Glorious Lavender Peppermint Lip Balm

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We're getting all DIY over here for so many reasons, including that it's fun, cheaper than the alternative and a GREAT way to get creative with your hands and mind. I'm all for all of the above.

This lip balm is also super easy to make and makes a LOT to share with friends and family, so I tend to make them around the holidays and birthdays....

Of course you know this, but when you're using and making products for your body and skin, please only use the very best. And know that not all essential oils are created equal. Especially if you're trying to go chemical free, you may not know that store-bought essential oils are not always reliable and in fact contain chemicals themselves. Well, that's a conundrum. If you ever have any questions on where you can get your oils, do reach out and I'll give you the inside scoop!

So without further ado...

Recipe:

2 Tablespoons Coconut oil

2 Tablespoons Beeswax

2 Tablespoons Sweet Almond Oil

Melt the above in a double boiler, then set aside and add:

3 drops Young Living Lavender Essential Oil

3 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil

Pour into lip balm tubes (I love to use tubes that come with a holder ~ like this one ~ since they sit up straight and cause less mess).  Let sit at least 30 minutes to harden.

Just a couple of notes:

1. You can easily double or half this recipe, as needed. 

2. I bought some cute labels such as these, on Amazon, but I'm sure you can find loads of other ones too. 

Enjoy and pucker up!

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Black Bean Pasta Mediterranean Plate

This is simplicity at its best: seasoned black bean pasta (which happens to be low in carbohydrates and high in protein), lightly steamed kale, a chunky lemony artichoke tapenade, and gloriously sweet cherry tomatoes. It takes just minutes to prepare, and it is quite filling, which is really all you need when you're ravenous. And I was.

I'm always looking for alternatives to regular pasta. Although pasta is one of my favorite foods (actually, all food is my favorite!), I'm religious about upping the nutrition wherever I can. Black Bean pasta (Found here) is soy free, organic and made just with beans and water. How easy is that?   If you're looking for something silky smooth, this isn't it: black bean pasta is hearty, dark and rich has a naturally al dente taste, with a rustic bite.

The artichoke heart tapenade is surprisingly simple but complex in texture and flavor: hints of garlic, fresh lemon rind, and a creaminess that is easy to love.  

You can easily make this even more robust by adding in more mediterranean flavors: olives, sundried tomatoes, basil...feel free to play. 

This recipe may look like it has a lot of moving parts, but honestly it's quite easy if you time things right: Two pots on the stove (one for the pasta, the other for the kale) and make your tapenade at the same time. For me, it came together in about 15 minutes. 

Ingredients for pasta: 

1/2 package Black Bean Spaghetti Pasta, cooked according to package instructions. After draining, lightly season with salt and black pepper. 

 

Ingredients for artichoke hearts tapenade: 

1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained

1 can artichoke hearts seasoned in oil and spices, liquid drained by half

2 cloves garlic, microplaned

the rind of one lemon, microplaned (just the top, no white pith)

sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine the artichoke hearts, garlic, lemon, a few pinches of ground black pepper, and sea salt. Pulse lightly so the texture remains chunky. Taste to check seasoning, and leave aside. 

 

Ingredients for Kale: 

2 cups kale, torn, and lightly steamed until bright green, about 1 minute

drizzle of olive oil

squeeze of lemon

sea salt

chili flakes (optional if you like the heat): I didn't add them but will next time.

Toss the kale with lemon and olive oil and season to taste with salt (and chili flakes). Leave aside.

 

Decoration:

1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes.  

 

Assembly:

Start by plating the pasta, then the kale, two scoops of the artichoke tapenade and some sliced cherry tomatoes on the side. Enjoy! And as pretty as it was all plated, when you get into it with your fork, feel free to make a mess of the whole thing.....like this....

 

 

 

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! 

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. 

Rosemary Gladstar's Perfect Cream (with Geranium and Lavender)

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I have to start out saying two things: 

1. Rosemary Gladstar is my hero. If she knew me, we'd be best friends. She just doesn't know that yet. 

2. Because of my deep respect for her, I cannot share with you her copyrighted recipe by giving you all of it.... Duh. That's like giving your hero's magic out for free. It doesn't work out like that in anyone's favor, karmically speaking. The way I'd honor her most is if I led you to buy her book, where not only do you get this incredible recipe, word for word, proportions, and details the way she'd have it set...but then you have an amazing encyclopedia of all of her body care recipes and more. Win, win, win, I think.  You can find it here. 

What I DID want to do was share my experience in making the cream, and to show you some minor adjustments I made to make it "mine".

So it's called, ROSEMARY'S PERFECT CREAM because, well, it IS perfect. Silky, smooth, relatively cheap to make, but it requires a few magic tricks: like patience, scoping things out, waiting, waiting some more, not being scared of loud blenders, and a little more waiting. It's also tricky because basically you're combining oils and water and they don't like to mix. I've never NOT made it in a vitamix, so I can't advise those of you who don't have one, and you do need the tamper so make sure you have that. There rest is in timing. And don't rush the process. 

Changes I've made to suit my taste, all of which will be explained below: 

Replaced coconut oil with Shea Butter

Replaced distilled water with floral waters such as hydrosols

Added in essential oils

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So here we go:

Part 1, you heat over a double boiler some almond oil and coconut oil ~ however, lately I've been getting into Shea butter instead of the coconut oil. I love to cut it thin and add it to the pot to melt. 

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Additionally, you'll add beeswax to the oils, to melt right along (again, exact amounts of each in her book). Note: I used the pellet beeswax because it was easier to measure (see pictured below), but feel free to cut into bars if you need to. 

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Once these ingredients become liquid, you pour the mixture into the vitamix vessel and let cool until it looks like petroleum jelly, opaque, and creamy. Don't be fooled by the top layer, dig a spatula in to make sure it's that consistency throughout. While this is cooling in the vitamix container, go to part 2.....

Part 2, she creates a blend of "waters" to be mixed in to the wax mixture above. I like to doctor it up a little bit in my own way by using hydrosols or floral waters in place of distilled water that she calls for. You'd also be adding in some aloe vera (this is the one I used), 1/2 tsp vitamin E, and I personally added the following oils for an amazing aroma:

1 drop Young Living Geranium essential oil,

5 drops Young Living Lavender essential oil,

and 5 drops Young Living Elemi essential oil (also known as "poor man's frankincense"). 

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THE MESSY & LOUD PART: This is where you blend in the waters to the beeswax mixture. Mind you, oils and water don't mix well, but somehow this cream works ~ almost like an emulsification. So here goes....when the beeswax mix is the right texture, start the vitamix (it will sound a bit violent, but rest easy and just work up slowly), and then slowly add in the waters mixture in a small stream (as the motor is running). Run it for about 20 seconds, using the tamper to help it along, then stop and scrape the sides down. Run it again until everything is smooth, well blended, and the color changes from yellowish to white. And you're done. 

I like to pour the whole mixture out back into my glass measuring cup so it pours into the small containers easier, as pictured....

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That's the gist of it, but Rosemary has some pretty awesome details and tips to make this work well, because the truth is, it doesn't ALWAYS work. Again, timing is everything. If you look at step 1, when it says make sure the beeswax mixture looks a little like petroleum jelly throughout ~ one time I didn't wait long enough, and I ruined the whole thing. 

Parting words:

1. I would like to say that for my skin type (oily, mostly), I would not put it on my face - it's too rich, so it goes best for my hands, feet, knees, elbows, and legs. But do as you'd like, as you know your skin best. 

2. I won't lie, cleaning the vitamix container is a pain in the butt. At the same time, I make this cream twice a year and that pain in the butt is totally worth it. One thing I've found is, if you remove the blade completely and scrub everything with a pasty mixture of: 1 cup baking soda combined with a few tablespoons dish soap and a sponge, you'll get it clean in under 2 minutes. Just use as little water as possible. Then spin it in the dishwasher for good luck and you'll be amazed. But if you want to wash it just with dish soap, you'll basically never get it clean. 

And most of all, have fun making it year after year!

 

 

 

 

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. 

Orange Clove Carpet Deodorizer

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Recently I hosted a fun DIY household cleaning products class, and we made 6 lovely recipes together with friends….one of them was this DIY Carpet Deodorizer. With just a few natural and easy to find ingredients, you can make yourself a batch to use at home in no time, without the harsh chemicals. The aromas are so refreshing and sweet! Here are the deetz:

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1 cup baking soda

10 drops orange essential oil

10 drops clove essential oil

8 oz glass jar plus daisy lid (I get mine here)

In a bowl, combine 1 cup baking soda and essential oils. Add to an 8 oz ball jar and use a daisy lid to shake powder on the rug or carpet. Leave on for 10 minutes, then vacuum as usual.

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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! 

 

 

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! 

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! 

Lavender Grapefruit Foaming Hand Soap

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I've always been conscientious of what we throw away, and even more importantly, what we can choose to up-cycle and use in additional ways. So if you've had some foaming hand soap dispensers laying around (or even better, if you thought you needed to buy another), then this post is for you. For under 2 minutes and for a handful of change, you can have yourself a brand new replenished bottle of foaming hand soap, and it smells terrific too.

I can't claim the template as my own recipe, and I give credit to watching this beautiful Youtube episode all about castle soap....but I did think blending lavender and grapefruit was a pretty groovy idea. 

So here's what you'll need:

1 empty foaming hand soap dispenser (reuse an old one preferably)

5 drops Lavender Young Living Essential Oil

5 drops Grapefruit Young Living Essential Oil

1/2 tsp sweet almond oil

1 tablespoon Unscented Dr. Bronners Castille Soap

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our the essential oils, sweet almond oil, and castle soap to the empty bottle. Fill almost all the way up with filtered water (not all the way to the top so that the pump can fit). Put the pump on, close, and shake to combine well. Label as you wish!

How easy was that? I like to fill up multiple bottles at one time so that I can do it and be done with it. Easy peasy. 

 

 

 

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! 

Five Essential-Oil-Infused Nourishing Hair Serum

I hosted a haircare DIY class last summer, with the idea being that our hair needs the most support in the summer ~ there’s damage from pool water, sun, etc. However, this winter I’ve come to realize that our hair needs all the help it can get, especially in winter months: think hat head, and forced hot air, and extra hot showers which help you warm up but do a number on your hair and scalp.

While there are a lot of recipes that I use (like a shine spray and a scalp spray to tame that “hot-shower-angry-scalp!) The hair serum is something I do between washing days and I have fly-away’s. But you can use it to moisturize curls and strands in general, and even weigh down hair (just a little) that has a mind of its own. Think “bed head” that’s unruly. Unless that’s your type of thing, and if it is, more power to you!

Without further ado, I think this receipt is just as relevant in March as it was last August, and here it is….

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Five Essential-Oil-Infused Nourishing Hair Serum

15 ml dropper bottle (I used these)

Grapeseed Oil or Jojoba Oil

40 drops Jamaican Black Castor Oil (I used this one)

10 drops each: Copaiba, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Lavender, and Cedarwood Essential Oils


Combine all essential oils into the bottle and swirl to blend. Add 40 drops of Jamaican Black Castor oil and top off with the Grapeseed (for straight or fine hair) or Jojoba oil (for coarse or wavy/curly hair). Swirl bottle to blend. Use 2-5 drops. Rub hands together to warm up the oil and apply to the ends of hair first, working your way up to mid-shaft. Do not apply to roots or top of head. Use the small leftovers to gently pat down flyaway hairs. (Recipe adapted from Jen O’Sullivan. Her books can be found here).

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!

 

Vegan Coconut Bacon

Sooo...who doesn't like bacon? Everyone loves bacon.

Who loves heart disease? Nobody loves heart disease.

There are some foods, like coconut in this instance, that really take on the flavors they are paired with beautifully. When you mix coconut with coconut aminos, liquid smoke and stevia, you get this amazing layering effect of flavors...umami, sweet, savory....and you really get the bacon flavor coming through. 

I used this particular recipe as a template, but tweaked it a bit so it's lower glycemic. Also I chose to dehydrate it instead of baking so you retain the coconut enzymes and it's essentially a raw food, and also opted for coconut aminos over tamari (which means they're soy-free!) So my take on the recipe is as follows:

3 cups large flaked raw coconut

3 tablespoons coconut aminos

2 tablespoons liquid smoke

1 full dropper of liquid stevia

Combine ingredients together, layer on a Teflex sheet and dehydrate overnight at 110 degrees. No need to flip. Store in air-tight canister and enjoy! 

 

 

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.

Butterfly Pea & Lavender Bath Salts

I want to begin this article by the desire to say: I’m not here to burst anyone’s bubble, I promise! Not all things that we read and see are true, and we have to follow through with looking at research whenever possible. In fact, I looked up the benefits of epsom salt to see if it was clinically verified, and found this article. Sigh.

It may not do everything people think it does, but that may be ok. I don’t take baths because I’m lacking magnesium, trying to treat pain, or trying to beat winter blues. Simply put, a warm bath with scented petals and aromas may just feel absolutely amazing and relaxing, whether or not the salts are the cause. That’s what I’m going for.

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A couple of things before we start: you can use Sea Salt, Epsom Salt, or Epsom Salt Crystals (seen here). Or a mixture. Play with it, have fun, and don’t stress too much about it. Use what you can find.

For flowers, I love using rose petals, lavender flowers, or blue Butterfly Pea flowers. The blue pea flowers are usually made into a tea, but I love using them in the bath because they make the water blue. All of these flowers can best be found at your local apothecary, herbal store, amazon, etc. (pea flowers pictured below, right).

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The essential oils you use here are also forgiving - if you don’t have rosemary, use sage. If you don’t have lavender, use rose, or jasmine. Play with combos you enjoy. Just remember that the citrus is photo sensitive, so you have to wait a while before going outside in the sun.

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RECIPE:

1 cup Epsom Salt (or Dead Sea Salt, or a combo)

2 tablespoons dried lavender buds

2 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence (the kind you cook with) ~ you can also sub dried rosemary

2 teaspoon dried Butterfly Pea flowers (something like this)

5 drops Rosemary essential oil

5 drops Lavender essential oil

Combine ingredients together. Add ½ or the whole batch of salts in a standard sized tub while the water is running to help them dissolve. I like being surrounded by the flowers, but if you’d rather have them in a tea bag (like this) to strain (or muslin cloth) and have less clean up, that works too. Just make sure that you squeeze the bag under running water to help it dissolve. Soak for 15-30 minutes. Use within 1 week, or store in a sealed glass jar and use within 6 months. *Recipe adapted from this amazing book.

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Warming Coffee Hand Scrub

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There’s something about winter time, getting cozy, making and creating beautiful things for the body, the home, the family, friends, gifting….I’ve seen coffee scrubs all around but have yet to find a recipe that speaks to me in very #hygge, cozy, perfect-for-winter ways, until this one.

I’ve always been one of those people who love the smell of coffee more than the taste. Don’t get me wrong ~ there’s nothing like really good, organic, (decaf for me) coffee….but depending on where you get it, it doesn’t fulfill me quite as much as simply smelling it (and perhaps I’ve been jaded by bad coffee!). I love that this scrub brings that amazing aroma to my senses. It’s sort of perfect.

It’s quick to make, and completely delicious to smell. I primarily use it for the hands, but you can easily use it for elbows, feet, legs, etc. Just make sure you rinse well as it may stain your hands a little, (but don’t wash with soap since it will wash away the oils that are meant to make your hands soft). It’s a bit abrasive, so I wouldn’t use it on the face.

The cinnamon and nutmeg are very wintery aromas, and warming too…makes you feel like you’re drinking a cozy cup of cinnamon & nutmeg coffee.

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Here we go:

1/2 cup ground organic coffee (since this is going on the skin, you’ll want to use organic)

any liquid carrier oil of your choice (almond, grapeseed, fractionated coconut, olive, etc.)

3 drops nutmeg essential oil

1 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 drop cinnamon essential oil) ~ watch it with this oil, as it can be very hot. Only add in one drop.

Combine ingredients in a small glass jar and mix well. The mixture will want to look like wet sand, but you can add as little or as much oil as you’d like (I typically 1:1 ratio, but I never measure).

Enjoy and use within 3 months (but it never lasts that long). Take about 1 tsp, massage into hands, then gently rinse off with warm water. Pat dry. Your hands should feel super soft and smell amazing!

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Did I mention it also makes great gifts for the coffee-aficionado?

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Smooth Greens Soup with Rosemary

The chillier nights are on their way as we soon enter November, and I long for soups that comfort and calm. Creamy soups have always been my love, but I don't always feel good eating them since they tend to be heavy and very fattening. Back in my dairy-eating days especially, soups were considered a light meal, but when you add in the cream and butter, they're anything but light! Inspired by one of my favorite chefs and authors Terry Walters, I've added in a few secret ingredients to thicken up the soup while still maintaining a lightness that I'm looking for.

It's all about the oats.

Terry taught me to use oats to thick soups and it works wonders in this recipe! Also I've added in just a few cashews to make it a bit heartier, but the whole fat is still light: there's only 1/4 cup in the whole soup pot! Hope you enjoy it. And if you want to add in curry, italian spices, anything you'd like ~ this is just a template so feel free to play with your food.

A little side note: We love buying heads of broccoli instead of the precut broccoli bags. The stems are great for juicing, munching on, and they're loaded with nutrition. The other day I realized I had collected 6 stems, so I I peeled and chopped them all and used them in the soup. They're a great way to use up the stems that few people know what to do with. Just get to the inner core that's sweet and crunchy and avoid the thick exterior. If you don't have stems this time around, just substitute with more broccoli florets.

one yellow onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, diced small

1 tsp coconut oil

6 broccoli stems, peeled and chopped (or just add more broccoli)

florets from one head of broccoli, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup cashews

water to cover veggies by 1 inch

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried rosemary

plain unsweetened coconut yoghurt, optional

Sauté the onion in  1 tsp coconut oil for about 2 minutes. Add the sea salt so that the onions sweat a bit, then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add in the broccoli stems, broccoli, zucchini, oats, cashews, rosemary and enough water to cover the ingredients by about an inch, cover, and cook for at least 25 minutes on medium. Stir occasionally and when the veggies are tender, use an immersion blender to blend the soup well. Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Serve with crushed pepper and a tsp of coconut yoghurt if desired. Enjoy!