Vegan Poutine – Excellent Comfort Food 

I spent a lot of time in Canada and I learned that nothing beats a hot snack late at night when it’s super cold outside (as it usually is in Canada). The comfort of fresh cut baked potatoes with a generous helping of salted and peppered gravy and curdled cheese melting on top is unbeatable in both taste and smell, and soothes the insides 🙂 it is junk food to some degree because most stores use meat broth for the gravy (who knows what kind of meat, or how it was raised or what hormones are in it) and dairy (same problem) and fried fries! All these things are actually not good for the flora and fauna of our gut! In the long run, they will do more damage then good, even though it might feel good in the moment it’s best to avoid it altogether, OR (my favorite option) learn to make your own! 

Here I’m going to show you how to make it at home, without frying, without dairy or meat! This is VEGAN POUTINE at its best and you’re going to fall in love with this healthy “junk food” for those days when you’re craving it! 

Ingredients – POTATOES

  • 1 bag organic yellow Potatoes
  • Organic Himalayan pink Salt 
  • Organic black Pepper
  • Light seasoning (organic herbs de Provence, or a smokey spicy seasoning, but not too powerful) 
  • Organic virgin Olive oil

Wash and peel potatoes, then cut into long finger length strips to make chunky fries, fries will shrink a little in oven so cut them generously. 

In a deep stainless steel pot bring water and a pinch of salt to a boil, add the cut potatoes until the potatoes are boiling, boil for 3 minutes stirring often and then drain out water and place potatoes in a large mixing bowl. 

Drizzle olive oil on top of potatoes and massage to make sure it gets on all sides of potatoes, then sprinkle potatoes with salt, pepper and chosen spices. Toss to make sure they are evenly coated. 

On an oiled oven safe pan dump out potatoes and bake for 30-1hr depending on your oven, stirring often, at about 350-400F. Some ovens get hotter then others so just adjust your heat accordingly. Taste test the potatoes from about 30min on and from then from time to time to make sure they are getting fully cooked. 

Ingredients – GRAVY 

  • 2 1/4 cup low-sodium organic vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup chopped organic white or yellow onion
  • 4 cloves organic garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces organic mushrooms, such as porcini, portabella, cremini or shiitake, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh organic thyme (not dried, it makes a huuuuge difference) 
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh organic rosemary (ditto, make it fresh)
  • 1/4 cup Merlot or other spicy red wine
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium organic tamari (make sure it’s Organic because otherwise soy is a heavily gmo’d and pesticided ingredient and you don’t want any of that) 
  • 2 tablespoons organic nutritional yeast (braggs makes a good one)
  • 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch (conventional corn is loaded with pesticides so don’t skimp on this ingredient!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic ground black pepper
  • Daiya vegan shredded cheese or another nut based vegan cheese cut into tiny cubes

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until translucent. Add 1/4 cup of the broth to the pan to prevent onion from burning. Add mushrooms and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until they release their liquid and become tender. Stir in garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme and continue to cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add wine and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 2 cups broth and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together tamari, yeast and cornstarch to form a thick paste. Add mixture to the skillet, whisking constantly to make sure paste dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add pepper and serve gravy hot. 

Take out a portion of baked potatoes and ladle hot gravy over top, sprinkling with daiya vegan shredded cheese, or another vegan nut based cheese cut into small cubes. Enjoy!! 

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Java Smoothie – Gooooood Morning world! 

If you love coffee you’ll love this smoothie! 

Do you ever find that you’re left with coffee that you didn’t drink in the pot? And if you’re like me, you make coffee on a regular basis. I store my left over coffee in the fridge for my morning smoothie blend, which is what I’m going to be sharing today! 

In a vitamix or equivalent blender mix:

 2 cups black coffee

1/2 cup coconut milk 

1 heaping tbsp peanut butter or almond butter 

1 small banana 

1 tbsp cacao nibs 

1 tbsp golden flax seeds

1 tsp cacao powder

1 tbsp Maca powder 

1 tsp Acai powder 

1 tsp chllorella powder 

1 tbsp goji berries 

1 scoop chocolate meal replacement 

*my ingredients are all organic, including the coffee which is also single origin, and the meal replacement I use is from either Plant Head ( I have their vanilla and their chocolate, raw vegan organic ) or Amazing Meal (raw vegan organic), or Garden Of Life (raw organic) 

Mix on high for 15 sec. Pour into your favorite mug, or to go canister and enjoy! 


Whats your favorite way to make coffee? I like to use my French press at home 🙂 share your tips on making the best coffee or your suggestions for this Java smoothie below! 

Chai Smoothie – chai tea smoothie heaven 

Basically it’s exactly as it sounds, the marriage of chai tea and smoothies blended to yummy perfection!! 

I haven’t come across a chai smoothie before at regular shops, and before I could look up a recipe I decided to just get up and invent one! 

So this is my take on a chai smoothie, and I’ll post below with updates if I tweak the recipe in the coming days, but this should get you going! 


Chia tea smoothie – all organic ingredients 



Coconut milk 

Dates 

Half banana 

Pumpkin seeds 

Hemp seeds

Cacao nibs 

Bee Pollen

Vanilla raw vegan meal replacement 

Wheatgrass powder 

Maca powder 

Cacao powder 

Cinnamon 

Green cardamom ground 

Cloves ground

Eggs’n’Coco – Breakfast Smoothie

This is a simple, quick recipe for a nutritious breakfast smoothie that’s sure to fuel you up for the morning! 

We just bought a Vitamix pro series 750 blender so I’m liquefying everything around me these days, it’s way too much fun! 😊

 This recipe came out of a want to eat eggs for breakfast for my protein and fats (and not use protein powder or a meal replacement) but I didn’t feel like cooking the eggs, not even boiling them (which is usually my healthier go to option). I just wanted it done quick without having to wait 10 min for them to boil or cook, so I looked at my vitamix and said to myself,

“Blend the eggs!”

I’m sure if I google “egg smoothies” I’ll see a million recipes but it was a revolutionary thought to me, so I concocted this recipe using  raw eggs and other tasty ingredients in my kitchen and the results are A+

Eggs’n’Coco – Breakfast Smoothie

  • 2 Organic free range brown eggs 
  • 3 cups organic raw milk 
  • 1 organic banana 
  • 1 tbsp organic unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp organic almond butter 
  • 1 tsp organic bourbon vanilla 
  • 1 tbsp organic cacao powder
  • 1 tsp organic cacao nibs

Steps:

Add milk to vitamix, then add eggs, coconut oil almond butter, vanilla, cacao powder and nibs, adding the banana last.  Blend starting at position 1 and slowly moving up to 10 (5 seconds time), holding at 10 for 15 seconds. 

Drink immediately. 

Tips:
You don’t want to blend for too long because the vitamix powerful 2 horsepower motor can heat things up, and you don’t want to cook any of your raw ingredients and lose their optimal benefits. 

Yes, this recipe calls for using and drinking raw eggs. You should only do this if you feel comfortable with raw food, and raw eggs. I grew up in Romania on a farm so not many things make me squirm, eggs were super fresh (we had chickens) and I’ve eaten my fair share of odd dishes (cold head cheese anyone?) I recall my dad telling me how his uncle taught him to drink the eggs raw, because he said it was the best way to eat the eggs and assimilate all the nutrients. He taught my dad to poke a hole in the egg bottom using a tiny sewing needle and then slowly suck the egg out. I guess that keeps kids from being grossed out by the look or texture of the raw egg? 

 This receipe is definitely not as colorful as that one, but it’s way tastier and I think you’ll love it just a little more! It’s tastes like a delicious meal replacement smoothie without the heaviness of it, it goes down smooth and the vitamix pulverizes any texture the eggs and cacao nibs might once have had so it’s all homogenous in texture and delicious. You get your healthy protein and fats in perfect ratio from the eggs plus the added good fats from coconut oil and almond butter will give you extra energy. Cacao will give your body a healthy tiny amount of caffeine boost too 😉 

Additional Ingredients 

  • 1 cup Cold coffee
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon power
  • 1 tsp Acai berries
  • 4 Dates
  • 1 tbsp Maca powder

I have no doubt adding these ingredients will taste great and come in handy if you want to increase the serving size of your eggs’n’coco smoothie or want to add an extra boost of mineral and vitamin rich sweetness or a touch more caffeine kick. After all it is a breakfast smoothie. And what’s breakfast without a cup of coffee? 

  

To your health, 

The Natural Ways

Herbal remedy  – getting over a common cold

Foggy saturday. Calm, misty, foggy saturday. A perfect day for relaxing, and getting over our welcome to autumn colds.

 
I’m nursing us with some herbs I picked while at my grandmothers place in romania. My Energy Grandma, we’ll call her. Energy Grandma picks herbs fresh in the morning, while the dew is still on the field, it’s supposed to be the best time to pick. Something about the plants being the freshest, perhaps the sun has not had a chance to wilt them, dry them out… either way, she picks a lot of herbs. And she will make things like bitters for drinking, and bitters for rubbing when you have a fever, when you have muscle aches, when you have a cold. She’ll dry them and store them and make tinctures or tea. I didn’t know if I could get across the border with some loose leaf tea from romania but I got lucky and passed through. So I have a little bag of tea from my grandmothers fields. Two kinds of herb are inside it : Tilia cordata and Equisetum arvense. Or, Tilia and Field Horsetail.
   
  Tilia cordata is it’s latin name, or, Tilia in english, or in romanian : Tei.

 We pick the tip of the Tilia branches where they stem with the leaves and flowers and dry those for tea or tinctures. they have such a beautiful aromatic smell! Also called Linden flowers in english, they are valued as an anti-inflammatory in a range of respiratory problems: colds, fever, flu, sore throat, bronchitis, and cough. Sounds good right!! more on the uses of this beautiful tree flower and leaves at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilia_cordata
   
 

Equisetum arvense (lt.) Field Horsetail or in romanian : Coada Calului 

 We snap the horse ‘tails’ off mid way, so they get to be around 2 feet, easy, as a mature horse tail can reach about 4 feet maybe even 5 feet if it has access to an adequate supply of running water. They love to grow in shade areas, especially where there is a forest stream running across the land, or a nearby stream that makes the ground soggy. They grow so tall there. My grandmother taught me that if you are in a forest and you see the Horsetail, know that there is water nearby, and follow the Horsetail to it!! Pretty cool especially if you are lost and you really need some water!! Coada Calului is rich in Silicon (10%), Calcium and Potassium. More on it’s uses at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equisetum_arvense

 So I boil some water, and take the two dried plants out of the bag and place a mixed handful in my large french press. I pour the water over it and let it steep for 3 minutes. Don’t go over 4 min, it makes the plants taste bitter and it destroys the compounds inside them. I press the tea and pour into large ceramic mugs, topping off with some honey. We drink this tea enjoying the calm of foggy atmosphere and our company.

 

That was last night, at about 5am, when we both woke up because our colds were acting up too much. After we had our tea, and went back to bed, 4 hours later my husband felt 95% better, and my sore throat was GONE!! Such a huge relief since that was bugging me the last couple of days. And now, the fog still is here, but we feel soo much better, I just wanted to write this little note to share the wealth of natural remedies 🙂 

  

Travelling & Healthy – My Makeup Bag Basics 

One thing that has really helped with lots of travel and work has been having a consistent high quality skin regimen and beauty products. I’ve been in 4 different cities in 3 different states and on another continent. Needless to say life has gotten busy! One thing that can fall apart real easily is our diet, skin routine, workout, and time with God. These are all important topics and each have a unique solution for the weary traveller always on the go, I’m just going to focus on my skin routine for this blog post, and maybe I’ll do the others at a later date 😉 stay tuned! 

Over the last few years I’ve been slowly replacing all my makeup and skin care creams with healthy organic ones. It’s been a slow process because new products, especially healthy ones, cost more money, so I can’t throw everything out at once, but I can add a new product every month! Over the last year almost everything has been replaced, and my skin feels amazing! 

Why do I want better skin care products? Maybe your skin never breaks out from cover girl makeup or mac, but have you ever read those ingredients?! That’s not anything I want to put on my skin because like God word says in the bible:

 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19 

We need to take care of the temple we have been given, and that means inside and out! After all, your skin is living and your pores are open so the makeup and products you put on your skin actually end up in your skin. It’s skin food. So if you’re already making the switch to eating organic, you should be feeding your skin organic too 😉 

Ok, so what’s in my makeup bag?! Voila!! 

 
The Naked Bee daily facial moisturizer with spf 30 – lightweight, mostly organic, and smells fantastic. Plus it gives my skin sun protection and yes, I’m at that age where I care about sun protection. I don’t want that crazy skin cancer!! Have you seen the videos on sun damage with that special photo filter?! No thanks! Pass the sunscreen 🙂 

ECO certified organic Rose Hip oil and Medy-Skin facelift beauty oil – I alternate using both of these, mostly to replenish moisture at night since they are a little too rich for daily wear. All the ingredients are various oils like apricot and grape and jojoba and coconut and other amazingness that I can easily recognize. Tip: If you don’t know what it means and/or you can’t pronounce it then don’t buy it!! No weird stuff here! 

Sequoia Beauty cleanser – this is a wild crafted herbal amazing concoction and my skin loves it. These potions are made in small batches by hand, the company is known as Laurel Skin now. My mom told me a secret regarding cleansers that I’ll share with you, shh!! Use a small 100% cotton cloth and dip it in hot water, press it on your skin all around the face and THEN use the cleanser by pouring some on the cloth and massaging it onto your face, then rinse the cloth with hot water and gently wipe your face with it. This hot water method opens up the pores and helps clean thoroughly from dirt trapped inside. That’s why it’s important to use a 100% natural and organic cleanser because that will make it into your skin and become skin food and you don’t want your skin food to be junk! Your skin will show it! So make sure you choose wisely, all the Sequoia products (Laurel products) are fantastic! I met the owner personally at a San Francisco Renegade show and fully support their natural process!

Gabriel moisturizing liquid foundation – one of the healthiest and easiest to find (whole foods anyone?) just check their rating out on EWG and compare that with everything else’s there at the store, they will most likely come out the winner. I’m sure there’s even better foundations out there at more niche stores but I haven’t found them yet. This one is worth the investment and it’s close to you so you can make the change! My skin never breaks out because of it, I put it on with a big brush so it’s lightly on my face and not too heavy.
Tarte concealer- this one you can get at Sephora, it’s very good, all natural as well as cruelty free, and it’s the best color that I’ve found for my olive tinted skin. It’s creamy and has a tesency to go on thick, so a light dab works well and it spreads easy. A tube goes a long way! Worth the investment 🙂 

DaLish mascara and liquid eyeliner duo – DaLish is cruelty free and all natural made in Canada and I had the pleasure of meeting Melanie, the creator, at the One Of A Kind Expo show in Toronto. Her products are great, and the two in one hits the spot because why carry two products when you can have them both in one? That’s space saving, and when you’re traveling space saving is key!! 

Dalish highlighting wand – for when you feel dull after a lack of sleep or after too much dry weather, because you’ve been traveling too much and the weather changes too quickly or simply because after 10 hours on a plane your skin has dried due to the constant stream of AC flowing in the main cabin, well just a dab on your cheeks and upper brow line, and glow baby, glow. 

Dalish lip and cheek tint – it’s my color and again, two in one!! 

Dalish deodorant – ok, this is BY FAR the BEST DEODORANT I have ever owned in my life, it’s better then toms. Yes, it is. It smells like lemongrass and has baking soda in it and lavender. It has a wonderful texture, a little thicker then normal deodorants, but not creamy thick, it’s almost velvety. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it except to say it’s LONG LASTING, smells divine, and very dense. One bar has lasted me 6 months and going already and I use it daily! 

Gabriel Lip liner- this I use lightly to feather in my lips when I want a hint of color but not a mouthful 😉

Gabriel blush – the nicest color and healthiest blush combination I’ve found for my skin, most powder blushes are really thick and full of chemicals and cause cheek breakouts, that never happens here! The color is powerful so you only need a few quick strokes! This little jar has lasted me over a year and a half, worth the investment!

Emani lipstick – gluten free, vegan, cruelty free and organic!!! No brainer! For when I’m going out at night and want to feel like a sexy lady 😉 creamy, smells delicious and you can eat it because it’s that natural! 

Blum naturals organic facial wipes with grape seed extract – the minute I get home I use one wipe and it’s so large and moisturizer that it cleans all the makeup off and my neck too! This is handy if I’m feeling tired and or lazy and I don’t want to do the hot water trick I told you about earlier. And when you travel a lot, you get tired eeeeeasily. 

Sweet anthem handmade perfumes – cruelty free and vegan friendly!! It’s a rich roll on oil and has lasted 6 months in my travel bag. It smells intoxicatingly sweet and refreshing. Handmade in San Francisco, I found the owner at another Renegade Craft Fair. Always choose the oil roll on, they last longer then the spray which gets diluted with alcohol, plus the alcohol changes the original scent, and dries out your skin, so it’s just a bad choice all around. The oil is direct and saturated with a full scent 🙂 
I hope this has been an interesting ride through my makeup bag and has made you consider switching your old makeup and skin care creams for healthy organic options. That’s one important step towards being healthy in and out! After all, your skin is THE LARGEST ORGAN! Think about it, what are you feeding your skin?
To your health, 

Irina 🙂 

Shrimp Étouffée to the rescue! Recipe with Pictures

Straight from the heart of New Orleans, this is one of my all time favorite dishes! It’s easy to make, delicious, and because of its relative rarity outside of the French quarter, also a bit of a fancy dish! It’s not something they’re likely to offer on the menu anywhere outside of a specialty restaurant, and there for a pretty cost too! I priced the below recipe at $20 roughly, and with all organic ingredients. This recipe can easily feed 4, maybe even 8 portions, depending on your portion size. Since most of us will be eating the étouffée with rice, it can easily stretch to 8 meals. I’m not going to do the math for you because I think you get it, so let’s get going with the recipe!!

IMG_4328

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
1 green bell pepper, cored, and chopped small (but not fine)
1 red onion chopped small
3 large cloves of garlic chopped small
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne, or more if you want spicier
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 pins of fresh shrimp, peeled and without tails
1/2 stick butter
Rice (optional)
Hot sauce to season
Finely chopped green onion ends to garnish

Instructions:

Turn heat on low.
Stir oil and flour in a large deep saucepan for a few minutes until paste starts to turn caramel and taste a little nutty, about 10 minutes.
Add onions, pepper, and garlic and cook over low heat until vegetables are a little soft, about 5 minutes.
Then add seasoning and parsley (plus hot sauce if you want. I didn’t because I usually add it afterwards if I want it, it’s spicy without)
Add the can of diced tomatoes, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Add shrimp and cook on medium for 3 minutes, not over cooking the shrimp.

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Add the butter and stir, the heat will melt it.
Transfer the étouffée to a bowl over rice and garnish with green onion.

Bon appetit!!

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