Monday, April 30, 2012

Mental Juicing Madness (and a recipe!)

Over the past few weeks, wednesday has become juicing day. Surprisingly, I'm still not a huge fan of juicing... it does something weird to my digestion. However, if I had to pick the most positive thing I always get out of juicing, it's always the fun mental trip it takes me on. I can't speak to what will happen this Wednesday yet, but last week, I think I might have experienced minor juicing dementia.

As I was walking to the gym after time at the dance studio, I started to physically crash. I had no energy. Half of me was ready to call it quits, go to bed, or just fall asleep on the sidewalk until Thursday. I was so lethargic, I just wanted to go home. The other half of me was a crazy hungry monkey who just needed to have a salad. Now, I cannot express how crazy this monkey was. I think it could have been willing to hurt a small child for this salad. The whole way to the gym, it kept repeating, "I want a salad. Just have a salad. It's just a salad. What's wrong with a salad? I thought you liked salad. I want a salad. Do you want a salad? I'd like a salad. Heyyy, we should have a salad." It was literally non-stop salad obsessiveness.

Then I started making up excuses. I kept thinking I should listen to my body if it was telling me it was tired. Maybe just skip the gym for today. After all, I was juicing and I should be "gentle" with my body, bla bla bla. When I was about a block away from the gym, it was time for a pep talk with myself. I told myself to suck it up and just do it. And I did. Sure, it was hard at first, but it's really true when they say "you're only one workout away from a good mood." I was better than in a good mood when I was done. I was alive! I was full of energy! I wanted to keep going! I was buzzed... and I didn't even crave my salad anymore. Instead, happy and full of energy, I went home to a giant and delicious glass of homemade OJ.

For those of you who have asked via Facebook or otherwise, here is the classic Wednesday green juice I've been making for myself since I started this. It usually does the trick for breakfast and lunch. I find orange juice a great way to end the day, but here are the goods:

Yummy Juice
2 apples
2 celery sticks
2-3 carrots
big handful of spinach
3-4 romaine leaves
good chunk of ginger

Directions: Juice! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Green Cleaning: IGOZEN All-Purpose Cleaner

A few weeks ago, the lovely people from iGOZEN asked me if I wanted to try out a couple samples of some of their new products. After doing my homework, I thought their cleaning products seemed like a neat idea and definitely something I could support. That and I like supporting small green startups! Since it's Earth Day in a few days, I thought why not let you guys in on some ways you can make your home a little cleaner... why increase the toxicity in your home, in the very air you breathe, when you can use non-toxic and earth-friendly products like those made by iGOZEN!

Within just a week or so of being contacted by them, I received a sample envelope of their three latest products: their Everyday Cleaner, their Fruit/Vegetable wash, and their Meat/Fish wash, along with a spray bottle and a micro-fibre cloth. Obviously, the Everyday Cleaner will be of most use to me since I don't eat meat or fish, and since I buy organic fruits and veggies, I don't see a huge need to rinse my produce (blame me for cooties, I can take it.) Of all things, I like the look of the spray bottle because it actually looks cute. Rather than a regular toxic cleaning spray bottle, it was clear plastic, and also short and stubby :) The micro-fibre cloth is fantastic for cleaning glass surfaces or mirrors without leaving scratches. These ones came in happy, bright colours!

So yep, all you need is a cloth, a spray bottle in which you dilute the solution and your bare little hands. Once you mix a packet with water, just mix, and it's ready to go like any other household cleaner. It's as easy as that, and my counters are all clean and shiny!

iGOZEN products come in powder form, and are said to be 100% organic, derived from seashells and sea salts. Because of their alkalinity and high calcium, the cleaners can easily cut through harmful acidic toxins, pesticides, and bacteria by neutralizing them. Icing on the cake: they even package their products sustainably! I love it when companies are conscious of every stage their product's process.

Aside from the sustainability of it all, other benefits include not having to use gloves to clean anything from your counter-tops to your bathtub because nothing is toxic. Because their few ingredients and their process, iGOZEN cleaners are also hypoallergenic. For those with sensitive kiddies or pets, this also makes a great way to clean play areas or pet cages, beds, and litters.

Their products are super affordable, with refill packages costing only about $1.49 for a whole new supply. Because the cleaners come in powder form, they come in packets so shipping is can be made free! Of course, that's also a bonus for the environment since you don't need to keep re-using new bottles but can just re-use the same spray bottle.

If this seems like something that you might, do check out their website (they also have some pretty cute how to videos!) Happy cleaning! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Overnight Oats

There have been a lot of delicious looking cookie dough-flavoured Overnight Oats over the last little while (like this one or this one) that were just too tempting to not try. I don't eat oats myself, but you know you're a foodie when you still want to try a recipe for something you don't necessarily partake in. Conveniently, Andrew loves them!

Looking through some existing recipes, I was wondering how it was possible that so few ingredients would turn into something cookie dough tasting, but they were pretty on the ball! I used them as an inspiration and here's what I came up with. Who says you can't have cookies for breakfast?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Overnight Oats
Yields: 1 man-sized portion

For oats:
3/4 C rolled oats
2 tablespoons of chia
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (optional)
1/2 tablespoon of raw honey/maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1 C non-dairy milk (almond, soy, it's your pick!) + 1/4 C in the morning (optional)

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
2. Cover and leave overnight. It might look like there's a lot of liquid,
but the chia seeds will soak it right up by morning.
3. In the morning, if it's too clumpy, add another 1/4 C of your "milk."
4. Top with "chocolate chip cookie dough," bananas, walnuts, and more!

For "cookie dough":
1/4 C nuts, ground into flour (I used Brazil nuts)
1/4 C oats, ground into flour (or another flour of choice)
dash of salt
dash of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of coconut butter
maple syrup (see directions)
chocolate chips, to taste

1. Mix the first three dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. Stir in the next two wet ingredients, and add as much maple syrup 
as needed to form a cookie dough (about a tablespoon or so).
3. Stir in chocolate chips and sprinkle over your Oats!

Enjoy :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Epic Raw Middle Eastern Plate

Given that I've posted about falafels more than once on this blog, whether they're raw or they're cooked, you might be able to safely say that I kinda sorta like them a lot... That, and I recently admitted to my secret falafel digestion pocket located somewhere in the deep confines of my stomach.

Because I've been juicing and doing green smoothies so much over the past week, my dinner-for-my-other-half creativity has been somewhat limited and perhaps less than enthusiastic, even though I love being in the kitchen (and aside from the killer vegan shepherd's pie I invented for him earlier last week, if I do say so myself). A couple days ago, I decided to go big or go home, and create for him: the epic raw Middle Eastern plate.

It started off with the classic centrepiece: Matt Amsden's Raw Falafels wrapped in romaine lettuce, and surrounded it with my raw hemp seed tabbouleh, a garden salad, and some black olives and sprouts. Speaking of which, this has just given me the bright idea of making different themed raw "ethnic" plates over the course of the next little while. New blog project?

Either way, if I can do one thing right, at least I know I can culinarily satisfy my man.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Love Hate Relationship with Yoga

Today I wanted to talk about those things in life that we know we should do but for some reason never actually end up following through with. Whether we use the "I'll start tomorrow" excuse or something similar, we always come up with all sorts of justifications as to why we shouldn't start now (none of them ever that valid). For example, how many times have I said that I should get back into yoga? Probably more than I've actually started up the practice again. Still, it's on been on my mind a lot lately. The yoga world has become such a huge thing these days (both for better and worse I'd say), but still there is such an appeal. For starters, when we think yoga, we always get inundated with these kinds of images:


Well, you often get these pictures too, but you get my point:

Pictures like those first ones show that there's suppose to be a magic to yoga, a je ne said quoi about it that will do everything from make you a better person to give you Mr. Fantastic-type flexibility. (Oh no, Significant Other-based comic book references have officially entered my vocabulary... he'd be so proud.) When yoga is done properly, with the right mindset and intention, I actually don't deny any of those things, that's probably the biggest reason why I want to get back into it so much.

When I started my day by doing only 20 minute yoga routines every morning thanks to Yoga Download, I felt so much better. It cleared my mind, deepened my breath, helped with my strength and flexibility, created length... it was fantastic. Just 20 minutes, so why can't I get back into it? I can take about an hour to get to the gym every day but not 20 minutes to do yoga. I'm sure it would be easy to take just a fraction of the time I spent every day bumming around on Facebook or Pinterest or something to dedicate back to my yoga. And yet...

So many people have lots of different tricks to get back into things, whether its challenges, resolutions, etc. Sometimes, you just have to do it. Yesterday, I've rolled out my mat first thing in the morning and got it done. I want to start small. I just want to commit to doing this for a week. If it sticks, that's great, but I want to do at least that. I know all good habits start that way. It's like working out; you do it once, remember how good you feel and then it fuels of cycle of good feeling where you just can't stop. I'm just hoping I'll rebuild the habit with yoga. Starting now. 

I have to admit the first day on the mat was hard. It doesn't matter how much I stretch, how much I run, how much I lift, how much I dance. Yoga just works differently with your body. I thought I'd take it easy by starting by a simple Hatha routine, and ha, was I wrong about the "easy" part. I guess not following through with my practice has made me weak and tight in all the wrong places, but I'm fine with that. I'm accepting where I have to start, because of my own choices, and looking forward to getting back to where I was before and better!

Do you have have that thing you keep wanting to do but just can't seem to? If so, why not just give it a shot once, and then see if it sticks. And hey, it's the weekend! That's a great time to try something new!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Juice Pulp Makeover: Raw Carrot Cake Crunchies

I figured "Juice pulp makeover" was a much nicer title than "Re-using your juice pulp" or "What to do with the chunky stuff left in your juicer." Call it my precursor to Earth Day recipe. But wait... Me? Juicing? For those of you know me or have been following me for a while, I'm not the biggest fan of juicing. There's something about separating the sugars from the fibres from your fruit that I'm not totally convinced with (in terms of what it means to eat the most naturally possible), but I've heard enough good things that I can be swayed when it's cleansing season.

Being me, I can never just throw away all the stuff that comes out the other end of the juicer. While I'd have no problem chucking a pack of Oreos if a friend forgot them at our place (I just realized I don't think I have any friends that eat Oreos... hmm), I can't justify throwing out something that is still food to me. And of course, by throwing out, I mean composting it in our yard. This is exactly why I don't mind identifying with the "crunchy" label.

Anyway, a day of juicing left me with a lot of carrot and apple pulp, especially after a fantastic carrot-apple-celery-ginger juice. Since you also know how much I love carrot cake, there was only one thing to do in my mind... raw carrot cake crunchies! Plus, seeing as how I've been eating non-solid foods for about 4 days now (green smoothies, and juices), the idea of making a crunchy granola-like topping for my smoothies seemed really tempting.

Clearly, I'm not the only one who thinks about this stuff. Funny enough, Gina at Choosing Raw also just wrote about re-using nut and juice pulp here for very much the same reasons. Yay, for fellow raw foodie vindication...

I also realized I have already posted a recipe also attempting to recycle my carrot juice pulp a while ago. However, now that I'm a more seasoned raw food maker this one is way better (and of course, the ingredients are estimated, since that's how I roll.)
Carrot Cake Crunchies
1-2 C of carrot or carrot-apple juice pulp*
1-1.5 C finely ground coconut flakes/coconut butter**
1 tablespoon of liquid sweetener (I used raw honey)
pinch of salt
cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg to taste
handful of dried cranberries (or raisins)
handful of chopped raw walnuts (or almonds)

1. Mix the first five ingredients in a  mixing bowl.
2. Add in dried fruit and nuts.
3. Make sure the mix loosely sticks together, 
so you can have bigger and smaller crunchy pieces.
4. Place onto a dehydrator tray, and dehydrate at 115 for about 12 hours (or overnight).

*I did have ultimately have celery in my juice too but I emptied the carrot and apple pulp our of my juicer before I juiced the celery. There may have also been some ginger in that mix, but that was acceptably yummy.
** I often make my own coconut butter by blending coconut flakes in a high speed blender (aka. the dry blender of my Vitamix), this time I just blended it about halfway through the process, so half of it was finely ground and the other half was more buttery so it would make the crunches stick together.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What I love Wednesdays

I do really enjoy the what I love Wednesday trend. It's simple, let's you know more about what your favourite bloggers, what we do to procrastinate, and often gives you seem pretty cool things to check out yourself!

1. For all you French speakers (or understanders), this video:
Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

2. For anyone who wants an instant pick me up, this love rampage:

3. For some awesome dance moves, this choreography:

4. For my never-ending addictionthese kelp noodles:

5. For a wayyy better acted, scripted, filmed version of the Tourist, (well, that and it's actually the original), this movie

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all those to whom it's relevant! I hope you all had a wonderful day of warmth, sunshine, family, Easter egg hunting, stuffing your face with chocolate post-Lent, or whatever you usually do today.     To celebrate the spring, a girl kitchen date was in order and baking ensued, the perfect cake was made for the lightness and elegance of springtime :)
 Vegan and Gluten-Free Orange Cardamom Cake
w/ Orange Pistachio Icing

...and yes, there was a middle layer of frosting and blood orange jam. 
Coconut Chocolate Pie w/ Spelt Crust

And on a final baking note: These are actually the best macaroons ever. I made a batch last night, and they are half gone... amazingly simple, and yet so delicious.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday Randomness

This is not a filler post, I swear! Things have been crazy around here (I totally hear you Nikki). I'm finishing classes over the next couple weeks for the rest of my life... no really, I've been in school non-stop since I was in preschool at four. It's kind of a big deal. That and theater rehearsals and dance are taking up most of my nights now, which is awesome, but time consuming. Aaand, word on the street is that I might actually start teaching dance sometime... shh, it's on the down low.

So, here's just a few random things I've been collecting over the last little while, that probably has more value than anything I could share with you today! Enjoy.

1. For rough mornings

Don't know why it might be emotions or the full moon, but I got about half the sleep I needed last night. Want a guaranteed smile? Seriously, read this. It worked on me (or maybe I'm just easily amused).

2. For building good habits

I've been meaning to say this for ages, but a while back, Julie over at PB Fingers interviewed Dr. Travis Stork, from the TV Show the Doctors. The interview was really great, and I suggest you read it, but one answer was a real gem that I definitely wanted to share. (I would also encourage you to change the question and answer from "in your 20s" to "in your teens and 20s" because being healthy during that whole teenage development period matters a lot):

Q: What is something many people in their 20s likely don't do but should do with regard to healthy living?

A: "People in their 20s need to realize that chronic illness starts its progression in your younger years. Heart disease doesn't start in your 50s. That's why making healthy switches when you're young is so important. [...] You may think you're immortal in your 20s, but now that I'm about to be 40, I know that the things you do in your 20s impacts your health in your 40s and beyond."

3. For intellectual reflection

Two thoughts I've had recently:

 a) a lot of body image talk is going on on FB, Pinterest, wherever. I find that way too much of it bashes slim women for being slim (I've already ranted about this once.) Why do people feel they can tell someone that she needs to "go eat a sandwich" while we can't tell someone else that she seriously needs to go on a diet. Because it might hurt the second person's feelings? Yeah, well, the first person has feelings too.

b) Anti-biotic is a word that literally means "against life." I think people should think about that a bit more and explore their options before they just start popping pills. I've been thinking about the number of teens of my generation especially that were put on acne antibiotics for years at a time. I'm thinking of all the kids nowadays who are on ADD meds and stuff like that... We're compromising our children's systems at one of the most critical times in their life!

4. For yumminess

A Tempeh Quinoa Collard Wrap Recipe from TIU. Best collard wrap EVER.

5. For a smile