Clean + Natural Skincare Favorites on Etsy

I've gotten really into skincare. I blame winter and the fact that there are so many great brands seemingly available everywhere. Let's just say I have a nice long list going of items to try. Etsy is still one of my favorite places for online shopping. It has a nice sense of community and the sellers are friendly and there are so many items. And seriously, who doesn't love falling down an Etsy hole? I'm telling you, it is worse than pinterest. 

So here's a little round up of some fun skincare and beauty products on Etsy that check boxes for eco, organic, green, clean, vegan, small batch and natural. Enjoy!

This shop is beautiful. If I had a bath tub, I'd scoop this right up. Chamomile, rose and honeysuckle sound like the perfect combination with a warm bath. Epicurean Bathing Tea, $35

This shop is beautiful. If I had a bath tub, I'd scoop this right up. Chamomile, rose and honeysuckle sound like the perfect combination with a warm bath. Epicurean Bathing Tea, $35

Finally think I found a gentle, chemical makeup remover. Love the idea of aloe, coconut oil and witch hazel. Make up Remover, $18

Finally think I found a gentle, chemical makeup remover. Love the idea of aloe, coconut oil and witch hazel. Make up Remover, $18

It's apple scented lip balm. Love it. Comforting Organic Lip Balm, $5

It's apple scented lip balm. Love it. Comforting Organic Lip Balm, $5

Not sure how I wouldn't just drink this toner. It could be the missing step in my skincare regime. Exfoliating Strawberry Toner, $24

Not sure how I wouldn't just drink this toner. It could be the missing step in my skincare regime. Exfoliating Strawberry Toner, $24

Not a skincare item but I would light this while I'm going through my nightly skincare routine and love it. Evening in Paris Soy Candle, $24

Not a skincare item but I would light this while I'm going through my nightly skincare routine and love it. Evening in Paris Soy Candle, $24

My mind was really blown with this one - it's a lip scrub in a tube! So easy and tidy to apply. Lip Polisher, $10

My mind was really blown with this one - it's a lip scrub in a tube! So easy and tidy to apply. Lip Polisher, $10

It looks so inky and intense. I see tiny, clear pores in the future. Activated Charcoal Mask, $14

It looks so inky and intense. I see tiny, clear pores in the future. Activated Charcoal Mask, $14

The perfect little multi-tasker that will give  little rosy glow to lips or cheeks in 4 shades. Lip + Cheek Tint Plant Makeup, $16

The perfect little multi-tasker that will give  little rosy glow to lips or cheeks in 4 shades. Lip + Cheek Tint Plant Makeup, $16

I've demanded a back massage for my birthday and the vanilla hibiscus scent of this oil sounds like a dreamy massage oil option. Vanilla Body Oil, $27  

I've demanded a back massage for my birthday and the vanilla hibiscus scent of this oil sounds like a dreamy massage oil option. Vanilla Body Oil, $27  

We are a soap obsessed household and we love handmade soaps in new scents. Pick 5 from the list of unique scents. Natural Soap Gift Set, $20

We are a soap obsessed household and we love handmade soaps in new scents. Pick 5 from the list of unique scents. Natural Soap Gift Set, $20

Lots of fancy oils in this hydrator. I like to use oils instead of creams at night, especially in the winter. My skin just drinks it up. Hydrate Face Oil, $30

Lots of fancy oils in this hydrator. I like to use oils instead of creams at night, especially in the winter. My skin just drinks it up. Hydrate Face Oil, $30

How badly do you want to slather this all over your face and let slough off all those dead skin cells? Exfoliating Pumpkin Face Mask, $12

How badly do you want to slather this all over your face and let slough off all those dead skin cells? Exfoliating Pumpkin Face Mask, $12

This shop is full of soaps that are too beautiful to use. Tonka Bean Lime & Coconut Soap, $6.50

This shop is full of soaps that are too beautiful to use. Tonka Bean Lime & Coconut Soap, $6.50

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie (Paleo, GF, DF)

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I'm really on a nut butter kick, especially peanut butter. I've been putting it on toast, dipping apple slices into it, smearing it on banana, making peanut butter and chocolate chip pancakes. I also made this smoothie. I'm always super hungry after the gym and this is my new treat. I love it so much, sometimes I go to the gym just because I know I'll make this post workout. Silly, I know but whatever gets me there!

This shake is paleo friendly, gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. No sweetener at all, actually, just a very ripe banana. It's a peanut butter banana bomb with yummy notes of chocolate. It's also not very thick - more of a shake than a smoothie. Blend a bit more chocolate or use chocolate flavored protein powder instead of the collagen and chocolate.

Not sure if I've shared this before, but I've found that instead of a traditional or high speed blender, we use a stick or immersion blender. Its so convenient to use - just stick it in whatever you want to blend and zip zip. It crushes ice no problem and is so much easier to clean. We have had and used this one everyday for about 4 years straight. It's a beast. 

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

1 small or 1/2 a large ripe banana

1/2 cup coconut milk beverage

1 tablespoon dark chocolate powder

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 scoop collagen peptides (This one!)

2-4 ice cubes

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. 

Healthy Things I do Everyday

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The beginning of a new year always gets me thinking about my habits and routines: ones I have, ones to break, new ones to start, ones I want to research. Much of this always centers around health and wellness. For me this goes beyond just staying healthy with things like eating habits and exercise, its about taking care of myself and monitoring my general well being. 

Pondering this, I realized some of the funny little things I do everyday. After my Still's diagnosis in 2016, I've been interested in staying healthy like never before. Previously, being healthy was more about looking healthy than being healthy. I exercised and ate to be trim and toned. Nothing wrong with this but now my motivations are more about my overall health with an emphasis on preventative care.

Here's a list of my current daily wellness 'must do's':

1. Eat a spoonful of coconut oil or blend it into bulletproof style coffee. Right before I start drinking coffee, which is about 10 minutes after I wake up, I take a nice, beautiful spoonful of coconut oil. Mostly because my functional doctor told me to but also, it gives me energy and helps me avoid coffee crash. 

2. Eat a teaspoon raw local honey because raw honey is good for you and its an anti inflammatory immune system booster that fights allergies and tastes good. I like to take it with the coconut oil so the fat balances out the sugar spike a bit.

3. Drink a scoop of collagen dissolved in water. I do this almost entirely for the cosmetic benefits. It's high in helpful amino acids and is beneficial to digestion, joints and skin. 

4. Take a probiotic supplement or two because everything I read says that our overall health is related to the gut and guts love probiotics. 

5. Limit coffee to no more than 6oz and all before 3pm. That's right - a strict limit on coffee. It's not the easiest one to stick as I love coffee but I like sleep more. Sleeping is much easier since I lowered my caffeine intake. 

6. Drink a cup of ginger tea because I have to have something to perk me up at 3pm. Ginger is good for digestion too but I like it because it's so energizing. Sometimes I make a cup and add the honey and collagen mentioned above to get all that out of the way in one powerful little cup of tea. 

7. Think happy thoughts. I'm not kidding. It's important to recognize the things that make me happy on a daily basis. It's not always big things but sometimes just the little things like a joke someone told me, a thing that I ate, how bright and sunny the weather finally is, Chibi's general cuteness. Life is good so why not? 

8. Get enough sleep. This is non negotiable. I am very protective about my sleep time. I keep a strict routine. I wake up 8 hours after I go to bed. At least. I'm able to get enough sleep at this point in my life after years and years of insomnia so I make sure to guard and enjoy it!

9. Drink 64 ounces of water. I get to work, I fill up my quart container. I get home, I fill it up again. If I don't do this, I don't drink enough water and then I'm not hydrated. For me, dehydration makes me feel very foggy and tired. A well hydrated mind has all the lights on.

10. I take good care of my teeth. This is a new one. After taking pretty lazy care of my teeth for awhile, I had to have a deep cleaning. Deep cleaning is not a fun thing. It's also expensive so now I brush, floss, rinse and in between clean with the weirdest little pipe cleaner you've ever seen.

11. Dry brush. It's the best! Between this and the above dental care, it takes me forever to get ready in the morning but it's really smoothed my skin out and helped with circulation and lymphatic health.

For 2018, I want to:

1. More plants! This one is definitely happening. Bringing in many more plants for the apartment. So many you won't know if you're inside or outside. Plants produce oxygen, filter the air and are mood boosters. 

2. Stretching. Adding a short flow of stretches to do first thing in the morning. I'll do this while I wait for the coffee water to boil instead of looking at the internet. 

3.  Develop a soothing, nighttime routine - specifically one that includes getting in bed at 10pm. (Don't judge! I get up at 6am for the gym or quiet time.) I think a self indulgent nighttime ritual sounds like just the cozy thing to incorporate this winter. I'm talking pjs, skin mask, pillow mist and books. 

4. Be patient. Practice compassion and encourage positivity in my interactions with others, even when I'm not receiving those things from them. 

How about you? I'd love to hear about your daily self care practices.

Grain Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pancakes (Paleo, GF, DF)

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Snow day? No problem! If you're on the east coast, you probably experienced this 'bomb cyclone' that hit last week. Happily, I was told to stay home from work. Not only did I stay home but I made these paleo pancakes in my pjs and slippers because why not. Serious Sunday morning vibes happening. 

These are officially my snow day pancakes but you can make them anytime. Best thing is they are grain free, gluten free, dairy and sugar free. Yes! Also, no weird ingredients, just coconut four which you probably have already, right? What I like most about these is that the flavors are balanced with even tastes of banana and peanut butter and a nice does of chocolate here and there. No overwhelming coconut here. 

Serves 2-4. 

Snow Day Paleo Pancakes with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chips

1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk, your choice but I used coconut milk beverage 

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 tablespoon peanut butter

dash vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

dash cinnamon

dash salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Add all ingredients except chocolate chips into a bowl and blend with a stick blender or hand mixer. You can also use a bender. Just zip everything until smooth, about a minute. Fold in chocolate chips. 

Heat a non stick skillet over medium low heat and lightly oil. Do not use too high of heat, lower is better - these guys need time to cook without burning before flipping than usual pancakes. Add heaping tablespoon sized spoonfuls to warm skillet. Swirl back of spoon over batter to flatten and spread a bit. 

They will be ready to flip when they are fully set in the center, about 3 minutes. Shake to pan slightly and look for wiggling in the center of the pancakes. If they look wiggly and wet, cook a little more before flipping. There will be plenty of bubbles in the batter, too. When, ready flip and finish cooking on other side. Second side will cook much faster, about 1 minute. Serve warm. I find these perfectly sweet so we skipped the maple syrup - whipped cream and strawberries would be just right if you have them!

Pozole Rojo with Pork (GF)

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Oh, pozole. It's just the thing in the winter - a hot, chile infused, pork filled soup with a multitude of little toppings to dress it up. I love it but hardly ever make it at home because it can be pretty time consuming. I've edited this recipe down so it's easy and has minimal steps. 

If you've never had it, it is a brothy mexican soup made with chiles, pork and hominy. There are two kinds that I'm aware of - rojo (red) and verde (green). This is the red one. Toppings like any combination of toasted tortillas, cheese, avocado, sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, cilantro leaves, diced white onion and lime wedges should be served with it. 

A note on ingredients: hominy is a dried corn kernel that has been nixtamalized, meaning it was soaked in an alkali mineral bath that makes it easier to digest. You can find it dried or canned. Canned is much more convenient, just drain, rinse and add it to the soup. Treat the dried stuff as you would dried beans, soak overnight and simmer in a large pot of water for a few hours until softened. They will be puffy and chewy. 

To make the tortilla crisps in the photo, just heat a soft corn tortilla in a skillet over medium heat until it it crisp, golden and blistered, flip and repeat on the reverse. 

serves 4. 

Pozole Rojo

1 dried ancho chile pepper

2 cup boiling water

dash oil

6oz cooked, shredded pork

2 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1 quart and 1 cup pork, chicken or vegetable stock

1 14 oz tin drained or 8oz dried then cooked hominy

s+p, to taste

lime juice, to taste

In a small skillet over medium high heat, toast ancho pepper. It will puff up and become toasty. Be careful not to burn it - it won't taste good. Once toasted, remove and discard stem, seeds and membranes. Break into pieces, cover with 1 cup boiling water. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes. 

In a medium pot, heat a dash of oil over medium heat. Cook pork, garlic, bay leaf, oregano and cumin until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add stock and hominy. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. 

Blend chile with soaking liquid until very smooth. Add to soup. Continue to simmer until hominy is nice and soft, wanting to fall apart, maybe 30 minutes overall, depends on what kind you used, Add more water or stock during cooking if needed. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice. 

Serve with garnishes on the sides like toasted tortillas, cheese, avocado, sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, cilantro leaves, diced white onion and lime wedges. 

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies (Paleo, GF, DF)

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Happy 2018!! Let's start things off right with these grain free cookies. I've been hiding a bag of chocolate chips on myself for the last month or so until I felt like whipping these up. I have a hiding spot in one of the difficult to reach cupboards that I never go into and that is away from all the other food. I use this to hide things from myself like crackers specifically for a get together, nutella or chocolate chips. I would have eaten these chocolate chips if I had not hidden them, same for said crackers. Maybe not the same for the nutella. 

Back to the cookies! These are a super yummy chocolate chip cookie made with almond flour and sweetened with maple syrup. I'm really pleased with this recipe: grain free, paleo, dairy free, refined sugar free, easy to make and soft. I like a soft cc cookie, don't you? 

A note on ingredients: Use almond flour, not almond meal. I use Nutiva coconut and red palm shortening. The coffee grounds should be very fine, like espresso. I had courser drip sized grounds here so I buzzed them in the grinder for a few seconds until they were fine. They can be considered optional but really give these cookies a warm, toasty flavor. I also used an electric hand mixer for all of the mixing, besides folding in the chocolate chips. You can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. 

makes 24 cookies. 

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups almond flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon course kosher salt

dash cinnamon

1 tablespoon very finely ground coffee

2/3 cup coconut & red palm shortening, room temperature

2/3 cup maple syrup

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and coffee to evenly combine. Set aside. 

In a mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat shortening and maple syrup together until it no longer looks curdled, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, mix 2 minutes more. Mixture will look weird and slightly curdled or separated. This is ok. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. 

The batter will seem much different than your usual cookie dough - lighter, wetter and stickier. This is ok. 

Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. In the meantime, heat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with a silicone baking mat or lightly oiled parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and drop tablespoon sized spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared trays. Give them some room as they will spread when baking. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a bit on pan before removing. 

Cookies are best warm out of the oven or stored in the fridge in an airtight container. 

Last Minute Gift Guide

Christmas is ONE WEEK AWAY! Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? Here's a little last minute gift guide if you need a little inspiration. You'll find something for her, for him and all those people you might have forgot to shop for. 

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1. Birchbox, $30 for 3 month subscription Your best bet for absolute last minute gifting. Give a 3 month subscription, print out the gift receipt and put it in a card or schedule an email notification to the recipient. Men and womens boxes available. It's s fun gift because everyone like getting things in the mail. 

2. HP Sprocket, $129 at best buy - for printing mini photos (that are also stickers!) wirelessly from your phone or tablet. 

3. Dakota Backpack, $175 at Dagnedover.com The neoprene material is unexpected and holds its shape. Comes in 5 colors. I love the chunky zippers and interior pocket. 

4. Obama: An Intimate Portrait by Pete Souza, $31 on Amazon.com To perk them up with one beautiful iconic Obama photo after the next. 

5. Breville Compact Juicer, $99 at Bed Bath and Beyond because everyone wants more kale juice in their life. This one accepts whole fruits and vegetables, has a small foot print for tiny NYC apartment life and is easy to clean. 

6. Lekoch flatware, $22.99 on Amazon.com This flatware is so good it drives me CRAZY. It must be the food blogger in me but it's just so damn elegant and modern. 

7. Kombucha Home Brewing Kit, $45 on Uncommongoods.com We all want to make more of our own things and fermentation is bubbly, exciting and impressive. 

8. The First Mess Cookbook, $22 on Amazon.com Because come January first everyone we know will be gyming, cleansing and eating healthy. Give someone a boost with this cookbook full for incredible plant based recipes. 

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9. Mast Brothers Chocolate Library, $75 on Mastbrothers.com or a collection of bars from your city's local artisanal chocolate makers. 

10. Catchphrase, $11.99 at Target and some batteries too. Probably the best game to play after your family holiday dinner. We got one last year and it's the new family tradition.

11. Slip Silk Pillowcase, $75 at Sephora  It's luxurious, defends against wrinkles and helps with frizzy hair. Also, its sooooo soft. 

12. Udon Blanket Kit, $125 on weareknitters.com For the crafty knitter in your life who hasn't bought a scarf or hat in the past 5 years because she knits them all herself. This is a big, cozy, soft wool blanket kit complete with giant needles.

13. Sorel 1964 Premium CVS Boots, $140 on sorel.com  For keeping those feet warm in the snow and slip free in the slush. 

14. Captivator Love Bath, $12 on cap beauty.com soak up the love with this naturally scented bath mix with magnesium, neroli and sandalwood. 

15. Glow Watermelon Sleep Mask, $45 on Sephora.com Glowing skin? Check. Watermelon? Check. All the work done while she sleeps? Check. 

Cranberry Bundt Cake (Paleo, GF, DF)

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I made a conventional version of this cranberry bundt cake for Thanksgiving and it was so good I knew I wanted to make a healthier, grain free version. This cake is very balanced - a slightly sweet crumb with a bite of fresh cranberry here and there. If this was made in a loaf pan, I'd call it a cranberry bread. 

This can be glazed or dusted with powdered sugar and served as dessert or slice a piece off and smear it with coconut butter for breakfast. Or snack on it as is. Would doesn't need more snacking cake in their life? (We all do.) Either way, its a great festive, paleo cake to make for the holiday. 

Serves 10. 

Paleo Cranberry Bundt Cake

1.5 cups almond flour

1.5 cups coconut flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup agave

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

2 cups unsweetened applesauce

6 eggs, at room temperature

zest and juice of 1 orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 oz fresh cranberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 or 14 cup sized bundt pan and set aside. 

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk agave, oil, applesauce, eggs, set, juice and vanilla until very smooth. This can be done with a mixer or by hand. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredient and stir until well combined. Make sure the dry ingredients are very well hydrated. Stir in fresh cranberries.

Transfer batter to bundt pan - since this is not a very pourable batter I spoon it into the bundt pan and the smooth the surface with a spatula or spoon. Make sure its even so the cake isn't lopsided. Bake until deep golden brown on top and set in center - about 1 hour and 30 minutes. I like to start checking every 15 minutes after the 1 hour mark. Remove from oven and cool in pan. Invert onto plate and serve. 

Falafel Roasted Chickpeas (Vegan, GF, DF)

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Did you know you can roast chickpeas to make a crispy, crunchy snack? Until recently, I did not. I had these falafel chickpea snacks awhile ago that got me thinking I could make them my own. If you read Meats and Sweets, you might have noticed that I really like to recreate foods I've had elsewhere, at home. This is especially great with packaged or processed food since home made versions are generally healthier and are free of weird undesirable ingredients. The chickpea snack that inspired me to make these, had canola oil which I avoid. By making my own, I was able to choose which oil I wanted. 

As I mentioned in my hummus post: 

You can use canned chickpeas but I strongly suggest using dried chickpeas. This recipe works for 1 can drained chickpeas or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas which is a half cup of dried chickpeas. To make prepare the dried chickpeas: measure out 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas and soak them in room temperature water overnight. They will absorb a lot of water during soaking so make sure they are covered with at least 2 inches of water. If you're short on time, use the quick soak method. For this method, add beans to a pot and cover with 2" water. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let soak for 1 hour. After soaking, drain beans. They will now need to cook, as soaking only rehydrates the beans. 

To cook, place in pot of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 1.5 - 2 hours. Just start testing them for tenderness at the 1.5 hour mark. Just start testing them for tenderness at the 1.5 hour mark. Once done, drain. Chickpeas are now ready. 

Falafel Chickpeas

1.5 cups cooked chickpeas

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek leaf 

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil

First, dry chickpeas. Either leave the drained, cooked chickpeas out on a kitchen towel overnight or use a food dehydrator for about 30 minutes or let them dry out in the preheating oven for about 15 minutes. They must be dry in order to become crispy. 

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a bowl, mix cumin, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, fenugreek, black pepper and paprika. Add oil and mix. Add chickpeas and stir to coat. Arrange evenly on prepared baking tray. Bake 20 minutes or until crisp. Turn pan once halfway through baking. Cool before eating. 

Lazy Vietnamese Cold Noodle Salad (GF, DF)

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Hello there! Wow. I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post! We're almost in a new season. It's mostly just been a combination of laziness and writer's block but it's all over - I'm full of ideas again. 

In other news, I am not vegan. Blood tests and a general feeling of 'meh' showed that it was not the right diet for me. I loved it at first but after a three months I just started to feel terrible. Meat and veggies are the way to go for me, That said, the husband is still enjoying a vegetarian lifestyle so there will still be many recipes on here for you lovely, brave vegan people. (Just not today.)

This cold noodle salad is refreshing. I usually like a big bowl of hot, soupy something in the colder months but this just sounded right. I call it lazy because I looked at many a Vietnamese noodle salad recipe online with long lists of ingredients or instructions. (No thank you - I just want a salad.) This is bare minimum effort but still has a sweet, sour, umami sauce and soft chewy noodle, crunchy fresh vegetable contrast of texture.  

Vegetarians, if you are okay with fish sauce, then sub out the chicken with a brown tofu. If making with chicken, use any type of cooked chicken - grilled leftovers, rotisserie, whatever you may have. Follow the directions on your noodle package. It will probably say to cover dry noodles with boiling water, let sit for 3 minutes, drain and rinse. 

*Note: my lettuce was not photo ready so it's not featured in the above image. 

Serves 4.

Cold Vietnamese Noodle Salad

for the sauce

1/3 c fish sauce

2/3 cup fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons raw or brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, microplaned or finely grated

1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes

for the salad

about 200 grams (4 servings) vermicelli rice noodles, cooked to package directions

4 cups chopped lettuce

2 carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks

1 bell pepper, stemmed, cut into matchsticks

1 seedless cucumber, peeled, cut into matchsticks

2 cups cooked chicken, in bitesized pieces (12oz brown tofu) 

1/2 cup crushed peanuts

In a small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic and chile flakes until sugar is dissolved. Set aside. 

Build individual bowls by tossing noodles, lettuce, carrots, pepper, cucumber, chicken and cooked peanuts with a bit of sauce.

Ready for Fall?

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Happy Fall! Autumn is officially on but the weather, at least in NYC only just started to agree. Meaning, I wore sandals to work last week and I wasn't the only one. I usually don't fall into the 'I can't wait for Fall!' category but at 75 degrees in mid October, I'm starting to feel for a cozier, sitting in front of a fire under a soft blanket with my loved one drinking cocoa while knitting time of year. I love cozy time. 

What are you most excited about for Fall? Here's a little list of a few fun things: 

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Apple Picking

Getting out of NYC and wandering around an apple orchard or pumpkin patch is usually the first thing I do when I'm in the mood for Fall. Ideally,  there's a farm store where I can stock up on treats. 

Desserts!

Apple, pumpkin, pear, caramel, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla - all those types of flavors that previously felt unseasonal. Try this, this or this

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Autumn Leaves

Driving through upstate NY, basking in all the Autumn leaf glory. Especially the Hudson Valley with all of its sweet little villages to stop at and explore. 

Layers!

Bundling up in big scarves, sweaters, leather jackets or my coziest grey sweatshirt. Who doesn't love layers? I pile 'em right on. 

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Knit a blanket

A giant blanket. I've ben slowly working on this one at a snails pace all year. If you want something fast but impressive, this arm tutorial and this giant wool will do the trick. 

Hot beverages

Toddies, hot apple cider, chai. Yes! I can't wait to take a stroll through the greenmarket next Saturday with a cup of hot apple cider and a doughnut to dip into it. 

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Using the Oven Again

It's not 9000 degrees in your apartment anymore so take out whatever you were storing in it and replace it with a yummy slow cooking braised dish. Meat people, try this or this. Vegans try this

 
 

Candles

 I don't have a fire place or wood stove to gaze into so instead I light a bunch of candles in different glass vessels that create a beautiful, warm glow. Everything is cozier by candlelight, yes? 

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Sushi Bowls (Vegan, GF, DF)

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Let's think of this more as a serving suggestion than as a recipe. I made these after my week of tempura. I kept these really simple but they would be great served with fish or tofu. Something about the cucumber, avocado, carrot and rice is just like a vegan deconstructed seaweed free california roll. Seaweed and I are not friends so this is perfect. 

You can make everything and then portion it into single serving containers for an easy lunch. Just wait on the avocado and tamari. For those it's best to wait until serving. I used 1/2 an avocado for each serving. 

The lettuce is optional. I just like to make sure I'm getting enough green veggies. You can chop it and treat this like a salad or use the leaves as wraps. 

The best part of this is the sushi rice. Sushi rice is much more than just a type of short grain white rice, it also requires its own method of preparation. Don't worry, its easy. And super delicious, I could eat sushi rice by the sticky handful except I don't because #willpower. 

4-5 servings. 

Vegan Sushi Bowls

1.5 cups sushi rice

rice vinegar, to taste

salt, to taste

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks

2 english cucumber, cut into matchsticks

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, sliced

1 head romaine lettuce, leaves only

pickled ginger

sesame seeds

tamari soy sauce, for serving

In a covered medium sauce pan, bring rice and 3 cups water to a boil. Reduce to low and let cook until water is evaporated, about 20 minutes. Transfer rice to a large shallow bowl, stir with rice paddle and fan to cool. Season with small splashes of rice vinegar and tiny sprinkling or salt. Keep stirring, seasoning and tasting until smooth rice flavor is subtle balanced with the salt and vinegar. Portion rice into bowls. Top with carrots, cucumber, avocado slices, lettuce, pickled ginger. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with soy sauce. 

Pear Crumble Pie Bars (Vegan, GF, DF)

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I made a conventional version of these a couple years ago and really wanted to make a gluten free vegan version. After following the AIP and now a gluten free vegan diet, it's so weird to look back at my old recipes and see ingredients like all purpose flour and butter. Did I really used to cook with that stuff? It's so funny how much your outlook can change in a short period of time. I guess I've really changed how I eat and cook. 

Feel free to change up the fruit on these. Personally, I love pear desserts but pears usually never make it into baked goods around here because they're so good on their own. If they had been ripe when I bought them, they definitely would not have made it into bar form. Apples or peaches would be great stand ins. If you do change anything - please leave a comment and let me know how it goes!

These are really easy to make. I use a fork for all the mashing and mixing and then switch to my hands. Easy stuff. 

I've made this with both Trader Joe's gluten free baking flour and Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 baking flour. Either one will do or your own preferred gf flour. 

Makes one 8 x 8 inch pan. 

Pear Pie Bars

1 very ripe banana, well mashed

1/2 cup unsweetened non dairy milk (I used boxed coconut milk beverage)

1/2 cup coconut oil, in liquid state

1/3 cup maple syrup

juice and zest of one lemon

3 cups gluten free flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

2 pears, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

Heat oven to 375 degrees, Paper or grease an 8 x 8 baking dish and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine mashed banana, milk, oil, syrup, lemon zest and juice. Stir until well combined. In another bowl, whisk flour with baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir or work with hands until flour is hydrated. Evenly press 2/3 of dough into prepared pan. 

In another bowl, toss pear slices in cornstarch, nutmeg and ginger powder. Arrange pear slices in an even layer on top of pressed crust. Sprinkle little pinched off pieces of remainign dough over pear layer but don't completely cover the pear. You want it to look crumbly. Dust your hands in flour and lightly press down on surface. 

Bake 40 minute. Top should be golden brown. Let cool. 

Vegetable Tempura (Vegan, GF, DF)

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Tempura time! My mom brought a bunch of delicata squashes from her garden on her last visit and I wanted to do something besides roasting. So, deep frying. Naturally. 

This recipe makes a lot of tempura. When I was coming up with what i wanted to batch cook for the week I decided on my favorite Japanese take out go to's like miso soup, tempura, green salad with carrot ginger dressing and steamed broccoli. I had a great, envy inducing lunches. If you plant to do this, note that summer squash and any other 'wet' vegetables will not store well. The green beans and squash tempura are great for leftovers but the summer squash is much better eaten straight away. 

The batter is super simple - Just gf flour and club soda. It's a light and crisp batter and best mixed right before you are ready to dip the vegetables in and fry. I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour and sparkled tap water with our Soda Stream. Besides the Chemex, it's definitely my favorite kitchen gadget/appliance. Who doesn't want club soda and bitters whenever they like? 

The amount of frying oil will depend on the size of your pan. I used about a quart of oil in a 3 qt sauce pan which was cheap and easy to clean up but took forever to fry. More oil and a larger pan is probably more desirable but as long as you have at least 2" of oil you'll be good. 

Serves 6.

Vegan Vegetable Tempura

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1 delicata squash, halved, seeded, 1/4" thin slices

1 large fistful green beans, trimmed

1 sumer squash, 1/4" slices

1.5 cup gluten free flour 

1.5 cup club soda

2 teaspoons grated ginger

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons mirin

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

In a deep pan, start heating oil to 375 degrees - use a thermometer. While it's coming to temperature, make an assembly line of batter bowl (don't mix yet), cut vegetables and a large baking tray lined with several layers of paper towels. Get your tongs ready. When oil comes to temp, stir in club soda into the flour. Batter should be lumpy with all flour hydrated. 

Dip vegetable slices one by one into the batter and then into the hot oil. Fry as many pieces as you can at a time without the pieces touching - we don't want them sticking together. Fry about 1 minutes on each side. As they are done, remove from oil and place on paper towel lined tray to drain. Repeat until all vegetables are tempurafied. 

In a small bowl, whisk together ginger, soy sauce, water, miring and vinegar. Use as dining sauce of tempura. 

Buon Weekend

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Happy Friday! What are you doing this weekend? I'm getting over a cold - which I never get so I'm a pretty big baby when I do. We're looking forward to a low key Brooklyn weekend - Im hoping to do a little cooking (maybe a little slow cooker something?) and work on a painting. 

Here are some fun internet things to look at: 

This mini series of Hidden Brain podcasts for you but version 2.0 

This skincare brand I've been wanting to try is offering free samples. 

Supporting this relief fund. 

Loving this delicate piece. 

Saying YUM to this breakfast recipe. 

Started reading this incredible book about gut health. 

Anyone seeing this movie? (It was shot with film!)

Cranberry Coconut Healthy Cookies (Vegan, GF, DF)

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As you can probably tell from my posts, I don't eat many sweets or sugar anymore. I try to limit my sugar intake to only fruit which means not a lot of baked sweets happening around here. I prefer to 'save' my sugar indulgences for things like coconut ice cream or a piece of vegan layer cake. Treating it as a rare, special occasion thing has helped changed my sweet tooth to a healthy tooth. You'll notice most of my dessert recipes are sugar free, use natural sugars like maple syrup or are sweetened with a fruit. 

These cookies are made without sugar and sweetened only with a banana and the dried cranberries. 

Cranberry Coconut Healthy Cookies

1 mashed ripe banana

1/2 cup quick GF oats

2 tablespoons dried cranberries 

2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

1 tablespoon chopped pecans

dash cinnamon and nutmeg

pinch salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking tray with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside. 

In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients. Use a tablespoon to portion 8 cookies onto prepared baking tray. Cookies will not flatten or expand during baking so flatten them into round cookie shapes. Bake 15 minutes. Remove. Cool. 

Buon Weekend!

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It's Friday! What are you up to this weekend? After a few fun filled weekends we decided to stay local and chill. I'm looking forward to a little much needed gym time, as well as working on a few fall recipes and starting some projects.  (I know, I know - I'm too exciting.) 

I'll be back with a post on monday but until then, here are a few links: 

I really enjoyed this goop article. 

Working my way through this long one. 

It seems this restaurant was made for instagram.  

This marriage article made me think. 

Tried this skincare line? I keep hearing good things.  

I want to make gluten free versions of all of these

Detox Vegetable Soup (Vegan, GF, DF, Paleo)

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So, summer is juuuuuuuust about over, isn't it? Instead of quietly crying into my pillow, I though I'd make a bright tomato based, vegetable heavy soup. I wanted something that was healthy but filling which this soup is thanks to all of the veggies. Vibrant, fresh produce always reminds me of warm summer farmer's markets, long sunny days and great meals. 

Serves 8. 

Vegetable Soup

splash olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 14oz tin diced tomatoes

2 quarts vegetable stock

4 cups shredded green cabbage

1.5 cup chopped green beans

2 cups chopped broccoli

2 cups chopped zucchini

s + p 

squeeze of lemon juice

In a large pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add onion and garlic, cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add carrots, celery, fennel, thyme, basil tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer 20 minutes. Add cabbage, green beans, broccoli and zucchini. Simmer 5 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. 

Clean Beauty Favorites

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I've been working on swapping out my regular skincare and beauty products for clean ones. Eco friendly products work just as well as their chemical filled counterparts. It's important to me to find products that are cruelty free. It can be a challenge but I've found a few good ones. 

Before I purchase, I read reviews and double check ingredients on the ewg website. Here are my favorite items so far:

Schmidt's Deodorant for Sensitive skin  is the best natural deodorant I've found so far. It smells great and works as an anti perspirant. There is also an unscented if fragrance isn't your thing. 

Simply Sooney Tooth Powder is weird stuff but I love it. It's a tooth powder so you just dip your wet toothbrush in the cup and start brushing. I love this company. It's very difficult to find truly non toxic, safe tooth pastes that are made without carrageenan, glycerin, sulfates and fluoride but this powder doesn't have any of those things. (I really can't believe all the toxic stuff that's put into even 'natural' toothpastes.) This one is made in small batches and has a short, sweet ingredient list. My teeth feel great - super clean with happy gums. I have the cinnamon clove flavor but peppermint might be a good training wheels flavor if you're new to tooth powder. 

I also just realized that the toothpaste in the photo, which is out back up toothpaste, sadly has so many lame ingredients in it. Glycerin, SLS and carrageenan. Ugh. I just looked it up as I realized the ingredients are not listed on the tube. It photographs better than the Sooney Powder. Just an FYI. 

Mascara is a terrifying product to research. First, find a company that does not test on animals, that is vegan, doesn't use a long list of chemical based ingredients and actually stays on your lashes the entire day. Pacifica Stellar Gaze Mascara fits the bill, strengthens lashes and costs less than almost every mascara at sephora. 

If Biossance sent me a t shirt, I would wear it. I've been using the Biossance Eye Gel for about a month and my fine eye wrinkles have started to disappear. Mostly I like it because it feels moisturizing and refreshing when I put it on so I'll consider the above a bonus. The big ingredient is plant derived squalene which is naturally high in antioxidants and promotes cell regrowth. 

In the colder months, I like to use Radha Rose Hip Oil instead of a night cream. It smells great and smoothed out my skin. I like that it's organic and can also be used in my homemade DIY beauty recipes. If you want something in a spray bottle, Nourish Organic Rose Hip Oil Mist is for you. I use it in place of body lotion or a tiny bit on the ends of my hair after straightening to smooth it out and fight frizz. 

I love dry brushing. I bought this inexpensive natural dry brush when I was having some unhappy lymph node issues and they cleared right up after a week of dry brushing. Right before I shower, I brush from my feet to my chest then from my fingers to my heart with small, circular strokes. It's a rush, like an electrical current or fire all over your body. So damn invigorating. 

I never thought this stuff would be as good as it is natural but it is. Cameron and I both use Dr. Bronner's Shaving Soap. It's a thin liquid that lathers up like crazy and gives a close, smooth shave. I like the lavender scent but there is also peppermint and unscented. 

I run a quarter sized amount John Masters Organics Rose Hair Milk through clean wet hair to moisturize and protect it from heat styling. It's smoothing and has a light smell. 

I tried a sample of Mineral Fusion Foundation over the summer and will be purchasing a full size when my current one runs out. It has a similar texture to Mac Studio Fix Liquid but without the icky chemicals. The foundation is part of an entire line so you can also find primer, blush, brushes, everything for your whole beautiful face. Packaging could be updated but that's my only complaint. I have the powder compact and it's great. 

I'll post again as I find and try other clean products but in the mean time - How about you? Any clean, green, eco friendly, cruelty free, vegan products you're smitten with? 

Buon Weekend!

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Happy Friday! What are you doing this weekend? My parents are Brooklyn bound so I know there's going to some crazy good meals and lots of laughter heading my way very soon. If you feel like a bit of internetting, here's a few interesting things: 

Can't wait to read this. Who doesn't love a good biography? 

Just started this crime podcast. 

If I was in a jacket wearing mood, I'd go for this one. 

The sound of art. 

Have some time to volunteer? Orientations starting soon!

This is a great list of salads perfect for lunch.