Friday, December 24, 2010

making christmas and new obsession

Every year I get lofty ideas about all the great holiday gifts I'm going to make. And every year, about a week before the actual day, I give up on the dream and say "next year."

This year, with the help of Organic Body Care Recipes: 150 Homemade Herbal Formulas (strangely, there are 175 recipes in the American version...) and Anarres Natural Health*, I whipped up most of my gifts in one afternoon.

I made chocolate orange body butter, and vanilla and sweet orange bath salt, lip balm and body wash. They all smell delicious, feel great and are free of the chemicals found in most of the products out there.

There are a lot of things that are unappealing about conventional bath and beauty products. With no real regulation of the industry, many cosmetic products are made with chemicals that have not been properly tested for human and environmental safety. In fact, many of these chemicals are linked to such health concerns as allergies, cancer and developmental and reproductive toxicity.

According to Breast Cancer Action Montreal (BCAM), not only is the average North American exposed to over 126 chemical components a day, but "many such chemicals can be detected in the blood stream...and even the umbilical chords of newborns." Scary stuff.

BCAM is a great resource for information about the cosmetics industry. I particularly like their Toxic Twenty and their Beast of Beauty (PDF) pieces. Want to know how your products measure up? Look them up on Skin Deep, the ingredient and safety database of cosmetics and personal care products from the Environmental Working Group.

Looking for some recipes? Try some of the 50 all natural products over at planet green!

*Have you heard about Anarres? This place is amazing and I cannot believe I didn't know about it before! Tracey, the owner, runs diy workshops, such as one on making tub truffles and lotions. What I'm especially loving about Anarres is the awesome access to everything you need to make and package your own bath and beauty products, at amazing prices.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

raw vegan nanaimo bars

I've moved! Visit my new blog La Belle Vie for more recipes and healthy living tips. Don't forget to update your bookmarks. xoxoxo

I heart nanaimo bars. My friend Shannon also loves them. I've seen gluten-free vegan ones, and eaten the delicious ones from LPK culinary groove. But traditional nanaimo bars are a heavy-on-the-refined sugar affair and both of us wanted to create one that steered clear of the white stuff. We both thought of recipes  separately and came up with almost identical ones - funny how that happens.

The base and the chocolate ganache were easy to create. The middle layer, however, which gets its flavour and texture mainly from the sugar, was more of a challenge. The vanilla almond cream is delicious in its own right, but not quite like the sugary yellow filling of a nanaimo bar, leading this tasty square to be dubbed by Shannon's husband the Tofino Bar.

To make
1c macadamia nuts
1c cashew nuts
1/2c coconut, shredded or flaked
1/3c raw cacao powder
3/4c medjool dates, pitted

In a food processor, blend the nuts and cacao powder until the mixture is well ground. Add coconut and pulse a couple of times to mix it in. Add dates and blend until a dough is formed.

cream layer
1 cup almonds, soaked 8 hours, well rinsed
1/2c+2T water, as needed
1/4c medjool dates, pitted
1/4c coconut oil
1/2tsp vanilla extract (or throw in a vanilla bean)

After soaking the almonds, the skin will come off quite easily. Removing the skin will result in a smoother cream. Blend all the ingredients together and place in the fridge or freezer to firm up for 1-2 hours .

chocolate sauce
2/3c raw cacao powder
1/3c agave nectar
1/3c coconut oil

Sift the cacao powder through a sieve into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend with a small whisk until smooth.

In a square or rectangular pan, press the base mixture along the pan to form the bottom of the square. Then spoon in the cream and spread it evenly. Top with a thin layer of chocolate sauce - put in a shallow pan of warm water to keep it melted enough to pour easily.

Note: In the photos here, I rolled out the base mixture and used a champagne glass to cut out the circles.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

twitter/status post...

Omg I just made raw vegan turtle truffles!!! They were ah-mazing!!! A huge hit at christmas dinner take 1.

Stay tuned I'll have a photo and a recipe for you soon!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

a very vegan thanksgiving: pumpkin mousse pie

I've moved! Please visit my new home at for more recipes and healthy tips. Don't forget to update your bookmarks! xoxoxox

I heart thanksgiving with my family. When I was young, we'd go to a family friend's and enjoy the three amazing pies they'd make. And for the past while, we celebrate with delicious fall dishes, such as wild rice salad and oven roasted root veggies. Well, last year my parents were in Korea and Japan for Thanksgiving. And this year they were going to be in Turkey. After not having a dinner last year, we decided to simply postpone the holiday this year. And that instead of the usual faves, my sister and I would do all the feast-making.

We didn't really coordinate our different menu responsibilities, but somehow ended up with a completely gluten-free, vegan, pumpkin-y thanksgiving! I'm the only vegan in the family, but we're all of the mentality that delicious food is delicious food.

My sister made pumpkin nut loaf with pumpkin tofutti cream cheese, roasted yams, and roasted root veggies and brussel sprouts in a pumpkin sauce. I made Fat Free Vegan's stuffed tofu and mushroom gravy (the gravy was a huge huge hit. We couldn't get enough of it.) and a raw pie featuring pumpkin mousse on a candied pecan crust.

To make
pumpkin mousse
2c pumpkin, pureed
1 1/2c cashews, soaked
6 tbsp coconut oil
1/4c water
1/4c agave nectar

pecan pie crust (made with an additional 1/2tsp nutmeg)


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Monday, December 13, 2010

detox is delicious: green smoothie!!

I'm reading Victoria Boutenko's new book, Green for Life, right now (stay tuned for a review and some sneak peek recipe fun!) and am getting more and more excited about green smoothies. However, since I'm trying to stay away from sweet fruits, enjoying green smoothies has been a little harder than expected. I tried a grapefruit-orange-spinach combo...unless you like very bitter morning drinks, I do not recommend it. I gave up on the dream for now of enjoying sweet smoothies and have embraced the savoury smoothie. Here's a delicious veggie smoothie I came up with this morning:

Happy Monday Green Smoothie
1 handful spinach
2 med tomatoes, quartered
3" long piece of cucumber
pinch cayenne pepper

blend until smooth.
refreshing. spicy. delicious. a great way to wake up.
I can't wait to experiment with adding some lemon, or coriander, or avocado!

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