Homemade Immune Boosting Tea

Life is absolutely wonderful.

It can go from chaotic to joyous in a matter of minutes! At times, it can go from amazing to stressful. Then there are the days when you feel like you just can’t keep up anymore!

That’s why I believe that the food we put in our bodies is one of the essential tools that helps us cope with the roller coaster moments of life. We all know that with a conscious effort, eating smart, getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of water, exercising daily and doing daily affirmations and/or meditations creates the perfect balance and booster to one’s being. However, those days that you feel like you can’t keep up anymore hit us unexpectedly thus causing us to become sick from stress, lack of nutrients and vitamins, unhealthy eating, etc. And before we know it – our immune system crashes.

It’s no secret that a healthy body and mind begins with a healthy immune system. It’s been said that 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. In turn, what we put into our bodies forms and supports the foundation of our overall health. And we always want the best, right?

Eating a diet rich in nutrient dense foods that are mainly plant based is far better and ideal for your health than loading up on unnecessary supplements, or worse, falling victim to vaccines that expose you to health risks far severe than influenza and gut issues. Unfortunately, infections are inevitable. So whether you have a tickle in your throat, fighting off flu season, feeling a little bloated,or just need a little “super charge boost” in your day, try sipping on this immune-strengthening homemade tea that helps to ward off bad bacteria and viruses, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, all the while allowing you to naturally fight back. Sans Tylenol, sans over the counter pills.

Food is most nutritious and powerful when it’s close to its original form ergo having the properties to heal and nourish the body organically. Make this special (beware, it’s an acquired taste!) tea from a combination of pure herbs and whole ingredients and you’ll not only decrease your exposure to the circulating viruses but improve your overall health and longevity at the same time. Don’t expect this tea to be a miracle worker though; this hug in a cup works best with a healthful diet and lifestyle. So eat those veggies!

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

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What you’ll need:

2.5 cups of water

Juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon

1 organic cinnamon stick

2 slices of fresh ginger (I like it grated sometimes)

1/4 tsp of turmeric powder

1 garlic clove OR 1/4 tsp of cloves (depending on which taste you prefer)

A pinch of cayenne pepper (add more if you can handle it!)

Add all ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat. Let simmer for 7-9 minutes until well steeped.

Pour tea through a strainer. Drink mindfully.

Not Another Model Salad + Creamy Cashew Dressing (Oil Free & Vegan)

Homer and Bart once said to a devoted vegetarian Lisa Simpson that “you don’t win friends with salad.”

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Courtesy of the internet.

Little did they know about this delicious salad recipe. (I like to pretend it’s one of Lisa’s go to favourites!)

A salad so simple, creamy and nutritious, it’s hard not to impress people (or at least your taste buds) with all of its glory.

And if you’re like me and absolutely crave a filling tossed salad, this recipe will become a staple in your cooking routine. Works perfectly as a side dish to a hearty entree or just as its own. This salad is very similar to my popular lemon tahini dressed kale salad. Which by the way, was an absolute hit on Facebook! 😀

In this case, I use cashews as the main base to achieve the creamy-ness and “milk-like” flavour. Cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds are some of my favourite ingredients to use in the kitchen! Chop em, mash em, blend em, bake with em, these tiny yet powerful entities are so versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. (You can even make your own vegan “cheese” with cashews!) However, I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t familiar with the health benefits of consuming them, and sometimes think twice about eating them because of their “high fat content” (which is mostly the healthy kind of fat). I’ve stressed many times in my blog about the importance of eating good healthy fats and incorporating cashews into your everyday diet is a great way of doing so.

Did you know that cashews come from trees? The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentaleis native to Brazil, where its fruit is considered a delicacy. Technically they’re not even nuts, rather a seed (or fruit) that comes from a tree that thrives in tropical climate. In the early 16th century, the Portuguese introduced them to India and a few African countries, where they now also are grown and produced. What we call the cashew nut is actually the seed of a fruit, very similar looking to a large bell pepper, that hangs off the cashew tree.

They’re typically sold shelled and roasted. If you do buy cashews labeled raw, they are not truly raw but instead gone through a process of steaming, light roasting or otherwise processed to remove its toxic oil. This toxic oil is found in the double shell that encases the raw cashew called anacardic acid, which is a poisonous oily substance that can trigger significant skin rashes, and can be toxic when ingested. Alike to the toxic compound that’s found in poison ivy and poison oak.

Despite its proneness to poison, this potent C shaped ‘nut’ is lauded for its substantial emporium of vitamins and nutrients. They’re deliciously rich in iron, phosphorus, niacin, selenium, zinc, copper and magnesium, you know – all that good stuff our bodies require! And like most nuts, cashews are an excellent source of cancer-fighting phytochemicals, flavanols, antioxidants, vitamin E and protein. Being cholesterol free and high in mono-unsaturated fats helps lower the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases.

So before you crack open that big bag of cashews (for our recipe), please take a moment to value the hard work that went into them and the long expedition those beloved nuts took from the exotic tree to your hands!

And if we don’t win friends with salad, then dang-it…it just means more for us!!

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What you’ll need:

3/4 cup – 1 cup of preferably organic unsalted cashews (Using 1 cup will make your dressing creamier!)

1 cup of filtered water

1 1/2 Tbsp of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Tbsp of lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)

1 garlic clove

Optional: 1 Tbsp of All Natural Dijon Mustard (if you like your dressing zesty and tangy!)

1/2 Tsp of black ground pepper

Soak cashews in warm filtered water for about 2-3 hours. If you have a high speed blender, Magic Bullet or Vitamix, then you can skip this step.

Blend all ingredients until you get a smooth and consistent dressing – start with just a 1/4 cup of water and add more as you blend until you reach a consistency that you like. The more water, the more of a dressing it will be. Use less water, you’ll have a thicker sauce like dressing. Adjust to taste.

Coat baby kale, chickpeas, chopped peppers, cucumbers and broccoli (or veggies of choice) in homemade dressing. Serve immediately. x

Feed Your Skin Naturally!

Good skin is always in!

I want to share a few natural beauty tips with you today. I’m often asked what I use to maintain my “healthy, glowy skin”and as flattering as it is, I actually don’t have a a line of high end beauty products that I use on a daily basis. My routine is quite simple and guileless. As you already know from a few of my recipes and posts, I like to keep things as natural as possible.

I always count chemicals and I am a thorough label reader – that’s including products I use on my skin too!

The first step to great skin is by what you put at the end of your fork. I consume A TON of greens, stay away from meat and dairy products, wheat/gluten containing foods and don’t drink or smoke! You’ve already heard the importance of drinking lots of H20 but having more than 6 glasses of water a day really does make a difference. Keep it clean and drink up, buttercup!

Nutrition plays a critical role in the health of our skin. Acne, breakouts, psoriasis, dry skin, dull skin and wrinkles are all affected by your diet and lifestyle so by eating the right kind of foods, you can help by reduce or even eliminate these stubborn skin conditions. These are the main minerals and nutrients your body needs to naturally help you achieve healthy skin from the inside out:

Silicon: cucumbers, bell peppers, greens, flax seeds, lentils, BioSil capsules

Sulfur: garlic, greens like kale, broccoli

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds

Biotin: raw almonds, raw almond butter, swiss chard, raspberries, sweet potatoes

Zinc: nuts, pumpkin seeds, spinach. chickpeas, raw cacao

Antioxidants: blueberries (organic and wild), pure green tea, baobab powder, more greens!

I always incorporate these specific foods into my everyday diet whether I toss them all into a delicious salad, add them to smoothies or eat them raw as nutritious snacks. These essential foods have definitely been beneficial in improving and maintaining the health of my skin and they’re all nature approved too!

When it comes to a living healthy and natural lifestyle, what you put in your body is just as momentous as what your put on your body. Many people are still unaware of how great an impact the beauty cosmetic lines they use on a daily basis can have on their skin – and health! Our skin readily absorbs chemicals and other harmful substances deeper into our body through our skin layers and then ultimately into our bloodstream. The absorption rates on our scalp, underarms and face are 7-10 times higher than a lot of other body parts. And when we are constantly putting products on our skin that contain parabens, alcohol, petroleum, parfum/fragrance and other harsh chemicals, we are also consuming them and allowing them to get inside our bodies. The skin is the largest organ of the body and since it’s porous, you better believe that it absorbs whatever you choose to put on it.

It’s important to pay careful attention to the ingredients in our skin care products. Unfortunately, the majority of of the mainstream products on our shelves today contain a cocktail of harmful chemicals, carcinogens, allergens, synthetic additives and irritants that contribute to our wellness and what we see every morning in the mirror.

How can we achieve healthy, glowing skin naturally? Just like the food we eat, we should always read the labels, understand what we’re putting on our skin and consider a gentler, natural alternative that’s favorable for us and the planet. Minimalism is always the best option. So choose organic products and natural skin products with simple ingredients whenever possible. Or even use whole ingredients and make your own DIY safer products at home.

Here are my everyday skin/face essentials suitable for ALL SKIN types:

Organic virgin cold pressed coconut oil – Probably the only plant based moisturizer you’ll only ever really need! Don’t be afraid of applying oil on your face. It’s dehydrated and most likely dried out from the harsh alcohols and chemicals that a lot of skin care products consist of. Anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti septic and excellent for balancing the natural oils our skin produces. Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of coconuts?! 😉

Baking soda – An affordable and easy way to balance the skin’s pH levels and a great exfoliator too!

Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar –  Great for healing acne, stubborn pimples and light scars. Works great as a natural, plant based toner.

S.W. Basics of Brooklyn – I’m absolutely obsessed with this line! It is probably the only company I’ve come across that uses pure, whole elements that’s sustainable, organic, cruelty-free and skin friendly. While many companies claim to be “all natural” or plaster ridiculous amount of labels to fool you into thinking their products are safe, chances are, if you turn to read the labels, you’ll find a plethora of not so hidden, not so natural ingredients. You can count on S.W. Basics to be 100% pure and only using the finest ingredients that’s actually good for you. They even think about our planet! Aren’t they so sweet? Their products are all fair trade and the ingredients are locally sourced from small, family farms. S.W. Basics also has exceptional branding (I’m a sucker for good branding and packages!) and their story is beautifully simple: Fewer ingredients means less chance for irritation, higher potency and a smaller, overall ecological impact. For them, less isn’t just more, it’s everything. And I agree! This is a line of products your skin will thank you for.

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All of their products have less than 5 ingredients. And they’re all ingredients you can pronounce and probably have in your kitchen cupboard. Luscious stuff like coconut oil, shea butter, ACV, olive oil, vegetable glycerin and cocoa butter. You also won’t need to do a back label read since all of the ingredients are conveniently listed right on the front of each product. So simple and no second guessing. They’ve made it so easy for us how can you not love them?

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Go ahead – put your best skin forward!

Raw Zucchini Pasta w/ Chunky Vegan Sauce!

I’ve been wanting a spiralizer for quite some time now. But I just don’t have the counter space for it since my gigantic handy blender and can’t- live-without juicer takes up most of it up. Maybe the answer to this is getting a bigger kitchen? 🙂

So as a kind (and surprising!) gift, Tina from Classic Chef sent me the very popular Zyliss Julienne Peeler for my cooking needs. It’s the handy little device that can shred vegetables and fruits into decent strips. I haven’t tried using a spiralizer yet, but this one seems to be doing the trick perfectly well. It’s easy to handle, small enough to store away and pretty good quality. You don’t need to spend big bucks on spiralizing tools either since this gadget is easy on the wallet (approx 10 bucks!)

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So what’s the deal with wanting to tatter my food up anyway? For one, I try to keep my dishes grain free (gluten free as well) so this means cutting out carbs when possible and sticking to whole plant based dishes. This doesn’t mean I deprive myself of the awesome-ness of the psuedo grains like organic quinoa, buckwheat or the occasional whole grain brown rice! However, it’s easy to eat more of these carbs as the main part of the dish and then subconsciously eat less vegetables. So moderation and balance is key. Whether you want to lose some stubborn weight, improve your blood chemistry, increase your energy levels or get more vitamin intake, making some meals grain free can help you to achieve that. This means filling the place of (hopefully gluten free) breads, pastas and brown rice dishes with a favourite vegetable like zucchinis and sweet potatoes and preparing them in the same delicious way.

Pasta is one of my favourite dishes EVER. If I could eat it everyday, I would. Oodles of noodles and a rich creamy tomato sauce always hits the spot. I’m sure it does for a lot of people too! I’ll usually make it with organic brown rice pasta or Explore Asia mung bean noodles and both would do the trick. Of course, too much of a good thing is never good. So thanks to my handy dandy Julienne peeler, I am able to shred vegetables like zucchinis and cucumbers to pasta shaped noodles. So not only do I cut the carbs and calories down by a heck of a whole lot by making it grain free, I also get more doses of healthy greens onto my plate. The key to not compromising the taste of this grain free pasta dish: a kick ass flavorful chunky vegan sauce to go on top of the zucchini noodles!

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Vegan, grain free, wheat free, gluten free, preservative free, soy free, protein rich delicious-ness! 

As they say in Italy: Buon Appetito!

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What you’ll need:

Spiralized or peeled zucchini – try to keep it raw to take in full plant based enzymes

Sauce

2 cups of organic crushed tomatoes

1 cup of sodium free chickpeas or soaked/cooked garbanzo beans

1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers

1 cup of diced dinosaur kale

1 tsp of 100% tomato paste

1 tsp of dried oregano

1 tsp of dried basil

1 tsp of coriander

1 tsp of dried thyme

1 tsp of organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup of yellow onion, minced

Black pepper and himalayan salt to taste

In a small pot, heat oil and diced onions for a few minutes until golden brown on medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 5 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add chickpeas and mix well. Coat the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes over. Let cook for a minute or two. Throw over all spices. Combine well. Lower heat. Add bell peppers and kale and stir. Adjust to taste.

Pour sauce over peeled zucchini noodles and top with cracked black pepper. Devour.

 

The Well Rounded Cookie [Vegan + Grain Free]

I believe that every cookie should bring you comfort, affection and joy. Sadly, not every cookie is made the same. Some are great to the lips but bad for the hips, some live in sin because of added preservatives and toxic chemicals and then there are ones that are wholesome, delicious AND guilt free making them the most well rounded batch of all.

Being gluten free, wheat free, grain free, vegan, preservative free and sugar free is impressive enough, but the quality I like most about these heavenly bites is that they’re low in carbs and won’t make your insulin levels rocket up! How’s that for a treat? 😉

This delicious cookie recipe brings together two of the most amazing foods in holy matrimony: coconuts and almonds.

I used Somama‘s organic and ethically sourced desiccated coconut which is an amazing product I picked up at a local health store in Cape Town. It’s perfect for baking and also great to have raw – sprinkle them on salads, desserts, homemade icing, chia seeds puddings or protein bars/balls.

It’s the magical intersection of their desiccated coconut and JK Gourmet‘s organic almond flour that creates a texture that is both soft, moist and slightly chewy and a taste that’s naturally sweet – without the use of any refined sugars! The coconut is also very subtle so even if you’re not a fan of coconut that much (which is absolutely NUTS!), you’ll probably love these cookies.

I hope these little cookies warm your home and heart for a long time to come.

Note to self: Share the cookies. 

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This is only 1/3 of the baked batch. Recipe below makes more, so don’t worry as there will be enough cookies for everyone! 

 What you’ll need:

1 cup + 1/4 cup of organic almond flour (unblanched)

1/4 cup of chopped unsweetened 100% dark cacao chocolate (can sub w/ homemade chocolate, cacao nibs or unsweetened vegan carob chips)

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/4 cup of granulated xylitol (or stevia)

2 tbsp + 1 tsp of organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil, liquid

1/2 cup of finely shredded/desiccated coconut

1 flax egg (1 tbsp of ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp of water = let sit until “egg” like) – if vegetarian/flexitarian, you can use 1 large egg

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract or flavouring (alcohol free)

Combine all of the dry ingredients together. Add the vanilla and coconut oil to the flax egg. Then add dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and mix. Let the batter chill in fridge for a few minutes until set.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove batter from fridge and shape into small 1 inch balls. Press down slightly to flatten a bit (not too much as you want these babies to be moist!)

Make sure to keep the cookies at least 2 inches apart as they expand a little. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool on rack before devouring. Enjoy with a warm glass of almond or coconut milk!

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