Coconut milk!

cocomilk

I always have shaved coconut on hand for some reason. I guess it’s because it lasts a long time in the cupboard and makes a great addition to shakes, oatmeal, cookies and cakes… but I had no idea you could blend it with water to make coconut milk in a few minutes flat! Just like any of the nut or seed milks you make in the blender and it only lasts 3-5 days, so I suggest making it in small batches. Blend 1 part shredded coconut with 2 parts water on high for about 1-2 minutes. Then strain through a nut milk bag and there you have it! (It will separate as it sits in the fridge. Just give it a shake) xo Cait

DIY Beach Spray

The longer my hair gets, the lazier I seem to get with it. But one thing I can’t live without, is my “beach” spray. After buying it a few times, I got the itch to make my own. Google to the rescue again! The wonderful Wellness Mama had a straightforward, simple recipe. And after using it for over a month, I can’t say I have any complaints!

seasaltspray

Beach Spray

1 small spray bottle
1C hot water (not boiling)
2Tbl epsom salt (adds texture)
1/2tsp himalayan or sea salt (adds stiffness)
1tsp aloe vera gel (find one with no alcohol. I’ve tried this one from Whole Foods and this one from Mountain Rose)
a few drops almond or jojoba oil (you can use a 1/2 tsp of conditioner instead)
a few drops of an essential oil or perfume you like (for scent)

Put all of the ingredients into your spray bottle and shake for 1-2min. Spray on damp hair and scrunch with a towel for beachy waves. Or spray on dry hair for extra texture without the waves!

Lasts 3-4 months

Recipe: Banana Plum Purée for Infants

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See that face, that basically sums up our experience with the transition from breast milk to purées. I guess I was naive to think that it would be this easy process where he’d be chomping at the bit for more, more, more. Instead of starting Finn on rice cereal, we opted for fruit and veggie purées.  Rice cereal is so overly processed and void of real nutritional value that I just couldn’t bring myself to have THAT be his first step into the world of food. We began our journey with homemade applesauce. Too afraid to venture away from single ingredient purées, his first few meals consisted of peas, butternut squash, avocado, and the like. Each bite must have been the most bizarre experience for Finn because we got a lot of feedback that looked like the above picture. He was tasting sweet, sour and bitter for the first time all delivered by a totally new texture. Learning to chew and swallow was another new lesson to learn. After about 3 weeks of fighting the good food fight, we started to make some progress. Finn was finally getting the hang of this whole eating thing.

By 7 months, I decided to throw caution to the wind and actually start to show him what real food should taste like. I began to experiment with flavor combinations that combined healthy fats and seasonings. Babies need lots of healthy fats which help develop those delicious thigh rolls. Coconut oil, egg yolk with sea salt, cinnamon and vanilla, olive oil – all of these flavors I hope will lead to a well-versed palette, and, fingers crossed we can hopefully avoid a picky eater.

banana plum

Recipe: Banana Plum Purée 

Ingredients:

5 organic plums
3 organic bananas
1 tablespoon organic, cold-pressed coconut oil
1 vanilla bean (insides scraped)

Boil a pot of water. While waiting for the water to boil, carve an “X” into the skin at the bottom of each plum. Once the water boils, drop each plum into the pot and wait about a minute. You should start to notice that the peel begins to separate from the meat of the fruit where you sliced an “X”. Remove the plums and run under cold water. Once cool, peel off the skin of each plum and cut the meat away from the pit. Drop the plum meat into a blender or food processor with the bananas, coconut oil and the scraped vanilla bean seeds. Blend on high until you have a smooth purée. Feel free to add a little water to reach the desired consistency. Portion out servings in glass containers. I put 2 in the fridge and then I freeze the rest for later.

Nutritional Benefits

Plums are an incredibly rich source of vitamin C that aids the absorption of Iron which is crucial for development after the age of 6 months. Plus, vitamin C help boost those developing immune systems. Plums are also a great source of vitamin A which helps promotes healthy vision and bone growth.

Bananas are a power food that are rich in potassium and vitamins B6, B2 and C. And, a little trick of the trade: they’re known to settle upset tummies. Plus, they add that creamy texture with a touch of sweetness to any purée.

I am a HUGE supporter of all things coconut oil and you’ll often find this incredible oil in many of our skincare products. Coconut oil adds a nice tropical flavor, plus, it’s a great source of healthy fatty acids.

x

Sam

 

Adventures with Meyer lemons.

Of course it was Martha Stewart that introduced me to Meyer lemons. And boy am I glad she did. They are lemons, but better! A cross between a lemon and mandarin orange, makes it slightly sweeter than an average lemon, with a thinner more delicate skin and twice the juice! This makes them great for ANY recipe calling for lemons. It’s funny to note that they started out as a houseplant in China, for decorative purposes, and not used for cooking at all! It wasn’t until “the early 1900s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent Frank N. Meyer, an agricultural explorer (yes, that was his actual job title) on several trips to Asia with the mission of collecting new plant species. Among more than 2,500 plants that he introduced to the U.S., the Meyer lemon was named in his honor… After landing on American shores, Meyer lemons were cultivated in the citrus-growing regions of California, Florida and Texas.” (NPR)

photoMy boyfriend’s Mother has a wonderful little Meyer lemon tree in her yard in Sacramento, CA. When we were up visiting this year for Thanksgiving, we picked 300-400 of the most beautiful lemons I’ve ever seen. Definitely a happy tree! We gave a ton away to family and friends over the long weekend, and Toby and I took over 150 home and started scheming for our annual DIY holiday gifts.

We ended up using both the zest and juice from most of them to make lemon infused olive oil (as a nod to keeping it local, we chose a Sacramento based olive oil brand!) and  cold-pressed lemon juice. After a proper canning water bath, the lemon juice is shelf-stable, making it shippable and safe to save for that particularly dark Winter work week when you’re in need of a little of that California sunshine in your weekly menu!

Lemons are some of my favorite fruits to have in the house. I never waste them because they have SO many uses and are extremely easy to preserve…

A little hot lemon water in the morning is great for you– it aids in digestion, helps balance pH levels, boosts immunity, etc. Take it to the next level and make a lemon hot toddy! Throw a couple chunks down the garbage disposal when it’s not smelling so hot or use them to clean a million other things. Lemon juice is also a great addition to hand scrubs or beauty masks. Trust me, these homemade beauty recipes are simple enough for anyone to do, with ingredients you already have in your house…. and wonderful for your skin. And then there are the recipes for lemon chicken, lemon potatoes, and lemon squares!!

And if you happen to find yourself  with an excess of lemons of any kind, freeze extra zest in baggies and juice in ice cube trays. See what I mean about the possibilities?!

xo Caitlyn

Straw-melon-lemon Aguas Frescas

I know Summer’s technically over and all, but I refuse to believe it. And considering it was 80 in LA on Sunday, Mother Nature must agree with me. So I decided to try out a recipe for aguas frescas (spanish for ‘fresh waters’) over the weekend… it was so easy and delicious that I had to share!  Most recipes online contain lots of sugars, but I really didn’t think this needed it, so I opted out. Most fruits have plenty of natural sugar on their own!!

The best things about this recipe are:
1. You can’t mess it up. You blend your chosen fruits and then mix with water. The proportions and types of fruit can be changed based on your taste and/or the amount of fruit you have lying around!
2. The riper the fruit, the better, so it’s a great thing to do with fruit on it’s way out.

frescaStraw-melon-lemon Aguas Frescas
1 part strawberry
1 part watermelon
1 lemon, juiced (1/2 lemon if you’re making a small batch)
2-5 part water

Blend the strawberries and watermelon. Strain this mixture through cheesecloth, or a fine strainer. Add lemon juice. And mix with water.

I diluted this batch with a lot of water to make sure I had enough for the Peacock Apothecary event on Sunday, but it’s an easy recipe to play around with. You can add as much or as little water as you like. Next time, I think I’d keep the strawberry-watermelon-lemon “concentrate” in the fridge and make it as I go. The leftovers I brought in my lunch this week have been such a treat! This is definitely going to be a staple around my house.

Loves,
Cait

Hemp Milk

photoAfter a friend of mine recommended I try hemp milk, and I liked it, I immediately took to the internets to see if I could make it on my own. Almond milk is a cinch, so I figured this probably was too. And to my delight, it’s EVEN easier than almond milk, because you don’t have to soak the nuts for the requisite 8hrs first. Gotta love the instant gratification, and a healthy one at that!

 

One glass of hemp milk has 4g protein, a bunch omega-3 & and omega-6 fatty acids, and all 10 essential amino acids. It’s heart healthy, good for your immune system and great for skin & hair!

Hemp Milk: Blend 1/2C hemp hearts &  2C water and, voila…
You can strain it, or not, depending on how you are using it. I use mine for smoothies, so the extra seediness is welcome. If you drinking it straight, or over cereal, you should probably strain with a nut bag or cheesecloth first! Stays fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.

For extra fun: Try blending in a date or two (or 1/2Tbl maple syrup) and 1/2tsp vanilla extract, or 2Tbl cacao nibs or a 1/2tsp cinnamon or nutmeg!

Loves,
Caitlyn

Our Ice Cream Brunch

A few weekends ago, Sam, myself and some awesome volunteers spent an early Saturday afternoon making homemade waffle cones and thin mint ice cream! Thought I’d share some of our adventure with you, along with a few recipes. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, get one. No, really. Do. Making a simple vanilla ice cream takes 10min of actual work, plus 30min of churning… and the payoff is amazing. Your friends and family will be begging you to make more! Because I am a serious sweet-a-holic, this is the big bad boy I have, but really, any ice cream maker on the market will deliver great results. My first ice cream maker came from a thrift store!!

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Cones first!

This is only the second time I’ve used my waffle cone maker (I have this one), but the first time I used it, the batter was so runny, we ended up making more mess than cone. This time I hunted around for a recipe online, instead of using the pre-made mix, and got MUCH better results. This recipe has a thick dough-like consistency, making it easier to work with. And seeing as it’s main ingredients are sugar, flour and cream, it is also deeeelicious.

cone prep

I based my recipe on one from Cupcake Project. But, as a rule, I always add 2x the amount of vanilla that any recipe calls for, because, well, it’s a magical ingredient in the world of making sweet things, and the more magic the better, right? And although her recipe called for cinnamon and nutmeg, ingredients I normally love, I omitted them, not wanting to compete with the minty-ness of the ice cream. See below…

Waffle Cones (made 5 cones & 2 bowls)

1C heavy cream
1.5tsp vanilla extract (i used 3tsp)
1.5C powdered sugar
1.5C flour
1Tbl cornstarch

Preheat iron to the 2.5 level. Sift together the powdered sugar, flour & cornstarch. Set aside. **One quick note on sifting. If you have a sifter, you probably already know how much smoother your batters are if you use it on flour before mixing. If you don’t have one, you can use a very fine strainer. It’s also not the end of the world not to sift your ingredients together, especially for this, but it does make for less lumps** In another bowl, beat the heavy cream & vanilla for 2-3min with an electric mixer. Stir all of the ingredients together, and let the batter stand for 30min before spooning it onto the waffle iron.

cone

Start with a spoon sized portion, and plop it right in the middle of the iron, closing the lid to flatten out the batter. This particular machine has 2 lights that are supposed to tell you when the cones are ready, but after dropping mine once (the eternal clutz that I am) I don’t trust them. Just open the lid to check on the color. Aim for a golden shade of brown and use a flexible spatula to help you pull the waffle off of the iron… both are VERY hot.

After the flattened waffle is ready, you have to work pretty quickly to form it into a cone before it hardens up. My machine came with a cone shaper that you wrap the warm waffle around to cool. And you can pinch the bottom to close the hole, or throw a cookie in there and cover it with homemade magic shell chocolate like we did, to simulate the Drumstick effect! For the bowls, just lay the warm waffle over an upside down bowl and pinch the sides together as it hardens.

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Next up, Ice Cream!

iceprepAs I said before, vanilla based ice creams are the easiest thing in the world to make. You mix together some dairy products, add sugar and… you’re done. The machine really does all the work. See below.

Thin Mint Ice Cream (makes 2qts)

1 1/2C whole milk
1 1/8C sugar
3C heavy cream
1tsp peppermint extract
1/2 C crushed thin mint cookies (preferably frozen)

**Trader Joe’s Heavy Cream shown above is HANDS DOWN the best to use for any ice cream recipe**

Stir together milk and sugar until sugar is pretty much dissolved. Add cream & peppermint and stir. Turn on your ice cream machine and pour in your mix as it spins. Add cookies after 25min of churning, and let it go for an additional 5-10min. Pour ice cream into a freezer safe container and freeze for at least an hour before eating… if you can wait 2-3 hours, it’ll be much more scoopable!

Loves, Caitlyn

Smoothie Time

I am obsessed with my Vitamix. Before getting one, I hated using my blender. It literally gathered dust. But now, I use it daily, which means I am getting a lot more fruits and veggies than ever before. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that! My latest favorite is a mix of greens, nuts and almond milk that makes getting out of bed and on the road in the morning a little easier to handle… and it’s good for me to! Double win!

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Sweet Green Almond Milk

1/2C- 3/4C almond milk (click here to learn how to make your own!!)
1 banana
2-4 leaves of dino kale (take the leaves off of the stem)
1 pitted date
1/4C almonds (or any nut will do!)
1/4tsp cinnamon
Handful of ice

Just combine the ingredients above, and blend. Not only does it have the same amount of protein as an egg, all the crazy benefits of kale, the superfood of all superfoods, and a punch of potassium… but it also tastes like heaven!

Loves! Caitlyn

 

Magical Ingredient Revealed!

Once again, I thank my lucky stars for the internets! At the end of a long commute last week, NPR teased me with the promise of revealing the magic ingredient of the infamously awesome Magic Shell ice cream topping… It was the best news I had heard all day! And then I pulled into my parking garage, and all I got was static. I was so disappointed. Should I pull back out and park in a meter till the story came back on? No. That’s silly.

Enter Google stage left. Saving the day yet again!
IT’S COCONUT OIL.
(Because of its high melting point, coconut oil melts easily, but also hardens quickly once it comes in contact with anything cold! And here I thought I couldn’t love coconut oil any more than I already did?!! )

magicshell2

I’m serious when I say it is THE easiest magic trick you will ever do. Melt chocolate and coconut oil together, drizzle over ice cream, and BAM expect the masses to sing your praises. Great recipe to do with kids. Or really anyone who likes magic… and ice cream. That’s pretty much everyone, right?

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MAGIC SHELL RECIPE

3Tbl coconut oil

1/2C ANY chocolate
*I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, because it is what I had. Feel free to sub with dark or milk chocolate! The smaller the chunks, the easier the melting process will be.

Melt together. I suggest a double-boiler, but a saucepan or microwave work too. If it’s not super smooth and liquid-ey, add more coconut oil!

Keep extra in a glass jar in the cupboard or fridge, and re-melt if necessary.

Happy Sundae-ing!

Loves,
Cait

 

Hormonal Breakouts – The Natural Treatment

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When it comes to pregnancy, I can’t really complain. Besides the constant feeling of exhaustion and the occasional scrambling of words, I haven’t really experienced those terrible symptoms that so many women dread (knock on wood). However, one symptom has been coming and going ever since I first saw those 2 lines pop up on the stick: hormonal breakouts. I always thought pregnancy would bring this beautiful glow and that my skin, hair and nails would look radiant throughout the whole process. Well, apparently that’s not always the case. Cue the flush of hormones and all of a sudden my chin just exploded. A hormonal breakout is incredibly pesky because there really isn’t much you can do. This isn’t a congestion or dirt issue but your skin reacting on a cellular level to the chemical changes in your body.

I’ve always been a supporter of natural skincare but now that there’s a little birdy growing inside of me, I have to be even more conscious about the foods I eat and the products that I put on my skin. (What I would give for a cup of coffee right now!). For those who like Retin-A, Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide, please think twice before using these acne treatment; they’re a big no-no during pregnancy. When my chin starts to reflect the massive changes happening in my body, I stick to a regular routine of cleansing, moisturizing with an oil based serum, sunscreen and exfoliating twice a week. I’ve also had a lot of great luck with the Clarisonic brush. The vibrations of the brush help to clear the congestion and ease any pain associated with the break out. Please don’t use this treatment everyday though, its too harsh – I recommend twice a week.

Now for the secret weapon…PROBIOTICS. If you have eyes and ears then I’m sure you’re aware of the amazing benefits that come with eating foods that are naturally rich in good bacteria or how important it is to take a quality probiotic supplement. Disease begins with inflammation and so much of that begins with your gut, so keep it healthy! Did you know that applying probiotics to your face can actually help combat the bad bacteria that causes breakouts?   A yogurt mask is great for brightening the skin and although there are healthy bacteria strains in the yogurt, for the purposes of this treatment, reach for a liquid probiotic that contains more than 10 strains.

Next time you’re at a natural grocery store, pick up a bottle of Bio-K. Apply the liquid probiotic with a cotton ball, let it dry and continue to layer until you have a nice mask formed. Let the mask sit for 20 minutes and then rinse. This mask is gentle enough to use every night until you’ve achieved the desired results – clear skin. Be sure to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized, so follow the treatment with a good face oil or a moisturizer (all natural!).