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SooFoo Review – “The Mighty Grains with a Strange Name”

October 31, 2012

SooFoo is a new blend of lentils and whole grains, whose sobriquet is a play on the term superfood.  The multi-grain mix is a blend of barley, lentils, brown rice, rye and wheat berries, all of which are sourced in the U.S and certified organic.

The makers of the SF-based outlet sent me a sample of their product to try, along with this adorable rice-cooker which is sure to come in handy during the winter months.

A streamlined design, the rice cooker is SUPER (soofer? ;)) easy to use.  After plugging in, it took only about 30 minutes for my grains to finish cooking (the light toggles from ‘cook’ to ‘warm’ when done).  If you too want to be the proud owner of a SooFoo cooker, be sure to check out their facebook page as they appear to have ongoing giveaways.

 

For dinner I prepared a savory meal of SooFoo grains and veggies, which was satisfying and delish.  Add in your favorite sauces and spices and you have a fast protein and fiber-packed meal, whose rations could last you for days!  Parfait for families committed to healthy living but juggling busy lifestyles.

GIVEAWAY: Raw Hair Care from MMi

September 28, 2012

When I was contacted by the makers of Morrocco Method Int’l (MMi) to see if I’d be interested in testing out their product line, I was overjoyed as I’ve been an advocate of all-natural skin care  for some time now.  Most store-bought skin products are fraught with chemicals, and although the FDA may deem them safe for use, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily beneficial.  Why pollute your pores with chemicals when there are organic alternatives?  Let’s face it, natural products just make intuitive sense.

These too could be yours!

The holistic hair care line uses quality natural ingredients that won’t produce any unwanted side effects, unlike the majority of hair products on the market.  Most commercial shampoos contain various additives such as synthetic scents (fragrance) and detergents, including Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).  SLS is a particularly harsh cleansing agent that has been associated with severe skin irritation and hair loss, amongst other icky things.

Although they have a variety of shampoos to choose from, I opted to try the Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, which is formulated to restore your hair and scalp to a healthy pH level.  True to the cleanser’s namesake, this shampoo has a earthy apple cider scent, which left my hair feeling clean and well-nourished.  Due to the absence of sulfates, natural shampoos do not lather as much as the standard chemical-laden ones; but if you wash your hair twice as is recommended, rest assured that you will get a deep clean.

Ingredients: water, raw apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, soapbark extract, green tea, naturally foaming cactus, blood of the dragon rare proteins, brown & red algae, essential oils of almond, ginger, sesame and tangerine, and 92 trace minerals and rare plant/marine/fruit proteins as natural preservatives

For the conditioner, I chose to sample the spray-on Diamond Crystal Mist.  I’m OBSESSED with the efficiency of a spray-in conditioner, so I was super excited about this product — especially as I’ve been searching for a substitute for my last leave-in conditioner since my discovery that it wasn’t quite au naturel.

Thus I’m pleased to report that the MMi mist conditioner left my tresses feeling soft and hydrated, in addition to giving off a sheen-looking appearance and pleasant-smelling aroma.  The mist is actually derived from crystals harvested in the Himalayan mountains, which are then liquified into a crystalline organic herbal base of St. John’s Wort.  I can’t sing its praises enough.

And lastly, a word on the ongoing debate about the frequency of which to wash  (daily? once a week? conflicting theories abound).  I have been on both sides of the spectrum of this dispute.  Having naturally oily hair — and a habit of daily exercise — historically I have adhered to a wash-more-often-than-not routine.  While living in SF, however (go figure), hair stylists cautioned me on the perils of over-washing (stripping your scalp of natural oils, etc).  And although I heeded their advice for a short time (less product is more economical after all), in the end I didn’t find my hair to be any healthier.

MMi offers a commonsense solution to this dilemma, which is simply to observe your hair and decide for yourself what works best for your locks.  Who’d have thought it’d be so simple?  With all the confounding information in the health world these days, this individualized approach is sound advice in nearly all arenas.  Finally, remember that proper diet and well-being also play a vital role in the health of your hair.

Without further ado–for your opportunity to win a free sample to one of these fabulous products from Morrocco Method, email me at joiedejenn@gmail.com the reason you are passionate about or interested in developing a more holistic hair care regimen.  You have one week to respond, as I will be announcing the lucky winner on Friday, October 5th!*

Look forward to hearing from you!

*UPDATE:  Congrats to Eva Guibert, winner of the giveaway! Thanks to everyone who participated!!

Zucchini Chips

August 29, 2012

Wow, where did the month of August go?  The dog days of summer may be drawing to a close, but we still have some time left before the warm weather ultimately withdraws.

Lingering warm temps leave people craving lighter foods, and these baked Zucchini Chips make a great transitional snack item into the fall.  Perhaps more prudent, they’re an easy, nutritive option for whatever you may have planned this Labor Day Weekend!

Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

1 zucchini (preferably organic)
1 tsp olive oil
sea salt, to taste

Steps:

1.  Slice zucchini into thin rounds or cut with a mandolin slicer.

2.  Toss with olive oil and a bit of sea salt.

3.  If you own a dehydrator, dehydrate at 135 degrees for 4-5 hours.  Otherwise, bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes at around 325 degrees.

 

Beets also make a delicious dried veggie snack.  Not to mention how geometrically beautiful they look!

Note:  Since beets are a little more dense than zucchini, you may need to use a little more olive oil to ensure that they get fully coated.

In other news, I know I have not blogged much as of late–but stay tuned because I will be doing my first *GIVEAWAY* soon for an amazing, all-natural vegan hair product.  In other words, GET EXCITED!!  And check back soon.  (:

Have a great, labor-less weekend!

Sublime Strawberry Oat Bars

July 8, 2012

Oh what a week it’s been. From losing power for 5 days, to the awkward mid-work week holiday, I’ve been feeling all out of sorts running around in all different directions. It’s no wonder that I came down with a cold as a result. Nonetheless, I am on the upswing and finally plugged back in to the world.

So although this was meant to be a 4th of July post, it will have to come as a retroactive one. The following is a recipe is for Strawberry Macadamia Bars. Summer is the season for strawberries, so now is the time to take advantage!

red, white & berry

Strawberry Oat Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups pitted dates
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • pinch of sea salt

Steps:

1.  Pulse dates, nuts, oats, and salt in a food processor until combined.

2.  Press the date mixture into the bottom of a 9×5 pan.

3.  Mash half the strawberries to spread on top of the date mixture.

4.  Top with remaining strawberries and cut into rectangles.

Like all bars with few ingredients, these are easy to make.  The most difficult part is spreading the date mixture in the pan, which can be quite sticky.  The macadamia nuts in these bars give them a sweetness that is heavenly and paradoxically sinful.  I defy you to have just one!

Sure…

What did you do to celebrate Independence Day this year? Did you make something all-American? Watch the fireworks in San Diego explode all at once?? Let me know in the comments!

My first Capitol Fourth.

 

Cleansing, the Cooler Way

April 25, 2012

Juice cleanses are all the rage these days.  Although health professionals are divided as to the actual scientific benefits, the raw detox regime has many steadfast devotees.  There’s even a movement called Cleanse America, which encourages Americans to embark on a 10-day 100% raw food or juice journey, depending on your level of raw-readiness (vastly different for your average carnivore to the fruitarian, per se).  Proponents recommend juice cleansing an average of 3-4 times a year for routine health maintenance.

 

 

The basic idea behind a cleanse is that by drinking your daily intake of vitamins and nutrients, you give your digestive system a break, allowing your cells to renew and the body to restore itself.  Eliminating toxins in this way is said to help rid the body of deep-seated imbalances, particularly if you have a lot of processed foods in your diet.  Thus benefits from a cleansing regimen may result in increased energy, weight loss, clearer skin, better digestion, improved sleep, and enhanced overall sense of well-being.

So last month, I enlisted my mother to participate with me in one of such programs called the Cooler Cleanse, a company co-founded by Salma Hayek.  Having sampled a few of the more popular juice cleanses while living in NYC–such as the ever-popular Blueprint Cleanse (supported by celebs such as SJP)–I have come to the conclusion that “CC” is my favorite, simply because I find the juices to be the best tasting.

most juice programs consist of 6 juices a day

Of course, if you have the time and energy, you could always juice your own fruits and veggies!  The nice thing about these programs, however, is that the fresh-pressed juices are delivered to your doorstep overnight in conveniently assembled and tote-friendly coolers.  [*Note that many local businesses now exist that offer similar programs, if interested in a more sustainable solution.]

Personal experiences on a cleanse vary, but I will give you my account.  Although I was looking forward to it as I genuinely enjoy all of the delicious CC concoctions, cleansing to me is largely a mental challenge.  Though I did not feel hungry, I admit there were times I felt overwhelmed with fatigue and experienced “detox symptoms.”  On the plus side, I felt noticeably lighter and by day three my energy levels started to rise.  I also had really vivid dreams (weird I know, but a common side effect so I hear).

essential red juice: carrot, beet, apple & lemon

Possibly my favorite thing about a detox program though–in addition to the rejuvenation payoff–is that they force you to “reset” your palate so to speak, allowing you to curb bad food habits and overcome cravings.  In effect you become more aware of your body’s nutritional needs, and after it’s over you may just find yourself craving the natural goodness of wholesome, raw foods.

My best advice to ensure success on a cleanse program is to do it with someone, in order to hold you accountable and serve as your support system (unless you have amazing self-discipline).  You’ll also want to make sure you receive adequate rest, so it’s a good idea to set aside a period of time where you won’t be doing any heavy lifting (although light exercise is encouraged).

There is so much more I could say on the topic, but that is probably enough for now.  For a more comprehensive review of juice fasting and the different cleanses available on the market, check out this educational guide from the Everyday Health site.

Have you ever participated in a cleanse?  If so, I’d love to hear about your experience!

“Pretty in Pink” Sugar Cookies

April 8, 2012

Happy Easter! (or Passover to my Jewish friends). On this pastel-themed holiday, I thought it appropriate to share a vegan version of the pastry aptly titled the sugar cookie. Light and fluffy, yet still scrumptious, this recipe is super easy and fun to make (though perhaps not as fun as dying eggs, which I got to do with my niece earlier this week).

The recipe for the batter is pretty similar to the original, only I used spelt in place of white flour. Spelt is an ancient whole grain that contains more protein, fiber and minerals (such as magnesium) than its refined counterpart.  It is not gluten-free, however, for those of whom that is an issue (although spelt seems to be the cause of less sensitivities than its wheat cousin).

Spelt Sugar Cookies

Flour:

1.5 cups spelt flour (may also use whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or other type of unrefined sugar)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter (Earth Balance is a good choice)
3 tbsp dairy-free milk (I used coconut milk…but feel free to use your milk of choice)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.  Combine and mix your dry ingredients.
3.  Melt the butter, then add in milk and and vanilla.
4.  Pour dry ingredients into wet. Mix and then roll into balls. (Makes about 16 cookies).

5.  Cook for 9-10 minutes in the oven (may look slightly undercooked).

Icing:
  • 1 cup coconut pulp
  • 1/2 cup coconut nectar (or agave)
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1 tsp beet juice for pink coloring
  • dash of sea salt

Puree the ingredients in a blender until you have a smooth consistency, and refrigerate if needed for some time to help solidify. After icing the cookies, I topped them with all-natural rainbow sprinkles, available at Whole Foods and many other health food stores.

 Anyone else do any baking this holiday weekend?!?

Raw Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

March 29, 2012

I recently served this “mashed potato” recipe from Kimberly Snyder at a little social gathering, and it was all the rave.  It’s essentially a raw take on mashed potatoes, but made from cauliflower and sans all the butter and cream.  Its texture is remarkably similar to the real deal, and I defy to you taste the difference!

Raw Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

(makes 2-3 servings)

3 cups cauliflower florets, chopped
1/4 cup raw pine nuts
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs cold filtered water
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 garlic clove, chopped
black pepper, to top


Directions:  Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth and fluffy.  Garnish with black pepper and enjoy!

I-Heart-Broccoli Hummus

March 22, 2012

Lately I’ve been experimenting with different varieties of hummus.  A lot of vegans, myself included, keep this Middle Eastern dish on regular rotation due to it’s nourishing properties and almost effortless prep.  I like to make a batch on Sunday for example, to have around throughout the week or pack as a healthy work lunch.  To keep it from getting old, however, it’s nice to change things up a bit by playing with different flavors.

So when I first heard about broccoli hummus, I got SUPER excited, as broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables.  I’ve tried a few different recipes, and believe it or not my fave happens to be bean free.  That’s right, a chickpea-free hummus.  Not surprisingly the original recipe comes from raw maven Gena over at Choosing Raw.  However, the version I like best was adapted by Ricki at dietdessertndogs, as I tend to agree with her philosophy on garlic and hummus (these two were meant to go together).

Broccoli Hummus

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw or steamed broccoli, chopped (about 1 large bunch)*
1 1/2 cups raw zucchini with skin, chopped (about 1 zucchini)
1/3 cup raw tahini
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp mild miso
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
EVOO for drizzling

Blend the broccoli and zucchini in a food processor until finely chopped.  Then add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth, scraping down the sides and adding a little water if necessary.

*Although this was meant to be a raw recipe, you could also try steaming the broccoli first.  I prefer the flavor of steamed broccoli so I did this the first time I tried it.  I’ve since tried the raw version as well, and both are good–though I imagine the raw variation probably lasts a little longer.

SOO GOOD!

Brilliant Blueberry Date Bars

March 19, 2012

First things first–pardon my recent absence from the blogosphere.  I actually have many half started entries this past month, that for some reason or other never got finished. Admittedly things have been busy, but I have many exciting recipes I’ve been meaning to share and intend to do so in the following weeks!

Earlier this year I received an intriguing email offering from Gilt City in my inbox–a voucher for *customizable* energy bars through a company called Element.  I had never heard of them before, but after a quick perusal of their website deemed that with the discount the voucher would be a worthy investment.

The site allows you to choose from a selection of ‘classic’ Element bars, or the more daring option–to create your own bar with the ingredients of your choosing.  The website, which includes a nifty nutritional calculator, is pretty fun and user-friendly for the most part. Best of all, the innovative company allows you to personalize the packaging–effectively branding your own bars.  Brill-ante!

I ended up selecting a date and quinoa based bar with dried blueberries.  Sadly, the bars were just okay– a little sweet for my taste.

Which leads me to my only complaint–although I think it’s great that you can customize a bar to your own liking, it’s hard to know whether the outcome will actually be palatable. I wish they would allow you to purchase the bars in a smaller quantity, so you could discern whether or not the flavor combo actually worked before ordering a whole box.  Ah well. Next time I think I will go with one of their standard flavors such as the “Autumn Blueberry.”

Another way to avoid this scenario, however, is to make your own!  Granola bars– a great source of energy on the go–are also much simpler to make that you might expect.  All you need is a good food processor or high-speed blender.  And there are infinite number of flavor combinations you could try.  Below is a recipe for a DIY blueberry date bar.

Goes nicely with a glass of hemp milk.

Blueberry Date Bars 

Courtesy of picturespupsandpies

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
Steps:

1.  Combine dried blueberries, dates, lemon zest and almond extract in food processor and blend until it becomes a paste.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

2.  Next process the almonds in the food processor until finely chopped.

3.  Combine chopped almonds with the date mixture, using your hands to knead together.  Then roll flat into a large rectangle.

4.  Cut into rectangles (makes about 6 bars).  Cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge.


Anyone else ever tried making their own granola bars?

Chocolate Covered Strawberries & Truffles

February 13, 2012

Regardless of how you’re feeling about Valentine’s this year, remember that the amorous holiday is a fantastic excuse to eat chocolate.  Thus, today I wanted to share a recipe for Chocolate Covered Truffles, inspired by pure2raw.

The spicy truffle recipe calls for a chocolate coating, which I thought could double as a glaze for fresh strawberries–a classic V day dessert.

Chocolate Glazed Hazelnut Truffles

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw hazelnuts (or any nut)
1/2 cup raw coconut flakes
2 tbsp yacon syrup (or molasses or maple syrup)
1 tbsp mesquite (could substitute cocoa)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
1-2 medjool pitted dates
pinch sea salt

Directions:

1.  Combine hazelnuts, coconut, mesquite, and spices in food processor and pulse to combine.

2.  Add in dates and syrup and pulse until it all comes together.  If the batter doesn’t hold, try adding in more dates.  Letting the dates soak a minute or two prior will help them to process better.

3.  Scoop the batter into balls with your hands or a cookie scooper (makes 10-11 rounds). Now it’s time to make the chocolate coating.

Chocolate Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid
  • 3 tbsp lucuma powder (or confectioners’ sugar)
  • 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder (delicious with carob as well)

1.  Whisk together ingredients in a bowl until well mixed.

2.  Dip your rounds into the chocolate sauce once or twice, and place onto a plate to set.

The chocolate glaze will begin to harden after a few minutes.

 

And voila! All natural chocolat strawberries for you and/or a loved one ; )