June 30, 2012

June Foodie Penpals

The Lean Green Bean
This is my second time participating in the Foodie Penpals program.  If you'd like to participate, you can go here to sign up.

My June Foodie Penpal package was sent to me from shoe lover and cake baker Trina @ Will Cook For Shoes. I let Trina know in advance that I'm eating raw vegan so she took this into consideration and mailed me a package full of things that I've never tried before.

Here's a peek inside the box that I received from Trina:
The Taste Tester liked the Bubble Wrap best!
Trina's package included all things that I've never seen before, which I loved.
Fattoria Poggio Alloro Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I've never seen this brand of olive oil before so I was quite anxious to try it out.  I visited the Fattoria Poggio Alloro website and I noticed that the olives are obtained by manual harvesting from more than 1000 trees that grow in perfect symbiosis with other cultures. Trees of the most typically Tuscan tradition such as Frantoiano, Moraiolo and Leccino.

I cracked the bottle open immediately and licked some right off the spoon, my ideal way of consumption. With a low acidity, it's fragrant and fruity and has an intense olive green color.  I've enjoyed it so far with a fresh batch of chipotle hummus (recipe to follow) and fresh veggies.
Navitas Naturals Coconut Palm Sugar
This is another product I've never even heard of before so I'm quite interested in what I can do with it. After visiting Navitas Naturals, I noticed that it's Certified Organic, Raw, and Kosher which is right up my alley.  I also read that coconut palm sugar can be used as a 1:1 substitute for cane sugar. It rapidly dissolves into liquids and wet doughs making it perfect for just about any application. Whether adding it to coffee & tea, special desserts, or classic baking recipes, palm sugar easily earns its reputation of being a superfood. Offering a unique caramel sweetness on top of its ease of use and health benefits, palm sugar is one of the most exciting new sweeteners for both the everyday sweet tooth and health-seeker alike. Sure sounds great to me! 

MacroLife Naturals Miracle Reds bar
I'm a big fan of bars. I like to take them with me when I'm on-the-go and I'm always on the lookout for a new bar that I've never tried before. Everything about this bar was fantastic! I loved the flavor, the texture, and the fact that all of the ingredients are Certified Organic: Brazil Nuts, Dates, Agave, Cranberries, Raspberries, and more. 

I've never seen this bar before but now that I've tried it, I'll have to keep a good lookout for them.  I even emailed the company directly to ask if they know where I can find them in Ottawa :)
The Taste Tester 's opinion? Thumb Up!
Sending big hugs to Trina :) Thank you soooo much!! xo

June 27, 2012

Parliament Hill Yoga

with the Magnificent Megan Campbell

On Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, I joined 916 yogis on the lawn in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa for another free yoga class organized by Lululemon Athletica...and I'm soooooo very happy I did.

This week's yoga session featured my favorite Ottawa yoga instructor, the lovely Megan Campbell. Megan's specialty is Vinyasa Flow Yoga and Yoga For Women.

Megan was recently named "Best Yoga Teacher in Ottawa" at National Capital Fit Day 2012, Ottawa's largest Health & Fitness Expo. Naturally, I voted for Megan and I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that she'd win!
Megan is by far my favorite Ottawa yoga instructor and the founder of Journey of the Yogini, which features yoga workshops, retreats, and events for women all the while raising awareness and money for charities that empower women and girls worldwide.

Megan also organized the Ottawa Yogini Yogathon, which I attended for the first time in May. Read more about my experience at the 2nd Annual Ottawa Yogini Yogathon here.

917 People gathered together for Parliament Hill Yoga in Ottawa.

One of the things I love most about Megan is that she is always telling us that "yoga happens not only on the mat but off the mat as well...to carry it with you out in to the world."

Thank you for the warm sunshine and smiles!

Hugs to the beautiful Megan for another amazing yoga experience. Namaste!

June 19, 2012

Foods With The Highest Amount of Pesticides

Alot of the produce being sold today is supplied from farmers who practice conventional farming methods. Produce is being grown using chemical fertilizers as well as pesticides and herbicides. 

Many scientific studies suggest that the effects of synthetic pesticides can be detrimental to our health; one study suggests that the consumption of pesticides may lead to ADHD in children; in some other cases, exposure can lead to many forms of cancers, infertility problems and birth defects.

Along with the many other poor 'food like' products we are eating, there's a large amount of foreign substances that are entering our bodies. As we expose ourselves to these substances over the years, our bodies become overloaded, and our 'cleaning' mechanisms fail to work. As a result, many of us develop sickness and disease because our bodies can't remove these toxins anymore.

In order to help give your body a break from this chemical onslaught, foods should be eaten organically. The foods listed below are some of the most toxic to our bodies if eaten from conventional sources, they contain the most pesticides on or in them compared to other foods; so, if you are considering switching to organic, I suggest considering the below foods as a first priority in your transition.

Top 12 Foods You Should Eat Organically (From lowest to highest amount of pesticides):
1. Apples

2. Cherries

3. Green Beans

4. Collard Greens

5. Spinach

6. Bell Peppers

7. Lettuce

8. Blueberries

9. Strawberries

10. Kale

11. Peaches

12. Celery

Honourable Mentions
- Broccoli
- Cucumbers
- Grapes
- Potatoes
- Tomatoes

5 Foods that Contain the Lowest Pesticide Residues
Bananas, Grapefruit, Almonds, Asparagus, Onions

Check out what I found online:
Similar to my list with a few slight differences.
When buying produce always consider buying organic. 

Better yet, to ensure freshness, buy local as much as you can. When you can buy both local and organic, you can guarantee that the product is both free of pesticides, and full of nutrients. Further to this, you will also avoid any potential foods that may have been genetically modified.

To check out pesticide residues on other sources of food, visit here.

By substituting the top 12 pesticide-laden foods with organic, you can eliminate up to 80% of pesticides from your diet.

June 7, 2012

The Girl Who Does Yoga

Oh What A Beautiful Morning!

Wednesday's are turning out to be my favorite day of the week. Every Wednesday during the summer months from 12-1pm, Lululemon Athletica offers free Parliament Hill Yoga.
I stumbled upon this event last year when I saw hundreds of people practicing their yoga poses on the lawn in front of the Parliament buildings while being guided by a talented local instructor. Participation of each individual is celebrated as everyone is welcome to join in on the fun. All you need is a yoga mat (there are a few extra ones if you need to borrow) or you can go barefoot on the grass and let the earth energize your body (referred to as earthing or grounding).
Oh What A Beautiful Day!
Yesterday, 598 people joined Claire Cameron, instructor at Bikram Yoga Ottawa as she guided the class through a series of 26 bikram yoga poses (asanas). Claire had fantastic energy, compassion, and a touch of humor that shone through the entire time. I felt peaceful, strong, and joyful.
I've Got A Wonderful Feeling...
Bikram yoga benefits both the mind and body. It's an amazing detoxifier, eliminating massive amounts of toxins from the body, primarily through the body's largest organ-the skin. As your body cleanses itself, your mind becomes sharper, leading to improved mental clarity. There are a few crazy forward bends that send blood rushing to the head but Claire said "this is a fantastic way to clear out the brain fuzz."

This was my first experience with bikram yoga and I powered through each pose (asana) beautifully. Afterward, I felt like I could do almost anything! My skin was glowing and I felt incredible. The most significant benefit I noticed was my increased connectivity with my body. I felt like I was in a meditative state for most of the class. My mind and body were so intently focused on surviving together through this experience, there was no room for my usual wandering thoughts to float around in my head.
Everything's Going My Way!
So...what did I learn about myself from Claire Cameron and Bikram Yoga? Do something you know you won’t excel at and do it for reasons that are bigger than your need to be the best. Give yourself a chance to explore and be someone new. I have a feeling you will be both surprised and pleased with yourself.

Do you have a favorite yoga class?
What's your favorite yoga pose?

June 5, 2012

When The Moon Hits Your Eye...

...Like A Big Pizza Pie...

I love pizza. A perfect slice of pizza has it all - fresh crust, delicious sauce, perfectly melted cheese, and carefully selected toppings. I'd never turn my head from a good slice of pizza even though I always got this awful heavy, sluggish feeling when I ate it.

I've been eating a raw vegan diet for several weeks now but I still occasionally crave a slice of pizza when I see it or smell it. On the other hand, I immediately and vividly recall how it makes me feel after I eat it.

I'm listening to my body more and I'm still learning to stay away from foods that do not make me feel good and are not good for my health. For me, eating cooked processed foods doesn't make me feel good at all. I would get the same feeling from smoking a cigarette or doing drugs. In my mind, there is no difference. I no longer consider going back on my health; my health is one of my most precious gifts.

That being said, I decided to make my own pizza. This is not your classic pizza with tomato sauce, oregano, mushrooms, pepperoni, bacon, onions, green peppers, and mozzarella cheese. This is raw pizza with a blended homemade tomato sauce, jalapeno nut meat, marinated vegetables, and a basil macadamia nut cheeze.

It is also so simple and fun to make with minimal preparation. You can make the crust round, square or anyway you like. Top it with your choice of toppings: pineapple, onion, peppers, zucchini, hummus, spinach, or sprouts. Blend the sauce, then the cheese with nuts or seeds.

Pizza Crust
1 cup ground flax seeds
1/3 cup whole flax seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
2 TBSP yellow onion, chopped
1 1/3 cups water
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Mix ground and whole flax seeds, salt, garlic, onion, and water. Add sunflower and sesame seeds. Mix well.

Use the back of a spoon to spread batter evenly on one dehydrator tray. Dry at 104°F for about 4 hours. Flip and score into nine slices to make it easy to break. Dehydrate another hour before serving. Serve warm.

Note-This recipe will fill one Excalibur dehydrator tray, and yields nine pieces. I recommend tripling or even quadrupling your batch. It makes for some great crackers too. It will keep for at least a month or two when fully dried. Keep refrigerated.

Jalapeno Nut Meat

1 Jalapeno, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup walnuts, soaked 4 hrs (optional)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked until very soft. Reserve 1/8 cup tomato soak water
1 TBSP Nama Shoyu or Bragg's Liquid Amino
1 tsp Herbamare or other seasonings
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a food processor, combine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes and soaking water until you reach a meat consistency. Remove from processor.

In a mixing bowl, add nut meat, onions, jalapeno, Nama Shoyu, Herbamare or other seasonings, sea salt and black pepper.

Use instead of meat on pizza and sandwiches, or straight up out of the bowl. It's delicious! You can also shape this mixture into patties for burgers.

Option-Dehydrate at 115°F for about 1 hour.

Tomato Sauce

1 cup fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1 TBSP olive oil
4 pitted dates or 1 tsp honey
sea salt, to taste
Chop the fresh tomatoes, put them in your high speed blender with the remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth.

Basil Macadamia Nut Cheeze

2 cups macadamia nuts
Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup water, as needed

Blend nuts, lemon juice, garlic, basil, and salt until smooth, adding only enough water as needed to make a smooth creamy texture.

Will keep in the fridge for 4 days.

Marinated Veggies

Red & Yellow Bell Pepper Slices
Sliced Mushrooms
Spinach, sliced in strips
Fennel, thinly sliced

Toss veggies with equal parts olive oil, tamari, and crushed garlic.

That's Amoré