Friday, April 4, 2014

Ideas, Recipes and Other Things

I'm baaaaaaack!

During my long hiatus from this blog, I did many things that I'm sure I'll expand on in further entries. For now, however, I would like to talk about some new things I'm doing to improve my health and also show you guys what I've been eating for the past few days! I'm really excited, can you tell?

So I've been on a roller coaster ride for the past few months that included relocating and relocating again to an entirely new town (for me) with my boyfriend, who has lived here all his life. The strangeness of being in a new place coupled with my (as of yet, unfulfilled) desire to find full-time employment led me to use my free time to do some experimentation. I started researching easy ways to create my own health and beauty products and also jumped back on the band wagon of eating naturally and for my physical and mental health.

First things first, if you want to try using only natural products on your skin and in your hair, there is ONE THING you need to buy right away - organic, virgin coconut oil. Go do it! My boyfriend's mom shops in the US (a common thing here as we are right on the border with Michigan) and she picked me up a giant 1.5 litre jar of the stuff! I got to work immediately to start creating a few simple things. First of all, I've used coconut oil for months in my hair. I have really thick, naturally curly hair and it benefits hugely from having some oil rubbed into it, almost like how you would apply a frizz serum, once or twice a week. I also use it as a moisturizer, but I have to say - since getting the virgin coconut oil, I've noticed it soaks into my skin so much better, and I can also use it on my face without breaking out at all. It makes a huge difference to use unrefined oil, in my experience, anyways. It also works great as an eye makeup remover. I keep a tupperware container of it in the bathroom and just dip my tissue in it and smear it over my eyes. It gets all my makeup off and leaves my skin glowing and looking fresh.

I also read a whole bunch of articles on creating your own toothpaste and face wash using baking soda and coconut oil, and I found a really simple one in the list at this address. Using just coconut oil and baking soda mixed together for toothpaste (you have to warm up the coconut oil and then mix the baking soda in, then let it sit in a glass jar and cool down before using) is bitter and salty and tastes awful, but it gets your teeth so clean and mine are already starting to get whiter. If you like your toothpaste to have a minty taste, I'd recommend adding some essential oils, which I'm going to be doing soon. The face wash is simple - you can either just put a 1/2 tsp of coconut oil and 1/4 tsp baking soda in your hand and rub them together until mixed and use, or you can make a batch just like the toothpaste and store it. Here's a recipe if you'd like to do it that way. (That's also a great blog, by the way.) Apply it gently to your face, rubbing in circular motions (softly!). When you've done your whole face, take a damp, warm cloth and press it to your face to get the baking soda off, then rub the remaining coconut oil into your face like a moisturizer. It makes your skin so soft, but I can only use it once or twice a week because otherwise it bothers my rosacea. I'd love to hear from anyone else who tries it with similar or different results!

Speaking of rosacea, I also started reading up on how juicing ginger can help with it immensely, and that got me on the JUICING TRAIN! And I'm loving every minute of the ride. Juicing is a fantastic addition to any healthy lifestyle and can really ensure that you get a high level of all your essential vitamins and minerals, especially if you plan it that way. Here's a website that 
claims to be able to show you the amount of nutrition in your juice recipe. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but it's worth a try. I juice in the morning before breakfast every day, usually a recipe something along the lines of this one:

Mmm, right? That juice contains:

-2 beets
-3 stalks of celery
-a bunch of spinach (I buy mine in bunches, this would be the equivalent of a bag or a small plastic container)
-1/2 lemon
-1/2 lime
-a thumb-sized piece of ginger root
-1 cucumber
-1 carrot
-1 red pepper

I don't usually do beets and carrots in the same juice because they're both so sweet, but this was a "day before groceries, let's juice whatever I've got left" sort of day, so it ended up this way. Limes and lemons are great to use for flavour because of how sweet they are with such a small amount of sugar, and the ginger gives the juice a spicy taste. It also helps with inflammation and has definitely helped my rosacea go down quite a bit. There is some discussion about whether you should juice spinach every day, so I don't. I use it every three days, and rotate a combination of celery and cucumbers on the other days instead. If you want to know more about the do's and don'ts of juicing, I'm no expert, so here is one helpful article I found, and also here's another, just for good measure.

Juicing has helped me feel more energetic and happy, and along with a healthy, natural, vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner, helps ensure I get all the nutrients I need. I'm allergic to gluten, so my meals have had to work around that, and it's made me quite creative in the kitchen. Last night I made portobello mushroom spaghetti, and upon the advice of my friend Alicia, added some homemade hummus to the batch. It turned out amazing. Here's the recipe for both.


Hey, that's not my hummus! That's because mine didn't photograph well. But it looked a lot like that.

I just made a simple hummus as I didn't have any tahini in the house. I took 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed them, added 2 tbps of olive oil, 1/2 tsp sea salt, one clove of garlic crushed and the juice of 1/4 of a lemon and mixed them together with my hand mixer, then added some cayenne powder to give it a spice. It was okay, but I definitely like hummus better with some tahini.


And who doesn't love leftovers?

1 can spaghetti sauce
1 can whole tomatoes
1 portobello mushroom, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 of bell pepper, colour of your choosing, cut into strips
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Empty can of sauce and whole tomatoes into medium saucepan over low heat. Add onions and peppers and let simmer for 10 minutes. Then add portobello mushrooms, cayenne, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. Let simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes. Then add hummus until desired consistency and let simmer for another 10 minutes, or until veggies are tender. The mushrooms should still be firm but cooked. Serve with whatever sort of spaghetti noodles you love best!

Next time I'm going to try frying the onions and peppers for a few minutes before adding the sauce so I don't have to simmer for so long, but it did add some flavour to the tomato sauce, so it's really a win/win.

I would love to hear from you! Have you tried some all-natural healthy and beauty product recipes that turned out great? I'm going to be trying a few more complicated ones before I post about it next, so I can let you know how they turn out. Any juicers out there? Let's share recipes and new things we're trying! 

Until next time, beautiful people!