Sunday, January 31, 2010

Raw Food for Real People by Rod Rotondi

Rod Rotondi grew up in a food loving Italian American household. This affection for food and family led him to study culinary arts in France.  He then travelled extensively returning back to Los Angeles where he opened his own raw foods restaurant, Leaf Organics

Raw Food for Real People contains recipes from the restaurant which are quite diverse ranging from the familiar standbys such as pizza, oatmeal, and apple pie, to a variety of international dishes reflective of the author's travels.  Dishes like Pad Thai and falafel are there for when you crave more ethnic flavors.  

The book has a nice layout, with several pages of glossy color photos in the center.  There's a section on sprouting, a section on how to feed children on a raw food diet, the importance of organic food and the health benefits of a raw diet and how to make the transition.  

Like other raw foodists, Rotondi is not militant and extols the virtues of eating even partially raw and making gradual and lasting changes to transition painlessly into a raw food lifestyle.  He is very unassuming, concluding that if you are able to cut up an apple, you are a raw food chef.  His laid back and warm attitude is sure to make readers comfortable and his recipes and tips will expand any raw foodie's repertoire.  Find it HERE

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tribest FreshLife Automatic Sprouter

One way to stick to healthy New Year's Resolutions is to simply add sprouts to your diet.  They are little powerhouses of nutrition and with this FreshLife automatic sprouter from Tribest, it's easy. In the past I've wanted to eat sprouts on a regular basis, but when I'd buy them in the store, they'd go bad so fast I often ended up throwing them out before I could eat them all.  This sprouter changes all that.  Because of the continual water supply going to the sprouts, you can harvest right out of the sprouter and have fresh sprouts any time you want.

All you do is put the seeds on the tray--there are four separate sections for easily dividing different types of seeds (I have been using broccoli and alfalfa seeds), put the second tray on top to protect the seeds (this you remove after about two days when the seeds begin to sprout), put the lid on top and plug it in.  That's it.

You change the water every 24-48 hours and within just a few days you have fresh sprouts.  You don't have to keep rinsing the seeds, the sprouter does it for you with it's built in sprinkler system.  I learned that if you want the sprouts to turn green, you can remove the lid and they will green very quickly.   The sprouter is expandable and there is an optional secondary tray so you can double your crop if desired.  But it's a Big thing, so be sure to measure for your space.

The FreshLife sprouter enables you to have constant access to fresh organic greens, including wheat grass, year round. It's a convenient way to enjoy the flavor and health benefits of sprouts.  Broccoli sprouts, for instance, contain high levels of a powerful anti-carcinogen called sulphoraphane.  The sprouts contain up to 100 times more sulphoraphane than the mature broccoli plant.  It's wonderful to just be able to grab a handful any time you want and toss it into your salad.  Find it HERE.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Natura Aloe Dream Mate Pillow: Insomniac's Best Friend.

I'm the Goldilocks of pillows. Seriously. I have bought sooo many pillows over the years--squishy ones, flat ones, hard, soft, billowy pillows--you name it, I've tried it. This Natura World Aloe Dream Mate Pillow may just be The One.

When I first heard of this pillow I couldn't wait to try it.  I'm a bit of an insomniac and something like a comfortable pillow for me is a prized item.  This pillow does not disappoint.

The cover fabric is impregnated with aloe which is anti microbial and hypoallergenic, and the stuffing is a blend of smart wool and natural latex.  The wool creates air pockets that regulate temperature and the latex conforms to your  body, holding your head and neck in a comfortable position.

It's squishy like a feather pillow, but supportive, firm but soft.  It's the best of all worlds.  The only thing that is not perfect is that it has an odor from the natural latex which dissipates quickly and is non toxic, not a big deal.  I absolutely love it.  If you are in need of a new pillow or just a good night's sleep, check out Natura World's Aloe Dream Mate HERE.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Blendtec Blender Jar Upgrade

Blendtec, the makers of my fabulous blender, have upgraded their blender jars.  They are now BPA free, larger, and have a much more comfortable grip.  The upgrades make a big difference with a bigger and better blade, and a lid that has an easy open hole on top for adding ingredients while blending.  If you have a Blendtec with the older jar, check this out, it's a big upgrade and well worth it.  Find it HERE.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted To Be Noticed

Wink is a little ninja who can't sit still or be quiet.  Even though Master Zutsu tries to teach stealth through discipline, Wink doesn't get it.  Master Zutsu tells his students, "Silence is the weapon of the ninja," but Wink can't help himself and is unable to embrace stillness.  Boy does this sound familiar.  Wink is my four year old!

Wink goes through a series of encounters until he finally finds an appropriate outlet for his enthusiasm and creativity.  Though put across in a humorous manner, there are deeper underlying issues such as feeling left out or different (something we can all relate to at some point) and personal authenticity--finding a way to express your true self and being appreciated for that.

The illustrations are fantastic, filled with charming details and visual textures.  This book is intelligent, unique and fun to read over and over.  Author J. C. Phillipps did her own fabulous artwork for the book and there are rumors of a follow up to Wink (yaay!).  Find it HERE.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Wave Enviro Shower Filter

Do you have a filter on your shower?  Chlorine and other chemicals can wreak havoc on skin and hair, not to mention the harmful effects it can have on the respiratory system. You know the rule, if you don't want to eat it, don't put it on your skin.  If you drink filtered water, you might want to consider putting a filter on your shower as well.

Ultimately I would like a full house filter system.  But for now I have a good drinking water filter in the kitchen and this New Wave Enviro shower filter  as an immediate solution for the shower.

My skin used to be dry after leaving the shower and I'd need to apply a lot of lotion.  Not anymore!  I'm certain it's the filter.  I don't have any sort of chlorine tester so I can't be scientific about it, but it feels better. The price is great, and they sell replacement filters for yearly change-out. It's easy to install, you just need a wrench and about five minutes.  You can find it at

Saturday, January 23, 2010

RADIUS Original Eco Friendly Toothbrush

This is my kind of toothbrush--eco friendly with fun colors and a fabulous design.  Radius Original toothbrushes  are made from cellulose from sustainable forrest trees, a renewable resource.  They last nine months, at least three times longer than regular toothbrushes, so even though they're a little more expensive up front, they are worth it in the long run.  The ergonomic design feels good in your hand and the wide brush surfaces gives your gums a little massage.  Available in right or left hand versions, they are colorful, artful, modern and green.  Find them HERE.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stamina Aero Pilates Premier Studio Reformer

In keeping with my New Year's Resolution to take better care of myself, I have stepped up my physical activity.  I've been doing Pilates right in the comfort of my cozy little house with this Stamina Reformer. Pilates is good for increasing flexibility, makes you strong without bulking you out, increases core strength, offers relief from back pain, and reduces stress among other benefits.

A couple of years ago, I took Pilates classes at a wonderful Pilates studio. However, I could not sustain it due to child care and financial constraints. I wish I'd known about Stamina back then, I would have just got my own machine to use at home on my own time frame.

The reformer itself is very well made and sturdy--very much like the professional ones in the studio.  The head rest cradles your head and neck and it feels very comfortable and stable.  I love the low impact workout that doesn't hurt my knees and I love the way it gives my body a gentle and complete stretch.  Make no mistake, it's still a great workout but it's vigorous, not violent if you know what I mean.  It's something to look forward to as opposed to dread.  The rebounder at the bottom is really fun and it works your abs and thighs.  The whole machine is very quiet and smooth--there's no squeaking or other noises, it's completely solid.

The reformer comes with dvds that are simple to follow and great for both beginners and those who are more advanced.  The tension is easy to adjust with the bungee cords at the bottom of the machine.  Set up was easy and straightforward and I did it by myself, though I wish I'd had help because the machine is heavy.  If you are going to move it after set up, you will need another person to help.  It took less than 30 minutes for me to begin my first workout.

Once you factor in the cost of Pilates classes, gym membership, transportation, and childcare, I think this is a great value, paying for itself very quickly.  You can find them new or refurbished (even better deal) on the Stamina Website.

Monday, January 18, 2010

DETOX 4 Women by Natalia Rose

Having recently read Raw Food Life Force Energy, by Natalia Rose, I was excited and eager to read her latest effort, Detox For Women.   The former is a 21 Day plan, the latter four weeks, to get you detoxed and glowing with living food energy.  The newer book for me, was just a little bit less accessible.

Detox 4 Women focuses on getting rid of Candida, a problem Rose had seen growing rampant among women in her practice.  In doing this, she eliminates fruit and nuts permissible in her former book.  She allows some animal products which I don't agree with (all fish contains mercury and also see The China Study) and incorporates the the principles of proper food combining which I think is great.  Her tone is very girlfriend's guide and she is excited about what she's doing which gets you excited.  Her flexibility on animal products as well as red wine and chocolate might ease some people into the program who may otherwise feel overwhelmed.

It's basically green juice for breakfast (she includes her own favorite recipe for green lemonade), a big salad at lunch with the option to have something cooked if needed, such as a baked sweet potato or steamed veggies, and a more flexible dinner including another salad with some cooked fare.  I find this doable and reasonable and I'm gearing up to give it a go myself.

I am, however, not thrilled with the omission of nuts and fruit.  Raw Food Life Force Energy seemed more balanced to me and also more doable as a permanent way of eating, however I do get where she's coming from with the Candida issue and temporarily giving up foods that feed yeast or are harder to digest is completely understandable.

Both books contain recipes, chapters on movement, breath and psychological well being. Her method reminds me of a very worthwhile book I read years ago called Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond (proper food combining, avoiding processed foods, minimizing animal products, maximizing food from the plant kingdom, rebounding, etc).

I'm on the fence about which book to recommend.  I like them both, but lean heavily toward her earlier book.  If you have Candida, or suspect you do, go for Detox 4 Women.  It wouldn't hurt to read both of Rose's books, especially if, like me, you are inspired by that "you can do it!" vibe and encouraging words.  Both are very appropriate for New Year's Resolutions and I think they would work great for some internal Spring cleaning as well, carrying on into permanent change beyond detox.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Raw, Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free and Yummy! Kaia Foods Snacks

It's always a good idea to have some healthy raw snacks on hand and though I love bars, it's nice to have variety.  Kaia Foods offers just that, a variety.  I'm totally hooked on their Teriyaki Sprouted Sunflower Seeds. They have the perfect blend of salty, sweet, and crunchy--YUM.  I've tried almost all of their flavors and snacks and like everything I've tried but those sunflower seeds...they are so satisfying!  My son loves the Cocoa Granola.

These would be awesome on the plane, and to just keep on hand for those times you want a snack and don't have time to go through all the soaking, sprouting and dehydrating.  On top of being good and healthy, Kaia (meaning "body and earth") Foods donates a percentage of their profits to help with world hunger.  Check out their beautiful and unassuming website HERE.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

KEEN Alameda Bag

The Keen Alameda Bag is an awesome laptop messenger bag perfect for school and travel and daily activities.  I've been using this as an alternative to my backpack and I love it.  It holds a ton of stuff without being unwieldy.

My laptop fits great in the soft padded computer pocket, it holds my food--like a full lunch and emergency snacks, there's a place for a water bottle, and there's plenty of space for a sweater or jacket.  There's a toggle for your keys, padded compartments for electronics like a camera or mp3 player, and I  love the little pocket on the strap which holds my cell phone at close reach.

It's well made and durable and super cute.  There are a lot of details that I really appreciate, such as a recycled rubber bottom, nice for when you're on the bus and set the bag down on the floor.  I like the recycled metal clasp which allows you to adjust the length of the lightly padded strap.   And the outer zippered compartment makes for quick access to necessities like sunglasses or wallet.  The magnetic closure is also a nice touch.  The only thing I'm not wild about is the U-shaped inner zipper because I have to take off the bag to open it.  Not a big deal though since there's that outer zipper pocket for important stuff.

I love the messenger bag look and I love Keen, so I'm very fond of the Alameda bag.  It's a good looking, multi purpose, high functioning bag that should last forever.  Find it HERE.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cocoa Crispies. Who says kids won't eat healthy?

I'm so stoked about my latest dehydrator adventure.  Cocoa Crispies!  This recipe is in RAW FOOD, REAL WORLD, by Sarm Melngailis and Matthew Kenney.  Buckwheat groats turn into crispies perfect for a raw living food breakfast for the kiddos.  I love it too and can't believe how easy it was to make.

Their version uses maple syrup--not technically raw, but you could substitute agave or stevia.  I'm obsessed with this book right now and my fabulous dehydrator,  been trying a new recipe almost every day.  Just add hemp or almond milk (made in about two seconds in the blender) and you're good to go.  For variations, add frozen raspberries or bannana.  I think this would be a great portable meal.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Microchipped Bees: Hopes of getting to the root of Colony Collapse Disorder.

I have a huge affection for bees and have been following Colony Collapse Disorder closely.  My feeling has always been that it stems from pesticide use and that the bees are the canaries in the coal mines.  There have been many different suspects such as mites, viruses and cellphones but no one has been able to commit definitively to a cause.  French researchers have found a way to attach tiny little microchips to bees in hopes to get to the bottom of this disaster.  Yaay France!

Organic hives have been somewhat immune from CCD, which is why, though the rest of my diet is vegan, I like to support organic honey.  We need bees.  Big time.  The French suspect a common pesticide called Fipronil.  Let's hope they get it figured out so we can protect our bee friends and ourselves.  Read more on Treehugger.

Image Credit: Phillipe Psaila/

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Waechtersbach: Eco Friendly Dinnerware That Puts Color On Your Table

I love color.  Waechtersbach says, "We color your life," and boy do they.  Their colors are deeply saturated and almost seem to have texture.  I have some white dishes that I got because I like the way the food looks on the plate and it shows up well for photographs, but it's my Waechtersbach that are the most fun to use.

These coupe dinner plates are modern and come in wonderful colors.  The Kiwi green and Orange are my favorites, though it's hard to choose.  Vibrant fruits and veggies look fabulous on them.  They're solid and durable.

Waechtersbach is an environmentally friendly company and takes care to minimize their impact on the earth during production.  Check them out HERE.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Life in the Yurt

Check out this fabulous form of alternative living. They don't have an indoor toilet, but they have internet! Love it. Thanks for tweeting about this Bitt, very cool. Read more HERE.

Friday, January 8, 2010

GO SMILE teeth whitening system

Want to start the new year with a white smile? Go Smile is the least toxic most affordable teeth whitening system on the market that I know of. And it works.

Go Smile uses hydrogen peroxide as the active whitening ingredient. You break open a little ampoule twice daily--once in the morning and once at night before bed and rub the tips on your teeth. It feels tingly and clean and the little tips can reach places that need extra attention. At the end of seven days your teeth are noticeably whiter.

It totally worked for me. My New Year's resolution was to take better care of myself--eat healthy and do all the things I was neglecting. It was time for some teeth whitening. My dentist charges a prohibitive $400 for this and there's no way I would put the strips on my teeth. My teeth are sensitive, plus I have a big aversion to chemicals so the less the better. Go Smile is the safest option I've found.

Go Smile has many innovative oral health products like toothpaste that utilizes aromatherapy--energizing you in the morning and relaxing you at night--how brilliant is that? They make a little silver compact travel case for whitening on the go. They are not organic however, and there are some ingredients I'm not thrilled with such as sodium laurel sulfate--normally I don't recommend body products with ingredients like that. But I have not found teeth whitening products I consider safer than this. So, if you want to whiten your teeth, check out Go Smile. They will even send you samples if you want to try it first.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Eating For Beauty by David Wolfe

We are what we eat. If we want to be beautiful, we need to eat beautiful, and in Eating For Beauty, David Wolfe shows us how to use raw organic foods to transform ourselves from the inside out. "Food is not just a factor that affects us, it is the primary thing that affects us. If what we put in our bodies does not effect us, what could? Once we know this, it becomes easier to select foods that add to our strength, spirituality, and beauty, because each meal becomes part of who we are at the deepest level."

Raw plant food is the highest quality, most nutrient dense, beautifying food we can eat. But Wolfe is quick to say that one should not feel pressured and rushed to adopt an all raw foods diet. He suggests increasing raw food intake more and more until you naturally shift away from unhealthy or cooked foods as they become less desirable. I like this approach and find it effective. Even a half raw diet will have a huge effect on both health and appearance.

Wolfe teaches us which are the most beautifying of all foods and why. Olives, for instance are packed with nutrients and great for facial fine lines, papaya is good for making your eyes shiny and radiant, and durian is so sexy that apart from being a blood purifier, it's known as an aphrodisiac. There is an emphasis on mineral rich and organically grown foods. "Pesticides are unacceptable at any level and should be avoided on our food. Organic food is not only grown without chemical pesticides, it contains more minerals."

Beauty really does come from within, in more ways than one. There is no product that will give you what good health will give you, and I think more and more, beauty is associated with health and authenticity. There's nothing more authentic than nature, and Wolfe gets us a little closer.

The book features Kirlian photographs, images that are said to reveal the energy fields of various foods. There is a chapter filled with recipes, suggestions for supplements, and a few words about other things relating to beauty, such as quality sleep and a positive attitude.

It's a fun book to read, filled with nutritional nuggets and inspiration, great for January when New Year's ambitions are aflame and Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Find it HERE.

Monday, January 4, 2010

REBOUNDAIR: The Fun Form of Excercise

I have vaguely wanted a rebounder for years, but didn't realize how bad I wanted it until I got it. This thing is fantastic. I got this REBOUNDAIR Quarter Fold rebounder and I can't stop jumping!

The quarter fold is ingenious and it folds up very easily (though you do need two people to do this) and fastens on to a little wheel cart similar to the ones that pull luggage. You can just tuck it into a closet when not in use and take it with you for exercise while traveling or at the office. I live in a pretty small space, so that is a wonderful feature, however, I have been using it so much, I just leave it out. You pull it out of the box, unfold it and it's ready to go.

The rebounder is very well made, nicer than any I've seen. It's solid. The feet have little rubber covers so they won't harm your floors, the springs are shorter than I've seen in other rebounders and there's no cloth cover, they are exposed but somehow much less obtrusive. You don't hear the springs at all when you're jumping, it's silent and very stable. It's a great, well thought out design. The bounce is soft and you can get pretty high with your jumps.

Rebounders are considered by many to be the ultimate form of exercise. Benefits include among other things, stimulating the lymphatic system, improving circulation, and boosting the immune system. There is less impact to joints than other forms of exercise--nice for me after blowing out my knees running. It's super convenient, you can do it in your pajamas in front of the tv--it doesn't get easier than that.

How many forms of exercise make you laugh or smile? It's impossible for me not to smile while jumping, it just invokes that little kid inside of me that loved jumping on the bed. Any exercise that's fun is tops with me. Another huge bonus to this is my son can't stop jumping either. This is a safe, handy outlet for all that four year old energy, invaluable in the winter months.

I can't say enough good things about this Reboundair. It's fun, effective, easy and affordable and comes with a great warranty. If adding a little physical activity to your life was one of your New Year's Resolutions, check out this rebounder and see what you think. Find it HERE on sale.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kyocera Double Edged Mandoline

How have I been a veggie lover without Kyocera all these years? This Double Edged Mandoline is new to my kitchen and I've been slicing away like crazy. Super thin cucumber, beets, carrots, you name it. It's so easy! You just put it over a bowl, those little grooves create stability, and go. I always get really excited over new ways to do vegetable prep and this does a great deal with very little effort. I have tried another mandoline in the past and it was a bit complicated with lots of sharp loose parts, I never used it and ended up giving it away. This one is simple. The ceramic blade stays sharp and does not brown food like stainless.

It comes with a hand guard and I highly recommend using it because it goes very very fast and I quickly nicked my thumb. For this reason, I would be mindful of how you store it, keeping it away from children and that blade covered. This is an inexpensive way to really jazz up and simplify your food prep. Kitchen essential--try it out here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Amber Lotus Recycled Content Datebook

Need a datebook for 2010? Amber Lotus has some unique and beautiful datebooks made with recycled content and soy ink. This Thich Nhat Hanh datebook is filled with soothing inspirational quotes and artwork. The layout is great with plenty of room to write your day's activities and also full length grid-form calendar at the beginning of each month. It includes the moon's cycle and major holidays. Amazon has it right now for a steal, find it HERE.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions Anyone?

I'm really excited about this being a new year, new decade and new beginning. It coincides with my gradual move toward raw foods and marks that shift. It's nothing like going on a diet or some sort of drudgery, it's an adventure that I'm so grateful to undertake. My goal is not to be completely raw, but more raw and ultimately mostly raw.

I've enjoyed a mostly vegan, whole foods organic diet for many years, but now I am fine tuning my diet to really suit my body's needs. Books like the China Study and Green For Life (among others), and some wonderful blogs have propelled me further along this path and made me feel supported in my endeavors. Nutrient dense is what my body wants and I now have the tools and information to accomplish that. I feel a collective move toward more quality living, I know it's not just me.

Other resolutions include being more in the moment, and just taking better care of myself. I've been so focused on my child for the last five years, I've neglected to put that proverbial oxygen mask on myself. Another resolution--to have some good old fashioned Fun.

So Cheers everyone! To good food, good friends, good health, and good fun. Happy New Year.