Sunday, 22 December 2013

Orange Cranberry Pecan Holiday Cookies (Raw & Vegan)

Remember my self-proclaimed horrible photography skills?

Well the photos of these Holiday cookie balls prove I am getting better, right?

(I do hope so ...)

Here's a quick and easy raw vegan cookie to serve this Holiday season.  I think the cherry red cranberries give it a festive look.  Here's what you'll need:

loving this font by Jenna Sue Design Co.

Into the food processor goes:
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • zest of 1 orange + a squeeze of the juice
  • raw honey, to taste (I used approx. 3 tablespoons)

Since I was using whole pecans, I pulsed them in the food processor first and then added everything else.  If the mixture seems too goopy, add more pecans.  Roll into balls or flat round cookie shapes.

I hope these sweet treats bring a little joy to your holiday season.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Smoothie Catalog Now Available

I finally have a visual catalog of all my favourite smoothies featured on the blog.  I separated them by green and non-green varieties.  I never realized until I saw all the smoothies side-by-side, but it's pretty much just green and pink smoothies.  I'll have to post an orange one soon ;)

And if you're not a smoothie lover, there's also a section at the end for juices, teas and other drinks.  I sure could use a homemade vegan chai tea on this cold and wintery morning. 

Check out my new SMOOTHIE page now!

Friday, 1 November 2013

2013 Eco Holiday Gift Guide

  1. Enchantmints' wooden fairy forest lodge toy
  2. Organic & fair trade Holiday Spice Set (cloves, nutmeg & cinnamon) from The Spicy Gourmet
  3. Vegan lip tar and nail lacquer set from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
  4. TOMS+ Grey Serpentine Desert wedges for women
  5. Mosey working girl bag (made from 35 plastic bottles)
Have you started your holiday shopping yet?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

After 5 LONG years I am finally posting this

I can hardly believe I am going to say this, but ...

Sunday, 15 September 2013

What does HEIRLOOM mean?

The first thing that pops into my mind when I hear the term heirloom is tomato.  But recently I started to wonder: What exactly is an heirloom tomato?  It sounds like it's a really old tomato from your great great grandmother ...
... well actually it kind of is, but not in a pin cushion way.

Heirloom plants (there are many, not just tomatoes) are grown from seeds that have been passed on for generations.  Most importantly, these seeds have not been modified.  Heirloom seeds are grown using traditional gardening techniques, and relying on a process called open pollination.

Over time farmers save the seeds of their best plants - the ones that are the most vigorous, disease resistant, and flavorful. They then save the seeds from these plants and use them again the following year. This careful selection process ensures that only the best plants available are grown.

Why is HEIRLOOM important?
  • superior taste
  • promotes bio-diversity
  • utilizes eco-friendly and sustainable farming methods
  • not genetically modified (non GMO)
  • seeds are hand cultivated over the years to ensure resistance to local diseases, pests, and weather extremes, which yields heartier crops with less pesticides
  • supports family owned small farms
And now for the question on everyone's mind:

Is HEIRLOOM the same thing as ORGANIC?

No, the two terms are not the same.  However they are very closely related and frequently appear together.  Organic has nothing to do with using seeds from 50 generations ago, however organic produce, like heirloom cannot be genetically modified.

Another important note is that farmers of heirloom plants can spray their crops with whatever they like.  Although farmers who are interested in heirloom seeds are probably the type of people who purposely would not use artificial pesticides and fertilizers. While browsing the farmer's markets you might find most of the heirloom plants out there are grown according to organic standards, but are not certified organic, (which is a costly and sometimes lengthy process).

Now is the time that the farmer's markets are stocked with heirloom tomatoes, so go get 'em and enjoy!    

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Updated Recipe Page (& embarrassing photos)


It took hours upon hours of HTML code and re-uploading photos from 2008-2010, but I finally have a modern and up-to-date list of my recipes (mostly raw and vegan) featured here on the blog.

I have a separate page for smoothies and other drinks, which I am currently working on updating as well.  I'll be sure to announce when everything is done, so stay tuned.

As all you fellow bloggers know probably just about the worst thing about having a blog is looking back at your photography from when you first started ...

Oh my!  
This is a raw vegan apple pie from my Raw Thanksgiving Post, which incidentally (and also incredibly embarrassing) is currently the most popular post on my blog!  Looking at the photo makes me cringe ... I think I might have even photographed it IN the fridge!!  I mean I couldn't even arrange the apple slices in a decorative way??!!

Anyhow as a result, I now have an irrational urge to re-photograph EVERYTHING!  I think the yogi in me can "let it go and let it be" ... except for the apple pie.  It has to be re-done.

Have you ever gone "back in time" on your blog?


Friday, 16 August 2013

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Peta's Blueberry Pie Recipe List

It's blueberry season!  

It seems that no matter where I go these days, I see a big ol' pile of luscious blueberries.  Why not whip up one of the vegetarian and/or vegan recipes from this list on Peta's Food board?  You might just see a familiar blog or two on the list.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Video: How To Open a Coconut (Indian & Western style)

Remember my self-proclaimed fear/curiosity about opening a fresh coconut?  Well I still have yet to hack one open myself, but I sure got lots of "lessons" during my time in India.  Kerala, the southern state in India where I've stayed for the past 4 winters, is referred to as the land of coconuts, and if you have ever traveled there, you will know why.  Lush green coconut trees are everywhere, and every corner has its own coconut entrepreneur selling their wares, a freshly cut green coconut.  Delicious!   

Here's a video taken in Thucklay, just outside the famous Padmapuram Palace, an architectural wonder of handcrafted teak woodwork. 

P.S. That's me in the background snacking on the amazing coconut jelly and laughing at a stray piece of coconut that flew onto the street. 

Did you watch the video??  I definitely do not recommend using that method, but it is fascinating to watch.  Not only was he hacking open coconuts at the speed of light, but also keeping track of who needed another one, who wanted their's split open to access the jelly inside, and of course keeping tally of the bill.

Here's a MUCH more practical how-to video for those of us who don't really want to risk hacking off an ear just to make a smoothie:

Good luck and happy coconuttin'

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Strawberry Rose Champagne Tea (copy cat recipe)

You know those free samples of tea at the mall?  Well I never really pay much attention to them since 1. the tea is always heavily sweetened and 2. I hate all those little plastic disposable cups they use for the tea (you can usually see a very large heap of them in the nearest trash can).

But today something was drawing me into the sample section of the Teavana store.  A powerful force ... Strawberry Rose Champagne oolong tea!  A small bag of tea retails at $12, but you can make this fruity tea at home for just pennies.  Since I was a little girl I have been going strawberry picking around this time of the year, so we always have lots of those little red gems around here.

Here's what to do:

Boil some water and let it sit while you prepare the tea.  Most tea snobs enthusiasts will not use boiling hot water for herbal tea because it will scold the herbs.

I use a stainless steel ball shaped strainer for my tea, and I love it.  I picked it up years ago at my favourite Asian market. 

It's easy to combine different ingredients and then pop it in a cup with some hot water.

After a few minutes of steeping you can take it out, empty and clean.  That easy.

 In your tea strainer combine:
  • 2-4 fresh strawberries, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon oolong (or green) tea leaves
Place the strainer in your cup with a drop or two of rosewater.  Add the boiled water, which by now should still be hot, but not scalding.

Let everything steep for 5 minutes and then consume!   

No actual champagne in my version (however according to Teavana's website their tea includes a "hint of bubbly champagne" (whatever that means).

You can sweeten the tea with some sugar or honey, but it is already naturally a bit sweet from the strawberries.  Try to use the best quality strawberries possible, as this will ultimately determine the taste of the tea (I didn't just sound like Martha Stewart there, did I?)  If you can't make it to the pick-your-own farm like me, then find some fresh, local strawberries from your farmers market for the sweetest cuppa'.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Get Creative with ICAD 2013

I've been craving some inspiration and really wanting to get my creative juices flowing, so I was super excited when I stumbled on Daisy Yellow's Index-Card-A-Day challenge.  The idea is simple, but can be taken in so many different directions.  Here are the rules:
  1. Acquire some index cards (see more about my interpretation on this below ...)
  2. Create (as Daisy Yellow says "♥ draw ♥ doodle ♥ write ♥ collage ♥ paint ♥ cut ♥ haiku ♥ stamp ♥ stitch ♥")
  3. Repeat for 61 days (officially June 1 - July 31, 2013)
In other words, craft something creative with one index card each day in June & July.

I'm feeling more creative just hearing about this!

I immediately went through my drawer of paper, envelopes and cards to see if I already had any index cards.  Being me, my first concern was that I do not want to buy more paper products to participate in this, and I will definitely be doing an eco version of the challenge (trying to reuse, recycle and scavenge for materials).

Luckily for me I DO have a stack of index cards stashed away (I used to use them to study when I was in university ... I have a Masters in Business, did you know?)

Anyhow in the event that I did not have any existing index cards I was planning on cutting to size any other paper I had on hand (construction paper, card stock, old Larabar boxes, etc ...) OR possibly purchasing some recycled index cards such as these.  I love the unbleached brown hue!!

What creative things are you doing this summer?


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Gluten-Free Goodies

Here are a few treats (sans gluten) I am lovin' these days ...
  1. Udi's Au Naturel granola
  2. LĂ„RABAR's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  3. LesserEvil's Chia Crisps in crunchy dill pickle
  4. Giddy Yoyo's raw organic chocolate bars (any & all varieties)
  5. Veggie-Go's Cinnamon Spiced Beet fruit snack

Friday, 17 May 2013

Organic Tip # 6: What's So Great About Organic Flowers?

What could be more organic than a pretty pink tulip, glistening with dew and growing out of the rich soil and into the sunlight, right?

Wrong!  Unless that delicate tulip came from your own garden, how do you really know how it's been treated?  Luckily there are now organic certifiers for plants.  Look for their logo and rest assured about the origin and treatment of your flowers.

5 GREAT things about organic flowers:
  1. Organic flowers are eco-friendly and has the least negative impact on the environment (when compared to conventionally grown flowers)
  2. Toxic chemical usage is minimized or eliminated.  That means no harsh and artificial pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or other funky chemicals. 
  3. Organic flowers are good for the soil.  When you add harsh chemicals to soil, some of the nutrients are lost and the natural pH is thrown off balance.  Dry, lifeless sand does not grow nice looking flowers, so conventional farmers need to add more chemicals back into the soil to regain the nutrients that are lost.  This creates a cycle of growing that does not and cannot work long term. 
  4. Growing organic plants are safer for farmers and farm workers.  You know when you're looking at your garden (or lawn) and wondering how you can easily remove the weeds, without using chemicals that might be dangerous for your children and pets.  Well think about the people who do this for a living.  Do you want others to handle potentially harmful chemicals, exposing themselves to numerous health risks daily?
  5. Research consistently shows that organic farming is far better for the environment and more sustainable than conventional farming (food or flowers).  Organic growing methods honor the natural cycles of plants, harnesses the helpful assistance of insects, birds, water and the sun.     
And now for the age ol' question ... how will I know which flowers are organic?

Veriflora  is a third party sustainability certification program for fresh cut flowers and potted plants.  Their website outlines their main objective as: 
"Encouraging farming practices that build soil, conserve water and support healthy ecosystems.  Promoting a healthy, equitable workplace that supports farmers, workers, their families and the community.  Supporting handling practices from seed to store that allow you to enjoy flowers and plants that look beautiful and last longer."
On closer inspection I couldn't find the word organic anywhere, but instead a healthy plethora of sustainability instead (me thinks the lawyers are responsible for that one).  However Veriflora seems to be the front runner on organic cut flower certification, and it seems that they are doing a good job so far.  

Did you know that the trusty Fairtrade logo is popping up on flowers too?  And Fairtrade is not just about paying a fair wage, it's also about the health and safety of workers.  According to the Fairtrade Canada website, "a detailed set of safety regulations specific to flower production limit the use of agrochemicals and prohibit the use of banned pesticides."  Again no mention of our favourite word organic ... but we'll get there one day.  Baby steps.

Where do you get your cut flowers?

Friday, 26 April 2013

I Like His Style: Blake Mycoskie

It's been a while, but I finally found another person worthy of a feature in one of my style posts ...

Last year I came across hottie humanitarian, Blake Mycoskie's book and I gotta say ...

I like his style! 

While traveling in Argentina, Blake was shocked to see many children without shoes.  Not a stranger to business (he already had started several), he began to brainstorm ways to help.  Helping children in under developed countries is not exactly a novel idea, so Blake knew it had to be different while still keeping a connection to the idea's Argentinian roots.  When he realized there may be a market back home for the unique and simple shoes worn in Argentina, TOMS was born.  For each and every shoe purchased another shoe is given to a child in need, a philosophy Blake calls One for One.   

That was back in 2006, and oh how far has TOMS come now.  I remember seeing the black, red or dark blue shoes all over college/universities campuses.  But now I am seeing all kinds of fun patterns, sparkly glitters and even VEGAN styles (no leather!!)

Of course Blake himself is frequently seen around town wearing his TOMS.  Wearing them both stylishly and cleverly, I think.  Wearing two different shoes to showcase two different styles.  Smart.

Actually I think his entire business concept is smart, and so do a lot of others.  Among TOMS' many other accomplishments, in 2011 Blake was named as one of the top entrepreneurs in Fortune Magazine's Top 40 Under 40 list.

How many products do we hear about or see where only a portion of the profits go to charity, or a measly $1 from a $40 bottle of shampoo goes to the endangered species of the month?  Too often.  What I like about TOMS (and so do others) is that when I buy a pair of shoes I know that the exact same shoe will be donated to someone who needs it (well ... actually I am not sure if he donates the sparkly glitter shoes, but you know what I mean).   

What I love even more about Blake is that he was photographed with my first style post muse, Lauren Bush, and they are each posing with their iconic style pieces.

I can see Blake Mycoskie's future and boy is it bright.  So bright he's going to need sunglasses.  Good thing TOMS has also started an eyewear line.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Happy Earth Day!

The trees may have looked like neon polyester fluff, but Dr. Seuss was wise beyond his years.

This Earth Day, I hope you do not buy anything, do not drive anywhere, use water mindfully,  creatively reuse/upcycle something you would have tossed in the trash and take some time to ponder the Lorax's words ...

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Green Springin'

Here are some of my favourite things for this spring (of course all with a little dash of eco-ness):

  1. Kids wooden rainbow puzzle from LivEco 
  2. Blooms reusable gift wrap (with soy-based ink) from chewing the cud 
  3. Daisy wristlet made from candy wrappers from Ecoist 
  4. The twister tank from eco-chic boutique Carrot Banana Peach 
  5. Camino fair trade, certified organic chocolate Easter bunnies

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

What's the Difference Between Natural and Organic?

"All natural"


"made from sustainable resources"

"locally produced"

Have you ever wondered exactly what these catch phrases mean?  Unfortunately sometimes these are just that, catch phrases and marketing tools to confuse health conscious consumers with pure intentions.

You can read my post about green washing techniques here.

The Canada Organic logo was designed to help clear up some of this confusion.  When you see the logo below you can be sure that the product is certified organic using Canadian standards.  That means no artificial pesticides or fertilizers and no genetic modifications.

Here's a quick summary from a recent article in the Globe and Mail:

If you are still in doubt use this handy organic check list made by the Canadian Organic Trade Association.

I know, I know, now you're probably thinking "hey what about my favourite booth at the local farmer's market?  There's no logo on their apples, should I abandon them and go to Wal-Mart instead?"  (Yes, there are certified organic products in Wal-Mart and many other chain stores).

Generally I would recommend, no logo, no buying (referring to the Canada Organic logo of course).  However there are some exceptions.  If you can talk directly to the producers and can be assured of how their products are grown and prepared, then certification may seem unnecessary.  In fact there are lots of smaller farms that are growing organic food that could meet certification standards, but they cannot afford to officially certify. 

The Canada Organic logo is a result of the increasing distance between consumers and the producers of their food.  When I'm in the grocery store buying an apple I only have the tiny produce sticker to tell me where this apple has come from.  I have no information regarding it's treatment, growth or conditions of transportation to the store.  Basically I am uninformed.  The Canada Organic logo, on the other hand, provides a wealth of information about the food it is found on, allowing consumers to make informed choices on the food they purchase and eat. 

So keep on hunting for that little red, green and white logo ...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

5 Ways To REALLY RECYCLE Your Yoga Mat

Here in India it's custom to take off your shoes when inside, so I spend a lot of time without shoes.  Yesterday while barefoot I almost got into a rickshaw because I am so used to not having any shoes.  While I love not being attached to shoes or sandals, it does make my feet more dirty.  No matter how many time I rinse my feet throughout the day, it seems like just a few minutes later they are dirty again.

So when I step onto my yoga mat ... guess what?  My mat ends up dirty as well especially at the very front and back from repeated surya namaskars.  The yoga place where I'm staying goes through this clean - dirty yoga mat cycle very quickly.  I began to brainstorm some ways the mats could be reused or upcycled.    

When I looked around on the internet I found lots of DIYs and crafts for recycling yoga mats, but a lot of them seemed inappropriate for a thoroughly loved and down and dirty mat.  In fact some of these DIY projects appeared to be only for brand new mats.  For instance one "recycling" idea was to cut the mat and use it to line kitchen cupboards to rest underneath glasses and plates.  Hmmm ...

I definitely won't be doing that with any of the old mats that are seen around here.  So what should we do with those?  Toss them in the landfill?  I hope not.  Instead here are some ideas:

Make Confetti (use the edges and corners that are not damaged)
Source: Namastilo

Cut out shapes for kids' yoga (endless imagination here)
Photo Source: Namastilo

Use under a blanket fora dog/cat bed

 Gardening knee pads (maybe 2-3 layers glued together)
Source: Brit + Co.

Here's a great idea for those really grudgy mats.  Cover up the grudge!

 Source:  Let's Get Crafty
(The author here suggests still using it as a yoga mat, but I think it would be too slippery.  Instead cut to size and use as a door mat.  Try using different mediums to glue to the old mat.)

What do you do with your old yoga mats?? 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Raw Vegan Lunch & Dinner Ideas

I know it's been a million years since my last post, but I just couldn't resist posting another list of raw vegan dishes to make once I return "home".  Yep, I'm still in India ... my home away from home.

I guess I will just have to drool over these photos until I get back to Canada in March. 

If anyone is still out there, thanks for reading!!

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