Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Gettin’ “Figgy” With it

Tell the truth, how long did it take you to realize that figs are a fruit, not just the gooey inside of a “Fig Newton”? The first time I ever experienced a fig was in Italy. I have to admit that I didn’t know what it was. They served these beautiful, soft, green fruits on a platter after dinner and luckily my husband correctly identified them. He looked at me with amusement and said “Have you never had a real fig before?” I laughed and said not only had I never eaten one, but I had also never seen one! What can I say? I’m a child of the processed food 80’s and surprisingly even my hippie generation parents didn’t introduce me to figs.

It didn’t take long for me to love and truly appreciate figs the fruit, and Fall is the best time to include them in your favorite recipes. When ripe they practically melt in your mouth and are a great complimentary ingredient in salads and desserts which is especially nice given their impressive nutrients. Figs provide calcium for strong bones, fiber to promote weight loss and control blood sugar, and potassium to help maintain a good blood pressure. Like other fruits, figs are high in antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancer.

Figs are especially delicious served with soft cheeses, I like to broil figs and spread them with a local herbed goat cheese for a wonderful appetizer. They are also great on pizzas and in dishes with grains like quinoa. Drizzle figs with vinegar or lemon juice for a sweet and sour flavor in recipes. Since figs are in season now, they are terrific paired with local farmers market tomatoes in a fresh salad! See one of my favorite fig-infused recipes below!

- Veronica

Fig, Arugula, Heirloom Tomato Salad

Serves 4

8 ounces of arugula

2 medium sized heirloom or ripe garden tomatoes, sliced into large sections

4 figs, quartered

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

Place arugula in a salad bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss lightly to combine

Dressing

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together in a measuring cup until smooth. Drizzle over the salad and serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Fend off Mosquitoes with Oils and Herbs

There are many joys to living in Michigan; mosquitoes are not one of them. Every summer and early fall they seek out innocent, outdoor-loving victims like miniature vampires. Heaven forbid one gets into your bedroom, or worse your tent! It will inevitably wait until you are just drifting away into a restful sleep to dive-bomb your head with a shrill piercing buzz that sends you into a panic of waving arms and sheets, only to be repeated over and over as your attempts to find the little pest are unsuccessful.

As humans do, we tend to overreact when we are threatened and angry. In the case of mosquitoes, we have created a substance that repels the mosquito very effectively but unfortunately is also extremely toxic to our own bodies. It’s called DEET. So as we ward off itchy bites, we run the risk of slowly poisoning ourselves and our family. At low doses, DEET can cause skin irritation, burning, and rashes. Prolonged exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, mood changes and even neurological damage. No thank you!

Luckily Mother Nature provides, as she always does. Now granted, you may have to be a little more diligent with natural solutions than with DEET, but it’s a small price to pay for one less toxin in your life. Below are two ways to naturally and effectively repel the little predators while keeping yourself and your family DEET free .

- Veronica

Repel Mosquitoes Naturally

  1. Create an outdoor environment that mosquitoes detest by planting these herbs around your outdoor patio or yard.
    • Lemon Grass
    • Lemon Balm
    • Rosemary
    • Basil
    • Lavender
    • Mint
  2. Make your own repellant by mixing 1 part essential oil (choose from the list below) and 15 parts organic soybean oil. These essential oils smell great to us but terrible to them, and soybean oil has also been shown to be extremely effective in warding off mosquitoes.
    • Peppermint oil
    • Cinnamon oil
    • Lemongrass oil
    • Citronella oil
    • Lavender oil
Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Roasting Peppers

Peppers and I have never really gotten along. I have always wanted to like them, but many peppers, especially green ones, have a strong flavor and do not sit well in my stomach. I have tried various methods of cooking them and I have tried eating them raw, all with little success, until now. I finally learned how to roast peppers to my liking and it has definitely helped repair my relationship with them.

Roasting peppers, unlike other methods of cooking them, creates a unique flavor combination of sweet and smoky. It also softens them to the right texture so they are more easily digested, and no longer upset my stomach.

Suddenly I have a whole new array of recipes available to me! One of my favorite ways to prepare roasted peppers is to stuff them with a variety of beans, grains, herbs and cheeses. You can also roast them plain and use them as a pizza topping or blend them into your hummus.

See my basic roasting recipe below and start adding roasted peppers to your food repertoire!

- Veronica

Roasted Red Peppers

I like to use bell peppers, but this recipe works with other varieties. It is important to keep an eye on the pepper because different varieties will have different cook times. I like to scoop the seeds and gills out of my peppers before I roast them because they get too hot and mushy to handle afterwards. I also roast them cut side down because the internal juices steam and make the inside of the pepper softer than when roasting cut side up. I place them in an airtight container to further steam and soften them before stuffing.

Ingredients:
2 red bell peppers

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 ˚F. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, leaving the stem intact. Scoop out the seeds and gills with a metal spoon. Place peppers cut side down on a baking sheet or shallow baking dish. Bake for 25-35 minutes on a middle oven rack, keeping a good watch on the peppers to get them to their desired consistency.

Remove peppers from the oven and immediately place in an airtight container for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove and stuff peppers with your choice of ingredients!

Note: to roast peppers for addition to hummus or other dishes, follow the same instructions except, increase oven temperature to 425˚F, remove the top stem before roasting, and wrap the roasted peppers in damp paper towels right after removing them from the oven. This makes removing the skin easier which is preferable for these kinds of dishes.

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Forbidden Rice in the Kitchen

Are you feeling naughty? Don’t let the name fool you. Forbidden rice, or black rice as it is also called, should be anything but forbidden in your kitchen. Research shows this little gem of a grain to be higher in antioxidants than super fruits like blueberries and blackberries, without the sugar. In addition, forbidden rice is high in fiber, contains lots of heart healthy vitamin E and…here’s the kicker…it is inexpensive compared to super fruits.

That’s not to diminish the importance of super fruits in your diet, but often we don’t think of rice as a super food. In fact many people avoid rice because they think it is high in carbs. But be aware that all rice is not created equal, and cooking with forbidden rice should definitely be encouraged!

Part of the reason forbidden rice is black in color is because it retains the outer bran that is removed from many other rice grains. The bran adds iron and fiber, but the distinguishing factor from other rice grains is in the vast amount of dark cancer fighting pigments, which give this rice its super food status.

Call me shallow, but another reason why I fell in love with forbidden rice, besides the fact that it makes me feel naughty, is because it is beautiful. It cooks to a deep and rich purple color that puts its bland relatives to shame, and compliments any dish; it’s the perfect plate accessory. Forbidden rice also adds a hearty and nutty, yet mild flavor to your dish of choice. I use it as I would any other rice or grain and serve it hot as well as cold in tabbouleh-like salads.

- Veronica

Forbidden Rice Pilaf

1 large onion chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup forbidden rice

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 carrots chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Juice from 1 lime

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil on low heat until it is soft. Add the rice, water, salt, and carrots. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low-medium heat for about 30 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Squeeze the lime over the rice and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or chilled.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Making Blogger Connections

One of the most exciting ways to grow your business, no matter what business you are in, is to connect with like-minded people in your industry. As a female entrepreneur, I get so much joy from getting to know other women who are also following their passions. For me, one of the best ways to do this is by connecting with influential bloggers who are passionate about what they do, and looking to bring good into the world.

This year I am hosting a series of Pure Blogger Breakfasts. The purpose of these breakfasts is to get ten or so woman around the table to talk about what we do, share our stories, and walk away with new friends and business contacts. So far we have had one in Chicago and one in Los Angeles. The women I have met are incredible. They are passionate, relatable, strong and amazing resources for me. We have continued to support each other with our individual goals and it has been great for me both personally and professionally. It’s like we’re all holding hands on this life journey.

So often we get wrapped up in our own busy world and forget that networking and developing relationships are the backbone to all successful businesses. So much of Pure was and is built on relationships, not just good business. So if you are looking to grow individually or grow your business, make sure to reach out to others around you. While you’re at it, have fun checking out these amazing blogs from the women I have met below.

*We are always looking to continue to partner with women-run businesses – if you would like to work together to partner on any upcoming initiatives, please email us at info@thepurebar.com

- Veronica

Blogs by Great Women

www.NutritionBabes.com

www.RealFoodMoms.com

www.MomsGoneZen.com

www.RockinMama.net

www.OCMomBlog.com

www.OrangeDragonfly.com

www.LaughingLindsay.com

www.AimeeBroussard.com

www.Sweeps4Bloggers.com

www.AnneHogan.net

www.MommyHasALife.com

www.MamaBee.net

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Mayonnaise for your Potato Salad and Summer Sandwiches

Most people think potato salad is bad for you, and rightly so if you buy it from the store or use store bought highly processed mayonnaise to make it. However, sans the dressing, potato salad is usually made with a bunch of delicious healthy vegetables and herbs. When combined with homemade mayo and organic whole ingredients, you actually have a very nutritious and absolutely delicious recipe. So, is it hard to do? Not at all. My homemade mayo recipe has only 5 ingredients and takes 5 minutes to make.

- Veronica

Homemade Organic Mayonnaise Recipe

Ingredients

1 large organic egg yolk

1/4 cup organic grapeseed oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh squeezed organic lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon organic ground mustard

Pinch sea salt

Paprika to garnish

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a glass Pyrex measuring cup (I use the 4 cup size). Using a fork, whisk the ingredients together until blended, about a minute. Using a hand held blender, blend the ingredients together in the measuring cup while slowly adding the oil, about 3-4 minutes. I like to use the small Pyrex container because it is tight and everything blends at once. When mayo is thick, use a spatula to place it in a serving or storing container. Garnish with paprika and use as you would any other mayonnaise.

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Simple Organic Cocktails

Isn’t there something about summer that begs for an icy cold cocktail? Think sunshine, warm deck, lots of friends, you get my drift. What’s interesting to me, is how those of us who seem to care so much about the food we put in our bodies (whole, organic, unprocessed) throw everything out the window when it comes to drinking. It’s bad for you anyway so why worry about it, right?

Luckily I had the opportunity to meet with Cocktail Chef Matthew Biancaniello who showed me a whole new way of thinking about drinking. What seems obvious but somehow never really clicked is that just like with food, when you use whole, real, unprocessed ingredients in your cocktails, they taste much better and you feel much, much better. That means more fun and less headaches. Learn Matthew’s tips along with a great drink recipe in the video below.

- Veronica

South Side of Sicily Drink Recipe

1/4 cup strawberries

1-2 leaves sweet basil

3/4 ounce (a bit less than 2 tablespoons) agave nectar

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) lime juice

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) watermelon juice

2 ounces (1/4 cup) tequila or sparkling water

Muddle strawberries and basil together in a cup. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake well to blend. Strain over ice and serve.

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Cooking with Amaranth

Amaranth is one of Mother Earth’s best kept secrets. But I predict it won’t be a secret for long. Given its amazing nutrients and how easy it is to cook with, I think amaranth will explode as the next healthy food trend. Since we include amaranth as a primary grain in our new Ancient Grain Pure Bars, I get a lot of questions about this elusive “ancient grain”. What is amaranth? And why is it so good for you?

Amaranth isn’t technically a grain but it behaves like one. Actually, it behaves better than most grains! One of the distinguishing characteristics of amaranth is that it has high levels of lysine, an amino acid which is lacking in most grains. Because it has lysine, it is a complete source of vegan protein, which is good news for vegetarians and vegans alike. It is also rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium and has tons of fiber. Oh, and it is GLUTEN FREE!

Like most grains, amaranth cooks up nicely in water. It uses a 3:1 water to grain ratio and takes about 20 minutes of simmering to soften. To me, amaranth is very similar to the cream of wheat my mom used to make us for breakfast as kids. It looks, tastes, and smells very similar to cream of wheat. Even the texture is similar. My favorite way to eat amaranth is as a porridge with almond milk, honey, cinnamon and fruit but it also blends well with savory ingredients like onions, garlic, curry, cumin, turmeric and countless vegetables. For recipe ideas see my tip below!

Amaranth recipe ideas

Pour into soups like you would rice or barley to add thickness and texture as well as protein. You may need to add more broth since amaranth soaks up a lot of water.

Make “Amaranth Tabouli” by cooking amaranth in water according to package instructions, and mixing cooked amaranth with chopped onions, tomatoes cucumbers and parsley. Season it with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil.

Toast amaranth in a pan over low heat until it pops like popcorn. Throw into salads or pasta for a great crunchy texture and added protein.

Create porridge with cooked amaranth, honey, apricots, cinnamon and almond milk.

Use amaranth flour in place of wheat flour to create gluten free recipes.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Gardening in Small Spaces

No space to garden? You’d be surprised what you can grow in a small area! Whether it’s gardening in a tiny corner of your yard or planting pots on a small porch, you can grow and reap an amazing harvest. It’s incredible the amount of money you can save by growing your own herbs and produce, not to mention the benefits your body will receive by eating fresh, healthy herbs, greens and fruits from your own garden!

In this week’s video, urban gardener Mike Lieberman teaches me about the easiest plants to grow in small spaces and how to get started with your own small garden. Read even more in his article here.

- Veronica

Tips to growing in small spaces

  • Plant and care for an herb garden for her
  • Use a natural pre-fertilized potting soil
  • Start with leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale to build confidence
  • Choose to grow the produce you will eat the most
  • Try herbs because they are expensive to buy in the store but easy to grow
  • Take sunlight and temperature into account when choosing the right plants
  • Plants that are indigenous or grow naturally in your region are easier to grow
Thursday, May 9th, 2013

“Mom, what do you want for Mother’s Day”?

This is a question no one should ever ask their mom. You will never receive a good, honest answer, simply because of who moms are. Moms typically don’t want to cause anyone grief or extra work or make themselves seem too important. I know that I can’t speak for all moms, but my 15 years in this position has given me some great ideas for what moms really want for Mother’s Day, and every day.

Generally moms already have too much stuff. Unless we specifically ask for a tangible item like a purse, scarf or piece of jewelry, it’s probably not what we really want. It certainly is a nice gesture and we will be very grateful for it, but in the end it is another thing to keep track of, put away and more potential clutter in a house we are constantly picking up.

Most moms love plants and flowers, but if you are considering a plant for a gift, make sure it is an outdoor plant, and that it is beautiful and very easy to maintain. A big planter with colorful indigenous plants is a great choice. A beautiful vine like Morning Glory to creep along a fence and flower all summer is another wonderful choice. Feeling more energetic? A fun gift that would delight many moms is an herb garden planted just for her. To do this, dig a 1 foot by 5 foot section in a sunny corner of the lawn (or choose a planter that size) and plant basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro and dill in a row. Remember though, if you go the route of plants, you should also commit to care for them so you don’t add to mom’s work load.

The greatest gifts for all moms on Mother’s Day or any day are extra time and you. Anything that takes a load off of mom so that she can read a book or exercise or paint her nails or shower, all those things that get put on the back burner because of her love and nurturing of everyone else, is a wonderful gift. Making one on one time for your mom is even better. Take her out for a nice lunch or dinner. Get your nails done together; go for a long hike together or to the beach. It is probably (unless she tells you differently) exactly what she wants and needs every day, not just on Mother’s Day.

Perfect Mother’s Day and Every Day Gifts for Mom

  • Plant and care for an herb garden for her
  • Clean the house top to bottom
  • Do all of the laundry
  • Give her a massage
  • Take her on a date, just you two
Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Expanding Your Juicing Horizon with Moon Juice-inspired Ingredients

Are you a juicer? Juicing is one of the best ways to get unaltered, antioxidant filled, fresh produce into your body. The great news is that you don’t have to spend hundreds on a juicer to get started! You can use your blender for many ingredients and choose to drink your nutrients smoothie style or strain the pulp out of your drink with a strainer or cheese cloth for a smooth juice taste.

I am always looking for creative juice recipes and for ingredients that have medicinal value. One of my favorite places to grab a juice is Moon Juice in Venice, CA because owner Amanda Bacon has such valuable culinary knowledge of her ingredients. Watch now to learn about interesting and incredibly healthy ingredients to use in your juice or smoothie for amazing health benefits to your body!

- Veronica

Interesting Ingredients

Try some or all of these ingredients in your next juice or smoothie:

  • Bee Pollen: Complete vegetarian protein
  • Fennel: High in vitamin C, soothing to digestive tract, great to combat inflammation
  • Basil: High in vitamin K, cardiovascular benefits, anti-inflammatory
  • Yam: Cardiovascular benefits, menopausal benefits, blood sugar stabilizer
  • Ginger: Soothing to digestive tract, anti-inflammatory, protection against certain cancers, immune support

Source

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Great Digestion for Great Energy

This week I had the opportunity to hear my friend, Registered Dietician Ashley Koff, speak on digestion. Talking about digestion can get a bit, well, uncomfortable, no pun intended, but in reality it is a subject we should all be more focused on. According to Ashley, one of the biggest indicators of our daily energy level is the health of our digestive system. Fiber and probiotics especially contribute to a healthy digestive tract. But before you rush out to the store for yogurt, be aware that there are much better ways to get both fiber and probiotics into your system.

Fermenting vegetables sounds scary to most of us but after spending a day with Chef Miller, a Master Preserver, I realized that fermenting your own vegetables is not only incredibly easy, but the result is a delicious readymade side dish that delivers on both fiber and probiotics. According to Chef Miller, fermented veggies are even more nutritious than raw vegetables because the healthy bacteria that do the fermenting also create additional vitamins and minerals like vitamin K and B vitamins. These same healthy bacteria have probiotic benefits which along with the fiber from the veggies improve the health of your digestive system. Vegetables, especially green ones also provide calcium.

I caution people from using yogurt as a probiotic. Dairy is more difficult for our bodies to break down so you may be introducing a problem as you are trying to solve it. Dairy also creates an acidic environment in our bodies which is neutralized by the leaching of calcium from our bones, so eating more dairy may be creating the very problem we are trying to solve with it. Stick with fermented veggies for loads of delicious digestive health. For a wonderful and very easy recipe to make fermented green beans that your kids will love because they taste like little pickles (only better!), see below.

- Veronica

Recipe: Fermented Green Beans

1 pound organic green beans washed and trimmed

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seed

1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed

1 teaspoon celery seed

Brine:
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt per quart of water

In a large bowl, toss green beans with salt and spices. Place into a one quart glass ball jar (I like to arrange the beans all in the same direction). Pour brine over the beans until about two inches from the top of the jar. Place a smaller glass jar on top of the beans to keep them submerged below the brine. Cover loosely with the lid to let carbon dioxide escape. Place out of direct light. Beans should be done fermenting in 2-3 weeks at 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

For a how to video on this recipe click here.