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DIY Raw Anti-Aging Face Mask and Moisturizer

6 Sep

DIY Face Mask

This Face Mask is so delicious… I was eating it before, during and after applying it on my face! I adapted PeggyKotsopoulos’ Anti-Aging Homemade Natural Skin Face Mask recipe into a Raw Vegan one.

Simple Face Mask Ingredients

Raw Vegan Face Mask

Puree all together:

  • 1 banana (potassium revitalizes the skin)
  • 1 avocado (for vitamins A and E to soften the skin)
  • 1/2 orange, juiced (vitamin C)
  • 1 big spoonful raw almond butter (more vitamin E and protects skin from pollutants)
  • 1 big spoonful raw honey (for blemishes and zits, and anti-aging properties) (if you don’t use honey, try olive oil or a few drops of sea buckthorn oil instead)

Step 1: Apply generously to your face. Leave it on for 10 – 20 minutes. It will begin feeling firm and tight.

Step 2: Wipe off. My face felt kind of ‘matte’. Then rinse.

Step 3: Apply just enough DIY Anti-Aging Moisturizer and feel your face loving it. Notice my cheeks are a little rosy and glowing.

Anti-Aging Moisturizer

In a small tub, mix together:

Peggy’s book Must Have Been Something I Ate also contains other very easy and simple homemade beauty products, suck as natural skin exfoliators, toners, lip balm, lip gloss, body moisturizer, cellulite treatment, acne zapper, age-spot remover, teeth whitener and breath freshener.

Step 4: Allow your face to soak it all in.

I was surprised that extra-virgin olive oil is not at all greasy. The skin soaks it all in and my skin feels wonderful!

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How to Open a Green Coconut

15 Jun

A pure amateur opens a green coconut… I’m smiling my butt off because I’m so proud of all my hard work.

We had coconut trees around our house growing up.  We also had a helper who loved climbing the trees.  Eugenia would climb trees without making grooves on the trunk.  She would simply use her hands and feet to reach scary heights.  She also climbed the trees in a dress without exposing herself – how she did that, I do not know.  She also opened the coconuts.  Needless to say, our family has always loved coconuts.  I’m a little sad now that I never learned how to open green coconuts (or climb for them) though.

Yesterday, at my health food store, they were selling Florida grown organic coconuts from Glaser Farms.  I took a chance and bought one.  My husband’s jaw dropped because I paid around $6.50 for just one green coconut (but it’s organic, I exclaimed!)… not to mention, it required a lot of ‘work’ just to open it.  I’m pretty adept at opening those Thai Coconuts that come all white, ready and packaged in plastic… and that ‘only’ cost around $3.50… but, as Tristan the produce buyer reminded me, are sprayed to keep them ‘white’.  But I really wanted to try a local and organic coconut and I also wanted a kitchen adventure.  

Green coconut in hand, I imagined I was stuck on an island by myself with only a cleaver, my thirst and hunger.  Well… I think I would’ve almost died of thirst… it took me a LOOOOONG 15 minutes.  I should’ve researched on youtube first for inspiration, but there isn’t any youtube on deserted islands.  

Anyway, I awoke from my dream and now am prepared with more information.  Next time I buy a green coconut:

1. I’m going to bounce the green coconut on a rock outdoors first.  Not only does it look fun, but what a time saver… and oh yeah, you can compost at the same time.

2. I need to sharpen my machete and hire someone from Trinadad to teach me how they do it over there (watch end of the clip):

 

3. Please let me know how you compost your coconut shells because my 2 year old coconut shells in the compost still look kind of new… but here’s why I want to compost coconuts anyway.

Review: Ursa Major Natural Skin Care for Men

8 Jun

This is a Father’s Day idea for a guy that is more man than beautician. I asked my “I-don’t-even-own-a-hairbrush” husband to try some natural skin care products for men for my blog.  I didn’t think he would agree, but since his friend works at Ursa Major, I think it made any persuasion much easier.

Oliver Sweatman and his partner, Emily Doyle, started Ursa Major in Vermont in 2009 because he said, “I tried a LOT of so-called ‘natural’ products and couldn’t find anything that met all of my personal criteria for a great skincare solution:

 – no toxins/premium natural ingredients/as close to 100% natural as possible (and ideally, with as much organic content as possible too, although realizing that can affect price)

– great performance – the product does what it says it’s going to do on the label

– delightful experience – sublime natural aromas, delightful textures, smart packaging, copy, etc.

 In other words a spirited, sincere, natural alternative to all the bland, synthetic, mass-produced stuff out there…”   Their first product, the Stellar Shave Cream, was launched in December 2010.

Ursa Major: Natural Products for Men

The Products

My husband used the shaving creamwashtoner and balm for about a month.  We took before and after pictures and we don’t see any differences in the wrinkles department (a department he was not aware he had), but my husband’s very sensitive skin did not break out at all and his skin also seemed to be smoother to me.

Shaving cream usually gives hubby rashes or leaves his skin dry.  He has had a hard time finding product that doesn’t make his skin break out. In fact, he won’t shave unless an event dictates the need for a clean look. Nevertheless, the Ursa Major Men Shaving Cream worked wonderfully.

The Facial Wash also worked well.  For the first week, my husband’s skin was dry if he did not follow the wash by the moisturizer.  This was not the case after the first week in that his face felt hydrated all the time.

My husband also noticed that the toner and wash made his hands softer but not less durable – just simply through exposure after applying cleaner/toner/balm to his face.  My husband rows 5 to 6 times a week (an internationally ranked rower) and found that he was not getting any additional blisters.  In fact, his palms are more flexible and softer.

For my husband, these are significant improvements due to the use of products.

Overall, my husband says these products work as well as or more than processed products for sensitive skin.  They are easy enough to use for someone (a man who is) not really interested in a daily prep work for the face.  If you are interested, you can find Ursa Major in various retailers around the world.

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria?

1. smell – Not much.  Very mild.

2. sensitivities –  None.

3. taste – I usually taste synthetic products when I put it on my face and drink water right after, but my husband’s response to this was: “How would I know, I didn’t eat the stuff!”

4. moisturize – Worked well with little dab.

5. everyday comfort – I asked my hubby if a real man would use these products everyday, his response: “Quick and Easy to use.”

6. lasting effect – yes, it lasts the whole day.

7. eco-friendly – these products do not contain any foaming agents, slip agents, surfactants, fragrances, coloring agents, preservatives, penetration enhancers, or other unnatural ingredients.

Animal Protein versus Plant Protein

29 May

Raw Avocado Corn Salad over Cooked Beans: 1 cup of cooked white beans contains 16g of protein, 1 cup of raw corn has 5g, 1 cup of avocado 5g and 1 cup of tomatoes 1g.  I only need 33g of protein a day, so just this meal alone would be 6g shy of my goal.

In my community of Holistic Mamas, there are, nutritionally speaking, basically 2 groups of families:

1. Those that believe in and eat organic animal based foods and

2. Those that eat organic plant based foods.

The former tend to follow the WAP Diet (Weston Price Diet:http://www.westonaprice.org/). The latter are those who are eating, or lean towards, an all organic vegetarian or vegan diet – especially after watching Forks Over Knives. Now within this latter group, there two further subsets:

a. those who eat a lot of processed and refined foods and

b. those who make most (if not all) their food from scratch.

Among Mamas, there are many discussions as to why their own diets are best. In my view, as you all know, an unprocessed, whole organic plant based diet is best.  Why?

FIRSTLY, BECAUSE ANIMAL BASED DIETS CAUSE DISEASE:

There have been so many studies done to raise awareness as to why (even organic) animal based foods are not health foods. Although animal products have the most similar nutrient composition to our bodies, consuming them promotes disease. I am currently taking Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition Course and have learned (or rather relearned from his work in the China Study) that cancer can be turned on and off (from 20% to 5% of total calories) just be increasing and decreasing animal protein in the diet of rats. The same amounts of plant based protein (such as wheat and soy protein) had no such effect. Animal –based foods also contain saturated fats, which cause cholesterol and heart disease. Moreover, animal products cause an acid environment in our bodies, which causes calcium to leak from our bones in an effort for our bodies to neutralize the acids, causing osteoporosis.

SECONDLY, ONLY PLANT BASED FOODS CONTAIN ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS THAT PREVENT DISEASE:

Plant based foods, on the other hand, contain essential nutrients not present in animal foods that we need in order to live healthily. Two of these are antioxidants and dietary fiber: antioxidants, like vitamin C, E and carotenoids, bind free radicals that promote cancer and speed up our body’s aging process, and dietary fiber binds to chemical carcinogens and helps the body excrete these potentially harmful products. They help maintain our health and prevent disease.

THIRDLY, NOT ALL PLANT BASED DIETS ARE EQUAL. ORGANIC WHOLE FOODS ARE DIFFERENT FROM PROCESSED VEGAN FOODS:

As I have said before, I understand why people are attracted to refined and processed vegan foods: they do not require much work or energy. We want to be healthy but we don’t want to put that much effort into actually preparing our meals directly from whole foods. We want things EASY. Consider this though: When a fruit or vegetable is 5 days old, it will contain only 40% of it’s original nutrients. How about refined plant foods?

Refined plant foods have been so drastically altered from their natural state and are not consumed, in Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s words, “in their totality” and therefore in decreased natural plant material quanitites. Other refined foods are processed foods. They include simple carbohydrates (like, white flours and sugars), hydrogenated oils, genetically modified organisms, anything with fillers, artificial food grade chemicals and additives. Most are ready to eat (like junk food or white bread) or require little cooking (like frozen dinners). They are also anything canned, boxed, bottled and packaged. There is a whole niche market dedicated to serving ready made foods to vegans and vegetarians.

THEREFORE, A PLANT-BASED WHOLE FOODS DIET IS BEST.

The thing is though, like most things, it requires work on our part to get something really worth anything. Nutrition is no exception. Plant-based whole-foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. They are in their natural state and are not overly processed or altered. Most of the time, you can eat them fresh or they may require some time and attention (like, cleaning, prepping, dressing/marinating, cooking). Dr. T. Colin Campbell states that when we consume foods that have decreased natural plant material, this poses problems for our bodies.

BUT, HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS ENOUGH?

For the average person, 8 – 10% of your total calorie intake is enough.  Surprisingly, professional athletes only need slightly more protein than that.  You can calculate what you need here.

HOW TO MEASURE HOW MUCH PROTEIN WE CONSUME?

According to my instructor at eCornell University, “As long as we’re eating whole, plant foods – no oils and minimal nuts/seeds.  On average, plant foods are 5-10% fat and about 10% protein.  And, if we’re eating whole foods, rather than processed, we’re getting plenty of complex carbohydrates [and enough protein].”

School Lunches versus Packing a Lunch: How to Keep Both Healthy

23 May

We homeschool, but we are out and about a lot.  Here’s an example of our packed lunch.

How do we keep our children’s lunches healthy?  According to the World Health Organization“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”   So, we can rephrase our question as: how can we ensure our children’s lunches contribute to their physical, mental and social well-being and, by consuming them, they will not be afflicted by disease or sickness?

I recently watched a short documentary called Lunch, a film based on interviews about ‘Green School’ lunch programs, instilling healthy habits in kids and organic gardening in a school setting.  It seems to me that most people talk about kid’s lunches from a single viewpoint: the food. They say: let’s improve food quality, organic is better, no more GMOs, add more fruits and vegetables, no more fried foods, add healthier options, grow a school garden, add nutrition to the curriculum…  While I think these are all wonderful and much needed, the most important thing we can do is to empower children themselves to make the right food choices.  

At the end of the day, the children are the only ones who can control what they eat, therefore it is not enough to simply create a healthy nutrition environment for them. Children need to be taught that any kind of food can keep us alive, but it is the nutritious food that helps maintain our body, mind and social capacities well. We need to teach children about a whole lifestyle that emphasizes not only nutritional choices, but also how the choices they make affect their own physical, mental and social well-being.   When children are educated, when they understand, when they are given proper role models and when they are given tools to help them choose health, then the responsibility for parents and guardians to create a healthy nutrition environment for them becomes easier – simply because children will WANT it for themselves.  

Proper Nutrition is integral to maintaining our physical, mental and social health and well-being.

We can teach children the value of eating to live, not living to eat. We can teach them the value of maintaining physical, mental and social well-being (these are a few examples):

    • show them what happens to their bodies when they consume junk versus nutritious foods, for example:
      • what happens to teeth when they eat processed sugar (place a tooth in Coca Cola and see what happens)
      • what happens to bones when people eat too much animal protein and cow’s milk (show rates of osteoporosis in different communities)
      • teach them to look at their own poop and explain what healthy poop should look like
      • teach them how different foods create different energy levels (discuss athletes and their diet)
      • watch Wall-E and discuss why the humans are obese (foods they eat, exercise)
      • show videos like Supersize Me and Forks over Knives to older children
    • show them what happens to their minds depending on the food consumed, for example:
      • discuss how mental performance suffers/improves due to diet (i.e. Food For the Brain study)
      • show them that learning challenges and problem behaviors may decrease/increase according to diet
      • discuss how exercising the brain is just as important as sports is for the body
      • discuss how quality foods help the nerves in the brain function properly (memory, problem solving, etc)
    • show them that their nutritional choices have social implications, for example
      • discuss what “social well-being” means vis-à-vis proper nutrition within the community, the nation and the world (according to the United States Institute of Peace: “Social well-being is an end state in which basic human needs are met and people are able to coexist peacefully in communities with opportunities for advancement. This end state is characterized by equal access to and delivery of basic needs services (water, food, shelter, and health services), the provision of primary and secondary education, the return or resettlement of those displaced by violent conflict, and the restoration of social fabric and community life.)
      • discuss composting, recycling, reusing and reducing in the community and at home
      • discuss pollution and toxicity
      • discuss what stress does to us
      • discuss how the quality of food we eat affects our emotions and therefore our social well-being.
As we teach them to grow their own food and to prepare their own meals from scratch… we can sit back and see what happens.

Other ideas here too: Top 10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Part of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop! Click on the image for more links to Gifted/2E Health and Wellness Issues!

Review: Your Right To Be Beautiful

5 May

Your Right To Be Beautiful Volumizing Shampoo & Anti-Aging Facial Cream

Well, I tried the Anti-Aging Cream a few years ago and didn’t like it.  It just didn’t work for me then.  But my friend Cayce recently reminded me of Raw Food Advocate, Tonya Zavasta’s, Beautiful on Raw Products after she tried the Multi-Herbal Green Clay Mask.  Cayce said she absolutely loved it.

So, I decided to give it another try recently and was really surprised because it works!  Apparently, just this year, Tonya tripled the amount of sea buckthorn fruit extract in her cream… and it has made a big difference!  My skin feels wonderfully hydrated during the day and night.  In fact, in my vain search for Vegan cosmetics, I think among the moisturizers, Your Right to Be Beautiful Facial Cream has given me the best results so far in hydrating my skin and for lessening my wrinkles.  Yes, in my opinion, even better than Acure’s moisturizers!

Less wrinkles and more hydrated on Your Right To Be Beautiful Anti-Aging Cream… and no make-up in this photo too!!

I also decided to try the Volumizing Shampoo and was surprised again by Tonya’s products.  The shampoo lathers very well.  Although every time I use it I feel like the suds are stripping my hair of its natural oils as I rinse, but my hair is always easy to comb afterwards and as it dries, I find my hair just ‘falls’ well.  I’m wearing my hair down again without doing anything to it.  My son, who has had a fetish for his Mama’s hair since he was born, exclaimed as soon as he touched my dry hair after I used this shampoo, “Mama!  You’ve never had softer hair!  It’s like baby hair!”  And this is true, I haven’t had softer hair since using ‘healthier’ shampoos.

My son wanted to take this photo of me today while we were playing in the garden. It is rare for me to leave my hair down because it is so fine and thin.  I don’t have the time to fix it nor do I want to put product on my hair.  I only have time to wash, comb and let it air-dry.  My hair falls well naturally with Tonya Zavasta’s Volumizing Shampoo!

I am truly surprised by the quality of Tonya’s cream and shampoo!   To me, her website seems a little dull and old compared to the more updated websites of AcureSuki or even 100% Pure.  The packaging of the Your Right To Be Beautiful products also looks cheaper.  The woman I was e-mailing at her company didn’t know how to entertain the idea of sending me samples to review.  She didn’t.  And in fact, she stopped responding to me, so I had to buy the cream and the shampoo for this review from my health food store.  Judging from the website and my communication with its representative, this company does not seem like it would have quality products… but they do!  The cream and shampoo are definitely worth a try!

Now I want to get her facial brush and start dry brushing my face!

 

Did it pass my cosmetics criteria?  Absolutely!

1. smell – I love the smell of the cream. It smells luxurious.  I’m not crazy about the Lotus Flower smell of the shampoo, but it smells… ‘clean’.

2. sensitivities – none.  It says it is safe for very sensitive skin.

3. taste – no adverse taste when I drink water right after the application of the cream.

4. moisturize – Yes it does (cream and shampoo)!

5. everyday comfort – Yes.  An all-in-one cream that works is a wonderful product for a busy Mama who just wants results with minimal work.  As for the shampoo, it softens and at the same time adds volume to my thin and fine hair!

6. lasting effect – According to the website: “Your Right to Be Beautiful Facial Cream contains sea buckthorn oil, known for its amazing nourishing, regenerative and restorative actions. Coconut oil, aloe vera leaf extract and avocado oil add soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Mango seed butter helps to protect your skin from dryness.  The cream is suitable for every skin type, including sensitive skin and can be used as a daily moisturizer or as an enriching night cream. You can apply the cream under makeup foundation or as a soothing aftershave.”  As for the Volumizing Shampoo, “You’ll notice my shampoo and conditioner contain more ingredients than the average similar products. Why? Because I wanted these products to include everything known to deliver shine, volume, softness and manageability to hair while still being as pure and natural as humanly possible.”

7. eco-friendly – The ingredients are Vegan and a handful are Certified Organic.  Not exactly completely RAW like Bee Yummy’s products, but, as a Raw Foodie, Tonya says she keeps the quality of her beauty products as high as she can too. She sources the best ingredients that she can for the products that she personally uses and sells.

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!

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.

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!

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: 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: 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.

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.

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

Vegan Cartoons

28 Jan

Reading A Cow's Life

The Mama looks for her baby!!!

Mama, don't we have a belt like this? Sigh. Yes, we haven't always been Vegan.

Resources:

TeachKind – for free materials on humane-education (The Cow’s Life is only one of their many cartoons)

Homemade Half-Raw, Half-Cooked “Happy Meals”

28 Jan

Our Homemade Happy Meal

We are part of a homeschool coop that meets once a week for a few hours, lunch included. There is one other Vegan family and another highly raw one too. It’s not like my son doesn’t have Vegan company in the lunchroom, but there are a lot of other eye-catching foods in the lunchroom too.

My son’s lunchbox doesn’t have cartoon characters on it. It doesn’t come out of a white paper bag that smells like something fried. Instead, it comes in a reusable container from my kitchen with clean food prepared and packed with love. The parents love it, but I have a feeling the kids don’t. I have a feeling it’s not so cool. My son has looked unhappily at it once or twice in the lunchroom and his grimace told me exactly what he thought of his lunch. “Eeeeewwww… is that all you have?” his face asked as he looked across the table with longing at the Goldfish crackers and a packaged fruit juice bottle with a lid shaped as a cartoon character. “Yup! That’s all we have!” I say, making a mental note to fix something more enticing next time.

So, what do I pack these days? The photo above shows our typical homemade half-raw, half-cooked “Happy Meal” for our homeschool coop days. It includes: my son’s fave Green Smoothie (hidden in a thermos so we don’t invite any comments – good or bad), fruit, raw green salad (in the photo, a radish, turnip, tomato and parsley salad*), baked veggies (in the photo, cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, sweet potatoes), turmeric spiced brown basmati rice and gluten-free muffins.

Although my son still looks at what his friends are eating, it seems to me there is less longing as he easily sips his fave smoothie, eats his baked sweet potato fries without question, asks for more oranges and carefully peels off his gluten-free muffin from the muffin cup. He looks around to see if anyone is watching. He has a treat today. I sigh. I am a relieved Mama. He is content with his homemade “Happy Meal”.

*Radish, Turnip, Tomato and Parsley Salad

A salad from what is left in the fridge can sometimes be one of the most surprisingly satisfying.  I don’t usually like turnips or radishes. I find them too spicy, but mixed with parsley and the right dressing… this makes the perfect winter salad… yum!

Mix together in a bowl:

a bunch of parsley, chopped

a bunch of turnips, peeled and chopped

a bunch of radish, chopped

a bunch of cherry tomatoes, halved

Toss with a vinaigrette (most of the time we prefer a 1:4 vinegar to oil ratio):

sea salt, to taste

oregano, to taste

lemon juice or red wine vinegar

extra virgin olive oil

Empowering Vegan Children

28 Jan

Vegan Kids don’t like Veggies?

Last week, I spoke to a Vegan friend. She said something that really surprised me. Her kids were brought up proudly Vegan, but they don’t even like vegetables. They don’t even like sweet potatoes! “Well, what do they love to eat?” I asked immediately. “They love beans and rice. We eat a lot of rice and beans! They will eat a few vegetables only, like artichokes.” Imagine that! Vegan kids who are proud to be Vegan, but don’t like vegetables!

What’s a Mama to do?

“My raw food skills suck… My husband and kids won’t eat any of the raw things I prepare…!”

“I’m so tired of preparing two dinners: one for them and one for me!”

“Why won’t they eat their veggies?”

Sound familiar? I’ve been there too. In fact, I am reminded of Peace at the Healthy Table, a post I wrote at around the time I figured out how to create balance within my own family.

Like my friend, I too certainly don’t want to be the Mama who force feeds her son veggies in the name of health. Why? Because:

  1. I want him to love nourishing his body with food
  2. I don’t want him to hate veggies
  3. I know I won’t be around forever preparing food for my son
  4. he, and only he, has control of what he eats and
  5. he, and only he, can therefore determine his own health.

So, what’s the best solution I came up with? While he is still young, I want to empower my son to make the right food choices.

In my house, this is where my top 10 tips to get them to eat more fruits and veggies come in. I’ve also recently added 2 more tips to this list:

  1. make my son his own Half Raw, Half Cooked Vegan “Happy Meals” for school and
  2. use cartoons to explain how our nutrition choices impact the world.

10 Lessons from A Vegan Mama

23 Jan

 

"Mother Earth" by my then 4 year old

“There are two ways of spreading light:

to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Edith Wharton

  1. Think for yourself. It is OK to think differently from the mainstream.
  2. Choose health by eating an abundance of fresh, nutritious and unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
  3. Be an efficient shopper. No need to roam around, we need only shop in the produce and bulk sections.
  4. Save money. Look: our Vegan grocery bill has decreased at least a third from our Omnivore days!
  5. Save time. Imagine! We don’t have to cook for hours. We can eat our fruits and vegetables raw. In fact, lunch will be ready in just 5 minutes!
  6. Let us not be wasteful. We don’t want to consume more than we have to. We can also compost our scraps, they will enrich the earth.
  7. Be part of our community: befriend local farmers, know where our produce comes from.
  8. Be respectful. We share this world and the resources in it with others.
  9. Be kind to ourselves, to others, to animals and to our earth.
  10. Be conscious always that our everyday simple choices can have great impacts on ourselves, on others and on our environment.

New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

30 Dec

There are 3 ingredients that make eating Raw Vegan food more appealing to transitioning mamas, hubbies and kids: raw sugars, raw oils and sea salt.  It is time for me to decrease my family’s consumption of all 3.  

1. Prepare food with less sugar.

My plan:

  • use less raw sweeteners all together
  • use more fruit (fresh or dried) to replace sweeteners
  • omit any unnecessary sugars all together in Green Smoothies.

Note: I have been successful this past week in serving my boys their favourite Pooh Bear Smoothie without additional dates AND with another handful of greens without complaints!

2. Prepare food with less oils.

My plan:

  • use less extra virgin olive oil in salads
  • use more flax seed oil to replace extra virgin olive oil in salads to increase our Omega 3 intake.
We enjoy our favourite Kale Salad at least once or twice a week and it contains a lot of olive oil.  I have prepared it before by substituting 1/4 of the olive oil with plain water and we loved it just the same.  I am going to try substituting some of the olive oil with flax seed oil too.

3. Prepare food with less salt.

My plan is to:
  • simply decrease our intake of salt by using less of it.  While my general rule is to add 1 tsp sea salt for every 1 pound of food, I want to decrease this to 3/4 tsp.
This will be difficult for me because I love sea salt.  Salt brings out the flavor in food.  Will my family be ready to eat bland food?  I guess more importantly, will I?

There are 2 ingredients that have made the transition into a Vegan Diet much easier for my husband and son: soy and wheat, which has given them the texture and heaviness of animal products they have craved.  These are the 2 ingredients I struggle with the most because of the GMO’s in soy and the gluten in wheat.  

4. Avoid soy and other GMOs.

The contamination of organic products with genetically modified counterparts are increasing, as they are inevitable.  This is scary.  Now I just have to figure out what to do when preparing Asian fare without Nama Shoyu?

5. Avoid wheat.

Dr. Hyman’s Huffington Post article on Gluten opened my eyes on why eliminating wheat is very important.  He writes that “… an estimated 99 percent of people who have a problem with eating gluten don’t even know it. They ascribe their ill health or symptoms to something else–not gluten sensitivity, which is 100 percent curable.” And that a “study comparing the blood of 10,000 people from 50 years ago to 10,000 people today found that the incidences of full-blown celiac disease increased by 400 percent (elevated TTG antibodies) during that time period.”  WOW.
My plan is to:
  • eliminate all wheat
  • then substitute with spelt (although it contains gluten, people with wheat allergies and not gluten allergies, can tolerate spelt)
  • then continue to experiment with and use home-milled gluten-free flours from now on.  Here’s how to substitute for wheat with other grains.

Supplementing a Family’s Vegan Diet is important!

6. A continued search for fantastic food-based vitamin supplements for:

  • B12
  • other B vitamins
  • iron
  • zinc
  • iodine
According to Gabriel Cousens, we all need to supplement Omega 3s, minerals, carnosine, Vitamins A, B12, C, D, K.  I just found his supplement recommendations and will be working from this list!  Note: he doesn’t advice taking nutritional yeast as the B12 supplement because of fungal potential.

On Exercise

7. Continue to exercise better.

My husband is an Exercise Scientist and an Athlete.  Last month, he got me to row 120,000 meters.  I think that is more exercise than I have ever done in my entire life.  And I don’t think I have ever felt as physically well as I do today!  And yet, I took a physical test yesterday that placed me below average for my age range in cardiovascular strength… I was sorely disappointed, but I guess I have a lot of room for improvement in this department!

 

One with Nature

8. Make more time to be outdoors.

My family’s days are not complete anymore if there isn’t at least half an hour each day outdoors, rain or shine.  I/We want more!

What are your and your family’s New Year’s Resolutions for this coming year?

Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu: Week 3

30 Oct

When we go out to eat and/or travel and/or eat at other people’s houses, my boys eat what they want.  But they are still happy to maintain a Vegan kitchen here at home.  Here is our Family Friendly High Raw Vegan Sample Menu Week 3.  Enjoy!

Some Recipes for you:

Raw Drinks: smoothies, juices

Raw Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit Pudding (my favourite one is the Green Sundae!), Apple Almond Yoghurt

Raw Dishes: Asian Marinated Veggies, Carrot Salad, Kale Salad, your choice of other  Salads, half raw and half cooked Curry below under Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes, Spinach Dip (add a handful or two of baby spinach leaves to Guacamole), Flax Crackers

Cooked Vegan Dishes: Lentil Burgers, Tofu Eggs, Banana Bread from How it all Vegan!, Mushroom, Kale and Potatoes from Forks Over Knives, Puy Lentils with Beets without the Feta, Hash Browns from Meatless Meals for Working People, Veggie Stew with Dumplings from Vegan Diner

Carissa’s Cooked Vegan Recipes:

Buckwheat Noodles: cook 1 # buckwheat noodles and serve with sauce (mix together 1 1/2 cup veggie broth, 5 tbspn Nama Shoyu (or soy sauce), 4 tbspn Sucanat (or your choice of sweetener), 1 tbspn mirin) and top with scallion and ginger.

Mushroom Chips: slice 2 # mushrooms, toss with olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic and 2 tsp sea salt, roast at 400-450F for about 15 – 20 minutes or until crispy.

Potato Cauliflower Curry: this is mostly RAW!  Simply top raw cauliflower bites and boiled (in salted water) chopped potatoes with my Curry in a Hurry sauce.  You can add mung sprouts if you wish.