09.08.18

I woke up to a quiet house this morning. Kevin is out all day doing lacrosse work so I had the whole place and day to myself. I have no shortage of things I want to do, but after my blueberry jalapeno jelly from the other day was a total failure, I needed a victory.

Last weekend, we got a call from my friend Barb asking if we wanted to come pick apples from her tree. Of course we did. So, we headed over to her place for a little visit and a picking session.

Also, some dog petting and ball throwing.

By this point, Barb had already facilitated a lengthy discussion on her Facebook wall about what would be the best was to use these apples. There were lots of ideas and lots of suggestions to make applesauce, 💤, but I already knew what I had in mind: apple cider vinegar. (That may be the first time I’ve used an emoji as a part of a sentence. The end is nigh.)

In my opinion, this is the smartest use of apples because you don’t actually have to do much with your apples. Sure, they need a pretty thorough cleaning, but there’s no peeling or citing involved. You just need to chop them up. All parts of the apples are useful. In fact, the author of the recipe I use as a guideline uses only her scraps from making apple sauce.

According to many ACV makers who are far more experienced than I am, a mixture of apples makes for a better product so imagine my luck when a coworker walked into my office with a bag full of a different kind of apples from his yard!

Today, I set out to get this vinegar brewing, or, rather, fermenting.

How to…

Honestly, it’s super easy. Just wash your apples and chop them up. Put them in a jar then cover with sugar water (I mix in one tablespoon of raw sugar per cup of water) and use a weight or a smaller glass jar to push the apples down so all the pieces are sitting below the surface of the water. The first time I made ACV, I didn’t think I needed anything special for this, but it’s probably the most challenging part. This time, I am so glad I invested in a fermentation set from Masontops. My new pickle pebbles work perfectly and the set comes with an exciting recipe book of possibilities! Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, carrots…

One key thing to remember, especially if you try this during the summer months, is to cover the top of your jar completely with something breathable. I use cheesecloth and an elastic band. I’ve used Abeego in the past and I’ve also heard that you could use coffee filters or paper towel as well. Just make sure you do a good job because the fruit flies will flock to it.

Keep it in the dark and after about three weeks, strain the apples out. Return the liquid to the jars and leave it for another three weeks. Taste it periodically and when you like its flavour, pour it into bottles and this time give them a seal.

Also, I finally watched the last two episodes of this season of The Affair and I am just so sad about Allison. And Cole. Allison and Cole. God, I love an impossible love story.

And how about that a cappella rendition of What Sarah Said at the beginning of the finale? Wow. The use of the original Death Cab For Cutie recording at the end was pretty killer as well.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links which means that if you use them to make a purchase, I will receive compensation as a result.

Infinity jars

I see it all the time. People go to great lengths to change their lives and especially their eating habits and then there they are in the lunchroom at work munching on their super health-conscious lunch out of a flimsy department store plastic container. They worked so hard on their diet and then they do a huge disservice not only to themselves, but also to their beautiful meals!

A quick Google search will reveal pretty clearly that the debate about the safety of plastic for food storage is alive and well with arguments being made on both sides. For us, I decided long ago that it just wasn’t worth the gamble. When it doubt, I opt for safety.

When I first encountered Infinity Jars, I had already ridded our house of plastic storage containers, but we were mostly just using repurposed glass containers with a few store bought glass lunch dishes thrown into the mix. It had dawned on me then that for the amount of time and energy we put into choosing our foods and then cooking them carefully, we spent next to none of our resources considering the quality of the places we stored them all.

Reusing glass jars is great, but it isn’t a perfect system. Sometimes the seal isn’t quite right or the size doesn’t work well with what you’re storing and little did I know that there was a better option than plain old clear glass.

What sets Infinity Jars apart from other jars is their deep violet glass. At first glance, they look almost black, but when you hold them up to the light, you can see their beautiful purple colour. This glass filters out harmful visible light while still allowing the beneficial infrared and UV-A rays to preserve contents and extend shelf life. The result is a container that keeps your products fresher for longer. Read more about the science behind Infinity Jars. Pay special attention to their seven month tomato test. You’ll be astounded!

Infinity Jars are guaranteed to:

  • Have an airtight seal
  • Be leak-proof, scent-proof
  • Provide ultra-violet filtering
  • Preserve and rejuvenate freshness

Infinity Jars didn’t compensate me for this review, but they did offer me my choice of jars to try. I went with a 15ml Pocketsize Glass Jar, a 30 ml Glass Screw Top Jar and a 500 ml Glass Screw Top Wide Mouth Jar. I’ve been using all three for the last two months and I’m really happy with them all. Here are a few of the uses they’ve had so far:

15 ml Pocketsize

  • Coconut oil for my lips and my skin
  • Body oil and lotion
  • Vitamins and supplements

30 ml Screw Top

  • Almonds and other nuts for on the go snacking
  • Dried spice storage
  • Single servings of protein powder, greens, pre workout energizer, etc.

500 ml Wide Mouth

  • Loose tea
  • Fresh herbs
  • Homemade salad dressing

Infinity Jars offer more than 70 styles including jars, rollers, sprays, essential oil bottles, round and square bottles and this piece that’s at the top of my wish list, apothecary jars.

Head over to the Infinity Jars website and learn how you can extend the shelf-life of your favourite products while preserving their freshness, too. Check out their products and take advantage of some of their spring savings including free jars with purchase and 15% off orders of $150 or more.

Chlorella

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week looking into the supplement called chlorella. As a result, I’ve often had the Cruella De Vil song running through my head. They sound alike, right?

Fun fact: The Replacements did a cover of Cruella De Vil (though it was called Cruella DeVille on the track listing) as part of a compilation album of modern interpretations of Disney songs back in 1988 and I thought it was THE MOST AMAZING THING IN THE WORLD. The album was called Stay Awake and I have a copy of it around here somewhere. Bonus: The version I’ve linked to is way better than the one on that album.

But, back to the much nicer and more humane topic at hand…CHLORELLA.

It is similar to spirulina in flavour and colour. It’s even similar in nutrient content. I used to take spirulina regularly to ensure that I was getting vitamin B12 – that’s what we did with vegetarians in the late 80s – but then discovered that I was getting all the nutrients I needed so I traded it in for some other supplement, I’m sure.

Chlorella is nutrient-dense, often referred to as a superfood (what isn’t?) and is readily available in powder, capsule or tablet form. I found all three options on the shelf of my go to Whole Foods. Since I don’t drink a smoothie every single day, I opted for the tablet form which was made by Vega, a brand to which I’m loyal for my protein and workout supplement needs.

There are many reasons to consider taking chlorella, but what brought me to trying it out is its unique ability to bind to heavy metals and flush them out of the body. It’s hard to avoid the topic of heavy metals these days, most commonly though our food consumption and dental care (metal fillings.) Our immediate thoughts go to absorbing mercury from eating fish, but did you know that arsenic found in rice has been a red hot health topic lately? Well, it has.

Helpful hint: Rinse your rice thoroughly before cooking and cook it in excess water, then drain off leftover water when it’s done to reduce the amount that you and your family might be consuming.

When you take chlorella regularly, it latches itself onto these toxins and removes them from the body. It is said to combat the negative effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, lower cholesterol and blood sugar, help with detoxing the body, weight loss and energy gain.

Graphic originally  found here

but, what is chlorella?

Chlorella is a single-cell green algae that is grown in fresh water. Most of it derives from Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea. Chlorella’s ability to multiply four times in twenty hours makes it one of the fastest growing organisms in existence. It is regaled for being a rich source of vitamins B, C, D, E, K, and minerals phosphorous, calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron. It is high in protein and contains more chlorophyll than any other plant known to us at this time.

how do i choose a chlorella product?

Here are a the two tips I picked up through my research…

  • Be sure to select a product that has been processed for proper human consumption. The cell walls of the chlorella must have been treated in order for you to get the most out of the product. The packaging will mention something like broken or cracked calls to indicate that it’s what you’re looking for.
  • Be careful where your chlorella is sourced. Ironically, this great detox agent can sometimes be retoxing instead. Many reports suggest buying chlorella that originates in Japan, but this report found that the cleanest product comes from Taiwan. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find in North America because of its hefty price tag.

I chose to start taking chlorella in tablet form, but if you want to try it as a powder, here’s a great smoothie recipe. If your loyalty and/or familiarity lies with spirulina (though, why choose?) here’s a more complete comparison between the two. And, for your reading pleasure, here’s an older post about chlorella in general that I mostly enjoyed for the opportunity to discover its origin, The Full Helping.

Have you taken chlorella before? How would you use it in, say, a smoothie?

Veg Expo 2017

Happy Monday! Did you have an amazing weekend? Ours was pretty low-key. Most significantly, let’s just say that lacrosse season reared its ugly head made its return front and centre. Kevin played a couple of games and the team he manages played another. I passed on the trip to Victoria so that I could attend Veg Expo, the fourth annual event that incorporates all things vegan and vegetarian.

Veg Expo is a day of celebration where we introduce new, innovative, inspiring products and services that you can implement into your lifestyle and to meet others that share their passion.

This year was the first time I’ve been able to attend and not because I haven’t wanted to before, but because I always seem to just slightly miss the boat. I usually become aware of the expo just after it’s taken place and spend the next few weeks feeling like I’ve totally missed out. If that’s you this year, stop reading now because I will tell you this upfront: we had a really good time and we saw (and sampled!) some really great new products.

our experience

The players
Me: a twenty-eight year vegetarian/vegan veteran who wishes that there was something like this available to her twenty year old self who subsisted on ketchup chips and other coincidentally vegetarian junk foods.
My girlfriend, Corrine: not a vegetarian or a vegan, but a relatively healthy eater who is open to new things and must be a little veg-curious since she readily agreed to go with me.

The preparation
We bought our tickets ($15 each) online quick and easy. On the day of, we met up on the Skytrain and took a ride down to Waterfront station. After a quick walk over and through the cruise ship tourism foot traffic, we arrived at Convention Centre West. The expo had opened its doors at 10am and we got there about half an hour later. It was pretty busy, but nothing compared to what it was like in the middle of the afternoon.

The event
Veg Expo boasted over 150 exhibitors and nineteen presentations on the stage. Exhibitors ran the gamut from gym chains to Doterra representatives, people putting their passion projects into reality and animal activist groups.

Our general observations:

  • They’ll give you a bag at the entrance, but you probably want to have an extra one. Or two.
  • Bring your appetite. There are a LOT of samples available. Normally, attending an event like this, I’d log a good portion of my daily step count goal. At this one, my hand was so full of food and drink the whole time that I barely logged any steps at all!
  • The term “special show price” is relative. We scored really good deals on some things and actually paid slightly more than we would have in stores on others.
  • Every food is a super food to someone. We heard those words so. many. times.


I’m in love with kombucha and there were plenty of local vendors there. My favourite was the mojito kombucha from Spark Kombucha. I may even go out of my way to hit up one of the markets they’ll be at this summer…and I’ll have an empty growler in hand when I do!

highlights

My favourite things…

Purchase: For one, I signed up for Hello Fresh which I am so extremely excited about. For another, Vitality! I picked up a sample of their Digest+ product from Whole Foods last year and I think it only took me about a week to go back for a full bottle. As I told these locals today, their products have been a staple in our household ever since.

Sample: Sexy Sadie natural deodorant from Routine. Super cute and smells AMAZING.

Booth: I loved the Routine booth. It was super pretty and nice to be around. The Marphyl booth selling phytoplankton grown in Richmond was very interesting.

Corrine’s favourites:

Purchase: Cha Cha Chaga by Jump Up and Go Go.

Sample: Herbaland protein and multi-vitamin gummies. (Honourable mention to the vegan egg from Earth Island.)

Booth: Pranin. “I was close to buying the vitamin B booster powder. I liked it because it was easy. It was spread out nicely and easy to look at everything.”

Other: “I was truly amazed at how good all the dairy free ice creams were.”

Samples! Freebies! Giveaways!

suggestions

  • Expansion. Either a bigger venue or a two-day event. It got really packed in there and it was hard to get around because there were so many people. I’d think it could definitely grow.
  • I’ll admit to being surprised that there was so much plastic and waste involved in sampling products. Some businesses were certainly more innovative than others in reducing their waste, but for the target audience, I thought there would be more.

My purchases (what can I say, I’d just been reading about seed cycling that morning!)

things we’ll do differently next year

  • Backpacks – by the end of the day, we were carrying around a lot of weight over one shoulder
  • Bring cash – it irks me to no end to spend money on bank fees, but I totally blanked on this ahead of time
  • More research – I actually missed a couple of booths (though, I have no idea how!) that I would have liked to visit
  • Team selfie! – we didn’t document our attendance at all

Did you attend Veg Expo this or any other year? If you’re outside of Vancouver, is there something like this in your area? Which are your favourite vegan/vegetarian products?

 

The podcast I wish I’d created

I wrote yesterday about how I’d listened to Elizabeth Dehn on the Being Boss podcast episode 123 last week and that I really liked her vibe. The truth is that words can’t really describe how much I mean that. From the very start of her intro, I knew that she was someone who was going to have a big influence on me if for no other reason than that we are so very similar. Now, we certainly don’t have the same roots (she is the founder of a very successful beauty website while my interest in cosmetic products is of the strictly functional variety) but we got to the same place which is a pretty mainstream lifestyle with a seriously non-traditional wellness bent. Or, as she puts it in her bio on BeautyBets.com, “a hippie disguised in J.Crew.” I identify with that so much and have for so long. I was friends with all the super jock dudes in high school who called me Moonbeam because I could talk sports with them in class, but the rest of the time, I was their little flower child. An interesting dynamic to say the least, but one I’ve cherished as it’s come up from time to time throughout my life. Kevin loves that Moonbeam story and I think it’s because he can totally identify with it. Though I never dated those guys. You know, just for the record.

So, yes, Elizabeth Dehn launched Beauty Bets and it became and continues to be a huge success. Her most recent expansion took her into the world of podcasting and a sharp veer from the discussion of brushes and lipsticks. (Although, she really is so darling that even a non-makeup person like me can actually enjoy reading her makeup stuff.) It’s with the first season of her show called HEALERS where she welcomes a different guest onto each episode and gives the audience a thorough introduction into their particular specialty.

She had me at hello.

The day I made my discovery, I went home and downloaded every episode of the podcast. I was so thrilled that I made a sacred ritual out of listening and only played it when it could have my undivided attention (i.e. on my way to and from work, but not in the office or at home while I was doing something else and could get distracted.) Still, I was through the whole ten episode series in little over two days. It was fascinating and fantastic and I could have listened to one hundred more episodes. From each one, I learned, I was inspired and I had at least one takeaway.

There was an astrologer, a nutritionist, a, intuitive medium, a therapist, a pagan priestess, an aura photographer, a colonic therapist, a breathworker, a money & happiness guru and a home & life organizer. Doesn’t all of that sounds so great? Well, it does to me. And throughout each episode (35-45 minutes per) I felt – and I know it sounds hokey to say it, but – home, at peace, surrounded by people like me. And I don’t feel like that all that often.

Almost all of my medical care is naturopathic and I feel blessed that the specialists that I deal with are not only supportive of that, but actually encourage it. I’m open to many things and I usually jump at the opportunity to try something new. Acupuncture? I’m a regular. Floats? I love ’em. Hypnotherapy? I’ve even tried that. I think one thing that really excited me about this podcast was the chance to be able to add a few more things to my bucket list.

I loved the astrology episode the best (and I am actually in the process of booking a meeting of my own with Stephanie Gailing.) The episode talking to the founder of Less Mess. More Life. gave me some inspiration to tackle the bedroom that I haven’t really unpacked since our recent move (while giving me a lot to chew on about why I haven’t already…) and the chat with the founder of Move Colonics even has me seriously thinking about colon hydrotherapy.

As the world of functional medicine grows and we hear and read more and more about different kinds of non-traditional treatments and therapies, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin. HEALERS opens the door to new things and makes it really comfortable to go inside, learn more and, most importantly, answers the question: where do I start?

BONUS: Don’t miss the Healers Handbook that breaks down show notes from every episode while adding actions and activities to enhance the topics and make it easier to bring them into your life.

What kinds of non-traditional care do you use? What kinds are you curious about?

Cheerleading, spreading love & sunscreen

Since I started my #100HappyDays last Sunday, I’ve been trying to practice more awareness and gratitude. That was the whole point, of course, but the real good news story here is that it’s working!

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.06.45 PMFollow along with my #100HappyDays (and join in!) on Instagram!

I’m pretty blissed out right now. This morning, we relocated from dreary Vancouver, BC to shiny El Mirage, Arizona. By 2pm, we’d kicked off our five day stay with more than an hour in the pool, a delicious barbecued lunch outside and a nap, all without wearing long pants or even shoes!

A friend once commented that I am a real cheerleader. At the time, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I liked being acknowledged for that. I know a lot of incredible people and I’m always curious to learn more about them and to meet others. I like to share the amazing lives, stories and accomplishments I see and hear with the world. When I see things that I love (and I love a lot of things) and that make me feel proud of the human race, I want to share those, too. I largely try to focus on the positive things that life has to offer. Trust me, I won’t shy away from the icky stuff, but I try to never ever give it more time in the spotlight than is necessary.

I keep seeing these great posts where writers compile all their favourite things for the week, online or in life offline. Since I enjoy reading them so much, it only made sense for me to start getting into the habit myself. Here are a couple of the beautiful things that made me happy this week, my sunshine and lollipop experiences.

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Our dear friends Chris and Evey had some very exciting news to share about a very special arrival coming later this year. Watch the video to see their announcement. At long last, they just debuted it this week.

Isn’t that ADORABLE?!? Congratulations, guys! xo

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In preparation for our trip and in light of my relatively recent bout of melanoma (which I swear I am going to wrote about someday,) sunscreen has been on my mind lately. Now that summer is just around the corner, it’s easy to find on any drugstore’s feature aisle. Problem is, mix vegan into your list of requirements and your choices narrow drastically. For the second time this year, I put the call out on Twitter looking for some advice and recommendations. No dice. What I did get was a response from a company called Goddess Garden. They specialize in “healthy sunscreen.” They have a friendly, helpful Twitter presence, steering me to Well.ca to buy their products online. I opted for the spray which is really just the everyday lotion in a spray bottle.

photo (36)

I’m not a big fan of light lotions, especially when it comes to sun protection. Goddess Garden isn’t too thick, but it’s not oily either and is rated SPF30. It doesn’t carry much of a scent and absorbs easily into my skin. I love that I can identify (not to mention pronounce) every single ingredient in the bottle!

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This weekend, I’m all poolside and sunglasses and desert hikes and sporting events. Okay, I’m also obsessively sending iMessages to my mom who is staying with our cats, too. Good friends, good food, good fun. It’s the weekend. Get yourself some.

i have a little ache in my essence

i was in a rather chatty mood at my appointment with my naturopath yesterday. you should know that i looooooooove my naturopath. as i lay there on the table, needles stuck in toes to knee, wrists and belly, i tossed random comments and questions out to the room. what do you think of eliminating wheat? and i’ve noticed i’ve been really thirsty lately. then, this exchange:

qc: what about the dark circles under my eyes?
super awesome naturopath, looking up from her notemaking: well, carly, are you getting enough sleep?
qc: well, kristen, why don’t you mind your own beeswax?

ask a stupid question, they say… i deserved that. this is, however, also the woman who asks for my buy-in on taking pills with names like “women’s precious” and answers my deneedled questions about a little achy spot in the middle of my back with a giddy declaration of “that’s your essence!”


jing

there are so many reasons i love seeing a naturopath.

  1. she knows me. when we have a conversation, it’s like we’re friends. she remembers what i’ve done and what i’ve been through. i never have to remind her that i don’t consume animal products or about my latest exercise regime. when we talk, she doesn’t have to check my file to know how much sleep i get in an average night, which supplements i am taking or about the frequency of my bowel movements. okay, that’s a little friend excessive, but whatevs. point being: she knows me.
  2. alternative treatments. i don’t buy that there is a pill for everything and i don’t believe in treating symptoms instead of roots. yes, drugs exist because they can be helpful and they can cure disease *however* most of the time consideration should be given to lifestyle over prescription. naturopathy and i gel on this.
  3. time and care. we spend a minimum of sixty minutes together at every visit. sixty. six zero. one hour. every visit.
  4. commitment. healing is a long road, but the right naturopath will travel it with you. i saw my first naturopath for years and we worked through a lengthy list of treatment options: acupuncture, homeopathics, injections, tinctures, supplements and probably some other stuff i am forgetting. and, yes. we were successful. it was a far cry from the “just go on the pill and you’ll probably (always probably) be okay down the road when you go off it” attitude i got from multiple mds and ob/gyns i saw. until i ran into naturopathic medicine, i thought nobody would ever want to help me instead of just shutting me up. sometimes when i’m ready to throw in the towel, all i need is a chat with kristen to remind me of why i was doing all this in the first place.
  5. investment. as i mentioned above, when my body starts making changes or when i report back some progress in our plan, kristen gets just as excited as i do. she expresses this by jumping up and down, squealing with delight and sometimes even hugging me. i generally never have any acute health problems, but i do have things i want to work on and goals to attain. having someone to celebrate the baby steps with is gratifying. outside of her office, nobody really understands how significant even the tiniest of movements can be.
  6. self-awareness. a good portion of every appointment is spent discussing my body. i have learned so much about anatomy, biology, nutrition and healthy habits over the years. you can’t put a price on that.

to follow-up on my jing (aka my achy essence,) it’s all good. as she verified and then confirmed the exact area where i was feeling it, that was one of those moments when kristen got all excited and gushed about what that meant in light of everything we’ve been doing. in short: success!

for those of you who are local and willing to give it a shot, i strongly recommend starting at the boucher institute of naturopathic medicine. their teaching clinic is run year round and provides an opportunity to consult on your health with students supervised by licensed professionals. thought still covered by many medical plans, the cost for visits to the clinic are greatly reduced from what you’d spend if you started by meeting with someone in a private practice. the boucher clinic is where i started and it truly changed my life.