Friday, March 21, 2014

product review - traditional medicinals tea

If there is one thing to know about me, it's that I enjoy a good cup of tea. In past years, I've worked part-time in tea houses, learning a thing or two about what goes into making a spot on cup of tea. Most likely as a result, I've become quite finicky and particular about which teas I drink and purchase, but what tea connoisseur isn't?

The fine folks at Traditional Medicinals recently sent me a very generous selection of teas from their impressive (and re-branded) product line, and I felt so inclined to share them with all of you. What better homework assignment for a tea-favouring blogger than to sip and sample different types of tea?

I was sent four different flavours (all organic I might add): Nighty-Night Valerian, Throat Coat, Ginger Aid, and Roasted Dandelion Root. As I said, the company has recently changed the look of their boxes and labels, which was a welcomed surprise when I opened up the delightful package I received in the mail. Just look at those lovely boxes o' tea and information page.

Let's unearth this trove of treasures, shall we?

Roasted Dandelion Root

Organic Roasted Dandelion Root is an herbal tea traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help treat digestive disturbances and increase bile flow.

Interesting to boot, dandelion is found on every continent except Antarctica, and the root provides support to the liver and aids digestion.

Each tea bag contains: organic roasted dandelion root.

 Ginger Aid

Ginger is traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve digestive upsets including lack of appetite, nausea, digestive spasms, indigestion, dyspepsia and flatulent colic.

Spicy and soothing, this tea is helpful to drink before or after a meal.

Each tea bag contains: organic ginger rhizome, organic blackberry leaf, organic stevia leaf, organic lemon myrtle leaf.

Throat Coat

Throat Coat helps to support throat help, and provides temporary relief from minor throat irritations. A perfect tea for this time of year, as many of us have been dealing with sore throats and mild winter illnesses.

Add your favourite sweetener to this tea, such as honey, coconut nectar, or maple syrup for an extra sweet elixir to help soothe your throat.

Each tea bag contains: organic licorice root, organic wild cherry bark, organic bitter fennel fruit, organic marshmallow root, organic slippery elm bark, organic cinnamon bark, organic sweet orange peel.

 Nighty Night - Valerian

Valerian is traditionally used in Herbal Medicine as a night time sleep aid and to help relieve nervousness (calmative/sedative).

Each tea bag contains: organic valerian root, organic passionflower herb, organic lemon balm leaf, organic peppermint leaf, organic caraway fruit, organic licorice root.

A caution with valerian is that some people may experience drowsiness and hypersensitivity.

Le verdict: Overall, I enjoyed all of these teas; the Throat Coat was perfect for when I was feeling under the weather, the ginger was nice to enjoy after a meal, and the Nighty Night helped soothe me to sleep. 

But, if I had to choose, my favourite would have to be the Roasted Dandelion Root. The flavour and consistency is similar to chaga and provides a nice, caffeine free alternative to coffee (something I don't normally drink, but still prefer a similar type of beverage from time to time).

A delightful disclaimer: remember, these teas are made with medicinal herbs and may not be right for you. Always read and follow the label, and consult a health practicioner if taking any medications.

For more on Traditional Medicinals, check out their website and their Facebook page. Drink your plants xo.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

smoothie saturday - cherry cacao smoothie

Winter in Canada can vary depending on ones locale. This time last year I lived in Victoria, where the temperatures rarely dipped below freezing and I was able to saunter freely down those magical city streets. Now I am back in the East, and the weather is cold, cold, cold. 

In fact, we just had another mammoth snowstorm this past week which left us with a lovely blanket of white, but has slowly started to melt again once more. Since January, there have been three snow days which found me sequestered in my little abode watching the snow fall. I am enjoying the weather, but sweet treats such as this smoothie help me embrace these winter moments all the more. 

There is something to be said for a smoothie made with sweet cherries, blended to perfection and topped with a sprinkling of shredded, unsweetened coconut to mimic the falling snowflakes all around.

This Cherry and Cacao Smoothie is indeed blended to perfection with sweet organic cherries, a little Sunwarrior Protein Powder and other superfoods, to pack some additional punch to an otherwise seemingly simple smoothie. 

Cherries offer an array of antioxidants. When combined with powerhouses like camu camu (which houses 225 percent of ones daily vitamin c intake in 1/4 tsp), maca, and chia seeds, this smoothie surely does it all.


Cherry Cacao Smoothie
Serves 2
1 cup organic frozen cherries
1 frozen banana
1 heaping scoop Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein Powder
1 cup homemade almond mylk
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp maca
1 tsp camu camu powder
1 tbsp cacao nibs, to garnish
1 tbsp coconut, to garnish

Blend all ingredients, save for garnish, in a high speed blender. Serve in tall glasses and toast to the falling snowflakes all around.

Longevity down to the last sip

Friday, February 28, 2014

chewy carob and cacao squares

What a month February has been - do you ever have one of those months that goes by in the blink of an eye? I don't know about you, but for me, the past few weeks were rife with decadent adventures and of course, raw desserts.

February was also a time for Mercury Retrograde, which can make life all the more interesting. I'm sure many of you felt the affects of this wayward time, where things seem to be slightly off kilter or go awry, plans sometimes come to a different fruition, and of course, so many technology issues.

I guess the Retrograde is a perfect time to re-evaluate and reflect on the old adage of 'going with the flow' of events, rather than attempting to resist them. How else can one make sense of, or survive, this four times a year cycle?

These Chewy Carob and Cacao Squares were partly inspired by a delightful Raw Chocolate-Cherry Brownie Bites recipe I encountered over at Mind Body Green, which I made for a candlelight yoga get together with some family and friends.

I had some of the ingredients left over, so I fashioned this truffle recipe into squares, with a few modifications, of course (for one, bring in some carob in place of cacao for a less stimulating treat). My first attempt didn't quite go as planned (such is the Retrograde), so I added in some coconut oil and agave to help thicken and sweeten the mixture.

Keep in mind, I didn't follow specific measurements for this recipe, so what is provided below is an estimate of what ended up in my trusty old food processor. Part of the brilliance of raw vegan desserts - improvisation. So, play around and have fun. 

Chewy Carob and Cacao Squares 
Makes 16 small squares

1 cup cashews
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 cup dates
1/4 cup carob powder
2 tbsp dried cherries
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp agave
1/4 cup cacao nibs, to garnish

Process the cashews and hazelnuts in a food processor using an 's' blade until a fine flour. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until well-combined.

Transfer to a glass baking dish and chill for at least 30 minutes, or until mixture is easy to cut into squares. Serve with chocolate rooibos tea before or after an impromptu yoga session with friends.

Here's to a sweet March xo

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

sigrid naturals loves you: the barefoot and frolicking interview with sigrid geddes

I'm thrilled that you enjoyed my product review of earthly delights from Sigrid Naturals. I've brightened my every day with their beauteous products, and encourage you to do the same.

Since trying their products, I've become more intrigued with their story and company policies, some of which include growing and preserving wild plants on location at Sigrid Naturals headquarters in Wilno, Ontario, a small-scale backyard bee-keeping project, and offering workshops and co-operative education programs.

To learn even more about the company, I thought, who better to talk to than Sigrid herself. Intuitively, I could sense she was a fellow barefoot and frolicking spirit, following her dreams and passions, carving out her own path in this life.

And I was right: her passions have taken her to great lengths and locales, such as the likes of France, searching for quality aromatic herbs and wildflowers in an effort to preserve beauty as nature intended (and vice versa).

Sigrid makes products for mulberry mavens; if I let my imagination run wild (and I usually do), I imagine Joni Mitchell types from the late 1960s, swathed in draped peasant skirts, piano shawls and delicate turquoise jewelry, anointing their skin with many a product derived from the earth and cradled by Sigrid's attention to detail and dedication to the craft of cream.

Read on for a lovely conversation about inspiration, beauty, health and nutrition. What could be sweeter? (except maybe one of those small-scale backyard bee hives or some carefully cultivates rosehips).

What inspires you everyday?

Well, most days: listening to awesome radio shows about brilliant miracles, science and experiences, as I work away in the workshop mixing cream and filling jars and packing orders.

The beauty of nature, like the sparkle on the snow, the smell of herbs, the pain of the cold wind, and the incredible art in the sky.

Freedom to be me. Kids and their fabulous-ness. Music and connecting with people.

As a "person of the senses" you craft natural beauty products using quality ingredients. How important is natural skincare as part of overall health and wellness?

If you care about your health, you best go with a good natural skin care, and take caution with the green washing. To answer you straight, natural skin care is very important. It always makes me confused when people are health conscious and know the junk in the big brand names, but they just can't seem to let it go.

But overall, for me, the most important part of health and wellness is to not be to up tight and judgmental. I make and use natural skin care because it makes me feel good, the aromas, the textures, knowing where the ingredients come from, knowing how delicious they are.

Fall in love with you skin care, even better fall in love with my skin care ;)

Besides wildcrafting your beauteous products, what would you consider your other life passions?

My other life passions are: people, nature, music, dancing, improvising vocals, being silly, community/social work, mental health, wild flower bouquets, local food and more.

How integral is the community aspect to Sigrid Naturals?

Community work has always been a big part of my business, people bring in life and rejuvenation. Right now, I am teaching a four day "at risk" youth group a entrepreneur workshop and its so great to have the zest, and enthusiasm and 'piss and vinegar' in my workshop.

Without community, we are alone, and well, thats just no good! In fact, Im pretty sure that most will agree that many problems in our society come from lack of community.

People. Planet. Profit; this is what a good business is about.

What are some future ideas you have in store - any new products or plans for Sigrid Naturals?

Lots of new products and projects brewing up in the back of my mind. I definitely will be coming out with a sun protecting creme this late spring.

Perhaps the most exciting is that this summer, I'm celebrating ten years in the craft, and to delight in that, I will be having an anniversary party at a new eco-body care shop in Toronto called HUSK.

Wine, cheese, wild flowers, Adria Vasil, a cream-making demo and most important of all, fun. If you have something to share for this event, contact me and be part of the community!

Sustainable skin-care, in a nutshell, surrounded by love, kindness, and gratitude; it doesn't get much better than this.

For more on Sigrid Naturals and to order their products, visit their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Monday, February 17, 2014

sigrid naturals loves you: product review

Life is full of earthly delights, and this post and product review is no exception. And life is also rife with synchronistic moments (at least in my experience - how about you?) A short while ago, I came across the Twitter account of a natural beauty company, Sigrid Naturals, and as fate would have it, they had encountered my blog around the same time.

Imagine my surprise when I received a message from Sigrid Naturals shortly thereafter, explaining they wanted to send a little gift my way, to thank me for my blog. I was beyond touched at this kind gesture, and felt even more gratitude when I received a delightful package of products from their natural beauty skin care line.

Sigrid Naturals (or, Sigrid Naturals Skin Care) is a boutique skin care line, handmade with love in Wilno, Ontario, Canada. Their products are created using plants and herbs that are mindfully wildcrafted from the farms and forests of the Ottawa Valley.

Named after founder Sigrid Geddes, the company strives for a holistic approach to skin care; on the "Our Story" page, Sigrid claims to view the company as "a truthful path to create something whole and beautiful."

How's that for a resonating mandate?

I received three products (on the coldest day of the year here, so this was quite the feather in the cap): Mint Chocolate Foot Butter, Nurture Nature Face Cream, and Cocorico perfume and couldn't wait to try them.

Here is what I discovered:

Mint Chocolate Foot Butter is an "uber-rich foot butter will hydrate and soothe sore feet leaving them refreshed and feeling tingly. Recommended for all skin types."

Using Sweet almond oil, extra virgin olive oil, Wilno spring water, peppermint, beeswax, myrrh and benzoin essential oils, this is a lightly whipped foot butter that was easy to apply and even easier to enjoy.

I found the cream was the perfect combination of rich oils and was not messy to apply, rather the opposite. And the smell is heaven scent, who knew mint chocolate could be a treat for the toes? You can apply this cream lightly before dancing around barefoot in your living room or performing a favourite yoga pose, let's say viparita karani (legs up the wall). Just try it (I did!)

Nurture Nature Skin Cream is "pure and natural, our signature unscented face cream hydrates, nourishes and regenerates your skin. A simple fusion of almond oil, beeswax and raw shea butter leaves your skin smooth and soft. Recommended for all skin types, especially sensitive and oily skin."

The ingredients are simple and straightforward; sweet almond oil, Wilno spring water, beeswax and organic shea butter and resonated with my skin quite nicely.

Simply put, j'adore this face cream - it is light enough to wear as a day cream, and incredibly moisturizing as a night cream. Sometimes I find beeswax can weight down a product, but this cream is not oily or sticky and has a subtle almond and shea butter scent. I highly recommend this face cream for anyone looking for a lightweight, neutral skin compliment to their skincare routine.

Cocorico Perfume is "inspired by a love affair with the senses, Cocorico brings out the French cock-a-doodle-doo in all of us." I became fascinated with the ingredient list, for I'd never known grape seed oil, ginger, cinnamon, coffee and spearmint essential oils to be used as a combined scent before.

This perfume is a wonderful blend of sweet, soft tones and mint which creates an intoxicating play on the senses - both warming (the ginger, cinnamon) and cooling (the mint, coffee). A really fascinating and unique blend of scents. A little dab will do you, as this is a concentrated blend of essential oils.

This has become my new perfume! I usually I put a small dab on my left wrist, rub both wrists together and then place the wrists under my ears (note: I have sensitive skin, and found directly applying the perfume from the roll-on container to my neck made my skin red for a short time - perhaps a soft peril for sensitive skin souls).

Sigrid Naturals provides a full listing of their ingredients, complete with detailed descriptions, on their website. Their aim is to bring you products "from the honey bees, to the olive trees." Gentle, loving, and kind. Yes, please.

I may be so bold as to suggest that these products are a perfect accompaniment to: making raw desserts, dancing in ones living room (as mentioned earlier), playing guitar, listening to the most recent Mazzy Star album (Seasons of Your Day, fantastic record, by the way), gazing longingly out your window to snow covered vineyards and prancing herds of deer.

Try these and other products for yourself, and see how Sigrid Naturals compliments your already brilliant everyday. For more on Sigrid Naturals, visit their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Next up, the Barefoot and Frolicking interview with Sigrid Naturals founder, Sigrid Geddes. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

writing from the heart with grammarly

"I tried Grammarly's grammar check online free of charge because the mood struck me, and so should it you - because checking grammar is fun stuff!" (see below for details)

You may have noticed an influx of writing and writing topics here on the ol' blog in the past few months. Barefoot and Frolicking is a tricky one to define - part raw and vegan food blog, part health and wellness, spirituality, and now...writing.

Writing is an action, gesture, and experience close to my heart. I guess I have always had an inquisitive, writerly (that's right, writerly) mind. From a very young age, I would craft fantastical stories and character arrangements for my own, and familial amusement, even adorning my sometimes typed or hand-written short stories with illustrations.

One particular memory includes me carting around a small typewriter on which I would pen my short stories, usually focusing on some sort of pet-in-danger-only-to-be-rescued-by-yours-truly sort of deal. Whilst on the animal theme, check out this cuter than cute printed poem I penned when I was about six years old, emphatically titled "Cats by Marlie":

Flash forward a few years, and my love affair with writing has taken me many places and shape in many different forms: from academic research papers and critical, analytical essays, to magazine stories about time spent on faraway wilderness islands, product reviews, heck, I am even fortunate to teach a course on writing in the arts (very grateful).

Recently I came across an interesting online resource called Grammarly, which I wanted to share with my fellow writing enthusiasts. Grammarly offers an instant grammar check online; simply input any body of text and receive a free grammar assessment. Try it today, it is free of charge, after all.

Your writing will thank you.

ps., I would love to hear what are some of your favourite writing memories from your childhood in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

the girls with the most cake: raw carrot cupcakes with cashew cream icing

I think it's high time for a new feature here on Barefoot and Frolicking, one that features ladies in the kitchen creating raw and vegan treats in the dead of winter.

Enter "The Girls with The Most Cake," a series of blog posts dedicated to kitchen creations prepared by your truly and my sweet cousin Rachel, who is also a lover of food, baking, and cooking.

Named after a lyric in a song written by Courtney Love (Hole's "Doll Parts" in case you were wondering), we felt it was more than appropriate, considering we are girls and mostly prepare cake and cake related raw vegan desserts (it's also a great song from the '90s, couldn't resist).

Collaborating in the kitchen is a great way to try new recipes, but to also cut down on the cost of ingredients.
By splitting the cost in two, you save on the cost of a recipe but also get to share the finished product with a dear loved one.

Also, you may find that making a double batch of the recipe works best, so you can each take home a portion of the recipe and maybe even save some in the freezer for later.

What could be better?

For our first collaborative kitchen creation, we opted for a sweetly satisfying raw vegan dessert. Rachel was so enthused about my interpretation of This Rawsome Vegan Life's Raw Vegan Carrot Cake (remember my post, "endings, beginnings, and dreamy raw carrot cake" ah Victoria), that we jumped at the chance to re-create them into smaller cupcakes.

Rachel even added her baking background flair by pipping the raw cashew cream on top of the mini-cupcakes and added carrot and coconut as a garnish.

I think they turned out very Marie Antoinette-ish and oh-so-romantic. Little delights.


Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Cashew Cream Icing
Makes 16 small cupcakes (with icing leftover)

lightly inspired by a recipe from This Rawsome Vegan Life

Carrot Cake
4 large carrots, peeled
1 cup buckwheat flour 
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional, for more sweetness)

Vanilla Cream
2 cups cashews, soaked
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 Medjool dates, pitted
2 tsp vanilla extract

slivers of carrot
dash of coconut flakes

To make the Carrot Cake, process the ingredients in a food processor using an 's' blade until well combined. The buckwheat flour has a tendency to 'soak up' the liquid from the carrots, so depending on the quanities, you may need to add in more or less flour. Set aside in a bowl.

To make the Vanilla Cream, blend ingredients together in a high speed blender until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set in the fridge to chill.

Roll the carrot cake mixture into mini-cupcakes, filling an array of cupcake liners. Top with cashew cream using a piping bag and set in the fridge or freezer until cream is set. Let the cupcakes set in the freezer or ridge overnight or for at least a few hours.

Best if served immediately with a spot of tea, but will keep in the fridge for a few days, or a few weeks in the freezer.