Wednesday, September 10, 2014

peanut butter oat bars and the tides of summer

The tides of summer have rolled their way once more, this time I've changed jobs, locales, and scenery once more (seems to be a running theme of late) and am so grateful to have the opportunity to set up shop, so to speak, in a most beautiful place as the last days of summer are in full effect.


Sometimes it feels like my life is "rolling with the tide" (Jorma Kaukonen reference), but I wouldn't have it any other way despite the obligatory transition period of newness and letting go of 'oldness'.

I'm reminded of sweet words of wisdom from an old friend of mine, who, when the going got tough would remind me to "accept, detach, transcend" any difficult situation. Words to live by.


Anyhow, I first made these no-bake, five ingredient Peanut Butter Oat Bars for a yoga get-together with some sweet friends in the summer.

Now, I'm craving them all the more as I've just moved to a place that requires much walking (or biking, depending on your preference) and as such, much of my energy. These bars do just the trick; lightweight, I can pop one in my purse and it keeps me satisfied all day and all of the night (Kinks reference). 


Peanut Butter Oat Bars
makes 12-16 small square bars




1 cup oats
11-12 pitted medjool dates
1 tsp cinnamon
a handful of cacao nibs (or could use chocolate chips)
4-5 heaping tbsps of organic, unsweetened peanut butter

Process all ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Press the mixture into a tray or roll into balls. Chill for at least 30 minute in the fridge or freezer. Enjoy with your morning mug.

 
These bars are quite the trip: dense, moist, yet light, dazzling the senses with hints of sweetness. A fab combination if you ask me. I also like that they are a little messy and not too pristine, just as nature intended.

If you are looking for something utterly gluten free, substitute the oats with quinoa flakes, or one could even try ground buckwheat groats. As for raw oats, that's your call; I seem to find they taste like soap whenever I eat them. Et toi?


To the last days of summer, dolls xo

Friday, August 22, 2014

cookbook review and giveaway: be decadent - guilt free recipes for chocolate lovers

Hello barefoot frolickers, are you in for a treat - a sinfulyl sweet decadent treat, I might add. Today, I bring to you a lovely cookbook giveaway courtesy of nutrition coach and author Joanna Steven.


I first connected with Joanna through the online raw vegan community some years ago, and have always been inspired by her efforts to bring health and wellness to the attention of many. One of her recent efforts, BE Decadent - Guilt Free Recipes for Chocolate Lovers brings a much needed love and awareness to that precious substance we all know and love, cacao.


Authored by Joanna and published by Tera Warner, this e-book also features contributing authors such as Natalia KW (pictured below), Kristin Suzanne, Bethanne Wanamaker, Heather Pace, Kristin Taylor, all of whom provide recipes that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

What I adored most about this cookbook was the easily accessible layout, author descriptions of each recipe, and inspiring recipes that compelled me to start some long overdue chocolate creation in the kitchen. 


The cookbook offers a thorough break down of key ingredients used in chocolate preparation, along with recipes ranging from smoothies and breakfast ideas to chocolate bars and bite-sized chocolates, puddings, mousses and cremes, gluten free baking, and even ice creams. Just some of the beautiful raw food brilliance can be found below (you'll have to peruse the pages for more):

 



And guess what? A .pdf copy of this fabulous cookbook could be yours - simply leave a comment below that mentions your favourite recipe using cacao (it does not have to be a specific recipe from thi book, any favourite recipe of yours will do!)

A winner will be selected at random. The giveaway opens right now and closes in one week (next Friday, August 29th at 4pm EST). I look forward to reading your comments!

For more ways to connect with Joanna, find her on Facebook and Twitter. For a direct link to her book, check out Amazon.com 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

strawberry, rhubarb & coconut cream pops

Well, it's officially summer, and it is hot. I'm back in the hot muggy good fortune of Ontario's sweltering temperatures, a far cry from where I was this time last year: on the much milder temperate of Cortes Island in beautiful British Columbia.

The start of summer in any Canadian locale usually brings many fruits (pun intended): berries of all sizes, colours, and flavours (you might remember my expounding on picking strawberries, salmonberries and blueberries from previous posts).

As you may have gleamed, I'm quite the fan of picking local fruit, organic at that, which is the perfect addition to any raw dessert recipe.


I've been teaching lots of yoga lately in a nearby town and one Saturday, driving home after instructing a Vinyasa Flow class, I suddenly realized it was strawberry season with a local Strawberry Festival taking place.

What curious cultural, social events are these: strawberry festivals are held in many a small town that has been affected by the production of strawberries.


Establishing a sense of community around the precious strawberry, a lovely concept, don't you think? What usually links these festivals is the selling of curious strawberry-themed treats and wares, used book and penny sales, live music, and perhaps a strawberry pie or two.

I encountered many a flat and pint of strawberries, elated upon the discovery of organically grown, local ones. Promptly purchasing two pints, I proceeded home to craft a strawberry-themed summer dessert to beat the summer heat.


Enter these succulent and sweet Strawberry, Rhubarb & Coconut Cream Pops with basil or mint chiffonade. That's right, it's your choice. Basil works beautifully, I might add. 

This ice pop kick right now seems to be partly inspired by the influx of popsicle recipes I've come across on Pinterest from time to time. The most interesting flavour combination I discovered was coffee and cream, made with almond mylk, but that's a whole other story entirely.


Strawberry, Rhubarb & Coconut Cream Pops
Makes 12 medium sized pops (depending on the mould)

 
1 quart fresh local strawberries, chopped
1 stalk fresh rhubarb, chopped
1 can coconut milk (or sub with coconut cream for a creamier version)
1 vanilla bean, de-seeded
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar
basil or mint, chiffonade
ground almond flour (optional)

Blend the strawberries, rhubarb, coconut milk, vanilla been and coconut sugar together in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture into moulds and freeze for at least 6-8 hours. Can top with almond flour before inserting popsicle sticks as an added bonus.

Once solid, remove popsicles form their moulds be de-thawing with warm water. Top with sliced strawberries, basil and/or mint chiffonade. What a treat and oh so good, down to the very last bite. 


I realized a funny thing about this recipe: the ingredients are so pure and nourishing that they can easily double as a face mask. What better way to treat your boy, inside and out, than with strawberry, rhubarb & coconut cream. 

Better yet, simplify and make another face mask with any leftover ingredients: a spoonful of coconut cream, dash of coconut sugar, and mashed strawberries is all you need for a beautifying few minutes of rejuvenation.

A little dab will do you.


For more strawberry sunshine, check out these posts:


Thursday, June 26, 2014

break on through - the barefoot and frolicking interview with laura-lynn petrick

Beyond thrilled, I type at dawn to bring to you the barefoot and frolicking interview with film photographer, cinemetographer, ethnographer, music video director (and former student of mine), Laura-Lynn Petrick.


Based in Toronto, Petrick has created stellar images for the likes of American Apparel, Nylon Magazine, and Penny Arcade. With a degree in Popular Culture, Petrick creates photographs in which her subjects navigate a world of refuse while renegotiating their surroundings.
 

For me, her work tends to evoke memories for a bygone era with shades of Andy Warhol, Nan Goldin, and Yelena Yemchuk as visual inspiration. Influences aside, Petrick has created a world all her own, in which the psychedelic experience rings true as an ever-present, everyday reality.

Her most recent work includes directing the music video for the Beatle-esque Michael Rault number "Too All My Friends" - you can check out the video, along with a sampling of other video works, on her website.


When did you first become interested in photography?
 
I first became into it fairly young. My grandma was a photographer and while she was around she photographed my family and I. I remember looking through her photo albums and gazing into the past. I began to love the way a photograph can represent a specific time and place. Years later I picked up a camera on my own and began documenting my life.


What are some of your artistic and cultural influences?

Overall I'm influenced by the past. I am quite nostalgic. I don't follow much in the art and photography world, I sorta keep to myself, but I know I really love William Eggleston's photographs.

I am extremely interested in the culture and sociology of music, specifically psychedelic music, jazz, blues, and rock and roll of the fifties and sixties (such as Elvis Presley, Little Walter, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Chet Baker, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac).

This music provides me with inspiration on a daily basis. I am also very inspired by my friends, whom are very talented musicians and artists. They are beautiful people inside and out and make me very happy.


How important is music to your overall process and work?

It is vital. Music keeps me shooting more and more. I must listen to 12 hours of music a day... I am so blessed to be friends with the many talented musicians in my life. A main theme of my work is documenting their evolution as musicians over the years.

Just as you can hear the changes in The Stones from 1965-69, my friends are also continuously becoming more advanced and influenced by different things, and similarly changing as musicians and individuals. I find that development fascinating and aim to capture it, through my photography and video.


Some of your favourite songs or albums to shoot to (have on in the background while you work)?

My favourites lately are "Country Honk" by The Rolling Stones, "Spill the Wine" by Eric Burdon & War, "Tired of Waiting" by the Kinks, "Who Do You Love" By The Sapphires... Classic, groovy and feel-good songs. 


How does your background in popular culture inform your photography/choice of subject matter?

Studying popular culture has opened my eyes to the world around me. It has changed the way I absorb my surroundings —through analysis of the past I have become aware of what has previously been consumed in Western culture, enabling me to maintain relevance. 

This foundation of knowledge facilitates my awareness of recycled imagery, my references to various texts, symbolism and the ‘hypertextuality’ of my photography.


What are some of your favourites cameras/types of photography to work with and why?

I work solemnly with Nikon Fm 10, Nikon Fm 2, and sometimes my Nikon FG- I like them all. They're really well made and have a timeless aesthetic. For video I use a Sony Hi-8 Handycam & a Bell & Howell Super Eight.

I love the grainyness and bleeding colours of Hi-8, and it's portability. I take it with me to shows and parties and on vacations, it's durable and has a nice 90's low fi feel to it.

The Bell & Howell Super Eight "Autoload 308" is my favourite though, it is really washed out, it's from one of my favourite years in history, 1968, and it certainly gives your film that authentic sixties aesthetic.


In what ways do you see your work evolving?

I see myself working making movies.. Documentaries.. More Music Videos.. Art films... working with analogue motion picture film. I will always shoot photographs.

I want to have a library of special books depicting my photo diary and music documentary work. Oh, and hopefully make a sweet cowboy Western film.




Stay connected with Laura-Lynn on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and at her official website lauralynnpetrick.com. Her self-titled photography book is also available for purchase on her website.

Break on through, to the other side. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

matcha and coconut bliss ice cream pops and kiss me organics product review

panic. frenzy. my love is near. More truer words have never been spoken when it comes to this post.

One of my most treasured bands of my youth, Veruca Salt, has reunited with their original line-up for the first time in 18 years (and to boot, I'm seeing them on tour this summer - all of my teen rock fantasies are finally coming to fruition - nice).

Their enticing b-side "The Speed of Candy" features the lyrics "panic, frenzy, my love is near" as a reference for the love for candy and a desirable amour.

After making these Matcha and Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Pops, the lyric swirled inside my mind like some sort of infinite raw vegan mantra. While not candy per se, these ice pops are just as sweet with natural sugars from coconut, agave, and dates. 

 

Seeing as how I had copious amounts of billowing Coconut Bliss in my freezer, I couldn't help but craft another summer treat with this divine iced nectar. A hint of coconut, vanilla, and agave was just what these pops needed. 

To make an even wilder combination, I threw in a dash of matcha green tea powder sent to me by the fine folk at Kiss Me Organics for good measure. Because Coconut Bliss and Cacao are not the same without an extra kick of matcha. 


Kiss Me Organics Matcha is all natural and USDA approved organic, free from chemicals and preservatives. With a lovely texture and consistency, it was a welcomed addition to this recipe, making these pops all the more decadent. 

Did you know that matcha is an anti-aging energy booster and has even been touted to improve memory? Apparently EGCG, a strong Matcha antioxidant, can generate new brain cells by focusing on the area of the brain that deals with short and long term memory. Whoa. 

With all of that in mind (partial pun intended), whip up a batch of these pops the next time you want to feel on top of things.


Matcha and Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Pops
Makes 8 medium sized pops (depending on the mould)

Ice Cream Filling
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup or handful of dates, pitted
1/2 carton (or 1/2 cup) Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss
1 cup fresh almond mylk
2-4 tsp Kiss Me Organics matcha (the more matcha, the deeper the green tinge)
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Carob Coating
6 tbsp melted coconut oil
6 tbsp sifted carob powder
3 tbsp coconut nectar

To make the Ice Cream Filling, blend ingredients together in a high speed blender (yo, Vitamix) until smooth. Pour mixture into preferred popsicle moulds of choice and freeze overnight or for a few hours until frozen solid.

To make the Carob Coating, mix the melted coconut oil, carob powder, and coconut nectar in a small mixing bowl. Dip the frozen pops in the carob coating and let harden. Toast to your good fortune on a warm summer's day and revel in coconut matcha-fueled bliss.


Experiment with different toppings, such as cacao nibs, coconut sugar, or a sprinkling of shredded unsweetened coconut.


I must admit, to bite into one of these is an experience on par with the most decadent of raw vegan desserts. The melted carob bliss gets me every time, as does the crunchy cacao nibs. Sigh.


we're all on the (natural) sugar team. 

For more on Kiss Me Organics, visit them on Twitter. Oh, and for the latest Veruca Salt updates, visit them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter too. Or better yet, check them out on their reunion tour xo

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

the girls with the most cake: dreamy kombucha ice cream floats and coconut bliss product review

Although this post features the longest title I've ever devised, rest assured you will be pleasantly surprised to read on. I'm glad you are still checking in with my little online corner of the universe, despite my two-month absence.

It's been a very busy time for me (with trips to Europe and gearing up for new life adventures), but not to worry - I'm still here behind-the-scenes, conjuring up many a recipe to share with you. How could I not?

Anyhow, onto the present moment, rife with dreamy kombucha floats.

There, I said it. Have you ever tried such a delight as this? The idea for combining raw vegan ice cream with kombucha had been swirling around in my mind's eye for months, but the setting had to be just so: sunshine and summer was a must, as were the most perfect of ingredients.


Enter Coconut Bliss. I'd been in contact with Luna and Larry's, the fine folks who dreamed up this wonderful product, some time ago, and they provided me with free vouchers to select any two flavours of their dairy and soy-free raw vegan ice cream to sample and review.

I was fascinated to learn more about the humble roots of this company: disappointed with other vegan ice creams on the market (namely soy and rise based options), Luna and Larry decided to combine their love of the drupe (the coconut) with an ethical vegan lifestyle.

Creating their first batch of coconut-based goodness with an ice cream maker purchased for $1.50 at a local Goodwill in Eugene, Oregon, the couple started on their Coconut Bliss journey, one that now shares fair-trade coconut and agave based raw/vegan ice cream in "thousands of natural food stores in the U.S. and Canada." Right on.


Selecting Vanilla Island and Naked Coconut as my bliss of choice, I spent many a recent pre-summer morn sampling spoonfuls from each carton before venturing on my newest creation.

Both flavours are a thrill and a delight: being a vanilla lover, I found Vanilla Island (or Ile de Vanille à francais) to be my favourite, although Naked Coconut is a wise choice (flecks of coconut meat encased in sweet melted fervor). Both are a taste experience not to be taken lightly.

Combined with some artisanal kombucha (rose schizandra at that), Coconut Bliss makes for a perfect summer treat to sip on at your leisure, with perhaps a rock memoir in tow (my suggestion: Patti Boyd's "Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me").


Dreamy Kombucha and Coconut Bliss Ice Cream Floats
Serves 2




1 bottle of preferred kombucha flavour (I chose Rose Schizandra from Rise)
a few scoops of preferred Coconut Bliss flavour (I used Vanilla Island)
glasses of choice (champagne flutes are nice)

Directions for preparing Dreamy Kombucha Floats (in a few easy steps):

1. Add a few scoops of your preferred Coconut Bliss flavour to a champagne flute or other desirable glass.


2. Pour desired flavour of kombucha over scoops and watch the elements collide. Frothy effervescence. Best if served and consumed immediately.


As you can see, I had a little help in the kitchen from Rachel, my comrade as per 'the girls with the most cake' feature you may have encountered previously on b&f.

Kombucha floats, the perfect recipe to make in pairs. A joy to share. 


Dreamy Kombucha ice cream floats can be sipped lightly or devoured with a spoon. Mixing the ice cream and kombucha together makes for even more dreamy goodness. You gotta try it.


For more goodness, follow Luna and Larry's on Facebook, Twitter, or purchase your own carton of Coconut Bliss at your local health food store.

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.