Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year's Everybody!

It's New Year's Eve--it's the beginning of a new decade and to top it off, we get a Blue Moon. The gods must be conspiring in our favor.

Thank you all for your support dear readers, I'm so grateful for you. Wishing you all a happy, healthy, lighthearted New Year's Eve.

Raw Family Signature Dishes: A Step By Step Guide by Victoria Boutenko

This was a great idea, a step by step guide to raw foods by one of the pioneers of the raw food movement, Victoria Boutenko. Raw Family Signature Dishes takes you through fifteen raw foods recipes, holding your hand the entire way. This book demystifies raw food cuisine and makes it completely accessible to all.

The layout is straightforward and Victoria's writing style is (as always) enjoyable and informative. The photos go through each step of the recipe and there's an equipment list with sources in the back of the book.

I think it's a good book, I would recommend it, especially for beginners (like me). I would have preferred maybe a few less steps and more recipes, but it's simplicity is very comforting and almost like having an experienced friend in the kitchen with you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Juice Beauty Certified Organic Skin Care

Juice Beauty offers one of the few certified organic skin care lines on the market. What a great way to start the new decade--by reversing signs of aging with powerful antioxidants, fruit acids and botanicals.

I have tried this line and it's one of the few things I will put on my face. Skin absorbs what you put on it in the same way your body takes in food, so it's very important to avoid chemicals and make sure your skin care is organic. It's a good idea to approach body care the same way you would healthy organic food.

If you like that dewy look, try Juice Beauty certified Organic products for something safe that gives that natural glow and get ready for a beautiful new year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Amber Lotus Calendars

Get ready for 2010 with an artful, inspirational, and green Amber Lotus wall calendar. One of my ambitions for the new year is to stay in the moment as much as possible--so much easier said than done. This calendar serves as a gentle reminder and features beautiful nature photography and quotes from Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power Of Now. Amber Lotus uses recycled paper and soy ink and has a large selection of beautiful calendars to choose from.

Need Inspiration for Your New Year's Resolution? Food Matters now on DVD.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays

"I have always thought of Christmas as a good time; a kind, forgiving, generous, pleasant time; a time when men and women seem to open their hearts freely." --Charles Dickens

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Green Gift Guide Stocking Stuffer: Theo Chocolate Organic Vegan Phinney Bar

This is a whimsical and yummy stocking stuffer. I never liked dark chocolate until I tried this Fig Fennel and Amond vegan chocolate bar from Theo. Now I love it! My son loves it too and I don't feel bad about him enjoying a treat like this which is organic and full of antioxidants. It's so rich you only need a couple of pieces so one bar lasts a while. You can find Theo HERE (they're not all vegan so be sure to check if that is what you're after).

France is Green Gifting

Prompted by ecological and economic concerns, about 30% of the French are giving used gifts for Christmas. Good for them! I like this on so many different levels.

I'm okay with re-gifting as in--someone gives you something you can't use and you pass it on to someone you know will love it. But there is another form of this that I really love. It's when you give someone something you already have, something good that you love that you want to give for the meaning. It could be something someone has admired that you're ready to pass on or something sentimental.

I have only received a few of these my entire life, but it has just as much and maybe more meaning than something that was purchased in a store. Something infused with that person's energy and life. A few years ago, my mom gave me a bracelet that she'd had for many many years. It was one of the best things she ever gave me.

If you're low on money or time, don't be afraid to take a look at your stuff and gift something right from your home and heart. Read more HERE about how the French are setting this new trend.

Need Last Minute Gifts?

I always thought books make for great gifts. A quick trip to your local bookstore can solve all your last minute gift quandaries. For kids, how about SNOWMEN AT NIGHT and SNOWMEN AT CHRISTMAS, by Buehner and Buehner? The illustrations are awash with blue hues and very soothing to look at, and the stories explain what snowmen do when no one is looking.

For your Gluten Free friends (or anyone who loves to bake): THE FLYING APRON, by Katzinger, containing recipes from her Seattle bakery with the same name. It's a beautiful book that makes Gluten Free Vegan baking very very enticing.

And, for anyone who can read, THE CHINA STUDY, by Campbell. In a word, life-changing. Most important book on my shelf. If everyone at medical school read this book, the entire health landscape would be revolutionized.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Manhattan Toy Automoblox Mini's 3-Pack

Automoblox are a fusion of antiquity and modernity. These modern versions of wooden cars are made of German Beechwood and non-toxic components. They look great and have another exciting feature. They come apart and mix and match with the other cars. Moms know what this means--time. And maybe even a little quiet while that brain is engaged.

They're so well made they can be handed down through generations and I love the bright colors and smooth texture. The three pack of minis is a good size to fit in a stocking or under the tree and would make a smashing hit with the kids on your list. Find them locally in stores or online HERE.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Stanley Stainless Steel Food Jar

Here is a gift for the person who likes to brown bag it. This Stanley Food Jar will enable you to eat healthy on the go--think hot organic veggie soup. They are super well made, aesthetically pleasing and something that will last forever. Since it's stainless, you don't have to worry about any funky chemicals leaching into your food.

I have personally tested this food jar and it kept my soup piping hot all day. I think it would make a great unexpected and practical gift.

Green Gift Guide: Costumes for Dress Up and Imaginative Play

What kid doesn't love to play dress-up? At my son's pre-school, they have many costumes available and the kids have a ball. We have started collecting costumes at home and it makes for very interesting and creative play.

If you have a child on your list, a costume is a refreshing present that fosters imagination. Aeromax makes authentic looking career costumes that will last forever they are so well made--great for passing down to the next generation. The Doctor costume is completely realistic and comes with a working stethoscope.

Fairy Finery is another great resource for costumes featuring fairies, knights and wizards. My son has one of their Wizard costumes and it is fabulous! Their stuff is hand made with love by moms, using non-toxic materials durable enough to pass on to other children for many years. Available online and in your local stores.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Here Comes Jack Frost, by Kazuno Kohara, is a bittersweet, touching book about a boy's encounter with Jack Frost. For me it was about living in the moment and the fleeting joys of winter and ultimately, life. The illustrations are lovely and it makes for a quick read, nice for a goodnight story. It's a sweet, sensitive tale and I think it would make a great Holiday gift. Find it HERE.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Organic Produce Delivery Service Subscription

This would be my ideal gift to receive. And also my ideal gift to give to people like my older relatives who don't always get out and about for healthy organic fruit and veggies--a subscription to an organic produce delivery service or CSA.

In the summer I like to shop the Farmers' Market. But during winter, I love having fresh-from-the-farm organic food delivered to my door. I've gotten in the habit of taking the produce out of the box, putting it in my reusable produce bags and just like that--all set for the week! What a great way to support local organic farms and your loved ones' health.

It's also a super easy last minute gift you can take care of in your pajamas with a phone call. Perfect!

Green Gift (for yourself?): Cabelas Dehydrator Cart

Counter space in my kitchen is premium real estate. My kitchen is small and I'm a minimalist at heart, not liking anything on my countertops. At the same time, if it's not on the counter, I won't use it as often, so I've chosen my most important appliances to reside in this prized space. This includes the Blender, Juicer, and Tea Kettle. Even my beautiful Kitchenaid mixer is now in the closet because I can't stand clutter.

Now there is a new appliance in my kitchen, one that I want to use all the time--the dehydrator. I've been trying to figure out the best way to handle this while keeping my kitchen aesthetically pleasing. Enter this black dehydrator cart from Cabellas. I've been using my dehydrator every day since getting this cart and I'm thrilled.

It's easily assembled, matches my stainless and black appliances, and lets me keep my valuable counter space while having constant access to the dehydrator. Neither my photo nor the one on Cabela's website does the cart justice, it's very good looking with a matte black finish. It's also bigger than it looks (I have it turned vertically next to my refrigerator), so be sure to measure. If you know someone well enough, meaning their style and needs, I think this would make a great gift. Or, treat yourself! Fabulous! Find it HERE.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Cute Hand Made Hat From Colette Kids

I've always had a thing for hats with ears, they're irresistible to me. Check out this cute hat from Colette Kids. The ears are fuzzy and the hats coordinate with the rest of Colette Kids clothing, some of which is organic. Adorable and affordable! Find them HERE.

Green Gift Guide Stocking Stuffer: Recycled Non Toxic Star Crayons

I love these ergonomic non-toxic recycled star crayons. They fit a child's hands perfectly and are so festive for the stocking! There are 20 crayons in the box and they are part of a national crayon recycling program. Part of the proceeds go to help the "Recycling Education" program and helps to employ people with developmental disabilities. Very pretty and creative with a positive impact. Find them HERE.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Smartwool Flecker Socks

Here's a winning stocking stuffer--everybody need socks. Smartwool Flecker Socks are fun, funky and sustainable. They are soft and comfy and very well made. Once you try Smartwool socks it's very difficult to wear any other brand. My first pair was a random find--I was trying on boots at REI and needed socks. They handed me a pair of Smartwool, I put them on and my jaw dropped. I had never worn such comfortable socks! Those were the hiking socks.

Now they are coming out with fun colors and designs and though not as cushy as the hiking socks, they're still more comfortable than regular socks and last longer too. They also offer a matching hat, scarf, and gloves which I think would make a nice little gift set.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Haba Pirate Games ARRGH MATEY!

You can never go wrong with Pirates. Haba comes through again with two wonderful and creative game options for kids, this time in the form of pirates, Pirate's Blast and The Black Pirate Game. Players use "billows" to move their ships around collecting gold and avoiding being pillaged by pirates, engaging motor skills and strategy.

We have the larger Black Pirate game and my son loves it. Like other Haba games, it's beautiful to look at, there's no plastic, and you never have to worry about toxic chemicals. There's also the fun novelty of it being a German game.

Maukilo is an old-school online toy store that offers these games as well as a wide selection of more safe, traditional, and hard to find toys perfect for the Holidays. Check them out HERE for unique gift ideas.

Green Gift Guide: Equal Exchange Organic Fair Trade Gift Basket

It's great to see a healthier version of the traditional gift basket full of conventional fruit and candies. Equal Exchange is offering up this Fair Trade Mixer Gift Basket which benefits children and families in rural Bangladesh and supports organic farmers to boot. For 10% off, use coupon code giftme10 through December 31.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Green Gift Guide: BLABLA Funky Monkey Doll

This is a modern take on a comforting old tradition, the sock monkey. Can you think of anything cooler for a stocking stuffer--little green monkey head peeking out? Blabla dolls are hand made in Peru in a fair trade manner using high quality natural fibers. I love the funky designs and made-with-love vibe. They're soft and cuddly, but a little edgy too, and completely different from most stuffed animals you see.

Blabla has a wide variety of dolls, including a cat, racoon, and goat. You could get a different one for each kid on your list, matching a doll to the child's personality. A monkey is most appropriate for my four year old son and he Loves it! They are offering Free Shipping through Dec. 25. You can find them HERE.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Green Gift Guide: The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen

My mother, a meat lover and gourmet cook, saw Tal Ronnen on Oprah promoting The Conscious Cook, and ranted and raved about how wonderful his food looked. Immediately I thought to myself, finally, a vegan cookbook for my mom. She is getting this book for Christmas. And so is anyone else in my family I can think of that is open to vegan dishes.

Tal Ronnen is a well known chef who has cooked for people like Ellen DeGeneres and has founded a nonprofit organization called Veg Advantage which helps to integrate vegetarian options into restaurant menus. His philosophy is that vegan food shouldn't feel like a sacrifice, but rather a "step up." This is a very well put together book with beautiful color photographs throughout, completely dispelling any notion that vegan food is dull.

I was very excited to see some raw recipes including the Beet Ravioli with Balsamic Pickled Figs and Green Garlic Oil and can't wait to share this with my mother who might open her mind to raw foods if seen in this context. My favorite feature of this book are the collaged layouts of a featured food group such as Citrus or Greens. The book also includes guest chefs who share their own recipes and techniques.

Personally, I've never been a fan of the faux meats, and a vegetable based product called Gardein features prominently in these recipes. But, I think it's this very reason that non vegetarians are responding so well to this book and that is fine with me. If that's all it takes for people to make the shift then more power to it.

A plant based diet is easier on the environment and the body, and even one vegan meal a day makes an impact. I think it's a great gateway vegan cookbook and perfect for the holidays when you have mixed diets at the table. You can find it HERE.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Solid Yellow Pine Low Loft Bed

Need some eco-friendly furniture for your kid's room? I looked all over the place for a bed frame that wasn't coated with a toxic substance or made with MDF which usually contains formaldehyde (which offgasses carcinogens). I wanted something that would save space, but wasn't too high for safety reasons. It also had to be budget friendly.

Finally, through a friend, I found this low loft bed from The Room Doctor. It was a breeze to set up, is the perfect height for the room and my son went nuts over it. He can build little forts under the bed and loves to climb on the ladder. And I don't worry that he's being exposed to nasty chemicals. There are so many options for color (stain, eco-friendly paint, etc.) that we haven't decided how to finish it yet. Right now we are enjoying it raw and unfinished.

Additionally, Southern Yellow Pine is one of the more eco friendly wood options out there. I think this would also be nice for a college dorm situation. Check it out HERE.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Sprig Toys Discover Rig

Now I see what all the fuss was about. I'd been hearing about Sprig Toys for a while, but I didn't realize how ingenious they were. Sprig Toys is the brainchild of three young toy designers who were once in the mainstream toy business. After seeing the environmental damage the production of their toys was causing, they started their own toy company.

Mindful of the trend toward passive electronic toys, they wanted to come up with something that wouldn't be harmful for the environment or the folks making the toys, and would get kids moving. I love the eco friendly concept and thought that has gone into this brand.

The toys are paint free and made of Sprigwood, a recycled non-toxic wood composite that smells like cedar. They are battery free and powered by the child--so smart! And they look cool.

This Discover Rig is quite big and Santa worthy. It's impressive and immediately inspires the feeling of adventure. Moving the rig forward triggers an inner generator which lights up the headlamp on Cap Faraday, the little adventure guide riding inside who also narrates an adventure story for as long as the rig is being pushed (with or without the included push-bar).

Sprig reaches a new, modern level of green. Check them out for some great green gift ideas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Where Teddy Bears Come From, a Quirky Holiday Children's Book

Where Teddy Bears Come From, by Burgess and Ayto is a refreshing holiday tale of a little gray wolf who can't sleep and his search for a teddy bear to help him with his insomnia. Mama wolf packs a lunch for his expedition where he seeks advice from Wise Owl who quickly sends him on his way. In a cheeky nod to the fairy tale classics, he encounters the Three Pigs (who aren't so little anymore) and Red Riding Hood who all at first mistake him as the Big Bad Wolf. No one seems to know where teddy bears come from and little wolf becomes discouraged.

He then meets up with a bearded old man in a red suit who wishes the little wolf was indeed the big bad wolf as he needs help inflating a flat tire. Little wolfe kindly obliges with some huffing and puffing and then asks the man if he knows where teddy bears come from. The man assures him he will soon find out--which he does by the end of the book.

The illustrations are modern and colorful, the prose is fun to read out loud and it's full of personality. It really stands out amongst Christmas books and I recommend it. Find it HERE.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


The most exciting thing to enter my kitchen in a long time is this Stainless Steel Five Tray Dehydrator from TSM. Most of my raw cookbooks recommend the Excalibur 9 tray, so I got that first. It was too big and too loud for my small house (I have an open floor plan), and frankly, I found Excalibur's customer service to be lacking.

I looked and looked and couldn't find another option until I happened to notice someone talking about the Sausage Maker on a raw foods message board. Then the fabulous raw foods blogger, Susan, from Rawmazing, told me she used a Sausage Maker too. I did some homework and it turns out that TSM and Sausage Maker are one and the same. Sausage Maker originated as a dehydrator for hunters to preserve their game. But raw foodists caught on and started using their dehydrators because of their high quality. TSM realized they had another market demographic and wisely took the sausage logo off the machine.

The unit itself is very good looking. It's well built and has a sexy industrial appearance for the kitchen. It's quiet-very quiet which I didn't think would matter since I like white noise, but if you are going to have something on for 20 hours in a small space, it can be really annoying if it's too loud.

The trays are high quality stainless steel and it has a timer. A timer! This is so helpful when you have something going for many hours and is surprisingly absent from many dehydrators. Their customer service is friendly and helpful, I had to call about the temperature dial--it corresponds to the chart on the top left of the machine, raw foodists will want their knob to stay within that first space on the dial in case anyone else is wondering. Also, be sure to ask for one with a little hole in the door for a thermometer probe if you want to to monitor the temperature (and you probably will).

I'm still in the experimental stage food-wise but I will be posting more about my adventures in dehydrating (I'm pretty obsessed). For now I give you my utmost recommendation for this model. It's the nicest dehydrator I've ever seen and I've been looking like crazy. If you are embarking on your own raw foods journey or want to upgrade from your current dehydrator, or just need a fabulous gift for the raw foodie in your life, check it out HERE.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Entertaining in the Raw by Matthew Kenney

The holidays are upon us and what better way to celebrate than to have a festive gathering for your favorite people? How about something a little different this year? Something exciting. Entertaining in the Raw, by Matthew Kenney is a refreshing way to entertain your guests with healthy, vibrant fare. This is sexy, energizing, life affirming food and it's a visual feast as well.

Recipes for the artful and exotic, like Jackson Pollock Raviolo With Arugula Pesto are within like little secrets and the photos are gorgeous. Each recipe has a corresponding photo so you can see where you are headed on this adventure. Do not look at this book on an empty stomach. You can get a glimpse on Kenney's website HERE.

There is no doubt these recipes are for people who know their way around a raw foods kitchen. Most of it is over my head, but I'm having a lot of fun learning. Some recipes are very accessible, like the Cold Spicy Long-Life Noodles With Ginger Sauce and Summer Rolls And Red Chili-Pineapple Dipping Sauce. Certain ingredients might be a little hard to find for some and you do need the right equipment such as a high speed blender and dehydrator.

Here's how I feel about difficult recipes--I want to be inspired. I like the challenge. It might take a while, but it's something to aspire to, something exciting. Kenney's recipes are interesting enough to make you want to put forth the effort and the process is enjoyable.

If you have foodie friends, or raw food enthusiasts or just want to add one raw dish to your menu, this is a great book to have. I think it would also make a killer hostess gift for your more adventurous friends.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Stacking Robots

I love robots. My son loves robots. Who doesn't love robots? These stacking robots from Schylling are made of wood, are non toxic and (something we can all appreciate) nice and quiet. They stack in a variety of different ways, encourage cognitive skills and have that fascination factor. This robot set is not just a toy, but also makes for cool decor.

They remind me of something you'd see on Big Bang Theory in Sheldon and Leonard's house. I recommend these robots for little kids and big kids. I think they'd be a fun conversation piece in an office setting or a college dorm. You can find them HERE.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

HOPENHAGEN: One Day Left to Sign Petition

Just one day left until the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Please head on over to HOPENHAGEN.ORG to sign the petition. The COP15 is considered by many the last ditch effort to turn this mess around and it begins Dec. 7 in Copenhagen. They are meant to come up with an effective plan to reduce CO2 emissions and also stop the worldwide economic downturn. It's a quickie petition, just two seconds!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Educo Master Carpenter Workbench

Kids love to take stuff apart and put it back together again. Educo's Master CarpenterWorkbench would make an awesome green gift for your budding engineer. It's completely non-toxic and old-school adorable. Both high quality and good looking, there's no plastic, it's all wood, and even comes with extras like a tool belt.

I think this would make for something dramatic that Santa Claus might leave by the tree. It comes in a box unassembled and is easy to put together. There are a lot of plastic tool sets out there, but this is worlds apart. My four year old son thinks it's the bees knees. Wood feels good in your hands and there's no scary chemicals to worry about that can harm your children. Good for us, good for the earth and guaranteed to keep them busy while you get dinner ready. You can find it HERE.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Green Gift Guide: Green Tagine from Emile Henry

Do you have a foodie on your list that has a flair for the exotic? Emile Henry's Tagine would make a killer gift for the creative cook. It's eco friendly and makes a sexy, dramatic presentation on the table.

The word tagine refers both to the conical cooking vessel and the contents inside. The North African dish is not bound to a specific pot, you can still make a tagine in a braiser for instance, but it looks so much cooler in a tagine and it is supposed to work better in the proper pot. The idea is that the vapors, essence and juices of the food swirl around the cone and infuse the food with intense flavor. Emile Henry has fine tuned this old world cookware with modern technology.

I learned to make tagine in Morrocco from locals. We went around the medina gathering ingredients: tomatoes, potatoes, red peppers, onion, saffron, and paprika. Put this in a covered pot with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, cooked it for an hour or so and garnished with cilantro and parsley.

It makes a great camping dish--we ate this very meal under a giant moon in the Sahara desert. I've made this in the tagine pot with great success and every time I look at it, I think adventure. Tagines are very flexible and hard to mess up, so you can use your own creativity and change up the recipe. Tagines can contain raisins, chick peas, your favorite vegetables and couscous for instance, popular spices for tagines include tumeric, cumin, and cinnamon.

Emile Henry's cookware is green--no toxic chemicals to leach into your food. It is made to go from the freezer to any heat source without cracking and clean up is easy. As as serving dish, it will keep the food hot for a long time on the table. It comes in several colors, and is very aesthetically pleasing, like functional art. You can find it HERE.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Green Gift Guide: GREEN TOYS Recycling Truck

How cool is this recycling truck? Even cooler when you realize it's made out of recycled milk jugs! Green Toys is a eco conscious toy company offering safe, earth friendly toys that are sourced and made completely in California (keeps the carbon footprint down). Even the boxes are minimalist and made of recycled materials and are stress-free--you know that packaging that makes you want to throw the thing across the room? This is easy, a kid can open it.

The back of the truck opens, it's very sturdy and it's just a good looking design. My son is way into recycling (kids so get it) and this truck makes it even more fascinating. I think it would make for an excellent gift. You can find it HERE.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Green Gift Guide Stocking Stuffer: Natural Cranberry Dental Floss

This month I will be offering a Green Gift Guide, a series of products I recommend for holiday gifts. Let's start with something everyone needs--dental floss! This is not your run of the mill dental floss however, it's cranberry dental floss from RADIUS. Not cranberry flavored, but coated with cranberry phytochemical essence which prevents plaque and gum disease. This would make a brilliant stocking stuffer. It's on sale right now for 25% off and you can find it HERE.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

24 Penguins Before Christmas Advent Calendar

I've always loved the thrill of an Advent Calendar. Here is a contemporary take on an old tradition from the French author/illustrator team Jean-Luc Fromental and Joelle Jolivet who brought us the fabulous 365 Penguins. 24 Penguins Before Christmas is modern and fun and very European in its unique 3-D diptych format.

The Calendar features the characters from 365 Penguins, and comes with a tiny little book, a page to be read each day corresponding to the advent window and the little surprise dwelling within. Amazon has it right now for a steal, you can find it HERE.