When You’re Craving Hot Chocolate…

The simpler the recipe, the more important it is to use quality ingredients.

The simpler the recipe, the more important it is to use quality ingredients.

It is finally Friday! It has been a busy week and I need to get ready for a busy weekend ahead. The Kutty clan (Raj’s family) and the Chan clan (my family) are having a big Thanksgiving dinner together on Sunday and I am doing all my grocery shopping tomorrow. Then on Thanksgiving Monday, Raj and I have a baby shower to attend. I am so excited for everything this weekend, but tonight, I just want to relax in my pajamas with a blanket, Sex and the City reruns, and some nourishing hot chocolate…

“Haute” Chocolate

This dairy-free, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free, and vegan hot chocolate is definitely a nourishing upgrade from the standard hot chocolate at your generic coffee shop. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water (filtered)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (raw, organic)
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil (cold-pressed, organic, extra virgin)
  • healthy sugar substitute (i.e. monk fruit sweetener, stevia, erythritol, xylitol, etc.) to taste
  • the tiniest pinch of sea salt
  1. In a small saucepan over low to medium heat, whisk all the ingredients together until the mixture heats up to a simmer.
  2. Pour the frothy mixture into your favourite mug and enjoy!

Enjoy a comforting mug of healthy hot chocolate this fall and winter without spiking your blood sugar and without the pro-inflammatory effects of dairy. You can also add extracts of your favourite chocolate complementary flavours (i.e. peppermint extract for chocolate mint flavour, orange extract for orange chocolate flavour, etc.). Cheers!

XOXO,

Addy

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Arvinda’s Indian Spice Blends Help Me Cook Like Raj’s Mom!

You know an Indian spice blend company is the real deal when their masalas taste like Raj's mom's home cooking!

You know an Indian spice blend company is the real deal when their masalas taste like Raj’s mom’s home cooking!

Raj’s mom, who is from Kerala, India, makes the most delicious Indian dishes (dahls, sambars, curries, etc.). She always cooks with the perfect combination of spices. Indian cuisine involves such intricate blends of complementary spices (also known as masalas) and I am slowly learning about all the different kinds of masalas from her. To Raj’s mom, knowing which spices go well together and in what ratios is second nature (no measuring is necessary). Since my Indian culinary skills are nowhere near her level, I am always on the lookout for ready-made Indian spice blends with flavour profiles that remind me of Raj’s mom’s home cooking. Thanks to the CHFA East trade show this year, I discovered Arvinda’s awesome Indian spice blends, which allow me to cook like Raj’s mom effortlessly! Yes, this line of Indian spice blends tastes that authentic.

Arvinda's Butter Chicken Masala, Tandoori Masala, and Curry Masala are my favourites!

Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala, Tandoori Masala, and Curry Masala are my favourites!

This past Thursday on World Vegetarian Day (October 1st), I was craving butter chicken for dinner, but I wanted to satisfy that craving with something vegetarian, healthy, and quick. Thankfully, I had some Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala to make myself a deliciously satisfying “Butter Cauli-Kale”. This yummy and hearty vegetarian alternative to butter chicken satisfied my craving and I think Raj’s mom would have approved! This dish was so good that I have already remade it two more times since Thursday! Since it is Vegetarian Awareness Month, I thought I should share this tasty and nutritious vegetarian recipe. It is so quick and easy too thanks to Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala.

This vegetarian dish does not look like butter chicken, but it is much more nutritious with the same spice and flavour profile as that of butter chicken!

This vegetarian dish does not look like butter chicken, but it is much more nutritious with the same spice and flavour profile as that of butter chicken! It definitely satisfied my craving for butter chicken!

Butter Cauli-Kale (Vegetarian Alternative to Butter Chicken)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined virgin coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, puréed
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small head cauliflower or 1/2 head large cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 5 kale leaves, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon 100% all natural and smooth cashew butter (unsweetened and unsalted)
  1. In a frying pan (that is large enough to fit all the vegetables) over medium heat, sauté the diced onion in the coconut oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add in the puréed tomato and Arvinda’s Butter Chicken Masala. Continue cooking and stirring the mixture until most of the moisture has evaporated and the consistency becomes thick like tomato paste.
  3. Mix in the low-sodium vegetable broth, chopped cauliflower, chopped kale, fine sea salt, and coconut sugar. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and let everything simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables have cooked to desired tenderness. If you prefer a drier consistency with little to no sauce like I do, let everything simmer without a lid and stir often to ensure nothing sticks to the pan.
  4. Turn off the stove and mix in the cashew butter. Serve and enjoy!
Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!

Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!

If you get cravings for Indian food and want to satisfy those cravings with delicious and nutritious food, I highly recommend alway having your favourite Arvinda’s spice blends on hand! I am still slowly learning about Indian cooking from Raj’s mom, but for those times when I am in a hurry, there are always ready-made spice blends in my pantry!

XOXO,

Addy

The Cheapest Way to Eat Organic!

Raj and I try to eat organic as much as we can all year round and not just during "Organic Week", because organic foods just taste better.

Raj and I try to eat organic as much as we can all year round and not just during “Organic Week”, because organic foods just taste better.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that eating organic is too expensive, my phone bill would be covered every month. Since it is “Organic Week” (September 19-27, 2015) here in Canada, I thought I would share my secret on the cheapest way to eat organic. After sharing this secret with Raj, the both of us now eat fresh organic foods more frequently and when we do, the organic foods are always much cheaper than their inorganic counterparts. So what is the secret? Shop in the clearance produce section!

The clearance produce section section at Raj's local Fortinos was full of still beautiful organic fruits and vegetables for over 50% off!

The clearance produce section section at Raj’s local Fortinos was full of still beautiful organic fruits and vegetables for over 50% off!

Sure, shopping in the clearance produce section has drawbacks such as having little to no organic produce at times (unless you live in a big city like I do where there are many large supermarkets nearby with large clearance produce sections), giving up meal planning for improvisational cooking (you never know what you are going to find in the clearance section), and grocery shopping on a daily basis (clearance produce usually lasts no longer than a day). However, if you can accommodate these drawbacks into your lifestyle without any issue, then the advantages will far outweigh the disadvantages. Not only will you save money, but you will also be eating more nutrient-dense produce, reducing your exposure to toxins (i.e. pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.), supporting sustainable farming, and leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

I found two gorgeous heads of organic romaine lettuce for $0.99 (along with several organic eggplants for the same price)!

I found two gorgeous heads of organic romaine lettuce for $0.99 (along with several organic eggplants for the same price)!

In terms of savings, markdowns are typically at least 50% off. For instance, at Raj’s local Fortinos yesterday, we found two beautiful heads of organic romaine lettuce for $0.99 and a bunch of organic eggplant for $0.99 as well. What a bargain!

For under $5, we made plenty of organic vegan taco lettuce wraps to feed four hungry adults! They were absolutely delicious! Great ingredients make great food.

For under $5, we made plenty of organic vegan taco lettuce wraps to feed four hungry adults! They were absolutely delicious! Great ingredients make great food.

So for dinner last night, we stir-fried the organic eggplants with some cooked organic lentils the same way we stir-fried these jackfruit seeds here. Then, we scooped this delicious stir-fry into the organic romaine lettuce leaves and devoured these like tacos! This yummy and organic meal fed four adults and costed less than $5! Who says eating organic has to be expensive? I love shopping in the clearance produce section for organic fruits and vegetables and not knowing what to expect. It allows me to be creative and adventurous in the kitchen, while being healthy, organic, economical, and eco-friendly all at the same time. Try it!

XOXO,

Addy

Sometimes Mother Nature’s Beautiful Creations Need to be Shared…

Cenote Palomitas - one of Mother Nature's beautiful creations.

Cenote Palomitas – one of Mother Nature’s beautiful creations.

Canada’s national “Organic Week” is right around the corner (September 19th-27th this year). During this week especially, I take the time to appreciate everything Mother Nature offers us naturally and organically. Today, I stumbled across these recent pictures of one of Mother Nature’s beautiful creations, Cenote Palomitas, and thought I just had to share them to kickoff Organic Week.

"Cenote Palomitas - crystal waters turquoise color, depth 45 metres, 50 meters diameter, 25 degrees Celsius, access: stone steps." It looked sketchy in the middle of nowhere, so I was nervous to enter!

Cenote Palomitas – crystal waters turquoise color, depth 45 metres, 50 meters diameter, 25 degrees Celsius, access: stone steps.” It looked sketchy in the middle of nowhere, so I was definitely nervous to enter.

Cenotes are natural sinkholes created by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock. The beautifully clear turquoise waters are the result of the natural filtration that fresh water undergoes as it flows through the porous limestone.

The steps leading down to this cenote were steep!

The steps leading down to this cenote were steep!

This cenote called Cenote Palomitas is located in Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico. It is 45 metres deep and 50 metres in diameter with a comfortable temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Raj swam in it and loved every minute of it. The view was magical. We highly recommend visiting a cenote at least once in your life! Mother Nature is a beautiful thing.

XOXO,

Addy

P.S. – Raj and I are kicking off our Organic Week with CHFA East this weekend. To those attending too, hope to see you there! Look out for some new posts these upcoming weeks! 🙂

The view was magical.

The view was magical.

“ManGO-Away-Cold-and-Flu” Salad!

A healthy diet should be naturally colourful!

A healthy diet should be naturally colourful!

You know how there are those few times during the year when everyone around you seems to be getting sick? Well, I am going through one of those times right now and I am proud to say that I still have not fallen sick. I have been taking preventative measures to ensure I remain cold/flu-free. In addition to taking oil of oregano daily while so many are sick around me, getting an adequate amount of sleep every night, and always staying hydrated, I have been having my “ManGO-Away-Cold-and-Flu” salad for dinner quite often lately. This high-in-vitamin-C and antioxidant-rich salad helps keep sickness away and is so yummy! I make this salad so often that I have never measured any of the ingredients. However, while making this salad for dinner last night, I measured the ingredients so that I could share the recipe with you all today! Enjoy!

One of my secrets to making a great tasting salad is using all organic ingredients! Organic produce just tastes better.

One of my secrets to making a great tasting salad is using all organic ingredients! Organic produce just tastes better.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium (red, white, or yellow) onion, diced
  • 2-3 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1-2 pinches garam masala powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 ripe mango, diced
  • leaves from 1 head of green kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
If you are a salad lover like me, this recipe serves one.

If you are a salad lover like me, this recipe serves one.

  1. In a medium frying pan over medium to high heat, sauté the diced onion in coconut oil until translucent.
  2. Add the diced zucchini and spices (cumin powder, fine sea salt, chili powder, garam masala powder, and turmeric powder). Sauté everything until all the water that comes out from the zucchini evaporates.
  3. Place the chopped kale leaves in a large bowl and add the sautéed zucchini and onion mixture on top.
  4. Top off the salad with the diced mango and chopped scallion.
  5. Mix everything together. Allow the flavours to mix and mingle for 5 minutes and then enjoy!

XOXO,

Addy

Natural Cosmetics by “Pure Anada” (Review)

Natural cosmetics are usually a hit or miss and Pure Anada is definitely a hit!

Natural cosmetics are usually a hit or miss and Pure Anada is definitely a hit!

Last week, my colleague, Hannah, who is the owner and creator of Speckled Fawn (a bath and beauty company that is all-natural, vegan, handmade, and Toronto-based), was given samples from the natural cosmetics company, Pure Anada. She offered me some of her samples to try. The catch? I had to give her my honest feedback. As a self-proclaimed makeup junkie, I delightfully accepted some samples. I was so eager to try the samples and give her my feedback that I started wearing the makeup the following day. Natural cosmetics, in general, have never been a huge hit with me, due to poor colour payoff, limited colour selection, lack of lasting power, etc. Pure Anada, however, really impressed me when it came to quality and pricing!

Swatches from left to right: Luminous Blush in "Raspberry Parfait", Loose Mineral Foundation in "Pacific Tan", Petal Perfect Lipstick in "Carnation".

Swatches from left to right: Luminous Blush in “Raspberry Parfait”, Loose Mineral Foundation in “Pacific Tan”, Petal Perfect Lipstick in “Carnation”.

From the samples Hannah received from Pure Anada, I chose:

  • Luminous Blush in “Raspberry Parfait” (retail price: $12 CAD for 3-gram sifter jar) – a medium rosy pink with iridescent shimmer.
  • Loose Mineral Foundation in “Pacific Tan” (retail price: $12 CAD for 3 grams, $25 CAD for 10 grams) – my perfect summertime shade (coincidentally)!
  • Petal Perfect Lipstick in “Carnation” (retail price: $14 CAD for 10-millilitre vial) – a medium rosy pink with iridescent shimmer (very similar in colour to the blush, coincidentally).

It was all such a coincidence that the colour of the blush almost matched the colour of the lipstick and that the colour of the foundation matched my current summertime skin tone! All the colours complemented my skin tone well and applied very smoothly. My only criticism is that while the blush and foundation were very pigmented and stayed on my face all day (10+ hours) without any touch-ups, the colour payoff and staying power of the lipstick was not that great compared to M.A.C. lipsticks, for example. However, this lipstick was much more moisturizing than most and it contained much cleaner ingredients than most. For instance, the first three ingredients are organic castor seed oil, organic rosehip seed oil, and organic jojoba seed oil. No wonder why this lipstick was incredibly moisturizing and felt so good on my lips!

I loved the colour of the blush and that of the lipstick, but those colours are not ones I typically wear. The next colours I want to try are a baby pink blush colour and a pinkish nude lipstick colour!

I loved the colour of the blush and that of the lipstick, but those colours are not ones I typically wear. The next colours I want to try are a baby pink blush colour and a pinkish nude lipstick colour!

Even though these products contain clean, good-for-you, quality ingredients (i.e. purified mineral pigments, certified organic oils and waxes, etc.), the pricing is very reasonable and comparable to M.A.C.’s pricing. I find that natural cosmetics are often pricier than their chemical-laden counterparts at drugstores and department stores. Pure Anada, on the other hand, keeps their pricing in a similar range as thatof M.A.C. and of the low-end to medium-end brands at Sephora. Pure Anada has shifted my view on natural cosmetics to a more positive one. Good-for-you ingredients? Check. Good prices? Check. Decent colour selection? Check. Moderate to great colour payoff and staying power? Check and check. I am definitely more open to try natural cosmetics now and I am excited to check out more shades and products from Pure Anada. If you have favourites from this brand or any other natural cosmetics brand, let me know in the comment section below or via Twitter!

XOXO,

Addy

Gardening Fun!

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Out of both Raj and me, Raj definitely has the greener thumb. Every spring and summer, he grows a different variety of organic produce. I thought I would do a brief blog post to show you all what he is growing this year. I cannot wait to try the fruits of his labour!

CYMERA_20150528_180612

CYMERA_20150528_193016

I will be sure to keep you all posted on the progress of his garden throughout the summer!

XOXO,

Addy