How To Make Your Salads Exciting & Get Your B Vitamins All-In-One

I recently discovered a recipe for a dressing while having lunch with my boss. It was a regular “I’m-a-hippie-and-I-live-in-Berkeley” type of meal until she handed me the dressing.   My standard go-to dressing is usually balsamic vinegar and a splash of olive oil or fresh lemon juice, and that was what I expected- the usual, slightly boring dressing. As I drizzled the dressing and raised the fork to my mouth I instantly got the familiar smell of bacon. I took at bite and my mouth exploded with quite possibly the most amazing flavor I had ever tasted. As I looked up from my plate and looked at my boss and she replied with, “I know, I’m addicted.” I had to know what was in the dressing! After trying to guess the ingredients, she told me that it was a combination of olive oil, tamari sauce/soy sauce, nutritional yeast and apple cider vinegar. She told me she couldn’t get enough of the dressing and that many times she would just crave it and want to literally pour it on everything just so she could satiate her desire for it. Since then I have made this dressing the staple dressing in my home. I literally add it to everything. Need to add some flavor to that chicken you’re about to pop in the oven? Pour some of this dressing on it!  Drizzle it over your roasted veggies or raw veggies; trust me, you will want to drink it straight out of the bottle. I suspect that the reason you will quickly fall in love with this dressing is for its high level of B vitamin’s in the nutritional yeast and your body’s natural craving for it. Regardless of the reason, go make it and see for yourself!

Here’s the easy recipe:

1/4 Tamari sauce or soy sauce 

1/4 Bragg’s apple cider vinegar

1/4 Olive oil

1/4 Bragg’s nutritional yeast 

Mix the ingredients in a pourable pyrex, whisk and pour into a glass salad dressing container. *Do not refrigerate.

Cheer’s to no more boring salad dressings!

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Fight the Flu Season Naturally

I like to think that all of the vitamins I take before bed will guard me from the flu season, and for the most part I tend to be right. That is, until my husband gets sick and passes her germ flu symptoms to me. Next thing I know I am sniffling, coughing and completely lethargic.

I recently discovered a new homemade tea brew that I would like to share with you. It’s not your regular sweet tea, mind you; actually, it’s more on the savory side. As a kid my mother used to brew onion tea with honey for our coughs. This is where I got the idea. Instead of onions, I decided to brew a combination of Turmeric, garlic, lemon and honey for my cold symptoms. Sounds gross, right? Well, surprisingly enough, it’s not too bad.

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Health Benefits:

Turmeric is known to many cultures as the “healing spice.” It is an anti-inflammatory and is often used for colds and as a cough suppressant, stomach aches, and for skin conditions for it’s anti-microbrial benefits.

Garlic is an immune booster and is packed with anti-oxidants.

Lemon is used for respiratory ailments and fevers.

Honey is a natural cough suppressant, and helps with any upper respiratory infections.

Here is the Recipe:

1 Tbsp Turmeric
The juice of half a lemon
2 Garlic cloves
Local Honey to add some sweetness
2 cups of hot water (liquid cups)

Here’s to your health and to helping your body fight off those germs!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

There is nothing like eating real cranberry sauce during the holidays. I think that for many people the idea of a a canned jelly sounds more appealing than eating something that is homemade. If you are the type who looks forward to the holidays because of the canned cranberry sauce, bear with me and do yourself a favor and just try it. If you don’t like it you can go back to your canned cranberry sauce. No judgment. Okay, maybe a little judgment.

I came across this recipe back in 2011 when I asked an acupuncturist friend of mine if she had any recommendations for homemade cranberry sauce. I had just graduated from my masters program and I was determined to host Thanksgiving dinner for the first time and make everything from scratch. My friend is also a Chinese herbalist and she shared this recipe with me with the hopes that would see the light and incorporate more fresh herbs and spices into my cooking. This recipe opened my eyes to the health benefits of cooking with fresh food and made me realize that I don’t have to feel bloated after a holiday meal if I make it with real and fresh ingredients that are good for my health.

After making the recipe for the first time I was hooked and I have continued to make it for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner ever since. It is incredibly easy to make and tastes so much better that the canned stuff. I promise!

Ingredients and health benefits:

Cranberries (2 bags): Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, fiber and vitamin E. Cranberries also contain vitamin K, manganese and a large array of phytonutrients, naturally occurring plant chemicals that help to protect the body from harmful free radicals and offer anti-inflammatory and cancer-preventing properties. Cranberries are also famously known for their ability to make urine more acidic which helps prevent bacteria growth in the bladder.

Raisins (1 Cup): Health benefits of raisins include relief from constipation, acidosis, anemia, and fever. Raisins have also been known to help in attempts to gain weight in a healthy way, as well as its positive impact on eye health, dental care, and bone quality.

Juice of 2 Oranges: Fresh orange juice is the richest source of vitamin C and fulfills an entire day’s worth of vitamin C in just one serving. Chock full of useful minerals like potassium and magnesium, orange juice is also very low in fat and contains no cholesterol whatsoever. It is an anti-inflammatory and contains beta carotene that can help prevent cell damage. Orange juice has quite a bit of calcium in it which helps promote bone health and strengthen teeth. 

Orange zest (1 tsp): Contains a higher dietary fiber and fresh orange zest provides 136 mg per 100 g of vitamin C.

Fresh grated ginger (1-2 tsp): Some people find ginger helps them with the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, cough, menstrual cramps, arthritis and muscle pain. Ginger contains a chemical that is used as an ingredient in antacid, laxative and anti-gas medications. It is great for stomach pain and helps prevent against stomach and colon cancer.

Cinnamon stick (1-2): Cassia cinnamon may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.  Studies of cinnamon show that it is great for lowering cholesterol and treating yeast infections. In addition, cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.

1/2 cup of water

Mulling spices (whole cloves, nutmeg, allspice berries)*

 Honey or a dash of agave to taste

*To infuse the cranberry sauce with the taste of the mulling spices you can use a tea bag mesh or you can leave the spices in depending on your preference.  If you don’t have the whole spice you can use the ground spices.

Instructions:

Bring cranberries and 1/2 cup water to a gentle simmer. The berries will begin to open and pop open with the heat. Keep stirring because they can burn easily. As you continue stirring you may need to add the other 1/2 cup of water. Squeeze juice on top, stir and add the raisins. Let raisins soak and continue stirring slowly over a low heat. Add ginger, cinnamon and spices and let it all simmer slowly as you continue stirring and making sure that the berries to not burn. Finish up with the zest of the orange and some honey to taste. Stir well. If you used the tea bag mesh make sure you remove it before serving.

Cooking time is about 15-20 minutes

Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

Calmante de Adentro Hacia Afuera

El aroma de anís, canela y hierbas llenaban el ambiente al entrar a la oficina principal, cada especia traia gratos recuerdos a mi mente. Al pasar al lado de las muestras bien ordenadas, me transporte a la cocina de mi abuela cuando la observaba cocinar, hacer tortillas y sus famosos tamales navideños. Ensimismada en mis recuerdos, me recibieron con un beso y con una taza de té caliente. La habitación estaba llena de extraños y sin embargo, me sentí como si estuviera de vuelta en casa con familia.

Recientemente tuve la oportunidad de visitar Tadin, la compañía de té y especias que mi abuela confiaba al preparar sus platos favoritos. Los recuerdos de su cocina volvieron a mi tan vívidamente cuando visité la fábrica. El ver gente que trabaja día a día produciendo las hierbas y especias de calidad utilizadas por mi familia . Mientras escuchaba al guía describir el proceso de producción, observé a mujeres y hombres trabajar; tuve una sensación de orgullo y conexión. En tiempos en que no sabemos de dónde viene nuestro alimento o cómo se procesa el mismo, era increíble ver a esa gente examinando con esmero y delicadeza cada hierba, asegurándose de que cada producto fuera perfecto. Al final de la gira, fuimos invitados a sentarnos a saborear tres de sus muestras de te mas recientes: Jengibre, Mango y Pina. Como alguien que creció bebiendo te de manzanilla Tadin, yo estaba muy emocionada por probar sus nuevas creaciones. Lentamente me abrí paso a mi asiento y comenze a verter agua caliente sobre la bolsita de té. Al instante pude oler cada ingrediente que sólo bajo calor extremo podian revelar su verdadera identidad y sabor.

Sin lugar a dudas, me enamoré de sus nuevas mezclas, lo que representa la empresa, y las personas que ayudan a traer esos sabores a la cocina de nuestras familias.

Para aquellos que no conocen el té Tadin o tienen curiosidad de aprender los beneficios a la salud, he proporcionado una lista de ingredientes y razones para beber cada té.

Una de las razones por la que me gusta estas mezclas es por la riqueza en sabor y sin necesidad de añadir azúcar!

Te de Jengibre

Ingredientes:

  • Jengibre
  • Raiz de Regaliz
  • Té de limón
  • Cascara de naranja
  • Rosa mosqueta
  • Saúco

*Sin cafeína

Beber este té después de una comida pesada. El jengibre es “calientito” y exelente para la limpieza de las fosas nasales y ayuda al sistema respiratorio. El té de jengibre es recomendado para antes de acostarse y añade belleza a la rutina nocturna debido a la vitamina A que contiene.

Te de Piña

Ingredientes:

  • Té de limón
  • Té verde
  • Té blanco
  • Linaza
  • Hierbabuena
  • Piña
  • Sabor de piña
  • Stevia

*Contiene cafeína

Beber durante el cambio de estaciones para ayudar al sistema inmunológico y al sistema respiratorio. Beberlo en cualquier momento después de cada comida y si se siente estreñido. Acelera el metabolismo, lo que puede ayudar en la pérdida de peso.

Te de Mango

Ingredientes:

  • Té verde
  • Cascara de naranja
  • Stevia
  • Jamaica
  • Mango
  • Pera deshidratada
  • Saúco

*Contiene cafeína

Beber en cualquier momento, pero especialmente durante la temporada de alergias. Beba este té en vez de café o refresco, es una gran opción para cualquier persona con diabetes o problemas urinarios. Beber este té para ayudar a equilibrar los niveles de pH y reducir la acidez en el cuerpo. Déle este té a cualquier persona que tenga gusto por lo dulce. .

Te de Manzanilla

Ingredientes:

  • Flor de manzanilla

*Sin cafeína

Ayuda a la digestión y los calambres. Beba este té durante todo el día para producir un efecto calmante y relajante en el cuerpo. Beber este té antes de acostarse ayuda a tener un sueño reparador .

Para una bebida caliente y acogedora sólo tiene que añadir agua caliente y en el verano substituya las bebidas azucaradas por un te frio refrescante.

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This post was kindly brought to you by Tadin Herb and Tea Company

Soothing From The Inside Out

The smells of anise, cinnamon and herbs filled the air as I walked into the main office, each spice bringing a memory with them.   As I walked past the neatly displayed wall of teas and spices I was transported back to when I was 7 or 8 and when I would walk into the kitchen and hear my grandmother singing as she made tortillas and her famous Christmas tamales. Making my way past those memories I was greeted with a kiss and with a warm cup of tea. A room filled with strangers and yet I felt like I was back home with family.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Tadin, the tea and spice company that my grandmother trusted in making her dishes. My memories of her cooking came back so vividly as I toured the factory and saw the people who worked day-in-and-day-out to produce the quality herbs and spices my family uses. As I listened to the tour guide describe their production process and watched the women and men work, I felt a sense of pride and connection. In a time where we don’t know where our food comes from or how our food is processed it was amazing to see real people sifting through the herbs, carefully and delicately making sure that each product is perfect.

At the end of the tour, guests were invited to sit down to try 3 of their newest tea blends: Ginger, Mango, and Pineapple. As someone who grew up drinking Tadin chamomile tea I was very excited to try their newest creations. I slowly made my way to my seat and began pouring the hot water over the tea bag. I could instantly smell each ingredient as if only under extreme heat would they open up to reveal their true identity and flavor.

Needless to say that I fell in love with their new blends, what the company stands for, and the people who help bring these flavors to my family’s kitchen.

For those new to Tadin tea or if you’re curious to learn the health benefits I have provided a list of ingredients, and reasons to drink each tea.

One of the reasons I love these blends is for the richness in flavor. There is no need to add sugar!

Ginger Blend tea:

Ingredients:

  • Ginger root
  • Licorice root
  • Lemongrass leaf
  • Orange peel
  • Rosehips
  • Elder flower

Drink this tea after eating a heavy meal. Ginger is “warming” and great for clearing out the nasals and soothing the respiratory system.  Ginger tea is a great option before bed and treat to add to your nightly beauty routine because of the vitamin A it contains.

Pineapple Blend tea:

Ingredients:

  • Lemongrass leaf
  • Green tea leaf
  • White tea leaf
  • Flax seed
  • Spearmint leaf
  • Pineapple fruit
  • Stevia leaf

Drink during the change of seasons to support the immune system and respiratory system. Drink anytime after a meal and if you’re feeling constipated. Speeds up the metabolism, which can aid in weight loss.

Mango Green tea:

Ingredients:

  • Green tea leaf
  • Orange peel
  • Stevia herb
  • Hibiscus flower
  • Mango
  • Dehydrated pear
  • Elderberry

Drink anytime but especially during allergy season. Drink this tea instead of coffee or soda. This tea is a great option for anyone with diabetes or urinary problems. Drink this tea to help balance pH levels in the body and reduce acidity in the body. Give this tea to anyone with a sweet tooth.

Chamomile tea:

Ingredients:

  • Chamomile flower

Drink during support digestion, and cramping. Drink this tea throughout the day to produce calming and relaxing effect in the body. Drink this tea before bed for restful sleep.

For a warm and cozy beverage just add hot water, and in the summer substitute the sugary drinks for a refreshing iced tea!

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This post was kindly brought to you by Tadin Herb and Tea Company

Invigorating Practices: Dry Brushing

As someone who has poor circulation and dry skin I decided I wanted to start dry brushing. I had heard of this practice while I was living in Boston, but it wasn’t until I moved to California that I realized what I had been missing out on. I am not someone who likes to spend a lot of money on beauty products and luckily I found a lovely brush that was reasonable in price. I recommend going to your nearest natural food store to find a brush with natural bristles.

So what is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is the practice of brushing the skin with a natural (non-synthetic) brush. The brushing stimulates the skin and activates the lymphatic system.

The benefits of dry brushing include:

  • REMOVING LAYERS OF DEAD SKIN
  • INCREASE CIRCULATION
  • STIMULATE NERVE ENDINGS
  • INCREASE MUSCLE TONE 
  • STIMULATION OF YOUR OIL GLANDS AND HORMONES
  • DECREASING CELLULITE. 
  • CLEANSE YOUR LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
  •  IMMUNITY BOOST
  • STRESS RELIEF
  • UNCLOGS PORES

How to get started:

1. Get naked and stand in a bathtub (water should be off)

2. Begin brushing by starting at your feet and moving in long sweeping motions toward your heart. Always brush toward your      heart.

3. Brush several times in each area.

4. Once you’ve brushed your entire body, jump in the shower. Try alternating from hot to cold water to stimulate circulation.

6. After getting out of the shower, pat dry skin and apply coconut oil or a natural oil of your choice. I use EarthBody oils because of the amazing scents and because I have sensitive skin.

7. Continue to dry brush your entire body every day. Twice a day is recommended for best results.

*Clean your brush with soap and water and leave out to dry in a clean and sunny spot inside your home.

Happy Brushing!

Hospitality Tea: My Exploration of Moroccan Mint Tea

I love tea. There is just something so magical about a hot cup of tea. The way the dry tea opens itself up to reveal its flavor and how the leaves dance together in the water as you pour the hot water into your cup. It reminds me of how only under intense pressure and heat will the seed pods of the Redwood tree open up.

For years different cultures have been using tea in ceremonies, as part of rituals, as a form of hospitality and as a sign of friendship. Even the way you pour tea is considered an art form.

I have recently taken up my own version of this art form when I learned how to brew kombucha and as I have been drinking hot water with the juice of half a lemon in the mornings before breakfast. As part of my quest I have been experimenting with different fresh herbs and trying different versions of the classic “Moroccan mint tea.”

Moroccan mint tea is traditionally brewed using gunpowder tea from China, fresh mint leaves, sugar and hot water. This tea is traditionally served to guests as a sign of friendship and hospitality. If there are two things I love it’s hosting people for dinner and drinking tea.  After trying several versions of this tea, I have come up with one that I love the most and that I have served at a few gatherings. This new take on the traditional “Moroccan mint tea” is more of my “ode” to it and one that can still be considered hospitable to serve before, during and after a shared meal.

Ingredients:

1-2 handfuls of fresh mint sprigs

1 fresh lemon (juiced)

1 fresh grapefruit (juiced)

1 tbsp of grated ginger (optional)

1 large pot of hot water

What you will need:

Large pot

Strainer

Container to hold tea (preferably glass)

Recipe:

*Bring a large pot of water to a boil, lower the heat and drop the mint leaves into the pot. Leave simmering for 5-8 minutes on low heat. Add juice of lemon and juice of grapefruit into pot. You can drop the grapefruit and lemon into the pot after it has been juiced for an added flavor. Add the ginger for a warming effect. Strain and bottle, add some ice for a cooler beverage and some thinly sliced lemon and sprigs of mint for garnish.

Health benefits:

Mint: Aids with digestion, nausea, headaches, coughing/respiratory ailments, asthma, depression, fatigue, weight loss, oral care.

Ginger: Immune booster, digestion, gastrointestinal health, anti-inflammatory.

Lemon: Indigestion, constipation, high blood pressure, respiratory ailments, weight loss, dental care, fever.

Grapefruit: Packed with vitamin C, ranked high in anti-oxidants, inhibits tumor formation, lowers cholesterol, prevent kidney stones, protects against colon cancer

I hope this inspires you to explore the enchanting world of tea. If you have any recipes you would like to share I would love to hear about them.

Happy sipping!

My Week With Urb Apothecary

One of my goals is to eliminate all harsh chemicals from my kitchen and bathroom. I started last year by tossing out all of my old makeup (this was harder than I thought it would be) and replacing my lotions, face wash, moisturizer and other feminine products with products that were less damaging to my skin.  For example, I started using almond oil and sesame oil to moisturize after my shower and I have started going days without make up. There are obviously some things I cannot make myself so I try my best to use local or all natural products. I am not always successful, but I have come a long way since before starting this journey. Recently, I discovered some beauty products hand made by local artisan, Leyna Allred. Leyna lives in Santa Cruz, CA. where she concocts these magically decadent body butters, muscle rubs, face scrubs, lip tints and balms. Her homegrown delights are called URB Apothecary and this week I had the joy of trying some of her top selling creations!

Day 1 The first thing I tried on was the Clay Cacao mask. Simply applying this mask made me feel self-indulgent and I was in heaven. The smell of rich chocolate mousse permeated my skin. Once it dried I washed my face and noticed a significant difference in my pore size. My pores looked smaller and my face felt fresh and taut. Next I applied one of Leyna’s recent creations: The lip tint, which is infused with organic almond oil and rose hips. The wildcraft alkanet root give it the sexy dark tint I am always looking for, and the rose hips give the lips a nice dose of antioxidants. Because I don’t use blush I decided to give my cheeks a little love and applied some of it to my cheek bones. The result was that I looked fresh faced and my skin was so happy.

Day 2 and Day 4 I have chronically dry skin because of my thyroid. There is nothing I have not tried and no bottle of lotion left unturned. I tried URB Apothecary’s Shea+Cocoa balm after using the  Matcha scrub in the shower. Not only did I smell yummy but my skin felt supple. I used the Matcha scrub on my whole body and even used it for my face instead of my regular face wash. The smell reminded me of a yummy custard and when I stepped out of the shower my skin had a nice healthy glow to it.  I would recommend using this scrub a few times per week.  I did notice that I did not need an additional moisturizer after my shower and instead used the Shea + Cocoa balm for my knees, elbows and heels.

Day 3 My day off! Instead of doing my normal routine I decided to stay home and take a nice long bath. I dropped a few tablespoons of the Sea Kelp bath salts in the tub and let the kelp do its job. Sea Kelp is known for its Chlorophyl properties that help detoxify the skin and reduce inflammation. The protein, amino acids and fatty acids promote elasticity and conditions the skin. As an added treat I tried the lip plumping balm after my bath. This all natural lip plumper contains cinnamon which stimulates the skin by promoting blood flow. Needless to say that my lips looked luscious without the burning you would get from the lip plumper you would buy at Sephora.

Day 4 I was in a car accident this past weekend and my shoulders were so tense. I usually get weekly massages from my husband (yes, I know I am spoiled!) but this time around I had him use the Muscle and Joint salve.  This salve is infused with ginger and cayanne. In Chinese Medicine these aromatics are known for their warming properties because they both stimulate blood flow and promote stomach health. Ginger is also known to help with reducing inflammation. I have been applying this salve on a daily basis in my shoulder area and I have noticed a significant reduction in pain after applying it. Another ingredient used is Arnica. Arnica is a homeopathic flower that is used to reduce bruising and sprains.

Day 5 So far I have been using the Lip tint on a daily basis for when I go out. The Shea+Cocoa balm I am applying nightly after my shower to my dry spots (knees, elbows and heels), the Matcha scrub I am using every other night and the Clay Cacao mask I will be using once per week.

In only 5 days I have noticed a reduction in make up use, less redness in my skin, less peeling of dry skin, reduced need to moisturize because of the almond and coconut oil based products I am using, and my pores look significantly smaller. I have never seen a product work so well and so fast. I am actually looking forward to seeing the long term benefits their use have on my skin health!

If you would like to learn more about URB Apothecary you can stop their ETSY site at: www.etsy.com/shop/UrbApothecary/about/