Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Healthy Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

Having just moved to Atlanta in August, I wasn't sure what to expect for autumn. My idea of the south was that it was warm all the time and the seasons never changed. Luckily that assumption was incorrect and sometime in October the leaves began to change and fall. Surprisingly, the colors on the trees are just as vibrant as they were in New England. All of this put me in the mood to make some pumpkin bread (whole wheat and relatively healthy of course, but still delicious).

Ingredients:

1 can of organic pureed pumpkin (minus the 2 tablespoons or so that I gave to my dog)
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup unrefined organic coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar (you could use a sugar substitute such as brown rice syrup or honey as well)
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax
2 tsp cinnamon (I love cinnamon, but if you don't add less)
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 handfuls of chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 325 F
2. Mix the coconut oil and sugar together, add eggs and continue to mix.
3. Add vanilla and pumpkin puree
4. Add spices, flax and flour
5. Add baking soda - if your batter is too dry you can add about 1/8 cup water
6. Add nuts and chocolate chips if desired
7. Bake for about an hour. Cool and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bags, Not the Reusable Kind

I was looking at a recent photo of myself and for the first time I noticed that I have some serious bags under my eyes. When I shared this with a friend of mine, she suggested concealer. That got me wondering what natural, chemical-free concealer options are available.

There is a great online database run by the Environmental Working Group called Skin Deep. It's a free resource for people who want to find environmentally friendly and chemical-free cosmetics and products. They rank each product from 1 (least toxic) - 10 (most toxic). There is also an explanation that goes along with each ingredient in the product. You may be surprised to see what is in some of your favorite cosmetics, hair products and perfumes that you use everyday. If your product isn't in the database, you can setup a free account and get a free report.

When I searched for concealer over 400 results came up. I filtered through the first few pages before I decided on Jane Iredale Circle/Delete Under-Eye Concealer which rated 2 out of 10. There were several other options that had lower ratings and obviously many that were higher, but I went with Jane because I own many of her other products and like them a lot.

What about you? Do you have any natural/chemical-free products that you love and recommend?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Small Steps to Help Celebrate the Earth

Today is Earth Day! And there's no better time to  reflect on what you've done to help our planet in the past year, and commit to continuing to take steps to make our world a greener place.  Even the littlest things can add up to make a big impact. Here's a list of things you can do to help!

Use a BPA-free reusable water bottle or coffee mug.

According to Back2Tap, 140 million plastic water bottles go into the landfill each day. That adds up to about 50 billion over the course of a year. Do your part by using a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. Klean Kanteen makes some great stainless steel BPA-free containers for hot and cold beverages. And in case you need an extra push, Starbucks is offering free coffee and tea to anyone that brings in a reusable mug today.

Bring a reusable bag to the grocery store, and to any other store for that matter!

Sometimes it's hard to remember to bring a reusable bag with you while you shop. I like to keep a few in my car and one in my

purse so that I always have one with me. Some stores offer discounts when you use a reusable bag. Whole Foods deducts 5 cents from your grocery bill for every bag you bring in (even if it's the paper one they gave you the week before).

Ditch the tin foil, plastic wrap and zip lock bags

Buy some nice glass reusable containers. This may be a small investment up front, but it will save you money in the long-run and eliminate a bunch of trash that is going into the landfill. Glass containers are better than plastic ones because they won't leach BPA when heated.

Encourage your office to recycle paper, bottles and cans

Your office may already have a system in place for recycling paper, bottles, cans etc. If they don't see what you can do to create one. When I started working in my office a year ago, they had several blue bins for paper, but no place to recycle plastic. I reached out to someone in my building who was able to order a plastic recycling bin and arrange for a weekly pick-up.

Change your light bulbs

This is an easy one! If you haven't done this already, change your light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. They use significantly less energy than regular incandescent bulbs.

What are you doing this Earth Day to help our planet?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Juicing With Jack

I'm constantly trying to get more raw fruits and vegetables into my diet because I know they're full of good-for-you nutrients and antioxidants. Lately, I've been reading a lot about the health benefits of making and drinking your own fresh juice. And I've become really interested in juicing as a way to increase my overall fruit and veggie intake. With juicing, your body doesn't have to spend time digesting, so it can absorb nutrients much faster than when you eat fruits/vegetables whole.  And for those of you who think the pulp that the juicer "spits out" seems a bit wasteful, there are many ways you can use it. Adding it to soups, smoothies and muffins are a few.

Santa (aka my mom and dad) knew that I was interested in juicing and bought me a Jack Lalanne Power Juicer for Christmas. Ever since then, I have been making delicious fresh juice. I really love this juicer! It's so easy to use and easy to clean. Citrus fruits are the only ones you have to peel. Everything else can go in unpeeled and unchopped.  So far, I've made these two recipes, but can't wait to experiment with more:

Carrot, Apple, Ginger Juice : 2 carrots , 1 green apple, 1 inch of fresh ginger, handful of spinach

Orange, Grapefruit Juice: 2 oranges, 2 grapefruits (both peeled)

Have you tried juicing? Do you have any fresh juice recipes you love?