, pour out the Acai puree and stir in a few drops of the stevia. Start with three and taste as you go, making it sweet enough for you. Add in the rest of the ingredients, and enjoy. 



Life Changing Cashew Ranch Dressing

When I first started eating vegan (as with many people, you'll find) the hardest thing to give up was anything creamy, ooey gooey, cheesy, buttery, anything from the dairy department. Especially in the summer, when you don't necessarily want a hot grilled cheese (actually, anything hot for that matter), but rather, a cooling salad with something extra special on top: like ranch dressing.  Is there anything more perfect than cool ranch with a hint of onion or garlic over, well, anything: greens, veggies, cardboard? It can make anything taste out of this world.

While there are so many vegan ranch dressings out there (some use macadamia nuts, some pine nuts, some a mixture of sorts, add onion, don't add onion, add basil, don't add basil, salt, no salt, sheesh...), the variety and options can give you a headache, for real. 

So I wanted a recipe I can easily remember (since, as some of you know, I never duplicate the same recipe twice and in fact, my husband asks if I can make "that one thing you made the other day" and I frown since, well, I just can't remember what I put in it, so I make another batch and it comes out completely different). I'm that girl. The one who perpetually reinvents her recipes.

Fret no more! This one is the only cashew ranch recipe you'll ever need, and the one you'll remember since: (1) it's life changing and (2) its' all about 1 ~ 1 ~ 1 ~ 1. That's easy.

The "one of everything" idea actually came from my romanian mother and grandmothers, who, when I was a child told me many times: don't follow a recipe. Just do one handful of this, one handful of that. It caught on. 

So...one of everything:

1 cup cashews, soaked (measured before you soak them) and drained

1 cup water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 handful dill (yes, hand sizes are different, but it's about 1/2 cup loose dill)

Combine cashews, water, salt and powders in a vitamix and blend until really creamy. Chop the dill loosely, add to the mix, and just PULSE to incorporate. Enjoy. 

This is literlaly, life changing. I've had it all week, it gets better as it sits, and is just a dreamy, creamy, loveliness you can't help...but....remmeber :) 

Peace and love, y'all!

 

Zippy Lentil & Tomato Salad

When you’re looking for lean & mean plant-based protein, lentil is one of the top winners in my book. It’s so versatile! You can make a stew, a soup, a “mash”, burgers, and today, even a cold salad to satisfy your craving palate! I’m all about “easy cooking” these days, especially that the weather has warmed up, I want to be in the kitchen less and less and more out in the garden, harvesting herbs, veggies, and eating easily assembled meals. More time playing, less time working, I say!

These lentils take about 25 minutes to cook, and you have an easy addition to your meals for about 5 days ~ how easy is that?

You can use green or red lentils, but they’ll turn soupy, so my “go to” for this dish are either French/puy lentils or black lentils. Both retain their shape really well, and are a delicious chewy texture you’ll love. Use it with any veggies that are in season, herbs of your choice, and you’ve got a meal you can make in minutes!

Ingredients:

1 cup black or puy lentils, rinsed, looked over, and boiled with plenty of water until done (about 25 minutes or so).  Drain, set aside and cool.

1 chopped tomato

¼ cup chopped onion

Dressing:

1 tsp your favorite mustard

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

Pinch sea salt

As much black pepper as you can tolerate

In a bowl, combine dressing ingredients and mix up with a fork. Add in about ½ cup of your cooked lentils and stir well. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Add in the tomato and onion, mix slightly, and enjoy. 

Tip: This salad is also very good, by the way, with ready made hot lentils also.