I've heard it referred to as the Ranch dip of the Middle East. It's also a healthy, real food way to add a delicious flavor kick to some everyday foods.
I didn't work from an exact recipe, and you can make this to your liking, but here's a general idea of how I made it:
CUCUMBER YOGURT DIP – A.K.A. TZATZIKI
3/4 of a large container full-fat yogurt
Couple cloves chopped garlic
Fresh dill (I used most of the package from the grocery store – pictures below)
1/2 cucumber, peeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
Mix the garlic and dill into the yogurt.
Grate the cucumber. Wrap up the shavings in a paper towel and squeeze out the excess moisture. This keeps the dip from being watery and less flavorful.
Add squeezed-out cucumber to the yogurt, and mix.
Stir in 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt (as much as is to your liking).
Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving to let the flavors blend.
That's it. Enjoy!
I've been exploring the world of Asian cooking since returning from Thailand and Cambodia, and my most recent project was Thai-style stir-fried green beans and fresh spring rolls. They're both suuper easy, and I'll be making both of them many more times for sure.
THAI STIR-FRIED GREEN BEANS
Green beans (about a pound or so)
4 cloves garlic, chopped (or more if you like)
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce (or more regular soy sauce)
1 1/2 tsp sugar of choice
Cooking fat of choice (butter, vegetable oil, etc.)
In a small bowl mix together oyster sauce, soy sauces, and sugar.
In a wok or saute pan, add cooking fat (about a tablespoon) and garlic, cooking over medium-high heat until garlic is golden brown, just a couple minutes.
Add green beans, stir, and add a splash or two of water to create steam.
Add sauce and mix.
Continue cooking (and stirring) about 2 minutes or until beans are cooked to your liking.
Now for the fresh spring rolls. I feel like these are kindof like the sandwiches of Asia, because you can literally put anything you want in them and dip them in anything you want. Honestly, I never actually had these in Thailand, so there's probably a traditional way to fill them, but really you can make them however you want. In the ones pictured I used all kinds of different vegetables and herbs, but I have also since made them with roasted chicken and fewer vegetables. They are often dipped in a Thai peanut sauce, but again, you can use whatever you like. I've tried peanut sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce, and even spicy brown mustard. Yeah, mustard, and it was dang good. Sorry Thailand. Okay, here you go.
FRESH SPRING ROLLS
Spring roll wrappers
Wide dish of very warm water
Fillings of your choice
Fill a wide bowl with very warm water and lay out your fillings for assembly.
Take one spring roll wrapper and submerge in the water just until pliable (a few seconds). Then carefully remove, keeping it flat so it doesn't stick to itself, and lay on a flat surface.
Pile on your fillings and wrap like a burrito. The rice paper will stick to itself as you do this.
That's it! Dip 'em in anything you like. Peanut sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce. Get creative and enjoy!
I just returned from over a month in Thailand and Cambodia, and something strange has been happening since I got back: I've been craving Asian food. That has NEVER happened. I've never really liked rice and would never have said Asian was one of my favorite cuisines. But here we are. So I decided to make the dish I ate most often, a traditional dish called Pad Ka-prao (pronounced more like pakapow).
You might think of Pad Thai as the most everyday dish in Thailand. I did, until I went there and realized that, actually, if there's something Thai people eat most often, it just might be this dish.
recipe adapted from pailin's hot thai kitchen
5-10 thai chilies
5 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 lb chicken, chopped into small pieces
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp sugar of choice
1 1/2 cups chopped basil leaves (traditionally holy basil, but you can use thai basil or regular basil)
Thai jasmine rice
Cook rice and set aside.
Using a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind the chilies and garlic, making sure you're not left with any significant chunks.
In a small dish, combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, water, and sugar.
Fry the egg(s) and set aside.
Using a wok or large pan, turn heat to medium high and add cooking oil and chili paste. Cook a minute or so until garlic turns golden brown.
Add chicken and stir around until the chicken is not clumped together.
Add sauce and onions and continue cooking another minute or so, still stirring, until chicken is done.
Remove from heat and stir in basil.
Serve it up and enjoy!
Okay, today I'm going to finish up my makeup series for all you ladies out there with one last post on clean versions of different products. A lot of these are made by brands I mentioned in my Foundation post, but some are not. So without further ado, here are some great products to get you started on your shift to cleaner products.
Alima Shadow – Mineral eyeshadow powder by a really solid natural brand
Bare Minerals Shadow – Mineral shadow, available at stores like Ulta if you don't want to shop online
RMS Organic Eye Shadow – I haven't used this product, but it's apparently great if your eyelids are on the dry side
Alima Eye Pencil – Mineral pencil liner
Tarte Smoldereyes Liner – For a heavier, full-pigment look
Vapour Mesmerize Eyeliner – A thinner pencil for a more precise and subtle effect
Alima Blush – My favorite, a mineral powder blush
Vapour Siren Lipstick – Vapour makes a gloss as well, which is also great
Alima Lip Tint – I haven't tried this yet, but I have no doubt it's as great as all of Alima's other products
Happy shopping! Have questions or want to know more? Send your comments my way!
Other posts in this series:
Clean Makeup Part 1: Why It Matters
Clean Makeup Part 2: Foundation
I've talked about the power of herbs and how to use them before, and today I'd like to introduce you to one of my favorites: hawthorn. I take it regularly and plan to do so for… well, forever.
Hawthorn is one of the first herbs I started using medicinally and the one that convinced me of the incredible healing power of herbs.
WHY IT'S AMAZING
Hawthorn is a tree that's part of the rose family, and it's one of the best cardiac tonics there is.
Hawthorn is classified as a "cardiotonic" and a "trophorestorative," which means that it has a beneficial and normalizing action on the heart and circulatory system, either stimulating or depressing its activity depending on what your body needs. For example, if you have low blood pressure, it will raise it, and if you have high blood pressure, it will lower it. Yeah… that's amazing. Its effect also builds up in the body, so the longer you take it the more effect you will experience. And the benefits don't only last as long as you take the herb. Hawthorn actually restores the heart itself, so you still get the benefits even after you stop taking it (once you've taken it for a while – like months or years).
This herb is used for all kinds of heart conditions, like arrhythmia, high blood pressure, angina or chest pain, and even congestive heart failure, as it generally makes the heart stronger and healthier. Basically, it's a wonder herb for the heart. And I say from experience that it does this very effectively. Lest you doubt, this is a powerful herb!
And bonus: it also has antioxidant properties and is useful for digestion.
Sold yet? Here's how you can take it.
HOW TO TAKE IT
The leaves, flowers, and berries of the hawthorn can all be used, and in any number of ways. If you have access to an actual tree (lucky you), you can use these parts of the tree as food, but otherwise they can be taken as tea, tinctures, or capsules, which are available commercially. I sometimes buy hawthorn extract, and other times I buy the dried herbs to make my own teas and extracts. See my post here about how to take herbs as medicine. You can get hawthorn at places like Sprouts, Whole Foods, or herb stores like Mountain Rose Herbs.
Hawthorn is considered safe and doesn't seem to have any downsides or negative effects (though you should still work with a doctor if taking prescription heart medication).
Does this blow your mind? It should. This is kindof a miracle plant for the heart and absolutely one worth being familiar with.
(photos from Mountain Rose Herbs)
I'm all about eating clean, whole, real foods, but it can sometimes be hard to come up with things to eat on an everyday basis. Real life is busy, and I know I don't have time for complicated, high-effort food most of the time.
So I figured I'd help provide a little inspiration by posting the simple things that I actually eat in my everyday life. May it bring you ideas and inspiration and prompt you to send me things you come up with so I can eat them too!
We'll start with what I call honeyed yogurt. Yep, it's yogurt with honey. Sooo easy, and good enough to leave it right there. But to kick it up, today I added chia seeds and strawberries for extra antioxidants, omega-3s, and other nutritional greatness.
As a cultured food, yogurt is great for so many reasons. But most yogurt these days is loaded with sugar and other additives that should just not be consumed, so this is my whole food (and delicious) variation. It's fun to play with different fruits, spices, etc., but this is a great place to start.
Organic yogurt from grass-fed cows (plain)
Done. Simple, quick, and nutritionally powerful. That's what I'm talkin' about!
Disclaimer: I added the mint sprig because it looked like it could use some green, but the mint is actually not good in this, so, ahem, leave it out when you make this yourself…
One day, a few months ago, I went to the farmers market and saw a container for sale labeled "mesquite flour." Now, I had never seen mesquite flour before, and the only thing that came to mind was barbeque. I had no idea what mesquite flour would taste like, and I for sure had no clue what to do with it. So I decided to buy it 🙂
To my surprise, when I got it home and opened the container, I made the shocking and happy discovery that the flour tasted like chocolate! So I did some research on how to use this new and beautiful substance and decided to make BROWNIES!
Mesquite flour is made from the pods of the mesquite tree, which thrives in arid lands like the Sonoran southwest. It’s a desert food and was a staple food source for Southwestern desert tribes for centuries. It’s high in calcium, magnesium, and protein and when made using the whole pod is said to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
And it makes darn good brownies. Here's the recipe I use (I got it here):
10 tbsp butter or coconut oil
1 cup turbinado sugar or honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup mesquite flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
Mix butter and sugar.
Mix in eggs and vanilla.
Mix in dry ingredients.
Pour into greased 6×8 baking pan and bake at 325 for 30 minutes.
Happy Independence Day! I've been traveling internationally lately, which usually makes me really appreciate the incredible local food culture I have access to here. It's a beautiful thing and not to be taken for granted. So to celebrate America today, I spent the morning at the farmers market 🙂
Here's what I came home with…
Fresh-baked sourdough loaf
Smoked pork lard – I haven't actually used lard before, but I do try to incorporate a good amount of clean animal fat into my diet, so it seemed a good new adventure. I think it's going to be amazing.
Dukkah – a middle eastern condiment
Raw goat milk
Enjoy your Fourth!
Okay ladies (and gentlemen, if you care to read this on behalf of the women in your life)! Last year I wrote about why using clean, chemical-free makeup is important. But I didn't give any specifics, so that's what this post is for. Today I'm sharing my favorite clean foundations, so if you're looking to switch out your products for cleaner versions, this is a great place to start.
Alima Pure mineral foundation
Alima is a great brand of mineral makeup. Pure minerals only, without all the bad stuff, their products are also never tested on animals, environmentally friendly, and their website has a list of every ingredient used in their products, so you know exactly what's in them.
Another super clean makeup company, Vapour is also environmentally-friendly from production to packaging, and every product is made of at least 70% organic ingredients. This foundation comes in a stick and is more of a solid cream consistency.
This company is pretty amazing. Created by a high-profile makeup artist of 20 years who realized the dangers of toxic cosmetics, all products are actually food grade organic AND made with ingredients that actually benefit and heal the skin. You should actually read this page and this page on their website for a really fantastic overview of why avoiding toxic makeup is extremely important. Coming from the cosmetic industry, she should know.
Leave comments and let me know what you think, or share any other clean products you love!
I never knew my makeup was dangerous.
Until I started learning about all the diseases and health problems caused by the chemicals makeup is made of. And then I was horrified.
This blog is about clean living without toxic chemicals, and I've written about food and household products, but makeup is actually one of the WORST offenders when it comes to toxins that we put onto (=into) our bodies. Cosmetics are LOADED with horifying, cancer-causing, disease-inducing chemicals.
It's also something a lot of people are afraid to change because, let's be honest, our appearance is important to us and we don't want to use anything that's going to make us look bad.
So I'm happy to let you know that I've entirely switched out all of my makeup for natural products, and they actually make my skin look better than the disgusting, chemical-laden junk I used to use. There's a shocker. So ladies, don't be afraid of this. I'm going to let you in on the good stuff so you know some solid, go-to brands right from the start.
But first off, let's get real about why this matters. I think we all know at some level that what we put onto our skin matters, but I don't think we always realize that what we put onto our skin affects not just our skin but our whole body. The body is a unified system, and the skin is the biggest organ of them all. It's not a shield that keeps everything on the outside from getting in; it actually takes what's put onto it and circulates it throughout the entire body. What's in our makeup affects our liver, our lungs, our heart, our immune system, our reproductive system, etc.
So this is something worth paying attention to. Especially given how many products we use every single day, day after day, year after year.
Some helpful resources I've found:
The Environmental Working Group's cosmetics database website, with info on thousands and thousands of cosmetics products, what's in them, and how safe they are
The EWG also has a mobile app if you prefer it to the actual website
The Think Dirty mobile app can be used to scan product barcodes at home or in the store and tell you how safe they are, info on the ingredients, etc. I don't actually have a smart phone, but this one seems to be a great find.
If you need more convincing, here's a pretty staggering infographic on some very common ingredients in cosmetic products, both men's and women's.
Courtesy of Natural Healthy Concepts: What Toxic Chemicals Is Your Body Absorbing? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Freaked out yet? Check back for my next post with recommendations for cleaner options.