Author Archives: samanthaelkrief@gmail.com

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Recipe: Chickpea and Spinach Curry

You may have noticed a trend here. I really like curry! They can be quick to make, they taste even better the next day, and you can make multiple servings really easily. I’m all about ease in the kitchen. This is a recipe I tasted when I was assisting a Food as Medicine Conference at Kripalu, in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Kripalu is a beautiful retreat center, and the food is amazing. And I’m not just saying that because it’s nice to not have to cook for a few days! Though that is true, too. They have so much great food to choose from, they always have vegan, veggie and gluten free options (and meat and a sandwich bar. See? Everyone is covered!).

This curry is thick and creamy with protein from the chickpeas and greens in the form of spinach (but you know you can sub the spinach for any other type of green – these recipes are all so forgiving and easy to adapt for what you have on hand). While fresh spinach is best in this recipe, if you only had frozen, it would be fine.

If you haven’t checked out my posts on meal planning, please do so! But, here’s a freebie – keep a stocked pantry! You could easily make this recipe on a weeknight without stopping at the grocery store if your pantry is well stocked.

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Ingredients:

2 tbs coconut oil
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garam masala
1.5 tbs tomato paste
2 cans chickpeas
1 can full fat coconut milk
4 cups spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:
1. Heat oil in a wide pan. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.
2. Add ginger and garlic to pan. Saute 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
3. Add tomato paste and spices. Cook 2-3 minutes.
4. Add chickpeas and coconut milk. Stir until well mixed. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
5. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
6. Adjust salt. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.
Garnish with cilantro, yogurt or green onions.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Sweet and Salty Fried Tempeh (Tempe Me Goreng)

Back in December I spent some time in Bali, Indonesia, and the food was fantastic! I’ve never seen such an amazing raw, vegan and gluten free scene. Not even in NYC!

One of the local dishes I tasted that I really enjoyed was a fried tempeh. For those of you unfamiliar with tempeh, it’s a fermented soy product native to Indonesia, but also widely consumed by vegans and vegetarians in the states as a protein or meat substitute at times.

I couldn’t get enough of this tempeh, it was sweet, salty, spicy and crunchy. I mean, what more is there to ask for? And, as luck would have it, I took a cooking class at the amazing Paon-Bali and this dish was on the menu. This dish traditionally uses sweet soy sauce, which is not gluten free, but in the class they had us substitute the sweet soy sauce for palm sugar syrup. If you have palm sugar syrup lying around, give it a try! For this recipe, I substituted the sweet soy sauce/palm sugar for coconut aminos and brown rice syrup.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Sweet and Salty Fried Tempeh

2 packages tempeh, thinly sliced*
1/2 cup + 2 tbs refined coconut oil, separated
5 red chilies**, seeds removed, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 tbs kefir lime leaves***
3 tbs brown rice syrup
3 tbs coconut aminos or 2 tbs tamari (adjusted to taste)

*While not super important, the type of tempeh you use matters. If you’re new to tempeh, don’t worry about it, but if you’re familiar with tempeh and different brands, try to choose a softer variety. I’ve found that the whole grain ones are firmer, thus don’t work as well. The tempeh in Indonesia is very soft (and white!), the closest I’ve seen here is Barry’s Tempeh.

**if you can’t find red chilies, you can use whatever you can find locally, just adjust depending on your desired level of heat, the red ones are relatively mild.

***I use the jarred ones from Whole Foods, it’s difficult to find fresh kefir lime leaves. If you can’t find the jarred ones, you can use 1 tsp lime zest.

Procedure:

  1. Heat 1/2 cup coconut oil in a wide saucepan or wok.
  2. Once hot, place about 1/3 of the tempeh in the pan, you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. You can deep-fry the tempeh or pan-fry the tempeh, up to you. Both ways work well, I just prefer not to use so much oil since it ends up in the trash. To deep-fry, make sure the oil is deep enough that the tempeh is entirely covered. To pan-fry, use less oil and wait until the tempeh is cooked on one side, and then flip. In either method, wait until both sides of the tempeh are slightly brown (burned tempeh tastes icky) and remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Continue until all the tempeh has been fried.
  4. In a separate pan, heat 2 tbs coconut oil. Once hot, add the garlic, shallot, chilies and scallions. Cook 3-5 minutes, until slightly browned, then add the kefir lime.
  5. Add the tempeh to the pan, along with the coconut aminos/tamari and brown rice syrup. Stir so the tempeh is well coated.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Enjoy!!

Fried sweet and spicy tempeh

A version with jalapeno and thai chili and no scallions. Feel free to experiment!

 

 

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Eating (vegan and gluten free) in Austin, Texas

I recently took a trip to Austin, and I had to share all the wonderful food I found. I’m gluten-free (non-celiac), dairy free, and mostly vegan (I do eat eggs occasionally), so you know I’m always worried about how I’m going to eat while I’m traveling. Well, I’m happy to report that eating in Austin was not only easy, but super enjoyable. Below are some of my favorites. Let me know if I missed any and I’ll be sure to check them out next time!

Case De Luz

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This place is special. You walk in through a magical garden of lights to a room filled with smiles. If you’ve lived on a kibbutz or in an ashram, it has that kind of feel. The menu is set and consists of a soup, salad, steamed veggies, greens, a grain and bean. There’s usually some type of pesto, tahini or nut-based sauce that comes with the veggies. Your meal comes with cold drinks (I had hibiscus) and hot tea (kukicha). They also have a-la-carte desserts. I only had the pecan pie (twice), but once I find something good I tend to stick with it! The whole place is vegan and gluten-free, so no need to worry about cross contamination. And, the price tag is quite impressive – just $12. The staff is kind and if you go alone, you’re more than likely to make some friends.

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Counter Culture

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I have a special place in my heart for Counter Culture because they were my refuge when my Airbnb turned out to be a disaster and I needed a place to chill, eat and charge my phone while I figured sh*t out. Their walnut and beet burger is fantastic. I had it with a collard wrap, but they also have a gluten free bun. Their chickpea “tuna” is also fantastic. They have tons of raw (vegan/gf) desserts to choose from as well.

Curcuma

The best Aryuvedic food truck you could ask for. Right in the center of East Austin, the ladies at Curcuma are so warm and welcoming. The sweet potatoes toasts are delicious, my favorite was the “ricotta”.

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Bouldin Creek

OMG, the sweet potato pecan tamales… I only ate here once, but those tamales will be on my mind for a while! Definitely go for 3 instead of 2.  The staff encouraged me to order the pecan pesto (top right), which was good, but the tamales definitely didn’t need it. My server also allowed me to try the regular and refried beans 🙂 I liked the refried best. There’s a huge selection of vegan food, less selection for vegan and gluten free, but you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything eating these tamales, that’s for sure.  There’s also plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

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True Food Kitchen

Wow. We had the vegan butternut squash, smoked onion and almond ricotta pizza on the gluten free crust. One of my favorite meals, for sure. The crust was out of this world, not like some of the gf crusts that are super thick or dense. Apparently its made with tapioca and rice flour. All I know is that I would go back for this pizza any day. We also had the mezze salad bowl (warm) and the flourless chocolate cake (gluten free and vegan if you leave off the caramel sauce). The staff was sooo informative and friendly.

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Snap Kitchen

There are at least 3 Snap Kitchen locations in Austin. They are 100% gluten free and have many paleo and vegan options (that are clearly labeled). Lots of selection, lots of great dishes like this kale, hummus, brown rice and sweet potato bowl. I also really liked their black bean sliders. Only downside is everything comes in plastic (BPA free) and the only way to heat the food is in the microwaves they provide. I just ate my food cold or took it with me to go and ate it room temperature. Not the end of the world, but a bit of a downside. Definitely great options for bringing to the airport!

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Thai Fresh

I went for the ice cream. You got me. Cashew and coconut milk based ice cream in 10+ flavors. I tried the horchata, gluten free cookie dough, mint chocolate chip and a few others. They had a cookie batter flavor, turmeric, and a handful of other super unique and delicious ice creams. They also have a ton of gluten free and vegan baked goods. I was eyeing the lemon bar, but it just couldn’t happen that day. Next time, I’m definitely getting it.

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Blenders and Bowls

I saw at least 2 of these during my stay. I’m not really into smoothies or smoothie bowls, but sometimes it was just super hot, and I was craving something cold. I got the green smoothie bowls both times I was there, it has the least fruit and sweetener of any of their stuff, but it’s still pretty sweet. I also got one of their pre-made veggie wraps which was really good and perfect to take with me on a hike.

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There were also a number of places that had gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options that just required some modification. I had delicious Tacos at Torchy’s (an Austin staple), Veracruz (check them out on Food Network) and Whole Foods (their taco bar piles free steamed kale on any taco!)

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Veracruz chips, guac, amazing salsa and migas.

 

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Recipe: Super Simple Swiss Chard

People always ask me for my favorite health tips. While I really like to customize my recommendations to each individual, eating more greens is always on the list. Leafy greens, including Swiss chard, are some of the most nutrient dense foods. They’re also rich in fiber which is one of the most important keys to good gut health.

A lot of people don’t like greens because they find them bitter, or they’re unsure how to cook them. I totally get it. Sometimes I don’t really want to bother with chopping up veggies or aromatics like onion, ginger and garlic. So, today I made this super simple Swiss chard (it was becoming do or die for my Swiss chard, I was a little overambitious grocery shopping last week). The curry paste is store bought, but it’s really great quality and tastes great. You can read more about the curry pastes I recommend here.

This can be eaten as a side dish, or with quinoa and a fried egg to make a complete meal. You can also add any other veggies to this to make it more substantial. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

1 bunch Swiss chard
1/2 tbs coconut oil
2-4 teaspoons Thai kitchen red curry paste
3/4 cup coconut milk*
salt to taste

*use leftover coconut milk to make this awesome DIY leave in hair conditioner.

  1. Separate the leaves and stems of the Swiss chard. Dice the stems and thinly slice the leaves. Keep them separate**
  2. Heat oil in a wok or saute pan. When hot, and the curry paste and a pinch of salt and stir.
  3. Add the chard stems and cook for 3 minutes, then add in the leaves.
  4. Saute on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk.
  5. Cook on low heat until the chard is tender and cooked through. I cook it for about 10 minutes total, but it depends on how soft you like your greens.

**I cut and cook the greens and stems together when I’m cooking for myself. It takes less time and I’m fine with the stems being a little firmer. Feel free to experiment with both ways.

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Are You Ready for Passover? Zucchini Latkes Recipe

It’s that time of year folks… Passover!

I love potato latkes, they’re a family tradition. Actually, I love anything that resembles a latke (for those of you who don’t know about potato latkes, they’re basically potato pancakes).

Just for fun, this year I’m trying out zucchini latkes. Maybe I’ll even bring them to the Sedar! This is an adapted version of a zucchini fritter recipe from the Natural Gourmet Institute. Enjoy!

Zucchini Latkes

Ingredients:

3.5 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 small zucchinis)
1/3 cup arrowroot*
1/3 cup rice flour
1 tbs dill, chopped
1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1 shallot or 1/2 small red onion, minced
1/4 cup avocado oil
1 egg or flax egg (1 tbs ground flax + 3 tbs water, left to sit for 10 min)
salt to taste

*I ran out of rice flour when making this recipe, so I used half arrowroot and half rice flour (I always have arrowroot around for DIY body/beauty products). Feel free to use all rice flour and let me know how it goes. Next time I’m going to try it that way.

1. Add a tsp of salt to shredded zucchini and place in a colander. Mix and let it drain. After 5 minutes, squeeze out any excess water.

2. Add the arrowroot, rice flour, dill, lemon zest (optional), shallot or onion, egg or flax egg and a touch of salt to the zucchini and mix well.

3. Heal oil in a large skillet. When oil is hot, make a ball with 1 tbs of the batter, flatten it and place in the pan. When the bottom has browned, flip it. Blot with paper towel and taste. Add more salt, lemon zest or dill to taste.

4. Form the rest of the batter into 13 balls. Flatten and place in pan. Be careful not to overcrowd so you still have space to flip them.

5. Eat with apple sauce, cashew cream or a tahini.

You can garnish with dill leaves if you like (or not, but you’ll probably have extra), just try not to eat them straight out of the pan and save some for your guests!

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My Top 10 Plant Based Thanksgiving Recipes

I love Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays. My whole family gets together around food, song and laughter. I’ve been getting some requests lately for plant-based Thanksgiving options for vegetarians, so I thought I would share some here. All of these recipes *happen* to be vegan and gluten-free, but you don’t need to tell anyone that 🙂

Sweet Potato Casserole by Oh She Glows

20161110_134909This is one of my favorite fall dishes. It’s like dessert with a delicious crispy crumble. It’s definitely a Thanksgiving winner. The crumble is made with pecans, oats, almond meal, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup. You can double the crumble recipe and use it to top a crisp since you’re already cooking!

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

20161111_181359This soup is a hit anywhere I take it. I mix it up with different spices or more or less ginger, but the overall feel is warm, soothing, comforting, creamy, hearty and delicious. And, it only has a few ingredients, and you don’t have to worry about what they look like when you chop them (yay blended soups!)

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Brussels Sprouts, Balsamic Glaze, Pomegranate and Pecan

This discreenshot_20161116-224334sh was inspired by a new friend, @veggiekins. She brought this dish to a friendsgiving and I just loved it. Bake a sweet potato (400 for about an hour) and then stuff with sauteed Brussels sprouts (you can buy pre-chopped ones or slice your own). I sauteed the Brussels sprouts with shallots and olive oil. Top with toasted pecans, pomegranate seeds and either balsamic glaze or a balsamic reduction. It’s so beautiful and tasty! Just remember to salt the inside of the potato, too 🙂 This dish is also very adaptable, @veggiekins recipe happened to be oil free, she just sauteed the Brussels in water.

Maple Mustard Tempeh

20160908_120059Tempeh is a great vegan/vegetarian protein. It’s made from fermented soybeans (and other grains sometimes) and contains lots of protein and health benefits from the fermentation process. It can be tricky to cook, but this recipe by my friend and colleague Blaine is super easy to do and it tastes great. The image is what it looks like before baking.

Maple Mustard Tempeh

  • ½ lb tempeh
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon
  • 2 tbs honey or maple
  • 2 tbs tamari
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350. Cut tempeh into four equal rectangles then slice in half lengthwise then diagonally to make 16 triangles. Pour marinade over tempeh and bake until marinade is mostly absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. I usually double the recipe since most tempeh comes in 1lb packages.

Roasted and Stuffed Acorn Squash

20161025_205651For me and a lot of my clients, roasted squash or root veggies are the epitome of the fall season and are a great way to add color, great flavor and nutrients to your Thanksgiving table. I like to roast squash and stuff it with quinoa and sauteed mushrooms, but you can stuff it with anything you like (including stuffing!). This is a great guide from the kitchn on how to make stuffed squash. And, if you cut it in half horizontally instead of vertically, you get those beautiful ridges. And, last tip… you can eat the skin!

Candied Acorn Squash with Allspice

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis recipe is so simple, and sooo good. I had this dish when I was up at a conference at Kripalu, and I had to try to recreate it when I got home. Just thinly slice acorn squash, coat with olive oil, cinnamon and allspice, and bake at 450 until parts of the squash are super brown. The cinnamon and allspice, plus the super roasting of the squash make this dish so sweet without any added sweetener. Garnish with any herbs you have on hand or extra pomegranate seeds. This is another squash dish where leaving the skin on cuts down on your work and adds to the taste. The crunchy texture of the skin is a great contrast to the creaminess of the inside of the squash.

Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate and Herbs

herbed-quinoa-saladThis is my go to salad when I cook for retreats. It has so many great herbs in it like mint and parsley, and great color from the pomegranate seeds. It’s almost perfect for Christmas with the red and green! This is definitely a great way to up your quinoa game, whether it’s for Thanksgiving or your next get-together.

Kale With Giant White Beans

pan-fried-kaleThe first time I made this dish was with my sister, Margeaux. After that first time, I swear she made this once per week! The crust on the beans is really the key to the yum factor. You must not fidget with the beans as they cook. That’s what allows them to caramelize. Simple, delicious, nutritious. A Thanksgiving winner. I skip the parm, but it’s up to you.

Almond Butter Cookies by Rebecca Katz

20161116_231842I know this isn’t a dessert list, but these cookies are to good not to mention. They’re a super crowd pleaser. I’m sure you already have you desserts lined up, but if there is room for one more, give this one a whirl. It’s gluten free, refined sugar free, rich and delicious without the “oh I ate so much/I’m so stuffed” afterward. You can use a chia or flax egg if you don’t eat eggs. And you can use peanut butter or cashew butter as well, they come out just as good.

Cauliflower with Hazelnuts and Pomegranate from Yotam Ottolenghi

wellveggie_jerusalem2-tmagarticle-v4Cauliflower is perfect this time of year and makes a great plant-based main or side. Plus all of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes are drool worthy (have you seen his books?). You’ll be eating with your eyes way before you sit down. I love seeing the pomegranate popping up again. It really is great this time of year and it adds so much freshness to this dish. I skip the celery in this dish, but you can do it however you like.  Like I always say, it’s your kitchen, you make the rules.

I hope you enjoy some of these recipes! Remember, stay seasonal and focus on a variety of colors and textures. All these dishes are hearty, beautiful and so tasty. They would be a great addition to any Thanksgiving table. Let me know which you make and any variations you chose.

Happy Holidays,

Samantha

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Beat Cold Season With This Tonic

During my childhood, I spent a lot of time at an Ashram in upstate NY. They had a drink called an Amrit Tonic that they always served in the winter. As a kid, I remember being scared by it because it was soooo intense, but it was an ultimate go-to for colds! Here’s my toned downed version of it. I actually like the way it tastes! It’s perfect for days like today in NYC. Gloomy, rainy, and cold.

Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic

INGREDIENTS

1 cup water
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoons lemon juice
2 shakes cayenne pepper
2 shakes turmeric
1 pinch black pepper
1/2 tsp ginger juice – optional*
honey to taste (or maple syrup if you’re vegan)

DIRECTIONS
Boil water. Turn off heat and add in the rest of the ingredients.

*To make ginger juice, grate ginger with a microplane or cheese grater. Squeeze grated ginger between your fingers to extract the juice.

There are so many reasons why this tonic is good for you. The turmeric is anti-inflammatory, and the black pepper helps make the active ingredient in turmeric (curcumin) more bioavailable. The cayenne is great for clearing out sinuses since it can help break up mucous and help with drainage. It’s also anti-inflammatory and a pain-inhibitor! Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C, which can help boost your immunity, and it’s antimicrobial. Apple cider vinegar contains potassium, which thins mucus, and the acetic acid in it prevents germ growth. Ginger is anti-viral and honey has antimicrobial properties and adds some welcome sweetness to the drink. And, we all know that just drinking something hot can be so comforting when you’re not feeling well. If that’s not enough reasons to drink it, I don’t know what else to tell you!

Let me know how you like it and if you have any go-to home remedies for colds you’d like to share. <3 Samantha

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Meal Planning Made Easy: Part 1

A lot of people come to me for meal planning advice. The reason I love what I do so much is because I get to break things down and make things simple for people. In this meal planning series I’ll share a few tips in each post. Let me know if they help or if you have any questions you want answered!

Meal Planning Made Easy: Part 1

Get Tupperware

I can’t stress this enough. Having a place to store food is probably the most important pre-step to meal planning. Get enough Tupperware to store at least 5 meals and additional Tupperware to store prepped ingredients.  You can have all the good intentions in the world, but if you don’t have a place to store the food you’ve prepared, you’re out of luck.

I love glass tupperware, it’s definitely the cleanest, but it’s also unrealistic for when I’m on the go. I use glass tupperware to store prepped ingredients in my fridge, and I use BPA free pastic tupperware for traveling.

Keep a list

Most people don’t make new recipes every week. I know I certainly don’t. Most people have a rotation of staple dishes that they like and are easy enough to make. Its fun to throw new recipes in the mix sometimes, but for the sake of efficiency, the tried and true often win out.  To start, make a list of recipes you like and feel confident making. This way you can consult the list when you’re planning your meals for the week. As you get more comfortable in the kitchen, you can start adding more recipes to your list.

In future posts I’ll write about nutrient density and how to increase the nutrient density of recipes you already know and love. Stay tuned!

Make it Fun

If meal prep is a drag every week, there’s less of a chance that you will actually do it. Find ways to make it fun! Play some music, have a friend join you and make enough food for both of you, or listen to a podcast. Cooking is not a punishment. It’s an opportunity for you to honor yourself, your body, and take care of yourself. It’s also an opportunity to be creative. Cooking is a learned skill like anything else. At first it may be stressful, but you’ll keep getting better and better. Trust me.

Now get going, will ya! Show me what you’re making by tagging me in your photos #simplysamanthanyc

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natural products

Natural Products Part II

I just read an article in the New York Times about how the FDA is banning certain chemicals found in many household antibacterial soups. I’m happy that many companies are already removing the toxic chemicals, but I’m also infuriated. The FDA ruled that the risks these chemicals presented were greater than the benefits, but there are plenty of cleaning products and soaps we can use that don’t pose a risk. And, according to the article, antibacterial products haven’t even been shown to be more effective.

One of the main risks of the chemicals found in soap and many other cleaning products, is that they are endocrine distributors. They send signals to our bodies that can cause problems with our hormones, reproductive system, and immune system. As someone with endometriosis, which is caused by an imbalance in the hormones, I don’t wait years (and in some cases decades) for the FDA to tell me something is unsafe. I do my best to eliminate as many potentially harmful chemicals from my life proactively, from my cleaning to my beauty products.  If you have any type of hormonal imbalance like PCOS, endometriosis, or you’re pregnant or breast feeding, it’s particularly important to favor natural products.

I wrote an article with some of my natural beauty tips and ways to incorporate natural products into your routine back in April, but I’ve got more to add!

Cleaning: I love the company Citra Solv. I use their product for mopping and cleaning surfaces. It’s cruelty free as well and works great (I used it to take stickers of glass jars and it was the only thing that worked!). They also make dish soap and a bunch of other commercial and home cleaning products.

Hand Soap: I use an empty foam pump, Dr. Bronners Castile soap, water, and a touch of oil for my hand soap. I got the recipe from Wellness Mama, who has so many amazing recipes for natural products.

Shampoo: A year and a half ago I stopped using conditioner and starting using diluted Apple Cider Vinegar instead. 6 months ago I eliminated shampoo as well, and I use a combo of baking soda and water for shampoo, and diluted apple cider vinegar to condition. It’s great. For more info, google the “no-poo” method.

Toothpaste: I’ve been using natural toothpaste for years, it’s easy enough to find online or at the health food store, but recently, after a trip to the dentist, I was inspired to make my own remineralizing tooth powder. The next one I’m making is squeezable. The ingredients may seem esoteric at first, but you can actually use them for a lot of things. We all know how many things you can use coconut oil for, and if you don’t, I’ll write an article about it soon :). Bentonite clay is also a great face mask.

If making your own toothpaste feels intimidating, I get it. And it’s totally fine to buy toothpaste, but stay away from the big companies. As you can read in the NYT article, Triclosan, the chemical being banned from soaps, will still be in Colgate Total because it has a positive effect on plaque and gum disease. Well, surprise, you can fight plaque and gum disease with plenty of other ingredients that won’t harm you or your family.

And don’t forget to check out my natural deodorant!

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fear

What Do You Actually Want

In 2013, my dad forwarded me a beautiful email from inelia benz. The above image was in the email, along with these lines:

Pretend there was NO FEAR in your life.

What would you do different?

What would look different?

By pretending, we initiate a possible outcome in real life. Children do this naturally, and animals do to when they play. They pretend doing what they will need to do, or want to learn how to do, when they grow up.

By pretending, we put our hands into the field of infinite possibility that is the space between thoughts, and the area between particles in every atom. We bring forth something that did not exist in our minds before. By pretending, we give ourselves permission to bypass “what is real”, “what is possible”, and “what is doable”, and simply allow it to exist in our imagination, in our writing, in our drawings, in our games and in our conversations.

Imagine, pretend, write or draw, about a life without fear. YOUR life. What would it look like? What would you do?

Until that moment, I had never given myself conscious permission to imagine what I actually wanted in my life. I had a 5 year plan, and I was achieving everything I set out to achieve, but there was no fire in it. At that time, I was a director for a workforce development program in a homeless shelter here in NYC. After reading the email, I took a day off from work, something that was unthinkable for me at the time, and let myself imagine. I saw myself surrounded by people I love, hosting dinner parties and feeding people, spending time one on one with people who were struggling and providing them with love, warmth, and healing. I saw myself in a garden, growing and harvesting food. I saw lightness, laughter, joy and love.

I realized that where I was at the time was not in alignment with my vision, and I started researching. It was on that day that I decided to go to school for health coaching, and I started the process of creating my ideal job. It was so scary for me to leave what I knew. To leave security and routine, to “abandon” a job where people “needed” me. And, I did it anyway (not immediately, don’t worry, it was actually a year from the date that I did this exercise).

I want to share this with you because when I work with clients, I often observe that they do not have a clear vision for who they want to be. The details aren’t super important, but it is important to have a sense of what you’re living into. Otherwise, how do you take actions that bring you closer to who and where you want to be? It doesn’t have to be career related, relationship related, or about anything other than how you see yourself.

If you could create yourself however you desired, how would you see yourself in 5 years from now? What is your voice like? What image comes to mind? What are you wearing? What comes to mind when you see your future self? What do you do all day? Where do you live? What’s your life like?

Can you take a moment to stop what you are doing and really allow yourself to imagine? To give yourself permission to play dress up and play with what you want for yourself? It’s an act of rebellion, it’s scary, and it may just snap you out of whatever automatic way of living you’ve set up for yourself to stay safe and comfortable. And, that’s where the juiciness is.

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