Chaga mushroom tea

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Hello!! I present to you the best mushroom tea around! We can thank Chaga for absorbing the amazing nutrients of a tree and we can thank nerdy humans for figuring out how to extract the benefits for our benefit!
Fungi is one of the main reasons I changed my entire way of living. Fungi plays an incredibly important role in sustaining the health of the natural world and I believe that humans can too! I will talk to you guys about more of that in another blog post so for now enjoy this amazing health drink!

What are the benefits you ask? The real question is, what AREN'T the benefits?
-The mushroom has a thick outer layer of black and that is an overproduction of melanin (hence the color) which plays a role in our bodies to protect against sun damage and protects DNA. It helps with anti-aging and fights free radical damage.
-There are a ton of minerals, substances, and elements (poly saccharides, photo nutrients, and way too many more) in chaga that contain anti-cancer properties. Yes you read that right, Chaga shrinks cancer and tumor cells!!! This is a fact.  
-Chaga contains more antioxidants than any superfood in the world other than Reishi mushroom
-Stimulates the immune system and reduces blood sugar to fight diabetes.
-SO MANY MORE!

Some very important things to know before you embark on your tea making journey:

1. Please source your chaga sustainably. If your harvester cannot explain what a collar cut or bark ridge cut is, then they have no business cutting chaga down! A proper harvester will not cut the chaga too deep into the tree, because it will kill the tree so ask questions! This is really the key to finding sustainable anything. Its also important to find a trusty seller because often times they will inject the mushroom chunk with air and sell it for more! Get the bang for your buck and do your research. I get my Chaga from  Fiddlehead heaven !!

2. Do not let your chaga boil! The nutrients will be denatured and you won't reap the full benefits! 

3. After using once, you can keep the chunks and reuse over and over again until you can't (the water will be clearer and clearer). You can then compost your chunks!

4. Some use this like a coffee, as it has energetic properties so if you are very sensitive, maybe skip the night time chaga! I drink it at night and it doesn't bother me at all!

CROCK POT CHAGA TEA:

Ingredients:
- 25 cups of water (or just fill your entire crock pot!)
-1/2 cup Chaga powder or chunks

Directions:
1.  Pour in water and put in chunks/powder. Turn on middle setting (should be warm or low)
2. Set for anywhere from 6-10 hours! I do 8 hours.
3. Strain and freeze chunks for later use.
4. Enjoy! Store extra in sealed jar in refrigerator. (Will last 2 weeks in there)
5. Optional: add maple syrup, milk, or spices to flavor it to desired flavor
-Chaga tea in its plain form has a very earthy flavor.. It is a kind of acquired taste like a black cup of coffee but I personally LOVE the flavor so much. I don't add anything. 


OVER THE STOVE CHAGA TEA:

Ingredients :
- 10 cups or fill your pot and leave about an inch of room
-1/3 cup chaga chunks or powder

Directions:
1. Pour in water and put in chunks/powder. Put on low/simmer. DO NOT BOIL. (it will ruin benefits)
2. Let steep from 2-6 hours. Some water may evaporate, and you will have to occasionally replenish water! ( I like the crock pot way better because you can leave the house, the water doesnt deplete during the process, and it will last you a while.)
3. Strain and freeze chunks for later use.
4. Enjoy! Store extra in sealed jar in fridge.

 

This is Chaga! Photo from http://mushroom-collecting.com/mushroomchaga.html

This is Chaga! Photo from http://mushroom-collecting.com/mushroomchaga.html

Easy Vegan Home Made Chai

Guys, It's fall! Once fall hits, I feel my mind go into a totally different state. Instead of my summer brain that wants to lay in the sun and hang out with the trees, it kicks into the fall feels and I just want to spend all my time baking things and smelling cozy food aromas. Lighting a candle, listening to my fall playlist, and making delicious things is heaven. To start the season off I made a  home made chai. Prepare yourself though, you will need every fall spice in the books. The best part is that you might already have most of them but if you have to buy these spices, they will last you so long. 

It's really important to source your spices organic because your purchase is a vote for healthy soils. They use no pesticides, fertilizers or toxins and you are supporting the well being of workers, the environment, and ourselves. 

I also chose an alternative to dairy milk because I want to lighten my footprint and by opting out of animal products, we can lighten the load of methane and carbon being emitted and not to mention - giving the earth a break from all the water usage and other resources getting used up by that industry. So yay! Here it is!!

Vegan home made chai
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Easy Vegan Home Made Chai
serving size: 3-5 people or will last a week in your fridge for yourself!

Ingredients:
2 cans full fat organic coconut milk
3-4 cups of water (depending on creaminess preference)
3-4 Tbsp of organic assam black tea
1 Tbsp cinnamon powder
2 cinnamon sticks (or just add 1 more TBSPN cinnamon powder)
1 Tbsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp cardamom
2 Tbsp black peppercorn
2 full star anise pieces
10-15 strands of saffron
5 cut coins of fresh ginger
1/4 cup-1/2 cup coconut sugar depending on sweetness preference

Directions: 
1. Literally throw it altogether and have it all boil for a few minutes then stir.
2. Adjust to simmer and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour. I left it for an hour just so it would be extra flavorful.
3. Strain out the chunks.
4. Serve hot or let it cool, pop it in your fridge and take it out for a nice iced chai!!
5. YAAY!!!
 

Vegan Poutine

I haven't posted in a long time! I thought I'd kick off the blog again with a good amount of food recipes. Since cutting out meat and cheese from my grocery list I have had some really amazing meals and I want to share it with all of you. 
Even cutting back twice a week on your meat/dairy intake makes a HUGE difference in sustaining our planet.  I have found alternatives that better digest in my system, that are guilt free, and that are better for our earth and saving resources. This particular one is a take on a Canadian favorite, poutine! You really just need three parts to this recipe. The sweet potato fries, the vegan cheese, and the gravy. So I've broke it down for you.
 

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So what I did was soak the cashews a couple hours before making the poutine. You can soak the cashews anywhere from 3-8 hours before depending on when you remember haha. Then I start to make it all at the same time. Starting with popping the fries in the oven, then the gravy and cheese at the same time, then taking out the fries from the oven. It should all take about 30-45 minutes. 

Sweet potato fries ingredients:
-2-3 medium sweet potatoes
-Olive oil (any type of oil)
-salt/pepper (any seasoning you want!)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 385 F .
2. Slice the sweet potatoes into thin strips.
3. Lay them out evenly onto a baking sheet and drizzle oil with salt and pepper.
4. Ready in about 30-40 minutes depending on thickness of strips. Should be a light brown at edges, and crispy.
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Mushroom gravy ingredients:
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-10 to 12 sliced crimini mushrooms
-1/2 of a big red onion (chopped)
-2 cloves garlic (minced)
-2 cups vegetable broth (link is for my crock pot veggie broth)
-3-4 tablespoons of coconut amigos ( or to taste)
-herbs to taste (sage, thyme, salt, pepper)
-4 tablespoons of tapioca starch (your choice of flour to thicken)
Directions:
1. Toss the olive oil and onion in a pan on medium high. Saute til aromatic and til onions are transparent and browning.
3. Add mushrooms and herbs and turn down to medium heat. Toss til mushrooms are getting smaller and the water has evaporated from them.
4. Add in veggie stock, coconut aminos, tapioca starch and stir. Let simmer til flavors are all sweetly marinading and delicious!
5. Taste and if necessary add more aminos or herbs til you love it!


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Vegan cheese curds ingredients ( adapted from here):
-1/2 cup soaked cashews (soak 3-8 hours before starting to make meal)
-1 cup water
-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- dashes of salt to taste
-1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
-3 tablespoons of tapioca starch to thicken it (or a corn starch/flour that works for you)
Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor, blender, or bullet until its all blended and no cashew grains are apparent. Should be very smooth!
2. Pour it over to a pot and turn onto medium heat until it thickens up a lot! Stir occasionally. Should all take about 6-10 minutes but consistency is preference. I liked it thick like curds! 
3. Place in fridge for 10-15 minutes (if you want) so it gets even thicker like curds.

Add fries to a bowl, then pour a happy helping of gravy over your fries and top with cheese curds. Add chives on top for extra yumminess!


-Note: Once you make the vegan cheese curds and the gravy, it should be about time for the fries to be done. If not, just leave your gravy on the lowest setting until the sweet potato fries are all done. 

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MY GO TO ZERO WASTE VEGAN TACOS

MY GO TO ZERO WASTE VEGAN/GF TACOS:
Sweet Potato and Mushroom tacos with Cashew lime-cilantro sour cream 

 

Looking back on when I used to eat a ton of meat and cheese, I remember thinking how hard it would be to cut these out but after eating meals like the one I made shown below; I don't miss those meals at all! There are some crazy statistics about cutting out meat and cheese even once a week.                                                               •If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the US would SAVE:
-100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months
-1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year.  (source: physicist Noam Mohr, New York University Polytechnic Institute.)

So behold, an easy and tasty way to help the Earth and its species re-coop! My best friend Sara (who is an amazing Nutrition Consultant and Eating Psychology coach) and I made this amazing dish and now every time we visit each other, we HAVE to make them.

First and most importantly, this meal is earth sustainable. All organic and/or farmers market vegetables, with home made cashew sour cream (Cashews are very resource extensive but I consciously use them, meaning not regularly).  Second, this is packed with nutrients! Amongst them are B-vitamins, iron, selenium, protein, Vitamin C and so much more.

The above photo was everything needed for these tasty tacos, including the amazing cashew cilantro lime sour cream. 


INGREDIENTS for tacos (serves 2):
1-2 medium sized sweet potatoes diced in cubes
2 big handfuls spinach
2 1/2 cups diced mushrooms
Cilantro
Spices you desire (I used Chile powder, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic)
Olive oil
1 lime (for garnish)
1 medium sized red onion chopped in strips
Maseca corn flour (can find anywhere and comes in recyclable paper sack and lasts forever!)
INGREDIENTS for cashew cilantro lime sour cream:
1 cup of soaked raw cashews (soak 6+ hours with pinch of salt)
1 cup cilantro
juice from 2 limes
salt, garlic powder cayenne to taste
DIRECTIONS for sour cream:
1. Throw in all ingredients in food processor until creamy. If too thick, add water.

DIRECTIONS for tacos:
1. After seasoning and olive oil, pop sweet potato cubes in oven on 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until soft and outsides are brown and crispy.
2. While sweet potatoes are in oven, caramelize onions and mushrooms with oil and spices (either in separate or same skillet). For convenience, when almost done, throw in spinach until lightly wilted or lightly sauté in separate skillet.
3. Throw in squeezed lime, soaked cashews, salt, and cilantro in food processor until creamy and fluffy
4. Read directions for Maseca on side of bag (mix water, salt and flour and roll out into tortilla rounds) Put rounds on pan about 5 minutes each side on medium heat.

(In short terms: sauté everything, throw potatoes in oven, make cream and roll out tortillas and grill in pan!)

Throw it all on top of tortillas and squeeze your garnish lime all over and enjoy!!! YUMMMMMMM

Swimmies and snackies

This post is from a fun and relaxing trip one of my best friends and I had at the beach. We brought along some old expired 35mm film with us, some zero waste snacks, and of course, our favorite eco-friendly swim suits.
I used to try and find the cheapest and "in season" bathing suite online and if there was a sale I would get 2 or 3 pairs. Then I would wear it only a handful of times and the next year I would repeat. Now that I think twice about everything I invite into my life and am also more focused on quality, I couldn't wait to put in some effort to research what swim suit works best for me that is sustainable, ethically made and on the low foot print scale. 
I bought a sweet thrift store swim suit last year and as I do really love it, it stretches easily in some areas making it not so splash and high-activity friendly. 
I chose Camp Cove Swim for my swim suit, and as I was conflicted since it is getting shipped from Australia and I keep most of my purchases, in every aspect of my life, regional, I am so happy I made the decision! Not only is this black swim suit adorable and perfect fitting, it is so durable. This black baby will be a classic staple in my closet meaning I don't need to purchase another one for a long time to come! It is made of recycled fabrics and they manufacture locally in Australia in small quantities and high quality. High quality not only means long lasting products but means less waste and less production.

I'm 5'3 and I bought a size small. It fits great!

My best friend who went on this beach adventure with me bought her swim suits from a thrift store and she has had these for years! I've talked to some people and they say the reasons why they don't buy thrift swim suits are for "sanitary" reasons but most of the time they are there is because the suite didn't fit right and is still in amazing and clean condition! 

No need for plastic water bottles! Just bring your own mason jar or favorite water bottle.

Whether it is a thrift store swim suit or an ethical and sustainable swim line, it is so important to invite these things into your life! Avoid fast fashion not only because it is incredibly harsh on the environment and unfair to the hardworking laborers behind the clothes but because you want your life to radiate clean living. To live minimally, thoughtfully, and with the smallest imprint on our earth is the greatest and most fulfilling gift one could have.

We packed up some zero waste snacks which saved our lives! Instead of stopping in at your bodega to get packaged things, make sure you think a bit ahead and bring some things from home! I buy all in bulk so it was super easy to pack it up in a mason jar and theres virtually no clean up. Pop it back in your bag!

YAY to sustainability and putting the power and responsibility back into being a consumer! <3

What can you do with leftover veggie fibers from juicing?

Every time I make a juice I get a bit bummed about the leftover fibers that I have to compost. I just feel like there must be a way to save some of it since there are still benefits to what I am getting rid of. During my juice cleanse i decided to take a huge portion of my fibers and make something into them. I definitely didn't want to taste the dry fibers so there must be a way to mask it, and still in a healthy way.

So I made the best asian veggie balls EVER!!!! Shared this will all my room mates and they were equally obsessed.
 

INGREDIENTS:
-2 cups of leftover juice fiber
-3/4 cup oat flour ( I used gf oats and blended them til flour consistency)
-No measurements with spices/sauces but I mixed in to my liking:
-paprika -garlic -sea salt -basil -cayenne
-coconut amines -tamari -sweet cooking rice wine

You do not have to follow this exact recipe, it really is just what flavor you want the veggie balls to taste like! Get creative. The fiber has a good way of being bland so the flavor depends on what spices you are craving!

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix together leftover veggie fiber, spices, and sauces
2. Roll into small balls
3. Add nice amount of coconut oil, butter, or olive oil to pan
4. Put the veggie balls into pan on a bit higher medium heat.
5. Flip them every 3 minutes or so. Sides should be a nice brown color and crispy texture.
6. Put them over rice noodles or steamed rice and eat as is or with peanut sauce, soy sauce etc…
YAY!!!!

My juice cleanse

I always have a vision to kick off the summer with a fresh mentality; and thoughts fill my head of being toned and really fresh looking. However, what often happens is that I go into a weird hibernation mode (maybe it's weather change) where I feel tired and hungry all the time! My body is craving greens, nutrients, and water to get through the heat but what it triggers is a desire for carbs and sugars.
So I decided to give myself a 3 day cleanse. Not one of those crazy ones where you only drink lemon, maple syrup, and cayenne water, and not even one of those strict ones to where I can only drink 8 juices a day and call it good. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but when I tell my body that it can't have something that it wants, it goes into overdrive and will retaliate.
 

So I did 3 days. Four big juices a day all with different benefits to the body, every 2 hours, and then after 4pm a big dinner. It went so successfully and I want to adopt that mentality all summer, getting all my greens and fruits in during the day and healthfully carbing up at night. Not only did my body lose its bloat, but it had more energy following and I wasn't craving the bad stuff. Sometimes we think of juice cleanses as cutting out real food, but what we are really doing is cutting out the bad, fake food and bringing on the natural goodness.

So here I am to give you my juice schedule. Please shop responsibly and sustainably! All my ingredients were mostly from the farmers market and all of it was organic! It is important to cleanse your body but even more important to keep our environment clean which means sustainable farming practices!

Do not take this as medical, nutritional, or personal advice. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or anything of that kind. I just tailored a juice cleanse to what I know about my own body and what it will crave, and what it will need. 

DAY 1:
8 AM: 32oz luke warm water with lemon juice and ginger (drink lots of water through the day!)
9 AM: 1 apple-1 cucumber-3 kale leaves-1 handful chard-1 oz lemon juice-ginger
11 AM: 1 orange-6 carrots-3 small golden beets-tumeric-cayenne
1 PM: 5 ribs celery-1 cucumber-1 handful chard-1 zucchini- 1 oz lemon juice
3 PM: 1 cucumber-1 beet-3 ribs celery-1 handful spinach-ginger
DINNER 5 PM: Used the leftover juice fiber and rolled asian veggie balls with vietnamese noodles! Recipe on blog.
Dessert 7PM: 2 Frozen bananas blended with dates and cinnamon


DAY 2:
8 AM: 32oz luke warm water with lemon juice and ginger (drink lots of water through the day!)
9 AM: 1 apple-1 cucumber-handful of dandelion greens-handful chard-1 oz lemon juice- ginger
11 AM: 1 grapefruit-5 carrots-1 cucumber-cayenne-tumeric                                                                                        1 AM: 3 handfuls spinach-2 kale leaves-1 zucchini-handful of dandelion greens-1 apple-3 sprigs celery
3 PM-None, the previous juice above was really big and I was full as all heck!
DINNER 5 PM -Veggie stir fry with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, sesame seeds, avocado and steamed rice
Dessert 7 PM- 2 frozen bananas with cacao powder, cocoa nibs and dates

DAY 3:
8AM: 32oz luke warm water with lemon juice and ginger (drink lots of water through the day!)
9AM: 1 big zucchini-handful of dandelion greens-handful of chard-1 oz lemon juice-ginger
11 AM: 6 sticks asparagus-4 carrots-3 sprigs celery
1 PM: 1 big beet-1 cucumber-1 apple
3 PM: Smoothie(whoops! sorry not sorry) Frozen banana, handful spinach, avocado, ice and water
DINNER 5 PM: Refried beans, guacamole, mexican rice, cabbage, and fresh tomato salsa

                                                                       YAY!!!!!