How I Celebrated Earth Day This Week

22 Apr

My Grocery Shopping Cart this week.

I did it!

Thanks to my community of Mamas, my grocery cart is now ‘greener’!

I always brought my own grocery bags to pack my groceries in after paying at the cashier’s – but I used those thin plastic bags when segregating and putting produce and bulk foods in my cart.  I knew it wasn’t exactly ‘green’ but I rationalized that I would recycle them anyway.  This year, with the help of my readers, I was motivated and finally bought my reusable and earth-friendly muslin and mesh bags for my bulk and produce foods.

I have to tell you though – I was the only one in my health food store with reusable produce and bulk foods bags.  Everyone else around me was still using those thin plastic bags.  They were all looking at my muslin and mesh bags with wonder in their eyes.  Maybe I will, in turn, inspire them to stop using even more plastic too.

Thank you for motivating me to be a better person and HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!

Half Raw and Half Cooked: Avocado, Corn and Tomato Salad over Beans

21 Apr

Corn Salad over Beans

We got to our local health food shop just in time the other day to buy the last 5 ears of local and organic sweet corn.  We were excited because we love our Avocado, Corn and Tomato Salad!  We enjoy the salad plain, or in lettuce as wraps… or even in a half-raw/half-cooked meal.  Today, we enjoyed them over Mashed White Kidney Beans.  Yummy!

For Mashed White Kidney Beans (the easy for Mama way): 

1. Soak 3 cups of white kidney beans in water overnight.

2. Drain and rinse the beans the next morning.

3. Place in slow cooker on high until soft (usually around 9 hours).

4. Drain.

5. Heat a pot and add 1/2 cup of water.

6. Sweat 1 chopped sweet onion in the water until softened.

7. Add 2 tsp ground cumin.

8. Add all the cooked beans and mash.

9. Season with some sea salt and your choice of herbs.

Raw Corn Salad on top of Cooked Mashed Beans, served with Flax Crackers

To Serve:

1. Place some mashed beans on a plate.

2. Top with Avocado, Corn and Tomato Salad.

3. Garnish with cilantro or a flax seed cracker.

4. Enjoy!

Time for Berries!

17 Apr

We love berries at our house.  Most of the time, we love them plain, although my son really loves them with a little raw honey (kids and their sweet tooth!).  Sometimes, we enjoy them on top of our fruit pudding* or raw oatmeal.  Occasionally, I’ll serve them with some greens and a sweet balsamic vinaigrette. (*Note: we haven’t had dairy in our home for over a year.)

Mixed Berries with Greens

The easiest way for us to get some berry goodness is through smoothies, like “More Greens Please!” Strawberry Smoothie and Berry Spirulina Smoothie.

"More Greens Please!" Strawberry Smoothie

When I want a quick treat, I love my Quick and Easy Raw Ice Cream Base which takes less than 5 minutes to prepare.  I eat it as is or wait till it is frozen.  A wonderful alternative is simply mixing frozen bananas and berries together in a food processor for a raw ‘ice cream’.

Quick and Easy Raw Ice Cream Base

When I have some extra time, I love to make some Berry TreatsRaw Strawberry Cream Pie is easy to serve a la minute!  And it looks beautiful.  My son is allergic to cashews, so I substitute with macadamia nuts when I make this at home – but I much prefer the taste with cashews.

Raw Strawberry Cream Pie

These Raw Blueberry Bars are wonderful if you miss Fig Newton’s or Pop Tarts or crave cereal bars!

Raw Blueberry Bars

Or maybe you crave an Easy Blueberry Peach Crumble for breakfast, snack or dessert!

Easy Blueberry Peach Crumble

Can you tell we love berries?

Just an FYI, Driscoll’s is having a Twitter Chat tomorrow: Wednesday, April 18th at 7pm EST with Sommer of GreenandCleanMom.org! They will be discussing how to eat green for Earth Day with Driscoll’s organic berries. And, 5 lucky chat participants who answer their green living questions correctly will be chosen to receive $20 in Driscoll’s coupons!  You can find Driscoll’s Organic Berries in most local supermarkets (even my health food shop will sometimes carry this brand too)!

Review and Give Away: Bee Yummy

16 Apr

Are you looking for RAW facial products?  I have tried Alkaitis day and night creams before.  Although I loved them, they left my face feeling greasy and sticky all the time.  The fragrance was also pretty overpowering.  Applying make-up, which I seldom do, was a little difficult on a sticky face too.

After asking around for Vegan product recommendations for my face, nobody recommended Bee Yummy.  Maybe because their products are not fully Vegan.  Although they are RAW FOOD products, honey, bee pollen, proplis and Royal Jelly are their primary ingredients.   Many Raw Vegans like me, who consume raw honey, would use them.  I stumbled upon them through my own research and I wondered how well they would work on my face.  live live organic accommodated my curiosity and sent me 2 sets of samples: 1 for me and 1 for one of my lucky readers!

Bee Yummy Face Products are made of RAW ingredients: Eye & Lip Cream, Face Lift and Skinfood. Feel free to eat some while applying on your face!

Bee Yummy Eye & Lip Cream is simply Olive Oil, Beeswax and Balsam Fir Needles.  It is a solid, but you can melt a little at a time when you apply it on your skin.  I had come back from a trip to Colorado, where it was dry and cold.  My lips were a little chapped – and after only a day of application, this made my lips feel soft and smooth.  I tried to use it on my eyes, but found it a little difficult (I am used to dabbing eye cream, not applying some with so much pressure that it stretches my skin) and time consuming to melt and apply around my eye area.

Bee Yummy Face Lift is simply Wildflower Honey & Honey Cappings, Kombucha Mushroom, Royal Jelly and Pure Water.  I used it twice in the past 2 weeks as a mask for 30 minutes (though they suggest using it throughout the night too) and I loved the feeling!   On my search for more products that work, I recently tried one mask that was so tight it felt like my skin was going to crack.   Bee Yummy Face Lift was not like this at all.  It made my skin feel moisturized and firm without being too tight at all. In fact, it will be the mask I use from now on! Although I still want to try some DIY Superfood Facemasks… when I have some extra ingredients and time on my hands that is!

Bee Yummy Skinfood is simply Wildflower Honey & Honey Cappings, Bee Pollen, St. John’s Wort Flowers, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Balsam Fir Needles and Pure Water.  I haven’t had a chance to try this product myself at all because I gave my sample to my son.  He ate something he was allergic to 2 weeks ago and broke out with eczema on his face.  I usually use coconut oil or shea butter to help reduce it and more high-raw Vegan foods in his diet to help cleanse his system.  This time, I wanted to try Skinfood instead of the coconut or shea butters. Well… after seeing how fast my son’s eczema disappeared after using Bee Yummy Skinfood, I went ahead and bought my son a 2oz bottle to keep in his drawer.  I wish I had some photos but I frankly didn’t think his skin would be better so quickly and I lost the opportunity.  Another good thing about Skinfood is that a small amount goes a long way too.

Any of you want a sample?  Please simply comment here and the winner will be announced on Earth Day!

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria?  Absolutely!

1. smell – who doesn’t love the smell of honey?

2. sensitivities – my son is allergic to so many sweeteners.  The only sweetener that his body is truly fine with is honey.  Needless to say, we don’t have honey allergies at our house.  We love raw honey.

3. taste – you can EAT all of Bee Yummy products.

4. moisturize – I love the Face Lift!  It is now my preferred face mask.

5. everyday comfort and 6. lasting effect – According to their website: “As a cosmetic cream Bee Yummy™ nourishes your skin with at least 27 minerals, 22 amino acids, 105 live enzymes & co-enzymes, hormones, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and pigments. Another amazing, if not the  main feature of  Bee Yummy™ is it’s healing effect. It is excellent to help heal wide range of skin conditions: burns, sunburns, open wounds & cuts, pimples, blemishes, bed sores, stretch marks, chapping etc. We have reports from our clients that it has been very helpful for psoriasis, eczema, rosatia, poison ivy, and other conditions.”

7. eco-friendly – Vegans won’t like that honey is their primary ingredient, of course.  According to their website, their “ingredients have been hand harvested in a small wilderness area with it’s own micro climate. Honey, Pollen, Propolis & Royal Jelly are made by the same colony of bees from a small apiary, which accounts for energetic harmony and synergy of our cream. Honey is collected from the wildflowers, is unfiltered (just dripped from the comb), and contains the cappings of the hive with their precious, mysterious substances. Pollen, depending on season, is from a mixture of Wild Dandelion, Wild Roses, Raspberries, Asparagus, Goldenrod, Wild Apples, and Cherry Tree blossoms. Propolis is of the highest quality: only from Poplar and Fir trees. The flowers of St. Johnswort are picked by hand at noon, when the juices are drawn up from the roots, stems, and leaves into the flowers. Only select, young tips of Balsam Fir are used as a vitamin C source. No preservatives are needed because Honey, Propolis, and Balsam Fir are the nature’s  best preservatives and antibiotics. Honey is the only food on earth that will keep forever, and so will our cream.”

Want to try them? Just leave a comment below and the winner of the sample set will be announced on Earth Day!

Raw Green Gazpacho

12 Apr

My Raw Green Gazpacho To-Go while cleansing on the go.

I took my Raw Green Gazpacho to our homeschool coop today and the kids kept asking “What’s that?!?” I was trying to explain to a 4 year old that like soap cleans something dirty, my green juice full of veggies cleans the insides of my body. She looked at me, wide-eyed and disbelief, “You clean your body with veggies???” Yes, I do!

I have been participating in CleanseAmerica’s 10-day cleanse since Monday. I have been craving my thick and creamy Coconut Gazpacho full of umami-ness – but decided I wanted something greener and much less fattening. So, today, I created this Raw Green Gazpacho that is perfect during a smoothie cleanse: full of green goodness and still reminiscent of Gazpacho flavors.

Puree all together in a high speed blender:

1 handful of cilantro leaves

2 handfuls of spinach leaves

2 cucumbers, peeled

2 pieces of celery

2 big tomatoes

1/2 lemon, juiced

sea salt, to taste (optional)

Enjoy!

Everyone wanted a different flavored Sun Tea so…

12 Apr

Our different flavored Sun Teas

Our recent fave plain sun tea is peppermint tea.  No sweetener added, it makes a cool and tingly flavored water for a hot day.  2-3 teaspoons of loose leaf peppermint in 1 quart of water and simply leave it out in the sun for a day.  Easy peasy for busy Mamas!

Creamy Plantain Green Smoothie

9 Apr

Plantain Bananas

Because they are in season all year round in the tropics, I grew up eating plantains fried or baked or boiled or steamed almost daily.  They were one of my fave foods.  I was told not to eat them raw, but I couldn’t resist trying one as it ripened on my kitchen counter one day a few years ago.  Now I love them RAW when they are all black, soft and super sweet.  Sometimes, I can’t wait and eat them when they are a little soft, but still quite yellow (like in the photo above).  For breakfast, I love them with a little raw almond butter and raw honey or with cayenne spices.  For lunch, I like to eat them plain with a huge salad to bulk up my meal when I am really hungry.  Sometimes, we love them in smoothies because they create really lovely creamy drinks.  For days when you are really hungry, these smoothies have a heavier creaminess than regular bananas.  Plantains are an excellent source of potassium, magnesium and vitamins B6 and C.

Today, my whole family enjoyed a Strawberry Plantain Green Smoothie.  For me, the fewer ingredients, the better.   I like keeping things simple.  I used to add dates when my family was transitioning to a more raw food diet, but we find dates in green smoothies too sweet now.  We prefer them a little plainer these days – so we can really taste the ingredients in the smoothie.  I also used to add only 4 cups of greens, but now we prefer 6 cups or more.  But feel free to experiment with other veggies and fruits and add your fave raw ingredients too like nuts and/seeds.  Here’s my basic recipe.

Blend all in a high speed blender:

2 really ripe, soft and black plantains, peeled

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 cup water

1 pint of strawberries or fruits in season

6 cups of greens, or more

I find it easier to add the greens to the blender first, so I can measure it to make sure I have at least more than 6 cups.

Then I add the strawberries.

Then I add the orange juice and water.

Then I add the plantains last.

Puree it all together for a creamy green smoothie.

Our Pirate’s Smoothie

8 Apr

Our Pirate's Smoothie

What’s better than seeing my family truly enjoy something I made from scratch in my own kitchen and with my own hands?  For me, it’s when they enjoy something that tastes like I slaved over it, but it actually only took a few minutes and consisted of only a few ingredients.  Not only does that mean I get to spend more time with my familybut I also have a fantastic recipe.  This is definitely a keeper. And guess what, you only need 3 ingredients: 1 ripe pineapple and 2 young coconuts!  How can you beat that!

Simply place the pineapple chunks, the coconut water and the coconut meat in a high speed blender and puree away.  This is heavenly especially after a day at the beach!

Review: Acure Face

8 Apr

Acure Products

Besides 100%PureAcure was the most recommended Vegan cosmetics brand by my community of Mamas. I should have started out my vain quest for Vegan products that really work with Acure face creams  The Acure face products I recently purchased were amazing: Day Cream, Night Cream, Facial Serum and Line Eraser. I shouldn’t be surprised because I love their Lemongrass Argan Oil Shampoo (they gave me a bottle sample) and their Acure Oil (I bought this). During the last 2 weeks of using Acure face products, my face didn’t miss Clarins at all.  In fact, my skin felt absolutely moisturized and I didn’t get an extra amount of wrinkles as I did when experimenting with other Vegan non-synthetic brands.

The Proof is in the Pudding, here are the photos:

My face, on mainstream, plant-based products with synthetic fillers. For a mid-30's Mama, people tend to think I'm a decade younger than I really am. I used to think it was all in my diet... but moisturizers, I discovered, have a lot to do with it too!

My face, while experimenting with new plant-based, natural and non-synthetic products... dry... and, as my hubby says, with my wrinkles in full glory. Looking my real age here, I suspect!

2 weeks after Acure, my face is in love with the day cream, the night cream and the facial serum!!!! Moisturized, not wrinkly and without the synthetic chemicals!!! I'm back to feeling young again!

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria?  Absolutely!

1. smell – wonderfully mild in fragrance.  They didn’t bother me at all.

2. sensitivities – my skin did not break out with any of the products.  To me, they felt very mild.  My skin also did not feel dry and unprotected.

3. taste – after I used the product, there wasn’t a bad taste when I would drink water or eat immediately afterwards (something my mainstream products do!).

4. moisturize – with a lot of Vegan moisturizers, I usually missed the creaminess of my mainstream brand.  I also tend to miss how Clarins seemed to penetrate my skin.  I didn’t have to miss this feeling with the Acure products at all.  FYI, I loved the Serum over the Line Eraser, as the former seemed to do a better job reducing the wrinkles.

5. everyday comfort –  the creams are mild, light, non-greasy, not shiny, absorbed easily.  The serum is absorbed quickly too, although it is an oil and is a little greasy.  I applied only a little serum at night and for a wee bit of grease, the reduction of wrinkles come morning was all worth it.  Makeup was applied on easily after using the day cream.

6. lasting effect – yes!  I love these products!!!  I haven’t tried anything my face loves better than Acure face products so far. Note: the day and night creams contain Cholorella Growth Factor.  According to their website: “Clinical studies have shown CGF to increase collagen expression by 333% when used at 1% concentration*. Our anti-aging products use our CGF at an amazing 5% concentration.”  Hmmm… so that’s what my face needs!

7. eco-friendly – Acure says their decisions are based on green packaging, green products, social consciousness and a triple bottom line: “We use only the purest, most effective fair trade, natural and organic ingredients available. We travel the globe to find the highest quality ingredients to formulate our products. Each ingredient is selected with great care to ensure a sustainable and eco-friendly supply chain.” “We believe in pursuing a triple bottom line. People and planet are just as important as profit.”

The Scoop on Poop for Kids

29 Mar

My son and I created this video today in order to teach him about bowel movements as an indicator of his health.  We thought your young kids might learn something too!

Green Giftcard and Goody Giveway time!… sponsored by Alex+Von and Green Your Beauty Routine with Veronica

29 Mar

By Veronica Medrano

What is Alex+Von?

Alex+Von is an innovative new company that is creating a chic and practical way for women to make income, selling products from natural and organic boutique brands. Consultants have the flexibility to sell in person or online and every sale supports a local, small business. Alex+Von is a unique direct-selling company that stands out because of its sustainable mission and healthy, green and eco-friendly brands that are loved by many.

Alex+Von Current Brands:

100% Pure:

  • Ingredients: Exceptional quality and high concentrations of natural ingredients to deliver antioxidant and vitamin benefits. No synthetic chemicals, artificial fragrances, petrochemicals, chemical preservatives, water, cheap fillers, thickeners or any toxins. Uses organic and food-grade ingredients.
  • Cruelty Free & Vegan: Products are never tested on animals and it is the company’s mission to help and save animals.
  • Eco-Friendly Packaging: Made from recycled plastic, glass, aluminum and paper. Printing uses soy and vegetable ink. Formulas are 100% biodegradable. Shipping materials use recycled and biodegradable materials.
  • For: Everyone including women, men, teens, pregnant/nursing women, children
  • Product Lines: Fruit Pigmented Makeup, Skincare, Bath & Body, Hands, Hair, Children
  • Skin types: Dry, Oily, combination, acne, aging, extremely sensitive
  • Bestsellers: Brightening Face Scrub + Mask, Fruit Pigmented Tinted Moisturizer w/ SPF 20, Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream (as seen on Dr. Oz), Fruit Pigmented Black Tea Mascara
  • Motto: “Health food for your skin”
  • Press: 100 % Pure has been featured in over 1000 different magazines, newspapers and TV shows in the US and internationally.
  • Celebs using 100% Pure products: Dr. Oz, Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspooon, Tom Cruise, Madonna
  • Order 100% Pure: http://bit.ly/wQ1fMs

Suki:

  • Ingredients: Natural, organic or food grade high quality ingredients. Synthetic and chemical-free. Uses fair trade, organic and biodynamic ingredients from local companies whenever possible. No nanotechnology.
  • Proven Results: Spa grade, clinically-proven cosmeceutical products (marriage between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals or dermaceuticals). Cosmeceutical activity much show 70-80% efficacy in order to make a real difference on the skin.
  • Cruelty-free, vegetarian and Vegan (except a few products that contain responsibly harvested beeswax)
  • Eco-Friendly Packaging: Recycled materials, made with biodegradable, vegetable inks and is recyclable
  • For: Women, men, teens, pregnant/nursing women and babies
  • Product Lines: sukiface (exceptional antiaging line), sukibody, sukihair, sukitogo, sukispa, sukicolor makeup
  • Skin types: Dry, oily, combination, acne, rosacea, aging, eczema, extremely sensitive
  • Bestsellers: Exfoliating Foam Face Cleanser, Concentrated Face Toner, Balancing Day Face Lotion, Pure Facial Moisture
  • Motto: Clinically-proven natural solutions
  • Press: Suki has been featured in numerous magazines, in the U.S. and internationally and has received many recent Awards
  • Celebs using Suki products: Courtney Cox, Eva Longoria, Katherine Heigl, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson
  • Suki info video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eywllHVV0pg
  • Order Suki: http://bit.ly/FQi09s

WeeDecor:

  • Playful, personal Eco-Friendly Decals for kids’ rooms
  • Designer brands bringing modern style to kids’ rooms without having to use a drop of paint
  • Removable and Reusable
  • High-Quality Biodegradable Fabric
  • PVC free
  • Order WeeDecor: http://bit.ly/xwsvy0

Original Moxie (new a+v brand):

  • Natural, toxic free hair care made with essential oils
  • 3D Diagnostic system which eliminates guesswork by helping you identify the products that fit for your hair type (Analysis based on Density, Dryness or Degree of Curl* – see image)
  • Ingredients: Natural and organic, whenever possible.
  • Product types: curl enhancing, volume boost, frizz fighter, wave maker, get it straight
  • Order Original Moxie: http://bit.ly/GYGFFI

Upcoming Brand: high definition, natural makeup (name reveal coming in next few weeks)

Why I chose Alex+Von…

As a stay at home mother, this opportunity appealed very much to me, especially knowing that I could share my passion for green living and products that would help others achieve the same. Having been surprised with a micro-preemie baby, gave me lots to think about with regards to what I wanted to do secularly…continue at my big city job as a techie or stay at home with our fragile preemie? The answer was obvious, and to this day I have no regrets! Alex+Von has allowed me stay at home, work flexible hours and do just that…focus on her. Alex+Von supports women who want to work from home in any type of circumstance or stage in their life. Whether you want work part-time and add some income or focus on direct selling as a full-time career.

Why should you ‘Green Your Beauty Routine’?

Green your Beauty Routine with Veronica is my green mission to promote awareness about the importance of healthy, toxic-free and chemical free brands and products. My facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/GreenYourBeautyRoutine) is dedicated to inform, warn and help consumers educate themselves about what they put on their skin…very important, since 60% of topical products enter your body bloodstream! I also love helping others learn what products are best for their skin type and families and assist them in ‘Greening their Beauty Routine’ as much as possible. I enjoy posting many general green topics, tips, makeup how-to’s, alex+von specials and givewaway info—so, make sure you tune in often!

Green and Glam Prizes

There are two GIVEAWAYS, so read carefully… 🙂

Green Your Beauty Routine! Giftcard Giveaway

One very fortunate reader will win a $25 gift card to use towards any Alex+Von brands and products. There will be a few ways to accumulate entries (up to 3 are possible): 1) Like Green Your Beauty Routine with Veronica (http://www.facebook.com/GreenYourBeautyRoutine) on FB + Like Mama’s In the Kitchen and She Ain’t Cookin’ (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mama-in-the-Kitchen-and-she-aint-cookin/104174956286423) = 1 entry. 2) Follow @GreenUrRoutine+ Follow @MamaInDKtchn on Twitter (1 entry), and for a final entry 3) fill out my skincare questionnaire here: (http://bit.ly/FQ9vbj). Up to three entries total. Simply comment here stating your type of entry so that we can track all entries. Winners will be announced on Earth Day: 22nd April 2012.

Why You Should Join My Green team! Goodies Giveaway

Roll call!…Looking for some green-loving folks to share natural, organic, eco-friendly and high-quality boutique brands. Are you looking to make some extra money while showing your love for healthy living? I was never really a ds selling girl, but after realizing my passion for green beauty came so naturally, it was such a breeze to convey this to my audience and clients. Think about it… 1) not only do you get to share your green passion, but 2) you get to sell and make commission on stuff you love, 3) you get a discount on purchasing products you need for yourself, 4) you get to show love to mother earth, 5) you get to work online in your cozy faux bunny slippers or in-person at parties, shows or events, 6) you get to work as little or as much as you want and achieve the salary you desire and 7) you get to join an amazing young company where you can be heard as an independent consultant or a founding member (yes, founding member and more commission is still up for grabs!)

Alex+Von really has a tremendous team and the owners still interact with every consultant when there are questions. All members volunteer helpful information, tips and brands! Recommend a green brand, and it might get chosen as an a+v brand based on need and natural-ness. If you want to hear more about this opportunity, there are weekly no pressure calls for prospective consultants who’d like to just get more information. I’ll post this info on my FB Page.  Btw, March has a great opportunity for anyone joining, since any party host can join and purchase their starter kits for half off.  April will have another great opportunity as well…stay tuned on my FB page.

Now let’s talk more green goodies.. To help build my team, I’d love to award the following prizes to the next 3 consecutive sign-ups. FIRST consultant who signs up on my team will win a 100% Pure .50 oz organic coffee bean eye cream (bestseller and anti-wrinkle cream as featured on Dr. Oz ), a 100% Pure shimmery cocoa berry lip and cheek stain, and a 100% Pure real fruit-pigmented lip gloss, Retail value $33.00. SECOND and THIRD place sign up will also win a 100% Pure lip gloss, Retail value $13.00.

For more information on the alex+von opportunity and to join my green team:  http://bit.ly/HpIn3j

As well, please email me at colormegreen2@yahoo.com if you have any additional questions.  Thanks again for reading my post, look forward to hearing from you!  XOXO…Veronica

Review: Suki (clinically-proven natural solutions®)

28 Mar

In my search for earth and body friendly Vegan cosmetic products, one of my readers (who also happens to be very passionate about cosmetics and works as a consultant for Alex+Von) suggested I try Suki products.  Although I received a few samples from Veronica c/o Alex+Von,

Suki Samples I received from Alex+Von

I decided to go ahead and buy myself an affordable “To Go Complete Care for Youthful Skin” kit from Suki after taking their Skin Quiz.

Suki's To Go Complete Care For Youthful Skin Kit

I figured that a week’s worth of products is usually long enough for me to figure out if my skin likes the products and I had the flexibility to use the free samples to compare with the products I bought.

My Impressions

Suki products are light, mild, moisturizing, not overly fragranced and left my face feeling ‘clean’.  Maybe it was psychological that I didn’t miss my Clarins products at all because I read on their website that “suki® blends advanced, high performance clinically-proven actives with 100% synthetic-free & organic ingredients, innovating the first treatment formulas that bridge the gap between science & nature. our products have an exceptional level of bioavailability that outperforms synthetics without harsh side effects & functions in unison with the body’s natural biological processes.”  They also state that “suki® is the first skin care solution with visible results proven through consumer clinical trials.”

I did use up my “To Go” Kit and most of the samples in just over a week.  When I sat down to write down the products that I loved and the products that I felt were just OK, it didn’t really surprise me to discover that I preferred the Vegan products over the Vegetarian ones instinctively.

The Products I Loved

Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser (vegan)

  • an award winning product
  • I loved how massaging the product in between my hands immediately created an amazing amount of foam, which I then applied on my face.
  • this felt lovely on the skin
  • I preferred this to the creamy foaming cleanser (below).

Creamy Foaming Cleanser (vegan)

  • I preferred this over the Moisture-Rich Cleansing Lotion – perhaps because I prefer a foaming cleanser to a lotion.  The lotion is a Vegetarian product and I didn’t feel it did as a good a job in cleansing my face, particularly on days when I had makeup.
  • it left my face feeling soft and cleansed well without stripping it dry.

Transformative Cleansing Clay (vegan)

  • light and thin
  • you can use it as a cleanser or as a masque.  I used it as a masque and left it on my face for 10-15 minutes.  It dried nicely – not overly tight, just right.
  • it left my skin feeling soft.

Pure Facial Moisture, both balancing and nourishing (vegan)

  • for me these were the STAR products of Suki
  • light, thin oils that are easily absorbed
  • they do not leave a thick film of grease on the skin
  • these oils don’t get into the eyes at all (like other oils do)
  • the face feels like it can really breathe at night
  • my skin felt wonderfully moisturized with these oils and made my skin feel very soft in the morning!
  • I love them and after my samples were done, I wish I had more!
  • P.S. I used more than just 1 – 2 drops at a time…

Now For The Photos

A few days before trying Suki products, still on my mainstream Clarins products

The week while trying Suki Products. I do have a little make up on, but skin looks great from afar.

Without make up and an up-close photo taken the last day of testing Suki products.

To me, there seems to be just a little more wrinkles on Suki than when I am on Clarins.  But as their website says “suki® innovation lab™ utilizes the latest clinically-proven actives from natural resources instead of conventional synthetics that cause topical damage & long term disease.”  They also remind me that knowing my beauty “means accepting, nurturing & expressing our authentic selves… also means having honest & complete information… we can trust… knowing what we consume, both inside & out.”

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria?

1. smell – wonderfully mild in fragrance.  It didn’t bother me at all.

2. sensitivities – my skin did not break out with any of the products.  To me, they felt very mild.  They products are also gluten-free.  Many are Vegan.  Their website states that “suki® is committed to creating clinically-proven cosmeceutical solutions that remain 100% synthetic-free & formulated with advanced technology.”

3. taste – after I used the product, there wasn’t a bad taste when I would drink water or eat immediately afterwards (something my mainstream products do!).

4. moisturize – I loved the breathable evening oils the most.  The Intensive Nourishing Cream was ok.  It wasn’t bad at all, but I prefer creamier products.

5. everyday comfort –  mild, light, non-greasy, not shiny, absorbed easily.  Makeup was applied on easily after using the cream.

6. lasting effect – I love their breathable night oils!  If I don’t find anything better than the products I loved (outlined above), Suki will be my facial products of choice.

7. eco-friendly – The company, based in Massachusetts, states that it is eco-friendly from it’s ingredients, manufacturing, packaging and shipping, as well as it’s activities outside of the company.  Check out their environmental policy here.

Orange, Cucumber and Celery Juice

15 Mar

Tip of the day Mamas

It feels like Summer outside. And Summer reminds me of cool cucumbers. I love cucumbers because when you juice them, you get A LOT of juice! I spend less time juicing when I use cucumbers!

Orange, Cucumber and Celery Juice

We have lately loved this mix of juices, after drinking it on our recent travels. This is easily my son’s favorite drink these days, although it is best in Summer or Autumn when 2 out of 3 ingredients are in season. Very simply, you need:

4 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice (In the Autumn, use Sour Oranges. In the Winter, use Washington Navels. In the Spring, use Sweet Oranges, Tangelos or Temple Oranges.)

3 cucumbers and 4 celery sticks (both best in Summer and Autumn)

Juice the cucumbers and celery. You should have about 4 cups in total.

Combine 4 cups of orange juice with 4 cups of the green juice. Voila! A delightful drink! Use less orange juice for 'Superhero Green Juice Guzzlers' and more for when the kids aren't into Superheroes!

Review: 100%Pure Red Wine Resveratrol Antioxidant Serum and Nourishing Cream

15 Mar

I have had a month long love-and-hate relationship with 100%Pure’s Red Wine Resveratrol Antioxidant Serum and Nourishing CreamVeronica did warn me that to effectively find a product that works for my skin, it would be a trial and error process – a process I was/am not looking forward to.  Not only can such a process be tedious, but also expensive, wasteful and time consuming.

Although I knew I was going to get a sample of the nourishing cream from Alex+Von, I got my hands on both the serum and the cream in time for a 2 week holiday.  Having heard so many wonderful things about it, I couldn’t wait to try it.

As they say, a picture paints a thousand words.  Let’s let these photos tell you what happened:

My face before the trip: moisturized!

My face, while on holiday, 2 weeks after using the Red Wine Serum and Cream: dry, wrinkled and tired.

My face a week after the trip: I decided to give my face a break from cream experimentation and went back to my conventional moisturizer. Less dry, less wrinkled and less tired!

My face after my 2nd trial run: I decided to give the Red Wine products another try to see how they would do in my home environment without other factors (like traveling, eating differently, etc). After just 2 days, I couldn't stand it any longer. My face, especially around the nose area, felt crumbly and as dry, wrinkled and tired as it did after 2 weeks of using Red Wine products on my holiday.

My tried and tested conventional product, Clarins, though plant based, is rated 2 to 10 out of 10 (with 10 being the most hazardous and toxic to one’s health) by the Environmental Working Group.  My night and day creams alone are rated 6 and 7 out of 10, which means they are deemed as moderately to highly hazardous to one’s health.  According to Veronica, “Clarins and other conventional products, do have great ingredients but combined with other synthetic fillers may expand skin and temporarily fill in the gaps and give you the effect you are looking for (fill out wrinkles), but at same time you will be adding other chemicals to your body on a constant basis.  There ‘are’ natural products that can do the same but you have to keep the trial and error process going until you find what works best for ‘your’ skin.

Sigh.

My husband can’t believe I am still using Clarins.  “You call yourself a Raw Vegan? What’s wrong with looking more natural, with your wrinkles in all its glory?”  Well… I want to make the switch, I do!  But, I want to make sure I switch to a product that actually works best for my skin.  So, on with the search!

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria? NO!

1. smell – it has a mild fragrance.  It isn’t strong.

2. sensitivities – my skin did not break out with the serum or cream.  They just dried me out.

3. taste – after I used the product, there wasn’t a bad taste when I would drink water or eat immediately afterwards.

4. moisturize – although my face did feel hydrated the very first day I used it, any moisturizing effect just went downhill from there.  Although quite greasy, both the serum and cream left my face feeling dry, wrinkled and tired.

5. everyday comfort –  The serum is very greasy.  The cream is lightly greasy.  I found that they were not easily absorbed by the skin and I was left with a light shine all day long.  Applying make up afterwards was also not as easy as I am used to.

6. lasting effect – I cannot recommend this product at all.

7. eco-friendly – According to the company: “100% products are truly 100% Pure-no synthetic chemicals, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, harsh detergents or any other unhealthy toxins… our formulas are never tested on animals (everything we use is food grade and does not require testing)… 100% Pure products are never diluted with water, alcohol, thickeners, emulsifiers or any other “fillers”.

Review: 100%Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream

15 Mar

One of my readers, Veronica from Alex+Von (a green company that focuses on natural, organic and ecofriendly boutique brands), sent me a sample tube of 100%Pure’s most talked about and publicized Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream.  According to 100%Pure, a Clinical Four Week Study showed:

– 97% saw reduction of puffiness
– 87% saw reduction of dark circles
– 93% say it reduced the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles
– 100% say it improved skin hydration & moisturization
– 93% say it improved skin firmness/elasticity

Kate Hudson uses it and it even made it to the Dr. Oz show (look at 1:50 on the video).  Who wouldn’t want to try this organic coffee bean caffeine eye cream?

My First Impressions

It was late, I was extremely tired and ready for bed when I decided to try some.  When I opened the tube and squeezed some onto my finger, the smell took me back to the first time I ever drank coffee, which was when I was 7 years old.  I don’t exactly remember how it happened, but I was enticed by the smell of a thermos full of coffee.  There wasn’t anyone around and I proceeded to pour myself 7 cups of the yummy smelling drink, mixing in some milk and lots of sugar… and drinking every last drop.  I was WIRED!  Now, as an adult, I haven’t drank coffee in 10 years.  But as soon as I applied some of the Caffeine Cream around my eyes, I was as wired as that time when I was 7. In an instant, my tired eyes were suddenly wide awake, bright eyed and ready to party.  My eyes have never felt that kind of jolt of energy before.  It was then that I first physically realized how true that:

“As much as 60% of topical skin-care products are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.

They should be consumed with the same prudence that we use to choose our breakfast cereal.”

Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D. an lowa-based physician in April 2006 issue of Women’s Health Magazine.

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria?

1. smell – coffee!!!

2. sensitivities – It will wake up your eyes, so use it in the morning!  The company states that their product “does not contain harsh detergents, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances that can irritate the skin, they are perfect for sensitive skin.” Plus, 100% Pure is GLUTEN-FREE.  As with all natural products, do take note if you do have any allergies to their ingredients.

3. taste – I imagine it tastes like coffee!

4. moisturize – yes.  It is not drying.

5. everyday comfort –  This is a light cream, non-greasy and easily absorbable.

6. lasting effect – I felt the caffeine effect immediately the first time I applied it.  I didn’t feel quite the same way subsequently, but I imagine it is because I now use it in the morning.

7. eco-friendly – According to the company: “100% products are truly 100% Pure-no synthetic chemicals, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, harsh detergents or any other unhealthy toxins… our formulas are never tested on animals (everything we use is food grade and does not require testing)… 100% Pure products are never diluted with water, alcohol, thickeners, emulsifiers or any other “fillers”.

More Info?

If you want to buy their products… Just wait!  One of you is eligible to win a $25 gift card from Alex+ Von after I review 100% Pure Red Wine Resveratrol Face Serum and Cream and Suki products.

If you are thinking about signing up as a consultant at Alex+VonVeronica has a special surprise for you too!  You can contact her directly: colormegreen2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

A Raw Vegan Mama’s Weekly Grocery Cart

12 Mar

A lot of people ask me where I shop, how I shop and how much produce do I buy:

  • WHERE: for the most part, I shop at my local health food store because they source things as locally and as seasonally as they can. I also shop at www.vitacost.com for non-perishable items.
  • HOW: I buy organic produce when on sale: produce is 30% off on Thursdays and Sundays at our local store. I am astounded at how much money I save just by dropping by on these days! I typically only visit the organic produce, bulk and oil/vinegar sections.
  • HOW MUCH: take a look at the photos, below, of my typical shopping cart from different angles:

I am usually the person with the most produce in their cart every time I check out at the cash register. We rarely eat out as a family, so what you see in my cart, above, is everything we eat in a week. We don’t buy extras, like Starbucks coffee or a Krispy Kreme Doughnut or pop into a shop/restaurant midweek for more food.

Bringing the produce home. The top drawer is filled with nuts and dried fruit. The bottom drawer is filled with hardier veggies, like carrots, celery and mushrooms. This is not all the produce at home as we have fruit baskets on our counters too!

When this photo (above) was taken, I spent $200. $200 – $250/week for groceries is typical for us. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average American consumer (single or families with dependents) spent $6,129 in 2010 on food ($3,624 at home and $2,505 away from home). That’s around $118 on food/week. Although we are a 3 person household, I want to say that I buy for a typical 4 person household because my athlete husband eats double a normal adult portion at any meal. Whichever way you look at it, as a high raw and organic vegan 3-person household, it seems we are spending a low $67 on food/person/week to a high of $83 on food/person/week – and the numbers decrease when you factor in how much we consume. That’s not bad at all!

Review: Girvins Vegan Soaps

12 Mar

Girvins Vegan Soap

They can custom make any of their soaps for the Vegan market.

A family friend, Stephanie Rohrer, owns and runs Fox Hollow Farm in Maryland with her family.  I almost visited once – but have never been.  I understand they have a farm market where you can buy vegetables and fruits  (along side their animal products) on their farm everyday, except for Mondays in the Winter.  Stephanie also happens to be a weaver of soaps and candles for her personal company, Girvins.  She uses ingredients from her farm to create candles, soaps and body creams.  My family was lucky enough to test her Moon Soap fragrance free and Vegan.  Stephanie makes it herself with distilled herbal water, coconut oil, palm oil , olive oil, vitamin E and lye. 

My family and I loved that her Moon Soap has no fragrance.  My son loved the fact that it did a great job washing away my young son’s smelly feet!  Where smell is concerned, it does a much better job than our everyday soap, Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Bar. The soap lathers lightly with small bubbles, but lathers up well nonetheless.  Stephanie said she sells a lot of her soaps to families with kids who have skin issues.  I wasn’t surprised then that her soap cleans very well without drying or stripping the skin.  Most importantly for busy Mamas, it doesn’t leave a greasy film on the bathroom (which olive oil soap does).

Did Girvin’s Moon Soap pass my cosmetics criteria?

1. smell – no fragrance!  Loved that there was no fragrance.  My son thought it smelled like cheese, but that was probably the lye.

2. sensitivities – none.  This is very mild.

3. taste – not applicable.

4. moisturize – cleans very well without drying the skin or stripping skin of its natural oils.

5. everyday comfort –  yes.  My son’s feet especially smelled wonderfully neutral after using this soap!  And it doesn’t leave a greasy film on the bathroom floor!

6. lasting effect – yes!

7. eco-friendly – All of Girvin Soaps can be customized for Vegans.

Review: 100%Pure Nourishing Body Creams

11 Mar

100%Pure Nourishing Body Creams

In my search for Vegan and Eco-Friendly cosmetics that actually work, many people have recommended 100%Pure.  One of my readers, Veronica Medrano Alcantara, also contacted me.  Incidentally, she is also a consultant at Alex+ Von, a GREEN company that focuses on natural, organic and ecofriendly boutique brands.  They are also dedicated to extremely personalised service in helping their clients find the right solutions for their beauty needs.  Veronica gave me her personal questionnaire to fill out in order to help me better choose the right products for my current skin.   For my face, she suggested I try Argan Oil, 100%Pure’s Red Wine Resveratrol or Super Fruits.  As you all know, I tried Argan Oil for a few days and loved it.  Veronica then sent some 100%Pure  and Suki samples.

I was thrilled for the opportunity to try 100%Pure products after having so many people raving about their products. 100%Pure uses 100% natural and 100% vegan ingredients, many of which are organic.  100%Pure products are also gluten-free.

In my packet from Alex+Von, I received 4 sample packets of 100%Pure’s Nourishing Body Cream: Cabernet Grape, Coconut, Green Apple and Vanilla.  The top main ingredients are indeed natural and vegan: organic aloe juice, organic rose hydrofoil, cocoa butter, avocado butter, grape seed oil, organic rose hip seed oil, candilla wax, black currant oil, tocopherol (Vitamin E) and ascorbryl Palmitate (Vitamin C).  Not quite as Spartan as Sprout’s cream, but all natural and vegan as well!  All of the 100%Pure body creams I tried were lusciously sweet smelling and creamy, but not greasy.  They spread easily and were absorbed quickly into the skin.  I consider these creams wonderfully light enough for day use.  If you choose to use these – get ready for olfactory heaven!  The Cabernet Grape and Green Apple smell exactly like their fresh fruit, so much so that the nourishing body creams made me feel like I was bathing in their juices all day. My son loved these fruit creams.  The Coconut and Vanilla, on the other hand, were my favorites.  Both smelled like coffee with strong highlights of coconut or vanilla.  With these body creams, I felt luxuriously edible, like I was bathing in coconut or vanilla cream pie all day long.  

This busy Mama found herself stealing 5 more minutes of my day just to moisturize… that’s how enjoyable these creams are!

Did 100%Pure Nourishing Body Creams pass my cosmetics criteria?

1. smell – like dessert comfort food: very sweet and very strong. All natural and NOT synthetically made, but I wouldn’t use this lotion if I were going to a doctor’s office that had signs that said “Please respect allergies and don’t wear perfume in this office”.

2. sensitivities – The company states that their product “does not contain harsh detergents, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances that can irritate the skin, they are perfect for sensitive skin.” Plus, 100% Pure is GLUTEN-FREE.  As with all natural products though, do take note if you do have nut or seed allergies.

3. taste – didn’t taste it!  But they smell good enough to eat!

4. moisturize – a light cream that absorbs well.

5. everyday comfort –  not greasy, absorbs well, spreads easily… smells divine… definitely, I could use this everyday!

6. lasting effect – yes, it works!

7. eco-friendly – According to the company: “100% products are truly 100% Pure-no synthetic chemicals, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, harsh detergents or any other unhealthy toxins… our formulas are never tested on animals (everything we use is food grade and does not require testing)… 100% Pure products are never diluted with water, alcohol, thickeners, emulsifiers or any other “fillers”.

Interested in trying some?  WAIT till the end of the month, Alex+Von has some Freebies for a few of you!!!

If you want to buy their products… Just wait!  One of you is eligible to win a $25 gift card from Alex+ Von after I review 100% Pure Red Wine Resveratrol Face Serum and Cream, 100%Pure Organic Coffee Bean Eye Cream  and Suki products.

If you are thinking about signing up as a consultant at Alex+Von, Veronica has a special surprise for you too!  You can contact her directly: colormegreen2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

So, watch out in the coming weeks for more information!  You can also comment here and I will make sure you know when the follow-up reviews are posted.

Blissful Bites: Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse

8 Mar

Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse is also heavenly to prepare with only 5 ingredients. You will have a delightful dessert in less than 10 minutes (clean up included)!

When little hands help... you never know what they are going to add. Hmph... those sprinkles don't look like anything RAW to me, but what's important is he's helping me create a RAW TREAT that he absolutely loves.

As my sous-chef, I think my son purposely miscounted the dates and added 1 more to our mixture.  It was a little sweet for me and my husband, but my son was in dessert heaven.  The recipe is reprinted here with the kind permission of Christy Morgan, chef and author of Blissful Bites.

Blend until it becomes a paste:

12 dates, soaked for 2 hours and pitted, or ¾ cup maple syrup (we used wet dates, so we didn’t need to soak them)

Add and blend until smooth:

2 ripe avocados

1/3 cup raw cacao powder (we used raw carob powder)

1 tsp vanilla flavouring or 1 fresh vanilla bean

Serve in martini glasses with:

4 strawberries, sliced

Makes 2 – 3 servings.

Blissful Bites: Raw Mock Tuna

8 Mar

I wanted to follow Christy Morgan's recipe to the tee for my review of her book. Feel free to use raw cauliflower rice (simply pulse in food processor until you get 'rice') for Mock Tuna Sushi.

This makes a delicious Mock Tuna Sushi.  Chef Christy Morgan says the walnuts here replace the omega-3 of the salmon and the sea veggies give a hint of fish flavor.  I loved the taste and texture with the seaweed and rice.  The only thing I would change next time is that I would use cauliflower rice instead of the brown rice for a real RAW meal. The recipe is reprinted here with the kind permission of Christy Morgan, chef and author of Blissful Bites.

Blend in food processor until finely ground:

1 cup almonds, soaked 4 hours, drained and rinsed

½ cup walnuts, soaked 4 hours, drained and rinsed

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth:

2 carrots, grated

2 stalks celery, minced

1 lemon, juiced

1 lime, juiced

3 tbspns kelp granules

2 tbspns dulse flakes

2 tbspns nutritional yeast

2 tbspns dried parsley

1 tsp maple or brown rice syrup (I used raw honey because son has maple allergy, I am agave sensitive and we have never used brown rice syrup)

1 tsp coriander (ground)

3 tbspns tamari (I used Nama Shoyu)

¼ cup filtered water, as needed

Serve with crackers or bread or as a filling for veggie sushi rolls.  Makes 6 – 8 servings.

Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet

8 Mar

One thing that I love about being a Mama in the Kitchen is being able to read cookbooks and recreate the recipes that have inspired me to take my nose out of the book and move about in the kitchen.  I have enjoyed looking through Christy Morgan’s new book Blissful Bites.  I love how mainstream Vegan Chefs are now embracing more and more RAW foods into their own diets and recipe books – even a Macrobiotic Vegan Chef like Christy (check out her website and her video… she’s adorable)!  At least 10% of all recipes in Blissful Bites are RAW! 

EH…

Unfortunately, the book was published before all the brown rice syrup hullabaloo, so it is an ingredient in many of her recipes (an option with maple syrup, which you can easily substitute).

THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE BOOK

–           the recipes are divided according to season, with a special place for ‘anytime’ recipes.  This is a time saver for busy Mamas who want to feed their families seasonally!

–          the sample menus at the end of the book is helpful. It even includes ‘perfect no-oil potluck dishes’ and ‘food for kiddos’.

–          labels for recipes include: RAW, GLUTEN-FREE, SOY-FREE, NO/LOW-OIL, and UNDER 45 MINUTES.

–          all the recipes I have tested, both raw and cooked, taste wonderful!

RAW RECIPES IN BLISSFUL BITES

Ginger-Miso Dressing: I used unrefined sesame oil for the toasted sesame oil and raw honey (we have sensitivities and allergies to other choices) instead of the brown rice or maple syrup. Very tasty!

Mock Tuna: you can serve as a RAW side dish or as a filling for Sushi. I chose to follow her Veggie Sushi Rolls recipe with brown rice for a half-raw, half-cooked dish. It was delicious!! You could also use raw cauliflower for the 'rice' in this recipe.

Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse: we substituted the raw cacao powder with raw carob powder. My son went wild for this pudding!

If you are thinking of getting hold of the book, thought you’d like to have the full list of the RAW RECIPES first:

Easy Guacamole
Chilled Corn Bisque
Heirloom Gazpacho
Mango Pineapple Tropical Soup
Pineapple Cucumber Gazpacho
Raw Pear-Walnut Bisque
Citrus Herb Cashew Crudites
Spring Kale Salad with Sweet Miso Dressing
Creamy Basil Dressing
Avocado, Strawberry and Grape Tomato Slad
Zucchini Pasta with Mint-Cashew Pesto Sauce
Raw Pasta with Almond Sauce
Cilantro-Lime Dressing
Fall Harvest Fruit Salad
Mac N Kale Salad
Tropical Relish
Mango Peach Salsa
Heavenly Raw Chocolate Mousse (photo above)
Strawberry Mint Limemade

There are other recipes that have not been labeled Raw, but are or can be tweaked easily for Raw Foodies, like Mock Tuna (photo above), Ginger-Miso Dressing (photo above), and Blueberry Hemp Drops.

Cooked Recipes in Blissful Bites

I am always looking for gluten-free recipes that really work, these Gluten-Free Savory Biscuits have a fantastic consistency and are delicious. My boys enjoyed these very very much! Note, the recipe states it makes about 5 biscuits only... but I made about a dozen.

Lemon-Roasted Asparagus: these were very tasty. I did roast them much longer than the recipe states in order to get them 'crispy' and I would suggest tossing the asparagus spears in the remaining liquid after they have cooked just to make sure the flavors are mixed well before serving.

We also tried the Azuki Beans with Squash and Chestnuts, which my son devoured.

Now, if you want to meet Christy Morgan…

…and live on the East Coast, then you are in luck!  Her East Coast Book Tour just begun this March.  You just missed her in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, but you still have lots of time to see her in Washington DC, New York, Boston, Portland, Maine, New Jersey, Philadelphia. In April, she will be in Austin and Fort Worth, Texas.

Review: Sprout Skincare

5 Mar

Sprout Skincare Mini Kit

In my search for Vegan Cosmetics that really work, I stumbled upon Sprout Skincare Products.  Nobody had recommended them to me, but after I took a look at their website, I immediately contacted them and asked if I could review their products.  Well, Sprout Skincare Products are the exact line I want to have in the guest room in my house for my guests to enjoy.  Beautiful in its simplicity from ingredients to packaging, everything in the mini-kit I received contains only 3 edible Vegan ingredients each.  In fact, most of their other products also simply contain 3 Vegan ingredients.  I could recreate any of them easily in my own kitchen:

body scrub: organic demerara sugar, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut
cream: fair trade Shea butter, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic extra olive oil
exfoliant: Maine sea salt, organic almond flour, organic oats

And yet, when I use them, they feel luxurious.  The body scrub really helped the dry skin I received from 10 hours on a plane.  The facial exfoliant did its job too.  But, for me, the star of the mini-kit is the cream.  I wish I had a huge tub of it.  Soft, light and creamy, its consistency is like store bought body lotion without the toxins.  It is absorbed easily into the skin and is very hydrating.  I honestly prefer the feel of Sprout’s cream to the Raw Chocolate Body Cream I have been making!

Sprout Skincare Exceeded My Cosmetics Criteria

1. smell – subtle and natural, no extra fragrances

2. sensitivities – none

3. taste – you can safely eat them!  No problem ingesting or absorbing toxins!

4. moisturize – the cream is wonderfully hydrating without being greasy

5. everyday comfort – it does not leave the skin greasy or sticky and it is absorbed easily and immediately.

6. lasting effect – I could use the cream everyday!

7. eco-friendly – according to Sprout material, their ingredients are “sourced from organic, Fair Trade, or small farms.”. What’s more, all Sprout products are handmade in New York.

For people in the East Coast especially, Sprout Skincare Products make the perfect gifts for family and friends.  For those who don’t want to spend time creating their own skincare products and have some extra money to spend, these products are one of the simplest and mildest on the skin!

Review: Acure Lemongrass and Argan Oil Shampoo

5 Mar

Acure Lemongrass and Argan Oil Shampoo

We have tried all different types of organic ‘healthy’ shampoos: from the brand names (Alba, Avalon Organics, Burt’s Bees, California Baby, Giovanni, Jason, Kiss My Face, Weleda) to the DIY methods (Castille Soap Shampoo and No Poo).  I have not been extremely happy with any of them.  They all just do the job.  Because I exercise 5 times a week, I prefer to wash my hair almost everyday.  Most of the organic healthy shampoos are very drying to my hair.  What I don’t like is that they leave my hair feeling heavy, stringy and dull.  The lather almost always tangles my very fine hair.  When it is dry, the hair doesn’t feel as smooth as when I used to use non-organic commercial products and my hair tangles even when it is dry.

So I jumped at the chance of Acure Organics sending us their Lemongrass and Argan Stem Cell Shampoo to review.  Argan Oil, as I mentioned earlier, is known for its amazing benefits for the hair, nails and skin.  For the hair, it supposedly revives the dullness, promotes growth and prevents split ends.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to try this product!  When I opened the cap to smell the product, I thought it was too strong and overwhelming.  But when I used it in the shower, the smell was more subtle.  The feel was light, mild and it lathered up foam very easily.  My long hair did not tangle so much as I washed it.  This shampoo also didn’t leave my hair feeling heavy, dry or dull.  In fact, I only used apple cider vinegar as a conditioner (1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to 2 cups water in a bottle) and my hair was easy to comb through and felt soft as it dried.  My hair doesn’t tangle now when dry and I have used this product for about 2 weeks.  It is the best of the organic ‘healthy’ shampoos I have tried so far.

We thought we would try it on our son too, but we forgot about shampoos and eye sensitivities (son uses No Poo or California Baby).  This product will sting little eyes, so I wouldn’t recommend using it for young children.

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria?

1. smell – not subtle but not overpowering either, refreshing is a good word for lemongrass

2. sensitivities – it will sting eyes, it won’t tangle long hair

3. taste – didn’t taste it!

4. moisturize – not as drying as other ‘healthy’ hair products I have tried

5. everyday comfort – definitely, I could use this everyday!

6. lasting effect – yes, it works

7. eco-friendly – Acure Organics prides themselves in a triple bottom line: green packaging, green products and social consciousness.

Yes, I will use and buy this product again.

30 Lessons this Raw Vegan Mama Learned from Traveling and Dining Out with Omnivore Loved Ones

4 Mar

In the last 6 months alone, it seems like my family and I have traveled non-stop to be with friends and extended family.  These days, I feel like I am a bit of a pro when traveling with and dining out with loved ones who happen to be non-Raw Omnivores. 

I wish I could tell you we did wonderfully: I ate 100% Raw Vegan Foods and my family kept up their 50% Raw Vegan diet. But we did not.

What we did a lot of instead was, what I call, nutritional compromising. Why?  Well, believe it or not, for harmony’s sake.  We love our friends and family dearly and being together with them means a lot to us.  We didn’t want to alienate anyone… or ourselves.

I cannot say I was very much OK with all the nutritional compromising in the past few months… but I met Perry the other day who made me feel a whole lot better.  He sold me a bottle of E3Live.  I asked him if he was Raw Vegan.  He said he used to be.  “Why?” I asked.  He said, his mother had cancer when he was growing up and foods were designated as BAD or GOOD, ALLOWED or NOT ALLOWED.  So Young Perry rebelled. He would go behind his mother’s back, steal her money and buy the foods that were verboten at their house.  Needless to say, he thought it was a good idea that I allow my son some slack. 

Here is what I learned while traveling with Omnivore loved ones:

Our Travel Food Bag

I always have fruit (bananas, oranges, apples) and salad for everyone. I also always have some cooked Vegan foods for the boys. Hopefully we can recycle the plastic containers.

1. I always pack my family’s meals for road trips and national/international flights. Unfortunately, the food lasts only about 8 hours and after that we have to make do with what we are given or find at the other end of our trip.

Vegan Meals up in the friendly skies: include preservatives, coloring and a bunch of other stuff we wouldn't normally eat. But - this is the best option we have when we run out of food.

2. On planes, we request either the Raw (not always available and this tends to be fruit or cut carrot and celery sticks) or Vegan (although some are cooked with many processed Vegan ingredients) options for flights.

3. Clearly, our family’s highly raw/unprocessed Vegan diet tends to go down the drain pretty much from the get-go.

I love this old photo of my son snuggling with his step-grandmother. In the first 5 minutes after they met, it was clear they had already bonded so wonderfully.

4. We want to spend time and create strong bonds with our extended family and friends while traveling/visiting with them.

5. But, this means mealtimes more often than not emphasize non-raw and non-vegan foods.

6. We tend to eat out at mainstream restaurants a whole lot while traveling with others.

7. We have lengthy and careful discussions with servers about our family’s food preferences and allergies before ordering. It seems to us that waiters, on the whole, are not trained well on matters relating to Veganism or food allergies.  Neither are they made aware of the repercussions of food allergies. Sometimes, the problem may be that they don’t properly convey diner’s requests to chefs in their kitchens.  So, we like to take our time in our communication with them.

8. Raw Vegans are not the best for diners with nut and maple/agave allergies.  After talking very carefully to servers about our son’s allergies, my son has had very bad vomiting spells after eating/drinking something at Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco and Quintessence in NYC.  Needless to say, we are not going back to these 2 places to eat.  I can, however, recommend The Farm in the Philippines, Good Life Café in South Carolina and Pure Food and Wine in NYC.

9. We tend to eat what our host provides.  “When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do!” Right?  As guests, we are really at the mercy of our host, especially when they want to treat us all the time and/or we are in a foreign country.

10. I have discovered that food allergies are difficult for others to understand.

11. The concept of Raw Vegan foods are even harder for many to grasp.  I have had, many a time, cheese and bread on my “all Raw Vegan” salad or been offered regular hummus with cooked chickpeas.

12. Requests for Gluten- and Vegan-free food is akin to speaking a foreign language.

My son kept asking for the white bread served at most mainstream restaurants. Having said 'no' so many times (due to allergies), I finally ordered some wonderful Rice Bruschetta at a Vegan restaurant we visited towards the end of one of our trips. My son was extremely happy. So was I for having found a half-raw, half-cooked meal for him too!

13. My son will want to eat what others are eating: i.e. the cooked or processed refined foods.

14. A loved one recently baked 6 loaves of maple syrup white wheat bread while we visited her for 2 weeks – even after I asked her to please stop at the first loaf.  The breads just kept appearing though, which my son gladly ate and I tried to stop.  She was thrilled of course to watch my son devour her bread. On the other hand, I was focused on his rashes (c/o maple sugar).

15. This Mama will compromise only to a certain extent.

Using a handheld immersion blender in a plastic tub while traveling to make a lamb's lettuce smoothie for my family

16. If a kitchen and/or appliances are available, I supplement our family’s meals with fresh fruit for breakfast and fresh juices or green smoothies before a meal (that is if we have access to appliances and/or a kitchen).

Someone shared this on Facebook and made me LOL!

17. If a kitchen is available and if possible, we eat ‘in’ as much as we can and I end up a Mama in the Kitchen with no holiday.  But, I can’t complain!  We minimize allergies this way.

18. You cannot simply trust labels.  My son has even reacted to packaged Raw Vegan foods we have purchased while traveling to which, according to ingredients on labels, he isn’t allergic.

19. On every trip these past few months, my son has had some type of allergy, despite our efforts.  He has been very mucus-y on the plane home twice.

20. Raw Vegan food options are not always available when eating with family and friends…or they are harder to come by when traveling or sanitation is an issue in certain countries. When eating at mainstream restaurants or at people’s homes sometimes simply boiled, steamed or stir fried veggies are the best and only options.  In many health food stores in big cities, Raw Vegan Foods usually means a lot of packaged dehydrated foods… exactly the foods we try to avoid.

21. Raw Vegan food does not win over many people.  Some of my loved ones returned home to eat SPAM with white rice after a beautiful lunch at The Farm, Philippines.

22.  I, on the other hand, will have some type of food sensitivity after eating at a Raw Vegan restaurant: headaches, swelling or bloating from an excess of agave syrup, soy products, or nuts.

Juice Bars are worth it! Here in SAF London

23. To minimize allergies or sensitivities, we order simply at Raw Food Restaurants: an abundance of green juices (not smoothies) or simple Salads, and avoid other foods altogether (unless the server/chef can be 100% clear on the ingredients used).

The food was so delicious, I made sure I bought their cookbook as soon as we got home!

Food For Thought in Covent Garden will win over Omnivores anytime for taste and bang for buck! Just be prepared for small spaces and a communal-type feel.

24. Cooked Vegan foods, on the other hand, have been the best way for us to introduce family and friends to the Vegan diet. My mother gave us a cooked Vegan party when we visited her.  My friends thought they would have to lug their families to McDonald’s afterwards – but they admitted to loving the food by my Vegan Chef cousin!  They all had second helpings of the healthy mains and the desserts!  And no trip to McDonald’s afterwards!

I got an "That doesn't look very good at all!" comment for my salad here.

25. Prepare yourself for negative comments from loved ones about your food. Yes, even those who say they understand and would love to be Raw Vegan. I have had an ugly grimace directed at my food with a “I would NOT like to eat that!”, “is that all?”, “how do you get your protein?”, “yuck! how do you eat that!” And all in front of my son too, who takes it all in.

26. People somehow forget about your family’s diet and lifestyle choice, no matter how close they are to you.  I have had a platter of Steak placed under our noses blatantly at dinner with a smile and a “here, you will love this”; baked pastry treats full of syrup, butter and refined flour placed in front of my son while he, as most kids will, drools; salmon offered to us which they know was my son’s favourite fish before our kitchen turned Vegan.

27. The good outweigh the bad.  What is important is that we are surrounded by people we love and who love us back.

28. By the end of the trip, I am always itching to return to my own kitchen, I can’t wait to shop at my own local health food store and I can’t wait to eat healthier food.

29. After returning home, it is always just a little harder to get my son to eat as healthily as he used to.  And I am OK with this too because after traveling for the past 6 months, I know in a day or two, he’ll be asking for his fave smoothie and his fave kale salad!

30. And at the end of the day, I love what traveling does for our family.

Top 10 wonderful things about traveling as a family

4 Mar

Hiking in Maine with extended family.

1. We bring ourselves out of our comfort zone

2. To create new experiences and memories together as a family and

3. To meet new or reconnect with extended family and friends.

A field trip to Paddington Station included our son dressed up like Paddington Bear including hat, galoshes and a tag that stated "Please look after this bear. Thank you."

4. We are free, as homeschoolers, to take our school anywhere we are at any time

5. To discover,

Portuguese Man of War in Florida: did you know they are not jellyfish?

6. To explore, and

Filipino troupe performs traditional Filipino songs and dances for us.

7. To educate ourselves about another place, culture and people.

8. Our minds are open as

9. Our world expands.

There is no place like home!

10. But at the end of the day, no matter how wonderful other places are, we always love returning home.

Review: Raw Shakti Chocolate

14 Feb

Raw Shakti Chocolate from North Carolina

from left to right: Single Origin Ecuador, Loco for Coco and Himalayan High

Want to give a gift of  Raw Vegan Chocolates?  But no time or want to make your own?  Or do you just miss Milk Chocolate? 

There’s RAW hope for you yet! 

Check out Raw Shakti Chocolate from Asheville, North Carolina!  Their chocolate bars are Raw, Stoneground, Handcrafted and Sustainable!

Raw, Stoneground, Handcrafted and Sustainable

There are only 2 Raw Stoneground Handcrafted Chocolate companies in the U.S. that I know of.  One on the West Coast called Sacred Chocolate, and one on the East Coast, Raw Shakti ChocolateThere is a clear difference between the two companies: the sweeteners they use.

  • Sacred Chocolate, founded in part by David Wolfe, uses sweeteners like Maple Sugar, Inulin from Jerusalem Artichoke, Erythritol, Agave and Stevia.  If you are like my son, you are probably allergic to almost all of these.
  • Raw Shakti Chocolate, on the other hand, founded by Raw Foodie Don Rowe, uses only one sweetener: coconut palm sugar, one of the lowest glycemic sweeteners… to which my son is not allergic!  Note: coconut palm sugar (like maple sugar and agave) is not raw as it is heated during the evaporation process but Raw Shakti Chocolate believes that it is the healthiest chocolate sweetener available.  Check out their ingredient list too.

Taste Testing

I e-mailed Raw Shakti Chocolate if I could sample 3 of their chocolate bars in time for Valentine’s Day and they gladly obliged!  Today my family and I enjoyed our Valentine’s Eve chocolate tasting of:

  • Loco for Coco (dark chocolate with Hawaiian Black Lava Salt and Coconut)
  • Himalayan High (dark chocolate with goji berries and Ashwangandha root)

I liked the simplicity of Single Origin Ecuador.  My son was Loco for Coco.  My husband was on an Himalayan High.  We found the flavor, taste and texture of Raw Shakti Chocolate distinct and unique – unlike other raw chocolate bars we have tried before.  The stone ground cacao and the addition of coconut palm sugar create a very smooth chocolate.  The coconut palm sugar also creates a flavor reminiscent of malt, so these bars taste like milk chocolate!

If you do contact them, please let them know you heard about them from Mama in the Kitchen!

Review: Acure Organics Argan Oil (First Impressions)

12 Feb
Acure Organics Argan Oil

Of all the moisturizers that were recommended, I must have heard ‘Argan Oil’ the most. Supposedly, this ‘liquid gold’ from Morrocco has endless beauty benefits for our skin, hair and nails.  It is extremely high in Vitamin E and fatty acids, making it an amazing moisturizer and emollient.  People claim it also reduces blemishes, wrinkles, skin inflammations and scars.  It is said that it slows down premature aging caused by oxidation.  Used on the hair, it revives the dullness, promotes growth and prevents split ends.  Really?  That sounds too good to be true!

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to try it on my face.  I didn’t even bother waiting for a sample to come, I just bought it.  I chose Acure Organics Argan Oil because Acure was also one of the recently recommended cosmetic companies and their Argan Oil, I noted, is 100% USDA Certified Organic.

After the First Application on My Face as an Evening Moisturizer

  • no smell
  • not greasy at all like coconut or jojoba oil
  • spreads nicely and thinly
  • easily and quickly absorbed
  • did not leave my face shiny or sticky
  • did not leave a thick, heavy film on the surface
  • my skin felt wonderfully moisturized and hydrated

The Morning After

I’ve never felt my face as smooth and silky as it did when I woke up! It felt as soft as a baby’s bottom! I immediately went to the mirror and my skin was glowing. The fine lines were… wait a minute, where are they? I cannot wait to use it again tonight!

Acure Organics Argan Oil Exceeded My Cosmetics Criteria

1. smell – subtle, not overpowering

2. sensitivities – did not sting, did not tingle, did not break out

3. taste – no strong adverse taste at all when I drank water after application

4. moisturize – yes, very hydrated and my face felt protected

5. everyday comfort – it does not leave the skin greasy or sticky, it is absorbed easily and immediately, and I’m not afraid of leaving residues of it on my pillow or my hair as I sleep.

6. lasting effect – yes, unbelieveable results!!! This one is a keeper!

7. eco-friendly – according to my contact at Acure Organics:  “Our Argan Oil is USDA Organic, 100% pure argan oil, fair trade certified through Fair Trade USA and in recycled glass at an affordable price.  We also donate $1 of every bottle sold to Bright Pink.”

Thank you to the people in my life who recommended Argan Oil. I LOVE IT! This is better than any other evening moisturizer I have EVER tried.  

(Note: This is my own review of the product.  Acure Organics did not pay me or compensate me in any way for such a positive review!  Let me reiterate, I bought this product with my own money – and will buy it again!!)

Review: MyChelle Dermaceuticals

12 Feb
The MyChelle Samples I received.

MyChelle Dermaceuticals were the first of all samples of the recommended cosmetics I received in the mail. My contact at MyChelle said they were running low on samples, so I only had enough to last for 24 hours. I realize that is usually long enough for me to figure out if my skin likes the products or not.

I followed the MyChelle Six Steps to Beautiful Skin Approach:

1. CLEANSE: Fruit Enzyme Cleanser

I loved using this! It was thin and light with only a subtle fragrance. It was not sticky or harsh on my skin – and yet it was able to effectively take off my make up without stripping my natural oils.

2. TREAT: Incredible Pumpkin

The directions said I would feel a tingling after 5 minutes, but I didn’t. I actually felt a lot of tingling after the 6 steps were almost done. I didn’t particularly like the smell on this one: it smelled like canned pureed pumpkin baby food.

3. SERUM: They gave me 2: Perfect C Serum and NoTox Anti-Wrinkle Serum

I preferred the NoTox Anti-Wrinkle Serum by far! The Perfect C Serum was light with a mild smell, but it felt astringent on my skin – like alcohol. Sure enough it does contain denatured alcohol. The NoTox Anti-Wrinkle Serum, on the other hand, felt wonderful on my skin – even if it too contains some denatured alcohol. It was light, mild, thin yet hydrating.

4. MIST: I didn’t have any samples.

5. NOURISH: Deep Repair Cream

I really liked the Deep Repair Cream. It was creamy and thick but not at all greasy. It had a nice subtle smell too. This cream didn’t feel like it would have long lasting power because my skin just absorbed it all in a few seconds and left my outer layer feeling bare. The next morning, however, my face still felt hydrated. I applied some again after my morning routine and applied some makeup soon after, which glided on very smoothly and easily with no problem at all. My only negative comment: this cream does slightly sting my eyes.

6. PROTECT: I didn’t have any samples.

MyChelle Passed My Cosmetics Criteria

1. smell – subtle, not overpowering

2. sensitivities – slightly stung my eyes and my face tingled a little (but the latter was to be expected according to the directions)

3. taste – no strong adverse taste at all when I drank water soon after application

4. moisturize – upon application, my face did feel hydrated, but it didn’t feel like it would have lasting effect because I didn’t feel like the moisturizer left a protective layer over my skin. My face felt more exposed to the dry winter than usual… but then look at #6.

5. everyday comfort – products were not sticky, greasy or shiny. Make-up applied easily and effectively over it.

6. lasting effect – yes, surprisingly, my face still felt hydrated the next day – despite feeling like it wouldn’t!

7. eco-friendly – yes! According to their website, their products are pure and nontoxic, they are always cruelty-free and never tested on animals, 100% Vegetarian, most are Vegan!  And they give to charity!

After Thoughts

I wish I had more samples to try for another few days. Based on the 24 hour trial, I would choose to use the Fruit Enzyme Cleanser and NoTox Anti-Wrinkle Serum daily. I liked the Deep Repair Cream and would probably use it everyday too if not for the slight stinging issue on my eyes. I would probably choose to use the Deep Repair Cream in the morning and combine it with a more hydrating product at night, like Argan Oil.

Vain Vegan with Cosmetic Issues

11 Feb

Ingredients for Raw Moisturizer: This is fantastic for the body.  I don’t wake up with dry legs anymore especially in the winter.  But, both my son and I broke out after applying some on our faces – must be the cacao butter…? So, I’m looking for a new healthy face moisturizer!

For the past 6 years, I’ve tried everything on my face from simple extra virgin organic olive oil, coconut oil and/or jojoba oil, to healthy products like Dr. Hauschka, derma e and ZIA, to Raw Vegan products like Alkaitis, and even a very high end line Cellcosmet (a very generous gift).  But time and time again, I was unhappy with these products for one or more reasons: too greasy, too sticky, too drying, too expensive, and the list went on.  At the end of the day, I would just go back to my same old, same old commercial cosmetics brand – a product I’ve been using for ages, very reliable, not greasy, not sticky, not drying and a product my skin just feels at home in.  But, I’m not happy to report that it is rated 7 out 10 (with 10 as most toxic) by the Cosmetics Database of the Environmental Working Group.

By Word of Mouth: The Way to get Cosmetic Recommendations

Even with a great diet and with wonderful skin (people tell me all the time that they think I’m at least a decade younger than I really am), I want my face to feel hydrated and moisturized.  I felt like a prune after a year of not applying anything to my face at night (Dr. Hauschka, a year was long enough for me!).  Needless to say, I’m tired of experimenting, not to mention spending money on new products.  So I have been asking my readers and my holistic mothers groups for recommendations.  The result?  This list:

–          100 Percent Pure: Nourishing Creams, Coffee Eye Cream, Red Wine Resveratrol

–          Alkaitis

–          Ann Webb

–          Argan oil

–          Acure

–          Dr. Hauschka

–          L’Ibri – these products and my skin did not get along at all!

–          Living Nature of New Zealand

–          Miessence

–          Mineral Fusion (for makeup)

–          MyChelle

I’ve contacted the recommended companies I have not already tried before (and a few others like Bee YummySprout, Suki, Your Right To Be Beautiful) for samples which I can test for myself and review for you! Some companies have sent a few samples, some a lot and some have not even returned my e-mail yet.  So, I’ll just start reviewing products as they come.

My Cosmetics Criteria

As I review the products, these are the most important criteria for me:

  1. Smell – is the fragrance subtle or too much? I mean, can I sleep well with it on?
  2. Sensitivities – does it sting my skin or my eyes? Do I break out?
  3. Taste – after I apply the moisturizer does the water I drink or food I eat taste like chemicals?
  4. Moisturize – does it hydrate my skin deeply? I don’t want my face to feel like a desert.
  5. Everyday comfort – is it too greasy, sticky, shiny? Does my make up easily glide on after I apply the moisturizer? Or am I facial glue?
  6. Lasting effect – when I wake up the next morning, does my face still feel hydrated?
  7. Eco-Friendly – is it organic and vegan (or at least vegetarian)?

So, here we go!

Moisturize with Raw Chocolate Cream!

6 Feb
It smells like chocolate. It tastes like chocolate. It feels simply luscious on the skin!

Discovering Cacao as Emollient

My son has been obsessed with chocolate since we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Last week, we were traveling and he discovered Palmer’s Cocoa Butter in the bathroom where we were staying. My son only uses extra-virgin coconut oil on his skin at home, and then only when his skin is dry… so bottled lotions are absolute novelties to him. Clearly, ecstatic in finding one made from ‘cacao beans’, he applied thick layers of that yellow cream all over and delighted in his new smell.

“Mama! Mama! Daddy! Daddy! Do I smell like chocolate?

“Yes, you do!” I smiled because I love my son’s innocent enthusiasm, I love watching his joy in the simplest of things and I love being present when he does make all these kinds of new discoveries. “Guess what! We can make your very own Chocolate Cream at home! Would you like that?”

“You mean from real Cacao Beans?” his eyes widen.

“Yes, from Raw Cacao Butter and Coconut Oil!”

“Can I choose the flavor?” he smiles.

“Of course! It will be your very own Chocolate Cream! It will be so pure, you can even eat it!

As soon as we arrived home, it was the first thing he wanted to do.

Our Chocolate Cream

I decided to experiment with Natasha St. Michael’s Natural Body Cream Recipe.

So, we gathered the ingredients: raw cacao butter, extra virgin coconut oil, raw Shea butter and my son’s choice of essential oils (doterra’s On Guard).
We weighed the butters in a bowl: 3 oz cacao, 3 oz coconut and a big dollop of shea.
We placed our bowl in hot water and stirred to make sure everything melted properly. Then, we added our essential oils (about 5 drops for my son’s cream).
We transferred our raw ‘Chocolate’ Cream into containers.
Then we refrigerated them without the lids until they hardened.
My son couldn’t wait to dig in! Note: we used a child-proof container for his cream.

Results

I lathered some on my hands and after half a day, they still felt like silk! Touted for conditioning and protecting the skin, I used to use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter myself 10 years ago, but this raw Cacao Cream is different. It brings moisturizing to a different level! So in the evening, I made time to quickly whip a tub for myself too! I added 15 drops of doTerra’s Whisper in mine, which has rose, jasmine, bergamot, cinnamon, cistus, vetiver, ylang ylang, cocoa, vanilla, sandalwood, and patchouli. It smells absolutely delicious! I think my husband may be tempted to try it too.

Note: at room temperature, this Chocolate Cream may melt or become grainy – if the latter happens, simply heat it between your palms and you are ready to moisturize! Don’t worry if it feels greasy at first, your skin will absorb it within minutes. Also, a little of this goes a long way!

What Essential Oils are excellent for the Skin?

According to Modern Essentials, the following oils are recommend for:

  • chapped/cracked skin – myrrh
  • dehydrated – geranium, lavender
  • dermatitis/eczema – helichrysum, thyme, geranium, melaleuca, lavender, patchouli, bergamot, rosemary
  • dry skin – geranium, lavender, Roman chamomile, sandalwood, lemon
  • oily/greasy skin – lemon, cypress, frankincense, geranium, lavender, marjoram, orange, rosemary
  • rashes – melaleuca, lavender, Roman chamomile
  • scars – lavender, rose, frankincense, helichrysum, geranium, myrrh
  • sensitive skin -lavender, geranium
  • stretch marks – lavender, myrrh
  • wrinkles – lavender, fennel, geranium, frankincense, rose, rosemary, myrrh, clary sage, cypress, helichrysum, lemon, orange, oregano, sandalwood, thyme, ylang ylang