Kiwi? Oui Oui! 🥝

Nope, it’s not about the flightless bird or New Zealanders today – we are all about this tiny, overlooked fruit in grocery store that has so much to offer you. What are its nutritional credentials exactly? Well, here’s a start:

  • It has about twice the vitamin C of oranges, per serving
  • Constipated? There’s more to help than prunes and psyllium – kiwi contains fiber and an enzyme that maybe help move things along, if you get our drift
  • Folate – this B vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects in pregnancies but is also important for building red blood cells and reducing homocysteine levels
  • Antioxidants to help neutralize free radical damage

A common question is whether one can eat the skin or not. Yes, you can eat the skin. It’s fuzzy and can kind of tickle the mouth a bit, but it has fiber and the skin doesn’t have much of a taste on its own. In terms of the fruit, the texture is similar to that of a banana but with crunchy seeds in the middle (similar to chia seeds). We think these elements come together to create an interesting and sweet snack.

How to eat kiwis:

The easiest way is to slice it up and enjoy it on its own.

We love it in our Red, White & Blueberry Fruit Tart and Spiced Vanilla Chia Pudding.

How will you eat your kiwi? Share in the comments below.

Recipe: Coconut Almond Smoothie 🥥

After chilly rain earlier this week, the Ohio weather gods have bestowed 60-degree weather upon us. Time to break out your blender and get some chocolate & spring greens in.

Join us in relishing this delicious, anti-inflammatory smoothie that is great for gut health!


Ingredients
2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp cacao nibs
2 tsp chia seeds
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup spinach
2 medjool dates
1 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp shredded coconut

Instructions
Add all ingredients to the blender and blend well. Add additional non-dairy milk or water
to reach desired consistency. Enjoy!


The Green Smoothie Challenge eBook contains tips and tricks of the trade, 14
green smoothie recipes, ideas for substitutions, a food diary, superfood additions,
and the grocery lists for week 1 and 2 of your personal challenge. Armed with this
guide and your trusty blender, you’ll go far!


Start adding in these green smoothies so you can experience having more energy,
clearer skin, improved digestion, weight loss, or any number of benefts as yet
unforeseen.


Get ready to experience the easiest and most sustainable way to enjoy some
superfood-fueling smoothies; grab the guide and get started on the first week
today!

Recipe: Plant-based Taco Tuesday 🌮

You definitely don’t need it to be a Tuesday to enjoy these tasty tacos, but “Sunday Tacos” doesn’t exactly have the desired alliteration. We like to call these the Anytime Tacos – the ‘t’ sound is still in there and it’s much more freeing – but social convention is a powerful thing. Regardless, have this crunchy, delicious, and nutrient-dense meal whenever you’d like. Remember the “Got Milk” slogan? Well, this calcium-rich meal actually does a body good. Enjoy!

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes, depending on number of condiments offered

Serves: 3-4 people

Ingredients

1 package of 12 hard taco shells (we used Siete grain-free ones)

1 head of lettuce, romaine or green leaf, chopped

1 can, 15oz of black beans and/or our cauliflower & walnut crumble recipe (if time allows)

1 tsp taco seasoning

2 tomatoes, diced

2 avocados, sliced

1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 jar of salsa to share

2 limes, sliced (optional)

Instructions

Rinse beans from a can and then put in a small pot over low heat. Add taco seasoning and stir; simmer for about 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees for the tacos. While waiting, prep lettuce, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes and limes. Follow directions on hard taco shell box for how long to heat them up in the oven (about 2-3 minutes). Plate tacos and allow each dinner guest or family member to decorate their own tacos with the condiments provided. Lime juice provides a nice splash of flavor and acidity to the meal. Your taste buds might just shout ¡olé!

Go-go Goji Berries!

The goji berry, also known as wolfberry, is a sweet orange-red fruit native to Asia. It has been eaten for thousands of years and is a staple of some of the longest-living people on earth, including the Hunza in the Himalayas. With an impressive array of nutritional properties and health benefits, you might want to include it into your diet. We’ll show you how.

Background & Nutritional Properties

Goji berries have been used both as food and botanical medicine. Fortunately, with its sweet taste (it looks like a red raisin but tastes more like a cross between a cherry and a cranberry), it ‘helps the medicine go down’, as Mary Poppins would say.

What else do goji berries offer, nutritionally-speaking? Plenty – including 18 amino acids (the building blocks of protein), high antioxidant content, more protein by weight than other fruits (e.g. oranges, apples, berries), great source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, trace minerals, B vitamins and more.

Goji berries have been extensively studied for their health benefits and have been known to:

• Strengthen the immune system
• Increase longevity and protects from premature aging
Reduce skin cancer risk
• Promote cardiovascular health
• Support eye health and vision
• Maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar
• Improve fertility
• Strengthen muscles and bones
• Manage weight

Ready to include more of these delicious and nutritious berries into your diet? First, let’s talk about who should NOT eat goji berries without consulting their doctor or healthcare professional. Obviously, those allergic to the berries should avoid them. Goji berries may interact with certain drugs including blood thinners and diabetes medications as well as drugs for high blood pressure.

Choosing to partake in the nourishment and benefits of these red berries? Here are some ways to include them into your go-go, busy lifestyle:

• During breakfast with DIY Hippie Granola or a warming Great Goji Groatmeal recipe or even just as a topping to your cereal

• Brew in a tea ball with loose green tea

• As a snack on its own or in a trail mix

• In smoothies and yogurt

• Paired with dark chocolate for a satisfying dessert rich in antioxidants

…and more! Goji berries have been used to make soup, stew and wine as well as herbal formulas as a tonic for health.

This nutrient-dense superfood deserves a spot in your pantry with all it can offer to you and your family. Enjoy!

How to: Deep-clean the Whole Fridge 🧽

Ever since completing the pantry organization project, the fridge has practically been begging for a deep clean. With cold weather encouraging indoor activities – and with spring around the corner – we decided it was time to load up our favorite music as we worked towards the vision of a gleaming fridge.

Time: about 45 minutes total, including back of the fridge

Materials needed: paper towels, vinegar or cleaning spray, vacuum for back of fridge and floor, organizational bins (optional), your favorite music and beverage to hydrate

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Step 1: Pull everything out of your fridge. Keep a cooler nearby and fill it with the fresh meats and other temperature-sensitive perishables. Throw away any old, moldy ‘science experiments’ that have taken residence at the back of the fridge.

Step 2: Remove the shelves and clean them; wipe down the sides and doors inside of the fridge.

Step 3: Because the fridge is lighter without food inside of it, this could be a good time to carefully pull fridge out a few feet to gain access to the back (this took two people for us). Unless you’ve cleaned the area recently, there’s probably everything from dog hair to Nerf gun balls and crumbs. And that’s just the floor. We were surprised by what we found too, relics of previous inhabitants:

Unplug the refrigerator before doing any sort of maintenance or cleaning to avoid electrocution. Vacuum the floor and the coils. We used canned air to get ours clean too. You might also want to wipe down the area behind the fridge, including walls and floor. Ah, that’s better.

The coils help keep your fridge cold and when they are covered and dirty, the fridge has to work extra-hard to do its job. You’ll likely notice better-performing, quieter fridge operation. Your electricity bill might be lower too. All types of winning here! Now you can plug your fridge back in, roll it back into its proper place, and pat yourself on the back.

Step 4: Put bowl or box of baking soda inside, near the back fridge, to help absorb odors. Put fresh paper towels into drawers; use or obtain plastic bins for organization and easier clean-up in the future. We used Bino Stackable Storage Bins XL (4 pack).

Step 5: Quickly check expiration dates and wipe down bottles and jars of various food items as you add them back in.

Step 6: Wipe down the top, sides, and front of the fridge after removing any old coupons, save-the-dates, and magnets. Cut and curate, then place desired artwork or magnets back.

Now that you’re done, step back and admire your handiwork.

How long will the gleam last? Probably not long enough, but there are some ways to keep your fridge fresh between deep cleans. How often should a deep-clean be done? Quarterly. Put it in your calendar and start working on your energizing playlist now. You might want to check behind the fridge every quarter to every six months to ensure the coils aren’t covered in dust and dirt. In the meantime, here’s what to do monthly:

  • Keep up with your first-in, first-out system.
  • Consider replacing drawer linings with fresh, absorbant paper towels to help with moisture and any leaking from forgotten foods.

It’s not quite a heavenly experience, but opening the refrigerator doors and the seeing light bouncing off the clean surfaces and colorful foods might just make you smile.

Recipe: Hasselback Potatoes by Mr. Chef

As the lucky recipient of Mr. Chef’s iterations of Hasselback potatoes, we couldn’t wait to share the deliciousness of this recipe. Beware: you may be used to our quick, delicious, and nutritious options and this is not how Mr. Chef operates; he pours a half-hour into making a salad and a few hours of labor and slow-cooking for a curry soup. What can we say? Opposites attract. If you have the patience of a saint or an oyster, give it a try. The pearl is worth it.

Ingredients:

Russet (or other) Potato – one per customer
Olive oil (or butter, for non-vegan customers)
Herbs – rosemary or thyme preferred – to taste
Vegan feta OR goats cheese (again, that would be non-vegan)
Oregano – a must in my mind


Step-by-step instructions: 

1. Make an oil/butter infusion: low temp heat oil/butter with herbs for as long as you can bear
2. While that’s going,
    a) put a potato on a cutting board, put chop sticks (or some other “stop” on the cutting board along its longest dimension
    b) Slice along the longest dimension to make a flat surface for the potato to stand firm while
    c) begin cutting at 1/8″ or 1/16″ intervals straight down (the thinner the better!).  The chop sticks prevent cutting it into separate slices.  The goal is to slice downward finely but not to cut the potato into slices – keep it whole.
    d) This will represent a lot of slices – as always, prep is the labor-intensive part.  Be careful to keep the blade perfectly perpendicular to the cutting board as you slice.  This might tax your knife skills a bit.  It’s worth it.  Carry on.
3. Cover potato(es) with oil/butter infusion, place in pre-heated oven at ~430 degrees Fahrenheit.  A parchment paper-covered flat baking sheet is best.
4. Wait an excruciatingly long time, like an hour or perhaps more depending on the volume of potato(es).
5. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, apply vegan or anti-vegan cheese.  Cover in oregano.  Try to sort of “push” herb topping into the crevices formed by slicing.  Serve.

The outside should be crispy, with a circular gradation into the center becoming almost as smooth and soft as mashed potatoes.  While eating, the layers should fold into interesting patterns as the knife/fork scoop them up.

I’d never eaten one but discovered it while researching thanksgiving sides.  I am somewhat obsessed now.  It won’t be on the menu this year because it takes so long and requires a cooking temperature way over what’s recommended for a turkey.  Maybe save this for a quiet night in when time is no object.  But do it!

Vitamin L for your Heart ❤️

There are all sorts of nutrients that your heart needs in order to be healthy, including: magnesium, polyphenols, omega-3s, fiber and folate. However nutritious your food choices, there is a nutrient of supreme importance – vitamin L.

How is this vitamin different from the A, B, C, D versions you’ve heard about? One, it’s not a physical nutrient. Two, it is among one of the most powerful forces in the universe. Three, when you have it, and share it, your heart beats with pure joy. Vitamin L is vitamin Love. Unlike a pill, you can’t just ‘take’ love. In fact, you have to give in order to receive it.

Could you use a little, or a lot more, of Vitamin L in your life? Let’s start with perhaps the hardest one.

Love for self. Does this surprise you? Most people get a bit flustered or even breakdown crying when asked if they love themselves. It’s such a simple question, but even we were perplexed the first time a holistic doctor asked the same question. Do you love yourself? How do you know if you do? Scrape off the first few layers of how you dress, the car you drive, what you buy for yourself, or the spa treatments you might get – do you truly and completely love and accept yourself? Don’t feel bad if the answer is “I don’t know” or even “no”. You’re certainly not alone. Many of our clients have hidden behind a form of ‘over-performing’ and strict eating and living principles. But really this wasn’t self-love or appreciation, it was a form of self-flagellation. It was shame or guilt that motivated their ‘healthy’ actions. Religious upbringing can play a part in this, but that’s a story for another time.

Imagine if we nourished ourselves with love, appreciation, and joyful experiences. It’s something a green smoothie can’t even touch, in terms of deeper nourishment. So then the question clients want to know the answer to is “how Do I love myself more?” As you might expect, it needs to be personalized, like knowing your own love language.

It might be helpful to image yourself as a separate human being. Would you tell this person, immediately upon seeing them, “boy you look horrible today, and damn girl, look at those thighs”? Probably not. Then why do you say that to yourself in the mornings, upon gazing into the mirror? Being kind to ourselves, in thought and in words, is a form of self- love. Take that vitamin daily. Maybe even double the dose.

Again, imagining yourself as a loved one, would you say “oh, you’re tired? Well, you can go to bed after you clean and organize the whole kitchen, eat the bag of chips and watch another episode, or finish your taxes” or would you say to her “you seem tired and you’ve accomplished a lot today; get some sleep and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to start again tomorrow”?

It’s possible that so many of us were given messages that our worth was in being “good” – as in pleasing others, never asking for what we needed, hiding unpleasant emotions from the public (and ourselves), warning against vanity (through Greek mythology and Narcissus, a man of unparalleled beauty, who fell in love with his own reflection and caused his own demise) and therefore never saying nice things to the person in our mirrors. These factors, and more, can play into how we speak, feel, and act towards ourselves.

Love for others and greater humanity. Aim for positive interaction which each member of your family, with your spouse or partner, your children and your friends. No one is perfect but we can extend kindness nonetheless and give a benefit of a doubt. The best part is that, if you’ve incorporated more vitamin Love for youself in your life, it will spill over into other areas more effortlessly. When you pour from an empty pitcher, you give to others but there is a sense of resentment and depletion. When you pour from a pitcher that is constantly being refilled by your own nourishment, there is plenty to go around, with more joy too.

When we care about our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we make choices about the clothes we buy, the companies we support, and money we donate. Though we will never solve all of humanity’s ills, we can start lessening them. Get into microlending to support small business abroad, say no to fast fashion and buy quality pieces from companies whose dyes don’t pollute waters, refuse to buy from companies who buy water rights and deny clean water to local communities, share information and knowledge to help people improve their own lives.

Share some vitamin L(ove) today and start a new, positive ‘pandemic’ in your own house, community, and perhaps a ripple effect throughout the world.

Recipe: Homemade Chai Mix & Drink

Photo by Lauren Emond

It’s our inaugural guest recipe blog! So many of you have great recipes you’ve created – if you want to share your whole-foods and healthy recipes (especially the gluten-free, dairy-free ones), please reach out.

This recipe is really two-in-one: chai mix itself and then the drink you make with it. It’s simple, creative, and warms the heart. With a week left until Christmas, you still have time to make a few gifts to be enjoyed by loved ones over these upcoming winter months. Here Lauren Emond (@heart_appetit) shares her love of crafting homemade gifts, especially those including food!

“I may have ordered Chai from coffee shops over the years, but it wasn’t until I had a homemade cup of Chai, or Yogi Tea as she called it, offered by my Kundalini yoga teacher did I truly learn to slow down and enjoy this warm spicy beverage. After every class, she would pull out her mug of hot homemade Chai concentrate, and invite students to gather around in a circle and enjoy a cup.

Years later, I learned something new about Chai. In Hindi and many other languages spoken throughout India and Pakistan, “Masala” translates to spiced. “Chai” translates to tea. Therefore, masala chai is spiced tea. So Masala Chai, or Chai for shorthand, is one of the homemade gifts I like to make for friends and family.

I prefer to make a large batch so I can store it in my fridge and have a few cups throughout the week. This is what inspired my homemade gift for friends.”

Photo by Lauren Emond

Homemade Gift – Chai Mix

Ingredients for 1 quart of Chai:

  • 1 T cardamom pods, crushed so they split open
  • 2 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp of black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (I prefer Ceylon Cinnamon)
  • 1 black tea bag
  • *1/2 tsp fennel
  • *3 star anise leaves
  • Mason Jar and ribbon to decorate
  • Printed or handwritten instructions

*Optional

Add spice and black tea bag into a mason jar & add a ribbon or cloth to decorate. Include these instructions:

Homemade Chai

Makes 4 cups

  • Remove black tea bag and set aside.
  • Chop a 1 ½” piece of ginger root (washed and unpeeled)
  • Add spices and ginger to a pot with 1 quart water.
  • Bring to boil, then cover and simmer 60 minutes.
  • Turn off heat, add tea bag and steep 5 minutes.
  • Strain and store in a quart mason jar.

To serve, heat chai and add milk of choice and sweeten with maple syrup or honey.

Recipe: DIY 2-ingredient Vanilla Extract 🎀

The difference between an ‘okay’ baked good and a spectacular one can be as simple as using a high-quality, concentrated vanilla extract. By making your own, you control these aspects instead of dealing with imitation or watered-down vanilla with synthetic ingredients. Give us the good stuff!

Being a ‘planner’ type, starting to create and buy holiday gifts in July is not unprecedented. This year, we were curious about making our own vanilla extract since we use it in coffee, our 5 Spice Hot Choffee, baking and pretty much everywhere. How hard could it be? Spoiler: it’s so easy and also rather fun. We decided to make 12 bottles and gift them to friends and family. You can do the same. While this recipe doubles as a gift idea, it triples as a way of making the most divine vanilla bean sugar (more on that later).

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Makes 12 bottles

Ingredients & Items needed

2 packs vanilla bean pods (the 2 packs will yield 40 pods and this ensures at least 3 pods per bottle)

10 liters of 80-proof vodka (we bought the 1.75 liter gluten-free, non-GMO Blue Ice Potato Vodka brand and took home 6 of these puppies)

12 swing-top bottles (33oz size)

Funnels, if you don’t have them already

Instructions

Use clean or sterilized bottles (because there are plastic pieces attached, we skipped that step and did a normal cleaning of the bottles and waited for them to dry). Slice vanilla bean pods lengthwise (to expose more of the bean to the alcohol) and put 3-4 in each bottle. Then, using your funnel, carefully pour the vodka into each bottle, dividing evenly between the 12.

If all of this feels too much, here’s the store-bought organic vanilla extract we’ve historically used that sparked the idea for this recipe.

Let’s talk numbers and value.

The vodka, depending on brand quality, varies in price. Our total ran about $180 for the 6 bottles, $40 for the organic vanilla beans, $30 for the swing-top bottles and about $7 for the funnels. That’s about $21.42 per bottle and you’re getting about 29oz ounces in each bottle, more than 3x the amount of the 8oz versions in the store that go for almost $40. In fact, let’s get granular: the store-bought version linked above is $4.65 per fluid ounce whereas ours is $0.74. The value of each bottle, considering the more concentrated and higher-quality ingredients used – in addition to the labor of love involved, is well over $135. That’s vanilla gold right there.

Make the recipe suit you! Smaller bottles (8.5oz vs. 33oz) would drastically bring down the amount, and cost, of alcohol and vanilla bean pods needed.

Tips & best practices: each bottle should have about 3-4 pods for maximum flavor. Start early for next year – similar to wine, vanilla extract tastes better as it ages. Give the vanilla beans as little as 8 weeks to infuse or wait 6-12 months for the richer flavor to emerge. Keep in a cool, dark place and shake bottles once a week.

We love doing calligraphy, but there are plenty of ways to create your own custom stickers for your gift bottles. Enjoy!

Fancy in 5 Steps! 🥂 Charcuterie Board

The inspiration for this came from a 3 and 6-year-old. We were to host a small, casual gathering and we sought to satisfy everyone without killing ourselves. Aha! A charcuterie board is like fancy buffet but far simpler to build. We used two cutting boards that Mr. Chef made, but you don’t need custom end-grain cutting boards to accomplish this festival of food. The cutting board could come from IKEA, or use serving tray. Have a bit of fun with your imagination and what you already have in your cabinets. Presto!

In hosting, as in life, we prefer balance and elegant simplicity, and fun with perhaps a *sprinkle* of fancy. It’s okay to throw something together and even bring in a bit of whimsy.

So, to keep things classic and chill, the idea of having a variety and simple foods- a smorgasbord- stood out. Call it that, a Hungarian cold plate or “Hidegál”, or, because it sounds so nice to say, charcuterie board (the way we like to remember to pronounce it: “shar(k)-coo-ter-ee”; say it fast enough and the “k” glides you right through the word). Other reasons we love this:

Unstuffy – at its heart, a charcuterie board is very finger-friendly and is even great for kids

Healthy – we went mostly for organic produce & gluten-free items but also had quality meat products for omnivorous types.

Visually appealing – because we all ‘eat’ with our eyes first, we really wanted to provide a cheery, colorful palette of foods from which to choose.

The Steps

  1. Think about your guests – do they have dietary restrictions or allergies? Food preferences? Will children be present?
  2. Plan your board(s) – think of food groups (healthier versions of fat, protein, carbohydates) and accessories (dips that go well with chips, carrots, and celery for example). This helps provide a balanced and light meal. Bonus: make a ‘rainbow’. Get creative and perhaps offer a fruit and vegetable option for each color – such as orange bell peppers and orange slices.
  3. Go shopping and prep the produce. Here are some items you might want for your custom board(s): vegetables (bell pepper, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes), fruits (orange and apple slices, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, grapes – dried fruit is also an option!), cheeses, deli meats (salami, turkey, ham or chicken), crackers and/or bread, dips (hummus, Ranch, herb-infused olive oil), olives, pickles, seeds (pumpkin and sunflower), chips, and chocolate.
  4. Decorate your boards! Use little bowls for dips, dishes or plates, cutting boards, and utensils to design a beautiful, curated offering to your guests.
  5. Relax, eat and enjoy!