Supermarket Musings and Beet-ganoush

Supermarket Musings and Beet-ganoush

We love Whole Foods around these parts. Yes, I mean the brick and mortar establishment. I assume the nourishing whole foods that we eat on the daily go without saying. 🙂 I can get utterly lost in Whole Foods. Their produce is absolutely gorgeous, their bulk section never ends and the layout is extremely visually captivating. The interior designer of that place needs a raise, immediately.

My love affair with Whole Foods is fairly superficial. I go inside, I look but I rarely buy. I mean who can afford those prices? Not me, not now anyway. So I longingly wander the aisles, sporting a big she boner and ultimately walk my proverbial blue balls straight on down to a place that I can afford, trusty old Berkeley Bowl.

If you don’t live in the east bay of California, it’s very likely you’ve never heard of Berkeley Bowl. Its an independent market that has only two locations. It’s nowhere near the eyegasm that Whole Foods is but dare I say, the produce selection is superior and at half the price! It’s a pretty rad supermarket and I feel lucky to have it so close, until I dump it’s ass for Whole Foods when I hit the mega jackpot that is. 😉

While I was perusing the cheese aisle of Berkeley Bowl a few days ago, I noticed an employee handing out free samples of some purple looking goop on gluten free crackers. I had my daughter with me so naturally she grabbed at it. She acts like a starved homeless child around other people’s food but at our dinner table, she often can’t be bothered. She may be single handedly responsible for my growing wrinkles. Anyway, after further inspection I realized the spread was made of beets. What an awesome idea I thought. The flavor was pretty good but I knew I could improve upon it. I was excited to get home and play.

Beet-ganoush

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Ingredients

  • 4 beets, boiled and peeled
  • 1/2 cup soaked almonds
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

Process

  1. Place beets in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy
  2. Add in all other ingredients and process until well combined
  3. Spread on crackers, cucumbers or use as a spread for a sandwich… this would be incredible on so many things, your imagination is the limit.

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Nom nom nom nom…

XO ~Sam

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My top 5 ways to achieve a natural glow

My top 5 ways to achieve a natural glow

I feel like I can confidently say, nearly every human being wants to look their best. Whether you consider yourself a glamour girl, a granola girl or somewhere in between, each one of us wants to shine in our special way. People, women in particular, will do nearly anything to put their best face forward when showing up in the world, turning to makeup, expensive products and even resorting to cosmetic surgery. I’m personally not a proponent of going under the knife to attain beauty but I don’t judge it either. Each women’s body is their own and she is free to do whatever she wishes to it. However in the interest of looking at preserving beauty from a more natural view point, I’d like to share some easy, inexpensive alternatives to the more costly and invasive measures.

  • Alternate between warm and cold water in the shower, ending with cold. This opens and closes pores which can detoxify the body. Alternating between warm and cold makes circulation move in and out like an accordion. When the body is subjected to cold external temperatures, the flow of circulation is directed inward toward the internal organs. As the outside temperature gets warmer, the flow of circulation goes outward toward the skin. This increases the rate of detoxification and moves nutrients more readily to various parts of the body. Ending your shower with cold water closes pores and keeps dirt and oil out after cleansing. Another benefit of cold water is it makes your blood vessels constrict which reduces swelling and the appearance of dark circles under your eyes (where skin is at its thinnest). This provides you with a young, healthy glow.
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  • Dry skin brushing- Dry skin brushing is an Ayurvedic practice that promotes a healthy lymphatic flow in the body by gently guiding lymph fluid to lymphatic drainage nodes. This process detoxifies the entire body including the skin giving you a beautiful glow immediately after brushing. It also encourages circulation by increasing blood flow to the skin which will release toxins.

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  • Drink up to a gallon of water throughout your day. I carry around a 12 oz jar and make sure to drink about 8 of those a day. Since starting this practice my skin tone has evened out and I look a bit younger as my wrinkles have filled in. Hydration is an incredible beauty tool. I think most of us are walking around at least partially dehydrated. I challenge you to drink more water and notice how your skin begins to glow. Point of note- don’t chug large amounts of water at once. This could disturb your electrolyte balance and be damaging to your health. Sip H2O slowly and consistently throughout your day and you’ll be looking more radiant in no time.

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  • Face cupping – Cupping is a therapy that draws blood to the surface of the skin to promote healing. Cupping helps the tissue develop new blood flow and causes anti inflammatory chemicals in the body. Cupping done on the face can reduce puffiness, reduce dark circles and under eye bags, firm jowls, plump up wrinkles, the list goes on. I do this therapy to myself a few times a week and have found it to be an amazing tool in combating the signs of aging. This is the brand that I use and I would highly recommend them as they are easy to use and fairly inexpensive. 

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  • Use carrot and rose hip seed oils on your face every night. These oils are not only hydrating they are also full of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that are known to correct dark spots, fill in fine lines, reverse sun damage and reduce scars. You can slather one or more of these oils onto your clean face right before bed or you can make this face cream and incorporate them into it. Either way, your face will glow like never before. My skin has never looked as good as it does since I started making my own face cream with these nourishing powerhouse oils.

I believe that beauty is all about radiating from the inside out. That means, eating nourishing whole foods, exercising consistently, feeding your spirit and helping/giving to others. As long as you are doing these things you will surely be glowing… but if you still need a little help, the above natural methods should do the trick. 😉

XO ~ Sam

DIY Willowbark Facescrub

DIY Willowbark Facescrub

My husband is Armenian. In his case this means beautiful luscious black hair, eyelashes that women would kill for and unfortunately for my cheeks, rough bumpy nose skin. Although he exfoliates, inevitably the roughness is back again the very next day. His exfoliant of choice is Burt’s Bees Willowbark and Apricot Scrub. I once thought that Burt’s Bees was an awesome, forward thinking company and I purchased their products regularly. I’ve since learned that although they started out using all natural ingredients in Maine 30 years ago, they have since sold their company to Clorox for 900+million and their integrity has started to waver. Mass production has diluted the quality of their products and now you may find pesky chemicals and preservatives where wholesome ingredients used to be. This is understandable for products that are expected to sit on a hot shelf for months, possibly even years. Understanding aside, I refuse to put that crap on my largest, most porous organ.

Here are the ingredients that I take issue with,

Sodium Borate- This is essentially Borax. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a chemical compound that is regarded as a ‘natural’ cleaner. It can be used for bleaching clothes, cleaning toilets… I personally use it as ant poison. Sound like something you want on your face? Didn’t think so. 

Fragrance- Fragrance, huh? Ambiguous much? I’m just assuming they aren’t using organic essential oils to make their scrub fragrant. 

Glucose Oxidase- This is a ‘natural’ preservative. It releases hydrogen peroxide which is harmful to bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide can also create free radical damage to the skin. According to MSDS sheets, it is also an eye irritant, a skin irritant a lung irritant and “prolonged or repeated exposure may lead to irreversible damage to health.” Lovely. Why the hell is it in this face scrub Burt’s Bees? Oh yes, because you are now Clorox and aren’t afraid of nasty chemicals. 

I decided that after doing my research, my hubby would no longer be slathering his sweet face with this stuff. I went to my laboratory AKA, kitchen counter, and got to work on making something superior. This scrub smells like a lemon bar. I kinda have a problem not eating it. Although many ingredients in it are edible, Willowbark wouldn’t feel very good going down, so I stop myself… just barely. After using my creation, the hubby proclaims it works way better than his ‘Burt’s Bees’ scrub. Take that Clorox! 

Willowbark Face Scrub
Ingredients 

  • 1 cup dried Willowbark 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unmelted coconut oil 
  • 1 tbsp rose hip seed oil
  • 1 tbsp carrot seed oil 
  • 20 drops lemon essential oil

Process

  1. Grind Willowbark in a clean coffee/spice grinder until a rough powder is formed 
  2. Empty ground Willowbark into a medium bowl 
  3. Mix in all other ingredients together with a spoon 
  4. Store in a airtight container for several months
  5. Use a clean spoon to dip into the jar for each application to extend shelf life
  6. Enjoy your soft smooth skin!

 

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Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting  

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting  

Today, I had a flash back of a really sweet moment in my childhood. I was 8 maybe 9, sitting at our dinner table with my brother, 6 and sister, still in diapers; chocolate smeared our faces as we chugged down ice cold milk. The milk was always ice cold in our house. My mother insisted it be so. Although I don’t drink cows milk anymore, I’d still have to agree with her; milk tastes best just before it freezes and accompanied by chocolate. Always. 

In this instance the chocolate that lined our smiling mouths was frosting from a chocolate cake. This seemingly insignificant memory danced around my head all morning. I could smell the frosting, I could feel the crumble of the cake in my mouth. It was slowly driving me mad! I knew I had to make one. 

The cake of my memories was a boxed Betty Crocker creation, no doubt. My mama was never much of a baker. I was inspired to create my own take on the delicious yet overly processed box version. It had been awhile since I used butter and sugar to create anything. In the interest of health, I’ve been going for coconut oil in lieu of butter and honey or maple syrup to substitute granulated sugar when baking. Although I believe the flavor rarely suffers with these substitutions, the texture inevitably does. Sugar and butter can create a more tender, moist baked good. For this cake, I wanted to create something as close to the original as I could get while using organic whole foods to make it happen. I think I succeeded. Here’s what I did,  

(Recipe adapted from Tasting Table)

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake with Vegan Chocolate Frosting 

Ingredients:         

Chocolate Cake:

  • 1 cup cacao powder
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate 
  • 2 cups gluten free all propose flour (I made my own using 1/2 cup potato starch, 3/4 cup white rice flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour and 1/4 cup teff flour)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 1/2 sticks grass fed butter, kerrygold is my all time favorite. 
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar 
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup goat milk

Vegan Chocolate Frosting



  • 8 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped 
  • The cream from one can of coconut milk, refrigerated overnight or frozen for a few hours
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 8 tbsp coconut oil 
  • 2 tsp vanilla 

Process

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
  2. Grease two 9-inch cake pans with oil or butter of choice and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.
  3. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder with the water until you form a paste.
  4. Using a double boiler or a small glass bowl atop a tea kettle, melt your 12 oz total of baking chocolate 
  5. Mix flour, baking soda and salt together well in a large bowl
  6. Using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter together until smooth. 
  7. While still beating, add one egg at a time to butter and sugar mixture. 
  8. Lower beater speed and add cacao powder paste and melted chocolate
  9. Add flour and milk a bit a time to ensure mixture doesn’t get too chunky and combines well 
  10. Place batter evenly into greased cake pans 
  11. Place in middle of oven for 30 minutes
  12. Meanwhile make frosting – Take can of coconut milk out of fridge/freezer and scoop out the separated coconut cream from the top.
  13. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the coconut cream and sugar, stirring often until the sugar dissolves, about 2 to 3 minutes
  14. Place the remaining 8 oz of chopped chocolate in a medium-large bowl.
  15. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes or until the chocolate begins to soften. Whisk until smooth and allow to sit for another 5 to 7 minutes to cool slightly.
  16. Whisk the coconut oil into the chocolate, adding 1 tbsp at a time and whisking until it’s blended in before adding the next.
  17. Let frosting set in the refrigerator for an hour or so before taking out and adding cacao powder, milk and vanilla. 
  18. Using an electric beater, mix cacao powder and milk into frosting until it becomes thick and creamy 
  19. To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers bottom-side up on a cake plate or platter. Using an offset metal spatula, ice with about 1 cup of the frosting. Place the second layer, also bottom-side up, on top of the frosting. Spread the remaining frosting over the sides and top of the entire cake. 
  20. Dig in! Preferably with a cold glass of milk, I prefer the almond variety. 😉 DSC_0052