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July 2012

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This recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan.

In the hot summer months, I try to avoid using the oven at all costs. However, the other day I had a really strong craving for a homemade baked goodie and wanted to incorporate the sweet potatoes in my pantry for a sweet, yet savory treat. I went looking for recipes and came across several Sweet Potato Biscuit variations. I wanted to make them Vegan (or at least mostly Vegan) and use ingredients I had on-hand.

The following recipe was adapted from the Happy Herbivore’s Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Vegan Biscuits recipe.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: About 12 biscuits
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Notes: I used a thawed, previously frozen banana, which added a little more moisture to the dough.
  • Notes: For a savory version, omit the sugar, honey and cinnamon and add a pinch of salt and a 1/4 cup of chopped fresh rosemary, dill or thyme.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp Extra virgin olive oil (optional, omit for vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 whole sweet potato
  • 1 cup whole wheat or gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • a dash of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 whole banana, cold

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Rinse, peel and cube the sweet potato, then toss in a bowl with olive oil and honey (skip the honey if you want Vegan biscuits). Turn out onto a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes or until fork-tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or mixer, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and optional cinnamon.
  3. Mix in the banana until dough starts to form, then add about 3/4 cup of mashed, baked sweet potato.
  4. Once dough is ready—should be wetter than most pizza dough, but dryer than cake batter—stretch out onto a lightly floured surface to about a ½ inch thickness.
  5. Use either a biscuit cutter or a half-cup metal measuring cup to cut biscuits. Transfer onto a cookie sheet and bake at 425° for 5-10 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and edges are turning golden brown.

These make a satisfying, yet healthy, after-dinner treat with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or as a  “grab-and-go” breakfast item.  The whole-wheat flour provides complex carbohydrates to fuel your body, while the sweet potato is rich in anti-oxidants and fiber.

That’s right! There are now a total of FOUR scents available in our homemade deodorant! This amazingly effective, all-natural, chemical-free product is now available in Rosemary Eucalyptus, Vanilla Coconut, Sandalwood and of course our original scent, Lemon + Clove! Below is a quick description of each scent, but if you’d like to try them all, you can order a four-pack for slightly less than buying them all individually! Also, the homemade deodorants now come in screw-top glass jars!

I can’t wait to hear what you think about them. The feedback I’ve gotten so far has been outstanding! For best results, I recommend doing the tea tree oil detox prior to going chemical-free, but it’s not required. Enjoy!

Lemon + Clove DeodorantLemon + Clove

Original scent — Stronger scent of clove over the lemon. Woodsy and fresh.

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Rosemary Eucalyptus DeodorantRosemary Eucalyptus

New — Clean, fresh, rejuvinating spa-like scent. My new favorite!

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Vanilla Coconut DeodorantVanilla Coconut

New — Fruity and delicious. You will want to lick your armpit… Seriously.

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Sandalwood DeodorantSandalwood

New — Fresh and outdoors-y with hints of clove similar to Lemon + Clove.

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4-pack with lemon and clove deodorant4-Pack

Includes one of each of the scents listed above!

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Hello and Happy Monday friends from across the globe! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

We are starting off this new week posting about what many might consider a rather touchy subject. It has come to my attention that several people may have experienced some frustration after I recently shared a photo on facebook of a sign in a doctor’s office stating that they do not give flu shots. I shared this photo because I believe it’s time people start realizing that just because someone (i.e. the media, Walgreens, etc) says you should do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. I wish more people realized that they have a choice whether or not to get the flu shot, a right to know what potentially dangerous chemicals it contains and possible drawbacks to getting it.

However, doctors and nurses everywhere save lives every day. They come to work day in and day out dedicating themselves to helping others. How many of us can say that about ourselves? So to doctors and nurses everywhere, here is me saying that I appreciate what you do for us. I think we are lucky to live in a country with amazing advancements in medicine, but I also feel that we should be doing more to prevent disease instead of treating symptoms or waiting for things to get bad, as they inevitably will without preventative care. My frustration lies in the media, big pharma companies and doctors that don’t listen.

Unfortunately it only takes one bad apple to tarnish a name. It’s that one dirty player that gives the team a bad reputation, the one ref that makes the bad call or maybe it’s a family with a misunderstood child. In this case, I feel that it is because of years of treatment by uneducated doctors that helped land me in the position I am today—dealing with side effects and issues from years of being over-medicated.

Flu Shots NOT Here!Do I believe in the flu shot? No, I most certainly do not. I think it does more harm than good. But we live in the United States, where we have the right to say, think and feel as we so desire. It is for that same reason that I withhold judgement towards others that DO get and believe in the flu shot. Am I going to vaccinate my children? Yeah, probably. Word on the street is that they can’t get into school otherwise. Am I thrilled about that? Not particularly. But I do think it’s great that my children won’t have to get the measles.

I’ve gained and continue to gain knowledge as I grow older, and one of the most important things to me is that people realize that there are two sides to every story. For instance, big pharma companies fund studies and publish research about how their drug cures “such and such” disease. Maybe it does, but there’s also about 100 side effects it causes as well, which are severely downplayed. Fruits and vegetables, physical activity and plenty of rest can prevent those diseases and even reverse ailments in some cases too, but no one can get rich off fruits and vegetables like they can a prescription medication. No one is going to fund research that proves vegetables can make you better because then what…? People might actually start eating them, and might become healthier?! If that happens, they won’t need the big pharma company’s medications, then the pharma companies go out of business—heaven forbid!

Again, these are my ramblings. There’s a million other people on the internet rambling about things you may or may not agree with. But my current thoughts and feelings stem from past experiences as well as my current state of well being which very honestly right now—is sheer frustration. Frustration because I feel like I was mislead for more than half of my life and am now paying the price. And most recently, frustration that I tell my ENT doc that I’m looking for a lasting drug-free solution to my problem, and he does just the opposite by writing me prescriptions for decongestants and steroids. He’s probably just busy, but he’s not listening. On the other hand, I have several natural doctors that I’m working with that do listen to me, and I feel as if they truly care about me. They treat me like a person, not a number, and are dedicated to finding natural solutions to my issues that will make me happy and healthy.

So to the doctors and nurses out there, thank you. Thank you for doing what you do, day in and day out. Thanks for understanding that the shared photo comes from a girl who’s quite frustrated, like yourself. In the end, we all want to be happy and healthy. So let’s band together!

Peace, love and understanding,

Melissa

If you’re like me, long-term meal planning is typically something reserved for party planning only. Although I make my weekly shopping list, which may even include some specialty items from a recipe I’ve wanted to try, I tend to go for the same staple items and whatever is in season at the Farmer’s Market. By the end of the week I find myself standing in front of an open pantry, searching for inspiration to utilize the remaining produce in my fridge.

At this point I am always grateful for the following “must-have” pantry items. With these items on-hand, delicious and healthy meal options are only minutes away. No need call in take-out or dig out that frozen pizza in the back of your freezer.

Here’s a list of pantry necessities that can lead to a multitude of yummy, healthful family meals.

Dried Cranberry HeartDried fruits

Cranberries, Raisins, Dates, Blueberries, Apricots, etc.

Keep a stash of any one or more of these dried fruits in your pantry to add to salads, rice dishes, homemade trail-mix/energy bars/recovery bars, chicken salad and more.


Health Benefits: Great sources of fiber and vitamins.

AlmondsNuts & Seeds

Almonds, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Flaxseed, etc.

As with dried fruits, nuts and seeds add texture and flavor to salads, grain dishes, and snacks. They’re also great additions to sweet treats and desserts, like Raw Brownies!

Health Benefits: Excellent source of protein and nutrients as well as providing heart-healthy unsaturated fats.

QuinoaWhole Grains

Quinoa, Brown Rice, Steel-Cut Oats, etc

Whole grains provide a filling and delicious base to any meal. Cook grains in large batches and use throughout the week in salads, soups and side dishes such as this Quinoa and Green Bean Salad.

Health Benefits: Whole grains are made up of complex carbohydrates. These complex carbohydrates give our bodies the FUEL we need, the energy that most of our body systems need to function.

Black Beans
Beans & Legumes

Black Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney Beans, etc.

I like to buy these items in bulk (dried) and prepare large batches at the beginning of the week. They can be an excellent side or as part of any main dish. Beans and lentils lend themselves to a variety of flavors and uses—Get creative and see how other cultures utilize these power foods! Beans and legumes are must-have items for vegans, who rely more heavily on them for adequate daily protein intake. Check out our featured recipe for Lentil Dal.

Health Benefits: Loaded with protein, fiber and minerals.

Cocoa NibsOrganic Dark Chocolate Chips or Organic Raw Cocoa Nibs

These little morsels of rich, deliciousness have saved me from over-indulging my sweet-tooth many a time. When purchasing the chocolate chips, be sure they are organic with NO added sugar. As a satisfying addition to trail-mix, or melted to make these yummy Chocolate Apricot Nut-Bars, dark chocolate chips are a crave-curing go-to. For an even healthier alternative, try using organic raw cocoa nibs. This superfood can be used just as chocolate chips are!

Health Benefits: Rich in antioxidants, organic dark chocolate helps protect and repair your cells from damage by free radicals. Organic raw cocoa nibs are full of antioxidants as well as flavonoids, amino acids and magnesium helping improve mood, reduce anxiety, increase energy levels and reduce symptoms of PMS.

 

These are the absolute essentials that I keep my pantry stocked with regularly.  When you’re either feeling creative, or just desperate, having a well stocked pantry can make all the difference in the world.

For more advice on Building a Natural Foods Pantry, 101Cookbooks.com has some great tips.

I eat organic—no big deal. What is a big deal—spending a pretty penny to do so. I’m serious about my health and I won’t sacrifice eating conventional produce covered in pesticides to save a few bucks. Well, that and I won’t eat conventional because it tastes like crap… but that’s another blog post. The point is—I’ve recently come to the realization that I spend far too much money on groceries.

You may or may not have heard of the whole “co-op produce” phenomenon. I was actually introduced to it just a few short weeks ago. A few friends mentioned going to pick up their “co-op vegetables”. Meanwhile, I stood  there—vegetable-less—wondering what in the world they were talking about. I needed to find out.

Enter Urban Acres.

At Urban Acres, our goal is to provide our community with the very best local and organic foods while supporting Texas farm families and artisans.

After inquiring about these co-op vegetables, it didn’t take me long to sign up for my membership online! Heck, I’ll try anything once! But this actually seemed like a pretty good deal. I signed up for a half share, which means every two weeks I get 15 lbs. of fresh, local, organic and sustainable produce for $30. Did I mention it is local AND organic?! Music to my ears. There’s nothing  I love more than supporting local farmers and businesses. Besides eating organic… but I already covered that. There’s also a yearly membership fee of $50 and a one-time service fee of $14. Cool, I can handle that.

Co-Op Produce
Co-op produce from Urban Acres

Saturday morning I picked up my very first share of co-op produce. It was exciting and I felt proud to be supporting local farmers. I was also thrilled to be saving some hard-earned cash! There are several pick-up locations in the DFW metroplex. My pick-up location is actually about a mile from my house—so close! I signed in, got my bin full of produce as well as an enormous watermelon! The contents of the bin change each pick-up, but in today’s produce included: watermelon, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, figs, onions, zucchini, romaine lettuce, swiss and rainbow chard and arugula. Wow, that’s a ton of produce! Although I don’t have experience with all of these wonderful items, the Urban Acres website provides some great recipe ideas! I can’t wait to try them out!

So far, my experience with co-op produce has been an exciting one! I will keep you posted as my life as a co-op-er continues. Is that a word… “co-op-er”…? Well, it is now! On another note, I encourage you to check your area for co-op produce! Eating healthy is a necessity, but you shouldn’t break the bank in order to do so! Are you paying too much for produce?

Peace, love and organic produce,

Melissa