Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- If You Waited Until the Very Last Minute

Gift Cards  These are the best gifts to get if you've waited until the very last minute to do your shopping or if an unexpected relative or guest shows up at your door on Christmas Eve.  Like magazine subscriptions, you can usually print out a gift certificate or send an e-card to the recipient.  Here are a few places that I would certainly be happy getting a gift card to...

1. Barnes and Noble
This may be my favorite store.  With books, magazines, e-readers, cookbooks, board games, music and more, it's pretty much a gaurantee that anyone on your list can find something at Barnes and Noble.

2. Origins
All Origins products are formulated with natural and certified organic ingredients so you can't make a bad choice here.  Origins carries skincare products for men and women as well as makeup and bath & body products.

3. Target
 Do I really need to say anything about this one?  Target has apparel, toys, health & beauty products, electronics, bedding and more.  Truly something for everyone here.

4. Three Potato Four
Three Potato Four offers a smartly curated and insanely cool collection of goodies (both new and old) for your home.  You can visit their website to purchase a gift certificate for your loved ones but I bet you'll end up buying something for yourself as well. 
PS- If you live in Philly, you can visit their new (and only) brick and mortar store at 376 Shurs Lane, Bldg A.

5. Emersonmade
Emersonmade is for the discerning fashionista on your list.  The husband and wife team behind the label split time between their farm (and corporate headquarters) in Portsmouth, NH and New York City where all of their clothing is made (Love that!).  In addition to apparel, they recently introduced belts, jewelry, bedding and table linens and all of it can be purchased using an Emersonmade gift certificate!

6. Amercian Express or Visa
An American Express or Visa gift card is always appreciated because it can be used anywhere. You can buy these online but you can also pick them up at your local grocery or drug store. It's great to have a few of these on hand because they make an appropriate last minute gift for just about anyone. Also, if someone on your list is asking for something that is over your budget (say a Breville Juicer or a Vitamix), you can always give them a gift card in an amount you are comfortable with and let them know that it is to be used towards that big ticket item.

Happy Shopping!

May your Holiday, and every day, be filled with Friends, Family, Love, Laughter, Health and Happiness.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- For the Health Nut

Magazines  A magazine subscription, unlike the Jelly of the Month Club, really is the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.  And for those of you that waited until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping, you can usually create and pay for your gift subscription online and print out a gift announcement or email a card to the recipient. Here are 3 of my favorite health magazines.

Experience L!fe
Experience L!fe $17.95 for a 1 year subscription (10 issues)

Whole Living

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- Hydrating Facial Spray

Hydrating Facial Spray This is a great gift for any female on your list.  I keep a hydrating facial spray in my bag at all times.  They are ideal for using when I get stressed at work, when I'm having trouble sleeping and especially when I'm traveling.  A light mist of either of these floral sprays is refreshing and relaxing.
Spend More  A blend of rose, orange blossom and lavender flower nectars makes this spray both hydrating and moisturizing.  Tata Harper uses all natural ingredients and what makes it even better is that she produces all of her products in the USA (Vermont to be exact).

Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence $65

Spend Less This Rose Water Spray from Camille Cosmeceuticals has only 2 ingredients: distilled water and rose essential oils from organic Egyptian roses. Although the scent is not as complex as the Tata Harper version, it smells great and is equally refreshing.
Camille Cosmeceuticals Rose Water $30

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- For the eco-friendly Host & Hostess

Serving Trays  In my opinion, no one can have too many serving trays.  Both of these options are eco-friendly and equally stylish. 

Spend More  These petrified wood trays come in 3 sizes and are millions (yes, millions!) of years old.  Since these are made of natural wood, each tray varies slightly in shape and size making each one unique.  These trays are polished for a smooth serving surface and should be hand washed.  

Petrified Wood Trays $65-$148

 Spend Less  How great are these colorful wooden trays from  Made from reclaimed wood, each is restored, painted and ready to use at your next holiday party or gathering.  Choose from 6 different colors.

Colorful Wooden Trays $49

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- Spice Up Someone's Life

Herbs and Spices  For the seasoned cook (heehee) or for someone who is just starting out, herbs and spices make the perfect gift. 

Spend More  Select 12 herbs, spices, sea salts or rubs from over 100 different options to make the perfect customized gift.  Your selections will be shipped in a metal tin with a custom label from Craig's Market. 
*As Dec 25th quickly approaches, please make sure to work directly with Craig's Market to ensure delivery in time for the Holidays!

Custom Herbs and Spice Kit $29.95
Spend Less  Grow your own!  Choose from organic Oregano, organic Parsley or organic Basil.  This herb kit comes with an eco-friendly handmade bamboo pot, organic seeds, soil and instructions for how to cultivate your herbs at home.
Bamboo Herb Garden $20

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- for the Cook

Aprons With all the food and cooking that comes along with the holidays, who couldn't use a new apron?

Spend More With this apron from Garnet Hill there's no excuse not to look stylish while you're baking christmas cookies or cooking a big christmas dinner.  Not only is this apron cute but it's also pure cotton, machine washable and made in the USA.  It comes in 2 prints, both of which reverse to a black apron with white polka dots.  To top it all off,  your apron comes with a red wood-bead necklace that flips to either side or can be taken off completely. 
Garnet Hill Reversible Apron $68

Spend Less  The sports fanatics on your list will be more than happy to help in the kitchen once they see this apron.  Made of durable cotton twill, this apron also has a double front pocket, is machine washable and comes with the logo of your favorite NFL or MLB team.  You can also further peronalize your apron
with a name or monogram for an extra $7.  Available in both adult and kids sizes.  You'll definitely score points with this one!  (sorry, I couldn't resist)
Williams-Sonoma NFL or MLB apron $24.95-$29.95

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- For Her

Self Tanner  In the dead of winter, we can all use a hint of sun.  These paraben and phthalate free self-tanners can help you (and those on your shopping list of course) get just that.

Spend More  Josie Maran produces her self-tanning cream using argan oil grown organically in Morocco and packages her products in recyclable and biodegradable boxes.  Argan Oil naturally helps to prevent skin dehydration and inflammation so not only does this give you subtle healthy looking color but it also acts as a natural moisturizer.

Josie Maran Argan Self Tanning Cream $32

Spend Less  All of Origins' products are formulated with natural and certified organic ingredients.  This tinted self-tanner allows for easy application and the refreshing peppermint scent is an added bonus.
Origins Faux Glow $19.50

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- For Everyone

Throws  Help those on your shopping list keep warm this winter.  These throws would be a perfect Secret Santa gift or a nice thank you for the neighbor who is house-sitting for you while you're away skiing over the Holidays. 

Spend More  Available in super soft merino wool, this 54"x 64" throw from Pendleton comes in classic tartans and plaids as well as solid white.  Many of the products produced by the Oregon based family-owned Pendleton company are made in the USA, including this throw.
Pendleton Merino Throw $108

Spend Less  Lands' End normally offers this 50"x 73" wool/cashmere blend throw for $99.50 but you can get it on sale now for $69.99. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- For Her

Gloves Tired of having to take your gloves off in the cold winter weather to answer your phone?  I bet the friends and family on your shopping list are too.  The gloves below have built in technology that allows you to use your iPod, iPhone or iPad while still keeping your hands warm.

Spend More  These leather gloves are handcrafted in Europe with cashmere lining.  The nice thing about this pair is that they look just like regular leather gloves since they don't have any visible pads on the fingers or thumbs.

Spend Less  At only $32, these wool/nylon gloves are a bargain.  They come in 10 colors and with a bow that adds a distinctly feminine touch. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- For a Soldier

Support a Soldier  Give back to those that serve and protect our country.  Support an American soldier who can't be home with his/her family for the Holidays.

Spend More is a nonprofit organization that supports deployed U.S. troops by connecting the American people with their heroes.  When you register, will instantly connect you with a service member online and you are committing to sending your Hero 1 Hero Box a month for a minimum of 3 months.  The cost to send a Hero Box is between $25-$40 a box.  If you think a simple care package doesn't make a difference, take a moment to read some of the responses from troops that have received Hero Boxes. $25-$40/month
Spend Less  The Red Cross has created a thoughtful and inexpensive way to show your appreciation. They are collecting and distributing holiday cards for our troops in the United States and around the world. If you don't have your holiday cards or stamps on hand yet but still want to participate, they have created 4 online cards that you can personalize with a message. The Red Cross will print out your card and mail it for you for only $1. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- For Him

Cell Phone Cases  Here are 2 iphone case options that will satisfy any guy you are shopping for.

Spend More  Part of Restoration Hardware's Artisan Leather Collection, this phone cover is crafted in genuine vegetable tanned leather that will only get better with age.  The heavy top stitching and rich leather color gives it a distinctly masculine feel.  This cover fits the iPhone 4 and 4S and is available in Chestnut (shown below) and Chocolate.

Restoration Hardware Artisan Leather iPhone 4 and 4S Cover $39
 Spend Less  J.Crew's rubber camo case is a great fit for the iPhone 4 and for your budget.  It's on sale now for only $20.
J.Crew Rubber Camo iPhone case $20

Spend Less Jcrew offers patterns, solid colors and even a glitter iPhone case for just $25. The only downside is that the Jcrew cases only fits the iPhone 4.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide- For Her

iPhone Cases  You can hardly walk down the street these days without bumping into someone who is texting, "checking in", reading email or just simply talking on the phone.  That's why this gift is something that almost anyone on your list can use. 

Spend More iomoi offers 44 different artwork options for the iPhone 3, 3GS, 4 and 4S.  For $58 you can select your favorite pattern and then customize it with a name or monogram.  

iomoi custom phone case $58

Spend Less  Jcrew offers patterns, solid colors and even a glitter iPhone case for just $25.  The only downside is that the cases only fit the iPhone 4. 

J.CREW iPhone 4 Case $25


Friday, November 25, 2011

On the first day of Christmas...

Have no idea what to get anyone on your list? Don't like shopping? Does the thought of going to the mall today give you anxiety? Well, you're in luck! Over the next 4 weeks I'm going to share some of my favorite items with you to make your holiday gift giving easy and stress free this year.

For each gift I will have a Spend More and a Spend Less option so your loved ones can enjoy these gifts no matter what your budget.  And, the best part, all of these gifts ideas can be purchased online from the comfort of your own home... which means you will still have enough time to squeeze in your workout, go to the Farmer's Market and to make that raw vegan raspberry ganache fudge cake you've been wanting to try.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

6 large bell peppers (I prefer red because they are a bit sweeter than green peppers),  Remove tops, ribs and seeds
2 cups of bulgur (you may substitute any whole grain you prefer)
1 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced and set over a fine mesh sieve to drain
15oz black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh organic yellow corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp hot sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook bulgur as per package instructions.  Set aside to cool.

In a large skillet, saute onion, carrot and sweet potato for about 10 minutes until potato and onion are soft.  Add tomatoes, beans and corn.  Cook for 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

Combine bulgur and vegetable mixture in a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. 

Spray a small baking pan with non-stick spray.  Fill each pepper with the stuffing mixture and stand upright in the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove pan from oven; sprinkle the top of each pepper with 1 tsp grated parmesan cheese.  Put the pan back in the oven and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes (bake for shorter period of time for more firm peppers and longer for softer peppers).  Remove pan from oven and serve immediately.

These make a great main course or you can cut them in half and lay them pepper side down on a plate as a side dish.

*You can easily make this recipe vegan by omitting the parmesan cheese.

Makes 6 servings


Monday, November 14, 2011

These are a few of my favorite (kitchen) things...

Before the holiday shopping season officially starts and we begin searching for the perfect gifts for everyone on our list, I want to share some of my favorite kitchen items that are the perfect gifts to buy for yourself now.  

1. 10-Piece Glass Bowl Set
I use these bowls ALL the time... for prep, for leftovers, for taco night and for serving.  They are made of tempered glass so they can be used for hot or cold foods and are dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe.  For those of you that don't have a lot of storage space, or should I say especially for those of you that don't have a lot of storage space, these are great because they nest inside of each other so you only need a space big enough to fit the largest bowl.  I don't know what I ever did without them!
10-Piece Glass Bowl Set $39.95

2. Juicer
This makes juicing lemons and limes for my green smoothies a cinch.  The built in strainer retains the pulp and seeds while allowing you to squeeze out every last drop of juice.  This juicer is also top-rack dishwasher safe which makes for easy clean up.
Chef'n Citrus Juicer $19.95

3. Apple Slicer
This easily and evenly slices and cores apples.  It's great to use when baking, making smoothies or even when you just want some apple slices as a quick snack.  Dishwasher safe.
OXO Steel Apple Divider $11.95

4. Titanium Kitchen Shears
These shears are the one kitchen item that I never knew I needed until I got my first pair.  Perfect for chopping herbs and leafy greens, these shears can also open bottles and crack nuts if you so desire.  Dishwasher safe.

5. Stainless Steel 3pc Colander Set
This stainless steel 3pc set includes small, medium and large colanders that can be used for everything from draining pasta to rinsing fruits and vegetables.  The wire feet allow the water to drain easily and quickly.  These colanders are sturdy and dishwasher safe yet attractive enough to leave out on the counter with some washed grapes or berries for snacking.
Stainless Steel 3pc Colander Set on sale for $50 (reg. $57)
Go ahead and buy something for yourself... you deserve it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Do you crave more information about health and nutrition?

Do you want more information about how nutrition and lifestyle choices can affect your health?  Visit my website to download a FREE copy of Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health & Happiness written by Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Oatmeal Breakfast Bake

This oatmeal breakfast bake is great because you can make it on Sunday night, keep it in the fridge and you have breakfast ready for the week.  I like to heat mine up and eat it with a little warm almond or rice milk.  If you prefer something you can grab and eat on the go, you can bake it a little longer, cut it into squares and eat it as a breakfast bar. 

Adapted From:  The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook, pg 20
Makes 6, one-cup servings
1 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup kamut flakes*
1 cup rice milk
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large apple, grated
4 Tbsp maple syrup
Cooking Spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a casserole dish or square baking pan with cooking spray.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  If you are preparing this the night before, don't add the liquid ingredients such as milk and grated apple until morning.  Place the mixture in the dish.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

*Khorasan wheat, (aka kamut), is a non-hybrid wheat that is high in protein and fiber.  I find Kamut Flakes to be a little fuller and heartier than old-fashioned oats.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Corn and Two-Bean Burgers

Adapted from:
Makes: 4 servings (serving size: 1 burger)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup dry whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup canned whole-kernel yellow corn, drained
1/4 cup purple onion, chopped
1Tbsp cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
6 Tbsp water
To prepare burgers, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-heat.
Combine kidney beans, black beans, cilantro and lime juice in a large bowl: partially mash with a fork.  In a separate bowl, mix flax seed with water until texture is slightly gelatinous.  Add breadcrumbs, corn, onion and flax seed mixture to large bowl; stir until well blended.  Form bean mixture into 4 (1/2-inch thick) patties.  Add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until crisp and beginning to brown.
Place burgers on bread or bun and garnish with toppings of your choice.  I used avocado and tomato for my burger and cheddar cheese for my husband's burger.  I served sauteed green beans and a mixture of baked sweet and white potato fries on the side.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tensing Pen, Negril, Jamaica

We're heading back to Tensing Pen to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary. 
Be back next week.


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Vegetarian Chili you must try!

I tried a new recipe (and actually followed it... for the most part) for vegetarian chili last week.  It is, hands down, the best vegetarian chili I have ever tasted!  This chili is not only a great source of protein and fiber, but it's so filling and satisfying that you won't even miss the meat.  And the best part, it's also easy to make.

Adapted from: The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook, pg 155

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp Cholula Hot Sauce
3 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 cup canned white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned corn kernels, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups water or low sodium vegetable stock
4 squares dark (75% or more cocoa) organic chocolate
28 oz canned tomatoes
Juice of 1 fresh lime
Juice of 1 fresh lemon

In a Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion, red pepper, grated carrot and saute until onion becomes soft and translucent.  Stir in chili powder, red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper.  Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Add all remaining ingredients.  Blend well.  Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve hot.  This recipe can be served over brown rice for a heartier version.  Leftovers are perfect in a wrap the next day.
Makes 6 Servings
Prep time:  35 minutes
Cook time:  40 minutes

This chili is a bit on the spicy side so adjust the seasonings to taste.  You can also temper it with some shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado or all three depending on your preference.  We ate our chili with a salad and homemade corn muffins but it would be just as good with a hearty slice of sourdough or whole wheat bread.

You can freeze leftovers in single serving quart size ziplock bags. Lay flat and stack in the freezer. When you're ready to eat, simply defrost, heat and enjoy!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Check out my guest blog today for byrdie's magazine monday post.
Make sure to sign up to follow byrdie while you're there!

More Vegetarian Meals!

So as you know, Sean's meatless month came to an end on Oct 2nd.  He lasted exactly 1 day.  I can't really blame him though. He's been eating meat his whole life.  It's not an easy thing to give up cold turkey (pun intended).  That's the thing with most diets, people expect to change lifelong habits over night.  In my mind, that's just not realistic and it's why most diets fail.  Being healthy is a journey.  It's something you have to work on and choose every day, every meal, every bite.  So although Sean hasn't been able to give up meat entirely, he wants to continue with meatless dinners at home for the rest of the month.  After a rocky start, we got back on track and finished the first week with tacos and pasta.

Vegetarian Taco Bar
I don't have an exact recipe for the tacos as what we use varies each time we have them.  We usually use organic whole wheat wraps and/or organic blue corn hard taco shells along with a variety of fillings.  This time we had  refried beans, blacks beans, brown rice flavored with taco seasoning (these 3 help to replace some of the bulk that you might otherwise miss when omitting meat), tomatoes, shredded lettuce (or spinach), fresh guacamole (1 avocado, chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro and fresh lime juice), shredded organic cheddar cheese for Sean and shredded zucchini for me.  Top with hot sauce if desired and enjoy!  This is a great meal if you have picky eaters in your house as everybody can always find at least 3 or 4 fillings that they like. 

Fresh Tomato Sauce
From Vitamix Whole Food Recipes pg. 139
6 medium Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 small onion, peeled, halved
1 small carrot
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Select Variable 1.
3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
4. Blend for 2-3 minutes, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.
5. Pour into saucepan and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
6. (Optional)- I chopped up some mushrooms in the Cuisinart and added them to the the sauce to simulate the texture of ground beef.

Cook Whole Wheat Fusilli according to directions on the box.
Pour Tomato sauce over pasta and mix. 
Serve hot and enjoy!

Zuchhini with Kale and Green Onions
Zucchini, quartered
Kale, small handful
Green Onions, chopped
Sautee all of the above vegetables in olive oil with salt and pepper to taste.

I hate to admit it but the garlic bread was from the freezer.  Ideally we would have had homemade garlic bread on a fresh whole wheat baguette but we didn't have any.  Sometimes you just have to make due with what you have on hand.

The meat-free menu for this week includes vegetartian chili, homemade pizza and veggie burgers.  Recipes to follow!