Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, Raw Vegan Ice Cream, and CSN Stores

CSN Stores is promoting their vast website and offered me this opportunity to shop their site and do a product/store review.   CSN Stores is a huge site offering loads of household items, kid stuff and everything from tea cups to twin beds, often at discounted prices.

My pick was this Ice Cream Maker by Cuisinart.   I have collected a stack of raw vegan ice cream recipes that I can't wait to try, but for my first attempt, I just blended some frozen strawberries, cashews and dates, then transferred it into the ice cream maker for about 30 minutes and voila, raw vegan ice cream!   It's that simple. (You do have to freeze the container over night and make sure all ingredients are either cold or frozen for it to work).  It was so good it disappeared faster than I could take photos.

During hot summer days I find frozen foods so satisfying and cooling.  It's a fun event for the family--kids love to add ingredients and enjoy the anticipation, and it would also be a hit for summer festivities (think Fourth of July).  Find CSN Stores HERE.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunscreen, yes or no?

I have never bought into the sunscreen thing.  Even "natural" sunscreens have always irritated my skin and stung my eyes and I just haven't been able to wear it.  I always thought that anything that abrasive to my skin and eyes couldn't be a good thing.

Lately it's been all over the news that sunscreen can actually cause cancer.  It's interesting to note that the countries with the highest incidence of skin cancer also have the highest sunscreen use.  Yet you still hear, "don't leave the house without your sunscreen!"  All I can say is if you do wear sunscreen, make sure it is certified organic, and as far as I know, there's only a couple of them out there.  Badger Balm makes one, and the EWG has a list to choose from so you know which are the least dangerous sunscreens.  Tree Hugger did a post about this a few weeks ago, and check out the EWG and consider whether your sunscreen really has you covered.

Some ways to protect yourself from the sun naturally:  don't hang out in the sun around noon when the sun is the strongest, eat lots of lycopene containing foods such as tomatoes and watermelon which create a natural resistance to ultra violet rays (grapes, green tea and greens are also said to decrease your risk for skin cancer), wear hats and lightweight clothing that covers your skin (linen is wonderful for the summer), and by just using some common sense, you can really make the most of the sun and minimize risk.  If you have blue eyes and fair skin, you know you have to be a little more careful than someone like me, with a Mediterranean background.

The sun can be a tremendous source of energy, just look at what it does for plants. Natalia Rose wrote a great piece about this you can find HERE.  

image credit:  ACIDIRK

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Moms in the Raw: Fabulous Raw Organic Pesto Sea Crackers

Need some convenient raw food snacks?  Two Moms In The Raw has a tasty line of granolas and crackers great for stowing away in your backpack for on the go munchies, brown bag lunches, and those times when hunger could make you eat something less nutritious.

My favorite is the Pesto Sea Cracker which is seriously addictive and oh so flavorful.  I don't know how they got this texture but it's wonderful and way better than chips.  Sea veggies are always a great addition to the diet and I would have never come up with this yummy combination with the pesto.

They did a wonderful job with the packaging--very artful, and the crackers actually will last a while if you can control yourself.  Find them HERE.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Urge To Adorn Belt Buckles with Recycled Belt

I love stumbling upon something I haven't seen before, something unique and exciting.  These belt buckles by The Urge To Adorn  are fabulous and come in so many wonderful designs, it's hard to pick a favorite.   Photographs, antique, artful and retro images create an interesting, funky accent to your look.

Choose either a leather or eco friendly recycled rubber belt, or buy just the buckle.  Pair with a tee shirt and jeans for some character and color.  Sometimes all it takes is one great accessory to create the look.  Each buckle is hand made using non-toxic materials.  This is wearable art. Find them HERE.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson

The Idle Parent is a refreshing, funny, practical approach to parenting and boy do I wish I'd read this much sooner.  Rather than live with your stomach in knots trying to do the right thing and often failing miserably because of the impossibility of it all, author Tom Hodgkinson encourages us to relax.  All that worrying, obsessing, and helicoptering does not a happy childhood (or parenthood) make.

The guy is old school progressive.  I confess I'm guilty of a little (a lot) of hovering, but I have ambitions of having a free range kid.  As my son gets older, I'm getting much much better.  This book will be one that I come back to again and again for that reassurance and the reminder to lighten up.  It's also good for a laugh, Hodgkinson writes with a great sense of humor and he had me chuckling throughout the book.

Idle parents are, by default, eco friendly parents, eschewing plastic both figuratively and literally in favor of the more real, authentic, and closer to the earth.  Hodgkinson suggests walking or busing over driving, gardening, farming, and keeping waste and want to a minimum.

Turn off the TV, forget about all the lessons (apart from swimming), theme parks and expensive toys and get down on the floor and play with your kids.  Build forts with blankets, play in the fields.  He argues we have lost touch with nature and references old world themes like having reached the ideal of  a Bruegel type situation at a get together--kids playing at one end of the field while the adults chatted over beer at the other.  This is the stuff of life.  Not seclusion in front of screens and the "digital straightjacket of the internet."

There are some contradictions and the guy likes his drink,  butI don't think it's meant to be taken entirely literally.  Read it for amusement, comfort and some good old fashioned common sense.  Find it HERE.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Acorn Eco Friendly Slippers

Need some slippers for the summer?  Acorn's Eco line of slippers feature hemp and organic cotton and aims to reduce our ecological footprint by utilizing natural, renewable, biodegradable and organic materials.

This Quilted Eco Slide slipper is soft and cozy and I love the plain simple style and neutral color.  So often women's slippers are pastel colors or loud pinks.  This is subtle and pleasing to the eye.  The Eco Slipper comes in a ballet, thong, and scuff style as well.  Find them HERE.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sustainable Fashion: tika merino

Look at this gorgeous hoodie tunic from Tika Merino.  I'm in love with the rich dark charcoal carbon color and the flattering, versatile style.  A piece like this is a wardrobe staple.

The hood creates a beautiful neckline and the fit is flattering.  It's great with jeans and boots or over a dress or skirt. We think of wool as a winter fiber, but because of its breathability and adaptability, it's good for every season.  I would (and will) wear this over linen on a cool summer night.  It has crossover appeal being both sexy and sophisticated, but also works for the casual and would go from an evening out to sitting around a campfire.

Perfect for travel since it is great for diverse climates, it can be worn as a dress, top, or outer layer for warmth. It's  lightweight and won't add a lot of bulk, the wool repels spills and stains (did you hear that, mamas?), and resists odor and wrinkles.  This will forever go into my suitcase and, I have a feeling, will be worn to tatters.

Tika Merino is based in New Zealand and sources their wool from farms which are audited and certified to meet strict environmental, social and animal welfare standards, ensuring free range "healthy happy" sheep.  It's natural, sustainable, and renewable.  their designs are inspired by the Central Otago landscape where they are made, and with respect to that environment, Tika Merino has developed specific programs to minimize their effects on this unusual terrain.  Obviously I'm ga-ga for this hooded tunic, but they have many other wonderful pieces too.  Find them HERE.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mama, is it Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure

Nikki McClure's work has for a long time charmed and warmed my heart, but her latest effort could have been written just for us.  Mama, Is It Summer Yet echos the same conversations I've been having with my son and I know I am not alone.  McClure's intricate paper cut images are both innocent and sophisticated and capture perfectly the essence of mother nature and motherhood.

McClure celebrates the mundane and sacred.  That precious moment when you get to taste your first strawberry of the season, planting seeds in the garden and watching them sprout... those fleeting moments that make life so beautiful.  As always, it's about living in the present, savoring the moment.

We have been reading this book over and over, and my son has it memorized and reads it to himself.  This book reminds me to stop and really absorb the gifts summer has to offer, now bittersweet as each season marks the lightening fast passage of time and my son growing up.  Summer is a time to get closer to your children, see the world the way they do--as the magical place it is.  Mama, Is It Summer Yet depicts this touchingly and is one of those books your child will remember as one of their favorites when they are adults. It's printed on recycled paper.  Find it HERE. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

High Raw Detox Update

For those of you who have been following, I am still going strong with my Natalia Rose High Raw Detox. It feels weird saying Detox because for the most part, this has become a permanent way of eating.  Though I think there should always be room for marginal aberration, the only foods I plan to re-introduce with regularity  are fruit, nuts and seeds.  I am loving my morning green drinks, big salads with avocado, baked sweet potatoes and steamed veggies.

Lately I've been eating quinoa tobouleh  and a few other additional things. I've had some cheats over the weeks, but mostly I've stayed pretty true to the plan.  And when I say cheats, I mean baba ganouche, whole wheat pitas (immediate headache), brown rice at a restaurant with my Thai food and raw macadamia nuts, not so bad, right?  I did have an indiscretion with vegan chocolate chip cookies and soy milk on a particularly emotional day--comfort food.  But I got right back on the horse for the next meal.  I'm almost proud of my cheats, I used to eat like that all the time thinking I was doing just fine.

The other thing I've been doing is hydrotherapy.  I had my third colonic Friday and I am really understanding why they are so highly recommended.  I haven't had any major events so far, but I feel cleaner than I ever have.  I feel as though I am cleansing on a cellular level with permanent results.  Having a colonic scheduled keeps me on track as I don't want to undo or halt any progress.  Colon hydrotherapy rejuvenates the entire body by detoxifying and hydrating the system.

During this process I've gone down a full size with very little effort as far as food and hunger.  I've undergone a paradigm shift  that has reshaped my approach to eating.  I was so close before with my whole foods organic half-raw vegan diet I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.  (wrong for me since my energy levels had bottomed out, it might not be wrong for someone else).  I've made some changes--giving up caffeine, gluten, grains, etc.  The hardest for me was the coffee, it was an addictive  ritual plus I Love the taste and smell.  Even though everything was organic, by the time I added my soy cream and agave, what I had was basically a jolting, somewhat toxic, blood sugar effecting acid bath.  Now I start my days with alkalizing hydrating fresh green juice and there is a world of difference.  I don't crash anymore at 3:00 for starters.

Salads have become my main course for lunch and dinner.  At first I did not want to have a mashed avocado for dressing, I had been hooked on dressings I made using the soy based Veganaise.  I'd just learned how to make a vegan Caesar that was out of this world and it was hard for me to shift to the avocado, plus at the time I only liked avocado in small amounts.  Now I eat two avocados (sometimes three) every day and look forward to my salads with excitement.  They are crunchy and creamy and salty and sweet all at once.  It's a bowl full of textures and color and I can't imagine going without them at this point.  I crave my avo-salads.

At first it was hard to simplify.  I'd just become obsessed with the world of raw food cuisine and I was constantly testing new recipes in the dehydrator and whatnot.  It's an exciting world.  But it's not appropriate for my detox cleanse so I had to let go of that for the time being.  At some point I will utilize those recipes for holidays as an alternative to baked goods perhaps, but for now I'm keeping my eye on the ball.

One of the things that has helped has been working with Ana Ladd Griffin.  She knows this stuff backwards and forwards and is incredibly supportive and wise. She recently wrote a wonderful post on the female reproductive system with regards to detox which I found very interesting.  My conversations with her have helped me stay on this path, particularly in the beginning when I was quite wobbly and hadn't yet realized how profound the change would be or how important it would be to let certain things go (I didn't want to give up nuts and fruit).  Having a coach like Ana has been so beneficial especially during those moments where you are feeling resistance or slip up with emotional eating going back to old ways that never worked (like milk and cookies).  It makes a huge difference to feel like you have someone in your corner--I'm so grateful for you Ana!

If you are having any health issues at all, or think you are not feeling up to your potential, I strongly recommend having a look at Natalia's cleanse.  I've read just about every post on her website--the woman is incredibly intelligent and spot on about nutrition, and think that would be a great place to start or use additionally along side her books for anyone on this journey.  It helps so much to know there are other people doing this.  It can be a bit lonely sometimes to feel like you can't break bread with people, food is such a focal point of social events.  It's been like this for me for some time with the veganism, but now even more so and it can be tricky.  It's nice to know you are not alone.

The name of Natalia's website is Detox The World, which I think is so appropriate and inspiring.  She promotes a lifestyle that is non toxic and joyful and she sees the grander global picture.  As these concepts spread, it will no longer be "extreme" to eat like this--how is that for irony?  Anyone practicing healthy eating knows that the SAD is extreme, not a plant based diet.

I'm impassioned about this and could go on and on.  It's fun making positive changes!  There will be more posts to follow, but for now, this is where I'm at with my cleanse.  I still have quite a way to go, but the process is exciting and enjoyable.  Onward!

image credit: shrinksteve

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Green Your Workout with NATURAL FITNESS

Natural Fitness premium eco-fitness products will green your fitness routine with sustainable non toxic gear.  Their products are free of common dangers such as lead, pthalates, PVC, and cadmium.  Instead, Natural Fitness utilizes natural and renewable fibers such as bamboo, hemp, natural rubber, and cork.  Check out this exercise ball.  It's non toxic and phthalate free and wonderful for increasing balance, mobility and core strength.  I love the unusual and pretty olive color.  It comes with a dvd, air pump, and as part of the Zero Impact Program, a tree is planted with each purchase.

I also like their colorful eco friendly yoga mats.  This moss/lavender natural rubber professional yoga mat is visually appealing but also non toxic, sustainable and renewable.  It's very comfortable, lightweight and does not have an odor.  Sometimes even natural yoga mats will have a bit of off-gassing in the beginning, but this one is good to go.  It's extra long to lenghthen your poses.

Being the visual creature that I am, I really appreciate the unusual colors Natural Fitness offers in their products.  If you love your gear, you will enjoy your activity more.  And with these tools available, there is no reason to buy the standard, often toxic equipment.  Natural Fitness has a big selection and reasonable prices, check them out HERE.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

TOXIC AMERICA airs tonight on CNN

CNN is airing Toxic America today and tomorrow starting with Toxic Towns and following tomorrow with Toxic Childhood.  Here it airs twice tonight, check your local listings.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vapamore Steam Vapor Cleaner: Eco Friendly Cleaning

I am new to steamers and this is my first experience with one.  Being able to effectively clean surfaces without chemicals is a wonderful (if not obvious) concept and I got very excited to try this Vapamore.  The steam sanitizes and melts off the dirt with very little effort.

You just put water in the stainless steel container (using the included measuring cup), wait about ten minutes, and you're ready to go for about 50 minutes.  I've tried it on my bamboo floors, the bathroom floors, mirrors, shower, and upholstery and it worked great.  I also tried it on a couple of carpet stains and they came right up. It's very very easy to use and a wonderful solution for people who want their house squeaky clean and green.

I would not use this around children or pets as the steam is very hot and the cute little bumble bee look is sure to attract curiosity.  It comes with several attachments for pretty much any job you can think of which are stowed on the machine.    There's a handle so you can carry it easily up stairs or to other rooms and the cord coils around the back.  Steam kills bacteria and dust mites--great for everyone but especially those will allergies.   I like the versatility of the canister as well.  A  steam cleaner is a great addition to the eco friendly household, check out the Vapamore HERE.