healthy eating · Healthy Living · organic · Uncategorized · veggies

Garden Gathering

~I, like most of you I’m sure, have come down with a case of spring fever. Last week I was accepted into 2 different gardening groups on Facebook, Chicagoland Gardening and Self Sufficiency and Garden Obsession (check them out in the links below!). Upon acceptance into the groups my spring fever reached a fever pitch. I would plant my own garden this year! Last year my mom was kind enough to let me have a spot in her garden to plant something of my choosing. But this time around I want to take things into my own hands.

Like most things in life, the best ideas come to you spontaneously or out of a failed attempt to execute another idea. I get my best ideas when I’m driving or in the shower. I’m also one of those people that chooses something if it “speaks to them”. And that’s exactly what happened when I traveled to Lowes and Alsip Home & Nursery over the weekend. I didn’t have a cut and dry plan on what I wanted to buy/plant, but I knew I wanted to at least plant some herbs, thanks to one of my research books The Practical Herbal Medicine Handbook. I wanted to find feverfew, a delightful daisy-like herb, in particular to help combat the awful migraines I get from time to time (mostly due to my seasonal allergies).

I first stopped at Lowes, where I immediately bee lined for the garden center. I pondered at all the vegetable and herb options, none too pleased with what I saw. Trying to shake off my disappointment , I went back outside to try and find my dream planter. I had been eyeing this beautiful cedar wood planter for the past week and my disappointment struck again when they didn’t have it in stock 😞

Sparing myself more disappointment and heartache, I ventured to Alsip Home & Nursery, where my mom swears by as the best place to get gardening stuff. The rows and rows of planters stretched as far as the eye could see and the seed options were endless! After a solid hour of going back and forth between seeds and planters, this is what I came home with: 7 seed packets, 2 large planters, one small planter, a watering can and a new toy for the birds (I have 4 parakeets). I’m surprised I was able to fit the planters into my tiny trunk! Haha

Curious to know what I’ll be planting this year? You’ll just have to wait and see….. 😉

https://www.facebook.com/groups/gardenobsession/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/405499733134991/

essential oils · Healthy Living · organic

Makes Frankinsence to Me 

~Let me take you through another episode of my essential oils adventure with my guide, Misty! Since that fateful day after we first met Misty and I have been keeping in regular contact. About 2 weeks ago, we had a delightful phone conversation where we spoke of work, the blog, and of course essential oils. She had sent me an e-mail previously of all the amazing offers doTERRA currently has going on and how you could access them by buying one of their enrollment kits.

I looked them over carefully, knowing I wanted one that came with a diffuser. The one I had originally wanted came with the diffuser and a few of their more popular scents. But after some convincing I ended up getting the pricier Home Essentials kit that not only had the diffuser, but 10 of doTERRA’s best-selling scents and some freebies from Misty personally! A few days later as I was about to leave for work, the mail truck pulled up to the house and the mail lady pulled out this large box along with the rest of the mail. I looked at the address and it was my Home Essentials kit! I kept it in my car while at work and during my shift I kept thinking about it and eagerly awaiting to open it.

When I returned home, I immediately opened the box. It was like opening presents on Christmas Day and getting exactly what you wanted 🙂 Some of the scents in the kit were lavender, peppermint, a digestive blend OnGuard, Deep Blue, and of course frankincense. I love diffusing peppermint, especially now because my allergies are acting up again and they cause me to get headaches. But my favorite part of my goodies is the Deep Blue rub.

Deep Blue is a blend of oils such as peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus and a subtle citrus. It was originally designed with athletes in mind to relieve sore, aching muscles. But you don’t need to be athletic to benefit from Deep Blue, you just have to be human! Haha.
My job takes a toll on me both emotionally and physically. When the physical aspects affect me, especially my neck, back and feet, I rub some Deep Blue and roll on Deep Blue Touch and in minutes I could feel relief setting in. It felt like an ice pack rubbed into my muscles and melted away the pain.

I’ll never use anything else for pain relief

Environment · healthy eating · Healthy Living · Hot Topic · organic

Everyone deserves a Fair Trade

~The concept of Fair Trade seems like common sense, at least to me it does. When you buy certain products with the Fair Trade symbol, producers in developing countries are paid a fair wage and provided a safe working environment. I first learned of the Fair Trade concept years ago at church of all places. Before Mass ended, someone would come up to the podium and share announcements with the congregation, such as the goings on at the school, Knights of Columbus events, and during certain times of the year, they would sell Fair Trade coffee and chocolate. At the time, I didn’t know what Fair Trade meant, I just wanted some chocolate haha. But that planted the seed in my mind that would sprout many years later.

I had done some research on the topic and thought, “Why doesn’t everyone do this? It doesn’t seem that hard to treat people fairly as they cultivate some our most widely used products.” According to Fair Trade International, the most widely traded products in the world include coffee, tea, cocoa & chocolate, handmade crafts, fresh fruit, flowers and gold. In fact, Fair Trade is established in over 90 countries!

Perhaps my favorite Fair Trade item I’ve come across is coffee. I am a coffee addict, and I have no shame admitting to that! I need coffee to function, as most of us do haha. When I had shopped on Thrive Market, they had a selection of Fair Trade items, most of which were coffee. The majority of the coffee selections were whole bean, and I don’t have a coffee grinder so that option was out. However, there was one company that made coffee in the form of K-Cups! And the cups are 100% biodegradable and compostable! 😀
The company was called Ethical Bean Coffee (very fitting). I purchased a box of medium roast K-Cups and eagerly awaited their arrival. Once they came, immediately I made a cup and enveloped myself in its exotic aroma and taste. It tasted like most medium roasts would, only better, because I knew I was making a difference in someone’s life and helping them prosper due to my coffee habit.

And I just learned that Starbucks’ Italian roast is made from Fair Trade beans! I’ll have to get my hands on it soon. Starbucks isn’t the only mainstream company to use Fair Trade products: Larabar uses Fair Trade chocolate in a few of its bars, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream uses Fair Trade bananas, sugar, vanilla and chocolate in some of their quirky flavors, and Cadbury uses Fair Trade chocolate. Easter will be here before you know it, so when it’s time to fill up those Easter baskets, fill them with Cadbury chocolate eggs. The Easter Bunny would be proud of you supporting Fair Trade 😉

*For more information about Fair Trade, visit fairtrade.net & fairtradeusa.org*  

healthy eating · Healthy Living · organic · vegan

Here goes nothing: Shopping on Thrive Market

~I had been curious about Thrive Market, a website where you can buy everything organic, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, etc. since I saw a commercial for it a while ago. I was just as excited shopping online as I was shopping at Fresh Thyme (which I need to visit again). Not only could you buy food, there was a wide selection of pet care and household products to choose from. They even had fair trade items! I was mostly interested in food, so that’s where I started.

I’m a big snacker, I’m snacking on seaweed as I type this right now. And also a snack hoarder. Once I buy my certain snacks, I keep them hidden in my room so no one else can have them haha. Mostly it’s Larabars, which I bought another big box of them on Thrive Market. In addition to the Larabars, I purchased a small package of seaweed (delicious!), organic wild rice cakes, ghee, fair trade coffee and grass-fed beef jerky. I was looking forward to the beef jerky since a) beef jerky is one of my favorite snacks, and b) I’ve always wanted to try grass-fed beef to see if it really does taste better than conventional beef. Sad to say I wasn’t a big fan. It had a strange almost mealy texture and an unpleasant aftertaste. I won’t totally disregard grass-fed beef, but next time I’ll try it in a burger or another preparation.

The ghee, on the other hand, was a complete impulse buy. I knew nothing about it prior to visiting Thrive Market and was super curious about it when I saw it listed under vinegar and oils. After Googling I found out that ghee is actually a form of clarified butter popular in Indian cooking. I was nervous that I bought something without knowing what it was, but curiosity got the best of me. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll blog about it when I do.

After placing my order, I looked at the confirmation e-mail and the address said that the state it was going to ship to was Utah, not Illinois. Immediately I e-mailed customer services and they quickly corrected the error. Now I’m in the middle of my free trial until February 7th, until you get hit with their $59.95 annual membership fee. Ouch. But in the mean time I get free shipping on my next 3 orders!

Overall, I’m really impressed with Thrive Market. I love that they cater to a vast array of dietary and lifestyle needs for an affordable price, and you can donate a portion of your purchase to families in need. Their customer service was prompt and polite, and I was overall satisfied with my purchase. I’m still on the fence on whether I want to become a member after my free trial, and I’ll be munching on my healthy snacks as I make that decision haha.

Happy shopping!

https://thrivemarket.com/

healthy eating · organic

Once upon a time, in a land farro farro away…

~I hope everyone had a delightful Thanksgiving feast with family and friends yesterday. While farro was not on the menu, I wish it was. I was introduced to this ancient grain by my mom, who cooked it as a side dish to a tasty pork chop dinner a few nights back. I had never tried farro before, but I have seen it at Mariano’s while grocery shopping. Similar to bulgar wheat, farro has a lower gluten content, which isn’t gluten-free but it’s much more tolerable to those sensitive to gluten than other wheat products.

To me it had an almost similar look and taste to brown rice, the puffed up wheat and slightly crunchy yet chewy texture made for a tasty side and lunch for the next day. Farro’s ancient origins dates back to ancient Rome, where it was sampled by royalty and peasants alike. Before making the trek across the Mediterranean to Italy, the ancient Egyptians enjoyed this glorious grain so much it was nicknamed “pharaoh’s grain”.

Jump to a few thousand years later, farro is enjoyed all over, but is mainly used in Mediterranean, Ethiopian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Not only is farro tasty and gluten friendly, it’s a great source of fiber, protein, iron and magnesium. And you can add pretty much anything to it! I would love to make it with mushrooms and some fresh grated goat Parmesan cheese from Stamper Cheese Company. Yummmmm my mouth is watering already!

healthy eating · organic

Aldi goes Organic

~News broke recently that the grocery chain Aldi will be going in the direction of fully

organic by banning 8 pesticides from its products starting at the beginning of the new

year. Which makes Aldi an even cooler store to shop at! I love Aldi for their low prices and

their special buys, those certain items you can only find once in a blue moon. But the store

is making more changes as well, including adding more gluten-free options and removing

artifical growth hormones from the remainder of the dairy products they sell (the store

already eliminated hormones from milk). Starting in January save up those quarters, grab

your bags and head to Aldi!

*Article originally published on organicandhealthy.org, read the full article in the link below*

 

http://www.organicandhealthy.org/2016/11/aldi-goes-full-organic-bans-pesticides.html

farmers market · healthy eating · organic · vegan

My review of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market

~Here it is, the post you’ve all (or most of you) been waiting for: my experience of the Fresh Thyme Farmers Market! But before I jump into my formal review, I’d like to take some time and talk about my most recent trip to the Downers Grove farmers market. It was a rainy and dreary Saturday morning, but that didn’t deter me from my plans. Armed with my umbrella and good spirits, I hit the stalls. At the first produce stall I visited, I had picked up some leeks ($3 each), a purple cauliflower, a parsnip and a whopping 3.5# butternut squash! While I was paying for my purchases, a woman looked over my goods and wondered whether or not I was making soup. I laughed and said, “Maybe, it’s the perfect day for it.” After about 20 minutes walking in the rain, I got a half-gallon of fresh apple cider and headed out to Fresh Thyme.

Thankfully I found a close enough parking spot to the entrance where I wouldn’t get more wet than I already was. I grabbed a cart and was ready to hit the aisles! My initial thought was that it wasn’t very big, but it had a lot to offer. The vast majority of the products there were either organic or gluten-free, and they had a large selection for vegans as well. The first place I looked was the frozen food section, since there was an advertisement for 20% off frozen products. There was the standard fare of burger patties and frozen potatoes, but what really caught my eye was an assortment of exotic game meats. They had venison, antelope, goat, buffalo and wild boar. I was *this* close to buying goat patties, but I’m pretty sure I’d be the only one who’d eat them.

Next were the spices and preserves. On the left hand side of the aisle, there was a vast array of different butters and spreads. Something I’d always wanted to try but could never find is cashew butter. And lo and behold they had it, tucked away between the peanut butter and almond butter. On the right hand side were dried herbs and spices. They had everything from your average cloves and bay leaves to the more unusual Vietnamese cinnamon and turmeric root powder. I have no idea what the difference is between regular cinnamon and its Vietnamese twin, maybe a different taste? But I wasn’t willing to find out. But what I did find was even better: garam masala!! ❤  Known for its use in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, its warm and earthy aroma was just what I’ve been searching for.

Perhaps my favorite part of Fresh Thyme was the dried goods. You could get lentils, beans, snacks, granola, you name it all in bulk. They had so many flavors of granola it was making my head spin. But I settled on three: apple cinnamon, blueberry flax and strawberry vanilla granola. I got about a pound of each.

Overall, I loved Fresh Thyme! I spent over an hour wandering the aisles taking it all in. The prices are reasonable and the selection is enormous. I would come back in a heartbeat.