Monday, October 21, 2013

Live: The Season for Pumpkin EVERYTHING

Everyone knows that fall means it's time for Pumpkin EVERYTHING! I feel like I'm surrounded by a sea of Pumpkin Spice Lattes when I walk down the street, that the smell of pumpkin pie haunts all my favourite restaurants (no complaints there!), and we may or may not have just brought back TONS of pumpkins to carve from our trip to the pumpkin patch last week... but did you know that aside from being nutrient packed for your tummy, they're also great for your skin when used externally? 

Pumpkins have oodles of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are amazing for your skin. Pumpkin's Vitamin A is great to soften your skin while vitamin E repairs it from free radical damage... and how about all that nourishing zinc, beta carotene, Vitamin C and those antioxidants! Pumpkin also contains a natural enzyme that helps dissolve dry or dead skin sells, allowing the clear new skin underneath to come out vibrant, refreshed and glowing. Though I haven't test this out myself, pumpkin is also great for hydrating cracked hands and feet, so mixing it in with any foot or hand treatments you use might also be quite effective!

So next time you don't know what to do with that leftover pureed pumpkin from making your favourite fall recipe, try out this nourishing pumpkin face mask:

Nourishing Fall Face Mask 

Yields: enough for 2 masks*
Prep Time: 5 minutes

1/2 cup of pureed freshly cooked (or canned) pumpkin
1 tablespoons of plain yogurt (to detoxify and calm the skin)

1 tablespoons of honey (to nourish and draw out toxins)
1 tablespoon of ground oats (to exfoliate!)
1/8 teaspoon of olive oil or coconut oil (to nourish)
1/4 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon (to increase blood circulation to your face)

1. Stir all the ingredients together.
2. Apply to clean, damp skin.
3. Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes. 
(Pumpkin enzymes work best if your skin is a bit moist so you can even do this while relaxing in a hot tub to open up your pores and let the mask work its magic!)
4. Wipe your face clean with a cloth and admire the results!

* You can keep any extra in the fridge for about a week or use it on a friend! It also may just make a great snack! As I always say, never put on your face what you wouldn't put in your body!

It's so great you might just feel this relaxed: 
Have a great week!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Live: Vine's 7 Second Videos & My Signature Smoothie

Am I finally an early adapter for the next cool thing? I think I just might be! Sure I might have joined Instagram or Twitter (and even Facebook) months, if not years, after everyone... but I just discovered Vine, thanks to the awesome Christine, and I'm pretty sure I'm addicted! Vine allows you to make 7 second videos with your phone of anything you possible want. It's a really fun and creative way of figuring out how to get a message across in very little time and with only a few images. So much fun!

What did I do with my first video? My signature smoothie of course (just click on it and unmute the volume to get it started!):

Hehe... kind of feel like the Chairman from Iron Chef at the end of that:

Vine was bought by twitter so you can cross-post your vine videos on Twitter, Facebook or you can easily embed them in your blog just like this! Expect a lot more of these in the future... 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eat: Raw Vegan Cafe Liegeois

And once again, a stroke of culinary genius! Yet another one of my childhood favourites made vegan, and mostly raw! 

Whenever summer time is around the corner, (yes, all you Canadians, it did just get warm today, I KNOW I'm wishful thinking...) I start thinking about how much my sister and I loved Café Liégeois back in the day. Every summer when we went to France and got to eat at a restaurant, it was our dessert of choice. It was an unspoken rule that regardless of what we ate, we would still make room for one of these bad boys. I can only imagine what it would be like for our parents to have two small children on coffee and sugar! 

The real deal is pretty "unhealthy" stuff: coffee, cream (made with God only knows how many egg yolks), sugar and vanilla ice cream... The version I originally wanted to make would consist of a sweetened vegan coffee-like substance with raw vanilla ice cream dumped in and topped with coconut whipped cream. However, I'm giving you the lazy version that I ended up making. It hit so close to home, I could just imagine myself on an outdoor patio under the big platane trees of Provence.
Yields: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes (+ time to overnight your coconut milk in the fridge)

For the Smoothie:
3 bananas, frozen
1 big handful of dates, pitted
1-1.5 cups of coconut water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coffee beans

For the Whipped Cream:
Whipped coconut milk following this recipe (it's BRILLIANT! I tell you, BRILLIANT!)

1. Throw everything in your Vitamix with 1 cup of the coconut water and blend.
2. Add coconut water if you want a less creamy consistency. 
3. Top with Whipped Cream and deliciousness of your choice. Enjoy!

And because I can't help but give you some food history, here is the quick and dirty history of the Café Liégeois: First off, you probably won't be surprised to hear that the dessert was not in fact created in Liège, Belgium. (What is it with food misleadingly named after places they aren't from?) It was actually originally known in France as a Café Viennois, aka. viennese coffee. (As a side note, if ever you go to France, Chocolat Viennois is the ONLY way to order hot chocolate... and no, it's definitely not vegan. Viennois seems to be the French word for "and we dump cream on top"). Anyway, during WWI, Parisian cafés started renaming the dessert "café liégeois" instead of "café viennois", because a) the Viennese were the enemy (does this make anyone think of the whole Freedom Fries fiasco at all?) and b) to honour the Belgian alliance and their embattled forts, and the newer name stuck ever since! There ya go!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Eat: A Week in Raw Food Dinners

Every once in a while I'll have someone ask me what raw foodies eat on a daily basis without making their lives super complicated. By "super complicated," I mean, when you don't have to dehydrate, prep-prep, sprout, and do all the usual things that might make a lot of raw dishes pretty time consuming.

Here's almost a week's worth of dinners I made that all took less than 20 minutes to prep. And they were all deeeelicious and is generally what I make when I want to keep it relatively simple. Of course, it's usually paired with some fancier things like raw crackers and such. (I'll make large batches of those types of things over the weekend when I have more time.)

I would give you the recipes... but as usual, these recipes are ideas that caught my fancy when I got to the kitchen counter to make dinner, and they were not written down because they're based off of intuition and whatever my little hands could find in the pantry and fridge. I can give you general guidelines though! 

Tuna made of soaked sunflower seeds (usually a few hours before dinner), celery, dulse and kelp, lemon juice, mustard, sea salt, EVOO, black pepper, raw honey, dill, and parsley

Pad-thai sauce: peanut butter (or used raw almond butter to make it really raw, but we were out!), lime juice, lemon juice, liquid sweetener, ginger, tamari, sea salt, garlic

Ooo, I do have this recipe here (and a recycled photo, 'kay... guilty...)

Same Tuna recipe as Monday + halved avocados sprinkled with sea salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast (and dulse if I'd had any!)

Raw Caesar Dressing loosely based off of Alissa Cohen's dressing, except with pumpking seeds instead of pine nuts (thanks for the trick Kristen!)... this is tastier to me and also drastically reduces the cost of this recipe! 

Spiralized Sweet Potato w/ improptu alfredo dressing (essentially the caesar dressing but made to taste more "creamy" with more nutritional yeast and a lot less garlic, oh, and maybe some macadamia nuts?)

Bon appétit! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Eat: Toasted Rice What?! and Other Current Obsessions

Am I the only avid brown rice eater who was unaware of the whole toasted brown rice thing? As if brown rice weren't delicious, comforting, and warming enough already! You might think it's "just" rice but did you know that if you toast the rice before you cook it as you usually would, it increases brown rice deliciousness to level AWESOME?!

When we had dinner at our friends' place a few weeks ago, the brown rice that we had for dinner kind of blew my mind. I had to know the secret! Kristen (who apparently teaches me all sorts of wonderful food things) told me it was super simple: toast your rice. And it actually was that easy! I went over to her place on Friday for a cooking demo, and well enough, it was pretty straightforward. Here's the secret: 

Toasted Brown Rice Bowl

1. Over medium heat, warm up  some oil (we used abut a couple tablespoons of olive oil, but coconut would also be a good option).
2. Add in your rice and mix it with the oil to make sure it's well coated.
3. Toast it for about 5-10 minutes like you would spices, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice doesn't burn. (You'll be able to tell when it's properly toasted because it will smell lovely, browned, and popcorn-y.)
4. Add in water as you would to cook your brown rice in the first place. 
5. When the water has come to a boil, add in some sea salt, mix, and let the rice cook!
6. Enjoy THE BEST THING EVER!!!! (Especially if you add some nutritional yeast and dulse.)

I got to take a batch home and have been eating some every night for dinner with kale massaged in sesame oil, apple cider vinegar and sea salt (sesame oil and toasted brown rice are pretty equal on the awesomeness scale),  seaweed and other veggies. It's... so... yummy...

And if that weren't food awesome enough, Kristen decide to top off our cooking demo with this madness:

It's not just a milkshake. 
It's a cupcake milkshake.
I know right?!

Coconut Bliss Vanilla Ice Cream + Rice Milk + One Vegan Cupcake* = OMG

*The Cupcake was from Thimblecakes of course!

Lastly, I've been talking with my BFF, Amanda, recently about the endless downward spiral of dieting/body-hating a lot of women go through. She referred me to this awesome concept, which I thought is an amazing way of thinking about food that might help you get out of your negative relationship with food, and just start loving and appreciating what you eat:

I even realize that both the foods I presented today fit into that van diagram perfectly! (Okay, maybe the cupcake milkshake doesn't so much... but It's a food that makes me happy AND it supports the environment and local businesses for being local, organic, vegan, and sugar-free! Oh, and vegan cupcakes definitely support my values. So there.)

Have a great week!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Eat: Turmeric Milk, the perfect night time relaxant

Oh, turmeric, you and your majestic golden hues, how you warm my nights and allow me to fall peacefully asleep, dreaming of warm humid summer nights, candles, and sequinned baldaquins... too much detail?

I discovered turmeric milk thanks to my friend Kristen, who has been using it as a pre-bedtime sedative for quite some time. As someone who often has trouble sleeping, I was skeptical. As much as I love chamomile, lavender, and all the usual tricks, they haven't always worked for me. I've heard of the whole "drink a glass of warm milk before bed" idea but never tried it myself, thinking such a thing would be too heavy before bed. Yet, this new concoction won its way to my heart. Clever, turmeric, you.

Turmeric, the beautiful orange spice from India, is from the ginger family. (Go figure, I love ginger.) Ayuverda and TCM boast that turmeric is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and helps deal with internal and external infections. Doctors have more recently found that it might block enzymes that promote certain cancers. 

On a more traditional/spiritual plane, turmeric is said to increase ojas. Ojas loosely translates as "heartiness" or resilience, referring specifically to physical health. Ojas is one of the three key aspects of vitality in Ayurveda, along with tejas (the emotional level) and prana (the energetic level). Ojas is usually indicated by strong digestion and a healthy metabolism. Interestingly, I just learned that fertility is a very good sign of ojas because reproductive organs are nourished only after other tissues have been taken care of. As such, turmeric milk is often drunk to replenish ojas after sexual intercourse.

In short, drink turmeric for all your healthy body and bed-related needs, be it sleep or otherwise. 

Bedtime Turmeric 
This drink is truly wonderful and warming. The turmeric and spices are pleasantly spicy and rich (and flu fighting!). The honey is soothing and sweet. The milk of your choice is smooth and calming. Try having it about an hour before bed, to give yourself proper digestion time.

Yield: 1 serving
Prep time: 5-10 minutes

1/4-1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
1 C of you milk of choice (I use organic soy or almond)
1 tsp of raw honey (optional, or vegan-friendly sweetener)
1/4 tsp each of cinnamon and cardamom

1. Over-medium heat, warm up milk with turmeric powder and spices until warm. (Try to avoid bringing it to a boil to prevent damaging the spices.)
2. Pour into your favourite mug.
3. Add in a teaspoon of honey or less and enjoy!

(Alternatively, if you're lucky like me and you received a Breville milk frother for Christmas or have an equivalent device... you can just follow the machine's instructions and make the same recipe!)

Sweet dreams!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Eat: Fat Busting Smoothie

Back in my optimal health days, I ate a grapefruit every day. There were so many great reasons to do that, and I can tell you I definitely felt a difference! You might already know that along with celery, grapefruit is one of those "negative calorie" foods, ie. it takes more caloric energy to eat it than the calories in it! There's also a flavonoid in grapefruit that helps balance out blood sugar levels and to prevent metabolic syndrome, which is when you pack on the pounds around your waist. Finally, if you start your day with a grapefruit, it actually kick starts your liver into fat-burning mode!

Now, I've discovered a way not only to get my daily grapefruit in, but also add a whole bunch of other healthy ingredients to make an optimal morning or post-workout meal. I give you:

The Fat Busting Smoothie
This smoothie has a satisfyingly tart and "healthy" taste. Packed with fibre, all sorts of nutrients and metabolism boosting goodness, it's great first thing when you wake up or after a sweaty cardio workout. For some, it might take a bit of getting used to, but before you know it, you'll be coming back for more!

Yields: 1 Serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes

1 Grapefruit
1 orange
1 tablespoon of ground flax
1/2 frozen banana
1 tsp liquid sweetener (optional)

1. Peel your fruit. (I try to remove as much of the white fibre-y stuff off my grapefruit as possible for a smoother drink!)
2. Place all ingredients in Vitamix or similar high speed blender, and blend away.
3. Enjoy!

Now, if you're a food geek like me and you're wondering why I added these other ingredients, here's the logic:

Oranges: You know it's all about the Vitamin C! Oranges are not just anti-oxidant but also act as a super immune booster, especially good for you in the winter!

Flax Seed: So, here's history lesson of the day; in the 8th Century, King Charlemagne of France knew that flaxseed was so healthy that he actually passed a law requiring all his subjects to eat it. It's good to be king, right? I'd like to pass enforced healthy food laws...
Anyway, flaxseeds are most notorious for their high soluble and insoluble fibre content, and their source of Omega-3 fatty acids (the good fat!). The great thing about the fibre in flax is that it helps clean up your digestive track to squeaky clean perfection. If you've ever soaked flax, you know that it makes a gel-like goo which works as a sponge and catches all the gunk in your GI tract on its way out. I also just learned that thanks to its lignin, flax also helps balance female hormones!

(edit: to anyone who has read this post within the hour it got posted, I sincerely apologize that my autocorrect changed the word "gunk" into rated-R swearing... I have no idea how that happened. Haha, so sorry!)

Banana: The big draw of adding banana to this smoothie is not only for creaminess but that especially after a workout it helps balance out your blood sugar. It's also obviously one of the best sources of potassium. Did you also know that bananas help you absorb calcium better?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Eat: Vegan Bolognese Sauce

Sometimes in winter, when your face feels so cold it hurts, you just want to come home to something warm. A couple night ago, that something came in the form of a warm vegan bolognese sauce poured over gluten-free brown rice linguini.

Now for your little bit of food history: Bolognese sauce is a meat-based sauce that originally came from... Bologna, Italy, of course! It was first documented in the late 18th century by the father of Italian cooking, Pellegrino Artusi (also the guy who penned one of the earliest recipes for minestrone, which he thought had made him fatally ill until he found out it wasn't bad minestrone, but cholera. No really, look it up.) The original recipe calls for meat, specifically veal (the cursed meat of all vegans), onions, carrots, and butter. Mushrooms were approved as a good addition. The recipe was pretty simple: nicely mince and brown everything, and then cook the whole thing in meat broth.

My vegan recipe is almost just as simple... but healthier and with less, you know, animal cruelty, butter and stuff.

Vegan Bolognese Sauce

Yields: 4 servings
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 minutes

1 C dried lentils, soaked for a few hours (this will roughly double the volume)
1T extra virgin olive oil
1/4 medium yellow onion, diced
1 big clove of garlic, minced
1 T dried rosemary (and/or other herbs)
1 large carrot, halved and chopped
1/4 C red pepper, diced
1/3 C water
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 C tomato sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

1. First prep your lentils: Soak dried lentils for a few hours before cooking. This makes the cooking process take about half the time!
2. Heat your olive oil in a sauce pan, and brown your your onions and garlic for about 4-5 minutes.
3. Still over medium-high head, add in your rosemary, carrots and pepper. Cook and stir for about another 3 minutes.
4. Now add in the lentils and water and let them cook for 5 minutes, making sure the water doesn't run out.
5. Bring down to medium heat, and add the tomato sauce and apple cider vinegar. Cook until the lentils are soft, about another 10 minutes.
6. Finally, bring the heat down to low and let all the flavours seep in for a few minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste!
7. Serve over pasta of your choice (I suggest an organic brown rice pasta)! And enjoy!