Review of Synergy Organic Kombucha

This is one of my splurge items, but it feels worth it.

I mean it is a bright orange-yellow mango color!

Yum

Yum

The only ingredients are raw Kombucha (fermented tea), mango puree, and love. Yes, that’s right, they list LOVE as an ingredient. I am just a sucker for that stuff I guess. Who couldn’t use more love in their life?

I first tried kombucha by accident, and it tasted almost like alcohol. It kind of eeked me out because the live cultures in the one I tried were huge and I’m kind of a texture person. This one has visible culture strains, but they are not so huge to be gag-worthy. Take a look. cultures

It also includes many probiotics. Those are the “live” cultures found in yogurt that make your stomach feel better and helps with digestion.

From what I have read, fermented things are supposed to be good for the PH levels in your gut, which I’m attempting to learn more about.

So next time you are looking for a sweet cold beverage, consider a Kombucha. It does have quite a high amount of sugar, but it is also putting all of those healthy probiotics into your system.

Enjoy!

Hearty Fall Stew, Kale and Bean

Happy fall! Hope you are enjoying the wonderful weather as much as we have been here:Fall scenery

If you’ve read my blog at all, you know that often I don’t really write down recipes.

However, this morning I made one of the most delicious soups from veggies I picked up at the co-op yesterday, and I wanted to document it in a slightly more specific way for the future.

I’m trying something new with these photos below, so any feedback you have about how the “Visual Recipe” works is helpful.

First, (and not pictured), I added some veggie bullion cubes, tumeric, cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, celery seed, and garlic powder to olive oil and sauteed celery and onion in the pot (not for long before adding some water and the rainbow carrots).

First step

First step

step 2: after mung beans are added, add some veggie broth and a little water

step 2: after mung beans are added, add some veggie broth and a little water

stir, cover with a lid, and go about your business while it all simmers together and makes your home smell fantastic.

stir, cover with a lid, and go about your business while it all simmers together and makes your home smell fantastic.

chop up more rainbow carrots!

chop up more rainbow carrots! It’s nice to take a break from whatever you are doing and play with your food when the ingredients are this beautiful. 

I really love these purple sweet potatoes- so neat looking! I chopped up one purple and one dark orange sweet potato. Those are optional, but it makes it more like a stew than a soup.

I really love these purple sweet potatoes- so neat looking! I chopped up one purple and one dark orange sweet potato. Those are optional, but it makes it more like a stew than a soup.

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Cover those new veggies with broth and more water

I simmered it for a long time and then added more broth and a whole bunch of kale stalks plus cilantro (you could also use parsley). Here is the finished product before I decided to add kidney beans (my favorites).

I simmered it for a long time and then added more broth and a whole bunch of kale stalks plus cilantro (you could also use parsley). Here is the finished product before I decided to add kidney beans (my favorites).

Once you are done you can give the extras to your friends and family!

Once you are done you can give the extras to your friends and family!

Cheers,

E

V is for Vegan

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day in the US and I am going to interpret this day a little bit differently this year.

I’m going to be celebrating by taking care of my body and giving up dairy and animal products on Saturday. If you really think about it, this is the easiest thing I could do. One day is really nothing, but it will feel good to know that I’m doing something to show I care.

Share if you'd like!

Share if you’d like!

As many of you may already know, I found out that I had a dairy allergy and have already cut down on my dairy intake significantly. I can eat a tiny bit with no problem, but if I eat more than a tiny bit my nose closes up, my face itches and my eyes get dry and itchy. It’s kind of a bummer. After I did my detox about a year ago (no wheat, dairy, or processed foods) it has been much more difficult to pretend that my body is OK with the way I eat.

In addition, I have put on some weight over the past few years and I really eat fairly healthily besides my cheese addiction (I truly eat way too much fat via cheese- ewwwwww). I think giving up dairy will not only make me healthier, but it will also likely help me lose a few pounds.

Since I am already a vegetarian for my love of animals, and have been learning a lot about the shady side of the dairy industry over the past few months, I have decided to make my Valentine “the animals.” I have always admired them, felt connected to them, stood up to people who were beating or bullying them.

I <3 Animals. 

I mean, why not go vegan for them on a day when we are supposed to show our love for those we care about? I don’t really have a significant other this year, and even if I did I think I would want to do this instead of a traditional Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, romance is always appreciated and I love red and pink, sparklies, going out to dinner, hearts, and most cheesy things relating to Valentine’s day. However, it has always been kind of an awkward celebration for me if I do have a boyfriend at the time because everything feels so superfluous. We are already so lucky to be human, to live in America, to have food available whenever we want it.

I constantly feel so lucky to have a good hot meal every day, plenty of material possessions, and a solid roof over my head. I am fortunate. I can buy myself candy or flowers. Most people I know already have a bunch of stuff and might not even like chocolate (I am not one of those people- I frickin’ love chocolate). Anyways, you catch my drift.

Animals don’t have someone buying them freedom or extra food most of the time. They need a little extra love. They need someone on their side. They need a voice to advocate for them.

Sacrificing for such a short period of time feels like a simple way to express gratitude for the animals in my life. Most of them have shown way more patience and unconditional love than the humans I have met, and yet they get kicked to the curb, abused, neglected, forgotten and used as if they were non-living entities.

Here is Georgie again showing how darn cute he is. This dog is so sweet to me and I fell for him the moment we met!

Here is Georgie again showing how darn cute he is. This dog is so sweet to me and I fell for him the moment we met!

So tomorrow the V in V-day stands for Vegan.

It is kind of an idea I’ve been toying around with, but I figured, why not honor myself and my “Valentine” on this celebratory day?

<3

I’m excited to go vegan for V-Day and show my love for animals! Who’s with me?

Different Ways to Use Polenta

Living with my strict budget has not been easy (I know I need to write more about the specifics to keep you readers in the loop), and I often find myself low on funds towards the end of a pay period. Part of my income is unpredictable and fluctuates for tutoring; at times I have no students, and at times I have a bit more money than expected. Last month was one that was especially low on students. I had many bills come out at once and checks that were written months before coming out unexpectedly, etc. It was crazy.

What helped me get through?

Finding out that I liked eating polenta. Not only is polenta gluten free, but it is also very filling and hearty, and is a nice substitute for rice. I purchased one log of it on sale which also had red quinoa and was organic (bonus!), and it lasted through many different meals.

Here are some of the ways I tried and succeeded with polenta:

Grilled Polenta on bed of greens

Grilled Polenta on bed of greens

Polenta with homemade chana masala

Polenta with homemade chana masala

 

Polenta mixed in with salsa, black beans, cumin, and chili powder for a Mexican-inspired spicy dish

Polenta mixed in with salsa, black beans, cumin, and chili powder for a Mexican-inspired spicy dish

 

Simple soy-butter Polenta with Parmesan over bead of greens

Simple soy-butter Polenta with Parmesan over bead of greens

classic Italian polenta with Parmesan and Basil +sauteed peppers and a salad

classic Italian polenta with Parmesan and Basil +sauteed peppers and a salad. Add marinara and classic. 

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The ones with cheese can easily be made Vegan by removing the Parmesan from ingredients list

For a gluten free dish, I found polenta to be much more enjoyable to eat and cook than GF pasta, which can sometimes have an unfortunate gummy texture.

Another good vegetarian dish I tried making but didn’t take pictures of was breakfast polenta scramble with eggs.

Hopefully this gave you some new ideas about how polenta can work in your diet- it was so cheap and easy to cook, it has definitely become one of my new favorites. I might also try the kind that you just boil next time, although I honestly love the crunch of sauteed solid polenta, so I am not sure how it will compare.

How do you prefer your polenta?

One of my first AHA moments with going gluten free for my detox, lifestyle change, and trying to take my health into my own hands over the past 6 months or so is the realization that Georgie eats better than I do!

He eats Acana’s Duck and Pear food, which is local, limited ingredient, and has nothing that he seems to be allergic to. His fur is shiny and everyone comments on how soft he is. He loves eating his food, and I am very strict about what he is allowed to eat. No chemicals for my baby!

However, when it comes to my own diet, I am not as strict. In fact, chemicals have traditionally been normal for my body despite eating fairly healthily throughout my life. I have been known to take a trip to the Taco Bell when I’m back home since there are not really any accessible to me in Seattle and I grew up eating their food, so I still get those cravings. Granted, I get a bean burrito, so it’s not horrible as far as fast food standards, but it is still probably laden with preservatives. Now that I know of my wheat allergy, I have been trying to stay away from any flour tortillas, but I still would probably eat one on a cheat day and then sneeze my way through the next day.

Georgie is the most adorable dog in the world. I'm not biased ;)

Georgie is the most adorable dog in the world. I’m not biased ;)

Georgie is the one who changed things for me a little bit. As I began to research pet nutrition and saw his coat and overall health improve drastically since he has been eating this food, it has become much harder for me to grab a bag of Cheetos on a crappy day, and instead try to find a healthier, or at least an organic option without a dye that has been shown to cause cancer.

Since the detox, I really do not crave junky food at all. I also don’t crave cheese anymore, which is HUGE for me, since I formerly almost lived off cheese. I crave liver detox tea and protein, since I’m now used to eating the amount of protein humans are supposed to consume. So I’ll grab a can of kidney beans and pour salsa over them. I have still had some crappy vegan junk food (organic, vegan, gluten free, but not nutritious) since my detox ended, but it is nowhere near the level it was before the detox. I also am trying not to eat as much candy as I was before (avoiding contact with the giant bowl at work has helped).

So my advice to you after my experience would be to question if what you are putting into your own body is something you would subject the most vulnerable human or animal in your care to. Would you want your kids eating it? If not, then maybe you shouldn’t either.

Spicy Tofu Veggie Stir Fry (Vegan and Gluten Free)

So, one of the first things I made on my special cleanse diet was this stir fry. I was just really craving something with Asian flavors to go with the steamed basmati rice I had in my pot, so I ran to the store to get some veggies, and came back with tons of fresh stuff to stir fry.

Veggieonabudget.com

 

Ingredients I used- all organic (feel free to improvise):

  • 3 baby bok choy
  • 3 large cooking carrots
  • One tiny sweet potato
  • 2 zucchini
  • 4 chives
  • 2/3 sweet onion
  • 1 1/2  head of broccoli
  • a peice of fresh ginger root (peeled and chopped)
  • fresh basil
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • handful of snap peas
  • 1 red pepper
  • crushed red chili flake seasoning
  • Trader Joes 21 spice seasoning
  • Coconut oil
  • Gluten free soy sauceSpicy tofu stir fry veggieonabudget.com

What I did to cook this tasty food:

  • Chopped all the really firm veggies, like the onion, carrot, garlic, sweet potato, and ginger
  • Heated the wok with oil, crushed red pepper, and a few splashes of soy sauce
  • Placed the onion and carrot in the spiced wok
  • Chopped all the other veggies while those ones were sizzling and put them in a giant bowl
  • Kept stirring the carrots, onion, and spice mixture until golden and cooked through
  • Dumped giant bowl of more delicate veggies into the wok and furiously stirred
  • Added more soy sauce and pepper flakes
  • Cut the tofu into rectangular pieces and seasoned with 21 spice
  • Stirred the main veggie mixture some more
  • Pushed the cooking veggies up around the sides of the wok, creating a hole on the very bottom
  • Put the fresh tofu into the bottom of the wok and let that saute for a couple of minutes with the spice on it
  • Stirred everything together
  • Added fresh basil, more chile flakes, and a splash more soy sauce
  • Plated with my plain steamed basmati rice

I have so many leftovers and something really tasty and wonderful to be readily available so I don’t stray from my diet! Food prep veggieonabudget.com

My favorite part of this dish is the heat on the fresh veggies, but you don’t have to make it very spicy if you don’t want to! Since the dish had so much flavor, I didn’t need to add anything to my rice- it was able to soak up the tastiness of the stir fried veggies and tofu 🙂

If you make it or something inspired by this dish, let me know what you think!

 

Food is Medicine

If you follow my facebook page, you will probably know that I am doing an autoimmune/ allergen free diet right now as sort of a cleansing and healing process for my body. When I was working as a food writer, I had to (I know, hard life) eat lots of rich foods, and I think it kind of hurt me. Since I cannot have wheat, gluten, (still not sure if those are the same thing?), alcohol, coffee, or processed foods during this time, I figured that I could spend a bigger part of my budget on veggies.

Realizing how badly I have been eating (lots of processed yet Organic foods, cheese, and more cheese) over the past few years has been a wake up call. I have spent a lot of money eating out or buying processed foods such as gluten free crackers, mac and cheese, etc. that I could make on my own with a bit more time and intention. Cutting a bunch of options out of my food was kind of scary at first (as someone who is basically addicted to food, I use it to help myself feel better when I feel homesick, anxious, or upset about something). What would I do without that crutch?

Well, to make sure I had enough “cleanse” foods in the house and wouldn’t cheat, I went to the store and spent almost my entire budget on fresh produce. I have also been watching a bunch of Top Chef episodes on Hulu, and getting really inspired to start cooking again. This afternoon and evening I have made a really nice spicy tofu stir fry with loads of fresh veggies and herbs, alongside some basmati rice. I also made a fresh and somewhat spicy (what can I say, I like it spicy!) rainbow potato salad.

Stay tuned, I will post the recipe for the Stir Fry tonight!