Aimee, This One’s For You!

As my friend Aimee liked to bring to my attention today – I haven’t shown much love here lately and her ability to stalk me has been severely hindered. So here is what I have been up to since the day I ran the city of bridges.

-Two weekends ago I moved out of my tiny dollhouse apartment into Jeanne’s – a mere hop, skip, & jump away in Squirrel Hill. Temporary roomie until I head to Toronto and permanent roomie come December. Living with Jeanne means I’ll be able to enjoy many more walks with Edison & flowers!

My favorite pic from an early morning walk a few weeks ago –

-In the last week I officially became an omnivore (a picky one). Yep, this girl ate a burger last week (thanks to Jeanne’s local, grass-fed meat from her CSA) and am looking very forward to the bison I will be dining on come Wednesday with my fam at the Heartland Cafe. In addition to that burger, I’ve enjoyed some eggs, raw milk, organic yogurt, wild-caught salmon and pasture butter. I wouldn’t go as far as saying “I’ve been missing out” but I cannot deny that I have enjoyed these foods entirely. More blood work showed I’ve hit a scary level (you can go ahead and read this as nearly zero) with my hormones and vitamin B12 – so instead of not working out which was recommended by the doc – I decided to introduce pristine quality meat and raw dairy into my diet while continuing to workout. The fact that I’m craving red meat again speaks volumes – I clearly need the nutrients. More on this to come.

-Flew into Chicago last week and have been enjoying the amazing weather, relaxation, catching up with friends, reading the Hunger Games, going to my first Cubs/Sox Crosstown Classic game, visiting the always beautiful Chicago Botanic Gardens, and watching movies with my momma.

Being home has meant I’ve even been able to witness the first ripe strawberry from my plants of last year – my mom and I went to harvest our one berry this evening and some stinker already got it! You snooze you loose apparently. This week I’ll likely do lots of reading, yoga, running, projects with my mom (soap, sauerkraut, more lotions, yada yada yada), and go see The Hunger Games before heading to Milwaukee this weekend for another Jagel wedding. Cannot wait to see Ryan & Maggie get hitched and to hopefully check out Growing Power Saturday am. I have a lot to pack in before I go back to the burgh Sunday & Canada Monday!

-Today I made homemade lotion and chapstick! Easiest. projects. ever. and both incredibly cost efficient. For just a few cents I have a few mason jars full of lotion and 6 tubes of chapstick. Here’s how to DIY:

Homemade Lotion

1/4 cup olive oil (note: not extra virgin)
1/4 cup emulsifying wax (purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs)
1 1/4 cup hot water
essential oil(s) of choice

Directions: In a glass pyrex measuring cup combine 1/4 cup emulsifying wax & 1/4 olive oil. Heat these two until wax is entirely melted either in microwave (~1-2 minutes) or double broiler style in a pot over medium heat. Once the wax is melted add 24-36 drops of essential oil(s) if desired. While adding oils, heat 1 1/4 cup of water for about 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave. Add hot water to oil/wax mixture. Immediately the combination will turn milky white. Stir and pour into a 16 ounce mason jar. Cover and allow to settle & cool.

That’s it!! So quick, easy, and eco-friendly.

Homemade Chapstick

1 1/8 tsp cocoa butter
1 7/8 tsp coconut oil
3 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp beeswax
3 vitamin E capsules
6-7 chapstick tubes (reuse old ones or purchase for cheap Mountain Rose Herbs)

Directions: In a pyrex glass measuring cup combine melted cocoa butter, coconut oil, beeswax & olive oil. After these four liquids are well combined, add the contents of three vitamin E capsules. Stir and pour into empty tubes. Allow to cool and harden and there you have chapstick that smells like honey!

I was very pleased with all the products I ordered from Mountain Rose Herbs – just be sure to purchase everything at once to keep the price of shipping down.

Let’s see what else… while teaching Jeanne to juice last week we pumped out one of my typical green juices while also making a watermelon-strawberry juice. Delicious. A few days prior I had juiced some remaining watermelon that was in my fridge so I didn’t have to pack it for my move. Why had I not done this before? Simple watermelon juice is so refreshing and hydrating. A perfect summer beverage. So this morning I decided to start my day not with green but with red juice and opted for a pineapple & watermelon juice:

1/2 pineapple
2-3 cups watermelon
1/2 lemon, peeled
1 1″ nub of ginger

So good and rehydrating. I’ve been in desperate need of liquids after a weekend of too much salt however water wasn’t appealing. This really hit the spot.

Off to read more Hunger Games, do some yoga, and perch with Ma & Pa.

Source: etsy.com via Jo Ann on Pinterest

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a very green wednesday

Apparently yesterday was a day chock full of green!

am post- yoga rehydration: Green Juice (kale, celery, cuke, apple, lemon)

“lunch”: green grapes, zucchini & celery

snack: apple & coconut water

2nd snack: green smoothie (kale, 1/2 cuke, 1 banana, 1/2 small avocado, flax)

Post 2 hour run: a heaping bowl of salad greens & thai coleslaw x 2

I thought I had previously shared the recipe for thai coleslaw (raw, vegan)- apparently it was all intentions and no action! I love this particular recipe as it is full of nutrition, cheap and so easy! I usually omit the tamari & honey – and only add the herbs if I have them on hand.

thai coleslaw *adapted from Sunny Raw Kitchen

ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage (mix of green & purple)
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 bunch chives or green onion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup  low sodium tamari
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons of honey (or bit of stevia)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1″ ginger, peeled, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp chili powder

directions: Blend all dressing ingredients for dressing.  Add to chopped salad ingredients. Toss & serve!

and now i’m off to figure out why this new format won’t let me single space any of this and read The Dirty Life and Food and the City. I love having the space to read books for pleasure again… I can’t begin to imagine how many I’ll plow through at the farm this year!

Also working on many updates for the blog – be on the lookout – publishing soon!

4-Ingredient Choco Bites

Looking for a quick and easy way to use almond pulp from making almond milk? Chocolate lovers…look no further. For non-chocoholics, like my Momma, refer to my alternatives at the end.

4-Ingredient Choco Bites:

Starting with the pulp from making almond milk with one cup of almonds… either dehydrate for a few hours or use right away. If using pulp without dehydrating, you may get away with only one banana as there will be leftover moisture from the almond milk.

In a food processor add almond pulp and pulse into flour.

Add:
2 tbsp cacao powder
2 very ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix until well blended. Roll into tbsp sized balls and freeze to allow them to set.

That’s it! So easy.

For those who’d like to try without chocolate:

In place of cacao powder try a few raisins, Medjool dates, or shredded coconut. A few squeezes of lemon juice & lemon zest would be delicious too. Reminds me of lemon coconut bars!

And for my favorite Pinterest findings this weekend…. notice a theme??

Source: flickr.com via Kristen on Pinterest

DIY Almond Milk

I’m a big fan of almond milk. An even bigger fan of making my own with REAL raw almonds. Don’t trust those labels at stores! Even bags of almonds labeled ‘raw’ and/or ‘organic’ have been pasteurized. It is required that all almonds grown in the U.S. are treated whether through a steam chamber (organic) or gas treatment (non-organic). Yeah… no thanks! (below I have a link to order raw almonds)

How to make Almond Milk:

Overnight soak 1 cup of almonds. In the morning, drain, rinse and toss almonds in the blender. Add 3 cups of water.

Blend for a minute or two.

Strain with a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or any other device you can think of that will separate the liquid from the pulp. Set aside almond pulp and save for another use. Optional to put milk back in blender and add a touch of pure vanilla extract and/or natural sweetener. I added a few drops of vanilla plus 1 packet of stevia. Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed jar. Will stay fresh for 3-5 days. Due to a shorter shelf life – make milk in small batches to keep it from going funky.

So fresh & so delicious. Nothing compares! And this comes without any added preservatives and funky, unnecessary ingredients.

In case you are interested in ordering raw almonds check out this website. It’s either order online or head out to Cali and get ’em directly from a farmer. Option two is quite tempting!

Drinking Green

St. Patrick’s Day inspired me to make a delicious green mint smoothie in honor of the holiday. Since going out and drinking a bunch of beer doesn’t really appeal to me anymore, I considered this to be a healthy and much tastier substitute :) It was a perfect way to cool down since it was in the 80’s without a cloud in the sky. The weather has been lovely but wow, so different from typical mid-March!

This definitely ranks as a new favorite and won’t be reserved for St. Patty’s day – in fact I can’t wait to make another today!

Green Peppermint Smoothie

2 frozen bananas
1/2 cup almond milk
Handful of kale, stems removed (can substitute with spinach)
1 tbsp chia seeds or hemp seeds
1/8 tsp pure peppermint extract (~few drops)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend well.

Optional additions:
-touch of cacao powder or cacao nibs (mint chocolate chip smoothie!?)
-1/4 cup soaked cashews (add some bulk and creaminess)
-fresh mint leaves (handful)

Warm Weather Inspiration

Warmer temperatures these past few days have helped me see some light at the end of the tunnel (although it still seems eons away). Sunday morning after nearly three hours of hot yoga – hellllo sweat – I walked outside to a 70 degree, very sunny day! Amazing. Showered, made some green juice, ate half a pineapple (totally normal…), and joined my friend Jeanne & Edison (pictured below) for an afternoon walk to the park. Spent a lovely hour or so soaking up the warm rays and getting a fair amount of pet therapy in the process… SO many cute puppies.

Edison

Onyx

Was too distracted with his cuteness to remember his name

Monday morning I woke up pre-sunrise to finish Pineapple Culture, a book I’ve been reading for my Food, Culture, & History class this week. With my tea I had fresh orange and pineapple juice (coincidence???). In the juicer went 5 small valencia oranges and about 1/4 of the remaining pineapple from Sunday. Simple, sweet, and a wonderful way to start my Monday. Unfortunately, I will now always associate pineapple with American imperialism in Hawaii… I double checked-my pineapple came from Costa Rica. Certainly no better. Can’t win.

Late Monday night I decided to make cashew butter and a face scrub. I’m not sure what made me decide to do this but come 10:30 I figured it was time to start a project in the kitchen. So unfortunately for my neighbor I ran my food processor, loudly, for a good 15 minutes.

It’s too bad my apartment has horrific lighting and pictures don’t do justice for anything made here. So I can’t share what these two look like. You’ll just have to trust my judgment and make them yourself because they are worth it.

Cashew Butter

Simple. Grab a bunch of raw cashews and throw them in the food processor. Turn it on and let it process. Every few minutes scrape the sides and mix up what is in there to make sure nothing gets glued to the sides. After about 10-15 minutes you’ll have a smooth & creamy butter. No need to add additional oils- there are plenty naturally in the cashews. Enjoy! Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Oatmeal Lavender Face Scrub

Exfoliating your face with this brings out a rich lavender smell… can’t beat it. And an excellent, chem-free way to refresh your skin after winter.

In a food processor combine:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dry lavender flowers, stripped off stalks (available at health food stores & Whole Foods herb bulk sections)

Pulse these a few times just enough to break up the oatmeal a bit. Transfer to a bowl and add ~1/4 cup of milk. Stir to combine. Massage into damp skin and rinse. Will store in a sealed container up to six months.

Last night I also made kale & lentil soup for a friend. While I didn’t taste it – I can guarantee, based off the smell of my apartment after it was cooking all night in the crockpot, it is bound to be tasty…. Marisa will have to confirm :)

Kale & Lentil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 1/4 cup of green or brown lentils, picked & rinsed
6 cups of broth or water
4 kale leaves (Dino/lacinato works best)
1 tbsp tamari (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Combine oil, onion, garlic, carrot and celery in crock-pot on low.
2. Rinse lentils, add to pot along with broth or water. Add tamari if desired.
3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
4. Cut kale into bite size strips and either a) steam in a double boiler for 5 minutes or b) add directly to crock at least 15 minutes prior to serving to soften.
5. Season with salt & pepper if desired.

Highlights Of My Week

A few of my favorite things this mid week of February:

Simple juices… real simple. Like 1 to 4 ingredients and I’m done.

Top favorite??

GRAPEFRUIT!


source

I woke up this morning not really looking forward to my day that set to begin at the doctors office. I turned my sleepy frown upside down immediately with the help of three grapefruits. Peeled & juiced to perfection. Not too sweet, not too bitter… and just so happens to result in the prettiest shade of pink. A mason jar full of pink juice is certain to make anyone smile :)

Another fave: the quintessential OJ!


source

My friend Anna just introduced me to frozen, unpasteurized OJ from Whole Foods. Put it in the fridge overnight and wake up to a half juice/half slush beverage that is wonderfully hydrating.

Spin class. Love, love, love! Yet I’m convinced spin instructors are on crack. I don’t know how they lead these workouts while dancing (bike style) & singing simultaneously. Waving their hands around in the air… I’m lucky if I don’t face plant with both hands holding on and my feet strapped in. Crack or no crack though, I’m glad they are up there kicking my behind.

Night bike rides. Chilly but invigorating.

Multi-colored popcorn.

Farm fresh eggs in my fridge. Complete with feather remnants stuck on the shell.

Class outing to the Heinz History Center. So much history packed into this place! Another Pittsburgh gem.

NYC next week!

Chicago in two weeks!

and this song.

Raw Chocolate Macaroons

These pack in some serious chocolate & coconut goodness! With only 4 ingredients and the easiest,quickest preparation EVER… what’s not to love?

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup coconut nectar or maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil
3/4 cup raw cacao powder

*Adapted by Sweetly Raw
**Original recipe calls for maple syrup, 2 tsp vanilla extract, pinch of salt. I had none of these = improvise!

Directions:
Melt coconut oil in a double broiler. Combine other ingredients in a medium bowl, add oil, and combine well with wooden spoon or hands. Place in freezer for 15-20 minutes (especially if using coconut nectar– so thick and sticky!). Remove from freezer and form into round, two-bite sized balls. Freeze until ready to eat.

mmmmmm so yummy!

Spinach soup & then some

Before I submersed myself in a delightful yoga session at home this morning (Sean Conley podcast, of course!), I made a full on mess in my teeny tiny kitchen. When I started I thought I was only going to make my usual breakfast but it quickly turned into a bit more. I blame the energy I got from sipping the greens…

First was this morning’s green that included:

Handful of kale
Handful of romaine
2 celery stalks
1/2 lemon
1 cuke, peeled
1 1/2 apples
1 small piece of pineapple (what was leftover from what I wolfed down while washing the veggies)
2′ piece of ginger

Per usual… best breakfast eva.

I got ambitious and figured I’d make a carrot juice since I haven’t for awhile and had 5 lbs in my fridge. Then I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and make spinach soup if I was juicing carrots. SO, into the juicer went 2.5 lb of carrots. All washed & ends chopped off.

Carrot pulp was saved and stashed in fridge for a creation to be decided upon later this week. Probably crackers or a raw bread in the dehydrator.

I saved roughly 8 ounces of carrot juice for my snack and threw the rest in the blender. Finished up the juice with some jalapeno (obsessed), an apple, lemon, and ginger.

At this point I had food and utensils everywhere. My kitchen imploded. I had carrot pulp all over my floor, bags of compost in my drying rack and on the stove, veggies in the drying rack, lettuce on top of my fridge, food all over my stove and in my sink(!!), the veggies in the sink were sharing space with dirty dishes, juicer parts all over….. ah. If you’ve seen my kitchen you know it’s a feat just to cut an apple. No joke.

Once I got ahold of the mess I made the soup. SO good!

Spinach Soup

~16 ounces carrot juice
5 SMALL cloves of garlic
1″ piece of peeled, fresh ginger
tiny chunk of jalapeno
touch of lemon juice
LOTS of spinach
Fresh pepper

Blend everything except the spinach until well blended. Add spinach and fill to top. Blend. Add more. Blend. Add more. Blend. Add more. You get the picture.

I thought I went a little nuts with the garlic. However, five cloves was in fact perfect. The sweetness from the carrot toned down the power of the garlic. I enjoyed this cold, alongside a kale, carrot pulp, and mushroom salad with dijon lemon dressing. Yum.

I’d say I got my dose of greens today.