Monthly Archives: December 2014

Organic vs. Natural: They’re Not The Same!

There’s a lot of confusion out there about the distinction between organic and natural, and we think it’s a shame, because the differences can be huge! The first thing you should understand is that, except for meat, “natural” doesn’t have a set, strictly defined or regulated definition, while “organic” does.

When you see the word “natural” on food packaging, it can mean any number of different things, depending on where in the US you are, who the food manufacturer is and what store is carrying the product. In fact, you might be surprised to learn what can be considered “natural.”

But the term “organic” is strictly defined in the US by uniform, federal regulations. “Organic” means the food or fiber bearing the label was made with a set of farming and production practices defined and regulated, in great detail, by the USDA.

When you see “organic” on a product label or packaging, you can be assured that the organic product was made without the use of toxic, persistent pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics or artificial growth hormones.

[via Stonyfield]

10 Tips for the Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Creamy, pumpkin-y goodness and a buttery, flaky crust all topped with whipped cream. If there is one dessert that you can’t have Thanksgiving without, it’s pumpkin pie. With these 10 tips you will have no problem perfecting this holiday staple!

1. Use freshly grated nutmeg

The little jar of “Pumpkin Pie Spice” is easy and convenient, but a few extra moments of measuring fresh spices will make all the difference. Cinnamon, all spice, ginger and cloves are all key, but the real secret is freshly grated nutmeg.

2. Make your own crust

You can’t rival a homemade crust. Find a trusted recipe (like this vegan one here) and get our your pastry cutter.

3. Don’t forget the egg wash

To get a golden brown shine on your pumpkin pie crust, don’t forget the egg wash. Whisk an egg with a pinch of salt and lightly brush the crust with it for a perfect crust.

4. Pre-bake the crust

Before pouring in the pie filling, bake the crust for a few minutes in a pre-heated oven. This will help avoid ending up with a soggy crust.

5. Use part dark brown sugar

Brown sugar has a more intense flavor than white sugar, so if you like a richer pie try using half white and half brown sugar.

6. Roast and puree your own pumpkin

Making your own pumpkin puree is a little time consuming, but totally worth it. Some recipes call for steaming or baking the pumpkin, but we prefer roasting. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables and leaves the pumpkin with less water content – making a concentrated and flavorful puree.

7. Strain your filling

For a creamy and smooth texture, run the filling through a fine mesh strainer.

8. Don’t Use Pumpkin

Let’s be honest, on its own, pumpkin isn’t the most flavorful vegetable out there. Try substituting a third to half of the pumpkin for candied yams, butternut squash, or sweet potato for a sweeter and more flavorful pie.

9. Always preheat the oven

For an evenly cooked pie with a flaky crust and good texture, always preheat your oven before baking!

10. Use real whipped cream

Do you know what the ingredients are in non-dairy whipped cream? Water, hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, skim milk, light cream, sodium caseinate, polysorbate 60 and sorbitan monostearate are all ingredients in store-bought whipped topping. The ingredients in homemade whipped cream? Cream, sugar.

Just do it.

[via Plated]

Seattle to Build Nation’s First Food Forest

Forget meadows. Seattle’s food forest will be filled with edible plants, and everything from pears to herbs will be free for the taking.

Seattle’s vision of an urban food oasis is going forward. A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more. All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest.

“This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park,” Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect for the Beacon Food Forest project, tells TakePart. Harrison is working on construction and permit drawings now and expects to break ground this summer.

The concept of a food forest certainly pushes the envelope on urban agriculture and is grounded in the concept of permaculture, which means it will be perennial and self-sustaining, like a forest is in the wild. Not only is this forest Seattle’s first large-scale permaculture project, but it’s also believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

“The concept means we consider the soils, companion plants, insects, bugs—everything will be mutually beneficial to each other,” says Harrison.

That the plan came together at all is remarkable on its own. What started as a group project for a permaculture design course ended up as a textbook example of community outreach gone right.

“Friends of the Food Forest undertook heroic outreach efforts to secure neighborhood support. The team mailed over 6,000 postcards in five different languages, tabled at events and fairs, and posted fliers,” writes Robert Mellinger for Crosscut.

Neighborhood input was so valued by the organizers, they even used translators to help Chinese residents have a voice in the planning.

 So just who gets to harvest all that low-hanging fruit when the time comes?

“Anyone and everyone,” says Harrison. “There was major discussion about it. People worried, ‘What if someone comes and takes all the blueberries?’ That could very well happen, but maybe someone needed those blueberries. We look at it this way—if we have none at the end of blueberry season, then it means we’re successful.”

[via Take Part]

Immune-Boosting Pho Recipe

Whether you tend to approach cold and flu season by crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, or by stocking your cupboards with an arsenal of natural immunity-boosters, I’ve got a recipe for you that I think could revolutionize your approach to staying healthy this winter. It’s a delicious version of pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup that’s chock full of health-promoting aromatic spices.

As an enthusiastic vegan cook and an herbalist, I just had to play with the classic recipe a little bit to see if I could make an animal-friendly version that’s even more effective and delicious than the original. I’ve added burdock root (Arctium lappa) to support liver function and to increase the mineral content. The astragalus in the recipe is prized as an immunomodulator. It will help to make your immune response more effective without causing your immune system to become overactive. Finally, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it helps your body to respond more healthfully to physical and mental stress.

In many traditions, tonic herbs like these are considered to be most effective when cooked into food, but it’s the taste of this soup that will keep you coming back for more. I can’t think of anything more comforting than cozying up with a bowl of this healing pho on a wintry day. Enjoy it as a meal or make a big batch of the broth and drink a bit each day as a delicious tonic for your immune system this winter.

Ingredients:

**Tip: you may be able to purchase the medicinal herbs for this recipe in the bulk section of your natural food store. If you can’t find them there, you can order bulk herbs online.

For the broth:

  • 2 unpeeled organic onions, cut into quarters
  • 8-12 garlic cloves, smashed
  • a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, cut into thick slices
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches long)
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cup dried burdock (Arctium lappa) root
  • 1 Tbsp. dried (Astragalus membranaceus) root
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) root
  • 3 Tbsp. tamari, or Coconut Aminos

To make it a meal:

  • 1 pound rice noodles
  • 8 ounces fried or baked tofu (or seitan), sliced
  • 6 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • Handful of fresh basil or cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime
  • Optional sauces for serving: hoisin or sriracha

To make the broth:

Start by dry-roasting the broth ingredients to bring out their flavor. Heat a very large soup pot over medium-high heat. Do not add any oil or water to the pot. When the pot is heated, add the quartered onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon sticks, star anist, and cloves. Stir occasionally, allowing the veggies to char slightly and the spices to start to give off their aromas. This should take about 5-10 minutes.

Next, add 4-6 quarts of filtered water until your pot is a little bit more than ¾ of the way full. Add the medicinal roots (burdock, astragalus, and eleuthero) and give the pot a good stir. Bring the broth up to the boil, uncovered. Then, turn the heat down to low, partially cover the pot, and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add more water as needed to keep the pot about ¾ of the way full. If you have more time, let the broth simmer longer.

Once you’re finished simmering the broth, allow it to cool enough to handle. Strain the veggies, spices, and herbs from the broth using a strainer lined with cheesecloth and make sure to wring out your herbs and veggies by wrapping the cheesecloth around them and squeezing it with your hands. This helps to make sure you get to enjoy every last drop of the broth. (You can snack on the cooked onions, garlic, and ginger for an extra immune-boost.) Finish the broth by adding 3 Tbsp. of tamari or coconut aminos.

You can enjoy a cup of the broth each day as an immune tonic. It will keep in the fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it in small batches to use throughout the winter. Or, if you’d like to enjoy the Pho as a meal, cook your rice noodles according to package directions and place them in serving bowls with your tofu/seitan and mung bean sprouts. Cover each portion of noodles with a generous serving of broth and garnish with hand-torn basil leaves. Bring a small bowl of lime wedges to the table along with hot sauce and/or hoisin sauce so that everyone can serve themselves

[via Mind Body Green]

You can use the detox foot spa, help your body get rid of toxins

What is a detox?

Short detox for detoxification, refers to the process of removing harmful substances away from the body. Your body is blessed with its own internal mechanism to eliminate toxins. Liver, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, organs such as the skin and continue to run the involuntarily detoxification process, I want to eliminate the harmful toxins from your body.

If the inside of the detox system of your body was working efficiently, you are protected against a number of diseases. But your system in modern life can not function at its best. Our amount of pollutants in the environment is associated with an increase in order to carry on effectively detox process a sedentary lifestyle may affect your organs of ability. Therefore, the toxin is recycled into the bloodstream that cause more damage to your body. Cause in order to build up of toxins in your body, there is a possibility a variety of other diseases and conditions to lethargy, headache, skin that bad and scratches, the damage to become a breath and body odor problems occur. It allows you to perform a detox treatment, it is essential to help your body function at a high level.