Thursday, May 22, 2014

Refreshing Pineapple Mint Water

Refreshing Pineapple Mint Water

As a young girl growing up in Mexico I was constantly drinking fresh fruit "aguas" from the various vendors who would allow you to pick your fruits and juice it for you right there. As the summer approaches and I try to find new ways to quench my thirst beyond water I decided to recreate one of my favorite fresh waters, Pineapple! With the help of my mom and a little twist of my own I put together this recipe for you to enjoy too! It's healthy, hydrating and extremely refreshing on a warm afternoon or post workout!

You will need:
  • Half a Pineapple
  • 8-10 Mint Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Honey or Raw Sugar (Optional if you want added sweetness! It really depends on the sweetness of your pineapple and your tolerance. I added none.)
  • 3 Cups of Water, plus extra for watering down.
Add all of the pineapple! Even the Skin!
Pour the liquid into the strainer

Strain the Pulp with a spoon or your hands
Begin by cutting the pineapple, for this recipe you want ALL of the pineapple, even the skin. Cut it into quarters, peel it and then cut the inside into chunks. Add it all to the blender (leaving about 4 chunks of pineapple on the side to garnish) with the mint leaves and add enough water to fill it about half way. BLEND! It will get foamy and thick, from there you will want to have a strainer and a large bowl or pitcher ready. Dump the liquid into the strainer over the bowl and then use a wooden spoon or your hands to push down on the liquid until all you are left with is pulp. You should have a good amount of mostly concentrated pineapple juice in the bowl now. Put this in pitcher or wherever you plan on serving the beverage from and then add water. As much as you need to give you plenty of juice without losing the flavor.

Then grab those chunks of pineapple you froze, add them and top off with a sprig of mint. It’s super refreshing and will last at least a week in the fridge, if it hasn't been finished off before then!

TIP:  That leftover mushy pulp is GREAT as a compost for your garden! Throw it on a compost pile or add it directly to the soil!

I know I've been doing mostly recipes! So I promise things will be different, tomorrow I'm going to write about the amazing properties of “Smudging”

Have a wonderful, healthy day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Organic Roasted Pepper and Asparagus Quesadilla

Roasted Pepper and Asparagus Quesadilla

We went to the Collingswood Farmers Market this past weekend and one of Collingswood's finest, mexican fusion restaurants "The Tortilla Press" was represented there. They serve breakfast and the fiancé got the asparagus quesadilla. It was delicious and I had to recreate it! So I came up with a delicious, organic version with a little twist of my own! Here Goes:

Yum, all organic!

You will need:

  • 1 Bell Pepper (I mixed two different colors)
  • 5 Asparagus, slivered long ways
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Roasted Red Pepper flakes (to taste)
  • A Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 2 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas 
  • A Handful of organic shredded cheese ( I use a mix of cheddar and monterrey jack)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil (for grilling, you can use more or less, really is up to you)
  • Avocado (optional, use it in place of sour cream to spread on the top!)

Slice bell peppers and asparagus and set aside. Mince garlic and add to pan with coconut oil, saute the garlic until it is browned! (Yes, browned. This actually brings out a lot of flavor and gives it that grilled flavor.) Add the asparagus and bell peppers and cook until the veggies have brightened, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and Himalayan salt and then empty on to a plate and set aside.  Place one tortilla into pan and grill until the underside is lightly toasted, then remove and add the other tortilla, add the cheese on top and then pour the mix of pepper, asparagus and other goodies to the top and place the first tortilla back on top ( you get the gist, it's a quesadilla!) Let that cook until light pressure on the top shows gooey melty cheese pouring out the sides. Slide on to a plate, slice and top with avocado if you so desire! Then Enjoy! It's a quick, easy and light on the stomach treat that the fiancé and I enjoy post workout! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Homemade Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

all natural mint chocolate chip ice cream
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

We're trying to eliminate sugars from our diet, but we aren't superhumans either...we like sweet treats. 
In an attempt to allow us sweet creamy delightful ice cream without the temptation of buying a gallon of corn syrup mixed with hormonal milk  I decided to make my own ice cream. Mint Chocolate Chip to be exact (it's the fiancé's favorite).

Here's what you'll need!

  • 4 Frozen bananas 
  • 1 1/2 Avocados
  • 15 Mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract (I always add a little extra)
  • Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips or Cacao Nibs if you're feeling especially healthy.
  • Honey (Only if desired for extra sweetener, I didn't use any myself)
  • Almond Milk ( only as an additive to help the blending process, don't use too much or you'll have a smoothie)
  • A Blender
Start with the avocado and mint leaves, and blend until smooth in the blender. I then chopped the frozen bananas into slices and added them to the mix. This part can become challenging depending on how hard core your blender is, you can always add a bit of almond milk to help the process along. Add the vanilla and blend until it has the consistency of softened ice cream. Add the chocolate chips and either blend them for a less chunky ice cream or fold them in as is for added crunch. (if you blend the chips the ice cream will look more brown than green! You have been warned!) Pour all of this into a glass container and freeze for as long as desired! This ice cream will last up to a week as far as I can tell but remember this, there are no preservatives and avocados and bananas are notorious for browning. The ice cream will still taste fantastic but it might look a lovely shade of brown after a day or two.

I plan on making a green tea ice cream next (my favorite) so I'll keep you posted! This may not taste like the good ole gallon you get from the store but it's chock full of nutrients, fruits and veggies and it will satisfy a sweet craving! Try it out and get back to me with your experience and any changes/recommendations you might have! 

Don't judge my teacup cuteness.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How to make a Raised Vegetable Garden: The Newbie Method

     This weekend we embarked on a project that I have been excited to begin for months. Our very own Veggie Garden! I procrastinated, usually a vegetable garden would have been started late April early May, but I was still in the safe zone as most plants can be seeded until early June. A Veggie Garden, a successful one, pays itself off. We budgeted about $200 for an 8x4 veggie garden that should provide a good amount of harvest for a family of two. Let's go through step by step instructions! Again, I'm no expert here, this is my first time and I'm basing this a lot on my own research and growing up with a fanatical gardener for a mom. I'll keep you posted as the garden progresses and update you on any changes I make, and always remember you can contact me with any questions or use the vast expanse of internet to get answers!

This project took the entire day, we started around 9am.
You want to make sure your veggie garden will get as much sun as possible, I can't stress this enough! Vegetables thrive on sunlight and you will get the happiest, healthiest produce when they are warm and toasty in the sun. We plotted out where we would place the garden, and thanks to Organic Gardening we figured out the measurements for the wood we would need. After Heading to Home Depot on a Saturday, where both saws were broken, we headed to Lowe's instead which was much less packed and had a working saw. On our way home we realized we were starving. For any local New Jerseyans a great place to stop to satisfy that mid project cravings is Pho So 1 for some great Vietnamese noodles chock full of fresh veggies!

Let's Start:

  • Two 2-by-10 boards, 16 feet long (about $20 each if you use a basic wood which will last 2-3 years, cedar lasts longer but is more expensive)
  • One 2-by-4 board, 4 feet long (about $3)
  • 21/2-inch galvanized deck screws ( $4 for a box, only need about 28 for the box though)
  • Hand Held power drill
  • 14 1.5 cubic ft bag of Organic Gardening Soil (about $6 a bag, this is where it started getting expensive, but you need good soil and enough of it for a healthy garden)
  • 2 wheelbarrow loads of dead leaves/compost 
  • some newspaper (none glossy, most normal paper is made with soy ink and is safe for the environment)

We had one of the  2-by-10 boards cut in half to make two 8-foot lengths; these are the two side pieces. Then we cut two 4' pieces off the other 2-by-10 board to make the ends.

We then cut the 2-by-4 board into four 1-foot lengths for corner supports.

The Fiancé getting his carpenter on.

Place one of the corner supports in the angle between the boards and attach it to the side board with three screws, make sure that you have a few inches sticking out below so that these can be pushed into the ground as extra support. This process definitely takes two people, unless you're The Flash, or Superman, hence why I have no pictures. We ended up turning it on it's sides to put enough pressure on the boards to get the screws in. Repeat for the remaining three corners.

Where in I become lazy and he does all the work ;)

At this point you'll have a completed box, which you will want to ensure is level. We 
made sure that the corner supports were buried in the ground and this helped maintain balance since the lawn was a bit bumpy. At this point we got confused, realizing that we hadn't read what to do about the lawn inside the box. After rapid research we couldn't find a good enough answer for me. I decided to go with my instincts and decided on a mix of ripping up the grass, layering newspaper and adding a layer of composted leaves that we had sitting in a large pile from last fall. It's important that there be enough depth for the plants to spread their roots, and that the grass not grow up through the dirt and become weeds. We ripped up as much grass as we could and flipped it over, I layered one thin layer of newspaper that I then dampened and then one layer of the composted leaves. That should be enough to kill off the grass and make the soil rich for planting in the coming years. 

Time to add the soil, and this is where it can get pricey. You want at the least 7 inches of soil in the box, at most 9.  We started with six bags of soil, hoping to save money and I had to send the fiancé for 6 more. We probably could have done with 2 more bags, but because of the layer of compost I felt we had enough. Layer it in evenly, stamp it down and then rake the top. 

You're finally ready to GARDEN! I was super excited to get planting and at this point the fiancé wandered off to enjoy some well deserved rest. It was about 3 in the afternoon and the garden had plenty of sun. I had purchased a mix of seeds and plants.

Vegetables (All Organic if possible):

  • Corn
  • Tomatoes ( Cherry and Globe)
  • Strawberries
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce (Red Leaf/Butter/Romaine(seed)) 
  • Carrots (seed)
  • Zucchini
  • Green Pepper
  • String Beans (seed)
Herbs (All Organic if possible):

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint (yet to be planted)
  • Lavender (yet to be planted)

I plotted the garden so that the taller plants (i.e. tomatoes, corn, beans) would not cast shadows on the smaller plants throughout the day. 

Photoshop Skillzzz, you get the point.

Now it's just about standing the test of time! Water daily, make sure the earth is damp, if you see wilting water more. The cucumbers, tomatoes and beans will need bamboo posts to hold them up, I'll make a whole post about that and also organic, homemade pesticides when the time comes! If you notice animals munching chicken wire is always an option!

Any questions, feel free to ask! I'll keep you posted with pictures and success and failures stories so you can learn what to do and what not to do when it comes to starting your first veggie garden! Here's to good, clean eating!

Final Product, should see sprouts in 7 days for the seeded plants!

Final Product with Tomatoes! (taken this morning)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Canteens vs. Plastic Bottles

      I can't really sum this post up any better than "Go get a Canteen and stop using plastic", but I'll elaborate. The fiancè and I, while recently ridding our bedroom side tables of roughly 40 plastic water bottles (whattttt, we were sick.....and lazy) realized it was time for a change. I'm pretty sure at this point almost everyone is aware that plastic bottles aren't the best for the environment. A lot of us just shrug and assume that one little change won't really affect that giant mass of trash that's floating around the Pacific. Well, it actually will. Not only will you help the environment but most likely you'll be saving yourself from some pretty serious health problems down the road. First, I’m going to explain the problems that arise from using plastic water bottles, then I’m reviewing the canteens that The Fiancé and I picked out, that I can’t recommend enough.

   Here are a few facts for you, from MSLK, an awesome graphic design firm that does various projects in which they bring awareness to environmental issues. They did a project called "Watershed" a very eye opening account of how many plastic bottles we use and the effect they have.

  • Out of the 50 billion bottles of water being bought each year, 80% end up in a landfill, even though recycling programs exist.
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used in producing bottled water each year.
  • Bottled water costs 1,000 times more than tap water. Drinking 2 Litres of tap water a day only costs 50 cents per year.
  • Plastic leaches toxins into the water, which have been linked to health problems such as reproductive issues and cancer.
  • Even in its smallest form, plastic will never biodegrade

Let's look at the health issues that can arise by drinking from plastic bottles. National Geographic reported studies that approximately 25% of bottled water is bottled from...the tap. So this water that you think is from the magical spring of fairy tears, blessed by the unicorn's horn is actually full of mold, arsenic, phthalates, bacteria, and man added chemicals like fluoride that can cause serious damage to your body. But worse than the water is the plastic from which you are drinking that water , and this applies to all your plastic containers and bags to by they way so you can stop making excuses ;), plastic is designed to be used once, and even  then temperature and other factors can lead to the release of chemicals such as  DEHA which is a human carcinogen and BBP which can disrupt our hormones and put you at risk for illness. There is also BPA which stands for bisphenol A, it is found in some plastics, and can cause neurological damage. Endocrine disruptors are also an issue, man made chemicals that mimic or block hormone production. On top of all of this  plastic is porous, so with each sip you are swallowing countless bacteria that can be seriously harmful. 

In all of this, my basic point was this. Go buy yourself a canteen, glass or stainless steel, and take it everywhere with you, re-fill often (from water that is purified and filtered!) and you’ll be amazed to see how much more water you drink! You’ll be hydrated and feeling more energetic in no time. 

The fiancé and I picked out two of our own. They are amazing! “Seriously Safe Stainless Hot/Cold” (17oz) by Enviro Products which can be purchased on Amazon or at your local Whole Foods. Stainless Steel, they maintain the internal temperature without causing condensation or heat on the outside. I’ve had ice cubes last for an entire 24 hours inside of this thing and it honestly blows my mind. The opening mimics that of a water bottle so it is a comfortable sip and doesn’t spill all over you when you go to drink it. Mine is a beautiful sky blue and The Fiancé’s is good ole’ sexy black. In the past few weeks since we've bought them, we both agree they are one of the best purchases we've ever made! We use them every day, drinking on average 4 full bottles. I've noticed the difference in my hair, nails and skin as well as feeling far more energetic. Once I developed the habit of drinking so much water it became easy to ONLY drink water. So there it is, I highly recommend looking into purchasing some sort of canteen and a water filtration system (that isn't plastic) for the environments sake and for your own health!

Sky Blue Canteen, Stainless steel, maintains internal temperature without condensation
My Beautiful Blue Canteen
Sky Blue Canteen, Stainless steel, maintains internal temperature without condensationSky Blue Canteen, Stainless steel, maintains internal temperature without condensation


Wednesday, May 14, 2014