Easy Weekend DIY Projects

Gold Dipped Ceramics

I love bookmarking cool DIY projects on Pinterest and in my favorite magazines, but almost never get around to making anything.  Now that fall is approaching and my weekends are starting to look increasingly devoid of plans, I’m bookmarking a few projects to tackle when I find myself itching for something fun and constructive to do.  I don’t sew and I don’t know how to use a drill bit, so you should know these projects are super simple and doable, regardless of how crafty you are!

Here are a few things that are currently on my “to make” list:

Gold Dipped Ceramics

Gold Dipped Ceramics

I adore the simple, elegant look of these gold dipped ceramics.  I’d love to try this technique on a white kitchen utensil crock and dainty bud vases to jazz up my kitchen and dining areas.

Flavored Nut Milks

Flavored Nut Milks

Chef Amy Chaplin recently posted some mouthwatering recipes for flavored nut milks over at her blog, Coconut & Quinoa.  I’m really itching to try the blueberry and vanilla spice flavors in particular!

Painted Baskets

Painted Baskets

How cute are these painted baskets?  I’m thinking of making one for my future baby’s nursery to stow away toys and the like, and also for storing throw blankets in my living room in anticipation of cozy fall nights in front of the fireplace!

Rose Body Scrub

Rose Body Scrub

I’ve long been a fan of anything rose scented, and in the cooler months, I straight up live for taking long, nightly baths.  I am dying to make this Rose Body Scrub to bring my nightly ritual to new levels of pure relaxation/pampering awesomeness.  This would also make for such a great homemade gift – something to keep in mind around holiday season!

Homemade Vanilla Extract & Homemade Vanilla Salt

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Salt

I was looking for a recipe for homemade vanilla extract and struck GOLD when I found a recipe post by one of my favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker, that featured recipes for both homemade vanilla extract AND homemade vanilla salt.  What the what?!  Joy, you are so awesome.  I’ll be tackling both of these recipes and using the salt and extract in my fall cooking/baking!

What are some of your favorite DIY projects?  Any ideas that you’ve been dying to try?

facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in DIY | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Essential Tips for Healthy Travel

5 Essential Tips for Healthy Travel

 image via Pinterest

I’m heading back to one of my favorite places on earth – Costa Rica! – in the very near future and I’m starting to do a little pre-planning so I can stay healthy and still eat well while I’m away from home.

I love, love, love traveling but hate being away from my kitchen for too long – I start to miss my favorite staple foods/meals and feel off balance after one too many restaurant meals.  Of course, I am still a believer that indulging in “naughty” foods is essential to any real vacation (FRENCH. FRIES.), but, I still stick to wholesome, nourishing foods the majority of the time so that when I return home, I don’t have to spend weeks repairing the damage that I did while I was away in order to just feel normal again.

With that said, I’ve put together a list of my 5 favorite tried-and-true methods for staying healthy on the go!

Portable Almond Milk

Tip #1:  BYONDM (aka Bring Your Own Non Dairy Milk) 

The sad fact is, the majority of coffee shops and restaurants out there still don’t carry alternatives to dairy milk, so I occasionally pack my own non dairy milk so that I have something to add to my coffee and cereal while I’m away from home.  I’ve found that the 8 oz. aseptic cartons of almond/soy milk are perfect for travel and don’t need to be refrigerated (until they’re opened, of course, and then I stash them in the hotel mini bar).

LARABAR Apple Pie

Tip #2:  Pack nutritious food for the airport/airplane

It can be tough finding fast food options that are vegan and/or healthy, so I almost always have some sort of food stashed in my carry-on so that I’m not left desperate and starving once I’m en route to my destination.  Some of my favorite portable snack options are LARABARs (I like the Apple Pie flavor, which also happens to be gluten free, soy free and non-GMO), rice crackers with hummus, and fresh fruit.  For meals, I usually pack a sandwich (peanut butter & banana, hummus/avocado/cucumber, veggie burger, chickpea cutlet, etc.) or I’ll pop into a Starbucks and buy one of their delicious Hearty Veggie & Brown Rice Salad Bowls with Tahini Dressing.  If I’m ever in a bind, I’ll find a deli and get a bagel with peanut butter and an apple.

Tip #3:  Pack vitamins and “health boosters” to supplement with on vacation

If all else fails and there are limited healthy options available to me on vacation, I can at least take comfort in knowing that I’m taking my vitamins and getting my daily dose of Omega 3s.  I always pack enough multivitamins, B-12 and DHA supplements to last the duration of my trip, and little baggies of ground flaxseed and chia seeds to sprinkle on breakfast foods.

Tip #4:  Water and tea, baby!

What is it about staying hydrated and/or sipping on tea that makes you feel so darn good? I always pack my favorite stainless steel water bottle to fill up with water once I’m past airport security.  I also like to stash some decaffeinated tea bags in my carry-on, so that when the airplane stewardess comes by, I can ask for a cup of hot water and steep my own green tea.  I also love to have hot tea in my hotel room in the morning and before bed (just use the in room coffee machine to heat up water).

Alba Sunscreen

Tip #5:  Tote along kinder, healthier personal care products

I make a big effort to shop for personal care products that are not only cruelty-free, but also void of yucky things like parabens, phthalates, and other harmful chemicals.  I usually make sure to pack some good sunscreen, DEET-free insect repellent, and a couple of travel sized bottles of my favorite shampoo and conditioner (I like Nature’s Gate brand) and toothpaste (Tom’s of Maine is great).

It’s also really nice to have a small bottle of lavender essential oil to rub on my temples/wrists during the flight and at night in the hotel to help me relax and fall asleep.

Finally, if there’s extra space in my suitcase, I like the bring along my dry brush to help boost circulation and detoxify the body every day before showering.

I’d love to hear – what are some of your favorite tips for healthy travel?

facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Healthy, Travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Striped Bistro Kitchen Towels

Striped Bistro TowelsI was having dinner with family last week and saw a stack of these classic 100% cotton striped bistro towels sitting in the kitchen and immediately asked our host where she got them.  I used similar towels all throughout culinary school and have been dying to replace them since they are looking a bit worse for the wear, but haven’t been able to find any at the price I was willing to pay for them (read: next to nothing).  I was psyched when she told me that the towels were from Amazon and pack of 12 cost her a mere $20.00.  I love these towels because not only are they French bistro chic, they make great napkins, dish drying cloths, hand towels, cloths for wrapping up produce, impromptu drying racks, trivets and pot holders (when folded), and hostess/thank you gifts (I’d add a few into a basket with Fleur de Sel and good olive oil as an alternative to wine or flowers).  I bought them in blue, but they also come in red, green, and gold.  Such a great kitchen find!

Keeble Outlets One Dozen Kitchen Dish Towels in White/Blue, $20.00

facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Kitchen Products, Product Review | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Big News!

Oh Baby - Pregnancy News!

Oh hey!  So, there’s a big reason for why things have been a little quiet around here for the past few months… my husband and I found out in early April that I’m pregnant!  I’ve been staying mum on the subject on the blog until now, mostly because this is my first time at the rodeo and I wanted to make sure that everything was going smoothly before I made a big public announcement.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been on the fence about having children my entire adult life, so making the leap and deciding to try and get pregnant was huge for me.  I was nervous about how a baby would impact my career, my relationships, my finances, my love/need for travel, and about a million other things.  I knew that if I ever decided to have children, it would be the result of painfully long and careful consideration – I feel really strongly about maintaining my individuality and personal interests/passions/hobbies even once my little one arrives.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find a good balance between motherhood and the aspects of my pre-child life that are important to me, and I’m convinced that half the battle is attitude and positive thinking.

Anyway, I’m pretty much past the stage of being ridiculously apprehensive and scared, and am now feeling mostly excited and anxious to meet our little one this December.

I figured I’d share all the 411 on how I’m feeling, what I’m eating, and everything in between for those of you who are curious!

When are you due/how far along are you?

I’m due December 16th, and I’m currently 19 weeks pregnant.  Just about halfway there!

Are you finding out the gender?

No, we want to be surprised – we have the option of finding out the gender next week, but plan on waiting until the big day to find out!  I have zero suspicions on whether it will be a boy or a girl.

How are you feeling?

I’m feeling great – I’ve had zero morning sickness/nausea to speak of, and minimal side effects in general, except for being a little more sluggish than usual.

Are you staying vegan throughout your pregnancy?  What is your pregnancy diet like?

In a word, yes!  I’ve felt really good continuing a plant-based diet throughout my pregnancy, and my doctor is fully supportive – so far, all of my blood tests have come back indicating no deficiencies or insufficiencies so I’m pretty confident that I’m getting everything I need (and the baby needs) from plants :)  To be extra safe, I’m taking a few supplements (which I’d be doing on any diet, vegan or not!) - a prenatal multivitamin (I love this one from Rainbow Light), a B-12 supplement (using a sublingual one from DEVA), and a DHA supplement (currently very happy with this one from DEVA).

I’m going to be completely honest here – there were a small handful of instances in which I thought I was “craving” cheese, so I gave into those cravings at the time.  I found afterward that I didn’t feel any better (and in some cases, felt worse) and my craving – whatever it truly was for – wasn’t satisfied by eating a slice of cheese pizza.  I was likely just craving the fat and salt and creamy texture of the cheese.  So, I’ve found that if I just ask myself honestly what it is that my body needs, the answer can be found in something plant-based.  I’m back to sticking to my vegan lifestyle 100% of the time and feeling great/fully satisfied!

Current cravings include fresh fruit (specifically cherries, peaches and bananas), avocado toast with EVOO and Maldon salt, and Amy’s Mint Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Cream (coconut milk based and outrageously good).  I’ve also been drinking a TON of green juices and smoothies, and eating a lot of grilled veggie and bean tacos, whole wheat pasta with fresh pesto, stir fried veggies and tofu over rice or quinoa, and anything that I can dream up with the abundance of CSA vegetables sitting in my refrigerator at all times.

Are you staying active/exercising?

Yes – I was still running on a regular basis until about 3 weeks ago, and lately have been sticking to hour-long daily walks, light weights, and the occasional yoga class.  I still bang out the occasional run here and there, but I go really slowly and take lots of walking breaks.

Any good pregnancy books or resources you can recommend?

I’m actually trying to minimize the amount of time that I spend reading pregnancy books and websites/blogs because I get easily overwhelmed by the amount of information and advice out there – but there are a select few that I’ve enjoyed referring to now and again.

Books:

The Kind Mama by Alicia Silverstone – This guide to vegan pregnancy is full of useful information, from everything from diet (including yummy recipes for you & baby) to birthing plans to setting up a nursery.  Some of Alicia’s advice is a little too out there at times for me, but overall, I’ve really enjoyed reading this book and find most of the info in here to be sound and helpful.  This is a companion book to her amazing diet/cookbook and New York Times bestseller, The Kind Diet.

Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal – This cute little book is small but mighty – it contains tons of information on diet and nutrition for a healthy vegan pregnancy, as well as a plethora of other useful stuff (how to deal with the endless questions about where you get your protein, etc.).  Sayward writes a great vegan blog called Bonzai Aphrodite, so you may have already heard of her!

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy by Mayo Clinic Doctors – This is a great reference manual for pregnancy in general, and not just for vegan mamas to be.  It contains a massive amount of information so it’s been a reliable resource for all aspects of maintaining a healthy pregnancy, knowing what to expect during each trimester, etc.

Websites/Blogs:

TheBump.com – If you’re already familiar with TheKnot.com, this is their sister site for all things baby related.  I mostly use this site for the weekly pregnancy update emails.

WhatToExpect.com I occasionally browse the community forums on this site, and also like to read their weekly pregnancy updates as well.

There are a few bloggers that I’ve been following for a long time that did a great job of detailing their pregnancies week-by-week/month-to-month, so I’ve enjoyed reading their baby related posts now that I’m going through it myself:

Caitlin from HealthyTippingPoint.com

Emily from DailyGarnish.com

Angela from OhSheGlows.com 

Kath from KathEats.com

How will your blog be changing now that you’re pregnant/once the baby arrives?

I definitely don’t want this blog to turn into a “mommy blog”, so I’m going to keep my posts largely focused on food, health, and a vegan lifestyle.  There may be some baby/family related posts from time to time, but they will be relevant to the overall theme of the blog (like, for instance, making homemade baby food, or eco friendly baby products).

Overall, I’m feeling really grateful and excited about this new chapter of my life!  More to come soon!

image via Pinterest

facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Books, Personal, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why You Should Be Eating (& Drinking!) Turmeric

Turmeric

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the astounding health benefits of turmeric.  I’ve always had a bottle of the dried stuff lurking somewhere in the back of my spice rack, but until recently, it rarely found its way into my cooking.

Turmeric is a root with tough brown skin and bright yellow-orange flesh – you’ll most often find it used in Indian, Pakistani, Persian and Thai cuisine.  In addition to imparting wonderful earthy flavor and bright color into whatever you cook it with, turmeric also contains anti oxidant, anti viral, anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti carcinogenic, anti mutagenic, and anti inflammatory properties – that’s a lot of really good antis.  Turmeric contains a powerful substance called curcumin, which has been linked to cancer prevention (including slowing the growth of preexisting cancerous tumors and destroying cancer cells), relief from arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease prevention (and also slowing the progression of the disease), reduced risk of heart disease, liver detoxification, reduced cholesterol, reduced weight gain, regulated insulin levels, reduced cramping, and a strengthened immune system.  Ah, yeah…I’m convinced.

Once I started reading about how this little root can do so much for our health and bodies, I decided to make a concerted effort to regularly incorporate it into my diet.  I still have turmeric powder, but I’m a big believer in using food in its whole and original form (when possible) so I ordered a few pounds of the fresh stuff online (you can also find fresh turmeric root occasionally at Whole Foods and other health stores).

I prep turmeric by peeling it with my favorite vegetable peeler and then either slicing, chopping, mincing, or finely grating it (with a Microplane) into whatever it is I’m cooking it with.  I store whatever I’m not using either in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator, or tightly wrapped up in the freezer.

Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate turmeric (both ground and fresh) into my diet:

  • Blended into a smoothie or green juice
  • Steeped in hot water with ginger and a little agave (recipe here)
  • Grated into marinades (for tofu, tempeh & veggies), sauces, and salad dressings
  • Grated into pots of rice, quinoa, and other grains, and beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • Grated into homemade veggie burger/lentil loaf mixtures
  • Tossed into tofu scrambles
  • Thinly sliced into stir fries
  • Minced and used in soups, stews, curries and broths
  • Chopped and roasted with vegetables and/or potatoes
  • Sprinkled on top of cooked dark leafy greens

What are your favorite ways to use turmeric?

(image via Pinterest)

facebooktwitterpinterest
Posted in Healthy, Vegan | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments