What the blahs taught me today

I don’t know about you but some days I just feel off. It’s not that anything bad has happened necessarily, I just wake up in the morning feeling kind of blah. My first instinct when this happens is to reach for caffeine. I like to have a cup of tea because coffee usually gives me gut-rot. If you don’t know what gut-rot is, then consider yourself lucky. I have this problem with caffeine though, where I’ve developed a seagull-type reflex and I don’t know when to stop. One cup of tea makes me feel like I can conquer the world. I’m going to be the next Oprah/RichardBranson/JamieOliver all rolled into one. I can run a marathon and cure cancer at the same time. I’m unstoppable after one cup of tea. Give me 2 or 3 cups however, and watch the train wreck unfold. I start to get wicked anxious. I begin to question everything. What I’m doing with my life, am I ever going to create anything meaningful, am I reading enough to my son, is that bottle of shampoo I just bought really phosphate-free or am I being fed a multitude of lies by money grubbing corporations… and so on and so forth I spiral into a pit of despair. 

 

So, today when I woke up and had that blah feeling I decided to go in a different direction. I wanted to see if I could find a way to get rid of the blahs and pull myself out of the funk without falling into my crazy-caffeine-anxiety slump. What I did seemed to work pretty great for me so I thought I’d share in the hopes that maybe you can have the same success.

I had ONE cup of tea in my beautiful mother’s day mug make by my wonderful son (who I read to every single night by the way, let’s just get that straight) and then I stopped myself. Take that caffeine jitters! I’m currently running a marathon and curing cancer as I type this…

After my tea, I made a list. I love lists. Lists give me a sense of accomplishment and calm in a world filled with chaos. When I see everything I need to accomplish laid out in front of me it seems far less daunting. When I try to keep all of my “to-do’s” in my head I can never quite shake the feeling that I’ve forgotten something. You put the lime in the coconut and do what with it?

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This is my beautiful lavender plant that smells as good as it looks!

And finally, I took my ass outside and got to work. You see, my backyard is starting to look like an overgrown jungle and rather than let it sit and give me even more anxiety, I did a bit of work. I understand that gardening isn’t for everyone. My partner straight up hates it and would much rather sit inside watching a baseball game. I, on the other hand, find a real sense of satisfaction from working with the earth to create something that I can eat. I love watching the seeds I’ve planted begin to bear fruits and veggies. Nothing makes me happier than making a meal with the produce I have grown, no matter how small or misshapen it may turn out. (I say that because that’s usually the case. I’ve grown some pretty wonky looking peppers in my day.) Maybe you’re more into aesthetics and flowers are your thing. Perhaps planting beautiful flowers and shrubs will give you the calm you seek. There is nothing quite like sitting in a fragrant and colourful yard after a long day at work. Especially one that you have created yourself. The point here is that getting outside can do wonders for your psyche.

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Very soon this will be a bomb-diggity vegetable garden.

It started to rain so I had to come in from the yard early but you know what? I don’t feel blah anymore. I feel better. A couple of small changes to my morning had a great big impact. Who knew that  my “blah” morning would end up teaching me a couple things about life in general. A few lessons to carry me through my days and any situation I may find myself in. Perhaps they will help you as well.

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He wanted to help. Now I have to add “give dog a bath” to my list…

What today’s crappy morning taught me

 

 1. Stop before you over-do it. This can be applied to all facets of your life.

2. When you face things head on, they are usually far less daunting then you originally thought. 

3. Get moving. Exercise in any form is amazing for both your body and your mind. And the peace you find from being in nature might just do wonders for your soul as well. 

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I don’t know what kind of tree this is but I think it’s pretty!

 

May your mornings be blah-free and your evenings filled with flowers…and possibly wine,

 

Stacey

If you have a trick or tip that gets you through a crappy morning, I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment below or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter 

Why different doesn’t always mean bad

Recently I’ve been looking into a lot of plant-based recipes. Personally, I don’t really love meat all that much so its not a crazy leap for me to have meals where meat is not the star of the show. When I do eat meat however, I buy it from local butchers who can tell me where exactly it came from. I’m the annoying customer in front of you that’s asking about the farm the cows were raised on, what the animals were fed, do they have a humane slaughter method and so on and so forth. It sounds like a lot, I know but you should try asking these question the next time you buy meat. But I digress…back to the plant-based foods.

I say plant-based because I feel like vegan has got a bad wrap lately. I’m not by any means a vegan but I totally get where they are coming from. I used to think that if you were vegan you wore patchouli and danced around a big pot of lentils while singing about the benefits of wheat grass and Mother Earth. I now know that while I’m sure that those people exist, the majority of vegans are regular folk like you and I – they just choose to eat a little differently. And I think that the ‘differently” part might be throwing people off.

I decided to delve into this world a bit when many of my textbooks for school (holistic nutrition) starting spouting the benefits of eating wholesome, plant-based foods. So, I went to old dependable Chapters and got me some cookbooks. At first, I’m going to be honest. It was a little overwhelming.”WTF is seitan and do I really want to eat that? Why do I have to make my own vegan sausage and can you really even call it sausage?” I closed the cookbook and backed away slowly…”This food is not for me. I like cheese! And the only time I eat tofu is when I’m forced to in my sushi!”

But then I had an aha moment in my kitchen.

I was probably in high school the first time I tried hummus, I kid you not. And if you had asked me 10 years ago what an heirloom tomato was I would have said “a fruit that was left to you in someone’s will.” Now, these are foods that I buy regularly. As it turns out, foods that seem so “different” or exotic are really not that scary at all.We grow up eating certain dishes and become comfortable with them. To this day nothing makes me happier than a gooey, cheesy tuna melt. But as I get older, I realize that I need to stop eating with only flavour in mind and start making choices for my health and longevity. I need t try different kinds of foods and discover that they can be just as delicious as the foods I’m comfortable with.

And maybe, I should just suck it up and try this crazy seitan stuff before I decide that I don’t like it. Also, maybe I should stop looking at plant-based in terms of what I CAN’T eat and instead start thinking about what I CAN. Because the options are astounding, really.

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Here are some “crazy” foods you might try. Use miso in broths and sauces, kefir in your smoothie or cereal and tofu anywhere you would normally use meat!

That’s about it. So, the next time you’re thinking about what to eat for dinner, try coming up with some recipes that don’t involve animal products. Or, if you do choose to eat meat and animal products make sure you know where they come from.Remember –  we get to make choices with our dollars so put them somewhere positive!

And the next time you’re grocery shopping try picking up that dragon fruit or the spelt pasta. Who knows? You might just discover a new favourite! There is also the possibility that you will eat something new and think “Dear God, No! Why? Why did I just put that in my mouth? Oh, the humanity!!!” If that happens, well, at least you’ll know to never buy that particular food again. Lesson learned! 😉

As always, high-five like you mean it. Do good things today.

Stacey

Bailey’s for Everyone! Homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream – so easy, you’ll be drunk before you know it!

As I get older, it gets harder and harder to buy for my friends and family at Christmas time. My son, who is 5, is a breeze to shop for. Lego and Hero Factory it is! But if I take myself for example, there is nothing I really need. I am blessed with love, a healthy family and jeans that are long enough to wear with heels. What more could I want?!

That is why around the holidays I try to come up with gifts for the special people in my life that I can make myself. It just seems a little bit more personal if I’ve taken the time to put something together. Last year I made body scrubs, this year I’m makin’ booze!!!

How can you make alcohol you ask? Well, I can’t. But I CAN take pre-existing alcohol and mix it with delicious ingredients to create something spectacular! Hello Homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream!! What? Yes, it’s true. I loooove Bailey’s. My father is from Dublin so I feel like I have always been around it. We named one of our dogs Bailey for Pete’s sake! As much as I love it, I don’t love how expensive it is. But with a little elbow grease you can create you own for approx. $18 a batch, maybe less if you have some of the ingredients on hand and I’m betting you do. I’ve tried a couple different recipes and after much trial and error (and waaaaay too much taste testing) I think I’ve perfected it. This recipe is just a jumping off point. Feel free to add more or less whiskey if you’d like, or get fancy – maybe you want to add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg. It’s your creation and if you’re creating it to share with others, well, you can’t go wrong!!

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Doesn’t this look delicious!? It’s so easy to make!!

Disclaimer: This is in no way healthy for you. It’s full of cream and sugar and whiskey. It is however delicious and you can take solace in the fact that you made it yourself so that’s basically organic….errr……almost….

Ingredients

1 1/3 cup of Irish Whiskey

1 1/4 cup heavy cream

1 300ml can of sweetened condensed milk

2 tsps of good vanilla extract

2 tbls of chocolate syrup

3/4 tsp instant coffee

Tummy warming whiskey

Tummy warming whiskey

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I used heavy cream here but you could use half and half if you’d like.

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Condensed milk is seriously thick, seriously sweet and seriously delicious.

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Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate.

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Coffee: A little goes a long way.

Blend all ingredients together until smooth but be careful not to over blend as the cream will start to whip. Refrigerate in an air-tight container and it should be good for approx. 2 months but it won’t last that long!! 

 

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Blending to silky smoothness – although this kind of looks like a sea creature of some sort…

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That’s it! Wasn’t that easy?

Did you find that post delightful? Did it tickle your fancy? Why not like staceygreenliving on Facebook and on Pinterest and be sure to sign up here so you never miss awesome postings like this one!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone! High-five like you mean it!

xo Stacey

Summer is not over! Celebrate with homemade Iced Tea!

Listen people: it is still August. It is still summer. I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Don’t get me wrong – I love the fall: the colours, pumpkins, leaves, sweater weather… I’m down with all of that. But I also love hot days, sprinklers, melting ice cream cones and short shorts. I’m not ready to give it up yet! Summer is too short as it is, we don’t need to prematurely pack away our bikinis!

So in honour of the last dying days of this beautiful season, I’m celebrating with a recipe for Homemade Iced Tea. It is super easy and super delicious. You get to decide how much or how little sugar to add which is awesome and so much better for you. Maybe you’re sweet enough just the way you are and don’t need any sugar at all 😉

In terms of teas, the sky is the limit. Whatever tea tickles your taste buds is the one you should use. The one that tickles my taste buds is usually the one that I happen to have on hand but it’s totally your call. I enjoy green tea quite a bit and an added bonus there is the punch of antioxidants you’ll get.

 

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These are, quite obviously, lemons.

 

 

The recipe is very simple and there are really no set quantities. It depends on the amount of tea you’re looking to make and the level of sweetness your prefer. For these pics I used a fairly large quantity because I used the mother of all mason jars as the jug. This is what I use when I have guest coming over but if you’re just making a jug, I would stick to 2-3 tea bags, 1-2 lemons, water and sugar to taste.

 

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This is the gigantic mason jar/juice dispenser I was talking about!

 

Homemade Iced Tea

 

Tea bags – your choice

Lemons – I use fresh squeezed just which is a bit more work but worth it

Raw sugar – the refined kind is crap

Water

Garnishing with mint would also be a nice touch!

 

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I used my juicer so I cut the rind off my lemons. Have you ever tried to peel a lemon? It’s ridiculously hard!

 

Steep your tea bags for about 5-10 mins. (I usually let my herbal teas steep a bit longer) then remove the bags. Let cool. Squeeze the juice from your lemons, I used my juicer for this because I had such a large quantity but you could just as easily use a hand juicer for this. Refrigerate juice until you’re ready to combine everything.

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Making the simple syrup. You don’t need to boil the water, just warm it until the sugar dissolves easily.

Make a simple syrup but combining 2 parts sugar to one part water and dissolve over heat. Let this cool as well.

 

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I asked my sister to pour the tea for this shot….most of it ended up in the jar. My poor table cloth absorbed the rest.

 

 

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The lemon juice – a little goes a long way!

When all ingredients are cold, combine in a large jug adding water until it tastes just the way you like it. Add ice and Voila!!  Refreshing homemade Iced Tea just for you and the waning days of summer!

 

Now go enjoy the sunshine and as always, high-five like you mean it,

 

Stacey

 

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All photos belong to staceygreenliving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade deodorant! Guest blog baby!!!

Dear, dear friends. Thank you all for sticking with me even though I have not been here in like a month. Here’s the skinny: My partner and I bought a house which is very exciting but it’s also a very time-consuming process. I never want to see another box in my life. We don’t take possession until August but our currently landlord has asked us to be out a month early. Talk about cutting it close! All of my creativity has been poured into clever ways to smash all my crap into tiny boxes instead of into this blog where it belongs.

My dear friend Jesse however, has saved the day! She, much like myself and all of you, tries to live as clean a life as possible. She is enviro savvy but still manages to be chic and sarcastic as hell. My kind of woman.

So, dear friends, read on. She has slaved and researched and written her little heart out to bring you homemade deodorant at it’s finest. May your armpits smell like lavender all the rest of your days.

High-five like you mean it,

Stacey

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Aluminum Zirconium Tetracholohydrex, Cyclopentsiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance, Dimethicone, Polyethylene, Steareth-100, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) See Oil, BHT, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch.

These are some of the ingredients of a popular type of women’s antiperspirant. This is, in fact, the same antiperspirant that I used every single day, sometimes multiple applications per day. I dealt with the white marks on my clothing caused from haphazard applications; I learned that I needed to pack a spare stick in my bag for those hot days in my un-air conditioned work space. It was my cure for sweating, and the odor that accompanies it, so I adapted my routines to make it do it’s job more efficiently.

Have you ever looked into what these chemicals can do to you when absorbed through the skin? Your underarm region is a sensitive region that works to help regulate your body temperature through sweat. Yes, that nasty little ‘S’ word. Antiperspirants effectively block your pores from excreting what they need to through sweat, leaving all the toxins trapped, nice and cozy, next to your breast tissue.

Ok, you say, I’ll skip the antiperspirant, embrace sweat, and start using deodorant. Unfortunately the switch is not as healthy as it seems. Although most deodorants don’t list aluminum as a main ingredient (although some do), the culprits to worry about here are talc, parabens, and propylene glycol among others.

What do some of these ingredients do?

  • Aluminium is absorbed through the skin and accumulates in the body. Alzheimer’s patients have been found to have higher levels of aluminum in their brains. Although there is no definitive link between the two, why expose yourself if you don’t have to?
  • Parabens. Some types of parabens mimic estrogen, a known cancer encourager, in the body.
  • Talc is a known carcinogen if there is presence of asbestos. Can you tell if your deodorant has asbestos?
  • Steareth-100 is a polyethylene glycol ether of Steryl Alcohol (what does this even mean?). It’s primary function is as a cleansing agent.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, the point of it is to highlight a few of the common ingredients that are being rolled onto our skin every day. Yes, the antiperspirant contains sunflower seed oil and cornstarch, however they are the last ingredients listed and therefore the ones that are most minimally present. Sorry friends, aluminum is the host of this party.

Enter the homemade deodorant. Yes, you read correct. I have been exclusively using this kitchen concoction for three weeks and will never go back to commercial deodorant/antiperspirant again. I have been to two concerts (one in a sweaty, little bar) and I have been running (almost) every day and I have never had to reapply: my morning application holds for over 24 hours. Remember though that this is deodorant and not antiperspirant so you will still sweat, but sweating is healthy!

  • Here’s how to make your own deodorant:
  • Mix 2 tbsp of baking soda with 2 tbsp of cornstarch (I mixed it in a measuring cup).

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  • Melt 2 tbsp* of coconut oil in a shallow pot on the stove. * My recipe called for 1 tbsp but my batch turned out a little crumbly so I would go with 1.5-2 tbsb for a creamier consistency.

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  • Add a few drops of essential oil to the coconut oil for added fragrance. I added lemon for some coconutty-lemony goodness. Be warned that this is going under your arms and anything stimulating, like, say, peppermint, may give you some tingles in weird places.

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  • Pour the coconut oil mixture into the cornstarch/baking soda mixture and mix well until it is all incorporated.
  • Pour the whole thing into an old, but clean, deodorant/antiperspirant container. I used an old Tom’s Of Maine deodorant container.

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  • Let it sit and harden. You can put it in the fridge for a while to quicken this process. Afterwards, keep it out of the sun and apply as you would the store-bought stuff.

All it takes is four ingredients, all of which you can pronounce and all of which are probably in your kitchen right now.

Give it a try and, in the words of Nelson Muntz, “Smell you later!”

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All photos courtesy of Jesse Eleftheriadis

Sources:

http://www.dyingtolookgood.com/deodorant_top7.html

http://consciousbuyers.livejournal.com/5627.html

You think you know delicious? Just wait until you try this…

This past Sunday was a lovely and relaxing day. Normally my weekends are so jam-packed I don’t have time to breathe – I tend to try and squeeze every last inch of life out of those precious two days. This weekend however, I purposely did not plan on doing anything on Sunday. The day was wide open for whatever my partner and I wanted to do. We decided to have lunch at a local bar and do a bit of shopping in our neighbourhood.

I had driven by a certain specialty shop a number of times and thought this would be the perfect day to see what it was all about. It was the best decision I ever made.

My life forever changed the day I walked into… THE OLIVE OIL EMPORIUM (cue the sound of angels singing).

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I realize that sounds a little dramatic but seriously, I cannot say enough amazing things about this place. Lemme explain.

The shop itself is tasteful and unique and you feel welcomed as soon as you walk in. I believe this is largely because you are greeted right away by the owners, Andreas and Mary Voulgaris.  They answered my many queries about this oil and that vinegar with ease and suggested a wide variety of options on how I could enjoy each products unique deliciousness. They were knowledgable, funny and very willing to accommodate my crazy requests and need to sample almost every oil and vinegar they have.

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Let’s talk about that for a second. With a name like The Olive Oil Emporium, you would assume that is what they sell, which they do. But they also sell a huge variety of balsamic vinegar as well. And the flavours will blow your mind. For real. I could literally drink it right out of the glass. I’m not going to list them all cause that would take too long but we’re not talking just your average vinegar here. I’m talking about flavours like dark chocolate, espresso, cranberry pear, lavender….the list goes on and on. Believe me, they have a serious inventory of product! I honestly spend about 45 minutes enraptured with the white flavoured balsamic vinegar alone!

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And if we want to get healthy for a moment here, let’s just talk about the benefits. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated which can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. That’s not too shabby.

And their flavoured balsamic vinegar are all flavoured with real fruit and  herbs. No added sugar or guar gum which means no crap for you! You really need to taste them for yourself to see what I’m talking about. You won’t regret it!

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We purchased a whole bunch for ourselves (like, 6. I’m not even kidding) and bought two gifts while we were there. I feel like it is going to be a problem that I live so close to the store because this may be my new addiction.

You however; you lucky readers you, don’t have to live close because you can purchase all of their amazing products online! Although, if you’re in the area I highly recommend going into the store to taste them yourself. Words can only tell you so much, you have to taste these beauties to believe it!

As far as cooking goes, the sky is the limit. You are only held back by your imagination! You could drizzle an organic garlic oil on mashed potatoes, espresso balsamic on ice cream or add golden pineapple vinegar to a martini. Get creative!

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Watermelon, basil salad drizzled with dark chocolate balsamic vinegar

I’m including some pictures of the meals I cooked last night while experimenting with all of my new treats! They were unbelievable. And I’m not just saying the that because I cooked them, they really were.

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Warm crusty french loaf dipped in blood orange fused oil and lavender balsamic vinegar

If you didn’t get it already, I strongly urge you to check this place out. It is independently owned as well so why not support a local business?

The Olive Oil Emporium

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Prosciutto wrapped asparagus drizzled with organic garlic infused olive oil

And, I just want to mention the fact that I was in no way asked to write this blog. They didn’t pay me in many monies or get me drunk on vinegar although, that doesn’t sound so bad… I wrote it simply because I really loved these products. And I’m positive you will too.

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Green salad tossed with traditional balsamic vinegar and organic garlic infused olive oil

Did you enjoy this blog? Want more green living goodness? Be sure to sign up so you never miss a posting! Or follow me on Facebook  on Twitter and Pinterest.

As always, high-five like you mean it!

Stacey

Saturday Juicing Goodness!

I haven’t been here in awhile…you all look so much different! Nah, I’m just messing with you – you still look great.

Hello again friends! I thought I’d do a quick posting on this lovely Saturday to show you how I spent my morning.

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I have been reading a lot about digestion lately and how it can affect your overall health. Seriously folks, your gut is tied to way more health problems than you would believe. Because of how hard your digestive system works, a lot of what I have been studying talks about periodically giving the ol’ tummy a little break and just drinking juice. This way, you still get all the vitamin/mineral/enzyme goodness that your fruits and veggies have to offer without putting any extra strain on your digestive system. And trust me, with all of the crap we put in our bodies – our pipes can use all the help they can get!

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Today I decided to do some juicing with my son. The beauty part here is that he loves to help. I mean come on, what 4-year-old doesn’t want to watch his food get pulverized?! I do all the washing and prepping and he gets to throw the fruit and veggies in and watch them turn to juice. It’s magic!

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We decided on an apple/grape/cucumber blend for him. He doesn’t like the strong taste of veggies just yet. He’ll drink carrots and cucumber though…probably because he doesn’t know that Mommy throws them in when he’s not looking! I also like to cut his juice with water because of the high sugar content of the fruit. He loves the taste and I love that I know exactly what is going in his body.

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My juice was a little more complex but just as delicious. I like to cram as many vegetables as possible into my juice so I can tickle my organs with enzymey goodness. Today my blend consisted of carrot, celery, romaine, spinach, beet, cucumber and apple for a bit of sweetness. It is actually quite sweet anyway because of the carrot and beet but I like the flavour of apple.

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There are no rules when it comes to juicing. Just go through your crisper and fruit bowl and throw together your own concoction! A little disclaimer about beets though. Beets are a very potent liver and kidney cleanser and should be used in small amounts. I used half of a small beet today and that is more than enough to get all the benefits it contained.

And that’s it. Just a quick posting to let you know that I’m still here and still trying to live the “green” life. I’m still plugging away at school. Slowly but surely I am making my way to the end and I couldn’t be happier to get there! Thank you all for your continued support. You truly are the best.

As always you can sign up here to get on my mailing list, follow me on Facebook or Pinterest and Twitter! I love getting your feedback.

As always, high-five like you mean it!

Stacey

(I apologize for the blurry pics, it’s hard to make him stay still!)

CHEF MICHAEL SMITH INTERVIEW!! (I could not be more excited about this)

I love food. I love cooking it, reading about it, eating it and watching shows about it. I love the Food Network as well. Who doesn’t, right? My favourite show is Chef at Home starring Chef Michael Smith – the fabulous and personable gentleman that cooks without a recipe and makes me feel like I can too! I love the way he gets excited about food and genuinely wants to share his knowledge and recipes. I may also feel a certain connection to him because he’s 6’7″ and I’m 6’2″ – it’s a tall thing.

But I digress…

photo credit: Loretta Campbell

A few months ago I wrote a blog on  making your own pasta sauce  and in this posting I referenced Chef Michael’s delicious Roasted Tomato Sauce. That blog got a great response so it got me thinking “wouldn’t it be great if I could ask Chef Michael some questions about food and healthy living? And wouldn’t it be great if he actually took the time to answer them?”

Why, yes! Yes it would!

So, I sat down behind my computer and wrote my little heart out. I contacted his publicist who was unbelievably gracious and passed on my questions. And wouldn’t you know it? HE ANSWERED THEM! I am bursting at the seams with excitement. This is like the holy grail of food for me. Honestly. I am so very grateful that he was kind enough to take time from his incredibly busy schedule of filming and book touring to let me pick his brain! And not only did he answer my questions, he also gave me two of his brand new recipes from his just release cookbook – Fast Flavours- 110 simple speedy recipes.

So, without further ado. I give you:

staceygreenliving’s Interview with Chef Michael Smith!!!

staceygreenliving:      You have travelled the world and cooked with some of the most unique ingredients out there. What would you say is your current favourite ingredient to cook with and why ?

Chef Michael Smith:     Local apples. I love the annual ritual of loading up the car with the kids and heading for MacPhees orchard, picking ourselves silly than going home and making pies and applesauce for the winter.

staceygreenliving:      You always stress the benefits of eating locally, and I totally agree! Now that we’re into autumn I’m loving crisp apples and delicious squash. Do you have a particular dish you love to cook up when the air gets a little crisp?

Chef Michael Smith: Baked Apples from Fast Flavours- see recipe (I have included this recipe here)

staceygreenliving: I try to stress the importance of cooking using whole and fresh ingredients although sometimes I buy canned beans and frozen veggies so I always have solid basics to work with. What is one ingredient you always have on hand to ensure success in the kitchen?

Chef Michael Smith: I keep canned chickpeas, legumes and canned tomatoes on hand but that’s it for cans!

staceygreenliving: While you are extremely adventurous in the kitchen, which your audience loves – not everyone is as brave. What are a couple of spices that you feel people should absolutely try?

Chef Michael Smith: Try rosemary in sweet dishes like apple pie and nutmeg in savoury dishes like mashed potatoes!

staceygreenliving: I know you’re a new dad (congratulations!!) and also have 2 other beautiful kids as well. I have a 4-year-old son and getting him to eat well is sometimes quite the challenge! Do you have any tried and true tricks for introducing your children to new foods?

Chef Michael Smith: Practice patience and persistence. Be ready with healthy snacks when they come home from school. Put veggies on the table first at dinner. Give veggies names like magic bushes for broccoli or flying spears for asparagus or shark for any fish!  Our only rule is that you have to try it.

staceygreenliving: Finally, we all work crazy busy lives, you definitely understand this! When you come home and you’re tired and it’s late and everyone is hungry – what is your one go-to meal that saves the day?

Chef Michael Smith: Penne with rotisserie chicken and pesto from Fast Flavours

This recipe is also included below. I made it last night for my son who has never had pesto before and if you read my blog regularly, you know he’s quite the challenge when it comes to new food. Not only did he eat it, he ASKED FOR SECONDS!!

 

 

Baked Stuffed Apples

 Ó Fast Flavours Chef Michael Smith

Nothing says cozy comfort better than local fall apples and cinnamon. It takes mere minutes to get this simple treat into the oven. Just fix and forget and when you remember you’ll be rewarded with lots of cinnamon scented baked apple flavour!

 Prep Time>10 min

Total Time>50 min

 Serves 4 to 6

6 or 8 of your favourite apples

1/2 cup of softened butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1 cup or so of rolled oats

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350F. Turn on your convection fan if you have one.

Rest each apple on its side and neatly slice off the top half-inch or so. The stem will fall out. Reserve the little apple hats. Use an apple corer to pierce the works and punch out the seeds. Nestle the apples tightly together in a colourful baking dish.

With your fingers stir together the butter, sugar, oats and cinnamon working the mixture until its combined and crumbly. Evenly divide the mixture between the apples, stuffing and filling their centers and mounding the rest on top. Replace the little tops on each apples.

Bake until the apples heat through, collapse a bit and taste delicious, about 45 minute, maybe longer depending on the apple type. They’re done when they soften and look and smell delicious. Serve and share with lots of vanilla ice cream!

 Speed It Up

You can turn up the ovens heat and the apples will bake faster but above 350° you’ll run the risk of burning the sugar. You can use your microwave to dramatically speed up this treat. The results are not quite the same as baking but delicious nonetheless.

 

Penne with Rotisserie Chicken, Spinach and Pesto

 Fast Flavours Ó Chef Michael Smith

 

Done in 20 minutes!

This rustic dish shows off one of my favourite flavour combos ever: roast chicken and bright green pesto with chewy pasta and dark green spinach tossed in for good measure. These are true comfort flavours to me. It’s nice to roast your own chicken but just as nice to save time with a store bought rotisserie bird!

Serves 4-6

1 store bought rotisserie chicken

1 pound (450g) of penne

1 cup or so of pesto, hopefully homemade

1 bag (10 ounces/284g) of baby spinach

Lots of freshly ground black pepper

Use your fingers and a fork to shred as much meat from the chicken as you can. As the cook you get first dibs on the tender roasted wings. Snack if you like! (Reserve the carcass for making stock for another meal.)

Meanwhile, prepare a large pot of freshly cooked, steaming penne. Drain the pasta in a colander, returning 1 cup of the starchy cooking water to the pot. Don’t rinse the pasta. Stir the pesto into the water, add the chicken, toss in the spinach and top with the steaming pasta. Stir the works together until everything is combined and evenly coated. Serve and share with lots of freshly ground pepper.

Speed It Up

On the top ten list of time saving kitchen shortcuts is the ubiquitous store-bought rotisserie roast chicken. Just about every supermarket offers this tasty time-saver. You can slice and shred its goodness into a menu of food choices! Be sure to simmer its leftovers into a tasty broth, and you’ll save time for another meal.

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A giant thank-you to Chef Michael Smith for allowing me this opportunity! Make sure you get out and buy his new cookbook Fast Flavours- 110 simple speedy recipes and visit www.chefmichaelsmith.com

Did you like this posting? Want to see more just like it? Follow me here, on Facebook @staceygreenliving or on Twitter or Pinterest @staceygliving

High-five like you mean it!

Stacey

Do-it-yourself facial? I think so!

For those of you who don’t know me personally I work at a high school in Toronto, Canada. While my days are spent editing papers and solving math problems like 2x +3 = -4 + 7 : solve for x (painful memories are surfacing, aren’t they!) – I also coach the girls rugby team. Today we had our very first tournament and had an amazing time. Unfortunately, it was 5 degrees all day and windy as a son of a gun!! Seriously, it was like being in tornado alley. Why am I telling you all of this? Stay with me folks, there is a point.

I got home from my crazy day outdoors and had a shower. Upon exiting my steamy bathroom I noticed that my skin was chapped and red. Now, I already suffer from very dry skin in the winter but the wicked winds and frigid temperatures were not my friends. So, I decided today would be the perfect day to give myself a homemade facial!

There are literally dozens of combinations you could use while making your concoction. And the best part is that everything you need can either be found in your kitchen or bathroom. Pretty great, right? I know! The following are just a few suggestions you can use to make your very own easy and inexpensive skin care products. Your epidermis will thank you!

You’re welcome for this fantastic picture of my facial in progress.

Dry Skin – You’re going to want to look for things that will add moisture to your skin. Also, to combat the flakiness that will surely come your way – remember to exfoliate with something gentle as not to damage the skin.

  • Avocados
  • olive oil
  • yogurt (all-natural)
  • papaya
  • pumpkin

Oily Skin – Those of you with oily skin are going to want to look for thing with astringent properties – this will tighten your pores and reduce the amount of oil. Nothing too harsh though because irritated skin will just revolt against you and then you’ll have a whole different set of problems on your hands!

  • lemon juice
  • witch hazel
  • peppermint
  • egg whites
  • buttermilk – I know, you’re thinking this is a typo but it’s true. The active cultures can tighten your pores.

Combination Skin – This is a tricky one because people with combination skin are often oily in their T-zone ( forehead, nose and chin) and dry everywhere else. You’ll most likely have to combine a few of the above products to come up with one that works for you.

  • honey
  • pineapple
  • cucumber
  • oats

For everyone 

  • Remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water is your best friend for moisturizing from the inside out!
  • Don’t smoke – it ages you, sucks the life out of your skin and body and it’s gross
  • Dry brush – exfoliating your skin is an excellent way to keep it silky smooth and young-looking! You’ll be oh so touchable.

Stacey’s Banana-Honey face mask:

1 ripe banana

2 tsps of honey

2 Vitamin E capsules broken open 

Mash together the ingredients until smooth. Apply to your face and let dry. Rinse off with warm water and follow-up with your favourite moisturizer – olive oil works great here!

Do you have a homemade skin care trick you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment here, on Facebook @staceygreenliving or follow me on Twitter and Pinterest @staceygliving

High-five like you mean it!