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Archive for the ‘organic’ Category

Growing up in New England I have developed a very dysfunctional relationship with the winter. I try to love it, I really do.

I annually embrace the changing colors of fall, the first flake of snow, the smell of firewood burning from neighborhood chimneys, the quiet crunching sound of snow beneath faux-furry boots…but alas, the novelty always wears off.  As soon as the thermostat drops below 32 degrees, I am left scurrying around outdoors, in a suffocating amount of layers of long underwear, squeezing my chin to my chest to protect my neck from wind chill, mumbling under my breath to no one else but myself, that “I’m so cold…”…channeling Kate Winslet in the last scene in Titanic…”never let go, Jack….”

This is exactly how I feel...all the time...in Boston in the winter...

The one thing that does not lose its novelty in the winter months however, is the comforting warmth of a hearty winter soup. I pretty much turn into a soup-ivore as soon as it drops below 50 degrees.  Consequently, have found some fantastic recipes for soups that I would love to share with you all.

First up is a new discovery from Better Homes and Gardens website: bettertv.com…there’s even a video. The recipe is for an extremely simple, easy, and DELICIOUS butternut squash soup.

Butternut Squash is one of my favorite foods to eat in the fall and winter and so easy to find locally. Plus with the scent of cinnamon and nutmeg mulling in your kitchen….mmmm

I am a cinnamon fiend in the fall/winter...I added extra sticks for this recipe!

I’ve made it a few times now, the second time I added an extra cinnamon stick, low sodium Organic Chicken broth, some nutmeg, some ground cloves and  substituted the sugar for Splenda’s Brown sugar blend. It was a healthier version that got rave reviews…So here is My healthier version of BetterTv.com’s ….

Butternut Squash Soup:

Ingredients:

 

2 larger butternut squash, halved and seeded

3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 large onion, sliced

3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons of Splenda brown Sugar Blend

3 large garlic cloves chopped

2 cinnamon sticks

1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. of ground cloves

5 cups of Low-sodium Organic Chicken Broth

I love using Pacific Foods Organic free range low sodium chicken broth...so delish...available at most supermarkets

**(1 container of chicken broth is about 4 cups, so instead of opening another, I substituted that last cup for 1 chicken bullion cube with 1 cup hot water)

Directions:

1. Oil a large baking sheet; bake squash, cut side down, for 1 hour at 375 F.

2. Remove peel from squash and discard and cut of the squash a bit. It should be pretty soft and malleable already so just cut into chunks.

3. In a large pot, heat oil and add onion.

4, Add ginger, brown sugar, garlic,  cinnamon stick, nutmeg, and cloves. Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent.

4. Add squash and chicken broth; bring to boil and then reduce heat and simmer another 10 minutes.

5. Discard cinnamon stick.

6. Add a few cups of your mixture to a blender and puree until a funnel appears at the top. Pour pureed soup into large bowl, add more mixture to blender, puree again, and so on. Serve with a little chopped parsley or creme fraiche, if desired.

**I served this with warm french onion bread with a tiny bit of homemade maple butter on it. It’s kind of like having desert with your entree…

***You can also experiment by adding apples, apple cider and sage to this recipe…just play around!

I improvised the maple butter:

For the maple butter:

1. Heat 1/2 cup of real Organic maple syrup on the stove in a heavy bottom saucepan until boiling.

2. Add in 1 1/2 sticks of butter, let melt, then wisk vigorously for 2 minutes.

3. Pour into a glass container and place in the freezer until solidified.

Spread a tiny bit on the bread and dip into the soup…mmmm

For a Butternut- Pumpkin Soup that’s to die for…

—-> You can also take this above soup recipe and Add in a can of packed pumpkin, then toast some pumpkin seeds to garnish!

My favorite Butternut/Squash soup experiences have been highly memorable.

Moment 1: Cocoa Wah Wah, Cape Town: A delicious Cape Malay spiced butternut Squash soup at Cocoa Wah Wah in Cape Town South Africa. South Africans LOVE their butternut, and their soups are spiced with perfection. There was nothing better on a rainy, windy June winter’s day in Cape town.

I would scuttle down the hill from school to study at this adorable free wifi cafe in Rondebosch, and order a Butternut Soup with a Rooibos tea garnished with a fresh slice of lemon and fresh grated ginger…mmmm. By the end of the semester they knew what I wanted when they saw me coming…

Cocoa Wah Wah in Cape Town

Moment 2. Teatro, Boston: The other week, a friend of mine and I were searching for a quick bite before a movie at Loew’s On the Common in Boston. It was sooo chilly and the wind blew us right in to Teatro. The decor was warm, romantic, inviting, the place was packed for a Sunday evening, and the waiter was very responsive to the fact that we were in a rush to see a movie. We looked down at the well thought out theater-goer italian menu and saw a “Sugar Pumpkin Zuppa with Maple Creme Fraiche” and immediately we knew we needed it. BEST IDEA EVER. Although it’s not butternut, I had to post it. So so so good! A Must TASTE this winter!

Moment 3: The Fireplace, Brookline, MA: Chef Jim Solomon has been known to have the best butternut bisque around town at the classic New England restaurant, The Fireplace, but I needed to see for myself. It  was SOOO good! Sipping Butternut Bisque next to a fireplace in the restaurant also may have added to the comfort-food factor…

The Fireplace Restaurant in Brookline, MA

Now that the holidays are approaching, many of us do not have the luxury of time to make soups from scratch so I found a few store bought substitutes, that, with a little bit of extra spicing, taste like homemade magic…I have tried a LOT of canned soups, and I mean A LOT and these are my two faves!

1. Pacific Foods: I have fallen in love with Pacific Foods line of products, especially their soups. All organic, free range, low sodium, etc. And SOOOOO delicious. I also love that you can buy bigger containers of pre-made soups (to avoid wasting packaging materials), pour as much as you want, then store the rest in the fridge. No can-openers! The soups taste incredibly fresh and are perfectly flavored. Also it’s super healthy with no unnecessary added fat or sugar.

2. Campbell’s V8 Golden Butternut Squash Soup is also a super healthy alternative to homemade soup. However, it is a little less sustainable than  Pacific Food’s products.

Now Manga!

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Mmm My Aunt Linda's Super Healthy POWER muffins allow the whole famly to power through the day!

Mmm My Aunt Linda's Super Healthy POWER muffins allow the whole family to power through the day!

How do you make a healthy muffin that doesn’t taste like cardboard? Ask a Freyer…

To keep with the family theme of this week, I want to showcase another talent in my family…cooking. Cooking is also an extraordinary talent honed by the women in my family, and mostly all of our bonding happens over a good solid meal.

My Aunt Marina was a gourmet food stylist, while my mother has brought her Italian roots into modern cooking.

My Aunt Linda, is also a fantastic cook in the health food arena. She has mastered cooking for specific diets…Heidi is a vegetarian and gluten and lactose intolerant, while the boys in the family scoff at anything that looks “healthy”.

To satisfy the tastes of her family and yet keep them healthy, she has perfected a slew of recipes for all meals and has become a muffin master.

Every morning, at the crack of dawn, my aunt will make a fresh batch of the healthiest, tastiest POWER MUFFINS that even the anti-health-food boys in the family can’t live without.

yummmmm

yummmmm

Just the smell of them in the mornings draws you down to the kitchen to their tastiness.

After becoming instantly addicted to these morning treats that kept me energized all day, I begged her for the recipe. Every muffin is made as healthy as can be, with all natural sugar substitutes and extra whole grain everything. She says she makes different ones each day and experiments constantly….

Try Truvia as a natural sugar substitute instead of Sugar or the synthetic Splenda...

Try Truvia as a natural sugar substitute instead of Sugar or the synthetic Splenda...

honey also works well as a sugar additive thats natural and healthy...you can also add honey to warm muffins instead of butter

honey also works well as a sugar additive that's natural and healthy...you can also add honey to warm muffins instead of butter

experiment with different healthy additions like Flaxseed!

experiment with different healthy additions like Flaxseed!

Some of her key ingredients are low fat buttermilk instead of skim milk, Truvia (an all natural sugar substitute) , wheat flour, oats and honey. Also, you can experiment and add in Flax seeds and all sorts of grain additions to add extra vitamins and minerals to your breakfast. Using spices like nutmeg and cinnamon will also give your muffins flavor without the need for excess filling ingredients. She also uses pretty much all organic ingredients!

Also make sure you do not overcook them for a minute! These healthier ingredients dry quicker and as soon as they are too cooked that’s when you get the cardboard taste…so watch them carefully!

Honey Graham Muffins

1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c white flour
1/2 c oatmeal                                           Mix all together in a large bowl
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs melted butter (I use light butter)
1/4 c honey
1 egg                                                       Mix all together
1 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c raisins                                          Add if desired
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients until just mixed – don’t overmix!  Spray muffins pans with Pam and bake for 18 minutes at 375.


Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

1 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c white flour
1/2 c oatmeal
1/4 sugar (I use Truvia-8 packets)            Mix all together in a large bowl
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 c applesauce
2 tbs oil
1 egg                                                   Mix all together
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and add (optional):
1/2 raisins
1/2 c walnuts

Spray muffin pan with Pam and bake 18 minutes at 375.

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Okay so I must admit, I am the anti-gardener. In fact, I believe I repel all plant life forms to the point where flower buds snap shut at the site of me.  However, I still hold this insatiable dream that one day I will be able to create and maintain a little Eden of my own. One that’s free of pesticides, and unnatural chemicals, but is full of beautiful flowers and maybe even some edible fruits or vegetables.

The concept of seed bombs really appeal to me. A mobile projectile…awesome…combined with an all natural life form that will grow on its own…even more awesome. Seed bombs first began in the 1970’s with the Green Guerrillas in New York and in 1992 by artist Kathryn Miller.

Guerrilla Gardeners did some damage...in a good way...in the 1970s in NYC (photo: https://i2.wp.com/static.flickr.com/15/22221481_625179325c_b.jpg)

Guerrilla Gardeners did some damage...in a good way...in the 1970's in NYC (photo: http://static.flickr.com/15/22221481_625179325c_b.jpg)

Now, seed bombs have become a fun and accessible way to put a little green in your day.

Dutch stamps tht contain seds...blooming postage! (courtesy of inhabit.com)

Dutch stamps that contain seeds...blooming postage! (courtesy of inhabit.com)

The Dutch postal company TNT have created, get this: Seed bomb stamps! They will not actually bloom in the mail box like above, but when you peel back the plastic off the stamp and plant it, it will grow!

Sprouting business cards? so creative! (courtesy of ihabit.com)

Sprouting business cards? so creative! (courtesy of ihabit.com)

Jamie Wieck (click here) designed these little guys for professionals to help their cards stand out. The cards convert into little houseplants when the recipient waters them. It’s an eco-friendly way to network!

We’ve all heard of the concept of a “seed bomb”…but here all the work is done for you!

garden gnomes grace the biodegradable balloons that carry Dutch Studio Txs Seed Bomb

garden gnomes grace the biodegradable balloons that carry Dutch Studio Tx's Seed Bomb

One company is making it a piece of cake, and fun, for people like me…The Dutch Studio TX have created biodegradable seed balloons!

Pre-packaged seed bombs! Would make a great gift, as well!

Pre-packaged seed bombs! Would make a great gift, as well!

I love the idea of becoming a Naturalist Ninja– covertly going on missions to reclaim overlooked, overused pieces of land to its natural beauty. Buying these pre-made seed bombs would be perfect for me. I would simply carry the bag around with me everywhere and, ready…aim…fire! Kinda fun, right? Only $6 per bag and contain a myriad of flowers! Contact “Outside in the city” for more info here.

combating desertification, one seed bomb at a time

combating desertification, one seed bomb at a time

A total hippys dream: raining seed bombs and not real bombs

A total hippy's dream: raining seed bombs

And maybe one day, this design will actually come to fruition. A biodegradable capsule, by Yanko Designs, that includes a seed bomb to combat desertification! For more info…click here.

make your own seed bombs...click the link below (photo courtesy of orignauxmoose.com)

make your own seed bombs...click the link below (photo courtesy of orignauxmoose.com)

For information on how to make your own see bomb, click here.

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heading to oldies with my garlic and my new basil plant

heading to Oldies Flea Market after the Newburyport Farmers' Market with my garlic and my new basil plant

Sunday was a perfect day for renewing myself and my energy…so I decided to head up early and beat the crowds at the Newburyport Farmers’ Market at the Tannery in Newburyport with my mom. We left at about 9:30 (it opens at 10); perfect timing to go and and get our morning coffee at one of the stands selling delicious locally made organic Plum Island Coffee.

I haven’t been up to the Tannery in a long time, which is located right next to downtown Newburyport. I had forgotten all the cute cafe’s and interior design shops, as well as luxurious spas located there.
The Tannery wraps around the Farmers’ Market, so I guess my mom and I were technically forced to go into to a few stores…

Gentry's Consignment Boutique- what a find! www.gentrysconsignment.com

Gentry's Consignment Boutique- what a find! http://www.gentrysconsignment.com

Lo and behold…the best Thrift Store ever: Gentry’s Consignment Boutique!

This re-sale store sells brand names at a fraction of the price. It is eco-friendly because things are reused, no need to buy something “new”. The store is also socially responsible because everything that is not sold is donated the Community Action, Inc. in Amesbury to those in need of clothes.

I found a pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans with the original tags still on them…perfect fit (which is hard since I am 5’10”)…for..get this…$54!
I also found two summer dresses…one from Anne Taylor and another from BCBG…each for only about $20!

After my coffee, and an exciting a splurge in Gentry’s, I decided it was time to actually get to the Farmers…

But again, we were welcomed with some more recycled goodies…

Fabulous Recycled Glass creations by Jane Lang...email ejanelane@comcast.org for details

Fabulous Recycled Glass creations by Jane Lang...email ejanelane@comcast.org for details

Jane Lang makes “Recycled Glass Creations” out of Wine and Liquor bottles. She melts down wine and liquor bottles and creates either cheese boards or appetizer bowls.

My favorite stand at the market...Jane Lang's recycled wine and liqour bottle cheeseboards and bowls! Only about 20 bucks! Here is a Beringer one

My favorite stand at the market...Jane Lang's recycled wine and liquor bottle cheeseboards and bowls! Only about 20 bucks! Here is a Beringer one

The bowls are so fun and unique and can be made out of any glass bottle from a Grey Goose bottle to a bottle of Yellowtail.
She also can insert, instead of a wine label, a Playbill, or Wedding Invitation to preserve a memory or personalize a gift.
The bottle sold there ranged from only $10 to $20! The artist was also super friendly and kind!
To find out more, e-mail ejanelang@comcast.net.

ill take one of everything......Garlic from Heron Pond Farm

Giant heads of garlic...extremely fresh and inexpensive!

Moving on…we found some great fresh garlic from Heron Pond Farm, but missed out on a great bunch of scallions…next time.

We also picked up some fresh herb plants…including a gorgeous little Basil plant (I’m a little obsessed with Caprese salad lately).

White Heron Tea makes fantastic organic and fair trade tea, and it is a local company. The stand also had a grill set up and was making delicious open faced sandwiches on organic naan (including a Curried Carrot Naan) and organic paninis made with fresh local veggies…mmm….

White Heron Tea has amazing organic locally made tea, and they set up a sandwich bar with unique  and delicious sandwiches!I'll take that one...my new basil plant was looking for a home...I was happy to provide

(above) White Heron Tea has amazing organic locally made tea, and they set up a sandwich bar with unique and delicious sandwiches! (below) My new basil plant was waiting just for me..

We also discovered a fantastic artisan who sells her jewelry, weaving, and homemade oils at a store called the Riverwalk in Amesbury…I fell in love with the Buddha necklace made with intricate beads…

Gorgeous handmade jewelry using beads from all over the world...the artist was so nice as well and she sells her work at the Riverwalk

Gorgeous handmade jewelry using beads from all over the world...the artist was so nice as well and she sells her work at the Riverwalk

We also spent some time scouring a very unique Interior design store called Red Bird. It had some gorgeous antiques and artisan pieces for all price ranges…

Red bird Trading Co.

Red Bird Trading Co...

Love the antique headboard and lush comforter of this bed at the Red Bird TRading Co.

Love the antique headboard and lush comforter of this bed at the Red Bird Trading Co.

Browsing the Red Bird Trading Company...

Browsing the Red Bird Trading Company...

Some great Shadow puppets from Barong at the Red Bird Trading Co...used to tell stories of the Gods and Goddesses

Some great Shadow puppets from Indonesia at the Red Bird Trading Co...used to tell stories of the gods and goddesses in the 1000 year old tradition of Wayang Kulit. These particular puppets may be Javanese...they are flat and used by seasoned masters in Wayang Kulit, who manipulate the hand made puppets behind a lit screen to create plays on local folklore and tales of spirituality for audiences in local villages...knew those theater history classes would come in handy 🙂

My mom and I decided to walk down memory lane and go across the street to a well-seasoned Oldie’s Marketplace. It is a HUGE flea market, filled with treasures, that my mom used to bring me to when I was a kid. I had a blast scouring some of the more absurd items…such as antique diver’s helmets…while she found some true treasures.

Oldie's flea market in Newburyport...one of my favorites to explore since I was a kid!

Oldie's flea market in Newburyport...one of my favorites to explore since I was a kid!

Flea markets are a great way to find reused items and you can haggle, as well!

just a portion of the "Book Corner" at Oldies Flea Market...so many unique treasures in there...

just a portion of the "Book Corner" at Oldies Flea Market...so many unique treasures in there...

It is more eco-friendly than buying something new or importing!

For more info on the Newburyport Farmers Market click here.

Patchouli...god bless you

Patchouli...god bless you

For More info on Oldie’s click here.

Holy Smokes! Where to begin? Inside Oldie's Flea Market

Holy Smokes! Where to begin? Inside Oldie's Flea Market

To find a Farmers Market in your area…just google “Farmers Market” followed by your area code!

Hoarding some fresh garlic....

Hoarding some fresh garlic....

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This Saturday is obviously our country’s independence day…and hopefully New England weather will cooperate in the spirit of what we are celebrating…if it does…here are some ideas on how to wake your July 4th party eco-friendly…including cocktails and wardrobe!

Your wardrobe for July Fourth can be a way to do your part in aiding the planet…try checking out Urban Outfitters Urban Renewal Line which recycles old clothes into new ones!

Urban Outfitters Cotton floral skirt from the Urban Renewal line

Urban Outfitter's Cotton floral skirt from the Urban Renewal line

I love this red and white skirt from the Urban Renewal line ($48)…its patriotic in color…yet feminine in pattern  and style…pair it with a simple white organic tank.

Urban OUtfitters Urban Renewal denim Jacket is eco-conscious...yet a bit pricey at $148

Urban Outfitter's Urban Renewal denim Jacket is eco-conscious...yet a bit pricey at $148

Add this Urban Renewal Denim Jacket to an organic cotton white tank or dress for a true Americana look. It will keep you warm as you hang out at a cookout or on a rooftop in Boston watching the fireworks!

White organic cotton skirt from Indigenousdesigns.com

White organic cotton skirt from Indigenousdesigns.com

Pair the denim jacket with the above white skirt frmo IdigenousDesigns organic clothing.

Adina top from Eco Skin

Adina top from Eco Skin

Another adorable eco-friendly Adina top from Eco Skin. Pair with light colored jeans or a skirt, and some sandals from ecosandals.com (below)

The Safi sandle from ecosandals.com...great for the entire summer

The Safi sandal from ecosandals.com...versatile and great for the entire summer

Ecosandals.com is a non-profit e-business derived out of Nairobi, Kenya and is completely run by volunteers dedicated to reusing waste in a city that’s being over run with pollution. Buying a pair of sandals helps!

Joes Jeans is now going green with their popular Socialite jean...now made with organic cotton...

Joe's Jeans is now going green with their popular 'Socialite' jean...now made with organic cotton...

Joe’s Jeans are also taking their Socialite line and using organic cotton for it! check it out here.

Another great chouice from Urban Renewal

Another great chouice from Urban Renewal

I also love this Urban Renewal “Super Lucky Tank Dress” that was sewn together from vintage fabrics. It’s a bit of a splurge at $78 but it still reatins that  pretty and  yet patriotic motif…

Habitude bikini is eco-friendly

This DeuxFm bikini is eco-friendly because it is made from remnant fabrics and organic cotton rope ties!

This red DeuxFm Mystique bikini  is perfect for a July 4th pool/beach party!

People Trees organic waterfall dress

People Tree's organic waterfall dress

For something more formal…check out this gorgeous red dress from Peopletree.com. the site is a UK site, but it offers 20% shipping and its clothes are not that expensive to begin with. They have won numerous awards for their ethical clothing endeavors.

Empress dress from peopletree.com

Empress dress from peopletree.com

Another beautiful dress.the blue empress dress from Peopletree.com

Worldofgood.com

Worldofgood.com

To accessorize try checking of the World Of  Good site on Ebay. I found the above real turquoise necklace with red orchids on it, and the below blue necklace there. Both would be great with a simple organic black or white tank or dress.

Handcrafted beaded necklace from worldofgood.com

Handcrafted beaded necklace from worldofgood.com

I also love these bags made from recycled sails! Great for carrying all your July 4th picnic/barbecue needs! Find them at Seabgas.com.

For a cheaper version, that’s made from organic cotton instead of actual recycled sailcloth, try reiter8.com version.

REcycled sail bags

Recycled sailcloth bags from seabags.com

iWood sunglasses come in a variety of chic styles

iWood sunglasses come in a variety of chic styles

iWood sunglasses are a great sustainable fashion choice for the summer!

ORganic cotton beach towels...lay them out on the grass while you watch the fireworks...

ORganic cotton beach towels...lay them out on the grass while you watch the fireworks...

Don’t forget your organic cotton beach towel…these great and inexpensive patriotic colored towels are from seaglassorganics.com

And for all you men out there….

The Splaff mens sandal

The recycled tire Splaff men's sandal

A pair of Recycled sandals to spend the weekend in comfortably from Splaff.  They are made in California  from recycled tires and inner tubes! They are apparently very slip existent and are much classier than a more casual hemp or Chaco  sandal.

All of Patagonias polos adn t-shirts are made with 100% organic cotton adn are very reasonably priced...and comfy...try a crisp white for the 4th of July!

All of Patagonia's polo's and t-shirts are made with 100% organic cotton and are very reasonably priced...and comfy...try a crisp white for the 4th of July!

Patagonia’s clothing is all made by 100% Organic Cotton. Try their Polo’s or Graphic T-shirts…there’s even a Patagonia outlet nearby in Freeport, Maine.

ORganic cotton AMerican flag t-shirt from cafepress.com

Organic cotton American flag t-shirt from cafepress.com

This simple American Flag t-shirt is also made of organic cotton from cafepress.com

Loomstate organics..some items frmo their new menswear line- the look on the right would be perfect for the fourth

Loomstate organics..some items from their new menswear line- the look on the right would be perfect for the fourth

Some items frmo Loomstates line for Target

Some items from Loomstate's line for Target

For a casual look, try Loomstate‘s new organic cotton  line (above)…click here. Loomstate.org is also now designing their organic clothes for Target! for the Loomstate line at Target click here.

Peopletree.com also makes great menswear!

Peopletree.com also makes great menswear!

Here’s a great lightweight summer shirt from the aforementioned People tree.com.

Organic jeans from organic-matters.com

Organic jeans from organic-matters.com

For jeans…these Yaletown Jeans are certified organic and look great! Levi’s also makes organic cotton jeans now!

Organic sunscreen from Seaglassorganic.com

Organic sunscreen from Seaglassorganic.com

For some protection from the sun…try this organic sun screen, dubbed “Green Screen“,  from seaglassorganic.com.

Maines Wicked Good Charcoal makes grilling extra green!

Maine's "Wicked Good Charcoal" makes grilling extra green!

Grilling can be green if you use the right ingredients…and that includes CHARCOAL. Try the all natural  “Wicked Good Charcoal” from nearby Maine, and it is available at many local stores…including Whole Foods.

The biodegradable party kit from Branch

The biodegradable party kit from Branch

Branch also makes their party kits in sustainable bamboo

Branch also makes their party kits in sustainable bamboo

For the Party…Branch makes great biodegradable disposable plates and cups that are stylish and sustainable.

REcycled fabrics from previous fourth celebrations, or in patriotic colors are a great way to be sustainable and chic at you fourth of July party...

Recycled fabrics from previous fourth celebrations, or in patriotic colors are a great way to be sustainable and chic at you fourth of July party...

A great use of recycled Mokum textiles i foudn through otto-otto.com

A great use of recycled Mokum textiles i found through otto-otto.com

These recycled outdoor fabrics from Mokum textiles would be great to make a table-clothe or festive pillows for your patio/deck or to bring to the esplanade for a picnic!

Recycled glass votive lanterns from loghome.com

Recycled glass votive lanterns from Westelm.com

For decorations try using these recycled glass votive lanterns….stick some soy tea lights in there as well! Hang them up or leave them on a table for some great atmosphere.

Keep drinks cool in these trendy serveware items from West Elm...

Keep drinks cool in these trendy serve ware items from West Elm...

Also, to chill drinks…try this set from West Elm.

And if you really want to embark on some environmental hedonism

Tru organic vodka comes an array of flavors...maybe not the most holistic stuff to drink...but, everytihng in moderation!

Tru organic vodka comes an array of flavors...maybe not the most holistic stuff to drink...but, everything in moderation!

Tru” makes a line of Organic Vodka’s…not only are they certified USDA organic but they also are one of the world’s most  carbon-negative product! Tru has planted over 50,000 trees in response to the purchase of its products!

Mix with some organic cranberry juice and you have yourself an July fourth appropriate  “Cape-codder“!

And for you Tequila-lovers out there…there’s also Casanoble Tequila

Casanoble tequilas...

Casanoble tequila's...

Recently USDA certified organic, there are no additives in the tequila. Also they operate out of a 200 year old farm distillery in Mexico.

Try a cocktail with some organic tequila, a little organic orange juice and pineapple juice, some lime and ice!

Add some organic grenadine to make it red to be patriotic!…yes they even make organic grenadine at Naturesflavors.comclick here.

Learn more about the plight of the Tibetans by clicking on the links listed below...

Learn more about the plight of the Tibetans by clicking on the links listed below...

Now it is also important to remember this weekend all the countries that are not afforded the same liberties as we are. After living in Dharamsala, the Free Tibet campaign is very close to my heart.

To learn more about freetibet.org...click here. Or for savetibet.orgclick here.

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As promised I’m bringing you a few tips on how to create a  Moroccan-inspired spa in your own home this week. Of course Hammam (or Moroccan plunge pool)  not included…your bathtub will have to do!

But there are a few key things you can do to create the ambiance of a Moroccan spa, and to treat yourself to some Moroccan-inspired and eco-friendly spa treatments.

find your calm in a DIY Moroccan spa...photo courtesy of hawaiiresortspa.com

find your calm in a DIY Moroccan spa...photo courtesy of hawaiiresortspa.com

start of your day with some rose water cleasinng your feet in hands...or any local flowers

start of your day with some rose water cleansing your feet in hands...or any local flowers

Start off your spa-day by cleansing your feet and hands in some rose water as they do in Morocco…maybe sprinkle some rose petals in a bowl for good measure…and try this organic Rose Water (below) from Amrita.

Rose Water...you cna find organic rose water at your local Whole Foods

Rose Water...you cna find organic rose water at your local Whole Foods

Next do a few yoga poses..consider Tree and maybe some seated spinal twists that are extremely cleansing…followed by Savasana.

Then treat yourself to a cup of organic mint tea…a tradition in Moroccan spas…

try Numis Organic Moroccan mint tea...its delicious and brings your right to the source

try Numi's Organic Moroccan mint tea...its delicious and brings your right to the source

Next wrap yourself in an organic lush bathrobe…

try this one from feelgoodhampers.com

try this one from feelgoodhampers.com

Then create an atmosphere using some Moroccan lanterns…and maybe some lush pillows in deep Berber reds and burnt oranges. You can find lanterns anywhere, and imitation rugs/pillows are an easy find. Light some organic pale candles to further the ambiance…and try out some relaxing music…I enjoy Goldfish’s song “The Real Deal” when I relax…it puts me in another place (they are a South African band).

these lanterns are a STEAL! from gabrielsgiftsgalore...

these lanterns are a STEAL! from gabrielsgiftsgalore...

casablancamarket.com sells traditional Bereber rugs (like this one) and pillows!

casablancamarket.com sells traditional Bereber rugs (like this one) and pillows!

A Berber pillow from berbertrading.com

A Berber pillow from berbertrading.com

Now for the good stuff…

One of the major elements of Moroccan beauty treatments and even their food…is Argan oil.

Moroccan organic Argan oil...use it for hair, skin, nails, facials...

Moroccan organic Argan oil...use it for hair, skin, nails, facials...

Argan oil is used by Moroccan men and women, even on their babies, to decrease  acne and reverse the aging process. It is said to increase the skin’s elasticity, reducing the appearance of scars and stretchmarks and is a miracle worker on hair, especially ethnic and courser hair.
It is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids which aid in these processes.

Click here to purchase the above argan oil, or just hit a google search for “organic argan oil”.

Goats scouring for nuts up in the Moroccan Argan tree...the Moroccan tree of life

Goat's scouring for nuts up in the Moroccan Argan tree...the Moroccan "tree of life"

Argan oil is a product of Morocco’s Argan tree, or what many call the Moroccan “tree of life”. The tree is gnarled and thorny, allowing goats to climb up to eat branches and eat its nuts. The tree is extremely rare yet it lasts longer than olive trees and requires little to no upkeep.

The tree is only grown in the South Western part of the country in the regions of Essaouira and Agadir.

The goats go after the green fruit, in which inside there is a nut.  If you want to know why this oil is a little pricey…well get ready….

the green fruit of the argan tree

the green fruit of the argan tree

The goats eat the fruit and nuts….the nuts are ‘passed’…the farmers collect the remaining nuts and turn those into oil.

Argan nuts

Argan nuts

Making oil from the nuts of the Argan tree

Making oil from the nuts of the Argan tree

But the process doesn’t end there. Making oil is a laborious process done in factories or in individual homes. One litre of argan oil may take up to 20 hours to make because each individual kernel must be cracked open.

The great thing about this process is that argan oils are fair trade and they aid in the employment of women of that region in Morocco!

The purchase of this oil will also aid in preventing deforestation, while the argan trees in general aid in holding soil together due to their deep roots.

Here are some spa treatments using argan oil you can create at home…they are espcially good during this time of year, when dry skin and sun damage are wreaking havoc on our hair and skin.

An Argan facial

An Argan body scrub:

make your own argan body scrub...(photo: beaut.ie./blog)

make your own argan body scrub...(photo: beaut.ie./blog)

2 cups of sugar (or use sea salt if you want a courser scrub)

1/2 cup of Olive oil (or until desired grainy-ness)

1/8 cup Argan oil (or even less…use sparingly!)

a few drops of a favorite essential oil…try either lavender (to calm, orange (to energize), or eucalyptus (to cleanse)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and head to the bath or shower. Use a natural bristle brush, or I like to justscrub with my hands. And massage the scrub in to wet skinin circular motions, all over. It will leave you glowing, i promise!

Kiehl’s also makes an Argan body cleansing oil…here.

make your own...or buy Keihls body cleansing oil and lotion using Argan oil.

make your own...or buy Kiehl's body cleansing oil and lotion using Argan oil.

For a Summer Argan Facial for dry/sun damaged skin:

Start by cleansing your skin with your normal cleanser, and then opening your pores over a steaming bowl of water (microwave a bowl and then lean over placing a towel over your head so the steam wont escape.

Try mixing

1 tsp organic powdered milk

1 tablespoon ground almonds

a few drops of Argan oil

1 tsp organic aloe vera

1 tsp  organic  honey

mix…apply to face…let sit for about 10 minutes…and rinse with luke warm water.

For more information on the Argan tree and its oil in a New York Times article click here.

Most of the time, the oil in households are use for cooking things like amlou. A traditional and delicious Berber dip (kind of like Humus and peanut butter). Check out a recipe below courtesy of moroccanfood.about.com.

Or click HERE for a video on how to make it!

Amlou

Amlou

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz. or 200 g) almonds
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) argan oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons warm honey
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

Preheat an oven to 375° F (190° C). Spread the almonds on a baking pan and roast for about 10 minutes, or until a bit dark and crunchy but not burnt.

Allow the almonds to cool a bit, and then pass them through a meat grinder twice to make a powdery paste. Or, grind the toasted almonds as finely as possible in a food processor on high speed.

Next, gradually stir the argan oil into the almonds, a spoonful at a time or in a very slow trickle. You can do this by hand, stirring vigorously, or with the food processor on the lowest speed. (Note that the amount of oil in the recipe yields amlou with a traditionally thin consistency. Adjust the amount of oil to your own preference.) Next, gradually add the warm honey, sugar and salt in the same manner. Taste the amlou and adjust the sweetness if desired. Serve amlou on a small plate or dish with bread for dipping. Amlou will keep for two months in cool, dark cupboard.  Store amlou tightly covered in a jar, and shake or stir before serving.

For cooking: try this Alili organic argan oil..available here at alilimorocco.com…or find it at your local Dean and Deluca!

Alili organic argan cooking oil

Alili organic argan cooking oil

So we all may not be able to jump on a plane to that Moroccan dream spa I mentioned on Friday’s post…but try creating this little spa in your home! You deserve it!

Note: you cna also add some Moroccan tiles to your bathroom to give a Moroccan feel...

Note: you cna also add some Moroccan tiles to your bathroom to give a Moroccan feel...

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Although its more economical to use the mat from the local studio at class, or to buy a cheap mat from Marshall’s or T.J. Maxx, local studio mats can have up to 100,000 bacteria per square inch, and el-cheapo mats can sometimes be made from non eco-friendly materials, and be of el-cheapo quality.

Who needs a yoga mat? (photo courtesy of anneliesrigterphotography.com)

Who needs a yoga mat? (photo courtesy of anneliesrigterphotography.com)

Original yogis, and many to this day, in India didn’t (and still don’t) even use yoga mats…connection to the earth  and stability through bare feet are optimal for a deeper yoga practice. Story goes, that B.K.S. Iyengar was teaching a class in the U.S. when he was slipping all over the place. Suddenly a student handed him a non-slippery rug…hence…the yoga mat was born.

While in India, the ashram I studied at used simple rugs, these yogis are using something a little less conventional... (photo courtesy of incomingindia.com)

While in India, the ashram I studied at used simple rugs. These yogis are using something a little less conventional... (photo courtesy of incomingindia.com)

However, for the average Joe, me, a yoga mat is a great tool to gain stability and to create a non-slippery space for oneself, in a class, or anywhere you “lay your mat”.

Most yoga mats are made with PVC’s  (polyvinyl chloride) which is a highly toxic plastic to prevent slipping. However, there have been some pretty cool advances in yoga technology to make mats eco-friendly, biodegradable, less ‘gross’ (using microban technology), and non toxic ,while new sites are offering services in which you can design your own mat! (and it gets even crazier…further down in the post)

Yogamatic provides a custom design service…

Design your own inspirational mat...even with a photo...at YOGAMATIC.COM (Click here)...a little pricey...but I would love to take some personal time on a space thats personally inspired!

Design your own inspirational mat...even with a photo...at YOGAMATIC.COM (Click here)...a little pricey...but I would love to take some personal time on a space that's personally inspired!

Even celebs have joined the yogamatic craze....

Even celebs have joined the yogamatic craze....

For some sustainable yoga mat purchases…try Jade Yoga mats. They plant a tree when you buy one of their eco-friendly mats! Their Harmony mat is also one of the best around (although they are a splurge at about $60 a pop)! Click here.

Jade Harmony Yoga mats come in an array of colors

Jade Harmony Yoga mats come in an array of colors

These Chakra yoga mats below, are on sale at yogaacessories.com and are so unique! They feature the Chakras (from root to crown) on a variety of corresponding rainbow colors to help focus your energies, mind and spirit. They are also long at 72″ and extra thick at 1/4″! Click here to purchase at only $24.95.

Chakra yoga mat

Chakra yoga mat

To support a local business…for all you Bostonians…try a mat from Lotuspad in Cambridge…and they eve are developing carbon-free shipping solutions for those not in the area, and they do BIKE DELIVERY for those who are local! The mats are wonderful, as well!

Lotuspad yoga mats in Cambridge, MA (click here)

Lotuspad yoga mats in Cambridge, MA (click here)

These all natural yoga mats, below, from 3Guna Ayurveda are more for meditation, but they are super comfy-looking, fair trade and made with organic materials.

3Guna Ayurveda yoga mat

3Guna Ayurveda yoga mat

Some eco friendly yoga mats from bluelotus.com made form natural tree rubbers (click here)

Some eco friendly yoga mats from bluelotus.com made form natural tree rubbers (click here)

treehugger.com makes a wonderful eco mat as well! (click here)

treehugger.com makes a wonderful eco-friendly mat as well! (click here)

You can also personalize your yoga mat with self-adhesive mantras and designs from omtime.com

a variety of mantra designs adn inspirational mats that are PVC-free!  (matsmatsmats.com)

A variety of mantras and designs on inspirational mats that are PVC-free available at (matsmatsmats.com)

For some more cool yoga mat designs…try matsmatsmats.com (above)

Mats that look like grass...the kitchen floor....and even chocolate?

Eco-friendly mats that look like grass...the kitchen floor....and even chocolate?

These Plank Mats (above)make you feel like you’re doing yoga on the grass, shag carpeting,  a plank of wood…or even chocolate, yes…chocolate…not sure how I feel about them for my practice, but if you’re interested click here.

Some new innovations in yoga mats include…

1. This mat by Yoga Maendy…its 6′ x 6′ Microban square mat, so its ideal for partner yoga, experimenting so you don’t fall of your mat in more difficult poses, and for the extra tall person…like me! For more info…click here.

This giant Maendy Mat is a steal at $49!

This giant Maendy Mat is a steal at $49!

2. Really want a yoga island? Try this ROUND mat from Mandalyogamat.com.

These round yoga mats from mandalayogamat.com make you feel lke you are in your own sacred mandala, or lotus flower...

These round yoga mats from mandalayogamat.com make you feel like you are in your own sacred mandala, or lotus flower...

3. In the “You’ve got to be kidding me” category….Technology and yoga mats? Who would have thought…? These guys did…at Yanko Design some yoga loving techies invented a “Super Yoga Mat” in which the mat ‘unfurls’ from a metal tube that can play music or yoga videos right on the mat…for more info click here.

Yanko Designs Super Yoga mat plays yoga DVDs right on your mat!

Yanko Design's Super Yoga mat plays yoga DVD's right on your mat!

I don’t know about you, but over the years i have accumulated a slew of mats. After about a year of practice they can get a little grimy, and I am the victim of impulse buying when I see a new funky pattern that inspires me. I started keeping mats in emergency places…like they are fire extinguishers or emergency flashlights…one in my car…the corner of my room…by the back door to the porch…the garage…you know, just in case….its getting out of hand.

But what do I do with all the extra/old yoga mats? There is a solution!

The Boulder Mat company has a recycle program where you can donate your old mat and get a $5 discount on purchasing a new one! The company will donate the mat to charity or break it down and make a new one!

Recycle your mat with any of these ideas or at the website above!

Recycle your mat with any of these ideas or at the website above!

Gaiam has a list of 50 ways to reuse your mat here. Tips include sound proofing, tree ornaments, dog/cat food dish no-slip pads, lining kitchen shelves, donating to animal shelters, flower pot drainers, and even bases for a baseball game with the kids!

Some tips on Yoga mat etiquette when in a class or practicing at home…

1. Clean it with a natural cleanser after use! Bacteria and mold thrive on yoga mats… and let it hang out to dry afterward, especially after hot yoga. Wash your yoga rug (blanket) as well after every few uses and cleanse your blocks/straps with some non-toxic wipes/cleanser as well.But be careful to dry after cleansing…sprays can leave your tools slippery and therefore dangerous.

Here are some wonderful cleansers I’ve found and tried…

This Vermont Soap Yoga Mat Wash is great! Its certified organic and is under 10 bucks for 16 oz.! click here...

This Vermont Soap Yoga Mat Wash is great! It's certified organic and is under 10 bucks for 16 oz.! click here...

Stirlen makes a line of all natural cleansers that are biodegradable. Stirlen Chi spray has natural hormonizing scents and is also under $10....click here...

Stirlen makes a line of all natural cleansers that are biodegradable. Stirlen "Chi" spray has natural harmonizing scents and is also under $10....click here...

Happy Yoga Mat wash comes in wipes ad spray! Its organic/vegan, with refreshing citrus and lavender scents, and antifungall tea tree oil...click here...

Happy Yoga Mat wash comes in wipes ad spray! It's organic/vegan, with refreshing citrus and lavender scents, and anti-fungal tea tree oil...click here...

2. Do not step on anyone’s yoga mat but your own (except in couple’s yoga). Feet bring in toxins and dirt from the outside world and its not the nicest thing to step on a neighbor’s “private practice space” they have set up in class. Wash your own feet before practicing…remember you’ll go from Mountain pose at the top of your mat, to face down in the same place while taking a break from Bow.

Summer time...try to feel the sand between your toes...(photo courtesy of livebreatheyoga.com)

The most eco-friendly mat around...(photo courtesy of livebreatheyoga.com)

One more tip…since it is summer…try forgoing the mat altogether for one practice and take a step to be closer to nature by performing some poses in a flat and sturdy patch of grass or sand….its amazing!

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