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.

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

A Deeper Look into Agave Video

The natural food world has a love/hate relationship with agave nectar. I first chose it as an ingredient because I was impressed at how simple and PURE it is. I traveled to Guadalajara, MX to learn for myself how this nectar is created step by step from the farm to the bottle. Learning how simple and minimally processed our agave nectar is and seeing the positive impact on the lives of the farmers and harvesters verified my decision to use this agave in our Pure bars. Watch the video above to see my journey!

When I started Pure bar I was 100% committed to the cleanest and most minimally processed organic ingredients I could find. Now as we grow, I continue to look for companies to support that provide ingredients which not only make our bodies healthier, but keep the earth healthy and nourished and make communities strong and productive. It’s a commitment to our customers that we will never abandon.

- Veronica

Ways to use Agave

Agave nectar can be used in place of refined sugar, maple syrup and honey. My favorites are below!

Drizzle over yogurt

Add a bit to your smoothie

Use as a sweetener in cocktails like margaritas instead of simple sugars to lessen hangovers

Sweeten your hot chocolate with it

Make a killer cranberry sauce

Drizzle on toast with cinnamon

Add a spoonful to your cup of tea

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Introducing New PURE Fruit Snacks and Ancient Grains Bars

One of my biggest struggles is finding delicious, healthy, convenient snacks. It’s easy when I’m home and have time to create nutritious meals, but what about when I’m in sitting in traffic, packing lunches or running out the door before breakfast? I first created the Pure bar out of a desire to provide my family healthy, real, organic food in a convenient form. I am excited to unveil a new line of bars and fruit snacks that will make all of our lives so much easier – and so much more delicious!

Pure Ancient Grains was inspired by the re-emergence of century-old, whole-protein, gluten-free grains like quinoa, hemp and flax, that have been unchanged for thousands of years, and deliver unmatched nutrients. Our two flavors Chocolate Chunk Nut and Triple Berry Nut are crispy, crunchy and extremely decadent, yet hold true to the Pure mission of using simple, healthy, organic foods. They are Certified Organic, gluten-free, non-GMO verified, vegan and Kosher; whew, that’s a load of incredible attributes! Wait until you try them – they are way too healthy to be this delicious!

Have you ever heard of a fruit sandwich? Now you have! Pure Fruit snacks are for the kid in all of us. Who knew you could make a fun, delicious fruit snack out of… Surprise! …real, organic fruit and vegetable juices and purees? Our Fruit and Veggie Strip is made from real, organic fruit and vegetables and our Fruit Sandwich is a fun, triple-layered, dual-flavored sandwich made from real, organic fruit. Pure Fruit snacks are for grownups and kids everywhere. Breathe easy; we can all snack easier!

- Veronica

What are Ancient Grains?

Ancient Grains are exceptionally-nutritious grains and seeds that have been around and unchanged for centuries. The four Ancient Grains that we use in Pure are:

Quinoa: A gluten-free, whole grain, complete, vegan protein that provides iron, magnesium, fiber and riboflavin (B2).

Hemp: A gluten-free seed and complete vegan protein that provides omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and fiber.

Flax: A gluten-free seed, excellent source of omega-3 fats, and a good source of vitamin B1 and fiber.

Amaranth: A gluten-free whole grain, rich in protein, iron, magnesium and calcium.

Learn more about our new products on www.thepurebar.com

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

5 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Nail Polish

Have you ever stopped to think about the chemicals being used in your nail polish? Luckily, as consumers, we don’t have to settle for dangerous ingredients in our beauty products. Vegan, organic and all-natural skincare, hair care and nail polish are widely available. Shel Pink, founder of SpaRitual, describes what to look for and what to avoid when choosing nail polish.

- Veronica

Other Favorite Eco-Beauty Products

Face wash: Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser

Lotion: La Natura Grapefruit Body Lotion

Shampoo: Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo

Scrub: Naples Soap Company Bergamot Grapefruit Sea Salt Scrub

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Eco-Friendly Beauty: What’s Lurking in Your Beauty Products?

Do your eco-friendly habits extend into your beauty routine? For many of us, the answer is no. It’s one thing to buy organic food, switch to low-watt light bulbs, and compost. It’s quite another to change up our hair and skin routine. Most of us are comfortably committed to shampoos, lotions and makeups that we know work for us, eco-friendly or not, and it’s a little scary to deviate from that. I used to ask myself, what if my hair gets greasy or frizzy, or I start to break out?

Luckily, eco-friendly beauty products on the market are better now than they have ever been. I thought WebMD had some poignant advice when they wrote,

“Would you rather trust your skin and hair to mother nature or a geek in a lab coat?”

I treat my beauty products like I do my food; I read, read, read the labels. One of my favorite lotions is from a small, organic company called La Natura. I also think that some larger companies like Burt’s Bees and Aveda do a decent job with many of their products and they are widely available. A simple first step to healthier, more pure beauty regiments: choose the beauty product you use most (like your shampoo, lotion, or hand wash) and switch it to a more eco-friendly version.

Below are some additional ways to become an expert in eco-friendly beauty. And remember, the best (and most eco-friendly way) to be beautiful is to smile!

- Veronica

Important things to keep in mind when throwing a swap party:

  1. Stop using disposable razors. I bought a couple of nice reusable razors for my family and we buy replacement heads online for much less than in the store.
  2. Make your own lip balm and hand salve (recipe).
  3. Switch to eco-friendly nail polish.
  4. Recycle your beauty product packaging.
  5. Watch out for the “Dirty Dozen Beauty Ingredients”.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Host Your Own Swap Party

One woman’s trash is another’s treasure, right? This is why hosting a swap party is on my short list. That, and because I love an excuse to throw a party, drink some “spirits” with my girlfriends and score gently used threads… For FREE!

Recently, I met with Ecostilleto.com founder Rachel Sarnoff to make our latest PURE Living video on eco-fashion. She talked about the value and fun of hosting a swap party with her friends. Now I’ve done my share of informal swapping with friends, but the idea of throwing a party with friends and swapping everything from kids’ clothes to books to accessories to big girl clothes is brilliant! I truly LOVE this idea and it’s so eco-friendly that the earth loves it too!

- Veronica

Important things to keep in mind when throwing a swap party:

  1. Decide what you will swap (clothes, games, books, accessories, all of the above, etc.)
  2. Invite around 8 people to keep it manageable.
  3. Create a point system (e.g., jeans worth 2 points, shirts worth 1 point) or have a simple item-for-item swap.
  4. Take turns. Draw straws to see who gets to “buy” their items first. Allow 1 or 2 items per turn.
  5. Don’t bring junk. This one is obvious! Only bring items that are in gently-used condition.
Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Eco-Fashion on a Budget

How do you define eco-fashion? Does it conjure up images of tree-hugging, granola-wear, or perhaps very-expensive fabrics? Fear not! I found out that being eco-fashionable on a budget is not only possible, it is easier than ever with today’s options. Eco-fashion expert Rachel Sarnoff tells us what to look for when shopping and shares the simplest ways to be eco-fashionable on a budget!

- Veronica

Tips to Tap into Your Eco-Fashionable Side

  1. Purchase clothes from a thrift or swap shop
  2. Look for (and ask for) organic cotton clothing
  3. Bring a reusable bag wherever you shop
  4. Organize a Swap Party with your friends and neighbors