Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

5 Awesome Organic Ways to Pamper Yourself in the New Year

Yogi Kathryn Budig shares her tips to start fresh and get healthy in the New Year.

Dry Brushing

This is an amazing method used to improve your circulation, lymphatic system, great exfoliant and even helps to banish cellulite! Grab a body brush (normally the kind with rough bristles that you would use in a bathtub) and brush your entire body in long sweeps towards your heart. Do this on dry skin when you wake up, before bed or before showering.

Clean Your Teeth with Activated Charcoal

This is a bit of a mess but one of the best, natural ways to whiten your teeth and improve the health of your gums. You can buy capsules of activated charcoal at health food stores. Just dump the contents onto your toothbrush and scrub away! Your mouth will be completely black, don’t panic! Do a good scrub with toothpaste afterwards and careful not to swallow any as it’s job is to pull out impurities.

Oil Letting

This is an ancient Ayurvedic approach to oral health. It’s fantastic for dental health as well as pulling toxins from the body. Use a T of sesame or raw coconut oil and swish in your mouth for 10-20 minutes. I do it while I’m taking a shower and doing my morning activities.

Facial Mask

Pamper your face once a week with a gorgeous facial mask. Look for companies that are organic and cruelty free. Products made from plants and food are the best!

Epsom Salt Soak

End your day with a beautiful soak. Epsom salts do wonders for a tired, aching body. It will help restore your muscles and prepare you for a good night of sleep.

For more information check out KathrynBudig.com.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Kathryn Budig’s Quinoa and Roasted Veggies with Lemon Coconut Sauce

We are excited to share a healthy quinoa recipe from a special contributor who certainly subscribes to the Pure lifestyle. Kathryn Budig, one of the youngest and most widely recognized faces in yoga, is also known for her love of food and laughter. Kathryn’s Quinoa and Roasted Veggies with Lemon Coconut Sauce is as filling as it is fun to make. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Quinoa and Roasted Veggies with Lemon Coconut Sauce

Ingredients:
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
2-3 cups brussel sprouts, chopped finely
2-3 large tomatoes, diced
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
sea salt
red pepper flakes
1 cup red and white quinoa
1 3/4 cups ZICO coconut water
salt and small pat of butter

for lemon coconut sauce:

1 cup canned coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 T Lucini Fiery Chili Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
good pinch sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place your cut veggies onto a cookie sheet and massage well with olive oil, sea salt and pepper flakes until evenly coated. Roast for about 25-30 minutes.

Soak your quinoa for 5 minutes then rinse well. Cook in coconut water, butter and salt for about 15 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and the quinoa is light and fluffy.

Blend coconut milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, chili oil and salt and pepper until fully incorporated. Place on the stove and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add all of your goodies into a large bowl and mix well. Place quinoa/veggie mix into individual bowls and ladle with lemon coconut sauce and don’t hold back!

*use extra virgin olive oil and red chili pepper flakes if you can’t find this oil

Pure is on Instagram

From recipes to behind-the-scenes glimpses of what happens at Pure, there’s something for everyone on our Instagram feed. Follow @purebarveronica, and be sure to tag PUREBAR in your posts – we can’t wait to see how Pure fits into your everyday life.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Sustained Energy

by Guest Blogger Amanda Chantal Bacon, Founder of Moon Juice in Venice, CA

I have finally hit a stride in life where I feel like I have tapped into a deep and sustainable energy source in my body, and, thank goodness, because running a growing business and having a toddler is demanding and exciting – I don’t want to miss a second of it!

Even if it’s just for a day or two, the first step to deep and sustainable energy is to eliminate a few things from your diet. Eliminating doesn’t have to be forever, and you don’t have to be extreme, just use this knowledge as a tool. If you are feeling burnt out and would like more energy, give coffee a break! This may seem counterintuitive, but you want to support your adrenal glands not zap them. Try green tea or mate; these are less taxing and won’t leave you crashing after a jittery rush. Give wine, refined sugar and bread a break as well. They are high glycemic items that also leave you to crash and burn, repeating the vicious cycle.

With those eliminations, add a couple of delicious and nourishing superfoods to your day; you will feel immediate surges of sustained energy – a little goes a long way! I like to start the day with a raw, organic, superfood, nut milk smoothie. It’s delicious, and easy to pack full of energy-building, nutritionally-dense ingredients. You will find your not only buzzing with energy, but surprisingly satiated and eating less throughout the day. Eating a lighter lunch and dinner will really make a difference – all of that energy that would have gone to digesting cooked foods can be redirected towards increasing blood flow and brain power.

Here are my top ingredients for an energizing morning blend:

Start with a base of organic almond milk, not sweetened with sugar (if you are going to buy at the store, read the label!). Add any or all of these items and choose a sweetener like local raw honey, stevia, or a ripe frozen banana.

Maca: This adaptogenic superfood increases energy, endurance, strength, and libido. Dried maca powder contains more than 10% protein, nearly 20 amino acids, and 7 essential amino acids. Maca contains five times more protein than a potato and four times more fiber.

Raw hemp hearts: Shelled hemp seeds are packed with 33 % pure digestible protein, rich in iron, amino acids, and vitamin E, as well as omega-3’s. It’s a perfect food for immediate endurance and energy.

Bee Products (honey, pollen, and propolis): Bee pollen is the most complete food found in nature, containing vitamin B-9 and all 21 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Honey, in its organic/wild, raw, unfiltered states is rich in minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, enzymes, and one of the highest vibration foods on the planet. Bee products have been used to increase both stamina and alertness. They’re even used by Olympic athletes today.

Cacao, raw chocolate: Cacao is the highest antioxidant food on the planet, the #1 source of magnesium, iron, chromium and is also extremely high in anandamide (“bliss chemical”). Raw Chocolate balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, is a natural aphrodisiac, elevates your mood, and gives you much more energy than coffee can.

I make sure to sip an unsweetened, 100% organic, unpasteurized, green juice throughout the day. Yes, you can get high on green juice! This juice is loaded with bio-available vitamins, minerals, and live enzymes, while being hydrating and alkalizing. Green vegetables have the ability to transform the sun’s energy into food; they produce chlorophyll, which oxygenates the body and improves blood circulation, resulting in an immediate and massive boost of energy.

I like to use adaptogenic herbs when building energy. Through occasional use of these herbs you can quickly tap into and restore your own energy source. Adaptogens are herbs that promote the health of the adrenal glands, which in turn regulate immune response, emotions and bodily reactions to stress. The herbs restore balance and strengthen the body’s function without throwing another organ or system out of balance. Adaptogens make these changes by a wide range of actions rather than just by one specific action. They are nontoxic, non-stimulant, and non-habit forming. The improvement in energy is the result of a deeper internal shift toward health. It is a safe way to restore balance, rebuild vitality, and promote energy.

My favorites (which I take all at once with a big gulp of water) include cordyceps, rhodiola, reishi, astagalus, and schizandra

I also love taking shots of E3Live, a domestic blue-green alga. The algae unlock your energy sources by nourishing glands and organs and improving their functions. It increase endurance so efficiently that it’s used widely by professional athletes, and you get the benefits of improved mental clarity, focus, and an enhanced a sense of well-being.

No matter how sluggish I may feel, I get myself to a kundalini yoga class or practice at home. Each time, without fail, I am completely re-invigorated; all it takes is a little breath-work and meditation to clear the mind and body of whatever was bringing you down. It’s like washing the windows – everything is instantly brighter and clearer. The kind of energy that is built with kundalini yoga will keep you going for the week.

Last, but not least, is a nap or a night of deep sleep – incorporating even just a few of the above recommendations into your day will prime your body for some quality sleep. Shutting off the phone, turn off the altering blue light from the computer, and fill your mind with peaceful thoughts – it should send you sailing into an energizing rest!

Enjoy!
Amanda

* * *

Moon Juice is a cold pressed, 100% organic, juice and nut milk shop on Rose Avenue in Venice, California. Founded by Amanda Chantal Bacon, a former food writer and chef, Moon Juice celebrates the unadulterated, exquisite flavors and healing force of raw vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, and seaweeds. Find out more about Moon Juice at moonjuiceshop.com.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

A Sneak-Peek at a Few Products That I Use For Beauty

by Guest Blogger Shel Pink

When it comes to beauty, making decisions about products based on their ingredients and processing is important. It’s a great example of what I call Mindful Consumption (one of the Seven Outposts of a Slow Beauty practice). There are many ways to practice a more eco-friendly beauty regimen – here are some of my favorites to get you started.

  1. MSCHIC blush in “kissed” (in the woodblock case) www.mschic.com
    This mineral makeup series is talcum-free and contains no allergenic fragrances. This blush is also paraben free. According to the company’s philosophy statement, they dance at the office when they are excited about new products – good vibes are great for everyone! I discovered this make-up line at an adorable boutique called The Detox Market, specializing in curating green brands in beauty and lifestyle. The co-founder, Valerie Grandury, walked me around the shop and shared each brand’s endearing story with me. That leads me to another skincare brand I love also founded by Valerie Grandury, Odacité. Their products contain certified organic ingredients, and are free of petrochemicals, fragrance, glycols and parabens. Valerie is lovely and incredibly passionate about holistic living – using her products makes me feel confident inside and out.
  2. SpaRitual Nail Lacquer –in color Introspective from the upcoming spring 2013 SpaRitual collection, Meditate. For a fun nail look, I like to wear Introspective on all nails, sometimes pairing it with another color from the collection on my ring finger for an accent.
  3. SpaRitual Lip Gloss. The first ever gluten-free lip gloss is finally here – four shades that are also vegan, to be released this spring.
  4. SpaRitual Handprint Hand Salve and Hand Serum. Skincare for the hands is so important!
  5. Jane Iredale MakeUp. I’m a huge fan – I love the Mystikol powdered eyeliner in Onyx and PurePressed Eye Shadow Triple Azure. An added benefit is that it’s all vegan.
  6. Teas are an important part of my beauty ritual, too. Yogi Teas Green Tea Muscle Recovery supports an active body, is 100% natural, and made with Organic turmeric. This is the perfect tea to relieve sore muscles after exercise, and I love being surprised by the fortunes on each tea bag!

For more on Shel Pink or the SpaRitual brand, visit www.sparitual.com or www.slowbeauty.com

* * *

Shel Pink, Lifestyle Futurist, SpaRitual , and SlowBeauty.com Founder
Shel captured the attention of the spa industry when she founded SpaRitual in 2004, launching a brand that fuses the mind, body, and spirit connection with healing spa traditions. Keeping in mind the ideals of conscious beauty and sustainability issues, Shel has led the brand developing a collection of eco-friendly products. All SpaRitual body products are vegan, made of natural formulations and never use synthetic dyes or parabens. SpaRitual Manicure & Pedicure Essentials are also free of toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and DBP. The vegan Nail Lacquer Collection is also vegan and is 5-free, meaning that they don’t include camphor. Today, Shel sees the green movement transitioning towards a discussion of slow ideals in direct response to a lifestyle that has become too fast. Decades before a holistic lifestyle became mainstream, an organic diet, the importance of regular massage, alternative healing, and minimizing exposure to toxins in the environment were emphasized by Shel’s mother. Continuing on this holistic path, Shel discovered yoga, meditation and Ayurveda while attending college and maintains the practice to this day. Shel’s previous professional endeavors included a stint at Motown Records, photography art director, co-founder of the clothing brand LOBA and Orly executive. Shel also lends her time to the Bicycle Artist – a project that is close to her heart, which is a creative troupe that connects families as students with enriching, holistic, and creative experiences.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Green Fashion 101

by Guest Blogger Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Founder of EcoStiletto.com and MommyGreenest.com


You’ve heard about the impact new clothing has on the environment—that you can tell next season’s hot color by looking at the rivers in Mexico and China, where global fashion brands use hazardous chemicals and dyes to make clothes.

We need to change the way we think about buying clothes. Just say no to disposable fashion made from cheap and unsustainable fabrics, and think about creating a long-term relationship with your closet! Avoid hook-ups and one-night-stands—Think about clothing purchases as things that you want to live with for a long, long time. That doesn’t mean wearing things that are out of style. It simply means being more conscious of what we buy—and working with what we’ve got.

When it comes to your closet, consciousness can mean different things to different people:

  • Fair trade is the sustainable business practice of manufacturing goods in economically disadvantaged areas in order to alleviate poverty, reduce inequality and provide opportunities for farmers and artisans.
  • Vegan products contain no animal materials, but they aren’t organic unless they say so.
  • USDA Certified Organic and EcoCert products contain at least 95 percent organically grown materials; the latter is certified by an independent European agency, not the USDA.
  • The word organic simply means it comes from formerly living—i.e. plant or animal—material; it certainly doesn’t mean “good for you.” If you want to get technical, “organic” is defined by the Random House Dictionary as “noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.” Think oil. Organic, yes. USDA certified organic, no.
  • Finally, recycled means using something again—as in the case of thrift shopping or swapping, my two favorite ways to upgrade a closet!


But everyone has to shop once in a while, right? Here’s a quick tip to remember, the next time you go shopping:

Add another question to those that we women usually ask ourselves before purchasing, i.e. “Do I like it?” “Can I afford it?” and “Does it look good on me?” (Or, the converse, “Does this make me look fat?”)

The fourth question is, “Is it sustainable?”

If you can say yes to all four, then buy away! If not, give yourself some time to think about whether you really need something—or just want it. Because you wouldn’t want to cheat on your closet, right?

* * *

Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is the former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World and was editor-in-chief of Children magazine—before she had kids. Prior to her work in non-profit, Rachel owned her own public relations and marketing firm and built a career promoting sustainability as it relates to women and families: She founded EcoStiletto.com, blogs as Mommy Greenest, and has appeared on the “TODAY” show and “CNN Headline News,” among others. Today, Rachel works as a non-profit and green home consultant, sharing sustainable living and parenting advice @rachellsarnoff, as well as on youtube.com/rachelsarnoff, Huffington Post Parents and at the Pump Station Santa Monica, where she teaches greener parenting and prenatal yoga classes. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

The Lunchbox Fund heads to Limpopo
by Topaz Page-Green

Dear friends,
The following is a post from Topaz Page-Green, the founder of The Lunchbox Fund. Through Pure’s ongoing support of this cause which provides lunches to children in impoverished regions of South Africa , they are working to set up a yet another lunch program in the impoverished area of Limpopo.

In mid August I visited South Africa to check on our programs and to meet the team who will implement our new feeding program for 200 orphaned children in the rural areas of Limpopo.

I happened to be at the airport at the same time that the Olympic team were arriving back from London. It was particularly emotional to see the country gather at OR Tambo International at 6:30am to wait for them and to welcome them. The crowd was ebullient and sunny. Laughter and whistling and dancing everywhere. I would not have believed it had I not experienced it. You couldn’t move for the sound and cheers and clapping — I was so pulled into it, I almost missed my flight. To be honest, I cried. So much spirit. So many hungry children.

There are thousands of HIV/AIDS orphans in Limpopo province. Children sleeping on hard dirt floors in the middle of winter. No where else to go. Young boys and girls who already look so old — such are the trials they have experienced already.

Once again it broke my heart. And yet, we are incredibly grateful to be able to start a program here, where it is so greatly needed. For the small warmth of our food to reach their hearts. So they may grow and know that some one cares. All we wish for is to do more – and we graciously thank you for all your support. Without this generosity, we could not make the difference.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Quality, Preserved


Long before we had preservatives made in a chemistry lab (artificial sweeteners, stabilizers, fats and more), human smarts enabled them to preserve food using methods that actually preserved the food’s nutrients and, in some instances, even created additional nutrient value.

Sprouting, dehydrating, fermenting – they may sound like today’s “newest” food trends but these food preservation methods are as old as man- and woman-kind. When a hunter or gatherer had a bountiful day or season, they knew they were lucky but they also feared what future months could hold. Some dug holes in the soil and buried the extras, others hung their bounty out to dry in the sun, and, later, others filled jars with sea water and their remaining produce. What all of these preservation methods share was that the food stayed intact, and then nature took over.

And what Nature could do then, it still does today. When beans are soaked for hours or overnight, the nutrients become readily available as visually evidenced by the “sprout” tail. When cucumbers, cabbage, or beets are soaked for days in a mason jars along with some salt, pickled veggies result providing a rich source of good bacteria (probiotics). And because sunlight and heat aren’t always an option, when green leaves, fruits or grains and seeds are placed in a dehydrator, crisp crackers and crunchy chips can be made that retain the nutritional value ( or improve upon) of the original ingredient.

While food is much more readily available today, good quality food isn’t always as simple to get your hands on. You can, and should, rely on our modern preservation tools like the fridge and freezer, as well as plan for regular shopping trips versus buying chemically-preserved food products. Today’s manmade chemical preservatives will certainly last on shelf and within your body much longer than nature intended, but they do so at a health cost. So skip those for optimal health. In addition to the fridge and freezer, have fun trying cultured foods (the friendlier, modern term for fermented foods), enjoy dehydrator-made crispy raw and organic snacks, and look for sprouted grains and legumes or sprout your own.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Canning & Food Preservation with Akasha Richmond

For me, canning is all about preserving what is in season. I learned all about canning from my friend Kevin West , author of the forthcoming book Saving the Season, Knopf, Summer 2013. For me, “putting up,” as they say in the South, is all about the quality of the fruits and vegetables you are using. I can give you a fool-proof recipe for strawberry jam; be sure to buy in-season, organic strawberries so you have great results.

Your possibilities are endless! I make fruit butters, jam, jelly, preserves, chutney, and pickles. I believe sugar (organic, of course) is essential, especially if you are heat-sealing your goods and want them to last. If you are just making a small batch of apple butter for yourself, and you are going to keep it refrigerated, by all means try a sugar-free variation. We can our products to use all year, to sell and to ship, so there must be a certain amount of sugar added to preserve them.

If you are new to canning, start with a few good books (see my recommendations below). If there is a canning class in your town, take it. I do, and I learn something new every time. I highly recommend Kevin West’s blog, www.savingtheseason.com, which is full of great stories and recipes. Amazon and Ball Canning (www.freshpreserving.com ) both have a great selection of canning supplies, and you will need them. Essentials are glass jars and lids, a canning pot and racks, jar lifters, lid lifters and funnels.

This tomato chutney recipe is a staple in my kitchen. It’s great with goat cheese, sandwiches, veggie burgers, and, of course, with any kind of curry. When tomatoes are out of season, use canned organic ones.

Tomato-Apple Chutney
1 & 1/2 pound ripe tomatoes, scored with an X on the end
1 3/4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
1 pound apples, peeled cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 large jalapeño pepper, minced with seeds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup raisins

To make the chutney, bring vinegar to a boil over medium-high heat in a 2-quart stockpot. Blanch the tomatoes in the vinegar. Turn off heat, and let tomatoes cool. Peel, seed and chop into 1-inch cubes, then add back to the vinegar with the sugar and apples. Bring back to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds – they should sizzle. Add the jalapenos, garlic, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, paprika, and cayenne. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add to the tomato mixture. Simmer the chutney for about 40 minutes. Add the raisins and cook an additional 25-30 minutes or until the chutney has thickened. Let cool. Remove bay leaf.

Should make about 1 quart chutney.

Canning books I like:
The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders
Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff
Well Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods by Eugenia Bone

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Summer’s Bounty Vegan Fruit Tart

This recipe produces a beautiful tart that is surprisingly easy to make. In just a few simple steps, you will have an impressive, completely vegan dessert that will satisfy everyone! The fresh taste of the fruit and the cool filling are enhanced by the nutty, crunchy crust, and it is much more healthful than a typical fruit tart.

Crust:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter substitute (such as Earth Balance), melted
Filling:
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons vegan orange (or any other flavor you like) gelatin substitute (such as Natural Desserts)
1 kiwi, sliced
1 quart fresh mixed berries or other seasonal fruit

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans, and sugar. Stir in the butter substitute until blended. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a medium pot. Add water, apple juice, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin substitute until dissolved. Let cool.
Arrange kiwi and berries in crust in whatever pattern you like. Pour mixture over fruit (you may have extra filling). Using a pastry brush, carefully coat any fruit that did not get coated when you poured in the filling. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Peaches, Dirty Dozen!

Even in California, life is dictated by the seasons. We may not get extreme hot and cold like some states, but our eating is always seasonal. Late July and early August is all about peaches for me. . Peaches always make the “dirty dozen “ list, which means they are full of nasty pesticides! I always buy seasonal organic peaches, and would buy frozen or canned organic peaches over fresh conventional ones any time.

For the past two years, we have adopted an organic peach tree. Our tree is one of many grownPeaches - dirty dozen

I can never have enough of these peaches in their natural state, but of course I have to make things with them. Along with pies and tarts, we put up jars and jars of peach jam and chutney at my restaurant. Try white peaches with crème fraiche and honey for a quick dessert on a hot summer night. When your local farmers’ market is bursting with peaches, peel and freeze for smoothies and cobblers. I also love this salad that highlights honey grilled peaches. It’s so fresh and light, and perfect for lunch or dinner on a hot summer day.

Honey Grilled Peaches with Arugula & Goat Cheese

Serves 4

  1.  1/4 cup sliced almonds
  2. Extra-virgin olive oil
  3. 8 ripe but firm medium sized peaches, cut in half and pitted
  4. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar mixed with 2 teaspoons honey
  5. 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  6. 4 ounces baby arugula
  7. Balsamic Vinaigrette
  8. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  10. 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  11. 2 tablespoons honey
  12. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  13. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, and dry roast the almonds until they are light brown and fragrant. Let cool.

Heat the same skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Grill the peaches cut side down, about 2 minutes total. Add the vinegar/honey mixture and cook another 30-40 seconds, just until the peaches caramelize.

In a blender, puree the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, honey and Dijon mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the arugula with some of the dressing and place on individual plates. Place the cheese and the peaches (2 halves per person) on top of the salad, add the almonds and drizzle with more dressing.

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Jessica Mendoza Travels to Rwanda

I spent some time this past spring in Rwanda for a project called The Girl Effect (girleffect.org). I was there to work alongside Global Press Institute to teach girls to be journalists, photographers and storytellers of the world and life around them. The idea was to give a voice, and confidence, to the future of Rwanda. To provide opportunity for these girls to be independent and have career opportunities in what they are passionate about.

I was there during the 18th anniversary of the horrific genocide that occurred in 1992. I was able to visit memorial sites, museums and reconciliation villages where those who killed live alongside the families they murdered. The idea is to rid the country of the revenge, hatred and horrific genocide that wiped out almost a million people in 100 days by forcing enemies to live side by side in peace.


We spoke with one of the murderers and a woman whose entire family he had killed. They are not friends by any means, but for the past 5 years they have figured out a way to live as neighbors and move on, even though the memories of what happened haunt both of them daily. Why? So the children they have will not grow up to know the hatred and horrors they lived in.

I spent time with many of these children, playing games, laughing and sharing smiles. One of the younger ones spotted a Pure Bar in my bag and looked up to me with a grin ear to ear. I gave him my morning breakfast of a blueberry Pure Bar with a smile right back. Well this opened the flood gates. Next thing I knew, I was surrounded by every kid in the village wanting Pure Bars. I had at least a half dozen on me, and I handed them out to each smiling child, making sure they split the “goods” with all. Those bars didn’t last 3 seconds… After that, I found myself with dozens of little boys and girls holding my hands, playing with my hair, and snuggling up to me as if I was their long lost aunt. I was so grateful I always have a solid supply of Pure Bars and that something so simple could connect me with these amazing and beautiful children who are representing the future of a peaceful Rwanda.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Corn!!

by Akasha Richmond

Corn season has just started here in Southern California and those first ears of corn are almost ceremonial. I always try and buy the freshest corn possible, preferably from my local farmers market or a roadside stand. Always try to purchase organic corn, because 98% of corn is genetically modified in the US and buying organic corn will ensure it is non-GMO.

When buying corn, peel back some of the husk and look at the kernels. Make sure the kernels are slightly plumped but not too large or over grown. The kernels should not be dry or shriveled, and the silk surrounding the kernels should be dry, but not brittle. Don’t remove the husk off the ear until you are ready to start cooking – it will help keep your corn fresh. Ideally, I would suggest buying corn and cooking it that day, but, knowing how busy we are all, that’s not always possible. To keep your corn as fresh as possible, store in a mesh produce bag (great plastic bag alternative) in the refrigerator. As with any fresh vegetable, as corn gets older, it loses taste and nutrients, so “farm to grill” is your best bet!

Besides tasting so great, corn is incredibly good for you! One ear of corn has only one gram of fat and about 75 calories. Corn is rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Research shows that fresh corn is a cancer fighting food, full of antioxidants that fight cancer causing free radicals. Studies also show that the health benefits of corn include lowering cholesterol, prevention of heart ailments, controlling diabetes, and lowering hypertension. Cooking corn increases its antioxidant power- so fire up the grill, make some succotash, or try this corn chowder – one of my favorite recipes.

Corn Chowder

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 large leek, pale green and white parts only, cleaned and diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 3 cups aseptically packaged vegetable stock
  • 2 cups hemp, rice milk or dairy milk
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about four cobs)
  • 2 medium sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into a fine dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives or fresh tarragon for garnish

Heat the oil in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, shallots, and garlic and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, milk, corn kernels, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Remove 1 cup of the vegetables and 1/2 cup of the broth. Puree until smooth in a food processor or blender and return to the pot. Add the bell pepper and simmer another 2 minutes. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and garnish with chopped chives or tarragon.

Makes 6 servings