Friday, November 28, 2014

My Favorite "Green" Holiday Gifts 2014

Happy Black Friday Greenies! If you are anything like me, Black Friday is usually about the time that you start my Christmas shopping. Now don't get me wrong, I don't go standing outside in the cold for great deals, but I do cozy up to my laptop and get my creative juices flowing to decide what to get for my loved ones while I do a little online shopping.

Now before you start your holiday shopping, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite "green" gifts. You can use this list to help you decide what to give you friends and family who are interested in going a little greener this year, or maybe you can use it to get ideas of what you would like others to buy you (that's how I usually use gift lists like this!).


To make it easier, I've broken them down by price, starting with the cheapest ones that would make great stocking stuffers, all the way up some big-mega-green Christmas presents that are the most expensive. 
Let's get this holiday list started...



Don't have time for the video? Check out the pictures below...
1. Tongue Scraper. My favorite is Dr. Tung's Stainless Steel Tongue Scraper $5 on Amazon.com. This something I do every morning right when I wake up to help clean the bacteria, toxins, and other stinkines off my tongue. It's quick, easy and can even help you taste your food better.  You can read more about it in my post: How & Why To Do Tongue Scraping.



2. Stainless Steel Straws. Looking to trade out plastic straws for a more sustainable option?  Stainless steel straws are a great alternative. I've tried my hand with glass straws in the past and all I do is break them, so these are my new go-to. Looks like Amazon doesn't have the orginal straws I have pictured here, but here's another brand that looks great, Eco at Heart Smoothie Straws 5 pk with Cleaning Brush $11 on Amazon. Be sure to get them with the cleaning brush (most sets come with this) so that you can clean the insides of them from time to time. You don't want to be drinking up chunks of old smoothie that sometimes get stuck in there...so that's where the brush comes in.


3. Dry Skin Brush. So this is a daily habit that I started years ago and that I love.  Dry skin brushing is where you take a brush like the one listed below and you "brush" your skin all over your body (while it's dry...not during the shower). Some benefits that come from dry skin brushing include, increased exfoliation and circulation, as well detoxification because it helps stimulate the lymphatic system. You can find them at health food stores or online, here's one on Amazon, Yerba Prima Tampico Skin Brush $7. Read more about my dry skin brushing routine here: "Dry Skin Brushing: What is it & How to do it".



4. Dryer Balls. These are a fun gift that can last the recipient for years. Dryer balls are wool balls that you toss into your dryer when drying clothes and they take the place of dryer sheets. They help reduce drying time, soften clothes without the use of chemicals, and can save you money since you don't have buy dryer sheets...ever again!  I use this brand: Everyday Willow Wool Dryer Balls Set of 3 $15 on Amazon.  Read more about how I use wool dryer balls in this post: "Goodbye Dryer Sheets"



5. Set of cloth napkins. One of my go-to green gifts over the years have been cloth napkins. In my quest to go green these are one of the first purchases I made to help me move from disposable (paper towels) to reusable (cloth napkins). They can be personalized by color, fabric and pattern so the possibilities are endless. If you know how to sew, you could make them on your own with some cotton flannel fabric, but I tend to rely on others to help make these for me. I like this set of 20 Cloth Reusable Napkins from the seller MooCowMomma on Etsy for $25. (pictured below) Read more about how I use cloth, clean, and store my napkins in this post: "How to Use, Clean, and Store Cloth Napkins"



6. Set of glass food containers. As you can tell, I'm all about things that the receiver of these green gifts can easily swap out and use in place of the non-green items they used before and a set of class "Tupperware" containers is a great way to do just that. Years ago I used to use plastic containers to heat up and store my leftovers. Some were faded, warped, and cloudy in color, but they still worked to store and heat up my food so I didn't think anything of it. Flash forward a few years in my green journey and I learned about the toxins lurking in plastic food containers like BPA, phtlates, and other toxins that are released when exposed to extreme temperatures...you can bet I was chucking all my plastic containers within minutes. My replacement was a set of glass containers. Here's a similar set: 18pc. set on Amazon, Glasslock Assorted Glass Containers for $35.  I find it's helpful to have various sizes, so I can use the big ones for leftovers and my girls can use the smaller ones. Side note: I also ditched my microwave too, so find out more about how I heat up my food without it in this post: "How to Brake Up with Your Microwave."


7. Essential oil diffuser. Looking for a green alternative to candles, air sprays, or Glade Plug-Ins? This essential oil diffuser is a great option. What you do is put water and several drops of essential oil into the diffuser, plug it in and the oils will mix with the water and create a fine mist in the air. This is a great way to scent the air naturally. I use this Greenair Spa Vapor Diffuser for $35 on Amazon. Read more about how to use this diffuser and my favorite essential oils to diffuse with it here: "How to Diffuse Essential Oils"



8. Squatty Potty. Okay so you're going to want to really love the person you are giving this to otherwise they might think you're kind of strange! A Squatty Potty is a stool that slides under your toilet and when you have to go to the bathroom (for a bowel movement) you pull it out and put your feet on it to give you more of an elevated knee positioning, which has been found to be helpful in having more complete bowel movements with ease. Other benefits that come from using the Squatty Potty include, decrease in constipation, reduction of hemorrhoids, and strengthening of the pelvic floor. I use this 9 inch Squatty Potty Ecco Toilet Stool for $25 on Amazon. Read more about how to use the squatty potty in my post: "Squatting on the Potty for a Healthy Body". 


9. Shower Filter. One area that I feel is neglected in the "green world" in shower water filtration. I know, such an exciting topic, right? But when using a shower filter you are able filter out chlorine, toxins, chemicals and bacteria that are hiding in your water. As a result you will notice softer hair and skin, and you may even breathe better since you don't have to breathe in the chlorine in steam form (as it is present in unfiltered shower water vapor). I use this Showerwise Deluxe Shower Filter for $59 on Amazon. Read more in my post, "Filter Your Shower Water to Reduce Toxins" Again this would be an easy thing for the receiver to install and use daily without much effort at all on their part. In case you're wondering, the filter needs to be replaced once a year.


10. Spoonk Accupressure Mat. This is another "crazy green gift" which is basically a mat with a variety of spikes on it and you lay on it (kind of like a "bed of nails" you could say). Despite seeming uncomfortable, it actually can be very relaxing. The Spoonk mat works by having the little spikes bring circulation and relaxation to the area where it's applied. You can find this on Amazon for $59, Spoonk Accupressure Mat and Travel Pillow. Read more in my post, "How to Spoonk for Better Health".



11. Vitamix - Okay so this is a stretch, but my last gift recommendation is a Vitamix blender. I've had mine for 5-6 years now and I truly think it was one of those green purchases that has made a huge difference in my health and in the way I eat. As you can tell below, mine is not the shiny model it once was when I got it, but it still works great and I use it daily, sometimes twice a day even.  Most Vitamix's come with a 7 year warranty, and I've used that warranty twice and the Vitamix company has always come through and sent me the part I need or repaired my machine. One more reason why I love it.  I have the most basic model like this one: 5200 Getting Started Blender for $449 , which is great if you're just starting out (or if you are a veteran blending fan too).  Sometimes at Christmas you can get several people to go in on a present for you (grandparents, parents, spouse, etc.) and this would be a great thing to put their money towards. So if you are willing to make the investment, this blender won't disappoint!


Bonus Gift Ideas...
(so I didn't have time to share all of these in the video, so here's some bonus ones!)

Wake Up Light: This lovely alarm clock gradually increases in light as it gets closer to your set wake up time, so you can wake up gradually. Read more here: "A Healthier Way to Wake Up." Here's a similar one to the one listed below (Philip's Wake Up Light $69)


Neti pot: Clean your nasal passages with this awesome tool that you fill with warm water and a salt solution. Read more here at "How to Use a Neti Pot". Here's the one I use on Amazon for $13


Diva Cup: Here's another "probably TMI gift" but it can help the recipent switch from disposable period products to a reusable option with this Diva Cup. This works similar to a tampon in how it collects your flow, and then it is emptied. Read more here in "How to Green Your Period." You can find a Diva Cup here on Amazon for $28


Bib Clips: This is a great one for anyone with babies or toddlers. It's a set of clips that can turn any cloth napkin into a bib for your child to use and then wash. No plastic baby bibs needed. Read more about how we use the bib clips in this post: "A Green Alternative to Baby Bibs" and you can find them on Amazon for $5! 


Green T-Shirts: Christmas is always one of my favorite times to stock up on "green t-shirts" that promote the green lifestyle I'm taking steps towards living. Here's a link to my Spreadshirt shop where you can find various eco-friendly, vegan, green lifestyle shirts I've designed for everyone in the whole family. Best of all you can personalize them to any color you want and style as well. 


So there you have it my favorite "green" holiday gifts for 2014! Do you have any favorites to add to the list? Or which one do you think your loved ones or you would like the most? Share below.
Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Vegan Brownies

I got a craving for brownies a few weeks back (no I'm not pregnant), and was bummed to find that so many of the vegan recipes I found on Pinterest called for a ton of sugar. Lately I've been trying to cut down my sugar, even natural sugar like coconut sugar and maple syrup (goodbye my two sweet loves), and instead only use stevia or fruit to sweeten things. That makes a brownie recipe a bit tricky. But I did come across a yummy recipe from the blog The Spunky Coconut for "Vegan, Egg-Free, Grain-Free Brownies", and after some tweaking, I've found a recipe I love and that I can feel good about eating...well, I mean it's still brownies, but at least it's a slightly healthier option.


The base of this recipe is actually a combo of applesauce and nut butter, so it's free of grains, both gluten and non-gluten, and full of protein. Some may argue, full of fat, but depending upon the nut butter you choose, it could be high in protein and some minerals.  Add in a little bit of raw cacao powder for an antioxidant punch and a little stevia to sweeten it up and you've got a nice little treat.

My go-to sweetener. 

Bonus, this is quick to make in one bowl, and hey if you don't have time to bake it in the oven, the batter tastes to die for, a common way I end up eating at least 1/4 of the batch each time.

Click here to watch the recipe:




Or check out the recipe in pictures...

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Vegan Brownies
Inspired by "The Spunky Coconut" for Vegan, Egg-Free, Grain-Free Brownies

Ingredients:
The ingredients

Directions:
1. Stir the applesauce, water, and guar gum together in a bowl with a whisk for a minute or two.




2. Now add the rest of ingredients to the bowl and mix until well combined.


Stir them up.

Drool over the batter.


3. Grease a loaf pan with some oil, I use coconut oil. Also I chose a loaf pan for this because it's a smaller batch and it gets too thin and flat if I use a square baking pan. So a loaf pan gives it those nice crispier/crunchier edge pieces and gooey middle pieces.


4. Now scoop the batter into the pan and smooth it around with a spoon.



This would be a great time to eat the remaining batter in the mixing bowl!

5. Bake for 25-28 minutes at 350 degrees.

Here's what it looks like when it's done.
Let it cool for 5-10 minutes and then you can slice it up and serve it with your milk of choice...trust me you'll want something to drink as these brownies are pretty rich.



Now enjoy (and try not to eat the whole pan!).

I store my leftovers in a container in the fridge and eat it from there so I can make them last for several days.

Now it's your turn to share, what's your favorite "alternative brownie recipe"? Have you ever tried brownies made from nut butter? Post your favorites and experiences below and we can all try a new one out.

Happy Spoon-licking!

Monday, November 10, 2014

How & Why I "Sometimes" Drink Powdered Green Juice

Well greenies I have a confession to make, sometimes I...drink powdered green juice (gasp!). I'm sure some of you may be thinking, "Who cares?" While others may be completely offended, "How dare she!" But these days I'm all about keeping it real and telling the truth about my health habits, even though they may not be as "perfect" as they used to be because that's life, things happen, people get busy, priorities get shifted, and as a result new habits emerge.


One of my most popular videos on Youtube is my "Daily Green Juice" recipe/video and while I do still love it, I found that I wasn't making my green juice daily, or even weekly...I was just too busy. I found myself craving a smoothie to get some protein instead of a green juice, and the time it took for me to chop, juice, and clean the juicer was not something I could get motivated to do each day while juggling two kids, a full time job, and this little blog on the side. So over time I started juicing less and less.  I always had the best intentions on the weekends in how I would stock up with all my juicing fruits and veggies, but by the end of the week that produce would still be sitting in my fridge, wilted, and old. Bummer.

Click here to find that recipe.
But instead of beating myself up about it, I decided to say, "Well at this point in my life, fresh juicing just isn't working out for me. I'm not done with it forever, but for now I need a break."

At this point I wanted to make sure I was getting plenty of greens in my diet, so I decided to search out some green juice powders so I could still get my greens in, but in a more convenient form.

Enter the world of green juice powders. There are a lot of them out there, and it was a little confusing at first, but I kept seeing ads for Aloha's "Daily Good Green Juice Powder" and I was intrigued. I had tried Amazing Grass Green Powder in the past and wasn't too fond of it's taste, so I was hoping the Aloha brand would be better tasting. So I tried out their free, 5 pouch trial pack and I actually really liked it. Now I get their 15-day supply that ships out automatically each month for $40. They also have a 30-day supply for $75. *In case you're wondering, I purchased this product with my own money and this is my honest opinion of it.*



I mean it's dried green juice, so it doesn't taste anything like freshly juiced green juice but it wasn't too bad in flavor when mixed with juice.

Here's a video breakdown about "The Daily Good" and how I use it:


To tell you a little more about "The Daily Good" from Aloha:
  • Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free
  • No-GMOs
  • No Sweeteners
  • 3g of natural sugars
  • contains 2 servings of fruits and vegetables in each pouch
  • they "keep their ingredients whole to retain the fiber-a precious benefit lost in juicing" and gentle dry them at low temperatures to preserve their nutrition. Each pouch contains 2g of fiber because of this.
  • each pouch is about 35 calories
  • can be mixed in smoothies, water, juices, or other cooking



Ingredients:
  • Spirulina
  • Spinach
  • Moringa
  • Peas
  • Wheatgrass juice
  • Wild blueberries
  • Raspberry juice
  • Wild-Harvested Coconut Water
  • Lemon
  • King Trumpet Mushrooms
  • Enoki Mushrooms
  • Oyster Mushrooms
  • Hawaiian Yellow Ginger
  • Hawaiian Red Alaea Salt


Here's my little Aloha box that contains all the packets for 15 days, the
supply size I get monthly.

How I use the "Daily Good":
When I first started using the Daily Good I experimented until I found a juice that I like to go with it. My favorite was an organic apple juice. So I started with 1 cup apple juice + 1/2 cup water.

My original powdered green juice recipe: organic apple juice, filtered water,
Aloha's Daily Good packet.

Then as time went on I experimented with decreasing my apple juice until I did 1 cup of water + 1/2 cup of apple juice.

Then one day I tried it with just water, and no apple juice and it was a little to "blah" for my liking.  So I figured I was back to just having it with apple juice then it dawned on me that I could combine this green drink with my other "daily chia seed drink" which I had reduced down to just water, chia seeds, and lemon juice. I then put the two together and the result was great!

Read more about that recipe here.

Chia seeds + Daily good= energy, greens, and a happy me.  Now since posting that chia seed post, I have changed it up a bit. So instead of making the chia seed drink with 1 cup of fruit juice + 1 cup of water, I switched to doing 2 cups of water + 1 lemon juiced + 1 Tbs of maple syrup. Lately I took out nearly all sugar/maple syrup/coconut sugar/etc. from my diet, so the recipe changed again.

So with all that said, let me break down how I currently make my chia seed/green juice drink:


Ingredients: lemon juicer, Aloha packet, 2 cups filtered water, 1 lemon,
3 Tbs. chia seeds (you can use less if you want).

1. Add 2 cups filtered water to a jar (I like
this SOMA water filter lately, more to come in
a future post).

2. Now add 3 Tbs. of chia seeds.

3. Juice one whole lemon.

4. Now add that juice to the chia seeds and water.


5. Next add in one packet of Aloha's Daily Good.

6. Put on the lid and shake it up. I usually let
it sit for 5-10 minutes so the chia seeds can "gel"
and then I shake it up again before drinking.

Now it's ready to drink! I like to drink it with
a stainless steel straw.


When do I drink this? I usually drink this about an hour or so after lunch and it hold me over until my afternoon smoothie an hour or two later. You could drink it anytime, such as first thing in the morning or before a workout. Whatever works for you.


Now I'm not the only one in my "green house" who likes this juice...a surprise fan is Mila! Obviously I'm not giving her massive amounts of the powder but she does like to sneak a sip now and again and she loves it!


Mila approved!

So what do you think, have you ever tried dried green juice powders? Have you tried the Daily Good? What's your favorite brand? How do you use it? In smoothies or drinks? Share below.

Cheers to green drinks (both powdered and fresh)!
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