It’s pretty tricky to participate in any social/bar scene while still keeping your commitment to health, organic foods and sustainability. Given my wine obsession, I was luckily introduced to a new spot right near my office. It’s called ‘Yield’, it’s on 3rd street in San Francisco’s Dogpatch area, and it’s the city’s first eco-friendly wine bar. Their rotating wine list is made up of organically and bio-dynamically grown grapes from wineries that strive to maintain the best practices in environmental sustainability. Their pretty little plates of tapas style appetizers are all organic and sourced from seasonal, local crops. Even their decor is made of eco-friendly materials. Kudos to the guys that began this safe haven for health-conscious wine lovers…I desperately needed a place like this!!!!!!!
Check out this local spot: http://www.yieldandpause.com/aboutourwine/index.html
While working to boost my immune system, I explored every diet there was in order to begin feeling better. I quickly learned about refined sugars (obviously awful for you) but was even at a point when I had to cut all natural sugars out. As tough as this was (especially with my sweet tooth..) I quickly learned easy and yummy ways to sweeten my food and drink when necessary, and will now never go back to my old ways. Here’s the low down on the good and the bad sweeteners out there:
STEVIA: a no calorie leaf found in a perennial shrub from Paraguay, said to be 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Since 1991 it was banned to be used a a sweetener because there was no conclusive studies on its toxicity level, but was later approved in 2009. It is unclear of the side effects on metabolism rates, digestive system or reproductive system. My experience with Stevia has not been the greatest. I recommend it in small doses, but do not use in high amounts everyday.
COCONUT PALM SUGAR: one of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners out there and has numerous health benefits and high nutrient content. It has a long history as a South East Asian herbal medicine, and has properties that sustain the body’s energy throughout the day. It is also high in Potassium, Magnesium and Zinc. Look for the brand ‘Sweet Tree Organic Coconut Palm Sugar’; it has hints of sea salt, which makes it optimal for baking, smoothies, and even delicious in teas.
AGAVE NECTAR: thought to be a safe alternative to refined sugar, but reports recently released has stated Agave is actually processed similar to high fructose corn syrup. It is is not really from the agave plant, but from the starch of the root bulb, and is high in indigestable fiber due to its high chemical refining process. I’ve used a couple drops here and there in some baking, but please do not use this as a daily sweetener. There are many atricles out there right now supporting this stance.
XYLITOL: a naturally occurring sweetener that can be found in fruits and vegetables, as well as occurring naturally in our bodies. Health benefits of using Xylitol are strong; it is known to inhibit the growth of bacteria and boost immunity, slow growth of candida (bad yeast), improves bone density, and boost white blood cell activity. The substance doesn’t desolve great in cold drinks, so I suggest using it in your tea and for baking.
So, im a total proponent of Xylitol and Coconut Palm Sugar. But, everyone reacts differently to foods and substances, so if you are sensitive to foods or experiencing a candida or parasite overgrowth, be sure to really pay attention to your reactions to each of these sweeteners, or ask a health coach/doctor which one is best for your body.
Tonight I roasted a mixture of organic pumpkin and sunflower seeds to bring to work as an easy snack and sprinkle on my salads this week. Takes 10 minutes to make and chock full with health benefits.
Pumpkin seeds (also known as Pepitas) are very high in magnesium, manganese, iron and phosphorus. They are also excellent Parasite killers, and high in copper, zinc, and Vitamin K. Sunflower seeds are high in Vitamin E, which serves as a major antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting cells from damage. They are also a great source of selenium, folate and fiber.
Spread seeds on unbleached natural parchment paper atop a cookie sheet. Pour 1 tbsp melted organic coconut oil over seeds and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, or any of your favorite organic spices — some fun ones to use are paprika, curry, garlic powder or chili flakes — depending on the flavor you prefer. Preheat over to 350 and roast for 10 minutes, or until just browning and crispy.
Let them cool on the tray and store in glass container. Snack throughout the week! Or…. throughout the next day or two…these are addicting and will disappear REAL quick…..
One of my favorite sides to a meal! Being gluten free, I find such novelty in stringy, starchy spaghetti squash to mix with my vegetables and protein. While Spaghetti Squash takes a bit of time to prep, it’s all in the oven, so you can pop it in and spend the time prepping the rest of your meal.
I found my Spaghetti Squash at my local farmers market last weekend. Look for squash with brown speckles around the top — means its ripe and ready to eat. Slice the squash in half. If too difficult, heat in the microwave for a few minutes.
Place halved squash in baking pan face down with about half an inch of water.
Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until tender. Post bake, remove seeds (save them to roast later!) and scrape squash into separate bowl.
Add olive oil, garlic, basil salt and pepper to taste. Treat it as pasta! - think about adding organic tomatos, meat sauce, etc.
I served mine with baked lemon basil wild Halibut and sauteed organic collared greens.
The apartment needs a deep clean — but oh man, the last thing you would ever want to do is coat your countertops and floors with chemicals and cancer-causing agents, right?
Our traditional household cleaners contain a laundry list of toxins and unregulated chemicals that have been linked to innumerable health issues. Large manufacturers of these products (yes, including our personal care and cosmetics ugh) are still using what’s called “old soap” mentality; cutting corners and costs, and dumping awful ingredients in the substances we breathe in and put on our bodies. Because of the lack of regulations on these products and secret trade loopholes, manufacturers are not liable to list ingredients on their labels or test products for safety. For example, companies can label “phthalates” (a chemical directly linked to liver and kidney damage, reproductive disruption and cancer) as simply “fragrance” — Basically, taking NO responsibility in catching the consumer completely blindsighted. But….if we are equipped with the knowledge, we can make conscious decisions that do not leave us guessing what we’re consuming every day.
Here are some super easy DIY and all natural cleaners. These are cheap, green, and will still leave your counters spotless…
Kitchen Sink Scrub: Combine 1/2 cup baking soda and 6 drops essential oil (lavender, rosemary, lemon, lime or orange). Rinse sink well with hot water, then sprinkle combination into the sink and pour 1/4 cup vinegar over top. Let fizz settle and scrub with a sponge. Rinse again with hot water.
Oven Cleaner: Place heatproof dish filled with water in the oven. Turn on heat so that steam softens any grease. After the oven cools off, scrub with equal parts salt, baking soda and vinegar.
Bathroom Cleaner: Combine 2 cups water and quarter teaspoon of tea tree oil. Spray on mildew or soap scum. The oil will break down the buildup, so no need to scrub!
Carpet Cleaner: 3 cups water, 3/4 cups of vegetable-based soap, 10 drops of peppermint oil. Dab the solution onto problem carpet areas with a sponge and vacuum over once completely dried.
Duster: PLEASE avoid furniture polishes or cleaners— filled with awful toxins. A microfiber cloth with a drop of olive oil will grab onto dust much more efficiently and add that tiny bit of luster.
Basic spray/cleaner: WHITE VINEGAR! Its all you need to give your counters a good wipe down after a solid cooking session.
My trusty bottle of all-purpose below — cheapy Heinz White Vinegar and a Home Depot spray bottle!
My first WISH LIST entry. I have dreamt about the Blendtec perched upon my kitchen countertop for quite some time now. This beautiful piece of machinery is an all-in-one kitchen appliance for fast, easy and delicious smoothies, soups, sauces, juices, milkshakes, annnnd the list goes on.
A sample daily menu — all made with the Blendtec.
Breakfast- Organic Fresh Green Smoothie
1/2 cup water
1 organic celery stock
1/2 organic avocado
Handful of organic baby spinach
Handful of organic strawberries
1 tbsp ground flax seed or hemp seed
Throw it in and press ‘SMOOTHIE’.
Lunch- Organic Gluten-Free Garlic Hummus and Veggies
1 cup organic soaked and sprouted chickpeas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup organic raw tahini paste
1 tbsp minced organic garlic
1 tbsp of minced parsley
Dash of cumin and coriander
Press ‘SAUCES DIPS DRESSINGS BATTERS’
Serve with fresh organic veggies and and top your hummus and veggies with free range organic turkey slices for a delicious and filling lunch.
Dinner- Organic Cauliflower and Dill Soup
2 cups organic free-range chicken broth
1 small head of steamed or roasted organic cauliflower (I like to roast in coconut oil, garlic, sea salt, pepper for added flavor)
About 1 tbsp of dill (to taste)
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
Press ‘SOUPS SYRUPS FONDUES’.
Let’s just say my cost per use here would be non-existant.
Ever since moving to the city, I have fallen into the (expensive) habit of getting my nails done every single Sunday. Nail salons are overly abundant, and it feels fresh and nice to start the week with bright and pretty digits. Little did I know, my manicure addiction was actually contributing to my week immune system. Nail salons are a chamber of chemicals. Nail salon technicians, and their customers alike, are exposed daily to hazardous carcinogenic chemicals which are completely unregulated due to state laws allowing cosmetics and personal care products to be exempt from any review. And the health impacts of this chemical exposure are proven and innumerable. Just think about when you walk into a nail salon; the smell hits you like an oncoming bus.
Determined not to give up my lovely little nail habit so quickly, I researched and found a wonderful natural nail salon, and it happened to be right in my hood.
While more pricy than your basic toxic-infused nail salon, Plumberry uses nail polish and products free of Parabens, Toluene, DBP, Camphor, Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Resin. Instead of the traditional spa chairs and jet tubs (which are only breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses), they use pedicure bowls that are able to be scrubbed clean after each use. On top of this, they practice on-site recycling and composting of their waste…offer organic, caffeine-free teas during your service…the decor is peaceful and clean…and most importantly, they do a pretty stellar job on my nails.
It is so important to support local businesses like these who are making the moves towards cleaner and toxic free services. The more we give our money to spots like this, the more all-natural options we will then have popping up in the future.
Over the past 6 months I have become soup obsessed. Think about it… all whole food ingredients, easily digestible, high in retained nutrients, and super quick and easy to throw together. To me, almost any vegetable makes for an amazing, gluten-free creamy soup, without adding ANY dairy or added sugar. Tonight I made my favorite Curried Butternut Squash soup.
Cubed organic butternut squash (I roasted it yesterday…30 min in 400 degree oven in coconut oil, sea salt, pepper)
2 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth
Chopped organic red onion
1 tsp organic curry powder
2 cloves organic garlic
Simmer chopped onions in vegetable broth for 5-10 min or until translucent. Add curry powder, garlic, dash of sea salt and pepper. Toss in squash and cover pot for 10-15 min or until squash is very soft. Turn off heat and blend with hand blender until smooth. And done. No cream. No sugar. Absolutely delicious.
I’ve made it a point to start this journey in 2012…documenting all the good I have brought into my life in the past four years. This good stuff has come to me way of my healing process…getting healthy after a pretty awful autoimmune disorder. However daunting the battle has been, it’s brought me to this very moment in this very spot in my life, and I could not be more thankful. I am committing myself to telling you about all things that give me the chills - from sunday morning farmers markets where I am surrounded by fresh, local, organic produce…to new discoveries around the city that support a healthy, healing and green lifestyle…to easy and savvy ways to become more aware and responsible to our bodies and to the Earth. San Francisco has provided me with such local support on my path to wellness, and I cannot wait to share all that I have learned (and am continuing to learn) with you.